31 August 2013

What the Russian Revealed About the T-50 at the MAKS Airshow

RAM on the engine.

They have what appears to be a working head mounted display

The Kh-58UShE ARM (1,400-lb., Mach 4, range of 130 nm) fits in the weapons bay

The internal weapons bay is huge because of the widely spaced engines
Some are interesting as they relate to the aircraft, but there are also some details that might say a lot about potential Russian anti-stealth techniques. (Paid Subscription Required)

The ordinary:
  • They are developing an improved performance engine for the aircraft.
  • They will be applying radar absorbent material to the spinner and inlet guide vanes. (see pic)
  • They are integrating a helmet mounted display early in the process. The dual visor approach, where there is an inner visor for the display, and an outer one for glare and environmental protection.
  • They are looking at using thrust vectoring, counteracted by the aerodynamic controls, to reduce the rear aspect radar signature of the engine.
The more interesting:
  • The internal weapons bay can accommodate very large weapons, including ultra long range air to air and anti-radar missiles.
This is a statement of where they think that future war is going:
Also likely to be carried internally by the T-50 is the RVV-BD (long-range air-to-air missile), a modernized version of the Vympel R-37 that was designed for the MiG-31M Foxhound-B but never put into production. Its total external dimensions are within centimeters of the Kh-58UShE with wings folded. It seems likely that the T-50 forward bay has been designed around the minimum-risk RVV-BD, with the Kh-58 being modified to fit the same envelope.

Both weapons are long-range types. The Kh-58UShE is a 1,400-lb., Mach 4 weapon with a range up to 130 nm from a 65,000-ft. launch altitude, and the RVV-BD has a claimed maximum range of 110 nm against a head-on target. This indicates a different operational philosophy from U.S. stealth aircraft, for which a key principle has been to use stealth to permit the use of short-range, low-cost weapons.
Later in the article, they discuss updates to the radar suite (radar suits, actually) for the S-400 Triumph (SA-21 Growler), which incorporates multi-frequency band radars:
The 55Zh6ME comprises three truck-mounted radar “modules,” operating in metric (VHF), decametric (L) and centimetric (S) bands, all with active, electronically scanned array (AESA) radars. The VHF unit has an antenna area of 235 sq. meters (2,530 sq. ft.), carrying 168 VHF transmit-receive modules, and is claimed to be able to detect a target with a radar cross-section of 1 sq. meter at 510 km range and 30,000 meters altitude in jamming conditions. The radars can be deployed in 15 min., NNIIRT says.

The new 55Zh6UME has a smaller VHF array (with a 430-km range under the same conditions) with an L-band AESA trailer-mounted on the same structure, facing the opposite direction.
I think that the Russians believe that increasing processing power allowing for the fusion of disparate sensors to reduce the effectiveness of stealth.

It's likely that they are right.

30 August 2013

Deep Thought

Never buy gribnitz from a mohel.

Yes, Not Like Iraq at All………

This just in, we have a news report that, the rebels were behind the gas attack in Ghouta.

Full disclosure, I know nothing of the news organization, MintPress News, though I am familiar with the work of one of the authors, Dale Gavlak, she's done stuff for public radio, the AP, and Salon.

The assertion is that the Jabhat al-Nusra, received the weapons with the aid of Prince Bandar, the head of intelligence for the Saudi Arabia.

The connection between the House of Saud and Jabhat al-Nusra is well known, so it is not out of the realm of possibility that this could have happen.

Needless to say, I don't think that this will delay the attack on Syria at all, because Obama is too concerned about his dick swinging over his "red line" comments, and so wants to maintain his "credibility."

My guess is that it was Syrian government forces who did this, but I've yet to see anything that would justify us dropping missiles on them at this point.

The 4 page declassified report from the White House, which has basically no useful information in it at all, is after the break.

There is a Lot More to Come From Edward Snowden

The NSA is now admitting that Snowden impersonated NSA officials to get his documents.

I think that this quote is particularly telling:
“Every day, they are learning how brilliant [Snowden] was,” said a former U.S. official with knowledge of the case. “This is why you don’t hire brilliant people for jobs like this. You hire smart people. Brilliant people get you in trouble.”
That comment won the Internet. 

More significantly, they still don't know what Snowden got his hands on:
The NSA still doesn’t know exactly what Snowden took. But its forensic investigation has included trying to figure out which higher level officials Snowden impersonated online to access the most sensitive documents.

The NSA has as many as 40,000 employees. According to one intelligence official, the NSA is restricting its research to a much smaller group of individuals with access to sensitive documents. Investigators are looking for discrepancies between the real world actions of an NSA employee and the online activities linked to that person’s computer user profile. For example, if an employee was on vacation while the on-line version of the employee was downloading a classified document, it might indicate that someone assumed the employee’s identity.

The NSA has already identified several instances where Snowden borrowed someone else’s user profile to access documents, said the official.
This official called the damage a 12 on a scale of 10 to 12.

If you believe, as I do, that our society and our security have been harmed by the secrecy fetish of our state security apparatus, then this is an unalloyed good.

I Can Haz Metro Pass?

Click for full size

The cutest commuters in the New York subway system shut down the Q and B lines for 2 hours:
A major crisis was averted in the subway Thursday on the fe-line.

Two skittish kittens, who have been named Arthur and August, were rescued by a pair of cops and an MTA worker in Brooklyn after their precarious presence near the third rail shut down service for about two hours and shook up the city’s usually stoic straphangers.

Transit workers spotted the furry duo along an open-air stretch of the B and Q lines near Church Ave. at 11 a.m., prompting officials to cut power to the tracks. A transit supervisor “tried to corral them,” but the felines were too fast, said a Metropolitan Transportation Authority spokeswoman.
The kittehs were rescued, and named Arthur and August.


You know, this ain't in our HR manual:


29 August 2013

Quote of the Day

A great democracy does not make it harder to vote than to buy an assault weapon.
William Jefferson Clinton

Your Syria War Drums Update

First we have to note that British PM David Cameron just lost a parliamentary vote to authorize action, so we would have to do this without our poodle:
Invoking the specter of the Iraq war, British lawmakers on Thursday rejected military action in Syria, dealing a stunning blow to Prime Minister David Cameron and effectively ruling Washington’s staunchest military ally out of any U.S.-led strike.

After a marathon eight-hour debate, Cameron lost a vote that was initially seen as a symbolic motion setting up a final vote in the days ahead authorizing force against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s regime for allegedly using chemical weapons. But the surprise loss of even the weaker piece of legislation — by a vote of 285 to 272, including a group of rebels from Cameron’s Conservative Party in opposition — appeared to cost the United States its centerpiece ally in a still-forming coalition. The rejection additionally signaled what analysts called the biggest rupture in the U.S.-British “special relationship” since the 1982 Falklands war.

Technically, Cameron could still authorize military strikes over the objection of Parliament, but top government officials — including the prime minister himself — indicated that was not an option following Thursday’s defeat.
While a revolt of his own party doomed the vote, it appears that most of Cameron's vitriol was directed at opposition leader Ed Miliband:
A Downing Street spokesperson said the letter to the cabinet secretary was "completely over the top". The spokesperson said: "Labour's reaction is completely over the top. The No 10 press people were asked if the lack of an international response could give succour to the regime and they agreed with that. They did not mention Ed Miliband by name."

