Winter Wargaming may be slightly delayed—I have a lot of writing left to do on that front, and tonight in which to do it.
- Rainbox Six, a re-read. The last time I read it was also post-9/11, but I’m much better informed about the state of the world today than I was last time, and the starkness of the divergence between that fictional timeline and our real one is worth mentioning.
- Castles of Steel, a re-read in progress. I’m up to just past the Dardanelles. That particular campaign (the naval side, not the ugly, unproductive land side) strikes me as one we can’t really game out. Could the Royal Navy have forced the straits alone? Maybe so. But, if so, would the Ottoman Empire have collapsed? Nobody knows for sure, and neither can we design a wargame which gives us an impartial answer.
- The Mauritius Command, which I thought was a re-read, but now that I’m halfway through I’m not so sure. You can’t go wrong with Patrick O’Brian.
- Return of the Obra-Dinn, a rollicking good nautically-themed murder mystery. The conceit: an empty ship floats into harbor circa 1807. You, an insurance investigator, go aboard, with a watch in your possession which permits you to view the moment at which a person died, given a bit of their body (or a vision of their body in a vision of someone else’s death). Worth the price of entry.
- A Painted Ocean. It’s not so much a game as a toy, but it’s a brilliant little toy: you’re the skipper of a full-rigged ship with detailed physics, and you sail it around. That’s the whole game. It’s delightful. The only thing that seems a bit off to me is that she has a habit of ‘sticking’ by the wind as you come out of a tack, not making enough way for the rudder to bear her up; I usually have to reef the mizzen-sails and the spanker to get her head to come away from the wind.
- You can tell it’s been a while since we’ve done one of these, because this is an article on Iran’s retaliatory missile strikes after the Suleimani hit
- USNI blog piece on UFOs strikes this author as somebody’s op – The only question is whose? And why? I guess that’s two questions.
- USS Little Rock to get 150kw laser
- Super Bug gets an IRST – A podded IRST, but still!
- OMFV program canceled, will be restarted – Another win for the odds-on favorite for any new procurement project.
- Armata still not quite delivered to the Russian army – ‘Нет, еще пока нет,’ said the guy in charge of Ростеха. (‘Not quite yet’, more or less.)
- The Italian Navy, circa 2020
- ALIS is dead, long live ODIN – LockMart gets another chance to make a repair and mission data software package which works. It’s scheduled for 2022. Parvusimperator, how long do you think it would take the two of us?
- Sig demoing .338-caliber MG to various special forces
- A longer article on the Streetfighter II Chally package – Courtesy of our friends at The Drive.
- The aging US sealift fleet cloud lose the next war – Loren Thompson, when he isn’t being (presumably) paid to cheerlead for American military hardware, can make a good point. On the one hand, it’s worth noting that in previous wars, we didn’t have a pre-war sealift fleet. On the other hand, it’s also worth noting that we had a merchant marine.
- Vortex announces a 1-10x optic – The adjustability! It’s tremendous! Also tremendously expensive. Let me know when Primary Arms makes one.
- As gun rights cases orbit the Supreme Court, don’t forget Caetano – Which made clear that the court is willing to unanimously police compliance with a decision that not all its members feel was rightly decided. Some of the lefties dissented from Heller and McDonald. Nobody dissented from Caetano.
- Do you miss the 80s? Then you want this side-folding stock for your Ruger rifle!
- Antifa marches with gun rights protesters, because even a stopped clock is right twice a day
- A drop-in trigger system for 1911s – It’s kind of funny that, while there is only one rifle platform (in the sense that you can build one from widely available parts and swap things in and out), there are two for pistols: Glocks and 1911s.
- On the disparate racial impact of the Virginia gun bills – They’re only going to get enforced in cities, and will probably disproportionately fall on minorities.
- Heterodox take: actually, gun rights are winning – Certainly, if you look on the basis of land area or count state-by-state, as the author does. He has more compelling arguments, too, which I won’t steal.
Science and Technology
- Dark matter may not exist, says a group of scientists with a paper to push – Soapbox correspondents reportedly watching closely. I’ve said repeatedly that I look at the dark-matter-as-actual-physical-matter theories as the 21st century’s luminiferous aether.
- Cory Doctorow on the parallel computing bubble – When all you have is a massive cluster of slow but cheap and efficient processors, every problem looks like a machine learning problem. Also, in the article he remarks that, 15 years ago, he predicted that computers would stop getting faster and start getting wider, so given how exactly he called that, I think he’s earned some additional speculation.
- Reports of Tesla unintended acceleration… – … which Tesla vehemently denies, pointing out that a short-seller is behind the petition sent to the NHTSA.
- Continents of the Underworld – “It would be like having an object in the sky, and asking, ‘Is that the moon?’ And people are like, no. ‘Is that the sun?’ No. ‘What is it?’ We don’t know!” said Vedran Lekić, a seismologist at the University of Maryland.
- MIT researchers use a blanket of carbon nanotubes to heat and cure aviation-grade composites – The previous state of the art was, “Build a three-story autoclave.”
- 40-year-old tractor prices reach an all-time high – In large part because John Deere is an awful company which wants to provide tractors-as-a-service without being responsible for the cost of maintaining tractors.
- Did you know that you aren’t supposed to use Google Fi if you spend a lot of time overseas? – Which is rather annoying, given that its easy international roaming is one of its draws. (Granted, I don’t travel internationally very often, but still.)
- Coronavirus outbreak in China continues – Man, I wish I hadn’t just read Rainbow Six. If a biotech company says they just happened to be working on a vaccine, be suspicious!
- Garlic, that staple of Italian-American cooking, is regarded in Italy as seasoning for The Poors – Mind. Blown. Makes sense, though; why would you strike out across an ocean for a new country where you have to deal with two or three generations of being a minority when everything’s a-ok at home?
- Using stats to drive your sports gambling decisions – The answer isn’t ‘leverage the parallel computing bubble’, which is a little disappointing1. It’s more along the lines of ‘think about why stat X says what it does’.
- How’s Aaron Rodgers doing? – Not great nowadays.
- Two GM employees arrested for street-racing prototypes of the new mid-engined Corvettes – Bravo Zulu, guys.
- Pop quiz: when was the first automobile turn-by-turn routefinding system sold to the public? – Hint: it’s earlier than you think.
- California regression: sewage in the American River – Or rather, the American River is turning into diluted sewage.
- Manhattan’s housing market is insane – Look at all the unsold, empty condos!
- India’s housing market is insane for different reasons – Look at all the unfinished apartment buildings!
- I’m not much of a gambler myself, beyond the socially acceptable kind where you hold a basket of mutual funds for 40 years, but if I did want to engage in Pennsylvania’s most recently legalized vice, it would be on the back of a neural network trained to predict, say, hockey games. Sports betting is nice in the same way that poker is, in that you’re not playing against a house who is permitted by law to fleece you, but against the rest of the betters. With a little elbow grease, you can be better at it than they are. ↩