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2015 Prediction Review

[ 71 ] January 6, 2016 |
ChickenDivination.jpg

“ChickenDivination” by Anonymous folk artist. Licensed under Public Domain via Commons.

 

Time to review last year’s predictions:

World Series Champion: Washington Nationals
NCAA Football FBS Champion: Oregon Ducks
Number of living Castro brothers, 12/31/15: 1
Academy Award, Best Picture: Boyhood
Number of Mistral class amphibious assault ships delivered to Russia: 1

Number of fatal incidents involving collision between Russian and NATO aircraft: 1
Afghanistan Coalition fatalities: 35 (27)
North Korean nuclear tests: 1
Sunsets on Syria under President of Bashar al-Assad: 365
Number of defeats suffered by Kentucky Wildcats Men’s Basketball, 2014-5 season: 0
Heisman Trophy: Dalvin Cook, FSU

Israeli strikes on Iran: 0
Number of formal agreements between Iran and the United States on the future of Iran’s nuclear program: 1

Number of Coalition aircraft shot down by ISIS: 1
Supreme Court vacancies: 1

2014 3rd Quarter GDP growth (as per revisions by 12/31/15, +/-.2): 2.8% (1.9%)
F-35 crashes: 1
Barack Obama approval rate, 12/31/15 (+/- .3%): 45.1% (46.7%)
European benchmark Brent oil, 12/31/15 (+/- $2.00): $61 (37.08)

Well, that was just a disaster. And that’s even giving me credit for the collision between a Russian aircraft and a NATO missile.

Here’s to 2016:

World Series Champion: Los Angeles Dodgers
NCAA Football FBS Champion: Oregon Ducks
Number of living Castro brothers, 12/31/16: 1
Academy Award, Best Picture: The Big Short
American soldiers killed in Iraq/Syria (+/-5): 15
Afghanistan Coalition fatalities (+/-5): 40
North Korean nuclear tests: 1*
Sunsets on Syria under President of Bashar al-Assad (+/-20): 365
Fatal military incidents in South China Sea: 2
Heisman Trophy: Royce Freeman
Israeli strikes on Iran: 0
GOP Presidential Nominee: Senator Ted Cruz
Number of Coalition aircraft shot down by ISIS: 1
Democratic Senators (including Senators elect, caucusing independents): 50
2015 3rd Quarter GDP growth (as per revisions by 12/31/16, +/-.2): 2.6%
Electoral Votes, Hillary Clinton, 2016: 303
Barack Obama approval rate, 12/31/16 (+/- .3%): 50.3%
European benchmark Brent oil, 12/31/16 (+/- $2.00): $45

 

*I’m going to count this one; was on the list last year, and I can show the timestamp on the draft  revisions…

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Using the Bomb in Korea

[ 37 ] January 5, 2016 |
B-29 307th BG bombing target in Korea c1951.jpg

“B-29 307th BG bombing target in Korea c1951” by USAF – National Museum of the U.S. Air Force photo 050831-F-1234P-008. Licensed under Public Domain via Commons.

The Diplomat is running a brief series on historical counterfactuals in East Asia. I contributed this:

U.S. President Harry Truman refused MacArthur’s request to expand the war into Manchuria, eventually firing the General and turning command over to Matthew Ridgway, who stabilized the situation in Korea. However, the possible use of atomic weapons in 1950 and 1951 remains one of the great unanswered “what if?” questions associated with the early Cold War. Such a decision would have affected not only the course of the Korean War, but also the broader ideological and military struggle between the United States and the Soviet Union.

So, what if the United State had used atomic weapons against China and North Korea in 1950?

Incidentally, I’ll be in San Juan, Puerto Rico for the next four days, enjoying the Southern Political Science Association conference. Happy to have drinks with (what I am sure is) the robust San Juan LGM fan club, or with anyone else attending SPSA.

Tolkachev

[ 17 ] January 1, 2016 |
BGM-109G Gryphon - ID DF-ST-84-09185.JPEG

“BGM-109G Gryphon” by TSGT ROB MARSHALL. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons.

I’ll have a full review up later, but for now I’ve written a bit about Adolf Tolkachev in my latest at the Diplomat:

Will we ever have a Chinese Tolkachev?

As detailed in David Hoffman’s Billion Dollar Spy, between 1979 and 1985, Soviet radar engineer Adolf Tolkachev turned his hatred of the Soviet regime into some of the most devastating industrial espionage ever conducted. Tolkachev took advantage of his position at the radar design firm Phazotron to make copies and photographs of volumes of material associated with Soviet radar and electronics systems. This gave the United States an inside look at the sensor capabilities of the USSR’s most advanced fighters and interceptors.

Pictured above is the Gryphon ground launched cruise missile. Essentially, Tolkachev’s espionage let the US know that the Soviets had no effective way of detecting the missiles before they reached their targets.

Top Ten of 2015

[ 24 ] December 31, 2015 |

Picture12

Here are your top ten LGM posts of 2015!!!!!!

  1. Loomis, Today in the New Gilded Age
  2. Campos, Crazy old man rants in Central Park about young black men committing 95% of all murders
  3. Farley, “Possibly Wanted to Be Arrested?”
  4. Loomis, Those Lazy Professors
  5. Lemieux, Academia 2015
  6. Loomis, More on Paul Theroux, The Greatest Monster in Known History For Caring About American Workers
  7. Lemieux, Fake But Inaccurate
  8. Lemieux, There Is No Constitutional Obligation to Listen to Speeches
  9. Lemieux, “We Also Need to Solve the Pakistan Problem.”
  10. Loomis, Kasich’s War on Ohio Minorities

I think this is the first time I’ve cracked the list in four years or so.

