So the Hot New Argument is of course whether or not the U.S. is actually seriously considering using nuclear penetrators to go after the Iranian nuclear (enrichment?) facility at Natanz. Arguments over how much cover the facility has (twenty meters? Seventy-five meters? Five meters? Measured from the floor? The ceiling?) and over what type of cover (bored? Cut and cover? Rock? Shale? Soil and broken rock?) are the rage. An enormous conventional explosion test named Divine Strake is planned for this summer at the Nevada Test Site. This has gotten many panties in twists about the legality, morality, and desirability of the U.S. pursing nuclear earth-penetrating weaponry - either the development, testing, deployment or use thereof.

Which begs the question, what else do you use?

One method which has been mentioned several times is the 'multiple bomb' technique. This has much to recommend it, in my opinion. Unlike 'global thermonuclear war' scenarios, where the use of nuc penetrators might in fact be a relatively scaled response, when going up against a developing nuclear power I am firmly in the 'this is a bad, bad, BAD idea' camp. While it's true that 'carpet bombing' is not likely to be very effective, recent technological developments offer an alternative.

I'm not talking about smart bombs per se. Those are seeking weapons, and there will be no designator signal available for them to home on - even if there was, it would be a near-impossible task to hold such a designator on a spot steady enough to produce the 'multiple strike excavation' required. Furthermore, scene-matching or target-recognition will be complicated by the fact that after the first bomb hits, the scene will of course be unpredictably (and dramatically) changed - at least enough to deny subsequent targeting systems accurate enough fixes.

However, competent munitions - in other words, navigating weapons - would be just the ticket. Typical U.S. gravity bombs can be coupled with a navigating tailkit and tail-mounted fuze for cratering use; the bomb itself costs approximately $4,200.00 and the guidance/fusing units in the low tens of thousands. While a 2,000 lb. bomb does not produce a very deep crater - feet, perhaps - the use of DGPS guided tailkits could quite possibly drop successive bombs within a quite small CEP - probably well within the crater size. Given that the U.S. has plenty of time to go about this, what's to stop us simply hammering away at the same spot with these weapons?

There are many advantages. Collateral damage is hugely minimized compared to the ridiculous use of a high energy weapon. No matter what the politicians tell you, this is a nuclear weapon. This will not be like an 'underground nuclear test' where the device is placed carefully in a hole drilled several hundred feet into the earth, then sealed in, and detonated. No matter what, there is a chance of weapon failure; of the breach of the physics package at the surface or above it; of insufficient penetration and detonation in atmosphere. Think about that for a moment. Even if everything works except for the fact that it doesn't quite go that deep - and remember, they're trying to find out if it will reach seventy five feet, when test site tunnels are much, much deeper than that - then you have an atomic detonation. In the atmosphere. On a foreign sovereign nation.

The United States has just used atomic weapons on someone's country.

We haven't 'destroyed a nuclear facility using a contained explosion.' We haven't 'prevented another country from irresponsibly gaining nuclear weapons.' We have attacked another nation with atomic weapons.

Back to the point. Using our multiple conventional strike method would not only reduce the political fallout (har de har) of the attack, but demonstrating the capability would, in itself, possibly increase the demonstrated sincerity of threats made (explicit or implied) in any negotiations prior to violence. If the only way to get to said underground bunkers is via nuclear weapons, it is far more likely for the owners of the bunker to convince themselves that the U.S. would never perform a first strike, and hence adopt a harder position in any interaction - one which might (especially given the current administration's, um, lack of grounding in reality) drive the U.S. side to actually decide it had no choice. On the other hand, if it was clear that the U.S. did have options for direct unilateral action which didn't carry anywhere near the penalty associated with first use of nuclear weapons - after all, a conventional strike on another country's roundly condemned nuclear program is an old tradition by now, see Osirak - then they might pause if the U.S. adopted a hard line.

The Gravity Bomb Tapdance method is also much, much cheaper. At $4,200 per bomb unit and let's say $50,000 per navigation kit, even if you decided to throw a hundred bombs at the target, you're still only in $5,420,000. I'm not sure what a B61 warhead costs, but I know it probably has on the order of six to eight kilograms of Pu-239 in it. You do the math. A Tomahawk strike? The newest, cheapest Tomahawkcruise missiles (which don't penetrate the ground) cost around $750,000 each.

You could minimize the number of sorties required to produce this effect, as well. A B-52H Stratofortress, which can drop the Mk.84 LDGP bomb, can carry 45 of them using the HSAB wing mounts as well as internal load. So two B-52 missions could drop 90 weapons. One design study I would love to see is if there is enough excess energy in the profile of a Mk. 84 to allow the attachment of retarding kits and ballutes to the rear of some of the weapons in the loadout, and then to simply drop the entire stick and have the navigation systems fly varying arcs so as to produce staggered 'time on target' arrivals. If the first weapons released went for maximum glide, and the later ones went for maximum retard, then dropped the retarders while still at altitude in order to gain velocity, it might be possible?

