One modern laser-guided bomb was as effective against a point target as thirty Vietnam-era F-4 Phantoms dropping their entire load of bombs

Wednesday, May 15th, 2024

Swarm Troopers by David Hambling During the Vietnam War, David Hambling explains (in Swarm Troopers), the average distance by which a bomb missed its aim point, known as “circular error probable,” was about four hundred feet for bombing from medium altitude:

Four hundred feet may sound haphazard, but computing bombsights had improved greatly since WWII, when the average miss distance was three thousand feet.

[…]

The real difficulty comes when attacking something like a bridge, where the target area of a roadway or support beam is just a few feet across. An entire Alpha Strike’s twenty-four planes may not be enough to score one solid hit.

[…]

The success of laser-guided weapons at Thanh Hoa was the start of a revolution in “precision guided munitions.”

[…]

According to a popular analysis of this improved accuracy, one modern laser-guided bomb was as effective against a point target as thirty Vietnam-era F-4 Phantoms dropping their entire load of bombs.

[…]

(Using WWII technology, it would take the bombs from an incredible fifteen hundred B-17 Flying Fortresses to hit the same target.)

[…]

Smart bombs though are not truly smart. All they do is go exactly where they are told. Unlike small drones, they cannot send back information about the target and get a close-up view. Weaponized drones are smarter than smart bombs.

It taught him the importance of morale, logistics and leadership more powerfully than any number of academic lectures

Sunday, March 3rd, 2024

Napoleon by Andrew RobertsThe month after Louis XVI’s execution, Andrew Roberts explains (in Napoleon: A Life), Napoleon obtained his first significant command:

He was put in charge of the artillery section of an expedition to ‘liberate’ three small Sardinian islands from the Kingdom of Piedmont-Sardinia under Paoli’s nephew, Pier di Cesari Rocca, whom he privately derided as a ‘clothes-horse’.

[…]

They mutinied, and so the entire expedition was aborted by Rocca. A furious Napoleon was forced to spike his own cannon and throw his mortars into the sea.

[…]

It was an inauspicious start for the career of the new Caesar, but it taught him the importance of morale, logistics and leadership more powerfully than any number of academic lectures.

Twenty Years of Blogging!

Saturday, January 20th, 2024

As our Slovenian guest recently pointed out, I’ve been posting to this blog for 20 years! My very first post was about some news that hit a bit close to home: Foreign Scientists Are Stranded By Post-9/11 Security Concerns. (It looks like Dr. Heng Zhu was allowed back into the country. He’s at Hopkins now.)

I would recommend going back and skimming through the archives, but none of the monthly archives before September, 2006 seem accessible. Sigh. I may have to do some SysAdmin work…

In the early days, I was largely sharing Yahoo! News stories that I would’ve emailed a friend. At some point, I had dozens (or hundreds?) of RSS feeds in Google Reader. Now my feed is Twitter — pardon, X.

I’ve enjoyed sharing interesting ideas this whole time, but I particularly like having a searchable database of all these things that I can return to.

So, how long have you guys been swinging by? And why?

Popular Posts of 2023

Monday, January 1st, 2024

I just took a look back at my numbers for 2023 but Google Analytics changed things up after August, so here are the most popular posts during the first eight months of that calendar year, three of which are new, seven of which are older:

  1. Robert Conquest’s Three Laws of Politics
  2. It is difficult to understand why this should be such a formidable task
  3. Strange things have been happening to the human body over the last few decades (new)
  4. IQ Shredders
  5. A modernized steel helmet is simultaneously lighter than the PASGT and performs better against both fragments and handgun rounds (new)
  6. Many prescription pharmaceuticals retain their full potency for decades beyond their manufacturer-ascribed expiration dates (new)
  7. The Class of 1914 died for France
  8. No Western artillery system is as capable and none apparently has the accuracy offered by GIS Arta
  9. Both sons also later attempted suicide
  10. Lego Is for Girls

Here are the most popular posts actually from 2023 and not from an earlier year:

