Does anyone remember the movie War Games? [Answer: sure, everyone over like 45, ya old bastid.] It had some nice memorable elements to it, including filming at several locations around Seattle — not quite where they said during the movie, but not calling it “seattle” and filming the entire thing in British Columbia like they typically do nowadays. For those who are so young as to have missed it, or so old as to at least be thinking maybe you missed it, the movie was about a hacker, played by Ferris Bueller, who logged into the US missile defense system and tried to engage the computer in some healthy exercises, not knowing he was about to launch an intercontinental nuclear war between the cold war adversaries. In the end SPOILER!!! the computer decided it was in fact all fun and games, but not before Ferris and his girlfriend Allison from the Breakfast Club became the key to the continued existence of the Earth and its inhabitants.
Anyway, all of us regular Americans (and beyond) suddenly became familiar with two key details from the US defense systems: the fact that they were headquartered inside of a mountain in Colorado, called NORAD; and that there is a condition to rate matters called DEFCON, i.e. defense condition, ranked from 5 to 1 in terms of danger level. About two years after the movie stopped showing on Cinemax, we all decided that in fact the ranking was from 1 to 5, and DEFCON 5 was the real problem, because it was too hard to remember that it actually works in reverse. But nevertheless, it does.
Which brings us directly to cycling. You see, the English-speaking world’s finest fantasy cycling game, the FSA Directeur Sportif, is coming up on its deadline THIS SATURDAY. on the eve of the first World Tour event, the UAE Tour. For all details about the game, read this post. Or if you are already a member of the Cafe (i.e. you have a login here), then go directly to the FSA DS game page and get started. Or you already started but haven’t finished. So do that. Remember, until you hit “SUBMIT” on your team, you’re not in.
Anyway, from now until Saturday I will update you on the FSA DS DEFCON rating. Today’s rating is:
DEFCON 5: Normal state of readiness. There are five days until the FSA DS closes.
A bit about DEFCON 5... this is considered a normal state, and is presumably occurring right now, although I sort of doubt anyone would tell us if it weren’t. Anyway, it just means that the military is going about its business with no particular objective they are focused on, besides the usual long list of possible future emergencies. The history of DEFCON 5 is not worth retelling, since it would entail discussing most parts of most days since the system went into place in 1966.
But a bit of background, the NORAD complex dates back to a 1950s era project between the US and Canada, as we entered the nuclear age, to create air and missile defense systems, and the one in the movie covers the continental US, while there are separate NORAD systems in Canada, Alaska, and Hawaii. NORAD is a non-acronymous acronym for the North American Aerospace Defense Command, NAADC being unpronounceable in English and sounding even vaguely Russian (boo!). NORAD rolls off the tongue, and also reminds people that this entire subject is certifiably NOT rad. At least until the aftermath, when everything is literally rad. Or radiated anyway. Fingers crossed.
The DEFCON system has been around since the 60s but its specifics were declassified in 2006. It describes the readiness and emergency status, with each DEFCON level defining both factors. It can be applied to a single base or to the entire world. There are a few interesting examples of higher levels (with lower numbers, so yeah, it’s annoying) which I will roll out each day as we head to the FSA DS deadline.
If defense systems bore you, let me rephrase the message in terms of something you can appreciate: de Ronde van Vlaanderen. Right now, at DEFCON 5, we are rolling across West Flanders with a non-threatening break a few minutes up the road, with some 200km remaining in the race. The race will actually end, and you need to be mindful of it, but I’m not insisting you do something right now.
So for now, keep tapping out that rhythm, stay alert, and for god’s sake start building your FSA DS men’s and women’s teams!