(Video) How Green are electric cars, really?

February 8, 2016

Not very, per Bjorn Lomborg in a video for Prager University:

They’re also a tremendous waste of taxpayer money and they generate more pollution than fossil-fueled vehicles.

But they make progressives and Green cultists feel good, and that’s what’s important.


Indian Energy Experts Baffled by Green Hostility to Nuclear Power

January 7, 2016

Someone should explain to the Indians that “Green opposition” is a matter of faith, not reason, and so doesn’t have to make sense.

Watts Up With That?

Susquehanna steam electric nuclear power station Susquehanna steam electric nuclear power station

Guest essay by Eric Worrall

The Hindu reports on a fascinating top level debate occurring at a conference in India, between politicians and energy experts. The energy experts are struggling to understand why nuclear power is not the favoured Western option for reducing CO2 emissions.

… Pointing out that countries such as Germany, France, Switzerland and Austria were either committed to closing down nuclear plants or opposing nuclear renaissance, he [Governor P. Sathasivam] stressed the need to formulate a new approach between nuclear enthusiasts and opponents. A former Ambassador and governor for India at the International Atomic Energy Agency, Vienna, Mr. Sreenivasan said India, China, and Russia were the only countries enthusiastic about nuclear power today.

Striking a different stand, Ashok Chauhan, Director (Technical), Nuclear Power Corporation of India, said the increase in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions posed a greater threat to the world…

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(Video) Why we can’t rely on wind and solar power

October 19, 2015
"Epic fail"

Not reliable

At first glance, wind and solar power seem like attractive alternatives to fossil fuels: clean, abundant, and cheap. What’s not to like?

Other than that they’re both frauds, as Alex Epstein explains for Prager University:

The diluteness and intermittency problems Alex mentions are worth repeating. Solar power can’t be generated at night, nor can wind power be produced when the wind stops blowing or blows too strongly. Because both are intermittent, backup coal and gas-fired plants need to be kept spinning 24-by-7 on standby to make sure the power we need still flows into the grid. Kind of defeats the whole environmentalist point, doesn’t it?

“Diluteness” –the fact that energy from wind and solar is not concentrated, unlike energy from fossil fuels– requires that wind and solar “farms” take up a much larger area than fossil-fueled or nuclear plants in order to generate a given amount of usable power, thus blighting the landscape. Oh, and killing lots of birds. There’s that quandary for Environmental Justice Warriors, again.

And don’t get me started on how uneconomical both are, requiring massive taxpayer-funded subsidies to operate at all.

It’s not that I’m a great fan of coal and oil. Eventually, we will find a way to at least minimize our need for them. But, for foreseeable future, they’re the cheapest, most efficient means for powering this amazing civilization we’ve built. (1)

RELATED: A good book on the problems with wind power is “The Wind Farm Scam” by John Etherington.

Footnote:
(1) Though Bill Gates is on the right track.


Germans with frickin’ laser beams…

September 24, 2015
Science fiction becomes reality

Science fiction becomes reality

Looks like we aren’t the only ones with the coolest toys:

During this week’s defense and security expo in London German defense contractor Rheinmetall Defense Electronics unveiled a new sea-based anti-drone laser system.

The system, unveiled at the Defense and Security Equipment Industry Expo in London, features four high energy lasers mounted on turret, making it look like some kind of laser Gatling gun, Popular Mechanics reported.

The four 20 kilowatt lasers fire simultaneously, in a technique known as superimposition which combines them into a single powerful 80 kilowatt beam.

According to the company, using superimposition there’s not limit to the amount of energy that can be focused on a target — just add more lasers.

The Gatling laser can reportedly shoot down a drone at 500 meters. Lasers can also detonate ammunition, explode artillery shells, blind the sensors of another ship, and even burn holes in smaller ships.

Remember when they laughed at Reagan for his “Star Wars” missile defense system that included energy beams? Not only are the Germans working on energy beam weapons (you can bet this will be extended to deal with battlefield rockets), but so are we, the Israelis (Iron Dome), the Russians, undoubtedly the Chinese, and many others. What was scoffed at as the stuff of comic books and science fiction movies just 30 years from now is swiftly becoming reality, and perhaps presaging the end of the “missile age.”

