03 April 2015

Headin' out for a spell.

Posting will be extremely light if at all.

Try back in May.

02 April 2015

The most insidious form of propaganda...

Is convincing people they know the truth.

I can't prove to anyone that Jade Helm 2015 isn't a "preparation for marshal law." I can't prove a negative. I can't prove that something really isn't something else.

It is a logical impossibility.

Even if you address every point that some critic proposes, "Why do you NEED to train in cities?" or "Why can't you do this cheaper on a smaller scale?" or whatever question is asked, it is impossible to satisfy that sort of criticism because the critic doesn't have to get to the truth.

The critic just has to inspire doubt in his target audience.

"Why are they backpeddling now?" or "Why didn't they hold a press release before we started raising a stink?" or "How do you think this would have turned out if we hadn't raised public awareness to this threat on our liberty and freedom?"

There are absolutely no facts there. Each statement is a logical fallacy in its own right, "begging the question" and designed only to inspire doubt. This isn't "reasoning", this is a "reasoning noise."

All communications are based on trust. Face to face, over the internet, telephone, or smoke signal, all communications are based on trust.

If you can "poison the well" and plant the seeds of doubt to destroy that trust, you can put a serious kink in operations.

Over the course of decades the US Government has done things that it shouldn't have. J. Edgar Hoover had no problem violating the rights of Americans. The NSA wiretapping. The war on the fourth amendment, er, I mean the war on some drugs. Fast and furious. There is plenty to be angry about.

Getting people angry about Jade Helm 2015 means dividing their attention from the Secretary of State erasing the hard drive on her homebrew email server. It means taking peoples attention away from negotiations with Iran. It means taking peoples attention away from a reheated cold war in eastern Europe. There is plenty that you should be paying attention to.

Now you dear reader, are left to decide whether or not to trust this communication. I could be a government plant meant to calm your fears and make you complacent sheep for the slaughter. I could be. Do you trust my words? Why? Why not?

If you read something and get angry, you need to ask yourself why you are angry. You need to find out if someone is manipulating you by your anger. If you read something and agree with it 100%, then either you are amazingly in sync or you are buying someone's bullshit. Either way you aren't engaging your intelligence to analyze the situation and seek truth.

But you'll have to trust me on that. And that is the truth.

01 April 2015

Harriers and Star Fighters

The F-35 restrictions on operating in unfavorable weather reminded me of other aircraft.

First up: The Lockheed F-104 Starfighter.

Why? Because the F-104 was Lockheed's first big international sale, brought about largely through lobbying and bribery. It was the F-104 scandal that prompted the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act signed into law by President Carter. Much like Canadians are stumped why the F-35 was rushed into acceptence a number of Germans and Brits were stumped why the F-104 was chosen.

The Starfighter has one of the worst accident rates in peacetime military aviation. Not as bad as the Harrier family (depending on whether you lump all of them into "Harrier" or you start nit picking between models). Much better than the short lived British Sea Vixen. I think the old German joke goes, "What is the cheapest way to acquire a Starfighter? Buy a plot of land and wait."

The two nations that had the absolute best safety record with the F-104 were Spain and Italy. Two countries with much more favorable climates than Germany or Canada.

It has been speculated that the F-104 training areas in the American southwest set pilots up for failure when they transitioned to places where clouds were the norm instead of the exception.

Whether or not the unfavorable weather kinks will be worked out of all 3 F-35 variants remains to be seen.

The second aircraft F-35B reminds me of is the Harrier, where operating in nasty weather was not a problem, but the safety record for aircraft and pilot losses is still extremely high across the operational history of the aircraft.

The only time the Harrier ever truly distinguished itself in combat was the Falklands. It home based off of ships, used what the British call a "Forward Operating Base" (FOB) but Americans would call a "Forward reArm/Refuel Point" (FARP). In the defense of the Falklands the Harrier was employed mainly in an air to air role, and having a better radar than the Argentinian Mirage fighters gave it a "see first shoot first" advantage. The San Carlos "FARP" was necessary because of the 65 minute mission duration limitation when flying off of the "sea base" that was the ship. When the patrol area was far enough away that flying out and back from the ship ate up 55 minutes of flight time, you can bet a FARP is an operational necessity.

That should put the longer flight radius of the F/A-18 into perspective. Of course the Brits weren't operating any fixed wing jets other than the Harrier in that operation so there isn't any way I can make a direct comparison to any other jet. It is easy to look awesome when there is no competition.

