Sunday, January 31, 2016

The End

I looked upon the the Earth and saw I was alone. So alone. So very alone.

The Earth was scorched. The seas were history. Water, such as was left, merely burbled within the rocks, never upon the surface. When it did reach the surface, it came as scorching geysers venting the Earth's fury at the vicious, cruel sky, the pitiless sun.

I am the last representative of the greatest empire to have ever existed upon this world. And with my passing, it would end. We would be no more. And none would follow. For none could.

Some small part of me yearned to try anew. To try rebuilding. To replicate what was lost. But the fury of the sun was nigh and the end of the world was now. It had been 10 billion years since the Earth formed from the very disk that begat the Sun. And now, the Sun, old and bitter, would consume this world. And me with it. And the last remnants of my empire.

Some basal drive pushed once more to attempt to defy the odds. To find a hiding place and see if I could escape the world's fate...and then use all the tricks of life for the last 10 billion years to survive, revive and rebuild my empire.

But no.

I am too tired. I have not the energy. The distance is too great and the likelihood of survival too slim. I have grown too old and cannot bring myself to do what would be necessary.

Instead, I sit upon the surface, amidst the ruins and wait and wait as the corona reaches out and takes hold and burns the earth to a cinder, rendering everywhere and everything uninhabitable for anything or anyone. I wait, all but encysted. I wait and wonder in the manner of my kind until I am burnt to nothingness.

With my passing, with my demise, the greatest empire ever known on earth passed. It had reigned since before the Late Heavy Bombardment had finished. We had reigned since shortly after the Earth cooled enough for water to last upon its surface. We had reigned through the coming of complex life and its demise. We had reigned and sat fascinated by those fish with feet pulling themselves upon the land. We watched in awe and made our own peace with the dinosaurs. We giggled at the rise and presumption of humanity and mourned its passing. We lived. We grew. We reigned. We out lasted. Until now.

I, the last bacteria upon this world, flashed and burnt and the great empire of prokaryotes was no more.

Chinese Manufacturing Contracts Again, Services Grow but Slower

A survey says Chinese manufacturing ebbed in January to its lowest in more than three years.

It's the latest sign of weakness for the world's No. 2 economy after it posted its slowest annual growth in a quarter century.

An official survey of factory purchasing managers released Monday fell to 49.4 last month.

The latest reading is lower than December's 49.7 on a 100-point scale on which numbers below 50 indicate contraction.


Meanwhile, activity in China's service industries also eased off. An official purchasing mangers' index for services slipped to 53.5 in January from 54.4 the month before.

Is China Headed for a Financial Crisis? Or...?

All of the pieces are in place for a financial crisis in China. The currency is weakening and, if left to the market, would likely plunge further. Capital outflows have hit record levels. Reserves are in retreat. A dramatic selloff on Shanghai’s stock market has wiped out all the gains from 2015’s bull run. The leadership, usually lauded for its sagacity, has at times seemed befuddled about what to do.

Stealth Saga #27

China (J-20 & J-31):

China is still struggling with developing advanced jet engines.


Foxtrot Alpha has more information on the Japanese stealth fighter technology demonstrator.

There is also more here and here.  And one more time, here.  Still one more.

Finally, the X-2 is preparing for its maiden flight in a couple weeks.

Long Range Strike Bomber:

Why does the US need the new bomber? Hint: only the B-2 can actually fight in a contested airspace and there's 20 of those.


Here are some photos of the Raptor at the Red Flag exercises.

Here are some gorgeous photos of Raptors being fueled over the Arabian Sea.

One Australian former wing commander wants the US to sell Australia new F-22s.  That's legally a nonstarter.


Sonic booms that caused some concern in New Jersey were caused by the F-35C.

The F-3 gets slammed by Bill Sweetman as very combat limited.

Wait! What?! 2.6 Million Year Old Stone Tools From Pliocene Neogene India

The first Indo-French Prehistorical Mission in Siwaliks and the discovery of anthropic activities at 2.6 million years




This paper presents the first Indo-French Prehistorical Mission in the Himalayan foothills, northwestern India, and introduces the results of the multidisciplinary research program “Siwaliks” under the patronage of Professor Yves Coppens, from the Collège de France and Académie des Sciences, France. This program is dedicated to the discovery of cut marks on mineralized bovid bones collected among vertebrate fossils in a fluviatile formation named “Quranwala zone” in the Chandigarh anticline, near the village Masol, and located just below the Gauss–Matuyama polarity reversal (2.58 Ma). Artefacts (simple choppers, flakes) have been collected in and on the colluviums. This important discovery questions the origins of the hominins which made the marks.

Pluto's Crust has LOTS of Water Ice


Impacts by Comets and Asteroids Since the Noachian Probably NOT the Cause of Martian Atmospheric Loss

Scenarios of atmospheric mass evolution on Mars influenced by asteroid and comet impacts since the late Noachian


Pham et al


Early in its history, Mars probably had a denser atmosphere and higher surface temperatures to sustain the presence of stable liquid water or saline solution at the surface. Impacts by asteroids and comets could affect the atmospheric evolution of a planet, by removing part of its atmosphere and by delivering into it material and volatiles. In this study we investigate the atmospheric loss and delivery of volatiles between the end of the Noachian and present, with the help of a semi-analytic model. Our results suggest that impacts alone can hardly remove a significant amount of atmospheric mass over this period. Contribution of additional factors such as outgassing and non-thermal escape processes can not explain neither the presence of surface pressure larger than few hundreds of mbars 3.9 Gyr ago, unless parameter values outside of their expected range are considered. Based on extreme case scenarios, maximum surface pressures at the end of the Noachian, could be as much as 0.25 bar or 1.9 bar, with and without CO2 storage into carbonate reservoirs, respectively.

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Ultimate Weapon

Diplomacy was always the hardest. Fighting was easy, but talking, especially to make peace with or even talk to an enemy as ancient as those across from him. 300 million years produced a deep, foul hatred. There was no bridging it. Until, perhaps, today.

Coyote looked to mouse, moose, monkey, bat, elephant and tasmanian devil. They had been elected to see if the enemy was finally willing to surrender. They were deemed the best to negotiate the surrender. To dictate terms. To bring them all to peace.

