Analysis of the 2014 World Cup

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FIFA WC 14

On Friday, December 6th, the entire world awoke with childlike anticipation, mentally preparing themselves for the results of the 2014 World Cup draw. In short, it was incredibly unkind to the U.S. My feelings about our group can be expressed by this Ron Swanson GIF:

swansonchair

To get a better sense of which groups are the toughest in 2014, I first calculated averages within each group based on FIFA world rankings. After struggling through basic math for roughly an hour, I found a chart online showing the same thing (only more organized and aesthetically-pleasing). Here it is (via Guardian U.K.):

wc groups

Group A: The Brazilians, with their immense talent and home field advantage, should advance easily. Supporters will expect to see Brazil’s characteristic trifecta of pace, ball control, and relentless attack in 2014. But the Brazilian defense shouldn’t be overlooked. Pound-for-pound, they have one of the most experienced and talented back lines in the world. Dani Alves, Thiago Silva, David Luiz, and Marcelo are all starting players on top clubs in their respective leagues. The midfield has young talent in Lucas, Oscar, and Ramires. As well as veterans, like Kaka and Ronaldinho. Rising star Neymar won MVP at the Confederations Cup this summer, where Brazil defeated Spain 3-0 in the final. They’ve already proven they can capitalize on home field advantage. And they’ve already proven they can beat the best team in the world.

Croatia, Mexico, and Cameroon, are all average. However, Croatia and Mexico are likely more favored. The Cameroon squad failed to even qualify for the 2013 African Cup, which doesn’t bode well for their prospects in the World Cup. Likely, Croatia and Mexico will face a dogfight to advance.

Top 2: Brazil/Croatia

Group B: Spain, #1 in the world and defending World Cup champions, are the easy favorite in Group B. Like Germany, the Spanish squad boasts incredible depth, with few (if any) weaknesses. Their defense is slower but arguably tougher and more experienced than Brazil’s. Spain’s midfield, however, is where their power lies. The Spanish squad boasts an unrivaled surplus of world class talent in the middle of the field. Veterans Xavi and Iniesta have both frequented the shortlist for FIFA Player of the Year as of lately:

Fifa ballon d'or

There’s also Juan Mata, David Silva, Cesc Fabregas, Jesus Navas, Santi Cazorla, and Isco (i.e. ridiculous). Forward David Villa won the Silver Boot (2nd most goals) in 2010. He’ll be returning in 2014. Also returning are the 6 players named to the all-tournament team in 2010 (the 11 best players of the competition). 6 of the 11 were Spanish. All are returning to Rio.

The Chilean squad has one of the toughest center midfielders in the world with Arturo Vidal. Chile advanced to the knockout round in 2010 and could repeat their efforts if they can at least defeat the Netherlands. But that’s a big “if”. The Dutch were World Cup finalists in 2010 and boast a threatening attack with veteran forwards Robin Van Persie and Arjen Robben. And of course, there’s Wesley Sneijder, who played stellar in South Africa. In 2010, Sneijder won the Bronze Boot (3rd most goals) and was awarded the Silver Ball (2nd best player overall) and, deservedly, was named to the all-tournament team. That was 4 years ago, however. A scrappy Chilean squad could easily surprise the Dutch in 2014.

Top 2: Spain/Netherlands

Group C: This is one of those groups where any two teams could possibly advance. But Columbia is the clear frontrunner with a brutal attack in Monaco teammates Falcao and James Rodriguez (who are already accustomed to playing with one another in club football). This should serve as an advantage come 2014. Young talents like Luis Muriel and Victor Ibarbo further strengthen Columbia’s attack. In 2012, FIFA awarded Columbia the “Best Mover of the Year” award (the team who progresses farthest in the FIFA world rankings). The 2014 squad will be keen to continue their form.

Greece, Ivory Coast, and Japan, seem evenly matched. Greece always proves to be a wildcard. In 2004, they shocked Europe by winning the UEFA Cup. Yet, they failed to make it past the group stage in the 2010 World Cup. Ivory Coast also has the potential to surprise. They boast a strong roster with Yaya Toure controlling the midfield and captain Didier Drogba upfront. Rio will likely be Drogba’s last World Cup appearance. If the team rallies around his goal-scoring ability, Cote d’Ivoire have a good chance of continuing to the knockout round. Japan advanced in 2010 but showed lackluster results recently in the Confederations Cup, losing all three matches in the group stage.

