Famed whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg, 86, is best known for the Pentagon Papers leak. However, at the time, he also snatched thousands of documents on nuclear policy, because everything he had learned about it during his career as a civilian with tremendous access screamed that the public needed to know. Ellsberg relates the nauseating details in his recent book The Doomsday Machine, an important tome that’s as optimistic as it sounds. It’s vital reading that reminds people that both poor planning – such as the US under Dwight Eisenhower having no contingency in place for only bombing the USSR into dust, but it being a package deal with China, something that confirmed the rigidity of these planners as well as their blithely democidal tendencies – and the potential for simple mistakes still run rampant in US nuclear policy.
Ellsberg noted in an interview with Reason that if it happened, a “nuclear holocaust will be one of the most carefully prepared for events in human history.” He focuses on the Cold War, but there are still 15,000 nuclear weapons in the world, with around 10,000 of them military-ready, and nuclear powers are still butting heads as if the survival of humans isn’t what’s being gambled on.
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…Bowie was somehow able to unleash these leading-edge musicians without diluting their creativity and improvisational skills. The result is that the album has properly complex, meaty sax solos and serious interplay with the rhythm section. Bowie had ranged from extreme commerciality to dark obscurity before in his amazing career, but this is a decidedly grown-up album, Bowie’s yearning, heart-rending and cryptic songs floating over a shifting backing which has a really live feel to it, an improvised jazz vibe.