Thursday, April 24, 2014

In which Greg Sheridan does an imitation of a Little Golden Book ...

(Above: and more Rowe here)

You don't have to be Saul Easlake to point out that the emperor is wearing exceedingly see-through clothes:

... in my view, it will do next to nothing to lift either participation of women in the workforce or productivity of those who are in the workforce. (here)

That'd be Abbott's pet project, announced by himself and endorsed by the sheep around him, the lavish and indulgent paid parental sceheme. Easlake went on to make the even more obvious point that it's the cost of childcare that's likely to inhibit participation in the workforce, and about that the Abbott government seemingly says, and intends to do, nothing ...

The scheme itself is just a wealth transfer, a bit of boon doggling to lure in the fish, and pork barreling for the rich ...

And the people most likely to pay for this pleasure are the elderly, with the 'no changes to the pension' promise amongst the many lined up for the chop.

Does the pond care? Not really. The elderly demographic - call them silly old farts or buggers if you will - stampeded in the direction of the Abbott government, and now they've got what they wanted. Good luck with that, and remember caveat emptor ...

Speaking of caveats, anyone who can remember the folly of the Collins class submarine will carry in their genes a healthy disdain for the capacity of defence to make the right decision about anything.

You don't have to read local assessments of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter to get a case of the jitters.

Just read the story last year in Vanity Fair, which carried the header Will It Fly? and this summary:

The Joint Strike Fighter is the most expensive weapons system ever developed. It is plagued by design flaws and cost overruns. It flies only in good weather. The computers that run it lack the software they need for combat. No one can say for certain when the plane will work as advertised. Until recently, the prime contractor, Lockheed Martin, was operating with a free hand—paid handsomely for its own mistakes. Looking back, even the general now in charge of the program can’t believe how we got to this point. In sum: all systems go!

Even if the plane did work as advertised, there's no guarantee that would suit Australian conditions. Why, for example, would you have a flock of them at Williamstown outside Sydney? Is it because the Kiwis provide a dire national threat?

How does the plane cope with tropical heat? What's its range? What happens if you add tanks to increase the range? How does that affect its stealthiness?

How's the weight control program going? (Yes, like most Americans it drinks too much soda and eats too much fast food).

What actual purpose will it serve in the event of combat? How are those computer bugs going?

The Joint Strike Fighter is still waiting on software from Lockheed that will make good on long-promised capabilities.
When I spoke with Lockheed’s vice president for program integration, Steve O’Bryan, he said that the company is moving at a breakneck pace, adding 200 software engineers and investing $150 million in new facilities. “This program was overly optimistic on design complexity and software complexity, and that resulted in overpromising and underdelivering,” O’Bryan said. He insisted that, despite a rocky start, the company is on schedule. Pentagon officials are not as confident. They cannot say when Lockheed will deliver the 8.6 million lines of code required to fly a fully functional F-35, not to mention the additional 10 million lines for the computers required to maintain the plane. The chasm between contractor and client was on full display on June 19, 2013, when the Pentagon’s chief weapons tester, Dr. J. Michael Gilmore, testified before Congress. He said that “less than 2 percent” of the placeholder software (called “Block 2B”) that the Marines plan to use has completed testing, though much more is in the process of being tested. (Lockheed insists that its “software-development plan is on track,” that the company has “coded more than 95 percent of the 8.6 million lines of code on the F-35,” and that “more than 86 percent of that software code is currently in flight test.”) 

Still, the pace of testing may be the least of it. According to Gilmore, the Block 2B software that the Marines say will make their planes combat capable will, in fact, “provide limited capability to conduct combat.” What is more, said Gilmore, if F-35s loaded with Block 2B software are actually used in combat, “they would likely need significant support from other fourth-generation and fifth-generation combat systems to counter modern, existing threats, unless air superiority is somehow otherwise assured and the threat is cooperative.” 
Translation: the F-35s that the Marines say they can take into combat in 2015 are not only ill equipped for combat but will likely require airborne protection by the very planes the F-35 is supposed to replace.

No doubt things have improved immensely since 2013, but its the software and all its bugs that attracts the attention of geeks, as  in $397 billion fighter jet deployment delayed by software glitches, a story derived from a United States Accountability Office government March 2014 report in pdf form (may be slow to load) , grandly titled F-35 Joint Strike Fighter Problems Completing Software Testing May Hinder Delivery of Expected Warfighting Capabilies.

Now at the very least this might give anyone pause for thought, though you don't usually associate strategic future planning with Australian politicians of either of the main stripes.

Surely at the minimum you'd want anyone who scribbled the following to have a proper psychiatric evaluation before sending them off to bedlam:

If I believed in reincarnation, I think I’d like to come back as a Joint Strike Fighter. Lean, sinuous, sleek, intimidating, the best in my class. Ah ...  (ah yourself with Fighters strike the right note on national security, but 'ah', note the 'ahs' are hidden behind the paywall, because infectious stupidity must be carefully controlled)

Ah, now there's a first class hagiographic fool.

Truth to tell, Sheridan would be better off coming back as the EDI UCAV (that'd be the Extreme Deep Invader Unmanned Combat Air Vehicle) which resulted in the movie Stealth being one of the most gigantic colossal box office flops of all time.

But at least he could go rogue like a rogue robot should, and discover that North Korea is full of gum trees and looks a bit like the Blue Mountains ...

As for the rest? Why it's hagiographic knob polishing. So where's the Labor party? Why they get their knob polished too:

... we shouldn’t be frivolous. The Abbott government has made the right decision in announcing the purchase of 58 more JSFs. This will provide ultimately a fleet of 72 of the most formidable fighter jets the world has seen. Bill Shorten deserves credit for backing this decision. His instincts on geostrategic issues are all sound, which is good for the Labor Party, and for Australia. The JSF acquisition speaks to the character of the Abbott government and settles several theological questions about its approach to defence.

Theological questions? Is that why the reptiles at the lizard Oz think climate science is a religious issue?

Meanwhile, how to measure the scale of the delusional thinking? Try this one:

Between the Americans and their allies there will ultimately be 3000 or more JSFs operating in the world (the vast majority in the US force, of course). That means that, without any additional res­earch and development on our part, our planes will be on a path of continuous upgrade, especially to their software. In effect, our air- combat capabilities are future-proofed. It is vanishingly unlikely the Chinese or Russians will ever catch the Americans in this technology, but if they do it will not be for decades to come. This is the best investment we could possibly make in our own security.

Future proofed? Security?

Don't worry citizens of Ukraine, the JSF is on hand to ensure your safety.

Sheridan is of the blithe Bjelke-Pietersen school of 'don't you worry about that':

Don’t be deterred by controversies about costs and capabilities. The birth of every aircraft type is accompanied by much screaming and a lot of extra bills. The unit costs of the JSFs are heading down. All the nonsense spoken yesterday about superiority of the F22 Raptor ignores key facts: the Raptor ceased production in 2011 and will not be revived; the US would never export it; and it doesn’t do some of the things we need, such as maritime attack. The JSF is in any event moving past the Raptor. Soon enough, they will be retro-fitting JSF radar on to the Raptor. 
Of course, being an Australian story, there are some peculiar inefficiencies. We will have our first operational squadron of JSFs by 2020. That gives us a lot of comfort, as it is several years after the first US Marine JSF squadron comes into operation in 2015 or 2016. Because we panicked a bit and bought Super Hornets and then Growlers, due to JSF delays, we will for a time operate simultaneously four different types of fast jets — classic Hornets, Super Hornets, Growlers and JSFs.

WTF? Peculiar? Even more peculiar than Sheridan wanting to return as an unproven, untested aircraft with a long history of hard- and software problems?

The pond often pauses to think how lucky Australia has been that all the specious military activities in which it's indulged in the past few years have been mainly land based, and haven't had to rely on the Collins Class submarine, which often had a third of its fleet on the shelf, and the rest exhibiting all sorts of problems:

Questioned by the Coalition defence spokesman, David Johnston, the Chief of Navy, Russ Crane, admitted that HMAS Rankin had been inoperable for two years and would be for another three years. Similarly, the sister ship HMAS Sheean had been laid up for two years and would not put to sea for another two years, Vice-Admiral Crane said. 
HMAS Farncomb was recalled to port last week after a generator failure, while HMAS Collins is on restricted operations because of problems with its diesel engine. 
Of the remaining two submarines, HMAS Dechaineux is undergoing maintenance and is supposed to be operational next month, while HMAS Waller is the only operational submarine, and will set sail tomorrow from the HMAS Sterling naval base in Western Australia. Vice-Admiral Crane said the navy hoped to have three operational submarines in the water by mid-year, with HMAS Collins slated to set sail with HMAS Farncomb's crew in May (here).

At the time, the pond wondered why the navy hadn't ordered working, proven, off the shelf submarines and was howled down by the school of "now don't you go worrying about that". Why attempt to re-invent the wheel at vast and inefficient expense?

Now the wheel has turned and its Johnston who's set in motion the latest folly, but he's cheered on by the Labor party and by Greg Sheridan, who likes to think of himself as an aeroplane! Look, there's Greg with Bobby:

Or maybe this fits better:

Does it worry the pond that carrying on like this puts the pond in the same turf as Dennis "carbon dioxide can be enjoyed in a can of cola" Jensen?

Well it's better company than someone who wants to reincarnate as a dodgy expensive plane.

You can read the rest for yourself if you like, but the pond was reduced to reading the comments, and particularly enjoyed this one:

Thank god for a government that understands the importance of a song and capable defence force.

Indeed David.

Can we all sing 'the mug punter fleeced by government yet again' song?

Then Freedom couldn't stand the glare of Royalty's regalia 
She left the loafers where they were and came out to Australia 
But now across the mighty main the chains have come to bind her 
She little thought to see again the wrongs she left behind her 
 Our parents toiled to make a home hard grubbing twas and clearing 
They wasn't troubled much by lords when they was pioneering 
But now that we have made the land a garden full of promise 
Old Greed must crook his dirty hand and come and take it from us 

Just remember David, that songs don't come cheap, and are inclined to bugger up.

(Below: your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to work out the difference between an EDI and the Tony Abbott sighted in David Pope's cartoon, and more Pope here).


  1. Oi - DP. I'm an elderly old fart and DID NOT vote for Abbott. I'm for the Greens if you must know. And yes there are some thinking elderly Australians out here trying to stand up for the right things,

  2. It's okay Anon, the pond is a silly old ratbag too.

  3. OK DP. But what if we accused all those under 30's of being insensitive airheads who don't give a shit about anything?

    Hang on..,.

  4. From their silence, I assume that the IPA and their Free Market, Libertarian, & Tea Party fellow travellers are happy with Government subsidy to industry, provided it is the US arms Industry; which I guess is close to 100% Government subsidised

    1. Apparently this is different to picking winners in business. Must be the same as how my parents government pension is totally not the dreaded Socialism.

  5. "In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex"

    Eisenhower was actually going to use the term military-industrial-congressional complex, but felt it wrong for the President to criticise Congress. Still he wasn't wrong, the lobbying by Arms Manufacturers is without equal.


    1. Another senior yank military man pre-empted by some twenty years General Eisenhower's expressed presidential warning on war business in greater detail and with a detailed plan to rein it in:

      War Is a Racket is the title of two works, a speech and a booklet, by retired United States Marine Corps Major General and two time Medal of Honor recipient Smedley D. Butler. In them, Butler frankly discusses from his experience as a career military officer how business interests commercially benefit (war profiteering) from warfare.

      The work is divided into five chapters:
      1.War is a racket
      2.Who makes the profits?
      3.Who pays the bills?
      4.How to smash this racket!
      5.To hell with war!

      It contains this key summary:
      "War is a racket. It always has been. It is possibly the oldest, easily the most profitable, surely the most vicious. It is the only one international in scope. It is the only one in which the profits are reckoned in dollars and the losses in lives. A racket is best described, I believe, as something that is not what it seems to the majority of the people. Only a small 'inside' group knows what it is about. It is conducted for the benefit of the very few, at the expense of the very many. Out of war a few people make huge fortunes."

      Smedley Darlington Butler[1] (July 30, 1881 – June 21, 1940) was a United States Marine Corps major general, the highest rank authorized at that time, and at the time of his death the most decorated Marine in U.S. history.

      .. In 1935, Butler wrote a book titled War Is a Racket, where he described and criticized the workings of the United States in its foreign actions and wars, such as those he was a part of, including the American corporations and other imperialist motivations behind them. After retiring from service, he became a popular activist, speaking at meetings organized by veterans, pacifists and church groups in the 1930s.