Top 2: Columbia/Ivory Coast

Group D: This group highlights an interesting phenomenon within the psyche of World Cup fans. If you’re American (or anyone else in the world besides a Brit) you agree that Group G is obviously the “group of death”. However, if you’re English, you tend to disagree. I partially sympathize with them. Group D will certainly be difficult. But I would trade Ghana for Costa Rica any day of the week.

The average world ranking of Group D is 14 overall. The next toughest is Group C with an average of 20. There’s definitely a wide gap. Both Italy and Uruguay are top 10 in the world and will prove to be very tough opponents for England. The Italian squad were finalists in the 2012 Euro Cup and advanced to the semi-finals of the Confederations Cup this summer, only losing to Spain in penalty kicks. They’re clear favorites, with good results in recent competition and a squad with a lot of experience.

Uruguay, on the other hand, is a top squad hiding under the radar. If you don’t closely follow the sport of football, Uruguay is a team that can be easily dismissed. Because, when you think of elite South American football, most people think Argentina and Brazil. But to discount this team would be foolish, for two reasons. First, Uruguay were nearly finalists in the 2010 World Cup, losing a close match to the Netherlands 3-2 in the semi-finals. They were also semi-finalists in the 2013 Confederations Cup. Second, Uruguay arguably has the strongest striking duo in the world, aside from Argentina. Luiz Suarez and Edison Cavani will be a nightmare for defenders.

England’s biggest opponent, however, is England. They have a lot talent, albeit young talent (Jack Wilshere, Ross Barkley, Danny Welbeck, Oxlade-Chamberlain). The veteran players are world class but mostly past their prime. Rooney is only 28 but always proves to be unpredictable. Gerrard and Lampard are both mid-30s and will likely be appearing in their last World Cup in 2014. Joe Hart, at least, will be reliable in goal. We shouldn’t expect the same antics we saw from England goalkeeper Robert Green in the group stage against the U.S. in 2010. Although, as an American, I will always be grateful for this epic fail:

RG gif

My favorite club team in the world is Everton, so I’m predisposed to liking the England squad. I honestly want to see them win. But something is telling me they face an early exit in 2014. In South Africa, the U.S. and England both narrowly advanced to the knockout stage. I have a sneaking suspicion that, once again, we both are destined to the same fate. This time, in the form of defeat. That being said, with England’s abundance of youth prospects, they should find themselves back in the top 10 come 2018.

Top 2: Italy/Uruguay

Group E: Switzerland is the most surprising squad in the top 10, with scarce big name talent. Granit Xhaka (21) and Xherdan Shaqiri (22) are exciting youth prospects. The Swiss will rely on them in 2014. Switzerland went undefeated over 10 games in the World Cup qualifying round (7-3-0). Then again, the toughest team in their group was Slovenia (#29 in the world). The Swiss are probably the weakest top 10 team in the world. However, in a group like the one they find themselves, expect to see them advance.

Normally, France would be favorites in Group E. But lately, the French national team is anything but normal. Stunningly, they barely qualified for this year’s World Cup. They find themselves uncharacteristically outside the top 10 (#19 in the world). And let’s not forget about the drama that unfolded at the 2010 World Cup, when an argument between captain Patrice Evra and an assistant coach led to a team revolt.

The French have the personnel to go far. But their still the French. Like England, France is their own worst enemy. Thanks to an easy group, they’ll likely advance. But the sweet 16 might be as far as they go.

Top 2: Switzerland/France

Group F: Argentina will undoubtedly have the easiest path to the knockout round (as if they needed it). Lionel Messi (4-time back-to-back FIFA World Player of the Year) shares the attack with Sergio Aguero (together, two of the top 10 best strikers in the world). Mascherano and Di Maria add depth in the midfield. Wingers Lavezzi and Palacio further bolster an intimidating attack. Argentina’s defense is nothing to write home about. But they clearly compensate for it. If Messi and Aguero get hot, the Argentines could win the cup.

First-timers Bosnia and Herzegovina will be looking to make a name for themselves on the international stage. They’re the second highest ranked team in the group but it doesn’t necessarily make them favorites to advance. #36 in the world Nigeria won the 2013 African Cup. This shouldn’t count for nothing. It’s entirely possible for the African champions to knockout higher-ranked Bosnia/Herzegovina. Iran, on the other hand, will be lucky to earn a single point in this group.

