March 03, 2015

Meanwhile, in Chile

The Chilean volcano Villarrica had been making rumblings for about a month before erupting spectacularly early this morning. 

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Well, That Was One Heck of a Speech.

Netanyahu knocked it out of the park, laying out all the myriad reasons why the proposed deal is of such concern to so many. However, it seems unlikely to change many, if any minds amongst those in power whose minds are made up.

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Well. This is Intruiging...

One of The Brickmuppet's Crack Team of Science Babes points us to this article on Lockheed Martin's concept for a fusion turbine about which there is more here and here....


She also has some reservations. 

"I'm not sure I can trust any scientist who isn't wearing a  proper science shirt."

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March 02, 2015

Brodie Rig

Here is some interesting color footage of the Brodie landing system which the Army used during WW2 to operate their light observation planes without airstrips. Towards the end of the war the devices were adapted for use at sea on Navy and Army transports.

This system is wacked, and it doesn't work with planes much bigger than a Piper Cub, but it had one obvious advantage over the Hurricat

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Does Thinking This Make Me a Bad Person?

A large explosion on Capitol Hill tomorrow would make an unusually broad coalition of people who nominally hate each other, (some of whom are boycotting the event) but don't much like people like me, alarmingly happy. 



"Nah...Being a bad person makes him think that."

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I Didn't Know That He HAD a Tardis

Ben over at Midnight Tease has been live blogging the battle of the Alamo (no doubt at great personal peril). I know how this story ends so you may want to pop in and give Ben your best in the next five days. 



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On To More Pleasant Things

 Don has discovered a true wonderment....


...to which these young ladies are reacting appropriately. 



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Stuff...

I have contracted a case of the Martian Death Flu which has kneecapped my creativity. In the interests of content here are a few random links. 


First some good news: A Boko Haram force, while attempting to move into southern Chad encountered a Chadian Army unit which curb-stomped them. Boko Haram's losses were 207 killed against Chad's one dead and nine wounded. Chad also seized large quantities of small arms and ammunition left behind by the murderous, feral nutbars.

A US Military satellite has exploded in orbit. The 20 year old DMSP-F13 reported a temperature spike before breaking into 43 pieces. The loss occurred on February 3rd but was only reported Saturday.

The U.S. Korea Institute has issued a projection of how many nuclear weapons North Korea will have in 2020. The estimate is between 20 and more than 100. That's a rather....large spread.  There is an interview with the researchers over at The Diplomat. It can be heard here

We've mentioned before that America's B-61 nuclear bombs are being reduced in yield from 340KT to 50KT (while at the same same time massively increasing the accuracy). There is much more on this here. Note the buried lede 29 paragraphs down:
As part of this plan, the U.S. would eliminate the megaton-class B83 gravity bomb.

With a yield variable from a few kilotons to 1.2 megatons B-83 is by far the most powerful weapon remaining in the arsenal. The B-83 is also a much more modern nuclear bomb than the B-61. Yet this weapon is being removed from the arsenal, to be replaced with two downgraded versions of the old B-61 with 50 and 100 kiloton maximum yields. While lower yields and greater accuracy do reduce collateral damage, nuclear deterrence involves having the potential to maximize damage to the infrastructure of the country being deterred.  Also, ones accuracy is only as good as one's targeting, and while missile silos and military bases might well be eliminated with 50 kiloton blasts, the great SCUD hunt reminds us that hunting for the mobile land based missiles is not at all easy and could well involve a lot of imprecise targeting in a general area, where the greater 'earthquake effect' of the earth penetrating B-83 might be valuable. Finally, there is the possibility that a nation with a different values set than ours might conclude that even 1000 or more 50-100kt  weapons hitting their strategic targets would be survivable as a nation, whereas a similar number of megaton class weapons would allow no recovery for us, thus in their twisted logic, victory. This is more likely if one has 4 times our population and a Maoist outlook that might consider one's large population to represent...spares. Increasing the accuracy of the arsenal is surely a good idea, as it makes the deterrent more credible, but getting rid of our most powerful bomb (which is variable yield in any event) seems rather ill considered.

As we have again mentioned "nukes", here is a picture of 21 kilotons of 'splody. 




