Thursday, September 21, 2023

Following on from yesterday's article about the sexual revolution...


... here are two items of interest.  Both deal with sensitive issues, and may be offensive to some readers, so I suggest you don't read further if you want to avoid such difficulties.  Also, if you haven't yet read yesterday's article, I suggest you do so before continuing.

First, here's a TEDx talk by Gail Dines titled "Growing Up in a Pornified Culture".  It shows very clearly the sort of society in which our young ladies are growing up - and it's terrifying to anyone of a more traditional morality.  If you're a parent, you should watch the whole thing.

Next, an article that appeared this morning at The Free Press titled "The Woman Who Stood Up to the Porn Industry—and Won".  Here's an excerpt.

Not only has Schlegel curbed the billion-dollar online porn industry for the first time in history, forcing websites to protect kids in Louisiana and pull out of at least three U.S. states, she has offered a legislative blueprint for others across the country.

“I am truly humbled to see that we began a movement that has swept the country and began a long overdue conversation about how we can protect kids from hardcore pornography,” she says. 

Schlegel’s crusade started back in December 2021. She had listened to The Howard Stern Show and 21-year-old pop sensation Billie Eilish talking about online porn. Eilish told Stern that she began watching “abusive” images at the age of 11, and that this had warped her sense of how to behave during sex and what women’s bodies look like.

“No vagina looks like this,” Eilish told Stern. “I feel incredibly devastated that I was exposed to so much porn.”

Schlegel was struck by Eilish’s openness, that she was “just a young girl being vulnerable enough to share those details with the world.”

The singer’s story also chimed with Schlegel’s professional experience both as a sex addiction therapist and a court-appointed special advocate for abused and neglected children in the foster care system. She knew the issues facing young clients raised on unlimited free online porn—the decoupling of intimacy from sex; the inability to get aroused without porn playing in the background; a warped idea of what your partner actually wants. 

“If you’ve never had your first kiss but you’ve seen hardcore pornography, it’s going to mold the way you view sexuality,” Schlegel said. “You’re not dealing with a fully formed adult brain that's like, ‘Oh, so I shouldn’t strangle my partner?’ ” 

If Schlegel understood the damage pornography causes, she also knew how easy it is for children to access it. And she realized that now she was a state legislator, she was uniquely positioned to do something about it. 

There's more at the link.  Recommended reading.

Both of these resources help to explain why modern relationships are so sexualized, and how they exclude so many traditional aspects of femininity and the marital bond that we discussed yesterday.  I hope they help make sense of the mess so many of our relationships are in.


Perhaps the most over-the-top fight sequence I've ever seen


It's from the Indian movie "Baahubali 2: The Conclusion", which has an incredibly convoluted plot that I won't attempt to describe here.  You can read more about it at the link.

One doesn't necessarily have to understand the movie to marvel at this extended fight scene.  Suffice it to say that sacred cows on fire aren't the least of its special effects!  Watch it in full-screen mode to get the most out of it.

Spectacular, wasn't it?  Unbelievable, too, of course - but then, that's the way with most Bollywood productions of this sort.


Pretty much


Found on MeWe.  Click the image for a larger view.

That gets it said.

I suggest posting that picture in the teachers' lounge of every kindergarten and elementary school in the country.  Next to it, I'd like to see reward posters offering a bounty on those "teachers" who insist on corrupting our youth in that way.

Works for me . . . how about you?


Wednesday, September 20, 2023

Rust in peace???


I'm reminded of the meeting between Josey Wales and Ten Bears in the movie "The Outlaw Josey Wales".  The Comanche chief told Wales, "There is iron in your words of death".  It looks like a cartel boss in Ecuador went one step further when he took the iron, and his death, to the grave.  The New York Post reports:

A murdered Ecuadorian cartel boss known as “El Fatal” was buried with hundreds of pistols, shotguns and rifles in his coffin so he could be “armed to the teeth in the afterlife.”

Now-viral images show Sevillano in an open casket as people rush to fill it with high-caliber weapons — reportedly so that he would be “armed to the teeth in the afterlife and could defend himself.”

There's more at the link.

I suppose there's a risk that a rival cartel, short of weapons, will dig up "El Fatal" and relieve him of his afterlife arsenal.  That will provoke retaliation, of course, and counter-retaliation, and . . .

If his grave remains undisturbed, with all that metal buried in his casket, it'll definitely be a case of "rust in peace"!


"Body Count": the sexual revolution and the decay in meaningful relationships


I recently read an article in The Atlantic titled "Nobody Should Care About a Woman’s ‘Body Count’".  The original is paywalled, but a non-paywalled version may be found here.  I'm not going to excerpt it here, but I recommend reading it for yourself if the subject interests you.  Basically, the author is arguing that it doesn't matter how many sexual partners a woman has had, and it shouldn't affect her as far as desirability is concerned.

I'd argue that it does, indeed, matter:  and that it also matters as far as men are concerned.  Admittedly, my viewpoint is conditioned by my Christian faith and having many years' experience as a pastor in dealing with relationships, good and bad.  I will add that it wasn't always that way.  In my younger days, I had relationships that I now regret, that were more "what can I get out of it?" rather than "what can I put into it?".  I fear many of us can say the same.  I wish we could have greater wisdom when we were young . . . it would avoid a lot of the damage we do to ourselves, and others, in those "salad days, when we were green in judgment".  Unfortunately, life's not like that.

The huge damage inflicted on meaningful relationships by the "hookup culture" is that it's taken what is (or should be) the most important bonding experience a couple can share, and turned it into a cheap commodity, a voyeur's pornographic fulfilment, a search for new toys to give a more "profound" physical experience.  For centuries - indeed, millennia - the sexual relationship was considered the physical expression of an existing spiritual and societal bond or "contract".  Whether in a romantic relationship or an arranged one, the contract of marriage was supposed to precede the act of marriage (i.e. sex).  Admittedly, this was often honored more in the breach than in the observance, but the theory nevertheless held sway, and governed human society for a very, very long time, no matter what culture or nationality or religion was involved.  The sexual revolution stood that theory on its head.  Sex was no longer a means of expressing that pre-existing bond.  Instead, it became divorced from the bond, becoming no more than a casual encounter that might, or might not, lead to something more intimate in the mental and spiritual sense.

I think the general acceptance of that divorce, and the "commoditization" of sex, have caused immense damage to human relationships.  It's long been said that a woman can't give herself sexually to a man without inevitably committing a part of her personality, her very being, in the exchange.  I know modern psychologists and anthropologists decry this, but in my pastoral experience, I'd say there's a lot of truth in that old saw.  I think women do, inevitably, commit a lot more of themselves when things get physical than men do.  After all, the woman is letting someone else enter her.  She's involved in an act that, absent external chemical or other intervention, is supposed to open the way to new life growing within her.  In other words, the creative aspect of sex is something intrinsic to her reaction and response.  It can't be otherwise, because only she can bear a child.  Men can participate in the initial act, but they don't face the prospect of carrying another living human being inside them for nine months.  Inevitably, for them, sex is more physical, less mental and spiritual, less bound-up in creation and more in recreation.