Top 2: Argentina/Nigeria

Group G: If you’re familiar with the World Cup then you’re probably familiar with the term “group of death”. If you’re unfamiliar, then get familiar with Group G. In 2014, the U.S. will face the toughest group in the tournament. Germany (#2 in the world) is an absolute powerhouse and favorites to win it all. I could name their top players but I would have to name their entire starting 11. Germany s good. Period. But let’s not forget about Portugal (#5 in the world) and Christiano Ronaldo. Love him or hate him (hate him), he’s one of the best players in the world. In 2013, Portugal were the biggest “movers” within the FIFA top 20 (shifting nine places within the rankings from #14 to #5).

Last but not least, in some cruel twist of fate, the U.S. will be playing Ghana. F***ing Ghana. If you watched the 2010 World Cup, you understand why Americans are apprehensive. The U.S. were eliminated by Ghana during the knockout round in a heartbreaking loss in extra time. Now, a rematch is inevitable, alongside the likes of Germany and Portugal. Group G is unquestionably the “group of death”. Alas, if the U.S. want to be taken seriously in the eyes of international football, this is their chance. Lucky for us, the Americans have a secret weapon…

Aston Villa v Everton - Premier League

TIM HOWARD’S BEARD

Top 2: Germany/Portugal

Group H: Expect the Belgians to sweep the group stage. Aside from Uruguay, they’re the most underrated team in the tournament. Belgium will likely be top 5 in the world come 2018, with some of the best youth prospects in football. Goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois is only 21 and already on his way to becoming world class. In the midfield, there’s Dembele, Fellaini, Witsel, Eden Hazard, and De Bruyne (with an average age of 24). Belgian’s attack is young and talented as well, with Mirallas, Lukaku, and Benteke (average age of 23). And let’s not forget about 17 year-old forward Zakaria Bakkali (rumored to be Belgium’s next wonder kid). In the back field is where Belgium’s maturity lies, with Vermaelen, Vertonghen, and Kompany on defense (still, all three are under 30).

If the Belgians play to their full potential, they have the ability to compete for the cup. But their inexperience will likely cost them in the knockout round against veteran squads like Spain and Germany. Despite their talent, Belgium is unpredictable. They dropped 6 places in the FIFA world rankings prior to the draw, falling farther than any other team in the top 20.

Advancing to the knockout round alongside Belgium will likely be Russia, who finished top of their table in World Cup qualifications (above Portugal).

Top 2: Belgium/Russia

wc match by match

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Close Encounters

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2013 meteor

On February 15th, in a scene straight out of science-fiction, a meteor struck the Urals region of Western Russia causing thousands of injuries and widespread damage. Somewhere, Michael Bay is softly whispering to himself: “They didn’t listen…”

Thanks to rampant corruption in Russian law enforcement, many drivers equip their vehicles with dashboard cameras to refute charges. It’s a hardship that Russians must endure on a daily basis. Luckily for the rest of us, their dashboard cams provided a perfect viewfinder for experiencing the meteor firsthand. [See above]

NASA estimates the Russian meteor had a diameter of 50 ft. with a mass of 10,000 tons. It was travelling nearly 40,000 mph when it entered Earth’s atmosphere. The meteor penetrated the atmosphere above Russia at a shallow angle and lasted only 30 seconds before violently exploding over the city of Chelyabinsk. At 10-15 miles above the Earth’s surface, the airburst yielded a 500 kt blast. (In comparison, the atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki we’re 15-20 kt.)

It’s been nearly a century since an event like this has occurred. In 1908, in Tunguska–a remote location of the Siberian wilderness–an explosion  flattened 80 million trees in an area spanning 800 miles. Unanimous research and eyewitness accounts point to a meteor as the cause of impact. Based on damages, scientists estimate the Tunguska meteor was over 100 ft. in diameter, exploding above the surface with a force of 10-15 megatons (1000 times more powerful than Hiroshima/Nagasaki).

The one-hundred year lapse in historic meteor strikes has caused observers to feel mainly one of two reactions: either it proves such an occurrence is so rare that it doesn’t deserve our preoccupation or it reiterates the fact that we could all die on any given day at any given time. As an existentialist and quasi-nihilist, I’m inclined to embrace the latter. More so to the point, the 2013 Russian meteor’s entry was undetected by any radar on Earth.

