I feel like we’re not closing in on WWRW #100 nearly as quickly as we used to be. Maybe it’s quarantine time dilation.
- This Week I Learned: what ‘gain-of-function research’ means in an infectious-diseases context – It means manipulating pathogens in labs to explore how they might be better at infecting humans. Oh, and the Wuhan Institute of Virology was doing gain-of-function research. Oh, and the (US) National Institute for Allergy and Infections Diseases provided grants.
- COVID and social consequences: a Twitter thread – I wade into the cesspool that is Twitter in the interests of fishing out something interesting from the oozing dreck so that you don’t have to!
- On the same note as the item above, I once read something that mathed out the frequency of major wars on US soil, and found it was somewhat less than the average lifetime, or at least that the 95% confidence interval included less than the average lifetime. I didn’t have enough time today to run it down.
- University of Pittsburgh Medical Center researcher, on the verge of making significant coronavirus discoveries, murdered by associate – The researcher’s name? Bing Liu. The murderer? Hao Gu.
- Pittsburgh reporting says it was a dispute over an ‘intimate partner’ – I don’t want to sound too conspiracy-minded, but… Mr. Liu was a Chinese national. Mr. Gu was a naturalized US citizen who works for Eaton, exactly the kind of place you’d want to have a spy. The police aren’t talking about the alleged relationship. Have I been too deep into the spy dramas, or is that all more than a little suspicious?
- Lurker Navaronegun, a.k.a. Patrick Mullen, is the designer behind upcoming Vietnam wargame A Hot Dry Season – Here’s a written interview, here’s a video intro, and if you have further questions, you can probably ping him in the Discord server. One-mile hexes, company-size units. I was going to try a prerelease version on Vassal with parvusimperator, but we might have missed the window for that. Oops.
- If you have something big you’re working on, readers, let us know! If it’s of interest to us, we’ll plug it for you. We don’t get a ton of traffic, but hey, any press is good press.
- FREMM WINNS – Back in 2018, I laid odds on the various FFG(X) contenders (albeit with a bit of sign confusion). I’ve always been fond of FREMM, but I didn’t think it had a chance.
- Royal Navy working on a fix for the Type 45 powerplant problems – Integrated electric propulsion is super-cool in theory, but seems a little less trustworthy in practice. Which is odd, because we had turbo-electric ships in the early 20th century. I guess adding diesel generators is Hard™?
- Photos of the P-8A’s top-secret radar pod – Along with some discussion of its known capabilities.
- USSOC might be buying some Bronco IIs – No relation to Bronco I, beyond general shape and low-and-slow light-attack mentality.
- US to pull F-35s and spy planes of various types from Britain over Huawei’s involvement in Britain’s 5G networks? – Good move, if true.
- French buy a German rifle, Germans buy a French 20mm cannon – Dogs and cats hanging out!
- American mercs involved in Bay of Pigs 2: This Time It’s Venezuela – No word on whether the US government had any involvement.
- Another story where the contract life didn’t end well – Fun to think about, but man, for the risks, the pay’s pretty awful.
- This year’s Flare Path community Combat Mission game is a hoot – Try this (fictional movie synopsis) on for size, if I don’t turn it into a Nathaniel Cannon story over at Many Words Main first: “This year’s challenge conscripts Combat Mission: Fortress Italy and is inspired by the final fifteen minutes of classic Seventies war movie Colonel Croesus (aka The Montaretto Millionaires aka The Tiger Under the Mountain). We join the story on the night following the double-cross. The ragtag band of Allied treasure hunters, deserters, and lotus eaters led by Colonel ‘Croesus’ Cresswell (Robert Duvall) is poised for action outside the ‘abandoned’ Italian sub pen where Hauptmann Otto Steiner’s (Wolf Kahler) equally disreputable Kampfgruppe of chancers is busy loading the stolen bullion onto a waiting U-boat. Unless Croesus acts quickly, the Germans will escape with the loot!”
Science and Technology
- Engineers around the world are different on the surface, but deep down we’re all the same
- SpaceX test-fired a Raptor engine mounted to Starship SN4 the other day – Finally, they got the welds right, and this time it didn’t implode during fuel loading. Coming soon: a test flight up to about 500 feet.
- Octopuses: not really that smart? – You may debate plurals in the comments, if you so desire.