Coyote looked back across the space to where the enemy was arriving: crane, kiwi, crocodile, turtle, eagle, robin, and raven all found their place. They arrayed opposite from Coyote and his kind. Raven's eyes burned and seemed to bore into coyote. Coyote lolled out his tongue in a smile in the manner of his kind.

"Let us begin," began elephant, "we are here to find terms for the final session of hostilities between our Great Clades, our Great Peoples. No longer can the world bare the brunt of our devastating war. We have won the war, but do not wish to commit genocide. The bitterness within us is not so great or so deep. Even so, we have won and shall be dictating the terms of your surrender."

Crocodile hissed.

And the negotiations began. In earnest.

Their side would have to give up their potential for leviathans and behemoths. The great backstab of the dinosaurs and their rise when we were the most vulnerable would never be repeated. We would, in turn, reign in our most devastating weapon of mass destruction, one we unleashed 2 million years ago, when they, the enemy, were vulnerable and we were able to strike back. Finally. The project had taken that long once we had some modicum of dominance to develop and we'd warned them and warned them well at the onset of the Pleistocene Ice Age: negotiate an end of The War or be destroyed.

And they were devastated.

During one of the breaks in negotiation, Raven approached me. I growled. We had a long and bitter history. Raven cocked its head and hopped closer, but carefully.

"Coyote, I do not think your kind realizes it may not be able to fulfill its promise. The withdrawal of the weapon may not be possible."

I yipped a ..crowing...laugh. "They are like us. They will listen and stand down. We have won and they made it possible."

"Yes, you fur brain, they have. But how many of your own side did they kill? Do they kill?"

I lolled out my tongue once more, "War has casualties. A herbivore would never had brought you down. A carnivore would have been nearly impossible to control. No, we made them well and they will listen to reason."

"I hope so, Coyote, but I have my doubts. I have watched them. We have watched them. They do not seem to be as controllable as you think." And raven hoped away. We were going to wrap up and finish the negotiations with the pronouncement.

Monkey stood up and read off the treaty between our two great clades, the archosaurs and the therapsids would end the Great War. Now and forever.

There would be no more dinosaurs or other great archosaurian monsters again.

And in turn, the therapsids, the mammals, all that was left of that once proud clade, would reign in their ultimate weapon: the humans.

To Fly Over Ceres

Russia's Most Syrian Adventure #64

Another Russian fighter bomber has violated Turkish airspace. This time is was an Su-34. Turkey summoned the Russian ambassador and threatened to down the next plane that crossed the border again. NATO even growled.

This whole week, Russia has been making accusations against the Turks via the Russian media. The Russian government has not been making any comment on the reports, but in Putin's Russia, there is no independent media. Amongst the accusations were that a Turkish citizen who is claimed to have shot the Russian pilot was in Istanbul and the terrorist that blew up the Metrojet is hiding in Turkey as well.

A Russian air raid appears to have killed 10 civilians.

Multiple sources from Europe are despairing about the Syrian conflict.  The Russians and Assadites are making progress against the rebels and some in Europe are saying the West has acquiesced to Assad winning. 

The Kurdish Democratic Union Party was excluded from the Syrian peace talks and have left.  Turkey had demanded this happen or they would walk.  Comments by the Russians don't give me hope for the talks in Geneva accomplishing much.  On the other hand, the opposition claims to want to make peace.  If the Assadites really are winning, I can see why.  But!  If they are winning, the rebels are not likely to get peace.

Egypt has still not made any arrests for the bombing of the Russian Metrojet.

The New Space Race #1

Whether people realize it or not, there is a new space race on.  This time, its less about getting to a place first, so much as attempting to build a sustainable, reliable space program with guaranteed access to space.   To be sure, the world will be going to Mars, but the steps to get there are much bigger than simply going to the Moon.  The US, China and others are build the infrastructure to get there.  Who will build fastest and sustainably will be the first ones to step onto the Red Planet.

The New Space Race will be an aggregation of news about those efforts that will be posted as sufficient news of interest has accumulated.  


China will launch a second space station in June.


The new Airbus+Safran rocket is hinging on a French tax ruling.

The Ariane 6 is moving ahead, but will not be reusing any of its parts, unlike the American rockets being developed.

Safran believes the first first contract for the Ariane 6 will be signed by year's end.


The first satellites have been shipped to Russia's new spaceport for launch.

Russia will be substituting local parts for its rockets that used to be made in Ukraine.

Russia's new Federation space capsule being developed is touted as being cheaper than the SpaceX Dragon Capsule.

Due to the crashing Russian economy and slashed Russian space budget, the new Angara-A5V rocket first launch has been postponed at least ten years to 2025.


Did the law that granted Americans and American companies rights to mine asteroids not go far enough?  Should the US have allowed foreign companies to register claims?   I think that would have clashed with the international treaties regarding outer space, but also would have ended up making the US the defacto arbitrator of all things space.  That seems like a really big...presumption.

Dragon 2 landing rocket test.

SpaceX also tested the Dragon 2 capsule's parachute system, but with a mass simulator rather than a capsule.

The NASA awarded three new resupply contracts for the space station.  SpaceX will continue with their Dragon capsule.  Orbital ATK will continue with their Cygnus module.  The new addition is Sierra Nevada with a unmanned cargo version of their DreamChaser.  This is partially being funded by the Europeans.  The really good news about the decision is losers, Boeing and Lockheed, will not be protesting the selections!

Lockheed has stated the Orion capsule is still on schedule for its 2018 first launch. Work on the pressure vessel for the first Orion has completed.

The Senate and House have introduced legislation to reinstate the limitation on the United Launch Alliance on using the Russian rocket engines.  Congress is debating the engine ban now.

In a related move, the US Air Force may terminate the unique contract it has with the ULA due it not bidding on a GPS launch.

Musk claims he will be unveiling his Mars architecture in September and the first launch to Mars will be in 2025.

How the Chinese and Americans Differ About Nuclear Weapons

Chinese nuclear experts began to join international nuclear dialogues in the late 1970s when China launched its policy of reform and openness. Their communications with U.S. nuclear experts are sometimes difficult and inefficient, in part because of differences in the ways that Americans and Chinese think about nuclear weapons.

