Friday, August 31, 2018

Garbage In, Garbage Out: "Premature Death" and Environmental Policy

Excellent explanation of the problems with the EPA using "premature death" as a component of its cost-benefit calculations.

Bob Tippee editor of the the Oil & Gas Journal:

On the basis of this approach, I would think the City of San Francisco might be in trouble for the "premature deaths" caused by homeless pollution.

Already California has been fined for issues caused by the pollution emitting from the homeless. See Feces, blood, syringes at California Capitol: Workers unprepared for clean up, OSHA says:
Capitol Park groundskeepers, who usually maintain shrubbery and repair park facilities, complained that they were expected to clean blood and fecal matter left in the park. The workers said they were given pressure washers, which can atomize the waste and expose the groundskeepers and passers-by to blood-borne diseases, said Steve Crouch, director of public employees for the International Union of Operating Engineers. He filed the complaint on behalf of the workers on March 15.

“Over the past several years, the homeless started spending more time at Capitol Park around trees and bushes, woody areas,” said Crouch. “In the evenings, they spend the night, and they leave debris and garbage.”

The job should have been done by a hazardous materials crew, Crouch said, and the areas probably should have been cordoned off to limit other people to exposure.

and, without vouching for this following site, its links are valid 16K Complaints Related To Fecal Matter Reported In A Week: San Francisco has created a sanctuary of filth:
Things are going down the drain in San Francisco…or not. In just the last seven days, the city that only two days ago found a 20 lb. bag of human excrement left in the hot sun has logged over 16,000 feces-related complaints, according to Newswars and KRTV. The outhouse conditions and other factors have already cost the California cesspool millions in lost business, and the situation only getting crappier.

There is an even a website related to the city’s scatological nightmare that actually records the town’s “non-emergency” requests. If the word “feces” is typed into the site’s search engine, 16,015 (as of this posting) instances come up. Of course, there are many other terms for the stench and those words give thousands of more instances. The sanctuary city is an outdoor outhouse as the wealthy liberals who allowed it to happen live far away from the aroma that they’ve created with their policies, and residents are just now realizing the cost.

The homeless and their encampments are the major problem. While many citizens have no qualms about allowing a vacant lot to lose a few tax dollars to house the unfortunate, the process of human bodily functions is often forgotten about (at least until the smell hits them and wrestles their nostrils a bit).
Going to the SF City website SF311 and entering the word "feces" came up with this very partial listing:

I wonder what this is doing to those citizens not wearing hazmat suits and not taking care to not spread the contamination airborne when using power washers or garden hoses to clear their sidewalks. Perhaps the EPA could do an audit of the lack of sanitation in SF is doing to the people there. The millions in lost tourist dollars doesn't seem to have the impact that worrying over "premature deaths" seems to have.

I doubt SF is the only city in the US dealing - or seemingly, not dealing, with such issues.

Friday Film: Pacific Frontier (1964)

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Life Lessons from American Ninja Warriors, Warrior Games, and Vietnam POWs

I confess, I am a fan of the American Ninja Warrior competition which is a summer series on NBC. I find the show interesting on a number of levels, both in its efforts to appeal to a wide audience and in the lessons the participants share with the audience.

First, let me point out that others have written of lessons to be garnered from the show, ranging from 5 CUSTOMER SERVICE LESSONS FROM AMERICAN NINJA WARRIOR to Lessons for Entrepreneurs From 'Ninja Warrior' Training to What American Ninja Warrior Can Teach Us About Business and Life, Part 1, What American Ninja Warrior Can Teach Us About Business and Life, Part 2 and What American Ninja Warrior Can Teach Us About Business and Life, Part 3.

Second, I am a believer that testing one's mental and physical limits is vital - at any age, adjusting for the things life has thrown at you.

This brings me to the Warrior Games, perhaps less flashy that ANW, but which carries many of the same messages:

  1. You can't win if you don't try.
  2. Trying is winning.
  3. Effort is everything.
  4. Everyone will fail at some point.
  5. Failure is not the end, but the beginning.
  6. There are no losers - only differing degrees of success.

