* Posts by Jim Black

18 publicly visible posts • joined 8 Aug 2007

RAF in plot against Fleet Air Arm again

Jim Black

Additional thoughts

I have noted where the original article or the comments addressed some additional factors.

In military activities, there is a major emphasis on a principle of warfare called "Unity of Command". That was the reason that a Supreme Commander (Eisenhower as it turned out) was needed for the planning and execution of the liberation of the European mainland from Hitler's forces. However, Eisenhower had deputies from all the services and most of the nations involved in the effort. Bernard Montgomery was commander of all ground forces for the first couple of months after the invasion. Scaled down to a smaller endeavor, such as an individual military service of a nation, it means that the commanders responsible for achieving a national effort should have the means UNDER THEIR COMMAND to be successful. It is a gross violation of this principle to have a RAF-commanded unit operating aboard a RN commanded ship or fleet. It is proper if the RAF unit aboard a ship be commanded by the ship commander.

Modern warfare on land-sea-air (and maybe space) means that the principle needs to have some expansion. The US military now emphasizes Joint Operations, where units of sister services may be commanded by a particular service commander. In an action considered heresy by old-time Army and Marine types, the Army sent the 2nd Brigade of the 2nd Infantry division to Iraq and subordinated it to the First Marine Division. The Marine Commanding General then subordinated a Marine Battalion to the command of the Army Brigade commander. Blasphemy! At this time there are several Army units in both Iraq and Afghanistan that have attached Navy and Air Force people working directly on the ground with the Army people. And the US Special Operations Command has major elements of all the services and also some very specialized people of their own. But in every case, the Unit Commander is actual commander of all subordinate units assigned or attached to the command unit.

So a cursory look at the situation would appear to indicate that the separate services are not required. A deeper look shows that the missions being performed by the services are definitely separated. WITHIN those services are functions that can be performed by properly trained people of any service but the overall knowledge needed for the service function is rather specialized and the training required of a commander for all services would require training until they were too old to be effective. The factors of service pride and esprit must also be considered. An additional factor is that a pilot is not just a pilot. I once asked a highly decorated USAF pilot (more than 280 missions during Vietnam including 80 over North Vietnam) if he would like to try to land his F-4 on a Navy carrier. He gave me a succinct "Not only NO but HELL NO!"

Another factor I have not seen considered is that the war the nation gets is seldom the war the nation has prepared for. The WW1 Allies were not prepared for the realities of machine guns or of tanks. In WW2, the British and French were not prepared for the Blitzkrieg while the US was not really prepared for ANY kind of war. The US was not prepared for Korea or for Vietnam. In Afghanistan and Iraq, the US was not prepared for the unconventional war that we got after the initial battles. In all these wars, the wrong generals were weeded out and the right ones brought in - after a time. And the strategy and tactics, tools and weapons, changed each time to fit the needs of that war. So there is a major danger in postulating that the next war will be like the last war. Two things are certain: there will be another war and it will not be the same as the last one. War planners always face the problem that they cannot win, they cannot tie, and they cannot quit.

So the only thing the the planners really have to go on are the Threat Analysis and a cloudy crystal ball as to the war they will face. The worst problem is the politics of a democratic nation. One politician says to an ally "We will be with you till Hell freezes over." Another politician says to an ally "If the fires of Hell are banked even a little, we are out of there!" And enemies change - I am old enough to be told about the vile Italians, the brutal Germans, and the evil Japanese. Now those countries are actually some of our best Allies (after the British, of course!). Which all means that military planners must devise a force and equipment structure that can sort of meet any threat and must meet the economic constraints placed on the solution chosen. A difficult task.

Lastly, no single service can fulfill all the requirements for the winning of a war. E.g., air power is a NECESSARY BUT NOT SUFFICIENT tool to conquer an enemy. The same holds true for sea power. In WW2, the air forces repeatedly said they could defeat the will of the enemy with bombing. They could not. Land troops can potentially do everything that conquering an enemy requires but without air and sea power, the land forces will take much heavier casualties and may not be able to conquer. To sort out the appropriate budgets for each service requires the most unbiased yet knowledgeable of people - and those kinds of people are in extremely short supply anywhere.

