June 30, 2008

The Effects of Piracy

Eagle One reports on how the piracy off the coast of Somalia is threatening to end food shipments. He also makes some typically sensible proposals for
dealing with the situation.

Here is a proven solution....



For extra credit, who can identify the ship?

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What is Needed...is Balance....

   The concept of the Maid Cafes isn't my cup of tea...In part because I'm waaayy to old for that sort of thing, but there is a disturbing element too.

Last year, in Akihabara, Bob and I, being unclear on the concept, nearly went to one for lunch one day on a lark...but our creepy sense activated and we backed slowly away from the obsequious fawning Stepfordettes who were young enough to be our daughters...

     Anyway, despite my discomfort with that extreme I can think of  little to appeal to me here....
Yes boys and girls...its the Tsundere Cafe. 



I really didn't see this one coming.


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Range Saftey Failure....

Steven Den Beste reports on a terrible accident at a French Marine Corps open house.

While giving a dog and pony show for the public a soldier fired his rifle at a crowd.

 Instead of blanks however the weapon was loaded with live ammo.

17 people were hit, including some children, fortunately no one has died. Without even knowing what weapon he was firing it is not really possible to say muchiven but given the probability that people were very tightly packed it seems likely that he pulled the trigger for a very short time before realizing what had happened.

There is already some speculation that this must have been a deliberate act on the part of the armorer or the soldier. However, it should be remembered that the USAF recently unwittingly flew several atomic warheads over the US before the mistake was caught.

Awful things can happen without a plot or malice.

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June 29, 2008

Conflicting Assesments.....

...abound about the nature of the Benevolent All Caring God Head Sun King.

Not all of these are particularly helpful or insightful.

A case in point is the notion that there are obvious parallels between this Senator and another famous and eloquent senator....Palpatine.
This sort of silliness does not advance the discussion at all...




For one thing, George Lucas should know, and disagrees vehemently with this assessment. Additionally, over at Machine Overlords, a convincing case is made that Lucas is correct and the Benevolent All Caring God Head Sun King is in fact a Jedi Knight.

For my part, given the length and accomplishments of his senatorial career and the scope and depth of his policy proposals, I am reasonably confident that the Illinois Senator is as likely as anybody to simultaneously bring about truly astounding change as well as open relations with the Toclafane.


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Bad Banality...Bad I say!

more...

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June 27, 2008

You might need to get out more if....

more...

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June 26, 2008

One of the Most Influential People You Have Never Heard Of

Colleen Doran has a long and informative post on Rose O'Neil, the inventor of the Kewpie Doll and a person far more important in the development of the film and comic industries than you probably know.

Go read the whole thing...it is worth it!


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The Constitution Still Applies...For Now

  As pretty much everybody knows by now, the Supreme Court has upheld the right of the individual to bear arms.

 I'm very pleased to say the least. I firmly believe that an armed citizenry is  important for individual self defence and as such is a profoundly basic human right. It is also on balance a very important public good. In an area with a concealed carry law every thief, murderer or rapist knows that his victims may have the power to end his/her life....there is no better deterrent than that.  Finally it also deters governments to a certain extent from going all Mugabe on the population....the greatest atrocities in history have been perpetrated by governments upon populations they previously disarmed.   

Lots  of  good  discussion of this can be found  most everywhere but  these  two posts by Ilya Somin over at The Volokh Conspiracy  are important in that they get beyond the general sigh of relief and giddiness current in the rightosphere regards this....and point out that there are a few caveats thrown in by Scalia...and a reminder that a 5-4 decision is very susceptible to whomever the upcoming President is.

On a related note, the all loving, all knowing, God-head-sun-king is throwing his previous positions under the bus to better position himself for reaffirming them upon us all.

UPDATE: Murdoc has a huge roundup of Heller Links.

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June 25, 2008

Odysseus Returned to Ithaca: April 16, 1178 B.C ( about noon)

Wow!
Via Jerry Pournelle
Scientists using archaeological and astronomical evidence have pinpointed the most likely date for the return of Odysseus to his wife Penelope, April 16, 1178 B.C ( about noon). The accuracy was due to the fact that only one total eclipse was visible from Greece during any time in the ballpark for an actual war between Greece and Asia Minor. Additionally several other astronomical events (some quite rare)  occurred about this time that seem to be alluded to in the Odyssey.



The date given  is fairly close to the most likely time frame of the fall of Illos/Troy and in any event astronomical cycles are likely a more precise dating system than some of the archaeological dating techniques.

More here, here and here.

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June 24, 2008

Its a Blimp! COOL!

The Coast Guard and Navy are leasing a British airship for patrol duties in the Caribbean.

More here from not-Rueters.

Brickmuppet Blog previously engaged in an above the paygrade rant upon this very topic here.

This is a cool idea that has been toyed with before....  An overview of a notational design (from 1980) for a Patrol Airship for the USCG is here. ( 330 page PDF...not dial-up friendly!)

Info on the versatile and popular Skyship 600 can be found here and here.

The vessel will have  a lot of advantages over  helicopters in endurance and economy, and an  advantage  in  "mast height" and visible horizon over a  cutter  as its sensors can be carried  very high up.



One odd bit of info, possibly a criticism, jumps out at me.
Although the ship has an endurance of 52 hours, patrols will be limited to 8 to reduce crew fatigue. Given the size of the gondola in relation to the 3 person crew,  it seems like little effort to install a few bunks. There may be concern regards providing enough privacy for a mixed gender crew, but if this is the case then it is a great reduction in capabilities for utterly PC reasons. There is no reason that single gender crews couldn't be flown, perhaps an all male and all female crew in a blue and gold (blue and pink?) arrangement.

