What You Need to Know About DEFCONs

By Deane Barker on July 20, 2005

This morning, Joe and I were perusing through the Random Facts about Vin Diesel (don’t click it if you can’t afford to lose 15 minutes of your life). We saw a fact that went something like this:

When the grocery store runs out of Vin Diesel’s favorite ice cream, the president orders the army to DEFCON 5 and there is a total eclipse of the sun.

That’s funny, but Joe and I had a sudden attack of uneasiness about it. Something was wrong. It’s as if Billy had headed off to the well 15 minutes ago and now Lassie was barking right at us.

For those that never saw “Wargamesget off this site and never come back, the “Defense Condition” refers to the government’s general state of freaked out-edness.

Thanks to Wikipedia, we’re back up to speed about our DEFCONs. In “Wargames” (for the last time, if you haven’t seen it, you are not allowed here), they had to change DEFCON levels because Matthew Broderick and Ally Sheedy got a little too funky with their bits and bytes (and that’s not a euphemism). Dabney Coleman totally explained all this, remember?

Anyway, the DEFCON numbers are inversely proportional to how soon we’re all going to die. So DEFCON 5 is “Peacetime,” and DEFCON 1 is “Tell Your Mother-in-Law How You Really Feel.”

Here’s some trivia (because, you know, the rest of this post is critical): the Cuban Missile Crisis was the only time we’ve been at DEFCON 2 (and that was just SAC). September 11 and the Yom Kippur War rated only a DEFCON 3.

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  1. Sometimes I feel like I’m not really geeky enough to be here – I’m an artist, not a programmer – and I never comment because I figure I’ll be outed as an intruder or a spy or something. But the second I read “the president orders the army to DEFCON 5 and there is a total eclipse of the sun.” I thought – wait, but at DEFCON 5 everything’s okay! They said so in Wargames!

    Then I read the rest of your post. I guess I do belong here afterall. :)

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