Tag Archives: war

Ghosts of the Osfront – an audio-chronicle of Germany/Russia during WWII

Here is a promo from my favorite historian, Dan Carlin. He does a show called Hardcore History and the name fits. So be warned that this is real, no punches are pulled.

The topic for this show, called “Ghosts of the Osfront”, is the battle between Germany and Russia in World War II. He starts with the brutality and effectiveness of the Germans as they start the war. Then, moves into the bloody Russian counterattack that eventually leads them to invade-back Germany. Millions of lives are lost, atrocities are committed, and more you don’t even want to know about.

Or do you?

If so, then this show is for you. Listen to this promo to find out if this fits your style.

 

 

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Visit Wales and its 641 castles – a mixture of gothic, medieval, and Victorian styles

With its rolling hills and numerous royal conquests, there’s no place where history comes alive in such a lush setting as it does in Wales. Everywhere you look, the evidence of kings, queens, conflict and empire call to you. There are more than 600 castles – 641 to be precise – so even without trying you’ll come across a few. Even the country’s young capital has one – right in the heart of the city. Cardiff Castle mixes medieval and Victorian gothic architectural styles to thrilling effect.

These proud battlements are a historical legacy that is testament to a tumultuous past, and to the indomitable spirit of the fighting Welsh – these castles were built for a reason.

When the Romans withdrew, the separate Welsh kingdoms were left to squabble and spar for centuries until the Normans landed in the 11th century. But the Welsh proved unwilling subjects even then. It was not until Edward I – the famous subduer of William “Braveheart” Wallace – launched his war of subjugation two centuries later that Wales finally fell to England’s boot.

Edward consolidated his victory with the impressive castles you can still visit today. Most are in excellent repair, with walls as solid now as when their first stones went in the ground.

Beaumaris – the biggest castle Edward built and a truly imposing military fortress. It is located on the island of Anglesey, separated from mainland Wales by the Menai Strait, which is home to Prince William in his duties as a Royal Air Force search-and-rescue pilot.

William is most intimately connected to the most majestic of the Unesco castles, the stunningly preserved Caernarfon Castle. This is where his father, Prince Charles, was invested as the Prince of Wales – and where, one day, William is likely to follow suit.

 

Keep reading: The Guardian - Discover the proud history of Wales

 

 

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U.S. Air Force places overpowering jet armada near Iran

The U.S. Air Force is quietly assembling the world’s most powerful air-to-air fighting team at bases near Iran. Stealthy F-22 Raptors on their first front-line deployment have joined a potent mix of active-duty and Air National Guard F-15 Eagles, including some fitted with the latest advanced radars. The Raptor-Eagle team has been honing special tactics for clearing the air of Iranian fighters in the event of war.

The highly-experienced Massachusetts Guardsmen, who typically have several years more experience than their active-duty counterparts, would be ready “should Iran test the 104th,” said wing commander Col. Robert Brooks.

…it’s the methods above that the U.S. dogfighting armada would likely use to wipe out the antiquated but determined Iranian air force if the unthinkable occurred and fighting broke out. The warplanes are in place. The pilots are ready. Hopefully they won’t be needed.

via Wired – Danger Room

 

F-15 Eagle at Mountain Home Air Force Base

 

// Photo - Bundeswehr-Fotos Wir.Dienen.Deutschland.

21st century modern art – graffiti – 26 beloved pieces

I particularly like the paintings on the ground that give depth, like you’re falling into a mouth or a bowl of soup.

Chiang Mai, Thailand

Nizhniy Novgorod, Russia

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You want lower gas prices – here is what it takes

The U.S. Navy is upgrading its defensive and offensive capabilities in the Persian Gulf to counter threats from Iran to seize the Strait of Hormuz and block the flow of oil, the chief of naval operations said Friday.

Adm. Jonathan W. Greenert told reporters in Washington that the Navy will add four more mine-sweeping ships and four more CH-53 Sea Stallion helicopters with mine-detection capability. The Navy is also sending more underwater unmanned mine-neutralization units to the region.

Greenert said he plans to assign more  patrol craft to the gulf, possibly armed with Mark 38 Gatling guns.

The narrow Strait of Hormuz is a key transit way for oil tankers. Any closure of the strait could send oil prices skyrocketing, officials say.

via World Now – LA Times

 

Makes riding a bike for those “70 percent of Americans’ car trips are less than two miles long,” seem like a better idea.