Miliband was already angry after a government source used expletives overnight to criticise Miliband. A government source told the Times on Wednesday night: "No 10 and the Foreign Office think Miliband is a f%$#ing c%$# and a copper-bottomed sh%$."
(emphasis, and "%$#" mine)

As an aside, I really appreciate the honesty of British politics over the dishonest civility of the our political tradition.

BTW, it now appears that sources in the administration are walking back from their initial claims that they have ironclad proof against the Assad regime:
The intelligence linking Syrian President Bashar Assad or his inner circle to an alleged chemical weapons attack that killed at least 100 people is no “slam dunk,” with questions remaining about who actually controls some of Syria’s chemical weapons stores and doubts about whether Assad himself ordered the strike, U.S. intelligence officials say.

President Barack Obama declared unequivocally Wednesday that the Syrian government was responsible, while laying the groundwork for an expected U.S. military strike.

“We have concluded that the Syrian government in fact carried these out,” Obama said in an interview with “NewsHour” on PBS. “And if that’s so, then there need to be international consequences.”

However, multiple U.S. officials used the phrase “not a slam dunk” to describe the intelligence picture — a reference to then-CIA Director George Tenet’s insistence in 2002 that U.S. intelligence showing Iraq had weapons of mass destruction was a “slam dunk” — intelligence that turned out to be wrong.
This might explain why the Obama administration has been trying to shut down the UN investigation of the attack, they are afraid that, after their unequivocal public statements, they will be shown up as fools:
After initially insisting that Syria give United Nations investigators unimpeded access to the site of an alleged nerve gas attack, the administration of President Barack Obama reversed its position on Sunday and tried unsuccessfully to get the U.N. to call off its investigation.

The administration’s reversal, which came within hours of the deal reached between Syria and the U.N., was reported by the Wall Street Journal Monday and effectively confirmed by a State Department spokesperson later that day.

In his press appearance Monday, Secretary of State John Kerry, who intervened with U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon to call off the investigation, dismissed the U.N. investigation as coming too late to obtain valid evidence on the attack that Syrian opposition sources claimed killed as many 1,300 people.

The sudden reversal and overt hostility toward the U.N. investigation, which coincides with indications that the administration is planning a major military strike against Syria in the coming days, suggests that the administration sees the U.N. as hindering its plans for an attack.

Kerry asserted Monday that he had warned Syrian Foreign Minister Moallem last Thursday that Syria had to give the U.N. team immediate access to the site and stop the shelling there, which he said was “systematically destroying evidence”. He called the Syria-U.N. deal to allow investigators unrestricted access “too late to be credible”.

After the deal was announced on Sunday, however, Kerry pushed Ban in a phone call to call off the investigation completely.
BTW, the idea that it is "too late" to collect evidence is complete crap.

There should be evidence for months. Sarin decays quickly, but the decay products should remain in the environment for weeks, if not months, depending on the quality of its manufacture.

FWIW, even though Kerry could not get the inspectors stopped, they are ending their mission a day early, probably because they were told that if the didn't, they would be in the path of cruise missile strikes.

BTW, even the state department admits that, even if the Syrian military initiated the attack, it may have been outside of the normal chain of command:
With the United States barreling toward a strike on Syria, U.S. officials say they are completely certain that Bashar al-Assad's government is responsible for last week's chemical weapons attack. They just don't know who in the Syrian government is to blame.

On Wednesday, State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf admitted as much. "The commander-in-chief of any military is ultimately responsible for decisions made under their leadership, even if ... he's not the one that pushes the button or said, 'Go,' on this," Harf said. "I don't know what the facts are here. I'm just, broadly speaking, saying that he is responsible for the actions of his regime. I'm not intimately familiar with the command and control structure of the Syrian military. I'm just not. But again, he is responsible ultimately for the decisions that are made."

On Tuesday, The Cable reported that U.S. officials are basing their assessment that the Assad regime bears responsibility for the strike largely on an intercepted phone call between a panicked Ministry of Defense official and a commander of a Syrian chemical weapons unit. But that intelligence does not resolve the question of who in the government ordered the strike or what kind of command and control structures are in place for the use of such weapons. "It's unclear where control lies," one U.S. intelligence official told The Cable Tuesday. "Is there just some sort of general blessing to use these things? Or are there explicit orders for each attack?"
BTW, THIS should scare the hell out of everyone.

Using chemical weapons is pretty bad, but losing control of your chemical weapons stockpile is terrifying.

I agree with Saleh Muslim, who is head of the primary Kurdish party in Syria, when he said, "The regime in Syria ... has chemical weapons, but they wouldn't use them around Damascus, 5 km from the (U.N.) committee which is investigating chemical weapons. Of course they are not so stupid as to do so."

28 August 2013

It Looks Like the Wheels are Coming off Our Little Syrian Adventure in Britain

David Cameron was all ready go and bomb stuff, but he suffered a push-back from the opposition, and a revolt from within his own party:
Prime Minister David Cameron was forced on Wednesday to push back his plans for an imminent military strike against Syria in a humiliating climb-down for Britain's leader after coming under fierce domestic and international pressure.

Just a day after recalling Britain's parliament to vote on how to respond to Syria's suspected use of chemical weapons, Cameron was ambushed when the opposition Labour party said it wanted greater parliamentary scrutiny and rebel lawmakers in his own ruling Conservative party said they would oppose him.

Earlier on Wednesday, U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon had sought more time for inspectors to complete their work, Russia had said it was premature to table a U.N. resolution, and the Labour party had made it clear it wanted clear proof that the Syrian government had used chemical weapons.

Cameron's failure to execute his original plan of action could hamper efforts by the United States to deliver a swift cruise missile strike against Syria as early as this week, potentially harming London's alliance with Washington.

Inspired by the legacy of public mistrust left behind by former Prime Minister Tony Blair's contested decision to go to war in Iraq in 2003, Labour leader Ed Miliband and some rebel Conservatives used the prospect of a government defeat in parliament to force Cameron to delay action.

After hours of impromptu negotiations between Cameron's political managers and the opposition, his office agreed that the United Nations Security Council should see findings from chemical weapons inspectors before it responded militarily.

"The United Nations Security Council must have the opportunity immediately to consider that briefing (from inspectors) and ... every effort should be made to secure a Security Council Resolution backing military action before any such action is taken," a British government motion to be debated in parliament on Thursday said.

Britain had previously declined to say it would wait for a U.N. report before launching military action.
The United States has lost its poodle, for a while, at least.

And They Want to Make this Motherf%$#er Head of Homeland Security?

It turns out that the New York Police Department, under the direction of its chief, Ray Kelly, designated mosques as terrorist organizations so that they could engage in unfettered surveillance:
The New York Police Department has secretly labeled entire mosques as terrorist organizations, a designation that allows police to use informants to record sermons and spy on imams, often without specific evidence of criminal wrongdoing.

Designating an entire mosque as a terrorism enterprise means that anyone who attends prayer services there is a potential subject of an investigation and fair game for surveillance.

