What is Mutual Assured Destruction?


Announcer

Welcome to Stuff You Should Know from HowStuffWorks.com.

Josh Clark

Hey, and welcome to the podcast. I'm Josh Clark. With me, as always is the lovely and talented Charles W. Chuckers Bryant.

Chuck Bryant

Hi.

Josh Clark

Hey Chuck.

Chuck Bryant

Hi.

Josh Clark

I see you switched hats.

Chuck Bryant

From when to when?

Josh Clark

From the Chicago Bears hat to the Atlanta Braves hat.

Chuck Bryant

Yeah, that was yesterday. Today's today.

Josh Clark

You're a man of many hats, Chuck, many fan allegiances.

Chuck Bryant

I'm not a Bears fan. You know what that was all about.

Josh Clark

Punkins.

Chuck Bryant

Yes.

Josh Clark

Punkin chunkin.

Chuck Bryant

Yes, Josh, we are going to mention, once again, the Discovery Channel, our awesome parent company, is releasing two television shows on Thanksgiving night.

Josh Clark

Don't confuse people, Chuck. They're going to be on the Science Channel.

Chuck Bryant

Well, sure.

Josh Clark

On Thursday, November 26th, which is Thanksgiving? Lots of dead, dead turkeys that day!

Chuck Bryant

Yeah, the Road to Punkin Chunkin and Punkin Chunkin.

Josh Clark

Right, the Road to Punkin Chunkin comes on at 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time on the Science Channel, followed by the real Punkin Chunkin at 9:00 p.m. Eastern.

Chuck Bryant

I would follow it up with a show called the Road from Punkin Chunkin.

Josh Clark

Right, going back home after Punkin Chunkin.

Chuck Bryant

Right.

Josh Clark

In Delaware, no less.

Chuck Bryant

So that's that, right?

Josh Clark

Sure.

Chuck Bryant

All right-y.

Josh Clark

So, Chuck.

Chuck Bryant

Yes, Josh.

Josh Clark

This - I have like a little - this seems vaguely familiar. We're talking about Mutual Assured Destruction.

Chuck Bryant

Okay. Well how does that seem familiar?

Josh Clark

Because I did it with Candace many, many moons ago on Stuff You Missed in History Class.

Chuck Bryant

Really?

Josh Clark

Back when it was called Fact or Fiction.

Chuck Bryant

Dude, that was another lifetime, wasn't it?

Josh Clark

It really was. I have so many more gray hairs now and my posture is much more stooped.

Chuck Bryant

You have the Seattle slump?

Josh Clark

I do, actually, nice one.

Chuck Bryant

Thank you.

Josh Clark

Chuck, we've talked about this. I think here or there we've mentioned it. Remember we did a podcast on How Easy is it to Steal a Nuclear Bomb.

Chuck Bryant

Sure.

Josh Clark

We concluded that if the Jamaicans are buying it and you steal it on route to Jamaica, you'd probably get away with it.

Chuck Bryant

Right.

Josh Clark

This podcast is specifically on a Cold War strategic doctrine, called Mutual Assured Destruction.

Chuck Bryant

Yeah.

Josh Clark

Which is abbreviated as MAD appropriately enough?

Chuck Bryant

Yeah, it's funny. It's like it's scary as all get out, but it's also comforting in the same breath. It's weird.

Josh Clark

Well yeah, because if you think about it, you and I grew up. We were Cold War babies.

Chuck Bryant

Sure.

Josh Clark

We grew up with the express knowledge that at any moment, nuclear war could break out. And if that happened, everyone on the planet was dead.

Chuck Bryant

Sure.

Josh Clark

And that's how we were raised. Kids that were born in the mid 80s, today, it's just nuts to me that there's people walking around that are (inaudible) that were born in the mid 80s. But kids that were born in the mid 80s and after did not grow up with that specter looming over them, and I imagine are completely different people, personality wise, than you and I.

Chuck Bryant

Well that's like everyone else on our staff, almost.

Josh Clark

Agreed.

Chuck Bryant

You ever think about that?

Josh Clark

I did not.

Chuck Bryant

There are a few old folks like us, although I'm much older than you, obviously.