Anyway. Ideally, you would be able to just upload a target coordinate to all the weapons in a BUFF loadout at once, and then simply pickle the entire load. Weapons would arrive in quick succession. For maximum cratering effect, in addition to tail-mounting the fuzes, some basic case hardening work might be done on the bombs themselves; perhaps strengthen the noses. After all, the British built purely gravity bombs in World War Two (the 'Tallboy') that broke the sound barrier, and penetrated up to a hundred feet of soil before exploding. Those weapons weighed approximately six tons, and were dropped from only fifteen to twenty thousand feet from Avro Lancasters (by the famed 617 squadron, originally on the U-Boat pens in France, later on the V-3 supergun system and other targets).

If you wanted to sex up the idea more, and actually build new weapons, then the first thing I would do is take a look at the French Durandal cratering munition. This weapon, designed to be dropped at low altitude against runways, was intended to be 'lobbed' upwards slightly by a fighter/ which point it would tip over and fire a short-lived but powerful booster rocket to give itself downwards vector and slam through the runway surface before detonating. Perhaps you could design a new Mk. 80 tailkit that had the DGPS navigation system and a final-seconds booster - once the weapon was within say a hundred feet of its target ground point, and knew it was on profile, it could ignite the booster. That might give it another few feet of penetration before detonation. The good part is that that could possibly be just added to a tailkit system as well.

In any case, it's quite possible there are massive holes in this idea, which is not original...I just played with it a bit. Some colleagues and I have been tossing that one around ever since Gulf War I and the 'Hardened Penetrator Weapons' that were ginned up for the command and control bunkers, and we sure weren't the only ones who were playing with it.

Maybe I should do some math...I used to have some data on Mk. 84 cratering effects somewhere, damn it. Where's my copy of GWAPS?

A little over four years ago, on April 1, 2002, I started the E2 Chatterbox Archive. Since then, over 1.9 million messages have been stored in its database. To belatedly mark its birthday, I thought I'd write a few things about it and the catbox in general.

Happy birthday catbox archive!

I had joined the site a little over a year before this, and a little after that wonko had the idea to archive the chat. His archive only stored the previous week's chat, in order to avoid the strain on the database. A few months before I started mine, wonko had decided that he could no longer continue hosting the archive, and had offered his code to anyone who wished to maintain it. I, for some reason, agreed, and messed a little with the code to see if I could get it working. His original code included a popup chat window that allowed users to chat directly from his site. I removed this, as well as the one week limit on storage.

Although very little of wonko's original code remains, the look and feel and layout of it remains very similar. Credit is still due to him for the idea and the code he gave me, without which I'd certainly never have created the archive.

The chatterbox itself has always divided opinion on the site. While it is very popular, many have complained that noders spend too much time chatting and too little time writing. Its use should be restricted to discussing nodes and helping new users. While it still fulfils those roles, it has taken on a life of its own and arguably the central pillar of E2 as a community. It's hard to say whether there would have been so many nodermeets, friendships, relationships and even marriages if it weren't there. It also helps bring many users regularly to the site.

The vast majority of users of the archive use it for two things: checking the context of the current discussion, and checking if anyone has mentioned their name while they've been away. It is, however, interesting to use it for more than that. It functions as an excellent historical record for the site. It can be fascinating to see how we reacted at the time to events and changes on the site, whether that be the honour roll or the various large E2 gatherings. Even weddings have been followed in the chatterbox.

It's not just on-site events that can be followed in the archive. Sometimes events in the real world spill over onto the site. Perhaps the best example of this was the 7th July London Bombings, which were played out in real-time in the catbox, with several noders personally involved in the events. Take a look at for a fascinating record of the day.

Some trivia about the archive

Machines hosting the archive:

The archive in numbers

  • Total messages in the archive: 1914123
  • Total number of users who have spoken: 8387
  • Of whom 1846 have only said one thing.
  • Users who have said 10 things or less: 5087
  • ...which leaves 3157 who have said more than 10.
  • ..of whom 1128 have said more than 100 things.
  • ..and of whom 320 have said more than 1000
  • There have been 2912 topics since I started tracking them in June 2002. You can search for these, and see them in the list below using the special user '@topic'.

I call the list of most talkative users the Hall of Shame, mainly because I'm a little ashamed of how high up it I am. I used to provide a top 10 of all time on the front page, but this became too heavy on the database. It now shows a rolling seven day top 10. However, to mark the birthday, I have compiled the

All time top 200 hall of shame

Read it and weep.