How do Vietnam POWs fit into this? Let me recommend, again, Lessons from the Hanoi Hilton: Six Characteristics of High-Performance Teams, in which men under the most dire of circumstances overcame their environment and pushed beyond limits to become more, much more than broken men. John McCain? Just one of the winners that were forged in that place and time.

What to make of this? We may not be ninja warrior stuff but we all face the challenges of life. How each of us take on those challenges is . . . what makes heroes. Discouragement and doubt are dream killers but take heart from those who refuse to surrender to them - and begin to live bravely, one small step at a time toward your goals.

Sunday, August 26, 2018

On Midrats 26 August 2018 - Episode 451: A Navy of the Gilded Age, with Scott Mobley

Please join us at 5pm (EDT) on 26 August 2018 for Midrats Episode 451: A Navy of the Gilded Age, with Scott Mobley
The last quarter of the 19th Century, the Gilded Age, was a period of breathtaking change in society, technology, politics and industry. This rapid change helped drive the intellectual and institutional change that brought the US Navy to the world’s attention in the Spanish-American War of 1898.

The first two decades of the 20th Century are generally called the Progressive Era, but that only took place due to the advance of progressive ideology the quarter century prior during the Gilded Age.

Our guest for the full hour to discuss these and related issues raised in his new book, Progressives in Navy Blue: Maritime Strategy, American Empire, and the Transformation of U.S. Naval Identity, 1873-1898, will be Scott Mobley, CAPT, USN (Ret).

Scott is the current Associate Director of the Center for the Study of Liberal Democracy (CSLD) at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. He is a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy and holds an M.A. in National Security affairs from the Naval Postgraduate School. Most recently, he earned a Ph.D. in History at the University of Wisconsin.

As a career U.S. Navy surface warfare officer, Scott commanded USS BOONE (FFG-28) and USS CAMDEN (AOE-2). While under his command, CAMDEN participated in the opening assault phase of Operation Iraqi Freedom. Other notable tours included: Reactor Officer in USS HARRY S. TRUMAN (CVN-76); Navy Section Chief at the U.S. Military Group in Buenos Aires, Argentina; and Chief of Staff for Commander, Naval Surface Group Pacific Northwest. Scott retired from the Navy with the rank of Captain, after thirty years of service.

Scott also serves on the U.S. Naval Institute Naval History Advisory Board and is a founding editor for Voices & Visions, an open-access online reader featuring primary media sources that illuminate the history of U.S. foreign relations.
Join us live if you can or pick the show up later by clicking here. Or you can also pick the show up later by visiting either our iTunes page or our Stitcher page.

Saturday, August 25, 2018

Friday, August 24, 2018

Friday Film: FJ-2 Fury Flight Capabilities (1953)

Looks like an Air Force F-86 Sabre. But it's Navy!

The North American FJ-2 and FJ-3 Fury are a series of swept-wing carrier-capable fighters for the United States Navy and Marine Corps. The FJ-2 resulted from an effort to navalize the United States Air Force's F-86 Sabre. These aircraft featured folding wings, and a longer nose landing strut designed to increase angle of attack upon launch and to accommodate a longer oleo to absorb the shock of hard landings on an aircraft carrier deck.

Although sharing a U.S. Navy designation with its distant predecessor, the straight-winged North American FJ-1 Fury, the FJ-2/-3 were completely different aircraft. (The later FJ-4 Fury was again, a complete structural redesign of the FJ-3). The FJ-2 was one of the aircraft used to evaluate the first steam catapult on a US Navy aircraft-carrier.
By 1951, the Navy's existing straight-wing fighters were much inferior in performance to the swept-wing Soviet MiG-15 then operating in the Korean War; the swept-wing fighters in the Navy's development pipeline, including the Vought F7U Cutlass and F9F Cougar that were not yet ready for deployment.