This technology is only going to get better.

But, come on. Who didn’t read “Germans” and “lasers” and immediately think of this (1):

Footnote:
(1) Well, if you’re above a certain age. But, if you haven’t seen Goldfinger, you need to rethink your life choices.


Cancer eating your ribcage? No problem! We’ll just 3D-print you a new one!

September 18, 2015
x

Pushing the boundaries

This is amazing:

A 3D-printed rib cage made of titanium has been implanted into a human for the first time, received by a man from Spain suffering from a cancerous tumor.

Surgeons at Salamanca University Hospital in Spain asked Anatomics, an Australian firm, to create the rib cage for the patient, who had part of his own removed after his cancerous tumor grew around his ribs and sternum, according to The Mirror U.K.

The design team customized the 3D rib cage using CT scans from the patient and a printer from the Australian national science agency CSIRO.

“The reason 3D printing was desired for making this implant was because it needed to be customized exactly to suit the patient,” Alex Kingsbury, additive manufacturing research leader at CSIRO said, according to The Mirror.

“No human body is the same, so therefore every implant is going to be different,” Kingsbury continued. “It would have been an incredibly complex piece to manufacture traditionally, and in fact, almost impossible.”

And yet human ingenuity once again makes the impossible possible. (Prophets of Doom for the Cult of Global Warming should take note.)

It’s been said the Internet “changed the world.” Well, 3D printing has the potential to be just as transformational in ways we haven’t even dreamed of, yet.

I wonder if this guy’s friends now call him “Terminator?”

via Jonah Goldberg


Hillary Clinton exposed our most precious national secrets. She should be in prison.

September 2, 2015
x

I know nothing! No-THING!!

If there are US national secrets more than our spy satellite data, we’ve never heard of them. They are our eyes into the heart of hostile lands. They are classified at so high a level, they have their own email system and can only be looked at in secure rooms. Letting our enemies see this data would give them invaluable knowledge of what we know and what our satellites’ capabilities are.

Good thing former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, She Who Would Be Our Next President, transmitted this information over an unsecured home server:

One of the most serious potential breaches of national security identified so far by the intelligence community inside Hillary Rodham Clinton’s private emails involves the relaying of classified information concerning the movement of North Korean nuclear assets, which was obtained from spy satellites.

Multiple intelligence sources who spoke to The Washington Times, solely on the condition of anonymity, said concerns about the movement of the North Korean information through Mrs. Clinton’s unsecured server are twofold.

First, spy satellite information is frequently classified at the top-secret level and handled within a special compartment called Talent-Keyhole. This means it is one of the most sensitive forms of intelligence gathered by the U.S.

Second, the North Koreans have assembled a massive cyberhacking army under an elite military spy program known as Bureau 121, which is increasingly aggressive in targeting systems for hacking, especially vulnerable private systems. The North Koreans, for instance, have been blamed by the U.S. for the hack of Sony movie studios.

Allowing sensitive U.S. intelligence about North Korea to seep into a more insecure private email server has upset the intelligence community because it threatens to expose its methods and assets for gathering intelligence on the secretive communist nation.

We know emails to Clinton’s top unofficial adviser Syd Blumenthal were hacked: had she shared this or other Top Secret information with him? And Clinton’s server was so unsecure it was  certainly penetrated by the Chinese, the Russians, and maybe the Saturnians. North Korea hacked Sony; how hard would it have been to hack Clinton’s server and find out what we knew about their nuclear program?

This is a frakking nightmare.

And it’s also a felony:

(f) Whoever, being entrusted with or having lawful possession or control of any document, writing, code book, signal book, sketch, photograph, photographic negative, blueprint, plan, map, model, instrument, appliance, note, or information, relating to the national defense,

(1) through gross negligence permits the same to be removed from its proper place of custody or delivered to anyone in violation of his trust, or to be lost, stolen, abstracted, or destroyed, or
(2) having knowledge that the same has been illegally removed from its proper place of custody or delivered to anyone in violation of its trust, or lost, or stolen, abstracted, or destroyed, and fails to make prompt report of such loss, theft, abstraction, or destruction to his superior officer—

Shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than ten years, or both.