  1. 36696 IWhoSawTheFace
  2. 32601 Simulacron3
  3. 30026 amnesiac
  4. 28718 yclept
  5. 27042 Halspal
  6. 25273 TenMinJoe
  7. 25198 Maylith
  8. 25185 Swap
  9. 23506 allseeingeye
  10. 23032 ascorbic
  11. 20071 drownzsurf
  12. 19957 spiregrain
  13. 19180 LeoDV
  14. 19152 rootbeer277
  15. 19000 CrAzE
  16. 18561 doyle
  17. 18058 TheDeadGuy
  18. 16319 TanisNikana
  19. 15155 FeltTips
  20. 15142 TheBooBooKitty
  21. 15112 loquacious
  22. 14926 la petite mort
  23. 14905 StrawberryFrog
  24. 14139 haze
  25. 14109 JohnnyGoodyear
  26. 13847 eien_meru
  27. 12510 borgo
  28. 12329 vuo
  29. 12079 wertperch
  30. 11684 golFUR
  31. 11485 dannye
  32. 10804 kthejoker
  33. 10126 ac_hyper
  34. 10038 Gorgonzola
  35. 9894 Chiisuta
  36. 9346 izubachi
  37. 9298 grundoon
  38. 9267 DejaMorgana
  39. 9157 Roninspoon
  40. 9154 tkeiser
  41. 9063 Master Villain
  42. 9016 256
  43. 8952 Andromache01
  44. 8779 avalyn
  45. 8755 auduster
  46. 8629 mkb
  47. 8578 sam512
  48. 8576 Excalibre
  49. 8305 Laura Elizabeth
  50. 8255 BlackPawn
  51. 8179 Eco
  52. 7824 ianah0
  53. 7767 skow
  54. 7733 Cletus the Foetus
  55. 7683 heppigirl
  56. 7548 Oolong
  57. 7529 m_turner
  58. 7478 call
  59. 7256 Gritchka
  60. 7211 AnnaPanna
  61. 7205 Mitzi
  62. 7176 briglass
  63. 7074 RACECAR
  64. 7071 face
  65. 7058 MightyMooquack
  66. 6947 Heisenberg
  67. 6843 Jet-Poop
  68. 6803 ocelotbob
  69. 6732 Myrkabah
  70. 6639 AnBolb
  71. 6596 ryano
  72. 6576 jasstrong
  73. 6282 ReiToei
  74. 6276 NotFabio
  75. 6228 jasonm
  76. 6013 momomom
  77. 6011 thefez
  78. 6006 El Puerco Loco
  79. 5991 ^Davion^
  80. 5979 artman2003
  81. 5955 will
  82. 5903 QXZ
  83. 5883 C-Dawg
  84. 5804 Jurph
  85. 5655 witchiepoo
  86. 5614 boi_toi
  87. 5530 wordnerd
  88. 5468 The Custodian
  89. 5341 eliserh
  90. 5326 Palpz
  91. 5296 liveforever
  92. 5280 Albert Herring
  93. 5087 RalphyK
  94. 5084 LaylaLeigh
  95. 5051 Chase
  96. 4914 arcanamundi
  97. 4897 icicle
  98. 4803 wick
  99. 4674 karmaflux
  100. 4655 HenryBok
  101. 4617 knifegirl
  102. 4607 unperson
  103. 4532 IronGoth
  104. 4507 MALTP
  105. 4462 Raspy
  106. 4442 gwenllian
  107. 4349 Uri E Bakay
  108. 4268 Kit
  109. 4248 jclast
  110. 4240 QuantumBeep
  111. 4187 DyRE
  112. 4183 The Alchemist
  113. 4171 mat catastrophe
  114. 4156 Wiccanpiper
  115. 4151 Ouroboros
  116. 4111 ueni
  117. 4046 Walter
  118. 4025 SEF
  119. 3965 Imprecation
  120. 3959 Chihuahua Grub
  121. 3933 AudieMcCall
  122. 3871 Scriblerus
  123. 3858 themanwho
  124. 3855 CoolBluesMan
  125. 3845 Bitriot
  126. 3837 Teiresias
  127. 3809 EXTomar
  128. 3771 metal rozsa
  129. 3730 panamaus
  130. 3709 SharQ
  131. 3664 gnarl
  132. 3660 siouxsie
  133. 3601 OldMiner
  134. 3509 LaggedyAnne
  135. 3504 Inflatable_Monk
  136. 3419 etouffee
  137. 3373 waterhouse
  138. 3366 fondue
  139. 3365 iceowl
  140. 3357 Uberbanana
  141. 3339 amib
  142. 3312 mirv
  143. 3292 Kensey
  144. 3253 wilco
  145. 3167 Tlachtga
  146. 3149 inlet
  147. 3137 Diabolic
  148. 3137 BrooksMarlin
  149. 3105 MacArthur Parker
  150. 3080 Byzantine
  151. 3074 Blue_Bellied_Lizard
  152. 3039 bewilderbeast
  153. 3029 paraclete
  154. 2997 Derfel
  155. 2931 Ereneta
  156. 2912 @topic
  157. 2890 montecarlo
  158. 2889 tetrisboy
  159. 2884 arieh
  160. 2883 Noung
  161. 2880 JudyT
  162. 2864 Catchpole
  163. 2859 althorrat
  164. 2856 jaubertmoniker
  165. 2836 smartalix
  166. 2824 Apatrix
  167. 2801 Starke
  168. 2773 Frankie
  169. 2747 Spackle
  170. 2736 Lometa
  171. 2696 mofaha
  172. 2666 undead
  173. 2655 Lord Brawl
  174. 2645 toalight
  175. 2628 tdent
  176. 2596 bookw56
  177. 2566 QuietLight
  178. 2558 decimetre
  179. 2523 andersa
  180. 2502 Footprints
  181. 2494 BROCKEN
  182. 2466 Pandora
  183. 2459 oakling
  184. 2361 Damodred
  185. 2348 Trina
  186. 2269 Fruan
  187. 2253 Habakkuk
  188. 2246 Mark Forest
  189. 2219 Hyphenated
  190. 2218 shyHyena
  191. 2203 JerboaKolinowski
  192. 2190 interrobang
  193. 2157 Domin
  194. 2120 Nora
  195. 2119 Johnny Boy
  196. 2103 Zerotime
  197. 2098 Templeton
  198. 2089 409
  199. 2050 Quizro
  200. 2049 Transitional Man

