Going To The Bowl Game

Everyone with a Y chromosome in the Bubblehead family is off to watch the world-famous MPC Computers Bowl here in Boise tonight. Because my sons appreciate absurdity as much as I do, we're going dressed as Nebraska fans to a game between Nevada and Miami, Fla.

While 26,000 tickets have been sold to the game (the stadium holds just over 30K) I'm not sure how many people will actually be there -- I think most of the tickets were sold to Boise St. season ticket holders as part of their initial ticket purchase, before BSU went undefeated and got a bid to the Fiesta Bowl. If there aren't many people there, we probably have a good shot at getting on TV. Look for the idiots holding up the Nebraska flag.

Update 1428 01 Jan 07: The game was a lot of fun; the stadium was about 3/4 full, and we were 16 rows up from the field, so we weren't able to attract any TV attention I could see. As for the game itself, it proved once again that you should never go for 2 before the 4th quarter; Nevada scored early in the 2nd quarter to go up 8-7 (they scored on a safety earlier) and missed the two-point conversion try that would have put them up by 3. They ended up losing 21-20 -- that extra point would have been very useful at the end.

As far as today's Nebraska-Auburn game, it was the 2nd game in a row the "Wet Toast" offense that Nebraska Athletic Director Satan forced on the 'Huskers failed to score in the 2nd half. The good thing is that we're heading in the right direction; in our loss to Oklahoma in our last game, we passed 50 times and scored 7 points. Today, we passed 26 times and scored 14 points. I see a trend here -- maybe if we'd passed 13 times we'd have scored 28 points; 6 passes = 56 points. (The math kind of breaks down after that.) Still, I bet we didn't pass anywhere near 26 times the last time we played Auburn (a 41-7 win in 1982). Satan sucks.

Update 2308 01 Jan: Well, the BSU-Oklahoma game was exciting, to say the least. After OU tied the score at 28 with a 2-point conversion with about 1 1/2 minutes left, and then took the lead on an interception return for a TD with just over a minute left, I figured that BSU had suffered a hard-fought loss. But then a hook-and-ladder on 4th and 18 in the closing seconds tied it, and a 2 point conversion on a Statue of Liberty play (after a 4th down halfback pass for a TD) won the game for Boise St. 43-42. Of course, since I've spent the last month explaining to all the BSU fans I know how Boise St. didn't stand a chance to win, I expect much (well deserved) abuse at work tomorrow.

Eugenics Wars

Two interesting news items today, whose juxtaposition reveals a disturbing double standard, and highlights the ongoing politically-correct brainwashing of society.

Without arguing the particular merits of either position, I am simply showing the difference created by one group having a well-established vocal media campaign, and the other one lacking it.

First up:
Science told: hands off gay sheep
Isabel Oakeshott and Chris Gourlay

Experiments that claim to ‘cure’ homosexual rams spark anger

SCIENTISTS are conducting experiments to change the sexuality of “gay” sheep in a programme that critics fear could pave the way for breeding out homosexuality in humans.

The technique being developed by American researchers adjusts the hormonal balance in the brains of homosexual rams so that they are more inclined to mate with ewes.

It raises the prospect that pregnant women could one day be offered a treatment to reduce or eliminate the chance that their offspring will be homosexual. Experts say that, in theory, the “straightening” procedure on humans could be as simple as a hormone supplement for mothers-to-be, worn on the skin like an anti-smoking nicotine patch.

The research, at Oregon State University in the city of Corvallis and at the Oregon Health and Science University in Portland, has caused an outcry. Martina Navratilova, the lesbian tennis player who won Wimbledon nine times, and scientists and gay rights campaigners in Britain have called for the project to be abandoned.

Navratilova defended the “right” of sheep to be gay. She said: “How can it be that in the year 2006 a major university would host such homophobic and cruel experiments?” She said gay men and lesbians would be “deeply offended” by the social implications of the tests.
Note that nobody is suggesting, oh, aborting homosexually-inclined fetuses. This is a potential neo-natal cure. To even desire a straight child however is apparently homophobic and evil.
Professor Charles Roselli, the Health and Science University biologist leading the research, defended the project.

He said: “In general, sexuality has been under-studied because of political concerns. People don’t want science looking into what determines sexuality.

“It’s a touchy issue. In fact, several studies have shown that people who believe homosexuality is biologically based are less homophobic than people who think that this orientation is acquired.”
Doesn't matter, Professor. The gay lobby wants to shut down free scientific inquiry.

Interesting it's the same types of people who still, to this day, chastise the Catholic church for being uncomfortable with Galileo's astronomical research hundreds of years ago -- and for which it has apologized -- who are calling for their own stifling of Science.

Oh, but they have a good reason, you see!

Because curing hormonal imbalances is the same as Nazi eugenics!
Peter Tatchell, the gay rights campaigner, said: “These experiments echo Nazi research in the early 1940s which aimed at eradicating homosexuality. They stink of eugenics. There is a danger that extreme homophobic regimes may try to use these experimental results to change the orientation of gay people.”

He said that the techniques being developed in sheep could in future allow parents to “play God”.
Never mind that the Nazis were killing off the "undesirables" rather than curing them.

Look at the propaganda machine that instantly cranks up! In addition to hysterical professional gay-rights activists, we also have University professors and non-governmental organizations joining this circus of condemnation:
Udo Schuklenk, Professor of Bioethics at Glasgow Caledonian University, who has written to the researchers pressing them to stop, said:
“Imagine this technology in the hands of Iran, for example.

“It is typical of the US to ignore the global context in which this is taking place.”

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, the pressure group, condemned the study as “a needless slaughter of animals, an affront to human dignity and a colossal waste of precious research funds”.
Ok, that's all pretty much to be expected.

Now, contrast with this rather blandly-reported item, also from today:
Group recommends Down syndrome testing

WASHINGTON - There's a big change coming for pregnant women: Down syndrome testing no longer hinges on whether they're older or younger than 35. This week, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists begins recommending that every pregnant woman, regardless of age, be offered a choice of tests for this common birth defect.

The main reason: Tests far less invasive than the long-used amniocentesis are now widely available, some that can tell in the first trimester the risk of a fetus having Down syndrome or other chromosomal defects.
This is presented as entirely uncontroversial. It is merely a sober medical pronouncement in a respected medical journal, as Science marches on to make modern life easier.

The completely unspoken assumption is that first-trimester detection makes abortion easier, if that is what the family wants.

It is so taken as matter-of-fact that the article just breezes on by the issue:
It's not just a question of whether to continue the pregnancy. Prenatal diagnosis also is important for those who wouldn't consider abortion, because babies with Down syndrome can need specialized care at delivery that affects hospital selection, he added.
Why no, it's not just that at all! They feel they have to remind people that there may be other reasons!

Not a peep about Eugenics or Nazis in this article.

Whether such comparisons would or would not be appropriate is not my point.

My point is that if the second article is taken as rationally presented, then the first article -- where the procedure (if it even works on humans!) is a simple cure and NOT abortion -- is from some strange Bizarro World.

On the other hand, if you take the first article as reasonable and rational, then the second one should logically be making anti-eugenics advocates apoplectic.

Clearly, there's just no active lobby for Down's syndrome sufferers. The first article isn't really about eugenics, it's about the gay lobby losing power if there are fewer gay people, whether or not they can have the ability to live more normal lives.

You'd think these critics would like the notion of "choice" in the matter, they use that as their rallying cry in so much else.

Ha, you thought they really supported "choice" for women? Well, here's a choice the Left doesn't want women to make!

Chew on that hypocrisy for a while. In fact, that's not surprising, as the whole left-wing radical agenda does not rest on a logical foundation, unlike that of the Right. It's really just a grab-bag of grievances to hold together a coalition of special interests for political power, and not a coherent philosophy.

Remember, the cure doesn't even exist yet for people, but a media machine is cranking up to keep us from even researching it or talking about it, spewing anger and invective.

Just scream Homophobe! Racist! Nazi!

That's how the radical Left totalitarian operates, whether their religion is islam or atheism.

