July 31, 2007
Very light posting is imminent as I hop on the plane in 10 hours.
I may post some from Japan but frankly I'm going to be trying to do lots of actually cool stuff that doesn't involve computers or my normal Walter Mitty lifestyle.
As per the advice of the UNSTOPPABLE Stephen Den Beste
I'm shutting off comments for at least a few days to thwart the spamacons.
I'll be back in 22 days.
I want to thank everyone for the input and reading this little blog.
Don't go roaming with the i-Phone.
I'm glad I'm not rich...or I'd be broke.
HT: Jerry Pournelle
Instead of giving them Alaska proper, why not just send them Ted Stevens instead?
...probably because most of them just creeped people out.
HT: Rand Simberg
I realized earlier today that my insurance bill comes due a few days before I an scheduled to return. Given this trip is going to be an extreme budget adventure, this was a highly unwelcome realization.
There was considerable temptation to pay it when I get back as I'd still be within the grace period for payments. Of course there is social responsibility to consider. If my very modestly insured mobile home has a 4 day lapse in coverage this will undoubtedly call forth a terrible hurricane upon Southeastern Virginia.
So I bit the bullet and paid the bill.
As there will be no lapse in coverage....no hurricane is likely to hit.
No doubt I just saved Hampton Roads.
(Of course Pat Robertson will get all the credit)
*Legal notice: Brickmuppet Blog accepts no responsibility for any hurricanes hitting Hampton Roads during the month of August 2008. No actual hurricane protection is suggested or implied by this lame blog post.
Related is this series of articles that proposes ideas for dealing with the threat to Canadian sovereignty over arctic islands that is posed by...er...Denmark.
Canada, Denmark the USA, Norway and Russia all have competing and occasionally overlapping claims in the Arctic. Given the recent flexing of Russia's muscles in the area (we HAVE the receipt thank you) it is logical to focus on that rather than two of the more peaceful nation in the world....but the situation in the Davis straits is rather fuzzy legally as it was never really an issue before. Now as the Polar cap recedes and turns this rescource rich area into a major shipping lane and makes getting at those resources tenable things could get interesting. A real war between Canada and Denmark is, of course, unlikely but something similar to the cod war could actually occur.
Of course this is another reason for the Coast Guard to keep and augment its red hull fleet.
July 28, 2007
CGX has been in the pipe for some time, but this article mentions a much larger vessel also being contemplated.
The other new cruiser would be a much larger, 25,000-ton nuclear-powered ship with a more conventional flared bow, optimized for the ballistic missile defense (BMD) mission.
This is certainly interesting and there is more on it here.
25,000 tons is in the ballpark of the size of most historical dreadnoughts. This is a BIG ship if built.
Here is an accurate representation of what such a ship will almost certainly not look like.
This seems at first blush like good news but a total of 19 ships (14 of the CGX and 5 of these very large ships) is not going to replace 27 no matter how capable ones ship is. The finest ship in the world is no good if it is not present and cutting the numbers of ships reduces both the chances that a US vessel will be present, and makes it less possible to make good losses.
While the size of the vessels in question should not have a great bearing on costs (steel is cheap compared to the electronics that make up most of the cost of warships today) adding nuclear power will, in all probability, cause costs to cascade exponentially.
With only 5 contemplated, their utility will be limited and it might be better to build more similarly sized conventionally powered ships.
Of course the flip side of this is that the Navy does need to cut its dependence on oil and this program may be a way to jump start that transition.
The propulsion plant contemplated seems to be a semi off-the shelf "half carrier" plant which makes sense but is disappointing.
Now USN nuclear plants have had amongst the best safety records in the world since the late 1950s, but if they are going to spend this much money (and nuclear ships are hella-expensive) then they might as well go with a newer reactor design like the naval thorium reactor proposed here. This could potentially be a boon for both civilian and naval affairs if very safe compact reactors were developed from this. Of course boondogalage is rampant in government financed programs so I'd suggest they simply offer a prize for a satisfactory design.
That is unlikely to happen and there are other concerns as well.
The Democratic congress which is generally not a fan of defense spending of any sort, lukewarm at best to nuclear power, and vehemently opposed to Ballistic Missile Defense...is now pressuring the Navy to build a nuclear powered ballistic missile defense ship....Oh and they are going to reccomend canceling the improved naval Anti Ballistic missile missile while they are at it...
