Dan Carlin (2019) The End is Always Near: Apocalyptic Moments From the Bronze Age Collapse to Nuclear Near Misses.

Dan Carlin’s book is based on his HardCore History Podcasts. I’ve never listened to them. Books are better. A good apocalypse always gets my attention. Carlin asks the question were men (and women) tougher in ye olde days. The answer, not surprisingly was probably. Let’s look at the Spartans. No fat kids. No food unless children foraged for it. Stole it from each other.  Childhood obesity is no joke, but you know we should try that at Eton, and on Boris Johnston in particular.  I did a list of possibilities with the doomsday clock ticking closer and closer to midnight. The moron’s moron and 45th American President has lightened the load a little. I guess we can also begin to rule Asteroids out. NASA (or somebody) sent an experimental rocket up with a payload of a Hillman Imp to try to deflect one of the smaller rocks. From smaller rocks to bigger rocks to bronze to iron to flying machines to Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles. Man has never developed weapons he’s not used. (I use the male tense) until we went nuclear.

One thing I didn’t mention in my UFO post was a group of American soldiers in their bunkers reporting seeing lights in the sky. A spaceship hovering and the commander reporting a ray that turned off nuclear weapons. The Day the Earth Stood Still moment with Gort, the benign alien, under the classified section. He does mention The Fermi Paradox which stacks the odds in their being other intelligent beings on other planets. Then looks for reasons why we can’t contact them. They may be so technologically advanced that they’re invisible, but Occam’s razor suggests another more plausible option. They become so technologically advanced—like us, but with wings on—they blow themselves up. 

Carlin only mentions global warming in passing. It’s not right away and it’s not sexy. But I’d guess that it will be a catalyst for all these other factors including using tactical nuclear weapons. We’ve already begun the softening up progress. Military psychologist, David Grossman, for example, notes that greater distance makes killing possible. I’m sure there could be some kind of equation here. Algorithms rule the world.  A soldier guiding a drone into warfare isn’t the same as medieval soldiers having to hack their way through the bodies of tens of thousands of women and children. Around 40 000 Londoners killed in the German Blitz in London during eight months of the Second World War. Around 40 000 killed in Hamburg in one afternoon. Scaling up.

He doesn’t give any mention of the rise of the robots and machine intelligence. The cuckoo in the nest. To paraphrase, 100 computer programmers worth one million soldiers. Then one computer programmer worth one hundred. But with self-replication no computer programmers and no soldiers that can stand against them. A slow burn. Then an implosion.

Because Carlin’s Podcast/Book was pre-Covid, Covid-19 is not here. He does make a case for vigilance, but he’s missed the big one. He needs to rely on Smallpox and The Black Death, which wiped out half the world, but wasn’t all bad. Workers became more Bolshie, moving into their master’s houses and taking their land. Round up the usual suspects. Spanish Flu.  He identifies the speed of spread is tied in with the interconnectedness of modern life. As it was in the past. When a ship docked and its cargo was unloaded, those that helped unload it went home and infected their family. We know how it works. We’ve become experts in epidemiology. One thing Carling didn’t predict was the unexpected backlash against inoculation. The growth in Conspiracy Theories. I don’t doubt if there was a vaccine against the Black Death with little chance of survival, people would have been queuing around their hovels. Or smallpox, which was lethal. And not only that, it cause disfigurement on the skin, even for survivors. Inoculation against smallpox would have been an easy sell to Instagram and Facebook generation. Imagine the selfies? Even the First World War, Spanish flu (it didn’t come from Spain, that was a bit of propaganda, like the moron’s moron calling Covid-19 the Chinese thing, but it did come from China). The Spanish flu hit mainly the young and healthy. Old blokes like me were quite safe. Imagine if over 150 000 corpses in the United Kingdom were under forty. That would have created more of a fuss.

Oh, well, back to the killing board. We’ve all got to die of something. It just looks like we’ll become progressively poorer, perhaps even go hungry, before the full wrath of global warming is unleashed. The Jews were wiped out in many European nations during plagues. I’m sure boat people and refugees will face similar plights. We do love our scapegoats. That savagery linked to ancient times before the Bronze Age. Back beyond Old Testament times. We might be fat and half blind, but we can still find a good bit of hatred of foreigners when required. Justification in extremis. The more we change the more we stay the same…