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June 30, 2004

IE Holes

Well, yet another Microsoft security flaw has been uncovered, leaving Internet Explorer vulnerable to some spyware written by Russian crime lords, or some such group. Sometimes I think Microsoft hammered out a giant security hole and then glommed on some browser functions, so I think I'll try Mozilla's Firefox.

June 30, 2004 in misc | Permalink | Comments (10) | TrackBack

ACLU Defends Teen Nudity

I'll just pass this one along, make of it what you will.

ACLU Challenges Nude Teen Camp Ban as Breach of Privacy Rights

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - A lawsuit filed Tuesday challenges a new state law that effectively bans nude summer camps for teenagers, saying it violates the constitutional right to privacy.

The camp in question is for kids from 11 to 18 years old, and is called, I kid you not, White Tail. And yes, the kids are "supervised" at all times, so all you have to worry about is the supervisors, plus a camp full of raging hormones, or do those just magically come off with the clothes?

"Legislators overreacted and in the process they substantially interfered with the right of families to make lifestyle choices," Virginia ACLU executive director Kent Willis said. "Using the overall logic of this law, legislators are now free to prevent children from swimming, playing baseball or riding a bus."

Well yeah, if they're nekkid... I wonder how the camp cafeteria handles the "no shoes, no shirt, no service" rule?

The law, which takes effect Thursday, denies a state license to "any hotel, summer camp or campground ... that maintains, or conducts as any part of its activities, a nudist camp for juveniles." It defines the camps as those attended by "openly nude juveniles" not accompanied by parents or legal guardians.

Attorney General Jerry W. Kilgore said last year that such camps could attract pedophiles and child pornographers.

Oh surely a camp full of naked teens and pre-teens wouldn't attract them like, well, pedophiles to a camp of naked teens. Maybe the ACLU can combine this case with their defense of NAMBLA in an effort to fully establish their lunatic credentials.

June 30, 2004 in Politics | Permalink | Comments (14) | TrackBack

June 29, 2004

Centrifuge Weapons

Well, one of my friends passed me a link to the DREAD weapons system, a "revolutionary" system that obsoletes many firearms. It starts out with a great sales pitch.

The following article contains a link to the DREAD Weapon System Video. This is the first time this video has ever been shown to the public. The DREAD depicted in the video is a functional prototype that operates on a less-than-lethal mode. This prototype was dismantled for security purposes to protect the technology, after the making of this video. As of this posting, Defense Review (DefRev) is the ONLY publication in the WORLD that has any written materials or video footage, or any information whatsoever, for that matter, on this revolutionary new weapon system. You'll have to click on "Read More" (hypertext below) to view the complete article.

Oooo…. Sounds scary, doesn't it?

Imagine a gun with no recoil, no sound, no heat, no gunpowder, no visible firing signature (muzzle flash), and no stoppages or jams of any kind. Now imagine that this gun could fire .30 caliber and .50 caliber metal projectiles accurately at up to 8,000 fps (feet-per-second) with a variable/programmable cyclic rate of 30,000-120,000 rpm (rounds-per-minute), and enjoy a 360 degree field of fire. What if you could mount this weapon on any military Humvee (HMMWV), any helicopter/gunship, any armored personnel carrier (APC), and any other vehicle for which the technology were applicable?

It sound too good to be true, doesn't it? Well, although overall a pretty good idea the US Army Ordance Corps rejected it, and the rejection came during the Great War, also known as World War One. Of course, a decade prior to WW-I they rejected the electrically powered minigun, so their rejection doesn't say a whole lot about the utility of the idea. Their main complaint about the bearing flinger was that the diesel engine couldn't be manhandled through the trenches very easily. That earlier version flung half-inch ball bearings with a diesel powered centrifuge, and flung them in a wide horizontal arc in front of the weapon for maximum coverage against a line of advancing infantry. Now obviously you can easily adjust the muzzle velocity by varying the RPMs of the centrifuge, and sure enough you have no gunpowder and muzzle flash, as claimed for this centrifuge weapon.