I've been struck by the number of women who've expressed regret to me about having had too many casual sexual encounters in their younger days.  It's far from infrequent.  They speak of having "wasted intimacy on those who didn't deserve it", or "gone along to get along", or submitted to the "if it feels good, do it" zeitgeist.  Now, in later life, they wish they hadn't, and feel that the intimacy they've achieved with a long-term partner just isn't the same as if they'd been less experienced and more committed.  They've seldom linked that to the creative aspect of sex from a woman's perspective, but I think that relationship can be demonstrated - at least to my satisfaction.  Others may differ, of course.

Even men, if they're honest, will agree that there's a vast difference between "having sex" and "making love".  The former can be impartial, almost agnostic, a mere exchange of bodily fluids, sometimes a commercial transaction rather than a human interaction.  The latter is a giving of self combined with a receiving of the gift of self from another, an exchange, a sharing, a duality.  I had a conversation once with a woman who was far more sexually "liberated" than I was.  She challenged me to describe how making love to my wife was any different from making love to any woman.  I thought for a moment, then answered that I wouldn't be "making love" with someone I didn't actually love.  The physical act of sex, under those conditions, would not be "love-making" at all.  On the other hand, making love with the woman I love was like coming home.  I belonged there.  When she welcomed me into her body, she welcomed me into her soul as well, and renewed her presence in mine at the same time.  The other woman thought for a long, long moment in silence, and then said, with tears in her eyes, "I've never known anything like that... but now I wish I did."

The tragedy is that the more we devalue sex, the more we make it merely another physical transaction instead of something soul-deep, the less it can be a pathway to that level of intimacy.  I've worked with couples where one or both partners had previously had literally hundreds of sexual encounters with others before they married.  Almost universally, I found that their own physical relationship lacked any aspect or feeling of union, of becoming one spiritually and mentally as well as physically.  It was effectively no more than mutual masturbation, because they had reduced sex to that level before they met each other.  They no longer were able to give themselves in the act of marriage, because it was no longer the act of marriage at all.  It was just another thing, something to do to pass the time or feel good before tackling other, more important things.  Other couples who'd had dozens, rather than hundreds, of prior sexual relationships experienced something of the same difficulty, although to a lesser extent than those who'd "burned out" their sexuality by going to extremes.  As a rule of thumb, I found that couples who'd had few romantic and (particularly) physical relationships before marriage found their marital bond (including the physical) much more meaningful and fulfilling than others who'd been more "experienced" ("jaded" or "burned-out" might be better terms).

Notice that I haven't brought God or religion into this at all.  These appear to be human actions and reactions regardless of faith.  When a couple has religious beliefs as well, the latter appear to reinforce and strengthen and elevate their bond to a whole new level, and I'm profoundly grateful to have been able to help some of them achieve that.  However, even in the absence of faith, the basic make-up of the human psyche appears to be consistent.  Abuse intimacy, and one can no longer experience it to its fullest extent.  At its worst, one may no longer be able to experience it at all.  The number of sexual partners one has had - whether one is male or female - is therefore, in my experience, a significant indicator of the likelihood - or otherwise - of potential or actual problems in a subsequent permanent relationship.

I know my views will be controversial, particularly to those with a more liberated perspective.  Therefore, I invite readers to contribute their thoughts in Comments.  I think we might all benefit from a wider discussion of this issue.


Azerbaijan vs Armenia: Here we go again - with a nasty twist in the tail


Looks like hostilities have erupted once again between Azerbaijan and Armenia, the former the aggressor (this time) and the latter the defender.  However, there are a number of factors that make this rather more threatening than earlier conflicts.

  • Russia had been the "peacekeeper" between the two states, basically stopping Azerbaijan from taking more disputed territory from Armenia after the former's battlefield successes.  That was before the Ukraine war.  Now, Russian forces are bogged down in Ukraine, and there are probably none to spare to keep the peace elsewhere.  Azerbaijan is probably going to take full advantage of that.
  • Iran has long regarded Azerbaijan with suspicion.  The Azeris are the biggest single non-Persian ethnic group in Iran, and Iran wants their loyalties firmly oriented towards Teheran.  If Azerbaijan grows big enough and gets successful enough to stoke the fires of ethnic loyalties, it threatens Iranian internal unity.  Furthermore, Azerbaijan's ties to Israel infuriate Iran, which has vowed to exterminate the Jewish state.  Recent military exercises by Iranian forces near the border with Azerbaijan have raised tensions.  What if Iran decides that it's time to stop Azerbaijan before it grows any more powerful or successful?
  • Armenia is majority Christian;  Azerbaijan is majority Muslim.  Will this new outbreak of fighting contribute to religious instability in the region?
  • Russia has been working on strengthening ties with Iran, and has been considered pro-Armenia by that country.  What if its focus on those nations forces its hand, making it do something to "keep the peace" by reining in Azerbaijan?  What will that mean for its ongoing war with Ukraine?  Could Ukraine take advantage of the distraction?
  • If all the above happen, there are several other ethnic tensions in the area of the former Soviet Union that could flare up, all taking advantage of the distraction to pursue their own interests.  Russia fought a brief war with Georgia in 2008, which Georgia lost.  The Muslim fundamentalist separatists in several former Soviet republics (particularly Chechnya, Dagestan and nearby areas) have been successfully suppressed by Russian military and security forces, sometimes very bloodily.  Would any or all of these nations and areas take advantage of a flare-up between Armenia and Azerbaijan to pursue their own interests - to Russia's disadvantage?
The geopolitical implications are potentially very serious.  Peter Zeihan explains.

As if we needed another hot spot in that part of the world . . .


Tuesday, September 19, 2023

Bear heaven?


Alaskan wildlife reminds me very much of African wildlife - they do as they please, and don't give a damn if you don't like it!

A mama black bear and her cub had their fill of sweets Tuesday morning when they climbed into a van delivering Krispy Kreme Doughnuts and devoured several boxes of the freshly baked treats.

The van was parked on Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson when it happened. As a delivery driver was making a regular stop at an Express store on base, he briefly left the van door open to deliver doughnuts to the store. That’s when the mother bear and her cub snuck inside.

“You could hear them breaking open the packages,” said Shelly Deano, manager of the JBER store. “We were trying to beat on the van but they just kept eating all the doughnuts. They ate 20 packages of the doughnut holes and I believe six packages of the three-pack chocolate doughnuts.”

Deano called base security, which eventually got the bears to leave the van by blasting loud sirens. She said they ambled off into the nearby woods.

There's more at the link, including a video report with pictures of the bears chowing down.

Momma bear and cub on a sugar high . . . no wonder the locals didn't want to get too close!  I bet they'll be chasing after every Krispy Kreme delivery truck they see from now on.


The illegal alien invasion is destroying our country - deliberately


It's becoming more and more clear that the mass illegal migration across our southern border is being deliberately engineered to destroy the United States as we know it.  You won't hear a word about that from most politicians or the mainstream media, but the reality of what we're facing is undeniable.

