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Fear the Reaper?

[ 0 ] September 19, 2006 |

From Air Force Link:

The Air Force chief of staff announced “Reaper” has been chosen as the name for the MQ-9 unmanned aerial vehicle.

The Air Force is the Department of Defense’s executive agent for designating and naming military aerospace vehicles.

In the case of the Reaper, Gen. T. Michael Moseley made the final decision after an extensive nomination and review process, coordinated with the other services.

“The name Reaper is one of the suggestions that came from our Airmen in the field. It’s fitting as it captures the lethal nature of this new weapon system,” General Moseley said.

The MQ-9 Reaper is the Air Force’s first hunter-killer UAV. It is larger and more powerful than the MQ-1 Predator and is designed to go after time-sensitive targets with persistence and precision, and destroy or disable those targets with 500-pound bombs and Hellfire missiles.

Gus Van Rant supplies the punchline:

For all the armaments the Reaper carries, it needs more cowbell


On Local Media Ownership

[ 0 ] September 19, 2006 |

In an aside to an otherwise excellent post on the FCC, Amanda writes:

Local ownership means, on average, that the audience is getting troubling high amounts of actual news, which is good for democracy and bad for BushCo.

Is this really true? I have my doubts. The report shows that they’re getting more news, but that isn’t necessarily good for democracy, bad for Bush, etc. The conflict regarding ownership of local media isn’t between big national media conglomerates and local folks; it’s between massive corporations that are far away and very rich people who are nearby. Local capital is not, necessarily or even typically, more progressive or committed to democracy or committed to general news accuracy than corporate conglomerates. Local ownership provides diversity only to the extent that we hear news from different rich people.

Although I haven’t followed the Seattle news scene in a while, around 2000 the PI (owned by the Hearst corporation) was a good deal more progressive across the board than the Times (owned by local capital). Maybe this is an exception, but I wouldn’t bet on it; families rich enough to own newspapers (or TV stations) are not, by and large, a progressive lot.

Wanker of the Day

[ 0 ] September 18, 2006 |

University of Oklahoma President David Boren.

Suck it up, Sooners. Better luck at the track.

China in Lebanon

[ 0 ] September 18, 2006 |

You heard it here first….


China will increase its peacekeeping presence in Lebanon to 1,000 troops, Premier Wen Jiabao has confirmed. The move would make China one of the largest contributors to a strengthened UN force designed to keep the peace.

Here are the current troop totals, including pledges:

France – lead role, 2,000 troops
Italy – 2,500-3,000 troops
Bangladesh – two battalions (2,000 troops)
China – 1,000 troops
Malaysia – one battalion
Spain – mechanised battalion
Indonesia – battalion and engineering company
Nepal – one battalion
Denmark – at least two ships
Poland – 500 troops
Belgium – 400 troops
Finland – 250 troops
Germany – maritime/border patrols, no combat troops
Norway – 100 soldiers

We Truly Live in a Wondrous Age

[ 0 ] September 17, 2006 |

So, content at having picked up my copy of World War Z this afternoon, I’m wandering the internet and find this:

Cormac McCarthy sets his new novel, The Road, in a post-apocalyptic blight of gray skies that drizzle ash, a world in which all matter of wildlife is extinct, starvation is not only prevalent but nearly all-encompassing, and marauding bands of cannibals roam the environment with pieces of human flesh stuck between their teeth. If this sounds oppressive and dispiriting, it is. McCarthy may have just set to paper the definitive vision of the world after nuclear war, and in this recent age of relentless saber-rattling by the global powers, it’s not much of a leap to feel his vision could be not far off the mark nor, sadly, right around the corner.

Believe me when I tell you that there is very little in this world that could make me happier than the prospect of a post-apocalyptic nightmare novel written by Cormac McCarthy. I eagerly await the 26th of September.

Sunset Accompanied by Darkness…. Developing

[ 0 ] September 17, 2006 |

Via Atrios, Drudge seems somehow surprised that Roger Waters doesn’t care for George Bush. Frankly, I think that The Final Cut was released 25 years too soon…

The Fletcher Memorial Home

take all your overgrown infants away somewhere
and build them a home a little place of their own
the fletcher memorial
home for incurable tyrants and kings
and they can appear to themselves every day
on closed circuit t.v.
to make sure they’re still real
it’s the only connection they feel
“ladies and gentlemen, please welcome reagan and haig
mr. begin and friend mrs. thatcher and paisley
mr. brezhnev and party
the ghost of mccarthy
the memories of nixon
and now adding colour a group of anonymous latin
american meat packing glitterati”
did they expect us to treat them with any respect
they can polish their medals and sharpen their
smiles, and amuse themselves playing games for a while
boom boom, bang bang, lie down you’re dead
safe in the permanent gaze of a cold glass eye
with their favourite toys
they’ll be good girls and boys
in the fletcher memorial home for colonial
wasters of life and limb
is everyone in?
are you having a nice time?
now the final solution can be applied

