Concerning the issue of Winter on Ghost Island, or: the decimation of ghosts, flora and fauna in case of fallout:

Fellow and beloved denizens of Ghost Island,

Following this (terrifying) Slate Magazine article regarding the British “Letter of Last Resort”;–a letter hand-written by the prime minister (probably even with a quill), stored in a safe(!) inside a second safe (!!) in a nuclear submarine miles below the Atlantic (!!!), that determines whether ot not, in the case of the complete nuclear devastation of the UK, a lone submarine commander will be ordered to revenge decimate the attacker and possibly bring the entirety of the human race into a permanent nuclear winter– I believe it is of the utmost importance to discuss the GI policy on [M]utually [A]ssured [D]estruction, heretofore known as MAD (an appropriate acronym if ever I’ve seen one).

atom-bombAfter attempting to gain spiritual guidance from our honored dead, it has quickly become obvious that Raymond Queneau himself hardly constitutes a quorum, and furthermore seems incapable of giving any advice lacking several hundred billion stipulations.

The question, then, with at least a few thousand stipulations and mitigating factors: in this nuclear era, what is Ghost Island’s policy on both the building and deployment of nuclear weaponry, both threatened and actual?

Some important points, as I (and Slate) see them:

  1. The central paradox is that of threat vs. usage. Though many don’t agree with the morality of actual use, any state that cannot threaten retaliation essentially leaves themselves defenseless against attack from another state.
  2. Any actual retaliation, due to the possible (and likely) uncertainty of attacker, could cause a resultant worldwide nuclear winter, and the destruction of mankind.
  3. Ghost Island is a remote outpost. We are self-sustaining, our island is covered by a wide variety of flora and fauna. Though not apolitical by any means, we are largely without (known) enemies. Is it even necessary to implicate ourselves in this messy conflict?
  4. What would you put on your “Letter of Last Resort?”

My answers, as they stand now:

  1. I believe this is true, and am inclined toward the Jewish explanation given at the end of the Slate article. Having studied MAD to a great extent in my high school theology classes (and further for my LD Debates that year), it seems to me that we exist in a state where nuclear weapons must be kept for security purposes. Though I wish it were not the case, it seems, at least anecdotally, that peace is dependent on the readiness to go to war. Ideally, peace would be achievable by other means, but it seems that pragmatically, peace and safety are achievable in the short term only by threat. Perhaps this is a short view when considering the future and potential of humanity, but to be honest, I think humanity is probably doomed to wipe itself out soon anyway. To summarize, I do not believe revenge devastation to be morally acceptable, but to quote that which was quoted in the article: “Just because one cannot pull the nuclear trigger does not mean one cannot own a nuclear gun.”
  2. This is maybe an oversimplification, but ties into the first question. What is to be accomplished with or gained by the wholesale destruction of mankind? What is to be gained by the destruction of civilians in even one country? We must remember that a state’s people are not necessarily represented by the decisions of their government. Even if a majority are represented, this does not mean everyone is. Plus, the idea that they deserve to die if they kill us brings us into a dangerously utilitarian arena. 100 lives for 100 lives? Who are we to decide what a life is worth?
  3. Ghost Island doesn’t have to be involved. We should just live peacefully on our little island, happy with our ghosts, flora, and fauna, lush and abundant. However, is it possible, based on the range and sophistication of nuclear weaponry, to exclude ourselves from this dilemma, as peaceful and purely intellectual as our intentions may be?
  4. My letter of last resort would instead be a time capsule containing an MP3 player with a full charge, a set of headphones and copies of audiobooks and albums on it. Our legacy should be our literature, art, and music. Not our willingness to destroy or not destroy the rest of humanity in the case of our own death.

Supplementary reading by someone who knows the ins and outs better than we do:

The Slynx – Tatyana Tolstaya

I sincerely believe that the Ghost Island brain trust (the whole population, to be honest) will have something valuable to add to this discussion.


8 Responses to “Concerning the issue of Winter on Ghost Island, or: the decimation of ghosts, flora and fauna in case of fallout:”

  1. 1 butttub
    January 12, 2009 at 6:35 pm

    1) Bury more people on South Mountain

    2) Build large bunkers by hollowing out the inside of the island. Include a large arcade in the bunkers, along with food, so that in the event of nuclear winter, we do not grow bored.
    2b) Ghost Island Library will also be stored in this bunker so that the funds for building it do not go to waste in the event that there is no apocalyptic nuclear event.
    2c) The proceeds from the arcade will benefit the Ghost Island University Endowment until such a time as there is nuclear catastrophe, at which time money will be abolished and we’ll need the skee-ball to keep up morale.

    3) Does Ghost Island have nuclear weaponry? What, in fact is our military capacity? Will the Commander of Ghost Island Strategic Defenses please provide a full report?

  2. 2 Luckycloud
    January 12, 2009 at 10:43 pm

    1) Yeah, R.Q. is incredibly unhelpful.
    2) I will only vote for this arcade if it also includes that two-screen X-Men game that I loved to play when I was little. Skee-ball, too, obviously. AND AIR HOCKEY.
    3) I don’t know that we have a military capacity. Maybe we should change that.

  3. 3 johuat
    January 13, 2009 at 12:58 am

    Sorry, I guess you guys didn’t get the memo – we had to shut down the facility because some of the uranium had high levels of impurities. We think some of the wildlife left droppings in the centrifuges. We were going to get a cat to keep whatever the animal is out, but somebody told us we couldn’t bring one to the island as they might go feral and start killing off the indigenous flightless birds.

  4. 4 devavivarma
    January 13, 2009 at 1:23 am

    Ghost Island seed vault? anyone?

    Sounds brilliant.

    Our gift to posterity–like translations of Homer and Plato from medieval monks.

    Also, does anyone know any good open source graphic design programs– i want to collage different digital images, but am broke.

  5. 5 butttub
    January 13, 2009 at 1:30 am

    What if we only get one cat? Unless is starts budding clones, we shouldn’t have to worry about breeding a feral population.

  6. 6 Luckycloud
    January 13, 2009 at 1:33 am

    We can just show it pictures of flightless birds and then spray it in the face with a spray bottle if it gets excited. We may have to get a dog to keep it in line, though. I suggest we get a Sheltie.

    Also, I think that the Ghost Island seed vault should contain a number of Dream Pop records as well as the Gin Blossoms’ greatest hits. These are invaluable to the Ghost Island way of life.

  7. 7 sethand3
    January 13, 2009 at 10:34 pm

    Vault should also contain one burnt copy of 2 disc 90s music comp The Buzz. All sub-par tracks on said compilation may be skipped by using the program function the CD player. But there are no bum tracks on The Buzz, so this will be unnecessary.

    Perhaps it would be wise to invest in the development of an island-encompassing cloaking devise or force-field in the case of nuclear emergency.

    Also, a Sheltie would be a good dog. I once had a Sheltie, his name was Max.

  8. 8 butttub
    January 14, 2009 at 12:49 am

    I second the Buzz.

    I also recommend the following book: “The Recently Deflowered Girl” — http://www.joeydevilla.com/2009/01/10/the-recently-deflowered-girl-1965-illustrated-by-edward-gorey/

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