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Thread: Zeppelins as a counter insurgency tool

  1. #1 Zeppelins as a counter insurgency tool 
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    I've made a few Zeppelin threads in the far past (they'd be zombie threads by now.) However, I think I've made a mistake in how I posed the question. I keep asking if Zeppelins are viable weapons in general. Clearly they are not. Jet fighters, and more recently drones have the honor of being the clear champions of the sky.

    A better question is whether a Zeppelin would make a good tool for counter insurgency. So, for this thread, the only question I'm posing is whether they have one (and only one) very specific use: as a counter insurgency tool. I don't care how fit they are or are not for tasks other than counter insurgency. It honestly couldn't matter less.



    The way I see it, they're invulnerable to roadside bombs. They can carry freight through regions that are hard to carry freight into. It appears they can defend against some weapons a helicopter or conventional airplane cannot (helicopters and conventional planes being the alternative means of shipping cargo.) They might even be harder to detect if they fly at night.

    However, their downside is they are big targets that move slowly. For a guided missile, I'm not sure speed of motion matters very much. From what I understand, helicopters are just about as much sitting ducks as a zeppelin would be when a guided missile gets launched at them. Maybe unguided missiles are more dangerous to Zeppelins. But I'm not even sure about that, since Zeppelins can fly at higher altitudes than helicopters typically fly.




    Also I'm curious about the possibility of a Zeppelin serving as a platform from which a sniper could fire upon enemies. That's a lot better than dropping a bomb and risking you might kill nearby civilians. It would be the best kind of air support for counter insurgency then, because it's capable of being surgical. Less destructive, but more precise.


    There is also the shipping angle. For a place like Afghanistan, we need a way to ship in supplies that is difficult to intercept. Helicopters and conventional jet airplanes work pretty well, but they have to give up a lot of potential cargo weight in order to carry enough fuel to make the long trip in and out. A zeppelin's fuel would be a smaller portion of its payload, especially if we made sure to send them in on paths that agreed with the wind. (Drift in with the wind on their side while loaded, then use fuel to power back out when empty.)

    I'm also curious how stealthy they can be. They're big, but they're quiet. Paint them black and send them in at night, and I well imagine the enemy would need special optics in order to see them at all.


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    A lot of problems with zeppelins have little to do with military vulnerability. Zeppelins were abandoned as passenger carriers in the USA largely because of vulnerability to storms. Perhaps that can be mitigated by modern weather forecasting and constuction materials, perhaps not. Any lighter than air vehicle is going to be big, taking special mooring and unloading facilities. In areas prone to bad weather, you might have to have hangars big enough to enclose them, and zeppelin size hangars are huge and expensive. A lot of the military value of a helicopter, on the other hand, comes from being able to land in any flat space significantly wider than the rotor arc.


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  4. #3  
    Universal Mind John Galt's Avatar
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    I suppose the main problems with Zeppelins is that you can only make them in the German Reich, the Weimar Republic, or the Third Reich. Would you settle for a dirigible airship instead?
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    Forum Cosmic Wizard icewendigo's Avatar
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    "as a counter insurgency tool"in other words, could Zeppelins play a part in the oppression of militarily occupied people by evil foreign invaders? Good question. when it comes oppressing people with a repressive hierarchy no technology should be overlooked. when people from the future will look back at our current Barbaric Dark Age, military technology is what they look back to with pride as human achievements. This said, unlike an attack helicopter that can murder journalists and civilians from a distance, the zeppelin has the advantage of being able to display large orwellian messages on its sides and carry the harvest required for Opium whose production has grown at a fantastic rate since the occupation from the fields to a convenient transport hub where non uniform criminals can take over and smuggle it to the desired market. you could build unmanned decoy zeppelins with surveilance equipment escorting the real zeppelin so that distant freedom fighters trying to fight your oppression would not know which to aim at and would reveal their position if they shot at a random zeppelin in the aerial wolf pack. zeppelins are worth considering
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  6. #5  
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    You mean using a Goodyear Zeppellin instead of a Goodyear Blimp.