Josh Clark

You definitely are.

Chuck Bryant

You like to point out.

Josh Clark

Chuck's wearing right now a jean jacket with the sharpie marker used to do the Journey logo on the back. It's pretty cool, Chuck.

Chuck Bryant

Thank you.

Josh Clark

You burn out. So Chuck, as I was saying, we grew up as cold war kids.

Chuck Bryant

Yeah.

Josh Clark

And every once in a while, you have to stop and think why didn't the U.S. and the U.S.S.R. blow one another up.

Chuck Bryant

Are you asking me that?

Josh Clark

Yeah. Well let's talk about the Cold War a little bit.

Chuck Bryant

Because the answer is the end of the podcast.

Josh Clark

Okay.

Chuck Bryant

So let's save that.

Josh Clark

All right.

Chuck Bryant

The Cold War, Josh, had a couple of really scary moments, if you want to talk about those.

Josh Clark

I do.

Chuck Bryant

The Cuban Missile Crisis.

Josh Clark

That was a pretty tense couple of weeks.

Chuck Bryant

Probably the first one in 1962. President Kennedy threatened to strike once he found out that Russia had moved - or I guess the Soviet Union had moved missiles to Cuba and were pointing them at his face.

Josh Clark

And Cuba, it seems like a world away, but it's really just 90 miles off the southern coast of Florida.

Chuck Bryant

A short boat ride.

Josh Clark

Right, so if you have long range nuclear warheads pointed at the U.S., they can hit their mark, probably as far as Kansas City, let's say.

Chuck Bryant

Right.

Josh Clark

It could definitely hit Tempe.

Chuck Bryant

Sure. That was a scary couple of weeks.

Josh Clark

Sure it was because there was a standoff, basically. We were saying hey, we're going to nuke you if you don't remove these missiles.

Chuck Bryant

Right.

Josh Clark

And the Soviet Union said oh yeah, well we'll nuke you back.

Chuck Bryant

Nanny, nanny, boo, boo.

Josh Clark

And you can actually - you can point to this as, perhaps, the beginning of the MAD doctrine.

Chuck Bryant

Right, sure. And the other scary one was in 1980 when Jimmy Carter - this was weird.

Josh Clark

Chuck, this actually happened like several times.

Chuck Bryant

I know.

Josh Clark

This is probably the worst.

Chuck Bryant

That's some bad communication going on. What happened was NORAD got some information that the Soviet Union had launched 2220 nuclear missiles our way.

Josh Clark

So Chuck, yeah, NORAD, which is like our command center for our missile system.

Chuck Bryant

Yeah, air defense.

Josh Clark

Deep in Cheyenne Mountain in Colorado.

Chuck Bryant

Nice.

Josh Clark

On some compute screen, some guy's computer screen that tracks Soviet missile movement, all of a sudden, it was just peppered with missiles that were coming this way. And National Security Director, Brzezinski.

Chuck Bryant

Nice job. Is that right?

Josh Clark

I think it's right. I can't remember.

Chuck Bryant

A lot of consonants.

Josh Clark

And it's not that I can't remember. It's that I've never heard it.

Chuck Bryant

I haven't either.

Josh Clark

Brzezinski.

Chuck Bryant

Sure.

Josh Clark

We're going with Brzezinski. He was alerted, pretty early in the morning, right?

Chuck Bryant

Yeah, 2:00 a.m.

Josh Clark

He was alerted and woken up. And they were like hey, there's a Soviet missile strike, an all out missile strike.

Chuck Bryant

2220 missiles coming out way, sir.

Josh Clark

And he is picking up the phone to call President Carter, who I don't know what Carter would have done. Carter wasn't exactly the most militant president we've ever had. Great guy! Great statesman, great diplomat!

Chuck Bryant

He might have pooped his pants and gone back to bed. Who knows?

Josh Clark

Maybe so, but the - that was terrible.

Chuck Bryant

He wouldn't have done that.

Josh Clark

He never got that phone call because Brzezinski was informed that oh wait, it's a computer glitch.

Chuck Bryant

Right, they whacked the side of the monitor and it all corrected itself. What shocked me was it was a seven minute window that we had to decide what to do.

