Regarding Polonium 210

Radioactive isotopes are much in the news lately because of last week's death of former Russian spy Alexander Litvinenko. The specific isotope found in Litvinenko's body is a really nasty one if you're trying to kill someone -- Polonium 210. In the non-spy world, polonium is best known for it's very high power density, although its relatively short half-life makes it not very suitable for things like longer space missions. For the nuke geeks out there, 210Po84 is made by a β- decay chain from Pb-210 to Bi-210 to Po-210; the Polonium alpha decays to Pb-206 with a half-life of a little over 138 days, with a decay energy of about 5.4 MeV. This relatively moderate half-life, which means it lasts long enough to deliver it to the target but still decays rapidly enough to cause serious damage, makes it one of the "worst" alpha emitters.

Still, unless it's ingested, it's not going to cause random bystanders any problems -- despite the warnings of articles like this one that persist in calling it "plutonium". Much like "depleted uranium", this is one of those things that probably serves to scare the public about anything having to do with radiation more than anything else. Remember -- if it's an alpha emitter, it can't hurt you unless it gets inside your body, and if it has a long half-life, it most likely won't even hurt you then.

(Disclaimer: I should point out that as a former Navy nuke, I have a kind of institutional disdain for alpha-emitters; it's the neutron-emitters that scare the crap out of me. Contributing to this is the "Great Neutron Conspiracy" that exists in the Navy Nuclear Program. For those who don't believe in the GNC, I would ask you: why is it that dosimeters that monitor for neutrons are sent off the boat to be read? And why are the neutron-"detecting" radiacs the only ones we have to send away for calibration? Kinda makes you go "hmmm", doesn't it?)

Submerged Submarine Sinkings

Britain's Navy News tells of a BBC documentary tonight on the sinking of U-864 by HMS Venturer in Feb. 1945, which they say is the first ever sinking of a submerged submarine by another submerged sub:
U864 was torpedoed by HMS Venturer near Bergen, Norway, in February 1945 while both vessels were submerged. She sank with all 73 hands – and with a cargo of Messerschmitt jet engine parts, missile guidance systems, and mercury, all bound for Japan.
Intercepted radio messages had alerted the Admiralty to U864’s secret mission (codenamed Operation Caesar), and Venturer lay off Bergen waiting to intercept the U-boat as she left Norway bound for the Far East.
Venturer picked up the German boat on her ASDIC (the original British name for sonar), and visually sighted U864’s periscope sporadically, tracking the submarine for a good hour before firing a spread of four torpedoes from a range of about 3,000 yards; one found its mark, destroying the German vessel.
The wreck was found three years ago and Norwegian salvage experts are preparing to recover it because of the danger the mercury poses to the environment.
I had thought I remembered reading about an American sub that sank a submerged Japanese sub in WWII, but couldn't find it during a quick Google search. Does anyone know if there are any instances of a U.S. boat sinking a submerged enemy submarine?

Rally Point

This evening, for the first time in the last two weeks, I felt a rally point had been found, when at the gym I saw on the news Bush saying no, we're not withdrawing from Iraq, and no, we won't be talking to (blackmailers) Iran and Syria -- Iraq is a sovereign country and THEY will be doing the talking with their neighbors in their own interest.

Which is a veiled threat because Iraq can -- and should -- strike back (with our backing) if foreign nations are being hostile.

That's a whole different negotiation dynamic than "the U.S. engaging Iran and Syria" which is code for throwing Lebanon and Iraq to the wolves to get the violence off our tv screens!

And because we apparently share the same mind, wretchard at Belmont Club felt it today too for a host of reasons:
Signs that the retreat following the the November elections is starting to end is suggested not by a single dramatic event but by a succession of small ones. Often the change is simply atmospheric. Something feels different. People regain their confidence. But most of all it comes from the realization from those who have formerly been on the defensive that the opposition is not ten feet tall.

I'd rather be in our shoes as we do ultimately hold the real trump cards of power. It just takes a simple act of will, a single cabled order, to eliminate all our enemies from this plane of reality, even without resorting to the nuclear triad.

"Soft power", based on persuasion, fantasies, and dreams, requires the opponent never wakes up.

How To Scare A Sub-Blogger

Normally I don't get worried about too much regarding my blogging activities, but I'm worried tonight. The reason? I noticed a couple hours ago that I was getting several hits from the "private" forum over at the Submarine Wives Club. Even scarier, they were coming into my home page, not just one of my individual posts. It got me thinking -- what are these wives saying about me? Are they making fun of me? Is it someone saying "This guy was my husband's Eng -- he probably never did find that dead animal they put in his seabag when he transferred off the boat". I thought about asking SubBasket to log on and see what was up, but she'd probably just dish some more dirt about me.

Because as all of us know, nothing is scarier to a Submariner than a bunch of Submarine Wives getting together and planning something...

Updates On Some Recent Stories

Back in August, I blogged about the USS Albuquerque sailor who had been arrested for attempting to sell secrets to some foreign government. Today, we found out that he's planning on pleading guilty to at least some of the charges against him, apparently as part of a plea deal:

Weinmann has agreed to plead guilty to some of the charges under a pretrial agreement that also includes the maximum possible sentence, said attorney Phillip Stackhouse, a retired Marine lawyer from Jacksonville, N.C.
Stackhouse declined to say to which charges Weinmann will plead guilty or to give details about the sentence.
“I anticipate during the hearing a lot of things will be explained,” Stackhouse said. He said the sentencing phase of the trial could last the week.
Weinmann is charged with espionage, desertion, failing to properly safeguard and store classified information, copying classified information, communicating classified information to a person not entitled to receive it, and stealing and destroying a government computer. He could be sentenced to life in prison if convicted of espionage.
As I said earlier, a young, good-looking kid like him will be really popular in Leavenworth.

Regarding the story of the CSS-17 Commodore who was unexpectedly fired earlier this month, someone from the more mainstream portion of the blogosphere finally came out and said what a bunch of anonymous commenters have been mentioning since the story broke:
One of the things commanding officers are not supposed to do is commit adultery with the wives of subordinates. But a U.S. Navy captain was relieved of his command of Submarine Squadron 17, in Bangor, Washington, for that reason. Actually, no official reason was given other than that the navy had "lost confidence" in the officer. But all over the base, sailors were talking about the sexual escapades that apparently led to the relief. The dismissed officer was a former enlisted marine, who worked his way up to a job that would have led to admiral rank. But no more.
I was really worried that my old friend Raymond Perry was going to "break" the story, so I'm glad someone else did. (Actually, Trickish Knave did post about it last week.)

The Ice Thickens

Not so pat, is it?
Ice 'Thickens' in West Antarctica
New research has found that parts of the ice sheet that covers West Antarctica may be getting thicker, not thinner, as scientists have feared.
How inconvenient!
While the East Antarctic Ice Sheet is considered relatively safe, there have been fears that climate change could cause the WAIS to disintegrate, raising global sea levels by as much as five metres.

That could have a catastrophic effect on coastal communities.

Most researchers are agreed that the West Antarctic Ice Sheet has been retreating over the last 10,000 years, but the new findings, published in the journal Science, could be evidence that that this trend is about to be reversed.
So it's been retreating since LONG before humans supposedly began ruining the planet with industrial gases in the last 100 years?

Like, for 100 times as long? (100 x 100 years = 10,000 years)

And now that's reversing?

Doubly inconvenient for the 'Global Warming' acolytes.

A thorough fisking of the report is here.


Things sure seem to be getting worse all over, don't they?

Belmont Club calls it a rout, for which no rally point has yet been found.
The argument that this is a necessary mea culpa, a necessary retreat comes up against the question: retreat to what? Every rearguard action has a fallback line of defense prepared. Since the Democrats have not indicated where they want the retreat to stop, and there is no indication that the President has prepared a fallback position the appropriate term isn't a rearguard action. Retreats without an endpoint have another name. They are called a rout.

There is no sense getting excited about Rumsfeld's resignation. It is but the first step on a long road to ... has anyone decided yet? Therefore the only rational thing to do is relax. Take a loaf of French bread and cut off two slices with a utility saw and make another mayo and peanut butter sandwich. Sooner or later the enemy is going to realize what the Guderian knew in 1940. That it doesn't matter how many men, tanks or forts are serried before you. If there is no mind in opposition, and no awareness of the need to set a mind in opposition, then the road to Paris is open. The bread is theirs. The saw is ours. And the sandwich is good.
Rather than be alarmed, this fills me with joy.

