Saturday, January 04, 2003
Here's a young guy who likes his toys:
Barrett came from our local shelter. He is neutered and weighs about 5 lbs. He has only been in foster care a couple weeks but he has already made himself right at home. He is wonderful with his litterbox habits. Barrett loves to explore all the cool things in his room and does a cute little shake of his head in excitement when you walk into the room or he has found something fun to do! He jumps straight up in the air and loves to run through the tunnels behind the furniture. Barrett wants to know, do you want to play ball?
Anyone who knows about bunnies knows they like their toys. My favorite is a ring of keys. I like to pick'em up and shake'em all around. Most prey animals need to keep quiet all the time, but because of my loving family, I don't. The key-shaking noise is my personal sound of freedom.
Who wants to spoil a toy-friendly bunny like Barrett?
Arsenal of Democracy
In yesterday's AoD post, I dismissed the idea of a hypersonic smart spear. I didn't think we had anything like that under development. I admit to the error. The Navy is working on HyStrike:
HyStrike will begin the development of an operational hypersonic weapon that will be fielded in the 2005 to 2012 time frame. The surface-launched system could hit underground targets to a depth of 12 meters after flying at beyond Mach 4. The wingless missile would change direction in flight by using a bending body joint.
That bending body joint should take care of the precision guidance that mighty USAF wanted on Ben Rich's 'energy bomb.' And even if 2005 doesn't look like a realistic deadline, 2012 is sooner than the tyrants think.
When fielded, the hypersonic strike weapon is intended to have a major positive impact on battlespace management. The weapon's greatly decreased time to target will give the command, control, communications, computers and intelligence (C4I) components more time to search for and identify time-critical threats. Powerful kinetic penetrators will defeat the enemy's tactic of burrowing deeper or building stronger bunkers. And the ability to take out threat weapons before they are launched will increase US and allied survivability, efficiently, cost effectively - and soon.
Soon's for sure. At Mach 4, there's barely enough time to cry havoc and -- oops, show's over!
The compliance of this system with various bilateral arms control treaties remains an unresolved issue.
C'mon Global Security, that's a stretch and you know it. Show us the treaty that bans flying telephone poles.
World's Largest Cake
A group of Mexicans have baked a giant Christmas cake weighing in at 13,400 kilograms.
To put that figure in perspective, the maximum
takeoff weight of an F-16
is 16,875 kilograms.
Rosca is a dense fruitcake eaten locally on the eve of January 6, to mark the end of the Christmas holiday season, reports ABC News.
That's just what the world needs, another fruitcake.
You want fries with that?
Speaking of fruitcakes:
Women in Taiwan have begun eating mouse testicles in a bid to get pregnant.
Apparently you can order them in some Taiwanese restaurants. Sorry to turn PG-13 on you, but can you imagine the type of place where this is the House Special?
They conceived their long-awaited baby about a month ago, after eating six kilograms of raw mouse testicles, the United Daily News reports.
Six kilograms. That's a lot of neutered mice. I'm sticking with bunny chow, nachos and the occasional beer.
Chinese cuisine is justifiably famous, memorably diverse - and generally not for the squeamish. The Chinese themselves like to say they'll eat anything with four legs except a table.
(China Country Guide)
I don't think this dish will be turning up on the Dollar Value Meal menu any time soon.
Friday, January 03, 2003
Shy Ivy arrived in foster care bonded with a more outgoing bunny, Holly. Sadly, Holly died suddenly, leaving Ivy on her own to interact with humans. She's gradually showing more trust, but Ivy is still a very timid, cautious bunny. She needs a quiet home with a patient, understanding family, and may possibly make friends with another rabbit. Ivy is less than one year old and weighs about five pounds. Both her appetite and litter habits are excellent.
Does she look shy to you? Bunnies are born with a fairly extensive array of ROM which classifies you people as beer-fueled super-ape predators. It takes a while to figure out that you're really on our side. Any bunny who can cozy up to you like Ivy is a winner.
And she's a Dutch like me! For the sake of kin-selection, Ivy is today's adopt-a-bunny.
Arsenal of Democracy
Jack Wheeler's essay on Poker and Korea
(and an email from a reader) have inspired today's AoD selection.
Mr. Wheeler advocates a particularly belligerent approach to disrupting operations at North Korea's Yongbyon reactor:
Far better to destroy it quietly, safely, stealthily, and mysteriously. With a spear. A steel rod forty feet long and four inches in diameter, fin-stabilized, with a needle-sharp tungsten-carbide tip, equipped with a small JDAM guidance package including a GPS.
Mr. Wheeler's smart-spear is a weapon of his own imagination. But it belongs to a class of weapon we've used for years in tanks: think sabot.
Sabots are usually made of tungsten or depleted uranium. They don't carry warheads or explode (although DU sometimes burns). Instead they translate a large amount of kinetic energy into bad news for enemy tanks. Or enemy reactors, for that matter. And in the latter example, isn't uranium so apropos?
