Leading off with a (temporary) new section…
to Restore the Republic of American Football
That section title got away from me a bit. (If it were the Rebel Alliance of American Football, it would be the RAAF! That’s a fun acronym that isn’t in use anywhere else.) Anywho, it’s that awkward time of the sports year which falls between the end of the NFL playoffs and the start of the NFL preseason1, so the Alliance of American Football was an obvious thing to check out.
The short version is, it has promise, some of which is currently unrealized. The long version is, I’m writing a full post, so be patient. In the interests of having some extra fun with the league, I’ve decided to do picks against the spread for the remaining nine weeks of the season.
- Salt Lake Stallions at Birmingham Iron (-6.5): I don’t have a good feel for this one, but I say Salt Lake covers. Birmingham didn’t generate much offense last time out, and a shutdown defense only takes you so far.
- Arizona Hotshots (-10.5) at Memphis Express: Arizona in this one—the Hotshots are the pacesetters in the league right now, and Memphis is realizing that the Christian Hackenburg Show isn’t going to work.
- Orlando Apollos (-6.5) at San Antonio Commanders: I like Orlando in this one. San Antonio looked iffy in their game last week against the Fleet.
- Atlanta Legends at San Diego Fleet (-9.5): Atlanta to cover. I don’t think they’re bad enough to lose by 10 to the Fleet, who (despite being one of my chosen rooting interests this year) are not very good themselves.
- Is artillery underrepresented in today’s armed services? – The Russians would tell you yes, which is why they have artillery all the way down to the battalion level. I’m inclined to at least listen, given that the Russians are (have recently been?) engaged in the Donbass in one of the only near-peer fights in the world.
- Defence Technology Review is always worth a read – Of particular note: Land 400 updates (though no major ones), and Marines to try out UAV-guy-per-squad. That leads to an unwieldy structure, though: three fireteams of three each, plus a command element including the squad leader, assistant squad leader, and UAV operator. If your squad needs a command team, it may be too complicated.
- The first Ford-class carrier is almost ready for service
- Another story on the Fitz crash
- Venezuela’s military holds the key to power in that country – Military of critical importance in dictatorship, water still wet, sky still blue (or possibly gray).
- The USAF says it’s less than two years away from hypersonic missiles – Then we can threaten Chinese carrier groups like the Russians threaten ours!
- Iron Man suit not feasible, SOCOM reluctantly admits
- China considering dropping its no-first-use policy on nuclear weapons
- Canadian diplomats sue Canadian government over Havana Syndrome – Apparently, the Canadian government shrugged off stories of sonic attacks from American diplomats, only to find its own diplomats similarly afflicted some time later.
- Business Insider reports: the Gripen is underrated and awesome – German Eurofighter pilots were taunting Gripen pilots, who then used their full, unrestricted EW setups and flew up on the Eurofighters’ wings. Hot take: EW is better than stealth. Stealth requires design compromises and (sometimes) finicky coatings, and can’t easily be adjusted in the field. EW can be done in software (to a great degree).
- Australia to buy its new submarines from France – I guess they finally worked out the details to their satisfaction. Parvusimperator and I were kind of rooting for the Japanese Soryus.
- South Korea to increase payments for presence of US troops – With companion Polandball strip.
- The F-35B won’t solve Australia’s defense problems – The author asks an interesting question by way of analogy: “[…] if a stray oil rig off the Philippines is a problem for the State Department, and an occupying naval force is a problem for the Pentagon, which solves the problem of an occupying oil rig?” The defense problem China poses to nearby states is two-pronged, and the prong poking harder right now is the diplomatic one.
- M2A5 Bradley canceled, M2A6 Bradley proposed – You might think I’m joking. Nope.
- F-35Bs operating from amphibious assault ships conduct strike exercises with external stores – I wasn’t aware they were that far along.
- In related news, US F-35Bs will join British F-35Bs aboard HMS Queen Elizabeth on her first operational deployment – A happy bit of allied nation friendliness, that.
- China building a sixth-generation fighter – Although nobody’s quite sure what sixth-generation means. I think we’re at risk of marketing speak taking over, as it did with the occasional ‘4th+++bis-generation fighter’ designations you see.
- In the 1950s, atomic tests were a Las Vegas tourist draw – Very Fallout.
- Who or what brought down Dag Hammarskjöld? – Moving a decade or so on from Fallout to Bond.
- USS Hornet found
Science and Technology
- The Sum-Product Problem – A Quanta piece, so of course I’m not well-equipped to summarize it, but it was fascinating nevertheless.
- US railways are the most advanced in the world – American travelers use roads more than their European counterparts, but American railways are overwhelmingly more effective at transporting cargo.
- A profile of the founder of Tesla rival Rivian – Rivian is making an electro-SUV and an electro-pickup, both with non-trivial offroad capability.
- The Coriolis effect in rotating space habitats – I’ve been trying to wrap my head around this subject for years, and finally, thanks to this article, I think I have a handle on it.
- Revolvers are passé, says one commentator – Interesting article, but isn’t he 20 or 30 years late to the party?
- The worst phonetic alphabet… in the world
- Facebook has a right to block hate speech, but here’s why it shouldn’t – Broadly, I agree.
- Inside the Cleveland Browns’ front office – It is, in fact, a clown show.
- In old but fun news, the saga of the AAirpass – If I could fly first class wherever I wanted for no additional cost, you can bet I would be taking my wife on the occasional lunch date to Europe.
- Attempting to quantify the money New Star Wars could have made – I don’t agree 100% with the analysis, but it’s a fun thing to try nevertheless. I have in mind a measure (inflation-adjusted Box Office Above Replacement), but I think I’d need more detail on historical movie releases and grosses than I have at present. I’d want to look at the average haul of the top 25 movies in a year to determine the average blockbuster, then adjust for inflation using ticket prices rather than, say, CPI.
- I may be glossing over some other sports somewhat. ↩