Eyes of the Fleet

Eyes of the Fleet

Thursday, April 30, 2015

The Fall of Vietnam - 40 years Ago and Lessons Learned

I keep getting reminded that I am not as young as I feel. The latest blow was a spate of headlines (e.g. here and an PBS show ("Last Days in Vietnam") commemorating the fall of the Republic of South Vietnam - 40 years ago:
In April of 1975, the North Vietnamese Army was closing in on Saigon as South Vietnamese resistance was crumbling. Approximately 5,000 Americans remained with roughly 24 hours to get out. Their South Vietnamese allies, co-workers, and friends faced certain imprisonment and possible death if they remained behind, yet there was no official evacuation plan in place. Still, over the last days in Vietnam, with the clock ticking and the city under fire, 135,000 South Vietnamese managed to escape with help from a number of heroic Americans who took matters into their own hands, engaging in unsanctioned and often makeshift operations in a desperate effort to save as many people as possible.
At the time of the fall of Vietnam, I was a LTJG and on shore duty. I had submitted my letter of resignation and was plotting my next move. As was common in those days, I had been assigned to one ship for a little over 3 years and I had been deployed about 1/2 of that time, not counting out of home port training.

In late March, 1972 we were off Vietnam headed for liberty in Thailand when we got turned around and sent back north. The North Vietnamese were rolling tanks into the south. U.S. destroyers, cruisers and carriers were in place to try to help stop the advance of the "Easter Offensive." There was a huge expenditure of ordnance. Ammo stocks fell so low so fast that eventually replacement stuff was being flown into to Subic Bay by air for loading onto the replenishment ships that sortied from the Naval Magazine to the "gun line." USS Pyro (AE-24) set a Navy record for ammunition transferred by an ammunition ship. From April to July the South Vietnamese forces held against and ultimately defeated the North Vietnamese forces at the Battle of An Loc. From June to mid -September, the South Vietnamese again defeated the North Vietnamese Army in the Second Battle of Quang Tri. In May, the U.S. Navy and Air Force mined North Vietnamese harbors, including the main harbor at Haiphong. These mining operations continued in bits and pieces for 8 months. In any event, the stiffened South Vietnamese response and the new attacks on North Vietnam both in conventional bombing and with the closure of its ports, drove the North Vietnamese to the peace table. Eventually, it looked like there would be a two state solution. See here.

However, starting in 1974, Congress began cutting funding to South Vietnam:
Congress places a $1 billion ceiling on military aid to South Vietnam for fiscal year 1974. This figure was trimmed further to $700 million by August 11. Military aid to South Vietnam in fiscal year 1973 was $2.8 billion; in 1975 it would be cut to $300 million. Once aid was cut, it took the North Vietnamese only 55 days to defeat the South Vietnamese forces when they launched their final offensive in 1975.
and this:
During his confirmation hearings in June 1973, Secretary of Defense James Schlesinger was sharply criticized by some senators after he stated that he would recommend resumption of U.S. bombing in North Vietnam if North Vietnam launched a major offensive against South Vietnam. However, Nixon was driven from office due to the Watergate scandal in 1974 and when the North Vietnamese began their final offensive early in 1975, the United States Congress refused to appropriate the funds needed by the South Vietnamese to protect Saigon, citing strong opposition to American involvement in the war by Americans and the loss of American equipment to the North by retreating Southern forces. Thieu subsequently resigned, accusing the U.S. of betrayal in a TV and radio address:

At the time of the peace agreement the United States agreed to replace equipment on a one-by-one basis. But the United States did not keep its word. Is an American's word reliable these days? The United States did not keep its promise to help us fight for freedom and it was in the same fight that the United States lost 50,000 of its young men.

The North Vietnamese entered Saigon on April 30 1975. Schlesinger had announced early in the morning of 29 April the evacuation from Saigon by helicopter of the last U.S. diplomatic, military, and civilian personnel.
Anyone who watched the debacle of the "evacuation" - or who had any conscience about abandoning our allies on the field of battle or who had had classmates and friends die in the war - was sickened. As noted here:
The immigration of thousands of people from Southeast Asia in the 1970s and 1980s impacted American-Vietnamese relations and gave rise to new communities of Vietnamese, Cambodian, Laotian, and Hmong Americans in the United States. Known as boat people for escaping Southeast Asia by sea, the exodus of hundreds of thousands of Southeast Asians (predominantly Vietnamese) generated a political and humanitarian firestorm for the international community, the United States, and Vietnam.

The first wave in 1975 included 140,000 South Vietnamese, mostly political leaders, army officers, and skilled professionals escaping the communist takeover. Fewer than a thousand Vietnamese successfully fled the nation. Those who managed to escape pirates, typhoons, and starvation sought safety and a new life in refugee camps in Malaysia, Thailand, Singapore, Indonesia, the Philippines, and Hong Kong. For many, these countries became permanent homes, while for others they were only waystations to acquiring political asylum in other nations, including the United States.

During the administration of President James Earl Carter, Vietnamese immigration to the United States became a prominent political issue. The number of refugees fleeing Vietnam by sea increased to nearly six thousand in 1976 and twenty thousand the following year. Officials estimated that nearly one-third of this total perished at sea from starvation, drowning, and pirates, problems that increased when some Asian countries began turning away boat people.
The waves of desperate refugees continued for years.

Somewhere in all this, driven by news reports of the plight of the refugees, I withdrew my resignation and remained on active duty for another couple of years, making another deployment to the Western Pacific - albeit too late to assist those in need.

Years later, we began to see that we were not the only ones who learned lessons from the U.S. abandonment of its ally. In nearly every conflict we've been involved in since, including the long war with al Qaeda and its ilk, the theory of our enemies has been that if they can hang on through the initial overwhelming force delivered by the Americans, they will outlast the American "will to fight."

Our enemies know our Congress too well.

So, 40 years later, I am still mad as hell at the Congress that buckled when a spine was needed to see Vietnam was not abandoned to its fate.

In that cratering I see too many links to the messes we find ourselves in now.

Osama bin Laden said:
Bin Laden's hatred and disdain for the U.S. were also manifested while he lived in Sudan. There he told Al-Qaeda fighters-in-training:[23]
America appeared so mighty ... but it was actually weak and cowardly. Look at Vietnam, look at Lebanon. Whenever soldiers start coming home in body bags, Americans panic and retreat. Such a country needs only to be confronted with two or three sharp blows, then it will flee in panic, as it always has. ... It cannot stand against warriors of faith who do not fear death.
I would suggest he was not referring to our troops, but to the weak-kneed folks who refer to our young American warriors as "kids" as if they need coddling. These people seem to believe that by withdrawing from war we are safer.  That is clearly not a lesson that history would support.

