Aug 312017
 

Russia claims new Mach 4+ MiG-41 Interceptor will be able to operate in space

No actual details.

An aircraft capable of Mach 4+? Sure, I suppose. Seems an odd thing to develop these days. Those sort of speed were an aviation fetish in the 50’s and 60’s, but there really isn’t a whole lot of need to go that fast and the penalties for doing so are *harsh.*

Operating in space? Meh. Might be a translation error or a simple misunderstanding. An aircraft capable of going that fast could potentially pop above the sensible atmosphere, perhaps like the X-15. So it would be in space, but nowhere near orbit (which would require Mach 25, not merely Mach 4). if it did so, it would need to have some ability to control its attitude, presumably with attitude control thrusters.

Or it could be BS. That would be entirely unsurprising.

 Posted by at 12:35 am
Aug 292017
 

America tests ‘the most dangerous nuclear bomb ever produced’: F-15 drops $1trillion super-nuke that has an adjustable yield and is more accurate than ever

The B61-12 is called “dangerous” because it’s yield is *ridiculously* low, variable between 300 *tons* and fifty kilotons. How it’s a “super nuke” I can’t say.

Entertainingly, in an effort to define this bomb as “dangerous,” the author of the piece refers to both International ANSWER (a communist front group) and Russia Today (Putins mouthpiece in the west). these organizatiosn don;t want the US to have this or any other new nukes. Which means it’s probably a good idea to keep developing, testing and fielding new nukes.

 Posted by at 9:06 pm
Jul 252017
 

The official story is that Russia is in Syria in order to fight ISIS and other jihadis… *not* that they’re there in order to get them selves a strategic foothold in the region by way of supporting Assad so he’ll give ’em a port. But then there’s this:

Videos suggest Russian government may be arming Taliban

Hmmm.

Some might suggest that this is irony,or turnabout s fair play. The US armed the proto-Taliban against the Soviets, after all. But in the 80’s, the great threat was the Soviet Union, not global jihadi terrorism. Now that the Russian government claims that jihadis are enough of a threat that they’re willing to carpet bomb cities full of civilians, they are *apparently* arming the very same jihadis.

 Posted by at 9:55 am
Jul 112017
 

Well, this should prove endlessly fascinating for the press.

Trump Jr. Was Told in Email of Russian Effort to Aid Campaign

In short, in June 2016 Don Trump Jr. was informed via email of a meeting with Russian lawyer who claimed to have dirt on Clinton… dirt dug up by the Russian government for the purpose of aiding Trump. Don Jr. expressed enthusiasm for this.

On  the one hand, this is not good news for the Trump narrative that he and his campaign had nothing to do with the Russians. On the other hand, it doesn’t really seem to back up the anti-Trump narrative that his campaign colluded with the Russians. It seems like the Russians – assuming the lawyer knew what she was talking about – had found the incriminating evidence on Clinton on their own initiative, and were simply offering it to the Trump campaign.

Now, on the one hand if someone offers you information that would be very useful or valuable to you, it seems reasonable enough to at least hear them out. On the other hand, there are laws against political campaigns accepting valuable gifts from foreign nationals, and “opposition research” can be considered monetarily valuable. Thus a violation of campaign finance laws. And on the other hand, we have hysterical Democrats like Tim Kaine crying “treason.” The problem with *that* is that treason is clearly defined in the US Federal Code:

Whoever, owing allegiance to the United States, levies war against them or adheres to their enemies, giving them aid and comfort within the United States or elsewhere, is guilty of treason…

… and Don Jr.’s actions don’t come close to “treason.” In 2016,Russia was not an enemy of the US, so that wipes it out right there. And accepting information from even an enemy does not constitute giving them aid and comfort.

On the whole this is bad news for Trump. And potentially good news for future-President Pence.

 

 

 Posted by at 7:48 pm
Apr 082017
 

Anybody else ever notice how common headlines like this are? “He was an activist for X, and it turns out he was actually…”

He lobbied for gay rights and opposed Trump — now Seattle’s mayor is accused of sexually assaulting minors


And because why not, the world ain’t half weird enough:

It’s now illegal in Russia to share an image of Putin as a gay clown


And on the subject of Russia… if you still have a LiveJournal account, it’s time to close it out. LJ was sold to the Russians years ago and in December the servers moved to Russia; you are now subject to Russias laws regarding censorship and control over the internet. You are not allowed to post political discussions without first getting LJ’s approval (i.e. the Russian government), and if you have more than 3,000 views per day you’re supposed to register as a media outlet.