I’m not privy to conspiracy theories nor am I a fear-monger. Nonetheless, the Russian meteor event leads me to questions: In our lifetime, how likely is it that Earth will be obliterated by an N-E-O? And is humanity prepared in the slightest?

arma

More importantly, will Bruce Willis be there to save us?

NEO is space jargon for ‘meteors and asteroids’. It stands for “near-earth object”. It’s a classification used to identify objects whose orbit is in close proximity to Earth. In the United States, NASA has a congressional mandate to categorize all NEOs with a diameter of at least 1 km (0.621371 miles in America) (stupid metrics). These particular NEOs are scrutinized due to their potentially devastating effects to Earth. As of February 2013, 862 “large NEOs” (1 km+) have been discovered. Which seems like a lot. Until you realize how many total NEOs have been discovered:

neo discovery

9,628

While the steady increase in NEO discoveries can be mainly attributed to advancements in technology, it doesn’t deny the fact that there are a shitload of objects roaming the universe waiting to pulverize Earth’s atmosphere. As previously mentioned–the 2013 Russian meteor was undetected by radar before entry. Which proves we  can’t logistically calculate a true total. Paul Chodas, a research scientist in the Near Earth Object Program Office at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, explains that NASA is focused on large asteroids, first and foremost:

“Although the smaller ones are easier to divert, they are very difficult to detect…” -Paul Chodas

Megan Donahue, professor of physics and astronomy at Michigan State University, tweeted this:

“A meteor about the size of the Russian meteor hits about once a year (just not in a crowded area). Brown et al. 2002.”

msu graph

I don’t understand this chart, either.

University of Michigan professor Edwin Bergin claims that an impact is even less likely: “The Earth is constantly bombarded by objects from space but mostly by much smaller rocks. Rocks that are this size (5-15 meters) statistically impact the Earth once every 5 – 30 years or so, depending on the size. But the Earth is mostly covered by ocean water so the events would not be noticed as often…”

Both Donahue and Bergin’s statements are in contrast to NASA’s calculations. According to Jim Green, NASA’s director of planetary science, “These fireballs happen about once a day or so, but we just don’t see them because many of them fall over the ocean or in remote areas.”

Let’s get this straight. If we’re to believe NASA: 1.) This celestial occurrence is not yearly but daily, 2.) They’re nearly impossible to detect, and 3.)  The impact probability apparently ranges between everyday and 30 years. It seems the only factor keeping meteors from destroying random cities on Earth is pure luck. 

The modern method of categorizing the impact hazard associated with NEOs is called the Torino Scale. It utilizes color-coding to assess threat levels. It’s similar to the Bush administration’s “terror alert system”. The only difference is the Torino Scale is used for science while the terror alert system is used to justify war and unsanctioned torture.

I’m sorry, what were we talking about? Oh yeah, the Torino Scale. Check it out:

torino

The highest rated NEO in history is known formally as 99942 Apophis. Besides sounding like a Greek mailing address, Apophis is arguably the most threatening observable NEO in the galaxy. In December 2004, it received a Torino rating of 4 (the highest rating in recorded history) with an  impact date of 2029. A 4 on the Torino scale is classified as: “A close encounter, meriting attention by astronomers. Current calculations give a 1% or greater chance of collision capable of regional devastation. Attention by public and by public officials is merited if the encounter is less than a decade away.”

Apophis has since been downgraded to a 1. However, it remains a “non-zero” on the Torino scale. Which is to say, it remains a threat. Apophis was originally downgraded due the fact that further research suggested a near-miss in 2029 instead of an impact event. But research has also suggested that due to a “gravitational keyhole”, (a small region of space where Earth’s gravity would alter the orbit of a passing asteroid) Apophis might collide with Earth on a given future orbital pass. Picture a boomerang. Same idea. In other words, the close approach in 2029 could substantially alter the object’s orbit, making predictions beyond 2029 uncertain.

As an atheist, I fully embrace the ethos of science. But I’m skeptical to place 100% of my rationale in the fact that Earth is safe, based on an abstract understanding of “gravitational keyholes” and predictions about the future based on trigonometry. I know it’s math but it’s not enough sufficient evidence to ease my mind. Fun fact: Apophis is named after the Egyptian god of darkness and chaos. How apropos-phis.