Pete Zaitcev takes a break from aviation blogging to express his thoughts on the Ukrainian situation



What is being described as "vandalism" resulted in internet, phone, and cell service being disrupted across a wide swath of Arizona on Wednesday

Something is quite rotten at UCLA

Carly Fiorina asks a reasonable question


Ebola has not been in the news lately as it has not been spreading as fast as feared, but it has managed to kill 10,000 thus far and get into the vice Presidential offices of Sierra Leone...oh and it is now believed that airborne transmission is very likely in certain circumstances. ISTR those who suggested this earlier were called bad names. Additonally, it has recently been revealed via a freedom of information request that Ebola does, in fact seem to be a serious concern to the military with regard to its weaponization by terrorists


The first scenario outlined is completely redacted, illustrating the acute sensitivity about the issue. The second scenario is heavily blacked out but, according to the memo, "would be both logistically and technically challenging for a non-state group to undertake".


Well...that's reassuring. And I mean that with the same level of sarcasm that I say this is reassuring as well. 



Finally, some Taiwanese news outfit has thoughts on Net Neutrality.

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February 27, 2015

Damn


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February 26, 2015

It is STILL Snowing

Tuesday evening it snowed and...iced. In the process of getting out of the car I dropped my keys and foolishly posed the question..."God. What else can go wrong?" Almost instantly my prayers were answered as I suddenly inverted myself and deposited my schoolbooks and cellphone in the briny puddle beneath my car. 


Today I got out of work to find seven inches of snow on my car. I note that it is STILL coming down as I type this.

This winter has been unreal on the east coast, while other parts of the country are not having winter at all. To solve this mystery here is one of the Brickmuppet's Crack Team of Science Babes who will explain to you, gentle readers, why this is all Bill DeBlasio's fault...


"Wait. What!?...No I won't."

Fine. I'll do it...
On Groundhog Day 2014, the New York mayor compelled a defenseless groundhog to appear at some inane photo-op. During the course of this event the mayor dropped the animal, and despite a cover-up it has been revealed that it died of its wounds
This year Punxsutawney Phil came out of his burrow and declared that there would be six additional weeks of winter. As Mr. Phil is a member of the groundhog tribe, and since (according to no less an August source that the Washington Post) he can control the weather, it is obvious that he is exacting revenge on the Northeastern United States by taking all the cold points from the rest of the temperate world and min/maxing the misery in the northeast. 
As to why a rodent that can control the weather would not simply strike Mayor DeBlasio down with a lightning bolt, such uncongenial lines of reasoning can be special pleaded away by pointing out that the malignant critical theorist in question is an elected official (of America's Largest City) and therefore the electorate bears some blame in his eyes. 
The solution to this unhappy situation is clear: Mayor Deblasio must be hog tied and left outside a groundhog warren for the Groundhog Tribe to do with as they please. 
Of course it's possible that this analysis is somehow flawed, but ask yourself....do you want to take the chance that it isn't?.

Besides, even in the unlikely event that this course of action did nothing for the weather, DeBlasio would still be hogtied outside a groundhog warren.  I'm seeing no downside here...

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February 21, 2015

Suddenly: A Roving Pedant Appears

Reading this article on Russian bomber incursions into UK airspace, this bit at the end jumped out at me. 


The warnings came after military chiefs said Britain "could not cope” if Russia attacked because our defence forces have been "decimated”.
Sir Michael Graydon, former head of the RAF, said: "I very much doubt whether the UK could sustain a shooting war against Russia. We are at half the capabilities we had previously.”

To decimate something means to reduce it by a tenth. Yet in the next paragraph it is clearly stated that the UK military is at half their previous capability. What's more, the number of carriers has gone from 3 to zero in recent years and three is greater than one half of three so even that assessment is off by 50%.

Thus the objective truth is is that the UK Military isn't even close to being decimated. 

See? That doesn't sound so bad now, does it?

"That's a relief! Everybody dance!"

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Tales of the Cold

Below the fold; weather related angst.
Above the fold; a picture of Arale, which is probably missing some context and is unrelated to the weather discussion in any way.

more...