  6. "Between 1978 and 1998, the US Air Force requested five Lockheed Martin C-130 transport aircraft; but members of congress, several of whom had been employed by Lockheed Martin as consultants, approved funding for the purchase of no fewer than 256 C-130s. At this rate, as Senator John McCain pointed out, there would eventually be enough of these surplus planes to park one in every schoolyard in America."

    From "How mumbo-jumbo conquered the world" by Francis Wheen.


  7. As usual Ben Sandilands is the man to go to for a decent assessment.

  8. How the Pentagon makes decisions - The Pentagon Wars.

  9. Anyone remember this?

  10. For f***ks sake! This was written in 1978!

    Birds fly up as I pull into town
    Desert storm as the sun goes down
    Park the bike on holy ground
    Temple by the store
    Temple priests are pretty shot
    Jimson weed and thanks a lot
    Crazy abbot, gotta stop
    Put my guns down, by the door
    F-111, F-111
    Lay your benediction on us all
    Virgin in the window
    Pynchon in the rectory
    Lotta chanting round the room
    Of things in history
    People sellin' stocks and shares
    Looting what was never theirs
    Chokin' on the subway stairs
    To cheat their destiny
    F-111, F-111

  11. Is there nothing new under the sun ? Yeah I know, Solomon had had his wicked way with 700 wives, 300 concubines and the Queen of Sheba before he made that comment.

    1st Kings 11-

    Solomon’s Wives

    King Solomon, however, loved many foreign women besides Pharaoh’s daughter—Moabites, Ammonites, Edomites, Sidonians and Hittites. 2 They were from nations about which the Lord had told the Israelites, “You must not intermarry with them, because they will surely turn your hearts after their gods.” Nevertheless, Solomon held fast to them in love. 3 He had seven hundred wives of royal birth and three hundred concubines, and his wives led him astray.

    Nice work if can get it. But 1,001? How did he manage? Was their some Biblical Viagra?

    1. It's the Ammonites I'm worried about. Right old fossils.

  12. (.. silly old farts or buggers if you will - stampeded in the direction of the Abbott government, and now they've got what they wanted ..)
    These silly old farts are happy. they no longer have ALP/Rudd/Gillard, and according to the murdockian insider jack, that seems like a good thing? whats with him DP?

    1. Kool aid. You can imbibe it like ether, as well as in liquid form, and it hangs around him like a mist and he's too far gone to know it ...

  13. Yair well, ya got plenty a mates in that.

  14. Message for the Freedoms Commissioner. David Koch shall from forthwith be known as Cock, not the pussy alternative known as Cosh. A cosh is a lead baton used to beat people. A Cock is - well you all know.

  15. Interesting plane picture DP, the big bomber guarding our country was also a turkey - the Convair B36 bomber.

    Here's the Greg Hunt on it:

    The B-36 was difficult to operate, prone in its early service years to catastrophic engine fires, electrical failures, and other costly malfunctions. In later years, inaccessible fuel and oil leaks were problems. To its critics, these problems made it a "billion-dollar blunder". Much more than other large aircraft powered by piston engines, the B-36 was very prone to engine fires, to the extent that some crews changed the phrase "six turning, four burning" into "two turning, two burning, two smoking, two choking, and two more unaccounted for." R-4360 engines in the B-36 were mounted backwards, in the pusher configuration—air intake/carburetor/28 cylinders/propeller. The carburetor was now in front of the engine and so could not benefit from engine heat, and also made more traditional short term carburetor heat systems unsuitable. Hence, when intake air was cold and humid, ice gradually obstructed the carburetor air intake, which in turn gradually increased the richness of the air/fuel mixture until the unburned fuel in the exhaust caught fire. Three engine fires of this nature led to the first loss of an American nuclear weapon.

    1. :)!

      The pond loves the smell of a Greg Hunt in the morning ...

    2. Speaking as we are about conservative politicians splashing out on military hardware at a time of supposed austerity, why is there no mention in current publish discourse about the role of the military adventures of glorious war-leader Howard in our recurrent debt crisis and budget emergency?


Comments older than two days are moderated and there will be a delay in publishing them.