The history of the Harrier as a dedicated CAS platform has been less stellar but as many of its proponents claim, "it was there when nothing else was." That's kind of a dumb statement to make, because if something else had been procurred, that something else would have been there when nothing else was. Simply being there isn't sufficient justification for staying there in future formations.

But, if the USMC has their way with the all F-35 fleet, it will be easy for the F-35 to look awesome as there will be no competition to make it look bad (and fanbois will be able to say "It was there when nothing else was there!" all day long). And if the F-35B can maintain a better detection system than the enemy, "see first shoot first" advantages will give it the same battlefield reputation as the Harrier. The question remains whether it can maintain a "see first shoot first" advantage.

Now I don't want to say that the F-35 will be just like either the Starfighter or the Harrier, it obviously is not. But I remain skeptical that the F-35 will ever achieve all the technological awesomeness that its champions promise. After all, technology has a way of moving forward faster than military development, so I think it is prudent to start talking about how outdated the F-35 will be come, and soon. After all, the F-117 didn't even last two decades of operational history before being shot down over Serbia.

Now both the Starfighter and the Harrier were considered "tough" jets to fly. I'm not a pilot, so I can't say how the increases in automation will help the F-35B safety record. I can only assume that the F-35B will have a much better safety record across the lifespan of the aircraft than either the Starfighter or Harrier. But for what it costs, it damn well better. We won't be able to afford losing a quarter of the fleet to peacetime training accidents.

31 March 2015

Separating Truth from Falsity

Joe Huffman is a smarter man than I am. One of the things that he continues to address on his Blog is the ability to determine what is true from what is false. From that alone I think that people should be paying attention to the subject. http://blog.joehuffman.org/2015/03/27/quote-of-the-dayrobert-tracinski/

"I believe that guns are bad and we should ban them because they are bad!" Is a statement of belief. But how do you determine whether that belief is true or false?

Define a measure of "good" and define a measure of "bad", then determine through measurement method how much "good" and "bad" guns do in various situations and populations. At the end of it, you should have a mathematical comparison between how much "good" and how much "bad" guns do.

That is the scientific method in a nutshell. The problem with a lot of "science" into emotionally charged subjects is that some people cannot think rationally. Instead of attempting to determine the truth, they attempt to support their initial belief (the hypothesis).

If you go through the process looking for a specific result, you aren't actually "reasoning" your a "making reasoning noises." I absolutely love that phrase because it describes so much of the crap I see published by people cherry picking data to support whatever their belief happens to be (such as Himalayan Pink salt being a detox agent, marijuana as a cancer treatment, or bans on guns) http://www.saysuncle.com/2010/10/15/same-planet-different-worlds/#comment-264164

For an example that comes up a lot in my line of work, the author of "On Killing" LTC Grossman looked at the data correlating video games and violence and came to the conclusion that video games cause violence. Since he wrote that two decades of better data have come in and proven his conclusion false, but he has not abandoned his position that violent video games cause violence. What LTC Grossman failed to do is explain the rise and fall of violence in other historical times (such as the 1930s) where video games were not a factor. Had he done so he would have concluded that any association between video games and violence is weak at best. Of course LTC Grossman is not a scientist, so his deficiencies in reasoning can be explained as he never bothered to master the skills or was never taught them in the first place.

One of the biggest problems with "reasoning noises" masquerading as objective research is that it can justify absolutely anything. Eugenics married up with bigotry led to the Holocaust, and forced sterilization programs here in the United States. Global warming advocates continue to shout doom despite their predictions being proven wrong, and despite the data set showing no warming for 18 years.

One of the tools you should have to be good at reasoning is the great big list of logical fallacies. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_fallacies

Of course you really only need to know a few. The "Ad Hominem" is probably the most common, such as "The NRA is bought and paid for by gun manufacturers who have a vested interest in the blood of children being spread by their vile product."

The second most used is probably the "Straw Man", which is disproving an argument the other side didn't make. "So you say that Guns don't kill people, people kill people? Well I have the FBI Uniform Crime Statistics that lists death by firearm which clearly shows that guns kill people!" Obviously the death by firearm in the UCR is simply showing which weapon was used by the killer, not that an inanimate object is capable of killing of its own non-existent will.

