Friday, June 29, 2007

Navy Humor

Go ye forth and enjoy the adventures of Shipwreck.

The films there provide a very humorous insight into Navy life, whether it is in the days of iron men and wooden ships or in the not too distant future of a space going navy.

Do not miss the Navy Translator episodes.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Bankruptcy Of The Dialectic

Here is a great article on the results of denying the free market.

The Story of Grain

In a simplified way, the story of the collapse of the Soviet Union could be told as a story about grain and oil. As for the grain, the turning point that decided the fate of the Soviet Union began with the economic debate of 1928-29, when the discussion centered on what would later be called the "Chinese path" of development. (By several important economic and social indicators, the Soviet Union of that period and China in the late 1970s took similar approaches to reform. See figure 1.) At the time, the head of the Soviet government, Aleksei Rykov, and the chief ideologist of the Communist Party, Nikolai Bukharin, earnestly defended the idea of a path which included preserving private agriculture and the market, and ensuring financial stability--but holding onto the party's political control.

The Soviet leadership ultimately chose another path. The solution preferred by Joseph Stalin was the expropriation of peasants' property, forced collectivization, and extraction of grain. Judging from the available documents, the essence of this decision was relatively simple. Bukharin and Rykov essentially told Stalin: "In a peasant country, it is impossible to extract grain by force. There will be civil war." Stalin answered, "I will do it nonetheless."

The result of the disastrous agriculture policy implemented between the late 1920s and the early 1950s was the sharpest fall of productivity experienced by a major country in the twentieth century. The key problem confronting the Soviet Union was well-expressed in the letter sent by Nikita Khrushchev to his colleagues in the leadership of the party. The letter fundamentally stated: "In the last fifteen years, we have not increased the collection of grain. Meanwhile, we are experiencing a radical increase of urban population. How can we resolve this problem?"

Once again, a serious discussion ensued among Soviet leaders in the early 1950s, resulting in two positions. The first position was to attempt to improve the situation in the agricultural regions outside of the fertile "black soil belt" in southern Russia. The other position was to resolve the problem by utilizing the socialist planning system: large projects and a concentration of resources. Naturally, doubts lingered about whether this strategy would cause even higher fluctuations in long-term production.

But these considerations were ignored and, tactically, the strategy of dramatically expanding the land under cultivation yielded temporary success. Between the mid-1950s and the early 1960s, the amount of the grain produced by the Soviet Union increased significantly. The problem was the limited amount of suitable land and the continuing growth of the population in large cities. Thus, already in the late 1960s, the shortcomings of this plan were evident.

In 1963, Nikita Khrushchev sent a letter to the leaders of the Socialist bloc, informing them that the Soviet Union would no longer be able to supply them with grain. That year, the Soviet state bought 12 million tons of grain--and spent one third of the country's gold reserves to do so. Khrushchev commented: "Soviet power cannot tolerate any more the shame that we had to endure."[2]

You may have vast armies and hold the world hostage under threat of thermonuclear annihilation, but you still have to pay the bills.

Are you listening Robert, Hugo, Daniel, Achmenijhad, Fidel and Kim?

Hat tip to Naval Open Source Intelligence.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Mojitos Make Girls Smile

Mojitos make girls smile.

Mojitos make me say, "Cuba Libre!".

More Wood On The Pyre

Our good allies the Australians are adding wood to the pyre for the LCS concept.

While not directly related to the purchase of Littoral Combat Ships by the United States Navy the Australian decision to purchase Spanish F100 type AEGIS destroyers rather than an evolved Arleigh Burke design underscores what is wrong with the concept. Namely that an expensive and ultra capable vessel is not as good as more of a very good design.

The Australians are able to buy four F100 AEGIS ships rather than three of the evolved Arliegh Burkes.

You can always count on an ally like the Australians to show the way.

More of pretty damn good is better than a handful of awesome vessels that stretch deployment schedules and crews to the limit.

Aussie Rules

It has come to light that there was another attempt to capture coalition troops made by Iran in 2004. This as with the capture of the British sailors involved a boarding party.

The ending however was very different.

The Australians didn't repel one, but five, Iranian gunboats. It was a four hour confrontation following the Aussies boarding a grounded gunship, and it happened in 2004.

Remember the British soldiers that were temporarily captured by Iran, causing an international bruhaha? Remember how they ranted for days and weeks about how there was no way they could've avoided capture? The Australians managed to do it:

It turns out that Iranian forces made an earlier concerted attempt to seize a boarding party from the Royal Australian Navy.

The Australians, though, to quote one military source, "were having none of it".

The BBC has been told the Australians re-boarded the vessel they had just searched, aimed their machine guns at the approaching Iranians and warned them to back off, using what was said to be "highly colourful language".

The Iranians withdrew, and the Australians were reportedly lifted off the ship by one of their own helicopters.

Rather than say, "oh, goodness, we are surrounded, please don't hurt me" as with the Brits the Australian sailors reboarded the craft they had just searched, pointed their weapons at the Iranians and let them know they were in for a fight.

Give the bully a fight and he will bother someone else. Act like you are weak and you will be victimized. This is as true of "international diplomacy" as it is with the playground.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

The not so Good Old Days

Someone has discovered that the engineering and quality control from the days of yore are not what they are remembered to be.

"They don't make them like they used to" could not be more accurate: Cars now are made far better than they ever were with better reliability, longer life and higher usability.

I hope this will be a lesson to all those who idealize the past. We are blessed to be living in this age.

