January 31, 2009

Another Job For Debris Section

Oh wait....we don't HAVE a debris section...that's just a cartoon.
More is the pity

Steeljaw Scribe posts on the unsavory fate of Cosmos 1818 an old soviet era nuclear powered satellite that has had what NASA euphemistically refers to as "a fragmentation incident".

It seems that the satellites reactor coolant system either ruptured due to wear and tear, or the satellite was hit by debris, possibly from the infamous Chinese ASAT test....in any event the satellite has excreted a cloud of stuff....most likely hardened coolant (it used a liquid metal coolant) forming a cloud of metallic pebbles of various sizes on various courses.


This satellite is causing some people concern because is a later version of the well known Cosmos 954 that rained radioactive scrap over several hundred miles of Canadian taiga back in 1978. However, the radioactive threat is limited. Actually it is negligible given that the vehicle is not in a decaying orbit.

Image of COSMOS1818 via Encyclopedia Astronautica

What is worrisome is the fact that Cosmos 1818 is still up there and is in lots of little hard to track pieces on different vectors. This greatly adds to the navigational hazards of an orbital torus already very full of dangerous debris, and it can only add to the overall threat of collisions from orbital fragments.

 If this was due to a debris strike then it is a mini example of the sort of thing that could easily lead to something called the Kessler Syndrome. That is debris hit satellites and other structures..thereby causing more debris...which in turn cause yet more collisions....this leads to a geometric increase in the generation of hyper-velocity projectiles orbiting in random directions until it is simply impractical due to the high likelihood of catastrophic collisions to continue in space. This sort of thing needs more attention...As it is, we are reinforcing the walls to our own prison.

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January 28, 2009

20 Years Ago



Due to the presence of Christa McAulliffe, the first teacher in space, it was watched with rather greater interest than most launches, and around the country, thousands, if not millions of schoolchildren witnessed the explosion and death of 7 brave men and women.

This is a somber week for space enthusiasts.Yesterday was the anniversary of the deaths of Grissom, White and Chafee in  Apollo 1 fire...

.... and 3 days from now will mark the anniversary of the deaths of Columbia's final crew.


17 of our best have risked and lost everything to open up for us a frontier of limitless opportunity. No words I can write will do these people justice.

There are choice words however for the visionless mandarins in congress and the federal bureaucracy whose venal machinations and lack of foresight have  ensured that 20 years after the Space Shuttle Challenger we have done next to nothing to get us farther along in opening the frontier these brave people died to explore.

These same malevolent mandarins chose this somber day to virtually bankrupt the nation, and their priorities revealed in the stimulus package show that investments in our future and moving the nation forward rank far below their greed and visions of power.

It is not by accident that I call these people Mandarins, for the story we see unfolding before us has happened before, as I wrote in a previous post of what happened to China...

...In possession of the largest merchant fleet in history, the oldest and most advanced civilization  on earth decided in the early 1400's to stop exploring and engaging the world. The nation rapidly lost the applicable technologies and did not become a world power again until the 1960's...and was not a serious economic power until the early 90s.

The lead in economics and power the US currently enjoys is infinitesimal in comparison to the lead in technology, knowledge, and both hard and soft power that China enjoyed in the 1400s. Other nations were literally centuries behind, and yet a group of visonless bureaucrats, for reasons of both well intentioned but short sighted idiocy, and the most venal self interest, stymied through legislation (or simply outlawed) not only emerging technologies, but existing ones as well. China was leapfrogged and became the plaything of the nations who had put her inventions to good use. In a last fit of bureaucratic group think, the descendants of those who had brought this about, ended the modernization efforts of the Tang Dynasty solely because they feared that the new ministries and corporations focused on technological development  would threaten their power and relevance. The result was 70 years of blood, culminating in the worst mass murder humanity has ever seen.


We are very close to repeating one of the most calamitous mistakes any nation has made. We have leadership that does not like free enterprise and due to today's events, we face a generation or more of severe parsimony on the government side as well....if we are not to completely bankrupt the nation.

There is hope of course.