Many observers have figured it out.  Blogger HMS Defiant warns:

Some people have elected to ignore all of the downstream consequences of letting millions of impoverished ignorant no-skill people into the country to bolster the democratic party's vote farming schemes. What are the problems you ask.

1. The swell the ranks of unemployed/unemployable and foster greater crime and drug use and add to the homeless issue created by the left.

2. They will soon overwhelm all of our public infrastructure and make waiting times for hospitals, doctors, nurses, and classrooms overwhelming and even more outrageous.

3. They almost certainly won't have any form of insurance. That's going to hurt every hospital in the country and they are also going to start driving just as soon as they can steal or buy a cheap car and when they hit you, and they will, you will find out what it means and in the mean time your insurance rates are going to rise dramatically.

4. Every single public benefit that was ever created to benefit Americans will be diluted to the point of meaninglesness as it is forced to deal with the every increasing numbers of poor and ignorant border crossers.

If you are not interested in local politics you better get interested because those people are the ones that are going to twist every single good thing you like about where you live to the purpose of feeding, educating and housing the illegals over and before feeding, housing and educating the people who were born here.

There's more at the link.

T. L. Davis has been warning of this for a long time.  In his latest post on SubStack, "Engineering the Wreckage", he writes:

The drain of illegals, especially with their $2,200 a month for each parent and child, making the take $4,400 for a family of four when reconstructed makes the budget unworkable. Just that alone, but the economy is being engineered toward wreckage in so many other ways ... nothing is as expensive as social benefits, especially when they go to those who have contributed nothing.

Now, the push is to get these illegals working. Ha! They didn’t come here to work. That was in the past, when they were promised nothing, then they knew they had to work, but now, all they have to do is exist and the federal government, under Joe Biden or any other Democrat and most Republicans, will pay them whatever they want…until they don’t.

For me, that’s the end game for this invasion. The Biden regime knows that all it has to do to unleash hell on the American people is to stop paying all of these illegals. This is probably part of the plan to interfere 2024 election, delaying it, they will say, but they have no intention of going forward with any future elections. All they need is a constant crisis that they’re able to manufacture at will ... The flood of immigration is designed to wreck the welfare system and force people into confrontation with each other.

Again, more at the link.

The flood of illegals is getting worse, not better.  We're now seeing coordinated cartel operations to swamp what little border security we have left.

Drug cartels are sieging the border by deliberately sending thousands of migrants a day to hand themselves over to Border Patrol officers in different US border towns, sources revealed to The Post.

The tactic is meant to tie up already overworked border agents so Mexico’s cartels can carry on their drug and human smuggling operations undisturbed in less populated areas, law enforcement officials explained.

. . .

“The way it’s being orchestrated through the cartels, I believe it’s meant to overwhelm the system. The [places] that are being impacted the most are border communities,” former El Paso City Councilmember Claudia Rodriquez told The Post.

. . .

Across the entire southwest border, as many 9,400 migrants have crossed into the US in a single 24-hour period. That almost matches the record-setting week in May just before the government changed the rules for migrants crossing into the US, which saw over 10,000 people flood into the country per day.

More at the link.

Folks, it's as plain as the nose on my face that this is nothing less than a deliberately engineered crisis, one designed to consolidate the position of the powers that be and enable them to use the emergency they're generating as an excuse and a lever to hold onto power.  It's a blatant implementation of the Cloward-Piven strategy from the 1960's:

Cloward and Piven ... stated that many Americans who were eligible for welfare were not receiving benefits, and that a welfare enrollment drive would strain local budgets, precipitating a crisis at the state and local levels that would be a wake-up call for the federal government, particularly the Democratic Party. There would also be side consequences of this strategy, according to Cloward and Piven. These would include: easing the plight of the poor in the short-term (through their participation in the welfare system); shoring up support for the national Democratic Party – then splintered by pluralistic interests (through its cultivation of poor and minority constituencies by implementing a national "solution" to poverty); and relieving local governments of the financially and politically onerous burdens of public welfare (through a national "solution" to poverty).

Cloward and Piven's article is focused on forcing the Democratic Party, which in 1966 controlled the presidency and both houses of the United States Congress, to take federal action to help the poor. They stated that full enrollment of those eligible for welfare "would produce bureaucratic disruption in welfare agencies and fiscal disruption in local and state governments" that would: "...deepen existing divisions among elements in the big-city Democratic coalition: the remaining white middle class, the working-class ethnic groups and the growing minority poor. To avoid a further weakening of that historic coalition, a national Democratic administration would be constrained to advance a federal solution to poverty that would override local welfare failures, local class and racial conflicts and local revenue dilemmas."

. . .

Michael Reisch and Janice Andrews wrote that Cloward and Piven "proposed to create a crisis in the current welfare system – by exploiting the gap between welfare law and practice – that would ultimately bring about its collapse..."

More at the link.

That describes precisely the effect that the illegal alien invasion is already having.  We're being overwhelmed by those who will become willing puppets of the system.  Some have already speculated that if popular resistance increases, illegal aliens will be co-opted into law enforcement and paramilitary units to maintain "law and order" by suppressing opposition.  If one looks at what's happened in the countries many of these people have come from (for example, Venezuela and its "colectivos", or Haiti and its criminal gangs that effectively run the country, or armed cartel terrorism in Mexico - the same cartels who are driving the illegal alien invasion of the USA), that's not a far-fetched speculation at all.  There's no reason to think the same might not happen here.

If things blow up, as I fear they will, the big cities are going to be Ground Zero.  That's where most of the illegal aliens are concentrated, and where they receive most of their support from overly generous social programs.  If you live in a city with a heavy concentration of illegal aliens, you should be well advanced with your plans and preparations for how to deal with such an event.  It's far from unlikely.  Even out here in the sticks (relatively speaking), we're keeping our eyes open and preparing for trouble.  You should be, too.  We've discussed at length in these pages some of the preparations you should be making.  Actually doing it is up to you.


Get woke, go manatee???


I had to laugh at this headline at the Babylon Bee.

It stems from a controversy over Dove's hiring of a Black Lives Matter activist as a self-proclaimed "Dove ambassador" helping to promote "fat liberation".

Beauty giant Dove is facing a Bud Light-style boycott for partnering with controversial Black Lives Matter activist Zyanha Bryant, who was previously accused of getting a white student expelled over “misheard” comments.

. . .

It is just the latest backlash against controversial partnerships by big companies, most notably Bud Light, which has suffered a huge financial hit after teaming up with transgender activist Dylan Mulvaney.

Bryant, a student activist at the University of Virginia, had accused [Morgan] Bettinger of referring to BLM protesters as “good speed bumps” in the summer of 2020 — only to later admit she likely “misheard” her.

She campaigned to get the white student suspended from campus, and Bettinger’s record shows she faced disciplinary actions for her comments, which she fears may hinder her ability to get into law school.

Greg Price, the communications director for the State Freedom Caucus Network, said the decision to ignore that controversy and pick Bryant as an ambassador “is what actual privilege in America looks like.”

“BLM activist completely ruined the life of an innocent white girl with a false accusation of racism and gets a brand deal with Dove while Morgan Bettinger was kicked out of school and now needs medication in order to sleep.”