Although many tried to get the warnings out, on how to pre-empt and stave off the worst scenarios that any fool can see hurtling towards us, history shows nobody ever, EVER, listens to the Cassandras.

Therefore, it was clear that things would have to get much worse before they got better.

Well, we're moving right along then, aren't we?

Entering much worse, directly ahead.


Because now better will result all the sooner.

Too bad about all the innocents who could have been saved but now have to die in the meantime, however.

The sooner much worse begins, the sooner it's over.

One way or another.

And dragging things out does not favor us; given demographics and nuclear hyperproliferation, time is not on our side.

The idiots trying to recreate the glorious high of engineering retreat and defeat in Vietnam (we stopped a War, man!) think no consequences will follow them back at home, apparently, out of the Middle East:
Viewed from that perspective, it really is America's or Jew's fault that folks are fixing to kill each other in Iraq, Lebanon, Gaza and the West Bank. Now some people are inevitably going to ask why, if the Sunnis and Shi'as are dead set on killing each other across the Middle East because of some disturbance caused by the presence of America or Israel (remember this makes sense in some way), the reason this shouldn't be cold-bloodedly regarded as the greatest act of strategic genius since Alexander beat the Persian Empire. A variety of objections come to mind, chiefly to do with morality and the oil security, the preferred order depending on whether you are an idealist or a "realist". I will add a third. The killing's not going to stop and we're not going to stop it. In another era we might not have cared, but the lesson from 9/11 which we have forgotten already is that they will carry their magically realistic hatreds to other shores with unimaginable weapons. And remember, it's always our fault.
Savor in advance the bitter surprise they will feel.

And when Average American wakes up one day wondering what the hell happened, have no qualms in pointing out how the international leftists and media made their pain inevitable.


UPDATE: I just saw that Prof. Hanson has a similar take on things:
Or is it a deeper malaise that modern liberal internationalism is neither liberal nor international. Lacking any real belief that the United States, now or in its past, has been a continual force for good, the contemporary Left hardly wants the rest of the world to suffer the American malaise of racism, sexism, homophobia, environmental degradation, and consumerism. That self-doubt is buttressed by the idea as well that confrontation is always bad, that evil does not really exist, but is a construct we create for misunderstanding, that the world’s ills are remedied by reason and dialogue.

In essence, the progressive Leftist is often affluent, insulated from the savagery about him by his material largess, and empathizes with those who are antithetical to the very forces that made him free, secure, and prosperous—as a way to assuage the guilt, at very little cost, of his own blessedness.
All that said, the West is encountering something novel, as it fights its first politically-correct war, in which all the postmodern chickens of the 1980s and 1990s have come home to roost. Thus multiculturalism makes it hard to fight non-Europeans from the former third world, inasmuch as it argued there was not just little distinctively good about the West, but rather the once recognized universal sins of mankind—racism, sexism, class oppression, inequality, patriarchy—were to be seen as exclusively Western.
Add into this dangerous modernist soup moral equivalence, or what we know as “conflict resolution theory.” It postulates that any use of force de facto is equivalent to any other. We see those ripples with this Orwellian notion of “proportionality”, that a democratic Israel must calibrate its response to missiles aimed entirely at its civilians by ensuring none of its own aimed at Hezbollah terrorists and their supporters miss.

Then there is moral relativism and utopian pacifism.

So it is going to be hard, but not impossible, to win this war. Why, then, as readers have complained, my dogged optimism?

For two reasons. One, all these nostrums are theoretical, and anti-empirical. Ultimately as lies, they will be disapproved by the evidence before them. A progressive can call the ACLU all day long, but after 9/11 if he stands in line at an airport gate listening to an imam chanting Allah Akbar as he and his friends board, our liberal friend will begin to worry. And second, our enemies have no intention of relenting. They smell blood and want our carcass, so eventually even the progressive mind will give up the pieties of peace and face the inevitable.

Trouble in France

Muslim minorities in France are causing a breakdown in civil order:
French police the target in urban guerrilla war
PARIS (Reuters) - Stoned, beaten and insulted, their vehicles torched by crowds of hostile youths, French police say they face an urban guerrilla war when they enter the run-down neighborhoods that ring the major cities.

"Our role is to guarantee the safety of people and property but the great difficulty today is that police are having problems ensuring their own safety," said Jerome Hanarte of the Alliance-Police Nationale union.
The article only speaks of "youths" and "minorities", but they are islamic invaders.

The article tends to blame the police for the unrest:
The head of the French crime statistics body told Reuters the rise in attacks on police was partly due to Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy's 2002 decision to order police back into tough areas, to disrupt the black economy that fuels crime.

Some residents complain the move spawned constant police harassment which has only exacerbated tensions with local youths, many of whom come from [muslim] ethnic minorities.
It was shocking to see the Yugoslav Civil War in Europe's backyard.

Now we are seeing muslim-fueled civil disorder in the very heart of Europe itself:
Calm is a long way off.

The plain clothes officer in Seine-Saint-Denis said seven colleagues were attacked recently after chasing a driver who skipped a checkpoint. Their vehicle was torched and they narrowly escaped serious injury.

"The high number of officers hurt means that police themselves don't feel safe," he said.

"That's pretty serious, because if police don't feel safe, you can imagine what the ordinary citizen feels," added the officer who asked not to be identified.

To protect themselves, police often move in large groups -- a tactic youngsters say is heavy-handed and overly aggressive.

Comte says the threat to police is so great in some neighborhoods they should exercise their "right to withdraw." That means refusing to respond to emergency calls if they judge they cannot guarantee their own safety.
Reports indicate the "new normal" is to have 200 cars torched each and every day by these "youths."

In fact, these are likely carefully planned and organized operations as part of a broad miltary-political strategy to gain islamic control of France.

And many French left-wingers even embrace the idea, as it captures the infantile romance of revolution:
In recent weeks, torching buses has suddenly become prevalent in the Paris suburbs and other urban areas ... Le Monde, the country's authoritative (if left-wing) paper of record, ran a front-page story about this new development and noted that it usually requires a much higher level of organization and discipline than casual car torching. ... There have also been cases of organized large-scale stoning, or caillassage, as it is called in contemporary French slang ...

More often than not, the CRS or police were not just attacked but ambushed ... "this is not just a matter of angry unemployed youths who get violent at times," but "something carefully planned. ... Since we avoid going inside, where they are, they attack us outside, where we are." ... They forced the last native French or European inhabitants out, and made it increasingly difficult for the police to enter and monitor the projects. Later, fundamentalist Islamic brotherhoods asserted themselves in the projects, or cités, as they are called .... On the one hand, the fundamentalists intended to protect the immigrant community against everything the gangs stood for: drugs, alcohol, sexual promiscuity, easy money from crime. On the other hand, they derived benefits from the ethnic enclave status the gangs had secured. ... The gangs masterminded unprecedented "youth riots"; the fundamentalists then restored civil peace, and won as a reward de facto pardon for most rioters, a "less provocative" police presence in the suburbs, i.e., no "cleansing," more privileges for Islam as "France's second and most quickly growing religion," and recognition for themselves as national leaders. ....

Yet paradoxically, the more brutal the hostile leaders were, the more eagerly French pacifists, liberals and men of the Left courted their support. The sheer capacity for violence of the Islamic immigrant gangs rekindled revolutionary hope among aging socialists who saw a chance to reverse the verdict of history; to to regain the vision of their youth; to mount a new French Revolution. Not with their spindly limbs but upon the broad backs of those who waved the flag of green. The Reds were certain of what would happen afterward. Did not Marx and Lenin guarantee the triumph of the proletariat, the Flag of Red? What was there to fear in temporarily joining forces with the priests of a backward 8th century cult? With that assurance was born the Green and Red alliance: the Green horse of Islam beneath the Red jockey of socialism.

Indeed, there are intellectuals on the left and right who relish the prospect of a new French Revolution, and welcome the suburban rioters as its spearhead. Nothing is more revealing, in this respect, than the success of a feverish political novel, Supplément au roman national (A Sequel to the National Narrative), by 28-year-old author Jean- ric Boulin. Published two months ago, it forecasts a "social and racial" revolution in France in 2007. First a wave of suicide bombings in Paris. Then martial law. Then, finally, the great rebellion of the French poor: the native underclass, the Arabs, and the blacks, who unite under the green flag of Islam and the tricolor of France and march on Paris--as a sort of Commune in reverse. Boulin gallantly supports such an outcome.
That alliance will work out even less well than Canada's hare-brained idea of declaring Quebec and "independent nation within a united Canada" an dhoping that doesn't have any negative or unintended repercussions.

