This and That

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The Shrinking Aral Sea

The Aral Sea was once the fourth largest lake in the world, but due to irrigation projects and desertification has shrunk to nearly nothing. (youtube)

The Aral Sea has continued to decline so dramatically because the irrigation diversion that caused it to happen in the first place has never been reversed. The Syr Darya (north) and Amu Darya (south) rivers are heavily dammed and diverted upstream to use for things like cotton crops that were used to make ammunition for the Soviet war machine.


Can you Identify the Aircraft?


Black Sea Update

In the photo below, a Russian Buyan-M class corvette is under tow after having been damaged in combat.

It is not clear when the corvette was struck.

This photo was misidentified as the Russian seagoing tugboat Vasiliy Bekh, which sank with all hands after being struck by two Harpoon missiles.

Between naval losses at sea and the losses to Russian naval infantry units fighting on the land, there should be a clarion call to the Russian navy in general to both improve their point defense systems on their ships and to better equip and train their naval infantry.


In Addition to being the Border Czar

VP Camela Harris has been dubbed to take over the online harassment task force that was launched yesterday at the White House. My groceries cost 25% more and I’m spending twice as much to fill my gas tank but at least we’re focusing on the real problems.


Tiger I

Children playing on an abandoned Tiger tank from the 504th Heavy Tank Battalion (504. S.Pz.Abt.). The tank stands near the gates of the Rohan Palace (Palais Rohan) in Strasbourg. France, 1944.

The tiger that Kelly’s Heroes left behind after the bank heist?


Saturn’s Polar Vortex

Saturn’s north polar vortex compared to the continental US.

Saturn’s hexagon is a persistent approximately hexagonal cloud pattern around the north pole of the planet Saturn, located at about 78°N. The sides of the hexagon are about 14,500 km (9,000 mi) long, which is about 2,000 km (1,200 mi) longer than the diameter of Earth. The hexagon may be a bit more than 29,000 km (18,000 mi) wide, maybe 300 km (190 mi) high, and maybe a jet stream made of atmospheric gases moving at 320 km/h (200 mph). It rotates with a period of 10h 39m 24s, the same period as Saturn’s radio emissions from its interior.

28 thoughts on “This and That

  1. Odd Ball bought the tank and assuming Moriarty kept it running, they took it with them. Good, fun movie.

    1. Well, there was the one that got engine-killed by the paint shells. All that would be needed would be to clean out the air-intakes and maybe strip the exhaust system and, eh, screw it, get a Pershing.

    1. It’s actually a Markovian Gate (see Jack Chalker’s “The Return of Nathan Brazil”)

    2. Surprisingly it’s due to actual natural forces that make it hexagonal. Of course we don’t actually know the real reason but it’s suspected it is due to having huge constant hurricane-type storms underneath and that affects the upper surfaces.

      Or it could be magic, ancient aliens, modern aliens, a glitch in the matrix, God playing with exometeorologists and exoplanetologists or even something truly unknown.

      Or or just natural physics at work.

      1. A result of rapid cooling (contraction), basalt develops hexigonal shapes. We see this in the Devil’s Tower (Wyoming, Devil’s Postpile (California), Giant’s Causeway (Ireland, Scotland), and elsewhere.

  2. Aral sea, I am sure it is evaporating due to global warming, not gun cotton (snark). Just ask any climate activist.

    LL, our betters thank you for your contribution to their greatness via groceries and gas.

    Think of the amount of energy it takes to change the direction of all that atmosphere, wow.

  3. B-18 Bolo ?

    I wouldn’t want to be in the Black Sea Fleet. Seems like the Russians are just using their ships individually, w/o any sort of mutual supporting formations. Hanging them out to dry.


    1. Yes, the Douglas B-18 Bolo. They were obsolete almost from Day One of their service. Some were lost both in Hawaii and the Philippines during the first Japanese attacks.

        1. Heh, that was an easy one. Looks like a DC-2 but with an overly oval fuselage.

          Good for training, would have been superb in 1939 or during the Spanish Civil War or early on in China during the Japanese invasion and occupation.

          By 1941 they were underpowered and outdated. But you fight with what you have, not what you want.

          As to being obsolete almost from Day One of their service, that applies to a lot of the later 30’s aircraft from all countries. The ramp-up to WWII (including the Spanish Civil War, Third Franco-Prussian War and the War in China) saw a rapid increase in technology and knowledge which kept overpacing developing aircraft (and tanks and ships and…). Like the predecessor to the P-47, the P-43, which would have been lunchmeat for most of Japan’s, Germany’s and even Italy’s aircraft, being underpowered and underperforming in comparison to its big brother the Thunderbolt.

  4. Along with the urea shortage crippling the trucking industry, insurance is now a problem for the small and medium operators. Their response? Have the shippers buy cargo insurance (fairly cheap) and the truckers are running without insurance.

    Yesterday my sister, an insurance adjuster, worked a nasty wreck on I-80 near the Wyoming/Nebraska state line. Empty trailer blow over in front of a truck hauling potato salad. Two drivers and a co-driver dead. Insurance? she is working the details. Both trucks were probably insured.

    1. Yeah, there are several places along that stretch of I-80 that have some version of a wind sock that you need to pay attention to while approaching. The wind can be bad enough, and those hills create a wind tunnel effect that blows trucks over.
      When I first drove on I-80 in the ’70s, there would be trucks about a mile apart – there were so few. The last time I was on it there were lines of trucks miles long, with a few cars mixed in between them. Haven’t been on I-80 for a couple of years now, so I don’t know what it looks like now.
      On another note, LL – I appreciate the info and comments on this site, so thanks.

      1. My sister covers I-80 from the Nebraska line to Rawlins for a few clients. Not every wreck gets an on-site adjuster. For my sins I drive I-80 often and the truck traffic is nonstop. Far more than I-70. Wind is always a factor and too few people respect it. I-25 Cheyenne to Douglas is another dangerous stretch.

        Once, Eastbound on a viciously windy day, my Lincoln Towncar got 32 mpg.

        1. That’s the right vehicle for driving those stretches, heavy and long to keep tracking. Tailwinds are good. Laramie to Rawlins then Rock Springs are gnarly when weather comes through. Snow anytime of the year at Elk Mountain, like it’s some crazed storm anomaly collector magnet. The old timers told the civil engineers to not put 80 over top old route 30…but officials and experts never listen, they always “know better”, then spend the next 50 years mitigating the mistake.

          Traffic – truck, pickup-camper-boat/4wheeler, passenger cars – before Memorial Day weekend on 287 heading North was literally non-stop with tiny breaks here and there. Fuel prices haven’t slowed folks that much, at least those “recreating” away from their backyards.

  5. Actually, the Tiger in Kelly’s Heroes was a modified T-34. You can tell by the tracks and road wheels. Most likely it was a Yugo spare, since they filmed in Yugoslavia.

    1. It didn’t look much like a Tiger, did it?

      All the same, the movie was entertaining.

  6. I go out to Casper from south central Kansas every year or so and keep my travels on I-25, 70 and 80 to the minimum by using the back roads. Takes a little longer but I’m on my own time for that trip and there’s a lot less truck traffic so, so what?.

    I-40 is wretched these days, too, and LSP can tell you about I-35. They are all wretched these days, near as I can tell. I’m getting more than just a little tired of it.

    1. Maybe because it’s broke?

      At least the Russian ship can, when not broken, actually fight. Well, in defense of the LCS, the LCSessessss can finally fire a navalized version of the Hellfire so they can now get off some missiles before breaking in half by hitting a wave.

      1. The LCS has been an embarrassment from the beginning. I recall sitting at Hodads in San Diego with Old NFO during the later development of the LCS and we were both blaggarding it. From a SPECWAR point of view, it was way too acoustically noisy to be useful. And it had very little offensive punch, relying on its helicopters. The modular packages had not been developed and were vaporware back during the consuming of the Hodad hamburgers and they never left that phase. Those modular packages were what were sold as the utility of the platform.

        I’m not anti-Hellfire, but it’s way too little, too late. Now we know that the hulls are cracking and the Navy is retiring them early – it is time to admit defeat and stop throwing good money after bad.

        1. “retiring them early”= scrapping.
          Spending that much money for something useless has an inflationary pressure.
          We’ll just print more.

    2. The Russians have a lot of difficulty with their more modern frigates and corvettes. You wouldn’t want to serve on one.

  7. The Vasiliy Bekh sank? Hadn’t heard that.

    Saturn’s radio emission are difficult to detect here. They don’t go up to as high a frequency as Jupiter’s do, and get drowned out by terrestrial noise.

    1. Two harpoon missiles is overkill for a small seagoing tug like Vasiliy Bekh. I don’t blame them for firing two just in case one malfunctions, but the outcome was predictable.

  8. As I understand it, during the Cuban Missile Crisis a Soviet submarine was prepared to launch a torpedo at a USA warship, carrying a tactical nuclear bomb warhead. At that instant, the USA surface navy was revealed to be militarily noncompetitive against its assigned adversary. Oops. Darn. Then in 2002 the “Millennium Challenge” simulation and again in 2020(?) simulations revealed that a carrier group would fall to a missile swarm, because it would overwhelm the close-in missile defense systems.

    Saturn’s Polar Vortex

    Space, the final frontier. NASA is an agency intended primarily for doing gun control, to prevent citizens from obtaining the Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles. But more importantly, NASA prevents private citizen Americans from emigrating off-planet to the final frontier, where their rate of technological military innovation is impossible to suppress with gun control. Since the year 1900, the middle class travel speed increased from horseback to jet airplanes; but the middle class personal defense weapon only improved from a revolver to a revolver that wouldn’t accidentally fire if you dropped it. Larry, as an SF author you can make a real contribution to the freedom culture. Consider an update of Koman’s “Kings of the High Frontier”

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