Brit carrier deals inked at last

Jim Black

Some thoughts on the logistics of military operations

The most valuable reason to have military items built in your own country is that your government, for better or worse, can control the supply of spare, replacement, and consumable items needed to keep the military item functional. This is not a trivial matter, as we in the US have noted many times. I believe a previous post mentioned some Chinook helicopters as needing "keys" to the software that are hindering the use by the UK of those helicopters. I do not know the story there but it illustrates the need for intelligent contracting BEFORE the contract is let.

If in fact the problem is software, then the answer is simple - Open Source software. Brains are not a monopoly of any nation or racial group and there are scientists, engineers, and software people in the UK who can take open source software and code programs to do whatever you want. The UK problem is not a lack of natural talent but fossilized and paranoid management by people who have been empowered to make decisions about things they know nothing about - like judges and politicians. We have the very same problem in the US.

With open source software, you get the source code as well as the compiled code. The proprietary code groups will tell you open source is vulnerable to crackers but that is much less true than with the proprietary code. And the premier magazine of one type of open source software, Linux, is published in the UK. The UK has the talent, it is just not being used effectively.

Congress bails out telcos for illegal snooping

Jim Black

Forgotten note

Adding to the previous note:

The US has no provision for limiting outgoing immigration. For anyone who thinks it is better somewhere else, take advantage of this policy and GET YOUR ASS OUT!

Jim Black

To all of the above

The US has been accused to violating every "right" imaginable, including that of breathing, by people who sit on their larded arses and do nothing but flaunt their ability to string words together. All of the comments above and the original article have one thing in common - they accuse the US of being totalitarian and dictatorial and of suppressing dissident expression. Distortions all except for the blatant falsehoods.

The very fact that you can sit on your arse and complain without being physically harmed (as in the Third Reich, Soviet Russia, and any Muslim country today) is a testament to show you are all completely filled with the solid droppings of the well-fed male ox.

A pox on your evil houses.

USAF ramps up kill-bot fleet following Gates sackings

Jim Black

A bit of history

Pre-WW2 the US Marines, US Navy, Germans, and British all had fighter and other cockpits filled with enlisted men, usually Sergeants. The only computer on board was the one under their hair. And they did very well, thank you. With computer support, there is even less rationale for having only flight rated officers at the controls of a UAV. Manned/womened aircraft can do things that UAVs cannot do and UAVs can do things men/women cannot do. The missions are complementary, not competing.

The previous suggestion of using Warrant Officers seems especially good here - many Army WOs are highly qualified in both fixed and rotary winged aircraft including gunships. But a lot of rice-bowl protection seems to be the rule in the USAF. They need to go back to the mission instead of concentrating on egos.

Boffins build safer, more capacious lithium-ion battery

Jim Black

@Nexox Enigma

Re: "And cars run on petrol, which releases much less carbon than coal does"

When I took chemistry and thermodynamics, I was taught that the combustion of carbon products was by combining one or two oxygen atoms with each carbon atom, with a concurrent release of energy in the form of heat. It would seem therefore, that combining x number of atoms of carbon with y number of oxygen atoms would release the same amount of heat energy regardless of the source of the carbon.

Perhaps you are saying that coal is combusted less efficiently than petrol?


French motorwonk savages hybrid cars

Jim Black
Thumb Down

@ gollux and others

How nice that I do not have to decide for myself what I need or want - so many are glad to do that for me. Now I can just lay down and sleep while gollux and the other BRANES will solve all my problems. [Capitalized to keep it separate from the Brane theory of the universe.]

This is the perfect solution for everything. See how well it worked in Hitler's Germany and Stalin's Soviet Union and now in giving all that prosperity to the North Korean's and the Cuban's? Let the state bureaucrats solve all the problems.

Just for the record, what I need and what I want are my concern and you can just keep your damned hands off. The Cult of AGW is very similar to the National Socialist Democratic Workers Party and the thugs that ran that party. The King Ranch in Texas is roughly 200,00 acres (call it 80,000 hectares) and you don't get around it with a bicycle - you need a pickup. If someone needs a large pickup truck to haul a 40-foot cattle trailer, it will frequently also be the family car because the budget only allows one vehicle. Haul cattle one day and groceries the next. Or maybe we could tell the people on the Stations in Australia that they can keep their motorcycles and bicycles but the multi-trailer land trains won't be around anymore. In other words, solutions that properly serve the metropolitan areas are usually a disaster for the suburban and rural areas.

