336 Hours, 21 Minutes


This new “forever plane” — not quite like a forever stamp but still very cool — has been designed by UK defense contractor QinetiQ.
This craft flew for 14 days, 21 minutes — smashing all previous endurance for unmanned flights.
It’s too bad that something as innovative and interesting as the Zephyr UAV finds its first real applications in military reconnaissance. But that is the way much technological advancement seems to happen — sort of like porn and the internet.
— Steve Clemons


12 comments on “336 Hours, 21 Minutes

  1. Don Bacon says:

    Washington’s Fragile Swagger
    Obama: “We’re going to do what’s necessary to protect the American people, to determine who is behind this potentially deadly act, and to see that justice is done. And I’m going to continue to monitor the situation closely and do what it takes at home and abroad to safeguard the security of the American people.”
    Obama is talking about –
    (1) The Gulf oil leak
    (2) Shirley Sherrod’s freeway firing
    (3) Afghanistan leaks
    (4) The US economic recession
    (5) China’s claims on the Spratly Islands
    Answer: twelve minus ten divided by two


  2. questions says:

    And here is the developing admin response….
    We’re a)not to be surprised and b)not to believe much of what we read and c)to remember that wikileaks is opposed to the war, so is not an unbiased source.
    That does seem to cover a lot of asses.
    But, indeed, we all kind of knew that Pakistan was an issue.


  3. questions says:

    So is the wikileaks leak the exit strategy?
    Is it a way for Petraeus to make some totally new kind of demand?
    Or is it an actual whistle blower leak as opposed to a planned leak?
    What ever will we do with Pakistan? Can’t live with ’em, can’t live without ’em.
    If we pressure the gov’t there too much, they fall. They need to keep their right wing happy, and they need to keep the place from blowing up. And they probably want a heavy hand in Afghanistan. We cannot “win” there, clearly. We cannot approach anything w/o Pakistan’s support.
    The question is whether or not we can do anything at all there in any time frame other than the infinite.
    And upon exiting the military, do we also send Xe/Blackwater home? (A kos diary commenter thinks Xe is there to surge and stay.)
    And can we keep a toe in the water given the official documentation of what Steve Coll knew a long long time ago?
    Wow. This will be a thing to watch. I’m guessing the White House is having pizza and subs and soda brought in tonight.
    It’ll be interesting to see which gets more crazy press, this issue or the Shirley Sherrod issue. After all, this one doesn’t really have a race element…..


  4. questions says:

    Even better reading:
    Wikileaks on Pakistan’s support for the Taliban. Didn’t Steve Coll have this down ages ago?!
    and more at:
    Pakistan’s govt really has a tough time balancing all its interests….


  5. Paul Norheim says:

    Recommended reading on a lazy Sunday afternoon – an
    entertaining book review:
    “Blood on the tracks
    Kaiser Wilhelm II believed he could harness the martial power of
    the Caliphate in the furtherance of German imperial interests –
    and failed utterly. Matthew Price on one of the boldest gambles
    of the great game.
    The Berlin-Baghdad Express: The Ottoman Empire and
    Germany’s Bid for World Power, 1898-1919
    Sean McMeekin
    Allen Lane
    Quote: “The Berlin-Baghdad Express is also a phenomenally
    entertaining narrative. Featuring a dramatis personae that puts
    Indiana Jones to shame, McMeekin


  6. erichwwk says:

    David writes:
    “Military Keynesianism is also the only broadly acceptable Keynesianism.”
    You are kidding, right?
    In the small case your are indeed serious, here is a post from Jamie Galbraith:
    The view that the New Deal was too small and accomplished little, that only WWII [military expenditures-ek] ended the Depression, is very widely held. But it is not correct. It is based on a mis-reading of reconstructed unemployment statistics from that time, which treat the workers actually employed by the New Deal as though they were unemployed. Which they were not.
    In fact, the New Deal accomplished a huge amount, both in specific construction projects and in providing employment to the American people.
    Rest of the post, with link to the Marshall Auerbach paper on which its is based is here (excerpt includes a “corrected” UE graph overlaid on widely held graph) :
    In re-reading your post, it does seem you are not fooled into accepting this aberration of Keynes.
    As far as what will keep us from collapsing (ala the USSR) the possibilities do indeed seem bleak, for the reasons you seem to recognize.


  7. questions says:

