Covid-19

With all of the news being about Covid-19 all the time all the channels, I guess I need to address it.

  1. It’s best avoided if you can avoid it. Social distancing works. Despite the low death rate it can leave permanent organ damage and infertility.
  2. If you get it, isolating yourself is the best way to avoid passing it on to others. Pick one room, stay in it unless you are going to the one bathroom you use (that no one else uses). If you only have one bathroom, sterilize it with a 10% bleach solution after every time you use it. You’ll need about two weeks of food/water on hand so you don’t have to break isolation (or someone will have to deliver said items).
  3. Reports from France indicate that taking NSAIDs can worsen the disease. This is consistent with research findings that indicate you should wait 3 or 4 days into your symptoms to start treating a fever with NSAIDs in order to allow your body to let the COX enzymes trigger the immune response that leads to IgG and IgM formation.
  4. Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate. Mix a sports drink 50/50 with water to ensure you keep your electrolytes up, and get some calories in you at the same time. Most deaths from fevers are really deaths from dehydration.
  5. After you recover, make a 10% bleach solution and spray/wipe it over all the surfaces of your house that you contaminated while sick. You can add a little liquid dish soap to the mix to make it foam and lift grease if you want additional cleaning power rather than just sterilizing.

I’m not particularly worried. Having been a “prepper” for quite a while now my family is pretty well set to shelter in place and wait out even a month long disaster. No “panic buying” for us, although it does make normal shopping more difficult (we try to avoid crowds).

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It’s been a bad few months for the IRGC

The death of IRGC commander Major General Qassem Soleimani was the culmination of years of provocative attacks on United States and allies within the middle east. It’s no secret that the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps and “Qods Force” have been actively helping the Assad regime against ISIS/Daesch, and actively provoking Iraqi Shia Militia Groups to attack coalition bases (the Government of Iraq requested assistance from the international community in 2014 to fight Daesch, and the terms of that assistance is that when they ask the international community to leave there is a year to complete the exit). So far the Government of Iraq has not officially asked the coalition to leave, so rocket, mortar and small arms attacks on coalition bases are simply proof that the Government of Iraq cannot control the Shia Militia Groups aligned with Iran.

I won’t go into events prior to January 3rd, 2020, suffice to say that there is a lot of history and backstory.

3 Jan 2020: Qassem Soleimani https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2020/01/qassem-soleimani-iran-elite-quds-force-leader-200103033905377.html

22 Jan 2020: Abdolhossein Mojaddami https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2020/01/masked-gunmen-kill-local-commander-iran-security-forces-200122142349845.html

4 Feb 2020: Asghar Bashpour https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20200204-soleimani-aide-killed-in-syria/

18 Feb 2020: Hamidreza Babelkhani aka Haj Ebrahim  https://thedefensepost.com/2020/02/18/syria-iran-irgc-hamidreza-babelkhani-killed-in-aleppo/

7 March 2020: Farhad Dabirian https://en.radiofarda.com/a/iran-guard-s-commander-dies-in-syria-in-possible-assassination-/30474950.html

13 March 2020: Siamand Mashhadani https://www.jpost.com/Middle-East/Was-Iranian-IRGC-General-Siamand-Mashhadani-killed-in-US-airstrikes-620862

So six, give or take, IRGC members have perished from bombs or bullets in the past three months. The only acknowledged “targeted killing” was the 3 January 2020 strike on Qassem Soleimani, the other five were “meh, too bad he happened to be at the location of a known terrorist location” or “hell, stuff just happens in war” or in the case of Mojaddami “two guys on a motorcycle sure sounds like an internal security problem.”

What is pretty evident to me (but still pure speculation on my part) is that at least one government, probably many more, are tired of Iranian Qods Force leadership complicating the political situation in the Middle East and trying to cut back their influence in the Levant. With Iranian influence minimized it isn’t too far of a stretch to see the US, Russia, Turkey, and Iraq coming to a ceasefire agreement with Syria. The Syrian Democratic Forces would get slaughtered by Syria and Russia should the coalition pull out rapidly (not really my problem, but it wouldn’t be a politically acceptable move), which would likely set up conditions for yet another transnational terror group to rise up. My guess is that we’ll see one or two IRGC leaders taken out per month for the foreseeable future.