As an interim measure, the Navy's Bureau of Aeronautics ordered a direct development of the swept-wing F-86E Sabres as the FJ-2. As the F-86 had not been designed to be carrier-capable, this involved some risk, but Navy pilots had observed that the F-86A actually had a lower landing speed than the F9F Panther. During carrier qualification trials the Navy informed Grumman that if the F9F-5 stall speed was not reduced by 12 mph (10 kn; 19 km/h) it would be removed from carrier operations at the same time that the FJ-2 was already making its debut into Navy squadrons.[2] North American's chief engineer at the time stated that the swept wing Sabre had handling and stall characteristics at low speeds comparable to the best straight winged airplanes.[3] The urgency behind the program was such that 300 (later reduced to 200) FJ-2 fighters were ordered before the prototypes had flown.

FJ-1 and FJ-2 in 1952
The first prototype to fly was actually the third aircraft ordered: Designated XFJ-2B and first flown on 27 December 1951, it differed only from a standard F-86E-10 in its armament, having four 20-mm Colt Mk 12 cannon instead of the six Colt-Browning M3 .50 machine guns of the Sabre. The second and third aircraft to fly were designated XFJ-2 and lacked armament, but were modified to be carrier-capable: They had an arrester hook and a longer nosewheel leg to increase angle of attack at take-off and landing, and catapult fittings. In August 1952 carrier trials were flown on USS Midway, followed by carrier qualification trials on USS Coral Sea in October–December 1952. Results were less than satisfactory. Low-speed handling was considered poor, and the arrester hook and nose gear leg were insufficiently strong.

Marine Corps FJ-2 of the VMF-312 Checkerboards.
The first production aircraft flew on 22 November 1952. This FJ-2 incorporated further modifications for carrier operations: The track of the main landing gear was widened by eight inches, the outer wing panels folded upward, and the windscreen was modified to give the pilot a better view during approach. The FJ-2 also featured an all-moving "flying tail" without dihedral.[4] Because of problems experienced during launches with steam catapults, a number of FJ-2 later received a stronger nosewheel strut. Outwardly, the FJ-2 was hard to distinguish from an F-86, apart from Navy paint and the gun muzzles of the 20 mm cannon. The engine was the General Electric J47-GE-2, a navalized version of the J47-GE-27 used in the F-86F. The naval modifications of the FJ-2 had increased weight by about 500 kg over the F-86F, but unfortunately had not succeeded in delivering a fully carrier-capable fighter. A decision had already been made to give it to land-based squadrons of the US Marine Corps.

Construction was slowed due to demand for the F-86 in Korea; the FJ-2 was not produced in large numbers until after that conflict had concluded. Only seven aircraft had been delivered by then end of 1953, and it was January 1954 before the first aircraft was delivered to a Marine squadron, VMF-122. The Navy preferred the lighter F9F Cougar due to its superior slow-speed performance for carrier operations, and the 200 FJ-2 models built were delivered to the United States Marine Corps. The Marines did make several cruises aboard carriers and tried to solve the type's carrier handling problems, but the FJ-2 was never really satisfactory. In 1956, the FJ-2 already disappeared from front-line service, and reserve units retired it in 1957.

Back. Regular posting to resume soon.

Back from a short vacation to a magical land of no - repeat no - internet or, really, media disturbances to the flow of nature.

Relaxing is the word for it.

Back, so posting resumes soon. Until the next vacation.

Monday, August 13, 2018

U. S. Navy Office of Naval Intelligence Worldwide Threat to Shipping (WTS) Report 9 July - 8 August 2018 and HORN OF AFRICA/GULF OF GUINEA/ SOUTHEAST ASIA: Piracy Analysis and Warning Weekly (PAWW) Report for 2 – 8 August 2018