They also say the analysis will recommend dropping the Kinetic Energy Interceptor (KEI) from the CG(X) program.
The KEI is a large ballistic missile-defense rocket under development by Northrop Grumman as a ground- or sea-based weapon to intercept ballistic missiles in their boost, ascent and midcourse flight phases.
The KEI is much larger than the SM-3 Standard missile developed by Raytheon to arm Navy cruisers and destroyers for the BMD role. The 40-inch diameter KEI is nearly 39 feet long, while the 21-inch diameter SM-3 stands just over 21 feet tall. Both missiles use a kinetic energy warhead, intended to ram an enemy missile.
Sources said a missile launch tube for a KEI would need to be so large it would take the place of six SM-3 launch cells.
This seems like blinkered logic to me.The Evolved SeaSparrow Missile can be quadpacked into a standard vertical launch cell...see...
....so there seems to be little reason that six regular sized cells (or their analogues) could not be substituted for one of these KEI missiles if greater combat persistence against non-ballistic or super high flying targets were required. (The big tube might be adaptable for a big bombardment rocket as well). This cuts the future missile defense capability and puts most of the missile defense eggs into a very expensive 5-ship basket that seems prone to the sort of cost overruns and cancellations that have plagued US naval procurement of late.. So one can be forgiven for looking this gift horse in the mouth.
Anyway, I'm a big fan of nuclear power, I want the navy to have good ships, and ship size is not in and of itself a major cost driver and has tremendous advantages in survivability, effectiveness, and availability (read seakeeping). However I'm not convinced...especially given the issues facing the similar but theoretically less ambitious DDX program ...that this proposal is terribly well thought out....It certainly has potential but needs a bit of scrutiny.
For those unclear on the concept of "cruisers" all is explained at this excellent site that discusses cruisers in general and gives a very good overview of what cruisers are and arent. It also has some very interesting bits on two cancelled projects from the late 80's early 90s.
For those interested in maritime applications for and challenges to atomic power check out this long and comprehensive report.
Thanks to Dr. Crouch for making it public and Kirk Sorensen for pointing it out.
Full Disclosure: this whole post is waaay beyond my paygrade.
The implications of this are just beginning to fully register, specifically the fact that....
HOLY FREAKING CRAP!!!
I'M ACTUALLY GOING TO JAPAN!!!
I should, you know, pack or something.
This morning I had another flat tire on I664. As I was changing it the highway assistance people showed up. This was welcome as the blinky lights dissuaded anyone from turning me into an overage student road pizza, but I was largely finished by the time the truck arrived.
Most disturbing was his surprise that I knew how to change said tire. It seems he'd changed 5 over the course of the weekend. Yeesh!
Off to study Japanese....oh...and pack.
July 27, 2007
This should fail the suspension of disbelief test...she's a bit odd, indeed goofy on occasion....
....but she's a very interesting, intelligent person with a strong moral compass and general decency and is cute (and a chesty Asian redhead!?) Yet he is utterly oblivious to her attentions.
Invisible monsters I can handle...but this....
Update: Regards asinine theories in the comments. Loituma is a traditional Finnish folk band.
Also, If you prefer your Finnish earbugs with a more contemporary flavor (and to eventually end) then click below....you know you want to.
But that's not all at no extra charge, our intrepid researcher finds that it is alleged that NASA astronauts took off drunk, yes drunk, no they are really saying that the astronauts flew drunk!
Note that at least one of these incidents involved a NASA astronaut on a Soyuz flight. IIRC the Russians take a nip before their flights so this may have been "diplomacy" of a sort. At any rate an American on a Soyuz would be a passenger. Still not good at all and the report concerning the T-38 flight is terribly worrisome.
BUT WAIT THERES MORE!!
There is embezzlement too!
A former NASA employee is accused of stealing more than $150,000 from government coffers, according to a report released Thursday.
Elizabeth Ann Osborne, 52, who resigned in October after 31 years at the space agency, pleaded guilty to embezzling public money as part of an agreement made with the U.S. Attorney's Office on July 17, Local 6 News partner Florida Today reported.
And finally via NasaWatch comes this partial list of explanations for $94 million in missing stuff...
Explanations Provided for Equipment Loss in Which No One Was Held Accountable
Equipment description - Equipment value (dollars) - Explanation provided
Desktop computer and laser printer - 4,855 - My wife needed a computer at home to perform her work as a real estate broker so I checked one out from the surplus stock available. I turned the computer back in when she was done using it but never received a receipt.