No wonder 40 years seems like yesterday to me.

History, if not repeating, certainly seems to be rhyming.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Disaster Prep Wednesday: Controlling Emergency System Overusers

Most of us have learned that 80% of the problems caused in an organization will come from 20% of the employees, or 20% of the customers. Likewise, most of us believe 20% of the people in a work force seem to do 80% of the work. We probably didn't know we were describing some form of The Pareto Principle described as
. . . the principle that 20 percent of something always are responsible for 80 percent of the results, became known as Pareto's Principle or the 80/20 Rule.
Of course, like any rule, there are ways to misapply this "80/20" concept.

Nonetheless, as I was looking at a Jason Shueh article discussing the City of Long Beach, California, at the Emergency Management website, "Can an App Reduce the Number of 911 ‘Super-Users?’" which was republished from GovTech.com, it seemed to me that Mr. Pareto was in there somewhere - even if not exactly at the 80/20 ratio:
According to city records, in 2013 the police and fire departments tallied more than 1 million inbound-and-outbound calls — 850,000 for law enforcement and 162,000 for the fire department staff, whose calls are 85 percent medical. However, 22 percent of all medical emergency calls originated from one percent of the addresses in the database, while the top 10 percent of addresses made up 52 percent of the calls.
The impact and cost of 911 super-users can be staggering. Martha Rigsby, a Washington, D.C., resident, averaged seven to 13 calls to dispatchers per month over a 30-year period and, despite having health insurance, owed more than $61,300 to the D.C. Fire and Emergency Medical Services for ambulance transportation.
The article points to a app that may help identify "super users" and allow emergency managers to reduce that !% to 22% ratio, or the 10% to 52% ratio.

The benefit of such reductions is the more efficient use of the limited resources of emergency responders. 

Wait! 7 to 13 calls a month for 30 years? That's about 4500 calls. Wow.

So if you are a responding organization, are you keeping track of how the same names appear in your records as requiring assistance? Have you got an 80/20 problem?

Something to ponder in terms of mitigation.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Iran Strikes Back: "Iranian Navy fires at, boards commercial container ship"

First, as noted in the article below, it was apparently not the Iranian Navy involved, but rather the IRGC Navy which is a different kettle of fish.

Second, after the humiliation of being forced to turn around supply vessels bound for Iranian allies in Yemen, is any one surprised Iran's more activist elements would be involved in trying to "get back" as soon as possible?

Third, typical asymmetric warfare. The Iranians know that it extremely unlikely, regardless of whatever duties we may owe the Marshall Islands flag state of the merchant ship, that the U.S. is ready to go to shooting war over this sort of action. So, a publicity coup for them at little risk.

Iranian Navy fires at, boards commercial container ship:
Iranian Navy vessels fired shots at and boarded a Marshall Islands-flagged commercial container ship in the Strait of Hormuz Tuesday, a senior defense official told Fox News.

The Maersk Tigris ship -- originally heading to Jebel Ali in the United Arab Emirates, is now being escorted by the Iranian Navy into waters near Bandar Abbas, home of Iran’s largest Navy base.

The USS Farragut, a guided missile destroyer, is making “best speed” en route to the area and has dispatched a helicopter to get a closer look, the official said.

Col. Steve Warren, a Pentagon spokesman, said the cargo ship's master had initially refused an Iranian order to move further into Iranian waters, but after the warning shots were fired the Maersk Tigris complied.

The cargo ship, which had more than 30 people aboard, was directed to waters near Larak Island, he said.

The Iranian vessels, numbering five or six, were with the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps Navy, Warren said.
UPDATE: Iranian FARS News says it's a commercial dispute:
The ship is a trade vessel and has been seized by the Iranian naval forces at the request of Iran's Ports and Maritime Organization," the source told FNA on Tuesday.

"The ship was seized after a relevant court order was issued for its confiscation," he added, indicating that the ship owner had some long-standing overdue payments that it had to settle with IPMO.

The source said the ship is a "Marshall Islands-flagged, but is owned by the US", adding that the crew are from different nationalities, including Europeans.
However, the headline is pretty clear about the point they are trying to make:
Iranian Source Confirms Seizure of US Owned Ship

Freedom to Enter into Marriage Contracts

Why do we care about who gets married and how they choose to live?

The history of marriage is not one of love but of contract relationships, all the way back into the mists of antiquity.

Government involvement seems to have been initiated as (1) a means of generating revenue and (2) a means of controlling people (as in forbidding interracial couples from marrying or first cousins or adult/child marriages or group marriages). Sort of like those laws that allowed "eugenic sterilization" back in the early 20th Century.

Far better if it had been left a matter of private contract law. Let the parties set up their own terms and get government out of the way. Of course, the right to contract may be limited by age - as in "no one under the age of 18 can enter into a legally binding marriage contract." Leave it to marriage contract lawyers to work out terms as they do now with prenuptial agreements. I suppose there can be certain legal minimums in each contract and required terms like, "It is a breach of contract for one spouse to strike another." Penalties for such breaches can be spelled out in the contract.

The law governing all the benefits conferred on married couples/groups can be adjusted so that the benefits only flow if the parties involved produce a valid contract of marriage.

On the other hand, such law as there is on this topic should allow anyone to discriminate as they see fit against such marriage contract arrangements as they find repugnant. This ought to allow all parties maximum freedom to contract as they will without the fear of some government agency forcing them to act counter to their right to believe as they will. As one of my favorite science fiction works put it: F = IW

Or, as was written in Let’s Divorce Marriage from the Government
The best solution always has been the separation of marriage and state. If my priest decides to marry gay people, then my fellow parishioners would have every right to be upset about that based on their cultural traditions and understanding of Scripture. If your pastor wants to marry gay people, then it’s none of my business. The terms of marriage should be decided by religious and other private organizations, and the state shouldn’t intervene short of a compelling reason (i.e., marriage by force or with children).

Liberals were more open to this "separation" idea back when conservative pro-family types were ascendant. Now, some conservatives are understanding its merits as a more liberal view is ascendant. Conservatives should have listened when they had some bargaining power, but everyone wants to impose their values on others by using government.

Government neutrality -- or the closest we can get to it -- is the best way to ensure fairness and social peace on this and most other social issues. Marriage is too important of an institution to be dependent on the wiles of the state. Do we really care if the state validates our marriage licenses?

National Security and Poverty: Part 1

I have been researching poverty in the U.S. with an eye toward looking at how the U.S. approach to fighting the "War on Poverty" is impacting its ability to modernize its military to deal with "war" that involves the employment of violence to achieve state aims, especially self-defense.