One of the problems is accuracy, since the direction of travel of the ball prior to release is varying at the rotation rate of the centrifuge. If you had a one foot radius wheel flinging balls at 3141 feet per second, it would be spinning at 1000 revolutions per second (60,000 RPM). Putting that in terms a rifleman would be familiar with this means the aim of the ball is changing at a rate of 21.6 million arc-minutes per second. To release with 2.16 arc-minutes of accuracy the release has to be timed to a tenth of a microsecond. You can improve this by having the ball fly down a tube, but the ball itself is either going to be spinning with the rate of the centerfuge (again at 60,000 RPM) or rolling along the perimeter, in which case it's rapidly spinning in the other direction. Either way upon release the Magnus effect (the aerodynamic force on a rotating body that makes curve balls work) is going to be evident in the trajectory of the ball. However, this also means that the barrel can't be a really tight fit, so the ball has to roll down a smooth-bore tube, so accuracy is never going to be very high.

Another problem is the article's claims that such a weapon has no recoil. It even says it would work on satellites, magically flinging heavy high-velocity balls without upsetting the satellite's orbit. Boy is that crazy. Isn't it amazing that with a simple electric motor and a centrifuge someone thinks they can violate a law of physics so old that it predates Newton, holding that the momentum of a system can't just suddenly change, with some ball flung out without a corresponding an opposite motion of the flinger. As Christian Huygens and others observed, the mass times the velocity of particle A and the mass times the velocity of particle B is conserved as they react with each other in the absence of an external force. So let's take a realistic look at how this affects the centrifuge weapon.

You've got two balls rapidly spinning around their mutual center of mass, held together by some given force. You release the first ball as it's circular path aligns its instantaneous direction of travel with the intended target, so you eliminate the force keeping it bound to the other ball and let it fly. Now comes the nasty recoil part. The other ball is traveling in the exact opposite direction, and suddenly has no partner to keep the forces balanced. If your flinger was massless it would recoil with the same velocity as the ball you release, but in the exact opposite direction. Just take the mass times the velocity of the fired ball (its momentum) and divide by the mass of flinger and unfired balls to get the recoil velocity of the weapon.

The weapon still might be useful for defending vehicles, convoys, and fixed installations, but we've known about it for nearly a hundred years now, and you can read about the WW-I version of a ball bearing flinger in "Hatcher's Notebook", first printed in 1947. Go read the article, but remember that there might be a very useful weapon buried underneath it all.

June 29, 2004 in Science | Permalink | Comments (8) | TrackBack

June 28, 2004

Back from My Weekend

I survived the weekend class on Joachim Meyer's (1570) sword, dagger, and staff techniques, though I'm a bit sore and sunburned. I'm very glad I could attend.

I think most of my soreness is from the dagger section of the program, where the defense consists of some combination of breaking an elbow, wrenching an arm out of the socket, throwing the attacker on his head, or stabbing him in the back or elsewhere, usually in combination. Meyer doesn't really use any pain compliance and the general action when you get hold of a limb is just to break it, dislocate it, or cut it off. You know how bloody those Europeans used to be, and they'd be stumped as to why you wouldn't just go ahead an kill somebody that tried to stab you. Anywaya, it's really fun stuff.

A good source on Meyer is here, though that's just one of section from one of his fighting manuals. It's taken a tremendous amount of work to unlock the images and text and start executing the techniques, but once you've used them most of the pictures make perfect sense, though there's still much more to uncover. At first medieval swordsmanship felt like a strange collection of really amazing techniques to me, but it's falling together as a really efficient, coherent, and effective system. Plus, it's screaming but serious fun. Most of his killing blows are done with the short (false, back) edge of the sword, which now makes perfect sense to me. You just have to see it to cotton on because the biomechanics are bizarre and counter-intuitive, but very efficient.

We also did a great deal of test cutting on my welded maille, sometimes with me in it. The only risk was bruising, and I wanted to establish that you just can't use some magical draw-cut with a smooth edged blade to get through steel wire. After all, if you could we'd be using pocket knives to whittle little giraffes and parrots out of railroad spikes. But some guy back in the 1800's ventured that you had to draw cut through maille, so there are people who will still believe it.

June 28, 2004 in swords | Permalink | Comments (8) | TrackBack

June 25, 2004

Off This Weekend

I have to head off to a Western martial arts conference this weekend, so posting may be light. In case you've never heard of Western, or European, martial arts, just why do you think we use the term "martial arts" as opposed to some Asian term? I think the phrase goes back into the 1600's in English, if not earlier.

