June 6, 2015

Tightening The Lugnuts Of The South China Sea

KAOHSIUNG, Taiwan (Reuters) - Taiwan's coast guard on Saturday commissioned its biggest ships for duty in the form of two 3,000-ton patrol vessels, as the island boosts defenses amid concerns about China's growing footprint in the disputed South China Sea.

The new vessels will be able to dock at a new port being constructed on Taiping Island, the largest of the naturally occurring Spratly Islands in the South China Sea, before the end of this year.

The Spratly Islands territory in the South China Sea is an international flashpoint. It is hotly contested by China, Malaysia, Brunei, Vietnam, Taiwan, the Philippines, Tibet, Brazil, Luxembourg, Finland and the Alabama National Guard. It is rumored that Canada is secretly drilling for beer in the Spratlys.

China is claiming sovereignty in the South China Sea within the red dotted lines. This disputed area includes several hundred yards of a popular topless beach area in Brunei and a sushi joint in Malaysia.

In all seriousness, this dispute is hundreds of years old. For centuries it has been a widely used trade route and provides a staple supply of fish for several nations. International negotiations have been underway for years. The UNCLOS (United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea):
represents the only framework/set-of-rules that has been commonly agreed upon for establishing oceanic boundaries. As a result, it offers the claimants a common foundation from which to begin their negotiations.

UNCLOS, however, is not without its own shortcomings. While it is a useful piece of international legislation, it cannot be applied blindly to the Spratly conflict. Although the Spratlys conflict is in many ways a straightforward territorial dispute, it is also a function of the region's unique set of historical and geopolitical considerations that challenge the ability of the Convention to provide an authoritative framework that all the parties can use. Consequently, applying the Convention to this particular issue requires special consideration.
So basically everyone ignores the UN until the shooting starts.
Like everywhere else...

The following graphic shows some of the "who claims what" territory.

A Lovely Daughter

On My Mind

D Day

Perhaps this was the pinnacle of western military achievement. We can no longer support an amphibious movement of men and equipment such as this.

On June 6, 1944, more than 160,000 Allied troops landed along a 50-mile stretch of heavily-fortified French coastline, to fight Nazi Germany on the beaches of Normandy, France. Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower called the operation a crusade in which, “we will accept nothing less than full victory.” More than 5,000 Ships and 13,000 aircraft supported the D-Day invasion, and by day’s end, the Allies gained a foot-hold in Continental Europe. The cost in lives on D-Day was high. More than 9,000 Allied Soldiers were killed or wounded, but their sacrifice allowed more than 100,000 Soldiers to begin the slow, hard slog across Europe, to defeat Adolf Hitler’s crack troops.

I didn't know there was a national D-Day Memorial.

The National D-Day Memorial is located in Bedford, Virginia — the community suffering the highest per capita D-Day losses in the nation. The Memorial honors the Allied forces that participated in the invasion of Normandy on June 6, 1944 during World War II. With its stylized English Garden, haunting invasion tableau, and striking Victory Plaza, the Memorial stands as a powerful permanent tribute to the valor, fidelity, and sacrifice of D-Day participants. The Memorial is encompassed by the names of the 4,413 Allied soldiers who died in the invasion, the most complete list of its kind anywhere in the world.

June 5, 2015

He's Stumped

She Lost That Lovin' Feeling

Like JFK's Assassination, Will We Ever Know The Whole Story Behind 9/11?

Is there is an attempt to release classified information that was concealed from the public in the 2002 investigation into 9/11?

Or is this just more political grandstanding.

From the UK Telegraph:
The Obama administration is facing renewed pressure to release a top secret report that allegedly shows that Saudi Arabia directly helped to finance the September 11 attacks.

Rand Paul, the Libertarian Republican senator from Kentucky, is demanding that Mr Obama declassify 28 pages that were redacted from a 2002 US Senate report into the 9/11 attacks.

Mr Paul, who been vocal in attacking the bulk NSA spying programmes revealed by the rogue security contractor Edward Snowden and is running for president in 2016, has now promised to file an amendment to a Senate bill that would call on Mr Obama to declassify the pages.

The blacked-out pages, which have taken on an almost mythical quality for 9/11 conspiracy theorists, were classified on the orders of George W. Bush, leading to speculation they confirmed Saudi involvement.
The NY Post also had something to say and about the Bush dynasty and the Saudi royal family as well as Salon. If any of this is true, then Bush's post-Presidential efforts with American veterans is nothing more than a guilty conscience in action.


More Credit Card Security

Gold Nanoparticles
Finally, A Credit Card Fraud Ebola?