Quebec Now a Nation

Strange things are afoot:
Canada Parliament recognizes Quebecers as a nation
OTTAWA (Reuters) - The Canadian Parliament recognized Quebecers as a nation within a united Canada on Monday, backing a controversial proposal that already prompted one minister in the minority Conservative government to quit.

The House of Commons, Parliament's elected chamber, voted 266-16 in favor of the motion, which the government said it saw as a way to head off pressure from French-speaking separatists who want to break away from Canada.

Critics said the proposal could actually bolster the separatists, and the pro-independence Bloc Quebecois said it would use the change to demand extra powers, including Quebec's right to speak at international meetings.
This clever idea is going to backfire.
Intergovernmental Affairs Minister Michael Chong resigned over the vote and said the separatists would use it to sow confusion.

"I believe in this great country of ours, and I believe in one nation, undivided, called Canada," Chong, whose Cabinet brief included Ottawa's ties with Quebec and Canadian provinces, told a news conference.
Which as of today no longer exists.
"They (the separatists) will argue that if the Quebecois are a nation within Canada, then they are certainly a nation without Canada."

Thanks for playing, Canada.

Now do the same with Alberta and British Columbia so we can annex them and have an unimpeded landbridge to Alaska, as God intended.

All Submarines Look Alike To The USPS

Update 1950 28 Nov: Check fire. It turns out the item discussed below, while sold at and apparently licensed by the Post Office, is actually from a company called American Stamp Collectibles, so the USPS probably shouldn't be held responsible for their error.
A submariner E-mailed with a scan of a Postmark Gallery he bought at his post office for $29.95 that honors the U.S. Navy. It has a picture of a submarine on it:

He thought the picture of the submarine didn't look like any American submarine he'd ever seen, so he did some digging, and found the picture they used on the montage:

As most submariners can tell, that's not an American boat. In fact, it's a South Korean Type 209/1200 Chang Bogo-class sub, apparently the Nadaeyung (SS 069). (The picture was originally taken from Navy NewsStand.)

Cookie has more over at his site. (Bad word warning!)

Arabian Gulf Now A SubLant Pond?

In an otherwise run of the mill article on current SUBPAC operations in The Honolulu Advertiser, I found an interesting tidbit:
The Pacific submarine fleet has had so many missions assigned to it recently that it no longer sends submarines to the Persian Gulf or Arabian Sea to support the war in Iraq. Instead, submarines are deployed there from the Atlantic Fleet.
I realized after reading this that it had been quite a while since I'd read about a PacFleet sub doing a 5th Fleet deployment -- for example, the Ronald Reagan Strike Group didn't have an attached submarine during their deployment earlier this year. It makes sense, though; there are a lot more threats that submarines might be expected to deal with in the Pacific than in the Atlantic or Med. It'll be interesting to see when PacFleet subs start returning to the Indian Ocean.

Get Lucky

I like this photo:

It happened today, the Philippine Armed Forces (AFP) got a huge catch in the War on Terror! Remember the group of hostages that was taken by the Abu Sayyaf in June of 2001? That’s the same group that included Martin and Gracia Burnham, the American Missionary couple that was held by the Abu Sayyaf. In the end, Martin was killed by his captors, while Gracia was injured, but able to return alive to the United States. At that time, another of the American Hostages, Guillermo Sobrero was beheaded by his Abu Sayyaf captors.

Well, today, the AFP nabbed the very suspect that beheaded Guillermo Sobrero, a huge win in the War on Terror.
Feel Lucky, punk?

More Propaganda Headlines

Here's an interesting headline:
Hamas predicts new uprising if no peace progress
From Reuters, of course.


They're the elected government!

In the text, they say:
The militant Islamist group Hamas warned Israel on Saturday of a third uprising unless there was progress toward a Palestinian state based on pre-1967 borders.


More like Threatens.

The media deliberately obfuscates the truth.

Remedy for Iran

From a brief but insightful essay, a memo to the Administration:
The realists want the U.S. out of Iraq. So do the Iranians. The realists want stability in the region. So do the Iranians. The realists, in light of their record, don’t really care by what means they accomplish this. Neither do the Iranians.

Where they part company is the point where the Iranian solution winds up with the Persian Gulf, and the bulk of the world’s oil supplies, in the hands of men to whom medievalism represents a progressive future. With American policy in the region effectively negated, our alliances dead letters, our influence nil. With tens, if not hundreds of thousands of refugees fleeing the Sunni and Kurd massacres in Iran’s new provinces. With the world economy in free fall. With Europe permanently cowed. With Asia, home of our closest allies, turning elsewhere for protection (the place to which they turn is spelled “C – h – i – n – a”). With Chavez’s Latin Reich program, which has been looking increasingly ragged in recent months, given a new lease on life.

And the Jihadis? Don’t worry about them – they’ll know what to do.

The realists don’t want this. They really don’t. They think they can finesse it all.
Which brings us to a third alternative: if the U.S. has to leave Iraq prematurely – something that is nowhere near as certain as current rhetoric makes it appear – it will only be after assuring that Iran cannot, at any point in the near future, take advantage of it. That means a military strike. This possibility has been discussed in light of Iran’s intransigence concerning its nuclear program. But the current situation has nothing directly to do with nuclear weapons. It has everything to do with keeping control of the Persian Gulf, and all that implies, in the hands of civilization.

The Iranians, in Dr. Kissinger’s words, believe that they are “in a position to challenge the entire world order.” They need to be persuaded otherwise, and that cannot be accomplished by negotiations, concessions, or even visits from Kofi Annan. The Iranians, as shown by every foul speech from Ahmadinejad, every threatening missile launch, every advanced, Iranian-designed bomb that goes off in Iraq, believe they can play in the big leagues.

Well – we can play, too. We’re not proposing, needless to say, invasion and occupation, which, as Iraq has demonstrated can have its drawbacks. We’re talking about a no-holds-barred attack by air, naval, and Special Forces assets, something along the lines outlined by Arthur Herman in his superb Commentary piece, “Getting Serious About Iran”. A strike that will leave Iran with no navy, no air force, no serious nuclear potential, and an army reduced to pre-20th century armaments and mobility. An Iran roughly in the same state as Saddam Hussein’s Iraq after the 1991 Gulf War.

This is the style of warfare for which the U.S. has no equal in history – cutting an opponent off at the knees, leaving him thoroughly incapacitated and utterly shamed, but with the means of national survival intact.
What such an attack will do is take Iran out of the strategic equation for the foreseeable future. It will gain Iraq a fighting chance, even without large numbers of U.S. troops. It will be a serious blow to the Jihadis. (The realists have said nothing about recent reports that Iran is trying to take over al Queda.) It will create a true, if relatively short, state of stability in the Middle East, representing an opportunity for local governments to solve short-term problems – including that of the Palestinians – and begin working on longer-term challenges represented by Iran and the Jihadis.
It will also serve to regain the U.S. a lot that has been lost in Iraq. The international left, along with various appeasers and hysterics, never intended to support the war either in Iraq or the war against the Jihadis in general. Their sole interest lay in attacking the U.S., no matter what the cost to the Iraqi people or the world in general. They knew there would be difficult moments – everyone did, Donald Rumsfeld included – and took advantage of each of them — Abu Ghraib, Fallujah, Halabja — to tear yet another piece out the U.S., undermining its role, its intentions, and its plans. Such an attack would rock these people back on their heels, as they well deserve, and go a long way toward restoring the respect that they’ve stolen from U.S. over the past three years.

As for the Muslim ummah – this would act as a good lesson as to the true nature of the strong horse. The Jihadis have run an outstanding propaganda campaign centered on Iraq. DVDs, cassette tapes, the Internet, have all been used to establish a myth of American stupidity and cowardice and Jihadi invincibility. A strike on Iran would make it clear that all the snipers and suicide bombers and IEDs in the world do not, in the end, add up to the power of a single stealth aircraft.
Iran has declared the destruction of another nation a state goal, has carried out threatening exercises in the Gulf, has provided weapons, guidance, and intelligence to the Iraqi rebels – assistance that has unquestionably resulted in the deaths of American troops. All of which is not even to mention Iranian defiance concerning nuclear weapons. Wars have been fought – and quite justifiably—for much less in the way of reasons than those.

Of course, there will be repercussions, most of them unforeseeable, some likely to be negative. But that’s one of the factors that nations must live with. We have a clear picture of what the results of doing nothing would be.
This cannot happen a moment too soon, and it is entirely feasible.

Politically impossible?