Russian-Owned LiveJournal Bans Political Talk, Adds Risk of Spying

 

 Posted by at 9:22 pm
Mar 212017
 

I can well remember the justifiable fear that the Soviets were going to nuke the US into oblivion. That fear of course went away when the USSR went the way of the dodo (well, went the way of genocidal ideologically evil dodos), but the last 8 years of feckless “leadership” coupled with a couple decades of brainless idiocy regarding the US nuclear deterrent program have led to a situation where it’s becoming increasingly likely that people will have to start seriously contemplating nuclear Armageddon again. Not only do we have leaders with poor impulse control in the US and North Korea casually threatening to nuke the bejeebers out of each other, there’s  KGB-trained psychopath in charge of Russia casually steamrolling his neighbors and carpet bombing civilians for giggles. Evenwhat passes for the medis are starting to take notice of the effect, if not necessarily the full set of causes:

Where to Hide If a Nuclear Bomb Goes Off In Your Area

This article gives some advice on the sort of building to hunker down in to provide some measure of protection against fallout. Oddly, the most obvious and important piece of advice about surviving a nuclear attack – “don’t live in a major metropolitan area” – was not provided. The data for the article was horked from a scholarly article from 2014:

Determining optimal fallout shelter times following a nuclear detonation

Which is available for download as a PDF. It provides some complex math to determine when you should shelter in place, and when you should run like hell… math that the average schmoe is unlikely to do in the aftermath of a nuclear blast, but, still, potentially useful if converted into some sort of chart (perhaps one of those plastic-disk “computers” like the old nuclear bomb effect computers).

For years after the Evil Empire went kaput, the old civil defense efforts of telling people how to survive nuclear attacks – efforts that ranged from the generally ineffective to the outright laughable oftentimes – vanished. But they seem to be coming back… probably as ineffective as ever.

 

So… as long as I’m on the topic, anybody know of a good, reliable and *affordable* geiger counter or other form of radiation detector? I’ve always kinda wanted one. While it would of course be useful in the event of a nuclear attack to scan for fallout, I always thought such a thing might be nice to have in junk and antique stores as well as while hiking. Plus, there’s that well with the indescribable color coming out of it…

 Posted by at 10:01 pm
Jan 112017
 

“By Dawn’s Early Light” was a made-for-HBO movie filmed and set just before the fall of the Soviet Union. In short, some PO’ed Soviet military jerks steal a Russian nuclear missile, sneak it into Turkey and launch it into Ukraine, sparking a limited nuclear war between Russia and NATO. Due to misunderstandings, mistakes, arrogance and bad leadership, a situation that’s already bad gets worse. While some of the effects are clearly dated, it remains an effectively creepy movie.

One scene that always freaks me right the hell out: the carrier (USS Midway) getting torpedoed and sinking. You don’t see it; it’s just radio messages. This shows an effective example of “less is more.” As there’s no chance that an HBO TV movie budget in 1990 would have been able to show the sinking of an aircraft carrier well, doing it off screen was the right choice.

Cities get nuked. Airplanes brought down. Presidents blinded. There is no happy ending. But at least James Earl Jones gets a real cigarette.

 

 Posted by at 3:16 am
Dec 102016
 

Russia intervened to help Trump win election: intelligence officials

Of course this is terribly preliminary and *not* sourced; the CIA as an organization hasn’t made the claim, just a subset of analysts. But who knows.

Best as I can figure, the reasoning behind the conclusion seems to be that Russian hackers managed to hack both the Democrat and the Republican email systems, but only released info damaging to the Democrats. Unless the Republicans didn’t actually have any juicy scandalous stuff in *their* emails (and, honestly, what are the chances of *that*), then, if true, it does point strongly towards an anti-Dem motivation.

But even if this is all true, it’s not really tampering with the voting itself, but rather a form of pro-Trump (or at least anti-Hillary) propaganda. People still voted how they voted, and the votes were still counted (or not) based on the built-in American systems. But if the Russian government can be proven to have actually done dirty tricks to aid Trump, that will not aid his first four years to go well.

And that, I think, is a better explanation than “Putin likes Trump,” or “Trump is Putins puppet.” Rather, the goal here was to actually get caught successfully tampering with the election. This would help to screw up the image of American democracy not only here but around the world, and for years to come

 Posted by at 6:15 pm