Get your group defined as a recognized Victim of Cruel Society, then demand privileges and money as reparations.


Fallen MSP Sailors Named

According to the BBC, the Navy has released the names of the two Submariners who were tragically lost off the USS Minneapolis-St. Paul on Friday:
The dead men were named as Senior Chief Thomas Higgins, 45, of Paducah, Kentucky, and Petty Officer 2nd Class Michael Holtz, 30, of Lakewood, Ohio.
The US Navy said in a statement on Sunday that the cause of the accident remained under investigation.
Sailors, Rest Your Oars...

Update 0650 31 Dec: According to the CSG-2 web page, ETCS(SS) Thomas Higgins was the MSP's Chief of the Boat. This makes the incident even more tragic -- now the crew will have to cope with the sense of loss they feel without a man who I'm sure was a mentor to all.

Update 0818 31 Dec: Here's the Navy NewsStand article, confirming what the BBC story said.

Update 1421 01 Jan 07: Here's a story from the Norfolk paper that gives some personal background on the two fallen Submariners, including the information that Petty Officer Holtz was a Sonar Tech. (Unfortunately, you'll have to work your way around the portions of the story that demonstrate the reporter's unfamiliarity with the military -- I'm assuming their regular military reporter is on vacation.)

Sometimes We Forget How Dangerous Submarining Really Is

Sixth Fleet HQ has announced the death of two submariners from the USS Minneapolis-St. Paul (SSN 708), who were washed overboard with two other shipmates during a port egress today from Plymouth, England. From a CNN article on the accident:
Authorities received a request for help just before 1 p.m. near the large concrete breakwater barrier that protects Plymouth harbor. The British coast guard dispatched a search and rescue helicopter and a lifeboat to the scene, but police had already plucked the sailors from the water.
Sean Brooks, a coast guard officer, said that rescuers initially only saw two sailors tied to the vessel's hull with ropes.
"Because of the violent weather, they were frequently plunged below the waves," he said. "It then transpired that there were already two other guys in the water."...
...Servello, the Navy spokesman, said the submarine had just completed a weeklong layover in Plymouth and was heading out to sea for routine duties.
Winds gusts reached 47 mph and there were light rains, Britain's Meteorological Office said.
Provan, the police spokesman, said the submarine continued on its journey, but would be returning to Plymouth harbor on Saturday, once the weather and tides become more favorable.
Minneapolis-St. Paul is currently about midway through a routine deployment; she left at the beginning of October, nominally as part of the Eisenhower CSG:

Working topside in rough weather is one of the most dangerous things submariners do, and one of the things we practice least frequently. From the sounds of it, all Sailors involved were wearing their safety harnesses; from the early reports, it sounds like they may have been rigging topside for dive (as PigBoatSailor suggests over at Ultraquiet No More). I've seen cases before where, in order to more easily reach cleats and vent covers a good distance from the safety harness track on the towed array fairing, Sailors working topside have disconnected from their deck traveller and hooked onto a buddy who was attached to the safety track. (I have no idea if that was the case this time.) Right now, our thoughts are with the families and shipmates of the fallen Sailors.

The Sub Report has many more stories on this tragedy, including this report from a Norfolk-area newspaper.

Staying at PD...

Update 0640 31 Dec: The names of the Sailors who gave their lives have been released.


As happens once in a while, last Friday (Dec. 22) this humble blog had an "instalanche" of 450 visitors, which is about ten times the usual amount. There was a secondary blip on Sunday.

That usually indicates someone up the foodchain put a link to here -- sometimes as an actual blog posting, or sometimes simply in a comment by a reader at a larger blog.

I didn't notice this until it was too late to find out where the traffic was coming from, as the free counter stats only save that info from the last 100 visitors and there were no obvious stragglers coming in by mid-week when I tried to check.

So if anyone is coming back here after having been directed by a link last weekend, please let me know where it was, as I am interested. Or if you were the linker and are still reading, drop me a line or leave a comment here please.

Sometimes links happen from hostile lefty blogs, but there were no nasty comments left so it probably wasn't from one of those this time.

In addition to my small core of regular readers, I've noticed I'm getting more and more traffic from random google searches. Certain search terms are very popular in driving people to this blog.

One of the top ones is probably "eating roadkill" if you can believe it! That posting mocking the practice gets lot of traffic from people presumably interested in doing it, as there is a continual trickle of outraged comments condemning me and Western civilization left at that article.

The "Rangers at Pointe du Hoc" is also common, as is "Laser gunship."

Next are "M1 Garand," "Grand Strategy," "Electoral College," and "Immodest Proposal."

I sometimes get hits from people searching for the "Alexander Method" but they're likely looking for the exercise system, not the "untieable knot" which also does come up in searches from time to time.

Thanks all for reading!

Mk 48 Torpedo Pr0n

We've all seen the photos of HMAS Torrens (DE 53) being "blowed up" by a Mk 48 torpedo fired by HMAS Farncomb (SSG 74), but have you ever seen the video of the shot? I hadn't ever remembered finding it before in the public domain, but I have now; here it is:

Totally sweet...


Item: The earthquake off Taiwan damaged several submarine telecommunications cables, severely disrupting Internet service for much of Asia.

Item: When I checked my G-mail account tonight, I had about 2/3 less spam than I normally get while I'm at work.


Submarine 2006 Year In Review Photos

Eric from The Sub Report put together a great video presentation of the "Year in Pictures" for the Submarine Force. It's posted over at our group submarine blog Ultraquiet No More. I'll still be here when you get back.

Update 2202 27 Dec: Now that you're back, check out this tribute to fallen USS San Francisco hero MM2(SS) Joseph Ashley by Ohio Sen. Mark DeWine, posted at Rontini's BBS by Petty Officer Ashley's father. (Because I don't know how long Rontini is keeping old posts in his archive now, here's the link to the Congressional Record that has Sen. DeWine's tribute.)

And while you're at Rontini's, check out this kinda sad thread with pictures of submarines awaiting "disposition" up in Washington (and some in the Ukraine, which aren't as sad). Here's one of the pictures of the American boats:

The poster at Rontini's says that some of them appear to be old boomers with the missile compartments removed and the hulls welded back together. (They're the ones with the raised areas around the sail that abruptly stop.)

President Ford Passes

President Gerald R. Ford passed away today, according to CNN and early news accounts. He was the 4th of five consecutive Presidents with a naval background; during WWII, he served on the light carrier USS Monterey (CVL-26).

Sailor, rest your oar.

Update 2227 26 Dec: Here are some more pictures from President Ford's naval service. I think more than any other, this quote from his library's home page shows why Gerald Ford was the right man to be President in the tumultuous mid-'70s, and why he was the epitome of a "public servant":
I have not sought this enormous responsibility, but I will not shirk it. Those who nominated and confirmed me as Vice President were my friends and are my friends. They were of both parties, elected by all the people and acting under the Constitution in their name. It is only fitting then that I should pledge to them and to you that I will be the President of all the people.
Update 0810 27 Dec: Michelle Malkin has a very good round-up of links on President Ford. On the other side of the 'sphere, the DUers were all proud of themselves last night for how respectful they were being. This morning, not so much. (And for those who were wondering after reading that last link -- no, President Ford did not pardon Dick Cheney or Donald Rumsfeld, despite "matcom" 's claim to the contrary.)

Update 2210 27 Dec: Here's the Navy NewsStand story on President Ford's death.

USS Louisville TLAM Launch Video

It looks like someone took some video of the crew of the USS Louisville (SSN 724) during their Tomahawk launches for OIF and put it up as a music video on YouTube; it's pretty good:

Off topic (but not really worthy of a full post), I got a good Christmas present from my readers -- a visitor from EagleSpeak yesterday afternoon was this blog's 300,000th visitor. For future submarine blog historians, it took me 13 months to get 100,000 visitors, 8 1/2 months more to get up to 200,000, and 6 additional months to get up to 300,000. Thanks to everyone who stops by.

Merry Christmas

From my family to yours...

Canadian Forces in Afghanistan

Some videos of holiday cheer:

Dawn Raid on Taliban compound

Turning the tables on an ambush


Santa's On His Way!

