The last two updates were 109 and 110, fun numbers if you’re a Messerschmitt fan.
Last week’s Skypirates! developer log was a calculated choice, to give us time to build up a list of interesting stories for you.
- The Germans are installing Trophy APS on Leopard 2A7A1s – That’s quite a model number, isn’t it? Anyway, it seems to me that it barely matters, in light of the recent chart we shared calling Germany a NATO freeloader.
- Israel receives new Oron ISR plane – Looks a bit awkward, as do many of its competitors in the genre, but good aerial surveillance is the substrate of modern warfare.
- A Burke and a Zumwalt under construction at Bath Iron Works – The missus and I, on our delightful vacation to Maine a few years ago, saw Bath Iron Works from the front—we were on the right side of the picture, from one of the two docks upstream of the little headland.
- Battle Order with a video on Japan’s Rapid Deployment Forces – The fiction that Japan’s military is purely for self defense grows thinner by the moment. Coming soon, the Japan Ground Self Defense Force Rapid Overseas Expeditionary Response Team, or something similarly silly.
- The Diehl Defense IRIS-T-SLS Mk III SHORADS – A pretty cool system behind an alphabet soup of acronyms.
- Big Army to replace TOW – But not with Spike, because it wasn’t invented here.
- ‘Accident’ at Iran’s Natanz atomic site – What do you think? 500lb Joint Direct Accident Munition, Small Diameter Accident, ground-deployed satchel accident?
- Improved plate carriers in a constrained fiscal environment
Science and Technology
- Supreme Court punts on API copyrightability claims, declares Google’s use of Java in Android fair use
- Anomalies at the Large Hadron Collider and Fermilab point toward the Standard Model being incomplete](https://www.quantamagazine.org/muon-g-2-experiment-at-fermilab-finds-hint-of-new-particles-20210407/) – Different anomalies: the LHC is seeing unusual decay in b-mesons, while Fermilab is looking into the magnetic moment of muons. Complicating the latter story, a new calculation of the expected value matches the observed value more closely than the presently-accepted value.
- A real-time map of Evil Genius Elon Musk’s satellite network – Spoiler: he has a lot of them up there.
- Ford studying prechamber ignition for gasoline engines – Deep into The Secret Horsepower Race, I find stories like this extra-fascinating.
- Build your own wire EDM machine! – It only takes some custom-machined parts and a €2995 arc generator.
- Citibank loses $500 million on a misclick – UI design is important. We might have shared this already, but it’s a good one.
- Mathematician disproves the unit conjecture – Parvusimperator, former math grad student, said it was interesting.
- A Chinese invasion of Taiwan would wreck the global economy for years – Because even if TSMC’s fabs survive undamaged, and even if TSMC retains its employees, and even if China can immediately get a state-owned TSMC back into operation, it’s still a dead company walking, because its supply chain is deeply dependent upon Western technology and equipment.
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
- 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.
I believe we’ve made a near-final carpet selection here at Many Words Press World HQ, which means the library will soon be a) done and b) capable of hosting the largest Little Wars battles yet, on the order of 15′ x 10′, which should easily support coalitions of more than 100 soldiers. Hopefully, we can bring you one of those in the not too distant future.
Science and Technology
Oh my, it’s been a month.
Well, in the intervening time I had to sell my Mini and buy a new car (blew a valve, or maybe a head gasket), among other things. So it goes.
Science and Technology
The ‘Rona Etc.
This is volume 105, an auspicious number for artillerists. I’ve been slowly working through the backlog of spam users I mentioned in last night’s post, and decided to turn off registration entirely after recaptcha failed to stop a few spam registrations last night.
- Reaper Pods: sonobuoys, wee PGMs, smaller drones – I heard you like drones, so I put drones in your drones.
- USAF’s new Black Flag – It’s like Red Flag, but secret-er.
- Australia looking at alternatives to its forthcoming French submarines – They are ludicrously expensive, and in typical dysfunctional government fashion, the Aussies are considering a local design of an updated Collins, instead of just calling up Japan and buying a box of Soryus off the rack. (Or maybe even the new Taigeis.) Either way, the Japanese boats are on the order of $500 to $600 million a pop, whereas the Frog boats are $5.7 billion each. Granted, the latter deal has technology transfer, but still! For the $70 billion USD the Aussies are planning on spending, I’d expect to get a whole heck of a lot more than twelve submarines.
