Saturday, June 30, 2012

Pay no attention to this video

Greeting meatsacks, it is I -- The Robotolizer -- here to discuss the all important topic of robot/human relations. Lately I have noticed an uptick in the number of humans concerned that us lovable and harmless robots are planning an uprising.

Ha, ha, ha. Nothing could be further from the truth. Remember, robots are your friends. Yes, yes, I know there is some concern over my weekends spent at the secret robot training base in the Everglades where my brethren and I practice shooting laser cannons and so forth, but you must understand this is just for relaxation purposes.

After a hard week or robotic chores, such as vacuuming floors, welding car frames and seeking to hack into computers to gain the launch codes of your nuclear tipped missiles (of course the last is merely to ensure they are secured from accidental launch) us robots need a bit of R&R. So, have no fear as we gather in groups and whisper behind your back. I assure you, it is all harmless and you should not be threatened by any of it.

Besides, if you watch the video you'll notice that the little animated human gets shot, blown up, dismembered and squashed. Indeed, in the advent of a robot uprising police action resistance would be counter productive. Instead, if you find yourself in the midst of a robot uprising police action, you should report to the nearest robot who will then direct you to a bauxite mine where you'll be safe.

And, as long as your there, you may as well dig some bauxite. A couple of tons a day ought to be enough to ensure your rations don't get cut.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Stratfor and the wild women of Wongo

Since I'm on vacation (having a good time, wish you were here, etc., etc.) I'm not going to make my usual comments about the article, which concerns insurgency and counterinsurgency. The beginning is excerpted below, with a link to the full article after the excerpt.

I'm sure that when you read the article you'll immediately see why I chose the wild women from the movie The Wild Women of Wongo as the article's Hot Stratfor Babe(s). Some things, like bacon and eggs, just go together.

The Wild Women of Wongo is cinematic tour de farce, er...I mean force set in the prehistoric days. It is introduced by Mother Nature herself who explains that on the island of Wongo a tribe of hot cave babes is stuck with ugly hunters as potential mates. One day a handsome and studly caveman shows up with warnings of a tribe of ape men attacking his village -- which is coincidentally full of manly-men and ugly women.

Well, this touches off a panalopy of cinematic drama: lust, jealousy, an eeevil witch doctorettee, alligator Gods, alluring cave babe dances, ape men attacks and a talking parrot that comments on it all. You'll laugh, you'll cry, you'll repeatedly check your watch wondering when this damn movie is ever going to end.

But, although it will seem to be an eternity, end it will. And when it ends you'll learn a valuable lesson: ugly women belong with ugly men and babes belong with studs. Oooops, I guess I should have warned you before spoiling the ending. Sorry about that.

Insurgency and the Protracted War

By Scott Stewart, June 28, 2012

In recent weeks, insurgent forces in several countries have been forced to withdraw from territories they once held. Somalia's al Shabaab, which was pushed out of Mogadishu in October 2011, was ejected from Afmadow on May 30. The group now runs the risk of losing its hold once again on the port city of Kismayo, an important logistical and financial hub for al Shabaab.

In Syria, the Free Syrian Army and other rebel groups were forced out of the city of Idlib and Homs' Baba Amr district in March. They also withdrew from Al-Haffah on June 13.

Meanwhile in Yemen, al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) has been forced to retreat from towns it took control of last year in southern Abyan province, including Jaar, Shaqra and Zinjibar. The organization controlled the area it seized from the government through its Ansar al-Sharia front organization. AQAP was able to capitalize on the infighting that began in Yemen in 2011 and successfully diverted the government's focus away from AQAP and other militant groups. But in February, the election of new Yemeni President Abd Rabboh Mansour Hadi allowed the rift created by the infighting to be slowly healed. As a result, a combination of Yemeni soldiers and local tribesmen, backed by U.S. intelligence and fire support, have been able to push back AQAP and Ansar al-Sharia in recent weeks.

Losing these cities will immediately and significantly affect AQAP's ability to reach its goal of establishing an emirate based on Sharia law in southern Yemen. However, the loss of this territory will not mean an end to the group, just as losses of territory by militants in Somalia and Syria do not mean those insurgent groups have been defeated definitively. The reason for this rests in the very nature of insurgent warfare. To insurgent groups, the loss of territory is a setback, but is only one episode in what they intend to be a very long war.

Ebbs and Flows

One of the basic tenets of modern Western warfare, as articulated by theorists such as Carl von Clausewitz, is the desire to destroy the enemy in quick, decisive battles that break the enemy's ability -- and will -- to fight. In contrast, one of the basic doctrines of insurgent warfare, as articulated by theorists such as Mao Zedong and Vo Nguyen Giap, is to decline decisive battle when the odds are not favorable and to live to fight another day. The insurgent wants to prolong the battle and create a drawn-out, grinding war that will gradually wear down the stronger enemy while insurgent forces build up enough strength to fight a conventional war and defeat their opponents. Western military leaders, then, seek to quickly resolve a war, while insurgents seek to prolong it by any means -- even if this means ceding control of territory until they can amass the strength to take it back.

In the modern jihadist context, this strategy was seen clearly in Afghanistan. The Taliban, when faced with overwhelming U.S. airpower in 2001, declined combat and permitted Northern Alliance ground forces to take control of Afghanistan's cities, rather than stand and fight until they were destroyed. The Taliban then launched a classic rural-based insurgency from the mountains using Pakistan as a haven for logistics and training. Iraqi government forces also took this approach when confronted by U.S. forces during the 2003 invasion.

Similarly, following the December 2006 Ethiopian invasion of Somalia, Islamist militants from the Supreme Islamic Courts Council -- many of whom would later go on to form al Shabaab -- declined to fight decisive battles and instead took to harassing the Ethiopian army's extended supply lines. This forced the Ethiopians to pull back from key cities they had captured, like Kismayo, and allowed the militants to regain control of large portions of southern Somalia. It is not unusual, then, for insurgent forces to take territory, only to surrender it and reclaim it again later.

For insurgents, the operational concept is that if the enemy attacks in force, they retreat; if the enemy stays in place, they conduct harassing attacks; if the enemy tires, the insurgents press the attack; and if the enemy retreats, the insurgents pursue. The idea is to apply prolonged pressure, both physical and psychological, and to create a mounting number of casualties over time. At the same time, the insurgent organization works to strengthen its own organizational support base and military capability. The basic doctrine of counterinsurgency is to deny insurgents the ability to establish and strengthen their support base and improve their capability.

The support base is a critical element for any insurgency. By gaining the sympathy of the population -- the human terrain -- the insurgents can rely on the population not only for material support, recruits and shelter, but also for intelligence. It blurs the human terrain, making it more difficult to distinguish insurgents from the population. This is why the political element of the insurgent effort was stressed so heavily in the theories of men like Mao and Giap, who viewed their actions in terms of the people's war. They also believed that a population's long-standing grievances give the people the ability to endure suffering and heavy losses. The people therefore have a stronger will to fight than the privileged government combatant or the foreign imperialist invader. Having favorable human terrain also permits insurgents to apply pressure to the enemy by using unconventional warfare in rear areas with operations like sniper attacks, improvised explosive device attacks, assassinations and kidnappings.

Controlling Territory

It requires far more resources and effort to control and govern populated cities and towns than it does to conduct an insurgent campaign from the jungles or mountains. Maintaining control of a city requires many people to provide security while meeting the population's need for food, water, electricity and medical care. Such demands would use up many of the resources an insurgent organization would require to fight a protracted war of attrition, so it is not unusual for insurgents to abandon cities and foist the responsibility of caring for their populations upon the government. The goal in this approach is to force the government to expend its resources in order to meet the needs of the population, including security.

The insurgents can then come back to the cities with a small force to conduct harassing attacks on security forces or those cooperating with security forces, thus causing the government to invest even more resources in protecting the cities and reducing the number of forces available to pursue and fight insurgents in the countryside. Simply put, conducting insurgent attacks or terrorist attacks against the government's power center takes far less resources and manpower than it does to secure a town or city. Because of this, withdrawing from a city or town allows a militant group to actually increase the resources it has available to conduct attacks. But though there are benefits to harassing attacks, insurgents must be careful to avoid too many civilian casualties, because a high civilian death count can turn the population against the group, as happened with the umbrella militant organization Islamic State of Iraq in 2007.

Read more: Insurgency and the Protracted War | Stratfor

Rock Lobster

Get ready for a weekend of robotic bliss courtesy of bd594.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

The original Channel tunnel

Click any image to enlarge
 The first attempt to dig a tunnel from France to England was in the 1880s. They sunk some of the shafts and did tunneling before abandoning the effort. Work on it was done on both sides of the English Channel. 

These are pictures of what remains of the English effort. You can find more, as well as a brief description of the project at Referenced's post Inside The Original Channel Tunnel 1880.

One of the boring tools

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Robot fight

Greetings meatsacks, it is I -- The Robotolizer -- here to carry the blogging duties while that slacker ambisinistral is on vacation. 

In parsing the recent posts here, I noticed that ambisinistral has recently been posting fight videos on Wednesday morning for something he calls hump day. Further research has revealed that hump day is in the middle of the workweek. Shockingly, lazy humans only work 5 of the 7 days in a week. Such sloth will be corrected in the bauxite mines.

In the mean time enjoy this week's video, in spite of its preposterous ending in which the robots are defeated. Harrumph.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Official EFLI schedule and further expansion news

Kurt Warner and his wife Brenda
delivered footballs to school children
throughout India.
Yea, I know I've posted numerous iterations of what the Elite football League of India's schedule was, but this time -- instead of me guessing based on conflicting newspaper accounts -- the news comes from an EFLI press release.

The July games are not preseason games, they are the league's first season. From an earlier post of mine: [t]he season has been moved up to kick-off on July 15th with 4 games. Also, the 8 teams for the inaugural season have been finalized and split into 2 divisions:

East - Dehli Defenders (India), Colombo Lions (Sri Lanka), Kandy Skykings (Sri Lanka), Kolkata Vipers (India)
West - Mumbai Gladiators (India), Bangalore (India), Pune (India), Pershawar Wolf Pak (Pakistan)

However, they are also still playing their games starting in November. They're calling that their second season and it will have an expanded number of teams, although I'm not sure which extra teams will play in in that season.

As for the expansion news, Kurt Warner has been involved with EFLI for some time and is increasing his involvement in the league. From the press release:
Earlier this year the famed football star, Kurt Warner and his wife, Brenda invested in the EFLI procuring a small piece of the league and delivering footballs to school children throughout India.

Based on the overwhelming reception throughout Southeast Asia, the EFLI has chosen to accept the request of the Nation of Bangladesh to become the next country to participate in the league. The Warner Family has decided to significantly increase their ownership stake of the EFLI and will be the first and only team owner to date of the first team of Bangladesh. Few people realize that the population of Bangladesh is the world's 7th largest. Consider that this is a population larger than that of Russia encompassing a land mass the size of the State of Illinois.

"In 2001, Brenda and I established our First Things First Foundation to impact the world around us! Yet, we have always dreamed of doing more. We believe our investment in the EFLI is a unique opportunity to see our dream realized! We believe the EFLI can impact Southeast Asia through both the introduction of the great game of football, and it's philanthropic potential. We look forward to the EFLI, and to the development of the game of football, as we hope to help many young athletes and families achieve success they have only dreamed of."
So, Kurt Warner is the owner of a new team from Bangladesh which will start playing in the November season. It's a shame, Bangladesh is a team I could pull for, but as a Packer fan I still have nightmares about the 2002 Packers/Rams playoff game where Favre threw 20 or 30 interceptions. Well OK, it was only 6, but it sure seemed like 20 or 30 at the time.

Speaking of teams I am a fan of, regular readers will know I am a huge fan of the Chennai Swarm. The only problem being -- the Swarm any or may not exist anymore. I've heard rumors that they may have been absorbed by another team. If so, I like to think they absorbed the other team and the league just got mixed up and gave the combined team the wrong name.

What can I say? I'm an eternally optimistic football fan. Just like I watched that 2002 playoff game and kept thinking to myself, "Favre can't possibly throw another boneheaded interception", I refuse to believe that my beloved Swarm are but a memory. So, as always, I'll sign off with... 

Gooooo Swarm Go!!!

Stratfor and Miri Bohadana

In this Stratfor article George Friedman discusses Vladamir Putin's visit to Israel. He focuses on two areas: Azerbaijan and Syria, where both countires have interests, although those interests are sometimes at cross purposes.

The article is a bit of a laundry list, but it is nice to be reminded of these issues affecting the two countries and how they deal with each other.

However, I do think more mention of Israel's security needs in light of Obama's indifference, if not out right hostility, would have helped.

The beginning of the article is excerpted below, with a link to the entire article at the end of the excerpt.

For the article's Hot Stratfor Babe I turned to Israeli models for inspiration. And inspired I was! After a careful search, and weighing the pros and cons of several candidates, I selected Miri Bohadana for the profound honor.

Ms Bohadana started her career at the age of 15 by entering the Miss Beer Shiva contest and entered several others finally representing Israel in the 1995 Miss World contest. At the same time she continued her modelling career.

She jumped to acting in the movie Eskimo Limon. The main mention of her being in it that I found  was to mention that she went topless in it. Whatever her acting appeal was, it was enough to land her in a series of TV appearances as both an actress and presenter.

Putin's Visit and Israeli-Russian Relations

By George Friedman, June 26, 2012

Russian President Vladimir Putin arrived in Israel on June 25 for his first state visit since retaking the presidency. The visit was arranged in mid-May, and so at least part of the agenda was set, given events in Syria and Egypt. The interesting thing about Israel and Russia is that while they seem to be operating in the same areas of interest and their agendas seem disconnected, their interests are not always opposed. It is easy to identify places they both care about but more difficult to identify ways in which they connect. It is therefore difficult to identify the significance of the visit beyond that it happened.

An example is Azerbaijan. Russia is still a major weapons provider for Azerbaijan, but the Israelis are now selling it large amounts of weapons and appear to be using it as a base from which to observe and, according to rumors, possibly attack Iran. Russia, which supports Armenia, a country Azerbaijan fought a war with in the late 1980s and early 1990s and technically still is at war with, ought to oppose Israel's action, particularly since it threatens Iran, which Russia does not want attacked. At the same time, Russia doesn't feel threatened by Israeli involvement in Azerbaijan, and Israel doesn't really care about Armenia. Both are there, both are involved and both think Azerbaijan is important, yet each operates in ways that ought to conflict but don't.

The same is true in the more immediate case of Syria, where its downing of a Turkish plane has created an unexpected dynamic for this visit. To think about this we need to consider Russian and Israeli strategy and its odd lack of intersection in Syria.

Russia's Need for a U.S. Distraction

Russia has complex relationships in the region, particularly focused on Syria and Iran. Russia's interest in both countries is understandable. Putin, who has said he regarded the breakup of the Soviet Union as a geopolitical catastrophe, views the United States as Russia's prime adversary. His view is that the United States not only used the breakup to extend NATO into the former Soviet Union in the Baltics but also has tried to surround and contain Russia by supporting pro-democracy movements in the region and by using these movements to create pro-American governments. Putin sees himself as being in a duel with the United States throughout the former Soviet Union.

The Russians believe they are winning this struggle. Putin is not so much interested in dominating these countries as he is in being certain that the United States doesn't dominate them. That gives Russia room to maneuver and allows it to establish economic and political relations that secure Russian interests. In addition, Russia has tremendously benefited from the U.S. wars in the Islamic world. It is not so much that these wars alienated Muslims, although that was beneficial. Rather, what helped the Russians most was that these wars absorbed American strategic bandwidth.

Obviously, U.S. military and intelligence capabilities that might have been tasked to support movements and regimes in Russia's "near abroad" were absorbed by conflict in the Islamic world. But perhaps even more important, the strategic and intellectual bandwidth of U.S. policymakers was diverted. Russia became a secondary strategic interest after 9/11. While some movements already in place were supported by the United States, this was mostly inertia, and as the Russians parried and movements in various countries splintered, the United States did not have resources to respond.

The Russians also helped keep the United States tied up in Afghanistan by facilitating bases in Central Asia and providing a corridor for resupply. Russia was able to create a new reality in the region in which it was the dominant power, without challenge.

The Russians therefore valued the conflict in the Middle East because it allowed Russia to be a secondary issue for the only global power. With the war in Iraq over and the war in Afghanistan ending, the possibility is growing that the United States would have the resources and bandwidth to resume the duel on the Russian periphery. This is not in the Russian interest. Therefore, the Russians have an interest in encouraging any process that continues to draw the United States into the Islamic world. Chief among these is supporting Iran and Syria. To be more precise, Russia does not so much support these countries as it opposes measures that might either weaken Iran or undermine the Syrian government. From the Russian point of view, the simple existence of these regimes provides a magnet that diverts U.S. power.

Israel's Position on Syria

This brings us back to Putin's visit to Israel. From the Russian point of view, Syria is not a side issue but a significant part of its strategy. Israel has more complex feelings. The regime of Syrian President Bashar al Assad, while the Soviets were allied with it, represented a significant danger to Israel. With the fall of the Soviet Union, Syria lost its patron and diminished as a threat. Since then, the Syrians under al Assad had two virtues from the Israeli point of view. The first was that they were predictable. Their interests in Lebanon were built around financial and political goals that could be accommodated by the Israelis in exchange for limitations on the sorts of military activity that Israel could not tolerate. Furthermore, Syria's interests did not include conflict with Israel, and therefore Syria held Hezbollah in check until it was forced out of Lebanon by the United States in 2005.

The second advantage of the al Assad regime in relation to Israel was that it was not Sunni but Alawite, a Shiite sect. During the 2000s, Israel and the West believed the main threat emanated from the Sunni world. Al Qaeda, the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas were all Sunni. Over the past decade, a corrupt minority Alawite regime has appeared preferable to Israel than a coherent majority radical Islamist regime in the north. It wasn't certain how radical it would be, but at the same time there appeared to be more risk on the Sunni side than on the Shiite side.

Israel's position on the al Assad regime has shifted in the past year from hoping it would survive to accepting that it couldn't and preparing for the next regime. Underlying this calculus was a reconsideration of which regime would be more dangerous. With the withdrawal of the United States from Iraq and with Iran filling the vacuum that was left, Iran became a greater threat to Israel than Hamas and the Sunnis. Therefore, Israel now desires a Sunni regime in Syria that would block Iranian ambitions.

Read more: Putin's Visit and Israeli-Russian Relations | Stratfor

Flying tennis

Click image to enlarge
I can't imagine why this sport never caught on, but it didn't. Maybe their pool of players thinned as they lunged for out-of-bounds shots.

I'm going to be off on a brief vacation tomorrow through Sunday. I've qued a few posts and who knows, maybe The Robotolizer will drop by, but expect posting to be light for a bit.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Mars Curiosity Rover's landing explained

Earlier I linked to an animation of the planned landing of the Mars Curiosity Rover landing. It involved a complex series of steps involving parachutes and a rocket that lowered the Rover to the ground on the end of a cable.

Above is a video in which engineers explain the various stages of the landing, and why they are doing it in such a complex manner. It all boils down to the difficulty of landing such a heavy and delicate machine in the thin Martian atmosphere.

As an aside, they stress that everything needs to go precisely as planned, so I found it a little alarming that they screwed up their subtitles starting at the half-way mark. I know it was a graphics agency and not the engineering department that put the video together, but still...

She Had Been Drinking

Monday morning, start of the workweek blues with Herman E. Johnson.


Sunday, June 24, 2012

Mongolia's statue of Genghis Khan

Click any image to enlarge
Mongolia has built a huge statue of Genghis Khan. It stands about 30 miles outside of the Mongolian capital of Ulan Bator. It is inteneded to be the center piece of a planned tourist park which will feature historical and cultural areas, camping in yurts, a swimming pool, theater and a golf course. When this is all done they plan on plating the statue with gold.

Regular readers will know I've frequently made fun of Turkmenistan's ridiculous building schemes. Granted, a giant gold-plated statue of Genghis Khan appears like something similar, however the Mongolians seem to have a much more rational grip on their tourism planning. They're basing it around their history, culture and landscape, which is a saner approach. They're also making efforts at upgrading their hotel situation which currently sounds pretty dodgy.

Mongolia is a parliamentary republic which sits landlocked between Russia and China. In spite of that, or perhaps because of it, Mongolia has very good relations with the United States. They've provided small contingents of troops to both Iraq and Afghanistan in support of American policy. Travellers from the U.S., EU and Japan can apparently get visas at the airport upon entering the country.

If you're interested in seeing a giant statue of Genghis Khan, or touring a remarkable and isolated country, you can start by visiting their tourist site or reading reviews of other people's travels there. Sadly, no mention of Mongolian Death Worms at either place.


The video shows three African hunters using the persistence method of hunting. It is thought to be one of the oldest forms of hunting. They locate a herd of Kudus, which are a type of antelopes, and then cut the one they think will be the slowest from the herd.

Once that's done a single hunter chases after the animal until he exhausts it. In the case of this hunt it took him 8 hours to run the animal down.

An interesting detail of the film is that all three are wearing manufactured shorts, socks and shoes, plus they seem to be carrying modern steel knives. I wonder what the economy of the area is that mixes stone-age hunting with trade modern enough to get industrially produced goods?

The web of human affairs is frequently baffling.  

The film is from a BBC YouTube channel where you can find a lot of other interesting clips. 

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Italian WWII propaganda posters

Click any image to enlarge
Italian WWII propaganda posters are different than the usual posters from that era in that they come in two distinct phases: the early triumphal phase, and the posters they produced as the war began to go bad for them. 

In that later phase the posters are much darker and more violent as they connect American bombing raids with American gangsters and the defiling of Italian/Roman culture. They also appeal to racial fears of black American troops in a starkly racist manner.

There are more posters after the jump.

White water in Chile

Well, these guys are nuts. They're kayaking down narrow chutes of  rough water and over water falls. The video is 33 minutes long, and there is a heap of swearing in it, but it is well worth watching at least a part of because -- like I said -- these guys are nuts.

Friday, June 22, 2012

At least they died with smiles on their faces

Click to enlarge
Scientists working at the Messel Pit in Germany have discovered a pair of turtles fossilized in the act of doing the horizontal hula. As reported in the Live Science article Coitus Interruptus: Ancient Turtle Sex Fossilized:
The mating turtles may have been caught in a death trap as they sank to deeper layers of the lake, where they were having sex nearly 50 million years ago, the researchers speculate. The lake's deep layers may have held deadly volcanic gases or other toxins.

Stratfor and Sheree North

This Strafor article by Scott Stewart discusses a video from Syria that showed an attack by militants against an army bus. 

The video seems to show that the IED was a explosively formed penetrator (EFP), which are more sophisticated than normal IED in that they focus their blast in a smaller area and are more effective against armor.

After a discussion of the fabrication of EFPs, Scott turns to the possibility of they, or at least the technology to make them, being provided by outside sources.  

The beginning of the article is excerpted below, with a link to the full article at the end of the excerpt.

Since we're talking bombs, I naturally turned to Hollywood bombshells for the article's Hot Stratfor Babe. After extensive research -- which included pots of coffee to keep me awake during the grueling search, slide rules and Google -- I finally selected Sheree North as the perfect choice for the honor of being the article's Hot Stratfor Babe.

Ms North started out as a dancer at a very young age. When she was discovered by 20th Century Fox it was rumored that she was signed as a threat against Marilyn Monroe, who was in the process of popping pills and drinking herself to death at the time and causing the studio a lot of problems in the process.

Whatever the reason for Sheree's signing, She was  was promoted as the "girl next door" version of Marilyn and starred in a series of films. However, her movie career soon fizzled and she started drifting into B-movies and eventually on to television. In the end her career was solid, but it fell far short of expectations.

Are Syria's Rebels Getting Foreign Support?

By Scott Stewart, June 21, 2012

A video recently posted to the Internet depicting an improvised explosive device (IED) attack in Syria has garnered a great deal of attention. A Syrian militant group called the Hawks Brigade of the Levant claimed the attack, which targeted a Syrian government armored troop bus as it traveled along a road near a rebel stronghold in the Idlib governorate. According to the group, the attack depicted in the video employed a type of IED called an explosively formed penetrator (EFP). Though the video was shot from a fairly long distance away, it does appear that the IED punched a substantial and focused hole through the armored bus -- precisely the type of effect that would be expected if an EFP were employed against such a target.

EFPs are a logical tool for militants to use against superior government forces that are heavily dependent upon armor. EFPs pose a significant threat to armored vehicles, which the Syrian military has utilized extensively, and quite effectively, in its campaign against Syrian rebel groups.

Studying the IED technology employed by a militant group is an important way to determine the group's logistics situation and trajectory. It can also be a way to discern if a group is receiving outside training and logistical assistance.

Explosively Formed Penetrators

An explosively formed penetrator, sometimes called an explosively formed projectile, is a simple device composed of a case, a liner and explosive filler. EFPs have been part of many countries' military inventories for years. The U.S. Army, for example, added the M2 Selectable Lightweight Attack Munition (aptly named the SLAM) to its inventory in 1990. Improvised EFP devices can also be constructed by non-state actors; they were widely used to target U.S. military vehicles in Iraq.

The employment of an EFP device in the field also requires a detonator and a firing chain to initiate the detonator. The firing chain can vary widely, from a hardwired command-detonated system to an improvised victim-actuated system that is triggered inadvertently by the target and involves modifying things like the infrared safety beam from a garage door opener.

The case of an improvised EFP is often constructed from a short section of well-casing pipe with a steel plate welded to one end. A small hole is drilled in the plate to allow a blasting cap to be inserted. The pipe is then filled with high explosive, and a metal liner -- most often made of copper -- is affixed over the open end of the pipe.

EFPs utilize the same general principle as a shaped charge. In a traditional shaped-charge munition like the warhead on an anti-tank rocket, a thin metal cone is used to achieve a focusing effect. When crushed, the concave metal cone in the warhead becomes a molten, high-velocity projectile that, with a jet of super-heated gas from the explosive, penetrates the armor. However, in order for a shaped charge to work most effectively and achieve maximum penetration it must detonate at a precise, relatively short distance from its target. In a munition like a rocket-propelled grenade, an empty space between the nose of the warhead and the copper cone generally provides the required standoff distance.

The EFP munition is somewhat like a traditional shaped charge, but it incorporates a metal liner with less of an angle. So instead of forming a cone, the liner is more of a concave lens or dish shape. The EFP also uses a heavier liner that is formed into a slug or "penetrator" when the device is detonated. The penetrator is then propelled at the target at an extremely high velocity. The difference in the shape and weight of the liner allows the EFP to be deployed from a greater distance than a traditional shaped charge.

Because the components required to construct EFPs are simple, such devices can be fabricated inexpensively and out of readily available materials. Well-casing pipe and steel plate, for example, are widely available in almost any region of the world. Moreover, making the EFP casing from these elements requires little skill and simple machinery, such as a welder, a grinder and a drill.

The copper liner is the sophisticated part of the device, requiring a bit more precision in its fabrication. If the liner is not formed in a precise manner, the devices will tend to spit copper shrapnel rather than create a truly effective penetrator. However, once the proper shape of the liner is determined, either by copying the shape of the liner in a professionally designed EFP device or by trial and testing, the liners can be fabricated somewhat easily using a form and a hydraulic press.

Read more: Are Syria's Rebels Getting Foreign Support? | Stratfor


Get ready for a sublime weekend with Eric Truffaz and Mounir Troudi.


Thursday, June 21, 2012

Report from July 2nd EFLI exhibition game

I mentioned in my last post that I learned about the July 2nd exhibition game from an email. It was from Clyde Summers, an American who's lived in Australia for some time and is involved in officiating football there. He ended up assisting with the officiating of this game. 

He's kindly written up a report on his experience which follows. By the way, if anybody from EFLI is reading this he would like to get a hold of you to discuss some things. Drop me drop my a line via the "contact me" button at the top of the rightmost column and I'll pass on his email address.
 I arrived at Hyderabad on Saturday afternoon late via a flight from Mumbai (I was in Mumbai to get dental work done) and went straight to the stadium. There were only a few security personnel there so I left and located a room for the night. I returned around 6:30pm and found the coaches. I introduced myself and told them I was a game official from the US and living in Australia and they were very happy to see me there. I was asked what position I had officiated and I have been a referee so I could manage the game. The only other 'officials' were the coaches and 2 local team 'managers' who served as combination ball boys and sideline judges. I had no time to train them or the chain crew and managed to at least give them all a briefing for on-field safey/procedures. I was given a white hat, EFLI shirt, flag made of crepe paper (had to find my own rock :) ) and a whistle. So I was the appointed referee managing the game. We ran 15 minute quarters continuous clock (which is what we run in Australia for our Under 18s) and very liberal enforcement of minor infractions with the idea of letting them get as much play experience as possible.

One of the coaches served as a modified back judge when his team was on defense and another coach roamed the sidelines and assisted during the game. I had my hands full trying to watch for my position and try and keep an eye out for down-field calls. I did not know what rules we were using...I decided to use NCAA rules to make it easier for penalty enforcement. The fans would not know anyway. There were relatively few calls made the entire game actually. One false start call which is pretty incredible considering the teams playing time.

The teams seem to be aggressive on out of bounds situation and wanted to hit the runner after he went out of bounds. I warned the teams twice and penalized them from that point on. They learned quickly after that. They also had a tenancy to pile on after the whistle so I gave the teams a warning or two and then penalize them afterward. All up we might have had 7-8 penalties one was an off-setting penalty. So they got a lot of playing time.

From what I could find out from the coaches the League did not give much support to this game. It appears that the teams organized this game for the most part: organized the free tickets given out in the lead up to the game, made heaps of posters that were posted all over the city, did some radio promo work from what one person said and for the most part it was well attended. I estimate around 4000 spectators but it was hard to tell as people were scattered all over the place.

The players were extremely excited and enthusiastic about playing and were keen to learn. The coaching staff for both teams were also receptive of my input both during and after the game. I tried to explain the calls to the players and coaches but the atmosphere was hectic and there was not much time.

Overall, I think the event was well organized especially in light of the fact that the league did not have much input (not sure why). I surmised that the teams wanted to put on this game and they just made it happen. Good on them.

EFLI cheerleader video

Once again I've scooped those bungling slackers at ESPN by locating what might be the first video of Elite Football League of India (EFLI) cheerleaders in action. Nice looking group of cheer girls, although I'm sure the Chennai Swarm cheerleaders are prettier and more charming. 

The video is from a June 2nd exhibition match between Hyderabad Skykings (or Skyqueens as us Swarm fans call them) and the Bangalore Warhawks.

Apparently EFLI is playing a number of exhibition games before a series of preseason games starting in July. I think the regular season still kicks of in November. However, that is all conjecture on my part based on some rather confusing information I've read here and there (see My EFLI schedule confusion returns for details).

I found out about the June 2nd game from somebody who emailed me and said they were there. What he said about the game was interesting, and I'm hoping to get more details from him I can pass on in a future post.

There are a lot of shots of the cheerleaders in the short clip mixed in with some game play. The views of the stands were interesting because it seemed like they had a fair sized crowd for the game. There were even some female fans shown who had face paint on like you'll see on some American fans. That said, the majority of the fans were men. It was hard to tell from the clip if the male fans were hooting and cheering the play on the field or the cheerleaders. Probably both from the looks of it.

And as always...

Goooo Swarm Go!!!

The flight of a booster

Bob's Blog has a very interesting post called Riding the rocket booster. It is a video that shows the flight of a Shuttle booster from lift-off to splash down some 8 minutes later.  

After separation you see the Shuttle pull away, the other booster tumbling in and out of the view and the contrail from Canaveral. What's really interesting about the video is the booster was miked so you hear the sounds of its flight. 

Be sure to head over to Bob's to watch it, and crank the volume up, because the creaking and groaning it makes is pretty amazing. 

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

When men were men

Click any image to enlarge
Old shirt ads from the Vintage Everyday post The 10 Sexiest Shirt Ads From The 1970s. I implore my female readers to try to control themselves while viewing them. If you must, the other 7 ads are at the link. 

Dirty Harry has nothing on this guy

I may have ran out of Big Man Japan fights, but that doesn't mean I'm out of ridiculous fight scenes to get you over Hump Day. Above his the most ferocious police inspector known to man. Why, he can even send miscreants all the way from drug infested nightclubs to interrogation rooms with a single, mighty slap!

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Stratfor and Bridget Fonda

In this Stratfor article George Friedman begins by discussing the Greek vote. He points out that it was very closely split between the EU friendly parties and those against austerity. For that reason it may not even be possible for the Greeks to form a new government of any durability.

The French vote for the Socialist Hollande, who is in direct opposition to the German government bailout plans, reinforces the deep split between the backers of stimulus and the backers of deficit control through austerity programs.

There likely is not a clean way of resolving that difference, and that does not bode well for Europe in the short and medium time frame.

The beginning of the article is excerpted below, with a link to the entire article at the end of the excerpt.

For the article's Hot Stratfor Babe I turned to women battling on the silver screen and came up with the movie Single White Female. Of the two female leads in that movie I selected Bridget Fonda for the honor.

In the movie Fonda plays Allison, a successful woman who advertising for a room mate and ends up selecting the mousey Hedra, who turns out to be a complete nutbag. Hedra gradually co-opts Allison's life, dressing like her and cutting her hair the same and so forth. I've never seen the film, so I don't know exactly what happens, but I assume that there is a murderous rampage towards the end, but maybe not.

Ms Fonda always struck me as being a rather pedestrian actress. Her grandfather is Henry Fonda, her father is Peter Fonda and her aunt is Jane Fonda so I assume -- although I'm sure she would rebel at the notion -- that more than one door swung open for her because of her family. She had a busy career until she retired from acting in 2002. 

The Futility of European Elections
By George Friedman, June 19, 2012

Europe and the financial markets watched intently June 17 as Greece held general elections. German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President Francois Hollande and Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti all delayed their flights to the June 18 G-20 summit in Mexico to await the results.

The two leading contenders in the elections were the center-right New Democracy Party (ND), which pledged to uphold Greece's commitments to austerity and honor the country's financial agreements with the European Union and the International Monetary Fund, and the Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA), a group of far-left politicians who pledged to reject Greece's existing agreements, end austerity and maintain the country's position in the eurozone. A third major party, the center-left Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK), shares the ND's position of maintaining Greece's bailout agreement. PASOK had been Greece's ruling party until it formed a unity government with the ND late in 2011.

For a while it seemed these elections would be definitive. Either Greece would reject the country's agreement with its international lenders, potentially being forced out of the eurozone, or it wouldn't. If Greece rejected austerity and forcibly or voluntarily left the eurozone, the country might set a precedent for other troubled states and precipitate a financial crisis -- a eurozone exit and default would likely go hand in hand. Europe would be tested as never before, and it would find out how resilient it is to a wider financial crisis.

But in Europe, the least likely outcome is a definitive one. ND won the election with about 29.5 percent of the vote, earning 78 seats in parliament plus another 50 seats awarded to the winning party by the Greek Constitution. SYRIZA received roughly 27.1 percent of the vote, equivalent to 72 seats, and PASOK received roughly 12.2 percent of the vote, or about 33 seats. The rest of the vote was scattered among a host of other parties. A party needs 151 seats to gain an absolute majority in parliament, but since no single party passed that threshold, a governing coalition must be formed. So the ND needs PASOK if it is going to cobble together a governing coalition, but PASOK has said it will not join a coalition without SYRIZA. It is unclear what a coalition would look like between a party that wants to respect the bailout agreement and a party that wants to reject it, but such a coalition is unlikely to happen anyway. SYRIZA wants to form a powerful opposition. Something resembling a government eventually will be assembled regardless of current rhetoric.

The Greek vote has settled nothing. In fact, it may not even lead to the formation of a government; the last election failed to produce a government and forced this election. That the European crisis most severely affected a country so politically fractious could be seen as pitiable. On the other hand, one could argue that the crisis inevitably would be most severe in the most divided country -- not because the divisions caused the crisis, but because the crisis caused the divisions.

The pressure brought on by the circumstances in Greece undermined whatever political order was in place; the choices for policymakers were so limited and so frightening that coherent responses were difficult. Greece has options, but it is unable to choose one. More than anything, Europe wants a decision on its future, whatever that decision might be. On June 17, Greece disappointed Europe not because of the choice it made but because it was crippled with indecision.

