Tag Archives: what we’re reading

Wednesday What We’re Reading (Jan. 9, 2019)

Today is an extremely grab-bag day.




  • Patreon’s censors (video) – Noting the danger megacorporations pose to free speech online is one of the least traditionally conservative positions I hold politically. I have a longer post on the issue in draft status, but it’s a hard one for me to write, probably because there aren’t any easy fixes. The main point I found compelling in the linked video is that it’s absurd that Patreon exercises editorial control, when in effect it’s content creators hiring them to do behind-the-scenes accounting.

Wednesday What We’re Reading (Jan. 2, 2019)

Welcome to 2019! Maybe it’s just me, but saying ‘twenty-nineteen’ feels like the future to me in a way ‘twenty-eighteen’ didn’t. I was making plans to put a garden in our back yard the other day1, realized I wasn’t going to get there this summer, and subsequently realized that meant I was making plans for 2020, which is absolutely the future.

Technically, I wasn’t supposed to start these back up until next week, but we have a few items in the queue that I figured I might as well whip into some kind of article.


  • Australia’s Defence Technology Review, January 2019 – The front cover has what I can only call an LST-X on it, which is why it’s in the roundup to begin with, but it also has a ton of interesting news on Aussie defense inside. The advertising and other non-editorial inner matter reminds me of early-20th-century Janes books, where (usually) English companies manufacturing things like boilers and armor plate would advertise.
  • Parvusimperator had another link on the Achates-Cummins opposed piston engine, but we’d already covered the information therein, so here’s a different article – This one focuses a bit more on possible consumer applications, rather than the 1000hp Cummins project for combat vehicles, but has some good animations and graphics to consult if you have a hard time picturing just when things happen in an opposed piston cycle. Cummins was supposed to present a report on initial test results in November, but I can’t find a copy. Scrounging is parvusimperator’s gig. If we find one, we’ll have it for you.
  • Foreign Affairs writes on Trump’s foreign policy – They use the term ‘illiberal hegemony’ to indicate that current American foreign policy is not strongly focused on exporting democracy or liberalizing illiberal regimes. I think it’s fair to say it’s a foreign policy with the idealism knob turned down to zero, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
  • China’s railgun test ship is undergoing sea trials – Some Twitter pictures show it steaming at sea. Business Insider calls it a ‘warship’, but it’s just a landing ship with a big honking railgun turret plopped onto the bow.
  • Secretary Mattis’ departure delays KC-46 deliveries – Apparently, some paperwork was awaiting his signature.
  • The PLARF tests an S-400 system on a ‘simulated ballistic target’ – I still can’t type PLARF without snickering.
  • China can’t control the South China Sea – The author is speaking specifically in circumstances less than war. At war, he seems pretty happy with the US-SoKor-Japan-etc. bloc’s ability to beat China, which is (I think) where the sober, non-hysterical money ought to go. At levels of tension less than war, he also thinks China doesn’t have sufficient hulls to enforce its control over the South China Sea. He gets there by excluding the PLAN from patrol and flag-waving duties, which seems to me to be a questionable assumption.
  • US Navy considering a block buy of aircraft carriers to save money – U-S-A! U-S-A! More seriously, it’s what the kids might call (might have called?) a baller move to order two aircraft carriers at once when competitor states are working toward that capability, in peacetime, because a bulk buy is cheaper. ‘Murica.
  • F-35 AAM testing – They’re really playing up the simultaneous engagement thing for reasons which aren’t fully clear to me. Was it an EOTS engagement? Sensor fusion? If it’s just shooting AMRAAMs at two separate targets tracked by radar, I’m not all that impressed. It’s 70s/80s state of the art.

Mattis’ Farewell Letter

I’ve decided to transcribe the entire thing here, because it’s so clearly the work of an old soldier rather than a politician.


SUBJECT: Farewell Message

On February 1, 1865, President Lincoln sent to General Ulysses S. Grant a one-sentence telegram. It read: “Let nothing which is transpiring change, hinder, or delay your military movements or plans.”

Our Department’s leadership, civilian and military, remains in the best possible hands. I am confident that each of you remains undistracted from our sworn mission to support and defend the Constitution while protecting our way of life. Our Department is proven to be at its best when the times are most difficult. So keep the faith in our country and hold fast, alongside our allies, aligned against our foes.

It has been my high honor to serve at your side. May God hold you safe in the air, on land, and at sea.


Grab Bag

  • Philadelphia is a terrible place – It’s an old story, but as proud residents of Pennsylvania’s better half, we’re honor-bound to trash Philly whenever we get the chance.