Josh Clark

Well it's a long way from the Soviet Union to the U.S., even by way of Alaska.

Chuck Bryant

Seven minutes, that's scary.

Josh Clark

Yeah.

Chuck Bryant

You have to make up your mind in seven minutes whether or not you're going to destroy the world, basically.

Josh Clark

I'm saying you would think that it would be less than seven minutes.

Chuck Bryant

Oh well, yeah, that's scary too.

Josh Clark

And I'm telling you that was probably the worst case, but that happened many times during the course of the Cold War.

Chuck Bryant

Right.

Josh Clark

And from what I understand, the Soviets had similar incidents, too, right?

Chuck Bryant

Did they?

Josh Clark

Yeah. So we have these incidents. We have the Cuban Missile Crisis. Why didn't either side pull the trigger?

Chuck Bryant

Because of the doctrine, the MAD doctrine.

Josh Clark

Yes.

Chuck Bryant

Basically which indicates that everyone will die, so we blow everybody up on both sides, so let's not do that.

Josh Clark

Right, and the U.S.S.R. and the United States could actually, very quickly, from 1947 to 1941, both nations were building up their nuclear arsenals. This was called nuclear proliferation, right?

Chuck Bryant

Yes, yes.

Josh Clark

I think I got that out.

Chuck Bryant

Sort of.

Josh Clark

Nuclear proliferation.

Chuck Bryant

Nice.

Josh Clark

You take that one for the rest of the podcast, okay.

Chuck Bryant

Okay.

Josh Clark

And so each side had this arsenal and were keeping up, in step with one another.

Chuck Bryant

You know what that's called?

Josh Clark

Yeah.

Chuck Bryant

Nuclear parity.

Josh Clark

Yeah.

Chuck Bryant

Which is, ideally, what you want, strangely?

Josh Clark

Yes, in this case, you definitely do. So both sides had more than enough nuclear missiles to wipe out, not just the other side, but the entire planet, several times over. That's a really important point, several times over. Why would you need a nuclear arsenal that could wipe out the world, the planet, several times over?

Chuck Bryant

Maybe if they destroyed some of our weaponry with airstrikes.

Josh Clark

That's part of it.

Chuck Bryant

Okay.

Josh Clark

But another part of it is because if one side adds a missile, you've got to add a missile.

Chuck Bryant

Well yeah.

Josh Clark

If you're seeking nuclear parity, which is really important, then it can't be out of whack.

Chuck Bryant

How did they - did they release all this information to each other?

Josh Clark

No, it was intelligence, guesses, that kind of stuff. All of a sudden, there's a metal hole in the ground in Wyoming that wasn't there before. The Soviets probably assumed, oh, well they have a new nuclear warhead there.

Chuck Bryant

They didn't IM each other and say built new missile, LOL.

Josh Clark

LOL.

Chuck Bryant

Click. I knew you were going to say that.

Josh Clark

I knew you were going to say that. So both sides are building up their arsenal. And early on, Chuck, I was reading another article on game theory, which we'll see plays into this, written by our esteemed colleague and my BFF, Tom Scheve. And he talks about how early on, apparently, Eisenhower who is what, the second president to have the bomb, but really the first president to manage a mass nuclear arsenal.

Chuck Bryant

To love the bomb.

Josh Clark

Yeah, he stopped worrying. He looked at them as any other type of weapon because he was a military man.

Chuck Bryant

Right.

Josh Clark

But luckily, there was a game theorist, named Thomas Schelling, who had the ear of Eisenhower and managed to convince him that no, no, no, these things are way, way more powerful and destructive than anything else in our arsenal. They exist in this vacuum that has to be kept separate. And therefore, they should be viewed only as deterrents. And he managed to change Eisenhower's view.

Chuck Bryant

Right.

Josh Clark

And from that point on, it was the presence of a nuclear arsenal was a weapon, in and of itself.

Chuck Bryant

It was the preventative, not only to nuclear war, but the point that - did you write this one?

Josh Clark

Uh-huh.

Chuck Bryant

The point that you made, which I found interesting, was that it also was a deterrent to conventional war.