The mighty USAF has been dallying around with developing Kinetic Energy Weapons (KEW) for decades. Kelly Johnson and Ben Rich proposed using the Blackbird to deliver "energy bombs."
We even dreamed up the creation of an energy bomb that used no explosive device. Flying at Mach 3 and eighty-five thousand feet, we'd drop a two-thousand weight of high-penetrating steel that would hit the ground with the force of a meteor -- about one million foot-pounds of energy and blast a hole 130 feet deep. The Air Force was interested, but fretted about the absence of a guidance system to assure pinpoint accuracy and resisted our suggestions to try to develop such a system. To the new Secretary of Defense, Robert McNamara, an energy bomb was futuristic drivel.
Skunk Works (paperback), Little Brown and Company, p. 226.
That McNamara... because of him we can't cry havoc and let slip the fighting meteors of war. Let us never forgive him.
As far as I can tell, there is no smart spear -- no fighting telephone pole to lance through the North Korean containment vessel. Nor are we likely to gin one up in time to be useful. The best we can offer is the Bunker Buster
, but technically speaking it's a bomb not a rod.
One branch of the service who is thinking about Kinetic Energy Weapons is our beloved Army. In fact, they're close to fielding the LOSAT system:
The Line-of-Sight Antitank (LOSAT) consists of Kinetic Energy Missiles (KEM) and a second-generation FLIR/video acquisition sensor mounted on an air-mobile, heavy HMMWV chassis. The LOSAT weapon system will help remedy the forced-entry/early-entry force lethality shortfall against heavy armor because it can deploy with both forces.
Think of LOSAT as an optional sabot package for Hummers. It's not the same as fielding a proper tank, but you can't sling an M-1 under a Chinook
, can you?
A LOSAT truck can pop up anywhere and punch through pretty much anything. It just doesn't do too well on standardized college entrance exams -- but that won't keep it from being today's pick of the AoD.
More on KEW:
World's Fastest Gun
Future of Warfare, Brookings
Romanian Sports Page
A Romanian football club is planning to control its rowdy fans by installing a crocodile-filled moat around the pitch.
That’s gotta be a joke, right?
Club chairman Alexandra Cringus said: "This is not a joke. We can get crocodiles easy enough and feed them on meat from the local abattoir.
Yes, that is where you would expect to find meat. Either there or in the audience.
"I think that the problem of fans running onto the pitch will be solved once and for all."
Indian Police Blotter
A policeman in New Delhi has been arrested for drunken dancing at the wedding of a judge's daughter.
Dancing drunk at a wedding is a crime in India? Thank goodness it isn’t illegal here.
Guests at the wedding informed the local police station when they saw the armed officer dancing in his uniform.
Local police soon arrived to remove the officer's automatic rifle and place him under arrest for disorderly conduct while on duty.
C’mon, dancing drunk in uniform with an automatic rifle at a wedding is a crime in India?
Thursday, January 02, 2003
Official Bunny Meme
Bunnies are Bustin' Loose
all over the blogapalooza:
Greeblie Web Log
Random Nuclear Strikes
A Small Victory
features a bunny (look quick, before it rotates).
You like us, you really like us
For the sake of sheer personal vanity, I like to check this web log's referrals. Steven Den Beste
does the same, so I'm in good company. My meters are at the bottom of this web log and freely available to the public. Go ahead, take a peek if you like.
Lately a bunch of people are searching Google
for "belligerent bunny blog
." It's no shocker that this web log ranks #1. Here's a few I didn't expect:
Anna the Bunny
And the real surprise:
That's right behind the tennis player
! I imagine quite a few of my readers would like to be there.
Fame is fleeting, but google is forever...
Talk about love at first sight, here's Roz:
(SPCA of Pinellas County
Meet ROZ. A female adult mini - lop (about 5 lbs.). Like many of the rabbits here, she was found stray, so not too much is known about her. The volunteers here describe her as a mellow, sweet rabbit who is not overly active. She is here longing for a loving home where she will not be abandoned again.
(SPCA of Pinellas County)
Not overly active? Who wants a fuzzy bunny pillow? Calm bunnies are so rare. And she's a rescued stray! She's seen the red tooth and claw of nature, yet she's totally cool around people. This is one bunny with her priorities straight!
Arsenal of Democracy
Who would have thought that living next door to a nutball dictator with ballistic missiles had its disadvantages? The Japanese want a national missile defense network
installed yesterday. Who can blame them? But who has the heart to gently break the news that Star Wars will never work?
Or will it?
Almost sixty years ago, the British took a stab at national missile defense. Getting pelted with V-2s will do that to a country.
At a particularly desperate point in the campaign, the British were considering extreme measures such as artillery barrages aimed at points in the sky through which the V-2 trajectories were expected to pass. Fortunately, the success of the allied ground offensive in Europe outpaced the political process, and the emergency measures were not put into effect.