Since the 9/11 attacks, the NYPD has opened at least a dozen "terrorism enterprise investigations" into mosques, according to interviews and confidential police documents. The TEI, as it is known, is a police tool intended to help investigate terrorist cells and the like.

Many TEIs stretch for years, allowing surveillance to continue even though the NYPD has never criminally charged a mosque or Islamic organization with operating as a terrorism enterprise.
So, not only dit Ray Kelly and his thugs in blue routinely violate people's civil rights, they did not catch anyone.

It gets worse:
The NYPD did not limit its operations to collecting information on those who attended the mosques or led prayers. The department sought also to put people on the boards of New York's Islamic institutions to fill intelligence gaps.

One confidential NYPD document shows police wanted to put informants in leadership positions at mosques and other organizations, including the Arab American Association of New York in Brooklyn, a secular social-service organization.


Before the NYPD could target mosques as terrorist groups, it had to persuade a federal judge to rewrite rules governing how police can monitor speech protected by the First Amendment.

The rules stemmed from a 1971 lawsuit, dubbed the Handschu case after lead plaintiff Barbara Handschu, over how the NYPD spied on protesters and liberals during the Vietnam War era.


NYPD lawyers proposed a new tactic, the TEI, that allowed officers to monitor political or religious speech whenever the "facts or circumstances reasonably indicate" that groups of two or more people were involved in plotting terrorism or other violent crime.

The judge rewrote the Handschu rules in 2003. In the first eight months under the new rules, the NYPD's Intelligence Division opened at least 15 secret terrorism enterprise investigations, documents show. At least 10 targeted mosques.

Doing so allowed police, in effect, to treat anyone who attends prayer services as a potential suspect. Sermons, ordinarily protected by the First Amendment, could be monitored and recorded.


The NYPD believed the tactics were necessary to keep the city safe, a view that sometimes put it at odds with the FBI.

In August 2003, Cohen asked the FBI to install eavesdropping equipment inside a mosque called Masjid al-Farooq, including its prayer room.

Al-Farooq had a long history of radical ties. Omar Abdel Rahman, the blind Egyptian sheik who was convicted of plotting to blow up New York City landmarks, once preached briefly at Al-Farooq. Invited preachers raged against Israel, the United States and the Bush administration's war on terror.

One of Cohen's informants said an imam from another mosque had delivered $30,000 to an al-Farooq leader, and the NYPD suspected the money was for terrorism.

But Amy Jo Lyons, the FBI assistant special agent in charge for counterterrorism, refused to bug the mosque. She said the federal law wouldn't permit it.

The NYPD made other arrangements. [NYPD deputy commissioner for intelligence and former CIA operative David] Cohen's informants began to carry recording devices into mosques under investigation. They hid microphones in wristwatches and the electronic key fobs used to unlock car doors.

Even under a TEI, a prosecutor and a judge would have to approve bugging a mosque. But the informant taping was legal because New York law allows any party to record a conversation, even without consent from the others. Like the Islamic Society of Bay Ridge, the NYPD never demonstrated in court that al-Farooq was a terrorist enterprise but that didn't stop the police from spying on the mosques for years.
Let's be clear here, not only should Ray Kelly not he made head of DHS, he, and anyone who participated in this, should have their security clearances pulled.

They should be pulled immediately, and forever.

I Think that Bombing Syria is an Exercise in Personal and National Narcissism.

Basically, Obama said, "Red Line," so we need to bomb brown people in order to preserve both Barack Obama's and our nation's credibility.

Gee, does this cruise missile make my butt look fat?

Or, to quote Jon Walker, "Obama Deciding What Size Explosion Bouquet Will Send Just the Right Message."

27 August 2013

Phrases I Do not Wish to Hear in the Context of a Nuclear Meltdown

Whack-a mole. That phrase worries me:
Japan’s government will lead “emergency measures” to tackle radioactive water spills at the wrecked Fukushima nuclear plant, wresting control of the disaster recovery from the plant’s heavily criticized operator, Tokyo Electric Power Co.

“We’ve allowed Tokyo Electric to deal with the contaminated water situation on its own and they’ve essentially turned it into a game of ‘Whack-a-Mole’,” Trade Minister Toshimitsu Motegi told reporters today at Fukushima. “From now on, the government will move to the forefront.”

Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, which is led by Motegi, “is working to draw up, by some time in September, both emergency measures and more fundamental steps to eliminate the roots of the contaminated water problem, as well as measures to be carried out going forward,” the Prime Minister’s office said in a response to written questions.

More than two years after the March 2011 nuclear disaster, Tokyo Electric’s recovery effort has taken a turn for the worse. Japan’s nuclear regulator last week questioned the company’s ability to deal with the crisis, echoing comments earlier in the month by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.
There are any number of phrases one does not want to hear in the context of nuclear accident, but "Whack-A-Mole" is definitely in the top ten.

I think that I'm going to stick with fish from the Atlantic Ocean.

I'll use the ones from the Pacific as a night light.

Who Knew that the Chinese Were Austin Powers Fans?

Because those in the know are saying that China’s latest satellite launch was testing a claw using anti-satellite weapon:
On July 29, a Chinese Long March-4C rocket blasted into space from the northern Taiyuan Space Center carrying three secretive, experimental satellites. Not really all that unusual by itself — a robotic arm reportedly on one of the satellites could be involved in testing for Beijing’s far-off space station program.

But once they were in orbit, the satellites began acting very, very strangely.

More precisely, one of the satellites, known as SY-7, was moving all over the place and was appearing to make close-in rendezvous’s with other satellites. It was so strange, space analysts wondered whether China was testing a new kind of space weapon — one that could intercept other satellites and more or less claw them to death.

It’s not as crazy as it sounds. The U.S. has experimented with anti-satellite weapons, and is even researching how to cannibalize satellites in orbit. China has even blown up one of its own satellites with a missile. That caused an international outcry considering the giant cloud of debris which has come close to imperiling space travel for a century.

But a claw might be more discreet.


Jonathan McDowell, an astrophysicist with the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics and author of the sat-tracking newsletter Jonathan’s Space Report, reported that at least one of the satellites wields a robot-manipulator arm developed by the Chinese Academy of Sciences.

Could it be an anti-satellite weapon? This would be a satellite capable of impacting with other satellites, destroying them with sheer kinetic force, or detonating explosive charges nearby like a satellite suicide bomber. The manipulator arm could also be potentially used as a weapon, grabbing away and plucking bits off an enemy satellite like it was an insect.
This is so f%$#ing weird.

It reads like something out of The Onion or one of the Austin Powers movie.

This is Weird

It appears that someone hacked the New York Times.

Someone did some sort of a DNS hack, and it turned up a website in Arabic.

Here is a screen cap.  (click for full size)

If Google translate is accurate, it had something to do with Syria.

Google translate below:

26 August 2013

Quote of the Day

It’s seriously time for a little girl from Kansas to drop a house on these people.
—John Aravosis on the anti-gay bigots who are trying to ban "teh ghey" in Russia

Remember When I Said that It's Not the Cost of Healthcare, It's the Price of Healthcare*

Well, the New York Times just looked at the price of a 1 liter bag of saline solution, and it ain't pretty:
It is one of the most common components of emergency medicine: an intravenous bag of sterile saltwater.

