At first I thought this was surely the cool fact of the day: Global subway systems converge on common topologies. For example,
Patterns emerged: The core-and-branch topology, of course, and patterns more fine-grained. Roughly half the stations in any subway will be found on its outer branches rather than the core. The distance from a city’s center to its farthest terminus station is twice the diameter of the subway system’s core. This happens again and again.
But really, I think this is the cool fact of the day: the opinion in Hedges v. Obama, in which a fairly newly appointed District Court Judge, Katherine Forrest, holds that a § 1021 of the National Defense Authorization Act is unconstitutional. That vague provision could be read to give the US government authority to put US citizens in military detention for meeting with terrorists and writing about them.
It’s a nicely written opinion; the key move seems to be that the court described the plaintiffs’ activities in speaking, meeting and writing to the government, gave them plenty of time to consider the facts before the hearing, and the government was unwilling or unable to say that these first amendment activities were outside the scope of the statute. This tactical choice by the government also caused the Court to find that the plaintiffs had standing — not commonly the result in such cases. Similarly, the government’s unwillingness to give definite much less narrowing constructions to key statutory terms led the Court to hold the statute unconstitutionally vague.
This is really something — even though it’s just a preliminary injunction. That means there’s still the next round in the District Court, then an appeal to the 2nd Circuit, and perhaps beyond.
You learn a lot of strange stuff on the Internet. Some of it is even true.
Of things I have learned online that appear to be true this one, if it is true, has got to be among the strangest: Kodak Had a Secret Nuclear Reactor Loaded With Enriched Uranium Hidden In a Basement.
It really gives a whole new possible meaning to ‘too big to fail’. Do we need to inquire of major corporations if they have signed the Comprehensive Nucclear Test-Ban Treaty? What if CitiBank or JP Morgan have nukes?
Kodak, now in bankruptcy, says it had the reactor in order to do radiological tests of the purity of materials. And it dismantled the whole thing under government supervision in 2006. Just a few years later Kodak went into Chapter 11.
Could this explain why Kodak isn’t getting a government bailout? I kid, I kid. I hope.
Juan Cole, Top Ten Ways the US Military can Avoid Teaching Hatred of Muslims recites stuff that I would have thought would be obvious, yet it clearly needs saying.
Given that the field/senior grades of the US officer corps is, in my admittedly limited experience, usually pretty smart (or better), it’s especially mysterious to me how they (or at least a number of them) can be so dumb about some of these things.
U Miami Political Science Professor Gregory Koger knows how to get way ahead of the curve, and has published a comprehensive treatment of what will someday be a major political issue — Should we build a Death Star?:
I wish to address the most important policy question of the millenium: should we build a Death Star? This debate picked up this year after some Lehigh University students estimated that just the steel for a Death Star would cost $852 quadrillion, or 13,000 times the current GDP of the Earth. Kevin Drum suggests this cost estimate is too low but, in the context of a galactic economy, a Death Star is perfectly affordable and “totally worth it.” Seth Masket and Jamelle Bouie highlight the military downside of the Death Star, suggesting that more people might rebel against the wholesale genocide of the Empire, and that the Death Star would be the prime target of any rebellion. I have two thoughts to add. First, the Death Star is a bit misunderstood. It is primarily a tool of domestic politics rather than warfare, and should be compared to alternative means of suppressing the population of a galaxy. Second, as a weapon of war, it should be compared to alternative uses of scarce defense resources. Understood properly, the Death Star is not worth it.
And there’s lots more where that came from.
I look forward to subsequent articles about the costs, benefits, and ethical ramifications of building a time machine, a Stargate, and a transporter.
This, from Crooks & Liars is an arresting graphic,
It is based on the info in the Timeline of United States military operations at Wikipedia.
That suggests to me that the graphic is in fact significantly over-inclusive for ordinary definitions of “war”. For example, the timeline includes this entry:
1873–96 – Mexico. United States troops crossed the Mexican border repeatedly in pursuit of cattle and other thieves and other brigands.