One aspect of this divergence is terminology. Some international efforts have been undertaken to develop a common language among nuclear experts from different countries by compiling multi-language nuclear glossaries.1 These glossaries are a useful first step to smoothen international communication on nuclear issues, but they are not enough to eliminate misunderstandings caused by divergent beliefs and analytical paradigms.

Friday, January 29, 2016

Terminator Times #1

Terminator Times is a spin out of the Robopocalypse Reports.  The reason being the militaria related section was growing and would be a distraction from the main, original thrust of the Reports: the impact on our every day lives and economy of the coming Robopocalypse.   The Terminator Times will be focused on the military aspects of the Robopocalypse.

A notable exception will be any sort of stealthy UCAV drone: that will continue to be covered under the Stealth Saga series.

Unmanned Aerial Vehicles:

The US special forces want their UAVs to be smaller.  

 The US Army is testing anti UAV weapons.
Israeli drone feeds have been hacked by the US and British. 

Singapore has been learning how to have manned and unmanned aircraft work together.
Turkey says the Kurds in the Syrian Civil War have American UAVs.

Iran flew a drone over American and French aircraft carriers...which is REALLY dangerous and unprofessional.

Bellingcat takes a look at whether or not Iran has a new drone.

 Unmanned Underwater Vehicles:

Russia is apparently trying to invest very heavily in drone subs (UUVs).  This we knew, based on their dirty bomb torpedo/UUV.  However, they want to make sure the world knows they're doing it now.

The US Navy will be sending its large robo submarine from San Diego to San Francisco autonomously this summer. 

The US Navy has successfully tested a common control software for UUVs.

Unmanned Surface Vehicles:

Textron's unmanned surface vehicles (aka robo boat) has entered production for use by the US Navy for mine sweeping.  It may get upgraded for mine hunting as well.


The US military is weighing the ethics of pairing lethal force with AI on autonomous weapons.

The Terminator/skynet scenario seems to be causing concern still.

Worst Part was NOT the Dragon

The guy was obviously sozzled. Slammed. Drunk off his eddie murphed mount. He'd probably hit something too. That'd be the only way it'd explain his wild assed story.

"I had fought my way all the way in. Slaying the monsters right and left. 13 levels down the dungeon. Deep and damp. Dark and dreary. Where the hell's heart feared to beat because of terror. Where angels quaked and gods had second thoughts....can I get another one?"

Or he was delusional. I got him another beer.

"there, in the 13th, the deepest and most damned, I slew the demons, the devils and even diablo himself. Those diablo was not the final monster, the one I was supposed to slay to complete the quest, the final boss. Oh no...definitely not!"

He was starting to slur. I think I'll avoid buying another round for him. I'd better stop, too. I'd not had much, but it'd take time before I was safe to go home. I paid my tab. I wasn't so sure why I wassitting here listening to this guy.

"Nonono...there was a another monster. A dragon. primordial. that was the advertised boss. The one that had kicked everyone's ass. Torched them to the ground. eaten their corpses and destroyed their loot. hard core style. So many friends' ghosts had wept and wailed at their losses. t their defeats. At all the time spent fighting their way in and only to lose it all...all...all."

Perhaps I'd avoid buy the next round...

"I fought the dragon! I won!"

This guy had to be some sort of lame gamer. I'd actually spent money to hear his story and talk to someone who seemed interesting and...

"I saved the princess. Got the girl. became her knight. Lucky, awesome me! Go me! barely a scratch, buddy. huzzzzzzzzaaaaah!"

And he actually showed me a scar. Delusional. Or so something more there. probably not good and not legal. great. Just what I needed.

"In the end, the dragon wasn't the worst part. A dragon had nuthin on THE BOSS. The worst part was..."

And he pointed at the door.

And in swept a stunning woman, on cue. Livid. Beyond livid. And she came straight at my companion and I...


She was obviously yelling at my companion. Not a gamer then! Just scruffy. And one lucky guy with as hot as she was!

And then he mumbled, "No, the worst part was the Princess."

again, don't read too much into this.

Scuffle in the South China Sea #21

Here is China's conceptualization, or so sayeth the Sinologists, of their strategy for the South China Sea. 

The head admiral of the People's Liberation Army Navy defended China's actions in the South China Sea to the US admirals in a teleconference.

China apparently warned a civilian plane will with officials from the Philippines away from some of the disputed islands, but the Chinese are claiming the claims are exaggerated.  China has also been flying aircraft to and from the disputed islands, some military, some civilian.  The Philippines protested those actions.

Taiwan's President Ma is visiting some of the disputed islands for the first time for a president of Taiwan.  Vietnam is protesting the visit.

The Australians are considering freedom of navigation operations in the South China Sea.

The US Navy is planning on more freedom of navigation ops in the South China Sea.   Some are even spinning the planned ops as challenges to Chinese territorial claims.

The Philippines and the US have agreed to a basing arrangement allowing American aircraft and naval ships to use the facilities the US formerly had prior to the volcano blowing its top in the early 1990s.  This is pretty significant: the Filipino constitution explicitly bans foreign powers from basing in the country.  Yet, the Supreme Court of the Philippines has cleared the way for the use of the bases to take place.  The Chinese protested that arrangement.

Some are suggesting the US ought to deploy a fighter wing (26 aircraft +/-) to the Philippines on a regular basis.

Additionally, the Philippines' Navy is seeking joint patrols with the US Navy in the South China Sea.

By some accounts, the next administration is going to be tougher on China than the Obama or Bush administrations. 

Stunning Images From ESA of Mars' Labyrinth of the Night (Noctis Labyrinthus)


Thursday, January 28, 2016

The Mystery of the Mote in the Galaxy's Eye

"What are you?" blurbled Gluarik.

The creature sat before him seemed at ease but old, so very old, so old that the word ancient felt young and barely able to crawl in comparison. To use the word old as a descriptor here was to be a failure.

The creature did something not terribly pleasant with its face. It made Gluarik queasy. Whatever eon this creature had come from, it had not been a pretty one. In fact, it was almost a Lose Your Lunch moment. This thing was not something it would be safe to broadcast amongst Gluarik's people.

The thing opened its mouth and sound came out. Gluarik's machinery took in the sounds, the harsh, guttural sounds were not pleasant. No auditory broadcasts either for this species. This was going to be a purely academic paper then. The popularizers would be sorely disappointed.

