We’re both back from vacation, and here’s some of what we read along the way. Mostly what I read; parvusimperator unplugs more fully than I do.
- My wife and I visited Portland (the slightly less socialist Maine version), with a brief pilgrimage up to Bath to see the Maine Maritime Museum (and thence, the only non-NO PHOTOGRAPHY view of Bath Iron Works). Strong thumbs up from me. Maine was delightfully low-key. When we vacationed to New Orleans, we didn’t want to miss anything, because it’s all steeped in a New Orleans-specific flavor1 that you can’t find anywhere else. The parts of Maine we visited were simply coastal New England in pure form. We saw lighthouses, ate a bunch of lobster, and enjoyed the pleasant seaside weather. We didn’t see all there was to see, but we don’t feel like we missed out, either.
- Nonfiction: I’m nearly done with Massey’s Dreadnought, which is good, but also not quite what I expected (an in-depth technical look at the battleship race). Rather, it’s almost a collection of biographies of interesting figures from the late 1800s through the start of the Great War.
- Nonfiction: Next on the list is When Tigers Ruled the Sky, a brilliantly-titled volume on the Flying Tigers.
- Fiction: Phobos, the debut novel from author Ty Drago (what a name!). A tense, tightly-paced moderately-hard-sci-fi thriller, framed like a classic mystery. There’s even a scene when the main character brings all the suspects together in one room and sums up the facts to date.
- On Northrop, the B-21, and lessons from the B-2 – The nice thing about the B-2 is that it was far enough ahead of its time that ‘build it again, except cheaper’ is a reasonable plan.
- Selling Vipers to Taiwan – It makes China mad, but… shrug.
- The Navy’s new carrier radar – Made from a bunch of AESAs which can be swapped individually. Easier on the maintenance, no doubt. The definitive version has three sets of arrays for permanent 360° coverage, but the article has a picture of a version on a spinning mount, which presumably cuts costs dramatically.
- Two more National Security Cutters enter service – Looking at the silhouette, I’m pretty sure the cutter calling at Portland, Maine during my stay was a member of the same class.
- Beltway insiders heed the Soapbox’s call for more drydocks – We get hits from DC at about five times the rate you would expect based on DC’s population, so clearly, the only possible explanation is that important people read this update.
- Big Army to spend many years and much money on a next-gen squad weapons program, before cancelling it as soon as it gets close to bearing fruit – Consider my prediction made.
Science and Technology
- Walmart sues Tesla over roof panel fires – Remember how Tesla
bailed outlegitimately purchased SolarCity? This shoddy installation job was a SolarCity-era thing that Tesla now has to deal with.
- Also, Tesla’s residential solar panels are catching fire – The problem, as I understand it from my non-expert position, is that a solar panel is cooled in part by the electricity flowing out of it. If a connector comes loose, suddenly the panel can overheat.
- Atlassian’s Bitbucket is sunsetting support for the Mercurial version control system – Well, time to evac my repositories to Github. I’ve been meaning to switch over anyway.
- Apple’s new credit card not rated for contact with wallets or jeans
- Tesla’s stock numbers are not great – The headline says Tesla has failed as a public company, which I think requires you to look at it from an investor’s point of view rather than Ol’ Musky’s.
- Deepfake technology and a Tom Cruise impressionist yield Tom Cruise as Iron Man – “The video isn’t bad, it’s just not enjoyable to watch.”
- Forbes contributor misidentifies a privately-owned oceanographic research vessel as a superyacht
- How to build a downdraft wood gasifier – You too can run a (carbureted) engine off of nothing but a bucket of burning wood.
- Kerbal Space Program 2! – I’m a big Kerbal Space Program the Original booster, so I’m glad to see this. I have a big KSP mission planned; maybe I’ll take screenshots and write that up.
- Loose Rounds has a series of roundups on Hong Kong – Look through the archives for ‘Hong Kong Boogaloo’.
- How to neutralize tear gas grenades – Shake ’em up in a canister of liquid nitrogen.
- Hong Kong protesters are using a Bluetooth mesh network messaging app to avoid state surveillance – Now that’s cool.
- Carrie Lam withdraws extradition bill – China blinks first. Will that be enough to stop the protests? I guess we’ll see.
- K-pop tempts North Koreans into defection – Capitalist art is a great tool for breaking down poor authoritarian regimes, because man, are we ever decadent.
- Speaking of, abstract art was a CIA weapon – Unfortunately, it was a weapon designed to show Communists, “Look how free-thinking we are!” It failed on that front. If I had to choose my 20th century politics purely on the artistic merits of Socialist realism vs. American abstract… ism?, well, hand me a red banner and strike up the Internationale.
- Getting a Coast Guard rescue the hard way: ditching a plane in the ocean – That’s historically been the problem with piston engines over water.
- US militias from 1776 to the Civil War – A forgotten history.
- The Soapbox’s favorite NFL commentator/troll is gearing up for the 2019 season – He goes by UrinatingTree on Youtube. Apropos of nothing, except that a slightly ruder version of Mr. Tree’s name brings it to mind, here’s Blues Saraceno’s Hanging Tree, which came to my attention from the Rebel Galaxy Outlaw soundtrack. (Review coming sometime? Yes, I think so.)
- On working homelessness – Not as common a condition as some would have you believe if you look at homelessness as ‘living on the streets’. Somewhat more common if you look at it as ‘would be living on the streets but for the charity of family’. Not that family charity is a bad thing, but The New Republic (yes, a dirty pinko rag generally) paints some interesting pictures here.
- Why hasn’t Brexit happened yet? – Because the British civil service, and European bureaucrats generally, look at Yes, Minister and see an instruction manual rather than a farce.
- Now I’m hungry. ↩