Robot cheetah sets speed record for legged robots

This video shows a demonstration of the “Cheetah” robot galloping at speeds of up to 18 miles per hour (mph), setting a new land speed record for legged robots. The previous record was 13.1 mph, set in 1989.

The robot’s movements are patterned after those of fast-running animals in nature. The robot increases its stride and running speed by flexing and un-flexing its back on each step, much as an actual cheetah does.

The current version of the Cheetah robot runs on a laboratory treadmill where it is powered by an off-board hydraulic pump, and uses a boom-like device to keep it running in the center of the treadmill. Testing of a free-running prototype is planned for later this year.

 

I can’t explain why but watching this video makes me very scared. I think someone needs to make a horror movie with speedy robot cheetahs to haunt my nightmares.

This description of the robotics program doesn’t help any:

Robots hold great promise for amplifying human effectiveness in Defense operations. Compared to human beings and animals, however, the mobility and manipulation capability of present day robots is poor. In addition, design and manufacturing of current robotic systems are time consuming, and fabrication costs remain high. If these limitations were overcome, robots could assist in the execution of military operations far more effectively across a far greater range of missions.

via DARPA Defense Sciences Office

NASA completely hacked, several times in cyber war

NASA said hackers broke into its computer systems 13 times last year, stealing employee credentials and gaining access to mission-critical projects in breaches that could compromise U.S. national security.

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration spends only $58 million of its $1.5 billion annual IT budget on cyber security, Paul Martin, the agency’s inspector general, told a Congressional panel on NASA security earlier this week.

“Some NASA systems house sensitive information which, if lost or stolen, could result in significant financial loss, adversely affect national security, or significantly impair our nation’s competitive technological advantage,”

He said the agency discovered in November that hackers working through a Chinese-based IP address broke into the network of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

He said they gained full system access, which allowed them to modify, copy, or delete sensitive files.

Unencrypted notebook computers that have been lost or stolen include ones containing codes for controlling the International Space Station as well as sensitive data on NASA’s Constellation and Orion programs and Social Security numbers, Martin said.

via Reuters

Advanced Moneyball statistics for the 2012 Baseball season – WAR, FIP, and OPS

Moneyball (the movie) introduced the basic concept of advanced statistical analysis to a mainstream audience. Now that we’re talking about advanced stats (short-handed as sabermetrics, thanks to Bill James of the Society for American Baseball Research) and great sites like Baseball Prospectus and FanGraphs, let’s take a closer look.

 

OPS (On-Base Plus Slugging)

This is an easy-to-understand offensive metric that provides a huge advance beyond the “basic” stats of RBIs, batting average and home runs. OPS is simply on-base percentage plus slugging percentage (total bases divided by at-bats). It’s essentially a way to look at how a player contributes both in terms of getting on base and hitting for power.

2011 major league OPS leaders: Jose Bautista, Blue Jays (1.056); Miguel Cabrera, Tigers (1.033); NL MVP Ryan Braun, Brewers (.994); Matt Kemp, Dodgers (.986).

 

WAR: Wins Above Replacement

WAR, wins above replacement, is about as close to a “What does this player really mean to my team?” catchall valuation as we’re going to get. Its definition is straightforward: How many more wins does a player add above a replacement-level player?

Baseball-Reference’s key to WAR: 8+ WAR is an MVP candidate, 5+ WAR is All-Star Level, 2+ WAR is a solid starter, 0-2 WAR is a bench player (a 24th/25th man on the roster), while anything below 0 is replacement level.

According to FanGraphs, Jacoby Ellsbury led the majors with an otherworldly WAR of 9.4 in 2011. Kemp followed at 8.7, with Bautista behind him at 8.3 and Braun at 7.8. On the other end of the spectrum, Raul Ibanez registered a minus-1.3 WAR (probably one reason why he’s looking for work right now). On the mound, Halladay led all pitchers with an 8.2 WAR. Verlander had an impressive 7.0 WAR and NL Cy Young winner Clayton Kershaw was 6.8.

 

FIP: Fielding Independent Pitching

We’re all comfortable with ERA as a basic pitching statistic. But ERA gives us only the average of earned runs per nine innings. It’s simple and straightforward. Low ERA is good. Simple. But what if there was a way to factor out all the things that the pitcher can’t control?