The Future is at Hand: ACTUV and the Navy to Come

Future plans:
DARPA has successfully completed its Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) Continuous Trail Unmanned Vessel (ACTUV) program and has officially transferred the technology demonstration vessel, christened Sea Hunter, to the Office of Naval Research (ONR). ONR will continue developing the revolutionary prototype vehicle—the first of what could ultimately become an entirely new class of ocean-going vessel able to traverse thousands of kilometers over open seas for months at a time, without a single crew member aboard—as the Medium Displacement Unmanned Surface Vehicle (MDUSV).
“ACTUV represents a new vision of naval surface warfare that trades small numbers of very capable, high-value assets for large numbers of commoditized, simpler platforms that are more capable in the aggregate,” said Fred Kennedy, TTO director. “The U.S. military has talked about the strategic importance of replacing ‘king’ and ‘queen’ pieces on the maritime chessboard with lots of ‘pawns,’ and ACTUV is a first step toward doing exactly that.”
Or, as Robert Work put it:
We are going to remember this because how often can you be at the christening of a robot warship? Now, let me tell you, I'm going to talk a little bit about the Predator in just a few minutes, but in the United States Air Force, there are airplanes and drones. The Navy cannot make that mistake. There have to be warships. And it doesn't matter whether they are manned or unmanned. They will take the fight to the enemy. I'm on a ship that looks like a Klingon “Bird of Prey.”

It's – haze gray. If you look up front of the bridge, at the pilot house, you'll notice big bolts. You can take that pilot house off and this ship can operate autonomously. If the Navy falls in the trap of thinking of these vessels as somehow different than the other haze gray warships that send shivers down the spine of our enemies, wherever they may be in the world, they're going to make a damn big mistake.

Now, I've been waiting for this day for a long time. A long time. We are in a period of incredible technological flux. Advances in autonomy and artificial intelligence and autonomous control systems and advanced computing and big data and learning machines and intuitive rapid visualization tools, meta-materials, miniaturization. They are leading us to a period of a time of great human-machine collaboration.

This will be a change just like other momentous changes in our society. You see this human-machine collaboration in our business and manufacturing now. You see it in our daily lives and you're going to see it increasingly in warfare. So I believe, without a doubt, you're going to look back on this day just like people like you were sitting on the stage when the USS Nautilus was christened, the first nuclear powered submarine, or when the USS Enterprise was commissioned, the first nuclear powered aircraft carrier or when the DDG 1000 was commissioned, our first stealth battleship. And you are going to look back on this and say, "I was part of history."
And it is designed to be very efficient. This ship you see before you costs a little bit more than $2 million to build. It was designed for an operating cost of $15,000 to $20,000 per day, per day. To give you a sense, a DDG [guided missile destroyer], that's $700k per day. We're talking $15,000 to $20,000 for this vessel to operate for 24 hours. An unmanned helicopter operating for 24 hours would cost $300k.

So just like what happened with Predator, I am absolutely salivating to see what is going to happen when this baby gets down to the [Commander, U.S. 3rd Fleet] after O&R has checked it all out, made sure it's safe, and see what our creative warfighters of the U.S. Navy can do with it.

You can imagine anti-submarine warfare pickets, you can imagine anti-submarine warfare wolfpacks, you can imagine mine warfare flotillas, you can imagine distributive anti-surface warfare surface action groups, you can imagine this carrying deception vans, electronic warfare vans. You can actually envision, just do the math, these -- we can build these for $20 million, five for $100 million, 25 for half a billion, 50 for a billion.

This area right here looks pretty good. We might be able to put a six pack or a four pack of missiles on them. Now imagine 50 of these distributed and operating together under the hands of a flotilla commander, and this is really something.
Want low cost, potent warships that require no manning, thus saving all that wasted space on the human needs for food, water, berthing? Get on it!

Saturday, August 11, 2018

On Midrats 12 August 2018 - Episode 449: Ethics, Professionalism, Education & the Military Professional

Please join us at 5pm (EDT) on 12 August 2018 for Midrats Episode 449: Ethics, Professionalism, Education & the Military Professional
A military is not an amorphous mass, but a collection of individuals each who can make decisions in their professional role that can have great impact, both positive and negative, well beyond their immediate and personal concerns.

Decisions, policies, and behavior derive from the training, traditions, and fundamental culture of the people who make them. What is the role of ethics, training and other culture forming activities in defining the military professional and how he executes his responsibilities?