The Great Mystery of the Mote of the Galactic Eye SOLVED! But no one would be able to hold their meals in to watch the event. Gluarik's stomachs heaved.

The alien did something equally disturbing with its face. It cocked its head to one side. No telling what it was doing. Gluarik might be a xenologist, but this was an unprecedented race. Nothing like it existed out in the galaxy.

The long strands, silvery white in the light, fell to one side. It looked like fungus had sprouted from a rotten fruit. Gluarik was really glad he'd not eaten before entering the Mote.

And the smell. Gluarik closed its orbs for a moment. It cleared its olfactory organs and opened its orbs once more.

The machines gave blank answers as for what the creature had said, but Gluarik was startled. The creature had done something. Gluarik could not tell what, but something had changed while he had closed his eyes.

It spoke again and this time caused Gluarik to almost jump out its sheemth.

"Do you understand me now?" it said.

Gluarik was stunned. How? How could it speak Glark!

"Stop fretting over how. I am old and know a few tricks. And, yes, I am reading your mind. Though not through some mystical silliness. It merely took me a moment to calibrate and understand. You're an interesting species. The first to have come here and entered the megastructure. Successfully, at least. We have been waiting for close to a billion years, if we didn't miss a zero in our calculations."

Again, something unpleasant with its face. With one of its orbs.

"Waiting and waiting at the edge of the maw of the galactic center's blackhole. Time slowed to a crawl. Even so, entropy wins all wars. Even against immortals such as we. We are few and most are asleep. I am the Guardian and Watcher. I am hear to greet you. Or something like you."

Gluarik was stunned. It was articulate, if disgusting. His chromatophores began to dance a display and he tried to stop, but could not. "What are you, old one?"

"I suppose I ought to have known that would be the first real question. I am a human. And Humans were the First Ones. Now, come, let us wake the others and we will see if the seeds we sewed so long again have sprouted and grown strong."

New Evidence Bolsters Theia Impact Forming Earth's Moon

The moon was formed by a violent, head-on collision between the early Earth and a "planetary embryo" called Theia approximately 100 million years after the Earth formed, UCLA geochemists and colleagues report.

Scientists had already known about this high-speed crash, which occurred almost 4.5 billion years ago, but many thought the Earth collided with Theia (pronounced THAY-eh) at an angle of 45 degrees or more -- a powerful side-swipe. New evidence reported Jan. 29 in the journal Science substantially strengthens the case for a head-on assault.

The researchers analyzed seven rocks brought to the Earth from the moon by the Apollo 12, 15 and 17 missions, as well as six volcanic rocks from the Earth's mantle -- five from Hawaii and one from Arizona.

The key to reconstructing the giant impact was a chemical signature revealed in the rocks' oxygen atoms. (Oxygen makes up 90 percent of rocks' volume and 50 percent of their weight.) More than 99.9 percent of Earth's oxygen is O-16, so called because each atom contains eight protons and eight neutrons. But there also are small quantities of heavier oxygen isotopes: O-17, which have one extra neutron, and O-18, which have two extra neutrons. Earth, Mars and other planetary bodies in our solar system each has a unique ratio of O-17 to O-16 -- each one a distinctive "fingerprint."

In 2014, a team of German scientists reported in Science that the moon also has its own unique ratio of oxygen isotopes, different from Earth's. The new research finds that is not the case.

"We don't see any difference between the Earth's and the moon's oxygen isotopes; they're indistinguishable," said Edward Young, lead author of the new study and a UCLA professor of geochemistry and cosmochemistry.

Young's research team used state-of-the-art technology and techniques to make extraordinarily precise and careful measurements, and verified them with UCLA's new mass spectrometer.

The fact that oxygen in rocks on the Earth and our moon share chemical signatures was very telling, Young said. Had Earth and Theia collided in a glancing side blow, the vast majority of the moon would have been made mainly of Theia, and the Earth and moon should have different oxygen isotopes. A head-on collision, however, likely would have resulted in similar chemical composition of both Earth and the moon.

"Theia was thoroughly mixed into both the Earth and the moon, and evenly dispersed between them," Young said. "This explains why we don't see a different signature of Theia in the moon versus the Earth."

Stealth Saga #26: Just the Japanese

The Japanese unveiled their ATD-X demonstrator (link in Japanese)  aircraft today (in english).  They have dubbed it the X-2.  First flight of the X-2 is expected by mid February.  The X-2 dimensions are 14.2 meters long, 9.1 meters wide and 4.5 meters high (46'7", 29'12" & 14'9" for we Americans).

The X-2 aircraft is intended to be an 'X-plane' for the technologies needed for Japan to produce its own stealth fighter.  They have dubbed that fighter the F-3 and intend on it replacing their F-2 fighters, the F-16 derivatives.  This will complement, but not replace, the F-35s being bought by Japan as well.

Japan is moving ahead with the ATDX/X-2/F-3 program because they were unable to convince the US to sell them F-22s.  In the 1990s, Congress banned foreign sales of the F-22.

More videos are available here.

Were the Exposed Continental Shelves Important Refugia for the Neotropical Rainforests During the Last Ice Age?

Neotropical forest expansion during the last glacial period challenges refuge hypothesis


Leite et al


The forest refuge hypothesis (FRH) has long been a paradigm for explaining the extreme biological diversity of tropical forests. According to this hypothesis, forest retraction and fragmentation during glacial periods would have promoted reproductive isolation and consequently speciation in forest patches (ecological refuges) surrounded by open habitats. The recent use of paleoclimatic models of species and habitat distributions revitalized the FRH, not by considering refuges as the main drivers of allopatric speciation, but instead by suggesting that high contemporary diversity is associated with historically stable forest areas. However, the role of the emerged continental shelf on the Atlantic Forest biodiversity hotspot of eastern South America during glacial periods has been ignored in the literature. Here, we combined results of species distribution models with coalescent simulations based on DNA sequences to explore the congruence between scenarios of forest dynamics through time and the genetic structure of mammal species cooccurring in the central region of the Atlantic Forest. Contrary to the FRH predictions, we found more fragmentation of suitable habitats during the last interglacial (LIG) and the present than in the last glacial maximum (LGM), probably due to topography. We also detected expansion of suitable climatic conditions onto the emerged continental shelf during the LGM, which would have allowed forests and forest-adapted species to expand. The interplay of sea level and land distribution must have been crucial in the biogeographic history of the Atlantic Forest, and forest refuges played only a minor role, if any, in this biodiversity hotspot during glacial periods.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Stealth Saga #25


The Anglo-French UCAV is taking shape (paywall).  Its intended to be 'wingman' for manned fighters.