Laptop computer - 4,265 - This computer, although assigned to me, was being used on board the International Space Station. I was informed that it was tossed overboard to be burned up in the atmosphere when it failed.
Various missing property, 65 items - 850,321- A thorough and reasonable search was conducted but we were unable to locate the missing property. In general, the missing items consist of older equipment that has been replaced or is no longer necessary for standard operations.
Source: GAO analysis of NASA's fiscal year 2006 equipment loss reports.
July 25, 2007
The tabloid's publisher, American Media Inc., issued a brief statement that announced the Aug. 27 issue would be Weekly World News' last. It called the closure necessary "due to the challenges in the retail and wholesale magazine marketplace that have impacted the newsstand."
Thankfully for those of us tracking the Bat Child, this treasure trove of knowledge will maintain a web presence.
Go buy one for the DM!
(I'm sure he'll slip you 50 XPs)
SAN JOSE, Costa Rica (Reuters) - Scientists in Costa Rica have run a plasma rocket engine continuously for a record of more than four hours, the latest achievement in a mission to cut costs and travel time for spacecraft.
More on Ad-Astra rockets, the company involved, here. A discussion of this story (which is actually from June) is going on at Nasa Spaceflight. VASIMR or VAriable Specific Impulse Magnetoplasma Rockets are plasma thrusting engines of fuel efficiency comparable to ion engines, but they have the ability to be throttled and vastly increase thrust for short periods. While this is not enough thrust to launch a rocket from earth it gives certain advantages over ion engines in speed and keeps the long endurance, constant thrust advantage of the ion engines. More on these interesting rockets here, here and here.
The fact that the founders of Ad Astra Rockets had to leave NASA to pursue this is dismaying, but their perseverance does seem to have paid off!
Now complaints about the quality of thought put forth by the rabble is not without some merit. The history of democracies is as old as the first lynch mob, which, of course, is why this nations founders strove to give us a Republic.
The internet has vastly lowered the bar for publishing and done an end-run around the editors that were once the gatekeepers. The result, more often than not, HAS been semi literate "cranks with chips on their shoulders" typing out unfocused digressions and on the fly media reviews without the benefit of any deep literary appreciation or other expertise. To find such 'travesties of the tubes' one need not look far....
That example notwithstanding, I think the benefits of this unkempt stream of consciousness do outweigh the downsides. The Jayson Blair fiasco is mentioned in the comments and it is important to remember that Walter Duranty got to keep the Pulitzer given to him by those same hallowed gatekeepers.
Is there a colossal cacophony cretins creating cartloads of craptacular crap plaguing the interweb?
But one can turn it off or on with a mouse click...and the potential to bypass the people who fancy themselves arrestor switches on society is what really gets up many of these peoples nose. As Colleen points out...
The artiest of the art crowd is just as inflexible, narrow-minded, and cliquish as they would presume a community of Mennonites to be; their idea of what is acceptable is different, but no less rigid in context.
The second link is closely related and bears reading as well. Both have lively comment threads that warrant a look....the second of which is launched by an accusatory comment from some Parsons wannabe who one could be forgiven for thinking is a bitter, out-of work-editor...a rather bad one.
Anyway, enough of my rambling, go read both posts.
I'm tired of work and fearful of something happening in the next few days to botch the trip. I've still a zillion things to do.
7 days till I leave for Japan...
I know I really shouldn't go on about this...
...so I'll let this here imaginary grrrl do it.
Take it away Tomo...
July 24, 2007
This is exactly the sort of wretched passive-aggressive sleaze we deal with on college campuses and that we oppose in the real world in opposing the "fairness doctrine".
Using the government to stifle viewpoints you don't agree with is wrong.This is one of the principals of American conservatism. (You should acquaint yourself with those Mr. Bambenek).
The sweet irony of doing this to those who long for the "fairness doctrine" does not in any way mitigate the wrongness of it. Lowering ourselves to the level of the more extreme Dems rather defeats the purpose of opposing them.
Brickmuppet Blog utterly opposes this ill-conceived asshattery.
July 22, 2007
This was my drill weekend with the Coast Guard Reserve and despite the fact that the drill weekend once again involved no helicopters, motor lifeboats, or dramatic camera angles... I'm beat.
No sea-stories as none of the ships we boarded had any violations...any of them!
Now that I think about it...that might indeed be a sea-story in itself.
To bed with me....
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