Our guests this week to dive in to these and related issues will be Nathan Finney and Tyrell Mayfield. As a base for our discussions, we will touch on subject areas they raised in the upcoming book they are co-editors of “Redefining the Modern Military: The Intersection of Profession and Ethics” published by the U.S. Naval Institute Press.

Nathan Finney is an officer in the U.S. Army, a term member at the Council on Foreign Relations; a Non-Resident Fellow at the Australian Strategic Policy Institute; and a former Non-Resident Fellow at the Modern War Institute at West Point and has helped found multiple organizations, including The Strategy Bridge; the Military Writers Guild; and the Defense Entrepreneurs Forum.

Tyrell O. Mayfield is an officer in the US Air Force and a co-founder and board member of the non-profit The Strategy Bridge. Ty has published photography and written work in a number of online forums, magazines, newspapers, and peer-reviewed journals. Ty is a graduate of the Naval Postgraduate School and the US Army War College and holds masters degrees in International Relations, National Security Studies and Strategic Art. Ty is currently writing a memoir about his time in Kabul.
Join us live if you can or pick the show up later by clicking here. Or you can also pick the show up later by visiting either our iTunes page or our Stitcher page.

Thursday, August 09, 2018

Oceans of Drones

Interesting piece from the Economist on expanding ocean surveillance in a variety of causes, including military Avast, me hearties: How aquatic, autonomous robots could reduce lawlessness at sea
As the cost of building and operating such vehicles drops, satellite communications systems provide cheaper and faster connectivity, and machine intelligence improves, drones could provide a powerful means of policing illegal activities that take place, unseen, at sea. Powered by wave action, wind power or solar panels, drones could operate for months or even years at a time, scanning large areas in swarms, monitoring environmental conditions and alerting human overseers when something looks amiss. If drones ruled the waves, fisheries would be more sustainable, pollution would be reduced and human trafficking would be harder to get away with. Even if drones can monitor only a small fraction of the ocean’s surface, their presence could be a powerful deterrent.
We touched on the use of AI and drone assets in our last Midrats - especially in the building of databases through which anomalous behavior can be detected and tracked, about 48 minutes in, though the discussion that preceded got to that point.

Hat tip to Lee.

Saturday, August 04, 2018

Saturday Is Old Radio Day: Dimension X "Requiem" (1951)

A Heinlein tale.  Funny how our interest in the moon has - uh- waxed and waned.

On Midrats 5 August 2018 - Episode 448: AI, Machine Learning and Their Future Role in Military Operations

Please join us on 5 August 2018 at 5 pm EDT for Midrats Episode 448: AI, Machine Learning and Their Future Role in Military Operations
The future has been with us for quite awhile now, but the intersection of advance manufacturing, Moore's Law, and data storage are bringing
to the front capabilities that for decades were found only in science fiction.

Autonomous and varying degrees of human-robot teaming, artificial intelligence, robotics, and machine learning are not just growing parts of the modern economy, with each passing year they become more and more integrated with military operations.

What future capabilities can we expect and how will we work through the ethical and legal complications that will come with them?

Our guest to discuss these and related topics will be Ali Crawford.

Ali Crawford Ali has an M.A. from the Patterson School of Diplomacy and International Commerce where she focused on diplomacy, intelligence, cyber policy, and cyber warfare. She tweets at @ali_craw.
Join us live if you can or pick the show up later by clicking here. Or you can also pick the show up later by visiting either our iTunes page or our Stitcher page.

Wednesday, August 01, 2018

Kosovo and NATO: Never Ending Story?

The Kosovo problem never really goes away, it just lingers. Resident Serb and Albanian residents mix like oil and water, especially if outside forces keeping stirring things up/ So now, Balkan Insight reports NATO Vows to Prevent Violence in North Kosovo
The Commander of NATO’s Allied Joint Force in Naples, Admiral James Fogo, has said that NATO is ready to react if violent incidents erupt in the Serb-majority north of Kosovo – after a leading Serbian Orthodox cleric in Kosovo, Abbot Sava Janjic, warned of the risk of “staged” violence there.