Anyway, it's great fun.

June 25, 2004 | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

AP Whines - Yawn.

The AP is trying to figure out why Bush isn't getting crushed in the polls, and just repeats a litany of tired charges. I was momentarily bored so I lightly Fisked it.

- Bush delivers a State of the Union address, with his opposition to performance-enhancing drugs in sports standing out against a bleak roster of new policies.

A bleak roster including

- Former Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill, in a book by Ron Suskind, says Bush was determined from the get-go to overthrow Iraq's Saddam Hussein.

It was a book widely discredited, and his accounts of some of the "key players" were dismissed, with Paul O'Neill looking more and more like a blithering idiot, an image that matches with what many had previously said about him.

- The president's shaky performance on NBC's "Meet the Press" fuels anxiety among GOP allies about Iraq and the fledgling re-election campaign.

How about John Kerry's shaky performance every time he opens his mouth, a problem so bad that his campaign tries to keep him quiet and out of the limelight.

- Richard Clarke, the top counterterrorism official for Presidents Clinton and Bush, undercuts the president's tough-on-terrorism claims during congressional testimony.

And then Richard Clarke's accounts were found to be in complete contradiction to the record, his claims revealed as fabrications, before he finally admitted that it was he and he alone who gave the approval for the Saudi's to fly out of the US just after 9/11, completely undercutting the entire premise of Michael Moore's movie Fahrenheit 9/11.

- National security adviser Condoleezza Rice at first refuses to testify before the Sept. 11 commission, then bows to pressure.

And then the Democrats on the committee desperately wished she'd maintained her refusal, as she dodged their little traps and left them flapping in the breeze, especially Richard Ben Veniste.

- Bush's economic adviser, N. Gregory Mankiw, says the transfer of U.S. jobs overseas is sometimes a good thing.

And that's called "trade" which any economist would tell you benefits both parties. The US has always had the most expensive labor of any country, from the day we stepped off the boat, because the opportunity cost of working when an employee could just hack a new farm out of the wilderness was quite high. Yet we got rich despite having the highest wages on the planet. How do paranoid protectionist Democrats account for that, and why does Heinz employ so many people overseas?

- Bush scuttles plans to name Anthony Raimondo as manufacturing czar after Democrats point out that the businessman's company laid off 75 workers in 2002 while announcing the construction a $3 million plant in China.
Well, the actual news reports put it quite differently, with CBS saying
Anthony Raimondo, the chief executive of Behlen Manufacturing Co. of Columbus, Neb., said Friday that he had withdrawn because he did not believe he could win Senate approval.
Of course the same March CBS article also says
Mr. Bush created the position six months ago, saying it would serve as the focal point for his administration's drive to bolster U.S. manufacturing, which has lost 3 million jobs — one in six — since mid-2000.

So either CBS is still thinking bald-faced lies are news, or they have no earthly idea what the employment figures actually are, as I blogged yesterday.

- The death toll in Iraq mounts through the spring as Republican governors, busy attending funerals of slain servicemen and shipping National Guard troops overseas, warn the White House that voters are getting antsy. More than 360 service members were killed this year, bringing the total death toll in Iraq to 850.

I always love that "mounting death toll" meme they've got going. I suppose they expect a "dropping death toll"? So far as I know the death toll has only dropped by one in all of history, and that was only for three days. Maybe the DoD can start working on their resurrection technology, but until then all death tolls will "mount". And after all, we've lost only a fifth as many men in this entire war and occupation as a single division typically lost in WW-II, but still the Democrats aren't satisfied. Unless of course a Democrat is in office, in which case the press will never report the death of a soldier, such as in 2000, when 997 troops died under Clinton, without anyone actually hearing about it. The normal military death rate runs about a thousand a year, even in peace time. Funny how it's only newsworthy during Republican administrations.

- Four U.S. contractors are killed and mutilated near Baghdad.

And the Democrats of course blame Bush. You know, if John Kerry got drunk and hacked Thereza to death with an axe, the left would think it was all Bush's fault.