Luckily for anyone who has ever needed an IV bag to replenish lost fluids or to receive medication, it is also one of the least expensive. The average manufacturer’s price, according to government data, has fluctuated in recent years from 44 cents to $1.

Yet there is nothing either cheap or simple about its ultimate cost, as I learned when I tried to trace the commercial path of IV bags from the factory to the veins of more than 100 patients struck by a May 2012 outbreak of food poisoning in upstate New York.

Some of the patients’ bills would later include markups of 100 to 200 times the manufacturer’s price, not counting separate charges for “IV administration.”

And on other bills, a bundled charge for “IV therapy” was almost 1,000 times the official cost of the solution.

It is no secret that medical care in the United States is overpriced. But as the tale of the humble IV bag shows all too clearly, it is secrecy that helps keep prices high: hidden in the underbrush of transactions among multiple buyers and sellers, and in the hieroglyphics of hospital bills.

At every step from manufacturer to patient, there are confidential deals among the major players, including drug companies, purchasing organizations and distributors, and insurers. These deals so obscure prices and profits that even participants cannot say what the simplest component of care actually costs, let alone what it should cost.

And that leaves taxpayers and patients alike with an inflated bottom line and little or no way to challenge it.


But even before the finished product is sold by the case or the truckload, the real cost of a bag of normal saline, like the true cost of medical supplies from gauze to heart implants, disappears into an opaque realm of byzantine contracts, confidential rebates and fees that would be considered illegal kickbacks in many other industries.


The charges included “IV therapy,” billed at $787 for the adult and $393 for the child, which suggests that the difference in the amount of saline infused, typically less than a liter, could alone account for several hundred dollars.


Eventually the head of the family, an electrician’s helper who speaks little English, complained to HealthFirst, the Medicaid H.M.O. It paid $119 to settle the grandmother’s $2,168 bill, without specifying how much of the payment was for the IV. It paid $66.50 to the doctor, who had billed $606.

Ms. O’Neill defended the markup as “consistent with industry standards.” She said it reflected “not only the cost of the solution but a variety of related services and processes,” like procurement, biomedical handling and storage, apparently not included in a charge of $127 for administering the IV and $893 for emergency-room services.

The patient, a financial services professional in her 50s, ended up paying $100 for her visit. “Honestly, I don’t understand the system at all,” said the woman, who shared the information on the condition that she not be named.

Dr. Frost, the anesthesiologist, spent three days in the same hospital and owed only $8, thanks to insurance coverage by United HealthCare. Still, she was baffled by the charges: $6,844, including $546 for six liters of saline that cost the hospital $5.16.

At White Plains Hospital, a patient with private insurance from Aetna was charged $91 for one unit of Hospira IV [saline] that cost the hospital 86 cents, according to a hospital spokeswoman, Eliza O’Neill.
The charges all stem from a case of food poisoning  in upstate New York, where people were collected by ambulances and sent to emergency rooms.

This is why price controls are necessary.  When you are, "lying on the ground barely conscious," the market ceases to function.

*Here, and a lot on the Stellar Parthenon BBS as well.

25 August 2013

Obama’s "Independent Panel" to Review Domestic Spying Isn't

Outside experts, you say?
Note: this is the actual caption of the photo used in Washington Post story
As you may be aware, Obama has promised to bring in "Outside Experts." What will surprise no one, including the graphic editors at the Washington Post, (See pic and caption) is that these "experts" are all
tightly connected to the administration or the state security apparatus:
ABC reports that the Obama administration’s surveillance review panel will include former intelligence and White House staffers, including Michael Morell, Richard Clarke, Cass Sunstein and Peter Swire. An official announcement of the members of the panel is expected soon.

The review panel was first announced in a White House press conference on Aug. 9, when Obama said the administration would form “a high-level group of outside experts to review our entire intelligence and communications technologies.”

Privacy advocates aren’t happy with the composition of the group revealed so far. Some privacy groups believe that the White House will insist on all members having top secret clearances, effectively barring most independent privacy watchdogs from consideration for the panel.

Amie Stepanovich, director of the domestic surveillance project at the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) found the choices reported by ABC troubling:
An independent evaluation of the NSA’s surveillance programs is needed. But a worthwhile review requires an independent team of evaluators. We continue to learn how each of the oversight mechanisms that the Administration has pointed to have continuously failed. The background of this panel indicates that it, too, is unlikely to be meaningful or effective.
True dat.

First, it was James Clapper, the Director of National Intelligence, a man who unequivocally perjured himself to Congress over the program who was supposed to run the program, but when there was too much push-back over that, so they backed off, and now they have a panel of faux independent experts.

It's so bad that the some anonymous graphic editor felt compelled to call out the lie in the accompanying photograph.

The Post also reports an interesting factoid about Cass Sunstein, one of the proposed members, has written a paper supporting the idea of government paid trolls to combat the tin-foil hat conspiracy crowd:
The Obama administration is reportedly proposing Cass Sunstein as a member of a panel to review the surveillance practices of the National Security Agency (NSA), among other former White House and intelligence staffers. Sunstein was the head of the White House’s Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs until last year, when he returned to teaching at Harvard Law School.

As one of our intrepid commenters pointed out yesterday, while at Harvard in 2008, Sunstein co-authored a working paper that suggests government agents or their allies “cognitively infiltrate” conspiracy theorist groups by joining ”chat rooms, online social networks or even real-space groups” and influencing the conversation.

Sunstein’s paper defined a conspiracy theory as “an effort to explain some event or practice by reference to the machinations of powerful people, who have also managed to conceal their role,” and acknowledges that some conspiracy theories have turned out to be true. It also specifically notes that his plan of “cognitive infiltration” should only be used against false conspiracy theories that could be harmful to the government or society.
The Washington Post is perhaps the 2nd most authoritative source (Politico being number 1) of the vapid blather that qualifies as villager "wisdom" in Washington, DC, and their pattern is to be relentlessly support of the security state, so this is a statement against interest.

What they are saying is not that Obama cannot be trusted, they are saying something far more radical, that the Obama administration's statements are simply laughable.

They have quite literally become a laughing stock of the "very serious people".

24 August 2013

Burying the Lede

In an article on Korean fighter purchase plans, there is a lot of discussion about their next fighter purchase:
Boeing's F-15SE Silent Eagle has been selected as the only qualified bidder in South Korea's F-X Phase 3 competition for 60 fighters—but the country's air force is lobbying to overturn the decision in favor of the Lockheed Martin F-35 Joint Strike Fighter.

A win in South Korea would extend the F-15 production line into the next decade and launch an improved version that could compete for future fighter requirements in the 2020s. That outcome seems likely following the decision of the South Korean purchasing authority, the Defense Acquisition Program Agency (DAPA), to eliminate first the F-35 as too costly and then the Eurofighter Typhoon for a bidding irregularity—although EADS, representing the consortium in the South Korean deal, disputes DAPA's decision.
(emphasis mine)

OK, let's look at this.

