1. China’s Moon Shot Rains Rocket Parts on the Countryside

    chinese rocket parts

    China sent their unmanned lunar probe Chang’e II (nickname: Moon Safari?) skywards last Friday, packing the usual assortment of stereo cameras, laser spectrometers and microwave detectors to scour the lunar surface as it orbits the moon for six months or better.  What it didn’t take with it, however, was a few large chunks of its launch rocket.  These fell to earth two days later, landing in a rural part of Jiangxi, China.

    Villagers thought they were being struck by an earthquake as the debris crashed down.  Luckily, no one was hurt and no structures were impacted.  While snarkier blogs than this one will no doubt bag on China’s devil-may-care approach to space debris management, I’m just glad no one was hurt.  Besides, there’s not a space program out there (not even Mr. Veer’s), that has its hands completely clean.

    Remember Skylab?  Australia does.

    Take a closer look at the above photo for the real story, however.  Can anyone spot the time-traveling member of Starfleet hanging out with a knowing grin?

    C’mon.  The evidence is all there.

    1. He’s bald.  The future belongs to the follicly neglected.
    2. There’s a shiny communicator pin on his left pec.
    3. His uniform color seems to indicate he’s some kind of medical officer (help me out here, Trekkies, it’s been awhile), an obvious choice to send back on a mission of peace.

    I’m just disappointed they didn’t send Worf.

    The only mysterious bit is his smoking.  Can’t say I’ve ever seen anyone lighting up on the USS Enterprise or even in the shady corridors of Deep Space 9.  Maybe it’s one of those things you indulge in as a man from the future when you’re hanging out in primitive cultures, kind of like how it’s OK to drink Beast Ice when you’re back in the sticks with your high school buddies for Thanksgiving or something.

    Mysteries upon mysteries.  Readers: keep me posted if you see this guy hanging out in the frame of any other rocket crashes, meteorite landings, or swap meets.


    Photo from news.163.com

  2. Two Fists, Two X Chromosomes and a Love of Country


    A post on China Military Report this weekend gave some glowing praise for an apparently all-female unit of the Chinese Navy, along with some possibly-for-the-eye-candy shots to accompany the swells of patriotism.  A couple thoughts rolled through my head while looking at these:

    1. I always thought that blue cammo was just a suburban mallrat cargo shorts kind of pattern, not actually used by any military operating outside of an aquarium.  The blue face paint seems to indicate they’re somewhat serious about this.  Maybe it’s a Braveheart thing?
    2. Are they really leaping like dolphins through the water in that one photo?
    3. What’s the deal with all-female military units?

    Photo threads of female soldiers on military blogs are a pretty common thing, often with some careful language at the start about how the point isn’t hot ogling of government property but to pay tribute to our fighting sisters.  Of course, after a few posts, someone starts hooting for the Swedish Defense Bikini Team, sadly nonexistant.

    Surely, though, there’s purposes for all-female squads beyond the fantasies of military aficionados.  While I couldn’t turn up a “why” for the Chinese First Marine Brigade Recon Unit, other forces create segregated units for cultural reasons, perceived skills or subterfuge.

    What with the whole burka thing and all, the U.S fields an all-female team from the 3rd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment for cultural outreach to Afghan women.  Similar teams have been tried in Iraq, for similar reasons of cultural sensitivity.  It’s also worth noting that U.S. and Iraqi security forces have deployed female guards specifically to search women to combat suicide bombings and arms smuggling.  Having a woman on the squad could also help fight the old Huck Finn/Jefferson Davis tactic of dressing up like a woman to duck the law, as cross-dressing Taliban are fond of doing.

    Qaddafi‘s ladies with AKs also come to mind.  When the Libyan dictator steps out just about anywhere, he rolls deep with a large entourage of well-trained women with automatic weapons and matching cammo. Again, not much of a straight answer out there as to why his security is guaranteed exclusively by women, but a good guess can be made by Qaddafi’s two pronged policy of being in the vanguard of the Arab world in terms of women’s rights and being a nutty, sorta lecherous, old-school dictator who gets whatever the hell he wants.

    Special mention must go to the unbelievably badass “Night Witches” of the USSR who flew goddamn crop dusters on bombing raids against the Third Reich.  Doing so they became the most highly decorated unit in the Soviet Air Force. As if flying slow and low with a bomb-laden bi-plane wasn’t enough, Wikipedia mentions that they’d “shut the engine off near the target and glide to the bomb release point, with only wind noise to reveal their location.”  Scientific proof right there, folks, that the gland for audacity does not reside in the balls.

  3. China Needs More Gay


    Two China-related stories kept coming up in the blog chum bucket today, one sounding like a clear solution for the other.

    First there was this look at China’s surplus of young men in the Wall Street Journal:

    Thanks to its 30-year-old population-planning policy and customary preference for boys, China has one of the largest male-to-female ratios in the world. Using data from the 2005 China census — the most recent — a study published in last month’s British Journal of Medicine estimates there was a surplus of 32 million males under the age of 20 at the time the census was taken. That’s roughly the size of Canada’s population.

    32 Million males who can’t get laid is a lot of Limp Bizkit concerts.

    On this point, Kenneth Anderson notes that with such a gender difference, you’ve ended up in a situation similar to polygamous societies, with their accompanying troubles with social unrest:

    The inequality that is baked into a society in which one husband has multiple exclusive wives is perhaps not primarily or necessarily about the wives, if one makes (extremely, fantastically heroic assumptions, in actual social fact) about their freedom to choose, and if it included the right to divorce not only the husband, but other wives (however that might work in some idealized world). The intrinsic inequality is about the mateless men, deprived of the opportunity to even have a chance to marry and have families and children.

    Now, the argument can be made that polygamy comes naturally, as that nature made men as canon fodder and equipped the canny survivors with the ability to spread seed on a mass scale without hardly breaking a sweat. (Though you should.  Put your damn back into it!)  However, in this modern era with our crazily low homicide rate as compared to the bulk of human history, we men are much better at surviving long enough to be sexually frustrated, often without a socially-sanctioned outlet for hot sex or, barring that, heinous violence.

    And then there’s Shanghai this week:

    The visibility of the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender) community in China has been growing fast recently but its profile became more prominent this week as Shanghai hosted the country’s first gay pride festival.

    What an elegant solution.  Too many unmatched males?  Why not try gay?  Sure beats all the slaughter, exile and slaving that other folks have tried.

    Even the numbers look pretty good, according to China Daily:

    China has a homosexual population of 30 million people – 20 million gays and 10 million lesbians, said Zhang Beichuan, China’s leading scholar in the field of homosexuality. The government puts the figure at between 5 and 10 million.

    OK, so that breaks down to just a 10 million man gay offset in the ranks of all the young dudes. Using the 32 million figure as a target, that means you’ve got 22 million left to convert, boys.

    So how might the Chinese government encourage this?

    Well first off, letting Shanghai fully get its queer on would help.  This is a bit of a difficult proposition, seeing as how the Chinese government is basically an East Asian version of the stodgy town elders from Footloose.  If they really want this to work, they need to acknowledge that dancing is the surest slippery slope to gaydom.  (Dancing With the Stars… I’m on to you.)

    Other, more People’s Republican options exist.  The Finns seem to be working on some kind of ‘gay gas‘ but the reports are sketchy and juvenile.  The Pentagon might have something to that effect too.

    Note on Flag Graphic: Made it myself.  Feel free to swipe it and use it wherever.