Friday, December 29, 2023

Israel vs Hamas: It Is Worse Than You Think

It does not matter whether you are a Palestinian supporter or an Israeli supporter,  you are likely wrong in your beliefs,  precisely because you do not understand how complicated all of this really is.  There’s more than enough blame to go around for both sides,  and yet more blame besides that.

The figure below shows a map of the Palestine region as it was proposed to be divided between Jews and Palestinians by the UN’s 1947 partition proposal.  That was a 56-44 split of area between Jews and Palestinian Arabs,  with Jerusalem intended to be an open city belonging to neither side. While not an even split,  the Jewish area included a lot of the more-or-less uninhabitable Negev desert in the south.

The neighboring Arab nations did not agree to this,  but it was pretty well done anyway by the UN and western nations in 1948,  with the creation of Israel,  pretty much along the proposed lines pictured. 

Almost immediately,  the neighboring Arab nations invaded,  entering through the Palestinian territories,  starting the 1948 war,  which they ultimately lost,  losing some of the Palestinian territory to the Israelis,  as indicated in the figure,  but keeping the bulk of it as shown.  Although they could have,  these neighboring Arab states never gave the Palestinian territories they occupied back to the Palestinians!

Multiple Wars Since

There were wars in 1951-1955 (the Palestinian Fedayeen insurgency) and in 1956 (with Egypt over the Suez Canal) that did not materially affect the map shown in the figure.  It was essentially unchanged until the 1967 “6-Day War”,  when Israel captured the Golan heights in the north from Syria,  the Gaza Strip and Sinai Peninsula from Egypt,  and much of the West Bank from Jordan in the east.  The Sinai Peninsula was eventually returned to Egypt as part of the peace accords after the 1973 “Yom Kippur” war.     

1967-1970 saw the so-called “War of Attrition”,  and 1971-1983 saw the Palestinian insurgency in south Lebanon.  The map didn’t really change,  with the Gaza Strip and much of the West Bank occupied.  1973 saw the “Yom Kippur” war,  resulting in peace accords and recognition of Israel by Egypt. 

Since then,  there was the 1978 First South Lebanon conflict,  resulting in the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) being expelled from southern Lebanon.  (That’s the same PLO that is today the government of the West Bank.)

There was the 1982 First Lebanon War,  resulting in the PLO being expelled from all of Lebanon.  There was also the 1985-2000 South Lebanon conflict,  which resulted in Hezbollah being based permanently in Lebanon (and Syria). 

Then there was the 1987-1993 First Palestinian Intifada,  which the Israelis suppressed.  During it were the 1991 Iraqi rocket attacks on Israel,  which was a strategic failure for Iraq,  since it did not provoke a response.  2000-2004 was the Al Aqsa (or second) Intifada,  also suppressed.

Then in 2006 was the Second Lebanon War,  where the Israelis took on both Hezbollah and the Lebanese military fighting together.  That was inconclusive,  but with large combat losses.

All of that is part of the background to the current 2023 Israeli-Hamas war that ongoing,  with war also starting in the north with Hezbollah in Lebanon.

Related Stuff

Another part is the history of Israeli settlements in the West Bank.  While the territory was occupied,  it was never officially annexed,  because if it were,  the Palestinian Arabs there would add to those living within Israel as Israeli citizens,  and outnumber the Jewish citizens.  Not annexed,  those settlements may well be technically illegal,  depending upon your interpretations of international law and UN resolutions.

Yet another part of this is the far-right nature of the coalition that is Netanyahu’s government in Israel.  It was that way when he was Prime  Minister before,  and it is that way now that he is again.  When he was Prime Minister before,  that’s when the pace of planting settlements in the West Bank vastly accelerated.  Those settlers would by-and-large be of a similar far-right mindset,  just to choose to settle there,  the whole point being to effectively make that Israeli land,  no matter what.

He is Prime Minister again,  and so effectively in command of the Israeli military.  The “court reform” is him trying to pave the way to staying in ever-more-power,  permanently.  The settlers in the West Bank that he essentially put there,  are now going around killing their Palestinian sheep-herding neighbors in this latest war.  And the Israeli military in Gaza is using strategy and tactics that reflect an utter disregard for Palestinian civilian lives.  Armies often tend to reflect their commanders-in-chief. 