  1. Strange things have been happening to the human body over the last few decades
  2. A modernized steel helmet is simultaneously lighter than the PASGT and performs better against both fragments and handgun rounds
  3. Many prescription pharmaceuticals retain their full potency for decades beyond their manufacturer-ascribed expiration dates
  4. Man is born polygamous yet everywhere he is monogamous
  5. An FGC-9 with a craft-produced, ECM-rifled barrel exhibited impressive accuracy
  6. It is the exodus from the universities that explains what is happening in the larger culture
  7. Galton’s disappearance from collective memory would have been surprising to his contemporaries
  8. He said he was going to do it, and he did
  9. Only Erich Raeder, the German navy commander, saw the danger clearly enough to press repeatedly and with great conviction for another way to gain Germany’s goals
  10. Our ancestors were polygynous until about three hundred thousand years ago

Again, I’m not sure what to conclude.

Also, I should thank some of my top referrers: Reaction Times, Borepatch, and Z Man.

Beware of linkanthropes

Tuesday, October 31st, 2023

I’ve written about Halloween and horror quite a bit over the years:

Hastings, ever the gentleman, decided to let Francis fire first

Tuesday, April 4th, 2023

Philip Francis was wrongly convinced that Warren Hastings was responsible for all the corruption in Bengal, William Dalrymple explains (in The Anarchy), and challenged him to a duel:

The two duellists, accompanied by their seconds, met at 5.30 on the morning of 17 August at a clump of trees on the western edge of Belvedere, a former summer house of Mir Jafar, which had since been bought by Warren Hastings.

Hastings had hardly slept. He spent much of the night composing a farewell letter to his beloved wife Marian, to be delivered in the event of his death. It began: ‘My heart bleeds to think what your sufferings and feelings must be, if ever this letter be delivered into your hands … I shall leave nothing which I regret to lose but you. How much I have loved you, and how much, beyond all that life can yield, I still love you, He only knows. Do not, my Marian, forget me. Adieu, most beloved of women. My last thoughts will be employed on you. Remember and love me. Once more farewell.’

[…]

It was at this point that it became clear, as Pearse noted, ‘that both gentlemen were unacquainted with the modes usually observed on these occasions’; indeed, neither of the two most powerful British intellectuals in Bengal seemed entirely clear how to operate their pistols. Francis said he had never fired one in his life, and Hastings said he could only remember doing so once. So both had to have their weapons loaded for them by their seconds who, being military men, knew how to operate firearms.

Hastings, ever the gentleman, decided to let Francis fire first. Francis took aim and squeezed the trigger. The hammer snapped, but the pistol misfired. Again, Francis’s second had to intervene, putting fresh priming in the pistol and chapping the flints. ‘We returned to our stations,’ wrote Hastings. ‘I still proposed to receive the first fire, but Mr F twice aimed, and twice withdrew his pistol.’ Finally, Francis again ‘drew his trigger,’ wrote Pearse, ‘but his powder being damp, the pistol again did not fire. Mr Hastings came down from his present, to give Mr Francis time to rectify his priming, and this was done out of a cartridge with which I supplied him finding they had no spare powder. Again the gentlemen took their stands and both presented together.’

‘I now judged that I might seriously take my aim at him,’ wrote Hastings. ‘I did so and when I thought I had fixed the true direction, I fired.’

His pistol went off at the same time, and so near the same instant that I am not certain which was first, but believe mine was, and that his followed in the instant. He staggered immediately, his face expressed a sensation of being struck, and his limbs shortly but gradually went under him, and he fell saying, but not loudly, ‘I am dead.’

[…]

They found the wound not dangerous, having entered the side before the seam of the waistcoat a little below the shoulder, and passing through both muscles and within the skin which covers the backbone, was lodged within visible distance of the skin in the opposite side.

[…]

The doctor later reported that Hastings’ musket ball ‘pierced the right side of Mr Francis, but was prevented by a rib, which turned the ball, from entering the thorax. It went obliquely upwards, passed the backbone without injuring it, and was extracted about an inch to the left side of it. The wound is of no consequence and he is in no danger.’

Many radicals chose that moment to stop apologizing for the Soviet Union

Monday, March 13th, 2023

When Nikita Khrushchev sent tanks into Hungary to crush a grassroots uprising in 1956, many radicals chose that moment to stop apologizing for the Soviet Union:

Ronald Radosh, a red-diaper baby who published seventeen articles in The Nation between 1966 and 1980, decided it was time to join the Communist Party USA.