In order to look poverty, it is useful to have a discussion about what poverty looks like in places other than the U.S. In the following Midrats interview, Alexander Martin, working with Nuru International, "a nonprofit organization whose mission is to end extreme poverty in remote rural areas," in Kenya gives a great description of what physical poverty means in that place and in this time. The pertinent discussion begins about 20 minutes in, but I recommend listening to the whole show. Poverty limits choices in life " . . . because you just can't make any choice past that choice of just trying to feed yourself . . ."

Check Out Military Podcasts at Blog Talk Radio with Midrats on BlogTalkRadio

Somewhere in the interview I mentioned an African economist who has suggested that "foreign aid" as it is constituted is not helping Africa climb out of poverty. That man is a Kenyan, James Shikwati. An interview with him in the German magazine Der Spiegel from 2005 can be found here:


Mr. Shikwati, the G8 summit at Gleneagles is about to beef up the development aid for Africa...

Shikwati: ... for God's sake, please just stop.

SPIEGEL: Stop? The industrialized nations of the West want to eliminate hunger and poverty.

Shikwati: Such intentions have been damaging our continent for the past 40 years. If the industrial nations really want to help the Africans, they should finally terminate this awful aid. The countries that have collected the most development aid are also the ones that are in the worst shape. Despite the billions that have poured in to Africa, the continent remains poor.

SPIEGEL: Do you have an explanation for this paradox?

Shikwati: Huge bureaucracies are financed (with the aid money), corruption and complacency are promoted, Africans are taught to be beggars and not to be independent. In addition, development aid weakens the local markets everywhere and dampens the spirit of entrepreneurship that we so desperately need. As absurd as it may sound: Development aid is one of the reasons for Africa's problems. If the West were to cancel these payments, normal Africans wouldn't even notice. Only the functionaries would be hard hit. Which is why they maintain that the world would stop turning without this development aid.

SPIEGEL: Even in a country like Kenya, people are starving to death each year. Someone has got to help them.

Shikwati: But it has to be the Kenyans themselves who help these people. When there's a drought in a region of Kenya, our corrupt politicians reflexively cry out for more help. This call then reaches the United Nations World Food Program -- which is a massive agency of apparatchiks who are in the absurd situation of, on the one hand, being dedicated to the fight against hunger while, on the other hand, being faced with unemployment were hunger actually eliminated. It's only natural that they willingly accept the plea for more help. And it's not uncommon that they demand a little more money than the respective African government originally requested. They then forward that request to their headquarters, and before long, several thousands tons of corn are shipped to Africa ...

SPIEGEL: ... corn that predominantly comes from highly-subsidized European and American farmers ...

Shikwati: ... and at some point, this corn ends up in the harbor of Mombasa. A portion of the corn often goes directly into the hands of unsrupulous politicians who then pass it on to their own tribe to boost their next election campaign. Another portion of the shipment ends up on the black market where the corn is dumped at extremely low prices. Local farmers may as well put down their hoes right away; no one can compete with the UN's World Food Program. And because the farmers go under in the face of this pressure, Kenya would have no reserves to draw on if there actually were a famine next year. It's a simple but fatal cycle.

This video should roll into parts 2 and 3 automatically.

UPDATE: See also:
Poverty Inc website here.

UPDATE2: Fixed the last video embed.

Friday, April 24, 2015

On Midrats 26 April 15 - Episode 277: Manpower, Modernization, and Motivation - an Hour with VADM Moran

Please join us on Sunday, 26 April 2015 at 5pm EDT for Midrats Episode 277: Manpower, Modernization, and Motivation - an Hour with VADM Moran
For the Sailor, nothing is more immediate, more "now" and of more impact to their personal and professional lives than their next set of orders.

For our Navy, nothing defines present operational performance, the development of future leaders, and ensuring success at war for the next few decades than personnel policy.

Our guest for the full hour this Sunday from 5-6pm Eastern will be the Chief of Naval Personnel, Vice Admiral Bill Moran, USN.

We will discuss the drive to man the Fleet to appropriate levels now, while looking at ways to modernize the personnel system to provide greater choice, flexibility and transparency for our Sailors and the commands they serve.

We will also look at the ongoing discussion about how to best keep with one hand a firm hand on what has worked, while with a free hand, reach for those things that will ensure that today's officers and enlisted personnel have a Navy that not only is meeting its needs, but takes in to consideration the individual goals and priorities of its personnel.
Join us live if you can by clicking here (if you can't join us live, you will also find show archived at that link or at our iTunes page here).

Friday Fun Film: "The Navy Way (1944)"

Full length film about the challenges of Navy boot camp in the old days.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Disaster Prep Wednesday on a Thursday: Bicycles in Disasters

I've been reading a lot of "disaster fiction" lately. Most of it seems based on some sort of EMP event that wipes out the electricity and drops us- plop - back to the stone age. It is each man/family/community for itself and the devil take the unprepared.

None of these books seems complete without a veteran who was some combination of SEAL/Green Beret/Ranger - which, of course, eliminates about 95% of the rest of those who actually served in the military. I guess it's not sexy to have a supply type involved.

In any event, shortly after the lights go out, the worst instincts of mankind come to the fore and . . .

Really? No power? No gas? Roads not clear?

But I digress. Sorta.

As I have suggested before, one of the most important tools that you could have in a disaster is a bicycle. And by a "bicycle" I don't mean some sort of machine gun equipped thing that will help you fend off the marauders who, according to the above-mentioned literature, are headed your way to steal your food, water, and raid your armory. How they get the gas and operating cars to do this is never made clear . . .

No. I mean a sturdy bike.

Why? Interesting reading in this Master's thesis by James Alexander, "The Role of Cargo Bicycles in Disaster Planning and Emergency Management
Bicycles are not typically emphasized as a disaster response tool. However, some recent hurricanes and earthquakes have highlighted the effectiveness of bicycles in disasters. Bicycles can be more nimble than automobiles, effective in gas shortages, and can even be adapted to become human-powered generators. Cargo bicycles also retain these functions, while adding a heavy payload capacity.
Several recent disasters have highlighted the bicycle as an effective, but often overlooked tool in the aftermath of a disaster. Hurricane Sandy victims
in 2012 turned to bicycles en masse to travel in and out of Manhattan during the days after the hurricane shut down bridges and caused gas shortages in New Jersey (Goodyear 2012).
The Goodyear article, based on Hurricane Sandy, can be found as The Power of Bicycles in Disaster Recovery:
New Yorkers are learning things from this storm, and from the relief efforts that are ongoing even as another weather front sweeps through this afternoon, forcing another round of evacuations. Practical things. They are learning where to go for help, and how to help each other. They are learning how to get around when the transportation system fails, and the importance of redundancy and resiliency in all kinds of infrastructure. They are learning what you really need to have on hand when supply chains are disrupted, and what you can do without. They are learning how to assess the accuracy of information, and how to spread it. They are learning that individual efforts, pooled together, can make a substantial material difference in a crisis.

