Saturday, December 21, 2002

GUESS WHO'S AT IT AGAIN
Yahoo!News has this article on their server. Seems that the 9th Circuit Court (the court with the distinction of having more of it's decisions overturned than any other in the U.S.), has ruled that the Makah Indian Tribe can't resume whaling.

Being something of an outdoorsman who's actually hunted before, I've always been keenly interested in wildlife conservation (people who say that there's a contradiction in a hunter who wants to preserve the wild places are freakin' idiots of the first order). Back in the 60's and 70's there was a real chance that all whale species could become extinct. Restrictions enacted by the International Whaling Commision allowed the numbers of whales to increase. While allowing unrestricted hunting would very quickly put us back where we were in the the bad ol' days, relaxing the restrictions wouldn't harm the whale population.

Unfortunately the PR campaign to put the whale issue in front of the voters has worked all too well. Environmental extremists and weird animal rights orgs have convinced many people that whales are people too.

Whatever. So how's this gonna end? Depends. Considering their track record I'd appeal the 9th Circuit's decision.

MORE FROM JANE'S
Jane's Defence has posted a few more items on their server. Let's check it out.

This Sleigh Ain't Stealthy
It would appear that NORAD is going to track Santa's progress. They've done this for the past few years, and any little kids that you might have that are computer savvy should get a big ol' kick out of it.

Breathe!
You've got a choice when designing a missile. You can have solid fuel rockets such as these Russian SA-11 anti-aircraft missiles, or you can have an air breathing missile like most cruise missiles. The solid fuel provides long shelf life, reliability, lower cost and lower maintenance requirements. If the missile mixes air with the fuel flow during flight then the onle thing you get is an increase in range, but it's a very significant increase in range.

According to this article the French are planning on upgrading their Exocet missiles. They plan on adding more sensors and on-board processing capability, reducing both the radar signature of the missile and the weight, and more than doubling the range. How are they going to do all of this? By replacing the solid fuel rocket motor with an air breathing propulsion system.

It would seem that somebody in the French Navy suddenly noticed that all of their weapons were geared for an open ocean fight. Since most conflicts are (probably) going to take place in littoral waters close to shore with plenty of cover, the French have to upgrade or go in to the next fight where most of their capability is countered before the first shot. More power to 'em. But as I sit here and consider how the French have allowed their social programs to gut the military budget, I can't help but think that they'll have trouble doing something as simple as an upgrade of an existing design.

This Post Really Isn't About the F-111
One of the planes that I think is just neato is the F-111 (plenty of kewl pics at that last link). Originally conceived in the 1950's, it first flew in 1964. The craft was retired from the U.S. inventory in 1996 but several are still flying with foreign air forces, most notably the Royal Australian Air Force (official website of the RAAF here).

So we have an aircraft that started flying in the days with vacuum tube and transistor computers and is still in the air and dangerous in today's world of stealth aircraft and fire-and-forget anti-aircraft missiles. How could it possibly keep up?

The answer is that these weapon systems don't stand still. Upgrades in the form of better sensors, better on-board computers and improved munitions are added all the time. This means that aircraft 30 years old (or more) can still contribute today.

This article details the upgardes that the USAF's aging fleet of F-16s. (Pretty kewl pics to be had right here. Scroll down to the bottom of the page to see an experimental delta wing F-16.) The aircraft are gettin' old. The upgrades mean that they'll still be a potent and capable weapon for the next ten years.

Why bother? Because the U.S. military is determined to shift almost all air-superiority missions to the stealthy F-22 Raptor when it becomes operational. Eventually having only one air frame for all branches of the service that flies high-performance fighters will save big money on training, maintenance, support and supply. But they're having trouble getting the F-22 ready for deployment (seems that making an aircraft both stealthy and high performance is a real bear). Until then we'll just have to make do with crappy F-16s. That's just fine and dandy as far as I'm concerned.

YOU GUYS HAVE GOTTA SEE THIS!
Go on over to fellow Ohio resident Kevin Holtsberry and check out how he's got his "Cool Kids" blogroll arranged. It's very kewl indeed.

Friday, December 20, 2002

SWORD AND RHETORIC
Innocents Abroad is a blog that I have enshrined in the ol' blogroll to the left. It's a place where thoughtful criticisms and insightful analysis of Euro-U.S. relations can be found. The authors certainly know their stuff but I've found that they tend to say 30 words where 3 would be enough.