Later, when sane people were celebrating the end of the Vietnam War, Radosh and those around him regarded the moment as “an occasion for deep melancholy.” They liked the Vietnam War, he explained in his memoir, Commies; it gave their lives meaning. Now that our country was no longer laying waste to Third World peasants, America, for these folks, “could no longer so easily be called Amerika.” And now that the exigencies of war could no longer excuse the communists’ human-rights abuses, their struggle could no longer be idealized as the heroic effort to create a model Marxist society: “The idea of an immediate, no-fault revolution, a fantasy of the previous decade, was no longer tenable.”

With that, Radosh doubled down again and traveled to Cuba with a group of revolutionary enthusiasts. One day, they visited a mental hospital. A doctor there boasted, “In our institution, we have a larger proportion of hospital inmates who have been lobotomized than any other mental hospital in the world.” Back on their bus, a flabbergasted therapist exclaimed, “Lobotomy is a horror. We must do something to stop this.” Another member of the American delegation shot back: “We have to understand that there are differences between capitalist lobotomies and socialist lobotomies.”

Radosh, of course, ended up on the political right. The final straw came when he published a book in 1983 arguing that Julius Rosenberg was indeed guilty of the crime for which he had been executed in 1953. Radosh found himself unfairly attacked from the left. Thus was he moved to “consider the ultimate heresy: perhaps the Left was wrong not just about the Rosenberg case, but about most everything else…. My journey to America was about to reach its final leg.”

[…]

Radosh’s political journey follows a familiar pattern, well documented among Nation writers who end their careers on the right: a rigid extremist, possessed of the most over-the-top revolutionary fantasies, comes face to face with the complexity of the real world, then “changes sides” and makes his career by hysterically identifying the “socialist lobotomies” set as the only kind of leftist there is — ignoring evidence to the contrary that’s right in front of his nose.

Finally he mounted his lion throne

Friday, March 10th, 2023

William Dalrymple shares some stories from Indian history (in The Anarchy) that could come from a pulp sword-and-sorcery novel:

Sivaji entered the throne room with a sword and made blood sacrifices to the lokapalas, divinities who guard the worlds. The courtiers attending the ceremony were then asked to leave while auspicious mantras were installed on the king’s body to the accompaniment of music and the chanting of samans. Finally he mounted his lion throne, hailed by cries of ‘Victory’ from the audience. He empowered the throne with the mantras of the ten Vidyas. Through their power, a mighty splendour filled the throne-room. The Saktis held lamps in their hands and lustrated the king, who shone like Brahma.

Other stories are too brutal for fiction:

On 11 March 1689, the same year that the Emperor crushed the Company, Aurangzeb’s armies captured Sambhaji, the eldest son and successor of Shivaji. The unfortunate prince was first humiliated by being forced to wear an absurd hat and being led into durbar on a camel. Then he was brutally tortured for a week. His eyes were stabbed out with nails. His tongue was cut out and his skin flayed with tiger claws before he was savagely put to death. The body was then thrown to the dogs while his head was stuffed with straw and sent on tour around the cities of the Deccan before being hung on the Delhi Gate.

Women’s labor was the bottleneck in Lakotas’ quest for goods and wealth

Saturday, February 25th, 2023

Misha Saul looks at what polygamous marriage really looked like:

Let’s take the Lakota and Comanche native American nations as examples. Aside from just being inherently fascinating, they’re interesting examples because polygamy became exacerbated in these societies due to outside economic forces.

He cites Lakota America: A New History of Indigenous Power by Pekka Hämäläinen:

A skilled tanner could finish twenty-five to thirty-five robes in a year — which fetched three to six guns —  whereas a skilled hunter could bring down ten bison in a single chase. This made women’s labor the most critical resource of the robe trade, which, in effect, was a mechanism for connecting western female labor and expertise to eastern demand for furs. Women’s labor was the bottleneck in Lakotas’ quest for goods and wealth, and like many other Indigenous societies enmeshed in colonial markets, they widened that bottleneck through polygamy. The practice was ancient among the Lakotas, but it grew dramatically with the robe trade.