Check out NORAD Tracks Santa to see where he's at now! (I'm excited because he normally visits a submarine on his trip around the world.)

Update 1803 24 Dec: Here's a direct link to the video of Santa's visit to a boomer off the Azores. If that link doesn't work for you, you can reach it through this link and going to the "Atlantic Ocean, Azores" section.

Submarine Blogger In The News

Eric from The Sub Report got written up (in a good way) in the Florida Today for his outstanding web site. Excerpts:
A knack for news and Internet research, as well as a background in the Navy, prompted a local man to design a Web site for anyone interested in submarine news from around the world.
A former missile technician and missile-test launch supervisor, Eric Ryle was in the Navy until 1998...
...“The submarine community is small so there’s a real brotherhood,” Ryle said. “I saw there were a lot of military bloggers, but not a lot of submarine bloggers, so I started a Drudge-like web site where I have links to submarine news. The news comes mainly from the United States, but I’m also able to find links from foreign sites.”
Ryle adds between five and 30 posts a day, depending on what he can find. While a large majority of the news are from home, he often finds news from Russia, Japan, England, Australia, Germany and Spain.
It's a pretty good article, notwithstanding the omission of the websites name or URL. Congratulations, Eric!

USS Boise At The North Pole

Today's Idaho Statesman had a picture of the CO of USS Boise (SSN 764) showing support for the Boise State Broncos recently at the North Pole. It was provided by the chairman of the USS Boise Committee, who was kind enough to send me a copy. Here it is:

As you can tell, this picture wasn't taken during the summer.

At this point, I should address a question that some readers have been asking -- how do I think Boise St. is going to do in the Fiesta Bowl against Oklahoma? As someone who comes from Big XII country, I agree with this Oklahoma coach's analysis:

"If you look over the long haul, teams like (Boise State) maybe couldn't last week in and week out against the top teams," said offensive coordinator Kevin Wilson, who spent nine years at Miami (Ohio). "But in a one-shot deal, they're plenty fast, plenty strong, physical enough to contend with any team in the country."
If I had to guess, I'd say that Oklahoma would beat Boise St. 9 out of 10 times -- especially with RB Adrian Peterson returning to the lineup. Boise State has a lot of heart, and have done their best in the "big games" this season. That being said, I think it's most likely going to end up like the last time the Broncos took on a top team from a top conference -- last year, when Georgia beat BSU by 5 touchdowns. This game will probably be a little closer, though -- something like OU 45, BSU 24 (with BSU scoring a couple of TDs late). On the other hand, if BSU can get off to a good start and get up 10 or 14 points in the 1st quarter, they can make a game of it.
I just think they won't.

More On The "Carrier Surge"

I posted earlier this week on the media reports of an incipent "naval build-up" in the Persian Gulf, and dismissed them as a standard MSM failure to understand normal naval deployment patterns. Based on reports that came out today from the New York Times and Navy Times, though, it looks like my initial reaction was wrong -- this might be the real thing. (Please note that by "real thing" I mean that we're probably going to plus-up the Allied naval force in the Fifth Fleet AOR over at least the short term; it most emphatically does not mean that we're about to attack Iran, despite the recent brayings of various moonbats. Leaving aside the political unlikelihood of successfully opening a new front in the War on Terror without Congressional authorization, there hasn't been any indication of other military precursors you'd see if we were about to attack someone new.)

What made me change my mind? Well, here's an excerpt from the Navy Times article:
The Bremerton, Wash.-based Stennis, Carrier Air Wing 9 and the rest of the strike group have completed pre-deployment training and were scheduled to deploy in late January, officials said. A Pentagon source said the deployment could be moved up several weeks.
If the group deploys early, it could be in the gulf within several weeks, allowing it to overlap there for as many as two months with the Norfolk, Va.-based Dwight D. Eisenhower CSG, which deployed Oct. 3 on a seven-month cruise. It entered the gulf Dec. 11, according to the 5th Fleet...
...A 5th Fleet spokesman confirmed that a “request for forces,” or RFF, has been sent to the Pentagon by U.S. Central Command.
“I’m aware that they’ve put out an RFF requesting strategic military assets to be moved to this region,” said Cmdr. Kevin Aandahl. He said additional ground forces had also been requested. He declined to comment on specific units.
People with staff experience will recognize the specific "code words" within the article that indicate that the sources for the story actually have a clue as to what's going on. For this reason, I've concluded that the Navy is trying to get the word out to the Iranians that we're about to move some more naval forces into the region -- probably just to remind them that we can.

I haven't been in the Gulf on an aircraft carrier (or any other ship, for that matter) since 2000, so things may have changed, but here's my quasi-knowledgable take on what's probably going to happen:

Trying to get a Carrier Strike Group underway early around the holidays is problematic at best. After a JTFEX, there are specific things that need to be done as far as maintenance and stores-loading that would be very expensive to make happen quicker. Coupled with having people out on holiday leave across the country (and knowing the morale problems that would be caused by cancelling the 2nd Holiday Leave period for anything short of an expanded war), my guess is that getting the Stennis Strike Group underway before the 2nd week in January would be fairly unlikely. When I was on the Stennis for their 2000 deployment, we left San Diego about January 7th, and did exercises and port visits in South Korea, Hong Kong, and Malaysia before getting to the 5th Fleet AOR at the end of February. If they were serious about getting to the Gulf and cut out any port calls, they could probably make it to the Pakistani coast (the easternmost part of the AOR) in about 4 weeks -- remember, it's a 10,000 nm voyage from Seattle to Karachi, which is 28 days at 15 knots. (I use this voyage calculator to come up with maritime distances, btw.) For those who think the nuclear-powered carrier could arrive sooner, yes, that's true -- but remember her escorts are conventionally-powered, and have to refuel a lot more frequently if they go much faster than that. So, unless they extend the Eisenhower or send a surge carrier to the AOR, the two month overlap they discuss in the article looks fairly realistic. Of course, to maintain that level of naval presence in the Gulf beyond the spring would require a complete reshuffling of the fleet-wide deployment schedule, which we normally do only when there's a hot war.

In summary, if we end up with four carriers in the AOR at the same time and the new Congressional leadership starts making noises about "dealing with" Tehran, then I'll start listening to the "we're about to bomb Iran" crowd -- not before.

Update 0136 22 Dec: Oh, and which submarine is assigned to the JCSSG, and might end up pulling the short straw? It looks like it's the USS Key West (SSN 722). Also of interest to submariners, the destroyer USS O'Kane (DDG 77), named for RADM Dick O'Kane, is also assigned to the Strike Group.

Update 0959 24 Dec: The "progressive" "press" is now claiming that the Stennis has already left. Apparently we're covering this up by use of holographic projections, since a reader in Bremerton confirmed yesterday afternoon that the Stennis was still sitting in port.

A New Search Engine

[Intel Source: Instapundit] Is Ms. Dewey the search engine of the future? I'm not sure -- there are a few interesting specific responses the actress playing Ms. Dewey gives to search requests, but I ran into repeats of the "stock" answers after only a few searches. Still, it's more fun than just typing stuff into Google...

Who Is The Oldest Submarine Veteran?

The Sub Report linked to an article today on Floyd Matthews, a 103-year-old submariner in Florida; there's also a quick video clip of the interview with him located here. From the article:
Once he got his sea legs on a cruiser and battleship, Matthews had enough of the surface and volunteered for a different kind of duty in 1923.
His graduation from submarine school later that year would enter him into a brotherhood of fellow submariners. Today, he is thought to be the second-oldest submariner in the U.S., Rubin said.
His time as a submariner would also involve him in landmark submarine escape experiments under the direction of Lt. Cmdr. Charles "Swede" Momsen, inventor of the Momsen lung, an underwater breathing device used in rescue operations.
Another Momsen invention, the "diving bell," saved the crew of the USS Squalus in May 1939, when their sub sank in 240 feet of water off Portsmouth, N.H. Matthews supported the rescue effort using the watertight chamber to bring trapped sailors to the surface.
Here's an article from the USSVI archives on Floyd's 100th birthday. Unforunately, none of the articles I found listed the subs on which Floyd served. I did a quick Google search, but wasn't able to find out who is the oldest U.S. submariner still alive. (The USSVI website has an article about a submariner, Capt. Arthur "Speed" Graubart, who had been their oldest member when he passed on in 2003.) Does anyone know if there's really a submariner out there older than Floyd Matthews?