    Book note:
    Gary Rivlin’s “Broke, USA”
    “”To me, it was so counterintuitive,” Rivlin says. “People with no money in their pockets are good for business?”
    But they were profitable. And fringe finance bloomed. By 1996, there were more payday lenders than all the McDonald’s and Burger Kings in the land combined.
    It was also a different sort of business. Unlike traditional banking, it wasn’t about finding good credit risks who could repay their loans promptly. Quite the opposite, actually. The central insight was that you wanted people who couldn’t quite stay ahead of the loan. Then you could hit them with late fees and try to get them to refinance with more fees and catches, and generally bleed them and bleed them and bleed them.
    Consider, for instance, the “yield-spread premium.” It’s an anodyne name for a real bit of financial villainy. If the person selling you your loan could lock you into a higher interest rate than what your credit score would qualify you for, the lender would give the seller a kickback. You might think locking people into loans that would be harder for them to repay would be bad for banks. And you’d be right.
    “The size of the fraud, though, is a bit difficult to wrap your mind around. An analysis by First American Loan Performance, a San Francisco-based research firm, found that 41 percent of the subprime mortgages sold in 2004 went to borrowers who qualified for prime-rate loans. A Wall Street Journal analysis found that in 2005, 55 percent of subprime borrowers were sold subprime when they qualified for prime. That same First American study found that 61 percent of the subprime mortgages issued in 2006 went to borrowers who qualified for prime-rate mortgages. In 2007, of course, the housing market crashed, and then the financial system crashed with it.
    “”What really turned my opinion on the payday loan was how aggressively they pushed them,” Rivlin says. “This is a dangerous financial product” — the annual interest rate was typically around 300 percent — “and yet the industry marketed it like a soft drink or candy. Every chain I came across offered $20 off your next payday loan if you brought a friend, family member or co-worker. At least a couple of the big chains would call people who had not been in the store in a month or two to convince them to come back. ”
    Looks to be worth dumping into your Amazon cart, along with “Merchants of Doubt” by Naomi Oreskes and Erik Conway — all about how the tobacco denialists and acid rain denialists and global warming denialists come from the same small group of people — motivated by ideology, professional alienation, and maybe some money, too, though money seems a lesser cause.
    And it doesn’t help that statistical causation leaves room for a funny kind of doubt. Unsophisticated, poorly educated Americans have a hard time knowing just how complex the notion of “causation” is and this difficulty gives the doubt-sellers a lot of space to maneuver in.
    They point out that thought there is a highly significant relationship between tobacco use and some 25 diseases, proving that ANY ONE PERSON got any one of these diseases solely from tobacco isn’t possible. So how can a cause not be a cause? Well, things are complicated, and statistical causation is just a little different. We can know THAT something is the case without quite having the causal chain worked out.
    But a little doubt goes a long way.
    The conservatives want to preserve the industry position, are happy to tell stories of vast conspiracies and data manipulation, and the American public seems quite happy to hear it.
    Cold War scientists, irritation at the left, people working a little outside their fields, some industry money….
    We should watch the BP and researchers confab and see what happens here. Will there be a huge number of researchers willing to sell out? Willing to be quiet for the requisite 3 years? Are there ideologues who really think the oil spill did no damage?
    Will there be more selling of doubt, or is the Gulf leak going to break this anti-science pattern?


  8. David says:

    Military spending is the only government spending with majority American approval and not under constant assault by the conservative noise machine. Military Keynesianism is also the only broadly acceptable Keynesianism. And the military has the budget to hire the best scientists and fund their efforts, directly or through military contractors in the private sector.
    Problem is it is the least efficient form of Keynesianism and the least efficient, least appropriately focused route to useful innovation. But then we also have the least admirable management class in the “advanced” world. Still trying to understand what aspects of our society and our economy keep us from collapsing (America as a whole, not the middle class, which is in the process of disappearing, at least as we have traditionally understood the great American middle class).


  9. Don Bacon says:

    One thing we can count on is that the military will want it both ways in flight systems. While the effectiveness of unmanned aircraft (UAC) has been proven for reconnaissance and airstrikes, and future bombers will be UAC (according to Admiral Mullen), the services have shied away from any development of UAC for fighters or carrier use because that would threaten the whole fighter-jock, top-gun ethos and strike at the heart of this glamorous occupation, as well as threaten the extremely profitable development and production of useless manned combat aircraft and in fact the Air Force itself.
    There’s too much institutional inertia and too much money at stake. Obsolete the US Air Force and its pilots? Never happen.


  10. erichwwk says:

    Steve writes:
    “It’s too bad that something as innovative and interesting as the Zephyr UAV finds its first real applications in military reconnaissance. But that is the way much technological advancement seems to happen — sort of like porn and the internet.”
    It is indeed. What one needs to understand is that if one throws enough money at pigs, one can indeed get them to fly as well.
    Thus many folks point to ARPA as “proof” that military produces innovation, w/o putting “innovation” in perspective. I assert that ANY industry that is taxpayer funding in excess of $1T/year will produce innovation.
    How much better off would we have been had packet communication been developed by the health industry, and we would not have had to play catch up in Medical record keeping? One needs to account for LOSSES as well as Gains.
    Thus with honest accounting, assert that our “military model of innovation” is a loser, and apparent military innovations (GPS is another example) might well have occurred even faster, had we not wasted so much money supporting the military-industrial complex.
    The biggest waste, leading to other more subtle losses by the crowding out effect, seems to be to be nuclear weapons, an obsolete industry that has nevertheless got a support from Obama for another $175Billion, despite misleading rhetoric the administration supports nuclear disarmament.
    What a crock of crap THAT is.


  11. Doc Magnus says:

    Yeah, well that Internet thingie you just used is a product of the space and military age, pal. And if those Indian computers were any good, what’s to keep them off the shelves at Best Buy? Finally, we didn’t miss the boat by not buying the Tata, but by not selling them.
    Right facts, wrong conclusions.


  12. Don Bacon says:

    Another example of a useless machine that does nothing for average people — kind of like Nasa space shots and the intelligence community that’s currently in the news, to say nothing about F-35s, F-22s and nuclear aircraft carriers.
    How about something for real people? How about a cheap car that doesn’t burn gasoline? Or a tablet computer that costs only $35? ooops — India has one. Also India’s best-selling Maruti Suzuki 800 is a car that retails for just $6,000, and Tata and Hyundai autos feature prices in India under $8,000. Now I’m interested.
    Demand for passenger vehicles in India is growing at 20 per cent, thanks to our customer service calls on China-built stuff that doesn’t work properly. It’s a small world.
    And back in Yuma it hit 110 today. I’d leave too, forever.


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