Show me the science behind the hockey-stick curve (the creation of a computer program) and show how all the real data from the Maunder Minimum, Malenkovich Cycles, Greenland ice core sample analysis, etc., etc., have been taken into account and maybe I will be convinced that IPCCC report is something more than a piece of fiction designed to enhance control of humanity by a few malicious individuals. Not likely but it could happen.

Scientists warn on climatic 'tipping points'

Jim Black

@ Gilbert Wham (@Really Scary Stuff)

Just a trifle late with your (really good) idea. See the book "Parkinson's Law", a series of essays by C. Northcote Parkinson, a professor at a university in Singapore in the mid-20th Century. One of those essays concerned the ideal way to recruit a candidate for a public office. The general thesis was that anyone who applied for the job was obviously incompetent. Therefore, a committee should decide who would be best and figure out a way to approach that person to accept the job.

Parkinson also formulated Parkinson's Law: Work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion. A lesser rule was that Government agencies expand at a constant rate regardless of what their mission is or even if they have no mission at all. He based his essay on the British Colonial Office from the time of "India, the Jewel of the British Crown" to the loss of the last colony in the 20th century. Most of his examples are from his knowledge of British institutions since he was a native of Great Britain.

Back on subject, there is an enormous amount of absolutist fog going around on both sides of the AGW debate. I see no reason to completely believe those who think AGW needs draconian measures nor do I completely believe those who think everything will stay the same. To some degree, they are both wrong. Perhaps we would be better served to put the minds to figuring out how to survive the change. Change will come as it always does but the details are far from clear.

US Marines: Osprey tiltrotor doing OK in Iraq

Jim Black

Comments on the V-22

The prime manufacturer Boeing has a website at


The http://www.flightlevel350.com/ website has sublinks to a 4:26 video of the V-22 in flight which was apparently taken in the first quarter of 2006 at Euless, TX, USA. Euless is the home of Bell Helicopter where a lot of development of the concept has been done. Bell is a partner with Boeing, building the major airframe systems. Bell Helicopter has a website on the V-22 at http://www.bellhelicopter.com/en/aircraft/military/bellV-22.cfm.

During 1995-96, I worked on some of the cockpit avionics for the V-22 at sub-contractor Honeywell Defense Avionics in Albuquerque, one of many subcontracts on the project. Neat stuff. LCDs that do not fade in direct sunlight get rid of most of the steam-gages of older aircraft. Keyboards, computers, and displays are all special.

As for the problems mentioned in the posts before this one, there have been a lot of people doing worst case analysis on this bird for close to 25 years and you can be sure anything you can think of, they have foreseen and addressed if not eliminated. Particularly the pilots - they are always the first at the scene of the accident. There are still risks but then driving on the public streets is risky.

Hundreds of US fighter aces reassigned as drone pilots

Jim Black

A bit of history

During the 1920's and 30's, the US Navy and US Marine Corps had enlisted pilots, Sergeants, who were frequently their best pilots. During WW2, the British and other Commonwealth nations had enlisted pilots. So did the Germans and the Japanese. It does not require an officer's qualifications to fly an airplane. The requirement for officer rank derives from a need to a) have someone suitably skilled and legally qualified to command units and b) to more adequately compensate the pilot for the risks involved in aerial flight. Recently pilot selection has been necessarily rigorous both because of the skills and the physical requirements and the screening processes have become based on some factors that enhance long term retention and usability while not significantly contributing to the actual work of flying.

There will always be a need for piloted combat aircraft because the remoted unit does not provide the full situational awareness that an airborne pilot has nor can it react as quickly. This makes it more likely the remotely piloted vehicle can be lost to enemy action. On the plus side, aircraft are usuallly easier to replace than pilots. I do not see the airborne pilot vs remote pilot issue as a zero-sum game.

