2014 was an interesting year for LGM, with the celebration of our tenth anniversary, and the (at this point wildly popular) introduction of comment registration. Here are our ten top posts of the last year, in terms of traffic:
Thank you from everyone at LGM for making this the best possible 2014. In addition to patronizing the site, you have, as a group, demonstrated a remarkable degree of generosity. Have a good, safe New Year’s Eve! Drink to a better 2015!
The United States is building hypersonics for two reasons. First, we want to kill people fast, without the messy danger of a global thermonuclear war. Second, we want to be able to punch through the defensive systems of peer competitors.
Unfortunately, these two justifications contradict one another. Given that China, Russia and even India appear on their way to similar systems, we should take care before letting the technology outpace the politics.
We’ve all heard the idea: In winter, your car needs a little time to warm up before you can drive it. And that’s why across the United States, people who live in cold and snowy places — and especially those whose cars have remote starters — often fire up their engines long before they start driving. Heck, they might even start the car from the kitchen in the morning, and only then start the coffee brewing.
But it turns out that this idea of idling your car during the winter is just wrong. And so are the many, many Americans who believe it — one 2009 study found that on average, Americans thought they should idle for over 5 minutes before driving when temperatures were below 32 degrees…
Idling in winter thus has no benefit to your (presumably modern) car. Auto experts today say that you should warm up the car no more than 30 seconds before you start driving in winter. “The engine will warm up faster being driven,” the EPA and DOE explain. Indeed, it is better to turn your engine off and start it again than to leave it idling.
I’ll confess; I start the car a good five minutes early, while I’m still in the process of convincing the twins to put on their damn shoes. Like every single person under the age of seventy, however, my decision to idle the car has nothing to do with prepping the carburetor. It turns out that cars, when left in a cold garage overnight, are fucking cold; starting them early makes their insides less cold. If you’re not fortunate enough to have a garage, starting them early gets you a good headstart on defrosting the windows, and I’ve been told that driving while sheets of ice still cover the windshield is both dangerous and irresponsible.
Now, I’ll grant that running the engine for five minutes to solve these two problems can be wasteful, selfish, etc. Nevertheless, an article of this sort should probably concentrate on the reasons that people actually idle their cars, rather than presume that the problem lies in ignorance of the engineering of the modern automobile. Indeed, I’d guess that the historical interest in idling a car on a cold morning has far less to do with engine health than it does with the aforementioned two factors.
Salami slicing works best against a coalition of states with uncertain levels of commitment. It identifies extended deterrence commitments as the vulnerable ligaments that hold a coalition together, and tries to place stress on those connections. Salami “slices” have greater strategic than intrinsic value, although the “slicer” can take advantage of differences in how the opposing coalition values particular objects.
Salami slicing requires long range planning, careful assessment of the commitment of an opponent. If an opponent is more interested in an excuse for aggression than in deterrence, then slicing can result in catastrophe. If the slices are too large, the effort can produce counter-balancing.
The Indian Ocean tsunami started ten years ago today, resulting in ~230000 dead. I barely remember the first day, although I suspect that I was traveling. I also don’t remember much about US news coverage at the beginning; seems that we didn’t start sharing the videos of the tides until a bit later (and this was before the sharing economy of the internet really ramped up, in any case).
For anyone interested in the small-but-important role that the USN played in relief efforts, I can still recommend Bruce Elleman’s Waves of Hope.
The good people at SunAnt have helped us update to WordPress 4.1. Let this serve as an open thread for emerging problems or issues; from my point of view, site seems to be loading faster this morning. We did lose the Super Simple Quotes plugin (rotating quotes at the top of the page), which was not compatible with this update, so I’ll be looking to replace over the next few days.
…anyone having trouble logging in (freeze, not password) issues, please let us know over e-mail.
What will the future of war look like in East Asia? A recent conference at the Pandia Calogeras Institute, a think tank associated with the Brazilian Ministry of Defence, examined potential developments in warfare with an eye toward 2045. Here are several trends the group identified, with implications for thinking about how conflict may develop in East Asia.
The direct legacies of the Cold War are dwindling, with the cross-straits relationship and the Korean divide remaining as the most prominent reminders. Unfortunately, neither of those conflicts are as easily resolved as the U.S.-Cuba dispute.
With respect to the ongoing technical problems, we’re hoping that an upgrade to WordPress 4.1, which should happen early this week, will resolve the issue.