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daily 09/16/2013

    • To paraphrase an old Jimmy Breslin line, the F-35 is such a bastardized thing that you don’t know whether to genuflect or spit.
    • The 33rd Fighter Wing’s mission is to host air-force, Marine, and navy units responsible for training the pilots who will fly the F-35 and the “maintainers” who will look after it on the ground.
    • “Marines don’t play politics. Talk to anyone in this squadron from the pilots to the maintainers. Not a single one of them will lie to protect this program.”
    • “The helmet is pivotal to the F-35,” Johnston explained. “This thing was built with the helmet in mind. It gives you 360-degree battle-space awareness
    • Returning to the hangar, maintainers opened the engine-bay door to find that a brown hose carrying combustible fuel had separated from its coupling. When I asked what would have happened had the defect gone undetected before takeoff, Berke replied with the noncommittal detachment of a clinician: “I think you can easily infer that, from the fact that the fleet was grounded for six weeks, there was no question that the scenario, the outcomes, were not acceptable for flying.” What he meant, General Bogdan told me later, was that it was a very close call: “We should count our blessings that we caught this on the ground. It would have been a problem. A catastrophic problem.”
    • Lockheed Martin won the contract—worth more than $200 billion—after the much-chronicled “Battle of the X-Planes.” In truth, it was not much of a competition. Boeing’s X-32, the product of a mere four years’ work, paled next to Lockheed’s X-35, which had been in the works in one form or another since the mid-1980s, thanks to untold millions in black-budget funds the company had received from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) to develop a supersonic short-takeoff and vertical-landing aircraft.
    • To turn its X-35 prototype into a fleet of F-35 fighters, Lockheed has relied on two seemingly separate but equally controversial acquisition practices. In military jargon, these are known as “commonality” and “concurrency.”

    • From the outset, Lockheed assured Pentagon officials that technological innovation, including heavy reliance on computer simulation, which could take the place of real-world testing, would keep costs down. The Pentagon bought those assurances and allowed the company to design, test, and produce the F-35 all at the same time, instead of insisting that Lockheed identify and fix defects before firing up its production line. Building an airplane while it is still being designed and tested is referred to as concurrency. In effect, concurrency creates an expensive and frustrating non-decision loop: build a plane, fly a plane, find a flaw, design a fix, retrofit the plane, rinse, repeat.
    • At first blush the helmet-mounted display struck Charlie and his colleagues as a major advance. But they were left with a nagging question: what happens if something goes wrong with the helmet? The answer: without a HUD as a fail-safe, pilots would have to fly and fight using the plane’s conventional heads-down displays.
    • Each helmet is bespoke: a laser scans a pilot’s head to ensure optical accuracy when his eyes interface with the display.
    • According to Charlie, some test pilots have experienced spatial disorientation in flight serious enough that they have disabled the data and video streams to the helmet and landed using the plane’s conventional flight displays.
    • One cause of spatial disorientation is latency
    • The helmet-mounted display, says Sprey, is “a total fuckup from start to finish.”
    • In a statement to Vanity Fair, Lockheed maintained that “we have addressed the helmet’s three primary areas of concern—green glow, jitter and latency—and remain confident that this capability will provide F-35 pilots a decisive advantage in combat.”
    • The Marines’ obligation is not to provide strategic strike. Look at Desert Storm and the invasion of Iraq. Marine aviators did close air support and some battlefield prep as Marines prepared to move in. Not deep strike. Ask the commandant to name the date and time the Marines struck Baghdad in Desert Storm. Sure as hell wasn’t the start of war. Why invest in a stealth aircraft for the Marines?”
    • “This is not rocket science. When you let a contractor do whatever he wants to do, and you don’t watch him very carefully, he’s going to trust his engineering analysis as opposed to doing what you just said—building a piece and putting it in an oven.
    • Government oversight would say, ‘Show me.’”
    • “Every airplane flying today—civilian and military—has static-electricity dissipation built into it. That’s because there’s lightning all over the planet,” Charlie explained. To guard against an onboard fire or explosion caused by lightning, static electricity, or an errant spark, modern planes carry something called an onboard inert-gas generation system (OBIGGS), which replaces combustible fuel vapor with non-combustible nitrogen. As important as these systems are to civilian aircraft, they are indispensible to military planes, which carry ordnance and must also contend with incoming bullets and missiles. Yet when the time came to outfit the F-35 with such a system, certain fasteners, wire bundles, and connectors inside the plane that ordinarily help dissipate electrical charges were replaced with lighter, cheaper parts that lacked comparable protection.

    • He felt that the way the program had been set up with Lockheed at the outset made absolutely no sense. His first target was the concept of Total System Performance Responsibility: “We gave Lockheed very broad things that said the airplane has to be maintainable, the airplane has to be able to operate from airfields, the airplane has to be stealthy, the airplane has to drop weapons—without the level of detail that was necessary. We have found over the 12 years of the program that the contractor has a very different vision of how he interprets the contractual document. We go, ‘Oh no, it needs to do X, Y, and Z, not just Z.’ And they go, ‘Well, you didn’t tell me that. You just told me in general it needed to do something like Z.’”
    • General Bogdan, to whom Lockheed reports, told me that supersonic flight (or any prolonged use of the afterburner) “creates a thermal environment on the back tail portion of the airplane where over time that heat kind of starts disbonding the coatings we have. That’s just not good.” If he had his druthers, salvation would not lie with Lockheed Martin. “If I needed a 911 number or a pick-up-and-call-a-friend, it will be a company like DuPont who builds chemical sealants and those kinds of things.” Continuing on, he said, “Our desire is that we will fix this problem. But that’ll cost us money because we have to cut in the new fix to the production line, and all the airplanes out there have to be retrofit. So there’s a cost there, and we bear that cost. Remember how I told you we took too much risk on this program? Well, there’s some of it.”