Cloudy outlook for climate models

Jim Black

What If - Again

May I extend congratulations and thanks to Mr. Chase and Mr. Wilkinson for making such very interesting comments? Mr. Chase has invested an enormous amount of energy and significant time in defending the theory of anthropogenic global warming. It is entirely possible he and others may eventually be proven correct. It is also entirely possible that the AGW theory may eventually be proven incorrect by events that could take place in the years to come.

From the viewpoint of almost-a-layman in climate physics, the discussions have revolved around the physics of heat and the transfer of those energies to the climate. Yet the central question has not been adressed. So I will try to restate the real issue(s):

If mankind does not curb harmful emissions, what are the likely effects and over what period of time are they expected to occur?

If mankind reduces harmful emissions to or below the arbitrary limits already proposed, what are the likely effects and over what period of time are these effects expected to occur?

Do the AGW believers say that by reducing harmful emissions the planet's climate will remain the same as we experience it at this time?

Do the AGW believers say that the natural cycles of climate heating and subsequent cooling are only history and not expected to reoccur?

Do the AGW believers say that the harmful emissions are having the effect of speeding up the natural heating cycle which historical evidence would indicate is happening?

The questions above are in response to feeling highly uncomfortable when pundits of any variety in essence say "Trust me, I know what is best for you." We are all familiar with politicians and other confidence men who prey on the gullible. The AGW people have not fully developed the entire story of what happens if we do reduce emissions and what happens if we don't. Sadly, the anti-AGW people also have not developed a full story detailing the pros and cons of doing nothing. I suspect the truth is somewhere in between the positions of the groups.

Perhaps Mr. Chase will respond to this comment with brief answers to the above questions. These are not questions of detailed science but of effects to be expected and when, given competing courses of action.

Jim Black

Re: Re: What If?

Mr. Chase did not comment on what I had hoped would be the most pertinent question in my previous post:

"If we do everything recommended, will the global warming be stopped and the planet continue to have essentially the same climate as now exists? Will the planet get warmer regardless of what we do?"

The postings have been against and for anthropogenic global warming (hereinafter AGW). That seems to accept as fact that only greenhouse gases (GH) could cause the GW and excludes other factors. Yet, since the paleoclimate record indicates that there have been ice ages and periods in the past warmer than it is today, frequently before man was walking around, there had to be reasons for those pre-man climate changes. What were those causes? What began the warming/cooling processes? Are those causes still in existence and, if so, to what extent do they affect the climate of the earth today?

Start at the paleoclimate record, preferably sometime before man was here or at least when the number of people existing and their lifestyle can be ignored as a factor in the climate. Travel forward in time as the climate changes and see what happens and to the best of our knowledge, why it happens. Mr. Chase has been quite prolific in writing about the effects of GH but has not tied the historic cycles together into an understandable whole. We need the view of a wide-angle lens but we are getting a microscopic view.

The pro-AGW people are proposing the expenditure of vast quantities of fiscal resources in pursuit of an unclear objective. In a business sense, there are at least three analyses that would be useful to perform before the expenditure of those resources. First, Root Cause analysis; are GH gases in fact the entire cause of the warming or are there other contributing causes that provide significant effects. Second, Life Cycle Cost Analysis; what will be the cost to the environment, the economies, the lifestyles of the people? Are there long term effects hoped to be achieved, what are those effects, how much will they cost, what are alternatives to those actions and their effects, and what are those costs? Third, Cost-Benefit analysis. What benefits will be achieved at what cost (certainly ties in with LCCA)?

Another analysis would be to examine how to adapt to the projected changes in climate and the costs of doing so. Mankind is amazingly adaptable when forced to adapt or die. Perhaps the optimum solution is not to fight the GH gases but to adapt to the changes that are coming - especially if the changes are not solely caused by increasing GH gases.

In physics, for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. In human affairs, for every action there is an unintended consequence. With focus solely on GH gases and an unproven assumption of AGW, we are not getting the full story on the climate. Little wonder that there are significant numbers of people who suspect that the pro-AGW people are in fact a religious cult, wedded to a philosophy of imposing their will on the rest of us. The issue is too important to be left to incomplete science or to a belief inflexible as a religion.