The F-15SE has:
  • A larger weapons load.
  • Greater range.
  • Higher speed.
  • a 2nd crew member giving greater flexibility in deploying weapons.
  • A 2nd engine.
  • The ability to develop weapons and systems for the platform in Korea.
  • The ability to perform depot level maintenance in country.
The F-35 has:
  • Some degree of all aspect stealth.
And for giving up all of that, you have to pay more, a lot more for the F-35.

The F-35 simply costs too much.

How I Vanquished the RP!

RP is now in custody.

How I constructed the cat-trapinator, the video

How the motion detector works
My readers may recall my travails with RP the Cat.

Well, I have finally defeated RP, an animal with a brain the size of a walnut, using my allegedly superior brain.

In my first encounter with RP, as a kitten about 2 years ago,  when we caught her in a "have a heart" type trap.

We brought her in, and when she was released, she ran around the basement at relativistic speeds, and then she beat me up, and ran up into the basement suspended ceiling.

She found her way out of the house the next day, so I chalked it up to experience, until, a couple of months later, when we got our new cats, she started venturing back to eat their food.

Sharon* told me that the cat was going in and out of the house, but I was dubious until until I caught it on time-lapse video.

Well, the other day, I got a frantic call from my wife:  RP had lured Destructo into the ceiling, and she and kids had to rescue him.

So, I decided to get serious about catching the cat.

First, I used a bunch of wire ties to attach the have a heart trap to the travel cage we used to transport Lavi and Tudza when we moved from Texas to Maryland.

Then I put food, water, and a catnip sock in the cage, and we took to locking our cats, Meatball/Mousetrap and Destructo in the bathroom in the evening.

Unfortunately, this did not work. RP was too smart: She stepped over the trigger plate of the trap.

So, I had to figure a way to detect her, and trigger the trap.

First, I bought a remote controlled electrical outlet for twelve bucks at Home Depot.

I plugged my Dremel tool into this outlet, and then tied the business end to the trap plate, so when the power goes on, it triggers the trap.

Then borrowed my Son's phone, and installed Motion Detector Pro, which uses the camera as a motion sensor, turned off sleep mode for the phone (It's under development in settings), and put it on top of the cage.

I then tested the motion detector using our cats, and it worked.

Finally, I got myself a Ustream account, put the Ustream app on my phone, and used my laptop's webcam to stream an image of the cage to the web.

Well, at about 2:00 am Saturday morning, I got the text, and I looked at the video, and the cat was there, so I hit the remote, and headed downstairs.

Much to my surprise, I had caught the cat, so I removed the trap from the cage, put a tray with some kitty litter inside, and went to bed.

Now we have to decide what we do after she gets spayed (she has already had 2-3 litters).

In the short term, we are trying to see if she is amenable to being adopted.

If not, we find her some place far away where she can live as a barn cat.

So, by using more computing power than was available to the Apollo program, I finally managed to catch the cat.

And there was much rejoicing.

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


Press conference interrupted by flying penis.

23 August 2013

It's Bank Failure Friday!!!

And here they are, ordered, and numbered for the year so far.
  1. Community South Bank, Parsons, TN
  2. Sunrise Bank of Arizona, Phoenix, AZ

 Full FDIC list

Nothing for 7 weeks, and then 4 in the past 4 weeks.

Not sure if I see anything in the numbers right now. 

So, here is the graph pr0n with last years numbers for comparison (FDIC only):

Obama Claims that the Reports of NSA Spying on US Citizens Show that the System Works

Inadvertent, My Ass
The fact that Barack Obama is being sent out to tell blatant lies by the state security apparatus like some sort of poodle does not fill me with confidence.

No I'm serious. He is saying that because the system sorked", because a strongly worded report was issued:
President Barack Obama said in an interview that aired Friday that recent revelations the National Security Agency had collected Americans' emails prove that oversight for such surveillance programs is working properly.

Obama told CNN's "New Day" the data collection was "inadvertent" and attributed it to "technical problems," which were then presented to the secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court.

"The court said, 'This isn't going to cut it. You're going to have to improve the safeguards, given these technical problems.' That's exactly what happened," he said. "So the point is, is that all these safeguards, checks, audits, oversight worked."
He claims that the errors were unintentional.  He is lying through his teethe:
Some National Security Agency analysts deliberately ignored restrictions on their authority to spy on Americans multiple times in the past decade, contradicting Obama administration officials' and lawmakers' statements that no willful violations occurred.

"Over the past decade, very rare instances of willful violations of NSA's authorities have been found," the NSA said in a statement to Bloomberg News. "NSA takes very seriously allegations of misconduct, and cooperates fully with any investigations – responding as appropriate. NSA has zero tolerance for willful violations of the agency's authorities."

The incidents, chronicled in a new report by the NSA's inspector general, provide more evidence that U.S. agencies sometimes have violated legal and administrative restrictions on domestic spying, and may add to the pressure to bolster laws that govern intelligence activities.

The inspector general documented an average of one case per year over 10 years of intentionally inappropriate actions by people with access to the NSA's vast electronic surveillance systems, according to an official familiar with the findings. The incidents were minor, the official said, speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss classified intelligence.
BTW, one a year is a lie from the inspector general is a gross understatement, because we know that for years, NSA agents listened to and recorded for later amusement phone sex between overseas soldiers and their loved ones:
There have been allegations of abuse. Back in 2008 it was widely reported that NSA employees were listening to phone sex calls between American soldiers and their partners. NSA employees would save these calls and share them around for their own personal amusement. This is a textbook example of abuse. This is the kind of invasion of privacy that deeply concerns most Americans.

The most likely reasons we haven’t heard about more abuses is because the NSA is incredibly secretive, basically never audited, and the Obama administration has engaged in such an aggressive war on whistleblowers people are scared to come forward.
I would also note that one of the controls that Obama taunts is the FISA court, and they say that the NSA program was unconstitutional and also that the NSA lied to them:
In a strongly worded opinion, the chief judge of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court expressed consternation at what he saw as a pattern of misleading statements by the government and hinted that the NSA possibly violated a criminal law against spying on Americans.

“For the first time, the government has now advised the court that the volume and nature of the information it has been collecting is fundamentally different from what the court had been led to believe,” John D. Bates, then the surveillance court’s chief judge, wrote in his Oct. 3, 2011, opinion.
This really is a profile in cowardice.

I did not realize that the video clip was auto-playing. I have corrected this. Sorry.

22 August 2013

Whiskey Tango Foxtrot????

The NASDAQ exchange shut down for 3 hours today:
The United States stock market showed again on Thursday that it remained vulnerable to technological breakdowns even as regulators and market operators work to keep up with trading that is increasingly electronic and driven by speed.

The latest trouble shut down trading on the Nasdaq market and its more than 3,000 stocks — including some of the most popular among investors, like Apple and Google — for more than three hours Thursday afternoon.

The disruption on the nation’s second-largest stock market, after the New York Stock Exchange, reverberated up and down Wall Street, affecting other markets as investors cautiously stepped back. Brokers scrambling to trade elsewhere discovered that they could not complete trades while in the dark about prices on Nasdaq.

“It is everybody — nobody can trade,” Manoj Narang, the chief executive of Tradeworx, said during the afternoon. “I’ve never seen anything like this.”

Some expressed relief that the problems came in August, typically a slow time for Wall Street.