There's more at the link.

In a brilliant parody report, the Babylon Bee responded:

"This is the new depiction of Dove beauty," said Unilever marketing executive Marsha Rainwater. "Who wants to look at majestic, graceful doves and thin, statuesque women when you can buy products with fat manatees that have morbidly obese spokesmodels endorsing them? Our thoughts exactly."

The company made headlines last week when it announced it was partnering with 400-pound Black Lives Matter activist Zyahna Bryant to portray a more inclusive stance on body image. "It helps score us some ‘woke points,'" explained Rainwater. "Plus, we had a ton of excess food left over from a company banquet that we needed to clear out, so having an enormous, insatiable beast roaming the halls is beneficial in other ways, too. It's a win-win!"

Again, more at the link.

The satirists at the Babylon Bee frequently enliven my day with their snide remarks about the fatuous stupidity that so often surrounds our society.  More power to them!

(I bet my friend and bestselling author Larry Correia is laughing too!)


Monday, September 18, 2023

Some rules for commenting on this blog


I'm getting more and more comments here that I'm having to delete, rather than publish, because of several problems.

  1. Some directly attack other commenters.  Folks, if you have a beef with someone, take it up with them on their blog, or person-to-person, but don't try to use this blog as an attack platform against them.  I won't tolerate it.  Such comments will not be published.
  2. If you disagree with an opinion expressed here (whether mine or a commenter's), feel free to express that disagreement, provided it's directed against what you disagree with rather than the person saying it.  They have as much right to their opinions as you do.  Try to trash them, and your comment will be trashed instead.
  3. If you want to tell me, or discuss, something off-topic (OT), please don't leave an OT comment on a blog post that has nothing to do with the subject.  There are an increasing number of political comments that seek to propagate a particular point of view.  I'm not prepared to see Bayou Renaissance Man turned into a political debating floor or echo chamber.  I have my views, and I'm willing to express them here, and I don't mind debate on those issues on that post, at the time I express them.  However, I won't allow random posting of unrelated matter as an OT comment on a completely different subject.  Frankly, to do so is disrespectful of me as the blog host, and my readers and commenters as well.  I won't publish such comments.
  4. I try to keep this blog family-friendly:  in other words, F-bombs and similar expletives will not normally be published here.  It's been that way since I began this blog in 2008 - yet there are still commenters who sprinkle F-bombs and similar not-niceties in their text.  Those comments will not be published.
I'm sorry I have to waste most readers' time by publishing this article, but there are some commenters who appear to be unaware of the house rules, no matter how long they've been in force.  I'll have to remind them from time to time, I guess.


Illegal aliens stoke xenophobia in Africa - and America


I was aware of a strong undercurrent of xenophobia in South Africa during my years there.  I think part of it was due to strong tribal identification in Africa - it's your tribe versus all the others, and anyone not of your tribe is an "other" by definition, regardless of whether you share a skin color, religion, or anything else.  (That's pretty universal in more primitive cultures around the world, by the way.  In an inordinate number of cases, tribes' names for themselves in their own language refer to themselves as "the people", meaning that any and all others are not "people".  For example, the Comanche tribe refer to themselves as "Nʉmʉnʉʉ" or "Nemenuh", meaning "the people".)

It seems nothing's changed in South Africa - in fact, xenophobia appears to be getting overtly political.

Operation Dudula was set-up in Soweto two years ago, the first group to formalise what had been sporadic waves of xenophobia-fuelled vigilante attacks in South Africa that date back to shortly after white-minority rule ended in 1994. It calls itself a civic movement, running on an anti-migrant platform, with the word "dudula" meaning "to force out" in Zulu.

Soweto was at the forefront of anti-apartheid resistance and home to Nelson Mandela, South Africa's first democratically elected president. Now, the township has become the home of the country's most-prominent anti-migrant group.

With one in three South Africans out of work in one of the most unequal societies in the world, foreigners in general have become an easy target.

. . .

Operation Dudula has ... now transformed itself from a local anti-migrant group into a national political party, stating its aims to contest next year's general election.

. . .

Ms Dabula says critics of Operation Dudula who maintain it is a collective of violent vigilantes are wrong.

"We don't promote violence and we don't want people to feel harassed," but adds: "We cannot be overtaken by foreign nationals and do nothing about it."

Hundreds of supporters travelled to attend its first national conference in Johannesburg in May, where members voted to register the group as a political party.

Waving South African flags, dancing and singing their way through the streets to the City Hall, it feels like a celebration.

However, the songs they are singing carry a threatening message: "Burn the foreigner. We will go to the garage, buy some petrol and burn the foreigner."

There's more at the link.

The BBC produced a one-hour documentary on "the rise of xenophobia in South Africa and the violent targeting of migrants".  It's worth watching, if the subject interests you - and it should, because the same phenomenon is increasingly visible in the USA as well.

We're seeing the same xenophobia develop in our own communities, and it's entirely understandable.  People who have relied on "their" government to help and support them are finding more and more that "their" supports are being diverted to the illegal aliens flooding across our southern border - and they're getting very angry about it.  Consider these headlines:

Chicago Mayor Tells Residents To Make ‘Sacrifices’ To Benefit Illegal Immigrants

Chicago residents upset resources are going toward immigrants as more Texas buses arrive

Suing. Heckling. Cursing. NYC Protests Against Migrants Escalate

Eric Adams Says Migrant Crisis Will ‘Destroy New York City’

‘You’re free’: Hundreds of illegal migrants released onto San Diego streets

El Paso among border cities seeing migrants dumped onto streets: ‘We will run out of capacity’

Video shows train filled with migrants heading toward US southern border from Mexico

I could have cited many more reports, from many more cities.  Those merely illustrate the trend.

I keep my eyes and ears open to local reactions to the immigrant crisis.  It's far from a "white problem".  Many local (i.e. North Texas) black and hispanic residents are even more resentful of the alien invasion than whites are.  I've heard a number of them go so far as to voice threats against any migrants who try to settle here and "take our jobs" or "fool with our women".  They're not mild threats, either.  People here are well aware of the "alien barrio" that's being erected near Houston, whether locals there like it or not (they weren't consulted).  That's just a few hours' drive from here.  Our locals are determined to prevent anything similar happening in this area - and public sentiment around here seems to be solidly behind them.

I wonder if the Democratic Party has shot itself in the foot, politically speaking, with its outright, outspoken support for illegal migration?  It's historically relied upon black communities - and, to a certain extent, hispanic communities - for a lot of its electoral support.  Now both those communities are feeling threatened, indeed overwhelmed, by the illegal alien problem.  Will they withdraw their support from Democrats?  If they do, will they merely stay at home instead of voting, or will they actively support another person or party?  If they can't bring themselves to vote Republican, could they become the core of a new, anti-illegal-alien party like Operation Dudula is becoming in South Africa?