  1. I bet this clause took speakers of the Queen’s English a read or two to parse correctly. 

Wednesday What We’re Reading (Dec. 12, 2018)

A day late again. Blame Strategic Command WWII: World at War, which has been consuming my evenings, and busy days at work, which have been consuming my days. (SCWWIIWAW review should be coming sometime soon.)

A note on Christmas schedule: officially, our break starts on the 19th and ends on January 8th. We won’t be altogether absent during that stretch, but we certainly won’t have two-articles-and-a-linkpost per week.


  • Coal, oil, and now cobalt – A strategic material for the modern age.
  • Oh, Canada – Canada is having trouble keeping enough fighters in the air. (But hey, at least Gripen is on the table!)
  • F-35 Block II feature list – Pardon what is perhaps an impolitic question, but isn’t Block I still in development? Then again, as a software developer by day, I understand having to promise new features before the existing ones are done.
  • A history of US ASW efforts in the First World War
  • Apparently, I forgot to stick the link to the story in our what-we’re-reading chat channel, but the USAF is planning on consolidating F-22 basing, leaving Tyndall AFB out of future plans. (Tyndall will continue to house F-35s.) That leaves active F-22 squadrons at Hickam, Langley, and Elmendorf, which the USAF wants to expand from 21 to 24 aircraft each. There were 17 F-22s left at Tyndall during the hurricane, so that’s presumably a not-easily-salvable rate of a bit under 50%.
  • Soapbox favorite naval affairs writer James Holmes on Pearl Harbor, and how it’s Mahan’s fault – Both that it happened to us, and that it was a bad idea for the Japanese. Read it all the way through. It’s a good one.
  • The British Army demos an urban ops Challenger 2 – Something for a certain regular commenter of ours.
  • USAF must overhaul pilot training to fix future shortages – For a few months, I was in a Bible study at church with an ex-USAF pilot. He remarked once that for everyone outside of fighters and bombers, an Air Force job is basically an airline job with worse hours and a lack of cushy union-negotiated pay. Still, if I were in my early 20s, unmarried, and possessed of better eyesight, I might consider a career switch.
  • Russia rises to #2 in global arms sales – We’re #1! We’re #1! (I’m surprised Russia wasn’t already #2, though.)
  • Assad is back in charge in Syria – I saw a professional defense/geopolitics commentator on Twitter say that the only way Assad was ever going to leave was with a suitcase full of Franklins on a plane to Moscow. Makes sense to me—in recent years, it’s not a good idea to yield to the West if you’re a Middle Eastern dictator.
  • An animation of Helge Ingstad‘s sinking, showing the proximate cause – That’s leaking shaft seals, which leaked because of bent bulkheads and so on after the collision.

Flashpoint: Ukraine

Tip of the hat to Kilo Sierra for sharing these on Discord. (Join us! The link is in the sidebar!)

Flashpoint: South China Sea

Grab Bag: Technology, Guns, Oil, etc.

Wednesday What We’re Reading (Dec. 5, 2018)


Science, Industry, and Technology

Wednesday What We’re Reading (Nov. 28, 2018)

The good news is, we’re on time this week. The bad news is, we didn’t spend much time on article-reading over the holiday week, so we don’t have many stories for you.



  • NASA extends the American dominance in terms of Mars landings – The Soviets technically succeeded in landing a probe on Mars, but it stopped working so quickly that you can’t really count it.
  • China’s social credit score isn’t real – In which Foreign Policy notes that sure, there’s a national system of blacklists and citizen information on anyone who has opened a credit card or taken a loan, and that system is often arbitrary and capricious and certainly totalitarian, but it’s okay because it’s not a single, unified, national system with a single top-line score. I dunno. Seems like an implementation detail to me.

Wednesday What We’re Reading (Nov. 14, 2018)

Maybe I should start thinking of these as Tuesday What We’re Reading, so when I’m a day late I’m actually on time.





Wednesday What We’re Reading (Nov. 7, 2018)

Thursday Night Edition, because yesterday was a very busy day at work, and watching the Steelers beat up on the Panthers is only interesting for so long.


  • Parvusimperator submits three videos on the S-tank, courtesy of The Chieftain’s Hatch.





Random Other Stuff

Spooky What We’re Reading (Oct. 31, 2018)


Visions of a Terrifying Future

Crumbling, Decaying Armed Forces Etc.

Horror-Movie “Don’t Do That You Idiots!” Moves

Monstrous Concepts and Miscellaneous Violence

Wednesday What We’re Reading (Oct. 24ish, 2018)

Yes, it’s the Wednesday What We’re Reading post, definitely posted today, which is Wednesday.




Wednesday What We’re Reading (Oct. 17, 2018)

In local news, it’s your correspondent’s birthday this weekend.


Hurricane Michael and Tyndall AFB

Defense (China-focused)

Grab Bag