“Political leaders are trying to solve some difficult issues; not everyone agrees in democracies,” Fogo said on Wednesday during a tour of NATO sites in Kosovo, Kossev news website quoted.

“Some people tend to take their disagreements onto the street. I strongly recommend that they do not do it or, if they do, to do it peacefully, as in all civilized democracies,” Fogo added.

With its peacekeeping force KFOR, NATO would remain a support for the institutions of Kosovo “in maintaining a safe and secure environment during this month and in the months of the rest of the year”, Fogo continued.

Fogo’s statement comes after the Abbot of the famous Visoki Decani monastery posted on social network accounts that he was worried by rumours of potentially staged clashes in northern Kosovo, designed to lead to a rapid partition of the territory.
Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic called Janjic’s tweets “meaningless gossip”, however, dismissing talk of staged clashes designed to speed up an ethnic partition of Kosovo.

“This is empty talk. We will lead a policy of peace and stability. I am committed to not one person from north or south [of Kosovo] suffering,” Vucic told Pink TV, adding that Serbia would protect Orthodox monasteries and churches in Kosovo, “as well those in which Janjic is”.

However, Janjic’s warning has chimed with a feeling of unease in northern Kosovo, stimulated by rumours of a partition arrangement that would pave the way for Serbia’s recognition of an independent Kosovo.
NATO’s Fogo pointed out that KFOR has more than enough peacekeepers to deal with any disturbances, however.

“The 4,000 [NATO soldiers] who remain within the territory and on the administrative lines of Kosovo are supported, as we call them, with rapid reaction forces. So, if there is a need, they will respond, and NATO is very, very strong both inside and outside of Kosovo,” Fogo said.

The mainly ethnic Albanian former province declared its independence from Serbia in 2008.

However, the far north of the country, including the northern half of the town of Mitrovica, remains under the effective control of Belgrade.

While Serbia refuses to recognise Kosovo as a state, it has had to take part in EU-mediated talks with the authorities in Pristina aimed at normalising relations, in order to pursue its goal of EU membership.

Moreover, as Serbia’s EU integration advances, pressure is growing on Belgrade to finally resolve its relations with the breakaway former province, which most EU members recognised a decade ago.

Combined with this pressure, talk of an exchange of territories – swapping Albanian-majority areas in southern Serbia for Serb-majority ones in northern Kosovo – has again arisen among some Serbian and Kosovo politicians, although never raised officially.nic

On May 11, Serbia’s nationalistic Orthodox Church pleaded with the Belgrade government neither to recognise Kosovo’s independence nor agree to any exchange of territory.
Sectarian and perceived ethnic differences in a small relatively isolated "country" with a "war" ("humanitarian intervention") that started 20 years ago and smolders on and on and on.

Kosovo's main function seems to be as a "money pit" for the EU which has dumped over 3 billion Euros in an attempt to promote "Kosovo’s institutions, sustainable economic development and Kosovo’s European future." NATO's presence in Kosovo also has incurred costs over the past 19 years.

Not working out so well, apparently. But follow the money and the power grabs and you can see what is behind the curtains:
Corruption in Kosovo poses high risks for companies operating or planning to invest in the country. A lack of transparency and accountability in Kosovo’s public administration results in widespread corruption and negatively affects the investment climate. The judiciary, customs, public utilities and procurement sectors are the most affected by corruption. While anti-corruption laws are strong, the judicial system is inefficient, leading to poor enforcement. Active and passive bribery, extortion, money laundering and abuse of office are prohibited by Kosovo’s Criminal Code, while facilitation payments are not addressed. According to Kosovan law, all gifts received by public officials should be declared and registered. Notwithstanding, the practices of offering gifts and bribery are common in Kosovo.
Oh, joy, another kleptocracy.

Not to mention that former comrade Putin doesn't mind diverting NATO attention by supporting the Serbs, which is not a new Russian policy, but a long-standing tradition that almost caused the Kosovo war to get much bigger under General Wes Clark,