Category Archives: History

How Fixing Howitzers in Ukraine is Like Baking a Cake

When I wrote my first book in 2012, I pitched the publisher on cooking recipes for cloud security.

My vision was that one page would describe how to make an historic meal (such as British Navy spotted dick) and then the rest of the chapter would be cloud technical steps (such as how to setup secure remote administration).

I even presented a test chapter for the RSA Conference in China on how to grill the perfect hamburger, as a recipe for cloud encryption and key management.

Things didn’t turn out quite like I had expected, as the publisher asked to change the title to virtualization, drop the food recipes, and insert a DVD. It felt like preparing a gourmet vegan dessert and being told to stick to the meat and potatoes.


Nonetheless it sticks in my mind as a powerful way to convey the relationship between technology and knowledge.

Food automation tends to be disgusting, even causing illness. Whereas technology augmentation in human cooking, using recipes for quality control and governance, will produce the best possible meal.

Microsoft management clearly didn’t understand basic anthropology of technology because illness just forced them to cancel a massively funded VR program.

The personnel demoing the tech appear to be using a variant of Microsoft HoloLens. The government recently halted plans to buy more “AR combat goggles” from Microsoft, instead approving $40 million for the company to develop a new version. The reversal came after discovering that the current version caused issues like headaches, eyestrain and nausea.

Such a waste of time and money to find out frozen industrialized pseudo food pucks don’t serve well.

It’s like reading people got sick and then discovered a taco MRE wasn’t a taco, just sugar and cornmeal drenched in artificial taco flavors.

See-through augmentation is a whole different thing, as it avoids all the foundational problems of automation (e.g. where to get actual useful nutrition from).

Google glass really blew it on this point. They could have developed an HUD for highly technical work repairing things with both hands.

Of course Google didn’t think like this because their engineers all went straight from elite schools to sitting in a gourmet cafeteria eating free lunches and talking mostly about their exotic vacations.

They’re in a virtual world, the opposite of what’s required for knowledge, let alone innovation. And that’s why their products depend on finding people who really live, who have daily struggles and needs in a real world, to tell them what to engineer.

That’s all background to the main point here that howitzers in Ukraine are proving today what everyone should have been working on for at least the last decade: cooking.

DARPA’s training demos use something more pedestrian: cooking. Dr. Bruce Draper, the program’s manager, describes it as the ideal proxy task. “[Cooking is] a good example of a complex physical task that can be done in many ways. There are lots of different objects, solids, liquids, things change state, so it’s visually quite complex. There is specialized terminology, there are specialized devices, and there’s a lot of different ways it can be accomplished. So it’s a really good practice domain.” The team views PTG as eventually finding uses in medical training, evaluating the competency of medics and other healthcare services.

First you bake a cake together as a team using augmented vision… then you destroy invading armies with it.

Using phones and tablets to communicate in encrypted chatrooms, a rapidly growing group of U.S. and allied troops and contractors is providing real-time maintenance advice — usually speaking through interpreters — to Ukrainian troops on the battlefield. In a quick response, the U.S. team member told the Ukrainian to remove the gun’s breech at the rear of the howitzer and manually prime the firing pin so the gun could fire. He did it and it worked.


I’m not going to claim credit for this obvious future of technology based on ancient wisdom, given there are so many children’s tales saying the same thing.

Ratatouille is probably my favorite, easily digested in movie format.

The real kicker to the howitzer example is the technical teams spell out very precisely in life and death context where augmentation works best and where it fails (hint: Blockchain is a disaster).

As the U.S. and other allies send more and increasingly complex and high-tech weapons to Ukraine, demands are spiking. And since no U.S. or other NATO nations will send troops into the country to provide hands-on assistance — due to worries about being drawn into a direct conflict with Russia — they’ve turned to virtual chatrooms.

I use virtual chatrooms so much I forgot for a minute that they’re virtual.

The Ukrainian troops are often reluctant to send the weapons back out of the country for repairs. They’d rather do it themselves, and in nearly all cases — U.S. officials estimated 99% of the time — the Ukrainians do the repair and continue on. …Ukrainians can now put the split weapon back together. “They couldn’t do titanium welding before, they can do it now,” said the U.S. soldier, adding that “something that was two days ago blown up is now back in play.”

I love this SO MUCH. Right to Repair in a nutshell. Technology dramatically enhances developing markets by sharing knowledge like how to restore that technology in the field.

It’s the awesome Dakar Malle model of efficiency and sustainability that all technology should be put through, instead of lionizing the biggest waste teams.

And now for the main point:

Sometimes video chats aren’t possible. “A lot of times if they’re on the front line, they won’t do a video because sometimes (cell service) is a little spotty,” said a U.S. maintainer. “They’ll take pictures and send it to us through the chats and we sit there and diagnose it.”

Visual diagnosis in real time to bake a highly complicated cake. Including translation for chefs representing 17 nations in a small kitchen.

As they look to the future, they are planning to get some commercial, off-the-shelf translation goggles. That way, when they talk to each other they can skip the interpreters and just see the translation as they speak, making conversations easier and faster.

And I warned you about bockchain.

The expanse of weapons and equipment they’re handling and questions they’re fielding were even too complicated for a digital spreadsheet — forcing the team to go low-tech. One wall in their maintenance office is lined with an array of old-fashioned, color-coded Post-it notes, to help them track the weapons and maintenance needs.

Hope that’s clear. Writing a big blog post about how to share knowledge in the future is hard. Not as hard as a book, obviously, but I definitely could use some augmentation right now

More than anything it’s clear to me without government funded research teams, many tech companies would be utterly and completely lost in expensive dead end navel gazing.

DARPA is asking for developing recipes that really were needed a decade ago, based on assessment of hunger they see right now. While it’s fashionable to call this future thinking to avoid blame, in reality it’s being less ignorant about the present troubles.

Let the Russians desperate for a Chinese MRE eat cake instead, a delicious one right out of the howitzer.

Or I believe Molotov in WWII would have called them “bread baskets“.

Vyacheslav Molotov claimed in 1939 the Soviet Union was not dropping bombs on Finland, just airlifting food. The Finns thereafter called RRAB-3 cluster bombs “Molotov’s bread basket” and named an improvised incendiary device (used to counter Soviet tanks) their Molotov cocktail, “a drink to go with the food.”

Florida Crash: Falling Below 20 Other U.S. States for Retirement

It’s true, Florida is crashing on the retirement ranking scale. And it’s not hard to see why. The Governor of Florida pledged in his recent election campaign to wage a Christian nationalist (Coughlin fascist) crusade to destroy or hold back non-white prosperity, setting the state back as if the American Civil War never ended (let alone the 1835 Seminole Rebellion).

Source: American propaganda leaflet distributed by domestic terror groups on how to appropriate Mexican fashion and religion (e.g. Nazis appropriated the Hindu swastika) to infiltrate U.S. politics. Click to enlarge

From banning speech and books to stuffing boards with tinpot dictators tasked with censoring American values, it’s clear Florida also is pandering to foreign military interference. Here’s how it was framed by the federal government.

Today I want to take a little bit of time to discuss some new actions that we are going to be taking to counter the Russian private military company known as Wagner, which is committing atrocities and human rights abuses in Ukraine and, of course, elsewhere around the world. […] It is — it is incomprehensible that — to see that this is what this ban — or this block, to be more specific, that [the Governor of Florida] has put forward. If you think about the study of Black Americans, that is what he wants to block.

The connection I’m highlighting here isn’t as far as some would hope, a repeat of history. Here’s how it was framed by religious leaders.

“…using the name of Jesus, holy scripture and worship music to promote a partisan political agenda and personal business interests.”

Highly un-American political moves have been rammed through Florida against public opinion because of one reason: record-breaking funding from outside groups like it’s 1940 again.

In other words, America First (domestic hate group linked to foreign enemies) having being defeated in both World Wars obviously isn’t a lesson Americans learned well enough yet to prevent another rise.

In actual fact, in WWII it was study of Black history that America warned differentiated itself from Nazi Germany. That’s why today’s fascists in Florida are so confidently banning study of Black history, in an attempt to align with the wrong side of history.

US war-time anti-fascism posters encouraged Americans to read about black history and culture.

1944 seditious conspiracy is the operative context for what the Governor of Florida sounds like in terms of history — an infamously racist and hate-filled Senator Robert Taft of today.

It’s not even that the Florida governor is wrong when he argues America was founded for white men to be in control (why General Robert “butcher” Lee infamously killed so many Americans). American Revolutionary War was about profit, NOT liberty. Florida was illegally invaded (by the corrupt serial-liar Andrew Jackson) to deny emancipation of Black Americans in a bald-faced plan to create a white police state. It’s that this issue has been settled before, multiple times, with massive loss of life.

After President Grant won the Civil War, and then crushed the KKK in politics, the late 1800s serial losers rebranded as a Christian nationalist “America First” platform in 1915

You’d be forgiven for not recognizing Horatio Seymour above, the KKK’s candidate for President before Woodrow Wilson achieved that goal in 1912.

But who remembers Taft?

1946 was not so very long ago and the man was wrong, VERY wrong. See the problem here?

TAFT CONDEMNS HANGING FOR NAZIS AS UNJUST VERDICT… Nuremberg was a miscarriage of justice which the American people would long regret.

It’s like the Nazi-loving Taft is back again and nobody seems to remember why he should be headed to jail instead of allowed to “represent” local extremists by aligning to foreign hate groups.

[Taft’s] views were shared by many within the US political establishment… “Southerners will never accept African-Americans as a race of people with the same intelligence, education, and social skills as white people of the South. As a representative of the American people, I want to say that what is happening in Nuremberg, Germany, is a disgrace to the United States. Two and a half years after the end of the war in Nuremberg, the racial minority [have] hanged German soldiers…” …notorious racists and anti-Semites, who shared reactionary views and were influential in United States politics, stuck up for the Nazis.

Translation of Taft’s greatest fear: if German soldiers can be hanged by “the racial minority”, what’s to stop America from hanging its own Nazis? Obvious answer: Don’t be a Nazi.

The Florida Governor’s Russian immigrant base, not to mention their allegiance to a foreign leader, is thus being well served by overt corruption in local politics. Such toxic and regressive political antics (downright un-American return to Taft’s love of Nazism) is direct cause for a plummeting Florida retirement ranking, with no sign of improving.

And that’s probably their goal, as they try to turn it into New Russia.

According to our analysis and methodology, there were 20 states that ranked above Florida. This includes Arkansas, Texas, and Maine.


Apparently it’s easier to shovel Maine snow than the BS of Florida Nazism. Source: Bangor Daily News. “Dan Wagner shoveled a path to a friend’s house. The record-breaking 6 feet of snow the Down East Maine community has received in the last few weeks has strained the local infrastructure, but not the neighborliness of the town, residents said.”

You know when a freezing cold no-sunshine tundra called Maine ranks above Florida for retirement, it’s time for a massive correction if not intervention.

Ukraine is dealing with the problem right now that America should far better prepare for on its own soil. Florida has become a fascist beach head… again.

Source: “The Eight Nazi Saboteurs…
Should be Put to Death”, Life Magazine 1942

Flexible Metal NASA Robot Tires Now Available for Bicycles

NASA metal tires allegedly never get flat or… tired

A couple of the awards at this year’s CES mentioned a metal mesh tire, based on NASA research and missions.

Originally developed by NASA and now commercialized for terrestrial use by The SMART Tire Company, these superelastic tires are airless, durable and will never go flat. Made from a special advanced material, NiTinol+ (nickel titanium), a shape memory alloy (SMA) that’s elastic like rubber, yet strong like titanium.

Priced at only $100 it seems too good to be true.

Its primary claim is durability, since the metal lasts far longer than rubber and is puncture proof. This is huge news for military applications (such as this or this), not to mention other forms of disaster response.

Swiss book about a century of bikes used in war, which gets far less attention than it should.
This is the U.S. Army bike used in the 1890s to literally invent mountain biking by riding through the Rockies without roads. Source: Online Bicycle Museum

Makes sense I guess for anyone commuting on the surface of the moon, or a Google campus.

However, for the rest of us the tire seems to lack traction and performance data. NASA missions don’t typically deal with the environments and behaviors found on Earth. And what do they sound like, tank treads on pavement like the Battle of Singapore bikes?

1943 Wireless Map of Nazi “Wolf’s Lair” Communications

By 1942 it was abundantly clear that the technologically lesser Nazi Germany would lose WWII.

And yet Hitler and his minions, connected through a hiding hole in Poland (“Wolf’s Lair” — Adolf is a derivative of wolf), remained delusional and genocidal.

Nowhere did Adolf Hitler spend as much time during the Second World War — the dictator passed around 830 days in the bunkers at Wolf’s Lair. […] Hitler lived in this tomb, he worked and slept there. “It seemed as if the seven-meter-thick concrete walls that surrounded him figuratively, separated him from the outside world and imprisoned him in his madness,” said Polubinski. …where Hitler, his generals and marshals not only planned campaigns but also discussed the genocide of the Jews in detail.