(National Defense University)
They could track V-2s on radar. With the right math and enough artillery, I've no doubt they could have stopped a fair share. Of course, all the metal they would have put up into the air had to come down somewhere -- so it wasn't practical against conventionally armed missiles. Instead, they would fake press accounts of the impacts (e.g., several missiles came down a dozen miles East of London today...
), to get the Germans to recalibrate their rockets.
Nevertheless the British example shows that hitting a bullet with another bullet is not a new idea. People have been working on it for more than half a century. The AoD had a prototype working forty years ago.
By July 1962, a few months before the Cuban missile crisis, the Army successfully test fired a Nike Zeus missile from Kwajalein which came within two kilometers of a dummy warhead from an Atlas ICBM. Had the Nike Zeus been armed with a functioning nuclear weapon, this would have destroyed the ICBM warhead.
(National Defense University)
And let's not forget Sprint, another nuclear-armed interceptor that was part of the short-lived Safeguard
To say Sprint was a phenomenal missile, is putting it mildly. A cone shaped missile that accelerated at 100g, achieved a speed of Mach 10 in 5 seconds, had an ablative coating to dissipate the heat that was generated from the fiction from the atmosphere and was so accurate that the radar had to be de-tuned during testing so that it would not hit incoming RVs. It was a phenomenal missile.
(Mark's ABM Shrine)
If we wanted a nuclear-tipped missile shield, we could have one today. Heck, we'd be well into the third or fourth generation by now. But let's face it: nuclear weapons have been getting bad press for years. And they're a C2 nightmare:
Not specifically cited, but in the background of the decision, was the uneasiness associated with defenses armed with nuclear weapons on alert. The challenge to command and control was significant, and the issue of whether pre-delegated authority would be needed always was in the background of the debates.
(National Defense University)
So the AoD raised the bar for itself and switched to hit-to-kill interceptors. If there's one thing the AoD likes, it's a challenge.
At this point, it's worth taking a look at Patriot
, world famous for it's mixed record at shooting down Iraqi Scuds
. If anyone thinks that Patriot represents the state-of-the-art in ABM technology, they're wrong:
In the 1970s, no ballistic missile defense capability was given to SAM-D, now called Patriot. In the mid-1980s, many opposed giving Patriot the limited ballistic missile defense capability demonstrated in the 1991 Gulf War--and notable arms control experts testified that doing so would violate the ABM Treaty.
That the Patriot, despite being hobbled, managed to make successful intercepts is simply amazing. And by the way, we've lifted those pesky restrictions and replaced the old missiles with ERINT
(aka PAC-3). As Bill Lumbergh
said: we fixed the glitch
. Care for a rematch, Saddam?
The AoD has a bunch of better ABMs in the pipeline. The Army is working on THAAD
, the Navy is perfecting LEAP
(aka Upper Tier) and of course the Mighty USAF is testing my personal favorite: the Crossbow Project
When this stuff works, it brings us one step closer to Reagan's "Peace Shield." When it fails (as is inevitable in experiments) it gives us insight into how to make improvements. The hard work is completed. The rest is a prosaic set of small engineering challenges. And writing checks; nothing this ambitious is ever cheap.
Expect to see more frequent tests in the future. The AoD is still tinkering, but in many projects they're really close to prototype stage. At this point, single failures mean little. You know when this gear goes online in a few years, each enemy ballistic missile will be targeted by several interceptors throughout each stage of flight.
We will try to intercept everything, even the decoys. We can't promise nothing will get through, but we can raise a prominent question mark in the mind of the madman dictator. Welcome to the new age of deterrence.
Like you, I have friends who say something snarky every time one of our ABMs misses its mark. Star Wars will never work
they haughtily sniff. Don't these people bother to keep up with current events? They're lucky I leave my clue stick at home.
Free Time Vacuum
No doubt you've heard that many image-conscious entertainers of the Anglosphere have no problem cutting shameless commercials in Japan. After all, who back home is going to watch them? Only the readers of Japander
, that's who.
My favorite so far: Charlie Sheen selling haircuts (and natural gas).
Anna's First Law:
The world's best cheese
Wednesday, January 01, 2003
Today's bunny is Oliver from Georgia:
Hi, I'm Oliver! I'm a young sweet male bunny, about a year old. I was found in a Lawrenceville neighborhood running around- I was scared!! Luckily the person who caught me called the HRS and I found a foster home. I have a great personality (so I'm told!) and I enjoy being social- but I don't like loud noises!! Don't worry though, once I settle into your loving home, I'll adjust to the TV and stereo! Anyone interested in a spunky lovable bunny?
Another rescue. People are so great!
Arsenal of Democracy
You folks remember that Israeli passenger jet that almost got pegged by Al-Qaeda, right? A lot of people got to see the SA-7
for the first time, and I bet a lot of them thought: a little thing like that can knock down a plane? It's so portable, it could turn up anywhere. I wonder if it's safe for the AoD to keep flying through hostile airspace!
