Anniversary of U. Wisc Bombing

Re: Ann Althouse recalls attack.

Wow. This brings back the memories. Thank you Ann.

“Where were they when & are they now?”

I was at Purdue doing some graduate studies, where the reaction was to secure access to access to the basement of the Math Science building. Why Math? Because that’s where the supercomputers of the day were often located. Computing was just the separating itself into a separate discipline (from Math.. imo the beginning of the end of computing-as-a-science). It changed the dynamic of how easy it was for many researchers to get physical access to the machines to run more than trivial (card-deck) problems. Which was how I met my wife. I had access, she was in the sociology department which then as now was killing trees with SPSS (and discovering even back then there was no glory in admitting that correlation was seldom causality). She baked great cherry pies which was one of the bribes the ladies would hold up to the closed circuit TVs to beg admittance to the holy-of-holies. No Wisconsin terror, maybe no little Tai-s.

Bob Borchers some years later became the Director of (the DOE) Livermore Labs – one of the trio of government labs responsible for all-things nuclear. He and his researchers made important contributions to solving the tactical threat issues we had during the Cold-War where the Soviet Union and Warsaw Pact countries would run these yearly full-up war exercises where most of their forces and reserves would charge at the NATO country borders and only turn right or left in the last few miles. It was pretty clear that if the Soviets ever did go to war (simply not turn these armies at the last minute), the West would face the challenge of defeating massed armies, artillery and tanks all on friendly soil (and irrespective of the horns the left would draw on the military (and conservative leadership) there was a genuine reluctance to use strategic nuclear in response to a conventional attack). The answer was designing a new generations of weapons that would kill people but have a minimum of blast effects and no lasting radiation affects. They succeeded, and these “enhanced radiation devices” (aka “neutron bombs”) are the unsung hero of the cold war since it fundamentally changed the Soviet calculus on using their superior numbers in boots on the ground (and armor). The “you wouldn’t nuke yourself” changed to “ok, maybe you would.”

Granted, the Left and the “Utopia-on-earth-is-achievable-if-we-just-enslave-everyone” proponents hated it (and were given even larger voices given the influence Soviet back-door funding enabled. After the Wall fell, one of the interesting tidbits in the KGB archives were all the signed receipts they insisted on obtaining from their own “agents of influence” in the press and academia. Unlike U.S. budgeting where we simply criminalizing misbehavior rather than run a full accounting system around the Treasury’s checkbook, the Soviets actually used semi-competent double-entry bookkeeping).

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