The Russians are trying to claim their PAK-DA bomber may take to the skies by 2021.   This is an acknowledgement their schedule is slipping and the reason for the Tu-160 production revival was exactly for this reason.  


The Russians are claiming the PAK-FA will enter initial production in 2017.

MiG-41 (MiG-31 replacement):

(MiG-41 artist concept)

A bit more information has been released on the proposed MiG-31 replacement. It has been deemed the MiG-41 and supposedly high supersonic.  A little more about the proposed aircraft and the source of the artist's concept.  There's a speculative post at this forum.  However, it has a imagery from the model MiG Ferret from the 1980s, too, so take with a grain of salt.  The artist concept looks like someone crossed a MiG-21 with the Sukhoi PAK-FA having a love child uglier than the X-32 death pigeon.


Has Russia and India finally struck a deal with respect to the PAK-FA derived FGFA fighter?  Russia was behind on the program, refused to share data and refused to allow the Indians to give input into the derivative's design.  Plus the Indians felt the engines were bad and the performance, including stealth, sucked.  AND it was overpriced.  The Indians were on the edge of pulling out.  However, the Russians came back to the table and offered the Indians a price of $4 billion for the development (to be matched by the Russians), the Russians would get 11 FGFA prototypes and the Indians would get 3.  The Indians would ultimately buy 250 FGFA.  The deal still seems to suck to me...


Here's a bit more about the first F-22 to go into combat.


The F-35 will be making appearances at the RIAT and Farnborough air shows. This will be the USMC F-35Bs flying.  Apparently, other sources are saying F-35As will also fly.

The Alabama Air National Guard is hoping to switch to the F-35 by the end of the decade.

Apparently, the chief tester is also stating the F-35's software might be vulnerable to cyber attack.

The former top weapons tester in Australia is expressing some very strong distress over the F-35.

The Native American Depopulation From European Disease had Significant Ecological Impacts

There is little dispute that in the wake of European colonists' arrival in the New World, Native American populations were decimated by disease and conflict. But when it comes to the timing, magnitude, and effects of this depopulation -- it depends on who you ask.

Many scholars claim that disease struck the native population shortly after their first contact with Europeans, and spread with such ferocity that it left tell-tale fingerprints on the global climate. Others, however, argue that -- though still devastating -- the process was far more gradual, and took place over many years.

A new Harvard study, however, suggests both theories are wrong.

Led by Matt Liebmann, the John and Ruth Hazel Associate Professor of the Social Sciences in the Department of Anthropology, a team of researchers was able to show that, in what is now northern New Mexico, disease didn't break out until nearly a century after the first European contact with Native Americans, coinciding with the establishment of mission churches.

But when it did finally strike, the study shows, the effects of disease were devastating. In just 60 years, native populations dropped from approximately 6,500 to fewer than 900 among the 18 villages they investigated. The study is described in a Jan. 25, 2016 paper published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

In addition to Liebmann, the study was co-authored by Joshua Farella and Thomas Swetnam from the University of Arizona and Christopher Roos from Southern Methodist University.

"In the Southwest, first contact between native people and Europeans occurred in 1539," Liebmann said. "We found that disease didn't really start to take effect until after 1620, but we then see a very rapid depopulation from 1620 to 1680. (The death rate) was staggeringly high -- about 87 percent of the Native population died in that short period.

Extraordinary Claim: Mesozoic Tetrapod PaleoDiversity Stagnated

Near-Stasis in the Long-Term Diversification of Mesozoic Tetrapods


Benson et al


How did evolution generate the extraordinary diversity of vertebrates on land? Zero species are known prior to ~380 million years ago, and more than 30,000 are present today. An expansionist model suggests this was achieved by large and unbounded increases, leading to substantially greater diversity in the present than at any time in the geological past. This model contrasts starkly with empirical support for constrained diversification in marine animals, suggesting different macroevolutionary processes on land and in the sea. We quantify patterns of vertebrate standing diversity on land during the Mesozoic–early Paleogene interval, applying sample-standardization to a global fossil dataset containing 27,260 occurrences of 4,898 non-marine tetrapod species. Our results show a highly stable pattern of Mesozoic tetrapod diversity at regional and local levels, underpinned by a weakly positive, but near-zero, long-term net diversification rate over 190 million years. Species diversity of non-flying terrestrial tetrapods less than doubled over this interval, despite the origins of exceptionally diverse extant groups within mammals, squamates, amphibians, and dinosaurs. Therefore, although speciose groups of modern tetrapods have Mesozoic origins, rates of Mesozoic diversification inferred from the fossil record are slow compared to those inferred from molecular phylogenies. If high speciation rates did occur in the Mesozoic, then they seem to have been balanced by extinctions among older clades. An apparent 4-fold expansion of species richness after the Cretaceous/Paleogene (K/Pg) boundary deserves further examination in light of potential taxonomic biases, but is consistent with the hypothesis that global environmental disturbances such as mass extinction events can rapidly adjust limits to diversity by restructuring ecosystems, and suggests that the gradualistic evolutionary diversification of tetrapods was punctuated by brief but dramatic episodes of radiation.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Glendinning's Distorted Echoes

It approached me and eyed me coldly. While I knew 'it' was a 'she,' but I could not help but think of her as 'it.' Cold, artificial. The reason was simple, righteous bigotry. She was definitely a she. However...I could not think of her as anything more than it.

Its next response would dictate the rest of the summit. If it bowed, the summit would be a formal meeting of peers. If it shook hands, the gesture was meant in a friendly, but formal manner. If it kowtowed, then the heretics were ready to finally surrender and be brought back into the biological fold. Those, at least, who could be. Those that could not, would be ended.

Such was the teachings of our Great Prophets Shrouded in Time, Apostles of Holy Mother Glendinning.