Like a farmer facing drought we can muddle through this and prosper in the end, but only if we don't eat our seed corn. Technology investment is the seed corn of a modern nation. We would do well to remember that and see to it that future leaders encourage rather than stymie it.

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January 23, 2009

Battlewagon Blogging

CDR Salamander has a weekly feature called Full Bore Friday that deals with maritime heroism of both individuals and units. It's always worth a read. This week he focuses on the battleship USS Washington.

Washington saw more action than any other US Battleship in history and was for a time the only operational allied Battleship in the Pacific theater.
 CDR Salamander has fine overview as well as the after action report of the second battle of Savo Island where Washington sent the IJNS Kirishima to the bottom.

Go read the whole thing and add CDR Salamander to your link list.

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January 20, 2009

Good Luck and Godspeed President Obama!



Fair winds and following seas President Bush.

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January 19, 2009

More Heroes

Much has been written about the recent astounding landing and rescue of flight 1549 and with good reason. It should be remembered that on a smaller scale heroes do there deeds all the time.


Case in point two USN petty officers stationed in Yokuska who recently saved a Japanese citizen who had fallen onto a busy Yamanote line track with the oncoming train already in view.

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Some Quick Thoughts on the Outgoing Administration

My feelings on the outgoing administration are rather mixed to say the least. His actions have left us with a large deficit, a huge government intrusion into the private sector (though in fairness he did try to prevent the financial debacle, and was ignored).and he expanded government more than any president since Johnson.

He also was dealt several terrible hands which he played as well as could be expected. He did not have the benefit of 20/20 hindsight when making tough decisions with no happy solutions available. He recognized that a huge part of Americas vulnerability stemmed from the fact that we had given the impression that we had a glass jaw or would not fight at all. He has put that at least to rest.

I am largely alone amongst conservatives in concluding that Bush was right on the immigration reform idea and path to citizenship for those illegals willing to learn the language and integrate. (Where he failed on immigration IMHO was not there but in border enforcement.)

Bush also did more on the soft power front than any previous president, ranging from fighting AIDS and poverty in Africa to sending Hospital ships and Amphibious ships around the world to provide aid. He gets no credit for this as he is one of the most unfairly maligned Presidents in history.

There is much to disagree with this guy about, but the venomous, insane, fanatical hatred and contempt directed at him by the left is disgraceful, and very nearly as creepy as the near cultlike adoration and worship many of these same people have for his successor.

A mixed bag indeed but his failures can be fixed. If , on the other hand, he had not kept the country as safe as he did these last 8 years the cost would have been far greater than any of his missteps have been.

More thoughts, some rather less qualified in their praise, from the Anchoress, AJ Strata, CDR Salamander, Gay Patriot and....the Dali Lama.


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South Korea on Alert

While everyone else is awaiting the inauguration, Information Dissemination points out some troubling developments in the vicinity of the 38th parallel.


In From the Cold has more here.

 The Korea Herald reports that there have been Naval engagements...
Naval ships from the two Koreas have engaged in a number of bloody clashes in the West Sea on North Korean provocation.

 ...though is unclear if this is referring to recent events. There have been several clashes at sea between the two countries over the last few years.

Coming as it does during the potential disruption of the Presidential transition this is an even more worrisome development than it would normally be. This is most likely bluster by the Hermit Kingdom, but it certainly bears watching.

 Note that the US and South Korea are still technically at war with the North. The armistice is still in effect but no peace treaty has ever been signed.
 

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The Reason for the 3 Day Weekend

In 15 or so hours Barak Obama will be sworn in as the 44th President of this republic. I did not vote for the guy and although he has pleasantly surprised me with some of his appointments as well as many of his statements I am very concerned about the direction he will take this nation.

That being said, he is going to be the president...our president...and it is our job as citizens to give him a chance and to give him support as he faces the crushing set of challenges and dreadful options that our chief executives are confronted with.

There will no doubt be all sorts of things to bang ones head against ones keyboard over and policies that those of us on the right will oppose on principle. However, whatever misgivings many of us may have, the fact that a person of color has achieved the highest elected office is surely a cause for celebration.