“We didn’t lose any money on the shutdown, but we also made very little money today,” said the chief executive of one Wall Street firm, who asked not to be named.

Nasdaq officials said the halt was prompted by a problem with the data system that disseminates prices and that its cause had been “identified and addressed.”
I'm thinking that high frequency algorithmic trading is somehow tied into all of this.

The fact that this occurred a day after Goldman Sachs reported a major loss from a programming error for such a program further buttresses my suspicion.

I Think that People are Finally Sick and Tired of Michael Bloomberg's "Making the Trains Run on Time" Act

The New York City Council just overrode Bloomberg's veto of police reforms:
The City Council voted Thursday to greatly increase oversight of the New York Police Department and of its widespread use of stop-and-frisk tactics.

Coming after historic crime declines stretching 20 years and aimed at a police force whose tactics long enjoyed strong support in City Hall and among many New Yorkers, the move on two bills marked a decisive swing of the pendulum toward reining in the practices of officers and the policies of their leaders.

The votes, a week and a half after a federal judge ruled aspects of police stops in the city unconstitutional, amounted to a stinging personal defeat for Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg. He has considered the policy to be central to one of his main achievements: a city safer than many hardened residents had thought possible.

The two bills, which the mayor had vetoed and will now become law, represented an effort by frustrated elected officials to force changes on the police from the outside — one through an outside inspector general with subpoena power to study and make policy recommendations to the department; and the other by opening state courts up to individual claims of bias-based policing and by expanding the categories of people entitled to sue.

Mr. Bloomberg immediately denounced the new laws as an effort to “outsource management of the N.Y.P.D. to unaccountable officials,” and he vowed to sue to stop the bill on expanding profiling claims. “It is a dangerous piece of legislation,” he said, “and we will ask the courts to step in before innocent people are harmed.”

For the mayor, who argued strenuously and repeatedly in public to head off the passage of the bills, the votes offered a stark reminder of his diminished ability to influence city politics in the waning months of his administration.

The 51-member Council, led by its speaker, Christine C. Quinn, enacted the two measures by voting to override Mr. Bloomberg’s earlier veto of both bills.

The Council voted overwhelmingly to create an independent inspector general for the department, with 39 in favor and 10 opposed. The second bill, which would expand the ability of New Yorkers to sue the police over bias-based profiling, passed with exactly the 34 votes necessary for an override. Ms. Quinn, who is running for mayor, voted against it. (Two members were absent from the vote.)
There are a lot of people who are just plain sick and tired of Michael Bloomberg.


I don't know what is going on there.

I find it improbable that the Syrians would engage in a massive chemical weapons attack, and while the videos appear to show the use of some sort of nerve agent, but if it was Sarin, the doctors treating the victims should have been exposed as well. 

It does seem to be some sort of appear to be the action of a cholinesterase inhibitor, probably an organophosphate, but it was odd.

The problem is that there a profound lack of transparency here.

It could be the Syrian army launching a massive Sarin attack.

It could be the rebels using Sarin that they are rumored to have gotten from Libyan stockpiles.

It could be some other sort of nerve agent, such as certain insecticides, which would explain why the doctors did not get dosed.  (The toxicity and the secondary contamination characteristics could be quite different, even if the symptoms are largely identical.)

I do hope that the UN team manages to get in and collect samples.


21 August 2013

What a Surprise, General Alexander Lied

The NSA still is not sure what information Edward Snowden took from the NSA, despite the firm assurances of NSA Chief Gen. Keith Alexander:
More than two months after documents leaked by former contractor Edward Snowden first began appearing in the news media, the National Security Agency still doesn’t know the full extent of what he took, according to intelligence community sources, and is “overwhelmed” trying to assess the damage.

Officials, including NSA Director Keith Alexander, have assured the public that the government knows the scope of the damage, but two separate sources briefed on the matter told NBC News that the NSA has been unable to determine how many documents he took and what they are.

Sources said authorities believe the trove of unreleased materials includes details of data collection by U.S. allies, including the U.K., Canada, Australia and New Zealand. These English-speaking allies, known along with the U.S. as the "Five Eyes," are critical to U.S. intelligence efforts.
So, not only is the NSA lying with impunity, but they cannot find their ass with both hands.

That makes me feel much better about their spying on me.

35 Years

This was the sentence rendered by the judge against Bradley Manning.

This is actually a mild sentence, as he is eligable for parole in about 8-1/2 years. (The military has parole, unlike civilian Federal sentences)

While the defense asked for 25 years, this is still a relatively mild sentence, particularly considering the prosecution's request of 60 years.

Still, the fact that the ringleader of the Abu Ghraib torturers only got 6 years indicates a problem with our priorities.  The damage done to both the military, and the country, was far greater.

IMNSHO, Obama will never pardon manning.

20 August 2013

This is a Breath of Fresh Air………

The SEC just settled with a hedge fund that misused funds and manipulated markets, and in addition to a fine, and a 5 year ban for the principal, they got an explicit admission of wrongdoing:
Wall Street’s regulator sent a message on Monday that it was now taking a more aggressive stance on securities settlements as it extracted its first admission of wrongdoing under a new policy.

The regulator, the Securities and Exchange Commission, said that the hedge fund manager Philip A. Falcone had agreed to admit wrongdoing and to be banned from the securities industry for at least five years to settle market manipulation accusations. As part of the settlement, he and his fund, Harbinger Capital Partners, must also pay more than $18 million.

The deal comes a month after the commission had in a rare move overruled its own enforcement staff to reject a settlement struck with Mr. Falcone and Harbinger.

That original agreement had called for a two-year ban from raising new capital and no admission of wrongdoing. It also did not include an injunction against committing fraud in the future — language common to nearly every single securities settlement.

The original settlement terms had irritated the S.E.C.’s new chairwoman, Mary Jo White, people briefed on the matter said, and frustrated many others within the agency who saw that deal as too lax.

The new, tougher terms reflect a wider policy change that Ms. White outlined this year, aiming to shift the burden of admission of guilt onto the defendant, overturning a longstanding policy of allowing defendants to “neither admit nor deny” wrongdoing.
If this is a start of a trend, then this is a big deal.

I hope that this is not just political atmospherics.

Quote of the Day

When a government detains someone who is very clearly not a terrorist for nine hours without access to an attorney under a terrorism statute, that government has proven every point Greenwald wanted to make. The argument is over right there.