Bicycles are part of all this. In the early days after the storm, when the trains and buses stopped running, bikes were one of the few reliable ways of moving people, objects, and information around streets choked with debris. They don’t require the gasoline that people are still lining up for hours to get. They don’t need to be charged up – just add some basic food to a human being, and you can power the legs that turn the cranks.
See also "The Use of Bicycles as Disaster Relief Tools" :
Cycling isn’t a perfect solution after the storm passes but it can be critical when the supply chain is disrupted. With a bicycle, short to medium length trips to deliver people or supplies is an option when a car simply is not. As long as the rider has the carrying capacity ability and the physical ability, limitations of using a bicycle are significantly minimized. “Cycling tends to play a smaller role, because it requires bicycles, the ability to ride, and adequate riding conditions, but can still be useful in some situations. For example, walking and cycling can be the primary mode for large numbers of people to evacuate away from a coastline during a hurricane or tsunami, and for evacuees to travel to transit and rideshare pickup stations.”
A better title cuts to the chase "Bicycles Are Like the Cockroaches Of Transportation in Natural
James Thomas of Bicycle Design likens bikes to cockroaches, not in the sense that most drivers would like to squish them but in the sense that in a time of natural disaster they just keep going.
Note that the use of bikes in disasters is acknowledged by disaster professionals The bicycle's next frontier: disaster response :
The city of Portland, Oregon, as well as citizen-led Neighborhood Emergency Teams(NET), have been including the cargo bike in their plans.

Heavier framed than the standard bicycle, the cargo, or freight, bicycle was common in dense urban environments. They were commonly used for deliveries of commodities such as milk or bread, though they were capable of carrying relatively heavy loads.
A good cargo bike isn't cheap. See here. But a good sturdy bike like this probably won't break your wallet.

Besides, you need the exercise, so using a bike to train for disaster use is a good idea.

Oh, and if you need to generate electricity, there are things like this 300 Watt Bicycle Generator. See a "how to" here. Also here (although will charging cell phones be a big deal in an EMP event? However, for all those other disasters that knock out electricity it's a good idea). More here.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

China: A Video on Its "Defensive Layers"

Sam LaGrone put up this video on the USNI News site but it is from the Office of Naval Intelligence:

The rest of Sam's post is well worth reading, as it deals with Global Guided Missile Expansion Forcing U.S. Navy to Rethink Surface Fleet Size:
Rapid growth in the capability and quality of guided missiles — mostly Chinese in origin — is causing the U.S. Navy to rethink the number of surface ships it needs to effectively fight a high-end war.

Early estimates based ongoing war games could mean the current number of 88 large surface combatants — the Navy’s fleet of guided missile destroyers and cruisers — needs to grow to more than a hundred into the 2020s just to keep to today’s current level of risk, USNI News has learned.
Then it goes into budgets and alternatives.

Good read.

First Amendment Threats: George Will on the Challenges to Free Speech

Well, here's what the sensitive snowflakes of "trigger warnings" are bringing us:
“Today’s attack is different. It is an attack on the theory of free speech. It is an attack on the desirability of free speech . . . What we have today is an attack on the very possibility of free speech. The belief is that the First Amendment is a mistake.”

Regarding Ms. Clinton's challenge to free speech, it's couched in terms of getting "anonymous" money out of politics, as set out here:
The one comment that arguably raised the most eyebrows was Clinton’s reference to political reforms: “We need to fix our dysfunctional political system and get unaccountable money out of it once and for all, even if that takes a constitutional amendment.”
Clinton didn’t delve into too many details – not surprising given that this was only her second full day as a candidate – but as the campaign unfolds, Andrew Prokop sketched out what a possible constitutional amendment might look like.

The problem, as campaign finance reformers see it, is that for decades the Supreme Court has defined speech too broadly and corruption too narrowly. It has ruled that laws capping how much an individual or group can donate to a particular candidate are acceptable, because they help prevent corruption. However, overall caps on the amount any candidate or corporation spends on elections are unconstitutional, because they muzzle speech without specifically preventing corruption. (The court’s narrow definition of “corruption” has consistently been disputed by some justices in the minority.)

So the Democrats’ proposed constitutional amendment specifically says that both Congress and state governments can limit the “raising and spending of money” meant “to influence elections.” It lists several rationales for doing so – advancing “democratic self-government” and “political equality,” and protecting the “integrity” of the political process. However, it only says that “reasonable limits” are acceptable – so if the amendment is ever enacted, there would undoubtedly be court battles over which restrictions are reasonable or unreasonable.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Well, it is the 21st Century: "Third-Gen Electric Laser Weapon Now Ready"

Not a prototype
Aviation Week report by Graham Warwick, General Atomics: Third-Gen Electric Laser Weapon Now Ready
The company has responded to an Office of Naval Research (ONR) solicitation for a 150-kw laser weapon suitable for installation on DDG-51-class destroyers to counter unmanned aircraft and small boats using only ship power and cooling.

Under ONR’s Solid-State Laser Technology Maturation program, the weapon is to be demonstrated in 2018 on the USS Paul Foster, a decommissioned Spruance-class destroyer that now serves as the U.S. Navy’s ship-defense test vessel at Port Hueneme in California.

GA-ASI has proposed its Gen 3 High-Energy Laser (HEL) system, which recently completed independent beam-quality and power testing for the U.S. government. The Gen 3 system is the third generation of electrically pumped laser using the architecture developed for Darpa’s Hellads program.
Some info from General Atomics:
DDG 51 with frickin' lasers
General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc. (GA ASI), a leading manufacturer of Remotely Piloted Aircraft (RPA) systems, radars, and electro-optic and related mission systems solutions, today announced that an independent measurement team contracted by the U.S. Government has completed beam quality and power measurements of GA-ASI’s Gen 3 High Energy Laser System (HEL) using the Joint Technology Office (JTO) Government Diagnostic System (GDS).

“These measurements confirm the exceptional beam quality of the Gen 3 HEL, the next-generation leader in electrically-pumped lasers,” said Claudio Pereida, executive vice president, Mission Systems, GA-ASI.

