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Dave
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Re: More Stuff

Post by Dave » Fri Dec 15, 2017 11:16 am

It's a specialty-meat issue.

Humanity is the only species known to deliberately pre-smoke its own flesh. :roll:

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Re: More Stuff

Post by AmriloJim » Fri Dec 15, 2017 11:31 am

GlytchMeister wrote:Earth would be a gourmet food production planet.
The tale of the Kanamits came to mind.

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Re: More Stuff

Post by jwhouk » Fri Dec 15, 2017 11:32 am

On a complete non-sequitur:

I am now 24 hours beyond my last shift worked at LHS. Though I'm not "officially" retired (until the 6th of January), I'm pretty much all in on the R word.
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Re: More Stuff

Post by Catawampus » Fri Dec 15, 2017 12:01 pm

Atomic wrote:I read something similar about the Sir Francis Drake vs the Spanish Armada. While vastly outnumbered, Drake had the advantage of having well trained sailors and well stocked ships with similar type cannon. It seems the Spaniards had been planning a land invasion, so their ships were manned mainly with Soldiers, and they had many types of cannon, expecting to dismount them when they landed. It seemed the English could reload and fire in about 5-6 minutes per broadside, but the Spanish struggled to return fire every 30-40 minutes due to sorting out what shot went to which cannon and finding the gunners among the mass of soldiers aboard. I really doubt they were that stupid and ill trained, but that was the claim.
The English fleet actually outnumbered the Spanish, but the Spanish had bigger and more heavily-armed ships. Of course, this was back in the days when the idea of a professional permanent fleet was still new; before, whenever a navy was needed, the local ruler just grabbed whatever ships were in harbour at the time and fitted them out as needed. So most of the ships on both sides were just merchant ships with guns strapped on; there were only two or three dozen actual purpose-built warships on each side.

The Spanish Armada wasn't the invasion fleet, it was supposed to sail north and then escort the invasion fleet of barges across the Channel. The invasion fleet never actually got around to even forming, though, so the escort fleet just sort of sailed around purposelessly wondering what to do.

I don't know what variety of guns the Spanish fleet was armed with, but the real big difference in guns was how the two fleets decided to try to use them. Since the start of ship-to-ship fighting, the basic tactic had usually been to get close and board the enemy vessel. It was basically an infantry battle on floating platforms. The introduction of cannons didn't really change that at first: the idea was to charge at the enemy, fire all of your guns at them in one big blast, and then have the gunners run up onto deck and join with everybody else in boarding the enemy ship. Apparently, most of the Spanish ships had their guns set up so that they couldn't even easily be run back in again to be reloaded, since it was assumed that they'd just fire once per battle.

The English fleet, whether by planning or just because of circumstances, took up a new and weird tactic: manoeuvre around and shoot broadsides constantly at the enemy without getting close. The Spanish didn't have any idea what to do about that.

The whole thing was really a big mess. Neither fleet was able to score a decisive victory in any of the battles, the invasion half of the Spanish plan never got started thanks to the Dutch messing it up, too long a time at sea plus bad weather tore up the Spanish fleet, and nobody really gained much of anything. But it did lead to the idea that naval gunnery might actually be something worth looking into more closely.

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Re: More Stuff

Post by Catawampus » Fri Dec 15, 2017 12:07 pm

Alkarii wrote:You know... If you actually think about it, most of the reasons aliens invade in movies or whatever are actually rather pointless. Independence Day? It would have been much easier if they just stuck to mining the asteroid belt and uninhabited planets. Battle: Los Angeles? They could have been mining the Kuiper belt, and we'd never notice.

If aliens want slave labor, I find it hard to believe they couldn't build robots to do the work. We've got roombas, and haven't even set foot on any other planets (unless you're a conspiracy theorist). They have interstellar travel. I'm pretty sure robots to clean, build, or dig are well within their capabilities.
If you look at things on a purely practical level, yeah, most alien invasion scenarios wouldn't make much sense. But societies aren't always practical. Maybe the aliens want to take away our water because their religion says that they are the only species worthy of using water, and we defile it with our presence. Or they might have some sort of psychological aversion to spending any more time in space than they have to, so rather than setting up a mining operations facility out in the Kuiper belt that might require them to sit out there in space stations, they want to take over Earth and sit down here in a nice natural atmosphere.

If they're stealing humans for slaves, it might be because they have some sort of taboo against using robots, or they might just like lording it over inferior species.

