This is about as far from a Wednesday update as it’s possible to get, and it’s also a bit on the late side, but so it goes. At least 4/3/21 is a fun countdown.
- The spam-stopper plugin is doing its job (1.5 million spam registrations/comments blocked!). If it’s doing its job too well and preventing any of you regulars (or newcomers who happen to read this) from commenting, let me know in the Discord, and I’ll try whitelisting you.
- The 3D printer had recently ceased to go brr, because printing tabletop-quality miniatures is a very, very tricky affair at the knife edge of the machine’s capabilities, but it’s running again after an afternoon picking thin coatings out of threads on two mating parts.
- A book recommendation from the Discord (The Secret Horsepower Race) has been great reading so far. I think I got to page 53 before I came across a full four-column, two-page spread with no fascinating pictures or diagrams. Serendipitously, this is What We’re Reading 109, an auspicious number given the subject matter of the book.
- I caught wind of this on Tuesday, March 23, and if I’d published it in the scheduled timeslot, I would have been well ahead of the curve. As it stands, I’d be a little behind the curve linking a postmortem. Oh well. I imagine you don’t come here for breaking news, and if you do, I’m a little concerned about how up-to-date you are on any number of current events.
- Relatedly, it’s been a bad year for container losses at sea – Volumes are up, schedules are tight, stormy seas are less easily avoided.
- Memes made Suez Canal workers work faster – National pride cited as the reason, in that I guess the Egyptians thought we were laughing at them, and not the situation generally?
- On that note, I saw someone on Twitter remark that, given his long experience in Egypt, he was surprised the shouting over the situation wasn’t audible in space.
- The four quadrants of an alliance – “[…] not all nations are of equivalent utility at war. Due to national caveats, a company of Estonians are many orders of magnitude [my emphasis] to any commander than a company of Belgians.” Harsh.
- Sub-hunting Intruders: a missed opportunity? – Not just a history of that, but a brief history of fixed-wing ASW through the middle of the Cold War, courtesy of The War Zone. I think I knew some of it already from Friedman’s Carriers, but it’s a good refresher and/or short treatment. Oh, and here the article cites Friedman.
- USMC fielding Squad Common Optic – That’s Uncle Sugar’s name for the Trijicon 1-8×20 VCOG, if you’d forgotten. The existing Rifle Combat Optic is a fixed 4x number. Having a 1-6x scope on a rifle of mine, and having run that rifle once or twice at two-gun matches, I can confidently say being able to drop to no magnification is a huge advantage.
- There is about to be an earth-shattering kaboom: an album of precision munitions instants from impact
- Marines emulate Somalis; test Javelin teams in inflatable boats
- Congresscritter: the US urgently needs a maritime-focused national defense strategy – Vice Chair of the House Armed Services Committee, so it’s a little less surprising that she wrote a cogent and well-argued piece on defense, but still pretty surprising.
- Russia making a move on Ukraine? – Lots of Russian hardware moving in that direction, along with the trick from Red Storm Rising (and real life, I guess) where units who rotated in for exercises stay after the exercises are over. Maybe this makes up for Suez—a pre-breaking story!
- The history of the sonobuoy – I didn’t realize that air-dropped sonobuoys have as long a history as they do.
- The ‘RQ-180’, or whatever it’s officially called: a drone’s drone – The War Zone showing why they’re the paid professionals, and we’re the pikers who mostly link to other places and make snide remarks. A lot of it is speculation, but it’s well-informed speculation, and well worth the read.
Science and Technology
- GPT-3 is a bunch of hot air – That is, it doesn’t understand language in the way a lot of people seem to dearly want it to.
- Is part of a spider’s cognition embodied in its web? – TLDR: yes, but only in the same way that a grocery list embodies part of mine.
- Shocked Pikachu: scientists from the Wuhan Institute of Virology were hospitalized with possible COVID-19 symptoms in November 2019 – I have some college acquaintances who were simply aghast, last summer, that I thought lab escape was a plausible hypothesis.
- Europe beginning to freak out about SpaceX – I’m sure they’ll schedule a meeting to convene a committee to establish a commission to investigate the issue any year now.
- Back on March 17, I noted that I was hearing rumors of the Pennsylvania background check system going down, as people converted stimulus checks into handguns.
- The top US general in Afghanistan carries a Glockblaster – Compensator and slide-mounted red dot. Suggestion box is open for appropriate Glockblaster-themed names.
- This madman built a machine to cook a chicken by slapping it – It even kind of worked. Content warning: modern YouTube personality.
- Germany is not happy with EU leadership over COVID vaccine missteps – It turns out that the Trump-era solution (“deliver dump trucks of money to vaccine manufacturers in exchange for first crack”) was better than the EU strategy (“negotiate as a large buyer”). It’s the New York Way, or something.