This brings us to another area where U.S. systems are outranged: ground vehicles. Researchers at the University of Virginia successfully 3D printed a drone body in one day. By snapping in place an electric motor, two batteries, and an Android cell phone, they made a fully autonomous drone that could carry 1.5 pounds approximately 50 kilometers — six times the range of the U.S. Hellfire missile. In 2014, it took about 31 hours to print and assemble the drone at a total cost of about $800. Since then printers have become over 100 times faster and will get faster still. UPS currently plans a 1,000 printer plant, which at today’s printing speeds could potentially print 100,000 drones a day. The limitation is no longer the printing but the assembly and shipment of the finished products. Both processes can be automated with robots. In the near future, drones could be produced at a rate exceeding many types of ammunition — and often for less per round. A swarm of tens of thousands of autonomous but non-coordinating drones is clearly possible. Armed with small explosive loads, these drones could score mobility kills on all non-armored vehicles and even damage thin-skinned armor. Such an attack will bring an armored brigade to a rapid halt due to lack of fuel.
Somehow it seems I haven’t posted a direct link to of Sergeant Orville A. Bierkle’s Korean War diary here — thought I had, but can’t find any such post. So here is the link. If I can figure out how to upload the PDF file here, I’ll do that too.
The war diary, provided by the sergeant’s daughter, gives provenance to his remarkable revolver, showing conclusively that it was used by him in the battle of the Chosin Reservoir, and that he brought it back with him to the United States, where it eventually made its way to me. And most importantly, don’t forget to read the thread.
Let’s understand what is going on here: the overwhelming majority of the American people, having lived through half a century of declines in faith in virtually every American institution – the Congress, the courts, the cops, the church, the media, the National Football League – now believe that one of the most important institutions we have to protect us, the security and intelligence forces that are supposed to ward off threats, have now been turned against them. And not even one out of five Americans believes this invasion of privacy is usually justified – instead, they believe not just that they are being monitored, and not only do they believe this practice is near-constant, but they also belive that this monitoring is typically baseless and unnecessary.
Nowadays you can find even obscure pieces of classical music but a click away on YouTube (such as the Wolf’s Glen scene from Weber’s Der Freischuetz, I mean, that’s amazing really). In the past, music majors such as my high-school choir teacher and Juilliard alum David Pool would have to dig through a Schwann catalog to find vinyl pressings or tapes of obscure-but-required pieces for their studies, generally recorded by equally obscure ensembles.
Pool used to joke that as a result of all this, he and and his Juilliard classmate Charles Emerson Winchester III had between them the most extensive collection of recorded works by the Chamber Society of Lower East Cleveland.
For my part, as a starving young student I amassed my trove of classical records by signing up repeatedly for Columbia House and Musical Heritage Society “introductory memberships” (“9 albums for 1 cent”), which taught me valuable life lessons about reading the fine print and how to outscam the scammers.
Happily, I also encountered all sorts of relatively obscure treasures, and Vivaldi’s L’Estro Armonico performed by I Solisti Veneti became my favorite. The other day on YouTube I found this version I may decide I like even better. An excellent listen, and a great introduction to the joys of classical music for the novice or any metalhead — especially with the bass cranked through the roof.
Now that’s changed. Full text at the link; the story begins at page 6. I’ve excerpted the first third of the novella in images below the fold, as well, to whet your appetite.
I love everything about this story: the drawing-room mystery in the donjon-like Scottish manor house, melting the Mexican silver into slugs in a kitchen crucible, the “American T-47” automatic rifles, obviously M-16 analogues (circa 1952, mind) — or perhaps they were meant to be the AK-47, “discovered” by the West in ’53. And of course the delightful endocrinology angle. The miracle of the internet means single movements of obscure pieces like “the Wolf’s Glen scene from von Weber’s Der Freischuetz” can enhance the mood, and references such as “that panel on the Isenheim Altar that showed the Temptation of St. Anthony” can be, well, referenced. It is the thinking man’s werewolf story.