It's like one common objection I see to alien invasion movies: "if the aliens have the technology to get from there to here, they must have the technology to make all sorts of weapons that we simply can't fight against and would easily wipe us all out by nuking us from orbit". But just because they have the technology and capability doesn't mean that they will necessarily use it. We have lots of examples of that here on Earth. The US has lots of nukes and the ability to use them, the US has been in lots of wars since the Second World War. But did the US use the nukes? No, because various other social and practical considerations prevented it. It could be the same with aliens. Maybe the aliens are part of some larger society that has some sort of codified laws of war, meaning that they can only invade if they come down here in their transports and shoot at the locals with laser guns. Or they could have some religious or honour-related reasons for fighting us face-to-face rather than just dropping rocks on us from out beyond Mars. Maybe they're all like the aliens in the Predator franchise, and enjoy the idea of a "fair" fight.

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Re: More Stuff

Post by GlytchMeister » Fri Dec 15, 2017 12:27 pm

Why were tactics so slow to follow tech sometimes? Seems to me there was hardly any creative or lateral thinkers in anyone’s army. Naval guns and the concept of repeated broadsides... seems kinda obvious. Shoot the bastards until they sink. If you wanna get smart, shoot at their water line. It’s a bit more complicated if you want to plunder their ship or take it for yourself. That’s what chainshot and grapeshot is for. Take out the rigging to slow em down, take out the people so boarding isn’t too big of a hassle, and then board with several pistols per person (if possible) and short-ish cutlasses.

And then the business with everyone lining up to shoot one another on a field, and refusing to aim for their commander? Come on.

I just don’t understand why war was so... formalized and... polite. You’re killing people to survive - you’re kinda done being polite at that point.

Which kinda ties into what is said above - the main reason we don’t use nukes is because everyone will nuke each other the moment we start. Other reasons like “it’s horrible” and “it damages the environment” are... kinda moot now. War is horrible. Nukes are gnarly, but so is getting shot in the stomach and digesting yourself. And environmental damage... pfff. Even if you don’t believe in anthropogenic CO2 driven climate change, you have to admit human activity has dun fucked up the biosphere. Deforestation, poisoned water from mines, micro particles of plastic everywhere in the ocean, oil spills, extinctions... so a single nuke, while significant, isn’t really that big of a deal.
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Re: More Stuff

Post by Dave » Fri Dec 15, 2017 12:51 pm

GlytchMeister wrote:so a single nuke, while significant, isn’t really that big of a deal.
I think the key word there is "single". The general consensus seems to be that if one side uses a nuclear weapon, things will escalate very rapidly... at best in a 1-for-1 tit-for-tat style, but probably much faster than that. "If you nuke any of my troops or cities, I will nuke you so hard that you will lose the ability to do so again."

The border between "selective" use of small "tactical" nukes, and a full-scale strategic assault or retaliation, may or may not actually exist. It has never been tested.

It could be all too easy to trigger the cascade of mutual destruction. That would be a very big deal, with most cities in several countries reduced to poisonous flaming rubble.

Many people don't appreciate how close we may have come to this during the Cuban missile crisis. Arguably, it's thanks to the refusal of one man (an officer in a Russian sub armed with nuclear torpedoes) to agree with his Captain's order to fire such a torpedo at American ships they believed were trying to destroy them, which prevented a full-scale nuclear World War III from breaking out.

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Re: More Stuff

Post by jwhouk » Fri Dec 15, 2017 12:57 pm

That was one reason why the British hated how the Colonials fought at the beginning of the Revolutionary War. The Minutemen shot from behind their hedges and treelines, without formally lining up to fire at the Hessians.
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Re: More Stuff

Post by GlytchMeister » Fri Dec 15, 2017 4:19 pm

Dave wrote:
GlytchMeister wrote:so a single nuke, while significant, isn’t really that big of a deal.
I think the key word there is "single". The general consensus seems to be that if one side uses a nuclear weapon, things will escalate very rapidly... at best in a 1-for-1 tit-for-tat style, but probably much faster than that. "If you nuke any of my troops or cities, I will nuke you so hard that you will lose the ability to do so again."

The border between "selective" use of small "tactical" nukes, and a full-scale strategic assault or retaliation, may or may not actually exist. It has never been tested.

It could be all too easy to trigger the cascade of mutual destruction. That would be a very big deal, with most cities in several countries reduced to poisonous flaming rubble.

Many people don't appreciate how close we may have come to this during the Cuban missile crisis. Arguably, it's thanks to the refusal of one man (an officer in a Russian sub armed with nuclear torpedoes) to agree with his Captain's order to fire such a torpedo at American ships they believed were trying to destroy them, which prevented a full-scale nuclear World War III from breaking out.
I wrote:the main reason we don’t use nukes is because everyone will nuke each other the moment we start.
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Re: More Stuff

Post by GlytchMeister » Fri Dec 15, 2017 4:20 pm

jwhouk wrote:That was one reason why the British hated how the Colonials fought at the beginning of the Revolutionary War. The Minutemen shot from behind their hedges and treelines, without formally lining up to fire at the Hessians.
Right - we wised up and everyone else got their nuts in a twist.
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Re: More Stuff

Post by AnotherFairportfan » Fri Dec 15, 2017 4:37 pm

GlytchMeister wrote:Why were tactics so slow to follow tech sometimes? Seems to me there was hardly any creative or lateral thinkers in anyone’s army.
Every war - at least at the beginning - is fought with the tactics of the previous war.
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Re: More Stuff

Post by AnotherFairportfan » Fri Dec 15, 2017 4:47 pm

Dave wrote:Many people don't appreciate how close we may have come to this during the Cuban missile crisis. Arguably, it's thanks to the refusal of one man (an officer in a Russian sub armed with nuclear torpedoes) to agree with his Captain's order to fire such a torpedo at American ships they believed were trying to destroy them, which prevented a full-scale nuclear World War III from breaking out.
Even closer later, when a single KGB officer refused to give the all-out launch code - against standing orders - on the basis of what turned out to be a radar malfunction.

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Re: More Stuff

Post by AnotherFairportfan » Fri Dec 15, 2017 4:51 pm

AmriloJim wrote:
GlytchMeister wrote:Earth would be a gourmet food production planet.
The tale of the Kanamits came to mind.
My brother/Steve White's novel In Death Ground and its sequel, The Shiva Option.
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Re: More Stuff

Post by AnotherFairportfan » Sat Dec 16, 2017 3:02 am

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Re: More Stuff

Post by Atomic » Sat Dec 16, 2017 3:39 am

I stand corrected on England v Spanish Armada. The video and other references I was thinking of was about 40 vs nearly 200 Spanish ships. England had the upwind advantage and maneuverability, while the Spanish were downwind clustered in a defensive Crescent formation. Drake attacked the points of the crescent, and the interior ships couldn't fire back through their own lines, so whittling them down. Two days later they had all moved further into the narrows of the English Channel, and Drake sent a pair of fire ships into the Spanish mass. They hadn't linked up with their land forces, so had no choice but to flee northeast into the channel and North Sea. So they were forced to sail around Scotland and Ireland to return to Spain, and weather took it's toll on the fleet. Less than 1/3 returned, IIRC. Too late to cruise Wikipedia because I'm lazy and the Manatee Dreams sound track is mesmerizing me. Bleah. Why do I start these historical discussions at 3 in the morning after a late shift and have to work 11-5 overtime tomorrow? How can I still spell at this hour? Granted, the red squiggles tell me when I'm off, but I'm amazed that my correct/crap ratio is still so high. Must be that 8th grade typing class I took 30 years ago. No, make that 40. Oh screw math, I'm going to bed. I hope the song ends toon. Soon. whatever.
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Re: More Stuff

Post by Catawampus » Sat Dec 16, 2017 1:13 pm

GlytchMeister wrote:Why were tactics so slow to follow tech sometimes? Seems to me there was hardly any creative or lateral thinkers in anyone’s army. Naval guns and the concept of repeated broadsides... seems kinda obvious.
Whenever you're looking back at history, one of the very hardest things to do is to remember that the people back then didn't have all of their future history to refer to. It's hard to see their time as they saw it, as being “now”, with none of the obvious (to us) mapped-out events coming after it yet. It's easy for us to look back and say, “Oh, hey, why didn't they just do this thing earlier than they did?”, but at the time it might not have seemed anywhere near so obvious that such a thing should, or even could, be done.

There are usually a lot of reasons why tactics aren't changed quickly. One is that just because a new technology has been created, that doesn't mean that it's ready right away for the uses that it will be put to years later. There's always all sorts of ancillary tech that needs to be worked out.

Cannon broadsides first of all need to have usable cannons made, and then ships built that can employ them. Earlier cannons didn't have all that great performance, gunpowder underwent all sorts of gradual refinements over the centuries, ship designs needed to be invented that could carry lots of big heavy guns, gun carriages that would work safely and effectively aboard ships took a good bit of trial and error to figure out. Up until enough of those things were all worked out well enough, then the use of cannon on ships was of limited usefulness. People got used to the less-effective earlier versions, and tended to think of the newer, better ones still in terms of the older ones.

Once you have an effective new technology, then you have to figure out how and when and when not to use it. As I said, the basic tactic used for thousands of years was to run your ship into the enemy one, climb aboard their ship, and fight them hand-to-hand. One of the largest and most important naval battles of the Early Modern Age (or of any age, really) had happened only some fifteen or so years before the Spanish Armada, and it had still used oar-powered ships and had everybody line up in formation and charge each other. Everybody still thought in terms of massed ships smashing into formations of other massed ships, and in that context the early cannon were seen mainly as a means to try to break up the enemy formation before the ships made contact. There wasn't really much thought of using them for totally new tactics, because the old tactics were still working fine and the new technology was still too new to have shown all of the potential that it held (and it's potential at the time was still pretty crude and limited). It was only when the English realised when facing the Armada that the old tactics weren't going to cut it that they started looking to new ideas.

Even when it's clear that a new technology does work well with new tactics, it's not always a great idea to just drop the old tactics and take up new ones. It takes time to train people to use the new tactics, and right in the middle of a war isn't always the easiest time to call in all of your navy and train them. What about setting up a logistics system for the new technology? How much shot and powder is needed for the average engagement, and what's the best way to transport and store it? You also don't know what trade-offs and quirks the new tactics might involve, while the old tactics, by virtue of being old, have already been well tested and measured.

And, of course, sometimes you just have people not being all that quick on the up-take, when something new comes along.
And then the business with everyone lining up to shoot one another on a field, and refusing to aim for their commander? Come on.

I just don’t understand why war was so... formalized and... polite. You’re killing people to survive - you’re kinda done being polite at that point.
It often wasn't actually as nice and polite and tidy and honourable as popularly imagined, a lot of that's simply historical stereotype. More often than not, soldiers were more than happy to aim for the enemy officers (and occasionally for their own, but that's a different matter. . .). When officers did go with the polite manners, it was either because it was a hold-over from the old feudal chivalric ideals, or else because they realised that how they treated the enemy might influence how the enemy treats them.

The having everybody line up or march around in squares was useful for the weapons that they had at the time. Fighting in formations predated firearms, of course, and gave obvious advantages when everybody was using swords and spears and shields. When guns were introduced, the new weapons were very slow and inaccurate; the gunners needed to have the protection of the guys with pikes and swords around them or else they were extremely vulnerable. So the early handguns were used scattered in amongst the other soldiers in the squares and lines.

As guns became better and more common, the proportions of them in the formations changed. By the time of the Thirty Years War, it was common to have big formations made mainly of pikes and gunners. Soon the guns were fast and reliable enough that they didn't even need the shelter of the pikes, especially once somebody came up with useful bayonets.

The most easily mass-produced guns were still not that accurate, though, so massed volleys were still needed to have much effect. There was still also some down time where the guns had to be reloaded, during which the gunners were vulnerable and had to be covered by other gunners. This was especially true with inadequately trained soldiers, which was often what the armies had to make use of.

Which leads into the other big reason why formations were used on the battlefield: it made moving and controlling the soldiers easier. Battlefield communications are always tricky, and trying to somehow tell every one of your soldiers on the field what they needed to be doing wasn't really something that could be done. So you'd have them all march along in a big rectangle, and only the guy in charge of a given rectangle would have to see what the signals said and tell the front rank what to do. The next rank back could follow the lead of the first rank, the third follow the second, and so on. It also gave a huge psychological boost to unseasoned troops to have it be such an easily visible fact they they were part of a big, solid-looking mass of men.

Different formations also had different strengths and weaknesses and uses. Putting your troops in line formation, only a few ranks thick but stretching across the front, maximised your firepower. Every person in the line could point their gun at the enemy and fire, as opposed to when they formed up in big rectangles. But line formation was extremely vulnerable to cavalry attack, so when cavalry was suspected to be around then infantry usually formed up in hollow squares instead. Then only a quarter or so of the troops could face the enemy at a given time, but it was nearly impossible for cavalry to do much more than ride around and cuss at them. Forming up quickly in a square was a vital move, and having people in formation beforehand, whatever that formation may have been, made the process much easier and faster.

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Re: More Stuff

Post by Warrl » Sat Dec 16, 2017 4:19 pm

There's also this:

If you go "by the book" and win, you're a great commander.

If you go "by the book" and lose, well, the enemy had greater numbers / the uphill advantage / something.

If you try new tactics and win, you're a threat to all the other commanders who don't have the imagination to even copy your tactics.

If you try new tactics and lose, you're incompetent.

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Re: More Stuff

Post by lake_wrangler » Sun Dec 17, 2017 5:17 pm

This quote from my wallpaper changer actually made me laugh:
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Re: More Stuff

Post by Atomic » Sun Dec 17, 2017 7:45 pm

Warrl wrote:There's also this:

If you go "by the book" and win, you're a great commander.

If you go "by the book" and lose, well, the enemy had greater numbers / the uphill advantage / something.

If you try new tactics and win, you're a threat to all the other commanders who don't have the imagination to even copy your tactics.

If you try new tactics and lose, you're incompetent.
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Re: More Stuff

Post by lake_wrangler » Mon Dec 18, 2017 11:14 am

Oh, what a beautiful world it would be, without people...
- Ben Haramad, in The Little Drummer Boy (1968)
I chuckled, when I heard him say that...

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