A weenie missile like the grail
isn't much of a threat, but other infrared-guided missiles are.
Approximately 80% of U.S. fixed-wing aircraft losses in Desert Storm were from ground based Iraqi defensive systems using IR SAMS.
Ever since then, the AoD has put a lot of thought (and $) into defeating enemy flying homing robots. Let's take a look at a few.
Enemy IR missiles prowl around looking for some hot stuff. Americans already have a natural advantage because we invented cool
Known as the "Black Hole" IR Suppression System, the principle revolves around directing the engine exhaust through special ducts which combine the efflux with the airstream passing over the aircraft. The airstream thus dissipates the hot exhaust that emerges from the vents evenly, rather than allowing hot spots to appear. Prior to exit, the temperature is further reduced through a unique process developed by Hughes aircraft. Before emerging from the aircraft, the exhaust must pass through a special liner made of a material known as Low Q. This material absorbs the heat from the efflux passing through it, radiating it slowly through the outlets.
Black hole gear comes standard on the Apache
and (I think) the little bird
. I'm pretty sure it's installed on Marine One
. It's the kind of thing you'd want on a VIP transport, no?
The most dangerous missile is the one the pilot doesn't see. And because our pilots can't be looking everywhere, we invented a whole class of robots to help them out. To pick at random, let's look at the AN/AAR-44:
The AN/AAR-44 is a passive Infrared Warning Receiver designed to provide warning of Surface to Air Missiles (SAMS) and pass information to countermeasures systems. The AN/AAR-44 Missile Approach Warning System (MAWS) warns of threat missile approach, enabling the effective employment of evasive maneuvers and electronic and infrared countermeasures. The system detects a missile launch by reading the IR heat signature of the missile's plume.
These little robot eyes watch out for the bloom of heat a missile makes as it takes off. If they spot one, they can automatically turn on the flare dispenser (so the pilot doesn't have to put down his cup of coffee). That's a nice touch.
Enemy IR missiles can also be defeated Travolta-style, provided you bought the full options package, including the AN/ALQ-144 Disco Ball.
The AN/ALQ-144 system is an omni-directional active infrared Countermeasures Set which protects the EH-1H, EH-1X, EH-60A, MH-60K, UH-60A, AH-1F, AH-64A, OV-1D, and RV-1D aircraft from air-to-air and ground-to-air heat seeking (infrared) missiles. The airborne installed system included in this family of equipment are designed to provide jamming of threat IR missile systems. They are active, continuous operating, omni-directional, electrically fuel-fired IR jamming systems designed to confuse or decoy threat IR missile systems.
Follow the link to see pictures of our fighting disco-balls. They really do look kinda-sorta like what you'd find in a swingin' happenin' club. And they work:
The gizmo is effective. One Apache watched an IR missile zoom right over their aircraft, it never tracked it and never endangered it from his perspective. He thanked his 144.
(62nd Fighting Falcons Dispatches)
Too cool! For the AoD, the seventies never really went out of style. You can tell by the way they use their walk...(midi
Plausible deniability aside, we know that American
, British and Israeli
special forces are already in Iraq. Those guys are as good at negotiating as they are at fighting.
When the balloon goes up, how many Iraqi divisions will we have on our side?
A Montana man who legally changed his name to "Jack Ass" in 1997 has sued media giant Viacom Inc., claiming its stunt-heavy, gross-out TV show and movie "Jackass" had defamed his character.
But for that show, your honor, he'd be an ordinary undefamed Jack Ass...
Tuesday, December 31, 2002
Pure American Bathos
(Auld Land Syne Evening concludes with this post
At Chez Anna, we're watching Dick Clark's "rockin' new years eve."
It's so cheesy, it's so institutional, and it's so American. I love it!
God bless our mawkishness. I wouldn't have it any other way.
To the rest of the world: look upon our party melange and weep. All the world's tribes are here, and they're dancing together and waving our flag. We really are the world, and the rest of the world can play catch-up if they dare. Name one country who could throw the same bash.
Long live the American free-form lollapalooza. And God bless the rest of the free world. You folks are so awesome!
Let's hope 2003 marks the addition of a few new countries into the free world country club!
(Auld Land Syne Evening commences with this post
Everybody say "hi" to 2002's final featured bunny, Rerun:
Rerun, a county fair prize, was surrendered to a shelter at the age of ~4 weeks. The shelter realized he was not old enough to be removed from Mom and contacted Indiana HRS.
Rerun has grown into an easy going bunny with a positive outlook on living with humans and other bunnies. Rerun is an incredibly sweet rabbit that loves to be petted.
Rerun loves run time, hopping around with high-arched binkies. After his run time, Rerun dig, dig, digs in his bed, flops over on his side, and drifts off to sleep with a big smile on his face.
Can you provide Rerun a forever home where he will be cherished?