He continues:

Women’s roles in buffalo robe production meant they became the economic bottleneck with the buffalo robe boom, raising the value of wives as instruments of production. This led to a cycle of rising inequality: wealthier men could afford more wives, who could then generate more wealth and accumulate more wives.

[…]

The accumulation of wives by elite men led to a bride deficit. There were fewer brides to go around for under-performing males. This heightened intra-male competition.

[…]

Without monogamy, successful men hoard wives and sire more children and there are more men with neither wives nor children. A society with fewer disaffected men is more stable. Such disaffected men benefit from volatility: they’re willing to take bold bets to win status and wives. Crime, revolutions. They have everything to gain and nothing to lose.

Popular Posts of 2022

Sunday, January 1st, 2023

I just took a look back at my numbers for 2022. Here are the most popular posts during that calendar year, two of which are new, eight of which are older:

  1. Robert Conquest’s Three Laws of Politics
  2. It is difficult to understand why this should be such a formidable task
  3. IQ Shredders
  4. Both sons also later attempted suicide
  5. Garibaldi didn’t unite Italy
  6. No Western artillery system is as capable and none apparently has the accuracy offered by GIS Arta (new)
  7. Geeks, MOPs, and Sociopaths
  8. He-Man Opening Monologue
  9. Between them, they control the commanding heights of politics and culture (new)
  10. The Pros and Cons of Empires

Here are the most popular posts actually from 2022 and not from an earlier year:

  1. No Western artillery system is as capable and none apparently has the accuracy offered by GIS Arta
  2. Between them, they control the commanding heights of politics and culture
  3. They yelled, fought, had fires, used power tools, and behaved in various undesirable ways
  4. Participants lost one-fifth of their body weight
  5. We’re applying the secret genius sauce solely to the kids who aren’t going to be geniuses
  6. Mencius Moldbug might have hijacked a few more brains
  7. The omission was glaring
  8. Castle design assumes the enemy will reach the walls
  9. The mere act entitled women to respite from all other physical and social responsibility
  10. The traditional yeomanry is losing out
  11. You can see shadows of the future already being cast
  12. True autonomy is worth almost nothing

Again, I’m not sure what to conclude.

Also, I should thank some of my top referrers: Reaction Times, Borepatch, and Z Man.

I will live in the Past, the Present, and the Future!

Sunday, December 25th, 2022

Please enjoy these posts of Christmas Past:

Her tattoos cost more than wool and will not keep her warm

Friday, December 9th, 2022

Michael Yon met a lady the other day in Texas who told him about the terrible ice storm last year:

She was stuck in her home for roughly one week.

Zero preparations.

No propane heater.
No gas stove.
Little food.
No bucket-toilet. No kitty litter.

Said her toilet quickly was full and gross. She scrunched her face when recounting that part.

No water. Discovered melting snow is not a great way to get water. Especially when you have no energy. After days of zero power, when rolling power came on, she tried to melt snow quickly until power would black out.

No way to heat food without grid electricity. But had no food anyway other than a couple of days.

One flashlight. One set of batteries. Ran out of batteries.

No radio. No comms at all. Incoming or outgoing.

Stayed in bed for several days not to freeze to death. No cold weather gear.

Her home was completely intact. With just minor prep she would have been comfortable.

I asked if she is ready for this winter. Does she have a small gas heater? Food? She said the event was very rare and she hopes it will not happen again.

I mentioned that for $300 in preparation she would have sailed through in comfort. Her tattoos cost more than wool and will not keep her warm.

But this will:

And that little kit can just wait in a closet.

My words flew by. None stuck. She said that was once in a lifetime.