(h/t Ed Morrissey)

And that exactly fits this satellite data. It doesn’t matter what she “knowingly knew” or whether the material had the proper classification tags on it. She has enough experience know how sensitive this material is and what her responsibilities were. Her motives are irrelevant: her actions are the crime.

Forget Lady Macbeth’s presidential aspirations; those are dead, it’s just the corpse still twitching. But, if there is any justice left in America, she will be charged and face trial for this — with prison to follow.

PS: Oh stop laughing. I know, I know. A Clinton held accountable? A guy can dream, can’t he?

PPS: A bit of humor from a friend on Twitter, after this news came out:

//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

We laugh, lest we cry.


#ChinaHack: That does it. I want executions.

June 17, 2015
x

OPM network security specialist

This Ars Technica article about today’s House hearing on the Chinese hacking of almost the entire US government personnel database opens with a recounting of the deserved reaming the head of OPM and its CIO received from Chairman Chaffetz (R) and his committee. But, that was not the nut of the article. Oh, no. The crucial piece of information was buried in the next to last paragraph. See if you can spot it.

Some of the contractors that have helped OPM with managing internal data have had security issues of their own—including potentially giving foreign governments direct access to data long before the recent reported breaches. A consultant who did some work with a company contracted by OPM to manage personnel records for a number of agencies told Ars that he found the Unix systems administrator for the project “was in Argentina and his co-worker was physically located in the [People’s Republic of China]. Both had direct access to every row of data in every database: they were root. Another team that worked with these databases had at its head two team members with PRC passports. I know that because I challenged them personally and revoked their privileges. From my perspective, OPM compromised this information more than three years ago and my take on the current breach is ‘so what’s new?'”

Repeat after me: the Chinese (1) had frakking root access (2) to those databases!! That made them top-level administrators with access to everything. All the supposedly secure, classified data on every background check of every US employee investigated by OPM. And who knows what else they could do while they had access?

I’m almost speechless. To Hell with firing people: this is so weapons-grade stupid that only a firing squad will do.

Pour encourager les autres.

via CinnaminM and John Schindler

Footnotes:
(1) Please. Don’t even try to tell me a root-level administrator working in China was not -at the least- turned by Chinese intelligence, if not an active agent.
(2) See.


Oh, my: Obama and Hillary regularly exchanged emails

March 9, 2015

 

"It's all good. No worries!"

“It’s all good. No worries!”

To and from her private email address, hosted on a private server of questionable security in her own house.

Well, there goes any argument that The One only learned of this in his usual way, by reading the papers:

President Barack Obama communicated via email with Hillary Clinton while she used her personal email, according to the White House.

In a press briefing on Monday, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said that Obama did correspond with his secretary of state via her private email address.

“The president, as I think many people expected, did over the course of his first several years in office trade emails with his secretary of state,” Earnest said. “I would not describe the number of emails as large, but they did have the occasion to email each other.”

Yeah, not many emails. You know, the President of the United States and his top diplomat were just trading LOL Cat links and recipes. No way were they conducting important discussions on matters of state or sharing classified information that governments around the world would die to get their hands on. Nope. Unthinkable.

Consider: any intelligence service worth its salt hacked the Clinton’s server the moment they learned she was using a private email address, and I guarantee you someone found that out over her four-year term. And, if that happened, they now have the president’s private email address plus copies of any information she sent him and he sent her.

It would be as if China’s Ministry of State Security had a stenographer in the Oval Office.

Remember, Clinton used this email exclusively. No matter what security the White House had, the Clinton’s server was secured by the equivalent of a “No peeking” sign. What information did she and Obama share with each other? Were any classified docs sent as attachments? Edward Snowden has to be wondering why he went to all that trouble, when we were making it so easy.