Was the US at war with Mexico for almost 25 years? Not as I understand it.
On the other hand, the graphic is also under-inclusive as the timeline excludes CIA-only and other ‘secret’ wars.
So a better title might have been, “Years in which the US engaged in acknowledged foreign military operations”. It would still be an arresting graphic.
The Heritage Foundation Then and Now — Counterpunch.
On December 26, 2012 the Director of Heritage’s Center for Foreign Policy Studies, Dr. James J. Carafano, published a commentary in the Washington Examiner, “What To Do about Obama’s Pound-Foolish Air Force.” Without saying so explicitly, he implied that the legendary Col. John R. Boyd, “a fighter pilot’s fighter pilot” in Dr. Carafano’s words, would favor what the good doctor wants: to reopen production of the $411 million F-22 and to buy more $154 million F-35s.
Secretary of Defense Robert Gates’ decision to terminate F-22 production should be appreciated as his single most positive contribution to American air power—and certainly one of the very few issues he would have seen eye to eye with John Boyd.
It gets worse regarding the F-35. When Boyd died 15 years ago, the inevitable failure of the F-35 as a viable combat aircraft was already clear, though not as crushingly obvious as it is to today. In 2012, with the airplane just 20 per cent through its entirely inadequate flight test plan (over 80 per cent of the airplane’s performance characteristics will remain untested in any planned flight test), we already know we are facing across-the-board failures to meet original specifications. Moreover, if the F-35 lived up to 100 percent of its depressingly modest design specifications, it would still be a complete failure in combat utility: a bomber of shorter range, lower payload and far higher vulnerability than the Vietnam War’s appallingly flammable, underperforming F-105 Lead Sled; an air-to-air fighter so unmaneuverable and sluggish in acceleration that any ancient MiG-21 will tear it to shreds; and a close support fighter that is a menace to our troops on any battlefield, unable to hit camouflaged tactical targets and incapable of distinguishing friendly soldiers from enemies. Individually and collectively, we often fretted with Boyd on the irresponsibility of equipping our people with such foolishly complex weapons designs, so bereft of practical combat effectiveness—and on the deep corruption of acquisition programs, such as the F-35’s, that deliberately plan to buy a thousand or more units long before user testing has fully probed combat utility.
Dr. Carafano is free to pump out baloney that pleases his funders, but to invoke Boyd’s legacy to promote F-22 and F-35 spending goes beyond simple, and perhaps willful, misrepresentation. Here is a paradigm of the moral decay so visible among contemporary Washington defense “intellectuals.”
Like they say, read the whole thing.
In a report released today, the Pentagon claims its self-investigation shows that its Bush-era attempt to manipulate news coverage by military analysts on TV was all legal and proper. Yeah, right.
Friday after 5pm is when you release stuff you want to get minimal media. The runup to Christmas is when you release the stuff you really really want to bury.
The poor Pentagon investigators were stymied by the absence of a smoking gun in the official records. (Surprise! The people running the media manipulation campaign didn’t write down their strategic objective. Maybe because they knew it was illegal?) They got nothing useful from interviews of the participants. (Amazingly not one Bush neocon, not to mention not a single retired General or Admiral, including combat veterans, broke down under gentle and long-delayed questioning from the Inspector General’s office.) It was all such a long time ago, can’t we just be friends.
This deadpan NYT report, Pentagon Finds no Fault In Its Ties to TV Analysts, just gives you such a good feeling about it all:
The report found that at least 43 of the military analysts were affiliated with defense contractors. The inspector general’s office said it asked 35 of these analysts whether their participation in the program benefited their business interests. Almost all said no. Based on these answers, the report said, investigators were unable to identify any analysts who “profited financially” from their participation in the program.
The report, however, said that these analysts may have gained “many other tangible and intangible benefits” from their special access. (Eight analysts said they believed their participation gave them better access to top Defense Department officials, for example.) The report said that a lack of clear “internal operating procedures” may have contributed to “the perception” that participation by military analysts with ties to defense contractors “provided a financial benefit.”
Not even a wrist slap.