The new laser represents the third generation of technology originally developed under the High Energy Liquid Laser Area Defense System (HELLADS, Gen 1) program. The Gen 3 Laser employs a number of upgrades resulting in improved beam quality, increased electrical to optical efficiency, and reduced size and weight. The recently certified Gen 3 laser assembly is very compact at only 1.3 x 0.4 x 0.5 meters. The system is powered by a compact Lithium-ion battery supply designed to demonstrate a deployable architecture for tactical platforms.

The Gen 3 HEL tested is a unit cell for the Tactical Laser Weapon Module (TLWM) currently under development. Featuring a flexible, deployable architecture, the TLWM is designed for use on land, sea, and airborne platforms and will be available in four versions at the 50, 75, 150, and 300 kilowatt laser output levels.

The GDS was employed by an independent measurement team to evaluate the beam quality of the Gen 3 system over a range of operating power and run time. According to JTO’s Jack Slater, “The system produced the best beam quality from a high energy laser that we have yet measured with the GDS. We were impressed to see that the beam quality remained constant with increasing output power and run-time.”

With run time limited only by the magazine depth of the battery system, beam quality was constant throughout the entire run at greater than 30 seconds. These measurements confirm that the exceptional beam quality of this new generation of electrically-pumped lasers is maintained above the 50 kilowatt level.
What's it mean? Try this "Tactical Laser Weapon Module Can Laserify Almost Anything" the title of an Evan Ackerman post at the IEEE Spectrum:
The thing in this picture (you have to follow the above link to see it) isn’t a photon torpedo. But, it’s close. It’s a photon cannon, currently under development by General Atomics. Small, versatile, and completely self-contained, it turns anything onto which you stick it into a powerful laser weapon. And at just two cubic meters in volume, you should have no trouble mounting it on the roof rack of your Volvo.
What we were able to find out about this thing is that it’s a laser weapon with output energies (that's output, not total power in the system) ranging from 75 kilowatts all the way up to 300 kilowatts. To put that in perspective, about a year ago we wrote about how Lockheed was using a portable fiber laser to shoot down rockets at a range of 1.5 kilometers using just 10 kilowatts of power. Suffice it to say, 300 kilowatts is rather a lot. The weight of the system is dependent on its output power and the number of shots you want, but General Atomics engineers say that they’ve gotten it down to just 4 kilograms per kilowatt.

Monday, April 20, 2015

What Happens When the Bill of Rights Gets Trampled

A stunning article from David French at National Review, "Wisconsin’s Shame: I Thought It Was a Home Invasion":
Yet no one in this family was a “perp.” Instead, like Cindy, they were American citizens guilty of nothing more than exercising their First Amendment rights to support Act 10 and other conservative causes in Wisconsin. Sitting there shocked and terrified, this citizen — who is still too intimidated to speak on the record — kept thinking, “Is this America?”
An extremely partisan prosecutor, a remarkably compliant judge and out the window go the First Amendment, the Fourth Amendment, the Fifth Amendment, and the Sixth Amendment.

Further, as noted in the article, the "chilling effect" on others by the acts described reach far beyond those actually assaulted by law enforcement agencies.

What that old Buffalo Springfield song (written about a different set of circumstances, but still valid):
There's something happening here
What it is ain't exactly clear
There's a man with a gun over there
Telling me I got to beware
t's s time we stop, hey, what's that sound
Everybody look what's going down

Paranoia strikes deep
Into your life it will creep
It starts when you're always afraid
You step out of line, the man come and take you away
Why isn't this song being sung on college campuses today? Go back to that first verse.

Those first ten amendments to our Constitution are important.

James Madison
UPDATE: Another good read Myron Magnet's piece in City Journal Free Speech in Peril:
. . .  I think Madison right to say that the proper response is not criminalization but argumentation. In a remarkable foreshadowing of John Stuart Mill’s 1859 classic, On Liberty, Madison wrote in 1800 that it is to free speech and a free press, despite all their abuses, that “the world is indebted for all the triumphs which have been gained by reason and humanity, over error and oppression.” Only out of freewheeling discussion, the unbridled clash of opinion and assertion—including false, disagreeable, and unpopular opinions, Madison believed no less than Mill—can truth ultimately emerge. So it is troubling to see that the camel of repression has gotten his nose under the Constitutional tent by a law allowing the prosecution of bosses for tolerating speech by some employees that allegedly creates a “hostile environment” for others. The Court ought to squelch such an affront to the First Amendment. And it is equally troubling that state and federal laws have created such a thing as a “hate crime.” All that should matter to the law is whether the perpetrator of a crime acted with criminal intent, not whether that intent rested on an outlandish opinion.
Equally wrong are campaign-finance laws, which, happily, the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision has begun to undo. In the American political system, based on man’s natural right to life, liberty, and property, money should talk. The core of Madison’s worry about the “tyranny of the majority” in Federalist 10 was that the unpropertied many might vote themselves the property of the rich few—whether by disproportionate taxation, abolition of debts, inflation to erode savings and investments, “an equal division of property, or . . . any other improper or wicked project”—which the Founders believed would be no less a tyranny than an absolute monarch’s expropriation of property. Madison argued in Federalist 10 that the clash of many competing interests in such a big republic as America would prevent such democratic tyranny from occurring; but he proved wrong. . .

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Saturday Is Heinlein Quote Day: #52 and final in the series

About a year ago, I begin putting up quotes from Robert A. Heinlein. Like many people who have read some of his works, I find them sometimes to be inspiring, sometimes to be prophetic, sometimes disturbing and sometimes disgusting.

However, from the first time I checked out Space Cadet from the Anderson Air Force Base library on Guam when I was in 4th grade (I think I checked it out 10 or 12 more times after that), to reading the Red Planet (over and over) to my first encounters with Glory Road (teenage boy dream fodder that) to the many, many readings I have undertaken of Starship Troopers and The Moon is a Harsh Mistress, I was/have been a Heinlein junkie.


Because of this:
Through science fiction the human race can try experiments in imagination too critically dangerous to try in fact. Through such speculative experiments science fiction can warn against dangerous solutions, urge toward better solutions. Science fiction joyously tackles the real and pressing problems of our race, wrestles with them, never ignores them—problems which other forms of fiction cannot challenge. For this reason I assert that science fiction is the most realistic, the most serious, the most significant, the most sane and healthy and human fiction being published today.
I'm sure there are hundreds of quotes available about the optimism of science fiction - that it assumes there will be a future. But no one ever expressed as well as Heinlein did the role science fiction plays or should play in helping us ponder that future.