Food for thought: No one with more than half a brain believes Obama didn’t notice the sender info in his emails over four years, nor knew that Hillary was running a private network. And yet if His Oneness sent classified info over unsecure lines, knowing what Hillary was doing and making no effort to put a stop to it, isn’t the POTUS himself as culpable, at least morally?

Afterthought: You know, if the committees of Congress want to know what’s in Hillary’s emails, they could just ask Wikileaks…

 


Two reasons why Hillary had the secret email account. Choose one.

March 4, 2015
x

“Emails? What emails?”

Really, you have to wonder why she (and Bill) would do something so dumb, so dangerously likely to come out and potentially cripple her presidential run.

Why, Hillary? Why??

Well, there are a couple of plausible explanations. Let’s look at both.

First, there’s the “facing the truth about herself” argument from National Review‘s Kevin Williamson: Hillary was preparing for her own failure:

Mrs. Clinton knows – she must know, at some level – that she has been grossly unprepared for every position she has held in public life other than that of first lady. She was a New York senator who knew the parts of the state more than 40 miles from a park-view room at the Plaza about as well as Robert F. Kennedy Jr. knows Muleshoe, Texas. She was a presidential candidate whose only recommendations were ovaries and a surname beloved – but not quite enough — by Democratic primary voters. And then she became a secretary of state appointed to the position mainly to appease the bruised feelings of Clintonites and to keep her from making mischief in case of a first-term Obama administration meltdown.

But she was a grossly incompetent secretary of state who knew that she was going to run for president again, and thus she took positive steps in advance to put in place protocols that would help her to mask her inadequacy. It is difficult even for her admirers to make a credible argument that her time in that office was anything other than disastrous. She knows this.

There’s really no denying any of this. Hillary’s sole means of advancing herself has been by riding the coattails of powerful men. It’s the reason she stayed with Bill, even after his serial infidelities, the most famous of which lead to her national humiliation: these men were her key to power. When she bungled the nominating race in 2008 and lost to a more nimble, younger, male candidate what everyone had assumed for years would be hers, her only hope of gaining the presidency she was inadequate to win on her own was to be a good soldier and make “the deal.”

And whenever those powerful men have given her important assignments –Hillarycare, under Bill; Secretary of State, under Obama– she’s been awful at them.

She bungled them all. She just wasn’t up to the task, whatever it was.

So, as Secretary of State, she used a private email account to hide her failings.

Like I said, “plausible.” I was willing to run with this, until further information came out. (More on that in a bit.)

The other theory is Stanley Kurtz’s. Kurtz, who also writes for NR and is a PhD in Social Anthropology, has written a couple of excellent books on President Obama. He’s a trained observer of cultural and political behavior. In his estimation, the news about the secret email account fits with a “Clinton family culture” that ingrained in her a habit, a reflexive need to evade executive responsibility:

The problems go back as far as Bill’s failed congressional campaign of 1974 and extend through a long series of cases in the Arkansas Governor’s Mansion and the Clinton White House. Typically, Hillary appeared on no flow chart and held no official authority, yet she intervened to delay or reverse existing decisions, sowing confusion. Desperate to disguise the extent of her de facto power, Hillary was driven to an obsessive secrecy that only increased the administrative chaos.

When Hillary finally secured a formal role as leader of the health-care initiative in the Clinton White House, the problem simply took on another form. Hillary circumvented the policy-planning apparatus of the White House by creating an unwieldy and hyper-secret parallel health-care bureaucracy of her own. The result was political and administrative disarray.

With direct access to Bill putting her beyond any official White House record-keeping, Hillary grew used to acting without a paper trail. To avoid that eventuality entirely, she began disguising her West Wing activities by using White House staffers as proxies, creating further confusion.

Hillary also forced White House aides to spend endless hours “erasing her fingerprints” from controversial decisions such as closing off the White House press corridor or firing White House travel office personnel to replace them with Clinton cronies. Vince Foster’s suicide may have been a direct result of Hillary’s attempt to evade responsibility for her own decisions. After erasing Hillary’s fingerprints from the travel office firings, Foster knew he’d be vulnerable to charges of having misled congressional investigators while he was under oath.