An example: it would seem that one of the authors has just seen The Two Towers at a French movie theater. Since the mostly young audience enthusiastically liked the film he decides to write about evil and the "root causes" crap bandied about by the coffee house set.

Hey, it's a movie about sticking a sword in an orc's gizzard! Root cause: they're comin' over the wall! Solution? Sword to gizzard!

I suppose that's just the simple American in me, though.

VINDICATION!
I've always said that the threats of cyberterrorism have been overrated, just like I've always said that people who equate the Internet with the Discovery of Fire are seeing waayyy too much significance in Email and free pr0n. One of the guys on my blogroll, Jack Burton of the Pork Chop Express, is a computer expert who has always maintained that I wouldn't know a significant world-changing event if it came up and bit me on the Pentium chip.

So imagine how the ol' gloat glands kicked into high gear when I was reading Prof. Reynold's blog and I saw that he had linked to this article from Wired.

Advantage to curmudgeonly old farts who still live in the 20th Century!

(Not that I wanna gloat or anything.)

SOCIAL BUTTERFLY
Sorry about the lack of posts. Some friends are in from out of town and my dance card is full. Posts will still be comin', but at a slower rate.

SHOOTIN' CHEAP PART IV: FEEDING THE GUNS
If you have a good quality gun and you take care of it then you'll be able to shoot thousands upon thousands of rounds through it before it wears out. The cost of the ammo should be several times the cost of the gun. So how do you reduce the cost of gun fuel? There's four ways to do this but, like most things in life, there's both good and bad that comes with each choice.

Inexpensive Factory Loads
There are firms out there that sell newly loaded, factory fresh ammunition at lower than average prices. The king of the discount factory loads is Blazer. Made with aluminim cases, the rounds cannot be reloaded after fired. Blazer produces good quality practice ammo for about 10% less then it's nearest competitor.

The down side is that it's only a 10% savings. You can do better, sometimes MUCH better. Still, the only other way to get a decent price on small quantities of factory fresh ammo is by waiting until your local gun store is offering a sale to get rid of excess stock. Waiting for a sale does work, but you have to be in the right place at the right time.

Military Surplus
There are some companies out there that sell military surplus ammunition. Stuff that's been sitting in a warehouse in Syria or Russia or Egypt since the first Arab/Israeli war but is still (mostly) good. The king of the military surplus firms is Wolf Performance. They pull the rounds out of the mildewy packages and inspect them before repacking for sale. This means that reliability is pretty good, and you don't have a bunch of mildew smell and silverfish coming off of the packaging. Savings of 30% can be had.

The down side is that it's STILL ammo that was originally loaded in some crappy 3rd world sweatshop 40 or 50 years ago. Although generally reliable the performance can be less then stellar. Some modern guns can also be made with tighter tolerances than the AK-47's that the Comrades were planning on shooting, so imperfections that didn't matter to Mother Russia will cause your new U.S. made gun to jam. Buy a few test boxes and fire them before making a commitment to military surplus.

Buying in Bulk
There are many, many, MANY websites out there offering good deals on bulk ammunition. Savings can be as high as 20% if you shop around and choose the right place to buy. Many local gunstores also offer discounts on bulk purchases, and you can always find some guy on tha last day of a gun show who's willing to make a good deal on ammo as long as he doesn't have to load the stuff back in the truck (look for the old and fat dealers with bad backs). If you like factory loads because they're hassle free then this is the way to go.

The disadvantages are that you'll have to buy a large amount to really cash in on the savings. This means that you have to save up a few hundred dollars for the initial purchase if it's going to be worth your while. The other problem is that the online ammo dealers won't ship to certain parts of the country (coughLosAngelescough). If you live in the land of granola and gun-haters then you'll just have to travel to a gun show outside of their sphere of influence to buy some shooting supplies.

Reloading
The parts of a round are bullet, casing, powder and primer (you can see a diagram here, which is a gun control website [tee hee]). The most expensive part is the brass, and it can be reloaded ten or twenty times before it wears out. Buying all of the other components (primer, powder and bullet) in bulk will decrease costs even further. Saving of 75% are not uncommon. All you need to get started is to buy a reloading guide and some reloading equipment. The most basic equipment can cost less than $100 USD.