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Hydrostatic Shock

If you do a Google image search for “hydrostatic shock” you’ll pick up a bunch of pictures of bullets going through ballistics gel and causing a big cavity as they do so. That big cavity is caused by the passage of the bullet and the not compressible nature of liquids, but after the bullet passes it generally slurps right back down to the “permanent wound channel.”

So what is “hydrostatic shock” really? Well, in WWII a surgeon noticed that wounded servicemembers were going into “shock” from bullet wounds, and opined that maybe this was from “hydraulic effects.” Later, studies on pig carcasses determined that the hydraulic effect distant to the wound channel was negligible. Later still, other scientists hooked up live pigs to EEGs to monitor brain activity, then shot the pigs and recorded the difference in brain waves and activity location. They discovered, that animals shot, even in an extremity, do go into “shock.” Other scientists still believe that this change in brain activity is due to pressure waves from the bullet impact site, but I’m skeptical and think that if you slam the impact site with a sledgehammer you’d see a similar change in brain activity since the scientists with the EEG didn’t differentiate a pain/injury response separate than that of a gunshot wound.

So, from a physical, biological perspective, “hydrostatic shock” isn’t a real thing. You have the permanent wound cavity that crushed and destroys tissue, and you have the temporary wound cavity that doesn’t destroy tissue but moves it around a bit. Both of those things you can measure. Ironically, if the temporary wound cavity is larger than the animal, such as a prairie dog hit with a 55gr FMJ from a 22-250, you’ll see the temporary wound cavity turn into a “pop” of red mist as the animal turns into chunks.

Now, blast waves on tissue is a real thing, and can produce negative medical outcomes up to and including death. Being too close to an explosion is a significant emotional event (speaking from experience here). But getting punched in the chest or head at the wrong time or angle can also kill you, and the energy levels there are MUCH lower than those produced by most service pistols. Still, most people shot with pistols don’t die, but many are incapacitated by “shock” if they aren’t also in a fight where they don’t notice being shot at all because of a surge of adrenaline from the “fight or flight” response.

So…hydrostatic shock isn’t a real thing. Don’t waste your money on anything that advertises superior hydrostatic shock effects. There are no pictures of “hydrostatic shock” on the internet, only pictures of a “temporary wound channel” in ballistics gelatin. The fact that animals can go into “shock” when injured (from a fall, an attack by another animal, a gunshot wound, or even heat exhaustion) is perfectly normal, and has everything to do with the standard biological response to injury rather than some mythical effect of a bullet.

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Thoughts on World War Three

If we use World War Two as a model for World War Three one thing becomes immediately apparent. World War Three will likely not involve a land war in Asia of the west attacking east, or a land war in Europe of east attacking west. I know this conclusion seems counter productive given that both World War One and Two were precisely fought in those arenas, but bear with me.

Everyone’s military is smaller now. Even China, with the largest military force by numbers, is smaller than the Soviet total military at the start of Operation Barbarosa.  At that time the Soviets had 14 million in Reserve forces alone, which allowed them to generate Divisions just as fast as the Wehrmacht whittled them away to the tune of over 27,000 persons per day. The Germans were being whittled at about a tenth of that, but given their smaller starting numbers, in the end Stalin’s observation that “quantity has a quality all its own” proved true. At least it proved true with western logistical support for trucks, ammo, weapons, etc.

Because everyone’s military forces are smaller (both active and reserve) Word War Three is limited to some form of nuclear missile exchange (aka the great fear of the last Cold War) or some form of direct conflict not in Europe or Asia which will devolve into a stalemate as did Korea. I like to think that this is the same sort of outcome as the 1973 Arab Israeli conflict, where both sides fought to a political standstill as the Americans rapidly reinforced the Israelis and the Soviets did their best for their Muslim allies. But that war ate up more than a years worth of economic output from either the Soviets or Americans, so it showed exactly how costly a peer to peer fight is.