Today is more than an extra day off. It is a day to reflect upon how far we have come as a nation. Because today is not only the day before this inaguration. It is the day we celebrate one of the great civil rights leaders of this country.



Dr. King's dream, far too long in coming, has finally been fuffilled.


He was a visionary who anticipated some of the best aspects of America today...but he did not live to see it....Hours after giving this speech he was assasinated.



I was born in 1970, so many of the injustices the civil rights movement was about are hard to comprehend. I encounter bigots of various flavors from time to time, but I frankly can't get my head around such absurd and alien notions as segregated water fountains, toilets, and restaurants or anti miscegenation laws...but for over a hundred fifty years, they were the reality.  Dr. King stood up to that awful reality, and he did so peacefully and with dignity.

Some perspective on that time can be gleaned from one of the more important documents of our nation, The Letter From a Birmingham Jail, which is quoted in its entirety below the fold.....
more...

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January 18, 2009

The Home Stretch

Apologies, my first post in a week and it focuses on my Walter Mitty lifestyle...so here is an unrelated picture of a Vespa as compensation.....


Vespa study is by Haku

Banality blogging is tastefully below the fold....
more...

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January 10, 2009

Mexico

Fabius Maximus has a bleak series of posts on the deteriorating situation in Mexico.
http://threatswatch.org/rapidrecon/2008/06/mexico-failed-statefailed-poli/

The prospect of a failed state on our southern border is a grim one and is going to require considerable attention as this is a huge potential security as well as humanitarian problem.

Worse, there is little proactive we can do...The incoming administration is going to be faced with a series of choices that are  pretty much all varying degrees of bad. 




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January 09, 2009

I Cannot Unsee

....what I just saw, nor can I unlearn today's vocabulary lesson.

You know, I really could have lived a full and happy life without ever being aware of the word "Vore" or what it meant.


Now that path is closed to me.


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January 08, 2009

Tekali-li

Heretofore, I had been under the erroneous impression that squaemous and cyclopean were not synonyms for Kawaii.



Now I know better.

(artist Unknown)

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Note to Self....

...Clean house
Good lord.

Via: Rambling Gamer


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Compare and Contrast

The US Airforce has a comprehensive plan for commenting on blogs. (via)


This is in stark contrast to the Brickmuppets policy...

Cruse Internet
-Observe Windmill?
-YES-TILT
-NO- Continue looking for images of catgirls

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January 06, 2009

Do Not Be Alarmed By The Noise

I am trying something.


Picture unrelated.

Update: OK I think its working....the blog, for now at least has music.
If the music annoys you, the playlist is at the bottom of the sidebar and comes equipped with a shut-up button. You can also scroll through the list if you so desire. The current 13 song list will, of course, expand and change a bit over time.
Update2:By popular demand the default has been set to "off" (I think). The playlist is moved up the sidebar as well.

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January 05, 2009

A Cryptic Message From the Interwebs

I have been told to "Remember the name Matt Smith."

I have no idea.

UPDATE: Oh...


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Costumed Crimefighting on the Rise

The London Times reports that the US is crawling with superheroes.

There are, according to the recently launched World Superhero Registry, more than 200 men and a few women who are willing to dress up as comic book heroes and patrol the urban streets in search of, if not super-villains, then pickpockets and bullies.


LOL Whut?

Civic mindedness is all well and good but something is wrong with this picture...

“This is a more serious business than it looks,” said Citizen Prime, whose $4,000 (£2,700) costume disguises an Arizona businessman and father of a toddler who thinks his cape, mask and stun-gun are cool.

Prime patrols some of the most dangerous streets in Phoenix but, like most Reals, is reluctant to speak about the villains he has dispatched with a blow from his martial arts-honed forearm. He does admit helping a motorist change a flat tyre.

“Kids love the costume, so I seek to keep them out of the gangs today rather than take them on tomorrow,” said Prime who, at 41, regards himself as on the mature wing of the Real community.


What is wrong you ask? OK fine let me spell it out...

$4000.00 for a costume?

