31 March 2008

Jim Zubiena in Slow Motion


The Bayonet Drill

For when the enemy charge did arrive, Bayonet drill in the British Army also encouraged its soldiers to fight as units and not as individuals. The bayonet drill was introduced for the Battle of Culloden, in order to defeat the much vaunted Highland charge; it was not for a soldier to protect himself or to attack the enemy in front, but to stab into the unprotected side of the man attacking his neighbour, each man in the battle line relying on his comrades to defend him.


Thanks to Toutie for the tip.

29 March 2008

Defense Update


Tsunami Affected Xaafuun

Somalia Heading For Catastrophe, Warn Agencies


Sorry to sound callous, but:

"Assuming the average family size in Somalia is 6.9..."

No wonder they're in trouble!


1. Agency for Technical Cooperation and Development
2. Adventist Relief Development Agency
3. African Relief and Development Program
4. Caritas Swiss Group
5. Cooperative Assistance for Relief Everywhere
6. Concern Worldwide
7. Coperazione Internazionale
8. Diakonie Emergency Aid Bread for the World
9. Diakonia Sweden
10. Development Initiative Access Link
11. Danish Refugee Council
12. Gedo Health Consortium
13. Global Organisation for Health and Development
14. Gothenberg Initiative
15. Gol Yome Rehabilitation & Development Organization
16. Humanitarian Action for Relief and Development Organization
17. Himilo Foundation
19. Horn Relief
20. International Aid Services
21. Institute of Education for Disabled People in Somalia
22. International Medical Corps
23. International Rescue Committee
24. Interpeace/ War Torn Societies
25. Medicins du Monde
26. Mercy Corps Somalia
27. Merlin
28. Norwegian Refugee Council
29. Oxfam International
30. Progressio
31. Relief International
32. SAACID Australia
33. Saferworld
34. Save the Children UK
35. Terra Nouva Association for international Cooperation to Development
36. Trocaire
38. WETHULNGERHILFE/ German Agro Action
39. World Concern International
40. World Vision

Soldier Scholars: Military Education as an Instrument of China's Strategic Power

This is scary.

Soldier Scholars: Military Education as an Instrument of China's Strategic Power

An examination of China’s PME reforms shows that Beijing’s belief in PME is more than rhetoric. China’s leadership has implemented sweeping organizational reforms, commissioned substantive pedagogical research and has institutionalized PME into the culture of the PLA. Today the PLA is leveraging its civilian academic institutions—as Roy Kamphausen stated—to “… train large numbers of technologically proficient military leaders better able to function on the high-tech battlefields of the 21st century.” Beijing’s investments in education have been impressive. From 1978 to 2004, the number of institutions of higher education in China nearly tripled while the number of faculty during that same time period quadrupled (China Brief, March 1, 2006).

Many studies have focused exclusively on the technological piece of the Chinese military transformation puzzle. Students of Chinese military power tend to emphasize the study of force structure and weapons systems while other aspects of military power such as doctrine, organizational structure and military education are neglected. The PLA’s sweeping education reforms indicate that English statesman Francis Bacon’s famous words that "knowledge is power" resonate with the leadership in Beijing. There are two overarching questions for defense analysts and Washington policymakers: How will China’s PME transformation impact their military effectiveness at the tactical, operational and strategic levels of warfare? And how will China’s military policy and strategy be affected writ-large? Enhancing education throughout the PLA is critical for producing a more highly effective force because it will provide officers and NCOs with the skills needed to succeed on the future battlefield. NCOs in the PLA will be more integrated into the system and likely to understand their orders within the broader context of the national war effort. This will influence their decision-making calculus at the tactical level, which can have operational and strategic implications. By transforming its entire PME system, the PLA is taking an important step to increase its military effectiveness at all levels of war, from tactical to strategic, by enhancing the quality of its personnel.


Kakuma Refugee Camp


Solar Panel Cooker


Earth Pulse


28 March 2008

What Makes Finnish Kids So Smart?

I'm not sure this article answered the question, but it was interesting.

What Makes Finnish Kids So Smart?
Finland's teens score extraordinarily high on an international test. American educators are trying to figure out why.
February 29, 2008; Page W1

Helsinki, Finland

High-school students here rarely get more than a half-hour of homework a night. They have no school uniforms, no honor societies, no valedictorians, no tardy bells and no classes for the gifted. There is little standardized testing, few parents agonize over college and kids don't start school until age 7.



Mediaeval Services

I have just awoken from a dream in which I had the following realisation.

