If NPR reports latest defense cuts as too severe, you know they go too far

Via the aforementioned NPR:

A Pentagon plan to cut tens of thousands of soldiers from the U.S. Army’s ranks in coming years goes too far given the growing global threats, including Russian aggression in Ukraine and unrest in Syria and Iraq, a bipartisan review panel says.

In an advance copy of a report, Ensuring a Strong U.S. Defense for the Future, that was obtained by NPR’s Tom Bowman, a panel that includes former Defense Secretary William Perry and retired Gen. John Abizaid, who was the top U.S. commander in the Middle East, warns that the proposed cuts are too deep.

“Since World War II, no matter which party has controlled the White House or Congress, America’s global military capability and commitment has been the strategic foundation undergirding our global leadership,” the report’s authors write. “Given that reality, the defense budget cuts mandated by the Budget Control Act (BCA) of 2011, coupled with the additional cuts and constraints on defense management under the law’s sequestration provision, constitute a serious strategic misstep on the part of the United States.”

“The effectiveness of America’s other tools for global influence, such as diplomacy and economic engagement, are critically intertwined with and dependent upon the perceived strength, presence and commitment of U.S. armed forces,” they write.

Peace through strength…

Reagan peace through strength Quote

Tomahawk Missiles Become Smarter, Deadlier and Reliant on Old School Technology

Saw this link at Instapundit: The Tomahawk Missile Gets Smarter—and Deadlier

Missiles are the marquee weapon system of the 21st century. Enemy radar and air defenses are getting better, and the ranges of missiles operated by potential foes are getting longer. That means the number of planes the U.S. can place into a war zone is decreasing. These trends make a ripe market for the 18-foot-long Tomahawk missile. “There is no target on earth that the U.S. Navy and Royal Navy cannot hold at risk with the Tomahawk,” says Roy Donelson, Tomahawk program director for Raytheon defense systems.

But that doesn’t mean the missile can’t get smarter. For example: “The U.S. Navy and Raytheon are collaborating on a program that will provide the Tomahawk with rapid in-flight target updates that enable the weapon to engage moving targets,” Donelson tells PM.

What’s interesting about the Tomahawk is since it has been around longer than GPS, it has other systems navigation systems on board to fall back on if GPS signals are jammed:

Fortunately, cruise missiles have been around even longer than GPS satellite navigation, so they have a second system to allow them to be as accurate as possible: Terrain Contour Matching.

Terrain Contour Matching, or TERCOM “uses a pre-recorded contour map of the terrain that is compared to measurements made during flight by an on-board radar altimeter.” In other words, elaborate, Google Earth-style satellite maps of the terrain of interest can be compared to data gathered by an onboard radar system that is constantly bouncing signals off the ground below in order to measure changes in elevation.

Such a system is much more difficult to jam; even if the radar on which it depends received interference, TERCOM is combined with another, even older method of navigation known as an intertial navigation system (INS).

Inertial navigation works on dead reckoning – if you know where you used to be, and all of the changes in direction and velocity since that point in time and space, you can calculate where you are now.

What’s interesting about these systems is that when satellite navigation fails, cruise missiles revert to computerized versions of navigation methods that would have been recognizable to navigators centuries ago. Dead reckoning has been around at least since the 16th century, and anyone who has ever tried to triangulate their location on a hike using points on a topographic map has exploited the same underlying principles as TERCOM.

This is a good thing because countries like China are working overtime perfecting their anti-satellite systems capable of knocking out our National Security satellites located in High (Geostationary) Earth Orbit and easily taking out GPS satellites located in Medium (geosynchronous) Earth Orbit .

Hopefully a few grown-ups somewhere within our government are putting the heat on contractors to deliver chip-scale inertial measurement units (IMUs) and chip-scale atomic clocks to improve dead reckoning navigation as a back up to GPS.

Want to turn $3 million into $60 million? Build a natural gas well (if you can navigate the red tape)

How profitable can an oil or natural gas well be? Here in S.E. Michigan, several oil and gas wells are turning a nice profit:

Some Southeast Michigan wells produce quite well. One Jordan and West Bay joint venture in Troy, near the Michigan State University Management Education Center, cost less than $3 million to drill in 2002 but has produced about $60 million of natural gas since then, with MSU and the Michigan Department of Transportation as an adjacent landowner splitting about a one-sixth royalty or $10 million on sales since then, Brower and Gibson said.