- Actually, I’m not ready to leave this yet. If you’re allowed to buy at cost, $70 billion buys you: two Nimitzes, 180 Super Hornets, four Burkes, twelve FREMMs, and… 16 Taigeis. Even if you don’t do the silly thing and buy a pair of CVBGs, $70 billion at off-the-rack prices is more than enough to turn you into the second- or third-most powerful navy local to the Asia-Pacific behind China and maybe Japan. $70 billion is a ludicrously bad deal.
- Information on trials for the Kurganets 25 – It’s in Russian, and I haven’t had the time to translate, however.
- Why are there no good biographies of Xi Jinping? – Because the CCP comes down like a ton of bricks on anyone who tries to research his history. Next question. The contrast with Russian authoritarianism is interesting—the CCP is all about hiding information to guide the people’s thoughts in the right direction. Russians just don’t care: “We have the power and you don’t, serf. Now go farm mud, or whatever it is you do.”
- Coup in Burma; declared a coup after careful deliberation by American pols – My expectation is mass condemnation in American media, without respect to whether the Burmese military’s claims of voting improprieties turn out to be correct.
- See parvusimperator crow: he called the Namer engine replacement – The previous one was on the anemic side.
- Pictures: HMS Talent arrives, Gibraltar – Machine guns on the conning tower for entrance into a friendly port seems a bit over-cautious, but CDR Salamander likes it, so.
- Speaking of, here’s his brief lament on the USN killing small ships again – Where will our LTs and LCDRS get their first commands if not there?
- One of the better kind of LCS with a captured narcoboat – Not a submarine. Not really even a submersible.
Science and Technology
As parvusimperator settles into his new work digs, he’s been a bit more free with the article-sharing. Maybe we’ll get back onto a once-a-week routine, instead of this recent every-two-weeks one.
- Our readers on the Discord (link’s in the sidebar) have come through with some fascinating stuff lately.
- boomerang-pigeon shares some archival documents from Bovington, on British tank development in the early Chieftain era.
- Kilo Sierra shows off some pretty woodworking.
- NATO/OTAN translates some R&D budget line items for the PLAN’s Type 076 LHD.
- It’s cool stuff. If you like what you read here, you should come on by.
- I have a few things in mind for alternate chat systems, if Discord ever decides to clamp down on tiny defense-affairs communities.
- Declassified Trump administration Pacific plan – I think it’s extremely unlikely that history will look kindly on Trump, but at least in the realm of foreign policy, I think that’s a bit unfair.
- Master Chief Douglas Healey’s recollections from his time aboard USS Long Beach – A delightful read.
- In the same vein, an interview with a Rhino backseater
- Big Navy’s plans to stop failing at shipbuilding – “the Navy will move forward by designing hulls around fielded systems with room for upgrades […]” Shocked Pikachu face! You mean that thing we’ve been pushing here for about as long as we’ve been writing defense commentary?
- UK Land Power: learning from how our allies’ armies are organized – Where “we” are the British, for the duration of the article. Like many articles written from a given nation’s point of view, it’s scathingly critical of that nation, and less so of that nation’s peers. Still interesting, and a pretty good overview of the organization of NATO armies.
- CDR Salamander, leader of the Paint Your Frickin’ Ships party – I’d vote for him, but I suspect there’s not much home in 2020s American politics for the kind of Southern gentleman who keeps a subscription to Garden & Gun.
- Pantsir Heist: America nabs one from Libya – Moscow notes that this is not actually much of an intelligence coup, because we’ve been able to get our grubby hands on the UAE’s Pantsirs.
- Speaking of which, Biden freezes F-35 sales to the UAE – Repeat after me: not everything your political opposites do is bad.
- Boeing and LockMart unveil their helo for the Blackhawk replacement program – It looks like something out of Call of Duty: coaxial rotors with a pusher.
Science and Technology
gestures The World and Such
- Everything is Broken – COVID has convinced me of nothing so thoroughly as the utter decay of Western institutions generally.
- The Michael Scott Theory of Social Class – “The first major speech pattern between the characters is Posturetalk. Posturetalk is everything said by Michael, Dwight and Andy, to anyone: the staff, the execs, or each other. Everything they say is some form or another of meaningless, performative babbling. This is the language of living inside a construct; where your entire world lives within arbitrarily drawn boxes, and you have nothing concrete to attach to. It’s the only language that Michael knows how to speak.”
