(Charles Platt is a guest blogger)
The Titan Missile Museum in Sahuarita, Arizona offers the only opportunity you'll ever have to inspect a Titan II missile close-up. It's an astonishing memorial to the paranoid insanity of the Cold War years. The control room and its systems are protected inside a giant concrete pod with walls three feet thick, located entirely underground and mounted on giant springs so that (in theory) the vintage electronics could survive shock waves of a first strike and would still be able to launch a retaliatory salvo.
My favorite souvenier from the installation is The Titan Missile Pantry Cook Book, containing recipes to make life more enjoyable underground during long waiting periods before, and perhaps after, armageddon.
Check the museum web site for tour dates—and take note of an exciting opportunity for younger visitors: “Complete the games and activities in the Junior Missileer Booklet, and when you're done, you'll receive a Junior Missileer Badge and a Certificate that certifies your qualification as a Junior Missileer. It's fun, and you'll learn a lot too.”
Even now, fifty years after the Cold War, something about nuclear weapons encourages text that reads like a parody of itself. This of course was Stanley Kubrick's great discovery, when he realized that Dr. Strangelove should be written as a comedy.