Friday, July 19, 2024

Shell Game...

We're having to essentially reboot artillery shell production...
The causes of the shell crisis began years ago. They are rooted in decisions and miscalculations made by the U.S. military and its NATO allies that occurred well before Russia’s 2022 invasion, a Reuters investigation found.

A decade of strategic, funding and production mistakes played a far greater role in the shell shortage than did the recent U.S. congressional delays of aid, Reuters found.

In the years between Russia’s 2014 seizure of Crimea and its 2022 invasion, for example, repeated warnings from top NATO commanders and from officials who operated or supervised U.S. munitions plants went largely unheeded. They advised their governments, both publicly and privately, that the alliance’s munitions industry was ill-equipped to surge production should war demand it. Because of the failure to respond to those warnings, many artillery production lines at already-ancient factories in the United States and Europe slowed to a crawl or closed altogether.

“This is a problem that’s been long in the making,” said Bruce Jette, who served as the assistant secretary of the U.S. Army for acquisition, logistics and technology from 2018 to January 2021.
It's the post-Vietnam situation all over again. The U.S. military has been preoccupied with counter-insurgency warfare for decades and the 155mm shell was not exactly in high demand in Afghanistan, so...

Automotif DXXIII...

This early (2003-2004) Z4 2.5i was BMW's immediate successor to the Z3. It had fully modern underpinnings compared to the Z3, which was running around until the 2002 model year on a semi-trailing arm rear suspension cribbed from the old 1982-vintage E30 3-series. (This was done for reasons of both cost and compactness; from the rear suspension forward the Z3 was pretty much identical to the newer E36 3-series, but its wheelbase was a foot shorter.)

The Z4 had the multilink rear derived from newer 3-series cars, but as a result had a 4-inch bump in wheelbase length over its predecessor. On the upside, handling was improved and it didn't squat like a motorboat under acceleration.

The 2.5i was the cheaper engine option, featuring the 192hp M54B25 2.5 liter inline six. Buyers could also opt for the 231-horsepower 3.0i.

As a fan of the Z3's lines, I dissed the Chris Bangle-era Z4 pretty hard when it debuted, but like most of the Bangle Bimmers, the lines have aged well over time.

BMW insisted on calling it a roadster, but since the car has a permanently-affixed folding top, that's not exactly accurate. It is a sports car, though.


Thursday, July 18, 2024

Automotif DXXII...

We've seen this Lamborghini Huracán and Rolls-Royce Ghost before (here and here) but, hey, these are a couple of really cool sleds, so I'm always gonna snap a pic when I have a chance.

Meme Dump...

Wednesday, July 17, 2024

Running out of tanks?

Apparently the hardware situation in Russia is starting to feel the pinch of years of warfare:
When the then defence minister, Sergei Shoigu, boasted in December 2023 that 1,530 tanks had been delivered in the course of the year, he omitted to say that nearly 85% of them, according to an assessment by the International Institute for Strategic Studies, a London think-tank, were not new tanks but old ones (mainly t-72s, also t-62s and even some t-55s dating from just after the second world war) that had been taken out of storage and given a wash and brush-up.

Since the invasion, about 175 reasonably modern t-90m tanks have been sent to the front line. The iiss estimates that annual production this year could be approaching 90. However, Michael Gjerstad, an analyst with the iiss, argues that most of the t-90ms are actually upgrades of older t-90as. As those numbers dwindle, production of newly built t-90ms this year might be no more than 28. Pavel Luzin, an expert on Russian military capacity at the Washington-based Centre for European Policy Analysis, reckons that Russia can build only 30 brand-new tanks a year. When the Ukrainians captured a supposedly new t-90m last year, they found that its gun was produced in 1992.
The tank & AFV production outlook is bad, and the production of artillery tubes is similarly grim for Moscow.


Future stuff...

I just can't get over how the price on tech stuff has just plummeted. It wasn't that long ago that a 4K 55" TV was a science fiction movie prop. Now BezosMart is blowing the things out for $299 on Prime Day...

You can spend a ton on tablets or smartphones if you want, but you can get a pretty decent one for very reasonable dough if you don't have to have the most memory or megapixels.


Sorry, guys.

The week... hell, the whole month off to an unbelievably crappy start.

I'll try to cheer up and be funnier.


Sunday, July 14, 2024

Too Much News

Billy Joel could get a whole new verse for "We Didn't Start the Fire" out of any given week since about March of 2020.

This is your reminder to get off the internet, snuggle your [cat/dog/kid/significant other] and go outside and touch some frickin' grass.


Friday, July 12, 2024

Crapping all over the internet...

Scammy shill reviews and SEO trickery have plagued the internet for... well, about as long as search engines have been a thing, but they're getting turbocharged by large language models and popping up in unlikely places.

There's this one dude who managed to slip his spammy garbage into places like USA Today and Sports Illustrated:
In October, The Verge and other outlets reported on product review articles appearing on Gannett publications like USA Today that seemed to be AI-generated. Gannett maintained that the content was produced by humans and that a third-party marketing firm was responsible. Just a month later, eerily similar review articles were published on the website of Sports Illustrated, but this time, Futurism discovered that the article authors’ headshots were for sale on an AI photo website. Shortly after, Sports Illustrated said it had cut ties with the company that produced the reviews.

The apparent AI content proved embarrassing for nearly everyone involved: venerated publications that hired a third-party marketing firm to produce content were now attempting to defend the work — and themselves — after readers discovered the low-quality junk content on their sites. Workers who had nothing to do with the stories feared it could be the beginning of the end of their jobs. In January, the Sports Illustrated newsroom was gutted by mass layoffs, though much of the staff was later rehired after its parent company found a new publisher.

In both cases, as reported by The Verge, the AI-generated content was produced by a mysterious company called AdVon Commerce, a marketing firm that boasts of its AI-powered products. There’s little information available about AdVon online, as its owners have worked to scrub their names from the internet.
But sneaking content onto sites is one thing. Suppose you could instead just buy the legal remains of a once-respected but now-defunct site and reanimate it, including generating new AI-written articles under the bylines of its former authors?


Not how that works.

From the department of "Free Speech Absolutism":
In a post on X (formerly Twitter), Musk wrote that X "has no choice but to file suit against the perpetrators and collaborators" behind an advertiser boycott on his platform.

"Hopefully, some states will consider criminal prosecution," Musk wrote, leading several X users to suggest that Musk wants it to be illegal for brands to refuse to advertise on X.
Boycotts are free speech too, Elmo you knob.

Guys like this claim they hate government regulation meddling in business, but when they wind up on the wrong end of the stick, they're all "Please help me, Government! I'm just a smol bean and they're being mean to me!"


Thursday, July 11, 2024

Tab Clearing...


Quest for Drier

As a frequent pedestrian in my neighborhood, an umbrella is a thing I like to keep in the canvas Harry Herpson High School tote bag in which I carry my iPad and a couple foam koozies.

I rarely have to walk far. It's only a few blocks to the store or a restaurant, so unless it's absolutely raining buckets, I don't need some giant mobile domed tent of a brolly.

I had to buy a new one earlier this year and, not knowing anything about which umbrella brands were good or not, I ran into the enshittified search engine on Amazon and got stumped. A little bit of research around the web saw me picking up a collapsible unit from Prostorm.

After six months of use, I gotta say that it was a good call. Reasonably priced, the auto-extend and auto-collapse features are handy. It's like the Microtech out-the-front mechanism, but for umbrellas. It has nine ribs rather than eight in order to add to its sturdiness in windy conditions, and that plus the venting in the deep bowl of the umbrella itself has kept it from getting inverted even in gusty conditions.

Collapsed down, it's only about a foot long and easily fits in the bottom of the tote. This one gets two (dry) thumbs up from me.

Meme Dump...

Wednesday, July 10, 2024

Automotif DXXI...

An old rear-wheel drive JDM (Japanese Domestic Market) AE86 Toyota Corolla Levin all set up for drifting. Good-looking ride and sounded pretty healthy.

The last generation of RWD Corollas ran from the '83 to '87 model years and are just Peak Eighties for me. Very Synthwave. I could get into driving one, although I think I'd prefer keeping it a lot closer to stock in the wheel & suspension department. You can tell that encountering the wrong speed bump or pothole in that thing would be disastrous.

I mean, neither the Zed Drei or the Mustang has a ton of ground clearance or what you'd call a cushy suspension, but the difference in sidewall height between the two sets of tires makes a world of difference on rough springtime pavement here in Indy.