There's no way anyone can stop us if we simply choose to just do it.

The President should go before Congress and demand they either explain to the American people why we should continue to ignore the fact that the Islamic Republic of Iran has been in a state of War with the United States since 1979, or officially recognize it and act accordingly.

Ingesting Enemy Propaganda

The "fauxtography" scandal of actively doctored or staged photos being contributed by Hezbollah agents to the wire servicers like Reuters and AP during the Israel/hezbollah conflict in Lebanon recently was just the tip of the iceberg.

Jihadist stringers dominate thegathering of new in the Middle East and their propaganda is at best uncritically and at worst gleefully transmitted directly into our newspapers, becoming as good as fact.

Here are other examples.

What is your recent impression of Iraq? Anarchy spiralling out of control, from which our only option is to recoil and retreat?

How about that horrific story of six people being burned alive and four mosques burned down in sectarian strife?

Turnos out that is likely fantasy, made up by insurgent stringers.

And our own news "services" transmit it right to us in a way that would stagger Propaganda Minister Goebbels!

See here, where Flopping Aces investigates in detail the "source" of these anarchy stories:
The U.S. military said Saturday that Iraqi soldiers securing the Hurriyah area had found only one burned mosque and could not confirm reports that six Sunni civilians had been burned to death with kerosene.

I mean the only think I can take away from this report that has a ring of truth to it is the fact that the US and Iraqi forces engaged the enemy north of town killing up to 60 more of the enemy.
But it appears that our MSM is getting the “anarchy” stories from the enemy themselves. That cannot be trusted. I mean the big story yesterday was these six burned alive and now no one can find any evidence that this happened except the word of the enemy.
Doing a search via Google I began reading the stories printed about the burned six and each and every one had one thing in common. The only person stating that this incident happened was one Capt. Jamil Hussein. Every news report printed this man as the source of the information.
This Capt. Hussein is not authorized to speak officially!

And it turns out that this "source" has been responsible for a string of atrocity and anarchy stories dating back to the Spring -- with no other journalistic support than the word of this single unauthorized spokesperson.

This is responsible journalism? Flopping Aces continues:
His name is mentioned quite a bit when Sunni’s are attacked it seems.
Further work received this response from CENTCOM
Unfortunately, people posing as government officials often do call the media to make statements.

We have no confirmation that this event happened; so it is very likely that this is not a legitimate source. In addition, of the four mosques that were suppose to have been burned/destroyed at that time; we only confirmed one mosque was damaged by a fire that lasted an hour and then was extinguished with no casualties.
MOI [Ministry of Interior?] has apparently issued an edict that no one below the level of Chief can speak to the media. We have reminded AP of this but without proof that these spokesman are not employees, they have pretty much ignored us. (If you were a reporter, would who give up a primo source because of rank? Probably not.)
Of note, we definitely know that one IP [Iraqi Police] spokesman - Lt. Maithem Abdul Razzaq of the city’s Yarmouk police station (a.k.a. police Lt. Maitham Abdul-Razaq) is not authorized to speak on behalf of the IP and the MOI supposedly issued a warrant for his questioning.
Mark Twain has said,
I am personally acquainted with hundreds of journalists, and the opinion of the majority of them would not be worth tuppence in private, but when they speak in print it is the newspaper that is talking (the pygmy scribe is not visible) and then their utterances shake the community like the thunders of prophecy.
Do not fear the enemy, for your enemy can only take your life. It is far better that you fear the media, for they will steal your HONOR. That awful power, the public opinion of a nation, is created in America by a horde of ignorant, self-complacent simpletons who failed at ditching and shoemaking and fetched up in journalism on their way to the poorhouse.

For Your Weekend Reading Pleasure

The Summer 2006 Undersea Warfare magazine finally got posted. This issue looks pretty good; in addition to the annual "Force Organization Map" (listing boat's homeports and COs as of August 2006), there are articles on SSGN capabilities, SEALs and submarines, and submarine "Docs".

Happy reading!

The "Nuclear Power Bible"

A former USS San Francisco (SSN 711) Sailor has a great website, Vulpes Libertas, that a reader just brought to my attention. In addition to a section on what happened to SFO since the grounding, he has a section of "Submarine Art" that boat Sailors will appreciate (but others may find offensive). I personally liked the in-progress "Nuclear Power Bible". Some excerpts:
OI 1.1 The Creation
1.1-1 In the beginning was Rickover. Submarines were void and without form and the spirit of submarines patroled over the surface of the deep. And Rickover said "Let there be reactors", and there were reactors. Rickover saw the reactors were good and there was turnover and watch section clean-up, the first watch.
1.1-2 And Rickover said "Let there be two conditions, one to govern in port, and one to govern at sea". Rickover saw that the conditions were good. The greater condition he called condition two, and the lesser condition he called condition one and there was turnover and watch section clean-up, the second watch...
...1.1-6 And Rickover said "Lets make watchstanders in our image, male and also other males", and Rickover created watchstanders. Rickover saw that it was good and there was turnover and watch section clean-up, the sixth watch.
1.1-7 And Rickover looked at all he had created and saw that it was good, then he made procedures because he damn sure never rested any day of the week. And there was turnover and watch section clean-up, the seventh watch.
4.1-1 Chief Abraham
Chief Abraham had no petty officers in his division. Rickover came to Abraham and said "At this time next year, I will give you a petty offcer". So at the appointed time, a petty officer arrived in Chief Abraham's division, his name was PO3 Issac.
4.1-2 Rickover came once more to Chief Abraham. "Chief, I want you to sacrifice Issac, your only petty officer, at a critique." So Abraham took his only petty officer out into the wardroom and there prepared a critique. PO3 Issac asked his chief "Who is in trouble? What incident are we critiquing?". "Rickover will provide," said chief Abraham unto Issac.
4.1-3 Chief Abraham grabbed PO3 Issac to throw him into the wardroom, but an Engineer sent from Rickover stayed his hand. And there, caught in the passageway was a RAM 3400. Chief Abraham took the RAM 3400 and placed in the wardroom and it was sacrificed at the critique.
Some good stuff. I'm looking forward to his next installment, "The Poopy-Suit of Many Colors".

Home For Thanksgiving

This past week saw the return of the deployed submarines USS Alexandria (SSN 757) and USS Albany (SSN 753) (pictured below) to their homeports in time for the Thanksgiving holiday.

I'm thankful for their safe return from war, but on this day I'm especially thankful for the men who remain on the front lines while we celebrate safely in our homes; thankful that they give of themselves on and under the oceans, in the air, or in far-off lands. I'm also thankful for their families who wait patiently for their return -- your support for these brave men and women is what gives them the strength to continue.

To you and yours from me and mine -- Happy Thanksgiving!

Zamboni In The Boise Burger King Drive-Thru -- A Guy's Perspective

A story from Boise that's making the rounds of the national "News of the Weird" circles caught my attention today:
Two employees have been fired from the city of Boise's ice skating rink after making a midnight fast-food run — in a pair of Zambonis — earlier this month.
The ice-groomer jockeys, both temporary city employees whose names and ages weren’t released by Boise Parks and Recreation, had to negotiate at least one intersection with a traffic light on their late-night creep from Idaho Ice World.
An anonymous caller who alerted a telephone hot line set up by Boise Mayor Dave Bieter was gassing up his car at a nearby service station at about 12:30 a.m. on Nov. 10 when he saw the Zambonis roll through a Burger King drive-through, order food, and then return to the skating rink.
The rubber-tired vehicles, whose top speed is about 5 mph, drove about 1 1/2 miles in all, said Parks Department Director Jim Hall.
“They were fired immediately,” Hall said. “We’re pretty sure it was just the one time. When we interviewed them, they didn’t seem to be too concerned about it. I don’t think they understood the seriousness of it. Even if they had felt bad about it, they’re not going to be employed here.”
The incident was reported on a Web log,, whose author, David Frazier, has fought City Hall over such issues as whether the city must ask voters before going into debt to build an airport parking garage.
A manager at the Burger King contacted Wednesday confirmed the incident happened, but declined to comment further.
While these guys were being stupid, and they were punished for it, I actually support what they did. Why? It's because I, too, am a guy. Not a man, like Boise Guardian author Dave Frazier, whose post made sure this story got public attention for the purpose of trying to stifle further guy creativity. Seriously, who would you rather be in 30 years when his grandkids ask him what he did in the Naughties? Which would you rather say: "I exposed inefficiencies in Boise City government", or "I drove a Zamboni through a Burger King drive-through"? Speaking as a guy who once wasted government resources by paging my boss six times in two hours with "Low Battery" pages (resulting in the discarding of two sets of perfectly good pager batteries), I'd chose the latter. I think most submariners who were never ORSE Board members would chose the same.