- Train bombers strike Madrid. Voters throw the Bush-backing Spanish government out of power. Spain later withdraws its troops from Iraq.

And the Spanish soldiers withdrawn said their honor was forever besmirched, with some refusing a medal. So now Spain is still a prime target, and Al-Qaeda knows they can be victimized without fear of reprisal.

- Vice President Dick Cheney comes under fire for past business ties, secretive deliberations on energy policy and unsubstantiated suggestions that his office might be behind the leak of a CIA operative's name.

Well the left thinks Cheney is in league with Standard Oil, the Illuminati, and sasquatch, so what else is new?

- U.S. weapons inspector David Kay concludes that Iraq did not have stockpiles of forbidden weapons, undercutting Bush's main justification for war.

But if you read his report, you'll see he says that Saddam had maintained a program with the intent to restart production as soon as the sanctions were lifted. Now if someone could explain how one of our convoys was attacked with a sarin gas shell completely by accident, I'll be really impressed.

- Democrats unite behind Kerry after a short nomination fight, allowing him to raise record amounts of money and turn quickly against Bush.

And all polls keep saying that the voter's fondness for John Kerry is only an inch deep.

- Democratic lawmakers call for an investigation into whether the Bush administration's Medicare chief pressured a subordinate to withhold estimates of the cost of last year's Medicare legislation.

And is there anything that they haven't called for an investigation of?

- Clarke follows his testimony with a book claiming Bush was so preoccupied with Iraq both before and after the Sept. 11 attacks that he failed to effectively confront threats from al-Qaida.

And many of his key contentions were in flat contradiction to the facts, and now he's a laughing stock. No wonder Bin Laden was able to strike us so easily, since we had a blithering idiot in charge of tracking him down.

- Gas prices top $2 per gallon.

And the Democrats maintain their opposition to actually drilling for oil.

- Revelations that U.S. soldiers abused prisoners in Iraq fuel anti-American sentiment in the Muslim world and raise questions at home about U.S. moral authority in Iraq.

Actually, when it comes to Democrats they're already convinced that the US has no moral authority, being an evil capitalist state and all, and they just look for ways to feel good by hating Americans.

- Militants linked to al-Qaida behead American Nicholas Berg.

And they all support John Kerry 100%, too.

- The leader of Iraqi's governing council is assassinated.

And the greatness of Democracy shows itself, as the government rolls right along.

- A memo reveals plans for the Bush administration to slash domestic programs after the Nov. 2 presidential election.

It was on Sasquatch letterhead, no doubt.

- Al-Qaida militants in Saudi Arabia behead American helicopter technician Paul M. Johnson Jr.

And the Saudi police are desperately searching for any of their accomplices, the key tip-off being John Kerry 2004 bumper stickers on blood soaked cars.

- Militants in Iraq behead South Korean Kim Sun-il.
And a Democrat in America said Kim got what was coming too him, which inflamed the Koreans.
- Insurgents launched coordinated attacks that kills more than 100 people, including three U.S. soldiers.

Since their coordinated strike got a large number of their total forces wiped out, it shows just how weak they've become.

That happened Thursday, the same day the FBI questioned Bush in the CIA leak case. Hours later, Bush was flying to Turkey to plead with NATO for help in quelling Iraqi violence.

I don't think any sane person would call it "pleading", and a half-dozen French soldiers are going to be worth anything to us? As if.

Kerry stayed on the campaign trail, seeking advantage from the president's woes.

Well that's just Kerry, always trying to take advantage of any bad news that befalls the country, since he has to cheer on American defeat, just like he did after Vietnam.

June 25, 2004 | Permalink | Comments (5) | TrackBack

Ryan Bows Out

Well, Senate Candidate Jack Ryan has withdrawn from the race in Illinois. Brought low by a sex scandal that didn't even involve any actual sex, in which he never left his wife's side. Apparently the standards of behavior for Republicans and Democrats are vastly different, since Dem's can even how teenage male prostitution rings run out of their apartment and still get elected.

June 25, 2004 in Politics | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Job Numbers

I was off debating some job numbers, and amazingly there are still liberals who will scream that Bush is 3 million jobs in the hole. I've refuted this claim so often and so repeatedly that I thought I should make it easy for everyone else, using numbers straight from the U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Here's the current employement situation report for May 2004, which you can find from the Bureau of Labor Statistics Current Employment Statistics page.