  • A great MOOC success story: http://t.co/Lbqfql4MTV

    • There was, as educators say, a diverse range of learners in the room.
    • classroom-management tools: quick polls, discussions, short-answer exercises, the function for randomly calling on a student and more. Other teachers, including a gray-bearded man who described himself as “technologically retarded,” had not progressed much further than turning it on.
    • called Amplify, a New York-based division of Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation, and they struck me as exemplifying several dubious American habits now ascendant: the overvaluing of technology and the undervaluing of people; the displacement of face-to-face interaction by virtual connection; the recasting of citizenship and inner life as a commodified data profile; the tendency to turn to the market to address social problems.
    • We were discussing his frequently stated view that education is “ripe for disruption.”
    • Klein, who was chancellor of New York City’s public schools from 2002 to 2011, begins from the premise that our schools are already broken.
    • First and most important was the power of “customizing.” Plenty of research does indeed show that an individual student will learn more if you can tailor the curriculum to match her learning style, pace and interests; the tablet, he said, will help teachers do that.
    • Lastly, teachers feel overwhelmed; they “need tools,” Klein said, to meet ever-increasing demands to show that their students are making progress.
    • “If you just stick a kid in front of a screen for eight hours and hope it works, it’s not going to work,” he means that the success of his tablet depends above all on how teachers exploit it.
    • “When you’re talking about Rupert Murdoch and his empire,” says Josh Golin, the associate director at the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood, “there are a number of ways that data could be valuable to his companies beyond instruction.”
    • Apart from privacy issues, Golin says, it’s still not clear that cutting-edge educational technology justifies its cost with results. Companies with vested interests are pitching themselves as the solution to the country’s educational problems, he says, “but we don’t have research proving it’s true.”

    • That qualified enthusiasm is shared by Jonathan Supovitz, director of the University of Pennsylvania’s Consortium for Policy Research in Education, who stresses that “individualizing instruction does lead to better outcomes — if teachers can manage the environment to make that happen.”
    • Soon, games that know what a student has read (the tablet’s library will contain 1,000 books) will be able to strategically sprinkle a particular word in his path based on how many times the research says you need to see a new word in order to learn it. In a few years, according to Leites, advances like “gaze tracking” and measurement of pupil dilation “will revolutionize” the gauging of cognitive response by making it possible to determine exactly what students are reacting to on the screen.
    • The football players are still leaving early? That’s a joke. Sit back down. The volleyball players can leave early, you guys can wipe the board down.
    • This week was no different. The team came out of the tunnel ready to get railed. Ole Miss was fired up and the Longhorns didn’t want to be there.
    • I don’t expect this team to get fired up for any future games. They know their fate is sealed.
    • The debate here is whether to burn Tyrone Swoopes redshirt or to keep it in tact. I’m surprised the coaches have remained so vigilant in keeping him off the field. It’s not like they are going to be here when we start regretting wasting his redshirt in 2016. I’m apathetic. I don’t think these coaches deserve to use him, but I don’t want to watch Case McCoy play quarterback for the Texas Longhorns ever again. Ever.


    • Applewhite put together an ignorant game-plan last night that relied on defensive stops to win the game. If there is any coaching act that let’s a quarterback know you have zero faith in his ability, it’s running the clock down on 3rd and 8 with one minute left in the first half at your own 30, calling a timeout, and then running a dive. Applewhite knows what we know. Case McCoy can’t throw the ball down the field. But hell, just give him a few chances. Who cares anymore? The defense surely wouldn’t be expecting it.


    • This is good. What is happening is good. It has to burn. Let it burn all the way to the ground. Leave us with nothing and force us to rebuild. I stayed until almost the very end last night in hopes that the Rebels would score more. “Keep scoring,” I said to myself, “Make sure no one forgets.”  With about two minutes ago, nearly a half-hour after a mass exodus, I left. Walking outside of the stadium, I heard the final cannon shot. I laughed. It didn’t signify the end of the game to me, it was like walking away from an execution.  DeLoss Dodds/Mack Brown-Texas Football is dead. That is cause for optimism.


    • Side Note: Do not boo Mack Brown/ Case McCoy when they come on the jumbotron. It makes us look stupid. Thanks.
    • The other thing, believe it or not, we just said, ‘Hey, look I know we’re young, but let’s go out and play our base defense and see if our kids can compete. Just line up and play base with the exception of the zone adjustment,’ and they did.”
    • What type of teams commit silly penalties at the doorstep of the end zone? Teams that lack discipline, as Curry Shoff noted in his Sunday Morning Optimist. Then the defense gave up a field goal and the Longhorns lost their hard-earned momentum and was never really in the game after that.
    • Brown, on the impact to recruiting… 


      “It doesn’t. It doesn’t change. If we win the Big 12, go back and win every game, they’re all excited. A lot of the recruits are here tonight, and they’ll see that we played hard. Sometimes they’ll think they can help us and they’ll be excited about coming.”



    • “We all have confidence. What I think it is is that we sometimes get on such a high and when we do we need to learn how to stay there. Sometimes we will just drop real low. So I think it is that high that we need to learn to stay on but confidence is not a question. We all have confidence.”

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

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