Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Forward our Bright and Atomic Future!

As a crazed Paleoconservative Nationalist who thinks the extent of our overseas adventures should be in the Western Hemisphere, nothing is more worrisome to me than our reliance on foreign oil. Specifically, the kind of foreign oil that funds jackholes who crash planes into our buildings.

Which is why I was very pleased to hear that the NRC has received the first submission for a new reactor in decades. Nuclear plants have long been the best,the safest, the most secure, and most independent energy option for the country. The biggest hold up, of course, has been the scaremongers and the cheap oil prices.

The days of cheap oil are drawing to a close, one only has to take a glance at the pumps to verify that. While there are other methods of getting oil, the military and government agencies are going to get first call. Especially when nuclear plants are there to pick up the slack.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Iron Man trailer at Comicon!

Have you guys seen the Iron Man trailer released at this year's ComicCon? It looks pretty cool. As far as hard drinking womanizing heroes go, Robert Downing Jr. was an inspired choice.

I confess that I was more than a little skeptical that this could be pulled off. I thought the same about the Spider-man movies(first with Spider-man, then Doc Ock), and was proved wrong then. Guess it show's what I know.

Tony Stark has been getting a bit of a bum rap in the geek community of late. He was the driving force behind registration in the recent "Civil War" storyline, and now has to deal with one big green and pissed off Hulk, who has, in his own words, returned to Earth to "smash".

Leaving aside the Hulk thing, (and Dr. Strange leaving Earth high and dry by refusing to banish him again) most of the hate centers around Stark being a government stooge. Of course, the man now controls virtually every superhuman in the United States so it would be a bit hard for him to be anyone's stooge. That he was pushing for the right thing, creating a secure country(even in the midst of the Civil War with Captain America running around Stark's running of the show brought super-crime down to record levels) is lost on most guys because of the big bad government(tm). Then you have clowns like J.M.S. running around and claiming that Stark Industries is basically like Haliburton. This, of course, is a falsehood.

Let's be honest, Stark Industries gets shit done.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Good news for the RN, and USN eyes a new CGN class.

It's been a fairly interesting week, navy-wise. First off, the Royal Navy is going to get it's new Carriers. Second, Defense News ran an article indicating that the USN is interested in a CGN as a following on to the Venerable Ticonderoga class cruisers.

First, the CVF. One of Tony Blair's first acts as PM was to commence a study to determine what the British military's force structure should look like in the early 21st Century. Surprise surprise, the study revealed that the CVLs built in the '70s and '80s to combat the Soviet sub threat were of decreasing utility in the modern area. Large carriers that carried big airwings are of more use in likely future actions, as the USN carrier fleet has proven again and again. And so, the decision was made to procure two large carriers and retire the 3 Invincibles. Only one problem.

The procurement process dragged on. And on. And on. Eventually, 10 years passed and the damned things hadn't even been ordered yet, while retirement of the mediocre CVLs had begun. Eventually, French participation in the project(the French requiring a back up for the infamous Charles de Gaulle) breathed new life into it, and, I suspect, saved the project entirely. The CVFs will use the F-35 "Joint Strike Fighter" in STOVL configuration, which will be a step up from the Harriers and Sea Harriers. One big problem though is that the RN has opted to use gas turbines instead of nuclear reactors.

Which brings us to our second subject. The USN is eying a return to nuclear propulsion for surface combatants. Why? Well, oil prices are high, and they are only going to get higher. The largest single "coast of business"(besides human lives) in Iraq has been fuel. Fuel for tanks, trucks, Helos, planes, and ships. And so much of that fuel comes from the Middle East. So not only is it increasingly costly to operate "conventional" powerplants, but it isn't very secure either. And eventually we will start hitting a wall in oil production, which means we'll have a lot of idle ships. Following Saint Rickover's example can lead the USN into continued global dominance, while the rest of the world struggles to protect their own coasts, much less project power. Blessed be Saint Rickover.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Excalibur gets it's first kill, and don't fear the Reaper.

