General Purpose Cartridge Saga Update -- Treading Water
Posted 2017-10-28 15:12 PDT | Tags: defense gpc ballistics
(Note: This wasn't going to be the next entry I would write, but it ended up being the one that got finished before the other.  Writing is hard!)
It's been five years since I last wrote about the General Purpose Cartridge:
To rehash, the GPC is a hypothetical military rifle cartridge suitable for replacing both, NATO's legacy 5.56x45mm assault rifle cartridge and its 7.62x51mm full-power rifle cartridge.
In order to accomplish this, the GPC would have to satisfy a variety of semi-contradictory criteria:
      * It must be as lightweight as 5.56x45mm (or nearly so), to avoid increasing the soldier's burden,
      * Its recoil must be sufficiently gentle that carbines firing it in automatic mode are controllable,
      * Its terminal ballistics must at least match that of 5.56x45mm at short range (lethality at 50m),
      * Its terminal ballistics must at least match that of 7.62x51mm at long range (lethality at 800m)
      * Its external ballistics must at least match that of 7.62x51mm at long range (flat trajectory, low wind drift).
These criteria made the GPC a thorny enough subject, but recent events have made writing about it even more difficult:
      * The US Army has moved the goalposts to an undisclosed location with the introduction of new "enhanced performance" cartridges -- the M855A1 for 5.56x45mm and M80A1 for 7.62x51mm,
      * The terminal ballistics of these new cartridges do not fit neatly in existing analytical models,
      * Since the Army has decided to go lead-free, should a GPC also be lead-free or should it incorporate lead for its ballistics-enhancing characteristics?
      * Since the UK MoD is moving towards nonfragmenting bullets (with inferior terminal effects), should a GPC also be restricted to nonfragmenting bullets?
      * The methods used in my previous two articles had flaws: the empty brass weights for some cartridges were underestimated, and the lethality model was too primitive,
      * The AMU has purportedly decided on the new "264 USA" as its GPC cartridge, of which very little is yet known.
      * The AMU has argued making changes to its small arms doctrine to accomodate the characteristics of the 264 USA.  These arguments are relevant to the GPC concept as a whole, and could be used to justify altering its criteria.
So, before I can write about the GPC again, I need to purchase samples of more cartidge types and measure them, and update my methods.  I need to learn more about the ballistics of M855A1 and M80A1, and of 264 USA.  I need to justify my reasons for using or not using lead, and using or not using fragmenting bullets.  I need to decide whether the AMU's arguments are sufficient to justify changing the criteria for the GPC (particularly its weight constraint).
I haven't given up on the subject, but these things take time.  In the meantime I will try writing about these various issues separately.

Writing is Hard, Programming is Easy
Posted 2017-10-23 15:08 PDT | Tags: blogging
My last entry was four months ago.  So much for my determination to write something for this space every day!
It's not for lack of things to write about, but every time I sit down to write something, I think it would be nice to have more features for this blog (like comments and search), and end up working on the next version of the blogging software instead.  Writing software is a lot easier than writing blog articles.
As an interim solution, I could publish blog entries to Facebook as well as to here, and interested readers could post comments to Facebook.  That would suck for those of you not yet trapped in the Facebook quagmire, but perhaps would be better than nothing.
So .. yeah, let's try that.  Another article coming soon after this one.

Entropy Pump
Posted 2017-06-25 11:49 PDT | Tags: blogging entropy
So .. WTF is an "Entropy Pump", and what does it have to do with "blogging against inevitability?
Entropy has to do with irreversible transformations -- once an egg is scrambled, one cannot put it back together.  Once energy is converted into heat, one cannot reclaim 100% of that energy from that heat.
Eventually everything runs down.  This is inevitable.  Entropy cannot be reversed.
But it can be shuffled around!
Entropy pumping is a characteristic of all living things, as they incorporate low-entropy substances into themselves (food, clean water, sunlight, etc) and export entropy away from themselves.  They keep themselves ordered and energetic at the expense of making the rest of the universe less ordered and less energetic -- accelerating the Heat death of the universe to delay their own.
Fortunately the universe is much, much bigger than living things, so it doesn't mind so much.  Our planet is feeling a bit of strain -- more on that in future entries.
One corollary to this is that all causes are ultimately hopeless.  In the end the universe will die, and everything that came before it will come to naught
In the much shorter term, living things die.  The entropy pump grows less efficient, disorder accumulates, order decays, and eventually the pump can't keep itself sufficiently ordered to keep pumping.
This, too, is inevitable.
But we keep pumping anyway, don't we?
That's what this blog is about.  All causes are hopeless, but we strive to succeed regardless.  The words I write might be whispers against the wind, but I write them anyway.  History marches stubbornly on, but that doesn't mean I can't dance my own jig.
All entropy pumps are doomed to fail, but I'll keep mine running as best I can.

New Blog Seems To Be Working
Posted 2017-06-25 10:56 PDT | Tags: blogging software
Welcome to my new blog, "Entropy Pump"!  I finally gave up on Blosxom and wrote my own blogging software from scratch.  It ended up taking less time than all the hours I sank into trying to make Blosxom not suck.
That having been said, it is not complete.  The search feature doesn't work yet, there is still no way for visitors to leave comments, there's no way to link to a specific post, and pagination is broken.  If I don't fix pagination before posting twenty posts, only the twenty newest posts will be displayed, with no way of accessing older posts.  So I'd better fix pagination!
Also the side-panels to the right of the screen, over there --> are not very interesting.  I'll come up with more interesting content and replace them.
I'm fairly pleased at how the html and css turned out.  This page has a much spiffier look-and-feel than my old blogs hosted by LinuxQuestions and Slashdot, and it absolutely puts my main website to shame.  It's not great (I kind of suck at css) but finally feel like I can provide people links to my blog without feeling embarrassed about it.
Thinking the top priority will be permalinks for posts .. the title of each post should be a permalink.  Second priority will be pagination.  Then I can think about full-text search (Lucy or dezi?).  Also, maybe improving the markup a bit.  It would be nice if "Lucy" and "dezi" were links to and respectively, but right now the blog only knows how to expand full URLs and Wikipedia references.
As introductions go, this one's pretty boring.  Perhaps another entry is in order, ruminating on the significance of "Entropy Pump".  Will do that soon.
UPDATE 2017-06-25 12:25 -- adding permalinks was really, really trivial.

Test Post
Posted 2017-06-24 23:26 PDT | Tags: test
This is a new Blog, and it needs posts.  This is a test post.
Got to hit all of the features!  That means testing all the features.
Ebedding an image:
That's enough.  Time to see how it works.