A Monument to Mikhail Kalashnikov

Mikhail KalashnikovHe certainly had an impact on the entire world. Russia Unveils Monument to Mikhail Kalashnikov, Designer of Iconic AK-47 Rifle – NBC News

The Автомат Калашникова (Avtomat Kalashnikova) or Automatic Kalashnikov was designed for a 1946 competition, and was first produced in 1947, hence AK-47.

Every fifth firearm in the world is a Kalashnikov and more than 70 million of the assault rifles have been produced over the past 60 years, the Kalashnikov concern said on its website. Kalashnikovs are in service in 50 foreign armies, it said.

Military experts say the AK-47 has killed more people than all other types of modern weapons taken together.

Kalashnikov, who died aged 94, had repeatedly said that pride in his invention was mixed with the pain of seeing it used by criminals and child soldiers.

So is there a memorial to John Moses Browning?

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The Bombing of Nagasaki, August 9, 1945

Three days after “Little Boy” was dropped on Hiroshima, a bomb, code-named “Fat Man” was dropped on Nagasaki, Japan. Manhattan Project: The Atomic Bombing of Nagasaki, August 9, 1945

After problems with weather, a uranium implosion bomb (similar to the first atomic bomb, The Gadget, detonated on July 15th of that year) was dropped on the industrial city of Nagasaki. It was later determined that it was 21 kiloton equivalent explosion.

A small conventional raid on Nagasaki on August 1st had resulted in a partial evacuation of the city, especially of school children. There were still almost 200,000 people in the city below the bomb when it exploded. The hurriedly-targeted weapon ended up detonating almost exactly between two of the principal targets in the city, the Mitsubishi Steel and Arms Works to the south, and the Mitsubishi-Urakami Torpedo Works to the north.

Water line breaks hampered firefighting efforts, and the damage done to the two Mitsubishi plants was described as “spectacular.” Though the bomb was 40 percent larger than the Hiroshima bomb, it did less destruction. But the destruction it caused was still extreme.

The best estimate is 40,000 people died initially, with 60,000 more injured. By January 1946, the number of deaths probably approached 70,000, with perhaps ultimately twice that number dead total within five years. For those areas of Nagasaki affected by the explosion, the death rate was comparable to that at Hiroshima.

The day after Nagasaki was bombed, Japan surrendered – almost unconditionally.

The Bombing of Hiroshima, August 6, 1945

Just a few weeks after the first atomic bomb was detonated by the Manhattan Project in the desert Southwest (on July 16, 1945) the US Air dropped an atomic bomb, code named “Little Boy” on the city of Hiroshima, Japan. Manhattan Project: The Atomic Bombing of Hiroshima, August 6, 1945

At 8:15 in the morning local time, a 15 kiloton uranium gun-trigger bomb was dropped on a city of 300,000 people.

The blast wave filled the air with broken glass. The flash from the detonation burned the shadows of people onto the walls left standing. 9 out of 10 people within half a mile of ground zero were dead.

The photo above is of the city center some weeks after the bombing. Click for a larger image.

In those areas most seriously affected virtually no one escaped serious injury. The numerous small fires that erupted simultaneously all around the city soon merged into one large firestorm, creating extremely strong winds that blew towards the center of the fire. The firestorm eventually engulfed 4.4 square miles of the city, killing anyone who had not escaped in the first minutes after the attack.

Those farther away had other problems as they thought their buildings had been bombed. Make-shift rescue parties started working shortly after the blast. Outside relief was slow to arrive, because the Japanese high command didn’t understand what happened. They couldn’t imagine destruction on that scale. It wasn’t until the US announcement 16 hours later that the true nature of what happened came to light.

While some things started to get back to normal in a few days, the effects of radiation sickness started to show itself.

Power in undamaged areas of the city was even restored on August 7th, with limited rail service resuming the following day. Several days after the blast, however, medical staff began to recognize the first symptoms of radiation sickness among the survivors. Soon the death rate actually began to climb again as patients who had appeared to be recovering began suffering from this strange new illness. Deaths from radiation sickness did not peak until three to four weeks after the attacks and did not taper off until seven to eight weeks after the attack.

The effects of radiation poisoning are truly hideous. A high enough exposure and you are dead – you are just waiting for the mechanics of dying to be complete. You can find descriptions of the gruesome details elsewhere. All I will say here is that I would not want to wait around for that end.

The Efficient Market Hypothesis – or when markets get it wrong

Electric vehicles may be the future. A lot of people think so. I haven’t seen an electric vehicle that both has the range I need and anything close to the towing capacity I want in a vehicle. (Some of us do more than run back and forth to the grocery store and work!) Electrocuted | Energy Matters

The referenced article is interesting, but the attached graph is what really caught my eye. Tesla’s market capitalization is nearly that of GM. But the number of vehicles they sold in 2016 is dwarfed by GM. And Ford. And everyone.

I saw this kind of thing in 1990s during the .com bubble. People – who were otherwise intelligent – told me that it was OK that internet companies were so small… they were building the future! Or something. But of course it does matter.

