November 17, 2009

India to purchase “spare” British carrier?

Filed under: Britain, India, Military — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 18:23

Ah, it must be a nightmare to be in the Royal Navy’s forward planning department these days. First, they gave up half the fleet now in exchange for guarantees that they’d get two new aircraft carriers in the near future. Then it became known that the government was considering equipping only one of the new ships as an aircraft carrier and converting the second to a helicopter carrier. Now, India’s growing navy appears to have a strong interest in taking one of those under-construction vessels off the Royal Navy’s hands. You can almost hear the gleeful cackling from the Brown government’s financial whizzes:

Yet another scheme by the MoD for cutting costs on the Royal Navy’s new aircraft carriers has surfaced in the media, with claims now being aired that one of the two ships might be sold to India.

The Guardian reports that India “has recently lodged a firm expression of interest to buy one of the two state-of-the-art 65,000 tonne carriers” and that an unnamed “defence source” has told the paper’s Tim Webb that “selling a carrier is one very serious option”.

As Webb is the Graun’s industrial editor, and glovepuppeting of biz correspondents by big companies is the most common way for such stories to appear, we can probably take it that the tale emanates from someone in the industrial consortium building the ships, led by BAE Systems. This is the more so as the article repeatedly states that contract penalties would make it impossibly expensive for the government to cancel one or both of the ships, which is probably the main message that Webb’s industry informant was trying to push.

F-35B to be too hot to handle?

Filed under: Military, Technology, USA — Tags: , , , , — Nicholas @ 16:59

Well, handling isn’t really the issue . . . it’s landing where there’s some strong concern for US Navy carrier captains:

It’s now official. The new generation of high-tech hovering aircraft — namely the famous V-22 “Osprey” tiltrotor and the upcoming F-35B supersonic stealth jump-jet — have an unforeseen flaw. Their exhaust downwash is so hot as to melt the flight decks of US warships, leading Pentagon boffins to look into refrigerated landing pads.

[. . .]

The jarheads* will want to operate their new machines from their existing helicopter-carrier amphibious assault vessels, which can’t practically be torn apart and refitted with massively reinforced upper decks as this would be likely to make them capsize. Similarly it would be extremely difficult to refrigerate the whole deck from beneath.

Hence the Marines would like someone to invent “a system that can be installed on top of the existing decks”, capable of resisting the hot breath of the F-35B and less than one inch thick. It should also, of course, be tough enough not to suffer any damage from the aircraft landing on it. This miracle fridge-sheet assembly should be covered with “thermally stable non-skid” finish — this latter perhaps incorporating “amorphous metal coatings”.

British health care becomes more equal

Filed under: Britain, Bureaucracy, Health — Tags: — Nicholas @ 12:41

. . . as even celebrities have to wait their turn for a doctor’s care, screaming in pain for hours:

“The racecourse doctor did a good job at the racecourse and gave me as much morphine as she could, but when I got to the hospital I was basically hysterical with pain and they wouldn’t give me any more painkillers.

“The race was at 2.20, and half past midnight was the first time that I saw a doctor. The leg was broken in two places, and the bone had come out through the skin. I’m usually fairly numb with injuries, but this time I was in so much pain that I was just saying, ‘knock me out, knock me out’. Still they wouldn’t give me any painkillers, and they said they would operate in the morning. There were people coming in with twisted ankles getting treated while I’m screaming next door, and they’re basically telling me to wait my turn.”

After a successful operation the following day, Crosse’s ankle swelled as he had not been told to keep it raised. “They came down and asked me why I didn’t have it up and I said no one had told me to,” Crosse says. “I had a very bad night again without enough painkillers to quieten me.”

After two days, Crosse says, he decided that enough was enough. “I thought, I’m getting out of here whatever happens. They told me they would get me an ambulance [to a hospital in Swindon] but they kept me hanging on all day and at 7pm told me I’d have to wait until the morning. I went on the internet and looked up a private ambulance. Basically I had to book my own ambulance to get out of there.”

I’m sure the government will swiftly move to address the issue Crosse raises here — by banning private bookings of ambulances.

QotD: Characteristics of death-squads

Filed under: Military, Quotations, Religion, USA — Tags: , , , , , — Nicholas @ 12:30

This is not at all a matter of the usual stupid refusal of the FBI and other security services to understand an early warning even when they have detected one. It is a direct challenge to the unity and integrity of the armed services, which have been one of our society’s principal organs and engines of ethnic and religious integration. A U.S. soldier who wonders about the reliability of his, let alone her, Muslim colleague is not being “Islamophobic.” (A phobia is an irrational or uncontrollable fear.) If Maj. Hasan has made this understandable worry in the ranks more widespread, he has done his fanatical preacher friend the greatest possible service. But that’s his fault for doing what he did, and his superiors’ fault for letting him openly rehearse it for so long, not mine for pointing it out.

