Tag Archives: what we’re reading

Wednesday What We’re Reading (Jul. 31, 2019)

This is an auspicious entry in the Wednesday What We’re Reading series: #42.

Parvusimperator and I both have a few drafts for normal articles we’re working on, but summer is busy. C’est la vie.

9:38 PM edit: I just realized the title of this post said July 24 instead of July 31, and it stood for almost twelve hours. Come on, regulars! You have to dunk on us for unforced errors like that.

Defense

Science and Technology

Guns

  • Yours truly at the other local match – Well, ‘other’ means about one of five within easy driving distance, but USPSA is pretty much a morning sport, and I don’t do sports that overlap with church if I can avoid it.
  • My first attempt at some USPSA stage design – In this revision, four of the six stages are illegal for various reasons. Can you spot them? Check your answers with the spoilers at the bottom of the post. A USPSA stage repository might be a future Many Words Press project.

Games

Grab Bag

Spoiler for Stage Design Quiz Little Hint

Three of the four illegal courses are illegal for the same reason.
Spoiler for Stage Design Quiz Big Hint

The rules being violated are 1.1.5 and 2.1.4.
Spoiler for Stage Design Quiz Answers

Happy Feet, Should I Stay or Should I Go, and Criss-Cross all illegally specify mandatory reloads and shooting positions in the stage briefings. Since they require more than 20 rounds to complete, they’re long courses, and long courses must be freestyle.

Happy Feet and J-Turn are additionally illegal because you can be downrange of some of the targets and still see them.

Happy Feet is trivially fixable by adding fault lines up to the wall and moving the barrel stack to hide the left-side targets from beyond the wall.

Should I Stay or Should I Go can be fixed by adding barriers to the left and right of the start box which form a tunnel pointing at the plate rack, and removing the language in the stage briefing about shooting the plate rack from the box, or by dropping to best 2 on paper to turn into an 18-round medium course, which at Level I matches can specify shooting positions and reloads.

Criss-Cross is easiest to fix by removing four shots to convert it to a 20-round medium course. By adding some walls and converting the shooting boxes to a single fault line, it can be fixed while maintaining the shot count and remaining truer to the USPSA ‘everything is freestyle’ ethos.

J-Turn can be fixed by placing barrels to hide the right-side pair from downrange. A further suggestion was to remove a barrel stack to

I’ll redo the book to show the stages in the long course form, with some setup notes on how to convert them to the easier-to-set-up medium courses.

Wednesday What We’re Reading (Jul. 24, 2019)

Parvusimperator hasn’t had much in the way of article fodder lately, but did submit quite a number of things to this week’s What We’re Reading.

Strait of Hormuz Crisis, 2019 Edition

Defense

Science and Technology

Guns

History

Grab Bag

Wednesday What We’re Reading (Jul. 17, 2019)

Summer is in full swing, and speaking of things in full swing, I plan to continue my recent superhero kick by doing up a review of Spider-Man: Far From Home.

If the number of articles in this series were years of its age, we would now refer to it as over the hill.

Defense

Science and Technology

Guns

  • USPSA match video: me, last weekend – I bought a camera which clips to the brim of a baseball cap, so I don’t have to mess around with tripods or finding someone to record me2. The resolution is quite poor for an allegedly-720p video, but it does, at least, work.
  • Related to the above, Facebook reminded me of a fun CZ story. When I bought the P-09 originally, I got the night sights version, even though I was planning on taking the night sights off immediately, because it came with an extra magazine and the price delta was less than the cost of one magazine. In the manual, it said that the tritium gas, if it escapes, is mostly harmless, and “[…] in case of its inspiration it is recommended to increase the intake of liquids and eventually to take some diuretic (beer with low content of alcohol) for acceleration of the body water exchange.”
  • USPSA match video: one of the local fast shooters – Shared because he has a super-fancy Max-Michel-branded video app which analyzes your audio to find your shots, then lets you tag the intervening time with various activities, then gives you a breakdown of the result. Very handy—”I spent six seconds on transitions on that stage, but only three seconds on splits” tells you a lot about what you should be practicing. It’s the kind of thing parvusimperator and I might aim to recreate by hacking an open source video editor, so we don’t have to go out and buy an iDevice to use it.

