Quotulatiousness

January 16, 2018

Life On The Isonzo Front I THE GREAT WAR On The Road

Filed under: Europe, History, Military, WW1 — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 06:00

The Great War
Published on 15 Jan 2018

Visit the Kobarid Museum: https://www.kobariski-muzej.si/eng/

Indy gets a tour through the impressive Kobarid Museum dedicated to the Isonzo Front and to the soldiers that experienced the war in the region.

Vikings-Saints Stock Market Report by Ted Glover

Filed under: Football — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 05:00

Due to the later finish in Sunday’s Vikings-Saints divisional round game, I didn’t get to include the Daily Norseman‘s Ted Glover assessing the game in his patented Stock Market Report format. Belatedly, here’s the Buy/Sell section for this game:

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Day 1 Cuban Missile Crisis – Shall we destroy Cuba, Mr. President?

Filed under: Americas, History, Military, Russia — Tags: , , , , , — Nicholas @ 04:00

TimeGhost
Published on 26 Oct 2017

On 16 October 1962. the Cuban Missile Crisis begins. President Kennedy assembles his advisors in EXCOMM to find an adequate response to the threat posed by Soviet nuclear missiles on Cuba.

On October 14 1962, Air Force pilot Richard Heyer flies over the island of Cuba in a U2 spy plane. The photos he brings back show three installations of Soviet nuclear Medium Range Ballistic Missile launch sites, with SS-4 and SS-5 missiles waiting to be made deployable. Russia now has nuclear first strike capacity and could launch an attack on the US mainland just as quickly as the Americans could on Russia from Turkey.

Spartacus Olsson
Camera by: Jonas Klein
Edited by: Spartacus Olsson, Jonas Klein

A TimeGhost chronological documentary produced by OnLion Entertainment GmbH

Yet another money squeeze for Britain’s military

Filed under: Britain, Government, Military — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 03:00

At the Thin Pinstriped Line, Sir Humphrey outlines the difficult financial position the British Ministry of Defence (MOD) finds itself in and the very limited options available for the decision makers to choose among:

The Times has broken details of the planned cuts put forward by the MOD to meet the likely scale of budget cuts needed under the ongoing national Security Review being conducted in the Cabinet Office. The planned cuts as leaked to the Times highlight the sheer scale of the challenge facing the MOD at the moment, and seem to resort to many of the ‘greatest hits’ intended to arouse strong opposition, such as ‘merging the Parachute Regiment and Royal Marines’ option.

It is indicated that the Prime Minister has opposed the measures put forward, and that this in turn will lead to a full blown Strategic Defence and Security Review [SDSR], which will look again at force structures and outputs, and hopefully deliver a more balanced force in due course. The challenge is doing this against a budget which reportedly is £20bn in debt, with no meaningful way to find savings without serious pain.

[…]

The difficulty then for Defence is conducting an SDSR in a world where politicians seem unsure as to what their ambition is for the UK in the next 5-10 years, and whether they want to find the money to do this or not. There is probably strong political support for the idea of maritime and air power, both of which can easily be deployed (and recovered) discretely and with no long-term entanglements. It is reasonable to assume that the RN and RAF have a compelling case that they should receive the lions share of investment in the review.

By contrast the Army will find itself facing a difficult time – it is telling that all three options presented in the Times focused on a major loss of Army manpower, and capability reduction. What is also likely is the wider impact of further delays in procurement and reduction of exercises, training and other tools essential to keeping the Army credible. As its vehicle fleet ages, and with almost all of its primary weapon systems verging on becoming near obsolete, politicians face a difficult choice – do they continue to direct funding into high end high capability ground equipment, or do they take the ‘UOR [Urgent Operational Requirement] it on the day’ option of reducing the size of the Army and hope that come the next long-term ground operation, there is enough time to sort a round of UOR purchases out to equip people to the right standard.

At its heart though is the difficulty that the UK seems pathologically incapable of taking and sticking to credible long-term plans on defence and seeing them through to fruition. Strategic now seems to mean ‘two-year horizon’ at best, and there is a real sense that for all the glossy PowerPoint slides and publications, it is a department in a perpetual state of crisis as it struggles to afford the equipment needed to do the tasks asked of it.

This cycle of unaffordability is not new, in fact it seems never ending. There is an occasional period of a few years when things seem a bit better, but then another thing goes wrong and the Department is back to square one. Part of this problem lies in an eternally optimistic set of planning assumptions, coupled with such regular turn over of staff that no one ever has to see through the impact of their work.

The other problem is that rather than bite the bullet, take some incredibly tough decisions and wholesale withdrawal from commitments and capability, the Department lurches on, occasionally being bailed out by some deal that finds a few extra quid to just about see it through. What isn’t happening is systematic and thorough reforms to really grip and address the problems that the Department has got to stop them cropping up time and time again.