In all seriousness, depending on the size of Apophis during entry and the location of the impact, this event could potentially lead to millions of casualties. Current trajectory calculations have mapped a “path of risk”. [See below] Although, predicting where it will impact seems just as trivial as predicting if it will impact.

apophis path of risk

If there is a god, he obviously hates Russia.

“It’s kind of a wakeup call that this is a tangible threat that we have to be aware of…” -Geoff Chester, astronomer with the U.S. Naval Observatory in Washington

Humanity has minimal prevention contingencies for impact events besides early detection. But the risk of your house burning down is very small and yet you still insure it against fire, right? One of the most tangible concepts for mass-casualty prevention is called ATLAS (Asteroid Terrestial-impact Last Alert System). It’s a side project of the Pan-STARRS research center in Hawaii (Pan-STARRS is currently the most powerful land-based telescope in the world).  The Pan-STARRS field of vision is “deep but narrow”, needing months to patrol the whole sky. ATLAS will provide detection in a more pragmatic sense. Still, ATLAS is merely an improved contingency for early detection, not a savior of mankind.

ATLAS

ATLAS shrugged.

The plot of Michael Bay’s ‘Armageddon’ would suggest a separate plan altogether: train a group of ragtag oil-rig workers to become astronauts, fly them into outer space, land on the incoming asteroid, drill a hole to its core, drop a nuclear bomb down that sonofabitch and BOOM. Earth=saved. Dear world, you’re welcome. Sincerely, America

Unfortunately, this plan is infeasible–even based in reality. A controlled explosion would only break an asteroid into smaller pieces. Ask yourself, would you rather dodge a bullet or shrapnel?

“Fortunately, Apophis needs to be nudged only about a mile to avoid a gravitational “keyhole” in space–a region that would send the asteroid on a collision course with Earth. Otherwise, it would have to be diverted 5000 miles for it to miss our planet. This reduces the energy required to deflect Apophis by a factor of about 10,000–making it theoretically possible using current technology. A number of methods have been proposed to do the job.” (via Popular Mechanics)

how to off an asteroid

Only downside: doesn’t involve Bruce Willis.

To quote Geoff Chester, “This is a tangible threat.” Made more tangible by the fact that the 2013 Russian meteor strike is the first to affect a human population. Additionally, the impact site was only 70 miles from the Mayak nuclear storage and disposal facility in the city of Ozyorsk [See below], which holds literal tons of weapons-grade plutonium/uranium.

c2m

Hour and a half drive to nuclear weapons storage yet no Bed, Bath, and Beyond?

If the Russian meteor had detonated only 70 miles to the Northwest (inches in terms of astronomical units), it could have severely damaged a nuclear facility site that is previously responsible for the third largest nuclear meltdown in history. Even Chelyabinsk, the meteor’s impact site, was relatively lucky. The angle of the meteor’s approach was shallow. In terms of damage, it was the equivalent of a glancing blow. A slight differentiation in trajectory and the Russian meteor could have directly impacted Chelyabinsk–a city with a population close to one million. If that had happened, we wouldn’t be talking about thousands injured. Instead, headlines would read thousands dead. This conversation would no longer be hypothetical. Regardless, whether there is one casualty or one million, the conversation should be had and it should begin now.

 What is most frightening about an impact event is that it’s surrounded by too many “ifs”. If the meteor’s trajectory was different, an entire city might have been destroyed. If the meteor’s impact was a few miles to the left or right, a nuclear disaster might have occurred. If Apophis passes through a “gravitational keyhole” in 2029, it might potentially re-enter orbit and cause global catastrophe. But the chances are small. That’s not good enough for me. I have lost all faith in probability. Especially now, after witnessing an Arkansas couple on the news winning the lottery twice in the same day.???????????????????????????????

I hope you get hit by a meteor…

The chances of winning the lottery twice in one day is approximately 1 in 1 billion. The current impact probability of Apophis is 1 in 135,000. Which means there is a 99.99926000% chance the asteroid will miss Earth. But there’s still a chance it won’t. We’re not talking about winning the lottery. We’re talking about the safety of our entire planet–our entire being.

