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Soviet Typhoon class submarine.jpg
Soviet Typhoon at sea. By Robert Lawson Collection – Public Domain

Some spiffy technology oriented links for your Friday…

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  • Matt

    I’m at least mildly skeptical that it’s useful to talk about “Soviet food consumption” in general, because there was so much difference between regions, as far as I can tell. It was, obviously enough, a huge country, with very varied conditions. Furthermore, transportation for many things was bad, so consumption didn’t level out well. Access to a garden plot (and how long you could grow things in it, and how well you could store potatoes, cabbage, canned things, etc.) was a huge factor for how well people ate. Furthermore, Moscow (and to a lesser degree Leningrad, and some other cities and research institutes with declining importance here) sucked resources away from other areas in a way that’s just not so common in other countries. (In some ways, the worst situation was to be in an area fairly close to Moscow – resources were sucked away to Moscow, and not replaced. Further away areas were not so vulnerable given poor transportation ability.) We can make aggregate claims, but I expect that they obscure more than they reveal here.

    • J. Otto Pohl

      It also depends on years. While there are no famines after 1947 there are food riots in Novocherkassk leading to a massacre killing 26 protestors in 1962. Everybody old enough to remember talks about the food situation in Kyrgyzstan being bad during the war, still bad under Khrushchev, good under Brezhnev and Andropov, and then going bad again under Gorbachev. Since the riots in Novocherkassk were in 1962 and things always took time to get to the periphery in this case grain imported from the US and other places after 1963 this makes sense. The Brezhnev era after 1964 when foreign grain reached Central Asia was compared really good compared to the austerity under Stalin and Khrushchev.

      • Matt

        This is completely right (and related to the bad transportation system mentioned above.)

  • CP

    Oh, Red October. As much as Tom Clancy turned into a self-parody, I still love that movie and the book even more.

    • njorl

      I remember reading a review saying that, in the book, there is an intense game of chess being played between the soviet captain and the Americans trying to find him. In the movie, it was an intense game of checkers.

      • J. Otto Pohl

        The whole point is the captain did not consider himself Soviet. He was Lithuanian. That is a national of a country that most of the world never recognized as legally being part of the USSR. More importantly most Lithuanians never considered Soviet rule and the end of independence legitimate.

        • njorl

          He wasn’t in the Lithuanian navy.

        • ThusBloggedAnderson

          This makes me wonder whether, in practice, the Soviets ever did let Lithuanians (Letts, Estonians, etc.) command capital ships.

          • heckblazer

            Do we let Texans command capital ships?

            • Gwen

              They have a big museum to Chester Nimitz out in Fredericksburg.

              So, yes.

              Y’all been warned.

    • Mike Furlan

      The “caterpillar drive” would have generated a magnetic signature detectable from the moon. The more correct title would have been “Search for the Worlds Biggest Magnet.”

    • steverinoCT

      The movie loses some of its sparkle for me, because they used real sailors in the production, from the real USS Dallas. They had to take leave, and it was incredibly boring, but they helped add to the realism (nice touch was the rolls of TP in sonar, to clean the grease pencil off the screens). One of these sailors I later served with, a fellow QM, and he was a real doofus. And he later made chief, and I did not. Not that I’m bitter.

  • Fozzz

    Really glad we seem to be leading the way on DEW technology, it seems like it could be a real game changer as the technology matures over the next 20 years. Seems like the future of air dominance will be predicated on stealth, sensors, and DEWs, with advanced missile systems (super long range and high off-bore sight targeting) playing a role as well.

    The concept of an “air superiority fighter” may be nearing the end of its relevancy, with it being replaced by stealthy sensor platforms linked up with missile trucks carrying a bevy of long range missiles.

  • njorl

    I remember watching “The Day After”, and I agree.

    Disaster movies were common then, but this was very different. There was no heroism. There was no hope. The closest thing was Denzel Washington driving away from his missile silo as fast as he could after launching his missiles. It was, of course, pointless. It was a disaster which made hope and heroism irrelevant. I kept expecting the hint of a plucky survivor making it somewhere safe, but that would have lessened it.

    • Coastsider

      I lived in Lawrence when they were filming it and got to be one of the many extras. Nightline also came to our school to ask my 7th grade class about nuclear war and I made some crazy comment about the only thing left alive would be mutated rats. I guess I was playing too much Gamma World with my friends…
      The producers apparently thought was funny because they closed our their segment with my comment. Too bad my 15 min of fame was on a late night news show…

    • skate

      I always get The Day after confused with Testament. Which is probably not surprising given that they both first showed the same month.

    • Gwen

      I was too young to remember this when it originally aired. I did watch it recently on YouTube.

