Friday Linkzookery – 25 April 2008

Sadr calls for freeze in fighting; US, Iraqi forces kill 14 Mahdi fighters in Baghdad
No doubt another win for Mookie. Fights: win. Quits: win. Fights again: wins Quits again: win.

Stop Loss Fades Away
DoD plans to stop using Stop Loss within two years? I hadn’t heard of this. Is that really a good idea?

13W LED Bulb Can Replace 100W Incandescent
50,000 hour life and no mercury, but uses a fan to cool the circuit board (energy cost?) and runs $90.

NASA-based massively multiplayer online learning game
Should draw a huge percentage of WoW players. Cool concept, but unlikely to help much.

Pizza Hut gives driver the pepperoni
Pizza Guy who used gun to defend himself during an ambush has been fired for violating company’s no-carry policy.

Super-Fast Ship Set for Drug War Duty
Stiletto. Pics and links to more here.

It just depends which biofuels
I fear that the backlash (mostly deserved) against corn-based ethanol is going to harm the long-run quest for workable biofuels. Of course, the subsidation of corn-based ethanol is going to harm the long-run quest for workable biofuels.

Stimulus Payments to Go Out Ahead of Schedule
Show me the money.

Navy Re-Establishes U.S. Fourth Fleet
Noted this possibility some time back, but it’s happened. Says Defense Tech: Hugo Chavez is Gonna Love This One

Reapers Get Reaped
A quarter of the MQ-9 Reaper UAVs in service were destroyed in accidents during the last month.

Third Eye Camera
WTF? 4″x5″ camera made from Aluminium, Titanium, Brass, Silver, Gem Stones and a 150 year old skull of a 13 year old girl.


  1. Hmm, I could build a 13W LED light for less than $90 – with 26 0.5W LEDs plus some circuitry for the power supply. It’d be kind of large though, and have a (bright) focused beam. this thing is 4W but only costs about US$22 and runs off 12V. Requires no external cooling…

  2. Donno about that reactivated 4th Fleet. I thought we were short ships, sailers to man them, and budget to float the fleets we have now. I suppose they’ll just take assets away from existing fleets, making them even less capable of fulfilling ‘their’ current missions.

  3. UAVs are built to sloppy construction standards because they are unmanned. It makes them cheap, but also unreliable. Their operator interfaces are crappy too. I read about one Predator that fell out of the sky because the operator station went to hell. The guy flying the thing switched to a new station but didn’t set all the switches to the same settings he had in the station that crapped out so the Predator just ignored all of his commands. It eventually augured into the ground somewhere. Another thing I’ve realized having been doing flight test for the last few years is that manned airplanes would crash a lot more often than they do without a crew to do in-air maintenance or problem mitigation. There are a lot of problems that can be fixed by a resourceful crew that would down an unmanned airplane. Crews are not real good at vigilance, but with today’s aircraft the computer watches the gauges and alerts the crew to what’s wrong. The crew uses the innate creativity of their human minds to fix what ails the plane. It’s a good system when it’s designed correctly. There’s nothing wrong with UAVs, but the military needs to be aware of their limitations. I pitched an idea for a cargo airplane we were developing a while back. The idea was that the airplane would have a single place cockpit with the mission specialist (generally a loadmaster) station in tandem with the pilot’s. The novel aspect of this was that the copilot was to be on the ground in a UAV operator station. Further, the person in the UAV station would be responsible to back up several piloted aircraft. This way the guy on the ground could spell the pilot if he needed a break or if he just needed a hand. This would also mean that the airplane could be solely piloted as a UAV from the ground. This was an idea I originally had for commercial aircraft. My concept there was that if the airplane were hijacked the pilot would be able to hit a button and control would be irreversibly transferred to the ground. It didn’t gain much traction when I proposed it back in ’97 for the High Speed Civil Transport program, but it got a better reception for this program because of the popularity of UAVs. The only thing is, even though it was my suggestion, I’m still not real hot on the idea of a huge cargo airplane being remotely piloted. They can leave one hell of a large crater if they go out of control.