Another well, at Kensington Metropark in Milford Township, has made about $13 million since the 1990s, Gibson said. Explorers usually negotiate a royalty of one-eighth to one-sixth of the revenue that wells produce in oil or natural gas, pro-rated to their share of the property covered by the lease.

He estimates West Bay has drilled about 50 sites in Southeast Michigan since 1986, of which about half have since wrapped production and are now plugged. The company reports more than a dozen active wells in Oakland County and about a half dozen each in Macomb and Wayne; it could start drilling the new well in Scio Township under its July 3 permit within 60 to 90 days.

Its three permits in White Lake Township were all issued within the past two years, and West Bay is also a co-investor on a well in Livonia that has been collecting from reserves beneath Schoolcraft College since 2009, he said.

Southeast Michigan “has been a comparatively unexplored area, and there’s unique geography here,” he said.

But Brower said the first White Lake site is only producing a moderate yield of oil so far, and drilling is not yet complete on a second one.

He also said the state continues to have a few regions of high investment and interest, like suburban Detroit and the Gladwin County and western Saginaw Bay areas, but Michigan as a whole is still in a fairly slow year and local companies have begun exploring other states.

Contrary to popular belief, a natural gas / oil well is much less an eyesore than a stupid windmill overwhelming the horizon. Here’s the natural gas well at Schoolcraft College mentioned above:

oil well schoolcraft college

These wells are much smaller than a windmill and actually produce energy.

The United States government has direct ownership of 30% of all land within the United States and has dragged their feet issuing leases for oil and gas exploration on Federal Land preventing construction of new wells to add to our national energy production.

Not to be outdone by the fed’s, local butinski’s are working overtime trying to block economic development:

Although gas and oil drilling is heavily regulated by the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, the City of Auburn Hills has determined that it also has the right to oversee this activity through its Zoning Ordinance.  The Michigan Zoning Enabling Act, which specifically states that counties and townships do not have the authority to regulate oil and gas wells; does not mention cities or villages.  Because cities and villages are not specifically addressed in the Act, it has been determined by our City Attorney that cities and villages have some limited ability to regulate such operations.

A small natural gas well that produces an economic benefit is unacceptable. Good plan guys….

NASA Developing parachutes for Mars landings, too bad we don’t have a rocket to get there

Nothing like putting the cart before the horse:

NASA is developing two variants of the LDSD [PDF] – one with a 20-foot (6m) SIAD for smaller, robotic extraplanetary landings, and one with a larger 26-foot (8m) SIAD for larger, human payloads. The overall goal of the LDSD is to make it possible for NASA to land larger payloads on the surface of Mars: While the parachute-to-sky-crane technique used by Curiosity was technologically impressive, the sky crane simply isn’t capable of landing payloads over 1.5 metric tons (3,300 lbs). The LDSD will not only allow NASA to land payloads of up to 3 tons on Mars, but it will also increase the number of possible landing zones and improve landing accuracy from a margin of 10 kilometers (6.2 miles) to just 3km.

While our mastery of Newtonian physics means it’s fairly trivial to place a place a spacecraft in orbit around any planet in the Solar System, landing on a planet or moon’s surface is still incredibly difficult. Every moon and planet in the Solar System has different atmosphere, gravity, and surface conditions, and thus each mission needs to have a specifically tailored landing procedure. For Mars, the difficulty is that it has too much atmosphere for rapid entry and rocket deceleration (as we did with the Moon landings), but it doesn’t have enough atmosphere to land large objects with only a parachute. (Here on Earth, with our deliciously thick atmosphere, we’ve used parachutes to land masses of up to 72,000 lbs or 32.5 metric tons).

All that being said, how they are testing these parachutes is kinda cool:

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If only NASA could only get a heavy lift rocket constructed and tested:

NASA doesn’t have enough money to get its new, $12 billion rocket system off the ground by the end of 2017 as planned, federal auditors say.

The Government Accountability Office issued a report Wednesday saying NASA’s Space Launch System is at “high risk of missing” its planned December 2017 initial test flight. The post-space shuttle program would build the biggest rockets ever – larger than the Saturn V rockets which sent men to the moon – to send astronauts to asteroids and Mars.
“They can’t meet the date with the money they have,” report author Cristina Chaplain said. She said it wasn’t because the space agency had technical problems with the congressionally-required program, but that NASA didn’t get enough money to carry out the massive undertaking.