Another important question is how Mexican crime cartels are likely to respond if xenophobia gains ground in America.  The cartels are currently making as much money, if not more, from getting illegal aliens through Mexico and into the USA as they are from drug dealing.  If their income from that source is threatened by anti-immigrant sentiment in the USA, can they afford to tolerate it?  Will they try to impose migrants on communities by violence?  It's not a far-fetched question, because the cartels have shown willing (in Mexico) to use violence as a tool of policy under almost any circumstances, and even to take on the government and armed forces in open violent confrontation if they think it necessary.

This is going to get more and more "interesting" (in the sense of the fabled Chinese curse), particularly as the 2024 election campaign gets under way.


Memes that made me laugh 177


Gathered around the Internet over the past week.  Click any image for a larger view.

Sunday, September 17, 2023

Sunday morning music


It's time for something completely different.  Instead of focusing on a particular composer, or piece of music, or genre, let's look at a particular musical instrument.  This half-hour documentary focuses on the pipe organ:  specifically, the organ of the Fourth Presbyterian Church in Chicago.  The church's Web site describes the organ as follows:

The Edith G. and Edward J. Andrew Pipe Organ, built by Quimby Organ Company, is an American symphonic organ with a great deal of influence from the British organ builders T. C. Lewis and Henry Willis.

The instrument includes delicate symphonic colors, including a harp, English horn, and many lush string tones, as well as zymbelsterns (bells) and chimes. Pairing that with its warm foundation tones and expansive color, the Andrew Pipe Organ is able to play any organ literature. It is particularly well suited, however, to accompanying congregational singing and choir anthems, inspiring people and bringing them closer to God with expressions of majesty, sorrow, and joy.

Its console is the only organ in Chicago — and one of the few in all of the U.S. — to have five manuals (keyboards). These keyboards, along with the pedals, control the nine divisions of the organ. These are made up of 143 ranks and 8,343 pipes, making the Andrew Organ the largest pipe organ not only in Chicago but throughout the Midwest. The combination action has 10,000 memory levels.

There's more at the link.

It's a humdinger of an instrument.  See for yourself.

If I'm ever in Chicago, I'll have to make a point of going to Fourth Presbyterian Church to see (and, if possible, hear) it.


Saturday, September 16, 2023

Saturday Snippet: The Fleet That Had To Die


Richard Hough's "The Fleet That Had To Die" examines one of the classic battles of naval warfare in the early 20th century.

The blurb reads:

By autumn 1904, the Russo-Japanese war had been raging for six months. Routed in Manchuria, the Russians decided to strike back.

In October 1904, their Baltic fleet, a haphazard armada of some fifty outdated and ill-equipped men-of-war, led by a burnt-out neurotic and manned by 10,000 reluctant and badly-trained sailors, set sail for the East. Their plan was to unite with the Pacific squadron, then trapped in Port Arthur, and crush the soldiers of Admiral Togo.

The two fleets met at Tsushima on May 27, 1905. Most thought the Russians would have little trouble defeating Japanese naval forces. But what followed was perhaps the greatest naval victory of all time.

Richard Hough recounts the fleet's extraordinary seven-month journey from the Baltic to the Far East in this gripping naval history.

It's a very well-written naval and military history, highlighting the differences in culture between the Russian Empire and the Mikado's Japan.  Originally published in 1957, it's recently been reissued as an e-book.

Here's the opening chapter, to set the scene.

THE Emperor was due to arrive at ten o’clock, and with Prussian precision the handsome white-painted yacht Hohenzollern steamed slowly into Reval roadstead, escorted by two men-of-war, dead on time. Accompanying the German ships were a Russian cruiser and the royal yacht Shtandart, as immaculately turned-out as their German guests, and carrying the host, His Excellency Tsar Nicholas II, his aged uncle Grand Admiral the Duke Alexis Alexandrovitch, and a massed contingent of senior officers of the Admiralty.

In silence the five ships steamed past the lines of anchored Russian ironclads, slowed and dropped anchor for the climax of the carefully prepared royal reception. The ten thousand sailors manning their dressed ships from stem to stern watched for a sign of movement on the Hohenzollern; then with the passing of the hushed interval that royalty must observe, distant figures, sparkling with emblems and decorations, epaulettes and gilded tricornes, were seen emerging onto the deck of the yacht and descending the gang-ladder in careful procession. In the wide expanse of Reval harbour the gentle throb of the imperial pinnace’s engine was the only sound, and its slow progression from one royal yacht across the water to the other the only movement.

Kaiser Wilhelm II marched onto the decorated Shtandart at the head of his entourage and made his way step by stately step up to the bridge, where the consummation came at last as the German and Russian Emperors clasped hands.

Simultaneously the signal guns pounded out the thirty-one-gun salute, the shots echoing across the bay and filling the harbour with an ever-thickening cloud of black smoke. A weird static naval battle might have been in progress, with every ship paralysed, like floundered tanks in Flanders’ mud.

There was little wind and the smoke took time to clear; it was still dispersing, rising slowly above the Isle of Nargen, when the bands began. Above the cheering of the sailors ‘Deutschland Uber Alles’ was played on the Russian battleships, followed by the Russian national anthem on the German cruisers. By midday, the sky had cleared, the sun was shining brightly, and the music was gaily martial. The Tsar and the Kaiser went below for luncheon.

In the afternoon there was to be a three-hour display of gunnery, under the supervision of Captain Zinovi Petrovitch Rozhestvensky, who sat at luncheon in the Shtandart’s wardroom between his Chief of Staff, Commander Clapier de Colongue, and an admiral of the German Navy. He ate and drank well, consuming the seven courses and numerous glasses of wine with obvious relish, talking courteously in hesitant German to the guest, and showing no signs of the weight of the responsibility he was carrying.

July 24th, 1902, was the most important day in the career of Captain Rozhestvensky. Peacetime promotion in the Tsar’s navy was slow and dependent on more than competence and an excellent record. If he was ever to clamber into the hierarchy of elderly admirals who gathered around Grand Admiral Alexis Alexandrovitch in the Admiralty at St. Petersburg, some spectacular achievement was called for. The afternoon’s gunnery display, the centrepiece of the review designed to demonstrate to the Kaiser and his staff the efficiency of the Imperial Navy, was the great opportunity Rozhestvensky had been waiting for.

For weeks this fiery, irascible officer had been putting the Baltic Fleet’s gunners through a severe course of training, forcing them to a higher standard of speed and precision than they had ever reached before. For ‘Boyavin’ (the lord) Rozhestvensky was fifty-three years old, and time was running out. The quality of Russian naval gunnery had shaped Rozhestvensky’s career. The eyes of his gunlayers, the accuracy of rangefinders and sights, the quality of rifling and shells, above all the results of his ruthless training methods, had brought him promotion and the decorations he wore at the Tsar’s table at luncheon on the Shtandart. Rozhestvensky had invested his life in the high-explosive projectile; and his last years were to resemble the trajectory of a twelve-inch naval shell as it curves towards its point of detonation.

Guns were Rozhestvensky’s passion as a boy, and when he entered the Marine Corps as a seventeen-year-old cadet he specialized in the gunnery branch. At the Artillery Academy he passed his examinations with special distinction, and four years later, as a full lieutenant, he was using live ammunition against the Turks. The Turkish war revealed his reckless bravery and skill as a gunnery officer, but it was not only Rozhestvensky’s complete disregard for the enemy’s gunfire that might have ended his career, for the stupidity of his captain nearly brought them both before a court-martial.