Jim Black

What if?

Timothy Chase and others write at length on some of the aspects of merits pro- and con- of the issue of anthropogenic global warming. Does anyone care to examine the issue of doing nothing?

The paleoclimate record is clear that there have been cycles of warming and cooling predating and continuing with the existence of mankind. The warm periods seem to have been much warmer than the predicted warming for the alleged AGW. I ask "What happens if we do nothing and what happens if we take all the recommended draconian greenhouse control measures?"

If we do everything recommended, will the global warming be stopped and the planet continue to have essentially the same climate as now exists? Will the planet get warmer regardless of what we do? The paleoclimate record would seem to indicate that the planet will get warmer - period.

The reason(s) for the warming periods (and cooling periods) that have been documented seem to be missing from the discussion. Mr. Chase does comment that rising CO2 levels have previously resulted in warming although other sources have indicated that the rise in CO2 levels was in fact a lagging indicator, not a leading indicator. So how do we find out what has previously happened so that we can compare it to known facts now?

There exists considerable evidence that overall the climate is getting warmer although not in full accordance with the alarmists predictions. The evidence tying mankinds activities to a causal factor in the warming is much more tenuous. The link reminds me of the old false saying that "All cancer victims drink water, thus water causes cancer."

Whether global warming is manmade or natural does not address the critical issue of what to do about it. If it is manmade beyond any doubt AND combating it will maintain the status quo, then the effort may be worth it. If global warming will occur regardless of what we do, then our efforts should be devoted to ameliorating the effects of a certain GW and doing what is necessary to survive.

For those hard bent to impose draconian rules of conduct on the rest of us, consider that you might in fact be wrong (as Oliver Cromwell said in the 17th century). Imposing on anyone is a political matter, not a matter of science. Despite all the protestations, computer models, however complex and complete, do not in fact do more than give a representation of what could happen. If the model does not perfectly reproduce actual measurements, the model must always be considered imperfect and subject to error. Our climate prediction models are not perfect by any standard.

The Electric Car Conspiracy ... that never was

Jim Black


The situation driving in Europe cannot be realistically compared to driving in the greater United States. The conditions are generally significantly different.

The UK at 241,530 sq Km land area is slightly smaller than the state of Oregon. The UK population (estimated) is 60,776,238 for a population density of ~251.6 persons per sq Km. The US lower 48 (excludes Alaska, Hawaii, and Puerto Rico) is about 7,663,941 sq Km land area. Lower 48 population is about 299,204,396 for a population density of ~39 people per sq Km. Yes there are large variations in some areas including sections of some states that have less than one person per sq Km.

Our largest cities (New York, Chicago, etc.) have public transportation in taxis, buses, etc., and the use of individual automobiles is reduced although not non-existent. When you get to the smaller cities and towns, public transportation is rare to completely missing. Distances are not short and commute times by bicycle would take too much time. Plus, the ubiquitous pickup truck is sometimes the only family transportation that the family can afford.

Although much is made of the style and features of new vehicles, for the vast majority of people the choice has to be made of "how much can I get for the amount I can afford to spend". Another equation is safety - in a collision, the smaller car almost always loses. Hummer's are nice vehicles but not that many people can afford them. Not many people people in the UK drive a Rolls.

Will electric vehicles ever take off here in the US? I believe so, when the durability of the batteries, the charge time of said batteries (includes hybrids) and when the general resistance to buying something new and untested by length of service starts fading. If the price of fuel begins to approach the prices now existing in Europe, then the size of internal combustion driven autos will come down and the electrics will begin to sell. But mandating anything by law or by pressure always brings out a resistance in independent people. There is also the factor that anything that irritates the environmental wackos delights the common people of the US.

New BAE destroyer launches today on the Clyde

Jim Black

@Turner and @ Rob

"since increasing capability increases staffing requirements in an age where few youth sign up for the Navy and its long periods away from home"

Increased capability does not always mean increased staff. Hopefully, the increased capability can be managed by computers or other automated means or if necessary by more intense training of people. The US Navy is now in the process of designing a new aircraft carrier for the 2020 time frame and beyond and the goal is to reduce the approximately 6,000 people on the current aircraft carriers (e.g., USS Ronald Reagan, CVN 76 and the George H.W. Bush, CVN 77, which is not yet operational) to around 5,000. And the capability of the new carrier will be greater than that of existing carriers.