    Goodyear Blimp - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
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    Why not design a bullet that uses the victims own DNA to track him down with the bullet that you fire from anywhere nearby? Trying to fire a weapon from a moving blimp wouldn't work, to many variables involved. For one thing the blimp can be seen from the ground very easily and then people could shoot it down.
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  8. #7  
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    Quote Originally Posted by cosmictraveler View Post
    Why not design a bullet that uses the victims own DNA to track him down with the bullet that you fire from anywhere nearby? Trying to fire a weapon from a moving blimp wouldn't work, to many variables involved. For one thing the blimp can be seen from the ground very easily and then people could shoot it down.
    The idea that people can shoot down zeppelins easily is a common misconception. And ABSOLUTELY FALSE!!!

    Bullets pass through without doing hardly any harm. A zeppelin is not a huge helium balloon. Helium balloons are made of stretched rubber, and the pressure required to keep them stretched causes them to pop when you cut a hole into one. Zeppelins on the other hand, are not stretched at all. The air pressure inside the zeppelin is only just barely slightly higher than the air pressure outside. So, when you cut a hole in a zeppelin, most of the helium doesn't leave.

    You can pepper it with quite a lot of bullets and it will still keep flying.


    Quote Originally Posted by danhanegan View Post
    A lot of problems with zeppelins have little to do with military vulnerability. Zeppelins were abandoned as passenger carriers in the USA largely because of vulnerability to storms. Perhaps that can be mitigated by modern weather forecasting and constuction materials, perhaps not. Any lighter than air vehicle is going to be big, taking special mooring and unloading facilities. In areas prone to bad weather, you might have to have hangars big enough to enclose them, and zeppelin size hangars are huge and expensive. A lot of the military value of a helicopter, on the other hand, comes from being able to land in any flat space significantly wider than the rotor arc.
    I'm not suggesting we give up on helicopters. I'm thinking we should add a tool to our toolbox. We don't need to remove the other tools.

    Just like how there are some situations where a humvee is better than a tank. That doesn't mean we don't need tanks. It means we need both humvees and tanks, so when we run into a situation that a tank isn't suited for, we can send in a humvee. And then maybe later on, we'll run into a situation that the humvee isn't suited for, and so we use a tank instead.

    Quote Originally Posted by John Galt View Post
    I suppose the main problems with Zeppelins is that you can only make them in the German Reich, the Weimar Republic, or the Third Reich. Would you settle for a dirigible airship instead?
    I really kind of had my heart set on a zeppelin. Could we perhaps revive the Weimar Republic? (Probably best not to try and create a fourth Reich.)

    Quote Originally Posted by icewendigo View Post
    "as a counter insurgency tool"in other words, could Zeppelins play a part in the oppression of militarily occupied people by evil foreign invaders? Good question. when it comes oppressing people with a repressive hierarchy no technology should be overlooked. when people from the future will look back at our current Barbaric Dark Age, military technology is what they look back to with pride as human achievements. This said, unlike an attack helicopter that can murder journalists and civilians from a distance, the zeppelin has the advantage of being able to display large orwellian messages on its sides and carry the harvest required for Opium whose production has grown at a fantastic rate since the occupation from the fields to a convenient transport hub where non uniform criminals can take over and smuggle it to the desired market. you could build unmanned decoy zeppelins with surveilance equipment escorting the real zeppelin so that distant freedom fighters trying to fight your oppression would not know which to aim at and would reveal their position if they shot at a random zeppelin in the aerial wolf pack. zeppelins are worth considering
    I think you have a very idealized view of insurgencies. The civilian population is caught between a rock and a hard place.

    American forces on the one side, wanting to culturally decimate them, exploit their natural resources, and of course..... kill the Taliban and any remnants of Al Qaeda.

    Taliban forces on the other side, who have decided that the ends justifies the means no matter what they do, including if they kill their children in front of them to force them to join the cause (multiple group executions have been reported). Who pillage and plunder the country side in the name of gathering resources to repel the American invaders, forcing impoverished villagers who are already malnourished to send them food or be killed. If any civilian objects, they label them a traitor to their own people, and then make an example out of them for the others - who quickly learn what side they are on.