There They Go Again

Once again, we see the national news media all googly-eyed over an upcoming "naval build-up in the Persian Gulf aimed at Iran" -- just like they were back in September. This new alarmism is based on a CBS News report last night (video here) claiming that we're going up to two aircraft carriers in the Gulf region next year. From the tone of the report, you'd think this is unprecedented -- except it happens about four times a year. That's because we keep one aircraft carrier in the Fifth Fleet AOR, and have "relief on station". Since there's half a world of transit time involved, a carrier can spend just a little over half of a six month deployment hanging around the Gulf (LANTFLT carriers can spend a little more time). It's like at the beginning of November when the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69) relieved USS Enterprise (CVN 65) -- for a brief moment, there were two carriers in the AOR. The same thing will happen again when another carrier, likely the USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74), which just did its JTFEX in November, deploys. There's normally a 1-2 month break between the end of JTFEX and deployment. If they deploy early in January, they'd arrive in the Gulf sometime in February -- exactly when they need to for the Eisenhower to be able to make it home in time! Of course, like they did before, don't expect the alarmists to acknowledge when the Eisenhower leaves. It wouldn't mesh with their preconceptions.

Update 2141 20 Dec: The Military Life blog at The Kitsap Sun picked up on the story as well; Over there, Elaine found an article at Bloomberg.com that makes a little more sense if one looks at it with the right perspective. From the article:
Pentagon officials are reviewing a request by the top U.S. commander for the Middle East for an additional aircraft carrier and escort vessels in the Persian Gulf area, three defense officials said.
The request by U.S. Central Command commander General John Abizaid is in the early review stages by the Joint Staff and Joint Forces Command that oversees the deployment and readiness of U.S. forces, the officials said. The request would then be forwarded to Defense Secretary Robert Gates, the officials said.
Abizaid's request wasn't aimed at any one country, said the three officials familiar with the request, who asked not to be identified. Instead, they said, Abizaid wants to boost U.S. presence in a region that's seen increased rhetoric and war exercises by Iran, heightened tensions between Somalia and Ethiopia and increased violence in Afghanistan.
The article goes on to discuss the Eisenhower and Stennis in terms of this deployment cycle, but reading between the lines, it looks like this might be a more long-term thing. This looks like CENTCOM might be looking for, rather than a one-time plus-up of the naval forces, an increase in the standing Fifth Fleet resource base. Without getting into too much detail, geographical area commanders put in requests for certain naval assets to the Joint Chiefs, and they get assigned a coverage level based on the yearly ship-years they'll have on station for each type. For example, based on the pattern we've been seeing where one carrier leaves as soon as its replacement arrives, it currently appears that Fifth Fleet has an assigned level of 1.0 aircraft carriers -- meaning that there will normally be one carrier on station at all times in the AOR. A level of 0.5 would mean you'd have six months of coverage every year, while 1.5 would mean you'd have one ship of that type on station half the year, and two for the other half (not necessarily consecutively). So, reading between the lines, I'd say this initiative from CENTCOM is a request to make the 1.0 number something bigger. These requests take a while to filter through the system (if you don't take away a resource from another area, such as PACOM, then it wreaks havoc with maintenance schedules), so it shouldn't cause any change in the short term schedule for either the Eisenhower or the Stennis.

Update 0130 22 Dec: I changed my mind; it looks like this probably will change the Stennis' schedule a little bit.

Naming The Next Aircraft Carrier

There's an interesting article in The Virginian-Pilot about the upcoming naming of CVN 78. This is an especially important decision because this carrier will be the lead ship of the post-Nimitz class of carriers; hence, the ship's name will be the class name as well. It seems that Senators Warner and Levin amended the 2007 Defense Authorization Bill to "direct" the Navy to name the carrier for President Gerald Ford (see Sect. 1013 on this page to see the wording of the amendment, in the SA 4211 section) -- although this was apparently changed to "encourage" before final passage. It seems that there's an organization who is extremely opposed to this; they want the CVN 78 to be USS America. Some excerpts from the top-linked article:
An 1819 act of Congress gives the s ecretary of the Navy responsibility for choosing ship names, a prerogative he still exercises, according to the Naval Historical Center's Web site.
Sens. John Warner, R-Va., and Carl Levin, D-Mich., amended the 2007 defense bill to encourage the Navy to name the next carrier after Ford, who served in the Navy during World War II and grew up in Michigan.
"At least we were able to get the wording changed in the amendment from being a mandate to a recommendation," Waite said.
Warner is the outgoing chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee. Levin is the incoming chairman.
The article goes on to talk a little about the recent naming of submarines:
Efforts to sway the Navy secretary to name a ship after a city, a hero or a famous person are not new, said Defense Department spokesman Kevin Wensing. When residents of New Mexico asked that a ship be named for their state, more than 20,000 signed petitions, he said.
"We said, OK, enough, we get it," Wensing said. In December 2004, then-Navy Secretary Gordon England named the sixth ship of the Virginia-class of nuclear-powered submarines the New Mexico.
Wensing would not disclose other names being suggested for CVN 78.
He did say, however, that the ship-naming process is so varied that it doesn't always follow any reason. For example, the three submarines in the Seawolf class are named Seawolf, Connecticut and Jimmy Carter, Wensing said.
"So they are named after a seawolf, whatever that is, a state and a former president. Go figure."
Ignoring for a moment the apparent fact that a DoD spokesman doesn't know that a seawolf is a fish, I find myself agreeing with the traditionalists. While I admire President Ford (one of the five consecutive Navy veteran Presidents we had between 1961 and 1980), I'm not sure if an entire class of carriers should be named after him. On the other hand, "America" doesn't have the most distinguished lineage of U.S. Navy ship names -- it's not bad, it's just not the best. If they do change Congress' mind and allow the SecNav to name the ship America, they'll hopefully continue naming the class for famous ships in American history. If they do, the 2nd ship of the class will absolutely have to carry what is arguably the most storied name in the U.S. Navy, that will otherwise go unused after about 2015: USS Enterprise. To lose that name from the fleet would be criminal. (Note: This topic was also covered at WizBang! back in June.)

It's An Honor Just To Be Nominated

The results are final for the 2006 Weblog Awards, and there was no change in the results in the highly prestigious "Best of the Top 2501-3500 Blogs" category -- meaning, I finished a very respectable 2nd place. I really can't let this opportunity go by without thanking everyone who helped me do so well -- and also made the whole week a lot of fun.

First and foremost, I wanted to thank everyone who voted for me so diligently and so often. Special thanks goes to Eric at The Sub Report Blog and Alan at IdaBlue who took it on themselves to come up with posts for the "U-Boating of Bubblehead" meme. Thanks also to everyone who "endorsed" my campaign: Ninme, Blackfive, Adam's Blog, Red State Rebels, Noonz Wire, SubSim.com, EagleSpeak, BurstBlog, Huckleberries Online (Idaho's biggest blog) and several others I probably missed. Thanks also to my fellow nominees, who showed amazingly good humor about their portrayals in my "completely impartial Voters Guide". Last but not least, many thanks to my campaign manager, without whose help I'm sure I wouldn't have done as well as I did in the vital teenage on-line strategy gaming community. (That's actually the one good thing about me losing; there may have been some rash words implying that I might come up with a PlayStation 3 for Christmas if I won, and I really don't have any leads on one that costs less than an arm and a leg.)

While it's fresh in my mind, here are some lessons learned I came up with that might help anyone who wants to try to win one of these awards next year -- especially someone looking for an excuse to get to Las Vegas, since that's where they're going to be presenting the 2007 Weblog Awards there next November.