Hopefully the Internet's defender of guy-dom, Dave Barry, will give these guys the props they deserve.

Update 1808 22 Nov: This just in -- an actual, totally non-photoshopped picture of the incident! Must credit Bubblehead!

Why would anyone want to harsh these guy's mellows?

Update 1819 22 Nov: Speaking of Burger King, how long did it take you to notice what was wrong with this picture?

Update On JDS Asashio

The Japanese training submarine JDS Asashio, which collided with a Panamanian-flagged chemical tanker yesterday, has pulled into port for inspection. From the article:
The Asashio was cruising submerged with its periscope up when the crew felt a shock. It made contact with the tanker at around 9:49 a.m. Because the sub crew did not immediately realize the cause of the impact, it maintained course, the MSDF officials said.
According to the Japan Coast Guard, the tanker also kept to its course, unaware that the impact it felt came from a submarine.
Later in the day, the tanker arrived at Shibushi port in Kagoshima Prefecture to undergo an inspection, and the Asashio arrived at Aburatsu port, as instructed by Japan Coast Guard, for questioning, the MSDF said.
The article also has a picture of the sub's damaged rudder; I wouldn't want to submerge in that thing until it gets fixed:

(Note for non-submariners: The rudder is supposed to be vertical.)

Staying at PD...

People Need To Settle Down

I wasn't surprised this weekend when a meme spread through the "progressive" side of the 'net that resurrected the "we're about to attack Iran with the Eisenhower and Enterprise Strike Groups" pre-election scare. This seemed to get a new jump-start from an article by former Gary Hart military advisor William Lind saying that:
Sources indicate increasing indications of 'something big' happening between the Nov. 7 congressional election and Christmas. That could be the long-planned attack on Iran.
This was coupled with an article by someone named Dr. Elias Alkeh that said:
The US and NATO countries had amassed the largest military armada in the Middle East. The US armada consists of Carrier Strike Group 12 led by nuclear powered aircraft carrier USS Enterprise, Eisenhower Strike Group – another nuclear powered aircraft carrier with accompanied military vessels and submarines, Expeditionary Strike Group 5 with multiple attack vessels led by aircraft carrier USS Boxer, the Iowa Jima Expeditionary Strike Group, and the US Coast Guard. Canada has sent its anti-submarine HMCS Ottawa frigate to join the American Armada in the Persian Gulf. On October 1st the USS Enterprise Striking Group had crossed the Suez Canal to Join NATO armada at the eastern shores of the Mediterranean Sea.
Emphasis mine. As usual, the moonbats had no clue about how normal military deployments actually work, and decided that a routine Strike and Expeditionary Strike Group relief indicated that we were about to attack Iran. Interestingly, the wailing and gnashing of teeth continued throughout the 'net throughout the weekend, despite the fact that the Enterprise pulled back into her homeport of Norfolk on Saturday.

I'm not surprised that the tin-foil hat crowd continued to bray about the issue without regard to the facts, but I'm kind of surprised that the very respected Hugh Hewitt asked about the "four carriers in the Gulf" reports, and as of this posting, none of his commenters had mentioned that the Enterprise had come home.

For those who were still wondering -- no, we're not about to attack Iran. If we were, there would be warning signs that people experienced with the military would recognize. I'm not seeing any of them.

Somewhat off topic, the aforementioned William Lind used to be fairly influential before his tinfoil hat cut off circulation to his brain; I remember him addressing the NROTC unit at the University of Kansas when I was there back in the mid-80s. Back then, he talked about how we needed to switch from nuclear subs to diesel ones. He's still pushing that point (using the recent Kitty Hawk v. Chinese Song-class sub encounter as a goad) in an article he put out today. In it, he says:
Another lesson is that diesel-electric subs can be as effective or more effective than nuclear boats in same situations. The U.S. Navy hates the very idea of non-nuclear submarines and therefore pretends they don't count for much. You can buy four to eight modern diesel-electric submarines for the cost of a single American "U-cruiser" nuke boat.
At this point, the Chinese sub's successful interception of our carrier does raise an interesting question: how was that sub in the right position to make an interception? What a nuclear submarine can do but a diesel-electric sub cannot is undertake along, high-speed chase. Was it just dumb luck the Chinese sub was were we were in effect ran into it? Or were the Chinese able to coordinate the sub's movement over time with successful tracking of our carrier battle group? If the latter is the case, the Chinese Navy may be starting to become a real navy instead of just a collection of ships. That transformation is far more important than whether China has this or that piece of equipment. It won't happen fast, but it bears watching.
Or does it? The somewhat regrettable message from the world of real war, Fourth Generation war, is that deep-water battles or prospective battles between navies means little if anything. Speculating about the balance between U.S. Navy aircraft carriers and Chinese submarines is like wondering what would happen at Trafalgar if the French Admiral Villeneuve's van had responded immediately to his signal to wear and support the center of the Allies' line, or Admiral Gravina had led his Squadron of Observation straight for the British Vice-Admiral Cuthbert Collingwood's column. It's fun to think about -- personally, I enjoyed it immensely -- but c'est ne pas la guerre: It isn't war. Control of coastal and inland waters may play highly important roles in Fourth Generation war, but deep water naval battles like the Glorious First of June, if they occur, will be jousting contests, with broomsticks. In real war, the U.S. Coast Guard may be more useful than the U.S. Navy.
That is the real lesson of the Chinese sub incident: the U.S. Navy, like the U.S. Air Force, without a torpedo fired or a single dogfight, is on its way to Davy Jones's Locker through sheer intellectual inanition. Preparing endlessly for another carrier war in the Pacific against the Imperial Japanese navy, it has become a historical artifact.
Normally, I'd feel the need to argue against his thesis, but based on his demonstrated idiocy discussed above, I don't feel it's necessary. If you have the desire to either agree or disagree with him, though, feel free to start a discussion in the comments.

Update 2305 21 Nov: For those who like to get ahead of the game, here's the next thing the moonbats will be holding up as "proof" we're about to attack Iran:
Stennis, Reagan Strike Groups Join Forces, Make Carrier Task Force

Here's what they'll say: Two carriers never work together! The John C. Stennis is about to deploy, even though they just finished an overhaul last year! Bush is a warmonger! It's all Israel's fault! (Actually, they say that last one about any news item.)

Little Ship, Big Ocean

In what many may see as an ironic accident, a Japanese submarine, JDS Asashio (SS 589 / TSS 3601), reportedly brushed against a Panamanian-flagged 4,000 ton merchant, the M/V Spring Auster, while surfacing off the southern coast of Kyushu earlier today (tomorrow on the other side of the dateline). From the AP report:
None of its crew of 16 Philippine nationals and a South Korean was hurt, but the extent of the damage was not immediately known, he said.
No injuries were reported among the 75 crew on the submarine Asashio. It apparently hit the ship's hull while surfacing, and the top part of the submarine's aft fin had been dented by the impact, the defense spokesman said.
The cause of the accident was not immediately known. The submarine had re-submerged and was expected to enter a nearby defense port for inspection, he said.
Coast Guard officials made radio contact with the Spring Auster, whose crew reported feeling a small impact. They maintained course because no other vessel was in sight, Nagasaki said.
Interestingly, lists the Asashio as a training submarine; it's apparently the newest of the Harushio-class boats. While it's hard to tell exactly what happened from this report, it looks to me like they came to PD underneath the merchant in preparation for surfacing. This would be a different scenario than when USS Greeneville (SSN 772) sank the Japanese fishing vessel Ehime Maru -- they did an emergency blow into the surface ship, which packs a much bigger wallop. Luckily for all involved, a controlled ascent to PD involves much lower forces in the event of a collision.

Old Technology Trumps New

Earlier today, I was telling my family about a story I remember reading back in my hometown newspaper about 20-25 years ago. It seems that at this amusement park somewhere in the South, the most popular ride was called "The Whirl" -- it was some sort of rotating contraption. The story went that the ride seized up just before Christmas break, which was one of the park's most busy times. The local mechanics looked at the ride, but couldn't figure out what was wrong; so, the company called the original manufacturer, who sent out a technician, who I think was named "Joey".
Anyway, Joey showed up, and could tell immediately what the problem was -- they had been using a new synthetic lubricant for the rotating gears. He said that the new stuff would break down in less than half the time of the lubricant called for in the specs: animal fat. So, he told the park management to get about 50 pounds of lard, and he'd get it up and running in no time.
While they sent someone out to find that, he took the time to check out the other equipment in the park that his company had made. The animal fat came back sooner than expected, and the park manager was frantic to get "The Whirl" back up and running. "Where's Joey?", he asked. No one knew, so he went to the park's PA system and made an announcement:

"Joey, to The Whirl -- the lard has come!"