Why would anyone be surprised at that behavior,  given who and what Netanyahu is?

And,  no one should be surprised that the Arab neighbor nations are refusing to take in Palestinian refugees from the Gaza Strip,  given the fact they never gave back the lands in 1948.  That border crossing with Egypt is closed.  It has been difficult to get them to allow UN aid trucks in. 

What is surprising is that no one is reporting on all this ugly history and background! 

And don’t forget what Hamas did with its October 7th attack of unprecedented scope and evil.  They took hostages,  killed with great barbarity including women and children,  and raped a lot of women.  Those are internationally-recognized war crimes,  as is hiding behind human shields. 

You should also be unsurprised at the civilian casualties that inevitably happen when you strike back at an enemy like that.  You have to go through that human shield to strike them.  It is inherent. And,  they tried to prevent their own civilians from evacuating,  preferring instead that they die serving as human shields. 

And THAT evil is the government of Gaza?  They do not care whether the people they govern live or die!

My Predictions

Hamas will fight until it is destroyed,  but at high losses to the Israeli military,  and utterly enormous losses of civilian Gazan lives.  Hezbollah is lots bigger and better equipped than Hamas,  and will continue the war with Israel in the north,  after Israel’s forces have been damaged by Hamas.

Update 1-12-2024 these two predictions have already come true.  Which makes the following prediction even more crucial:

Both Hamas and Hezbollah are well-known to be terrorist proxy armies funded,  supplied,  and commanded by the government of Iran,  which has so far suffered precisely zero consequences for what its proxies have been doing.  This violence is not going to stop until they do suffer for what they have done. 

List of Iranian Terrorist Proxy Armies

Iran is a terrorist dictatorship run by fake mullahs misusing religion to “justify” what they do.  They run a sham democracy in which they can over-rule anything an elected body decides,  they suppress dissent violently,  and they are essentially propped-up in power by their private army the Revolutionary Guard.  Sounds an awful lot like Hitler and his SA stormtrooper private army in 1930’s Germany to me!

Iran also operates multiple terrorist proxy armies.

Per “Country Reports on Terrorism: Iran 2021” by Bureau of Counterterrorism at US Dept. of State,

retrieved from their site 19 November 2023 (highlighting is mine,  for this article):

I would also point out the recent attacks on commercial shipping in that same region.  Many of these are being conducted from Yemen by the Houthis,  and recently,  there was a direct attack from Iran itself by the Revolutionary Guard,  at a ship off the coast of India!

Wake Up and Do This Right

This violence will never end,  as long as Israel or anybody else just swats at these terrorist proxy armies.  It can only end when the terrorist government of Iran is overthrown.  I have nothing at all against the people of Iran,  they are good people.  But their terrorist government must go!  Or there can NEVER be peace in the Missile East!

You Will Not Like Hearing This,  Either:

Ukraine is the West’s proxy against the Russians.  That has dragged-on nearly 2 years.  It is time to do more than just send aid and money,  Russia has to lose,  and soon!  Which will likely cause regime change in Russia.  And that would be a good thing,  even if it did not affect things with China!

But this DOES affect China!  If Russia does not lose,  and soon,  Xi in China will be further emboldened by the West’s apparent weakness,  and will start World War 3 in the Pacific by invading Taiwan. 

And the longer this Ukraine thing drags on,  the more likely he will invade Taiwan anyway,  whether Russia wins or loses.

So just wake up and get on with it!

Proxy army war can get complicated,  can it not?


Saturday, December 16, 2023

Christmas Funnies 2023

This is just for fun.  My wife found a funny on the internet that I simply must repost here.  The lights as hung in this city display are just too funny,  given the appropriate modified Christmas song to go with them. 