“People have a hard time reasoning with low-probability/high-consequence risks. Some people say, ‘Why bother, it’s not really going to happen.’ But others say that when the potential consequences are so serious, even a tiny risk is unacceptable.” -Michael DeKay of the Center for Risk Perception and Communication at Carnegie Mellon University (via Popular Mechanics)
 
If Stephen and Terri Weaver of Arkansas taught us anything, it’s that nothing is impossible…
 
In summary, a piece of commentary from astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson (one of the smartest dudes on the planet):
NDT

North Korea Nuclear Weapons Testing

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The world’s most notorious, cherubic dictator, Kim Jong Un, is threatening America again. Like a villain from ‘James Bond’–both relentless and incompetent–North Korea’s leader announced plans to test nuclear weapons in direct response to U.N. sanctions. (Note: sanctions were first imposed because North Korea defied the United Nations ban on weapons testing.) I forget… what’s the definition of irony? An event that seems deliberately contrary to what one expects? Nailed it.

The U.S. envoy to North Korea claims that the DPRK is playing a game of “Risk”. For the uninitiated, “Risk” is a board game similar to “Monopoly”. While the central focus of “Monopoly” is to amass fake money and prime real-estate, winning “Risk” involves global domination with an emphasis on imperialism (fun for the whole family!) 

risk 2

Remember kids, Kamchatka is your gateway to the East.

A ‘game of Risk’ is also hyperbole describing the perceived threat of North Korea to the U.S. Only nine countries in the world claim possession of a nuclear weapons stockpile: U.S., Russia, U.K., France, China, India, Pakistan, North Korea, and Israel. But the term “stockpile” is relative. According to the FAS (Federation of American Scientists), the U.S. has a total of approximately 7,700 nuclear warheads. Nearly 2,000 are classified as ‘operational strategic’. In other words, on “high-alert”. In contrast, North Korea has a total stockpile that is less than a dozen. None of which are known to be operational.

This brings up one question in particular that encompasses the issue: why is the U.S. scared? The media has painted North Korea as if it’s the next Red Army. We allow petty weapons testing in a rogue despot state to conjure premonitions of WW3. We bombed Hiroshima and Nagasaki and we’re somehow threatened by less than a dozen non-operational warheads? That’s irrational. As irrational as our similar fear of a nuclear Iran.

America’s apprehension toward Iran is on par with North Korea. The only difference is Iran doesn’t actually possess nuclear weapons. The U.S. is merely concerned that Iran is trying to acquire weapons-grade uranium. Which is like being concerned that a drunk driver is trying to acquire gasoline, even though he doesn’t actually possess a car. Iran, only recently, launched a monkey into space for the first time. That should put their “nuclear weapons program” into perspective.

Advancements in modern technology will manifest our deepest fear: jihadist space monkeys terrorizing the universe. I foresee no hope in this bleak, dystopian future. You damn, dirty apes… 

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“Fuck you, Buzz Aldrin!”

America is the equivalent of people who build doomsday shelters: overly-prepared to face an indiscriminate threat that may or may not occur and/or exist. Our biggest enemy is our paranoia. It induces fear. Fear, if not controlled, induces stupidity. And although it goes against every pretense we have as Americans, we must try to not be stupid.

During the Cold War, a concept arose known as ‘mutually assured destruction’. It basically described the zero-sum scenario of a nuclear war between the U.S. and Russia. The proposed aftermath of a hypothetical nuclear holocaust was enough incentive for both sides to embrace proliferation. Luckily this story line never unfolded. But the concept remains relevant.

Mutually assured destruction was apropos during the Cold War due to the fact that Russia possessed a nuclear arsenal comparable to the U.S. So much so, that the combined force would likely usher an end-of-times apocalypse (see “Ice Age”). In fact, Russia remains the only country in the world with a stockpile larger than the U.S. (8,500 total). It serves as a comparison to put North Korea’s arsenal into context. The point is, if the DPRK attempt to ‘destroy’ the U.S., there will be nothing mutual about the damage dealt. Candidly speaking, Pyongyang would cease to exist. Despite our exhaustible differences, the world should never have to witness that as a form of conflict resolution, ever again.

ice age

Potentially our future.

I believe ‘mutually assured destruction’ will deter North Korea. Because I believe Kim Jong Un must have some semblance of self-awareness to lead a country (nepotism aside). I believe this to be true but I can only hope that rationale eventually supersedes delusions of grandeur. In the end, the reality is we’re human: inherently unpredictable. Like wayward monkeys lost in the cosmos. The uncertainty is disconcerting, at best.

UPDATE: Google maps North Korea. “Siri, find the nearest gulag.”