Grab Bag


  1. Granted, the article is talking about a blockade (a piece of wartime strategy) rather than an embargo (a diplomatic lever), but the comparison’s just too juicy to pass up. 
  2. Open-source hardware idea: a cheaper version of those $800 tripods which turn to follow a radio beacon. I can’t imagine a stepper motor, a few circuit boards, and some RF voodoo cost nearly that much. 
  3. Some of the examples in the article remind me of my favorite thing about English: it’s a very easy language—not to be fluent in, but to be comprehensible in. No tones, very little formal grammar, and a long history of interaction with wild accents and local flavors make English a better lingua franca than French ever was. 

Wednesday What We’re Reading (Jul. 10, 2019)

Since the long-form articles this week are both on the subject of a superhero roleplaying game, I’ve helpfully separated out the articles for today’s post which are thinly-disguised supervillain plots.

Defense (Other)

Defense (Supervillain Plots)

Science and Technology

  • The sinkhole that saved the Internet – A sinkhole, in this usage, is a server which sucks up traffic that would otherwise be bound for a worm’s command and control servers. In this case, the ransomware known as WannaCry had a killswitch—if it could reach a particular web address, it deactivated itself. A security researcher set up a server there, and prevented something like tens of millions of infections from going active.
  • Einstein and symmetry: the man and the idea behind modern physics – A Quanta article, so have your coffee first and block off ten minutes to read it and half an hour to think between paragraphs.
  • Raspberry Pi 4 has an incorrectly-wired USB-C port – Maybe it’s because I’m not a hardware engineer by trade, but if a datasheet gives me a reference circuit design, you can bet I’m going to copy it wholesale.

Guns

  • Ruger continues the competition push with a custom shop SR1911 – This isn’t new new, having been announced in April, but it’s the first I’m hearing of it. $2499 for a gun suited for USPSA Single Stack. Your choice of Major or Minor—it comes in 9mm or .45, with 10-round and 8-round magazines, respectively.

Grab Bag

  • China 2050: in the throes of demographic decline – The one- and two-child policies in China put its native population growth below the replacement rate. China’s closed nature and impossible language mean it doesn’t get very much immigration. In the middle of the 21st century, it could very well be looking at the same problems Japan is looking at today.
  • The oyster poachers of Connemara – Shared because I quite liked Connemara on my trip to Ireland, and because ‘oyster’ and ‘poaching’ would not have been my first guess in either case if you gave me one word and asked me to guess the other.

  1. to stan: to be an overzealous or obsessive fan of a particular celebrity, or, in this case, branch of the armed services or aircraft. Evidently it comes from an Eminem song. Since I’m using Twitter lingo already here, don’t at me. 
  2. The only reason to end a headline with a question mark is because libel law requires you to answer it with ‘no’. Otherwise, you just make the headline a statement. Modern journalists ignore this rule, but modern journalists are also, in large part, comically bad at their jobs. 

Wednesday What We’re Reading (Jul. 3, 2019)

A little patriotic overture to start the post seems fitting.

Defense

Defense: Czech IFV Requirements

A Very Special Section – Since it requires some translation, which Parvusimperator provided. (I assume he found it somewhere, since unless he’s holding out on me, he doesn’t speak Czech.)

  • Number of vehicles: 210
  • Crew: 3 + 6 soldiers + 2 specialists
  • 7 variants: IFV, command, recon, engineering, ambulance, artillery recon, recovery
  • Lifetime 30 years (min. 10 000 km to general rebuild)
  • Programmable ammo for the 30 mm canon
  • Coaxial MG 7.62 mm
  • ATGM (2 in container, 1 in the vehicle)
  • Smoke grenade launchers covering 360°
  • Sights with min. 4000/3500 m range day/night
  • Ballistic protection (base vehicle min. K2 + addon min. K5) i.e. STANAG 4569 II/V
  • APS
  • Protection against IED (jammer)
  • Surveillance systems: day CCD camera, night IR camera, laser rangefinder
  • Top speed on the road 65 km/h, in terrain 40 km/h
  • Range min. 500 km
  • Air-transportable
  • Intercom + VKV/UKV radios voice/data (GPS, TACSAT and cypher connection)

Science and Technology

Grab Bag

A little choral patriotic music to wrap up the post seems fitting.


  1. I shouldn’t complain too hard; as I understand it, American anime-watchers have had this problem forever. 

Wednesday What We’re Reading (Jun. 26, 2019)

It’s all Fishbreath all the time this week—I’m covering Thursday’s post, too.

In contrast with the competition shooting flavor of this week’s long-form posts, we have a delightfully defense-directed What We’re Reading.