As many readers know,  I put up a yard display each year that we call “White Trash Christmas”.  It involves some plastic yard flamingoes lit up from inside,  as Santa’s reindeer,  a lit-up plastic Santa,  and something I call the “Iron Christmas Tree”.  There are two views of this posted below,  taken just after sun-down,  Saturday 12-16-2023.  I put a trash bag of recycled cans in the wagon to represent Santa’s magic bag.

There are 10 flamingoes.  Eight are arranged in pairs,  marked and ordered as the eight names from the Christmas tales.  Those would be “Dasher”,  Dancer”,  Prancer”,  and ”Vixen”,  followed by “Comet”, “Cupid”,  “Donner”,  and “Blitzen”.  The lone one out front is labeled “Rudolph”.  The lone one behind is labeled “Bambi”.  Yeah,  I cheated.  But I had 10 yard flamingoes. 

The Iron Tree is something I made many years ago.  It has a PVC pipe center core,  and angled “legs” made of rebar.  The lights get hoisted up and then “may-poled” around,  to cover it. 

The view from more-or-less the side shows this thing set up near my farm shop.  The view from behind shows our house across the driveway from the farm shop. 

By the way,  each flamingo has pipe cleaner “antlers” on his head. 

Update 12-18-2023:  We also put up this year's version of the missile toad. 

And just to let you know that not everything around here is abnormal,  our tree is up,  too.


Sunday, December 10, 2023

Conspiracies Have Short Lifetimes

As most readers of this blog already know,  I have long denounced the conspiracy theory that there is some evil “deep state” in control of our government and others around the world.  This derives largely from Qanon and similar or related sites on the internet,  all very popular with right-wing and far-right readers.  While some aspects and pieces of this movement date earlier,  this became a fearless leader cult around Donald Trump during 2015,  as he began his run for the Presidency in the 2016 election. 

Key to this is supposedly secret information about forces led by Trump to depose this “deep state”.  This is to take place as a “storm” during which “deep state” people will be rounded up,  imprisoned,  perhaps tried or perhaps not,  but definitely executed.  Invariably,  the persons identified as targets of this “storm” are Hollywood elites,  Democrats all over,  and any Republicans who are not Trump cultists (referred to as RINO’s).  Also invariably,  cultists refer especially to Democrats as being evil enemies of the state,  worthy only of being killed,  which has inspired considerable “lone wolf” violence of late.  

To accomplish this requires overthrowing our democracy and replacing it with a Trump-led dictatorship.  That’s the secret!  Which is exactly why so many Trump cultists have become publicly known to be “authoritarians” (meaning advocates of a dictatorship in America).  It is why Trump himself has recently begun saying “dictatorship on only day one” if re-elected.  The only part of that which is a lie,  is the word “only”.  And given his track record over the decades for egregious lying,  that is no surprise at all!

Secrets are hard to keep,  and with conspiracies to keep them secret,  there are invariably some numbers of people who know about them.  It has always been the pattern in the past,  that eventually somebody talks and spills the secret.   Thus there is some sort of finite “lifetime” that such information,  and the conspiracy to keep it secret,  both have.

I ran across a news item on the PBS NewsHour web site that describes the modeling of such conspiracy lifetimes.  This was “How Many People Does It Take to Keep a Conspiracy Alive?”,  which I retrieved from their web site 7 December 2023.  It was apparently published there 15 February 2016,  but I missed it back then.  The article reports the published academic work of one David Robert Grimes at Oxford University,  who found an equation modeling this effect as lifetime-to-revelation versus number-of-people-involved.  He reportedly published this equation in the Journal PLOS ONE.

I did not track down his published article.  The PBS NewsHour article gave enough numerical data for me to just reverse-engineer an approximation to what Grimes apparently found and published.  I simply keyed the quoted data into a spreadsheet,  plotted and re-plotted the data multiple ways,  and attempted some curve-fit equations.  One of those worked rather well,  and is probably fairly close to the Grimes result.  I even found one “bad data point” item quoted in the PBS news article.  My work is depicted by the plots in Figure 1.  It is the log-log plot options that produced fittable curves.