I have always thought of feudalism as being the granting of land in return for military service. Usually other "services" and "privileges" get a token mention, but I have never before really thought about them or taken them seriously.

However, these services and privileges may have been an important part of feudalism. The important point is: The service itself may have been the privilege: they are flip-sides of each other.

For example, the noble house of Thurn and Taxis ran the Imperial post. This may have been a service they performed for the Empire; it mau just as easily have been a concession granted to them by the Empire: a profitable monopoly.

(I have often referred to communism as in fact being "industrial feudalism" without tweaking to the fact that feudalism itself may have been "industrial".)

27 March 2008




Night-Vision Proof


25 March 2008

State Dept. Rights Report Calls Record of Sudan 'Horrific'

In the 2007 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices released yesterday, the department accused the Sudanese government of obstructing the deployment of an African Union-United Nations peacekeeping force to Darfur. Government-backed militias in that western region of Sudan have carried out a war against rebellious African tribes that has led to the deaths of as many as 450,000 people and displaced 2.5 million. The report also said Sudanese security forces prevented humanitarian workers from delivering assistance.


22 March 2008


US Army War College Quarterly


Gas Masks

A dodgy enemy is really likely to use gas, particularly after a major defeat.

Remember to obtain gas masks.

Lesson Three: Choose the Right Weapons

Lesson Three: Choose the Right Weapons

The Chechen weapon of choice was the rocket propelled grenade launcher (RPG). The RPG was most feared by the Russians because of its multiplicity of uses. It could be used to shoot over buildings like a high-trajectory mortar, and it could be used either as an area weapon when fired over troop formations or as a precision weapon when fired directly at armored vehicles. Some destroyed Russian tanks were hit more than 20 times by RPGs.

A second weapon of choice for the Chechens was not really a weapon at all. It was the multitude of information-technology gadgets, especially cellular phones and commercial scanner systems, that allowed the Chechens to communicate easily with one another, ensured the coordination of combat operations, and allowed Chechens to listen in on Russian conversations (thereby proving to be a force-coordination multiplier). On many occasions, the Russians felt the Chechens knew what they were going to do ahead of time, and for this reason believed these communication devices were like weapons. The Chechens also used mobile TV stations to override Russian TV transmissions and to deliver messages from President Dudayev directly to the people. The Internet was also used, especially to raise funds and assistance from abroad.

Flame-throwers appear to have been a weapon of choice for the Russian force. One article written after the fighting noted that the Kalashnikov assault rifle, the Mukha grenade launcher, and the Shmel flame-thrower were a "soldier's best weapons."[18] The flame-thrower was chosen as much for its psychological effect as its ability to flush people or snipers out of buildings at a considerable range. Evidence supporting the view that this is an important Russian weapon was provided when an improved, jet-powered model was advertised for sale abroad in October 1998. It reportedly was capable of the same effectiveness as 152mm artillery rounds, and had a maximum range of fire of 1,000 meters (over a half mile!).[19] With its portability and range, it may prove to be an adequate substitute where the use of supporting artillery would be difficult.

A "weapon" of choice for both Russians and Chechens was the sniper, who caused panic and havoc with just a few well-placed shots. There are reports that the Chechens employed female snipers from the Baltic region. Snipers were extremely effective in slowing a convoy's movement and forcing a column to take another route. One observer wrote:

One experienced sniper is capable of doing what will prove to be beyond the capability of a tank, gun, or entire infantry subunit: disable a commander, destroy a gun or mortar crew, control one or two streets . . . and, most important, instill in the enemy a feeling of constant danger, nervousness, and expectation of a sudden shot. Everyone fears the Chechen snipers in Grozny. . . . There are many cases where a sniper wounds a serviceman, and then kills the wounded person and those who come to his aid.[20]

The sniper could also use an RPG in conjunction with a sniper rifle. A real problem for Russian troops was identifying snipers who shot at them and then donned a Red Cross armband and mingled with the local populace and the Russian soldiers he was killing. To counteract this, Russian checkpoints began forcing the Chechen men to take off their shirts. Soldiers would look for bruises on the shoulder from weapon recoil, for powder burns on forearms, or for a silver lining around cuffs (from mortar or artillery propellant bags). They also smelled clothing for gunpowder and looked for traces of it under fingernails or on arms or legs. Russian forces also employed snipers, but not with the same degree of success as the Chechens. A March 1995 article decrying the neglect of sniper training attests to this fact.[21]

The correct mix and employment of weapons in the city were also important. Grozny was a three-tiered fight (upper floors of buildings, street level, and subterranean or basement), and the weapons had to fit. Russian tanks could not lower their main gun tubes and coaxial machine guns low enough to shoot into basements harboring Chechen fighters. To correct this problem, the Russians put ZSU-23-4 self-propelled, multi-barreled, antiaircraft machine guns forward with columns to fire at heights and into basements.