Rob, I don't know where you get your information about the professionalism of the US military but it is wrong. A previous poster said to ask the Brits who are now in Afghanistan about the US troops. I would suggest that you ask around and find a professional British military person and ask them whether the US troops are any good. Or, since the US is supposedly so "unprofessional", ask them if they would like to take on the US military. If you can find a graduate of RMA Sandhurst, that would be someone with the appropriate training.

Before anyone alleges that I am bad-mouthing the British military, let me say the the British troops are as professional and competent as any in the world. It was the British SAS that gave us the ideas for and sometimes actually trained many of the US's best special troops. Britain's military problems stem from British politics, the same as US military problems stem from US politics.

This similarity is not surprising. The American colonists fought side by side with the British Army in the French and Indian war, including a young Colonial officer by the name of George Washington. From 1776 until 1783 we fought against the British, led by that same George Washington. In 1812, the British Army burned and gutted our White House and later we routed the British at the Battle of New Orleans. In our War Between the States, Britain traded with both sides but mostly with the Union forces. Then in 1917 the US joined the British and French in the War To End All Wars of 1914-1918 and again joined with Britain and France for WW2. Britain joined us in Korea and British troops there fought magnificently, as they have in every war. Britain joined the coalitions of 1991 in Iraq and again in 2003. As one pundit put it, Britain and the US are two related nations divided by a common language. Rob may consider this an insult but the US and Great Britain so far are joined in a brotherhood of shared sacrifice and in many cases shared ancestors.

Finally, there is no technical reason why the British could not manufacture all the high tech equipment you need. You have the scientific brains necessary and enough innovators to be serious competitors to anything the rest of the world can throw at you. So if Great Britain has problems, it is not because of lack of intelligence or courage - those are available in abundance. So what is the problem?

Newest Ubuntu dubbed 'Hardy Heron'

Jim Black

@ I'll bet they haven't addressed their real problem...

You mention losing your added applications. When initially installing, have a separate partition for /home and add a directory for additional programs. Install to your home/directory. When you change distros, you still have the old stuff handy.

As for using the updater/installer such as Synaptics or Yum, it is simple to add the stuff you had on the old distro. And there will probably be some old programs you wanted to get rid of but had not gotten a roun tu-it. Problem solved.

Linux apps stability is for the most part better or at least as good as the M$ and third party apps. The Linux OS is superior to the M$ OS. And whether you can do something faster in a Windows app or Linux app is highly situational - it depends on what you want to do. Familiarity with the system used is a major factor in which is easier. The concept of Linux is User Choice, meaning that having multiple applications that perform essentially the same function is a good thing, allowing the user to choose what they like.

Example of user choice: While I have used and like most of the Ubuntu (and variants) usability, Ubuntu uses sudo to get to the root functions instead of the su + root password to get root functions. I do not agree with the Canonical justification for this difference from typical Unix/Linux functionality and therefore I use Debian 4.0 for this machine. As I said: User Choice.

Biometrics tackle immigration abuse

Jim Black


If a country does not make all the laws for that country, that country is not sovreign. It is as simple as that. When UK joined the EC, they gave up much of their sovreignty. Now George Bush wants to create a North American community and give up sovreignty of the US to Canada and Mexico. Joining Canada would be a gain but joining Mexico would be disastrous. GWB talks a good case but, as the Bible says, "by their works shall you know them." And I am a life-long Republican, at least for the last 50 years but not any more.

Signature: Ask the American Indians what happens when you don't enforce border control.

US rules vote swapping legal

Jim Black

For Matt

On Nov. 12, 2001, The New York Times ran a front page article that began: "A comprehensive review of the uncounted Florida ballots from last year's presidential election reveals that George W. Bush would have won even if the United States Supreme Court had allowed the statewide manual recount of the votes that the Florida Supreme Court had ordered to go forward."

Given the BDS status of the NYT, is there any further doubt that GWB won?