Josh Clark

Excellent point.

Chuck Bryant

Because conventional war, really, after the arms race, there was no such thing as conventional war.

Josh Clark

No, not between the U.S. and the U.S.S.R., right?

Chuck Bryant

Or a guaranteed conventional war. It might start out that way, but it would escalate and all of a sudden, the button is pushed at some point.

Josh Clark

Right, because our nuclear arsenal did exist, in say a vacuum, outside of the reset of our arsenal. But once you exhausted the rest of the arsenal, then the inevitable conclusion was that nuclear arsenal being deployed, right?

Chuck Bryant

Right, or even if you didn't exhaust it, even if you just said you know what -

Josh Clark

Just got mad.

Chuck Bryant

Let's just end this game.

Josh Clark

Exactly. So as a result, the U.S. and the U.S.S.R. just fought a Cold War. They never directly engaged with one another. But they fought one another through proxy wars, in places like Nicaragua and Afghanistan.

Chuck Bryant

Sure. Got a lot of good movies out of the Cold War!

Josh Clark

Definitely, Rambo III.

Chuck Bryant

Yeah, and some good James Bond movies in that time. I liked it when the Ruskies was the villain.

Josh Clark

You like the James Bond movies of the Cold - well, okay, yeah, maybe the early ones. I'm thinking like Timothy Dalton era.

Chuck Bryant

Yeah, trust me. Roger Moore is kind of a laughable Bond, now that I'm older and look back.

Josh Clark

You're crazy. Roger Moore is the best James Bond ever.

Chuck Bryant

That's because we grew up with him. But looking back, I mean come on. Roger Moore was kind of a dufe. No?

Josh Clark

Maybe, but I think that was his director that he was working with.

Chuck Bryant

I kind of like Pierce Brosnan. He was good.

Josh Clark

He was okay. I'm pretty hip on the Daniel Craig. He's all right.

Chuck Bryant

Well, that's the only direction they could take that, really.

Josh Clark

What, blonde?

Chuck Bryant

No, just more realistic, butt kicking with fists and that kind of thing.

Josh Clark

You don't think Moonraker was realistic?

Chuck Bryant

He was constantly winking at the camera, making bad -

Josh Clark

Can you believe I'm saying this? Yeah, it's like Jonathan Strickland as James Bond, I guess.

Chuck Bryant

Right. Good one. All right, so, sorry about the side track!

Josh Clark

Yeah.

Chuck Bryant

What happened was we created a detente. It wasn't like okay, we all have the same amount of weapons, so we're BFFs now and it's all good. It was a detente, meaning it was sort of a - what's the best description of that?

Josh Clark

An uneasy truce.

Chuck Bryant

Yeah.

Josh Clark

Yeah. So basically, the U.S. and the U.S.S.R. had our weapons and we're keeping an eye on one another. Any time one added a new missile or some new capability, the other scrambled to catch up and vice versa. And we just basically went to sleep with one eye open for the next several decades, right?

Chuck Bryant

Right. So Josh, what two things have to take place in order to achieve this weird stability?

Josh Clark

Well, the weird stability, the very fact that it existed, it wasn't an organic - it wasn't organically created by the presence of nuclear weapons, right.

Chuck Bryant

Okay.

Josh Clark

Henry Kissinger, who was Secretary of State throughout much of the Cold War.

Chuck Bryant

Love Kissinger.

Josh Clark

He actually was a huge fan of game theory. He took a lot of game theory classes when he was an underclassman at Harvard. And he kept in touch with game theory and hung out with gain theorists. And he, actually, was one of the people who was responsible for applying game theory to nuclear strategy.

Chuck Bryant

Really?

Josh Clark

Yeah.

Chuck Bryant

Did not know that.

Josh Clark

And other people kind of caught on and saw that there was a lot of merit and validity to viewing nuclear strategy through game theory, right?

Chuck Bryant

Sure. So the two things really are having that arsenal.

Josh Clark

You asked that part.

Chuck Bryant

I'll answer my own question. What's key is A) to have the weapons to begin with.

Josh Clark

Right.