Friday, April 17, 2015

On Midrats 19 April 2015 - Episode 276: "21st Century Ellis"

Please  join us at 5pm EDT on 19 April 2015 as we return live, after a two week hiatus, for Midrats Episode 276: "21st Century Ellis"
The next book from USNI's 21st Century Foundations series is 21st Century Ellis: Operational Art and Strategic Prophecy for the Modern Era, edited by Capt. B.A. Friedman, USMC.

This book covers the work of Lt. Col. "Pete" Ellis, USMC who in 1921 predicted the coming war with Japan.

Included in this collection are some of his articles on counterinsurgency and conventional war based on his experiences in WWI and the Philippines.

Capt. Friedman will be with us for the full hour to discuss this and more.

Capt. B.A. Friedman is a field artillery officer in the United States Marine Corps currently stationed at Camp Lejeune, NC. He is pursuing a master's degree in national security and strategic studies through the Naval War College.
You can join us at the date and time above, or pick the show up later by clicking here. If getting the show later on iTunes appeals to you, our iTunes page is here.

Friday Fun Film: "Supply - Lifeblood of Seapower" (1959)

Saved by Periscope Film
Created in 1959, this documentary film profiles the U.S. Navy's Supply Corps. and shows the varied activities of its personnel. Modern punchcard computers are seen in the film (00:09:35:00 and 00:12:00:00) in a segment where a "vital part" is located in the supply point warehouse and sent to the fleet via a long chain of logistics.

The Supply Corps of the United States Navy traces its beginnings to February 23, 1795 when the nation's first Purveyor of Public Supplies, Tench Francis, Jr., was appointed by President George Washington. The Supply Corps is one of the oldest staff corps in the U.S. Navy. Supply Corps officers are concerned with supply, logistics, combat support, readiness, contracting and fiscal issues. The official motto of the Supply Corps is "Ready for Sea" - reflecting the Supply Corps' longstanding role in sustaining warfighting. The motto derives from the traditional report from each Department Head of a ship to the Captain prior to getting underway. The tradtional form is "Good Morning, Captain, The Supply Department is ready for sea in all respects."

Commissioned officers in the Supply Corps are schooled and experienced in a variety of disciplines such as supply management and expeditionary logistics, inventory control, disbursement, financial management, contracting, information systems, operations analysis, material and operational logistics, fuels management, food service and physical distribution.

Supply Corps officers can be members of a ship or shore activity's supply department or can be billeted into supply units/commands - such as the Navy Expeditionary Logistics Support Group (NAVELSG), Fleet Logistics Centers (FLCs) or Navy Special Warfare (SPECWAR) Logistics Groups which support the United States Navy SEALs. Supply Corps officers can command supply units. A Supply Corps officer is always the Commanding Officer of a Naval Cargo Handling Battalion - groups charged with stevedoring and logistics whose constituent companies are led by both Supply Corps and Civil Engineer Corps officers. Supply Corps officers also serve in forward deployed land-based units - such as the Seabees - working alongside Civil Engineer Corps officers and with the Marine Corps.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

New 3rd Generation Model Introduced in the Eagle1 Series

We are pleased to announce that a new, improved, model has been introduced into the Eagle1 family as the Generation 3 lead model.

In keeping with tradition, the new model was delivered while part of his design team (Generation 2) was deployed at sea.

All Generation 1 models are ecstatic with this first model of the Generation 3 series, and their "cooing" functions are being activated.

Both the Generation 2 co-designer/production chief and Gen 3 Mk1, Mod 0 are doing well.

UPDATE: And the real deal -

Things to Think About: China's Anti-Satellite Weapons

U.S. AEHF satellite (USAF image)
For a country like the U.S.,  highly dependent on its satellites for a whole bunch of things including many defense missions, here is a worrisome development "China "successfully" tests an anti-satellite weapon
China has successfully placed low earth orbit satellites at risk, Air Force Lt. Gen. Jay Raymond told an overflow audience at the annual Warfighters Lunch at the Space Symposium here. “Soon every satellite in every orbit will be able to be held at risk,” the head of the 14th Air Force said.

China has claimed the test was for missile defense and noted that nothing was destroyed in the test. Raymond clearly wanted to dispel that impression and make certain everyone in the space community knew that China had executed another ASAT test and that it had worked.
More here.

Should we be surprised?

Only if we have been burying our heads in the sand.

A James Bond movie ASAT
I mean even in 1967 the James Bond movie You only Live Twice featured a satellite killer of sorts. The USSR had an ASAT program in starting in the 1970s.

The U.S. has a program since the 1950s. It was mentioned in the Tom Clancy book Red Storm Rising.

Think about it. Asymmetric warfare means finding ways to exploit your potential adversary's weak links. So China develops  ballistic missiles designed to take out carriers at sea, strengthened artificial islands ("unsinkable aircraft carriers"), numerous high velocity anti-ship cruise missiles mounted on low cost platforms, numbers of small relatively inexpensive submarines,  huge numbers of sea mines, and . . . anti-satellite weapons.

How does the U.S. counter? Drones. Satellite substitutes (high flying, long endurance drones), ballistic missile defense weapons.


One jump ahead.

Interesting post at Global Security from 2013:
China reported the launch of a suborbital high altitude sounding rocket [more properly, a vertical probe] on May 13 to an altitude of more than (but of order?) 10000 km, and possibly of order 30,000 km. The launch came only days after US Deputy Defense Secretary Ashton Carter unveiled what he termed a "long overdue" effort to safeguard US national security satellites and to develop ways to counter the space capabilities of potential adversaries.
"Long overdue."

Mr. Carter is now the Secretary of Defense.

A good deal of background from the Union of Concerned Scientists in a 2012 paper by Laura Grego A History of Anti-Satellite Programs.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Confusion to the Foe: U.S. Drone Swarms

From the Office of Naval Research:

ONR News:
Office of Naval Research officials announced recent technology demonstrations of swarming UAVs — part of the Low-Cost UAV Swarming Technology (LOCUST) program ...

LOCUST can launch swarming UAVs to autonomously overwhelm an adversary. The deployment of UAV swarms will provide Sailors and Marines a decisive tactical advantage.
Way cool. Now we need some applied imagination to work on how to best use these things - and not to make it "doctrine" but allow for ad hoc uses based on ground realities.

Another cool reveal at the Sea-Air-Space gathering, MDUSV
MDUSV: ONR’s Medium Displacement Unmanned Surface Vehicle (MDUSV) program will be to autonomous surface vessels what LDUUV-INP will be to the undersea autonomous realm. The technology will be joined with an emerging new platform called the Antisubmarine Warfare Continuous Trail Unmanned Vessel (ACTUV), in partnership with the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency. This joint, modular platform is designed for multimission capabilities and modular payload options — and will bring new advances in speed, endurance and sea-state capabilities. On display is a model of the future 130-foot long vessel. The project will include the use of ONR-sponsored autonomous technologies similar to those used in autonomous swarmboats.