This is the more credible theory, I think, especially when one considers the news that the Clintons had, not just a private, semi-secret email for her conduct of State Department business, but their own private email servers in their home, set up by a man no one can so far trace. Consider:

Operating her own server would have afforded Clinton additional legal opportunities to block government or private subpoenas in criminal, administrative or civil cases because her lawyers could object in court before being forced to turn over any emails. And since the Secret Service was guarding Clinton’s home, an email server there would have been well protected from theft or a physical hacking.

Fits to a tee with the “obsessive secrecy” angle, doesn’t it?

I suppose one could argue that both could be true, the secrecy being a protective layer over the awareness of her own incompetence. But, whatever the truth, two things are certain: Where the Clintons are concerned, there is no shortage of popcorn-worthy drama, and there is no way she should ever be let near the Oval Office.

What do you think?


Test at Tonopah solar project ignites hundreds of birds in mid-air

March 2, 2015

Well done, Green Movement, well done.

Watts Up With That?

Uh, oh. From NatureWorldNews

crescent-01[1]

“It’s no secret that solar power is hot right now, with innovators and big name companies alike putting a great deal of time, money, and effort into improving these amazing sources of renewable energy. Still, the last thing you’d likely expect is for a new experimental array to literally light nearly 130 birds in mid-flight on fire.

And yet, that’s exactly what happened near Tonopah, Nevada last month during tests of the 110-megawatt Crescent Dunes Solar Energy Project.”

“According to Rudy Evenson, Deputy Chief of Communications for Nevada Bureau of Land Management (NBLM) in Reno, as reported by Re Wire, a third of the newly constructed plant was put into action on the morning of Jan. 14, redirecting concentrated solar energy to a point 1,200 feet above the ground.”

“Unfortunately, about two hours into the test, engineers and biologists on site started…

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When Kremlin Trolls Attack

February 23, 2015

Cold War II meets the social media age.

The XX Committee

The issue of online trolls doing the bidding of Vladimir Putin’s Kremlin has been getting some mainstream media attention, finally. The reality that Russia buys, or at least rents, trolls by the battalion to harass, intimidate and make life unpleasant for anybody who opposes Moscow policy, while employing aggressive agitprop to further Putinist propaganda, isn’t exactly news, but it’s nevertheless welcome to see mainstream outlets doing some digging into what’s going on.

I’ve dealt with more than my share of Kremlin trolls ever since the Edward Snowden story broke in June 2013. As a major spokesman for the anti-Snowden viewpoint, as well as the only former NSA counterintelligence officer who’s talked publicly about this case at length, I’ve gotten my share of grief and then some from online Pals of Putin, with their usual modus operandi: smears, lies, slurs, and threats.

Some of these Kremlin clowns…

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Should Government Regulators Make the Internet More Like the Post Office or DMV?

February 15, 2015

I’ll take Option C, “neither.”

International Liberty

The Internet has made all of our lives better, in part because there’s been an accidental policy of benign neglect from Washington.

But that’s about to change.

Even though our economy already is burdened by record amounts of regulation and red tape, the FCC is pushing forward with a plan to turn the Internet into a moss-covered public utility.

This almost leaves me at a loss for words. It’s truly remarkable – in a bad way – that the bureaucrats at the Federal Communications Commission think that the Internet can be improved by a big dose of 1930s-era regulation and control.

My Cato colleague, Jim Harper, summarized the issue last month.

Do you want your Internet service provider to operate like the water company or the electric company?… the FCC has sought for years now to regulate broadband Internet service providers…like it used to regulate AT&T, with government…

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Cloud City on Venus? Make it so!

December 26, 2014

venus sky base

(Photo credit: NASA Langley Research Center)

The fine folks at NASA are thinking it might be easier to go to Venus first, rather than Mars. After all, it’s nearer. But how, given the (to put it mildly) hostile conditions of the Venusian surface?