  4. Actually, they are just reflaging NavSouth as a numbered Fleet. Just like they did when NavCent became 5th Fleet. Same existing staff, with title and authority equal to what the other navy elements have…

  5. ‘A quarter of the MQ-9 Reaper UAVs in service were destroyed in accidents during the last month.’ Heck. The German V-1 ‘buzz-bombs’ had a better accident record than that back in 1944. Of course, they were designed to fall out of the sky……… over London!

  6. Speaking of manned and unmanned vehicles, here’s another cross over being proposed: The U.S. Air Force is considering fielding a variant of its next-generation bomber that could collect intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) undetected behind enemy lines. Air Force Secretary Michael Wynne says the service is on ‘a quest to have long-range reconnaissance.’ He says that an unmanned version of the bomber, which is expected to be fielded in 2018, would be a strong candidate for this mission. Penetrating ISR has been lacking since the retirement of the SR-71 Blackbird in the 1990s. The high flying U-2 and Global Hawk unmanned aerial vehicle can collect a variety of intelligence, but their vulnerability to detection forces them to operate at standoff ranges. The U-2 carries more sophisticated sensors but is limited to about 12 hours of flight time due to the limitations of an onboard pilot. The Global Hawk, which has flown missions lasting longer than a day, has not yet proven its ability to collect signals intelligence. The bomber platform is expected to be subsonic, highly stealthy and carry between 28,000-40,000 pounds of payload. An ISR version could operate undetected in airspace defended by the most advanced double-digit surface-to-air-missile systems. Service officials still expect to keep a pilot in the bomber cockpit for those variants certified to deliver nuclear weapons. – AvWk Hopefully it’s not a subscription only article. Anyway, I think this further supports my position that this bomber should be capable of Mach 3 speeds.

  7. China might be able to supply arms and ammo to both sides in Africa, but they won’t be able to supply both sides in wars the US is bogged down in, well, maybe they won’t, now that the mighty US Congress is involved.

    The United States Army has begun a broad review of procedures used to supply security forces in Afghanistan and Iraq with foreign arms, prompted by an allegation of fraud and questions about the competence of the main private supplier of ammunition to Afghanistan. The company, AEY Inc. of Miami Beach, was suspended last month after Army investigators accused it of shipping aged Chinese rifle cartridges and claiming they were Hungarian. The Army decided to review its contracting procedures as several arms-industry officials said that long before the suspension, it was clear the Army had erred by not recognizing risk factors in AEY’s history and activities, and by being lured by a very low bid. Problems with the contract, they said, were evident again early this year when AEY’s president was seen shopping for foreign munitions, including shoulder-fired rockets, at an American gun show. The money he was offering, the officials said, was too little to buy quality ammunition. Lt. Gen. William E. Mortensen, deputy commanding general of the Army Materiel Command, and Jeffrey P. Parsons, executive director of the Army Contracting Command, said last week that based on questions about AEY’s performance and initial inquiries into the contract’s history, the Army had undertaken an extensive review of its arms-contracting standards and procedures and planned to overhaul several. – NY Times

    Wow, it’s almost like like having a backbone, but not quite.