The Vesta, in which Rozhestvensky served as second-in-command, was a small armed steamer that had been doing well against Turkish shipping until it chanced on an enemy ironclad many times its size and power. Captain Baranoff, acting with neither discretion nor valour, turned his ship about, made off at full speed, and later reported that he had sunk the battleship. Fame and decorations followed, and the Vesta became a legend in the Black Sea Fleet. But her gunnery officer was left in a state of acute embarrassment and uncertainty. For months Rozhestvensky nursed his guilty secret, and only when the war was over and the Turkish Admiral Hobart Pasha had revealed the falsity of the Russian version of the engagement in a letter to the newspaper Novoe Vremya, did he have to face the first great crisis of his career.

It was a delicate position, demanding tact and diplomacy, qualities which Rozhestvensky did not even recognize. Without consulting Baranoff, he wrote a letter to the paper confirming Hobart Pasha’s claim, attempting to justify neither Baranoff nor himself. By a miracle the bull got through the china shop unscathed: Baranoff was sacked; Rozhestvensky survived the crisis and was actually promoted.

The reorganization of the gunnery branch of the Bulgarian Navy, an odd and, one would imagine, a thankless task, occupied him for a short time, and in 1885 he was appointed Naval Attaché in London. He did not care much either for London or the British, but acquired a grudging respect for the Royal Navy’s gunnery, which was unquestionably the best in the world, and appears himself to have been liked and respected. He was tall, good-looking, well-mannered, and well-bred. That he was obviously efficient and knew his job was less important. He was a captain by 1894 and commanded Admiral Alexieff’s flagship in the Far East during the war between China and Japan, seeing there ample evidence of Japan’s strength and purpose at sea, before returning to St. Petersburg as Commander of the Baltic Fleet’s gunnery practice squadron.

If this was not quite demotion, it was certainly not the promotion he had expected, and the inner councils of the St. Petersburg Admiralty seemed as distant as ever. It was not Rozhestvensky’s highly-strung temperament, nor his irritability, and certainly not the occasional tyrannous treatment he meted out to his men that was holding him back. Nor would he have reached as far as this had he not been an aristocrat. Rozhestvensky’s trouble was that he had no relatives in the right place to help him, and it was almost impossible to break into the inner clique of the Higher Naval Board without the assistance either of logrolling or of some spectacular achievement.


Luncheon was over by three o’clock. The officers of the Baltic Fleet changed into more business-like service dress, the Kaiser into the uniform of a Russian Admiral, Tsar Nicholas into that of an Admiral of the German Navy. Everybody on the Shtandart was getting on well after the prolonged banquet, and was looking forward to Rozhestvensky’s afternoon performance. The two Emperors, Prince Henry Frederick, Grand Admiral Alexis, von Tirpitz, the German Minister of Marine, and their assembled staffs and suites left the yacht and proceeded to sea on the bridge of the cruiser Minin. In the centre of the group, appearing calm and completely self-confident, stood Rozhestvensky, a fine, erect figure, apart from his Chief of Staff the only officer below admiral’s rank present. This was his show.

The selected battleships, cruisers and torpedo-boats opened their well-rehearsed manœuvres, timing their fire perfectly, first at fixed targets on Carlos Island, and then, at the end of the three-hour demonstration, on targets towed at speed by torpedo-boats. The shooting was steady, regular and astonishingly accurate. Rozhestvensky gave no sign of his satisfaction, occasionally issuing orders to increase the rate of fire. Only once was there any evidence of the strain and responsibility he was bearing. A torpedo-boat lost station momentarily, and he turned, shouted impatiently at Clapier de Colongue, throwing his arms wide and sending his binoculars sailing overboard. His Chief of Staff at once passed him his own pair; it was not the first time this had happened.

As the targets crumpled one after the other, the Kaiser did not attempt to conceal his admiration; this was efficient even by German standards. ‘I wish I had such splendid admirals as your Captain Rozhestvensky in my fleet,’ was his comment to the Tsar, pointedly within hearing of von Tirpitz. That autumn Rozhestvensky was promoted Chief of Naval Staff with the rank of Rear-Admiral, and appointed aide-de-camp to the Tsar.


‘If only we could fight now, Sire,’ the Tsar had regretfully responded to Kaiser Wilhelm II’s words of commendation at the conclusion of Rozhestvensky’s gunnery display. Two years later the Russian appetite for battle had been satiated in a series of defeats in the Far East; her armies had been driven back across Korea, her navy humiliated.

Russian power had been challenged by the precocious nationalism of a state that was barely fifty years old, and against everyone’s predictions, had come off very badly. The Sino-Japanese war had demonstrated Japan’s astonishing grasp of modern warfare, and the Treaty of Shimonoseki in 1895 had left her with treaty rights in Southern Manchuria, the Liao-Tung Peninsula, and the important harbour of Port Arthur.

To the Japanese, Port Arthur was more than a key base and the most northerly ice-free port on the mainland of Asia. Taken by bloody banzai storm at prodigious cost, it was a symbol of the Japanese soldiers’ bravery and the nation’s new independence. Port Arthur was Japan’s Yorktown; but within two years Russian pressure, reinforced by Germany and France, had forced her out, and by 1897 it was firmly in Russian hands. Russia’s conception of a balance of power in the Far East did not countenance the upsetting influence of this youthful country, and she shut her ears to the lusty, aggressive sounds from across the Yellow Sea. Both Manchuria and Korea were rich in natural resources, and it was intolerable that any country but Russia should develop them. But Japanese complaints and pressure became so strong that some empty gesture was finally called for, and in April 1902 Russia reached an agreement with China for the evacuation of Manchuria by stages. The promise meant nothing, Japanese protests were ignored, and Russia embarked on a policy of deliberate provocation. Admiral Alexieff was responsible for effecting this policy. As Far-Eastern viceroy and supreme commander, this pompous, stupid and short-sighted nobleman regarded the Japanese as insignificant vermin who must be destroyed; and he had no doubt that the process of extermination would be swift.

If Russia could rely on the backing of Germany, Japan had her defensive alliance with Britain, and the moral support of the United States. Not that the Mikado and his military and naval chiefs felt the need for encouragement and sympathy. Japan had already developed that condition of boundless self-confidence which was to persist right up to the Battle of Midway forty years later. All she wanted was a little time, to train her new army and order warships from European and American yards. Her diplomats provided this, and when the time came to strike, they worked together with the military leaders with the same wily, minutely-timed close co-ordination that they employed in November and December 1941.

There is an astonishing similarity between the Port Arthur attack in 1904 and that on Pearl Harbour. Relations between Japan and Russia had been in a state of high tension for a long time, but neither Russia nor the rest of the world was aware that a crisis point had been reached when Admiral Togo, lurking at the naval base of Sasebo with his powerful and highly trained fleet, was informed secretly on the night of the 5th of February that relations would be broken off in St. Petersburg on the next afternoon. Togo at once ordered all commanders to his flagship, the Mikasa.