Simple: we build a colony above the clouds!

Called HAVOC – High Altitude Venus Operational Concept — engineers and scientists at the space agency have been studying ways in which a Venus mission would be possible.

“The atmosphere of Venus is an exciting destination for both further scientific study and future human exploration,” aerospace engineer Christopher A. Jones told CNN.

Venus is the closest planet to Earth, about 38 million kilometres, compared with 54.6 million km to Mars. However, it is also highly inhospitable with a mean temperature of 462 degrees Celsius, a cloud layer of sulphuric acid and atmospheric pressure that’s 92 times greater than Earth’s.

Scientists say, however, that just 50 kilometres above the cloud layer are conditions that mimic Earth – pressure is almost the same and so is the gravity and the temperature is about 75 C. With current technology, the astronauts could be outfitted in special suits to withstand the heat.

In previous years, probes have been sent to the surface of Venus, but could only last about two hours.

NASA has also provided a concept video (via):

There’s a fuller discussion at the IEEE Spectrum.

NASA projects the initial mission to last about 30 days, but, over time, the station itself could become permanent, with researchers coming and going. (And tourists? Why not?)

If you know me, you know I grew up watching and loving the space program. While I support private space efforts, I think a NASA-lead exploration program fits with our “Lewis and Clark” traditions. Add to that the possibility of a Star Wars-like “Cloud City” (1), and I’m all for it. Let’s start tomorrow!

We’ve walked on the Moon. No reason we can’t soar above Venus.

Footnote:
(1) Okay, okay. Not even close to Cloud City. But ya gotta start somewhere! smiley thumbs up

 


When science fiction becomes reality: US Navy deploys laser weapon

December 10, 2014
"Boom"

“Boom”

Say it after me, kids: “We have all the best toys!

A new laser gun mounted on the USS Ponce has been operational for months in the Persian Gulf, and it has exceeded expectations as far as its range and durability, senior Navy officers said Wednesday.

The Navy calls it the LaWS, short for laser weapon system. It was installed on the Ponce over the summer, and deployed this fall. Video released by the service on Wednesday shows it taking out an incoming speedboat in a test at a long, undisclosed range with directed energy. No laser beam can be seen, but the boat bursts into flames.

“It’s almost like a Hubble telescope at sea,” said Rear Adm. Matthew L. Klunder, the Navy’s chief of naval research. “Literally, we’re able to get that kind of power and magnification.”

Video is available at the WaPo article. There’s no special-effect colored beam flashing across the seas, but the real is very real — the target bursts into flames.

The model on the Ponce is “only” 30 kilowatts strong, but the Navy has plans for models of up to 150 kilowatts. And it saves money on ammunition, each “shot” being far cheaper than a shell for a main gun. With work also underway on a shipboard railgun, the US Navy might give even Cthulhu pause.

Nah.

The impetus for developing this weapon was the perceived threat to our ships, especially our carriers, from explosives-laden Iranian speedboats on suicide missions: imagine dozens of small craft, each intent on reenacting the attack on the USS Cole. In the eternal dance between offense and defense, the new threat, which illiterate commenters thought overwhelming, is now being thwarted with new technology and tactics.

As, eventually these early laser will be countered. Max Boot wrote a great book on this very process.

Still… Lasers on warships! How cool is that?

(And how soon before the Chinese steal it?)

via Gabriel Malor

 

 


Government Screws Up Everything: The Internet Version

November 14, 2014

A very good video on why we should not let the government regulate the Internet.

International Liberty

When I read that the Obama Administration wants to regulate the Internet by having the Federal Communications Commission impose “net neutrality” rules, my immediate response is to be opposed.

Does my opposition to more regulation and red tape make me a knee-jerk ideologue?

I suppose so, though I think it’s simply a common-sense instinct.

After all, it’s very difficult to come up with a list of successful interventions by government. So I think my automatic aversion to regulation is akin to my automatic aversion to touching a hot stove. Simply stated, I can’t imagine a positive outcome.