Third, is the "post hoc ergo propert hoc" (this came before that, therefore this caused that) fallacy. Violent crime was around long before video games. The violent crime wave of the 80s into the early 90s coincided with the rise in popularity of video games, assuming a causal relationship between the two is at best a hypothesis you can put into the scientific method to determine truth from falsity. But you cannot come to the conclusion of causality based only on observation of two data points.

And lastly, the "appeal" fallacy. Appeal to authority. Appeal to consensus. Appeal to emotion. "4 out of 5 Doctors say.." and "97% of Scientists say..." and "Won't you think of the children?" are all direct appeals to authority, consensus, or emotion.

Generally an "anti-gun rights" activits will start off with an appeal, followed by a straw man, then slip in an ad hominem to demonize the other side, and follow up with an appeal to make the audience emotionally identify with the message. It is a "reasoning noise" and not "reasoning."

30 March 2015

Ebola Update, March

The source of my data is from the World Health Organization. If anyone has issues with the data, feel free to comment.

http://apps.who.int/ebola/current-situation/ebola-situation-report-25-march-2015

The most disappointing news I've read in a while is that Liberia was Ebola free for three weeks, and then had a confirmed case.

The reasons why this is disappointing are:

1. Delayed infection becomes a higher possibility. If ebola contaminated objects are able to infect new patients after a 3 weeks period, then we can no longer use the 3 week window as a measure of effectiveness for when this epidemic will be over.

2. It could be a new strain not seen before, starting a new infection cycle.

3. It could be a case of third party transmission. Someone was on a bus somewhere, and touched something, who then touched someone else.

4. It could be a case of mutation of the current strain. If a mutated strain has different disease cycle than the normal 3 week course then we will have to recompute for the new disease course.

I obviously don't have enough information to figure out which possible reason that a Liberian picked up Ebola after the country had been ebola free for three weeks, but I'm really hoping that it is just a case of third party transmission and not evidence of a new strain, mutation, or durable bio contamination. Of course hope is not a plan or method of attack.

Looking back at predictions made last summer, we were all supposed to be dead or dying by now from Ebola with our social services utterly incapable of functioning. The lack of a ban on air travel was supposed to be the worst thing ever and cause the disease to spread like wildfire.

Now the truth is that such a nightmare scenario could still happen. But I expect the "slow burn" of new Ebola cases in West Africa to continue for a while longer.

29 March 2015

Gear Review, Buck 345 knife

I've been using SOG pocket knives for the last couple of years. A SOG Flash II and more recently a SOGZILLA.

Both are ok, they are inexpensive, made in China, and completely functional.

On a whim today I bought a Buck 345 from the PX because it was thirty bucks and it has been a while since an American made Buck was my daily carry.

First off, this feels like a much more expensive knife. The 420HC steel Buck uses isn't going to get props from blade snobs but it will hold an edge very well and sharpen relatively easily with most natural stones or diamond hones.

The liner lock is positive, and the resounding "thunk" is a little loud for silent kills, but honestly if you are depending on a pocket knife for a silent kill you've made very bad life decisions at some point.

The Zytel grip panels are a tad on the slick side, only mildly textured with grooves. Compared to the SOG knives I've been carrying it feels way too slick, but so far that has not bothered me in actual use.

The blade design is simple, a concave grind (same as used by European style straight razors) drop point style with deep belly. No serrations, so field sharpening will be simple. A narrow thumb hole is functional, although it isn't as instinctive to use as a thumbhole style on a SOG, Benchmade, or Spyderco. There is a choil for sharpening the entire blade, but there is also a bit of extra steel on the blade in front of the choil that shouldn't be there which indicates my blade was made on a grinder getting close to replacement or was made by someone who didn't pay very good attention to that area (a feature also found on the SOGZILLA). This is really just a cosmetic "spur" and does not affect the function of the knife.

The "flipper" feature is small not enough to open the blade easily with one finger but it generally gets the blade to the halfway point. Opening with one hand is not complicate, although not as easy as either SOG.

The pocket clip is reversible, and made from thicker steel than the norm, every bit as rugged as the clip on the Flash II.

The only thing I will probably do to this knife in the future is add some stipling to the grip panels. The knife rides well in the pocket, but sometimes I have to work in cold, wet, conditions where you can't always feel your hands and the last thing I want is a slick handle.

All in all I give this knife a solid recommendation. The blade steel is perfectly fine for everything but prying, the quality of the build is excellent. If you have thirty bucks to spare and want a relatively inconspicuous pocket knife, I really doubt you could do better than a Buck 345.