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February 18, 2015

Shockingly....

...There are stories of even greater import than the fact that it is snowing in parts of North America in February. 


This piece in the Atlantic has been widely linked to and deservedly so. I strongly urge you to read the whole thing. It gives one of the best overviews on the motivations of ISIS. It also explains in layman's terms the rationale behind what to those of us on the outside seems to be bizarre and frankly crazy behavior. They are not crazy. They are completely rational and logical given the premises they operate from. Nor are they ignorant as the group is led mostly by highly literate eschatologists who are, like many of the greatest monsters of all time convinced that they are going to make the world a better place and bring about heaven on earth. This is hard for people to get their heads around because it is simply so alien. They genuinely consider themselves to be virtuous. This is really beyond our modern experience, save possibly for the NAZIs, though even they were sufficiently uncomfortable with their atrocities that they tried to conceal them rather than using them as recruiting tools. The piece defies excerpting and you really should read the whole thing, but if you absolutely must get the Cliff's notes version or simply want to review the piece in bullet point format, Suburban Banshee has got your back. Take particular note of point #1. 

In other news, it seems that ISIS is even more active in North Africa than previously supposed, having secured territory in the festering hell-hole formerly known as  Libya, where they demonstrated their ability to operate with impunity by beheading 30 Egyptian Christians in the open on the beach, in broad daylight. In addition to a display of confidence the location choice is sending another message as well. It would appear that the ISIS "Barqa Province" in Africa consists of two coastal enclaves the smaller of which includes the city of Derna, an austere seaport, with a depth of only 15 feet, but it is a rail hub and has the logistical benefits that ports have. 



Egypt chose to express their displeasure at the bigoted butchering of their citizens with bombs, rockets and cannon fire rather than hashtags. As a result, when they asked for intel assistance from their nominal allies in the US Government, they were, like the Jordanians before them, rebuffed

Perhaps more worrying in some ways is the fact that the ISIS takeover of Derna is not exactly breaking news. It happened in August of last year .  AFD did an in depth post on that unhappy development at the time. It makes for sobering reading. 

 Hifter’s personal army and the Libyan military, as I noted in my earlier post, are being more or less crushed in Benghazi, representing eighty percent of all deaths (military, Islamist, and civilians) in Benghazi from mid-October to mid-November alone.

Hifter/ Haftar is a Libyan general leading an anti-islamist coalition.

This map is from Wikipedia and may be outdated, but it gives some idea of the mess that Libya has become. ISIS controlled areas are black and mainly cities, the grey areas are controlled by Ansar-El-Sharia, which is reportedly allied closely with ISIS (and given the eschatological underpinnings of ISIS, may be only nominally separate).

  Click here for supah-size.

Do note that Derna, in addition to being a railway hub and small port has some disadvantages, should we as a nation, ever rediscover our resolve. Being on the coast it is inherently susceptible to an amphibious assault, and I'm sure that the USMC would not mind to revisit the place

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February 16, 2015

Snowmageddon '15

Having just driven a distance of 5 miles in a bit under an hour and a half, I think that this young lady sums up the opinion of many of my fellow Virginians...


"OH GOD! WE'RE GONNA HAFTA TO EAT OUR OWN LEGS AREN'T WE?"

It's been coming down remarkably hard for several hours now. Predictions are for 6-12 inches of snow, which is quite a bit for us. There has been some flickering and intermittent outages, so power may not persist. 

In other news, the plumbing situation deteriorated rapidly Saturday night with the result that both bathrooms were unusable so we sent Mom to my sister's house before finally breaking down and calling a plumber. In a few moments I will get the first shower, I've had in over two days. Yay!
Mom is still in North Carolina suffering the dreadful indignity of having to watch her three year old granddaughter play in the snow. 

UPDATE: I have not as of yet had to eat my own leg...but it has been a rear run thing. 
more...

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February 14, 2015

An Important Valentines Day Reminder

One of the Brickmuppet's Crack team of Science Babes is about to learn an important lesson that you, gentle reader should make note of...


Heartfelt scene by ddochi1

 If you have someone special, then remember that the appropriateness of a gift can be every bit as important as the thought and effort that went into getting it.



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