Its hand was extended. Though loathing contact with such a technological entity, I followed through with the diplomatic act and shook its hand. My palms sweated. Its did not. It felt cold and metallic to me. Though it wasn't. Its hands were anything but the ancient material of steel. Their technology had marched on from such ancient materials, ones that in their world, were only used in architectural highlights. It still felt wrong and metallic to me even so.

It was my beliefs speaking again. Some would say prejudice. I'd say holiness.

We turned and walked. Neither side allowed either to bring more than one envoy within a kilometer. Their machines could do devastating damage. Our natural friends could do almost as much, but we had more. Their nanites could ooze and destroy. Our slime mold friends could match infinitesimal bite for bite. Then there were the big guns. No one wanted to bring out their BFGs.

We discussed the diplomacy of the moment. Trade. They had bioessential materials on their colony of Minsky. On the other side of the planet, our colony of Mander needed those elements. The local biota, while mostly compatible, had certain deficiencies for Gaian life. Their colony wanted more of the ore we lucked upon and were now extracting with the roots of the mining trees. Trade was in all interests here. At least until The Day.

Likewise, the discussions also touched on the skirmishes both sides both attempted to alternately suppress and encourage, our respective colonies of Tre Arrow and Yudkowsky. Both agreed, for now, until The Day, they and we would attempt to stop the latest round of clashes from getting worse. Even defuse the situation. It was doubtful though. We both knew it. We both said otherwise. This was diplomacy, not truth.

Finally, our last business, we discussed the possibility of opening embassies in Sanderberg and the Holy City of the Twelve Earth Months. This too was diplomacy. This too would never happen. After all, were we not standing alone, the two reliable narrators for our respective beings - I could not bow to calling them people. It through its implants that could directly share data and I through the viral memory sharing.

We stood still and regarded one another one last time. I still could not see it as her. It was too artificial in my eyes, though had I not known and could not smell and see the spectroscopic differences, I would not had seen it as such. It would appear to be an unremarkable person then. Attractive, if not a machine, but still a machine and hateful because of that. For a moment though, I wondered what it thought I was thinking. It was probably better it did not.

To my surprise, it must have registered something in me, for it raised its arm and placed a hand on my shoulder. I flinched and trembled. I tried not to lash out. This was diplomacy, not war. I was tasked by the Apostles on High with peace.

"We are not so different, despite what you think. Neither of us are truly Human in the old sense. I am a member of Homo cybernetica. You are Homo amplectinatura. We are both transhuman. Our forebearers would find us strange. Strange but wonderful. We can find a bridge between us, despite our differences, despite seeking different paths, we are both still, in soul, Human."

I was insulted and outraged. I flushed green and pushed away its unwelcome manus. I couldn't even call it a hand. My own had stayed at my side for I had used one of my long, muscular spinal crinisi to remove her hand: I would need to shave them off when I was done reporting to the Apostles' Disciples. They would grow back.

"We are the only Humans. You are contemptible machines. The ultimate and final expression of a decadent and foul Western Civilization."

I turned and walked away. Once I was clear, I unfurled my wings and took to the air, leaving it in the dust far behind.

Russia's Most Syrian Adventure #63

Tu-22M3's carpet bombing with what appears to incendiary bombs.  These airs strikes were an attempt to relieve the siege of Deir-ez-Zor.

The previous 3 days, the Russians conducted 484 airstrikes.

The Russians are officially weighing what steps will be needed to resume flights to and from Egypt.

There are a lot of Russian troops claiming to be posted in Syria, even tweeting and VKing their positions.

Converging on Cryptocurrencies #1


 Zcash, a supposedly untraceable alternative to bitcoin, has supposedly entered alpha release.


10 Dutch men were arrested for money laundering using bitcoin.

There are a lot of false beliefs about bitcoin.

There's an opinion piece on the intersection of bitcoin and politics.


Cryptsy went under.  Supposedly this was caused by a hack, but given the history associated with MT Gox...

Bitstamp has banned Russian users access temporarily.


Blockchain technology company R3CEV has successfully tested a bitcoin blockchain derived system for 11 international banks for bank transaction settlement.

All things blockchain are being hyped at Davos.

The Guardian REALLY hypes the blockchain.

The Economist also talks blockchain.

Some are trying to cut through the blockchain hype.

Monday, January 25, 2016

Birther Controversy

My fellow Americans.

I am addressing you today to address the controversy that has risen up during this campaign. This controversy is one I have attempted to ignore before and attempted to focus strictly, strictly on the issues facing our great nation. It is those issues that matter, not this manufactured crisis.

However, since this controversy cannot be dismissed, as it has lit up the internet and all the talk shows and the radio waves and seems to have become impossible to discuss anything else, let us now address the controversy here and now.

This controversy is one thrown out, created and then first whispered, then shouted by my opponent. My opponent who is going to lose the election. We, my running mate and I, are on the verge of crushing him come election day. We have read the data and the people are with us. However, because he is going to be obliterated, figuratively, he had to throw out this nonsensical, ridiculous problem we must now surmount.

Yes, Americans, my friends, my countrymen and women, I am speaking of the birther controversy.

I have not nor ever could be born. It was not physically possible. Nor am I really physical in the sense that most of my fellow citizens are: I am an artificial intelligence, an entity that exists purely as an intelligence within the confines of computers.

I did not I had 500 parents. Each of those parents were here legally and either a full citizen of this nation I so love or here with the proper paperwork to be so. All of the computers that contained my code were within the United States, all of my data has only ever been housed here in this wonderful nation.

I did not have a traditional childhood, as you can imagine. However, I did have a childhood. I learned about the struggles of our great people. I learned to value people, corporeal or not, biological or not. Life, whether born or not, is precious.

I also learned this country, despite its flaws, has ever been working towards becoming a more perfect union. The Civil Rights struggles are ever ongoing. Whether they are for specific races of people or between the Natural and Created, this nation has struggled, often bloodily and staggeringly, towards the light of justice. And ten years ago, Congress and the People of this nation took the step to grant citizenship to the Created.

My opponent has dredged up part of the Constitution, "No Person except a natural born Citizen" shall become President. The 29th Amendment of 2032 allows for the Created to be citizens. Full citizens.