Figure 1 – Reverse-Engineering a Correlation Equation From Quoted Data (Excluding “Bad Data Point”)

The modeling equation that worked best,  as indicated by the higher Pearson’s r-squared parameter,  is in the upper right plot of the figure.  It models the data quite well.  It is:

               Y = 4.4378 [log10(no. of ppl)]-1.235

               Life, yrs = 10Y

Now,  apply this to the Trump-cult (Qanon) conspiracy,  whose “secret” is that they want a Trump-led dictatorship in the US,  and also that they want to kill all their opposition!  This formed about 8 years ago in 2015 during the campaign leading to the 2016 election.  Solving iteratively the equation-in-reverse for a 8-year life,  then no more than about 4262 persons could know about the secret,  and still have it remain hidden the 8 years since then.  That’s clearly not the case,  as there are millions of Trump supporters who voted for him in both 2016 and 2020.  At least some of them are cult believers.

Alternatively,  in those elections,  there were 80-something millions of Trump voters.  I picked 82 million as an estimate,  just to be the right magnitude only.  Assuming all of them are part of the Trump-cult conspiracy,  the equation says the expected lifetime before the secret gets revealed would be only about 2.2 years.  The assumption I made is not correct,  but using it helps bound the problem between these two results:  2.2 vs 8 years after the 2015 campaign.  The “right” answer must lie between these points.

In actuality,  the revelation that Trump and his advisors were integrally associated with the Qanon theory came out during his Presidential administration January 2017-January 2021.  Trump’s then-adviser retired General Flynn publicly advocated for Trump to replace our democracy with a dictatorship led by Trump,  so that the “deep state” could be “overthrown” and eliminated!  This really means all their opposition being rounded up and killed,  exactly like what happened when Adolf Hitler’s Nazis took over Germany.  This revelation happened about 4 years ago,  exactly between the bounds I just defined!

Using the equation iteratively-in-reverse again,  on the 4 years since the 2015 campaign to sometime in 2019,  it estimates the number of really hard-core,  extremist Trump-cult believers to be about 109,700.  While not millions,  that’s large enough to be very alarming,  as the pool from which right-wing extremist violence can most likely be expected to come.  And we have already seen it.

And,  we already have several Representatives and a few Senators who so very clearly come from this cult.  So,  why is our Congressional dysfunction a surprise?  It’s part of their plan!  Chaos instead of governing helps to “justify” their radical change to a dictatorship under Trump.

Subtracting that roughly 110,000 true-believer cultists from about 82 million evident Trump voters,  that says something like 81.9 million voters have been deceived by this cult,  into voting for a would-be dictator over the US,  who has already attempted an insurrection and takeover on 6 January 2021

And THAT ought to scare the ever-loving shit out of almost anybody!

Please wake up out there!

Saturday, December 9, 2023

Overall Study Results: Propellant From Moon

Just the overall results are given here.  The details supporting this are much more voluminous.  The basic notion,  Figure 1,  is to manufacture propellants on the moon,  probably using potentially-recoverable ice deposits near the south pole.  I initially looked at elongated halo orbits about the moon as a means to more easily access the south polar region off the moon from orbit.  Delivery is to low Earth orbit,  at low inclination eastward.  The idea is to base a lander on the moon,  flying loaded to a station in halo orbit,  and returning to the lunar surface with tank empties plus a bit of cargo.  The orbit-to-orbit transport vehicle to LEO,  is based at the station in the halo orbit about the moon.  It flies fully laden from there to LEO,  and returns to the halo station with empties plus that same little bit of cargo.  

Figure 1 – Basic Notion of Lunar Propellant Manufacture for Use in LEO

There are actually two halo orbit cases to consider,  although overall,  they are more-or-less a wash.  One is the proposed halo orbit for NASA’s “Gateway” station about the moon.  This one has an apoapsis radius that lies beyond the Hill sphere for orbit stability about the moon.  It also has a periapsis altitude much higher than that used during Apollo,  which acts to increase the delta-vee (dV) required of any lander operating from that halo station.  Long-term,  anything in this halo will eventually leave the moon and go into orbit about the Earth.  That is the direct result of having an apoapsis distance outside the Hill sphere.  Thus the halo station requires periodic correction burnsjust to stay in this orbit.