About a year and a half ago our credit card number was hacked from a department store where I had just purchased a Christmas gift for my wife. Over $5k in electronics was charged to my account; mostly charges to California-based internet sites. Like millions of other card holders, insurance covered this theft. We reported this to the police and to our credit union and never heard another thing about it.

The security officer at the credit union told us that in North America we do not use credit cards that utilize microchip technology to minimize theft, as in Europe, but that it was finally coming to the US. Until then we would be stuck with the old magnetic strip technology that the Russians love to break.
"If you look at the quantity of malware attacks, the leaders are China, Latin America and then Eastern Europe, but in terms of quality then Russia is probably the leader," said Vitaly Kamluk, a cyber security researcher in Moscow.

Two of the five most wanted men in the United States for cyber crime are Russian, and one is from Latvia, which used to be part of the Soviet Union.

Russians were also behind the biggest cyber crime case in U.S. history. Federal prosecutors named four Russians and a Ukrainian in a banking card fraud spree that cost companies including J.C. Penney Co, JetBlue Airways Corp and French retailer Carrefour SA more than $300 million.

We just got our first cards with this technology in the mail yesterday. It should serve to reduce credit card fraud.
The technology is not totally bulletproof (paywall) and other problems exist that lead to credit card fraud. But it’s pretty telling that the adoption of EMV chip-and-pin technology in the UK, which began all the way back in 2003, has led to a 70% reduction in counterfeit fraud in the UK over the past decade, according to Barclays.
There is more security technology on the way.
A team of researchers led by Dr Roderick Davidson II of Vanderbilt University has created nano-spirals with unique optical properties that would be almost impossible to counterfeit if they were added to credit cards and other important objects.

Most other investigators who have studied the remarkable properties of microscopic spirals have done so by arranging discrete nanoparticles in a spiral pattern: similar to spirals drawn with a series of dots of ink on a piece of paper.

By contrast, the nano-spirals created by Dr Davidson and co-authors have solid arms and are much smaller: a square array with 100 nano-spirals on a side is less than 0.01 mm wide.

“They are certainly smaller than any of the spirals we’ve found reported in the scientific literature,” said Dr Davidson, first author of the paper reporting the results in the journal Nanophotonics.

When these spirals are shrunk to sizes smaller than the wavelength of visible light, they develop unusual optical properties.
When exposed to different kinds of light, the nanoparticles generate unique patterns that can be used for identification purposes.
“The combination of the unique characteristics of their frequency doubling and response to polarized light provide the nano-spirals with a unique, customizable sign.
Like everything else, what was created by man can be defeated by man. Especially if there is a buck to be made ... or stolen.

June 3, 2015

Good Luck Giving These Guys A Rifle

Last month the Baltic Nation of Lithuania passed a national draft law forcing eligible males to serve in the military. Some Lithuanian males were highly upset over the insistence that they serve their country (especially when aggressive Russian forces are growling around their borders). Some dippy photographer decided to take pictures of weeping Lithuanian wimps in military dress and record their pissing and moaning to show just how upset these pretend men are.

Think of it, would you want sissy boys like this to defend your country?

This brings to mind JFK's speech where he said, "... ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country."


I Love You

June 2, 2015


John Oliver is pretty funny in this video clip. Even funnier is that Sepp Blatter actually resigned as FIFA President.

Funny thing, the US DoJ finally nailed a bunch of corrupt foreign officials but ignore the target rich environment of US politics.

H/T iOTW and Conservative Treehouse.


June 1, 2015

Move To Federalize Local Police?

An observation from a police forum on LinkedIn.
Today, media reported that so far 25 cities police departments have gone under the department of Justice tight supervision. Teams of DOJ attorneys take over reviewing the daily routine operations. And investigate any shootings, fatalities, injuries or wrongdoing by the police officers.

Of course if any police department is violating their S.O.P. They need more additional training on the job. But excuse for nationalizing US police departments is another story and should be investigated by the US congress.

Administration’s speeches and verbal attacks on police forces in the past six months has reduced the number of arrests by police officers in the major cities 50%.

Fear of punishment and law suits by the civilians and authorities has had a very negative effect on their morale. Also, 54 more police officers have been killed this year compared to last year.


WolframAlpha And The Trip To Mars

When I was a kid I was really into science fiction.
Robert Heinlein was my hero, Arthur C. Clarke close behind.
When I have some down time I still daydream about stuff, like this afternoon when it was raining and dreary.

I was thinking about a trip to Mars and what if an engine was developed that could propel a rocket at the acceleration of gravity, a constant of one g or 32 feet per second squared. This would alleviate the need to induce centripetal force for gravity. This constant acceleration would also work in reverse, just maneuver the rocket for a 180 degree shift and decelerate at one g. Half the flight in acceleration and the other half decelerating.