1) Don't be afraid to nominate yourself; I did. On the other hand, it probably didn't hurt that two other people also nominated me. Ask you friends to help you out.

2) The Denizens of Castle Argghhh!!! pointed out that I got more votes than all but two of the blogs up for the Best MilBlog award, even though that's a much more popular category. The lesson learned here is that unless your blog is really, really good (like the nominees for Best MilBlog, and unlike TSSBP), try to avoid the "theme" categories, and go for the Ecosystem ones. There's less chance of fratricide there (two blogs from the same blogging community going against each other), although we did see that with CDR Salamander and EagleSpeak in the 3501-5000 category).

3) The folks at Wizbang who run the awards do check for cheating; while it's possible to clear the cookies and whatnot that they use to prevent you from voting more than every 24 hours from the same computer, they still seem to be able to figure that out eventually. Since they say they don't necessarily disqualify excessive votes from the same IP address, they must use something peculiar to each computer, like Flash serial number. Therefore, if you have a kid in high school with access to lots of Internet-connected computers, you shouldn't be afraid to get him (or her) to have their buddies vote for you in their computer apps class. My campaign manager will have to remember that for next year.

4) At least in the lower Ecosystem categories, total votes seemed to be pretty much proportional to daily site visits -- you just didn't see the several dozen hit/day blogs beating the several hundred hit/day ones. While endorsements from the big bloggers are nice, I didn't notice a big spike even after a huge event like Blackfive's endorsement of me. Basically, pin a reminder to the top of your page, and your regular readers will vote. Everything else is gravy. (On the other hand, if your company lets you send a mass E-mail to every employee, that wouldn't hurt either -- which is how I suspect mAss Backwards probably got his big vote surges the last two afternoons.)

5) Most importantly, have fun. Interact with your fellow nominees. Question their ancestry. Accuse them of pulchritude. Anything for a laugh.

6) Always remember to prepare for next year. A good way to start is getting all your friends to permalink anyone who beat you last year, so they'll move up in the Ecosystem and out of your category. I hope to see mAss Backwards on every submarine blogger's blogroll soon.

Eagle1 On Radar Picket Submarines

Eagle1 has a good piece on the history of radar picket ships; there's quite a bit about the submarine version towards the bottom of his post. One of his resources is this excellent article from an old Undersea Warfare magazine. An example of one of the post-war radar picket conversion submarines is USS Tigrone (SSR 419):

You can find more on the Tigrone here.

The Staffer's Lament

[Stolen from CDR Salamander] This Broadside cartoon, better than any single item I've ever seen, describes the frustrations of being an officer on a major staff:

You can get the same feeling of futility from the Staffer's Hard Sayings Log, but it takes a lot longer to read. I remember being at CENTCOM sometimes and wondering why I was stuck doing such stupid stuff -- after all, I'd been the Engineer on two Seawolf-class submarines! Then, I realized that I basically had control over the administration of $540 million in coalition support funds and no real procedures in place to tell me what to do with them, so I could pretty much make it up as I went along, and I'd feel better. Then one of my Marine bosses would scream "Stay in your lane!" for the tenth time that day at some poor staffer, and I'd feel worse again. Then I'd get sent on another TAD trip to Warsaw...

WWII Lost Subs On Google Earth

If you haven't downloaded Google Earth yet (you can get it free here) here's another reason to do so. A reader let me know that a submariner in the Google Earth community, Chief_Sparky, has loaded the location of the 52 U.S. submarines on Eternal Patrol from WWII into the database. Here's what Sparky says about what he did:

The 52 Placemarks contained in this tour represent the best the United States Navy had to offer in defense of the USA during WWII. Positions of the sinkings are as accurate as possible, but some error is inevitable. Many of the locations were determined after the war by piecing together various Japanese ship, aircraft & station records.
Each Placemark contains photos and information about each boat, along with a crew list of those lost. I hope I've done my Brothers of the Dolphin the justice and honor that they deserve.
Here's a screenshot I took of northern Japan for an altitude of about 1000nm; you can see the resting places of 8 boats in this picture (marked with an arrow that I added):

The positions mark the presumed final resting place of, from left to right (or south to north in this picture, where west is on top): USS Scamp, USS Bonesfish, USS Golet, USS Albacore, USS Pickerel, USS Runner, USS Wahoo, and USS Pompano. You can read more about each boat over at the CSP "Lost WWII Subs" site.

To see some of the yellow-and-white "i" placemarks representing the lost boats, I found you had to drop down to a fairly "low" altitude (something like 200nm is the lowest I found). You also need to make sure "Geographic Web" is selected on the left menu.

Overall, it's a fascinating way to spend an evening, and it gives one a better idea of the immensity of the battle our submariners fought in WWII.

I'm A Cultural Neanderthal

I admit it -- I'm not evolving into a 21st century man very gracefully. Most of my wife's family went to see The Pursuit of Happyness tonight; I stayed home and baby-sat a nephew who was too young to go. I'd seen enough previews of the movie to know that it featured an Oscar-worthy performance in a story of an underdog who overcomes tremendous odds in a heart-tugging display of wit, determination, and frequent emotionally-charged scenes...

Sorry, I started snoozing just typing that description. Note to Hollywood: if you want to get my demographic (geeky middle-aged men) into the theaters, you should replace "frequent emotionally-charged scenes" with "explosives" -- if they did that, I'd totally be there.

In other movie news, my oldest son (who just got his drivers license yesterday) saw Eragon tonight, and pronounced it "really stupid".

Somebody Set Up Us The Vote!

(This post will be pinned to the top until voting is closed.)

This is a bleg -- begging from a blogger. I need your vote. Please vote for The Stupid Shall Be Punished in the "Best of the Top 2501-3500 Blogs" category of the 2006 Weblog Awards. You can vote every 24 hours, so please, vote early and often. If you need help deciding who to vote for, I've prepared a handy Voters Guide. Just click on the logo below to go to the voting site:

The 2006 Weblog Awards

Thank you for your support of The Stupid Shall Be Punished.

Current status (as of 2312 15 Dec): Voting has ended -- thanks to everyone who voted so diligently! While the results won't be "official" until probably Monday, it looks like we finished 2nd, with 1,121 votes -- 188 votes behind the winner, mAss Backwards. Of note, our total was almost 750 votes more than the winner got in this category last year. It also appears that we got more votes than the winners of all but the top two "Ecosystem" categories.

I'll try to come out with a "lessons learned" document on Monday.

If You Look In The Dictionary Under "Ship's Sponsor"...

...there should be a picture of the sponsor of the USS Hyman G. Rickover (SSN 709), CDR Eleonore Rickover. The Rickover was retired today after 22 years of service, and as always, Mrs. Rickover was there.

She married Admiral Rickover after the death of his first wife, Ruth, in 1972, and sponsored the Rickover when she was commissioned in 1984. Throughout the ship's history, she made herself a welcome part of the ship's life. She rode the boat for family cruises, welcomed them home from deployments, and -- from what I've heard -- sent personal notes to the officers and crew whenever they reached personal milestones. She also attended changes of command, as seen here:

She truly is a special woman, and one who seemingly understands and cherishes the great honor that is bestowed on those chosen to sponsor a ship of the United States Navy. Hopefully, the men of the Hyman G. Rickover realize what a national treasure they had in having her as their ship's sponsor.

Update 2359 15 Dec: Here's the Navy NewsStand report of the inactivation ceremony... or was it a deactivation ceremony? The story uses both words, so I'm still not sure what it's officially called.

Submarine Christmas Photoshopping Contest

Just a reminder -- entries for The Sub Report's Submarine Christmas Photoshop Contest are due by 2359 tonight (Thursday the 14th). Here's the page with the entries that have come in so far. It's a great chance to have some fun and maybe win a prize.

You don't need any fancy software to do a good photoshop; I just use the Microsoft Picture It! that came with my computer, and if you don't have that, Eric has a link to some freeware. For example, I just put together this admittedly lame "Christmas Tree on the RPCP" entry in about five minutes:

For good results, you might want to spend a little more time than I did. It's fun for the whole family!

Re-Post: Naval Reactors -- Gestapo Or Soul-less Automatons?