When the officers filed quietly into their C.-in-C.’s cabin, they knew a decision for war had been reached. On a table in the centre of the cabin, resting on an unlacquered ceremonial tray, lay an unsheathed sambo, the short sword used by the Samurai in the past for the rite of seppuku. In a tense atmosphere, Togo pronounced the solemn words of confirmation, ‘We sail tomorrow, and our enemy flies the Russian flag.’ The Mikado’s command to vanquish the Tsar’s fleet followed, and then the conference got down to business. Togo had had his orders weeks ago, and the plan had been worked out to the last detail. The supremely efficient Japanese spy organization knew not only the precise disposition of the Russian squadrons at Vladivostock and Port Arthur, but were able to report to Tokio every change of berth of every vessel. Togo possessed as clear a picture of Port Arthur harbour and roadstead as if reconnaissance planes had just returned with high-level photographs.

The briefing was precise and business-like and few questions were necessary. As the commanders returned to their ships, a sense of excitement spread through the fleet, which reached a climax when the destroyer and torpedo-boat flotillas cleared the harbour through rising mist at dawn. At Pearl Harbour, 350 planes from six aircraft carriers formed the spearhead of the attack; for his first quick stab against an equally unprepared enemy, Admiral Togo was relying on the new Whitehead torpedo, and at half-past ten on the evening of the 8th of February, the low, sleek little boats went in.

‘Show yourselves worthy of the confidence I place in you,’ Togo had told his destroyer and torpedo-boat commanders; and they did. The lights of the town were glowing innocently, the battleships and cruisers, lit from stem to stern, were at anchor in a neat row outside the harbour. The shore batteries were unmanned, nearly all the officers were in the town. The ships’ only defence was their few manned light guns, and their torpedo nets. But by the simple ruse of using Russian signals, the Japanese were at a range of a few hundred yards before they were recognized, and their first attack was delivered without any opposition.

Within a few hectic minutes, two of Russia’s best battleships and a cruiser were crippled by nine torpedoes carrying a special net-cutting device; and the next day, in a long-range bombardment, Togo severely damaged four more ships. For the price of six lives, he had reversed the balance of naval power in the East as effectively as Yamamoto was to reverse it in 1941, and had gained a moral advantage for his fleet far more profound than his successor ever achieved over the United States.

For the next fifteen months, Togo followed a cautious policy of containment. He was not often given the choice of accepting or refusing battle, for the Russians seldom emerged from the safety of their bases. When he met them at sea, he was content to disengage as soon as he had caused sufficient damage to the enemy to ensure continued moral supremacy, and because the Russians were usually fleeing, this was not difficult. At Chemulpo, at the battles of August 10th and August 14th, 1904, and in numerous minor engagements, Togo succeeded in further whittling down the power of Russia’s Far Eastern fleet, and also in killing several of her admirals. It was a policy that demanded skill, patience and the severest disciplinary control over his eager commanders. But it was the right policy. The continuance of the war in Manchuria and Korea, and Japan’s very life, depended on her navy; it was her most precious possession, and while she continued to command the seas, it was folly to risk it.

Japan had no sizeable shipyards to replace lost vessels, no reserves to draw on, and every ship was committed to the struggle. But in the Baltic, Russia possessed an idle fleet of more than a hundred ships, and fitting out in her dockyards were four powerful battleships of the most modern type, the backbone of a new fleet numerically equal to anything Togo could muster, and when combined with Russia’s Port Arthur and Vladivostock squadrons, crushingly superior. In May 1904, Japan had suffered a catastrophe that could have cost her the war, a double misfortune that her C.-in-C., with his fleet almost constantly at sea, had feared above anything else. On one day the battleships Hatsuse and Yashima were both sunk by mines while on blockade duty, and Japan found her first line of attack reduced by a third. It was now more than ever vital that the army should capture Port Arthur, destroy the powerful squadron there before the arrival of reinforcements, and deprive Russia of her most powerful naval base in the Far East. Togo knew that only the delayed completion of the four great battleships had prevented the armada from sailing at the outbreak of hostilities, and at Sasebo he and his staff followed anxiously the reports of the progress of their fitting-out.

By October the whole world knew that the four ironclads were at the Baltic base of Libau, ready to sail, and speculation about their size and power began to grow.


The Kniaz Suvoroff was to be the flagship of the Second Pacific Squadron, which was to raise the siege of Port Arthur, avenge the humiliations Alexieff had suffered, and ‘wipe the infidels off the face of the earth’ as Tsar Nicholas had commanded. Her identical and equally powerful sister ships were the Borodino, Alexander III and Oryol. As originally laid down, the Suvoroff was to have been of 13,500 tons, but in course of construction her displacement had been increased to well over 15,000 tons. She was an imposing looking vessel, with twin smokestacks close together amidships, separating the superstructures with their delicate fire control mechanisms, rangefinders and searchlight platforms. On the fore deck and aft was the main armament, heavily protected turrets each carrying two great twelve-inch guns capable of hurling over ten miles, by a nitro-cellulose propellant, a high-explosive shell weighing a third of a ton. Incorporated in the bow was her sharp-pointed ram, still retained by all ironclads at the turn of the century for the coup de grâce in a close action. Abaft the fore superstructure, amidships and below the mizzen mast in pairs on each beam were the twelve forty-five calibre six-inch guns. Twelve-and six-pounder weapons, on battery deck, on bridge wings and platforms, in combination with the new electric searchlights, provided the defensive armament against the battleship’s greatest enemy, the torpedo-boat. Strips of ten-inch Harveyed steel, each weighing as much as a destroyer, protected the ship’s waterline, and there was four-inch armour on the decks, fourteen-inch on the vital barbettes, and heavy steel canopies on conning-tower and lower fighting position.

The Suvoroff’s 16,300 horsepower engines gave her a top speed of over eighteen knots. Her hull from stem to stern, her towering superstructures, her masts and boats, all were painted black; only the tall twin funnels amidships, of brilliant lemon yellow black-banded at the top, contrasted with the dour purposefulness of the rest of the ship.

Her name was heavily embossed in gold letters at bows and stern: Kniaz Suvoroff, after that great eighteenth-century Russian fighter and patriot who had quelled insurrections and fought ruthlessly against Frenchmen, Turks and Cossacks. It was a name rich in bloody tradition; and in the epic voyage that lay ahead of her, she was to carry the flag of Admiral Zinovy Petrovitch Rozhestvensky.

You'll have to read the book to get the rest of the story.  It's a classic of naval history.


Friday, September 15, 2023

Verily, the mind doth boggle...


On Gab, Hans G. Schantz mentioned the Qianchun road interchange in China.  Intrigued, I looked for video of the monstrous spaghetti junction, and found this.  At first I thought it was CGI, but it's real enough - just speeded up here and there.  Also, at about 29 sec. into the clip, watch for the idiot driver trying to do a 3-point turn and drive back up a one-way road, into the face of oncoming traffic.  I don't think a CGI simulation would dare put in something that stupid!