The GAO report put the current shortfall at $400 million, but did say NASA was “making solid progress” on the rocket program design.

When you think about it, the $400 million shortfall is less money than Obama floated his donors at Solyndra.

Why invest in something that could potentially spin off a myriad of technological innovations when we have an Obamaphone program to pay for.

2014 has had the lowest frequency of 90 degree days in the United States on record

Via Ice Age Now:

Meanwhile the propaganda-spewing media keeps on harping about global warming.

“The frequency of 90 degree days in the US has been plummeting for 80 years,” says the Steven Goddard website.

So far, “2014 has had the lowest frequency of 90 degree days through July 23 on record.”

And leftists continue the global warming charade.

Have you ever wondered why it seems as if radio stations only play 25 songs?

As a music fan and someone who’s had a long drive to work for most of his adult life, I’ve listed to a lot of radio, so this is a subject near and dear to my heart.

A writer at FiveThirtyEight attempted to determine “what is classic rock” by analyzing the playlists of 25 classic rock stations in the top 30 US metropolitan markets. In doing so, he he’s unwittingly quantified how radio across America has become homogenized.

Our author crunches a lot of data that ultimately reveals only a few minor regional differences in playlists of classic rock stations. For example, the classic rock station in Denver, CO played slightly more AC/DC songs relative to the average classic rock stations across the US (even though AC/DC is heavily represented in classic rock stations playlists) while the Miami station plays more Billy Joel. The truth is, radio stations have homogenized into a bland sameness wherever you go in the United States. Case and point, the top 25 classic rock songs played June 16th through June 22nd, 2014:

classic rock-1

No surprises with this list. Looks much like a typical playlist for our two local classic rock stations here in Metro Detroit. Here’s a snap-shot of recently played songs from our local classic rock station WCSX.

94.7 WCSX   Detroit   Classic Rock Recently PlayedTalk about sameness, three of the most payed classic rock songs in little over an hour. If you scroll through the recently played list, you can find most of the top 15 list sprinkled throughout the broadcast.

As to why this convergence to blandness has happened, our intrepid FiveThitryEight author interviewed the classic rock brand manager (there’s a hint) at Clear Channel to get a peak behind the curtain:

But clearly it’s not just when a song was released that makes it classic rock. Popularity matters, as does as a band’s longevity, its sound and a bunch of other factors. To find out why some artists are considered classic rock, I spoke to Eric Wellman, the classic rock brand manager for Clear Channel, which owns nine of the 25 radio stations in our data set. He’s also the programming director at New York’s classic rock station, WAXQ. Wellman said release years have nothing to do with what makes a song “classic rock”; the ability of the genre to grow based on consumers’ tastes is one of the things that’s given it such longevity.

In fact, radio stations are using data to make their selection decisions. Wellman said any radio company with the resources conducts regular studies in its major markets to find out what its listeners consider classic rock. And so it’s you, the consumer, who’s helping to define the genre.

“The standard in the industry these days is an online music test or an auditorium music test where you just gather a sample and have them rate songs based on the hooks — the most familiar parts of the song — and you just get back a whole slew of data,” Wellman said. The stations find a cluster of people who like the music that makes up the core of classic rock, and then finds out what else they like. They like R.E.M.? Well, R.E.M. is now classic rock. “It’s really that simple,” Wellman said.

There is more to it than simply surveying a station’s “listeners” to rate songs based on their hooks and saying “o.k. here are the songs that our listeners like, go play these songs.”

Stations need to identify their target demographic, because everything revolves around the listener demographics a station promises to deliver to its advertisers.

Concern about “the demographic cliff” has manifested itself in the continued rollout of second-generation Classic Rockers like Clear Channel’s “Brew” stations. And in the continued march by many Classic Rock stations into the grunge era—the music that was one considered to be a shot across Classic Rock’s bow. One recent evolution took place at Cox’s WSRV (The River) Atlanta, which added Pearl Jam and Lenny Kravitz to a station that had launched with a softer, older version of Classic Hits less than a decade ago.