And every "progressive" with a beef against Greenwald who attempts to defend the UK's actions does nothing more than prove Greenwald's point. Governments that detain civil libertarian bloggers and journalists as terrorists deserve every heaping of scorn they get, as do those who defend them.
David Atkins

What a Bunch of Misogynistic Assholes

In the Washington Post, Neil Irwin looks at the Federal Reserve Chairman selection process, and discovers that the Obama administration is full of a bunch of sexist assholes:

Why don't they like Janet Yellen?
  • She actually has an opinion, "Yellen has a perfectly solid relationship with Bernanke, as best as I can tell, but she’s more of her own thinker within the institution."
    • Because a Fed Chair should not have their own opinions?  (The Fed Chair is supposed to be independent).  I call this the "Uppity Woman" objection.
  • She has never been a part of the Obama "team", as in "They are big on the team player concept, people diving in together to sort through the hard and messy challenges they face……… In the early months of the Obama administration, the same could be said of the group that included Geithner, Summers, Gene Sperling and others who are now influential voices advising the president on the decision."
    • Notice, not a woman in the group.  Romer and Bair were marginalized too.
  •  She is too cautious and well prepared, "A second, and related, reason that Yellen’s leadership style isn’t a great mesh with the Obamaites is also one of her strengths. She is always meticulously prepared, a careful and systematic thinker who chooses her words carefully. In a Fed policy committee meeting or a gathering of international central bankers, she typically scripts herself in advance and reads those prepared comments. ……… She is methodical, not manic."
    • Let me get this straight, they WANT a shoot from the hip, shoot from the hip loose cannon at Fed Chair?   This is the last thing you want from a Federal Reserve Chairman, or for that matter any central banker in any nation.  They are asking for something that would not pass muster for a central banker for Zimbabwe!
  • And then there is concerns about policing bubbles, "Third, the president very clearly frets about the risk of financial bubbles and wants a Fed chief who will be attuned to staving them off."
    • Because Yellen was the first, and the most strident, Fed Governor to warn about the housing bubble.  
It's no wonder that Anita Dunn told Ron Suskind that the Obama administration, "Actually fit all of the classic legal requirements for a genuinely hostile workplace to women."(She later denied it, but Suskind had the tape)

And all this is about making Larry Summers the Fed Chair.

Larry Summers, who is pretty much the epitome of, "Does not work well with others," is the guy that Barack wants to head a consensus driven organization.

Larry Summers is bad policy, and its bad politics, and that is ignoring Summers' record of cashing in on Wall Street, which makes him suspect as a regulator.

I Really Don't Think that I Have Ever Seen Rachel Maddow this Pissed Off

Look at this video.

Rachel Maddow is pissed off, and she is pissed off at Barack Obama.

Here are the high points, but you should watch the whole 8:02:
Journalism is not terrorism. Journalism can be enraging to people in power; journalism can sometimes even be frightening to people in power, but journalism is not terrorism. Reporting on what governments do, even when those governments prefer to keep those actions secret, is not terrorism. Terrorism is a real and discrete thing in the world. It is not an all-encompassing term you apply to everything the government doesn't want you to do.

The White House today said it had been given a heads-up in advance that the detention of David Miranda was likely to happen.... The White House went out of their way today to say that it was Britain's decision to detain Glenn Greenwald's partner -- it was not something the US asked Britain to do; and okay fine, but the White House did know about it in advance and it still happened.

We have that kind of special relationship with Britain where if our government were outraged that this detention was going to happen, we could have objected, right? We could have at least asked our dear friends, the British government, to not do this, maybe in the interests of not intimidating the activities of the free press, if not for any other reason. Did our government make any objections when it got advance notice from Britain that this detention was going to happen? Did our government protest? And if not, why not? I tend to think we did not protest, since it went ahead.

I know the US government is not happy about Laura Poitras and Glenn Greenwald and their reporting about US surveillance. The president said that the disclosures from their source have led to a disorderly debate about these issues and even though we ought to have a debate about these issues, it ought to be more orderly. Fine. But if the United States wants to convince the world that the Glenn Greenwalds and Laura Poitras' of the world are correct when they say the US government is going too far -- if they want to underline and put flashing red lights on that reporting that says that counter-terrorism is being used to justify all sorts of things that are not justified by the actual threat of terrorism, and that in fact have just greenlit gross government overreach and intrusion and intimidation of legitimate activity including journalism -- then putting journalists and their families through marathon interrogations and seizing all their electronics is a really great way to start convincing the world that all that reporting is accurate.

Letting our closest allies do it while we stand silent is the same thing as us doing it. Journalism is not terrorism. Pretending otherwise is outrageous, and ridiculous, and a dangerous affront to who we are as a country and a democracy. It's an absolute outrage.
My opinion is even stronger. I believe that the British called for permission, and they got it.

That being said, Obama has lost Maddow, at least on this specific instance, and this is significant.

H/t Dallasdoc at Daily Kos.,who dutifully transcribed the above quote.

19 August 2013

Damn!!! Another Tech Support Night!

The kids spent some gift money from Pappa Ron on laptops.

So I've spent most of tonight getting their computers up and running.

More for Natalie, who got a laptop with Windows 8, that we are downgrading to Windows 7, because Windows 8 sucks like a thousand hoovers all going at once.

Still gotta wait for the Win 7 disk to arrive, but I have all the Win 7 drivers located and downloaded.

It also mean that all our primary computers will be running the same OS.


18 August 2013

A Very Good Essay on the Problems with the F-35

While there are a number of problems, a protracted development process, unrealistic (and constantly changing) requirements, "cost as an independent variable", and the need for jointness, but this article makes the point that when we look at the performance issues of the airframe, they are almost entirely a function of the STOVL requirements foisted on the airframe by the US Marine Corps:

But the chorus of praise is wrong. The F-35 Joint Strike Fighter — a do-it-all strike jet being designed by Lockheed Martin to evade enemy radars, bomb ground targets and shoot down rival fighters — is as troubled as ever. Any recent tidbits of apparent good news can’t alter a fundamental flaw in the plane’s design with roots going back decades.

Owing to heavy design compromises foisted on the plane mostly by the Marine Corps, the F-35 is an inferior combatant, seriously outclassed by even older Russian and Chinese jets that can fly faster and farther and maneuver better. In a fast-moving aerial battle, the JSF “is a dog … overweight and underpowered,” according to Winslow Wheeler, director of the Straus Military Reform Project at the Project on Government Oversight in Washington, D.C.

And future enemy planes, designed strictly with air combat in mind, could prove even deadlier to the compromised JSF.

It doesn’t really matter how smoothly Lockheed and the government’s work on the new warplane proceeds. Even the best-manufactured JSF is a second-rate fighter where it actually matters — in the air, in life-or-death combat against a determined foe. And that could mean a death sentence for American pilots required to fly the vulnerable F-35.

Can’t turn, can’t climb, can’t run’

The F-35's inferiority became glaringly obvious five years ago in a computer simulation run by John Stillion and Harold Scott Perdue, two analysts at RAND, a think tank in Santa Monica, California. Founded in 1948, RAND maintains close ties to the Air Force. The air arm provides classified data, and in return RAND games out possible war scenarios for government planners.

In Stillion and Perdue’s August 2008 war simulation, a massive Chinese air and naval force bore down on Beijing’s longtime rival Taiwan amid rising tensions in the western Pacific. A sudden Chinese missile barrage wiped out the tiny, outdated Taiwanese air force, leaving American jet fighters based in Japan and Guam to do battle with Beijing’s own planes and, hopefully, forestall a bloody invasion.


To add insult to strategic injury, one of the most modern Chinese prototype warplanes might actually be an illicit near-copy of the F-35 — albeit a more intelligent copy that wisely omits the most compromising aspects of the U.S. plane. It’s possible that in some future war, America’s JSFs could be shot down by faster, deadlier, Chinese-made JSF clones.
The Chinese J-31 appears to be based on the F-35. Via Chinese Internet
The F-35 that could have been

At least twice since 2007 Chinese hackers have stolen data on the F-35 from the developers’ poorly-guarded computer servers, potentially including detailed design specifications. Some of the Internet thieves “appear to be tied to the Chinese government and military,” Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel claimed.