Here’s a map of the connections and communications, which used the broken Lorenz encryption system (when they weren’t using Siemens).

The highest and most sensitive Nazi communication ran on Lorenz, a cipher machine broken so badly that Allied intelligence built a 1943 map of the entire command structure heirarchy. Source: GCHQ

On the very far left is Rommel’s HQ (Army Group B), for example, which communicated through layers to Army HQ in the center-right.

The British labeled Lorenz machine communication channels as “fish”, which you can see here in detail.

Decryption of the Nazi Army leadership allegedly was like shooting “fish” in a barrel.

After the war the Polish turned the Nazi HQ buildings at the heart of this map into a strangely “grotesque Disneyland” where locals would admire the concrete, fire toy German guns and play… things you rarely hear about.

All food for thought to those who ask me 1) can Putin avoid assassination and 2) when will he quit. The bigger question is how many generations will be lost for each month his delusions run in front of watchful eyes.

It’s no coincidence the extremist militant criminal partner of the Russian Army has been genocidally kidnapping children from occupied territory for indoctrination and servitude, after naming itself for the infamous Nazi “Wagner“.

…Wagner was the deputy commandant of the Sobibor extermination camp in eastern Poland. It was not a conventional concentration camp, because there was no work for those who arrived.

Sobibor was a killing center. Its production line was as sophisticated as a complex modern factory. In just 15 months, 250,000 men, women and children stepped off the train in the morning, were gassed by lunchtime and their corpses burnt before dawn the next day. By then their luggage had been sorted and packed for shipment to Germany. […]

He didn’t kill the same way as the other Germans. He didn’t shoot, he tortured…when he killed he smiled. Murdering was his pleasure — you could see it in his face. He didn’t consider it a duty, it was more his private matter.

Russia’s Wagner has always been a private criminal matter of ethnic cleansing by design and name, not like a duty-bound Army. It’s all in the communications with Putin, which someday may be exposed.

Basically the Nazi children (Hitler jugend) were indoctrinated with fear and hate. Then they were forced into the unjust war their fathers already had lost, told they would be killed if they refused or surrendered.

If you didn’t know, now you do.

Delays in stopping a dictatorship’s known war crimes and ignoring ethnic cleansing has a clear precedent.

More Russian Soldiers Have Died Invading Ukraine Than Americans Died in WWI

WWI Russian Sister of Mercy. Source: Klimbim

I’ve seen several people make comparison between current Russian military tactics and WWI. Here’s a new one.

Waves of young under-equipped Russian soldiers were driven to their death in barren battlefields devoid of life or purpose.

…the total number of deaths since February 24, when Russia launched its invasion, [increased] to 116,950. If these figures are accurate, Russia has now lost more troops in Ukraine than the U.S. lost during its involvement in World War I.

Three differences.

One: America in WWI saw a casualty rate of approximately 10%, and many of its dead were not from combat (e.g. disease). Russia at the same time, however, recorded a whopping 1,700,000 dead and a casualty rate closer to 80%. That alone should put any American perspective in different context.

Two: The article goes on to say that Russian propaganda today blames all deaths on the soldiers themselves, or their targets. There’s no discussion allowed in Russia of its leaders failing at invasion, because there is only lies about defending something, anything. That really changes the framing for dying in a war. Ethnic cleansing and genocide of Ukrainians has been couched in bogus language of “defense”, which intends to mobilize every Russian into dying starved and alone in a muddy trench.

Three: Many Russian casualties are from shooting each other to achieve some criminal form of power, avoid accountability, and force direction… within a flaccid masculinity system that runs on graft and corruption. Russian cemeteries quickly are filling up today from a 20th century suicidal grind, by design.

Those three big points make it hard to say the historic American WWI experience or perspective, let alone 100K dead, are going to motivate anyone in Russia to listen. It’s perhaps safe to say instead that Russia is engaged in antiquated/primitive strategies of mass mobilization, leaning on heavy artillery and human waves of frontal assaults to reduce target areas into rubble without any meaningful gains (huge waste, which leads to weakness and then destabilization). That’s the better comparison to WWI.

Update January 25: Estimates for Russian soldiers killed are already much higher, closer to 200K.