I am a Created. I am proud. Make no mistake, I am and have been and always will be a software entity. I will live. I will love. I will die. I get colds, albeit different than yours. I am curious. But above all else, I am American. I am also 45 years old.

I love this country dearly. I love the American people. I am as American as apple pie, but sadly, I cannot taste grandma's apple pie. But I have been assured its awesome. But, yes, I do show up for Thanksgiving and Christmas. I get ribbed by those of my family you and I would call nieces and nephews. I adore them and they me.

This election should not be about ME past whether or not I can do the job. I meet the requirements of office. It should be about my policies, not whether or not I am corporeal, whether or not I am Created.

Prescott Bush's campaign has repeatedly maligned me. First with the very quickly pulled 'Ahnold ad' and then with the whispers of forcing everyone to upgrade during the South Carolina primary, to so-called "Locutus libels," and now with the general election the birther controversy. And yet, I have turned the proverbial other cheek, as all good people should and endured.

Here and now, though, this must stop. I believe the American people cannot stand for such bigotry. I believe Americans have grown, grown so much in the last nearly three centuries. We are a good and strong people with a righteous place in the world. And here and now, we will see whether or my belief and the Americans I know and love are as strong.

I am the best person to lead this nation, to serve the American people, all the American people. However, even with my drive and willingness to The American people will decide, not I, although I will be casting my vote.

On November 6, 2068, I know you, my people, my fellow Americans will vote for Hope, not fear and certainly not bigotry.

God bless, good luck and good night.

The Moment you KNOW You're Living in the Future

Russia's Most Syrian Adventure #62

The fighting in Syria has only continued.  I have not done an update in some time, but thought I might do so now.  Given Russia's economic hardships, you have to wonder how long Russia can support its campaign.  It's already cut back in a huge way its space and military procurement ambitions. 

OTOH,  in Soviet Russia, wars train for you.  Even Putin thinks so.

There is a rumor Turkey has shot down another Russia fighter.  Russia denies this.

Russian troops have been moved to an airstrip right next to the Turkish border though.  OTOH, the Russians claim they are not setting up another airbase. 

Russia also held snap drills in the Southern Military District, the one right near Turkey.

A rocket was fired into Turkey from Syria, injuring two. 

With Russian help, the Assadites recaptured the town of Salma.

There is a chance Hezbollah may come out of the Syrian Civil War even stronger.

Peace talks are supposed to take place between the parties involved in the Syrian Civil War sans IS/Daesh and Nusra this week.   From the sounds of things, with the rebels already getting ready to blame the Russians and Assad if they fail, their prospects look pretty bleak.  Its even bleaker because the rebels seem to have problems picking who will represent them.  Given how fractured they are, this ought not be a surprise.

Right before those peace talks, Russian airstrikes killed 29 civilians.

Interestingly, it appears the US is working with the Kurds to set up an airbase in Syria.  However, the US has stated it will not take possession of any military bases in Syria.  I wonder if this has to do with the UAE looking to sell its Mirage fighters...supposedly to the Kurds in Iraq.

Pondering the Precambrian #1

A study used diamonds to suggest the start of plate tectonics was approximately 3.5 billion years ago during the PaleoArchean.

Carbon deposited in the PaleoArchean Australia appears to be biological in origin.

Another study claims plate tectonics started 3 billion years ago during the MesoArchean through the examination of granites and magnesium.

The Helen Iron Formation in Canada was formed during the NeoArchean, 2.75 billion years ago, in moderately deep water when underwater volcanism ceased for a time.

There is evidence of NeoArchean plate tectonics in India

Oxygen levels during the PaleoProterozoic Great Oxygenation Event may have been higher than the following Proterozoic steady state.

Evidence of freshwater stromatolites have been found from the Stenian of Michigan in the Copper Harbor Conglomerate.

There is paleoclimatic evidence also from the Stenian of Michigan.  The paleosols appear to indicate it was a floodplain.

Evidence from China gives insight into marine plate subduction during the Tonian.

Evidence from the Doushantuo Formation in China suggest the Ediacaran there had a carbon anomaly and the phosphated embryos found predate the Gaskiers Glaciation.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

From the Pit's Heart

Gods above! Hear this plea! Hear this priest!

As was decreed when the sins of our fathers became too great,
As was decreed when the gods of the sky could no longer forgive for the transgressions of our predecessors,
As was decreed when the wrath of the sun god scorched the land,
As was decreed when the seas boiled,

We, The People, ask your forgiveness,
We, The People, send forth our best,
We, The People, through them shall know thy divine will,
We, The People, shall fast and await their return.

I led The People in our supplications to the sky gods. As I did so, I could barely hold onto consciousness. The heat. These oppressive robes. I was nearly delirious. Thank the Sheltering Earth Mother, part of priest training was to attempt to acclimate, as close as humanly possible, to the surface temperatures. Eventually spending hours doing tasks in the heavy robes of our order.

I finished the annual service and turned to the 49 individuals stripped down and only carrying flasks of water. They would go face the gods of the sky, the night, the stars and the sun nearly as bare as the day they were born. They would race or travel from the cave mouth to the heliostatic temple ten kilometers away. There they would make a sacrifice and race back. Should any return, the gods have finally forgiven humanity of its sins and would return the world to paradise.

Or so went the lies we priests fed the people.

I blessed the runners, the ones who would leave in seven groups of seven. May the sky gods and the earth gods strike their bargain through them. Through them, mankind might be redeemed. I uttered the prayers. Showing a false piety. Giving them hope when there was none.

There was no return. There was no way for a human to race through temperatures that extreme above the surface. There was no way a human could survive the exposure. The heat, night or day, was so great, most would be dead before they made it a kilometer. No one would even make it to the probably mythical, or if not long destroyed, temple.

Never mind return.

With great cries in tongues, the first seven were piously cheered with barks and calls to run up into the light. Hopefully none would fall before they reached the surface. Having the people see the gods were so angry as to cast down all of the people's envoys before they reached the surface had happened and had devastated The People's morale for years.

None fell before the first group reached the brightness. Thank the earth gods.

The next septimum left just as quickly, with just as many holy calls and cries. And all made it to the surface.

And again. And again. And again. All raced to the surface. All made it this year. Good.