      Seemed very dated. I did learn however that nuclear war would lead to a very sad Steve Guttenberg (who I mostly know from the “Police Academy” movies) schlepping around Kansas with radiation poisoning.

    • steverinoCT

      The spookiest thing to me was seeing our own missiles launch. You never thought of that side of the equation (odd, because I was serving in an SSBN at the time).

  • timb

    It’s interesting that Lockheed thinks lasers will be on multiple platforms, but their own special effects make it seem likely. Star Wars, the original, did a better job.

    Seriously, after watching the video, I was almost inclined to forget that lasers are used for precision even now

    • The Temporary Name

      Disagree on Star Wars, but yeah, Lockheed needs a better video.

  • JonGal

    Re: Lockheed lasers.

    EIther Lockheed has been granted a special exemption for the Inverse Square Law – meaning phsyics doesn’t apply to them – or they have painted over the nuclear reactor being towed behind the F-35, Seahawk and destroyer.

    Or maybe it’s just cheesy special effects that will win the next war.

    • njorl

      Fiber lasers, particularly in coherently combined bundles, have dramatically increased the amount of power you can deliver with a small power source. They can have better than 40% efficiency (about 400 times as efficient as the xenon fluoride excimer lasers form the original SDI research), which is sufficient even for a weapon mounted aerially. The maximum power delivered from a single laser is limited by non-linear effects in the fiber, but you can bundle as many fibers together as you want, provided you can make them deliver their energy in a mutually coherent manner.
      It isn’t a matter of whether we can make directed energy weapons, it’s a matter of whether countermeasures will make them not worthwhile.

      • Morat

        Moreover, they were largely showing the laser shooting down missiles, for which the laser needs to output something like 50-100kW for the small ones aimed at the aircraft up to maybe 250-500kW for the big ones aimed at the ships. At, say, 20% efficiency, that’s 500kW to 2.5MW.

        Even the small turboshaft engines on that Seahawk output close to 3MW between them (the turbines on a destroyer are more like 75-80MW), and of course the actual weapons under consideration use lithium-ion batteries, and the engines just need to recharge them.

        And the lasers aren’t that heavy anymore. For example, this laser outputting 50kW is ~200kg, including batteries.

  • Eli Rabett

    More likely rail guns (Zumwalt)

  • keta

    Ah, the infamous White House screening of The Hunt for Red October. It was during the second reel that the then first lady had an assignation, in the pantry of the White House kitchen, with James Earl Jones. It was said that Babs was never the same after the one-time tryst.

    Dubya once mentioned it was his mother’s favourite film, and on each re-watching she’d offer a secretive smile on the closing line, “Welcome to the new world, (sir.)”

    Tom Clancy has a lot to answer for.

    • so-in-so

      Meh, Dubbya was already alive and walking around, so good for Babs.

  • Jim in Baltimore

    “The Day After” was OK as far as it went, but for real civilization-is-completely-over stuff, I think “Threads” is the better bet.

    • heckblazer

      Threads was too graphic to have passed American broadcast standards and practices. As it was The Day After pushed them to the limit.

  • guthrie

    That Lockheed Martin advert is silly in several ways. First “We never forget who we’re working for” – do they mean they stay bought and won’t ever switch sides? Is that really true, or has nobody paid them enough yet to actually switch sides?

    Then there’s the underpants gnome approach to tech innovation- show current lasers in operation, then switch to faked up game footage showing them being used to deal with missiles. Aye, right.

  • Gwen

    One thing I noticed about the redacted guest list for “The Hunt For Red October”, is that the redactions do leak quite a bit of information, perhaps unintentionally:

    1.) The job title (this seems to be left as a justification for the redaction).

    2.) The fact that the redacted persons were male and married (as there was no same-sex marriage in 1990).

    3.) Possible first letters of the surnames (because the list is in alphabetical order, we can assume that the gentlemen had last names beginning with B/C, K/L, N/O/P).

    4.) Because the font is monospace, the approximate length of the names of the gentlemen.

    5.) Because the font is monospace, we can guess the number of letters in the first names of the wives (the first CIA briefer’s wife’s first name probably had about five letters in it; the second briefer’s wife had a longer name, or had a nickname like “Susue” Robinson).

    6.) By virtue of the date, marriage, job titles, etc. you could probably estimate the range of ages / birth dates. It is probable that the briefers gentlemen are younger than the “former Staff Member”.

    7.) One would assume that these gentlemen are “connected” somehow, to be invited to the White House.

    8.) It is also entirely possible – probable even – that a photo or two containing a picture of a CIA officer was not properly redacted, as the FOIA request was 25 years after-the-fact. One bad haircut is probably all that’s needed for a lazy legal staffer to mis-identify the subjects in a photo.

    If one were really intent upon “outing” CIA agents, there would be plenty of evidence to start with in this redacted list.

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