The Big Amphibs

There have been many proposals proposal to make large amphibious warships. One of the more interesting is the Project 11780 amphibious ship, proposed in the last days of the USSR. Nicknamed the “Ivan Tarava” because of its comparable performance to the American Tarawa amphib, its proper name was, in an eerie coincidence given the recent war, the Kherson class.

The Khersons would have been built in Nikolayev, not far from their namesake province. Besides the collapse of the Soviet Union, what doomed them even before that was that the yard was chosen to build the Kuznetsov carriers instead. One interesting quirk is that the Kherson designers reportedly loathed the idea of their ship being converted to a fixed-wing carrier and thus moved a gun turret in one of the drafts so it would block the flight deck and prevent a simple conversion.

The Khersons were designed to carry 1000 marine infantry and up to around 60-70 “pieces of equipment”. They could hold both helicopters and landing craft.

Frankfurt Football

I have a crazy alternate history idea to spread American Football. So,the NFL’s desire to expand outside of its comfort zone has been mixed. But still, this alternate history enables the powers of the other kind of football to cash in. Many if not most European clubs best known for their soccer teams are in fact multi-sports, all under one umbrella. So for the sake of local laws and convenience, they’re technically the American Football branch of the club. Even if everyone but the kicker is an imported player from the states.

Frankfurt, being in the American military sector in the Cold War, has some of the most exposure to American popular culture. Therefore, its dominant team, Eintracht Frankfurt, gets an American football franchise. Of course, one quirk of the German 50+1 structure that ensures (nominal) control over a club by its members means that it and other German entries to the NFL would theoretically have a similar organization as the Green Bay Packers.

Silly? But that’s what AH is for. And besides, their team emblem looks like it’d fit perfectly on an American football helmet.

Congratulations Astros

Last night, the Houston Astros won the World Series. I feel especially happy because…

  • It gives manager Dusty Baker a long-deserved World Series championship.
  • It’s a bit of schnaudenfreude for the firebreathers who mocked them for the 2017 scandal, which in my eyes was blown out of proportion purely because they beat the Yankees and Dodgers. If they’d beaten the Twins and Diamondbacks, no one would care. (Should we revoke the titles of any team who had a spitballer/steroid user on them?)
  • They beat the Phillies, my least favorite team in baseball even without Bryce Harper.


Operation Causeway

Operation Causeway was a proposed plan by the US military in World War II to land on Taiwan. It would have been a massive high risk, high cost, and high reward operation. In actual history, Causeway was shelved in favor of landing in Luzon.

The initial landing sites for Causeway would be in the south.

The Causeway documents are useful not just as an alternate historical reference, but also as a general guide to what a large amphibious invasion of Taiwan would entail (something that, for some mysterious reason, has remained relevant postwar).

The Bullpups

First, a description of what a “bullpup” rifle is: The firing chamber/action/magazine is located behind the trigger instead of in front of it. There have been numerous bullpup designs, and they came into a fad in the 1980s. Of course, this brought up the biggest issue with them.

Basically, it’s easy to make a bullpup simply by flipping around a conventional rifle. However, that doesn’t make for a good bullpup the way a ground-up design does. However again, rifles are such a small part of (especially high-intensity) war that the decision to make a big investment in them is not made lightly. However however again, the impetus for bullpups was basically “they need to be short so they can fit in vehicles more easily”, with performance being less of a concern.

Of course, shorter-barreled conventional rifles took most of the wind out of the bullpup’s sails. But they continue to be used. They just haven’t dominated.

The Boss Baby Effect

There’s an internet meme I think is surprisingly profound. This is the “Boss Baby” meme:

I’ve seen the “Boss Baby Vibes” effect in many an insular fandom. It seemed annoying, until I realized that I had fallen for it too with my initial reviews of Fuldapocalyptic fiction. Reading Red Storm Rising and third-tier knockoffs of that first had massively skewed my perception of that subgenre in particular and cheap thrillers in general.

So now I can sympathize with people who are just comparing what they see to what they know.

The Asian Sportsbook

Finally got the chance to hear about the peculiarities of Asian sportsbooks in an old podcast by betting hand Matthew Trenhaile. Of course it comes a year after I wrote an Asian megabook as if it was a western-facing post-up (you deposit money in the book instead of operating on credit) one in The Sure Bet King. Anyway, the entire segment is great and I recommend you listen to it.

Asian sportsbooks have had (note the past tense) a reputation for being “sharp”, ie taking bets unquestioned with huge limits. But as the podcast notes, it’s wrong to compare them to the western-facing “sharp books” (Circa Sports / Pinnacle /BetCRIS). The short version for their “balancing act” is simple:

  • A complex “agent system” that evolved from technological constraints and also legal ones.
  • More importantly,a gargantuan pool of recreational money (at least in soccer) and the ability to, for lack of a better word, “dilute” the sharp money across it.

The podcast, recorded in 2018, mentioned this system declining already. Limits were being noticeably reduced, especially for lower-tier leagues. The wider adoption of the internet makes the tangled agent pyramid less and less necessary. Since then, everything I’ve seen has indicated this trend becoming more pronounced.

It’s a fascinating look at an extremely important but murky even by sports betting standards component.

How Big Would The Mobile Forces Have Been?

The GENFORCE concept featured an eastern OPFOR divided into legacy “Basic” and more advanced, mixed, “Mobile” forces. Yet how many formations of the latter would plausibly exist in a nation the size of the USSR?

I found a possible answer in a 1985 CIA analysis called “Trends And Developments in Warsaw Pact Theater Forces, 1985-2000” (a great source for a continued Cold War in its own right). The mobile combined arms corps, effectively a big division, is mentioned.

Obviously assuming a surviving USSR and Warsaw Pact, the document estimated that nine such corps would be ready by 2000. Three of these would be in the western theater, two in the southwestern, and one on in the northwest. Two would be in the Far East and one in the south/middle east.

180,000 personnel would be needed from a napkin calc of corps numbers x paper strength of each corps. It’s actually closer to the actual number than most because existing tail assets could be used to support them. However, there will be undoubtedly more people than that necessary, especially to have them achieve their full potential.

The problem isn’t getting that many soldiers. It’s getting that many good soldiers, especially because these mobile corps are specifically designed to be better and more complex tactically than previous line formations. And because they have to compete with the airborne and naval infantry for the best inductees.

Interestingly, the document itself also mentions the possibility of the tank divergences continuing, with the basic forces (word choice deliberate) getting a less exotic model and the mobile corps getting a more out-there one. This would also coincidentally make two bureaus/plants very happy instead of one, so I can see it happening.

It’s an interesting document in any case.

Escape From The Facility

My current People Playground mod-enabled obsession is the “Facility Escape”. The background for this RP is simple: A character from another setting is trapped in the mysterious mad science super-facility and has to try and escape, fighting their way past an army of workers, security contractors, androids, and who knows what else.

Characters from settings as distinct as Undertale and Hotline Miami have been placed in the playground. The (intentional) clumsiness of the human figures just, if anything adds to the fun. There’s nothing like jury-rigging an “epic” sword vs. chainsaw battle.

Characters who have “earned the privilege” of escaping have the final exit simulated by a black hole being created with them sucked in. This symbolizes a portal to their home setting (or somewhere else?) being activated.