Quick Roundup 250

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

This morning finds me with a backlog of things I want to talk about and essentially no time to do so! The upside is that the blog practically writes itself on such occasions....


I recently encountered a very good civics literacy quiz through Jennifer Snow (who found it through Rational Jenn). I scored a 93, which is probably better than I would have scored in high school. So take that, Adrian!

Missile Tracking for Fun and Profit

Pursuant to my recent blog of Petrov Day, I learned through reader Hannes Hacker of the following interesting anecdote from the appendix of a paper on satellite tracking:

In October 1960, Ballistic Missile Early Warning Site 1 (BMEWS 1) outside of Thule, Greenland was in final preparations for going into operations (IOC). BMEWS1 was to be the US's first heavy radar to provide warning of an ICBM attack by the Soviet's newly developed capability. The BMEWS radar for IOC consisted of four AN/FPS-50 fan type radars with dual (over/under) 60 degree horizontal scanning beams. An ICBM fired from the Soviet Union to strike America normally would penetrate the lower beam and then the upper. State vectors would be generated from both penetrations, and then would be combined for a best prediction of impact time and location.

The test for IOC was a team from Aerospace Defense Command (1st Aerospace Control Squadron), Colorado Springs, CO. When they turned on the fan radars for the first part of the IOC test, thousands of radar returns came in! It looked like a mass ICBM raid, and there was initial panic! Then someone noted that the Doppler on the radar returns was near zero. This meant that the "ICBMs" weren’t closing on North America. So what were the BMEWS radars seeing? Why, the Moon of course!

It turned out that the radar processing software was set up for ICBMs at ranges up to several thousand kilometers (first "main bang range"), but had no feature that would account for more distant targets -- such as the Moon, a really good radar reflector at several hundred thousand kilometers! No real damage here. After all, this was a test!
And while we're re-living the Cold War, I noticed a link to the blog A Soviet Poster a Day under "Blogs of Note" as I was logging on to Blogger this morning. The title to a posting about "Soviet Champagne" sets about the right tone for that subject matter: "In victory, you deserve Champagne, in defeat, you need it".

Push 'n Shove

I am thoroughly enjoying Hepcat's album, Push 'n Shove, which good friend Adrian Hester sent my way not too long ago, but which I hadn't loaded onto my iPod until just a few days ago.

Although it is not from the album, I have embedded a YouTube video of one of their songs ("No Worries") below. I'd heard that song before, but somehow never looked into who performed it or tracked down their other work.

My favorites on the album are "Prison of Love", "Beautiful", and their cover of Brenton Wood's classic, "Gimme Little Sign".

-- CAV


Nicholas Provenzo said...

I got one wrong (whoohoo) on the civics quiz. I guess that makes me a near-civics genious :-P

Gus Van Horn said...

Hmmm. 98. Impressive!

But I can't resist ribbing you about the fact that spelling didn't count!

Nicholas Provenzo said...

And a good thing too, since I can't spel to save myself. :-P

Gus Van Horn said...

Joking aside, I suspect that, as a group, Objectivists would pretty much clean the clocks of just about any other demographic.

Kyle Haight said...

Wow, Nick is the first person I've heard of who outscored me on that quiz -- I got 97%, missing two questions. Well done!

Gus Van Horn said...


Of course, my 93 left plenty of room for a couple of commenters to ring up better scores....

I expected to see that and was not disappointed.

Anonymous said...

I took that quiz (and forwarded it on to a number of friends) several weeks back. I was surprised at how quick it was to complete. I missed two questions for a score of 97%.

Incidentally, one of the two "missed" questions was among those on the quiz for which I think the provided answers were either all wrong or misleading in a general way: the "correct" Just War Theory answer completely misses the point in my view, and the student who takes only that aspect away from a study of JWT will not have a fully integrated understanding of it.

Jim May said...

I only scored 83%.

But I have the excuse of being Canadian :P

Gus Van Horn said...


Not to discount your criticism, but just about any quiz made today will have the problem of ambiguous answers. This one was less offensive than most in that respect. In fact, I found that it deal with questions WRT capitalism far better than I expected, even though one of those questions (whose correct answer pertained to the superior utilization of information, but for which a case could be argued for superior protection of property rights).

You can't have everything.


You're still better than most of my countrymen. Too bad I can't trade you for a few of them!


Gus Van Horn said...


"even though one of those questions ..."

should have ended with "had that same problem." after the parenthetical remark.