Tuesday, October 5, 2010

China's new anti-ship missile is a paper-tiger

A while back Yahoo published this little story:


This is sensationalism, because they did not ask any REAL experts, or something who actually has a brain.

First of all, what exactly is Dong Feng 21? or "East Wind 21"? It is a "ballistic anti-ship missile".

Or to describe it... it goes up OUT of the atmosphere, like an ICBM, then dives at the the target at hypersonic speeds from above.

Sounds impressive, until you consider the problem of such an idea.

ICBM only works against FIXED targets... such as CITIES. Do you know why? Because once the warhead enters the atmosphere, it can no longer communicate. It is surrounded by ionized air caused by the re-entry. Every spacecraft suffers through this "blackout" period upon re-entry. No matter what the size. Which basically means once the weapon enters atmosphere, it is BLIND and can no longer make course corrections. It can MAKE some, but it would not know where to go. It may as well not make any. That way it cannot be jammed.

Which also means it is a sitting duck when coming back down through the atmopshere. And there's no disguising it. It's visible for hundred miles. You can't hide it. People will see you coming. 

Which basically means if the target moves, changes course once the missile enters the atmopshere, the missile is virtually GUARANTEED to miss, because it takes several minutes for the missile to come back through the atmosphere. 

Also, how is the missile going to get the course correction? From satellites. Yes, China has a series of radar satellites to keep track on things, and they can be used to keep tabs on the US CVBG... and perhaps, pass final target corrections to a DF-21. However, how many of those do China have?

You have to also keep in mind that a ballistic missile is visible for HUNDREDS of miles, as it reaches up, WAY UP, and there are plenty of satellites on ALL sides that are keeping track of any sort of ballistic launches.

Does China have anti-satellite capabilities? Yes, but so does the US. And any attempt at hitting the satellites is pretty much declaration of war.

So in conclusion, DF-21 is, at best, a one-shot weapon, and will never work again... sort of like the Al Qaeda attack against the US on 9/11, and that's the BEST case.

What's the worst case? It's a paper tiger that will never work, and is an empty threat.

Finally... consider this fact... Soviet Union had been working on how to kill US CVBG's for DECADES... until fall of Berlin Wall. They never bothered with a ASBM. Instead they just work on faster regular super-sonic anti-ship missiles... and better bombers.

And the physics around this problem has NOT changed. So, does China actually have a chance in making DF-21 work? Only against a FIXED target.  Maybe they can hit CVBG while it's in port in Japan, but they can sneak a nuke near the ship much easier.

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Friday, October 1, 2010

Stolen Valor Act ruled unconstitutional: thoughts and comments

Cover of "Stolen Valor: How the Vietnam G...Cover via Amazon
Recently, the "Stolen Valor Act" was declared unconstitutional by two US Circuit Court of Appeals. On one hand it makes sense, on the other hand such perps *should* be punished.

So what is the Stolen Valor Act? It is a law passed in 2005 that makes it a Federal crime to impersonate a US military veteran, wearing uniforms, displaying medals s/he never received, and so on. This was named after a book "Stolen Valor", which documented many "fake" veterans used their alleged service to reduce their prison sentence, obtain government benefits, and in general benefited from the misrepresentation.

The court basically ruled that First Amendment, i.e. right to free speech, means people have the right to lie and falsely claim things.

I find such logic troubling, but I understand where they are coming from. Government cannot pick and choose which speech to protect, unless they present clear and present danger to the public. The famous example is "yelling 'fire!' in a crowded theater, thus causing panic" is NOT free speech, because people are harmed. In the "stolen valor" cases, where fake veterans wear medals they were not entitled, the judge basically said there's no "victim". The veterans who have earned such medals can't be hurt by a few fakers.

Yet I find the logic troubling. While the real vets and medal winners are not hurt, the general public is hurt, if exposed to the fakes. On the other hand, it is not like a physical hurt, but more of betrayal, being lied to, and so on.

It is basically fraud, but more of a "reputation fraud". It is like padding one's resume, claiming school degree that doesn't exist, and so on. Wearing a medal automatically gives the wearer legitimacy, and claiming legitimacy where there is none is fraud. Just like claiming degree when it doesn't exist.

Who is hurt when one impersonates law enforcement? Depends on what the fake cop did, right? Yet impersonating an officer is automatically a crime, such as wearing a fake uniform and fake badge in public. It's only NOT a crime if you fully know it's a joke, such as acting out a fantasy, or a prank.

Yet military uniform and medals are NOT considered the same as police uniform and badge, at least in this regard. Fake veterans wearing fake medals committed no crime, yet their intention is clearly to deceive those around him/her.

Why should it NOT be a crime?
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About Whitman-gate, and what's wrong with the allegations

I am a skeptic, not into politics. I consider myself a moderate Republican (like our Governator) but that is not the reason I doubt the charges against Whitman. I see a lot of problems with these charges, and I'll list them.

* Since when does a HOUSEKEEPER get "mileage reimbursements"? Yet that is what Allred claims she will sue Whitman for "Nicky".

* $23 / hour for only 15 hours a week is a lot. How many hours did "Nicky" work and NOT get paid? Was there a log that can be somehow verified, or is this just a matter of single-sided claims?

* WHY is that letter in the hands of "Nicki"?

Whitman's explanation is that Dr. Marsh got the letter, glanced at it, decided that Nicki probably transposed a digit or two, so wrote a note and gave it to Nicki to take care of, and Nicki intentionally held the letter and never mailed it back, and nobody ever followed up. Marsh never thought of it again, never told his wife, and Nicki, having essentially "stole" the letter, kept quiet about it.

Allred's explanation is that Dr. Marsh read the letter, knew that Nicki is illegal, but decided to say nothing, and instead used the letter to blackmail her into working overtime without pay and generally feel like ****.

Nothing said by Allred so far contradicts Whitman's explanation, and it sounds perfectly reasonable to me, at least. They may have erred in not filling out the letter himself and returned it, but the explanation why is reasonable.

On the other hand, Allred's explanation does have a few holes... the biggest of which is that very letter she claims is evidence. If the March/Whitman household wish to "blackmail" Nicki into working for free, they would never have mentioned the letter. All they have to say is "I know you are illegal. I like you, so I won't call the INS. But I need you to work a couple more hours for free."  Why mention the letter at all? Why give the letter to Nicki to be kept as evidence?

The allegations make no sense, and as some papers have stated, this has every sign of being an "October Surprise": only revealed 30 days before the election to derail the Whitman campaign in the arena of publicity, with little facts to be had.
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