Globalink describes it:

The complex structure consists of 11 ramps going in eight different directions stacked on five layers. With its largest vertical drop of 55 meters, the interchange has been dubbed as a super "roller coaster" by many netizens.

Thanks to its high piers, plenty of room beneath the overpass is used for a recreational park. Many locals come to spend their leisure time.

There's more at the link, including a brief video clip of the interchange at night.

I don't like big cities at the best of times.  If I had to navigate that thing, I think my inner heavy traffic anxieties would be working overtime.  If traffic came to a standstill, I wonder what weight of vehicles would be supported by its piers?



I was right about "fighter drones"


Last week I wrote about "Ground combat in an age of drone warfare".  In that article, I said:

I predict we'll see new drones designed to do nothing but hunt down the other side's drones.  Think World War I.  Initially, aircraft were used only for reconnaissance, finding out what the enemy was up to.  In due course, the first bombs were dropped, to disrupt what the enemy was doing.  To stop both activities, fighter aircraft were designed to stop enemy aircraft from doing their thing.  I think we'll see "fighter drones" coming down the pike, to do precisely the same thing in modern terms.  I'll be very surprised indeed if they're not already being developed, along with weapons to equip them for that task.

Turns out I was right.  Such drones already exist.  Two that have been available for some time are the DroneHunter Counter Unmanned Aerial System (C-UAS), a quad-rotor system, and the seemingly much more sophisticated Interceptor-MR from MARSS.  There are a number of others out there.  It's already a mature technology in terms of intercepting low-end drones, and is being rapidly built out to handle more difficult, more sophisticated targets.

MARSS has just released a smaller, lighter version of its Interceptor, which appears to be the most sophisticated interception vehicle at this time.  Flight Global reports:

Dubbed the Interceptor-SR (short range) and unveiled at the DSEI show in London, the lightweight design shares its larger sibling’s configuration and unarmed, hit-to-kill concept of operations.

Interceptor-SR (image courtesy of MARSS)

Multiple Interceptor-SRs can be integrated for launch from a ground vehicle, with their deployment conducted in combination with MARSS’ own NiDAR command and control suite.

Alternatively, the system can be deployed by a soldier using a shoulder launcher equipped with a thermal sight for targeting.

Following its launch, the interceptor uses a thermal sensor to autonomously track its target, before neutralising it by using the kinetic energy of an approach speed of 80m/s.

. . .

The company notes that as its designs do not use a warhead, so are also suitable for civil protection duties.

There's more at the link.

From another source:

The infantry rifle-style launcher for Interceptor SR is made from carbon fibre to keep it light at 3kg (6.6 pounds) and is fitted with what Scott said is a ‘proprietary optical system with NiDAR intelligence for target identification and it can receive target information from the battlefield network’.

Interceptor MR has a wingspan of 90cm (35.5") and a length of 80cm (31.5") while it can achieve an altitude of 6,500ft and a range of 5km (3.1 miles). It can carry a payload of <1kg (<2.2 pounds) and has a battery charge time of 20mins.

Interceptor SR has a wingspan of 40cm (15.75"), a length of 25cm (10") and weight of 1.5kg (3.3 pounds) while it can achieve an altitude of 1640ft, maximum speed of 216km/h (134mph) and a range of 1km (0.6 miles).

Again, more at the link.

So, even a basic infantry unit can now carry with it, on foot, drones for offense, defense and reconnaissance.  It can spy on (and put the hurt on) an enemy, while fending off the counter-hurt an enemy sends its way.  The direct-hit, kinetic-energy-kill, no-explosive-warhead approach is particularly useful, as it makes less of a visible and audible "signature" when it takes down a drone, making it more difficult to figure out where it came from.  It also has wider security implications.  It means such counter-drones can be deployed over urban areas (for example, to defend a politician making a speech from terrorists equipped with drones) without posing a grave risk to innocent lives.

Looking back on my days in ground combat, I suddenly feel like a technological dinosaur watching the SMOD approaching . . .

I wonder how long it will be before criminals deploy drones to aid them in their law-breaking, and those who want to defend their businesses, families and homes against crime will have to deploy counter-drones in response?


Thursday, September 14, 2023

Lightweight infantry drones are getting smarter - and deadlier


In the light of what we've seen in Ukraine recently, I was intrigued by an announcement from Israel Aircraft Industries (IAI).  IAI brought out its Rotem loitering reconnaissance and light attack drone (capable of hitting individuals and small targets such as light vehicles) some years ago, and it's been successfully used in combat.  Now it's upgraded it, releasing the Rotem Alpha.  Flight Global reports:

Alon Tamir, senior business development and marketing manager at IAI’s MBT Missiles division, tells FlightGlobal that the new product builds on its experience with the lightweight, man-portable Rotem L. This includes the ability for the vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) vehicle to touch down mid-mission and perform a so-called perching, or ambush operation.

Such a technique can extend total mission time from loitering for 1h to being on call for as much as 24h, Tamir says. “We can fly for 20km [10.8nm], land and wait for the enemy to arrive,” he explains. The system has a communication link range of twice this distance.

Once called back into action, the UAV “can fly and hover at a low-altitude profile to build situational awareness and execute an attack”, IAI says.

“As a VTOL platform, it can be launched and landed between trees, structures, and other types of harsh terrain,” the company notes.

Tamir notes that the Rotem Alpha uses the same tablet-based ground control unit as the smaller Rotem L quadcopter, which is already in use with multiple nations, including NATO nations.

“Rotem Alpha’s sensor suite autonomously detects and locates hostile enemy fires, like artillery, rockets, and missile launchers, and then investigates and engages a direct attack using its electro-optical day and night seeker,” IAI says.

The design also has potential application for use in maritime operations, the company says, including being launched from a small surface vessel.

There's more at the link.

Here's an IAI publicity video about Rotem Alpha.

Several points intrigue me.

  1. The drone can be carried in a backpack, as well as on a vehicle or small boat.  This makes it widely available on a battlefield - it doesn't have to be launched from a rear area after receiving a request from the "sharp end".
  2. Small units such as platoons or even squads can now launch their own smart weapons - not just reconnaissance drones - on demand.  That gives them tremendous tactical flexibility.
  3. It can "perch" in a tree or among some rocks for an extended period, waiting for targets to appear.  That means attacking forces can't be sure whether there's a threat ahead or not.  If it's not flying, the drone is much harder to detect.
  4. As well as being directed by an operator from a distance, the drone has its own sensors, and can find its own targets if necessary.  That means, even if its operator is killed or his control tablet is damaged, the drone can act autonomously (if so instructed beforehand) to find and kill anything moving in its area.  It won't help an attacker to take out the operator.
The combination of these features makes it very dangerous indeed on a battlefield.  Theoretically, a defender need no longer deploy light artillery or mortars, or armored vehicles, to defend an area.  Infantry equipped with a few hundred of these drones can keep out almost any threat.

Of course, the next step will be to equip attacking troops with such weapons as well.  That won't be long in coming - then we'll be at a tactical stalemate once more.  The days when an advanced weapon would confer an advantage lasting years are over, I suspect - it's too easy to copy such technology.