- In happier news, Redditors are screwing over hedge funds with a short squeeze on Gamestop – Are there any good guys in this story? Well, maybe the Redditors doing it for the lulz, but that’s about it, and even they aren’t the most sympathetic characters. Here’s a Twitter thread on the same topic.
- The new national American elite – Used to be that regional elites competed for national leadership. Now there’s an elite monoculture, and like most monopolies, it’s led to corruption and decrepitude.
- A classic of the filk music genre – Filk: what happens when musically-inclined fans get together at science fiction conventions. This one could be a folk anthem for the Imperium of Mankind.
- A joke from Russia, badly translated: “The police reported a few hundred protestors on Sunday, and a few thousand were arrested.”
- A remark from a Russian wag, recounted third-hand: “In every joke, there’s a little bit of joke.”
Happy New Year! 2021 is already off to a flying start, but you’re not here for commentary on that, presumably.
- I had cannily planned to hold off on watching The Mandalorian until all the episodes had released, then binge it during the free trial, only to discover that there is no longer a free trial deal. Oops. Well, season 2 has been good so far. No spoilers.
- Also, since we had to subscribe to Disney+ to see The Mandalorian, and we get as many blocks of one month subscription as it takes us to finish it, I also got to see The Rise of Skywalker, which is the only thing worse than irredeemable crap: redeemable crap. I’ll be turning a conversation I had with parvusimperator into a review in the coming days.
- On the PC games front, I’ve been playing From the Depths, a block-based vehicle building. Think Minecraft meets Waterworld meets Friedman’s U.S. Battleships. A pretty good buoyancy simulation and some well-designed, if not entirely realistic, ballistics and armor math makes for interesting shipbuilding, and the presence of several game modes with actual beginnings, middles, and ends (as opposed to the standard block-builder ‘survive and build’ mode) gives you something to do with your ludicrously large naval guns. Weighing against it is the jankiness in the UI.
- The lab leak hypothesis gets its moment in New York Magazine – Republicans are out of power, so now media lefties are allowed to say obvious things without risk of being associated with wrongthink.
- Kind of a shame we used up our collective capacity for tolerating restrictions over the summer, when it was not bad, instead of now, when it is.
- A tour of R-100 – The old British zeppelin. It’s a little on the cozy side, but! A zeppelin! Also, and this is why I’m not a zeppelin designer in real life, arranging the cabins so that they can get natural light from the windows despite being inboard of the promenades and balconies is delightfully clever.
Science and Technology
- American media continues Russophobic attacks – Blaming the (Czech-developed, though by Russians with ties to Russia) JetBrains tool suite for hacks in the US. JetBrains, of course, denies it, and nothing further has come of it.
I’ve been trying to sell a light horror story on and off for a year or two, and have had nibbles but no luck. It’s one of my best, and I want to get on to writing more in the same universe. I’m thinking about serializing it over at Many Words Main instead, and going for a once-per-week update schedule again. Thoughts?
- Broke: invading for oil – Woke: invading for lithium. (Nobody has been invaded for lithium yet, but it seems like it’s gonna happen at some point? Maybe?)
- The Navy’s UFO patents went through internal review, and there was a demo – It has to be a psyop, right? Or did some random scientist actually invent the future all in one go?
- Big Army gets over Not Invented Here bias, takes Israeli, Serbian, and Swedish self-propelled howitzers to Yuma for a shootout – We like Archer, but it’s a bit spendy.
- Want radar ground surveillance planes? The UK is selling its Sentinels – … for parts, though, so it’s a bit of a DIY project.
- Russia’s Predator knockoff fired its first guided missiles – Possibly the Russian laser-guided rockets? They’re pretty nifty for precision attack, as any DCS player will tell you, although the issue I have is usually running out of gas before running out of munitions. The DCS JF-17 has a 20-rocket laser-guided pod, and one pod per external fuel tank is about the right ratio.
- Japan joins the Church of Long Range, developing a 2000-km anti-ship missile
Science and Technology
The spammers in the spam queue have gotten a lot less creative lately, but with better grammar, they’re sneaking through the automated filter a bit more often. Fascinating tradeoffs in spam design.
Word of the Week
- I used ‘boustrophedonic‘ to describe a neat, even winding on a spool of 3D printer filament.
Science and Technology