And then there is the Large Displacement Unmanned Underwater Vehicle (LDUUV) INP, described in 2014 by the Director of Disruptive Naval Technologies:
Why LDUUV: Develop fully autonomous long endurance UUVs capable of 60+ days of operation in the littorals, extend and multiply the current Navy platform’s capability.
• Ability to extend the reach of the Navy into the denied areas
• Focus Areas: Endurance, Autonomy, Advanced Energy
• 5x –10x Current UUV Energy Density
• Open Architecture
• Open Ocean/Over the Horizon Operations
Why is LDUUV Hard:
• LDUUV operates in complex ocean environments near harbors, shore, and high surface traffic locations that change significantly over relatively short periods of time.
• Need to dramatically increase power and endurance from current capability.
• Need to mature autonomous systems to compete complex missions and remain navigationally safe without human intervention.
Solution Attributes:
• Development of advanced air independent UUV energy systems to provide months of operations
• Focus on technologies that enable full autonomy in a cluttered maritime environment
• Conduct pier to pier fully autonomous operations to demonstrate increased mission flexibility
Update: LDUUV releases part of a "payload" (USN image)
• Defined interfaces and standards to payload and autonomy capability
• Leverage technologies from Navy Enterprises
• Two BAAs, one addressing Autonomy and Endurance (individually), the other addressing Advanced Energy
• Potential for synergy with other UUV energy initiatives
• Leverage legacy and developmental autonomy technologies
How's all this unmanned stuff supposed to work? There was vision put out in 2013 by the U.S. Department of Defense "Unmanned Integrated Systems Roadmap with this image:

A very good read at Naval Drones "Robot Ethics and Future War" by CAPT (ret) Wayne P. Hughes, Jr:
*** Lucas described a common concern in ethical debates about the use of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs, or when armed, UCAVs). He put due stress on the future of autonomous lethal platforms, in other words robots, and on the development of cyber weapons. These and other emerging technologies such as autonomous or unmanned underwater vehicles (AUVs or UUVs) carrying mines or torpedoes might render war itself less destructive and costly, raising concern that it would be easier to rationalize their employment in inter-state conflict. This would lower the threshold for going to war, which then might expand in unanticipated, unintended, and deadly ways.
Read it all.

Hat tip to Naval Drones

Disaster Prep Wednesday: New Direction in Climate Change Research

A really good, down to earth look at climate change from MIT professor Kerry Emanuel:

Research aimed at predicting future climate activity has primarily focused on large and complex numerical models. While this approach has provided some quantitative estimates of climate change, those predictions can vary greatly from one model to the next and produce doubts in the projected outcome.

In this Faculty Forum Online broadcast, Professor Kerry Emanuel ’76, PhD ’78 discussed a new approach to climate science that emphasizes basic understanding over black box simulation. After Emanuel presented a brief overview of climate research, he took questions from the worldwide MIT community via video chat. ***

In 2006, Emanuel was named by Time magazine as one of the 100 most influential people in the world. He is the author of What We Know about Climate Change, a book The New York Times called “the single best thing written about climate change for a general audience.”
The video is from a couple of years ago.

Nice to hear someone discuss doing "something that makes sense." A nice little head nod to TANSTAAFL with coal.

Why is this in a Disaster Prep Wednesday post? Risk management means being willing to weigh evidence and determine whether action is required as a result.

Note: Sometimes the video does not show up in my draft or preview screens. If the video isn't working, you can find it at the first link and I'll try to fix it here later.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Nanny State: All Your Climate Change Health Concerns Belong to Us

A classic overreach by the federal nannies as set out by Oil and Gas Journal editor Bob Tippee here:
Programs stuffed with sweeping actions imply the existence of sweeping problems—sometimes falsely.

This trick of activism underlies a bureaucratic spurt announced by the Obama administration as “actions to protect communities from the impacts of climate change.” The focus is health, against which who would dare argue? And the implication is that climate change represents a health problem so large that a whopping response is in order.

The White House fact sheet on this whopper is 4,777 words long. Headings in a summary bullet list set the tone: “convening stakeholders,” “identifying solutions to minimize impacts,” “expanding access to climate and health data,” “preparing the next generation of medical and health professionals,” “releasing draft climate and health assessment report.”

You know officials are serious when they get down to convening stakeholders and minimizing impacts.

And doesn’t federalization of medical education follow logically from the government’s usurpation of the health system under Obamacare?

For that purpose, the administration is creating a “coalition of deans” from 30 medical, nursing, and public health schools, members of which will start work with “a roundtable discussion around climate change and health.” No doubt unwelcome in this elite group is anyone inclined to note how temperature measurements aren’t supporting model projections of dangerous warming, on which climate panic is founded.
Read the whole thing.

Isn't it nice to know that our federal dollars - dollars that could be used to get control over immigration (which, by the way, poses some legitimate health issues itself), or to dealing with ISIS, or to addressing China's own overreach in the South China Sea - can be used to worry this well-gnawed bone?

The White House press release/fact sheet "Actions To Protect Communities From The Impacts Of Climate Change" on can be found here. Here's a sample section:
We know climate change is not is not a distant threat, we are already seeing impacts in communities across the country. And while most Americans see climate change hitting their communities through extreme weather events – from more severe droughts and wildfires to more powerful hurricanes and record heat waves – there are other threats climate change poses to the American people. In the past three decades, the percentage of Americans with asthma has more than doubled, and climate change is putting these individuals and many other vulnerable populations at greater risk of landing in the hospital. Certain people and communities are especially vulnerable, including children, the elderly, the sick, the poor, and some communities of color. Rising temperatures can lead to more smog, longer allergy seasons, and an increased incidence of extreme-weather-related injuries.
Funny how the same populations of "children, the elderly, the sick, the poor, and some communities of color" seem to be at greater risk of everything bad that could happen in our society. Is the trick not get old, to work hard not to be poor and to not live in "some communities of color."

I'm simply going to ignore that stuff about "more severe droughts and wildfires to more powerful hurricanes and record heat waves" for the time being. This post is long enough already.

While not the main point here, the line about "In the past three decades, the percentage of Americans with asthma has more than doubled" deserves a look. That time frame goes back to 1984 and is well after major efforts were being made to clean up air pollution, including reducing emissions from cars, factories, power plants and the like. How do we explain this increase in asthma, then during a period of general decrease in air pollution?

