Bumper sticker seen on a stealth bomber:
"If you can read this, then we wasted 50 billion bucks."
My wife and I had just finished tucking our five young ones into bed one
evening when we heard sobbing coming from three- year-old Billy's room.
Rushing to his side, we found him crying hysterically. He had accidentally
swallowed a penny and was sure he was going to die. No amount of talking
could change his mind.
Desperate to calm him, my wife palmed a penny that she happened to have
in her pocket and pretended to pull it from Billy's ear. Billy was
delighted. In a flash, he snatched it from my wife's hand, swallowed it
and demanded cheerfully, "Do it again, mum!"
This is supposedly a true story from a recent Defence Science Lectures
Series, as related by the head of the Australian DSTO's Land Operations /
Simulation division. They've been working on some really nifty
virtual reality simulators, the case in point being to incorporate Armed
Reconnaissance Helicopters into exercises (from the data fusion point of
Most of the people they employ on this sort of thing are ex- (or future)
computer game programmers. Anyway, as part of the reality parameters,
they include things like trees and animals.
For the Australian simulation they included kangaroos. In particular,
they had to model kangaroo movements and reactions to helicopters (since
hordes of disturbed kangaroos might well give away a helicopter's
Being good programmers, they just stole some code (which was originally
used to model infantry detachments reactions under the same stimuli), and
changed the mapped icon, the speed parameters, etc.
The first time they went to demonstrate this to some visiting Americans,
the hotshot pilots have decided to get "down and dirty" with the virtual
kangaroos. So, they buzz them, and watch them scatter. The visiting
Americans nod appreciatively...then gape as the kangaroos duck around a
hill, and launch about two dozen Stinger missiles at the hapless
Programmers look rather embarrassed at forgetting to remove that part of
the infantry coding...and Americans leave muttering comments about not
wanting to mess with the Aussie wildlife! As an addendum, simulator
pilots from that point onwards avoided kangaroos like the plague, just
like they were meant to do in the first place.
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