Chuck Bryant

And then as Robert McNamara points out, the Defense Secretary in 1960s, was that you have to believe that the other guys actually has the cajones to pull the trigger.

Josh Clark

Right, and apparently, both the U.S. and the U.S.S.R. liked to leak false information about how crazy their leaders were.

Chuck Bryant

Right.

Josh Clark

Do you remember how we were brought up viewing the Russians?

Chuck Bryant

Sure.

Josh Clark

Like they were all nuts, right?

Chuck Bryant

Uh-huh.

Josh Clark

They would just push the button at any second.

Chuck Bryant

Yeah, they wanted American blood.

Josh Clark

Apparently, that was planted by the Russians because you have to believe that the other guy is willing to strike.

Chuck Bryant

Right.

Josh Clark

And not just create a first strike, but definitely a counterstrike, as well, right?

Chuck Bryant

Sure.

Josh Clark

So if you are assured that if you launch a first strike, that the other side is going to launch a retaliatory strike, what you've just done by launching that first strike is committed suicide.

Chuck Bryant

Pretty much.

Josh Clark

The basis of Mutual Assured Destruction is that nobody wants to die.

Chuck Bryant

Right.

Josh Clark

Okay?

Chuck Bryant

Yeah, yeah. And also at the time - I mean at first, the way the nuclear warheads developed over the years is pretty cool because like you pointed out; at first it was just a big huge dopey bomb that would just blow up everything.

Josh Clark

Have you seen pictures of fat boy and little man?

Chuck Bryant

Yeah.

Josh Clark

They really do -

Chuck Bryant

They look like cartoon bombs.

Josh Clark

They do, very much so.

Chuck Bryant

They're like Bugs Bunny would drop out of the back of a plane.

Josh Clark

Yeah. Did you know they weren't the same type of bomb? Fat man, which was dropped on Nagasaki, was plutonium. And little by, which was dropped on Hiroshima, was uranium.

Chuck Bryant

Interesting.

Josh Clark

I didn't know that. And they were working on both of these. So basically we split the atom in the late 30s and all of a sudden, we're just working on any kind of atomic bomb we want.

Chuck Bryant

Right, right.

Josh Clark

its nuts.

Chuck Bryant

So over the years, though, it became very precise and much more strategic.

Josh Clark

Yes.

Chuck Bryant

So you could, let's say, send your nuclear warheads to specific military targets, at first, obviously to wipe out some of that capability.

Josh Clark

Hold on. You're talking about escalation. Let's talk about the nuclear proliferation. Was it just in -

Chuck Bryant

Was it called the ladder of escalation?

Josh Clark

Well hold on. Let's talk about where the nukes were, right.

Chuck Bryant

Okay.

Josh Clark

So at the height of the Cold War, it wasn't just missile silos in Wyoming and -

Chuck Bryant

Kansas, right?

Josh Clark

Ukraine. There was European theater, eastern and western. We had nuclear warheads all over the place there. At any given time, both the Soviets and the U.S. had aircraft in the air, at any point in time.

Chuck Bryant

With nuclear bombs.

Josh Clark

With nukes, right. We had nuclear submarines all over the globe.

Chuck Bryant

Yeah.

Josh Clark

So land, sea and air, both sides had it covered, right. So okay, the world is completely covered with thermonuclear devices.

Chuck Bryant

Right.

Josh Clark

Very high-tech delivery systems, right?

Chuck Bryant

Uh-huh, specific.

Josh Clark

And both sides have enough to wipe the other one off the planet several times. We're at a detente, right?

Chuck Bryant

Big time.

Josh Clark

So what happens if somebody does launch a first strike? Because it's no longer a holocaust where we're just shooting missiles any more, we have the capability to launch a precise surgical strike.

Chuck Bryant

Well there would be a counterstrike.

Josh Clark

There is, but this is where the ladder of escalation you were talking about comes in.

Chuck Bryant

Well yeah, you liken it to a chess game. There's a strike, then a counter strike and then increasing levels of strikes as they climb up the ladder. Isn't that how it works?

Josh Clark

Yeah, it's like trading punches, right.

Chuck Bryant

Right.

Josh Clark

So you start out soft. And I hit you.