Of Darkness and Life

At my church we celebrate Maundy Thursday with a dinner, communion, and then a service of Tenebrae, which is quiet, somber service of music, readings and steadily increasing darkness. For this is the night Christians remember the night of betrayal, the Last Supper, the waiting at the Garden of Gethsemane, of the disciples falling asleep while jesus waited alone, praying to be spared what he knows will follow.

The Garden of Gethsemnane sits upon a hill overlooking Jerusalem. When the soldiers and Temple Police, (for it was the keepers of purity in the faith who wanted Christ crucified, it was they who gave Judas his silver) came for him he could see their torches heading his way. There are many ways to disperse and slip away from that mountain, Christ could easily have run away. But he sat there and awaited the crown of thorns, and the slow ashpyxiating death by Crucifiction.

We left in silence with the lights low, but as the air was warm and clear, I decided to drive home slowly rather than hop on I-71.

Just as you enter Clintonville there is a garage in what used to be a music store, and many, many years earler a Model T dealership. They have very cool cars in the window, a Superformance Cobra, and Improved Touring B BMW (the same class I used to race in), two Nobles and an Mustang prepared for Competition in the SCCA class American Sedan.

Every other time I had passed the place was closed up tight as a drum. But I saw a garage door open, so stopped and went in to look. The man at the door greeted me, and when I mentioned that I was in the SCCA the conversations changed. I told him that these days I was solely a corner worker. He told me that he raced go karts. I told him that I'd worked some kart races, but not since I'd been there when a man hit the wall on the front straight of Mid Ohio.

"When was that?"

I thought it was in 2000, or 2001.

"How about 1999?" he asked. I told him that sounded right.

"That was me. I didn't wake up for two months."

I remember that day well. I was working phones at Five when the alert came over the net. A shifter kart--- which are really, really fast-- had gone straight into the wall on the front straight. That wall is made of concrete three feet thick. Karts have no driver protection whatsoever, beyond the driver's helmet, and he was traveling at over 100 MPH at impact.

Helmet to concrete, at over 100 MPH.

I remember the sick sound in control's voice when they dispatched the Ambulance. I remember Ernie's eyes grow wide as I unrolled and displayed the Red Flag, stopping the race. We could see the the ambulance and the medical crews working hthough I was too far away for details. They did not life flight the driver, Rather the ambulance drove slowly out the gate, it's flashing light the only hopeful sign. They don't run the lights and siren for the dead.

We broke immediately for lunch. At lunch we sat together talking about it. I didn't know whether to pray that lived or that he died. I haven't worked a Kart event since.

Six years later upon this night of death and desertion I found myself sharing a beer and bench racing with a man who had no right to be alive. We felt joy at finally meeting.

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