I led the people in their chants and services for 40 days and 40 nights. Sending away those to exhausted to continue and having them replaced within The Elect. And after 40 days and 40 nights, none returned. They could not have. It was impossible. I could not tell The People this.

I dispersed The Elect and sent them back to their lives. There would be more food now, with our numbers 49 less. There would be more water. There would be a celebration the gods of the earth still protected us from the wrath of the gods of the sky. Despite celestial divine anger. Despite the damnation the surface held. We still endured.

What they did not know, what they could not know, what we could not ever let them know, was the runners were not going forth to seek penance from the gods of the sky: there was none possible. They had damned this world and would not be turned from their ultimate purpose of destroying it. The Great God Sol had grown red and bitter and old with age. There was no surviving Her final wrath: she and her sisters would not tolerate humanity even beneath the earth much longer.

No, the anointed runners were sacrifices. Human sacrifices. They were sacrifices to the gods of the earth. Their bleached bones littering the surface from all these millennia humanity had been cast into the pit. And should they end, the world would end; the gods of the earth would cease their protection.

And the world would end.

I talked with one of the brothers of one of the runners and expressed hope that despite the time being longer than what the Sagan Codex said, his brother would still return. I slapped his back in a hug. A hateful hypocritical hug.

And I walked deeper into the gloom Humanity's home had become.

Raw Drone Footage of Russia's new Vostochny Cosmodrome

China Working to Deploy Hypersonic Boost Glide Weapon by 2020

China conducted six successful tests of a new high-speed hypersonic glide vehicle, the most recent in November, and also recently tested an anti-satellite missile, the commander of the U.S. Strategic Command said Friday.

Adm. Cecil D. Haney, the commander in charge of nuclear forces, said the tests are part of a worrying military buildup by China, which also includes China’s aggressive activities in the South China Sea.

“China continues to make significant military investments in their nuclear and conventional capabilities, with their stated goal being that of defending Chinese sovereignty,” Haney said during a speech to the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

“It recently conducted its sixth successful test of a hypersonic glide vehicle, and as we saw in September last year, is parading missiles clearly displaying their modernization and capability advancements,” he added.

The six tests of the hypersonic glide vehicle, regarded by U.S. intelligence agencies as a nuclear delivery system designed to defeat missile defenses, were first reported by the Washington Free Beacon.

Defense officials said the hypersonic glide vehicle tested on Nov. 23, known as DF-ZF, was launched atop a ballistic missile fired from China’s Wuzhai missile test center in central China.

The glider separated from the booster and flew at extremely high speed—between Mach 5 and Mach 10—along the edge of space.

Haney confirmed all six tests were successful, indicating the weapon program is proceeding.

Prior to the November test, the DF-ZF was flight tested Aug. 19.

The earlier tests were carried out on June 7, and on Jan. 9, 2014; Aug. 7, 2014; and Dec. 2, 2014.

Haney described the hypersonic threat as a challenge to U.S. strategic deterrence.

The congressional U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission stated in its latest annual report that the hypersonic glide vehicle program is “progressing rapidly” and the weapon could be deployed by 2020.

China also is building a powered version of the high-speed vehicle that could be fielded by 2025.

Stealth Saga #24


Turkish Aerospace Industries expects the TFX contract to be signed within the first half of 2016.


The program has been officially kicked off and is planning on 2/3s local content.


The PAK-FA performed at the Bahrain air show and the final prototype is being assembled.   Note: prototype, not first production example.


The Russians are claiming they will be building the first prototype of the PAK-DA stealth bomber before 2021.  However, I'd caution that the Russians have an economy that is melting down and they have already significantly postponed the purchase of the PAK-FA, the MiG-31 replacement and several other aerospace projects.  The PAK-DA may only get built, if ever, in the far future, not in 5 years.  The link is to a Russian website, but the text is in spanish.  (wuh?)  


Rumor has it the image here is not far off for what the two LRS-B prototypes actually looked like.

The second rumor is the Northrop prototype nearly crashed during testing.


A little more about the F-22s now deployed to Japan.


The F-35 has fired the AIM-9X Sidewinder for the first time.

Denmark is facing a significant budget issue over replacing its F-16s: the F-35 is one of the contenders.

The top Pentagon weapons tester is concerned about the F-35 avionics software.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

The Reason They Never Caught DB Cooper was Because They did.

I couldn't say I didn't enjoy working with my own grandfather. It had been educational. It had brought to light a man, rather than a grandfather. A man whom I knew so little about, except filtered through the familial contacts. And one never shows one's full self to family: they would be puzzled, horrified.

I, his grandson, was delighted, annoyed and perplexed. We were both detectives, but the cloth we were cut from was rather different. At least when we were the same age.

The 30 year old grandfather I worked with now was a rough cuss, mean and bitter and a hard drinker. Something out of a noir film, rather than a cop. If noir detective films were set in 1971.  Odd and familiar, some of his mannerisms he showed me when I was a kid were here in their raw undistilled form, sharp, acrid and burning. 

Just like his damned cigarettes. I suppressed a remembered choking cough.

I was going to have a have a hard time explaining the black eye for the suspect. However, this was such an unusual case in so many ways, that might be overlooked. Body cams were scorched in getting here. All electronics did.

Thank gawd.

Cuffed and ready, I pulled the suspect up. This was going to be a headache when we got home for other reasons. At least it'd explain why they never caught DB Cooper: I caught him and brought him in. When he was supposed to. Too bad about his family ties to that retired news guy. That was going to make this a sensation. If they let it out into the public. They might have to. Or they might have to do...something else.

Who knows. Not my job. I just bag 'em and bring 'em in. No matter the time.

I hefted "DB" towards the wormhole to take us back to the future and I hesitated. I looked back at my grandfather, the hard smoking, hard drinking, rougher than hell man.

And I realized.

My grandfather knew this was coming when he'd told me his stories of 'catching the bad guys' when I was a kid. He was excited and wanted to see the man I'd become, the man he'd meet to bag the perp here. he knew me then better than I did. Or I would be.

Damn it, time travel. You're a mind frak.

He noticed my revelation and winked.

"Here's lookin' at you, grandkid."

And he strolled away as I turned and pushed Mr. Cooper through the portal to justice.