  8. More of what outsourcing is doing for you:

    DOBBS: The CEO of Baxter today told Congress that doses of heparin imported from communist China may have been contaminated intentionally. Eighty-one people died in this country after taking doses of the tainted blood thinner. Members of Congress today blasted the FDA and Baxter for failing to protect American consumers. Louise Schiavone has our report. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) SCHIAVONE (voice-over): The makers of the blood thinner heparin now have an explanation, someone, somewhere contaminated their product. ROBERT PARKINSON, JR., CEO, BAXTER INTERNATIONAL: We’re alarmed that one of our products was used in what appears to have been a deliberate scheme to adulterate a life saving medication. SCHIAVONE: Who, they don’t know except it wasn’t them. This from Scientific Protein Laboratories, which built the Changzhou China plant that makes heparin’s active ingredient. DAVID STRUNCE, SCIENTIFIC PROTEIN LABORATORIES: The recent worldwide contamination appears to be the result of a deliberate act upstream in the supply change. The contamination was not SPL or Changzhou SPL specific. SCHIAVONE: But there’s been no ruling on whether the contamination was deliberate or accidental. And the Food and Drug Administration inspector who visited the Chinese factory could not understand how parent company Scientific Protein Laboratories could have inspected the plant and its processing tanks and given the all clear. REGINA BROWN, FDA FIELD INVESTIGATOR: I scratched stuff off the inside of the tank and this was a tank that was marked clean. A second tank I turned over and liquid fell out of the handle. SCHIAVONE: But the FDA was on the hot seat too with lawmakers incredulous at the agency’s overall approach to Chinese imports. REP. JAY INSLEE (D), WASHINGTON: Can you imagine what we would do if al Qaeda had put some foreign substance in heparin? Can you imagine what the threat level would go to? SCHIAVONE: Meanwhile, the real life consequences of the bureaucracy’s breakdown were heartbreakingly apparent. LEROY HUBLEY, LOST WIFE AND SON: My wife Bonnie died in December from receiving heparin that was later recalled by Baxter. My son Randy died a month later under the same circumstances. COLLEEN HUBLEY, LOST HUSBAND: As a nurse, I thought that I would be there to save my husband from any errors. But I guess I was naive. I never thought the life saving medication we were relying on might be contaminated. SCHIAVONE: Committee Chairman John Dingle declared it was impossible for citizens to trust their food, drugs or medical devices. (END VIDEOTAPE) SCHIAVONE: There’s an import alert out now for all heparin products from the Changzhou plant. But the FDA concedes that at the nation’s 321 ports, inspectors are posted at only 90 — Lou. DOBBS: Unbelievable. It seems like a clear case of in this case of an absolute failure on the part of this president and this administration to manage this government. What in the world is Congress saying about the administration of both the Food and Drug Administration and the responsibility of this White House? SCHIAVONE: Well, basically the FDA seems to be asleep at the switch. They told Congress they need more than a quarter of a billion dollars to do the kind of inspections they need to do both domestically and abroad and you know what the administration asked for an additional nine million for the 2009 budget. So a huge disparity in what’s needed and what they’re asking for. DOBBS: It’s incredible this administration’s irresponsibility in protecting American consumers on a host of fronts. It’s just unthinkable, it’s unconscionable. – Lou Dobbs, CNN

  9. Here’s an up side to outsourcing. Don’t bother with college, it’s not worth it:

    [T]he past advantage of college graduates in the job market is eroding. Ever more students attend college at the same time as ever more employers are automating and sending offshore ever more professional jobs, and hiring part-time workers. Many college graduates are forced to take some very nonprofessional positions, such as driving a truck or tending bar. – The Chronicle of Higher Education

  10. Ok, you know that whole thing about people dying because of tainted drugs from communist red China? Don’t worry your little head about it because the Republicans have your back:

    More than 80 percent of active drug ingredients are produced abroad, but the FDA has limited staff and funding to inspect overseas manufacturers. The Democrat-controlled Congress is searching for ways to strengthen FDA oversight of imported food and drugs following a string of recalls of Chinese-made products in the past year, included tainted toothpaste and pet food. Chinese officials have said the chemical in heparin, over-sulfated chondroitin sulfate, was not to blame for deadly reactions to the drug. Republicans at the hearing backed the need for more inspections but some balked at having companies pay the cost rather than taxpayers. ‘It seems to me this is an area where we should appropriate the money and not rely on fees,’ said Rep. Michael Burgess, a Texas Republican. – Reuters

    Yeah, that’s it you bastards, that’s what we need to do. The US taxpayer should subsidize the exporting of our jobs to f’ing China. Over 80% of our drugs are imported, but don’t collect fees from the companies that get rich exporting these jobs. Put it on our back. Make us pay for the inspectors. I am livid. If this doesn’t outrage you, you need to check yourself for a pulse or hold a mirror up to your face and see if there’s even a little hint of fog.