The Jamestown Foundation


Urban Warfare - the Chechen Experience

During the First Chechen War most of the Chechen fighters had been trained in the Soviet armed forces. They were divided into combat groups consisted of 15 to 20 personnel, subdivided into three or four-man fire teams. A fire team consisted of an antitank gunner, usually armed with Russian made RPG-7s or RPG-18s, a machine gunner and a sniper. A fire team would be supported by ammunition runners and assistant gunners. To destroy Russian armoured vehicles in Grozny, five or six hunter-killer fire teams deploy at ground level, in second and third stories, and in basements. The snipers and machine gunners would pin down the supporting infantry while the antitank gunners would engage the armoured vehicle aiming at the top, rear and sides of vehicles.

[Emphasis added - PH]


BM-21 "Grad"

The BM-21 "Grad" (БМ-21 "Град") is a launch vehicle of the Soviet 122 mm multiple-launch rocket system developed in the early 1960s. BM stands for 'combat vehicle' (Russian: Boyevaya Mashina); grad means 'hail'. In the West, the system was initially known as M1964.


Jamestown Massacre

The Indian massacre of 1622 (also known as the Jamestown Massacre[citation needed]) occurred in the Virginia Colony on Good Friday, March 22, 1622. About 347 people [1], or almost one-third of the English population of Jamestown, were killed by a coordinated series of surprise attacks of the Powhatan Confederacy under Chief Opechancanough.

Jamestown was the site of the first successful English settlement in North America in 1607, and was the capital of the Colony of Virginia. Although Jamestown itself was spared due to a timely last-minute warning, many smaller settlements had been established along the James River both upstream and downstream from it and on both sides. The attackers killed men, women, and children, and burned homes and crops.


Note that the colony lost a massive 1/3 of its population (although this was not necessarily demoralising in a society that regularly lost 1/2 of its population to the Black Death or the Sweating Sickness).

Note however too that attacks were co-ordinated and that the colony was strung out in small towns (that were not mutually supporting, given the level of technology), making them vulnerable. One or 2 large towns would have not been so vulnerable.

To me this seems obvious, and I don't think I would have made this mistake. If economic conditions dictate the spreading out of the population, then I would build large fortified towns on the periphery of the colony, or scattered throughout the colony, with the small farming hamlets within the borders of the colony or close by the various fortified towns.

Saddam Ordered Australian Care Worker's Death

Note that he was formerly a Major in the Australian Army. i.e. Probably he was a spy.

In one letter, Iraqi intelligence boasts about its performance after killing Mr Cameron, a former Australian army major and father of two, and other aid workers. At the same time, however, Saddam's regime was publicly expressing outrage and blaming Mr Cameron's death on Kurds.


China-Based Hackers Penetrate Save Darfur Coalition

FBI Opens Probe of China-Based Hackers

By Ellen Nakashima and Colum Lynch
Washington Post Staff Writers
Friday, March 21, 2008; Page A02

The FBI has opened a preliminary investigation of a report that China-based hackers have penetrated the e-mail accounts of leaders and members of the Save Darfur Coalition, a national advocacy group pushing to end the six-year-old conflict in Sudan.



21 March 2008

Underground lake may bring Darfur peace

BOSTON (Reuters) - A newly found imprint of a vast, ancient underground lake in Sudan's Darfur could restore peace to the region by providing a potential water source to an area ravaged by drought, a U.S. geologist says.


Gricean Maxims

The philosopher Paul Grice proposed four conversational maxims that arise from the pragmatics of natural language. These maxims are:

Maxim of Quality: Truth

Do not say what you believe to be false.
Do not say that for which you lack adequate evidence.
Maxim of Quantity: Information

Make your contribution as informative as is required for the current purposes of the exchange.
Do not make your contribution more informative than is required.
Maxim of Relation: Relevance

Be relevant.
Maxim of Manner: Clarity

Avoid obscurity of expression. ("Eschew obfuscation")
Avoid ambiguity.
Be brief ("avoid unnecessary prolixity").
Be orderly.


18 March 2008

Brazilians Look to Regional Force to Root Out Death Squads

Brazilians Look to Regional Force to Root Out Death Squads

By Monte Reel
Washington Post Foreign Service
Tuesday, March 18, 2008; Page A09

RECIFE, Brazil -- The name was on the tip of Rosario Lapa's tongue, but it stubbornly stayed there. She tapped her forehead to try to shake it loose, then turned to her friends for help.