So…the Americans chose to develop better fighting systems so it wouldn’t be a true peer fight. And the Soviets chose to develop extensive electronic warfare capabilities to nullify the American (aka western) ability to sense and communicate so that they could use their superior numbers to overwhelm the west at points (a technique they perfected in The Great Patriotic War as they fought from Moscow to Berlin).  In short, the Americans planned on winning in open warfare by being better on the field in terms of combined arms maneuver, and the Soviets planned on winning in open warfare by setting the conditions to rely on defense until they could mass overwhelming firepower combined with surprise and information isolation of their opponent.

Desert Storm, unfortunately does NOT give us good information on what an American versus Russian or American versus Chinese conflict would look like. Each of those three nations has a distinct “character” about how they wage war and advance their national interests. Both Russia and China are willing to take a longer time-frame to advance their interests before committing military forces, which makes it difficult to predict WHEN they would commit forces.

So…why do I think that World War Three won’t be a land war? The occupation attempts of Afghanistan by the Soviets, then Americans. The “insurgency” in Iraq. The modern lessons that a conquered people are not truly conquered, especially not in an area as heavily armed as the United States. Ground warfare to impose political change on another country has prove quite foolhardy to both the east and west. The classical “war is a contest to impose your will on the opponent” has pretty much been broken as a model for post WWII warfare.

So what will World War Three look like? A few scenarios come to mind, such the military invasion of Taiwan that triggers a US response that drags Russia into the mix could do it. Alternately North Korea truly going rogue, launching a high altitude EMP nuke at the US over the polar shot, and invading south could do it as that pulls in all the major players too. Less likely, Russia fakes a “spontaneous referendum” in the territory of a NATO member and triggers and Article 5 response. Or Russia blunders into a fighting war by making a critical mistake with an aggressive unannounced flyby or sailby that causes an accident and suddenly we are all in a shooting war at sea.

Even darker possibilities for World War Three exist. Biological warfare for example, could potentially eliminate enough of a target population that classical “invade and conquer” tactics might tempt leaders into using them. The Soviets had a pretty robust biological warfare research program, and good money would bet on the Chinese having at least a few illegal research sights on the mainland.

Of course my crystal ball works about as well as any hucksters, so I have no clue if my thoughts on the matter have any bearing on our actual future. Honestly the status quo of proxy wars and economic tit for tat sparring is the most likely future for all the great powers.

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Rapid Deployment of the 82nd Airborne Immediate Response Force

I’ve written before about the cost of an Airborne brigade for the US Army. On the 31st of December 2019 the call went out to activate and deploy the Immediate Response Force of the 82nd Airborne Division to Iraq and Kuwait in response to threats to US embassies in the region. The last time a call up of that size happened was 1982, and the planes turned around as the strategic threat of thousands of pissed off paratroopers landing in a country achieved the political endstate without putting boots on the ground.

This time, however, no combat parachuting was involved in getting into Iraq. Normal deployment via aircraft landing as they should at forward bases happened in the normal sense. However, now the CENTCOM Commander has an Airborne capable reserve training hard in Kuwait that can respond to a crisis as needed, and generally faster than other formations. However, the same calculus applies, once you commit Paratroopers by mass tactical drop, you are irrevocably committed to the fight. It’s hard to play “just the tip” with the one way trip that parachutes offer.

Right now the situation has calmed somewhat, Iraqi and Iranian politics are still fractious and stuck on stupid. Nothing in the middle east happens quickly at the political or strategic level (even the Iranian revolution took years and months to come to fruition).

Lesson learned? The “Arab Spring” didn’t bring Democracy to the Middle East, and President Obama and SecState Clinton were fools for supporting the “moderate muslims” who all died to be replaced by ISIS or Daesch. The only things Muslims hate more than having infidels on their land is losing a war, which is the only reason why they tolerate having infidels on their land. Now that the immediate threat of ISIS/Daesch is muted, the distrust for the infidel comes to the forefront of politics again, although this time there are some interesting trends.