I was reading a story about how RADM McAneny was relieving RADM Bird as SubGru SEVEN, and I thought I remembered writing something about Doug McAneny before. I did some searching, and came across this story I wrote last May that really tickled my funny bone. Here it is again (with some updated links), in the hopes that it can generate some more NR horror stories in the comments:

So there I was... I was stationed at NPTU Charleston on MTS 626 as a Shift Engineer as my post-JO shore tour. There were about seven Naval Reactors guys in the local office; as a general rule, they were all jerks. (I'll probably get the guys in Groton that I worked with in trouble, but they generally weren't jerks; based on my other dealings with NR, though, I think they were an anomaly.) They expected phone calls about any problem, and the Shift Engineer could get in a lot of trouble by not keeping them informed. When we were on midshift, I'd occasionally have something come up that I knew I didn't have to inform them about right away, but that they'd be pissed if I didn't call them sometime during the night. I used to wait until about 4:15am to call them; I figured at that point it'd be harder for them to get back to sleep.

Anyway, one day I'm on day shift, and were preparing for a really complex test during a maintenance period. The youngest NR guy (a really weasely little sh*t) comes into my "office" with a complaint that "your ETs don't have all references present at the worksite for RC Div maintenance". (For those not familiar with Navy Nuclear Power, this is probably the most frequently violated rule out there; each procedure normally lists about 8 references, which were big-ass, really heavy books, and often they were only listed for some dumb comment like "don't piss on live electrical wires" or something asinine like that.) Anyway, this NR guy is sitting on my desk as he tells me this, and it was a pretty stressful time, so I guess I kind of snapped at him. "I appreciate the comment, but in the future I'd appreciate it if you could inform me if you're starting a monitor watch, and I'd also appreciate it if you didn't sit on my desk." Well, he gets all huffy, and says he wasn't going to make it an official comment, but now he would, so I had to get out the sheet and write it up. (One thing that NR guys do is that they never write down their own deficiency comments; they make the duty officer do it. That way, if they make a mistake, they can claim the duty officer wrote it down wrong.)

Back to the story. OK, I could accept that he would make the comment "official" in retaliation for me talking back to him, but then he goes up and... tells his boss! Next thing I know, the phone's ringing, and it's the head of the local office, yelling at me that the guy I talked back to was "the Admiral's official representative" and asking if I would "tell the Admiral to get off your desk." I'm pretty exercised at this point, so I say something to the effect of "No, but I don't think the Admiral would sit on my desk." He hangs up, and five minutes later my bosses boss is down there telling me not to piss off Naval Reactors anymore.

A couple months go by. The thing about NR reps is that most of the field reps are active duty military, but they don't ever wear their uniforms; they're normally Lieutenants or below, so most people they hassle outrank them, but that doesn't count in the NR world. Anyway, this kid whose chops I busted was an E-6, and he was having a really hard time passing the CPO exam, which he needed to do to become eligible for the Limited Duty Officer board. (NR guys get commissioned that way; essentially all of them that "make the board" get selected.) NR told him that since he didn't pass the exam, they were sending him back to the fleet as an ET1, which was his normal rate. By this time, I already had my orders to be Engineer on Connecticut (SSN 22) and he decided that going to the shipyard would be the best job for him. (I always thought they should have one boat set aside for ex-NR guys; kinda like the section of prison where they put the ex-cops.) He figured the detailer will give him whatever he asked for. So, he comes up to me and says, "It looks like I'll be working for you next; I guess I won't be able to sit on your desk... heh, heh". I said something non-commital, but what I was really thinking was... "Oh, yes, Petty Officer Xxxxx; you come work for me, and I'll be sending you into the bilge, but it won't be for a zone inspection".

Anyway, he ended up going to a boomer in King's Bay (and later passed the CPO exam, so I heard NR took him back) and I reported to the Connecticut. The first thing my new CO says to me is, "I heard you like to tell NR guys to get off your table. Please don't piss them off here." I imagine it's probably an urban legend in Charleston by now; some story about how a Shift Engineer punched the NR guy or something.

In conclusion: What are Naval Reactors guys anyway? If you want an organization to design the best and safest military reactors in the world where price isn't an object, they're your guys. As far as the local reps who move into NR from the Fleet, in order to spy on their old shipmates, I kind of pity them; maybe they didn't have any friends on the boat. So, I guess I'd have to generally classify them as "socially inept traitors with a serious Napoleon complex". Not all of them, but enough of them to make the generalization valid. I'm sure they perform a vital role, but right now I can't figure out what it is...

Going deep...

Update 0932 24 May: I suppose in the interests of fairness I should link to some remarks from ADM "Skip" Bowman, who was recently relieved as NAVSEA 08; I really admired him. He talks about what is good about Naval Reactors.

Mistakes and Failures

The Iraq War is a mistake and a failure has been a common refrain recently, apparently because it is leading to an Iraqi Civil War.

An interesting statement.

One wonders by what metric it is judged.

Similar logic would then support the following assertions:

The Declaration of Independence was a mistake and a failure because it led directly to the Revolutionary War -- which killed more Americans than 9/11.

The Constitution of the United States was a mistake and a failure because it led ultimately to the U.S. Civil War -- America's worst war by far (well over 100 times worse than Iraq).


The mistake and failure crowd is judging current conditions by comparing them to some fantasy alternate timeline in which there are absolutely no bad consequences to have not taken action. This assumes Saddam Hussein was just a misunderstood teddy bear.

How about otherwise having to face not just Iran's budding nuclear program, but Iraq's as well, as sanctions would have decayed under the oil-for-fraud program?

Let's examine the specific claims:

Iraq was a mistake and a failure because...no WMD stockpiles were found.

I call that a lucky break for our troops! To complain about this again assumes Hussein never, ever had or would have WMD-producing or using intentions.

Translations of captured Iraqi documents are proving otherwise, though the MSM doesn't really report it. The govt. can't apparently handle the translation task of millions of documents and put them on the web. This site is a great resource for what is being found. For example,
On the subject of nuclear program, I translated and posted a document last month dated January 2001 that shows with a shadow of doubt that Saddam was personally involved with his nuclear scientist to re-build the nuclear program.
Seems some people would rather our troops got gassed.

Nothing to see here, move along...

Iraq was a mistake and a failure because...we are less safe.

This relies on assuming a Hussein-free Iraq generates more terrorists, which produces a higher threat.

Well guess what, prior to the Iraq War, there were already plenty enough terrorists with resources to pull of 9/11, which is about as bad as terrorists alone can ever hurt us. Producing more terrorists by itself doesn't make their lethality increase, nor apparently the frequency of their mass attacks.

What would make terrorists more dangerous is their ability to connect with a rogue state and acquire atomic bombs.

Which they now can never do from Hussein's Iraq.

Ergo, we are more safe, which is all the justification needed post 9/11.

Iraq is a mistake and failure because...people keep dying.

By that reasoning, the whole world is a mistake and a failure. Wake up and smell the Hobbesian Leviathan.

Iraq is a mistake and a failure because...daily life is miserable in Baghdad.

The Tikriti-connected Sunni arab in Iraq may certainly view the Iraq war as a mistake. The Nazi SS also came to regard our entry into WW2 as a bad idea. So what? Our nation is safer.

Kurdistan, "the other Iraq", happens to be doing very well. They don't think it's a mistake.

To match our opinions to that of a single faction is ludicrous.

Iraq is a mistake and a failure because...liberal democracy hasn't taken hold.

The project of injecting Western-style freedoms into Islamic culture may indeed fail. A mistake to try? More like a moral imperative, as if it does work it would spare us having to solve Belmont Club's Three Conjectures by force, i.e. killing a billion people.

That again would be their failure, not ours.

There's lots of confusion between us and them these days though, isn't there? Multiculturalist dogma has worked hard to destroy a confident self-identity in the West.

Iraq is a mistake and a failure because...things aren't as good as they could have been with better postwar management.

Yes, mistakes were made and the best-case outcome failed to materialize. Very true. Adapt and adjust. Make the best of it. We're still safer and better off for having acted than not.