I think that George Bush might deserve his own stanza. I guess it must be tough to find out that all of your classic rock heroes actually meant the things that they wrote in their songs. Then again, I’m sure that some faction of wingnuttery has convinced itself that John Lennon would have favored the invasion of Iraq…

Sunday Battleship Blogging: SMS Viribus Unitis

[ 0 ] September 17, 2006 |

Viribus Unitis was the first Austrian dreadnought, commissioned in December 1912. Viribus Unitis carried 12 12″ guns in four triple superfiring turrets, giving her a 12 gun broadside and 6 gun end on fire. She could make 20 knots, but displaced only 20000 tons. Although reasonably well protected from surface fire, Viribus Unitis had very poor underwater protection and was vulnerable to torpedo attack. Early on in the design process, German engineers recommended that the top two turrets be reduced from three to two guns, and that the weight saving be used to shore up her compartmentation. Unfortunately, this advice was rejected.

Austria-Hungary was reluctant to use Viribus Unitis and her sisters aggressively. The German Navy requested the deployment of the three dreadnoughts in August 1914 to support Goeben. However, because Austria-Hungary hoped to remain at peace with the United Kingdom, and because the Austrians feared that a big naval display would bring Italy into the war, the request was declined. This must be regarded as a poor strategic decision; VU and her sisters would play virtually no role in the war after 1914, and early vigorous employment might have damaged the Royal Navy. Neither Admiral Troubridge’s force of four armored cruisers nor the battlecruisers Indomitable and Inflexible (chasing Goeben at the time) would have stood much chance against the Austrian ships.

The rest of Viribus Unitis’ career was uneventful. In May 1915, she bombarded the Italian port city Ancona. In 1918, she and her three sisters sortied to attack the Otranto Barrage, a set of defenses designed to seal the Adriatic off and trap the Austrian Navy. Szent Istvan, one of VU’s sisters, was struck by two torpedos and sank, leading to the cancellation of the operation. Viribis Unitis returned to port, where she sat while Austria-Hungary disintegrated.

In late October 1918, Croatia and Slovenia severed their connection to the Hapsburg crown. Emperor Karl I, a stand up guy when he wasn’t ordering the gassing of his enemies, turned over the entire Austrian Navy to the state that would (eventually) become Yugoslavia. The Allies, however, refused to recognize this transfer. The Italians in particular were not enthusiastic about the creation of a new, large Slavic state with a large and powerful navy. On October 31st, two Italian frogmen entered Pula harbor and attached a mine to Viribus Unitis’ hull. The two frogmen were captured before the mine exploded, and brought aboard the Croatian battleships. When questioned, they admitted that they had attached a mine, and recommended that the ship be abandoned. Panic and frenzy ensued, with the Croatian sailors understandably irritated at the Italians. The ship was partially abandoned and the mine exploded. 300 sailors who had remained on board for damage control, as well as the admiral of the Croatian Navy, died when the ship capsized.

Most of the wreck of Viribus Unitis remains at the bottom of Pula Harbor. A more detailed description of her loss can be found here.

Trivia: What battleship was capable of launching 22 aircraft?

[ 0 ] September 17, 2006 |

Proper and Appropriate

Via Sullivan.

Allen-Webb on Press the Meat

[ 0 ] September 17, 2006 |

I suppose we should be happy that Russert at least brought up the macaca and Confederate flag issues, but I guess it’s too much to expect that he would call Allen’s transparently bullshit answer: “I just made up the word macaca”.

Team of Destiny?

[ 0 ] September 16, 2006 |

Thirteen point deficit with 3:11 left in the 4th quarter? No problem.

Getting Medieval

[ 0 ] September 15, 2006 |


Iraqi security forces will dig trenches around Baghdad and set up checkpoints along all roads leading into the city to reduce some of the violence plaguing the capital, the Interior Ministry said Friday.


”Trenches will be dug around Baghdad in the coming weeks when the third part of the Baghdad security plan is implemented,” Khalaf said. Metropolitan Baghdad has a circumference of about 60 miles.

The security plan, known as Operation Together Forward, began June 15 and is being implemented in three phases. The first phase included setting up random checkpoints around the city, phase two began Aug. 7 and focused on the most violence-prone areas of Baghdad — mostly the Sunni Arab southern districts. Phase three reportedly includes cordoning off and searching other parts of Baghdad, including predominantly Shiite areas.

Khalaf said that except for the trenches, vehicle and pedestrian traffic would be restricted to just 28 entry points with manned checkpoints.

”We will leave only 28 inlets to Baghdad while all other inlets will be blocked. Supports will be added to the trenches to hinder the movements of people and vehicles. The trenches will be under our watch,” he said.

It hardly needs to be mentioned that, under circumstances like this, expectation that social or economic life can proceed at anything approaching normality or productivity is absurd.

[ 0 ] September 15, 2006 |

Friday Cat Blogging… Nelson

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