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April 21, 2006

Toppling Governments

In response to the remark that toppling governments is not easy, which I made in a recent chat with my friend Mike he responded, and I quote "Its fairly easy all you need is some AK 47s, economic depravity and a bunch of drunk rebels."
In what I hope is sarcasm on his part, or a priming effect of this Blog; Michael's advocacy for the AK 47 places him in notable company. Earlier this week Reuters reported that the designer of the world's most popular assault rifle, Mikhail Kalashnikov says that U.S. soldiers in Iraq are using his invention in preference to their own weapons, proving that his gun is still the best.
The AK-47 is legendary for its ruggedness and reliability, it is simple and cheap to manufacture with minimal maintenance and overhead. Thus, making it ideal for small bread & butter war economies as well as super sized war economies, not to mention everything in between. It was designed by Kalashnikov towards the end of WWII (1947) based on the concept of the assault rifle envisioned by crafty German engineers. The standard AK-47 or AKM fires a 7.62 × 39 mm round with a muzzle velocity of 710 m/s (2,329 ft/s). Muzzle energy is 1,990 joules (1,467 ft•lbf). Cartridge case length is 38.6 mm; weight is 18.21 g. Projectile weight is normally 8 g (123 gr). The AK-47 and AKM, with the 7.62 × 39 mm cartridge, have an effective range of around 300 meters. It is essentially an effective dummy-proof killing machine which cuts through flesh like a hot knife through butter.

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The AK47 is a Soviet cultural icon and modern relic.

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It is also manufactured in several nations which have modified the weapon to meet their personal killing needs. The African variants are licensed copies of the Galil from Israel, manufactured in South Africa.

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The Israeli Galil variant is regarded as a good design but poor quality developed after the Six Day War in 1967 on the premise of the Finnish and Hungarian variants of the AK-47. Why Finland needs assault rifles is beyond me! The Galil endures a poor reputation among Israeli troops, who are today mostly issued the American M16A1 rifles instead. Licensed copies of the Galil R3 & R4 are made in South Africa. The Somalis used AK-47s against American Rangers in Mogadishu. According to Jane's Infantry Weapons, a rough estimate of how many AK-47 rifles in use puts the numbers in excess of 50 million.

To arm a lot of people cheaply an AK is available at an attractive price and off course pricier and more effective models are available for collectors, killer entourages, and personal use.

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In 1989 Patrick Purdy who was armed with a Chinese Norinco AK-47 shot 35 school children and adults in a Stockton California school yard. Surprisingly 86% of those children recovered from their wounds. In response to immense news media coverage about the wounding effects of bullets fired from AK-47 type rifles, Col. Martin L. Fackler, M.D., (a former Vietnam combat trauma surgeon) of the U.S. Army Wound Ballistics Laboratory published an article in the Journal of Trauma to correct and clarify the news media exaggerations. Click here to go to Fackler Stockton article. Notably...

In accordance with international laws governing warfare the military full-metal-jacketed bullet is specifically designed to limit tissue disruption -- to wound rather than to kill. Purportedly mandated for "humanitarian" reasons by the Hague Peace Conference of 1899, this type of bullet actually proves to be more effective for most warfare.

Most full-metal-jacketed AK-47 bullets do not deform unless they strike bone. They travel point-forward through 9 to 10 inches of tissue before they yaw (turn sideways, and strike more tissue). Thus, these bullets generally cause no greater damage than handgun bullets. The results from the Stockton schoolyard (35 hit, 30 survivors) are consistent with data from Vietnam (700 cases of AK-47 hits were studied in detail), as well as with studies from wound ballistics laboratories.

Pertinent to the material reviewed for this paper, the Chief of Police of the City of San Jose, Joseph D. McNamara, stated, "One bullet hitting a child in Stockton, took out his entire stomach." Our review of the autopsy reports shows that only one of the children killed by Mr. Purdy in the Stockton schoolyard had damage to the stomach. It states, "STOMACH: There is a perforating wound of the atrium due to passage of the bullet. The stomach is otherwise normal. There is no spillage of gastric contents." An unsuspecting public and medical community might accept Chief McNamara's highly exaggerated description as fact.

The exaggerated assault rifle effects presented by the media have had the pernicious effect of causing an unprecedented demand for "assault rifles". Estimates from sales figures indicate that the number of these weapons in California has greatly increased since the Stockton shooting.

Indeed the trusty Kalashnikov is a lean mean killing machine, and agreeably fit for the means and demands of a campaign against governments. However, as long as governments are in the business of supplying weapons like the Kalashnikov to disgruntled factions around the world culture rather than governments will fall.
Even after lying in a swamp you can pick up this rifle, aim it and shoot.
How can one compete with that?

April 20, 2006

Moment of Zen

An audio mash up of GW Bush singing the John Lennon classic "imagine", it has been a worldwide hit and has made it into (John Peel's) BBC Radio 1 Music Festive 50 on UK Radio 1. Created by John Callaghan link embedded from YouTube.

April 19, 2006

A Large Mass Hierarchy from a Small Extra Dimension

Authors: Lisa Randall, Raman Sundrum
Report-no: MIT-CTP-2860, PUPT-1860, BUHEP-99-9
Journal-ref: Phys.Rev.Lett. 83 (1999) 3370-3373

We propose a new higher-dimensional mechanism for solving the Hierarchy Problem. The Weak scale is generated from a large scale of order the Planck scale through an exponential hierarchy. However, this exponential arises not from gauge interactions but from the background metric (which is a slice of AdS_5 spacetime). This mechanism relies on the existence of only a single additional dimension. We demonstrate a simple explicit example of this mechanism with two three-branes, one of which contains the Standard Model fields. The experimental consequences of this scenario are new and dramatic. There are fundamental spin-2 excitations with mass of weak scale order, which are coupled with weak scale as opposed to gravitational strength to the standard model particles. The phenomenology of these models is quite distinct from that of large extra dimension scenarios; none of the current constraints on theories with very large extra dimensions apply.

Randall @ Edge
Randall @ Harvard
Randall @ Thought Cast

April 12, 2006

Any form of conformity, any form of distortion, purposely or unconsciously, is violence.
J. Krishnamurti