I mean, look at Libya's secret atomic program: "I saw what happened to Saddam, and I was afraid!" wailed Gadaffi.

Iraq is a mistake and a failure because...we hate George Bush and he must not be seen to succeed at anything.

All too many subscribe to that line of reasoning. One would think they had no stake in the outcome of a civilizational struggle, as if they live on some other planet.

What has been obscured by partisan sniping and biased reporting is that Iraq can be seen as a series of successes, each leading to further layers of problems that were exposed.

Baghdad was captured in March 2003 in a brilliant campaign. Major combat operations ended in April 2003. Saddam Hussein was dragged out of a hole a few months after that.

Looks like Victory and Success to me!

So Sunnis and Shiites hate each other. Our problem? Our mistake? Our failure?

One might even say that true cynical Realists would welcome driving a wedge into the faultline in the rotten Middle East between Arab and Persian, Sunni and Shia, to pit them against each other as they are both our common enemies; properly understood, al Qaeda is simply the Saudi-backed Sunni counterrevolution in terror and islamic fundamentalism, trying to regain the mantle of leadership from the Iran-backed Shia islamic terror revolution that flared up in 1979.

As Spengler says, embrace chaos because it's inevitable, even vital if we are to survive:
Like or not, the US will get chaos, and cannot do anything to forestall it. My advice to President George W Bush: When chaos is inevitable, learn to enjoy it.
A tragedy is unfolding whose final curtain never comes down. Washington must prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons, because the Ahmadinejad regime wants an oil empire stretching from the southeast shore of the Caspian Sea to the southwest shore of the Persian Gulf. Reza Pahlavi, son of the late shah, warned of Iran's imperial intentions in a Fox News interview on Saturday. President Mahmud Ahmadinejad cannot abandon Iran's nuclear ambitions any more than Adolf Hitler could have kept the peace with Poland in 1939 and remain in power.

Aerial attacks on Iran's nuclear capabilities - Washington's only effective option - will set into play Iranian assets in Iraq, Lebanon and elsewhere, precipitating a regional war (War with Iran on the worst terms, February 14).
When the administration of president Ronald Reagan set out to bring down the Soviet Empire, it did not inquire as to the consequences for Russian or Ukrainian; its object was to reduce a threat to the United States.

The first principle is to reward friends and punish enemies.
He even has a prescription that I endorse:
Americans do not wish to shed their citizens' blood for the purpose of nation-building in countries they do not much care about. The best solution would be to adopt the French model, in the form of a Foreign Legion based offshore. The world still is full of first-rate soldiers with a Russian or South African pedigree who are not suited to civilian life. By extension, Washington might issue Letters of Marque to private entities to deal with enemies at arm's length.
I'd also recruit Gurkhas!

Speaking Of Voting...

ESPN Classic is doing a show that's trying to pick the greatest college football team of all time. Nebraska had 3 of the top 8 ('71, '83, '95) and two of the Final Four ('71 and '95 -- '95 played '83 in the quarterfinals). Here's hoping Nebraska gets both of the championship "game" spots -- as they should.

Update: It ended up as I predicted -- the '95 'Huskers beat the '71 edition. It was hilarious watching ESPN "expert" Kirk Herbstreit get all teed off that two Nebraska teams were in the finals -- he kept yelling about how they couldn't pass, and doubted they played anyone. I yelled back at the screen that the '95 'Huskers beat the teams that ended up #2, #5, #7, and #9, and the '71 team beat the teams that ended up #2, #3, and #4. Plus, with the '95 team averaging almost 400 yards per game rushing, they didn't really need to pass, now did they?

LA in L.A.

The USS Los Angeles (SSN 688) is having an unusual pre-deployment workup. After completing the first-ever open ocean ESCAPEX from a nuclear submarine off the coast of Alaska, the Pearl Harbor-based sub sailed down the West Coast for her first-ever visit to her namesake city. She's seen here passing what looks like Angel's Gate Light in San Pedro Harbor:

More photos from the visit can be seen here. From the looks of it, they had must have had a quiet visit -- I checked out the websites of all the usual suspects, and didn't notice any calls for protest, so hopefully the crew had a good time.

Bell-ringer 0017 14 Dec: Commenters here, as well as "Sailor 777" at Rontini's new BBS say that the LA has visited Los Angeles before, particularly in 1978. It looks like it's the Navy that's putting out the bad information, and I was guilty of white-ratting it. I should have known better, based on the Navy NewsStand's previous track record when it comes to certain aspects of submarine history.

The "U-Boating" Of Bubblehead

It appears that forces aligned with Bruce at mAss Backwards are conspiring to "U-Boat" this humble submarine blogger, all because I've essentially tied him for first place in the prestigious "Best of the Top 2501-3500 Blogs" category of the 2006 Weblog Awards. First, a blogger called "IdaBlue" accused me of beardedness, and then came up with a clearly outrageous story about a medal I received for pulchritrude above and beyond the call, as mentioned in my completely impartial Voters Guide. Hmm... the blogger's name is "IdaBlue", and Massachusetts is a "blue" state. Coincidence? I think not.

Even worse, my good friend Eric of The Sub Report has apparently joined forces with mAss Backwards, first posting wholly unconfirmed rumors of a "Free Beer for Votes" scheme at Subase New London, and then advertising a new book by disgruntled people opposed to my candidacy. I assure you, the dyspepsia this has caused has been seared... Seared!... into my memory.

And now mAss Backwards has apparently turned off comments on his blog. His brazen attempt to Stifle my Dissent and suppress my right to Speak Truth to Power is unprecedented in Weblog Awards history. I assure you my campaign manager will have a strong reaction to Bruce's heinous attempt to re-write history tomorrow or Wednesday -- because it's past his bedtime tonight.

Update 2351 11 Dec: Bruce's comments are back on. What do you suppose he was hiding?

Update 2118 12 Dec: My campaign manager DeepDiver reveals Bruce's evil plan! Plus, more mAss Backwards-inspired "lies" from The Sub Report.

Update 2314 12 Dec: I suppose I should mention some of the other blogs I've been voting for --
Best Humor Blog: BlameBush!
Best of the Top 250 Blogs: Castle Argghhh!!!
Best of the Top 1001-1750: Soldier's Angel
Best of the Top 3501-5000: CDR Salamander (sorry, EagleSpeak, but 'Phib's got a better shot at winning)
Best of the Top 5001-6750: The Bodie Specter
Best Blog: Michelle Malkin (Don't get me wrong, I still like Instapundit; it's just that Michelle's been linking to me a lot more than Glenn has lately.)

Update 2348 14 Dec: Despite all the embarrassing "facts" he's "uncovered" about me, Eric from The Sub Report still decided to endorse me. Now, I can't lose!

Submarine Wardroom Dinner Pranks

Mealtime aboard a submarine was always one of the highlights of any day underway. Some would skip the meal and get a quick half hour of sleep; others would line up several minutes early. (On USS Topeka, our Supply Officer boycotted eating in the WR to avoid the constant criticism of the food by the CO, "He Who Must Not Be Named".) Eating with the Captain in the wardroom was, on many boats, about the closest you would get on a submarine to "regular Navy" traditions.

For those who haven't seen one, an SSN wardroom table is a pretty small space to serve 10 (or 11) men. Here's a picture of the one on USS Providence (SSN 719):

In addition to experiencing tradition, it was also a good place for good-natured pranks. Because the wardroom table was so small, there wasn't room to put down anything other than what was laid out at the beginning of the meal (condiment servers, pitchers, etc.). As a result, serving dishes would be passed around at the beginning of the meal (the Captain got first dibs). The game would be to try to get someone with a serving dish in each hand -- once someone got in that situation, no one would take either one from him until he admitted how stupid he looked.

My favorite prank was played by the mess attendents on USS Connecticut (SSN 22) on one of our JOs. The first day, they got him with the old "cellophane wrap on top of the drinking glass" trick, which is mildly amusing. What made it a classic was the next day, when the JO made a big deal of checking his glass for cellophane; instead, they'd put the cellophane on his soup spoon, so when he went for his first bite -- the spoon came up empty! (It was hilarious if you saw it, trust me.)