From Table A. Major indicators of labor market activity, seasonally adjusted (Numbers in thousands), Household Data, Civilian labor force, Employment, we find 138,772, which is 138,772,000 jobs.

Now going to the Archived Releases to December 2000 we again go to Table A. Major indicators of labor market activity, seasonally adjusted (Numbers in thousands), Household Data, Civilian labor force, Employment to see 135,836, which is 135,836,000 jobs.

So instead of being down 3,000,0000 jobs, we have 138,772,000 - 135,836,000 which equals 2,886,000 jobs GAINED. There was a point where the jobs had dipped that low, and the press wouldn't shut up about it. Then it began rebounding and perky Katie Couric got quieter and quieter, and now you hear hardly a peep about job numbers. That's because the less they say the more likely it is someone will still assume we're down three million, which is only an error in perception of 5,886,000 jobs.

June 25, 2004 in Politics | Permalink | Comments (10) | TrackBack

June 24, 2004

Saudi Guns

Saudi Arabia says that foreigners in the kingdom can carry guns for personal protection, by getting a permit, which ironically would give me more gun rights in Saudi Arabia than I'd enjoy in Kerry's home state of Massachusetts, where as a non-resident without a license to own a handgun (my state doesn't have such a silly thing) I can't carry a pistol. But don't worry, there's "sophisticated" Westerns over there too dumb to figure things out.

One Saudi-based Western diplomat said he had not heard of an measures which would allow foreigners to carry weapons. "I would worry that with more people going around with guns more accidents would happen," he said.

People are getting kidnapped and having their heads sawed off, and he's worried about accidents. I just hope he doesn't end up in a position to regard his statement is ironic. Meanwhile back in America, Dick Morris maintains that the terrorists are working to elect John Kerry.

June 24, 2004 in War | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

New Wave of Attacks

A wave of attacks sweeps across Iraq, and I'm sure some in the press want to report it like the Tet offensive. I haven't seen an explicit comparison in the news yet, so maybe they're starting to wise up a bit and avoid all the overwrought comparisons to Vietnam, or at least holding off for a couple of days.

But I have to point out that if this is a "coordinated" attack then Al-Zarqawi doesn't have much to work with. In a carefully planned assault, coordinated to strike in several cities simultaneously, he likely has used a fairly large percentage of his assets. The dribs and drabs just don't make headlines like a big attack, so having, say, two killed every day for a week might go unreported, whereas fourteen killed in a day would make national headlines. Yet most of the dead and wounded are from a suicide bombing in Mosul, where it's reported that 62 were killed and 220 wounded. The same article says maybe 100 people were killed, so outside of the Mosul attack his vaunted forces only managed to kill 30 or 40 people, and yet he probably lost a third to half of his forces to counterstrikes and return fire.

Now let's look at just how effective this "mass attack" actually is, in real terms. Frankly, an average women's softball team could kill more people than this "wave" of violence just by having the members all drive to different cities and tromping on their accelerators to run over people on a sidewalk. An average street gang, given access to RPG's, could probably do far better than this. So what we have is a small group of extremely violent people who keep having their numbers cut even further with each new attack. And the US only lost three people, whereas his forces no doubt suffered dozens of dead, and we already vastly outnumber his group. I'd say he's looking pretty weak.

Now let's compare this to the 1968 Tet Offensive casualty rate, which averaged about 60 US soldiers killed every day for four months. If Al-Zarqawi could keep this up for three weeks, he'd have a single day of Tet. If he could maintain it for something like seven years he could duplicate four months of the first Tet offensive. Yet he can't, because this "big hit" required all his coordination and effort, and many of his preciously small forces died in these attacks. It's quite likely that all he's done is reduce his numbers while pissing off the Iraqi populace and strengthening their resolve.

He will no doubt strike some more and possibly get a few good car bombings in, but as real power goes I don't think he's a contender, and his main skill seems to be sawing the heads off of helpless prisoners, to the horror of the entire Arab world. In fighting savages sometimes their own behavior is your best asset for winning hearts and minds, and the terrorist can easily be his own worst enemy.

June 24, 2004 in War | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack