Wednesday, June 28, 2023

An Electric Tank

Sometimes a headline is so enticing that, even while you are laughing at it, you have to read the article to see what it is really about. I encountered one such on Bloomberg News a little over a week ago, reading,US Army’s Electric Tanks on Hold as Battery Technology Develops.

The article does not even mention the irony of building a machine that is friendly to the environment while its purpose is blowing the shit out of that environment with high explosives. Such a tank would not produce carbon pollution, but would leave lots of radioactive waste behind from its depleted uranium ammunition. The logic of that thinking is pretty hard to comprehend.

More prosaically, the “Electric Tank” was entertaining in itself, but that the concept is “on Hold as Battery Technology Develops,” rather than being, “Discarded as Battery Technology Determined to be Infeasible,” sort of blew my mind. I visualized George Patton ordering his tanks to advance, only to be told that his tank commanders could not find a place to plug them in for recharging, and screaming at HQ for a longer extension cord.

The article tells us early on that recharging an “electric tank” (I love that term) in the field would require, “a 17-megawatt charging station—more than 20 times bigger than the largest mobile generator the Army currently has,” which rather understates the problem. For one thing, a tank battalion would need about 50 to 60 such mobile generators, and they would be really big, create a huge heat signature, and would be really, really difficult to hide from enemy air and artillery attack.

And what would these mobile generators be using to generate the electricity with which to recharge these “electric tanks”? Solar power? Not if it’s raining. “Sorry, General Patton, we can’t move until 30 minutes after the rain clears up.” Wind? Oh dear God, even the Army isn’t that stupid. You’re going to set up windmills in a battle zone? How about a big flagpole? Maybe send up flares.

Yes, girls and boys, those mobile generators are going to run on fuel oil.

So now you need a bunch of tank trucks to bring fuel oil to fuel up the mobile generators which are being used to recharge the “electric tanks.” Of course you see where I’m going with this, right? Why not just put the fuel oil directly into the fucking tanks, and eliminate all this electric nonsense?

We won't even get into the difficulty of building a battery that is not only that large without overheating problems, but one which will accept a charging rate that high. 

So while the Army is in the process of developing this paragon of inefficiency, it’s shorter term goal is to “focus on developing hybrid combat vehicles, which it thinks are attainable, useful, and can reduce our sustainment footprint,”

News flash. I actually served on a “hybrid combat vehicle” sixty years ago. It was called a “diesel electric submarine.” When operating on battery, we could maintain a dazzling speed of four knots, which is about how fast you walk when you are slightly pressed for time but not really in a hurry.

I don’t know what our “sustainment footprint” was, but I can assure you that our efficiency sucked.

Monday, June 19, 2023

Keystone Cops at Road America

Social obligations this weekend dictated that I record the Formula 1 and Indycar races on Sunday, and I spent the day today recovering from said social obligations and watching those two races, one after the other – Formula 1 first.

It was an eye opening experience. The Indycar drivers looked like a bunch of pre-teen children driving go karts. They reminded me of the old time Keystone Cops of silent movie days. They were crashing into each other, running off the track into sand traps and grass fields, crashing into walls, missing their pit stalls, not getting a full gas tank and having to drive slowly in order to save fuel…

They seemed to regard the race track itself as merely a suggestion as to where they should race, cutting inside some corners and swinging wide off the track after other corners in order to avoid having to slow down to negotiate the turn.

I’ve watched Indycar before, of course, and have never had a particularly high opinion of the genre, but watching these clowns playing bumper cars immediately after watching real race car drivers driving Formula 1 cars was something else.

Wednesday, June 14, 2023


Not guilty by reason of insanity.” (Not actually today’s subject, but we’ll get there.)

This defense regards what is in the defendant’s mind and is quite popular in fiction. In reality, however, it is very rarely used in court, fewer than 1% of the time, and is successful less than 26% of the time when it is used as a defense. In 90% of the successes, the defendant was determined before the crime was committed to have been insane.

In all states and in federal court there is a burden of proof as to the state of the defendant’s mind. In a few states the burden lies with the prosecution to prove sanity, whereas in most states and in federal court the defendant must prove insanity, either “beyond reasonable doubt” or “by a preponderance of evidence.”

In short, the law is that if a defendant says, “I’m crazy,” the judge and jury respond, “Oh really? Prove it.”

Now we have laws where if a male says, “I’m a girl,” and wants to participate in female athletics we hand him a female uniform and a key to the girls’ locker room. Based entirely on what he claims to think he is.

The murderer claims to be insane and we make him prove it. A boy wants access to the girls’ locker room so he claims to be a girl and we unquestioningly hand him a key to the girls’ locker room.

Laws which affect social order have to be based on objective data, on facts, not on what a person unprovably thinks. Until recently, that has been the case. If you wanted to claim a benefit from being insane, you had to prove that you were insane. But now we are passing laws granting social benefits based on thoughts in someone’s head which go unchallenged.

Do you want to compete in female athletics because you are a girl? Or because all the boys are beating you and you can beat the girls? Or because you want to look at naked girls in the locker room? Whatever you claim is what the law will believe. No questions asked. Anarchy and chaos.

Wednesday, June 07, 2023

The "Great Truth Tellers"

I am always amused by people such as Matt Taibbi, who hold themselves up as some sort of noble crusader for truth. He is, he claims, writing great truth to power that the people of this nation absolutely need to know if this nation is to remain a functioning democracy. He is writing information that we need to have if we are to retain the freedoms codified by our founding fathers a quarter of a century mellinnium ago.

Only we will have to pay him $4.17 per month if we want to read it.

Freedom isn't free, you know. The people who preserve that freedom for us are entitled to money from us in exchange for our freedom. The only people who should remain free, apparently, are those who can afford to pay the fee for such writing.

"But," you say, "then man has to make a living."  No doubt he does. Then present his writing as a way for him to make a living and ask me to pay for the product. Don't pose as some noble knight in shining armor and ask me to provide metal polish to keep the armor shiny.

Saturday, June 03, 2023


I have been reading about "Artificial Intelligence" and perusing the outputs of AI for a bit over a month now. I've lost count of how many articles I've read. A lot. I have not seen anything that even remotely approaches intelligence. All I've seen is pattern recognition, and it isn't even very good quality pattern recognition. We live in gullible times.