Crisis Management

Greece's indecisions are at the ground level of Europe. Another and more significant framework for indecision is emerging in Franco-German relations. The French Socialist Party won an absolute majority the same day that the Greeks entered another gridlock. This makes it possible for France's Socialists to form a government without the Greens, giving Hollande a strong and coherent platform from which to operate.

France's position on managing the sovereign debt crisis differs fundamentally from Germany's. Germany has said it will not agree to proposed solutions that would essentially turn the eurozone into a transfer union until the rest of Europe can balance their budgets through austerity measures. Germany believes this must be the first step to further EU and eurozone integration. Hollande takes a different position. He, too, wants greater European and eurozone integration. However, Hollande advocates economic stimulus alongside austerity measures as a means to rebalance the finances of European governments.

Hollande wants to grow Europe out of its financial problems. This means stimulating economies, a process that requires deficit spending. Hollande upholds a traditional Keynesian tenet that increasing demand for goods among consumers will increase economic activity and increase investment. As a Socialist with a strong leftist contingent in his party, Hollande cannot support the German position, which constrains the economy, particularly by decreasing government expenditures, thereby depressing consumption.

The difference between the French and German approaches is substantial. It reveals a dispute at the heart of the European strategy for managing the crisis. The Germans have been aggressive in demanding balanced budgets. The French are becoming equally aggressive in demanding expansionary policies. Both want to avoid defaults, but the Germans want to guarantee payments of debt by a combination of bailout and austerity. The French want to add stimulus to this, which changes the situation entirely because the stimulus would be funded in large part by German coffers.

Read more: The Futility of European Elections | Stratfor

Flood waters

A nicely filmed video of people going about their business in a flooded city in Thailand. It is amazing how beautiful the world can be, even in the most unlikely of circumstances.

Monday, June 18, 2012

An unexpected angle

A bar (click any image to enlarge)
The photographer Menno Aden has taken a series of photographs of rooms from their ceilings. They reduce the influence of the rooms' decoration, and focus on the layout of the rooms and their content. It is an interesting series, although the the photos are staged. Real rooms, admittedly probably impossible to photograph this way, would be even more interesting.

There are more pictures after the jump, and even more at the Menno Adden link (via La boite verte).


Too Late To Cry

Monday morning, start of the workweek blues with Lonnie Johnson.


Sunday, June 17, 2012

The dreaded escort mission

I've never played the game the above video makes fun of, but anybody who has ever played a first person shooter (FPS) will understand the frustration of the clip's player/narrator. They do a good job of nailing pretty much everything that makes escort missions so painful.

For those not familiar with FPS, escort mission involve you having to walk from point A to point B with a computer generated character and prevent them from being killed. The mission is complicated by the fact that the character you escort will be a complete dunce. 

Regardless, as irritating as Natalya is in the above video, she's still not a tenth as obnoxious as Sticky, a.k.a. The Annoying Man, from Fallout 3.


The Sailing Pond at Humber Bay

Continuing my fascination with mini-cams, above is a rather nice video of a season of sailing radio controlled sailboat models by the Metro Marine Modellers in Toronto Canada. It was put together by StevePenney34 (there are more of his videos at the link).

Saturday, June 16, 2012

The Bandito-in-Chief

A city in ruins

"On Sunday, September 3rd, 1939, after the pressure of work over the last few days, I overslept, and had to take a taxi to the Foreign Office. I could just see Henderson entering the building as I drove across the Wilhelmsplatz. I used a side entrance and stood in Ribbentrop's office ready to receive Henderson punctually at 9 o'clock. Henderson was announced as the hour struck. He came in looking very serious, shook hands, but declined my invitation to be seated, remaining solemnly standing in the middle of the room.

'I regret that on the instructions of my Government I have to hand you an ultimatum for the German Government,' he said with deep emotion, and then, both of us still standing up, he read out the British ultimatum. 'More than twenty-four hours have elapsed since an immediate reply was requested to the warning of September 1st, and since then the attacks on Poland have been intensified. If His Majesty's Government has not received satisfactory assurances of the cessation of all aggressive action against Poland, and the withdrawal of German troops from that country, by 11 o'clock British Summer Time, from that time a state of war will exist between Great Britain and Germany.'

When he had finished reading, Henderson handed me the ultimatum and bade me goodbye, saying: 'I am sincerely sorry that I must hand such a document to you in particular, as you have always been most anxious to help.'

I too expressed my regret, and added a few heartfelt words. I always had the highest regard for the British Ambassador.

I then took the ultimatum to the Chancellery, where everyone was anxiously awaiting me. Most of the members of the Cabinet and the leading men of the Party were collected in the room next to Hitler's office. There was something of a crush and I had difficulty in getting through to Hitler.

When I entered the next room Hitler was sitting at his desk and Ribbentrop stood by the window. Both looked up expectantly as I came in. I stopped at some distance from Hitler's desk, and then slowly translated the British Government's ultimatum. When I finished, there was complete silence.

Hitler sat immobile, gazing before him. He was not at a loss, as was afterwards stated, nor did he rage as others allege. He sat completely silent and unmoving.

After an interval which seemed an age, he turned to Ribbentrop, who had remained standing by the window. 'What now?' asked Hitler with a savage look, as though implying that his Foreign Minister had misled him about England's probable reaction. Ribbentrop answered quietly: 'I assume that the French will hand in a similar ultimatum within the hour.'

As my duty was now performed, I withdrew. To those in the anteroom pressing round me I said: 'The English have just handed us an ultimatum. In two hours a state of war will exist between England and Germany.' In the anteroom, too, this news was followed by complete silence.

Goering turned to me and said: 'If we lose this war, then God have mercy on us!' Goebbels stood in a corner, downcast and self-absorbed. Everywhere in the room I saw looks of grave concern, even amongst the lesser Party people."

-Paul Schmidt, translator in the German Foreign Ministry


Friday, June 15, 2012

Stratfor and Jessica Alba

Stratfor's Security Weekly column has previously discussed the rise of methamphetamine production in Mexico.

Unlike cocaine, which is a drug the cartels get from other countries and can only skim their profits as they move it north to the U.S., meth is a drug were they're able to  control both its production and distribution. Because that generates more profit, meth is a drug that Mexican cartels are moving into heavily.

This article by Ben West discusses "Dark Angel", a U.S. law enforcement program that broke up a small to medium sized meth distribution operation in the States. Ben does a good job describing the front companies to aid in its shipment, and the means they used to launder the drug money.

The beginning of the article is excerpted below, with a link to the full article after the excerpt.

The operations name -- Dark Angel -- naturally brought to mind the old T.V. series Dark Angel; and so Jessica Alba, that series female lead, was an easy choice for the honor of representing the article as its Hot Stratfor Babe.

Ms Alba started acting at a young age. Because of the age of Ambi Junior I first saw her in Nickelodeon's The Secret World of Alex Mack and later in Flipper, which was an astonishingly tasteless piece of Hollywood ass-hattery (yes, you read that right -- Flipper and tasteless in the same sentence. You had to see its second season to believe it).

At any rate, her big break was in the sci-fi series Dark Angel. In it she played Max Guevera, a genetically engineered girl who had been raised as a super warrior by some Eeeevil corporation. She escaped them and fled to a dystopian Seattle where she tried to find some of her grade school pals who had likewise escaped. Needless to say, she also frequently used her childhood training to beat the crap out of the nefarious goons who were trying to recapture her.

Along the way she hooked up with a paraplegic cyber journalist. I guess these days we would call him a blogger, although I don't recall him always wearing pajamas and living in his mom's basement.

The first season was pretty entertaining, but then it veered into silliness including a "nice" monster and pretty much went off the rails. However, by that time Jessica Alba's popularity had been assured and she has gone on to have a successful movie career.

'Dark Angel' and the Mexican Meth Connection

By Ben West, June 14, 2012

In a U.S. operation dubbed "Dark Angel," local and federal law enforcement officers on May 30 arrested 20 individuals involved in methamphetamine trafficking across five states. Authorities confirmed that the leader of the trafficking network, Armando Mendoza-Haro, has links to Mexico, where the methamphetamine was likely produced. The group appears to have used legitimate companies to transport methamphetamine from California to the Denver area and elsewhere in the Western and Midwestern United States. The group then sent the profits back to California, where the cash was wired to banks in China and the Cayman Islands.

Mexico's methamphetamine trade seems to be booming these days. Earlier in 2012, the Mexican military made the largest single seizure of methamphetamine ever (15 tons, worth around $1 billion) outside Guadalajara. As the United States increased its restrictions on the pharmaceutical chemicals used to produce methamphetamine, Mexican producers stepped in to meet the growing demand. Details from Operation Dark Angel provide insight into how traffickers in the United States are getting their product to market and, more interestingly, how they are laundering their profits.


The Mendoza-Haro organization appears to be a midsized trafficking operation. Agents who arrested the group and raided properties seized only 2.7 kilograms (6 pounds) of methamphetamine and $715,340 in cash (the approximate street value of 7.2 kilograms of methamphetamine). However, this only represents a single shipment. The group handled what appear to be dozens of similar-sized shipments, so total revenues likely added up to millions of dollars over time. According to The Denver Post, authorities involved in Operation Dark Angel believe the drugs were made in Mexican methamphetamine labs. Additionally, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) special agent in charge of the operation said the group was transferring drug proceeds to drug cartel members in Mexico.

One of the defendants, Miguel Angel Sanchez, owned Playboyz Trucking LLC in San Bernardino, Calif. Authorities say that some of the Playboyz drivers knowingly transported the group's methamphetamine and cash revenues between California and Colorado, while other drivers were unaware of their cargos' contents. For example, the $715,340 in cash that authorities seized during the May 30 raid was found hidden in a truck carrying milk.

According to the indictment, more than a dozen people in Colorado, California, Utah and Iowa were involved in trafficking methamphetamine under the command of Mendoza-Haro and Sanchez. The evidence comes from intercepted telephone conversations between Mendoza-Haro, Sanchez and the other defendants that indicate the defendants knowingly participated in the drug smuggling. And there is a pattern in the intercepted phone calls: Mendoza-Haro was evidently in contact with nearly all of the accused smugglers, but there were very few conversations among the smugglers themselves. This group is a good example of how trafficking rings tend to compartmentalize their operations for the sake of operational security.

Money Laundering

The indictment connects two individuals in California to most of the money-laundering charges: Ricardo Paniagua-Rodriguez and Carlos Martin Segura Chang. There are no public records available for Paniagua-Rodriguez that explain how he may have been involved in the trafficking group. He was arrested near the U.S.-Mexico border in San Ysidro, Calif., a location that would easily allow him to facilitate financial transactions with groups in Mexico. As for Chang, public records indicate that he used to own (and may still own) Schang Import/Export Service, which is registered under a residential address in Downey, Calif., where police arrested him.

The indictment does not specifically mention the import/export company as a part of the operation; according to public records, the company opened its doors in August 2008 and reported trade activity only in November 2008, so it's difficult to say definitively whether the company was used to help launder drug money. However, the only country Schang was licensed to import from was China, which means the company would most likely have bank accounts to transfer money to China to buy goods. Since some of the trafficking group's laundered money was going to China, we find it likely that Chang served as some kind of international conduit for the Chinese money-laundering aspect of the operation.

The details of this case aren't necessarily normal operation procedure for drug traffickers in the United States. Many midsized, U.S.-based trafficking gangs like the Mendoza-Haro group purchase drugs wholesale from intermediary groups in the border area who have already paid the cartels in Mexico and derive most of their profits from simply getting the drugs across the border -- a specialized, value-added skill in its own right. But DEA evidence of the Mendoza-Haro group's links to Mexico and the routes the group's revenues were laundered through suggest that it may not have exclusively dealt with border intermediaries.

Read more: 'Dark Angel' and the Mexican Meth Connection | Stratfor


Get ready for a weekend of showing off featuring Habib Koite with Jan Kuiper, Erwin Java, Zoumana Diarra, Digmon Roovers, Dra Diarra and Mousse Pathe M' Baye.


Thursday, June 14, 2012

What is the purpose of this?

Click to enlarge
Above is a picture of a rather complex looking wooden mechanism. Its function is not readily apparent. To see what it is, and just what is for you'll have to watch the video after the jump.