This series so far has been a list of things we’re excited about– on-ice and off– for the new season. Today I wanna do something a little different. Today I want to introduce you to a man named Stanislav Petrov.
Thirty years ago, on September 26, 1983, Petrov was working on the Soviet nuclear missile defense program. His job was to monitor possible incoming attacks from the United States. If he detected an incoming attack, his job was to start the process for firing back at the US. Mutually Assured Destruction.
That night, Petrov’s early-warning system said an American attack had been launched. Five intercontinental ballistic missiles were incoming. But instead of mindlessly doing his duty, Petrov used that rarest of human talents: doubt. He judged it to be a false alarm. He did not tap the big red Пуск button that would have begun “an irreversible chain reaction in a system geared to launch a counter-strike without human interference.”
So the Russians did not fire back at the States. Petrov’s false alarm was eventually confirmed. And then he was drummed out of the military for disobeying orders.
I guess that has nothing to do with hockey, but it kind of has everything to do with hockey. Thirty years ago today, a normal guy made sure that world would spin another day just by using his noggin and his heart. That’s worth remembering, I think.
I was born that same day thirty years ago, so I think about this a lot. As Craig Ferguson might say, it was a triumph of intellect and romance over brute force and cynicism. Earth needs more of that.
P.S. – My new album is now available. It’s called Single Point of Failure, and you can download it for free. Thanks.
Russian Machine Never Breaks is not associated with the Washington Capitals; Monumental Sports, the NHL, or its properties. Not even a little bit.
All original content on russianmachineneverbreaks.com is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0)– unless otherwise stated or superseded by another license. You are free to share, copy, and remix this content so long as it is attributed, done for noncommercial purposes, and done so under a license similar to this one.