HP And The OOTP Teaser Trailer

[Intel Source: Right Mind] For all you Harry Potter fans out there -- a 1 minute "teaser trailer" that was clearly taken by someone with a portable camera in a theater.

Less than eight months until the 5th movie comes out, and probably about the same amount of time until the 7th book.

Movie Review: "Casino Royale"

While I've always been a James Bond fan, the last two movies really let me down; while you normally have to suspend disbelief a little bit, they were just over the top. (I admit that my opinion might be slanted because of the absolutely ridiculous submarine finale of "The World Is Not Enough".) I like the films in which Bond is portrayed as the cold-blooded assassin, because let's face it -- that's what he is. Needless to say, I didn't like Roger Moore as Bond.

The makers of Casino Royale were smart -- they "reset" the Bond character back to the beginning of his "00" career, and set it in the present day. While I was disappointed that they seemed to imply that his military background was in the SAS rather than the Navy, everything else worked very well. You get the feeling that Bond is still "learning the ropes" as a Double-O; he makes mistakes, he studies his face in the mirror, he wonders if he's losing his soul -- in other words, the character is more complex than we've seen him in quite a while. (My oldest son thought it made him too "wussified", but I thought it made for a better story.)

The new Bond, Daniel Craig, did a good job -- I'm not saying that he did better than Sean Connery would have done in his prime with the same script, but he was believable as Bond. SubBasket thought he was quite good looking and buff; I had no opinion on that score.

One quick spoiler: If you see it, don't start collecting your stuff to leave when Bond is canoodling with the girl after the mission is "done" -- there's still quite a bit of movie left. Overall, I think it was my favorite Bond movie ever -- even better than From Russia With Love -- and probably the best movie I've seen all year. I give it 4 1/2 thigh-clenching torture scenes out of five.

Ninme Turns Two!

It's Ninme's 2nd blogiversary -- head on over, congratulate her, and tell her it's time she revealed what "Ninme" means...

Nice Picture Of The Ohio

It's a few weeks old, but here's a Navy NewsStand picture of USS Ohio (SSGN 726) in the Hood Canal last month:

If you download the high-res version here, you'll be able to clearly see both of the Dry Deck Shelters. Unfortunately, I don't know enough about the SSGN conversion to point out any other obvious changes from a normal T-hull, but maybe some of my readers can.

Did You Ever Worry About This?

Over at Navy NewsStand, they have a good picture of USS Asheville (SSN 758) as she was participating in the U.S.-Japan ANNUALEX that made the news this week because of the Chinese sub that was poking around. Here's the picture:

Do you notice anything? Other than the fact that Asheville seems to have had her B1rD system removed, nothing seems out of the ordinary. However, take a look at this blown-up portion of the picture, focusing on the bridge:

It still looks normal, and that's the problem. Many of us have stood watch on the bridge just like these guys, on the 751 and later boats. Look again -- where is the radar going to be pointing when it rotates another 270 degrees? How high off the top of the bridge is the radar elevated, and where does that correspond to the bodies of the people standing on top of the sail? You can see where I'm going here...

On surface ships, they have to tag out their radars whenever someone goes aloft. On subs, since there's no room to do that, they just had us stand there right in the middle of the beam without even giving us lead underwear. And we all thought that the reactor was the thing that was going to mess with our future kid's DNA...

This is just another in the long list of reasons that Sub Pay wasn't nearly as much as it should have been.

It's That Time Of Year Again

The 2006 Weblog Awards

The 2006 Weblog Awards are here! Last year, we had WillyShake, bothenook, and Alex Nunez nominated from the submarine blogosphere; this year, we hope to have even more finalists. To nominate someone, find the appropriate category and post a comment with the blog's name, URL, and RSS feed (if available). For example, here's what you'd post if you wanted to nominate, say, me in some category:

The Stupid Shall Be Punished

The hyperlinks get automatically added when you post your comment (Typepad does that), so all you'd have to do, theoretically, is copy and paste. For example, I nominated Ninme in the "Best of the Top 6751-8750 Blogs" Category because she has a really, really good blog. To find out where a blog is ranked in the TTLB Ecosystem, either find them on this list, or search around their blog and click on their TTLB link.

Let's start the circular nomination process! Just remember to get your nominations in by November 24th.

Another Submariner On The "Net

Through my referrer's log, I found Jim C. at DCS Security. Maybe we can convince him to share some of his submarine stories.

Update 2327 17 Nov: Jim's put some good submarine stuff up, here and here. The first link is a story that everyone should like -- it's about a NUB Ensign standing watch back in Maneuvering.

"Save The Cheerleader... Save The World"

Without a doubt, the best new television show this season is "Heroes". Those of us with a "Y" chromosome in the Bubblehead household watch it religiously, and we think we've figured out which way the storyline is going...

Deepdiver delivered the breakthrough when he picked up that Radioactive Guy said that he might "blow up like an atomic bomb" if he got killed. We realized that the nuclear explosion Hiro saw in the future in Manhattan probably wasn't a terrorist bomb (this is a Hollywood production, after all, and they certainly couldn't have terrorists committing attacks against the U.S. -- only Homeland Security agents would be allowed to do that), but instead was Radioactive Guy blowing up. That's when we realize why they need to "save the cheerleader" -- she can heal herself, but she can probably also heal others, but just doesn't know it yet. Either that, or Whiny Brother can use his "leech" ability to heal Radioactive Guy, and keep him from exploding, as long as the Cheerleader is close enough. We're pretty sure that Reaches Through Walls Dad and Electronic Circuit-Fixing Son will be needed to get the team of heroes into the Secret Government Prison where Radioactive Guy is being held; also, Reads Minds Cop will be needed to figure out that Hot Girl is working for the bad Cheerleader's Dad guy (who is probably a Government Agent). We're thinking that Hiro will be able to save Google Girl, and she'll do something useful. We still can't figure out how Jumps High Politician or Junkie Artist will be needed for the climax, but they'll probably fit in somehow -- maybe they'll distract Crazy Nutjob Mom. And we hope that Boring Indian Professor has been written out of the storyline long before it gets to that point.

We can't wait to see how it turns out...

USS Kitty Hawk And The Chinese Sub

The Drudge Report has a headline up right now saying: "PAPER: CHINA SUB STALKS USS KITTY HAWK". There's no link yet, and my search of my standard link sources doesn't turn anything up. So, this is pretty much a placeholder until something comes in. Of interest, the USS Kitty Hawk (CV 63), with portions of her Strike Group, just pulled into Sasebo last week as part of their group's "fall deployment". I expect the article will be some breathless claim that a Chinese sub was trailing the carrier. Absent from the article will be any indication that it's not tough at all for a submarine to trail a carrier; what's tough is doing it when they're at a heightened alert level and have a friendly submarine attached to them, without having the friendly submarine ready to take you out at any time.

Staying at PD...

Update 0513 13 Nov: Here's the article, from the Washington Times' Bill Gertz. It's even lamer than I thought; the Song-class diesel boat was spotted on the surface about five miles from the Kitty Hawk. So, either the Chinese were trying desperately to let us know that they could get that close to us, or this is another of a series of attempts by the Chinese to send their submarines farther afield where they just can't seem to stay undetected and/or submerged. Since they have nothing to gain by taunting us like that, I vote for the second option.

For some background: the Chinese were probably interested in checking out preparations for the Annualex 18G exercises taking place south of Kyushu. The media will probably try to make a big deal out of the presence of Asheville and Seawolf in the exercise, and claim that even our vaunted nuclear attack subs couldn't stop the Chinese sub from approaching the carrier. Even if that is true, it's more likely that the subs would have been some distance off, tasked with preparing for the exercise. To re-iterate: any decent diesel boat could approach this close to a carrier during peacetime. This doesn't mean they could do it during periods of heightened tensions. The Chinese Song-class sub is a tiny little 2,250 ton boat that is the first indigenously-designed Chinese boat; it's probably about two generations behind Western or Russian diesel boats.

Staying at PD...

Update 2303 13 Nov: It looks like ADM Fallon confirmed the basic accuracy of the facts presented in the story. Michelle Malkin, Allahpundit at Hot Air, and Daily Pundit collected some more reactions that are worth a read. Some of the comments to those posts are pretty good, and some are hilarious.