"What do they call the death squad here?"


The Thundercats were one of the first targeted last year, and the break in that case came when a mother's concern for her son proved stronger than the group's stranglehold on a hushed-up public.


Top 80 Short Quotes about Religion and Atheism


My favourite:

"People who don't like their beliefs being laughed at shouldn't have such funny beliefs." - Unknown

17 March 2008

John F. Burns

John F. Burns (John Fisher Burns) (born October 4, 1944) is an American journalist, winner of two Pulitzer Prizes. He gives international reporting for The New York Times and frequently appears on PBS.


Christopher Hitchins on Iraq


16 March 2008

Childcare and Tax Incentives

The government, apparently, has a pro-child, pro-family policy.

So I wonder if it could explain to me why childcare paid for by employers attracts FBT.

Why not make it salary-sacrificable? Tax-deductible?

Why not make it compulsory, with non-parents having the payments made into their super accounts instead?

Best of all: Have a childcare voucher system.

Saul Estrin

His book Microeconomics is apparently highly recommended.

Helen Fisher on love, lust and antidepressants


In Judgement of Christianity

Christianity is not utterly without redeeming features.

How to Become a SuperStar Student

When a high school student has trouble learning a subject like math or history, the problem may lie not in the teacher’s ability or the student’s I.Q.

Instead, it is often simply because the student has never been taught how to learn.

From the high school in the little town of Worland, Wyoming, comes a steady stream of honor students. They win scholarships. Get into top universities. Even have their writings published while still in high school.

Why—are they smarter than other kids? No. They have been shown how to become SuperStar Students by a widely acclaimed SuperStar teacher, Tim McGee.

Dr. McGee has found that many bright kids have trouble retaining what they read and get tangled up when trying to do writing assignments. So he teaches two simple yet powerful techniques that will give students an edge not only in high school but in college and adulthood.

What do his Worland honor students have in common? A whole set of basic learning skills which most high school students are never taught:

- Developing an attitude toward learning that yields results
- Keeping a learning journal and developing study habits that pay off
- Using annotation to change ordinary reading to active reading
- Learning how to take and use notes to prepare for exams
- Using the secrets of "jam" writing and informal writing
- Discovering how to draft and edit the formal essay.
- Dr. McGee is an impressive speaker who has changed the lives of his students with his powerful message about what it takes to be a great student—and how to do it once you’ve made the decision to excel.


12 March 2008

Jaime Lerner


10 March 2008

Ex-Defense Official Assails Colleagues Over Run-Up to War

By Thomas E. Ricks and Karen DeYoung
Washington Post Staff Writers
Sunday, March 9, 2008; Page A01

In the first insider account of Pentagon decision-making on Iraq, one of the key architects of the war blasts former secretary of state Colin Powell, the CIA, retired Gen. Tommy R. Franks and former Iraq occupation chief L. Paul Bremer for mishandling the run-up to the invasion and the subsequent occupation of the country.


08 March 2008

Remington 700




Assault Rifles

5.56 mm

HK G36

Effective range 200 to 800 m sight marks
Feed system 30-round detachable box magazine or 100-round C-Mag drum magazine





1st choice
relatively inexpensive



Lighter, therefore:

target acquisition faster
less accurate on second & third shots
better for the ladies

FN Nine-Five

Better-designed ammunition

Machine Gun




Minimi 7.62



06 March 2008

James Wesley Rawles, Survivalist


Hiking Equipment


Franco-African Summit Highlights French Desperation

Because [France] cannot compete economically with the United States, it will rely on political-security levers to reaffirm its geopolitical status. The geopolitical imperative for increased French activity in Africa is this: Once the United States expands control over Middle Eastern governments — and oil supplies — Paris will need to make sure that it is not dependent upon those energy sources and can influence supplies elsewhere. Because of its economic constraints, there are few places other than Africa where France can compete globally. Moreover, a number of African governments — like that in Cameroon or Gabon — continue to rely on French political-security cooperation for their survival.

