Thursday, September 21, 2006

"A Guy Named Arkhipov Just Saved the World"

"A Guy Named Arkhipov Just Saved the World"

There are times when I wonder if I've ever achieved much, or anything really, anything worth mentioning in my entire life.

Remarkably these times occur most often when I'm applying for a job, or working on my resume. Which is to say, not so much when I'm just living my life, but most often when I'm trying to express the meaning of my life to others in terms that I think will most duly impress them. It's the business of what ought to impress others, or what they think most ought to impress them, it's at exactly those times that I'm most lost as to the meaning of my own life.

Which has made me covet a killer resume, one chock full of easily encapsulated nuggets of indisputable achievement, and which has given me a highly acute perceptiveness about what would make for the most awesome resume fodder.

Who wouldn't be thrilled, for example, to be able to claim, like Valentina Tereshkova of the Soviet Union: First Woman in Space. Think of how you'd always be surprising potential employers, whetting their interest with the fact that you'd made it to space nearly 20 years before Sally Ride, and people would never know why Sally Ride's name was on the tip of their tongues, but Tereshkova would be almost anonymous.

Tim Berners-Lee, now there's a real jaw-dropper in my estimation. Imagine being able to line-item the entry on your resume: Invented the World Wide Web. This multi-media extended and enhanced electronic consciousness accessed by billions of people a day: we're talking boffo resume material here.

It's even to the point where I ponder resume entries for non-human life forms. I think back to those early methane-eating bacteria that first excreted oxygen and think what awesome bullet points that would make:

* first successful emission of atmospheric oxygen
* created the sky.

We're talking quadruple bold underscored italics here.!!!

But for some reason lately, I'm not sure why, the one line item that's been preoccupying me lately is for Vasily Arkhipov.

That's right, Vasily Arkhipov.

He was an officer on a Soviet submarine back during the Cuban missile crisis.

Unbeknownst to the boy-geniuses and turd blossoms of the Kennedy White House, the Russians had succeeded in putting nuclear warheads on their submarines by then, the same submarines that were escorting ships carrying nuclear missile technology to Cuba.

Moscow had given authority to the subs to launch their nuclear torpedoes if all three of the officers on board were in agreement that there was an all out war which would justify a nuclear response.

A U.S. ship, while supporting the "quarantine" of Cuba dropped depth charges to warn Arkhipov's sub away from approaching. Not recognizing this as a warning rather than an attack, two of the three Russian officers voted to launch their nukes. But Arkhipov said nyet. As Thomas Blanton of the National Security Archives puts it: "A guy named Arkhipov just saved the world."

How's that for a resume builder: SAVED THE WORLD.

Or would it be better as "Personally and singlehandedly saved the world."

"Prevented nuclear Armageddon?"

"Assured the continued survival of human life on this planet, temporarily at least."

Maybe it's because the God squad wackos in the White House these days keep talking about putting all sorts of crazy weapons in space, like putting plutonium up there, or putting giant bundles of kinetic tungsten in space to create Hiroshima equivalent instant death missiles they call "rods from God" in near earth orbit. Maybe its because they want to build a whole new generation of "bunker busting" nuclear weapons. Maybe its because one of the Pentagon's ten over-arching "commands" is called "space command", and the guy in charge of it is named General "Lord". Or maybe it's the sound of the words "full spectrum dominance", or the fact that 15 years after the end of the Cold War the U.S. still has a hare-trigger launch-on-warning posture meaning that nuclear war could easily be triggered by a radar-glitch. Maybe it's because of none or all of these, but lately the killer resume entry I can't stop thinking about is that one of Arkhipov's: SAVED THE WORLD.


Something even those methane-eating bacteria might be impressed by.