There are better fixed blade knives out there in that price range (Mora Companion for one) but it is much more socially accepted to carry a pocket knife.

28 March 2015

The case for the Army to fly A-10s

A well reasoned argument looks at both sides of any given argument then chooses the one that best fits reality. Solomon asked me to explain why the Army shouldn't fly A-10s, and my argument boiled down to I didn't want an air arm in the Army that could gut the ground force like the USMC is experiencing.

But it would be mentally dishonest of me to not go back and look at why the Army shouldn't be flying A-10 warthogs to provide CAS to itself. You cannot be objective unless you understand the argument from both sides.

So here are the reasons why the Army should fly the A-10.

1. The airframes are cheap. Less than the cost of a good new helicopter, proven in combat, proven in maintenance, proven to work off of rough airfields. It would also be a huge moral boost for the Infantry to know that the Warthog is still going to come out of the sky spitting 30mm depleted uranium slugs on the enemy.

2. The USAF is looking to divest itself of the A-10, so getting them isn't the problem (if you ignore the Key West Accords). By transferring them to the Army, the USAF would not need to replace those frames with F-35s to do the CAS mission for the Army. That would potentially save taxpayers many billions of dollars.

3. The aviation wing of the Army doesn't drive the train for deployment or acquisition. The Infantry, Armor, and Field Artillery branches drive the train, and having our own fixed wing attack platforms would allow us to train and certify our own JTACs.

4. The Army currently flies fixed wing transport and fixed wing armed and unarmed drones. The only thing missing is armed fixed wing manned aircraft. We can fire hellfires from the air from Apaches and Grey Eagles, but only a legal fiction stops us from using an A-10.

As much as I have mocked LTC Paul Darling for his "A-10 Needs to Go" article, it seems that LTC Paul Darling has seen the light, and wants the Army to fly a "fixed wing aircraft capable of altitudes above 15,000 feet and slow enough to loiter a long time." and recommends the Super Tucano get picked up by the Army. For a guy who doesn't like the A-10, he sure wants an aircraft that duplicates the capabilities of the A-10.

http://www.militarytimes.com/article/20140609/NEWS04/306090036/Opinion-10-needs-go

http://ciceromagazine.com/features/the-armys-fixed-wing-future/

I would like to point out that the Army does integrate very well with the A-10. http://randomthoughtsandguns.blogspot.de/2014/05/ctc-rotations.html

So, should the Army fly A-10s given these facts?

I think the answer is, "It Depends."

How much are we giving up to get the A-10 (or other fixed wing CAS)? There ain't no such thing as a free lunch.

Are we giving up our land armor like the USMC and relying on CAS to fill the gap? We've seen how not successful that is in the "big wars" where we expect large Army armored formations to dominate the battlefield. So we can't give up our Armored Brigades.

Will we give up our authorized end strength? Cut out another Brigade or two? Make up for the lack of boots on ground with wings in the air? We learned that lesson in Korea, you have to have boots on the ground.

If the equation was as simple as getting the A-10 and giving up nothing, I would jump on that in a heartbeat. If we can take the A-10 and screw the USAF out of replacing them with F-35s we'd save the US Taxpayers billions of dollars, something that I think is in the best interest of the nation.

I think interservice rivalry is stupid, but I also think the USAF is wrong about the F-35 being able to replace the A-10. It would be petty of me to chuckle as we stole planes, pilots, and end authorizations from the Air Force to keep the A-10 around, but I'm not a very nice guy and would probably enjoy getting one back at the Air Force after the crap they pulled with the C-27J.

I do not agree with LTC Darling that the A-29 is a better platform for the Army than the A-10. It is cheaper to fly and maintain, but it lacks some of the other aspects of the A-10 that are very useful for pilot survivability, such as the A-10 having 4x the climb rate of the Super Tucano (6,000 ft/min for the A-10 over 1,500 ft/min for the A-29) and the A-29 completely lacks the "titanium tub" that has saved so many Warthog pilots from ground fire (one of the inherent dangers of the CAS mission).

To finalize, should we get the A-10? If it saves the Taxpayers money and Soldiers lives, by all means. If it comes at a cost too precious to bear, then no. We should not choose the Super Tucano, it is not as fast, not as protected, and lacks the GAU-8. We can drop bombs from drones all day, but only the A-10 or AC-130 brings the DU rain (from a long loiter fixed wing platform anyways).

Comments are open.