In these tough economic times one who is trying to set a good example for the youth of today must be frugal.
So...go basic...
All you need is a mask, some sort of costume...say a ninja suit with a logo, a stun gun, some twist-cuffs and maybe night vision goggles. You can get the basic kit for a hundred fifty bucks and look damned snazzy if you're friends with a cosplayer who is inclined to enable your wacky civic minded shenanigans.

Assuming you get decent body armor add 2-500 dollars and if you have decent first aid training a hunters first aid kit with trauma pads (in case you happen upon an injured person) is going to be around 60 or 70 dollars.

One should be able to put something pretty impressive for under a thousand bucks.

What, exactly, did 4 grand buy?



Citizen Prime may have overspent, or he may have gimmicks we don't know about...like a defibrillator a bat winch or a Vespa-Prime or something. Also gortex is expensive and he may have body armor more comprehensively distributed which would add up quick.  Regardless, Phoenix may be a teensy bit safer tonight...It is certainly more colorful.

For those of you concerned about whether there is a costumed crimefighter deficit in your area, there is the World Superhero Registery.

Note that despite the Times articles implication that this is a strictly American thing, there seem to be several in the UK at least.

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January 04, 2009

Not Just Decietful...Risky

Over at Information Dissemination, Galrahn is tilting at the windmill of misleading nomenclature. It seems that some in the USN are determined to have everyone believe hat the Littoral Combat Ship...that 3,000 ton speedboat with the armament of a Coast Guard cutter...the one that is intended to act as a tender in time of war...is a Frigate.


Take it away Galrhan...

Words like warship and frigate matter, when the LCS is sold as a frigate or as a warship, it carries with the name an expectation the ship is best used as a warship or frigate. The LCS is neither best used or even well used as either. A modern warship that does not carry a single kill weapon of any kind is not a warship, and if the ship is intended to be used in theaters of war then it does so only as a support ship when it brings no offensive tactical capabilities during wartime. The function of the LCS is support, the tactical principles are exclusive to roles of scouting and C2, by every tactical metric as constructed and in CONOP when explained, the LCS is a support ship, not a warship. The intent to explain, describe, or sell the LCS as a warship is dangerous, dishonest, and deceitful.


The last sentence might seem an over the top reaction to what seems to a layman a simple bureaucratic nomenclature fight. However it is entirely correct when one is aware of the history and implications of misrating warships.

HMS Invincible...the first battle cruiser.

Although not entirely applicable to this problem the story of the UK's battlecruisers is illustrative. In the early 1900's the UK built a series of big, very fast cruisers with battleship caliber guns intended to scout ahead of the battleline and overwhelm more conventional cruisers and commerce raiders. They were armored like the preceding armored cruiser classes and had cruiser strength scantlings. The big guns were intended to outrange other cruisers and provide a means to fire back on scouting duties while they hightailed it from the sort of close combat they were not intended to meet. For domestic political reasons, they were, around 1911, designated BATTLE cruisers and the term "capital ship" was coined to give the impression that they were part of the battle fleet...thereby giving the impression to the public that the Royal Navy had more battleships than it really did. During WW1 they were thrown into the battle line at Jutland so their heavy cannons would not "go to waste"...with the result that 3 were sunk in quick succession with the loss of all but 30 of 3300 crew between them.

HMS Invincible...a double tombstone for over a thousand men.

Like the battlecruisers, the Littoral Combat ship is built to less stringent structural standards than other frontline ships, and like them it seems to be a very expensive solution to the problem it is intended to tackle.

However, it gets worse than that, because there is a major difference between the two types of ship.
Battlecruisers carried big guns and could (and did) damage the enemy. Invincibles career was quite distinguished right  up to her loss. HMS Renown and Japans (British designed) BC's gave a good account of themselves in the second world war. Although vulnerable to fire, they packed a punch (Churchill called them "...eggshells armed with hammers"). The LCS has a 57mm gun, some machine guns and, if the NLOS missile is not cancelled, some light guided artilery rockets (NLOS is basically a long range Hellfire). The remote vehicles it is supposed to carry have no ship killing weapon. Its most powerful ordinance will be carried by its 2 helicopters.  It is potentially a very useful support vessel and can complement the capabilities of frontline ships, but it is fragile and can't fight. In a hot war LCS is an eggshell armed with toothpicks and a multi-tool, fighting a bowling ball.