Using LOX-LCH4 propulsion that does not push the state-of-the-art as hard as SpaceX does with its Raptor engines,  it takes almost 48 metric tons of propellant manufacture on the lunar surface to deliver 1 metric ton of propellant to LEO via the NASA halo station,  and have the two vehicles return to their bases.  This does not include the propellant necessary for orbital correction burns to stabilize the station in this NASA halo orbit!    The transport vehicle is the smaller for this case,  while the lander is the larger,  as indicated in Figure 2.  This unstable halo orbit choice may actually be driven by the dV capability of SLS/Orion block 1 configuration,  which cannot reprise the Apollo 8 mission.

The “recommended halo” eliminates entirely the need to ship propellant to the halo station for periodic correction burns,  precisely because it is stable.  It has an apoapsis right at the Hill sphere limit,  and a periapsis at a distance comparable to the old Apollo missions,  to reduce lander dV requirements.  It takes about 51 metric tons of propellant manufacture on the moon to deliver 1 metric ton of propellant to LEO,  as also indicated in Figure 2.  For this case the transport is larger,  and the lander is smaller.  

Neither of these halo-based options is more “economical” than the projections for shipping propellant up to LEO from Earth’s surface,  for SpaceX’s Starship/Superheavy vehicle,  as indicated in the Figure.  That vehicle also uses LOX-LCH4 propellants,  so that comparison truly is “fair” in that sense.  

Figure 2 – Results for the Halo Orbit Cases

The alternative would be to manufacture propellant on the lunar surface,  and send it directly from there to LEO,  without utilizing any sort of halo orbit station as a waypoint.  This does require entry from the lunar transfer orbit directly into a low lunar circular orbit that is polar,  so that the south pole can be reached directly.  The reverse is the return.  Landings and takeoffs would be from-and-to this low polar lunar orbit. 

The dV requirements for the direct trip are higher than even the halo transport dV’s.  It was not possible to get “reasonable” results with LOX-LCH4 propulsion for this mission,  the Isp levels are simply too low.  I had to resort to the higher Isp of LOX-LH2 propulsion to get something “reasonable” in size.  However,  since there may well be recoverable ice,  but no free carbon,  on the moon,  it is far more likely that it will be LOX-LH2 propellants that actually get manufactured there,  anyway.  The corresponding results are given in Figure 3.

Figure 3 – Results For Direct Delivery of Lunar Propellant to LEO,  Using LOX-LH2 Propulsion

This is the only outcome that is better than trying to ship propellant up from Earth’s surface to LEO,  even using a vehicle as capable as SpaceX’s Starship/Superheavy.   It takes 14 metric tons of lunar propellant manufacture to support the delivery of 1 metric ton of propellant from the moon to LEO.  This includes the vehicle returning all the way to a landing near the moon’s south pole,  with empties and some cargo. 


In summary,  direct shipment from the moon to LEO is the best option,  but it will require the higher Isp of LOX-LH2 propulsion!  Using LOX-LCH4 is not feasible in any “reasonable” vehicle sizes,  primarily limited by achievable mass ratio as you increase propellant.  This requires manufacture on the moon of 25.1 metric tons of LOX-LH2 to deliver 1 ton of LOX-LH2 as payload to LEO. (corrected)

Failing that,  shipping propellant up from Earth’s surface to LEO is the next best option,  using the SpaceX Starship/Superheavy vehicle,  which is powered by LOX-LCH4 propulsion.  This is projected to require the manufacture of some 32 to 47 metric tons of LOX-LCH4 propellant on Earth to deliver 1 metric ton of it (or instead a ton of LOX-LH2) to LEO. This depends upon deliverable payload being 100-150 tons.

The halo station options turned out to be the least attractive.  Doing it with two vehicles instead of one reduces payload delivered for the propellant used,  by two vehicle payload fractions compounded (because there are two vehicles),  instead of just one.   The two halo options are not much different at about 48 (NASA) and about 51 (recommended) metric tons propellant to be manufactured on the moon to deliver 1 ton of propellant to LEO.  The NASA halo requires still more propellant manufacture on the moon than that about-48 figure,  because its halo station requires correction burns just to stay in its orbit long term!  The “recommended halo” avoids that requirement,  and gets a smaller lander design,  at the expense of a larger transport vehicle to LEO.