At some point the UK must have a serious policy discussion about what it really wants from its defence and national security capability. Does it want to seriously fund it, at a time of economic challenge and government austerity, or does it want to scale back ambition in order to find funding for other national projects? This conversation will not happen though in any meaningful sense, and instead the debate will be shallow, superficial and focus on numbers not outputs and leaked papers warning of an inability to defend the UK if something is cut.

It is all very well having an SDSR again (the third in 8 years), but unless there is a real change in behaviours, there will simply be another one in a couple of years’ time when the new plan proves unaffordable and unworkable. We cannot go on like this indefinitely.

PIAT: Britain’s Answer to the Anti-Tank Rifle Problem

Filed under: Britain, History, Military, Technology, WW2 — Tags: , — Nicholas @ 02:00

Forgotten Weapons
Published on 25 Nov 2017

The British began World War Two with the Boys antitank rifle, but like all antitank rifles it rather quickly became obsolete. The replacement for it was adopted in 1942 as the PIAT – Projector, Infantry, Anti-Tank. This was a unique sort of weapon which fired a 3 pound (~1.35kg) hollow charge projectile using a combination of a massive spring and a firing charge much like a rifle grenade blank cartridge – a spigot mortar, really. The large (3.25″, 83mm) projectile was able to defeat almost any tank that would be developed during the war, as it could burn through 3-4 inches of hardened armor. However, it had a terrifyingly short effective range – 110 yards on paper and more like 50 yards in practice.

The PIAT would recock itself upon firing, but the initial cocking was something like a crossbow, requiring the shooter to brace their feet on the buttplate and pull the body of the weapon upwards, compressing the 200 pound (90kg) mainspring. When fired, the weapon has a pretty harsh recoil, although it did not have any flash or backblast like the American Bazooka did. By the end of the war more 115,000 PIATs had been made, and they would serve the British military into the 1950s, when they were replaced with more traditional rocket launchers.

QotD: Intersectionality

Filed under: Education, Politics, Quotations, USA — Tags: , , , , , — Nicholas @ 01:00

The term and concept were presented in a 1989 essay by Kimberlé Crenshaw, a law professor at UCLA, who made the very reasonable point that a black woman’s experience in America is not captured by the summation of the black experience and the female experience. She analyzed a legal case in which black women were victims of discrimination at General Motors, even when the company could show that it hired plenty of blacks (in factory jobs dominated by men), and it hired plenty of women (in clerical jobs dominated by whites). So even though GM was found not guilty of discriminating against blacks or women, it ended up hiring hardly any black women. This is an excellent argument. What academic could oppose the claim that when analyzing a complex system, we must look at interaction effects, not just main effects?

But what happens when young people study intersectionality? In some majors, it’s woven into many courses. Students memorize diagrams showing matrices of privilege and oppression. It’s not just white privilege causing black oppression, and male privilege causing female oppression; its heterosexual vs. LGBTQ, able-bodied vs. disabled; young vs. old, attractive vs. unattractive, even fertile vs. infertile. Anything that a group has that is good or valued is seen as a kind of privilege, which causes a kind of oppression in those who don’t have it. A funny thing happens when you take young human beings, whose minds evolved for tribal warfare and us/them thinking, and you fill those minds full of binary dimensions. You tell them that one side of each binary is good and the other is bad. You turn on their ancient tribal circuits, preparing them for battle. Many students find it thrilling; it floods them with a sense of meaning and purpose.

And here’s the strategically brilliant move made by intersectionality: all of the binary dimensions of oppression are said to be interlocking and overlapping. America is said to be one giant matrix of oppression, and its victims cannot fight their battles separately. They must all come together to fight their common enemy, the group that sits at the top of the pyramid of oppression: the straight, white, cis-gendered, able-bodied Christian or Jewish or possibly atheist male. This is why a perceived slight against one victim group calls forth protest from all victim groups. This is why so many campus groups now align against Israel. Intersectionality is like NATO for social-justice activists.

This means that on any campus where intersectionality thrives, conflict will be eternal, because no campus can eliminate all offense, all microaggressions, and all misunderstandings. This is why the use of shout-downs, intimidation, and even violence in response to words and ideas is most common at our most progressive universities, in the most progressive regions of the country. It’s schools such as Yale, Brown, and Middlebury in New England, and U.C. Berkeley, Evergreen, and Reed on the West Coast. Are those the places where oppression is worst, or are they the places where this new way of thinking is most widespread?

Jonathan Haidt, “The Age of Outrage: What the current political climate is doing to our country and our universities”, City Journal, 2017-12-17.

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