Does anyone else have any favorite "dinner pranks" from their submarine days?

Another Active Duty Submarine Blogger Found

If you get a chance, head on over to Kevin Basil's place and tell him congratulations on passing his submarine qualification board. He's stationed on USS Jacksonville (SSN 699), which apparently is just getting set to leave the shipyard after a long, arduous ERO.

No New Content Here!

Have you ever noticed that politicians don't want to say anything controversial during election season? It always torqued me off, but now I'm starting to understand where they're coming from. That's why, during the heart of the vote-whining campaign that is the 2006 Weblog Awards (please vote for me! click here to go to the voting page! vote every 24 hours!), I hesitate to post anything that might upset the voters. Because of that, and because December is normally a good time to post "end of year" reviews, here's links to some of the "Best of Bubblehead" non-submarine posts from the past 12 months:

Dec. '05: This is why I don't cook much.

Jan. '06: One of the things that sets me apart from the other "2501-3500" finalists is my willingness to "go to bat" for the smaller bloggers, as seen in the saga of my wildly successful "SPUD-LIB" initiative:
The SPUD-LIB Manifesto
SPUD-LIB: An Open Letter to Frank J. and Instapundit
Victory For SPUD-LIB!

Feb. '06: Hercules, The Blanket-Molesting Cat. The title says it all.

Mar '06: For March Madness -- A Call For Restraint

Apr '06: A compilation of my "serious essays" on the GWOT -- What I Believe

May '06: An analysis of the surprising result of the Nebraska Republican Governor primary result: Satan Flexes His Political Muscles
(In May, I also wrote one of my most-linked non-submarine posts of the year: Why The Republicans Are Losing My Vote.)

June '06: On the definition of "unilateral": Idaho Democrats -- Against The Mexican War!

July '06: Part of my continuing series of posts mocking and belittling bad science from the moonbat crowd: Depleted Uranium -- Worthy Of Exclamation Points!

Aug '06: More GWOT strategy thinking: Iraq = Gallipoli?

Sep '06: Because this guy got elected, I'm almost sure to get my taxes audited: Bill Sali And The Underpants Gnomes

Oct '06: Mostly election-related this month, but I did call out one celebrity: You Owe Me, Ken Jennings!

Nov '06: I have a "picture": Zamboni In The Boise Burger King Drive-Thru -- A Guy's Perspective

Before the end of the year, I'll try to come up with a list of my favorite submarine posts.

Discovery Mission Has A Navy Feel

The space shuttle Discovery lifted off tonight for a trip to the ISS -- I watched it live while waiting for the Heisman results to be announced. I hadn't heard before I saw the coverage that there are three Navy officers aboard this flight: CAPT Robert L. Curbeam Jr., CDR William A. Oefelein, and CDR Sunita L. Williams. CDR Williams will be transferring to the ISS for a six month tour of duty there.

I've always thought submariners would do good in space -- we're used to living in a high-tech vessel that operates essentially independently of outside support for long periods, and which can kill you if you operate them incorrectly. So far, we haven't had a chance to prove it, but we might be able to soon. Waiting for his ride is submariner CDR Stephen Bowen, a Mission Specialist. I knew him slightly -- he was XO of PCU Virginia when I was Eng on PCU Jimmy Carter, and we shared the same crew support building in the shipyard. I'm sure he'll do us proud when he gets into space.

One thing's for sure -- those dolphins make even a NASA uniform look good:

A Ditty From Long Ago

Completely unbidden, this old song came into my head when I drove past the Golden Arches on my way home from work today:

"McDonalds is your kind of place,
They feed you rattlesnakes,
They throw them in your face,
They have no potty place."

I remember my friends singing that back in the early 70s. I would have figured that it was a nationwide song, but a quick Google search showed that if it was, it hasn't been recorded. The closest one I found was here, in that while one version mentions throwing food in your face, it says they "steal your parking place", which in my mind isn't nearly as absurd as having no potty place.

Submarine Posts On Other Blogs

The Sub Report Blog is hosting a "Submarine Christmas Photoshop Contest" that looks like it'll be a lot of fun. Entries are due by the 14th.

Ninme has a report on the current kerfuffle in Great Britain about whether or not to keep an independent nuclear deterrent. While I think it's important for our British allies to maintain an adequate defense, part of me wonders if the Founding Fathers aren't sitting back and saying, "Yes, soon Great Britain will be completely defenseless, and will be ours for the taking. The final act of the American Revolution will soon play out."

Also, both USS La Jolla (SSN 701) and USS Albuquerque (SSN 706) (picture here) returned home from deployment recently -- just in time for Christmas!

The Completely Impartial Voters Guide To The "Best Of The Top 2501-3500 Blogs"

Just because I'm a finalist for the prestigious "Best of the Top 2501-3500 Blogs" category for the 2006 Weblog Awards doesn't mean I've lost my sense of fair play. To that end, I've put together this completely impartial "Voters Guide" so you'll be able to cast your vote for the blog in this category that's truly the "best".

What is meant by "the best"? Some might say that the best blog is one that has lots of interesting content, well-considered opinions, and engaging discourse. Sure, that's one definition, and if one accepts that, then the other finalists probably have "better" blogs than mine. But remember, this is America. In American elections, "best" equals "loudest", and I can assure you that no other finalist in the "BotT2501-3500B" category will be as loud, obnoxious, or snarky as I.

With that being said, on to the Voters Guide (updated 09 Dec):

The finalists are (in completely random order):

1) Bubblehead -- The Stupid Shall Be Punished: This self-styled "Idaho's first and foremost submarine blogger" has been mocking and belittling those who deserve it for over two years. Before that, he was in the Navy; here's a picture of him:

I can't say what he was getting the medal for; let's just say that the underwater Alien Command Ships won't be bothering Earth for quite a while, if you get my drift.

2) The Random Yak: A finalist two years running, Random Yak is an appropriate nom de blog, given his general hairiness -- as this picture supposedly of Random Yak working off a "bender" attests:

It's said that yaks live in the mountains of Pakistan -- just like Osama Bin Laden.

3) Bruce at mAss Backwards: He's from Massachusetts, but there's no reason to just assume that he likes high taxes and goes to gay weddings every weekend. He apparently has some sort of high-tech job, as this blurry photo said to be of Bruce shows:

4) Viking Spirit: Not much is known of this young blogger, although it's rumored that he was also may have been in the military, as this grainy photo shows:

5) Jack's Shack at Random Thoughts: Jack's Shack is best known for wanting Santa Claus to die; also known as "The Cousin of The Grinch". The reason is unknown; however, this photo purported to show an earlier episode from Jack's life that may explain this disturbing obsession:

I'm sure it will be easy to explain to your children how you voted for this guy.

6) Amanda from Imago Dei: No picture of Amanda could be found; however, we did find a picture of her favorite singing group wearing some of her gear:

Coming soon -- information on the other four finalists:
The Colossus of Rhodey: A Delaware group blog.
Cobb: Clearly a ringer. He's way too good of a blogger to be this far down the ecosystem chain.
Jeff the Baptist: Another Delawarian. (Delawarite?) What's up with that?
Libby at The Impolitic: Apparently the only liberal in the group.

Update 1310 09 Dec: I haven't gotten much information about Cobb or Jeff the Baptist, but I did put together some quick items about the other two finalists.

7) The Colossus of Rhodey: One of the two group blogs in the competition, the CoR consists of Rhodey, Felix, Rube, Gooch, JakeM, and HippieMomie. Apparently bloggers are big celebrities in Delaware (State Motto: "We get all our money from charging people outrageous tolls to drive 10 miles on I-95"), as shown by this blurry photo of the Rhodians with a fan:

My guess it that this appearance caused some contention, since HippieMomie's picture wasn't included with the rest of the group up on the wall.

8) Libby at The Impolitic: A self-styled progressive, Libby nonetheless seems to find time to hang out with famous conservative offspring; she's reportedly seen here with one of the Bush twins: