Friday, November 28, 2014

Let's Do It Again

The United States has just announced that it is  re-deploying the A10 'Warthog'  ground attack aircraft.

The A10 was developed to counteract the threat posed by the "massive" forces of armor deployed by Russia and the Warsaw Pact states in a possible invasion of western Europe.  The aircraft, designed to survive in an intensive anti-aircraft environment: the engines were positioned out of the line of direct fire, the cockpit was positioned in an armored titanium 'bathtub', multiple under-wing hardpoints enabled the carrying of a wide array of bombs and rockets, redundant control systems were featured as was the main weapon a 30 millimeter 'gatling gun' firing depleted uranium munitions.

The gun on the A10 - unique and particular only to the type - has a very high rate of fire. The aircraft carries  enough rounds for a burst of sustained fire lasting about 30 seconds. The gun is highly accurate landing most of the shells fired inside a 40 foot circle at a distance of 4 000 feet. It can cause significant damage to most armored vehicles and is highly destructive to anything less than tanks.

When the round leaves the gun, the DU part of the round is heated to burning point by the time it strikes the target.  The heat and weight of the round assist melting and penetration, some of the round is dissipated in smoke, spall and dust. If the round hits the ground, or rock, it can disintegrate or lodge in the ground. The DU, its dust and spall, is radioactive at short range and can contaminate food and water. It is thought that most gas masks cannot prevent inhalation of small particulate. Depleted uranium has a half life of 50 Billion years. To date, no way has been found to ameliorate or negate its effects.

In addition to the A10 system - DU forms part of many other munitions designed to penetrate concrete or other emplacements, the results are much the same. 

Since 1990 DU has been used  in Gulf War 1, in Yugoslavia, In Afghanistan and Iraq - and in increasing amounts - from hundreds to thousands of tons.

And now we're getting ready to deploy the A10 again, against all those tanks ISIS doesn't have.

A good perspective on this, and other war horrors, can be found in the documentary "Beyond Treason".

Beyond Treason

Saturday, November 01, 2014

At the Movies

There are a rash of 'new' movies out, telling all the old stories in new form. Obviously some are destined for greatness - like current 'blockbusters' if i could think of one, but that is mainly because of the wide-spread mediocrity of the contending pap.

 Comic book tales are very big in all this and, like most comics some are quite good providing some escapism in imagines super powers and Wham! Bam! The current 'XMen' and 'Heros of the Universe' reprise former efforts with new story lines if not new casting. 'A Dame to Kill For"  is an interesting new product in the genre, entertaining  even if the dame really isn't worth killing for.

 A couple of topical issues movies are interesting but play on the old 'fear'  and prejudices one might think should be starting to fade.

'Frontera' is an interesting piece that makes the 'wetback' experience look challenging only because somebody might be trying to shoot you, or kidnap you as you wend your way to some gardening work. The actual trek is an overnight walk through the desert -bring water- to a usually friendly American home or roadside pick-up. Aside from the Americans who like to 'scare greasers back where they came from', or thee poor border patrol and cops who hold the frontier for freedom. It's a redemption tale where love conquers hatred - or even a hard bitten Mexican-disliker who incongruously  and for little apparent good reason changes his spots. There's a nod  to the other terror in a scene where two border jumpers catch the eye of the heroine of the piece as they wander away from the immigrant camp, to lay their prayer mats out in the desert and worship Allah. Great shades of undetected jihad!

Another period piece is 'Camp X Ray' and almost ludicrous look at the 'coming of age' of a young female GI posted to guard the hard core "detainees" (prisoners have rights) at Gitmo. Starring the beauteous Kristen Stewart, who does wonders for the army kepi and fills out her regulation PT outfit admirably - the film depicts how the personal touch of empathy can grow to affect ones' thinking and ones' duty. Although she's 'honor-bound to defend freedom at the Gitmo slammer, GI Jane can't help become affected by the 'humanity' and personal magnetism - for it can't be anything else- of one of the worst of the worst. She can even 'get over' their initial meeting when he introduces her, and the uniform she so proudly wears to the notorious 'shit cocktail' after she slacks off on procedure. Unlike most gals in a similar situation, outside of Copenhagen, she cleans herself off and, wondering why somebody would do that to a stranger, soon falls for his humanity.  Lindy England she's not.  What I can't figure out is why her fellow guards let her off with it?  Other than a senior NCO who gets confused by her beer consumption and tries relieving his stress in her, and a CO who seems related to the Fort Commander in Dancing with Wolves, you'd almost think she was doing guard duty on her own tick.  All is as it is however, her tour comes to an end and the accused jihadi is still safe  for democracy in the hands of others honor-bound to treat him like the unconvicted sh*t he so truly is.
But you are left with the impression that, if her military benefits aren't up to scratch, she might be checking out Code Pink or coming back with Michael Moore.

David Cronenburg's latest 'thriller' a psychodrama about incest Hollywood is drawing some buzz in the media - probably because of its advertising budget.  If you've seen 'The Fly' you won't be impressed by Juliette Moore's concern about her "holes" and Robert Pattinson's casual worldliness as an aspirant/limo driver. The move is a bum-numbing POS. It's called "Map to the Stars"

"Lucy" is interesting but somebody started smoking the dope and the story of a gal who accidentally unlocks her real self turns into an incredibility.  the continuity goes down a 'caca hole'.

"St. Vincent' is a pleasant change in the right direction. Great cast and not a bad story. Outstanding sound track. It might actually get a nomination.

I'm a really wanting to see 'Fury'.