But let’s be “open minded” and consider whether there’s some compelling reason to give politicians and bureaucrats power over the Internet.

This video from Reason TV is a very good introduction to the issue.

And since we’re citing Reason, here’s some of what Nick Gillespie wrote on the issue of so-called net neutrality.

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We Have All The Best Toys: laser-cannon edition

September 5, 2014
Science-fiction comes to life

Science-fiction comes to life

(Photo via Wired)

Okay, how cool is this?

Boeing is building a laser cannon for the U.S. Army, and the new weapon has now proved it will be as capable at sea as on land. The High Energy Laser Mobile Demonstrator (HEL MD)—basically a high-energy laser mounted on top of a big truck—was successfully used to blast some UAV drones and 60mm mortars out of the Florida sky earlier this year, Boeing announced Thursday.

This test was done in a windy and foggy environment, an essential step to proving the technology is useful for naval deployment. The HEL MD used a 10-kilowatt laser—a much less powerful version of what it will eventually fire—to “successfully engage” more than 150 targets at Eglin Air Force Base, a Department of Defense weapons testing facility on the Florida Panhandle. In other words, it disabled or destroyed them.

In simple terms, the laser makes an incredibly powerful, highly focused beam of light and aims it at a moving target. Light equals heat, and, after enough heat has been transferred, the target is compromised and crashes or blows up. The Army and Boeing (which landed a $36 million contract for the project) have been working on this for the better part of a decade, par for the course for a next-generation weapons platform.

It’s a preliminary test of course –I doubt the UAVs were taking any evasive action– but the fact that the laser was effective through fog was pretty danged amazing. I can recall engineer friends back in the 80s describing the problem of lasers diffusing through fog and clouds as being insurmountable. Now? Check it off.

Which reminds me, I wonder how many of the people who called Reagan an idiot for pushing missile defense feel like eating some crow these days? The Israelis have already shown the concept works tactically on the battlefield, we demonstrated proof-of-concept with the HEL MD on our own system, and repeated tests over the Pacific show that ballistic missile defense is not at all a “Star Wars” fantasy. Other than Israel’s “Iron Dome,” these systems aren’t usable in battle, yet, but it’s only a matter of time.

Like the musket ended the age of armor, energy weapons may well spell the end of the missile age.

The next phase, of course, it to mount laser cannons on giant war robots, thus making Japanese anime a reality.

PS: Video at the link.

PPS: A very good book related to this is Max Boot’s “War Made New,” which covers the evolution of warfare as competing developments in technology and the effects these developments had on strategy and tactics. This is potentially the latest example.

 


A birds-eye view of the bird scorching Ivanpah solar electric power plant

August 19, 2014

So, the road to Our Green Future is paved with… solar-fried birds. Lovely.

Watts Up With That?

At the start of the weekend, and quite by accident, I found myself aloft and looking directly into the glare of the Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System. I can tell you that not only does it roast birds in mid-air, it certainly seems to be a hazard to aviation. First, a story today from AP, via my local newspaper. Photos follow.

Emerging desert solar plants scorch birds in midair-Chico Enterprise-Record

There are roughly 300,000 computer-controlled mirrors at the Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System in Primm, Nev. New estimates for the Ivanpah solar plant, an innovative year-old $2.2 billion solar project with Google as a major investor, say thousands of birds are dying yearly, roasted by the concentrated sun rays from the mirrors. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)

IVANPAH DRY LAKE (AP) >> Workers at a state-of-the-art solar plant in the Mojave Desert have a name for birds that fly through the plant’s…

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#KYsen: Allison Grimes, national security sooper-genius

July 30, 2014
Perfect against tunneling jihadis!

Perfect against tunneling jihadis!

Federal senators deal with issues of national and international importance, including matters of war and peace, and overall national security. You would think, then, that someone wishing to ascend to the Senate would at least know the basics about a game-changing weapon wielded by one of our key allies, who happens to be in a shooting war.

That is, until you meet Kentucky Democrat Allison Lundergan Grimes:

As foreign policy inches its way into a debate that has largely focused on the economy, Grimes was asked about congressional efforts to aid Israel’s missile defense system, known as the Iron Dome.