    The quicker one or the other of these two warring factions topples the other, the quicker peace can resume. Since I am a citizen of the USA, I naturally prefer that the Taliban side be the one to get toppled - but to be honest either outcome would do. This war has been dragging on for far too long. And nothing settled. I don't object to war, but I prefer for wars to be like a good speech. Short, pointed, and interesting.
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    Not true because there are these weapons used as well.

    Again I say that a Zeppelin will not stay still as it is always moving with the wind, up and down , back and forth so no sniper can ever acquire a target with that going on.






    Either one will bring down a blimp.
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  10. #9  
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    Quote Originally Posted by cosmictraveler View Post






    Either one will bring down a blimp.

    The rocket may be a threat, depending on whether it is guided or not. If it's not guided then it would only work when the zeppelin is landing and taking off, because the rest of the time it's going to be flying at too high an altitude for anyone to practically hope to hit it.

    If it is guided, then a helicopter or cargo plane would be just as vulnerable.



    But you must have totally misunderstood everything I just said if you think a machine gun can take one down. They had machine guns in World War I, and they didn't work on zeppelins (until they started using incendiary rounds to ignite the hydrogen.) That's a simple historical fact. It's been proven by experience.
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  11. #10  
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    And don't forget that you can sell advertising on your Zepellins to the private corporations whom the wars will benefit the most.
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    Or the other way around. Wall Street being how it is, they'll probably find a way to get the government to pay them to put ads on the Zeppelins.
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  13. #12  
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    "I think you have a very idealized view of insurgencies."
    ~Slavery is wrong. -I think you have idealized views about the plantation and slave trade business model, its not like agriculture is possible without slaves, your views are naive and utopian. No slavery, sheesh, how Utipian. ~
    Yes I know my views are perceived as idealistic.




    "and any remnants of Al Qaeda."
    Didnt a British Commander, right from the start of the war basically said he had not found any Al Quaeda terrorist forces (he apparenty beleived the Propaganda and hence was suprised when it turned out to be false) and only Afghans (who unlike the British and US forces where in the region where they were born and lived)?
    I thought, wrongly some will say, that Al Qaeda was an american fabrication derived from the Cold War and US Support (throught Saudi puppets) for Islamic extremism to use as agitators and cannon fodder against the USSR. Before the CIA backed islamic mujadeen "freedom fighters" fought the Russians in Afghanistan, couldn't women get a superior education?
    When the US backed foreigners like CIA backed and funded Osama Ben Laden left Afghanistan, the plague of extremism remained behind, apparently.
    Note that this is in no way a problem for the US (by US I mean rulers/elite not the people in general who dont know why a British diplomat quit his post in something-istan), Islamic extremists are just fine and dandy, the more the better as would probably say the author of the grand chessboard, Talibans got red carpet treatment before they refused the Gas deal (and showed they could threaten the Opium production, like fremen destroying Spice production in Dune?) and more repressive (boiling people alive) are just fine they are backed and funded/protected by the US, so the altruistic BS about liberating the Afghans from the Talibans is imho, a steaming pile of crap when a country next door boils people alive.


    "Taliban forces on the other side, who have decided that the ends justifies the means no matter what they do, including if they kill their children in front of them to force them to join the cause (multiple group executions have been reported). Who pillage and plunder the country side in the name of gathering resources to repel the American invaders, forcing impoverished villagers who are already malnourished to send them food or be killed. If any civilian objects, they label them a traitor to their own people, and then make an example out of them for the others - who quickly learn what side they are on."
    All that is irrelevant imo, since boiling people alive etc is no problem if you are on the right side(US side), so all the talk about the evils of the Taliban is a red herring, its like China justifying a military invasion of the US by saying the number of murders in Detroit was horrible and the US had to be invaded for the population's own good. (what? You oppose the military occupation of the US by the Chinese military? Arent you opposed to the high murder rates? How uncaring for the plight of the pre-Invasion population you are)