Chuck Bryant

I don't, buddy. I bring it all from the beginning.

Josh Clark

Then I'm really glad you weren't at the helm of the United States or the U.S.S.R. during the Cold War. But let's say we were evenly matched, right?

Chuck Bryant

Yeah.

Josh Clark

And I punch you. You punch me a little harder. I punch you a little harder. And then it keeps going on until finally one of us is like okay, stop. But what we've done is we've escalated the damage we're doing to one another.

Chuck Bryant

Right.

Josh Clark

But there's something very important that's easily overlooked in that trade of punches. There's a moment that comes after each punch.

Chuck Bryant

Where someone might quit.

Josh Clark

Where somebody has the options to quit.

Chuck Bryant

Sure.

Josh Clark

Right?

Chuck Bryant

Yeah.

Josh Clark

Or trade another punch. And if you trade another punch, you're going to escalate.

Chuck Bryant

Right, so in the case of nuclear arms that are real precise at this point, they take out a few of our military bases. We take a few of theirs out. And all of a sudden, one of the leaders steps back and says wait a minute. We're going to annihilate everybody. We have to stop. You win.

Josh Clark

Exactly. And what's crazy is the fact there would even be a retaliatory strike is all based on saving face.

Chuck Bryant

Sure.

Josh Clark

Which is kind of disgusting, in and of itself. Yeah, both sides had this kind of agreement. I can't remember what it was called, where it's like in the ladder of escalation, first you start with say a nuclear silo. And then the next rung on the ladder is actual troops. And then the next rung after that is maybe a rural area. And then after that, it's like a city and it keeps going.

Chuck Bryant

They're IMing each other between. Give up yet?

Josh Clark

Both sides knew what was coming next as part of the ladder of escalation.

Chuck Bryant

Yeah.

Josh Clark

Luckily we never engaged in that.

Chuck Bryant

Luckily there was no instant messaging back then, too.

Josh Clark

I know.

Chuck Bryant

It would have been fun.

Josh Clark

Or it could have saved - well I guess we were saved. But, Chuck, I know you recognize the ladder of escalation because your favorite movie or one of them had this factor heavily into it.

Chuck Bryant

Sure, War Games. Did we talk about this one in the Steal a Nuclear Bomb, or was it another one?

Josh Clark

We've talked about it at least one other time.

Chuck Bryant

Yeah, it's a great movie.

Josh Clark

What are we up to, like 10,090 podcasts so far?

Chuck Bryant

I think so. We've mentioned War Games in about half of those.

Josh Clark

I would say so.

Chuck Bryant

In 1983, a young Matthew Broderick.

Josh Clark

Extremely young.

Chuck Bryant

Although he still looks exactly the same.

Josh Clark

He really does, doesn't he?

Chuck Bryant

He doesn't age.

Josh Clark

Sarah Jessica Parker hasn't aged either.

Chuck Bryant

Yeah, but if you look at Square Pegs her versus Sex and the City, there's quite a difference.

Josh Clark

Okay.

Chuck Bryant

Although, I still don't find her very attractive, to be honest.

Josh Clark

Oh, Chuck.

Chuck Bryant

I'm going to hear from the ladies on that one.

Josh Clark

And Sarah Jessica Parker.

Chuck Bryant

Dude, if she listened to this show that would be great. You're really hot, Sarah Jessica Parker. Yeah, Josh, in War Games, Matthew Broderickhacks into the NORAD system to play some games. And what he chooses to play is thermonuclear war. And the computer, constantly, the end of the movie, it's like the only way to win is not to play.

Josh Clark

Right.

Chuck Bryant

Which is true?

Josh Clark

Which is actually correct?

Chuck Bryant

And that is right on the money.

Josh Clark

It's also akin to an actual game theory exercise called the prisoner's dilemma.

Chuck Bryant

Yeah, that's cool. Tell us about that, Josh.

Josh Clark

Well the prisoner's dilemma, let's say you have two accomplices in a crime that are separated.

Chuck Bryant

Let's say it's you and me.

Josh Clark

All right. So Chuck, you're being interrogated in Room A.

Chuck Bryant

Josh did it.