The final result says go with the higher-Isp LOX-LH2 propulsion,  and operate direct from the lunar surface to LEO fully laden,   and back to the lunar surface very lightly laden.  Return trips return the empty tanks for the next propellant shipment,  plus in this study,  a couple of tons of payload that could be base operating supplies.

Be Aware

The dV requirements used in this study include 8% of midpoint speed as dV budgets for course correction,  and 0.2 km/s budgets for rendezvous and docking,  once close (within at most 10 km).  Lunar takeoff ideal dV values were factored-up by 1.0083 for gravity losses,  and lunar landing ideal dV values were factored-up by 1.50 for losses plus the dominant hover and divert budget requirements.  Everything else was presumed loss-free “impulsive”,  for factor 1.00 applied to ideal values from basic 2-body orbital mechanics.  The 3-body approach and departure problems were approximated by the “far V” versus “near V” energy approximation. 


There are some fundamental trends of mass ratio capability and the dV it can produce,  vs added propellant and Isp,  which help explain these results.  These are depicted generically in Figure 4.  

Figure 4 – Trends That Explain Results

The “knees” in these curves are not so apparent in the MR vs added Wp plot,  but they are very apparent in the dV vs added Wp plots parametric on Isp.  Where the slope is steep,  you will get a better (lower) propellant burned vs payload delivered ratio.  Where the slope is shallow,  that ratio will be large and unfavorable. 

Basically,  there is a favorable range of deliverable dV at each Isp level.  For the 450 s Isp level typical of LOX-LH2 propulsion,  this is up to 8 km/s dV for really nice results,  and up to about 11 km/s at the very most.  Beyond that,  it is a very serious diminishing-returns problem:  adding a lot of propellant for almost no improvement. 

For the 350-400 s Isp level typical of LOX-LCH4 propulsion,  the most favorable range is up to about 7 km/s dV.  At the most,  it is about 9 km/s.  Beyond that,  this is pretty much pointless.

By switching the halo station based lander and transport designs to LOX-LH2 (instead of LOX-LCH4),  the propellant to payload ratios could be significantly reduced,  perhaps looking more like those of Earth launch with Starship/Superheavy,  or maybe even slightly better. 

Regardless,  the lunar surface based and launched single direct transfer design approach is still the best,  despite it being only marginally favorable on the dV vs Wp curve. That is because it is a single vehicle,  and not two vehicles,  as in the other scenarios.  This scenario would look even better if its propulsion were nuclear thermal at 700+ s of Isp. 

As it is with LOX-LH2 propulsion,  the total vehicle dV requirement could be reduced a little,  making the propellant used/propellant delivered ratio even better,  if an LEO tug were used to retrieve the vehicle from an elliptical capture orbit about the Earth.  The same tug could put the vehicle back into the elliptical orbit for departure.  That reduces the arrival and departure dV’s significantly,  and it eliminates the rendezvous and docking dV requirement.  This gain is largely offset by the need for propellant deliveries to power the tug,  though.


Ullage solutions for multiple burns with cryogenic liquid propulsion were NOT determined for any of these design rough-outs.  But they will have to be,  to flesh out all the design requirements!  Attitude control was also not addressed,  although given adequate acceleration levels,  some of those thrusters could supply the ullage function.  That is determined by the settling time constants that are acceptable. 

Corrections 12-10-2023:

I had not followed through fully on the spreadsheet for the direct vehicle.  The 14:1 delivery ratio figure goes with an otherwise-converged design that had far-insufficient thrust to takeoff and land,  resulting in too low an inert mass.    When I corrected that,  the vehicle proved to be enormous at 3000 tons,  with a really bad-looking delivery ratio.  I reconverged multiple times with multiple candidate engine numbers and thrusts,  until all the gees looked good,  including landing with hover capability,  but with takeoff reduced to 0.5 gees over lunar surface gravity.  That got me to the corrected figure.