And because he's Rerun, he'll be back next year. Unless someone adopts him first!
Here's to wishing Rerun (and everybody else) a Happy New Year!
Dueling Snow Bunnies
DavidMSC has posted a snow bunny
on his web log. Two can play that game:
Belligerent, wouldn't you say?
Obviously this one's not adoptable. Check back later to find one who is available.
Arsenal of Democracy
Come February when the AoD cries havoc, it may still have to contend with the remainder of Iraq's armored vehicles. We could let slip our fighting M-1's, but that means crossing minefields and other unnecessary risks. Remember the AoD's new motto: send a robot, not a man
As long as J-STARS
gives us enough warning (and it will), we can use our rocket artillery
to introduce enemy tanks to one of our newest flying robots: the Brilliant Anti-armor Technology submunition (BAT).
Each MLRS carries two of these "ATACMS" missiles, each with a range of
about eighty-five miles. Each missile carries a baker's dozen of those "BATS" you can see in the lower left corner. And what do they do?
After dispense of the 13 submunitions from the ATACMS Block II missile, the weapons glide to their preprogrammed target area, and each selects a discrete target within its assigned acoustic segment of the formation. Once a target has been acquired by the terminal infra-red seeker, the weapon guides to terminal impact and uses a tandem shaped-charge warhead to destroy the vehicle. With a relatively large acoustic search/glide footprint, the BAT is capable of accommodating target location ambiguity inherent with the engagement of moving formations.
Welcome to the age of push-button warfare. All we have to do is give'em both barrels, and those little flying robots will turn any Iraqi parking lot into an instagraveyard.
Follow the Lockheed Martin link above to see more and even download a movie (~5 MB). Lockheed always has the best stock footage theme music.
Who doesn't love this little flying robot? It can really bat cleanup!
Russian Police Blotter
Prosecutors in Moscow have decided that Harry Potter books don't incite religious hatred.
Doesn't it seem like the Europeans are putting an awful lot of writers on trial
The Harry Potter books are hugely popular in Russia and have inspired a very similar version with a hero named Tanya Grotter, causing Potter's publishers to threaten to sue for plagiarism.
I liked it better when they were copying Star Trek
French Police Blotter
Two men have been arrested by French police for selling cigarette lighters carrying pictures of Osama bin Laden next to the World Trade Centre.
Guilty of tremendously bad taste yes, but we are talking about France: where "L'Effroyable Imposture
" was a bestseller.
Police said both men, aged 28 and 32, could have faced charges of "violence connected to the events recalled" on the lighters.
That's a crime? How come they never arrest anyone for worshiping Jerry Lewis?
The men were both of Algerian origin and were also selling fake Prada and Louis Vuitton handbags in the streets.
Now we see the real crime. Nothing infuriates a Frenchman more than the discovery that his handbag is a fake!
Monday, December 30, 2002
My Fifteen Minutes
Links from the titans of the blogapalooza do wonders for the ego. Today, I exceeded the 10,000 hit threshold. You people rock!
Fame is fleeting, and this web log couldn't possibly be regarded as "sticky." To the folks who dropped by once, thank you. To the folks who keep coming back, you're the best.
I promise to bring you more bunnies, bombs and bad movies. It's a small niche, but if that's your bag baby, c'mon back y'hear?
In the meantime, I'll just retreat to my laughing place and get drunk on my new and temporary power.
Good night everyone, and thanks for dropping by!
UPDATE: Enough hatemail!
No bunnies were harmed in the above picture. We had a relaxing, enjoyable evening. Only a few folks got rowdy, but my jarhead friends fixed'em good.
Besides, I'm a Pilsner Urquell
drinker. Spoils of the Cold War I say!
Let's meet a young bunny boy named Fiver (cool name!):
([Miami] Wildlife Care Center
To meet him is to fall in love with him. When he came to the WCC in December, he was barely a handful of fluff. He's filled out to nearly a pound now, and he is the most lovable little Dutch/dwarf boy you could ever hope to meet. Very smart, very loving and ready to go home with you as soon as he's old enough to be neutered, Fiver is sure to become the center of whatever household is lucky enough to call him a member!
([Miami] Wildlife Care Center)
Look at those blue eyes! Yes they disqualify him from bunny shows
, but who wants an ear tattoo anyway? You can still train him for the bunny jumping competitions
. With those legs, he's surely a contender!
The Other Arsenal of Democracy
Armed Liberal just posted a preview
of a forthcoming treatise on Democracy. A-L argues we use the word flippantly, and thinks we're too optimistic when we think we can impose it even on a willing country. Here's an excerpt:
Look, democracy isn’t like Vitamin D tablets, which we can airdrop into poor countries where rickets is prevalent. It’s not a consumer product we can package up and export in shipping containers. Soldiers with guns and bombs can’t enforce or create democracy. People who suggest that they can are simply ignorant of two or three thousand years of political history.
I'm looking forward to the next installment, because (this may surprise you) I emphatically agree.