While I stand by my basic theory that this isn't necessarily something to get our panties in a wad about, there's one group I wanted to address specifically. If you're a Congressional staffer who's stumbled upon this post, you should forget everything I said above; your take-away should be: "I have to tell my boss to vote for more money for the Sub Force to counter the dangerous Chinese submarine threat."

Update 2359 13 Nov: Eric at The Sub Report blog adds his thoughts to the debate.

Update 2246 19 Nov: Vigilis at Molten Eagle has more thoughts.

Movie Reviews: "Flags Of Our Fathers", "One Night With The King", and "Borat"

After about a month of no movie-going, I tried to make up for it with a vengence this week by going to three. Here are my short thoughts on these movies, in the order I attended them:

Flags of our Fathers: This isn't one of those movies where you're going to walk out all energized and loving life. While the most fascinating sequences are the ones of combat action on Iwo Jima, the overall "downer" tone of the movie comes from the scenes of the surviving Iwo Jima flag-raisers trying to reconcile what they've seen with doing what's expected of them back home. The last 15 minutes are pretty much complete anti-climax, but I think they contain the heart of Eastwood's attempt to redefine what "heroism" really means. I've never been in land combat, but I've read a lot about Iwo Jima, and it seems like the movie does a pretty good job of showing what the fighting in this hellhole was actually like. Based on that, I'm really looking forward to Eastwood's "companion" piece, Letters from Iwo Jima, that's due out next year -- it purports to tell the story of Iwo Jima from the Japanese perspective.

One Night with the King: Basically, the story of Esther from the Old Testament. I liked it a lot; it was better than the standard Bible story movie, in that you didn't have a feeling that you were going to see a plane flying by in the distance at any time. They made some changes to the biblical story to make for a better movie narrative, but this didn't take away from the main themes: faith in God will be rewarded, and true love conquers all. (Off topic: Ever since we went to the movie, SubBasket has been asking when I'm going to become all bronzed and muscular like the King Xerxes character. I told her that's a ship that unfortunately has already sailed...)

Borat: I'm not sure where to begin here; I had read most of the reviews of the movie, so I wasn't as surprised (or shocked) as most of the audience by some of the stunts they pulled. Cutting to the chase: If you like South Park and the Monty Python movies (particularly "Life of Brian") you'll probably like Borat -- unless you really have something against nude men wrestling around in disturbing positions. If you're at all sensitive about having everything you hold dear being abused, though, you probably shouldn't go. The movie's been #1 for two weeks in a row now, and has spawned a couple of lawsuits, so it can't be all bad. (I don't think the lawsuit by the frat boys has any merit, although I think the Romanian villager who was filmed with the "rubber fist" sex toy taped to the stub of his arm has a better case.)

I can highly recommend the first two movies; as far as "Borat" goes, you'll have to decide for yourself.

Thanks For Helping!

Thanks to everyone who contributed over the last few days, the Project Valour-IT Veterans Day 2006 fundraising drive was a success; as of 2300 EST, the four teams have combined to raise over $180,000 to help our injured troops.

If you haven't contributed yet, there's still time; I recommend helping Team Air Force, since they're still a little short of their goal.

Happy Veterans Day

Eighty-eight years ago today, on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, America's first great overseas crusade came to a successful end. Each year on the anniversary of this victory, we honor the service of all Veterans. Here's part of what the Secretary of the Navy, Donald Winter, had to say:
On Veteran’s Day, America honors those who have served in uniform. It is a day that reminds us that a nation’s freedom exists only as long as its citizens are willing to defend it.
Throughout our history, brave Americans have answered the call to duty in defense of this nation. Those who have fallen while following this path of honor will forever live as heroes in the annals of American history, and we will always stand humbled by their sacrifice. You who serve today do so willingly with unbounded dedication -- stepping forward to ensure that the freedom we enjoy as a nation is protected from those who wish to take it away.
America’s destiny as a beacon of liberty in a turbulent world is built on the courage and patriotic devotion of all who serve. Let us resolve to be worthy of the sacrifices made by our nation’s veterans.
The message sent out by the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs is here. To all those who've served, or loved those who did: Thank you for supporting our freedoms.

Helping Out The Marines

Thanks to everyone's great participation (plus a little assist from Power Line), Team NAVY has reached our goal of collecting $45K for the Project Valour-IT Veterans Day 2006 fundraising drive. Now, it's time for the Navy to do what they do best, and help get the Marines to where they need to go. If you have a little change left over to help provide Voice-Activated Laptops for OUR Injured Troops, just click on the "Make A Donation" button below -- you'll be helping out some people who really need it, plus helping out the U.S. Marines on their birthday.

You can still bid on the most excellent stuff over at the Valour-IT auction, including the USS Seawolf coins I have up for bid -- that auction closes tomorrow morning, though, so you'll have to hurry.

Update 2347 10 Nov: It turns out that I was a little confused about the time conversion, so the auction for my items actually ended late tonight (Mountain time). Seawitch from Thoughts By Seawitch was the high bidder, donating $100 to Project Valour-IT, and now finds herself the proud owner some some high quality USS Seawolf memorabilia.

From The SecVet: Wear Your Medals On Saturday

From the Department of Veterans Affairs website:

WASHINGTON – Secretary of Veterans Affairs Jim Nicholson called on veterans across the country to pin on their military medals Saturday as a show of patriotism on Veterans Day.
"On this holiday we honor the 24 million among us who once wore our nation’s uniforms to serve the cause of liberty," he said. "By displaying their medals, veterans can band together again by to show their pride in America and its Armed Forces on this special day."
Nicholson launched the "Veterans Pride Initiative” for Veterans Day 2006 to encourage the wearing of military medals as a gesture of patriotism. Veterans are urged to show their medals no matter what they are doing on Veterans Day, but especially when attending public events. Nicholson said he hopes to see the movement become a tradition.
Additional information about the initiative is featured at VA's Web site at, where veterans can also learn how to replace mislaid medals or confirm the decorations to which they are entitled.
Nicholson said he hopes veterans will sustain the trend by wearing medals on Memorial Day and the Fourth of July, and continue to show pride in their military service on these patriotic holidays for years to come.
Major U.S. veterans organizations joined Nicholson at a recent kickoff to endorse the Veterans Pride Initiative.
They even have a poster publicizing the initiative (as a large PDF file; next year, they should make it a reasonably-sized .jpg to help us bloggers):

Personally, I never updated my large medal rack after about 1999 (I never had occasion to wear them after the Connecticut's commissioning -- I did my retirement in summer whites) and I know I'm missing at least one miniature medal. Still, I think if I go out in public I might at least wear my dolphins on Saturday...

NPTU Ballston Spa Shutdown

It appears that a regular maintenance shutdown at the Knolls Atomic Power Laboratory Kesselring Site ("NPTU Ballston Spa" to us Nucs) is lasting a lot longer than planned:
The reactors were shut down several weeks ago for regular maintenance, said spokesman Gene Terwilliger. But six large water valves were discovered to be improperly installed. Removing and reinstalling them will mean a much longer shutdown than inspection crews had at first anticipated.
``Normally, we would have been back up by now,'' Terwilliger said.
He said the valves would have operated normally but may have malfunctioned over the long term had the problem not been discovered and fixed. He said the issue did not pose any safety risk, to workers at the site or to the public.
But it does pose an inconvenience for 80 Navy personnel who had been training at Kesselring. Kesselring is operated by Lockheed Martin on a contract with the Navy to train sailors how to operate nuclear reactors that power submarines and aircraft carriers. Eighty personnel training in Milton were transferred to another training site in South Carolina, Terwilliger said.
The "transferring the students" part is what says it'll be a long shutdown. Reading between the lines, this is just a standard example of Naval Reactors being their normal anal selves -- which, in nuclear power, is a Good Thing (especially for the land-based prototypes).

And since a lot of the staff there won't be as busy for the foreseeable future as they would have been with students around, they might have more time to contribute to the Veteran's Day 2006 Fundraising Drive for Project Valour-IT -- there are only a couple of days left, and Team NAVY has a very tight lead to defend. And most importantly -- you don't have to be from NPTU Ballston Spa to contribute by hitting the "Make A Donation" button on the right.

Seeing the Unseen

One of Whittle's infrequent, but amusing and excellent, essays is here.

I just read it now.

