Still just me, keeping the lights on. (Parvusimperator contributes stories here, too, of course.)
I’m trying something new and writing the post on Tuesday night rather than Wednesday morning. Less hurried. [Update from Tuesday night: actually, I wrote the post on Monday night because I got confused.]
In next week’s roundup, I should have another USPSA match video. As an added bonus, I should be running a few stages which I designed.
- An awesome paper on imaging infrared missile seekers and flare effectiveness against the same – By the power of simulation software, the paper’s author shows why flares aren’t super-useful against modern IR missiles—then gives one counterexample.
- US Army to deploy network authentication dongles – Tokens is the official word, but I prefer ‘dongle’ for hardware access control.
- Answers to questions posed to the Czech Army about its IFV requirements list – We posted the requirements list earlier this summer, along with a translation of the line items. This time, it’s pre-translated, and contains not merely requirements but justifications.
- In pictures: Inside USS Wasp‘s armories
- Here’s the new Big Army qualification for individual weapons – Easter egg: take a look at the sample soldier names on page 197.
- Iran jamming GPS – To nobody’s great surprise. Remember: your phone’s GPS antenna receives 500 times more power from the Andromeda Galaxy than it does from a GPS satellite. Jamming is not hard.
- USNI article argues for overhauling CVN-68 into an experimental carrier platform – Waste not, want not, I guess. The article is paywalled, but it’s an interesting idea.
- Touchscreen controls contributed to the McCain collision – Back to physical throttles it is. Also, the bridge diagram feels wrong, because sci-fi has trained me to expect the CO and XO to sit in the middle.
- The Pacific maritime democracies should cooperate on the Coast Guard front
- On the Naval War College’s homebrew wargame – Pretty much a review. The critique is that the game is not sufficiently rooted in the real world.
- In a rare well-argued article, Loren Thompson thinks threats to aircraft carriers are overblown
- Marines to further fatten squad – Three fireteams of four, plus a squad leader, assistant squad leader, and squad systems operator, for 15. Of course, the AAV can fit 21, so there’s still room for growth. Three six-man maneuver elements subdivided into two fireteams, plus the three-man command element, fits the bill perfectly, and the fighting elements also pack neatly into three Bradleys! (This is a bad idea.)
- Four ways to fix Royal Navy training – Notwithstanding that I wasn’t aware it was broken, the most interesting item is that doctrine should be short, because nobody reads long things.
- America should view China as a hostile, revolutionary power – Given the modern geopolitical stage, it’s a shame I caught the Russia bug rather than the China or Japan bug. I find the latter more and more fascinating as the years go by.
- Navy considering more advanced Burkes – That’s (more advanced) (Burkes), not (more) (advanced Burkes).
- Type 001A now undergoing sea trials
- It took the F-35 a long time to turn the corner, but this one left the factory in Fort Worth at 8 a.m., arrived at Hill AFB in Utah at 10 a.m., and went on a combat training mission at 3 p.m. – Impressive.
- The Turkish Defense Industry Product Catalogue – All of the headline items are vaporware, of course. Did you know Turkey has a 5th-generation fighter project? Neither did I!
- Marine JLTV hits IOC – I was about to ask why it was taking so long, but evidently, this is a year ahead of schedule.
- Big Army awards a laser weapon system contract
- That explosion in Russia? Nuclear thermal cruise missile
- Ars Technica story on the above
- James Holmes’ five favorite warships of all time
- The Cornfield Bomber – A classic Cold War aviation story.
- Long-form piece on the Second Peloponnesian War and maritime powers vs. land powers
Science and Technology
- AMD’s latest server chip outperforms two Intel chips at the same price point – That is, one AMD processor is worth two Intel processors, and each Intel processor costs the same as the AMD chip.
- Used Cisco hardware is no longer a valuable commodity – It used to be that the license to use Cisco software followed the hardware. Now, licenses are tied to the original buyer. To make things worth, Cisco is updating its older hardware to follow the same model, so if you bought used Cisco stuff, it could just stop working.
- A history of Python
- Trust nothing – By means of deepfakes, Bill Hader turns into Tom Cruise and Seth Rogen as he does impersonations thereof.
- Have $3 million? You could buy this modest Silicon Valley family home, or… Tumblr – Buy the house. (I believe Tumblr last sold in 2013. At that time, it went for $1.1 billion. Bit of a write-down there.)
- Blue Origin’s protest of the USAF launch services contract process is now a formal protest – I mean, I think they’re pretty obviously right. The space launch industry five years from now is going to look nothing like the space launch industry today. Why would you ever lock yourself in for that much time?