As I wrap up writing all the summaries below, I would like to point out that I finished just in time for the 10:13 deadline.

Defense: China

Defense: FFG(X)

Defense: Other

Science and Technology

Guns etc.


  1. The RAF is unique in the British armed services for adopting a semi-modern phonetic alphabet in 1942, rather than sticking with the WW1-era alphabet straight through to 1956. 

Wednesday What We’re Reading (Jun. 19, 2019)

Here we are at the leading edge of the summer doldrums. Parvusimperator’s low on things to write about, and I’m in at-home productivity mode. So it goes. Happily, there’s a ton going on in the world, so we do have links for you. Lots of links.

Defense

Hong Kong Protests

Science and Technology

Grab Bag


  1. Yes, I’m enamored with the idea, and I should probably write about it in depth. 
  2. According to the Internet, that’s the demonym. 
  3. I thought at first that my only comment should have been ‘organleggers’, but that’s maybe a bit esoteric. 

Wednesday What We’re Reading (Jun. 12, 2019)

It’s rare that I get the What We’re Reading story filed prior to our traditional 10:13 a.m. Eastern post publication time, but today, I’ve been more diligent than usual.

Defense

Science and Technology

Culture

History

Commodities

A new heading! It was originally ‘Finance’, but then I realized that every finance-related story I had was also commodities-related in one way or another.

Grab Bag

Lots of headings today.

Wednesday What We’re Reading (Jun. 5, 2019)

It’s almost but not quite the anniversary of D-Day, and is precisely the anniversary of my marriage1.

Between that, travel, finishing Britain’s Future Navy (depressing) and starting Massie’s Dreadnought (exciting), it’s a short one this week2.

Defense

Science and Technology

  • Another open-source project switches to a license which excludes resellers – An interesting problem. The norm in the software industry used to be this: if you develop an open-source project, you have dibs on selling that project as a service. The Big Three cloud providers (Amazon, Microsoft, and Google) broke that norm, reselling open-source-projects-as-a-service. The open source projects have now fired back with a new breed of open-source licenses that permit users to do everything but that.

Grab Bag


  1. Rather than send flowers on the day, I sent them a day early. That way it’s surprising. 
  2. These are affiliate links. This will serve as a temporary disclaimer/etc. until I get the actual disclaimer/privacy policy written up. 
  3. Mr. Alexander says that this is the second article in a sequence. Idle speculation in the comments wonders where he’s going with it. One commenter put forward the idea that it might be a literal come to Jesus moment, which would be a victory for Christendom on par with the conversion of C.S. Lewis, but I don’t put much stock in that one. I lean more toward a shift in politics. 
  4. That is, I enjoy them, and he doesn’t. 
  5. Do you know what else did a good job at this, hard as it is to believe? The Star Wars prequels. Can you picture a single Lucas-era lightsaber duel with quick cuts? Of course you can’t, because none of them were shot that way, despite the fast pace and acrobatics involved in most of them. 

Wednesday What We’re Reading (May. 29, 2019)

Defense

Science and Technology

  • Artificial general intelligence is hard to define, much less build – The key insight is that when people talk about machines driving The Singularity, they’re talking about artificial general creativity. We have an awful lot of non-artificial general intelligence already, and much of it goes unused.
  • Used IBM mainframe buyer’s guide – In case you’re looking for a fun hardware project. All you have to do is spend about as much as you would on a cheap new car, and be prepared for an extra $170-some per month in electricity1.
  • Arm2 is the latest to suspend business with Huawei – That’s terrible for Huawei, given that they do a lot of ARM-architecture processors.
  • Google stored unhashed G-Suite passwords for over a decade – It’s fixed now, but this is your weekly reminder that even the big players in tech are actually terrible at their jobs.
  • Offset graphene sheets superconduct at -25C – Also, about a million times atmospheric pressure, but what’s a megabar or two among friends?
  • SpaceX succeeds on another launch – This one to deploy the first 60 satellites in their proposed, uh, 12,000-strong Starlink constellation. They stuck the landing, which means they’re up to 40 of 47 on landing attempts.
  • No link for this one, because I forgot to pop it into our chat, but given how many Starlink satellites are planned, the FCC’s standard satellite-hits-someone-or-something calculation suggests that it’s even odds after six years that reentering debris will bonk something more important than dirt.

Baseball

Grab Bag


  1. At Western PA market rates. Fun fact: the bargain-basement VPS that Many Words runs on costs about $170 per year. 
  2. No longer ARM, evidently.