    "This war has been dragging on for far too long." "I don't object to war"
    Ah yes, the ~War is just great with all the mass killings, as long as we win/its not too costly/long/waged-the-wrong-way~ (I know you dont really mean it that way, but just take the occasion to rant about the meme )

    ~You know that serial killer... -Yeah tell me about it, its been dragging on for over 10 years. A killing spree should not last that long because it gets boring after a few years. -Yea, that killing spree has dragged long enough, its time for another serial killer to step up to the plate, we want something fresh, new methods of killing, maybe a riddle or something, more pathos in the choice of victims. - Darn right! I dont object to serial mass murder per say just when its too long or costly. Those who oppose serial killers are so naive. -Yes thats true, as if there was anything wrong with serial murders, how naive and idealistic they are.~

    I dont object to the Vietnam war because many american soldiers died(while millions of civilians were killed but apparently they don't count) or because it wasn't going well, or because it was too long, and so on, but because War is mass murder! (WTF's wrong with people and war? Its not pointed at you Kojax but its generalized from my pov) I realize people are raised with Toy Soldiers and Toy Guns etc and each war has its own lies and propaganda to fool people into thinking its right, but gee wiz, Its like People are so brainwashed and used to it they can not even admit war is wrong.


    (the military technology section is challenging for me, Ill try to stay more moderate next time)
    Last edited by icewendigo; February 26th, 2014 at 12:59 PM.
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    Here is the simple truth. If blimps were practical at all, in any aspect of the war. They would still be used. They are not, thus they got left in the technological dust for planes, heli, drones & satellites.
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  15. #14  
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    Quote Originally Posted by icewendigo View Post
    "I think you have a very idealized view of insurgencies."
    ~Slavery is wrong. -I think you have idealized views about the plantation and slave trade business model, its not like agriculture is possible without slaves, your views are naive and utopian. No slavery, sheesh, how Utipian. ~
    Yes I know my views are perceived as idealistic.
    Of course slavery is wrong. But who are you buying your slaves from? Is it a guy who took them as prisoners in a war, and plans to execute them if he can't sell them? (As was often the case during the era of African slavery.)

    The point is, things aren't always as simple as they get pitched to be.


    "and any remnants of Al Qaeda."
    Didnt a British Commander, right from the start of the war basically said he had not found any Al Quaeda terrorist forces (he apparenty beleived the Propaganda and hence was suprised when it turned out to be false) and only Afghans (who unlike the British and US forces where in the region where they were born and lived)?
    I thought, wrongly some will say, that Al Qaeda was an american fabrication derived from the Cold War and US Support (throught Saudi puppets) for Islamic extremism to use as agitators and cannon fodder against the USSR. Before the CIA backed islamic mujadeen "freedom fighters" fought the Russians in Afghanistan, couldn't women get a superior education?
    When the US backed foreigners like CIA backed and funded Osama Ben Laden left Afghanistan, the plague of extremism remained behind, apparently.
    Note that this is in no way a problem for the US (by US I mean rulers/elite not the people in general who dont know why a British diplomat quit his post in something-istan), Islamic extremists are just fine and dandy, the more the better as would probably say the author of the grand chessboard, Talibans got red carpet treatment before they refused the Gas deal (and showed they could threaten the Opium production, like fremen destroying Spice production in Dune?) and more repressive (boiling people alive) are just fine they are backed and funded/protected by the US, so the altruistic BS about liberating the Afghans from the Talibans is imho, a steaming pile of crap when a country next door boils people alive.
    It's not entirely improbable that Al Qaeda was fabricated (or exaggerated.)

    But I would hardly celebrate the Taliban as stalwart heroes or liberators. They're not fighting so the Afghan people can have a free and open election and hopefully appoint a Taliban person as their president. They're fighting to re-impose a fully medieval feudal system where warlords dictate and the people obey. That's what they had before, and it's what they will have again if they win.

    Is that any worse than what the USA is likely to achieve? No. Is it substantially better than what the USA is likely to achieve? Also no. Whoever wins, the Afghan people are screwed.