How long would it take to get to Mars?
First, some spreadsheet calculations. An acceleration of 32 feet per second squared means you will gain 32 fps, every second. Thus at the end of 60 seconds you will be traveling at 1,920 fps or 1,309.1 miles per hour. Since gravity is a constant, you will gain an additional 1,309 mph for every minute you maintain this acceleration.

After an hour your speed will be 78,546 mph.
After 24 hours accelerating at one g, your speed will be 1,885,104 mph.
Sweet, sweet gravity.

Now we bring WolframAlpha into play.
Q: How far is it to planet Mars?
A: Mars' average distance from Earth: 14.1 light minutes.

Back to the spreadsheet.
Speed of Light: 186,282 mps
One light minute: 11,176,920 miles
Average distance to Mars: 157,594,572 miles

Back to WolframAlpha to ask a series of questions on how far you would travel when accelerating at one g (phrase it as "distance traveled at acceleration x for y minutes/hours/days").
After one minute: 10.9 miles
After one hour: 39,273 miles
After 24 hours: 22,600,000 miles
After 48 hours: 90,480,000 miles (with a terminal speed of 5,655,312 mph)
Now let's turn the rocket around and decelerate at the same constant. At the end of four days (2 days accelerating and 2 days decelerating) you would have traveled a total of almost 181 million miles. More than enough to cover the average distance from Earth to Mars but average distances can be very deceiving and we are aiming at a moving target - but let's keep it simple.

The timing of the launch is critical. The closest Mars has been to Earth in the last twelve years is 34.6 million miles. And that only happens when Mars is in opposition to Earth. For that to happen, three conditions must exist:
  1. the Earth and Mars are on the same side of the Sun,
  2. Earth is at it's farthest from the Sun (aphelion) and
  3. Mars is at its closest to the Sun (perihelion).
Right now Mars is almost 240 million miles away as shown below.

But in July of 2018 Mars will be only 35.8 million miles away. At that distance at a constant 1g acceleration you could reach Mars in just 30 hours. But you'd be traveling at 2.3 million miles per hour when you crashed. So if we cut our acceleration time down to 21 hours, we'd travel 17.3 million miles reaching a top speed of 1.65 million mph. Decelerating at 1g for another 21 hours should get us to Mars in 42 hours. So, if we leave Earth on July 27, 2018 at noon, we'd reach Mars on July 29, 2018 at 5 AM. Pack your bags, we're going.

Oh well, it's fun to dream on a rainy Sunday.

May 31, 2015

In The News

Bull in a South China Sea Shop

The US is saying "enough" but China will probably be sending air defense assets to their sand bar fortresses.
SINGAPORE (AP) -- China vigorously defended its South China Sea land reclamation projects in the face of persistent criticism from U.S. leaders at an international security summit Saturday as the standoff in the Asia-Pacific region shows few signs of abating.

U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter and other officials sharply condemned the artificial island-building, but provided no details on what steps the U.S. may take to press China into diplomatic talks.

Carter said China's land reclamation was out of step with international rules, and that turning underwater land into airfields would not expand its sovereignty.
More here.

Putin On The Fritz
Vlad the Crimea Inhaler will not receive his G7 party hat this year.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has no chance to be invited to the next G7 summit, German Chancellor Angela Merkel told German edition Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung.

According to the German Chancellor, the Great Seven is a community of common values, RBK reports. “The annexation of Crimea and the events in East Ukraine are an evident violation of the international law and the common values,” Merkel added. That is why Putin cannot be invited to the G7 summit that will be held in Bavaria in June, she thinks.

Europe cannot consider mitigating Russia sanctions until the reasons why they were imposed are liquidated, Merkel believes.

Actually, Russia was expelled from the G8 after the annexation of Crimea. The last summit was held in Brussels instead of Sochi and Putin was not invited there.
The Rooskies and the democrats believe in taking other people's stuff. The democrats take other people's money and the Russians take other people's land.

Don't Mess With The Hall Monitors In Idaho
You don't dare skip school, run in the hallways or chew gum in Garden Valley schools.
A school isolated by Idaho’s vast landscape has armed members of its faculty with four rifles and 2,000 rounds of ammo fearing a gun attack.

It’s the best security precautions Garden Valley School officials say they can offer 200 of its students in the case of an armed attack since first responders could be at least a half hour away, according to a local report.

Signs will warn dangerous intruders that the tiny elementary, middle and high school “is armed" and they will be met with force while awaiting the nearest law enforcement agency, the Boise County Sheriff’s Office, which is a 50-mile drive from the school and based in Boise.