We call ourselves a democracy even though we're a federal republic. I talk about the 'Arsenal of Democracy' because it's a cliché people recognize. I won't quibble over definitions because A-L is right about how hard it is to cultivate freedom in unfree countries.
One of our current Undersecretaries of State once asked: why hasn't anyone been able to replicate the Marshall Plan
? (Sorry, no names. I was in the room when he said it; and this is a personal recollection. I haven't a transcript or citation.)
The third world is littered with crumbling airports and highways. Why do our beneficent construction projects turn to dust in a generation? Because, as A-L argues it's not enough. Transplanting money and buildings is a fools game. The only time that strategy did work featured some unique circumstances.
In World War II, the Mighty Eighth Air Force rendered parts of Europe lunar. Nevertheless the survivors were: educated, civilized, skilled in business and trade, and law-abiding.
The only things post WWII Europe lacked were buildings, networks (electrical, food-distribution, etc.) and other sundries. So we spent our treasure to fill in the holes.
Some parts of the Third World are blank slates when compared against post-WWII Europe. Personal and real property are subject to the whim of brigands. Contracts can only be enforced out of the barrels of guns. Criminal codes are enforced according to tribal affiliation rather than the black letter of the law. Any bunny can see: this is predator v. prey territory. Fix these problems and you can achieve real progress.
Building monuments to our generosity in these places is like burning money. These folks need a reliable system of laws.
The United States is famous for its surplus of three things: legal codes, lawyers and photocopiers. Together they are our other AoD. Expensive as they are, they represent our last, best hope of replicating the success of the Marshall Plan.
On this subject, I am way out of my league. But it seems to me that if we are already committed to funding a Peace Corps, it's worth a shot to unleash a Legal Corps and be modern-day Prometheans.
Arsenal of Democracy
Most flying robots are prop or jet powered. So it's easy to overlook the world's best rocket-powered robot: Raytheon's own AIM-120 AMRAAM. Or is it "Slammer?" Or "Silver Bullet." Geez this guided missile has a bunch of nicknames. Who can keep them all straight? Let's take a look at the basics:
The AMRAAM weighs 340 pounds and uses an advanced solid-fuel rocket motor to achieve a speed of Mach 4 and a range in excess of 30 miles. In long-range engagements AMRAAM heads for the target using inertial guidance and receives updated target information via data link from the launch aircraft. It transitions to a self-guiding terminal mode when the target is within range of its own monopulse radar set. The AIM-120 also has a "home-on-jam" guidance mode to counter electronic jamming. With its sophisticated avionics, high closing speed, and excellent end-game maneuverability, chances of escape from AMRAAM are minimal. Upon intercept an active-radar proximity fuze detonates the 40-pound high-explosive warhead to destroy the target. At closer ranges AMRAAM guides itself all the way using its own radar, freeing the launch aircraft to engage other targets.
I like that it's a 'fire and forget' missile, and can guide itself without any further instruction from the pilot. And 'home-on-jam,' isn't that a nice touch? In the future, enemy airplanes using jamming pods will be the equivalent of matadors waving red capes. What poetic justice!
AMRAAM (or whatever nickname they finally standardize) hasn't been fired much in anger (three times, and all hits as far as I can tell) but it's thoroughly tested:
The Slammer also has an astonishing record in both flight tests (once proper software was perfected) and in combat. For example, in one test over White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico, one F-15C Eagle ripple-fired four AIM-120A's at 4 QF-100 drones. The drones were performing evasive maneuvers, releasing chaff, and were also equipped with jammers. All 4 AIM-120's hit the targets dead-on. This and other tests earned the nickname Slammer (One F-15 driver compared firing the AMRAAM at targets to being like clubbing baby seals), as well as other nicknames such as "The World War III Shot." Some people have even taken to calling the AMRAAM the "Go Get'em Fido" Missile.
(Michel St-Germain's Arsenal Catalog)
Hmm... I prefer "the World War III Shot" to "clubbing baby seals." The AoD has an image to maintain, you know. And that last nickname: I like that the best. Let's all email Raytheon
and tell'em it's a keeper. Because when the balloon goes up, our fliers can (you knew this was coming...
) cry havoc and let slip the Fido's of war!
for the suggestion.)
Mark your calendars
By way of Global Security
comes word of an interesting documentary: Spies That Fly
. A full hour devoted to America's fighting robots!
Yes, it's PBS but this January 7, let's hold our noses and watch.
And by way of James Rummel
, comes word of the insidious threat posed by compact disc drives
. Remind me where they're made? Add 'em to the list.
Sunday, December 29, 2002
Today's Bunnies hail from Kansas City, Missouri. Let's meet Daphne and Cadbury:
Daphne (left) and Cadbury (right) are a bonded pair. They have been neutered and spayed. Daphne is a lop and Cadbury is a rex. Daphne is the more adventurous of the two but both enjoy exploring and investigating new things. They both enjoy being petted, and love their veggies and fresh salads.
And who doesn't like a fresh salad? These two are perfect for each other. But if they don't tickle your fancy, you can follow the link and choose from many more.
Still looking? Check out the ultimate guide to adoptable bunnies
. For your first bunny, a user's guide
Hello new reader
Before you say "what the heck," you deserve some background.
Bunnies are belligerent. Not in the sense that they declare war on others, but in the sense that they are prey animals. The world is out to get bunnies, and they must be ever vigilant and must sometimes fight to stay alive. It's an attitude I think Americans can appreciate right about now.
Bunnies are stealthy and clever. So is the American Arsenal of Democracy. You will find examples below.
Bunnies are available for adoption. I provide the links. You provide the love.
And oh yeah: bunnies are pretty funny. I hope you agree.
Please be my guest and continue reading. And feel free to comment. Sheesh! Several hundred new readers and only a handful of comments. That's something I don't care to ponder.
Oh, and while I have your attention:
would like your opinion on Frank Sinatra,
has the latest news about the Chinese trans-Afghanistan pipeline,
is collecting suggestions for proposed crimes against America,
has news about the Kenyan election,
has everything you wanted to know about odd aircraft, and
is dedicated to Atomic. Who isn't?
Arsenal of Democracy
Because we have an entire Armed Service
devoted to storming beaches, tyrants of the world like to mine their coasts. Naturally this can cut into tourist revenue, but who wants to visit those hell holes anyway? I mean: who except for the AoD?
Before we kick down the door, it's important to clear as many of those mines as we can. Even back in WWII, we trained UDT frogmen (forerunners of the SEALS) to infiltrate an enemy beach and clear it of any ordinance.
On 18 August , Team SIX left for Pearl Harbor on the U.S.S. SCHMITT (APD-76). Leaving here, the SCHMITT arrived in Sasebo Harbor, Japan on 20 September. A reconnaissance conducted of this area revealed that the docks were of flimsy construction, but suitable for use. Two days later the SCHMITT arrived off Miyako Shima Sakishima Gunto the following morning. As heavy minefields had been reported, the APD lay about fifteen miles offshore, causing the team to take LCPR's in the rest of the way. Such intense mine fields were encountered upon nearing that beach that, according to previous instructions from Lieutenant HAGENSEN, the operation was canceled. On this same day the SCHMITT shoved off for Guam with it's final destination, the United States.
(Underwater Demolition Team Histories)
Mines are probably the oldest and most primitive type of fighting robot. To pit American lives against enemy robots is not simply risky, but distasteful. In this day and age, it's supposed to be the other way round. DARPA
and the Office of Naval Research
agree. And that is why they are financing the Ariel project
Modeled after a crab, Ariel is designed to remove mines and obstacles on land and underwater in the surf zone. Its unique brand of legged locomotion capitalizes on a crab's agility, stability, and efficiency, and will allow Ariel to scramble over obstacles and crevices that traditional wheeled vehicles would find insurmountable.
How does Ariel fight mines?
In an amphibious assault operation, a fleet of these expendable bottom crawlers are deployed to collectively search a zone. Each will find and secure itself next to a mine, then wait for a detonation signal. For non-destructive operation, modifications can be made to allow the robots to deposit an explosive in a predetermined location and move to safety before detonation.
Follow the link to admire the working prototype. Imagine what else we could do with this robot! I suspect that a reconnaissance drone that can creep ashore and self deploy would be tactically useful. And since they can carry their own explosives, a horde of them would make a walking minefield -- kind of like a silent rolling barrage.
You almost have to feel sorry for the tyrants. Our robots can beat up their robots any day.
More Jingo Hangover
I'm not going soft on you. I still can't wait until June, when we'll have six to eight divisions in Iraq -- scratching their heads and asking where do we want to go today
? But in the long run I am pessimistic. The world asks too much of our Arsenal of Democracy.
As PJ said:
'America is not the world's policeman. But you'll notice when Kuwait got invaded nobody called Sweden.'
How did we get into this position? We're supposed to be famously ignorant of the rest of the world. We certainly didn't ask for the job. Watch enough Sunday morning political TV, and you're bound to hear someone say: America is not the world's
... but the words are hollow. Let's face it: we are, and I think I know why. The answer goes right back to the start of our country.
After the United States won its independence in the treaty of 1783, it had to protect its own commerce against dangers such as the Barbary pirates. As early as 1784 Congress followed the tradition of the European shipping powers and appropriated $80,000 as tribute to the Barbary states, directing its ministers in Europe, Thomas Jefferson and John Adams, to begin negotiations with them.
Thomas Jefferson, United States minister to France, opposed the payment of tribute, as he later testified in words that have a particular resonance today. In his autobiography Jefferson wrote that in 1785 and 1786 he unsuccessfully "endeavored to form an association of the powers subject to habitual depredation from them. I accordingly prepared, and proposed to their ministers at Paris, for consultation with their governments, articles of a special confederation." Jefferson argued that "The object of the convention shall be to compel the piratical States to perpetual peace." Jefferson prepared a detailed plan for the interested states. "Portugal, Naples, the two Sicilies, Venice, Malta, Denmark and Sweden were favorably disposed to such an association," Jefferson remembered, but there were "apprehensions" that England and France would follow their own paths, "and so it fell through."
(Thomas Jefferson Papers)
Got that? For the first year of our existence, we followed the instructions in the European owner's manual. The following year, we rewrote the book. Ever since then, the United States Navy has been the scourge of pirates.
Think of our perpetual war against piracy
as the USN's day job. It's easy to scoff, because they've done a magnificent job. Today piracy flourishes only in places where we are not welcome.
A Belize-flag general cargo ship was boarded at 0200 GMT by 20 to 25 men from a canoe while at anchor in Conakry, Guinea. The second mate was taken captive as they boarded. Six had automatic weapons and on their way around the ship they beat several crew members with their gun belts, particularly on the feet and ankles. In the master's cabin they held a knife to his throat and other body parts and shot into the deckhead while demanding $50,000 USD. He was threatened with a gun and was also beaten with a gun butt. A number of the intruders seemed to speak good English. The whole incident took about one hour. Port Control was called via VHF; however, it is not a 24 hour port and no assistance was received until 0600 when they were put through to the ship's agents. The vessel berthed later in the morning. Eight crew members received medical assistance, no major injuries reported. The pirates made off with computers, walkie talkies, money, and crew possessions.
(FAS Anti-Shipping Messages, 1999)
We don't claim to have eradicated maritime thugs and brigands. We don't claim to be fighting the good fight all alone. But we have been doing the heavy lifting ever since we were a country. It's interesting to observe that as the USN shrinks in size, the annual rate of pirate attacks increases:
Right now the last known number for 2000 can be found in the annual piracy report of the IMB, published in January 2001: 469. This is an alltime record number of reported incidents.
(Modern Day Piracy Stistics)
The rest of the world has been shifting the burden of defending the sea lanes onto us for decades. Did we agree to pick up the slack? To do their jobs for them? Can I see the treaty?
The reason we fight pirates is the same reason we are the world's policeman: it's in our national character.
In the prequel to this post, I argued America had no tribes. Sociologists might disagree, but anthropologists would nod their heads. Our foundation as a tribe-less state gives us a unique sense of nationhood. Our nation is the sum of our principles.
Most other countries are quite unlike us in this regard. They are founded on the notion that this territory belongs to their tribe. The character of these countries is founded in racial prejudice, if not superiority. It's easy to see why they don't easily assimilate immigrants. And as far as international relations goes, they don't feel required to stand up and fight for anyone but themselves.
The practical upshot of these differences is: other countries will fight to protect their people; the United States will fight to protect its principles
Now you can see why we fight to keep the world's sea lanes clear. Now you can see why America is the world's policeman. We were born into the role. I think it is our destiny.
We have the right tools for the job.
We have Hollywood: a massive idea factory which distributes American culture all over the world. Anyone with an antenna is free to receive our message. Crass as the content may be, it's addictive and persuasive. People see that life is better in America. In countries where people may freely change their governments, I think Hollywood will do the job and even turn us a profit.
We have the Arsenal of Democracy. Each day I bring you another example of American war-fighting cleverness. It's interesting to note that the bulk of them began development during the 1990's. That means that even on an austerity budget, the AoD managed to reinvent itself. With a bigger budget, we can expect even better goodies.
What we don't have is enough time nor willpower.
I think we can reasonably expect to knock off one tyrant every two years. That's asking an awful lot of the brave men and women who run the AoD. The least we can do is give them everything they require, including our heartfelt support. But will we keep focused? Will we stop shouting sic semper tyrannis
? How many of you warmongers will still be mongering this Summer?
Incidentally, I've taken a tour of the left-side of the blogapalooza, and I'm starting to worry. Clearly they've shaken off their shellshock and they're drifting back into their default mode of tranzi pomo. Should they continue to slide, the AoD will have to take on the world with one hand tied behind its back. Thanks a lot, guys.
The clock is ticking. Who knows how long we have before the A-bomb goes off in Washington DC? And it can't be more than thirty years before the EU crumbles. They're already looting their defense budgets to keep their pension system alive. Add an extra layer of taxation and regulation
(without direct representation), and they'll crumble for sure. When it does, expect a strong man with a bold vision to come forth and unite the people and reclaim their rightful destiny... Oh brother, here we go again...
So there you have it. That's why I'm so pessimistic. Do we wage fifty years of nearly simultaneous wars to make the world safe for democracy again? Or do we huddle down and endure one after another challenge to the king of the mountain?
I suspect we'll split the difference, pick our battles carefully and accept that we're never going to stop every incoming A-bomb.