    But it really urks me when people call the Taliban "freedom fighters". There is no practical form of freedom enshrined anywhere in the Taliban's agenda. None whatsoever. They believe in a mix of Theocracy, Monarchy, and a bit of Military Dictatorship. Those ideals are what they are fighting to achieve, not "freedom". I don't think that is even on their list of goals.



    "Taliban forces on the other side, who have decided that the ends justifies the means no matter what they do, including if they kill their children in front of them to force them to join the cause (multiple group executions have been reported). Who pillage and plunder the country side in the name of gathering resources to repel the American invaders, forcing impoverished villagers who are already malnourished to send them food or be killed. If any civilian objects, they label them a traitor to their own people, and then make an example out of them for the others - who quickly learn what side they are on."
    All that is irrelevant imo, since boiling people alive etc is no problem if you are on the right side(US side), so all the talk about the evils of the Taliban is a red herring, its like China justifying a military invasion of the US by saying the number of murders in Detroit was horrible and the US had to be invaded for the population's own good. (what? You oppose the military occupation of the US by the Chinese military? Arent you opposed to the high murder rates? How uncaring for the plight of the pre-Invasion population you are)
    My point is that the Taliban cares no more for the welfare of the Afghan people than does the USA. And that's saying a lot, because most Americans don't care about the plight of Afghans very much at all.

    Are you trying to suggest that the people of Afghanistan prefer to be ruled by the Taliban? If that were the case, there would be no mass executions, because nobody would be resisting them stubbornly enough to require such an extreme measure to be taken to coerce them.



    "This war has been dragging on for far too long." "I don't object to war"
    Ah yes, the ~War is just great with all the mass killings, as long as we win/its not too costly/long/waged-the-wrong-way~ (I know you dont really mean it that way, but just take the occasion to rant about the meme )

    ~You know that serial killer... -Yeah tell me about it, its been dragging on for over 10 years. A killing spree should not last that long because it gets boring after a few years. -Yea, that killing spree has dragged long enough, its time for another serial killer to step up to the plate, we want something fresh, new methods of killing, maybe a riddle or something, more pathos in the choice of victims. - Darn right! I dont object to serial mass murder per say just when its too long or costly. Those who oppose serial killers are so naive. -Yes thats true, as if there was anything wrong with serial murders, how naive and idealistic they are.~
    Nowadays, I've come to see mass murder as the answer to overpopulation. I used to care. My heart used to bleed.

    Then I asked myself how stupid these impoverished people must be to think they can afford to have children. If they can't even feed themselves, how reckless and irresponsible would they have to be to bring a child into their life whom they also won't be able to feed. Then I started thinking how unfortunate those poor children are to have such stupid parents.

    How do you prevent children being born into desperate circumstances? Eliminate the circumstance. Quarantine the afflicted, and if they insist on infecting others, then put a stop to it however you must.
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    Yea i agree. Its hard to have a bleeding heart these days. So much evil in the world. Kinda hard to really give a frak after a while.
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    Quote Originally Posted by GoldenRatio View Post
    Yea i agree. Its hard to have a bleeding heart these days..
    Actually MUCH less than any time in the past as best we can tell. We just know about it more because of global media.
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    I don't see them being of use asides from a lighter/smaller alternative to drones for individual soldiers to carry. Too easy to hit, too easy to take down, without offering large enough benefits. Interesting proposition though.
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    The soldiers already have enough stuff to carry.
    Every time something new comes along somebody sitting at an office desk thinks some poor guy on foot should haul at least one example of it around on his back.
    The army has a constant struggle to lighten the loadout for infantry.
    I have heard rumors it is currently over 80 lbs for a soldier going into combat and likely over 140 lbs when he is on march.
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    Quote Originally Posted by dan hunter View Post
    The soldiers already have enough stuff to carry.
    Every time something new comes along somebody sitting at an office desk thinks some poor guy on foot should haul at least one example of it around on his back.
    The army has a constant struggle to lighten the loadout for infantry.
    I have heard rumors it is currently over 80 lbs for a soldier going into combat and likely over 140 lbs when he is on march.
    I know man and those zeppelins back in the day were not light weight. Maybe after its filled with hydrogen it would be light enough for a solder to carry but ungassed....I dunno, seems like something you would have to break down for a crew to carry.