The disadvantage to this is that it takes time. Bunches of time. With the basic equipment you can reload 50-75 rounds in an hour. With fancier and more expensive equipment you can do at least 5 times that number. Pretty soon you'll start to wonder why you're spending so much time reloading when you can be at the range shooting. You'll spend the money for the better gear, and start reloading hundreds of rounds in an evening, and then you'll just have to go and shoot them so you can free up some shelf space. Then you'll want to reload the spent cases because only a slob has dirty brass around the house. But then your shelves will be groaning with rounds! And you'll have to shoot some just to cycle out the old stuff (hey, it's almost three days old!)! Then you'll have to reload the spent brass!

If you'll excuse me I have 1,000 rounds that's been sitting there, laughing at me, for the better past of a week. Time to go to the range.

Thursday, December 19, 2002

JANE'S ROUNDUP
It's time to see what Jane's Defence has put on their server as free, non-subscriber articles.

Terminate With Extreme Prejudice
According to this article, Jane's claims that most of the homicide bombings in Israel are directly attributable to assinations of key Palestinian terrorist leaders. Judging by the large numbers of Israeli citizens that have lost their lives in the homicide bombings, Jane's seems to think that the policy is a failure.

High Tech Sailors
The U.S. Navy has always been at the cutting edge of technology. It started way, way back even before the USN was even formed. The very first ships that were built for the fleet were a radical and advanced design of fighting ship. One of those two ships is still around and still commissioned, though I don't expect to see her Captain clear the decks for action any time soon. Since then the USN has developed nuclear powered submarines and surface ships. They've also been at the front of missile technology, and they even developed fighting robots to protect the ships.

Now the USN is trying to develop a wide range of high tech weapons, stuff that's impossible right now but should be common in as little as ten years (according to Navy sources, that is). The Navy has it's own state of the art research facilities, and now they've turned their attention towards developing these new weapons. Laser cannons, hyper velocity missiles and rail guns are some of the weapons being developed. One of the consequences of all of these new electric weapons would be that many of the USN warships would have to go nuclear.

Me, I'm waiting for this to reach it's logical conclusion. "I always get the shakes before a drop."

Wednesday, December 18, 2002

"SPAM" ISN'T A WMD
More from StrategyPage.com, where it's reported that a hacker in Kuwait has attacked Iraqi computer networks.

Well, whatever. Makes 'em feel better, I suppose.

SHOOTIN' FAST!
Full auto weapons are here to stay in the military world. How'd they get started? StrategyPage.com has an excellent three part series that tells you all about it in a very short period of time. Since SP doesn't have permalinks be aware that you might have to scroll around a bit to find the article a few days or weeks after I pisted this.

LATE TO THE PARTY, BUT I STILL SHOWED
Many bloggers interested in gun rights have linked to this looonng post on Rachel Lucas' blog. She reprints the comments by a Bill Whittle, and he's more articulate about the issue then anyone I've ever heard.

The reason why the post is so long is that Mr. Whittle discusses more than the gun control thing. He also takes on the fact that many, many things that affect a nation are determined by their stance on guns and allowing the individual the right and responsibility to own them.

My favorite part was where he replied to a Canadian gentlemen who was trying to point out that America was far behind Canada in many respects. Mr. Whittle spun out pure gold.

"I respect and admire Canada and Canadians. We have been, and always will be, the best of friends despite these differences. And while Canadians frequently point out that they are free of our vices, I perceive that they are free of our greatness as well. You can't have it both ways.

Me, personally, I'll take an American flag on the moon over free health care. I can buy health care. I wish to hell I could go to the moon. (Some of us in the Mojave desert may still have few tricks up our sleeve on this one. We're still free to build airplanes and spacecraft and fly the goddamn things. From our garages. Try and keep up with a nation that builds working spacecraft in the garage. As a hobby. For FUN.)

And everyone who has taken America's disdain for intellectualism as a lack of intelligence has woken up looking at our dust trail as we speed ever faster beyond them. We're not just a smart country - we're THE smart country. Behold the list of inventions and Nobel Prize winning scientists. Einstein was an American. Germany threw him away - he's ours now, by his choice, not ours. Ditto Von Braun and numerous others, not to mention homegrown geniuses like the Wright Brothers and Robert Goddard, just to draw two names from the narrow field I know best. Staggeringly brilliant men and women, the best, most active minds on the planet pulling for the same team.

So take your pick: Freedom or security? Greatness or goodness? Passion or decency?"


Dammit, I wish I could write half as purty.

Go read it. The post is long but worth the time.

Tuesday, December 17, 2002

DEEP KIMCHEE
Stephen den Beste has a pretty good analysis of the situation in Korea. For decades I've watched the situation there. For decades I've pretty much considered it extremely frustrating and hopeless. Mr. den Beste points out why it sucks so bad.