The proposed expansion of Turkish influence should rely on three parallel factors

Saturday, May 7th, 2022

In his 2009 book The Next 100 Years: A Forecast for the 21st Century, George Friedman predicted how the geo-political map of the world would look in 2050:

In one of its chapters, the book has published a map of “Turkey’s sphere of influence in 2050.” According to the map, Turkey’s sphere of influence by 2050 will include Greece, Cyprus, Libya, Egypt, Syria, Iraq, Lebanon, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Oman, Yemen, Gulf countries, Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Crimea, Turkmenistan and Kazakhstan. The book was published during a period when Turkey’s foreign policy under former Foreign Minister Ahmad Davutoglu was being shaped based on the so-called “zero-problem” foreign policy which aimed to ease tensions in neighboring countries starting from the signing of the Armenian-Turkish protocols and ending with consolidating “friendly” relations with Arab countries. During this era, many researchers criticized Turkey’s foreign policy and categorized it as “neo-Ottoman.”

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It is worth mentioning that when this map was first published, Crimea was not subjected to Russian annexation; part of Nagorno Karabakh and its surrounding areas were not captured by Azerbaijan; and Turkey had not occupied parts of Northern Syria and Iraq; nor had it acquired military bases in Libya and Qatar and extended its influence in Lebanon, Ukraine and Georgia. Now, many Turkish nationalists and government circles believe that such maps are “promising” given the rise of Turkish power in the region.

[…]

According to the book, the proposed expansion of Turkish influence should rely on three parallel factors. The first factor is Turkey’s soft power diplomacy characterized by culture and religion aimed to exercise influence over these states. The second is Ankara’s success in employing its economic supremacy in the region. The third factor is the natural weakening, over time, of neighboring states, which were expected to go through political turmoil eventually leading to political divisions or, in severe cases, civil wars and Turkish military adventures in these countries.

We have built our military around small numbers of large, expensive, exquisite, heavily manned, and hard-to-replace platforms

Saturday, March 5th, 2022

The kill chain is a process that occurs on the battlefield or wherever militaries compete, Christian Brose explains:

It involves three steps:

The first is gaining understanding about what is happening.

The second is making a decision about what to do.

And the third is taking action that creates an effect to achieve an objective.

When members of the US military complete that process of understanding, deciding, and acting, they refer to it as “closing the kill chain.”

And when they thwart the ability of a rival military to do so itself, they call that “breaking the kill chain.”

The United States spends close to three-quarters of one trillion dollars on national defense each year, he notes:

That is more than the next eight countries spend put together. That money buys a lot of military capability — fighter jets, submarines, aircraft carriers, battle tanks, attack helicopters, nuclear weapons, and hundreds of thousands of incredibly well-armed people.

[…]

The problem is not that America is spending too little on defense. The problem is that America is playing a losing game. Over many decades we have built our military around small numbers of large, expensive, exquisite, heavily manned, and hard-to-replace platforms that struggle to close the kill chain as one battle network.

[…]

China, meanwhile, has built large numbers of multi-million-dollar weapons to find and attack America’s small numbers of exponentially more expensive military platforms.

Popular Posts of 2021

Saturday, January 1st, 2022

I just took a look back at my numbers for 2021. Here are the most popular posts during that calendar year, four of which are new, six of which are older:

  1. Robert Conquest’s Three Laws of Politics
  2. Days of work led to the decision to do nothing at all (new)
  3. IQ Shredders
  4. He-Man Opening Monologue
  5. Both sons also later attempted suicide
  6. The Pros and Cons of Empires
  7. It is difficult to understand why this should be such a formidable task
  8. Will China invade Taiwan? (new)
  9. Hitler’s strategy through mid-1940 was almost flawless (new)
  10. American mothers had given their sons everything in the world, except a belief in themselves (new)

Here are the most popular posts actually from 2021 and not from an earlier year:

  1. Days of work led to the decision to do nothing at all
  2. Will China invade Taiwan?
  3. Hitler’s strategy through mid-1940 was almost flawless
  4. American mothers had given their sons everything in the world, except a belief in themselves
  5. Once the Soviet Union was destroyed, the British would see reason and give in
  6. Most drugs don’t do anything significantly good or bad for most people who take them
  7. A sword never jams
  8. He was worth a dozen rational, decent men
  9. Hamas and Islamic Jihad sent their first-line of defense into the tunnels to start taking up positions
  10. Could the Germans have taken Moscow?

Again, I’m not sure what to conclude.

Also, I should thank some of my top referrers: Reaction Times, Western Rifle Shooters Association, BorepatchZ Man, and Instapundit.