    Maybe a hot air balloon. I can see a soldier carrying that around. just pack it all down in the wicker basket and sling it on your back
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    "I've come to see mass murder as the answer to overpopulation."(no futher comments needed)
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    Quote Originally Posted by icewendigo View Post
    "I've come to see mass murder as the answer to overpopulation."(no futher comments needed)
    To bad it is so damned inefficient.
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    Quote Originally Posted by icewendigo View Post
    "I've come to see mass murder as the answer to overpopulation."(no futher comments needed)
    It makes sense to me for all the disenfranchised to gather together in one place, pool all their resources together to make up a winner's prize pot, and then fight until there are only a few of them left standing. The winners walk away with the pot, and go on to raise happy families using the wealth.

    Poverty is a bad thing. Death is a bad thing. But of the two, death is better than poverty. Poverty is a grinding condition, accompanied by hopelessness. A life of quiet desperation. Death cannot possibly be worse than that kind of a life.

    How "bad" death is, depends on your view of the afterlife, I guess. If you're totally secular minded, then death is nothing. A perfect neutral. If you're religious then death is whatever afterlife your god or pantheon of gods has planned.

    Once you realize you have to make a decision between two things, and you know one is better than the other, there is only one sane course of action.
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    Makes we wish our society was more open & tolerating towards suicide. Even actively pushing for suicide. If we were, the problem would solve itself.
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    Yeah. I wish people could see what will happen in a few generations if only the people who aren't living well just vanished.

    Look at what happened in the USA after the natives were wiped out. It was great for the winners (the survivors.) Then look at Mexico - where they took the "life is precious" route. Spared the natives. Now the natives live quiet lives of desperation. Mexico has no apparent hope of a bright future. The USA has a bright present and future.

    If a person without hope is willing to sacrifice themself to prevent their condition from spreading, they should be celebrated as heroes, rather than villified as cowards. We see all kinds of abuse cycles in society, which are difficult to break. Children get molested or abused and then go on to become molesters or abusers. But if a person realized early that they were succumbing to the temptation and were willing to die to avoid it - that would be noble.
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    I think if I continue down this path I'll only dig myself a deeper ditch. I just see trauma. I don't see life and death. If a person dies in a violent event, that is a short traumatic experience. If they live a whole life of poverty, that is sustained trauma. If they go on to have a family under those conditions, that is two or more lifespans of trauma. If there are more generations, then there are more lifespans.

    I think it is a tragedy when people are abused. But an even greater tragedy if they are abused and then left to live their life. Because then the abuse just spreads like a disease.

    The pain is better forgotten.
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    This is a quote from an article about the "Northern Distribution Network" NDN through Russia. (Discusses what would happen if Russia were to decide to close that route into Afghanistan if things get too intense over the situation in Ukraine, and the Military had to use other routes.)


    Flying a mine-resistant, ambush-protected (MRAP) vehicle – the US military’s heaviest – out of Afghanistan, for example, uses “ungodly amounts of fuel,” the official adds, and only two of them can fit on a C-17 transport plane at any given time.


    Punish Russia? Why some Pentagon officials would prefer restraint. | Alaska Dispatch


    I'm hoping that highlights the main advantage of shipping by Zeppelin. Provided the balloon is big enough to support the weight of one of these heavy vehicles, it won't consume very much more fuel to send it loaded with an armored vehicle than it would if the blimp were empty.

    Max weight for C-17 is 170,900 lb.

    The Hindenburg could carry a gross weight of
    511,500 lbs, but we have to subtract the weight of the aircraft itself from that to determine how much cargo it could carry. I'm having a hard time finding that number. If it is less than 340,600 then I'd have to say the Hindenburg would outperform a C-17 in terms of cargo carrying.
    Last edited by kojax; March 16th, 2014 at 11:31 AM.
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