October 5, 2010

Let me read that again

Filed under: Britain, France, Military — Tags: , — Nicholas @ 13:01

The Royal Navy has had some of their new Type 45 destroyers in service for a while, but they’ve only just gotten around to arming them?

The Royal Navy’s new £1bn+ Type 45 destroyers, which have been in service for several years (the first is already on her second captain), have finally achieved a successful firing of their primary armament.

The Ministry of Defence (MoD) announced yesterday that HMS Dauntless, second of the class, has made the first firing from a Type 45 of the French-made Aster missiles with which the ships are armed. All previous trial shoots were carried out using a test barge at French facilities in the Mediterranean.

Well, at least they’re getting closer to being armed and equipped as they were originally supposed to be:

Each of the six Type 45s will now cost the taxpayer £1.1bn and counting. At the moment the only weapons they can use operationally are their basic 4.5-inch “Kryten” gun turrets and light 30mm autocannon, principally useful for bombarding undefended foreshore targets or shooting up pirate dhows and the like. This is armament barely above the gunboat level.

The big attraction to the (very expensive) PAAMS/Sea Viper missile system is its claimed ability to shoot down the latest generation of Russian supersonic anti-ship missiles . . . oh, and that it wasn’t the cheaper (and proven) American AEGIS system.

As it is, we will pay at least double and get none of these things. Our Type 45s will have no serious ability to strike targets ashore, and we will continue to have no capabilities against ballistic missiles. Most glaringly of all, the Type 45 will have no weapon other than its guns with which to fight enemy ships — Sea Viper has no surface-to-surface mode.

You might feel that preservation of British high-tech jobs in some way justifies such horrific overspending for such lamentable amounts of capability, but in fact the relatively few Brit workers concerned have now mostly been fired anyway.

We can’t poke too much fun at the Royal Navy over the jobs issue: most major purchases for the Canadian Forces are driven more by “spin-offs” and regional employment concerns than either cost or military efficacy.

I did like The Register‘s cheeky graphic:

The Guild, Season 4 episode 12

Filed under: Gaming, Humour — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 07:52

<br /><a href="http://www.bing.com/videos/watch/video/season-4-episode-12-guild-hall/y016gv5e?fg=sharenoembed" target="_new"title="Season 4 - Episode 12 - Guild Hall">Video: Season 4 &#8211; Episode 12 &#8211; Guild Hall</a>

I thought this only happened in the bad old days

Filed under: Government, Liberty, Politics, USA — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 07:49

One of the arguments that used to appear regularly whenever anyone proposed privatizing public services is that “in the bad old days”, when fire departments were run by insurance firms, they’d only put out fires that endangered paying customers. Apparently that sort of thing still happens today:

Imagine your home catches fire but the local fire department won’t respond, then watches it burn. That’s exactly what happened to a local family tonight.

A local neighborhood is furious after firefighters watched as an Obion County, Tennessee, home burned to the ground.

The homeowner, Gene Cranick, said he offered to pay whatever it would take for firefighters to put out the flames, but was told it was too late. They wouldn’t do anything to stop his house from burning.

Terrible, isn’t it? A strong refutation to that whole crazy libertarian notion of privatizing essential services. So which greedy corporation runs the fire service?

Each year, Obion County residents must pay $75 if they want fire protection from the city of South Fulton. But the Cranicks did not pay.

The mayor said if homeowners don’t pay, they’re out of luck.


H/T to BoingBoing, where many of the comments seem to be from folks who didn’t read that it wasn’t a private fire service.

The next stage of wine competition?

Filed under: Health, Science, Technology, Wine — Nicholas @ 07:30

Kim Willsher reports on a new device to measure the levels of antioxidants in red wine:

The matchbox-size device can measure antioxidants in a drop of wine placed on a test strip and is expected to sell to wine producers for around €2,000 (£1,720). The Swiss manufacturers Diagnogene are planning a model for wine drinkers. “I can absolutely see people choosing to buy one wine over another because they can see it is healthier for them,” said Hoda. “It will also help producers make wine with more polyphenols. We know these antioxidants come from the skin of the grapes, that red grapes are better than white, and that the levels can be determined by the length of fermentation and other factors.”

He said the Swiss pilot test had revealed pinot noir grapes to have the greatest health benefits. “Let’s be honest, it must be better to have a glass of wine than to take a pill. Within moderation, of course.”

Claims for the positive properties of wine — particularly red — on the heart and brain have long been made and not only by French bons vivants. In 2006 a study by British scientists published in Nature said: “Regular, moderate consumption of red wine is linked to a reduced risk of coronary heart disease and to lower overall mortality”.

Of course, given past experience, don’t expect regulators in Canada or the US to suddenly allow any claims of health virtue to appear on wine bottle labels. Wouldn’t want to encourage drinking, you know.

Another new think tank . . . but this one’s different

Filed under: Humour, Liberty, Randomness — Nicholas @ 07:19

These days it seems that there’s a new think tank springing up on every corner, covering so many different issues and interests. But there’s one area that’s still underserved in the think tank world, so Adam Thierer is inaugurating a new think tank to cover those areas:

I’m pleased to announce my new venture: The Sin Think Tank. The mission of the Sin Think Tank will be to promote prurient interests, gun play, gambling, unhealthy eating, and alcohol and tobacco appreciation. Some of our positions or programs will include:

* The Bob Guccione Fellow in Cultural Studies
* The Joe Camel Chair in Environmental Analysis
* The Smith & Wesson Institute for Peace
* The Jack Daniels Center for Spirited Discussion
* The Center for Gambling Promotion
* The Dunkin Donuts Nutrition & Nourishment Initiative (aka, the “Feed the World” initiative)
* The Hunter S. Thompson Foundation for Free Living & High Times

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