- AAA baseball starts using the MLB ball, hitting stats go through the roof – There’s been some controversy in baseball of late over whether the ball has been changed to yield more offense. The official story is no, so either they’re lying, or it was an accident.
- A news roundup on the hometown Steelers – I heard you liked news roundups, so I put a news roundup in your news roundup.
- LB Devin Bush could be Ryan Shazier 2.0
- Ex-Steeler locker room distraction report #1 – Antonio Brown won’t play this year unless he can wear his old helmet. The concussion gremlins must be whispering in his ear.
- Ex-Steeler locker room distraction report #2 – Unlike Brown, it looks like LeVeon Bell’s antics last year were actually calculated. He’s playing the dedicated teammate so far with the Jets.
- What to do when faced with a mass shooter – Presumes, of course, that you’re packing.
- A contributor at TTAG builds and shoots a gun for the CMP President’s 100 Match – Good read.
- A short list of liberals who have seen the light on guns
- “But how do you 3D print the barrel?” – With electrochemical machining in your kitchen, that’s how. Print a cylinder to hold wires, put those wires in the barrel, Sam Colt is your uncle.
- New York Times correction of the week – “An earlier version of this article incorrectly described the law that protects hate speech on the internet. The First Amendment, not Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, protects it.”
- This Pennsylvania homeowner is delighted to hear that PA lawmakers are considering eliminating the school property tax – Leaving aside the tremendous affront to property rights that property taxes represent, they also just don’t work very well in PA. In a jurisdiction with property taxes, rising property values are bad for older homeowners. So, at least in Allegheny County, we’re still using appraisals from 2010 or so. Under that regime, however, schools don’t benefit from rising property values, so to increase their revenues, school districts raise tax rates. If we were ever to re-appraise houses at their current values, there would be a tax rebellion. Better just to get rid of the property tax altogether.
- The SPDR S&P 500 ETF Trust will cease to be 20 years after the last of 11 semi-random people dies – Why? Because ETFs are structurally a little unusual. SPY is a unit investment trust, which has to have a termination date. I have no idea why it’s tied to people as opposed to a simple date, though.
- Hoover once ran a very poorly considered promotion: buy 100 quid of vacuum, get free transatlantic tickets – I am reminded of the Equifax settlement fund, which offered free credit monitoring for three years or $125 cash, and whose managers were shocked, simply shocked, that people were opting for the cash rather than the credit monitoring.
- Canadians annoyed at the though of Americans buying Canadian drugs… – … because Canada is in the middle of a drug shortage. Hmm. Government-dictated low prices and shortages? What an unusual combination that has never before happened in the annals of human history!
Hong Kong Protests
- Hong Kong protests continue
- Symbols of America remain symbols of freedom worldwide
- Also, Les Miserables
- Authoritarianism in pictures
Book Review Review: Secular Cycles
SlateStarCodex reviewed Secular Cycles. Best quote: “I wish I could find commentary by other academics and historians on Secular Cycles, or on Turchin’s work more generally. I feel like somebody should either be angrily debunking this, or else throwing the authors a ticker-tape parade for having solved history.”
As is ever the case for SSC reviews, it goes into great depth and does some analysis of the key claim: that human history follows tide-like cycles. Calamity kills a lot of people, the survivors rebuild and grow rich, the rich society stagnates, stagnation leads to calamity. This seems reasonable to me. Certainly, it looks like it applies to Europe up until the postwar years. Belle Epoque, war then war again, recovery. (Or possibly continued inter-cycle stagnation?)
There’s some question over whether it applies today. A later book by the same author(s?) says yes, but I say you need some qualifiers. First, the calamity cycle only works for a society without outside inputs, as Mr. Alexander notes, and there are very few of those nowadays. None, if you’re asking about those of interest on the world stage. Second, the nation-state is no longer the unit of interest. We operate on the scale of civilizations now: the West and so forth. Third, the calamities aren’t as bad. The potential calamities are a lot worse, but the ones that actually happened are milder. The World Wars killed 15% of Germans, maybe. As a percentage of Europeans, the Black Plague killed a lot more. Fourth, we’re no longer operating in a Malthusian frame. We can skim along the top of the cycle for a lot longer before things fall apart, and they’re more likely to fall apart for ideological reasons than they are because of lack of food.
Anyway, SSC is going to review the author’s (s’?) next book, which makes the pro-cycle argument for the modern age. Maybe I’ll read both myself, rather than relying on someone else to read them for me.