More statistics:
United States

The number of people with asthma continues to grow. One in 12 people (about 25 million, or 8% of the U.S. population) had asthma in 2009, compared with 1 in 14 (about 20 million, or 7%) in 2001.2
About 1 in 9 (11%) non-Hispanic blacks of all ages and about 1 in 6 (17%) of non-Hispanic black children had asthma in 2009, the highest rate among racial/ethnic groups.2
For the period 2008–2010, asthma prevalence was higher among multiple-race, black, and American Indian or Alaska Native persons than white persons.5
• From 2001 through 2009 asthma rates rose the most among black children, almost a 50% increase.2
• From 2001 through 2009, the greatest rise in asthma rates was among black children (almost a 50% increase).2
Look at top line in the quote (which is from the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology: 2001: 7% (1 in 14) of the population had asthma. 2009: 8% (1 in 12) That's an increase of 1% not a doubling. So where does this "doubling" come from? There's an interesting here:
study on childhood asthma
Asthma prevalence rates among children remain at historically high levels following dramatic increases from 1980 until the late 1990s
From 1980 to 1996, asthma period prevalence among children 0–17 years of age more than doubled, from 3.6% in 1980 to 7.5% at the peak of the trend in 1995. Although not strictly comparable, the most similar post-1997 measure is current asthma prevalence that has been measured since 2001 and has remained relatively stable since then. Because current asthma prevalence estimates are higher than pre-1997 asthma period prevalence estimates, it may be tempting to conclude that asthma prevalence continued to increase after 1996. However, the difference between asthma period prevalence estimates and current asthma prevalence estimates is likely due to NHIS questionnaire changes (13). Nonetheless, prevalence remains at historically high levels. In 2005, 8.9% of children currently had asthma (6.5 million children).
Of course, there is this interesting bit in this report:
A major frustration in fighting asthma is the mystery of its development. It remains unknown why some people get the disease and others do not. Research has identified several factors associated with the development of asthma, but none have proven to be the causative agent.
What on earth happened between 1980 to 1996? Better diagnosis? Now, I'm just a layman, but shouldn't there be a clue in the pattern of growth in asthma and this:
People with a family history of allergies or asthma are more prone to developing asthma.
I would think, given the marked increase in asthma rates among black children and the family history thing, there could be a genetic factor. But you know, that's just speculation on my part.

When looking at this report, put on your statistics skeptic hat. For example, what does this mean?
Scientists have projected that ozone concentrations in the New York metropolitan region will increase as a result of climate change, driving up the number of ozone-related emergency room visits for asthma in the area by 7.3 percent— more than 50 additional ozone-related emergency room visits per year in the 2020s, compared to the
In other words, in the 1990s, the average number of ozone-related emergency room visits per year was about 667*, projected to grow to 717 in the 2020s. Let's see, was that adjusted for population growth? Doesn't say. So, how meaningful is it? (*50 is 7.5% of 667 by my calculations). On an annual basis 667 visits is 1.8 visits per day and 717 is 1.9. By my math, that's a .1 increase per day. So much less exciting than the numbers above. That should slow the panic level, but probably won't.

And how to asthmatics reduce their risk of exposure to increased "ozone concentration in the "New York metropolitan region?" Here are some ideas:
(1) Move to some other area with a lower projected ozone concentration;
(2) Follow the advice of experts:
  • Avoid known asthma triggers (see here) like second hand smoke, dust mites, cockroaches, pets, NO2, chemicals, wood smoke, and outdoor air pollution.
  • Use your air conditioner. -"Air conditioning reduces the amount of airborne pollen from trees, grasses and weeds that finds its way indoors. Air conditioning also lowers indoor humidity and can reduce your exposure to dust mites. If you don't have air conditioning, try to keep your windows closed during pollen season."
  • Stay inside with the windows closed on high ozone level days (see here):
    State agencies will use television and radio to notify citizens of ozone alerts. On days when your State or local air pollution control agency calls an Ozone Action Day: Asthmatics and other sensitive individuals should not exercise and should stay indoors in an air conditioned or well ventilated area."
I guess that would cut down on those extra 50 emergency room visits per year.

Okay, so let's suppose the burning of coal or other fossil fuels to produce electricity is a major source of CO2 in the U.S. (EPA says it's 38%):
The combustion of fossil fuels to generate electricity is the largest single source of CO2 emissions in the nation, accounting for about 38% of total U.S. CO2 emissions and 31% of total U.S. greenhouse gas emissions in 2012. The type of fossil fuel used to generate electricity will emit different amounts of CO2. To produce a given amount of electricity, burning coal will produce more CO2 than oil or natural gas.
One would think then, then the biggest push of the U.S. government would be to convert as much electrical generation as possible to nuclear power, which produces little or no CO2 (except perhaps in the construction of the plants and in the gathering and processing of fuel). Instead, however, the amount of electricity generated by nuclear power is projected to drop from 19% to 16% from 2012 to 2025 (see here). Renewable energy projection:
The share of U.S. electricity generation coming from renewable fuels (including conventional hydropower) grows from 12% in 2012 to 16% in 2040 . . .
Nuclear power is not affected by droughts, lack of sunny days, lack of wind or any of the other things that affect hydro, wind and solar power. And this:
The World Nuclear Association (PDF) published a study in 2011 that compiled and analyzed 21 different life-cycle emissions studies and made the following observations:

- Greenhouse gas emissions of nuclear power plants are among the lowest of any electricity generation method and on a lifecycle basis are comparable to wind, hydroelectric and biomass.
- Lifecycle emissions of natural gas are 15 times greater than nuclear.
- Lifecycle emissions of coal generation are 30 times greater than nuclear.

On the other hand, perhaps this isn't really all about finding optimal solutions. Besides, it's for the children. And the poor. And the elderly. Etc.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Saturday Is Heinlein Quote Day #51

From The Number of the Beast
I’m not sure what purpose Russian fiction has, but it can’t be entertainment.
By the way, this particular Heinlein book is not very good either.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Friday Fun Film: The Navy Nurse (1952)

A look back at the Navy Nurse Corps from 63 years ago:

From the current Navy Nurse recruiting pages:
Navy Nurses may serve at any one of more than 250 Navy and medical facilities around the globe, from Hawaii to Japan, Germany to Guam, and Washington, D.C., to Washington state.

As a Navy Nurse, you could work at one of the highly acclaimed National Naval Medical Centers in Bethesda, Md.; Portsmouth, Va.; and San Diego, Calif. Or you could provide medical support to deployed troops aboard one of two dedicated hospital ships: the USNS Comfort and USNS Mercy.

Still more opportunities are available stateside and abroad – onboard a surface ship, working closely with a nearby aircraft squadron, or even with the Fleet Marine Force.