The September 2012 debut of China’s latest jet fighter prototype, the J-31, seemed to confirm Hagel’s accusation. The new Chinese plane, built by the Shenyang Aircraft Corporation, bears an uncanny external resemblance to the F-35: same twin tail fins, same chiseled nose, same wing shape. “It certainly looks like the Chinese got their hands on some [F-35] airframe data,” said Richard Aboulafia, a vice president at the Teal Group, an arms industry consultancy in Virginia.

But the J-31 lacks many of the features that were included in the F-35 “mainly or entirely because of STOVL,” according to Aviation Week writer and fighter expert Bill Sweetman.

Namely, the J-31 does not have a lift fan or even a space for a lift fan. The omission apparently allowed Chinese engineers to optimize the new plane for speed, acceleration, maneuverability and flying range — and to add good pilot visibility and a second rearward engine — instead of having to build the plane around a pretty much useless vertical-takeoff capability that slows it down, limits it to one motor and blocks the pilot’s view.


Jet design like any engineering practice requires disciplined choices. The JSF is the embodiment of ambivalence — a reflection of the government and Lockheed’s inability to say that some things could not or should not be done. “It’s not clear with the F-35 that we had a strong sense of what the top priority was — trying to satisfy the Marines, the Navy or the Air Force,” said Air Force Lt. Col. Dan Ward, an expert in weapons acquisition who has been critical of complex, expensive development efforts.

By contrast, the Chinese J-31 does not appear compromised at all. Surrounded by rivals with powerful air forces — namely India, Russia, Japan and U.S. Pacific Command — and with no grudge-holding Marine Corps to hijack fighter design, it would make sense that China prioritized the air-combat prowess of its new jet over any historical score-settling.

That apparently apolitical approach to (admittedly illicit) warplane design appears to have paid dividends for the Shenyang-made jet. “With no lift fan bay to worry about, the designers have been able to install long weapon bays on the centerline,” Sweetman wrote. The centerline bay helps keep the J-31 skinny and therefore likely fast and maneuverable — in any event, faster and more maneuverable than the F-35, which in a decade’s time could be pretty much the only new U.S. jet the Chinese air force might face in battle.

If Stillion and Perdue’s simulation ever comes true and the U.S. goes to war with China in the air, F-35s dragged down by their lift fans could be knocked out of the sky by Chinese-made F-35 clones that are faster and more maneuverable, because they never had lift fans.
A couple of notes here.

First, much of the baggage of the lift fan occurs even with the non-lift fan variants, the tubby fuselage, the poor aft vision, and an engine that has a thrust to weight ratio of engines from the 1970s.

I would also note that the 20 year long development process did not help.


H/t Jesse's Café Américain for the video.

17 August 2013

Added to My List of They Who Must Not Be Named

Justin Bieber.

I don't know why I had not done this before, but now that he appears to be flipping out, (see link) it's a good time to note this.

What the F%$#?

Google went down yesterday:
You can all relax now. The near-unprecedented outage that seemingly affected all of Google's services for a brief time on Friday is over.

The event began at approximately 4:37pm Pacific Time and lasted between one and five minutes, according to the Google Apps Dashboard. All of the Google Apps services reported being back online by 4:48pm.

The incident apparently blacked out every service Mountain View has to offer simultaneously, from Google Search to Gmail, YouTube, Google Drive, and beyond.

Big deal, right? Everyone has technical difficulties every once in a while. It goes with the territory.

But then, not everyone is Google. According to web analytics firm GoSquared, worldwide internet traffic dipped by a stunning 40 per cent during the brief minutes that the Chocolate Factory's services were offline. Here's the graph of what that looked like:

I'm wondering if maybe there was an issue with the latest brand of sniffer software from the NSA.

Still, this is weird.

The Classic Defintion of Chutzpah, Revisited

A number of US detainees have sued the US contractor CACI International for directing torture at the notorious Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq.

The suit was dismissed, because the alleged abuse occurred in Iraq, and thus was out of the purview of the Federal Courts.

So now, CACI has counter-sued for legal fees:
Weeks after winning dismissal of a case alleging that CACI International employees directed mistreatment of Abu Ghraib detainees, the company has asked its accusers to pay a $15,580 bill for legal expenses. Lawyers for the plaintiffs, all Iraqis who served time at the prison, opposed the request in a federal court filing on Monday.

In July, CACI secured a long-fought victory when a federal judge dismissed the lawsuit against one of the company’s units, deciding that because the alleged abuse happened overseas, the U.S. District Court in Alexandria did not have jurisdiction to hear the case.
This is truly disgusting.

This Has to be the Coolest Response to Blatant Plagiarism Ever

Roll Tape
The boy band One Direction released a new song, Best Song Ever, which is blatantly cribbed from The Who's 1871 asnthem Baba O'Reily. (see tape)

Pete Townshend has been remarkably sanguine about this, despite death threats from One Direction fans:
Legendary rockers The Who have announced they have no plans to ask One Direction to withdraw their new track Best Song Ever after a digital mob of rabid teenage girls bombarded them with death threats.

The English rock band issued the statement yesterday, weeks after the boy band released their hit song. From the day of its release, Best Song Ever had prompted various music columnists to make comparisons with the English band's 1971 track Baba O'Riley.

The Twitterstorm first began brewing after a music reviewer on MTV.com commented about the track on 17 July: "[It] opens with a riff that sounds very similar to the Who's Baba O'Riley.

A few days later, on ClickMusic, another reviewer slated the X Factor losers' song, calling 1D's songwriting team "creatively barren" and stating that "someone should call Trading Standards".

The "Directioners" apparently tweeted and retweeted the article before the rumour began that Pete Townshend's band was actually threatening legal action, although it had not.


Guitarist and songwriter Townshend, famed for smashing his guitar on stage, issued the following statement last night:
I like One Direction. The chords I used and the chords they used are the same three chords we've all been using in basic pop music since Buddy Holly, Eddie Cochran and Chuck Berry made it clear that fancy chords don't mean great music – not always. I'm still writing songs that sound like Baba O'Riley – or I'm trying to!

It's a part of my life and a part of pop's lineage. One Direction are in my business, with a million fans, and I'm happy to think they may have been influenced a little bit by The Who. I'm just relieved they're all not wearing boiler suits and Doc Martens, or Union Jack jackets.
If you have paid any attention to the British press in recent months, you may have got the impression that nasty, nerdy male trolls were solely responsible for onine death threats. Well, it appears that teenage girls are just as bad.
This is a remarkably menschlichkeit response on the part of Townshend.

I am not particularly surprised, he has always been rather philosophical about such things.

16 August 2013

Drip, Drip, Drip………

So we have two more NSA revelations today.

First, the Washington Post uncovered an internal audit for the NSA which shows that it violated privacy regulations pretty routinely.

Additionally, the FISA court has admitted that it has no ability to verify that its orders are being followed.

It seems that every few days, another shoe drops, and each time, it reveal that both the state security apparatus and the Obama administration have been lying through their teeth.