And of course, the tale can also be enjoyed as a parable with all sorts of meaning in the light of the global cultural, political, or institutional destabilization of your choice. I like thinking of the character Foote as representing the cranky artiste types found in each century; sensitive to the zeitgeist, they presciently warn the elites of the coming danger, but are no more than impotent voyeurs as events progress and it all comes crashing down anyway.
A few nights ago, with the wind howling in a rare California thunder-and-hailstorm, I decided to reread TSBND in front of a roaring fire, with a glass of Ardbeg Uigeadail and a nice Davidoff cigar. The addition of von Weber’s weird piece made for a spooky backdrop indeed; happily my Kit Gun’s still snug in its case somewhere nearby.
As he seems to have taken his own advice and is off doing better things with his life than blogging, I’ll take the liberty to paste the entirety for reference as this thing accelerates.
You Fucking People Make Me Sick
So it be a damp enough day in de local boozer with the telly on and nigh on every cunt is that little bit langers. It’s a family gathering of sorts. Just a couple of pints and whatnot. So yeah, everybody is chatting away about this and that and ruggers and then, quick as a flash, the Cyprus thing comes up on the news. First I’ve heard of it. So I put my whiskey down. I edge towards the box and listen in to get the jist of what is going on. Turns out there is a fucking “tax” on deposits. I’m shocked, clearly. Clearly, these German cunts aint all sunshine and gravy en aw. So, amidst the fact that the EU did something more reminiscent of Soviet fucking Russia just there, the fact that Putin and friends are bleedin fuming away because Cyprus is a dirty moolah Russian oligarch sex party, and the simple, brutal point that if this is happening in Cyprus, it can happen here, I look around and try to get a reaction. Not a damn thing. Barely a whimper. Like I be saying, langers, just langers like. Lads and laddies get back to it thereafter, and suddenly I’m pounding back shots like no one’s business.
Later on, they have a feature on your one, eh, whats her name? The good looking lassie who is hitting the wall and married to Prince William of Beta? Yeah, well she got her heel stuck in an iron grate in this St Patrick’s Day presentation thing, and there was this big curfuffle and it was all amusing and shit. Every fiend in the pub got a good laugh out of it and the coldness set in. You fucking cunts. You blatantly ignore, the fact that a dubious organization went into another FUCKING COUNTRY’S SET OF BANKS, and skimmed the cream off of the top. Then some lassie gets her stiletto caught up and it is epic lozzlzlzlzlzlzlzlzlols for the whole family. Seeya later ye daft gobshites! All you sniveling lefties are more concerned with a bunch of lassies winning the grand slam. Bread and circuses? Corn and porn ken, corn and porn. Continue reading →
Steve Hsu has a nice post about Hawking, with good links to Roger Penrose’s obit and some reminiscences of Hsu’s personal encounters with the great man and his staff. (How many people can say they’ve carried Stephen Hawking?)
Hsu recalls the late-80s Hawking postulate about radiation being emitted from black holes — which would seem impossible by definition. I never knew the physics but remember very well reading an essay in a Baen sf and popular-science anthology (titled, I think, “BLACK HOLES!”) and the remarkable essay within citing Hawking for the statement (delivered, I am sure, with his wicked grin) that his theory meant Cthulhu was as likely to emerge from a black hole as anything else. Which almost made me switch my major (I was at UC Berkeley at the time) from Poli Sci and History to Astronomy. Almost.
RIP, Mr. Hawking, it was a thrill to have experience these decades of existence knowing you were in them.
As a quasi-test of my ability to embed stuff after almost a year’s absence, here’s a link on Twitter to David Hines’ awesome running list, followed by the video links to the ones I liked. The Gael was played at our wedding, but most of the rest are either new to me or were lost to memory, like that glorious one from “Thief” and the stirring “John Adams” title. (“The Legend of Dar” reminds me of my current background-music fave, which to leave the offseason NFL RedZone on the tube all day at high volume.) Enjoy.
In celebration of the fact that I got my knee cleared by my doctor, so my deconditioned ass went for my first run in ages today, here’s my default running playlist, in a thread.