War. On Christmas.

[ 9 ] December 30, 2015 |
Scharnhorst survivors A 021202.jpg

“Scharnhorst survivors” by Royal Navy official photographer, Davies, F A (Lt) Licensed under Public Domain via Commons.

My latest at the National Interest takes a look at our apparent inability to stop having wars over the Christmas holiday:

For decades, the story that German and British soldiers left their trenches on Christmas Day 1914 and played football in No Man’s Land has captivated readers. The idea that soldiers could find a basic, common humanity that their governments (and officers) had lost seemed to give a sense of hope in a century of unrelentingly grim warfare.

Over the last year, the famous “Christmas Truce” of 1914 has mostly generated debunkings and reappraisals; the “truce” was shorter lived and less consequential than many wished to believe at the time, or since. Still, we find the idea of the Christmas Truce appealing, because Christmas has become the central holiday of a religion that has, at its core, a deep pacifist appeal. The idea that Christian countries should set aside their disputes, at least for a day, is heartwarming, especially considering the horrors that soldiers suffered on the Western Front for the rest of the war.

Unfortunately, the notion that Christmas should serve as a moment of respite in war is often honored in the breach, even by Christian peoples.

 

Welcome Shakezula!

[ 55 ] December 25, 2015 |


We have been remiss in failing to announce that we have decided to add the beloved Shakezula as a permanent front-page contributor.
All hail the mighty Shakezula!

And please, enjoy a very Merry Christmas, and a very Happy Holidays!

Bringing Santa into the 21st Century

[ 13 ] December 25, 2015 |

zhWzkFNbB3-4For Christmas at the National Interest, I took a look at the advanced capabilities of the North Pole Air Force (NPAF):

 

For decades, the media has perpetuated the myth that Santa made Christmas happen from a single sleigh pulled by eight (or possibly nine) magical reindeer. Santa Claus himself purportedly traveled the world in this sleigh, delivering immense loads of toys across the world in what amounted to a snap of the fingers.

Times change, and we are now able to uncover the truth.

Reconciliation

[ 15 ] December 22, 2015 |
Image-Japanese aircraft carrier Junyo 2 cropped.jpg

“Japanese aircraft carrier Junyo” by Official U.S. Navy Photograph. Licensed under Public Domain via Commons.

My latest at the Diplomat mentions Barak Kushner’s Men to Devils, Devils to Men, a recent book on the war crimes trials that followed the Pacific War:

Broadly speaking, both Chinese factions sought to demonstrate their commitment to the new international order by appearing magnanimous towards the defeated Japanese. For their part, the Japanese government voluntarily complied with most of the international demands, but the government never engaged in a thorough effort to explain the proceedings to the Japanese public, with the result that many Japanese never grappled with the reality of the war crimes.

Typhoon vs. Rafale

[ 14 ] December 19, 2015 |
RAF Eurofighter Typhoon.jpg

“RAF Eurofighter Typhoon” by Peter Gronemann – Flickr: RAF Eurofighter Typhoon. Licensed under CC BY 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

This article is less interesting for its conclusions (that the Typhoon and Rafale are pretty similar fighters), than for the metrics of evaluation.  If you know anything useful about military aviation, you invariably cringe at articles that begin “The F-35 can’t out dogfight a MiG-21!” or some such nonsense.  Modern fighter aircraft vary on several different axes, and these axes combine in complex ways.  A seemingly minor metric such as “Are the cockpit controls easy for the pilot to understand?” can differentiate a decent fighter from a great one, in ways that are hard to explain to lay audiences.

LGM Bowl Mania Reminder

[ 9 ] December 18, 2015 |
1915 Sooner Football team.png

“1915 Oklahoma Sooners” University of Oklahoma – 1916 Sooner Yearbook Licensed under Public Domain via Commons.

Picks need to be in by tomorrow for LGM Bowl Mania.  I have 62% confidence that I understand the confidence scoring system correctly.

League: Lawyers, Guns and Money

Password: zevon

The Grand Experiments

[ 23 ] December 16, 2015 |
Inboard plans of USS Monitor

“USS Monitor plans” by U.S. Navy – U.S. Naval Historical Center Photograph.. Licensed under Public Domain via Commons.

On the occasion of the sea trials of the Zumwalt, my latest at the National Interest takes a look a five experimental ships from the past:

Earlier this week the Zumwalt (DDG-1000) began sea trials. The first of a probable three ships, Zumwalt once represented the future of U.S. naval surface warfare. Budget shortfalls, changed priorities and predictable cost overruns cut the projected purchase from a fleet-sustaining thirty-two units to an experimental trio of ships.

Still, Zumwalt represents a technological marvel, including an array of innovations that set her apart from every other ship in the U.S. Navy, and indeed the world. Her value as an experimental test bed for new concepts, architectures and technologies may, over time, exceed her value as a military unit. In this she joins a long tradition of experimental warships, vessels that often had more impact as technological marvels than as useful ships of war. Here are the five most important experimental vessels of the modern seafaring age

Wednesday Links

[ 18 ] December 16, 2015 |
Langston Hughes by Carl Van Vechten 1936.jpg

“Langston Hughes by Carl Van Vechten 1936” – This image is available from the United States Library of Congress’s Prints and Photographs division under the digital ID cph.3a42821. Licensed under Public Domain via Commons.

Some links to open your Wednesday…

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