by Kieran Healy on July 4, 2007

Via “Engadget”:http://www.engadget.com/2007/07/04/steorns-orbo-free-energy-machine-demonstrated-tomorrow/ comes news that “Steorn”:http://www.steorn.com/ are back with an allegedly working demonstration of their magnetic “free energy” (i.e., perpetual motion) machine, the “Orbo”:http://www.steorn.com/orbo/. You may remember them from “last year”:https://crookedtimber.org/2006/08/22/free-lunch-and-irish-breakfast/. As before, the reading on the kookometer is over in the red, as the device is being pitched directly to the media, the demo is taking place as a show at an “art museum”:http://www.kinetica-museum.org/new_site/, and some convoluted jury system “challenge” is in place to validate it. The smart money, I believe, is of the view that Steorn — if they’re not just charlatans — have honestly reinvented some version of the magnetic motor, a mainstay of perpetual motion cranks.

Smooth Operations

by Kieran Healy on July 4, 2007

Via “Matt Yglesias”:http://matthewyglesias.theatlantic.com/archives/2007/07/a_surge_of_kagans.php comes the latest family full-court press from “the Kagans”:http://www.weeklystandard.com/Content/Public/Articles/000/000/013/818pmqsq.asp, who get to author policy and neutrally report on it at the same time:

bq. The new strategy for Iraq has entered its second phase. Now that all of the additional combat forces have arrived in theater, Generals David Petraeus and Ray Odierno have begun Operation Phantom Thunder, a vast and complex effort to disrupt al Qaeda and Shiite militia bases all around Baghdad in advance of the major clear-and-hold operations that will follow. The deployment of forces and preparations for this operation have gone better than expected, and Phantom Thunder is so far proceeding very well.

I saw Kagan on TV for the first time recently in that “Frontline Documentary”:http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/endgame/interviews/kagan.html on Iraq. My immediate impression was that he looked like just the sort of tabletop war nerd who had whiled away many happy hours as a child thinking up names like “Operation Phantom Thunder,” and who had managed to parlay this into a career. This was confirmed by what he said when asked about his participation in a Camp David meeting with Bush and his advisers:

Was it the first time you’d been to Camp David?
Oh, yeah, sure. … It was a very cool experience. They flew [us] up on a Chinook from Fort McNair, which is also a cool experience, to fly along the Potomac like that. It’s a beautiful place, and it was quite a good setting, I think.

What fun. Still, “Phantom Thunder”? Looks like we’re running out of tough-sounding modifiers for the word “Thunder.” We’ve had “Blue Thunder”:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blue_Thunder and before that there was “Operation Rolling Thunder”:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation_Rolling_Thunder, which sounds better than “Operation Bombing Vietnam To No Real Purpose.” “Phantom Thunder” clearly isn’t one of the classics. Let’s see … “Operation Flash of Thunder”? “Operation Thundercats”? “Operation Grabpot Thundergust”?