Turns out some really smart guys devised FIP, a formula that includes the things pitchers can control — home runs, walks, hit by pitch and strikeouts — and eliminates everything else (hits, errors, quality of fielders, etc.). FIP does what it says: It looks at pitching independent of fielding and other variables that impact a pitcher’s performance.

FIP is an excellent way to predict a pitcher’s future performance.

Let’s take a look at some notable pitchers to see how their ERA and FIP looked in 2011: Roy Halladay (Phillies): 2.35 ERA, 2.20 FIP; Clayton Kershaw (Dodgers): 2.28 ERA, 2.47 FIP; Justin Verlander (Tigers): 2.40 ERA, 2.99 FIP.

All three had great years, but you’ll see that except for Halladay, all of them had higher FIP than ERA. Does that mean that a regression is in order?

You should look for pitchers with a higher FIP/ERA differential because that’s where the pitching values can be found. An example would be Toronto starter Brandon Morrow. His ERA was a not-great 4.72 but his FIP was a respectable 3.64. The 1.08 ranked as the third-highest FIP/ERA differential in the majors.

via ESPN Women – contains four more saberstats: wOBA, VORP, BABIP, UZR.

A real Moneyball story – the reinvention of pitcher Brandon McCarthy

SEVEN PITCHES. That’s how long it took for the verdict to come in. On April 5, in the first inning of his first start in an A’s uniform, Brandon McCarthy went groundout, groundout, groundout. It was a one-inning sabermetric masterpiece. For the game, he lasted eight innings — the second-longest start of his career — and threw just 89 pitches.

McCarthy’s filthy stuff was no laughing matter. “He’s not trying to strike you out,” says Hunter, who had long dominated the lanky pitcher — until last season. “He’s trying to get a ground ball. He’s keeping guys off balance, and he’s hitting his spots. He’s learned how to pitch.” (“The first time I got him out last year,” says McCarthy, “I was like, ‘Oh my god, I really did something!’ That just wasn’t possible before.”) A’s manager Bob Melvin says McCarthy’s new pitching approach reminds him of Greg Maddux, the 300-game winner and surefire Hall of Famer. Says Melvin: “He takes great pride in being able to throw the ball where he wants.” And when he wants.

He learned about FIP, or fielding independent pitching, a statistical aggregate that combines what a pitcher can control (homers, walks, strikeouts), ignores what he can’t (luck, defense) and is a truer barometer than ERA. He also learned about BABIP, or batting average on balls in play, a stat that indicates whether a pitcher has been especially lucky (under .300) or unlucky (over .300). He learned about WAR, or wins above replacement, the all-inclusive, apples-to-apples metric that tells how valuable a player is to his team. He learned about ground ball rates, strikeout-to-walk ratios and more.

via Saviormetrics – ESPN The Magazine

How to win the zombie apocalypse

Zombie man costume

The zombie apocalypse has arrived. Your neighbors are creeping after you and the world is facing its most terrifying disease. Everything is coming to an end. Here is how to not only survive but win.

First thing first, this is a war, it’s the zombies vs the living. We must act appropriately. I’m talking daily training with push-ups, discipline, and combat practice. The good news is that we have all the advantages, we are faster, smarter, and stronger. Plus, we can form groups that multiply our abilities.

Step 1 – Join Steve’s Army

I like to think of myself as a master tactician and solid leader. I will be leading this force and we will not hide from the zombies. Every day we will kill several of them. All are welcome to join the army, men, women, and children. With the condition that you accept my command and discipline.

Step 2 – Killing the Zombies

The two most important elements of a zombie war are intelligence and weapons.

For intelligence, I’m not talking about IQ but knowledge of the zombies. How many are they, where are they, what are the best locations to attack from. We want to be offensive as well as defensive and will win through superior tactics.

This is especially important because unlike most wars losing a soldier is a double loss. Our fighter joins the enemy as zombie.

We will spend a majority of our time patrolling, creating maps, working out communication channels, and more. Like Sun Tzu said, “every battle is won before it is ever fought.

Ideally we will have a doctor, scientist, or researcher among us who can help us understand the zombie. Like this fellow:

For weapons, we need to consider our enemy. In the show, The Walking Dead, firing a gun makes a loud noise and attracts more zombies. This makes firearms only ideal for certain situations. Used only as a last resort or when you want to attract the zombies for a killfest.

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