September 26, 1988 — TISM release “Great Truckin’ Songs of Renaissance”

In 1988, the anonymous masked men who comprise TISM a.k.a. This Is Serious Mum released their first album, “Great Truckin’ Songs of the Renaissance” (actually a double album, although a single CD). This 27 track magnum opus featured a mixture of songs, snatches of interviews, random strangeness, and the poetic ranting that is “Morrison Hostel”.

It reached #48 on the Australian charts, and failed to chart anywhere else. There are any number of reasons why this occurred, but the unavailability of the album on any basis other than import probably had a little to do with it.

September 26, 1983 — Stanislav Petrov’s cool head prevents nuclear war

Lieutenant Colonal Stanislav Yevgrafovich Petrov was a 44 year old officer in the Army of the Soviet Union whose assignment was to monitor the early warning systems at Serpukhov-15 base, near Moscow.

Not long after midnight on September 26, 1983, Petrov was alerted to what appeared to be an American first strike, with a single nuclear missile reported to be incoming. Only three weeks earlier, the Soviet Union had shot down a commercial jet near Korea, and tensions between the USA and USSR were running high. His orders required him to pass along the warning, but Petrov hesitated. Something didn’t feel right about this to him.

Petrov concluded that a true first strike would involve hundreds of missiles fired simultaneously, with the intention of wiping out the USSR’s capacity to retaliate. A single missile made no sense – and there were already doubts about the reliability of the early warning systems. Petrov therefore reasoned – correctly – that the missile alert was caused by a computer error, and should be ignored.

In doing so, he prevented a nuclear war from breaking out in 1983, and potentially rendering the planet uninhabitable to the majority of its species, including us. The man is a hero, and should be feted around the world for the good judgement and personal integrity he displayed in this matter. Instead, hardly anyone knows his name – but at least now you do.

September 26, 1970 — Alex Jesaulenko marks over Graeme Jenkin in the 1970 VFL Grand Final

By half time, it looked like it was all over for Carlton. Another good year for them, but on the day, Collingwood had them outmatched. Minutes before the end of the second quarter, Jesaulenko marked over Jenkin (in what would become one of the game’s most iconic images), but it availed the Blues little. When the second quarter siren sounded, Carlton trailed by 44 points, an all-but insurmountable lead.

The half-time oration by Ron Barassi, with its legendary injunction to handball, has also become legend. Carlton changed their style of play in the game’s second half, to a faster, looser style of play that depended more on handballing than kicking to move the ball forward. Carlton kicked 8 goals to Collingwood’s 3 in the third quarter, and even though they entered the final term trailing by about three goals, the momentum had decisively shifted in their direction. They won the game by only 10 points, but a narrow win is still a win.

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