“Obviously, Israel is one of our strongest allies in the Middle East, and she has the right to defend herself,” Grimes said. “But the loss of life, especially the innocent civilians in Gaza, is a tragedy. The Iron Dome has been a big reason why Israel has been able to withstand the terrorists that have tried to tunnel their way in.

Iron Dome — as normal, intelligent folks such as you, Dear Readers, can probably tell without needing the above highlighting — is a missile-defense system. It is designed to shoot down things flying through the air: incoming tactical rockets with only minutes or seconds to spare, and it does an amazingly good job at it. One thing it does not do is stop things tunneling under the ground, jihadis or even gophers.

Someone should explain these tricky technical details to Ms. Grimes.

Grimes is hoping to defeat Mitch McConnell and capture his seat for the Democrats, and it’s a tight race. While McConnell hasn’t been one of my favorite senators, he also doesn’t give me the gas that he gives many of my fellow Righties. Regardless of one’s opinion of him, though, I think we can agree that it’s important that his seat be kept in Republican hands, for the Republic.

Even against a defense wiz like Allison Lundergan Grimes.

via Jim Geraghty

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Rewarding failure: GSA awards big contract to designer of #Obamacare web site

July 8, 2014
Obama foreign policy advisers

GSA contracts oversight team

Because they did such a great job with the federal Obamacare web site, why shouldn’t they be given the chance to compete for billions more of our tax dollars?

FAIRFAX, VIRGINIA, Jul 08, 2014 (Marketwired via COMTEX) — CGI Federal Inc. (CGI) GIB -1.59% CA:GIB.A -1.49% announced today that the General Services Administration (GSA) has chosen the company as a prime contractor under a new contract vehicle known as One Acquisition Solution for Integrated Services (OASIS). The multi-award contract has an unlimited ceiling, allowing CGI to compete for billions of dollars in complex professional services task orders across all agencies in the U.S. federal government.

GSA oversees the business of the federal government, among other things supplying federal purchasers with cost-effective, high-quality products and services from commercial vendors. CGI is one of 74 awardees under OASIS, an “indefinite delivery indefinite quantity” (IDIQ) contract that will allow awardees to compete on a range of program management, management consulting, logistics, engineering, scientific and financial management services. Awardees will also be able to offer technology solutions as an ancillary service. For the first time, agencies will be able to purchase high-value professional services along with supporting IT solutions through a single contract, saving customers time and money.

The Obamacare site rollout was such a fiasco that the Federal government refused to renew its contract with CGI when it expired last February. And this isn’t the only time they’ve been told to go away: the government of the Canadian province of Ontario fired CGI for missed deadlines and a failure to deliver a functional product, an online medical registry.

So, naturally the GSA decides that CGI warrants even more chances to deliver “quality IT solutions.” This being the same GSA that’s managed our dollars so well in the past.

What could go wrong?

via Iowahawk

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


#IRS: IT professionals skeptical of Lerner email loss story

June 27, 2014
"The new liberal tokerance"

“House special investigators in action”

And I say “skeptical” because, I’m sure, the real language the head of the International Association of Information Technology Asset Managers used was not repeatable in polite company. IAITAM is an organization that issues certifications and sets standards for IT management, including the proper disposal of retired hard drives. This is what their president, Dr. Barbara Rembiesa, had to say:

“The notion that these emails just magically vanished makes no sense whatsoever.  That is not how IT asset management at major businesses and government institutions works in this country.  When the hard drive in question was destroyed, the IRS should have called in an accredited IT Asset Destruction (ITAD) professional or firm to complete that process, which requires extensive documentation, official signoffs, approvals, and signatures of completion.  If this was done, there would be records.  If this was not done, this is the smoking gun that proves the drive or drives were destroyed improperly – or not at all.”

Emphasis added. I think this not only calls for another round of grilling for IRS Comissioner Koskinen, but subpoenas for any and all people working in the IT office that serviced Lerner’s computer.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)