Geek Home


Poverty Facts & Stats


05 March 2008

Mining and Military

In 1997,

Robert Oakley [ex-US ambassador to Pakistan, now Unocal's ad hoc advisory board] advised Miller to reach the Taliban by working through Pakistan's government [then led by Benazir Bhutto]. He also suggested that Unocal hire Thomas Gouttiere, an Afghan specialist at the University of Nebraska at Omaha, to develop a job training program in Kandahar that would teach Pashtuns the technical skills needed to build a pipeline. ... Unocal agreed to pay $900,000 via the University of Nebraska to set up a Unocal training facility on a fifty-six acre site in Kandahar, not far from bin Laden's compounds. ... Gouttiere traveled in and out of Afghanistan and met with Taliban leaders. ... In December 1997 Gouttiere worked with Miller to arrange for another Taliban delegation to visit the United States. ...[4]

Unocal seems to have had a deeper role. Intelligence "whistleblower" Julie Sirrs claimed that anti-Taliban leader Ahmad Shah Massoud told her he had "proof that Unocal had provided money that helped the Taliban take Kabul [in 1996]".[5] And French journalist Richard Labeviere said, referring to the later 1990s, "The CIA and Unocal's security forces ... provided military weapons and instructors to several Taleban militia[s] ..."[6]


Korean Troops to Get Chameleon Uniforms

South Korean soldiers will be kitted out with hi-tech combat gear by 2020 including chameleon-style uniforms which can change camouflage patterns, the defence ministry said today.

The ministry said in a statement it would equip servicemen with new outfits and weapons under a three-phase plan to maximise combat capabilities.

In the first phase to be completed by 2012, the current olive green combat uniform will be replaced with grey fatigues capable of evading enemy infrared night-time search devices.

The uniform will be provided to selected units next year for testing.

A bulletproof helmet weighing only 1150 grams, compared with a US equivalent's 1400-1600 grams, will be issued by 2016.

This helmet, which should be sturdy enough to fend off point-blank pistol shots, is to be fitted with communication devices including headsets and image-transmitting equipment.

Between 2017 and 2020, uniforms will be made of hi-tech material with digital camouflage patterns that can be changed to blend into surroundings. They will have electronic devices and sensors for heating and cooling, and anti-biochemical capabilities.

Small personal computer systems will also be attached.

The military will upgrade combat boots to better protect soldiers against mines and chemical, biological and radioactive agents.

The soldiers will be equipped with an already-developed next-generation rifle, which features laser-based aiming systems and fires bullets that explode over enemy soldiers and scatter shrapnel


How Himmler Got Busted

Attempting to evade arrest, he disguised himself as a sergeant-major of the Secret Military Police, using the name Heinrich Hitzinger, shaving his moustache and donning an eye patch over his left eye,[10] in the hope that he could return to Bavaria. He had equipped himself with a set of false documents, but someone whose papers were wholly in order was so unusual that it aroused the suspicions of a British Army unit in Bremen. Himmler was arrested on May 22 by Sergeant Arthur Britton, and in captivity, was soon recognized.


03 March 2008

Case Study: Evolution of Counterinsurgency in Iraq

Evolution Of a U.S. General In Iraq
No. 2 Commander Transformed Tactics

By Amit R. Paley and Joshua Partlow
Washington Post Foreign Service
Saturday, February 16, 2008

CAMP VICTORY, Iraq -- When Lt. Gen. Raymond T. Odierno first came to Iraq in 2003, the division he led was quickly accused of overly aggressive tactics that did more to fuel the insurgency than quell it.

But over the past 15 months, Odierno has earned a very different reputation. Even some of his critics now say his tenure as the No. 2 military official in Iraq -- a position he handed over this week -- reflects a newfound understanding of counterinsurgency doctrine and the necessity of using nonlethal tactics to reduce violence in Iraq.



Going Broke: Why Americans Can't Hold On to Their Money

Inside the Mind Of a Debtor Nation

By Michelle Singletary
Sunday, March 2, 2008

As the director of a financial ministry at my church, I get an up-close and personal look at the spending habits of a lot of people.

And year after year, I am stunned by the decisions people make that get them into financial trouble. I've seen monthly car notes the size of mortgage payments. People take vacations or buy big-screen televisions and expensive jewelry while ignoring huge federal tax obligations.

While it would be easy to judge these people for the messes they've gotten themselves into, I wonder -- even worry -- why they spend so much. Why do they continue to use credit even though they are already weighed down by so much debt?

The problem is just as acute with many who use cash. They may not have credit card debt, but they struggle, too.

I keep coming back to one question: What has made us into a nation of people who spend more than we earn?

It's a question that led Stuart Vyse to write "Going Broke: Why Americans Can't Hold On to Their Money" (Oxford University Press).

[ - PH]


01 March 2008

Quote of the Day

I go everywhere in my student coat, now and then slap someone on the back, and say: siamo contenti? son dio, ho fatto questa caricatura... [Is everything OK? I am God; this farce is my creation...)

- a postscript in the margin of Nietzsche's last letter