If you are a in the service, and are a military enthusiast like myself, you may be interested to know that the new XM982 Excalibur Precision-guided 155mm shell got it's first kill in Iraq recently. The Excalibur is a very accurate shell designed to provided rapid support...and Raytheon has been having a devil of a time to get it to work right. Most electronics are not built to withstand the forces imposed on a shell flying out of a howitzer, but the contractor seems to have satisfactorily resolved the issue.

At $39k a pop, it's a bit more expensive than a "dumb" shell, but more accurate, which increases the chance of hitting the bad guys and missing the good guys(or non-combatants).

Of course, this isn't the only thing entering combat this week. The MQ-9 Reaper has arrived at Balad Air Base in Iraq, although USAF officials expect it's first combat use to be in Afghanistan. Unlike the MQ-1 Predator, the Reaper has been designed from the start as a bomb/missile truck in addition to Reecee duties. The Predator wasn't pitched as a combat aircraft, because for a lot of pilots in the USAF it would mean, frankly, that they would be out of a job. The Predator proved to be technically capable of being used as a UCAV, and impressed the Brass enough that the Reaper was ordered.

I note that all these new toys coming down the pike, the Reaper, Excalibur, and V-22, will be able to slap "Combat Proven!" stickers on them when making sales pitches to foreign countries. Might want to think fo keeping an eye on the stock of these companies...

Friday, July 13, 2007

World in Conflict, and DC Metro Passengers

The World in Conflict beta is out. As a guy who's introduction to RTS games was the original Red Alert, I am more than a little intrigued by the game. Alas, I suspect that my elderly laptop(which can play Company of Heroes surprisingly well) has finally reached the wall in games it can play. Time to turn in my Navy-era laptop for a real desktop.

So, one of the tools that the DC Metropolitan area transit system(the Metro) uses for it's frequent customers is a smart card called "Smarttrip". Besides paying for fare, your company/federal agency can also deposit fare directly onto it, which I think is neat. The third use is that it's used to pay for a parking spot at the major Metro train stops(that have parking lots/garages). In fact, it is very nearly the exclusive method of payment at these facilities. But this is no big secret, oh no, there are big signs everywhere(including when you drive in) that say "Smarttrip is the only method of payment here". This isn't frickin' rocket science. How hard is it to pay just a little bit to your surroundings?

Well, this afternoon as I'm trying to leave the station and go home, the fine gentlemen in the car in front of me pulls out his credit card(I could see the magnetic strip) and just starts tapping the reader. And then I see him pulling out different credit cards and randomly tapping it. Probably 90% of the surface area of these readers at the exits say SMARTTRIP in big letters. Then, in the lane next to me, it becomes backed up because some young lady is staring blankly at the empty booth, as if a employee will magically appear. It was a nightmare and a half to get everyone to back the eff up so these two piles of human garbage could turn around and no doubt complain that the big signs all over the damn place weren't prominent enough. Such instances of stupidity happen with depressing regularity, but rarely does it cause a massive back up like it did today.

If you can't even pay attention to the big honking signs all over the place saying what the requirement was, what makes you think you pay attention driving on the road?

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Probable Treason

The President seems to have publically admitted that his administration leaked former CIA agent Valerie Plame's status to the NYT. He managed to put in the qualifier "probably" and said "And now we're going to move on".

Very few things the administration has done so far has made me enraged like this. The Administration has basically disregarded all professionalism and concern for National Security in the name of petty vendettas and spite. The President can't seem to understand why Scooty Libby deserved jail time. Not that he wasn't the only one, I have suspicions(completely unprovable) that his former boss, the Vice President, either gave the order or approved the leak. The President isn't even willing to have ones of his boys be the fall guy. Why?

Can the President be so out of touch with reality that he can't see how outing a undercover agent probably put her life in danger? Can't he see how outing a undercover closed off any and all sources through that channel? Or does he simply not care? How can it be possible that someone in his position lacks a basic understanding of right and wrong? Of concern for the safety of other people? Of National Security?