(Of course, it is quite possible that my knee is just jerking and that there are other issues  that a junior enlisted Marine Science Tech on convalescent leave is simply not privy to.  ) 

On the plus side, the ship is ridiculously fuel efficient, is faster than any cutter (or destroyer) and has far longer range and endurance that a helicopter,  even with the 8 hour time limit.

This is in my humble opinion a stellar idea.

UPDATE: Welcome Information Dissemination readers!

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Aiee again....

 ...this time it's Cylons!



Who'd have thought that standards and  practices was actually ahead of the curve in all the '80 cartoons redubbed so that the armor consisted entirely of "Robot Tanks".


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June 21, 2008

Aiee...


Art by Toshihide Sano (Link contains NSFW pages)
Buy his stuff either here or at J-List.

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June 20, 2008

New US Infantry Cartridges?

 
Anthony G Williams has the scoop on his forum. 

I've just spent some time talking to people on the AAI stand at Eurosatory. They are very interested in developing an intermediate calibre version of the LSAT LMG (c. 6.5mm), and a carbine using the same ammo. If they can meet requirements, the caseless version will prevail (the ammo is much more compact as well as lighter), but if that meets insuperable problems then the plastic-cased telescoped version will be used (that's already been through a successful testing regime). Earliest in-service date is 2014.


There is considerable thoughtful discussion in the associated  thread (interspersed with the rantings of a "Munchausen" who wants to use shotguns for designated marksman rifles)

The latest on the US future rifle ammo experiments is here.
An accurate representation of what the caseless carbine will not look like is here:

Caseless is actually nothing new....muzzle-loading, black powder weapons are, in fact, caseless. One of the big advances in firearms development was cased ammo, which made repeating rifles practical.

 Now the US Army is looking to either get rid of the case altogether or use a polymer case with the bullet telescoped into the round for compactness. Either of these will save considerable weight when multiplied by the number of rounds an infantryman must carry.

 The caseless option is a tremendous advance in this area, but it is a challenging prospect. The US, France, Germany, and possibly Russia tried to do something like this for decades with no success. The only successful modern caseless rifles thus far are the now discontinued Heckler & Koch G-11 which served briefly with German Special Forces and actually worked, but was discontinued for mainly financial reasons (oddball, completely nonstandard ammo  for one thing)...


...and the rare but extremely neat Voere 5.56 and 6mm bolt action caseless rifles that use electric ignition. The main drawback to the Voere weapon is getting ammo from Austria and the fact that handloading is not really possible.




The polymer cased option is a good fall back and has been pretty much perfected already....

The fact that (from the above quote) they seem to be using this as an opportunity  to upgrade to a general purpose round (they are talking about a 6.5mm round.) is welcome news...albiet late in coming. While the .223 round in current use is not nearly as bad as some say (It is killing terrorists quite effectively) it is quite sub optimal and lacks range.    Nearly a century after  US Army ordinance people determined the ideal characteristics (and developed the .276 Pedersen) and 60 years after the Brits came to exactly the same conclusion...they might finally get an intermediate round with about the same  performance that soldiers have been asking for all along.

More on the optimum infantry rifle caliber  here and here.

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June 18, 2008

M. Night Shyamalan's Biggest Shocker Yet

M. Night Shyamalan has produced some of the absolute best suspense films  of the last several years. His works are  highly regarded for their atmosphere creepiness, quirkiness, and  totally unexpected twists.

Now, with "The Happening" Shyamalan hits his viewers with what may be the most superbly crafted "GOTCHA!" of his career.

...a film that sucks ass.

Being familiar with the mans body of work I was utterly unprepared for this.

Thus another feather in the mans cap I suppose.

This is not to say that it is not a creepy film, at least at first...
There are some truly  horrific moments, all the more terrifying for their matter of fact presentation. The film , however, doesn't really get out of a sort of one trick pony rut except to preach about the irredeemable ills of industrialized civilization, and, with not a hint of irony, expound on the inherently evil nature of rural people (who as everyone in Hollywood knows are crazy, murderous, or both). There is also provided as comic relief, a befuddled military enlisted man who seems to be based on Gomer Pyle and a crazy, hot-dog-munching hippie couple who are, of course, a fountain of insight.

All of this is paint by the numbers situation normal for Hollywood...which given that this is a
Shyamalan picture is really surprising...so you get 2, count them 2 utter surprises in one film!

The above list of Brickmuppet pet peeves would certainly be forgivable if the film were satisfying PC Greenpeace claptrap, but the last 20-30 minutes of the film tends to rather amble along and then just sort of ends....most unsatisfingly I might add... and that is simply not forgiveable.

I could have seen the Hulk...

1.5 Bricks

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June 17, 2008

Cannibal Otaku Miyazaki Hanged

One of the creepiest of Japans serial killers, Tsutomu Miyazaki, has finally been hung.

Good riddance.

There are those that will point out that this will bring none of the girls back as if this is some profound revelation. They will point out the obvious fact that the death penalty did not deter this creature from doing his deeds and congratulate themselves for their incisive deductive skills. Many of these same people will say that when someone like this is removed from our world that those of us who support this are as bad as the killer himself.

At that point they prove themselves to be rather nonserious or utterly devoid of perspective.

This unspeakably evil bastard raped, killed, raped again...and ate...little girls as young as four.

There are some actions so heinous that if a society places any value upon life, then it must insist that the perpetrators forfeit any claim to life. The very health of a society requires that such monsters face the ultimate punishment.

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