I wrote some years ago that the three most salient characteristics of the Muslim death-squad type were self-righteousness, self-pity, and self-hatred. Surrounded as he was by fellow shrinks who were often very distressed by his menacing manner, Maj. Hasan managed to personify all three traits — with the theocratic rhetoric openly thrown in for good measure — and yet be treated even now as if the real word for him was troubled. Prepare to keep on meeting those three symptoms again, along with official attempts to oppose them only with therapy, if that. At least the holy warriors know they are committing suicide.

Christopher Hitchens, “Hard Evidence: Seven salient facts about Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan”, Slate, 2009-11-16

The Guild Season 3 Episode 11

Filed under: Gaming, Gaming — Tags: , — Nicholas @ 10:02

<br /><a href="http://www.bing.com/videos/watch/video/the-guild-episode-11-battle-royale/y0g5hgdl?fg=sharenoembed" target="_new"title="'The Guild' Episode 11: Battle Royale">Video: &#8216;The Guild&#8217; Episode 11: Battle Royale</a>

Is your avatar racist?

Filed under: Africa, Media, USA — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 08:23

For some reason racism is a hot topic at the moment. And not just ordinary racism, online racism seems to be the particularly irritating bee in a lot of bonnets. First, there’s the Twitter matter:

What happened? Last June a thread with the hashtag #thatsafrican became a trending topic. Here are some tweets that appeared with the hashtag, cited by the blog Afrolicious:

#thatsafrican when your last name when your lst name is OD too hard for teachers to pronounce
#thatsafrican if your son is the leader of the free world
#thatsafrican when your mum negotiates the prices of sneakers at footlocker. 99 dollars. come oooon!
#thatsafrican when your ringtone is african queen by 2face. haha!

A journalist from the Huffington Post, David Weiner, published a piece “#Thatsafrican — when Twitter went racist?” shortly after the topic was removed from the Twitter stream. He said:

The debate is already raging over the appropriateness of the trend. Is it self-deprecating humour? A cover for racists? Something only Africans and African-Americans can joke about? Something no one should be talking about?

What’s more, it brings into question the role of free speech on Twitter and the company’s role as moderator, or lack thereof. If a popular trend on Twitter is deemed racist, what action is required on the part of the company.

Twitter is not — and cannot be — responsible for what its millions of users post every day on the service. Any hopes that it could do so are technologically unreasonable. Anyone can join Twitter, and there are no particularly difficult hurdles to clear in order to get an account. So Twitter posts can’t be policed in real time, and they can’t be pre-screened through restrictive membership requirements . . . they can only be removed after the fact.

Racism is a particularly difficult topic for Americans, in spite of the last 50 years of improving racial equality. Any conversation that veers toward race-based topics becomes potentially volatile and divisive. In the real world, visual identifiers like skin colour can still cause trouble between individuals. You’d think this wouldn’t be an issue online . . .

On one of my hobby-oriented mailing lists, someone posted a message about a new list covering basically the same topic of interest, but this new list “serves to highlight modeling achievements either personal or hobby-wide amongst minorities and/or people of color”. Ideally, the invitation would be ignored by those to whom it didn’t apply, and followed-up by those to whom it did. But we don’t live in an ideal world:

“This kind of thing is highly inappropriate. We have more than enough politically-inspired, politically-correct nonsense already. I suggest you post your comments elsewhere – perhaps on liberal blogs. Not appropriate here.”

“Weak man. who dies and made you god?”

“Wow. Just wow. Yours is the post that is inappropriate. Bone-headed, really. And completely off-topic for this list. There was nothing political or inappropriate about the original post.”

Okay, so perhaps the discussion dies down now, right? No . . . now the real trolls come out to play

“I hate to break this to you, but the Nam generation may not exactly of had your best interests at heart educational wise. Only the finer dept. stores frequented by northern tourist would have black and white water fountains while the Woolworths down the street did not.

Did they teach you that the “Montgomery Bus company” and one other interstate travel company were the only 2 that ever had Jim Crow.

It was a few rednecks and societal snobs, nothing more.

Your living a lie while empowering a political base that feeds on unrest.”

From that point on, Godwin’s Law is almost certainly going to go into effect quickly.

Powered by WordPress