Josh Clark

Well, we're both in trouble, right? Or I am in trouble and you're not. But let's say we're actually buddies and we like each other outside of the podcast.

Chuck Bryant

Sure, that would be cool.

Josh Clark

And we've committed a jewel heist. So we've been caught, but nobody has said anything yet. You're in interrogation Room A. I'm in interrogation Room B. The problem is I have no idea what you're doing. You have no idea what I'm doing.

Chuck Bryant

Sure.

Josh Clark

If you implicate me, I go to jail. You go free. If I implicate you, you go to jail. I go free.

Chuck Bryant

But you're a rat.

Josh Clark

If we both implicate each other, we both go to jail. What's the best option here?

Chuck Bryant

To not say a word.

Josh Clark

Not say a word, and then neither one of us is implicated and we both go free.

Chuck Bryant

That's a classic TV and movie thing, too, when you always split them up. And you always go into the one room and say your partner is in there singing like a bird.

Josh Clark

Yeah, stoolie.

Chuck Bryant

Yeah.

Josh Clark

See. Rocky's going to fix you, see, yeah.

Chuck Bryant

See. And then all of a sudden, they get that prisoner or that criminal to rat out the other guy because they think that they're being ratted out.

Josh Clark

Which is stupid.

Chuck Bryant

Yeah, they should just keep their mouth shut.

Josh Clark

Just keep your mouth shut. Here's a lesson to our younger viewers, keep your mouth shut.

Chuck Bryant

Yeah, that's good. That's always good. Never rat people out.

Josh Clark

All right. So if you want to read more about Mutual Assured Destruction, frankly, I think that I wrote this a little flowery.

Chuck Bryant

It's a good article, actually.

Josh Clark

It was one of my favorite ones. It was just interesting. You can type in Mutual Assured Destruction on the site. It will also bring up Tom Scheve's game theory article, which is definitely worth reading, as well. And you will type that in to the handy search bar, which means that it's time for listener mail.

Chuck Bryant

Indeed. Josh, I'm going to call this our first genuine unicorn e-mail.

Josh Clark

All right.

Chuck Bryant

Sort of.

Josh Clark

What about the ones where people sent us pictures of unicorns, it's not genuine?

Chuck Bryant

No.

Josh Clark

Okay.

Chuck Bryant

That's false. Hi Chuck and Josh. You mentioned that you wanted some unicorn stories and I couldn't resist sending you this one. It might be a good lead-in to a podcast on traditional medicines. This will all make sense in a minute.

Josh Clark

Okay.

Chuck Bryant

I just got back from a trip to Vietnam and as a part of my trip, I went into the hill country in Northern Vietnam, called Sapa. This is where many minority tribes are residing. And part of their way of life is selling their wares to tourists and offering home stays. Kind of cool! After a day hike, a group of us ended up at a family home, and they served us a delicious dinner of traditional food and something they called happy water.

Josh Clark

I like the sound of that.

Chuck Bryant

It's homemade rice wine. You can imagine why it's called happy water. It got us a little giggly, to begin with. And what really got us going was seeing the lady of the house nonchalantly walk out of the kitchen with a cow's horn stuck to her forehead, as if she were a unicorn.

Josh Clark

Okay.

Chuck Bryant

When we finally contained ourselves, we all felt like schleps because our guide explained that this was a traditional way of getting rid of headaches. You put the horn in the fire. You brand it to your forehead. And then after a short time, you take it off. For the next two weeks, you have the round red mark on your forehead. Maybe it hurt more than the headache and therefore, it took her mind off of it. I'm not sure.

Josh Clark

That doesn't sound like the best -

Chuck Bryant

Crazy?

Josh Clark

Yeah.

Chuck Bryant

Anyway, this is my semi-unicorn story. Thanksfor the great podcast, from Ang, who is a Canadian, listening in Indonesia.

Josh Clark

And say Vietnam again.

Chuck Bryant

Vietnam, Nam.

Josh Clark

Well thanks Ang for that. Actually yes, that is definitely the closest thing to an actual unicorn listener mail we've gotten so far.

Chuck Bryant

Indeed.

Josh Clark

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