Galrhan is right, the vessel is certainly not a frigate. And this is an important distinction for reasons beyond it's vulnerability. Unlike the Battlecruisers, which brought battleship guns to the table, the LCS brings basically nothing to the frontline at all save an additional target (and a fragile one at that) Because of its lack of any serious weapons, no admiral is going to be inclined to use it as a combat asset because it can't add anything except perhaps electronic warfare capability. No, the danger for the navy is that CONGRESS decides that these vessels represent actual warships and orders them IN LIEU of more warships....which might leave an admiral with nothing else to send.

To a congresscritter, especially the sort of congresscritters we have in the majority now, calling the LCS a "frigate" is the same as saying its a destroyer escort. To them this makes requests for actual warships redundant. They would rather spend money on almost anything else and this nomenclature gambit gives them an out.

This is not to say the vessel is worthless necessarily....
It's capabilities are indeed useful and are well in line with a gunboat or "peace cruiser".

It has a modest armament geared to policing duties and the capacity to carry additional equipment. In the 19th century the additional equipment consisted mainly of marines and perhaps relief supplies, this ship can carry those and more.

While the USN's naming scheme for capital ships is haywire at the moment, it is clear from the naming convention announced for the the LCS (they are named after small towns...just like most of the old PGs and peace cruisers) that the Navy considers them basically Patrol Gunboats in function.

With their huge flex decks an impressive helicopter decks, these vessels can do the soft power activities like disaster relief and possibly even low end hospital ship missions and such. Like the old gunboats these could be useful auxiliaries in a hot war, being used as ROV support and mine countermeasures ships much as the old gunboats tended to be used as tenders and minesweepers....the big difference is that that capability is built into them from the start.

If there is a gripe about the LCS aside from those trying to classify it as a frigate, it is that they seem to be a very expensive solution to the problem. Better, more robust and versatile results might be obtained with an actual frigate but with a flex deck, something superficially along the lines of Denmarks Absalon class but with 4 rather than 2 diesels, a modest number of missile tubes and a full fire-control system. Such a vessel would be more expensive than  HDMSAbsalon, but not much more expensive than a regular frigate would be because all that would be added would be steel....which is cheap in comparison to electronics.

Note that HDMSAbsalon, while very austere, has, with her 5" gun, 36 ESSMs, 16 harpoons and 6 TTs, a somewhat greater punch than the Perry class frigates as built, and is in a whole different league from the LCS.

Such a vessel would broach some criticism as it would draw more water, but Absalon for instance carries 2 CB90s which can carry the fight into far shallower water than LCS (and with, say 2 NLOS packs could have almost the same armament).

For a variety of reasons put forth here I feel that most of the peacetime things that can be done adequately by a warship armed like the LCS can be more efficiently done by the US Coast Guard..however the cutters aren't going to have the support capability for minesweeping and such that the LCS designs do.

Now, it may be that the 50 kts speed and other less visible characteristics mean that one of the Litorral Combat ship designs is better suited to the subsidiary duties it is intended to do, but these duties don't include going into harms way and these vessels are not frigates by any measure. Referring to these interesting vessels as such officially threatens to displace real warships which the navy needs in addition to auxiliaries.

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January 03, 2009

Yin-Yang

Villanous Company and Amy Alkon are quite coincidentally blogging on two sides of the same coin, namely, the obvious fact that a healthy relationship requires accommodation, compromise and sacrifice.

I've no dog in the fight mind you, at this stage in my life,  I'm unlikely to ever date again for a variety of reasons, but I frequently find myself astonished that so many people can't seem to grok this simple ...obvious...fact.

Alkon post via Ace.

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Mod Neko? Perhaps.

Perhaps not...



It looks like the guys who did Funky Cat Maybe have done another one, though I'm not sure if it is them or just a "homage".

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