But then when you start to talk to them about the statement of cash flows, their eyes glaze over because they are only buying the sizzle. Do you know what a statement of cash-flows is, where to find it and how to read one? Are you familiar with the equation Assets = Liabilities + Owners Equity? (Do you know where you might see that equation?)

Maybe Tesla really is worth as much as GM. Maybe they have the secret sauce that will let their electric cars be so much better than the ones from Volvo, or Toyota, or Ford, or Honda, or anyone else, but in my humble opinion, there is something wrong with the way the markets are viewing Tesla.

For the basics on the Efficient-market hypothesis, see Wikipedia, but remember it is the Wiki. For an alternative view on the rationality of markets, the standard text is Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds by Charles MacKay, published in 1841. It details such things as the “South Sea Bubble” that hit England, “The Mississippi Scheme” that hit America and Tulipmania that hit Holland.

Canadian sniper makes record-breaking kill shot

This is quite a record. Canadian elite special forces sniper makes record-breaking kill shot in Iraq – The Globe and Mail

A sniper with Canada’s elite special forces in Iraq has shattered the world record for the longest confirmed kill shot in military history at a staggering distance of 3,540 metres.

That’s 2.2 miles, for you metrically challenged types.

I was in a “discussion” on social media with someone who couldn’t understand that a Canadian held this record, and not someone from the USA.

I tried to explain, that Canada, the United Kingdom and Australia actually give their snipers rifles designed for long distance work.

As best I can determine, the US Marines and the US Army use sniper rifles (that would be the M40A5 and M24 respectively) based on the 7.62X51 NATO cartridge. Both rifles have a barrel length of 24 inches. PALMA (long-distance competition) rifles in 7.62 NATO come off-the-shelf with 28 inch barrels, and custom rifles are often 30 inches or a bit longer, because that cartridge benefits tremendously from the extra barrel length. Even then, it isn’t 3000 meter capable. If I am wrong about what weapons the US military is using, please note it in the comments. I understand that the Marines have been looking for a replacement, but the .338 Lapua rifle I saw mentioned as under consideration had also been cut down to 24 inches. Someone with more experience in that caliber will have to say if that makes sense or not. I’m sure the 24 inch rule is out of deference to some US military doctrine, but not everyone agrees with it.

McMillan Tac-50The Canadian special forces soldier used a McMillan TAC-50 sniper rifle, that shoots the BMG .50 caliber round, with a barrel of 29 inches. That is another round, built around relatively slow-burning powder that benefits from increased barrel length. [Photo of Tac-50 via Wikimedia Commons and User MathKnight]

L115A3A recent record holder, Craig Harrison, formerly a Corporal of Horse in the Blues and Royals cavalry regiment of the British Army, used an Accuracy International L115A3 chambered in .338 Lapua Magnum, which sported a 27 inch barrel. [Photo of L115A3 rifle via Wikimedia Commons and user Andrew Linnett]

Click either image for a larger view of the weapons used.

The Australians provide their snipers with Barrett 50 caliber rifles. I have no direct evidence, except the 2800+ meter shot they made a few years back, but I expect they are using the 29 inch barrels for that weapon.

All that said, the current record is quite a feat, with whatever weapon is used.

Tam Reminds Us it is The Anniversary of D-Day

View From The Porch: 6/6/44

The youngest guys wading through that bullet-stirred surf are ninety, now, and there are fewer every year who remember with advantages what feats they did that day…

Go watch The Longest Day. (It is on Netflix.) It isn’t a documentary, but it is pretty good, given the level of special effects available in 1962. And it really does have an “all star cast.” Everyone from John Wayne to Red Buttons.

As for the reference to “…what feats they did that day…” It is the St. Crispin’s Day Speech from Shakespeare’s Henry V. (Also known as the “Band of Brothers Speech.”) This version is from the (somewhat) underrated Danny DeVito film about an out-of-work ad man who gets a job teaching some army recruits.

The Battle of Midway: June 4, 1942

Six months after Pearl Harbor, the US Navy was able to win a major victory at the Island of Midway. Battle of Midway – World War II – HISTORY.com

Thanks in part to major advances in code breaking, the United States was able to preempt and counter Japan’s planned ambush of its few remaining aircraft carriers, inflicting permanent damage on the Japanese Navy. An important turning point in the Pacific campaign, the victory allowed the United States and its allies to move into an offensive position.

The video at History.com is good, but the audio isn’t balanced correctly. Still the article is good.

Although initial strikes by Midway-based planes were not successful, American carrier-based planes turned the tide. Torpedo bombers became separated from the American dive-bombers and were slaughtered (36 of 42 shot down), but they diverted Japanese defenses just in time for the dive-bombers to arrive; some of them had become lost, and now by luck they found the Japanese. The Japanese carriers were caught while refueling and rearming their planes, making them especially vulnerable. The Americans sank four fleet carriers–the entire strength of the task force–Akagi, Kaga, Soryu, and Hiryu, with 322 aircraft and over five thousand sailors. The Japanese also lost the heavy cruiser Mikuma. American losses included 147 aircraft and more than three hundred seamen.

I always enjoyed the 1970s Henry Fonda, Charlton Heston movie, but it probably doesn’t hold up for folks used to 21st century special effects.