We do not have mass starvation due to a overly rainy or dry season. If one area has a bad production year we have the transportation network to ship food to them at minimal cost. Our humanitarian efforts throughout the world are another luxury afforded us by modern technology and the immense wealth of our economy. Look at Africa millions of tons of food aid are provided there every year. Something the world could not have done seventy years ago, let along 200 years ago.

We currently have refrigeration, not just to to keep us comfortably cool in our homes during the summer, but to keep food from going bad. We no longer have to buy our meat from a open air market where it has been tenderly aged by flies and the humid summer heat. Only in the rarest of instances do we hear of e. coli or botulism and when it occurs alerts are sent out to recall the bad product.

Modern health care technology saves lives and extends the lifespan. It allows those individuals we term "differently abled" now to be able to live at all, let alone enjoy a quality of life unrivaled in the past.

Those who decry our lives as degenerate should think deeply upon the luxury of our charity afforded to us by our modern technology. Our ability to provide the indigent and otherwise in need with health care, feed the hungry across the world, house criminals in a jail rather than simply hanging them and many other modern niceties are the direct result of our modern technology and today's economic engine.

When you pump gasoline into your car, power the lights in your home with electricity from the nuclear power plant, take meat from the freezer to feed your family as you cook in an air conditioned home or buy that new iPod, think not of the negative impact of your carbon footprint. Rather reflect upon your participation in the modern economy and use of technology generating the revenues which allows us to expend the excess, that not dedicated to feeding, housing and clothing your family, on real luxuries; health care to the indigent, feeding the hungry half way across the world, jailing criminals rather than hanging them, saving and extending lives.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Another Whack At My Favorite Pinata

Neptunus Lex is taking a whack at my favorite pinata, Che Guevara.

He hits on items I have not bothered to cover about the murderous vermin I find not worth mentioning; Che's homophobia, rabid blood lust and love of creature comforts.

Its pretty evident to me that someone is hate filled when they revel in killing "class enemies" and counter revolutionary elements. You know those dreadful threats to dialectical materialism like shop keepers, middle class workers, business owners and especially fourteen year old boys. Good thing ol' Che saved the workers revolution from them by shooting them in the head while they were safely bound.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Remonstrations From The Road

Bruce over at MARooned voices his outrage at the drivers placing themselves into Darwin's Queue.

Whether it is prescious irony, impending invocation of Darwin's Queue or simply inconsiderate antics behind the wheel, MArooned has posts you can identify with.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Where Not To Vacation

Eaglespeak has a post including a map on Piracy attacks.

If your travel agent suggests a cruise ship make sure its ports of call are not in these areas.

Note the areas with failed states e.g. those that do not control their own territories are highly represented.

Friday, June 08, 2007

Stupid Cop Tricks: Ooops Wrong Apartment

Say Uncle has a link to yet another No Knock Raid gone wrong.

The brave defenders of the public trust manage again to adorn themselves in their Nazi-Deathstar-Stormtrooper-Oooh-Aint-We-Bad-5up3r-1ee7-t4ct1c001 gear, wielding their M4gery's and MP-5's just to be incapable of finding the right address to crash into.

Great way to inspire the public's confidence in the trust we have given you jackholes.

Hubba Hubba

DSA thinks they have me dialed in.

I received their latest catalog which I perused after making a pitcher of Prickly Pear Margaritas.

What I saw made me bite down on my cigar.

A side folding and telescoping butt stock!


Unfortunately this lovely marvel is only available to be installed on the para lowers.

I breathed my sigh of utter disappointment as I realized this combination would cost me over $600 dollars to implement on my beloved FN FAL Carbine.

For that price I could purchase a Underfolder AK, several magazines and 1000 rounds of ammunition. The AK would be reliable and even more compact than that dreadfully sexy side folding, telescoping FN FAL carbine of my dream.

Damn my practical nature. Its enough to leach the romance out of my otherwise artistic soul.

Xbox Blues

I received a replacement Xbox 360 yesterday which I hooked up today and ported across my login.

What happens? That's right the one I received as a replacement went tits up.

Now I am debating with myself whether to send it in to the Microsoft repair center or try my luck with a RMA from the vendor.

No "getting my frag on" for me in the near future.

For my fellow cheap bastages I recommend actually buying the new one rather than
pre-busted ass refurbished one. Any potential savings will be lost in shipping cost for replacements/repairs.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Pot Meet Kettle

From the LA Times through Boing Boing via Instapundit we have cruel, cruel irony:

Left over old hippies in Haight Ashbury are complaining about the unwashed nouveau hippies in their neighborhoods, being rude, useless, high on drugs and lowering property values and otherwise being a bunch of oxygen thieves.

(Arthur) Evans, 64, says (the punks) should get help, clean up or go home...

"I used to be a hippie. I wore beads and grew my hair long," he said. "But my generation had something these kids do not: a standard of civilized behavior...."

"I'm sick of stepping over gangs of kids, only to be told 'Die, yuppie!' A lot of us were flower children, but we grew up," said Robert Shadoian, 58, a retired family therapist. "There are responsibilities in this world you have to meet. You can't be drugged out 24/7 and expect the world to take care of you."

(Carolyn) Mckenna said she was tired of being criticized for the "crime" of owning a home. "Haight-Ashbury is not synonymous with anarchy," she said. "It's not fair to homeowners with their entire net worth tied up here. I'd be disingenuous if I said I wasn't worried about property values.