Month: January 2009

Well, Paint My Ass Purple, and Call Me Shirley

OK, so I lost a memory stick that I’ve had for about 1¼years, Sandisk USB 2 Micro Cruzer 1Gb Pendrive U3.

It’s no big deal, really. I had all the data elsewhere, so I pick up a new drive, the 4GB variant for about $12 at the Radio Shack®, which is a lot cheaper than the $50 or so that I recall paying for the 1GB version.

Wouldn’t you know it, the next day, I find my old drive.

Actually, I didn’t find it, Sharon* did, in the dryer.

It had gone through the wash, AND the dryer, and it looked little worse for the wear. The printing on the case was a bit worn, but that could have happened over the past 15 months sitting in my pocket.

So, I leave it out and open for a day to ensure full drying, and I put it in my computer, and ALL THE DATA IS THERE.

Needless to say, this product has my seal of approval.

*Love of my life, light of the cosmos, she who must be obeyed, my wife.

People Make a Living At This???

Let me rephrase: Really Stupid People Make a Living At This???

Because it appears that Pajamas Media, a sort of Blogads for right wingers blew through its venture capital, and has told its bloggers that it is dumping them, because the next big thing is, “Internet television called Pajamas TV,” for which even stupider people will actually pay to listen to right wingers with faces made for radio.

The soon-to-be former members of Pajamas Media, such as Jeff G. of Protein Wisdom, are in full whine:

What this means is that as of April 1, I am officially out of work. So save going to a pay model, this site will likely have to shut down.

Small price to pay for helping PJM pick up an audience and credibility during its “formative years.”

I do this blog mostly to make regular notes for my annual newsletter (it’s about 5% of the content), and I’ve gotten a bit of money from Google ads, a $107.24 check in October, and I’ve been blogging since May, 2007.

The idea that someone could make a living at this is just a complete mind f%$#.

H/T TBogg, for letting me know that, “Nobody could have anticipated that Pajamas Media would sucker the rubes and then destroy teh intertubes.”

Republicans Formally Come Out in Favor of Syphilis

Mark Steyn supports Syphilis and other STDs because they might prevent people from having sex outside of wedlock:

Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the House, is on TV explaining the (at this point the congregation shall fall to its knees and prostrate itself) “stimulus.” “How,” asks the lady from CBS, “does $335 million in STD prevention stimulate the economy?”

“I’ll tell you how,” says Speaker Pelosi. “I’m a big believer in prevention. And we have, er… there is a part of the bill on the House side that is about prevention. It’s about it being less expensive to the states to do these measures.”

Makes a lot of sense. If we have more STD prevention, it will be safer for loose women to go into bars and pick up feckless men, thus stimulating the critical beer and nuts and jukebox industries. To do this, we need trillion-dollar deficits, which our children and grandchildren will have to pay off, but, with sufficient investment in prevention measures, there won’t be any children or grandchildren, so there’s that problem solved.

I really cannot read this as anything but an endorsement of STDs, and this is not The Onion.

H/t Booman Tribune.

Rumors of FCS Cuts

According to this report, half of the FCS-MGVs models would be significantly delayed, with only the NLOS-C (howitzer), C2V (command post), RSV (reconnaissance), and the Infantry Carrier Vehicle (ICV) staying in the pipeline.

This would mean that the MCS (tank), both medical variants, the mortar carrier, and the FRMV* recovery vehicle would be placed in limbo.

This makes sense. The howitzer is the most advanced, being given an aggressive development schedule following the demise of the Crusader, and the C2V and RSV are most heavily tied into the net-centric warefare.

As to the ICV, it carries a 9 person infantry squad, as opposed to the 6 person capacity of the Bradley (because if its manned turret), and the army has found this inconvenient in combat operations, to say the least, because it meant dispatching 2 IFVs if you wanted to send a full squad somewhere, so it actually would be a significant improvement over its predecessor.

Of course, there are a lot of unmanned turrets on the market now, and you could get the same for less by retrofitting them to the Bradley.

*Full disclosure, I worked on the Future Recovery and Maintenance Vehicle, FRMV, “wrecker” variant of the FCS-MGV from 2003-2006 at United Defense (later BAE Systems after the Carlyle Group sold me to buy Dunkin Donuts).
Future Combat Systems-Manned Ground Vehicle. These are the ones that are the tanks and APCs. As opposed to the various unnmanned vehicles, networking technologies, etc. that form the full FCS along with the MGVs.
Yes, I have worked everywhere. Maybe I can’t hold down a job, but more likely this has been my role as “technical hit man”, where you are parachuted in to take care of a specific need.

Military Industry Complex Bullsh%$: FCS Armor Edition

It appears that the good folks at Aberdeen Proving Ground just set up a petting zoo for the press with a dog and pony show on the high tech armor for the manned ground vehicles (FCS-MGV).

I have no doubt that this armor will be more effective on a per unit weight and a per thickness basis, but the following is a flat out lie:

All these materials had apparently been used in the search to create the “B” armor for FCS. They are using what is called B-1 armor now and plan to come up with two more variants, using B-3 as the main armor once the FCS vehicles make it to LRIP in fiscal 2013. B-1 provides, a very careful public affairs officer told me, protection roughly equivalent to the Chobham armor on the Abrams tanks. The next variants should be much lighter and provide even greater protection.

(emphasis mine)

Simply put, you are not going to get higher armor levels out of a 25-30 ton vehicle than you do out of a 70 ton vehicle, the laws of physics.

It could be that they are factoring in the effects of an active protection system (which could be easily retrofitted to legacy vehicles) and greater situational awareness (which also could be easily retrofitted to legacy vehicles), but if they are, they are ignoring the realities of modern combat (IEDs, EFPs, and an insurgent enemy who has information superiority).

In other words, it’s a lie.

Hypersonic Engine Tests Continue Despite Blackswift Demise

Facet Common Inlet

It looks like DARPA is continuing to develop turbine/ramjet hypersonic propulsion systems, (paid subscription required) called the Turbine-based combined-cycle (TBCC), despite the cancellation of the Blackswift demonstrator last month.

Williams International XTE88 (Histed)

The concept remains the same, a turbine to get the vehicle off the ground and through Mach 1, with some level of cocooning beyond that as a Ram/Scram jet takes over.

DARPA is continuing to test the Falcon combined-cycle engine technology (Facet) developed for Blackswift, along with the high-speed turbojet engine development (Histed).

Basically, they are looking at integrating previously pieces, inlet, combustor and nozzle primarily, into a complete engine system.

Following this, they intend to combine Facet and Histed.

Obviously it is a non trivial issue to test the engines throughout their range without a flight test.

Alkali Laser?

It looks like General Atomics has snagged a $667,000 contract to develop a high power alkali laser. (paid subscription required)

As I noted last week, they are already working with the USAF on solid state lasers (HELLADS), but this is a different technology, a “diode-pumped alkali-vapor laser” (DPAL), which may be more efficient, and would likely be easier to cool, as the alkali-vapor could just be conveyed to a heat exchanger.

New Helos Finally Enter Russian Service

With development beginning in the 1970s, the Mi-28N and the Kamov Ka-52 attackers, and the more recent Ansat-U training helicopter, are finally entering Russian service in meaningful numbers.

The Mi-28 “Havoc” was intended to replace the Mi-24 “Hind” in the 1980s, and the Ka-52, a derivative of the single seat Ka-50 attack helo, which was the winner, and then the loser, against the Mi-28 over the past few decades looks to serve as a scout attack helo.

It looks like both will eventually, the radar is still in development, be equipped with millimeter radar guided missiles, much link the longbow.

Iceland Looking to Join EU

Or possibly to just adopt the Euro as its currency.

It looks like they may be making an application in the next few months.

One complication is that the new governing coalition would be at odds over this, with the Social Democrats favoring it, and the Left Greens opposing it.

There will be an election in May, and I think that the Left Greens will do well, if just because the Social Dems were previously in coalition with the Independence Party, and so had a hand in creating the laissez-faire policies that have left them in a lurch.

Economics Update

The gross domestic product (GDP) fell at an annual rate of 3.8% in the 4th quarter of 2008, the biggest drop since the first quarter of 1982.

This is better than expected, but probably worse than it sounds.

First, the Fed Funds rate had peaked at almost 20% in 1981, and was still at 15% in early 1982. The Fed was trying to create a recession to short circuit inflation. (See graph pr0n)

Also, I agree with Barry Ritholtz of The Big Picture when he says, “The advance GDP data was released. I expect the revisions will make this even worse.”

Meanwhile, Calculated Risk’s Credit Crisis Indicators are showing improvement, most notably with treasury yields increasing, which implies that there is more competition for that money from other borrowers and lenders.

That being said, we are in a very weird place economically when an increase in interest rates is good news.

There are some dark spots in the indicators, the Chicago Purchasers’ January Index fell to 33.3, the lowest level since March, 1982….There it is again…..1982, and the Restaurant Performance Index (RPI) fell to a record low in December, which means that we aren’t seeing much buying on a wholesale or a retail level.

In energy, oil is up on concerns about the refinery strike, and in currency, the dollar is up on low Euro Zone inflation numbers, which suggest that the ECB might cut rates again.

Rank and File House Dems Want Tax Cuts Out of Stimulus

After the stimulus proposal got no Republican votes at all, it appears that the rank and file house Democrats are telling their leaders that they have no interest at all in making nice:

Rank-and-file Congressional Democrats had been willing to give Republicans the business tax cuts and other provisions they wanted in the stimulus. That is, up until every single one voted against the bill on the House floor Wednesday.

Now, in both the House and the Senate, angry members are lobbying Democratic leaders to yank those tax breaks back.

I would agree. All that kowtowing to the ‘Phants does is make your policy prescriptions worse.

There is no common ground on which to negotiate. Republicans at the national level, particularly in the House of Representatives, have no interest in making things better while they are in the minority.

The ‘Good Bank’ Solution

Willem Buiter at the Financial Times writes to endorse the idea of creating government owned and operated lending facilities to replace the insolvent banks:

There is an alternative solution to the problem of valuing the toxic assets. It would not involve nationalising the existing banks. Instead the state would create one or more new ’good’ banks – all state-owned and state-funded to begin with. Effectively, some or all of the existing banks would become bad banks. The good banks would acquire the deposits and the good assets of the bad banks or legacy banks. The good assets are, by definition, easy to value. The creation of multiple good banks may be desirable to encourage competition. One could even create a good bank for every existing bank: New Citi, New RBS, New ING etc.

I posted this a 10 days ago, but he writes better.

The basic point is that the banking industry does not have to be preserved. What has to be preserved is transparent access to credit.

Zimbabwe Update

It looks like the MDC will join the ZANU-PF in a unity government.

Unfortunately, it appears that the MDC will have no control of the state security apparatus, so I’m wondering if this will be as hollow as Nkomo entering government.

Of course, right now, government actually has to work, with current cases of cholera estimated to be in excess of 60,000, and the currency so debased that foreign currencies will now be allowed to be officially used in commerce.

I think that 5 years from now, there will be no Zimbabwean dollar at all.

The EU has tightens sanctions on prominent ZANU-PF members, but I don’t thing that this will amount to much

Hey! I Voted Against That Guy!

Three Times!

Twice as Robert Leroy “Bob” Ehrlich, Jr.’s Lt. Governor, and once for the Senate when he ran against Ben Cardin.

Now Michael Steele has been elected chairman of the RNC.

My take on him is that he is really, REALLY, REALLY, REALLY stupid.

He is, after all the guy who compared stem cell research to the Holocaust… the Baltimore Jewish Council.

The frightening thing is that he might have been the smartest one there, what with Ken Blackwell, Katon Dawson, etc. being on the ballot.

I don’t think that he will make a lick of difference though.