Art from disaster, the new justice, our wonderful new fighter

Remember the New Zealand earthquake? Kirk Hargreaves has at least salvaged some memorable images:

Click 8, 18, 25, 36 for full-sized versions of my selection.

Incidentally, New Zealand may well have been largely underwater at some time between 25-22 million year ago, and of course, if it was completely submerged at any moment, that would explain the very perplexing absence of mammals…[refs. right at end of posting]. And the rise to the heights achieved by the New Zealand alps in just a few million years would explain the fidgetiness of its rocks.

Seeing Libya, and possibly my and many others’ two favourite lawyers, Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, keeps reminding me of “Lockerbie bomber” Al Megrahi’s release and how awful it was. Or would have been if he’d actually done it. It’s not just me who doubts he no more did it than he played centre-half for Aberdeen as his name suggests, nor just John Pilger writing for New Statesman , but even those across the UK like my uncle and auntie who widely believe that he didn’t do it. OK, maybe he might have done it if he’d had the opportunity, or knew others who would have, but I don’t think lawyers are supposed to think like that. If Barack and Hillary really do think the best evidence presented in that case indicated a safe verdict of guilty… well, maybe it’s just as well they moved into politics and out of law. It tells us a lot about them, and also about the media who abandoned any mention of this tiny detail some years ago. All right, one person’s life shouldn’t count for much in important international politics, but if the issue of his release really was all just political gesture, let’s admit it.

How exciting that we’ve got a nice new war where we can “try out our new weapon on a chance wayfarer” (a phrase the Japanese have a special word for!) though I’m not saying I disagree with the action. Metro says it is indeed the first time the Typhoon (Eurofighter) has been used in anger (though they did fly in connection with something to do with Albania a couple of years ago).

(Photo from Wikipedia)

I was opining to someone who knows about this sort of thing the other day, that they’d be used to attack Gaddafi’s tanks. No, I was told, we can’t actually do ground attack with it. Yup. Even though we’d been thinking about making the plane since the early ‘70s, and the project actually got going in 1982, we haven’t got the software for ground attack. So they really are just fighters. It’s surprisingly light and very agile for a plane of its size, and its long range missile systems for attacking planes 70 miles away are pretty good. If they miss, it also has short range missiles. It isn’t as good as the US’s F-22 Raptor but the Americans aren’t selling that abroad so that won’t matter (hopefully); it’s range isn’t as good as some bigger fighters but hopefully that won’t matter either.

Interestingly the RAF’s version shares a charming feature with the Hillman Imp: at the front, they both have to have a chunk of concrete, to help with the balance. With the Imp, this was just bad design. With the Typhoon, it is because… it doesn’t have a cannon. ! ! Even though it was designed for one. And even though the whole business of thinking jets didn’t need cannon and then having to post-fit them when it became clear they did was worked through in the 1960’s.

So it can’t do ground attack, and doesn’t have a cannon. Then tell me why, in the name of all that’s holy, does it have to be so incredibly agile, when it mainly engages over the horizon? Good question, I was told, by The Man Who Knew. Well, in case it does need to use that close-in modern version of the Sidewinder, I suppose. And for the other countries who can afford cannon 🙂 .

(The French use the Rafale which is also twin engined and has little “canard” wings at the front, but just behind the engine intakes rather than in front as in the Typhoon:
Photo from wikipedia
For the record it can do ground attack and has to be smaller to allow carrier capabilities.)

New Zealand “underwater or not” references:

Campbell, H. J. & Landis, C. A. 2001 New Zealand awash. N. Z. Geogr. 51, 6–7.

Waters, J. M. & Craw, D. 2006 Goodbye Gondwana? New Zealand biogeography, geology, and the problem of circularity. Syst. Biol. 55, 351–356. (doi:10.1080/10635150600681659)

Trewick, S. A., Paterson, A. M. & Campbell, H. J. 2007 Hello New Zealand. J. Biogeogr. 34, 1–6. (doi:10.1111/j.1365-2699.2006.01643.x)

Campbell, H. J. & Hutching, G. 2008 In search of ancient New Zealand. Auckland, New Zealand: Penguin Books.

Landis, C. A., Campbell, H. J., Begg, J. G., Mildenhall, D. C., Paterson, A. M. & Trewick, S. A. 2008 The Waipounamu erosion surface: questioning the antiquity of the New Zealand land surface and terrestrial fauna and flora. Geol. Mag. 145, 173–197. (doi:10.1017/S0016756807004268)

POLE, M. S. 1993. Keeping in touch: vegetation prehistory on both sides of the Tasman. Australian Systematic Botany 6, 387–97.

POLE, M. S. 1994. The New Zealand Flora – entirely long-distance dispersal? Journal of Biogeography 21, 625–35.

POLE, M. S. 2001. Can long-distance dispersal be infer red from the New Zealand plant fossil record? Australian Journal of Botany 49, 357–66.

COOPER, A. & COOPER, R. A. 1995. The Oligocene bottleneck and New Zealand biota: generic record of a past environmental crisis. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London, Series B 261, 293–302.

COOPER, A., MOURER-CHAUVIRE, C., CHAMBERS, G. K., HAESELER, A. VON, WILSON, A. C. & PAABO, S. 1992. Independent origins of New Zealand moas and kiwis. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, USA 89, 8741–4.

COOPER, R. A. (ed.) 2004. The New Zealand geological timescale. Institute of Geological and Nuclear Sciences Monograph no. 22, 284 pp.

COOPER, R. A. & MILLENER, P. R. 1993. The New Zealand biota: historical background and new research. Trends in Evolutionary Biology 8, 429–33.

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