Back in 1982, I told a friend, quite seriously, that one could probably fly a Cessna right into Red Square. What was I thinking?
You were thinking the same thing that was thinking the person who DID fly the Cessna into the Red Square.
You were thinking that the Communist Party of the Soviet Union couldn’t organise a piss-up in a brewery.
Wow talk about something falling thru the ol’ memory hole . Were you just assuming that the Soviet military bureaucracy was too cumbersome to react to such an odd event ?
I knew that the air defenses around Moscow were the toughest anywhere on Earth. But I also knew that firing at every radar signature that might be an enemy target would inevitably cause the Russkis to frequently shoot down their own planes. It seemed to me that those involved in such fiascoes might well suffer from career blight, especially if the casualty was some apparatchik’s cousin, or even a careless cropduster. Particularly since there had been no real air attack of any kind since the Great Patriotic War. There were, in fact, rumors that the Sovs _had_ shot down a plane or two of their own back in the 1950s, so this wasn’t entirely hypothetical. Moreover, it’s not as if they expected anyone to do this. Certainly they weren’t worried about a surprise attack by the US.
In addition, a Cessna isn’t that big a target. You can lose track of it.
So… the ideal bureaucratic stance would be to claim constant vigilance, while in fact being pretty lax. Any decisionmaker would, quite rightly, reassure himself that they could always get tough and turn up the vigilance if anything like a real threat emerged. The hardware was there. I may have been influenced by an acquaintance of mine, a serious amateur photographer, who took a picture of a black dude from the Ten Most Wanted posters in the post office and clipped it over his security ID badge at Hughes. The guards never noticed.
Looking at what actually happened with Rust, the Russians concluded it was probably a domestic trainer that had forgotten to turn on its IFF: about what I had expected
I doubt if Matthias Rust thought about any of these things. He was just nuts.
Rust was nuts but stupid. Some guy tried that trick here but his Cessna fell into the sea 60 km before Tel Aviv. We never learned what he tried to do.
Hard to do. Too many steps.
Red Square (University of Washington)
Red Square, officially Central Plaza, is a large open square on the campus of the University of Washington that serves as a hub for two of the University’s major axes, connecting the campus’s northern Liberal Arts Quadrangle (“The Quad”) with the science and engineering buildings found on the lower campus. The plaza is paved with red brick, and becomes notoriously slippery during precipitation.
During the 1909 Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition, the square was the site for the temporary U.S. Government Building. After the exposition closed, the building was removed and the area left an open field that eventually became known as the Suzzallo Quadrangle, after Suzzallo Library, which stood at its eastern edge.
In 1969, the field was excavated, an underground parking garage was built, and the engineers who designed the garage thought that the rain on the grass would leak into the garage, leading to the choice of a distinctive red brick surface. Cassandra Amesely, then an editor of the student paper The Daily, convinced the student population to refer to the area as Red Square, presumably in reference to the color of the brick. Whether it was also meant to refer to Moscow’s Red Square in an era known for student activism is unclear.
A shot of Red Square, refreshed every five minutes, from a camera atop Kane Hall
Maybe you should make a list of strange things you think might happen within a range of probability. It could make for an entertaining thread, and if you are proven right about a few bizarre ones than all the better. Being a science writer is a hard slog, maybe there is more profit in the prophet business.
I’ve done pretty well. I once got a job offer from the CIA. If I had accepted it, I would have been fired at least four or five times for being obnoxiously right. Nothing irritates people more. That, and whistling ‘Secret Agent Man’ in the hallways.
“That, and whistling ‘Secret Agent Man’ in the hallways.”
I’ve done pretty well
Any chance you are part of any of the “teams” participating in the IARPA forecasting competition?
Nope. I doubt if I believe in their crowdsourcing model.
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RE: Matthias Rust – from wikipedia
While doing his obligatory community service (Zivildienst) in a West German hospital in 1989, Rust stabbed a female co-worker who had rejected him. He was sentenced to four years in prison and was released after having served fifteen months.
In 1996, he became engaged to a daughter of an Indian tea merchant and converted to Hinduism. In 2001, he was convicted for stealing a cashmere pullover and ordered to pay DM 10,000; the sentence was later reduced to 600 marks. In 2005, he was convicted of fraud and had to pay €1,500 for stolen goods. In 2009 Rust described himself as a professional poker player.
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