The correct answer to the “age of the audience” question is never the one that GMs find helpful. Having an audience at the height of its earning potential and disposable income ought to buy the format some respite from the demographic concerns, but never has. So should having the audience that grew up most influenced by radio, and remains most under its sway. But agencies don’t accept that either and so neither do managers.

In the end, a radio station, no matter the format, is about delivering a targeted demographic to advertisers and not about delivering great music to its listeners.

Hopefully, a station somewhere, will try something radical and try playing interesting and different music and gain a huge audience.

Why leftist ideology is wrong about everything

Typical off-the-shelf leftists are continually in full-on Chicken Little mode proclaiming the sky is falling. They wring their hands about “peak oil” and the dreaded “population bomb” all the while proclaiming the solution is an ever bigger government (this is when they tip their hand to what their ultimate goal) when the real solution to our ills is an increasing population:

This is the economic history of humanity in a nutshell: From 2 million or 200,000 or 20,000 or 2,000 years ago until the 18th Century, there was slow growth in population, almost no increase in health or decrease in mortality, slow growth in the availability of natural resources (but not increased scarcity), increase in wealth for a few, and mixed effects on the environment.

Since then there has been rapid growth in population due to spectacular decreases in the death rate, rapid growth in resources, widespread increases in wealth, and an unprecedented clean and beautiful living environment in many parts of the world along with a degraded environment in the poor and socialist parts of the world.

That is, more people and more wealth has correlated with more (rather than less) resources and a cleaner environment – just the opposite of what Malthusian theory leads one to believe.

Of course, when presented with this reasoning your typical leftist will whine “we will use all the natural reeeeeesoooourcccessssss.”

So by any measure, natural resources have getting more available rather than more scarce. Regarding oil, the shocking price rises during the 1970s and 1980s were not caused by growing scarcity in the world supply. And indeed, the price of petroleum in inflation-adjusted dollars has returned to levels about where they were before the politically-induced increases, and the price of gasoline is about at the historic low and still falling.

Concerning energy in general, there is no reason to believe that the supply of energy is finite, or that the price of energy will not continue its long-run decrease forever. I realize that it sounds weird to say that the supply of energy is not finite or limited; for the full argument, please see my 1981 book (revised edition forthcoming) (Science is only valuable when it arrives at knowledge different than common sense.)

Food is an especially important resource. The evidence is particularly strong for food that we are on a benign trend despite rising population. The long-run price of food relative to wages is now only perhaps a tenth as much as it was in 1800 in the U. S. Even relative to consumer products the price of grain is down, due to increased productivity, just as with all other primary products.

Famine deaths due to insufficient food supply have decreased even in absolute terms, let alone relative to population, in the past century, a matter which pertains particularly to the poor countries. Per-person food consumption is up over the last 30 years. And there are no data showing that the bottom of the income scale is faring worse, or even has failed to share in the general improvement, as the average has improved.

This article dovetails nicely with a video from the Adam Smith Institute that is posted here @ MCT from time to time that reinforces the fact that the American Left is full of it.

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Doesn’t this make much more sense that the drivel pumped out by the doom and gloom crowd on the left?

Michigan Gubernatorial Candidate Mark Schauer (D) Admits Voting in Republican Primary

One term Democrat Congressman Mark (hey I voted for Obama’s stimulus… I mean jobs bill) Schauer admits to crossing party lines and voting in Michigan’s 2012 Republican Presidential primary:

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Mark Schauer admitted Wednesday he voted Republican in Michigan’s 2012 presidential primary, but declined to say who he voted for.

Democratic President Barack Obama was unopposed in the Feb. 28, 2012 presidential primary.

But Republicans had a closely fought primary between former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum and Michigan native Mitt Romney, the former governor of Massachusetts. Nine other Republicans were on the crowded primary ballot that year.

What a stand up guy…

“My vote is private, just like everybody else,” Schauer told reporters after an event on women’s issues in Lansing. “That’s a private matter. I mean, there was no competition, there was nothing to vote for on the Democratic side of the ballot. I try not to miss any elections.”

Romney narrowly won Schauer’s home county of Calhoun County in the 2012 presidential primary, garnering 4,801 votes to Santorum’s 4,614 votes. Democratic Party leaders at the time discouraged Democrats from crossing-over to vote for Santorum and deliver Romney a loss in the state where his father was governor.

And this guy want’s to be Governor of our state.

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One other Schauer “fun-fact” is he likes to get his protest on.