Iraqi youth are largely pro western and pro American in their outlook. They’ve seen America leave their country, saw things get worse as a consequence, saw America return on invitation, and saw things get better as a consequence. This is strategically a good thing for the west, as Iraqi youth will grow into the largest political body in the future and may counter some of the Iranian influence.

The Iranian missile strike, which caused a lot of traumatic brain injuries (TBIs or concussions) was probably intended to be lethal and it is likely Iranian leadership is disappointed that American troops are leaving for hospital care rather than funeral homes. The 22 missiles each carried a significant warhead, and served as a reminder that Iran has plenty of them to launch should they decide that open warfare against the U.S. is in their best interest. That would be a poor decision for them, frankly.

Syria is still a straight mess. Turkey and Russia are making a hash of things still, but it seems both countries are using Syria as a testing ground for troops, tactics, and new equipment. This may or may not signal a rift between Turkey and NATO or Turkey and Russia, but it is clear that Turkey wants more say in regional affairs.

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Iran

To be perfectly honest, I’m not exactly a neutral party when it comes to countries in the middle east. I’ve lost friends in both Iraq and Afghanistan. With that caveat out of the way, here’s my understanding about the current situation.

First, Iran took the view a long time ago that it would support terrorism in the middle east as an asymmetric response to the military might of the United States and Israel. This is perfectly normal and logical, as terrorism is an asymmetric strategy.

Second, relations between the US and Iran have drifter closer and more distant over the years and administrations. If Iran really wanted to emerge from US sanctions, it could have done so by capitalizing on the weakness of the Obama administration. That Iran chose not to manipulate the Obama administration into normalized relations simply means that Iran prefers supporting terrorism to ending sanctions. This is not surprising to anyone who has paid attention to the actions and choices that Iranian leadership has historically made.

Third, killing the leader of the Quds force is a good thing. It is the first signal to Iran in decades that the United States is fed up with the Iranian efforts to destabilize Iraq, Lebanon, and Syria in order to attack Israel. The rocket attack retaliation is normal, because Iran, just like Russia, will ALWAYS respond to any potential threat to their interests.

Lastly, we probably aren’t going to war with Iran. Killing one man to prevent further attacks in Iraq was a deliberate message, just like their rockets were a deliberate message. The wild card here is the Trump administration, which has a reputation for blustery foreign policy that accomplishes very little (China and North Korea for example). The reason why Trump is accomplishing very little is that we swap out leaders every 4 to 8 years, and they are simply waiting to deal with the next guy in 1 or 5 years.

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State of the blog at the start of a new decade

Well, it is the 1st of January, Year of Our Lord Two Thousand and Twenty. At the moment of typing I have 64,646 total views from 48,116 visitors. I’ve typed 51,167 words last year. My total word count has been falling continuously for the last three years. In 2016 I wrote 102,699 words, 2017 saw a near 20% reduction to 83,774, 2018 dropped further to 60,990.  The most popular posts are about watch movements, WWII fighting/utility knives, and rifle barrel treatments.

I hope even if the word and post count declines quantitatively that there is a qualitative increase in content.

Since starting this blog back in 2015 I’ve earned a second Bachelors degree and my first (probably only) Masters degree, both in IT security (which is why I blog about such exciting things as virtual private networks and computer hardware from time to time). I’ve started the second class Intermediate Level Education (ILE) with the distance education Command and General Staff College option (so far, very little value gained from the academic experience).

I’ve also gotten 5 years older, also ran two half marathons and a ten miler. Last year was the “year of low carb” as my wife decided she wanted to lose some weight, and I figured I’d make it easy on her so I went low carb too. Dropped over 10% of my body weight. Over 12 months that’s less than 1% weight change per month, which seems healthy and sustainable. My wife also started tracking our budget and spending habits, which in turn caused some behavior changes to change how we spend money. A massive decrease in purchasing prepared foods allowed us to transition to the “low carb lifestyle” and still save money despite the increased grocery bill. A weird added benefit is that I can really handle the transition to “very hungry” much easier, evidently after a year of low carb my body transitions to burning stored fat much faster than before.

 

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