It's amazing how certain ideas just spring forth at the same time; I like this essay particularly because he references the very same examples of Lincoln, Rome, Liberal Cognitive Egocentrism, the psychological impact of media misreporting biases, and Democrat statements of Hussein's imminent threat that I have recently alluded to! And ties it all together in the context of the raving 9/11 conspiracy commenter I revealed.

All in one neat package.

I'm rather sure he doesn't read my blog either... :)

Instead, this is some evidence of the sheer correctness and obviousness of what I've been trying to convey.

Some excerpts:
Critical Thinking -- the ability to analyze data, determine it’s usefulness and fidelity, to learn how to assess reliability, question methodology, weigh expertise and all the rest -– is in shockingly short supply these days. It’s not just a shame; it’s an epidemic, it is a fatal metastasizing disease in a democracy where information is used by the public to make the decisions that steer the ship of state. For the ability to think critically allows us to see the unseen; to find the truth behind the falsehood, as well as the falsehood behind the truth.

Today, it seems that legions of people – growing legions – are falling victims to ideas and beliefs that on the face of it are patently false…things that are so clearly and obviously nuts that you really have to wonder what deep, mighty engine of emotional need could possibly drive a brain so deep into a hole. Seriously now, there are millions and millions of people on this planet who will torture logic and reason to mind-bending extremes in order to believe monumentally ridiculous “theories”… theories drawn from an emotional need so warped and debased that you are catapulted beyond anger and disbelief directly into pathos and the desire to call 911 before these people hurt themselves.
People like Michael Moore and Bill Maher and Keith Olberman would not be able to figure out how to close the canopy on an F-102. These people would be weeping with fear when those afterburners light up and you barrel down that runway hoping that engine doesn’t flame out and roll you inverted into the asphalt, or when you’re rocketing through the soup at 300mph watching two little needles chase each other, praying the next thing you see out the window is a runway and not a mountain goat.

George W. Bush is not stupid. It’s not possible to be a moron and fly a supersonic jet fighter, and everyone knows it.

What George W. Bush is, however, is inarticulate. English is his second language. From what I can see he does not have a first language. Abraham Lincoln spoke in simple frontier language in an age of rhetorical flourish. Like Bush, he was considered a bumpkin and an idiot, and like Bush, he realized that there were times when having people misunderestimate you repeatedly was a real advantage. That’s goal-oriented. That’s playing the deep game. That’s cunning.

I personally have gotten to the point where Bush’s malapropisms cause me to look at the floor and shake my head with an affectionate smile, in much the same way supporters of his predecessor used to do with every new revelation of coerced sex from former employees. He is what he is. But he is a damn sight more intelligent than the graphic designer in the Mini Cooper with the Village Idiot sticker. Me, personally, I look at the man’s entire catalog of flaws in the same way Lincoln looked at Grant and his drinking: I can’t spare this man. He fights.
Now, let’s suppose the U.S. went into Djibouti with the Marines, and stole every single thing that’s produced there in a year…just grant the premise and say we stole every goddam thing they make. If we hauled away all of Djibouti’s annual wealth, how long would it run the U.S. Economy, which is 7,481 times greater?

Well, 8,760 hours divided by 7,481 gives you an answer of 1.17 hours. In other words, it takes the U.S. 1.17 hours to produce what Djibouti produces in a year.

If the US really did go in and steal everything that the bottom thirty countries in the world produce, it might power the US economy for two or three days.

Conversely, the billions and billions of dollars the US spends annually in aid, rent, etc. – plus uncounted billions more from private American charities – would supply the entire GDP of Djibouti for hundreds of years.

Where’s your Imperialism argument now?
Doves think the choice is between fighting or not fighting. Hawks think the choice is between fighting now or fighting later.
I cannot think of a single example where appeasement – giving in to an aggressive adversary in the hope that it will convince them to become peaceful themselves – has provided any lasting peace or security. I can say in complete honesty that I look forward to hearing of any historical example that shows it does.

What I do see are barbarian forces closing in and sacking Rome because the Romans no longer had the will to defend themselves. Payments of tribute to the barbarian hordes only funded the creation of larger and better-armed hordes. The depredations of Viking Raiders throughout Northern Europe produced much in the way of ransom payments. The more ransom that was paid, the more aggressive and warlike the Vikings became. Why? Because it was working, that’s why.
This projection of rationality onto irrational people is the linchpin of the liberal failure to understand human nature.
Telling reasonable people what they want to hear is a survival skill for criminals [and terrorists]. They don’t get very far without knowing how to play people.

Recent reports of the advanced state of the Iraqi nuclear weapons program, and the confirmed presence of 700+ chemical shells leaves this chestnut in some disarray. However, even if you take that away, the entire concept is a cowardly and petty retreat spoken by people who know better.

Here is a pretty decent encapsulation of what both Republicans and Democrats had to say about Saddam and WMD’s. You will find Bush’s and Rumsfeld’s rhetoric somewhat less adamant and warlike than that of Mr. and Mrs. Clinton, John Kerry, John Edwards, Al Gore, Robert Byrd, Nancy Pelosi, Hans Blix, Madeline Albright, Sandy Berger and all the rest. These were elected representatives who studied the same intelligence that the White House did, and came to the same conclusion.

Unfortunately for them, Al Gore in his unbridled enthusiasm went and invented the Internet, and so now there is a record of what they said and when, available to the great unwashed masses. It shows a group of people deeply concerned about what was a pressing threat to this country. And now, almost all of them claim they were lied to? Are they capable of reading intelligence reports themselves, or did Bush have to read it to them aloud, with them seated at his knee in My Pet Goat fashion, skipping the parts he didn’t think would make a good sell? Some people say that they did not get the same intelligence that Bush got.
As they say, read it all.

To top it off, I even was entranced by the same advertisement he saw as a boy in comics, about that backyard Nautilus submarine for $6.98 -- and I finally got to find out what it really was, which I had wondered about all this time.


This midterm election result is a signal from the voters. Unfortunately it is a rather crude instrument. The future hinges critically on the correct interpretation of this signal.

In the short run, the signal is being interpreted by foreign tyrants as a welcome relief from the pressures of reform and justice; the gloating has already begun. Thug regimes are looking forward to cutting deals, they hope, with a new "pragmatism" and realpolitik headed by a returning James Baker and his Iraq Commission.

They may or may not be justified in that hope.

It is the longer-term interpretation of the signal by our own government that matters most.

On the one hand, if the Democrats believe their own anti-Bush propaganda and take it as a mandate to pretend none of them had overwhelmingly voted to use force in Iraq, and to pretend none of them were saying how much of a threat Saddam Hussein was since at least 1996 when Clinton was bombing Iraq's ongoing WMD programs (which nobody seriously disputes existed at that time), and to refight issues from 3 years ago, then we will be ill-served.

But on the other hand, there is perhaps a ray of hope. Maybe, just maybe, their childish petulance that refused, through their lackeys in the MSM, to attribute ANY shred of positivity to a Bush policy, in retaliation for what they saw as "stolen" elections, will now dissipate.

Maybe, with Dems in power, the media will start to report good news on the economy and on Iraq, to make it appeaer the Democrat policies are magically making the world well again.

Perhaps the stunning success of Phase I of the Iraq campaign will be recognized: the adroit removal of a terrible tyrant who was buying off sanctions through the Oil for Food fraud, and the revelations of the Libyan nuclear program and AQ Khan's WMD technology blackmarket.

Avoidance of that recognition to this point makes no rational sense, but that's the human psychology. The "reaction from around the world" is already jubilation at the "downfall" of Bush policy. The media will portray this as foreigners liking us better, perhaps making much of America feel better about itself too. Perhaps morale will improve if the media stops its relentless propaganda that was designed to get Republicans out of power now that that aim has been achieved.

Those of us who knew what had to be done from the start will find this blatant delusional dishonesty galling of course, but we were always going to contribute to the effort of transforming the Middle East anyway. If this is the price of getting others on board, so be it.

It's that important.

So instead of trying to impeach Bush and Cheney, maybe the Democrats will move away from their smokescreen rhetorical issues, now that they have a way to get credit for success, and will provide some useful ideas.

I have never been a fan of one-party rule. A true loyal opposition, all along, would have been asking the following important questions. Perhaps they will ask them now.

For example, should Iraq be allowed to follow the natural course of history and divide along religion-ethnic lines?

Should the army be expanded by a division or two, and what incentives should be offered to encourage volunteers?

How to deal with a nuclear Pakistan after Musharraf, who can't last forever?

Or, maybe we'll find out that they were commie scum all along, and just can't stop themselves from continuing to destroy America from within for the sheer nihilistic pleasure of it.