Quotulatiousness

July 12, 2017

Triumph Staaaaag – Clarkson’s Car Years – BBC

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

Published on 14 Apr 2008

Jeremy Clarkson has his say about the wonders and worries of the Triumph Stag. Apparently, it sounds better if you stay on the vowel!

June 29, 2017

Tank Chats #12 TOG II*

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

Published on 17 Dec 2015

This enormous tank was designed on the premise that World War II would evolve in the same way as the First World War. Some believed that existing tanks would not be able to deal with such conditions, and one of the most influential was Sir Albert Stern, who had been secretary to the Landships Committee in the First World War. In company with many others involved in tank design in 1916, including Sir William Tritton, Sir Eustace Tennyson D’Eyncourt, Sir Ernest Swinton and Walter Wilson, Stern was authorised by the War Office to design a heavy tank on First World War principles.

Two prototypes were built, both known as TOG for The Old Gang and they were even manufactured by the company that built Little Willie and the first tanks in 1916, William Foster & Co. of Lincoln.

http://tankmuseum.org/museum-online/vehicles/object-e1951-49

June 25, 2017

Sometimes, the workman is right to blame his tools

Filed under: Germany, Technology — Tags: , , , , — Nicholas @ 03:00

Paul Sellers recently bought and tested a new Two Cherries brand “Gent’s saw” and was very unhappy with the tool:

This week I picked up a brand new gent’s saw straight from the pack made by the famous German tool makers Two Cherries. I noticed the unusual tooth shape, which strangely resembled the edge of a tin can when we used to open it with a multipurpose survival knife. I wondered how it would work and whether it was just a miscut. I examined several others and realised it was actually intentional as they were indeed manufactured that way. I offered the saw to the wood and the very middle cut with the dovetailed angle and the broken off section was the results of ten strokes.

“The long saw cut on the left is how the saw cuts by a man who has used such saws every day, six days a week for 53 years. The two to the right are how it cuts after sharpening and redefining the teeth.”

Could this truly be the end product of the once highly acclaimed Two Cherries of German tool manufacturing? I looked at the packet and, well, there it was; Made in Germany. So here is my perspective on the saw. Nice beechwood handle–nicely shaped (but it is unfinished), nice brass back, good quality steel plate, not too soft, not too hard. Two Cherries, the materials leave you no excuse for making such a poor grade product. YOU should be very ASHAMED of your product and yourselves. It is the very worst saw of any and all saws ever, ever, ever manufactured. I have never seen anything worse.

[…]

If you bought this saw and you thought the outcome was a result of your inexperience. It’s not. Blame the tool maker. It’s his pure arrogance to think he can pass something off to you like this and call it a dovetail saw. Shame on you Two Cherries, shame on you!

June 13, 2017

Top 10 Stupid Moves of World War 1 – Mid 1915/1916 I THE GREAT WAR Ranking

Filed under: Europe, History, Military — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 05:00

Published on 12 Jun 2017

Generals of WW1 did a lot of stupid things, so many in fact that we made a second top 10 list to appeal to your inner armchair general.

June 7, 2017

Enfield L85A1: Perhaps the Worst Modern Military Rifle

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

Published on 29 Dec 2016

The L85A1 (part of the SA80 small arms family) was adopted by the British military in 1985 as a new generation of small arms to replace the L1A1 FAL (one quick note, where “A1” indicates a revision in American designations, it is simply the first iteration in British ones – there was no “L85”). As a bullpup rifle, the L85A1 was intended to replace both the FAL and Sterling SMG, similar to the French replacing the MAS 49/56 and MAT 49 with the FAMAS.

Unfortunately, the L85A1 had massive problems of both reliability and durability. They were kept pretty much hidden until Desert Storm, when it became unavoidably clear that the weapon was seriously flawed. The UK government denied the problems for several years, until finally contracting with H&K (then owned by Royal Ordnance) to redesign and rebuild the rifles. The result, after changes to virtually every part of the rifle, was the L85A2 – a much better rifle that will be tainted with its predecessor’s reputation regardless.

Mechanically, the L85A1 and A2 are basically copies of the Armalite AR-180, with a multi-lug rotating bolt and a short stroke gas piston. It feeds from STANAG magazines, and it universally fitted with the heavy but rugged SUSAT optical sight.

Thanks to the Institute of Military Technology for allowing me to have access to this rifle (which is extremely rare in the US) and bring it to you! Check them out at:

http://www.instmiltech.com

April 17, 2017

Why big organizations act like idiots (United Airlines is only the most recent example)

Filed under: Bureaucracy, Business — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 03:00

Charlie Martin knows about big corporations making themselves look foolish … and far too often doubling down on the stupid:

This whole recent thing with United Airlines has me thinking, once again, about how big organizations act like idiots. […]

Like all good consultants, I have a Model, mostly cribbed from others, based on two observations:

  • The SNAFU principle: the farther up a hierarchy information has to travel, the more information is lost. This is because no one likes giving people bad news, so the news tends to get better the farther up it goes.
  • The Peter Principle (modified): people rise in a hierarchy to the limits of their competence in rising in a hierarchy; further, the skill of rising in a hierarchy is largely independent of the skills needed to deal with actual issues.

Of course, the implication of this is something I’ve called Carl’s Corollary (for a friend and co-worker Carl Madison, who first pointed it out). Carl’s Corollary implies that most decisions are being made by people less and less competent to deal with the situation, using increasingly bad information.

Naturally, this results in bad decisions being made. The usual result is that once the bad decision has been made, someone is identified to be responsible, that person is punished, and a new policy is issued to make sure no one makes that mistake again.

[…]

United, though, has a different scheme, clearly. They have a Book, and it Must Be Followed. No one on the ground in Chicago — at least no one in reach of the gate — had the authority to do anything but offer an $800 voucher, which just wasn’t enough. (I can relate. I used to be a “45 weeks a year” road warrior, and there were some nights where if they’d have tried to bump me off a flight home, I would have either killed someone or just thrown myself on the floor of the terminal screaming.) So they followed the Book, and when they couldn’t get Dao to leave, they followed the book again saying he was disruptive, and then the mall airport cops went all Cartman on him…

https://media.giphy.com/media/B1TMcmoBAaSZi/giphy.gif

… and the rest was history.

Now, imagine if, instead, the gate people had the authority to offer more. And the gate agents knew their primary responsibility was to make customers happy and not get bad publicity.

March 25, 2017

When reality TV goes feral

Filed under: Britain, Media — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 04:00

In the Guardian, a sad tale of a failed reality TV show that went off the air … but the people involved were not told about it:

After a year cut off from modern life in the Scottish Highlands, imagine re-emerging to find a world where Donald Trump is US president, Britain has left the EU and Leicester won the Premier League.

For the contestants of the Channel 4 programme Eden, coming back from isolation means not just coming to terms with 2017 but also the news that their year of toil in the wilderness barely made it on to television.

The programme, which first aired in July last year, was billed as a social experiment where 23 strangers were brought to the remote west Highlands of Scotland to build a self-sufficient community away from technology and modern tools. The year-long saga would be recorded by four crew members and personal cameras.

However, only four episodes of the show – covering March, April and May – were screened, as viewing figures dropped from 1.7m to 800,000. Sexual jealousy, infighting and hunger also meant that over the year, a reported 13 of the 23 contestants left the show, though Channel 4 would not confirm the dropouts.

Despite the show being taken off air, those still toiling for survival in the wilds of the 600-acre estate on the Ardnamurchan peninsula were not informed that their ordeal had not been broadcast since August.

So much for those dreams of fame and fortune from “starring” in a reality TV show.

H/t to Colby Cosh for the link.

March 23, 2017

The “Resistance” chooses some Nazi-era symbology for self-labelling

Filed under: Politics, USA — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 03:00

Curtis Edmonds shared this on the Facebook Conservative and Libertarian Fiction Alliance page. We really do live in a post-parody world (link is to an archived version of the post):

Shortly after the presidential election, “Trump Nation/Whites Only” was written on the wall outside a majority-immigrant church in Maryland. The response is to either quietly wash the wall or stand against hatred and promote tolerance. “All citizens of good conscious must join the Resistance to Donald J. Trump’s authoritarian administration,” writes public relations consultant Len Stein. To visualize and unite the various resistance groups and present the movement with a unifying symbol, Stein proposes that resisters wear a triangle ‘R’ badge on their sleeves when protesting—immigrants, refugees, people of every ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation or political affiliation. The ‘R’ triangle symbols were designed by Tucker Viemeister. I asked Stein to talk more about this act of resistance.

If that one’s not setting off your historical symbol alarm, here are the recommended variations for Trump Resistance folks to display:

March 3, 2017

QotD: Is the Internet itself making us less tolerant and more prone to confirmation bias?

Filed under: Media, Quotations — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 01:00

I think it’s time to declare the internet a failure. At least with respect to its early promises of increased knowledge sharing and positive impact on collaboration.

Decentralization of media, Social media, has increased the rate in which misinformation is being transmitted. Once learned invalid information has to be unlearned and that is a much harder task than educating people with accurate information in the first place.

Social media also appears to have increased the rate that people cluster around misinformation and create specialized groups of individuals that aggressively seek to disseminate their ideas.

The asocial aspect of social media encourages individuals to behave in ways that they normally wouldn’t when face-to-face with people that don’t share their views. It has made intolerant people more belligerent and it has forced tolerant people to adopt less tolerant stances.

The trend seems to be to continue to partition people into increasingly specialized and narrowly focused groups. At the extreme we see individuals with highly individualized views agitating groups with more generally accepted views.

People have become more militant, intolerant, and unaccepting of society. The impact on society is a weakening of collaborative spirit, increased cynicism, and further increases to militancy.

In the mid-90s I was very excited at the opportunities collective information sharing could produce. We’ve realized some of those but I simply didn’t foresee the degradation of democratic values that reveal the best in the humanity.

Social media has increased the ability to create social anxiety by pouring misinformation into peoples’ lives with ideas that they are directly threatened or that there are limits to resources, ideas that are often mere fabrication.

Today we are bombarded daily with absurdity, aggression, fear mongering, and intolerance. It’s as if we unwound the clock a hundred years and abandoned the great freedom experiment. Only now the weapons to resolve differences of opinion are much more destructive.

Hard to be bullish on the consequences of increased nationalism around the globe.

The world does face some difficult issues we need to address but things are not nearly as bad as what has become status quo thinking.

Douglas Gunn, posting to Facebook, 2017-02-20.

February 23, 2017

QotD: Government failure is baked-in

Filed under: Bureaucracy, Government, Quotations — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 01:00

One can build a very good predictive model of government agency behavior if one assumes the main purpose of the agency is to maximize its budget and staff count. Yes, many in the organization are there because they support the agency’s public mission (e.g. protecting the environment at the EPA), but I can tell you from long experience that preservation of their staff and budget will almost always come ahead of their public mission if push comes to shove.

The way, then, to punish an agency is to take away some staff and budget. Nothing else will get their attention. Unfortunately, in most scandals where an agency proves itself to be incompetent or corrupt or both (e.g. IRS, the VA, more recently with OPM and their data breaches) the tendency is to believe the “fix” involves sending the agency more resources. Certainly the agency and its supporters will scream “lack of resources” as an excuse for any problem.

And that is how nearly every failing government agency is rewarded for their failure, rather than punished. Which is why our agencies fail so much.

Warren Meyer, “Congress Almost Always Rewards Failed Government Agencies. Here is Why”, Coyote Blog, 2015-06-17.

February 1, 2017

Ace and the shitty tools of despair

Filed under: Humour, Technology — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 02:00

Ace put up some shelves recently. He was not impressed with some of the tools he used:

I thought I had a drill that could drill (and drive screws) through studs. I did not. What I had was two pieces of shit which, combined together, made up a collection of shit that took up more space in my tool drawer than a single piece of shit would.

The things could not even push past the first eighth inch of drywall. The easiest part.

It’s like, “Hey, thanks Tool. Thanks for getting me past that first easy eighth inch. I’ll take it the rest of the way, now that you’ve gotten me off to such a swell start. You take a well-earned break, and get back to napping in that drawer. I’ll power through the rest of this with my forearms and my dinky little ratchet.”

I literally was just pushing on the drill to make a small starter hole for the screw, like it was a poorly-balanced nail with a pistol grip.

It’s a poor workman who blames his tools, but I think you can all agree I am a poor workman in the first place, and these really are shitty, shitty tools.

January 26, 2017

QotD: Why government intervention usually fails

Filed under: Bureaucracy, Government, Quotations, USA — Tags: , , , , , — Nicholas @ 01:00

We saw in an earlier story that the government is trying to tighten regulations on private company cyber security practices at the same time its own network security practices have been shown to be a joke. In finance, it can never balance a budget and uses accounting techniques that would get most companies thrown in jail. It almost never fully funds its pensions. Anything it does is generally done more expensively than would be the same task undertaken privately. Its various sites are among the worst superfund environmental messes. Almost all the current threats to water quality in rivers and oceans comes from municipal sewage plants. The government’s Philadelphia naval yard single-handedly accounts for a huge number of the worst asbestos exposure cases to date.

By what alchemy does such a failing organization suddenly become such a good regulator?

Warren Meyer, “Question: Name An Activity The Government is Better At Than the Private Actors It Purports to Regulate”, Coyote Blog, 2015-06-12.

January 19, 2017

QotD: Elphy Bey rides again

Filed under: Britain, History, Military, Quotations — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 01:00

William G. K. Elphinstone (1782-1842) commanded the British 33rd Regiment of Foot (later the Duke of Wellington’s regiment, and today incorporated in the Yorkshire Regiment), and was almost certainly the worst battalion commander in any of the armies during the campaign. His troops broke at Quatre Bras and lost their colors at Waterloo, which he afterwards tried to cover up by secretly ordering new colors; a deception that failed to retrieve the regimental honor. He went on to prove quite possibly the most inept officer ever to command an army, when, as a major general during the First Afghan War (1839-1842), he dithered on so heroic a scale that, of his 4,000 troops and 10,000 camp followers, only one man escaped death or capture.

Al Nofi, “Al Nofi’s CIC”, Strategy Page, 2015-06-18.

January 16, 2017

“Crafting. Needs. To. End. It is ruining gaming”

Filed under: Gaming — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 02:00

John Ringo posted this on Facebook, and while I don’t play the particular games he references, I’m also finding that in-game crafting (which seemed like such a cool idea when I first heard of it) is really just an extended PITA:

(more…)

January 15, 2017

How not to be politically persuasive, Hollywood edition

Filed under: Media, Politics, USA — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 02:00

Megan McArdle on the how the actual effect of Meryl Streep’s anti-Trump speech contrasts with her intent, and why:

Well, yes, celebrities are stupid about policy, often breathtakingly so. On the other hand, so is everyone else. You want to hear some really stupid ideas about policy? Grab a group of whip-smart financial wizards, or neurosurgeons, or nuclear physicists, and sit them down for a nice dinner to debate some policy outside their profession. You will find that they are pretty much just as stupid as anyone else, because policy is not about smart. I mean, smart helps. But policy is fundamentally about domain knowledge, and that knowledge is acquired only by spending a great deal of time thinking about a pretty small set of problems. Funnily enough, this is also how one gets good at finance, or neurosurgery, or nuclear physics.

The problem with Hollywood people making political speeches is not that their political ideas are worse than anyone else’s, or that they enjoy sharing their half-baked ideas. This is a minor and forgivable social sin, like arriving five minutes early for a party. No, the problem with Hollywood people making political speeches is that the speeches themselves are bad, at least at their presumed goal of producing political change.

Take Streep. She’s right that Trump should not have made fun of a disabled reporter. However, she surrounded that point with an extended discussion of how mean everyone was being to actors and journalists.

This was a double mistake. First, it accepted Trump’s frame: it’s a handful of liberal elites against the rest of the country. That’s an argument he just won, so it’s unwise to try for an immediate rematch. And second, there is in this whole world no sight less rhetorically compelling than that of successful people with fun and rewarding jobs, and a decent income, complaining that they’re victims of the unglamorous folks who labor at all the strenuously boring work required to make their lives nice. Even I, who have one of those jobs, am rolling my eyes and saying “Good heavens, suck it up.” The only people who don’t recoil from this sort of vacuous self-pity are those similarly situated in elite liberal institutions — but since those folks already hate Trump, you haven’t actually changed anything.

Older Posts »

Powered by WordPress