Sunday, December 15, 2002

"MOTOWN" SHOULD BE CALLED "FELONTOWN"
Just read this post over at the Guardroom. Follow the links. It describes the appalling efforts of Wayne County (where Detroit is) to track fugitives. 'Course, considering the shrinking tax base in Detroit since many of the automakers left, it's no surprise that they don't have the money to do a good job.

THIS IS DEPRESSING
Just saw an op-ed about how we've abandoned the space race.

I remember watching Star Trek when I was younger. Heck, who hasn't? Even the Russians are fans. But now it seems that we're just not gonna go. Sure, exploring with robots is safer and cheaper, but it just isn't the same. We need to get some people up there! Up and out! Beyond the far horizen! The Moon is now ours, now we need to focus on Mars!

We'll bring women along, just in case.

THE RUSSIANS ARE LECTURING US ABOUT SEX???
Just came across this article in the Russian news paper Pravda. Seems the Russians are upset at the U.S. in general and Pres. Bush in particular because of the impending war with Iraq. They've kinda let this bias seep through when reporting on a lawsuit filed against Pres. Bush.

"A lot of women liked previous President of the United States Bill Clinton. Women thought that he was a very charming and attractive man."

Only if they were crazy enough to want to keep crusty dresses as keepsakes.

"However, the situation with incumbent President George Bush is totally different. Mr. Bush is definitely a representative of another psychological type of human being. It is evident that he is often drawn to solve all problems with the help of the military force. As it turns out, this trait of his character it also seen when it comes to sexual relationships with women."

After Stalin I suppose these guys would know.

"There were some people in America, who tried to warn the American society that George W. Bush was not a mentally balanced man."

Only the mentally unbalanced in our society were voicing these warnings. But never mind about that.

"They said that his conduct was suspiciously weird at times."

Yeah, he liked to read Pravda.

"However, the society had to become concerned about their president after those warnings proved right. The White House press service had to think of many reasonable explanations to clarify Bush’s bruises or ridiculous slips of his tongue."

Bruises? What bruises? Do the Russians have pictures or something?

"It became known that a resident of Missouri City, Texas, Margie Schoedinger, filed a lawsuit against the former governor of Texas and the current president of the United States. In her suit, Margie Schoedinger states that George W. Bush committed sexual crimes against her, organized harassment and moral pressure on her, her family members and close relatives and friends."

Is there a crusty dress we can test for proof?

"In addition to that, three unknown men attempted to kidnap her on October 26, 2000."

If they're unknown then we can be sure that they're Bush's cronies!

"Margie Schoedinger does not know, to which extent her husband might suffer from that sexual harassment."

Now her husband is being sexually harrassed as well?

"Whether or not her husband was raped remains in question."

Are we talking about rape or harrassment? Maybe rape is considered harrassment in Russia, but here in America...

"She can only state that “those men purported to be FBI agents raping her for the purpose of covering for how many times they had drugged her and allowed the Defendant (George W. Bush) to rape her in the same manner.”

So now there's a whole herd of them! FBI agents, kidnappers, the Pres. I'm wondering if Rumsfeld was wandering around in a Nixon mask.

"Margie Schoedinger’s lawsuit was filed on December 2nd, 2002. The plaintiff acts as her own legal representative."

You know what they say when the lawyer is his own client.

"The plaintiff tries to make the defendant pay her 49 million dollars for “reasons of emotional distress, loss of freedom and ability to pursue her own dreams, alienation of affection from her spouse, loss of privacy, being disparaged on the Internet, and loss of her ability to be a Christian writer."

"..being disparaged on the Internet." Does this mean that I owe her 49 mill, too? And neither I nor my pack of FBI agents with the drugs got any!

"It is hard to say, if this woman’s story is true or not."

Not that hard.

"Who knows, probably, she is one of thousands of American women, who perform sexual favors to high-ranking politicians of America."

Or she could be one of the thousands of Americans who try to get a free ride with the hope of a politician settling a nuisance lawsuit out of court.

"However, Margie Schoedinger's story looks like the psychopathic actions of the sitting American president."

Actually it doesn't look like the President is the psycho.

"George W. Bush’s goals are so very similar when it comes to the aggression against Iraq, or to the anti-terrorist campaign: to destroy, to harass, to crush."

So, she and her husband were crushed?

Hey, this is getting way too kinky for me!