Sailor, Rest Your Oar

The Navy Submarine family suffered a great loss recently with the sudden passing of CDR (Sel) Chris Riley, assigned to PEO Submarines in D.C. CDR Riley was on vacation with his wife and three children at Disney World when he died in his sleep last Sunday.

From a TEAM SUBMARINE update:
Chris' funeral will be in St Louis, Missouri on Thursday, January 3rd at 1200. NAVSEA will send a small official party to represent Chris' co-workers at the funeral.
There will be a memorial service in DC hosted by Chris' church on Saturday, January 5th at 1100. The entire NAVSEA family is invited to honor Chris and pay their respects to his family at this event. It will be held at the Metropolitan Baptist Church, 1225 R St, in Northwest Washington DC. Further details will be provided next week.
I expect a fund will be set up shortly to help the family, particularly for the education of Chris' three young children. In the meantime, condolences may be sent to:

CDR Chris Riley Memoriam
PEO SUBMARINES (PMS 450)
614 Sicard St SE
Washington Navy yard, DC 20376-7004

Update 1010 30 Dec: An ALSUBFOR message released yesterday has some biographical information on CDR Riley:
Chris graduated from the Naval Academy in 1992, a member of 13th Company. Following his commissioning, he attended Syracuse University where he earned a Masters Degree, and then entered the nuclear power training pipeline. After sea tours on USS L. Mendel Rivers (SSN 686) and USS Atlanta (SSN 712), and a tour as a watch officer at COMSUBLANT, Chris transitioned to the Engineering Duty Officer community. He served for three years with the Supervisor of Shipbuilding in Groton, Connecticut and then worked in Program Management under PEO Subs. Chris served on three programs, the Advanced Undersea Systems Program, the SSGN Conversion Program, and the Virginia Class Submarine Program. As the Virginia Test and Evaluation manager, he was responsible for the recent successful completion of lockout trunk testing on USS Hawaii in October of 2007.
Although I didn't work directly with Chris, I knew him "around the shipyard" when I was Eng on PCU Jimmy Carter in newcon; he was always well-respected on the waterfront and known as a "straight-shooter", which is the highest compliment you can give an EDO.

Update 1726 31 Dec 2007: Chapomatic offers some personal remembrances of CDR Riley here.

"Give Me Liberty, Or..."

I didn't want to disturb the peace and serenity of the Christmas season by posting this too close to the 25th, but this article from Navy Times really got my blood boiling. Excerpts:

So you’ve got liberty in Japan? First, fill out this form. Then, get your chief’s OK. And if you want to drink, don’t forget your liberty buddy. And remember to phone in each day, even on your weekend off.
Those are just some of the rules for sailors stationed in Japan aboard the carrier Kitty Hawk, at least until the ship hands over its berth next summer to the George Washington before its eventual decommissioning.
Kitty Hawk sailors are living with some of the strictest liberty rules in the Navy, even when their ship is at its home port in Yokosuka with other forward-deployed Naval Forces commands.
Every Kitty Hawk sailor E-6 and below, and anyone planning to drink off base, must have an authorized liberty buddy and a detailed individual liberty plan that requires approval from his superior. Any change to that plan must be reported and approved by the first khaki in the command chain. The liberty restrictions — often tightened after a spate of off-duty and alcohol-related incidents involving sailors — don’t always end there, according to sailors and fleet spokeswomen.
Several incidents occurred the week after Kitty Hawk returned from deployment Nov. 27. In response, the command tightened the policy by requiring departmental chiefs or officers to reach by phone or physically see each of their sailors E-6 and below every evening — even on weekends and regardless of marital status — to make sure they were following approved liberty plans.
The article contains a copy of a Seventh Fleet "Individual Liberty Plan" form; the Kitty Hawk's local "Liberty Mitigation Plan" form can be found here.

This seems to be the natural result of the Navy's "Cover Your Ass" policy with respect to liberty incidents. I guess I can understand the need for a "liberty buddy" at overseas ports, and that it's probably a good idea to get a signed statement from Sailors that, yes, they understand that they're subject to non-judicial punishment if they get stupid on the beach, but this is taking "intrusive leadership" too far, IMHO. I mean, c'mon, this is the Kitty Hawk's home port! At some point the constant treating Sailors as children (including senior Petty Officers) will result in some well-deserved backlash in the form of significantly reduced retention. (And let's face it -- Chiefs and officers can get just as dumb on liberty as blueshirts can.)

Jim at FEWL.NET offers a great perspective from a local Sailor on the restrictions here and here, and Skippy-San offers his own perspective here, pointing out that this policy essentially tells Sailors that they have no choice but to lie to the command in response to stupid policies. The response I liked best reportedly came from a retired Marine O-6 in an E-mail that's been making the rounds in military circles:
If I was the CNO, and I read this, I would immediately pick up the phone and call the CO of the Kitty Hawk, and ask if the story was true. If it was, I would relieve the CO over the phone, and ask for the XO. I would ask the XO if he agreed with this disgraceful policy. If he said yes, I would relieve him too.
Then I'd call the Battle Group Commander, the CO of the base, and every other person in the chain of command who should have stood up and ended these policies. And if they gave any bullshit excuses, I'd relieve them too.
Then I'd fly to Japan and personally apologize to the Sailors on the Kitty Hawk that I allowed such assholes in positions of trust. And that it would never happen again.
This type of ass-covering leadership is despicable. It has no place in the Navy, or any other service. It is a cancer that eats away at the morale of our most precious asset--our people--and the trust that is essential to a warfighting organization.
If the Navy leadership in Japan thinks their primary duty in life is to prevent liberty incidents, bust them all to petty officer and have them stand shore patrol. They can then check all the ^%$$#$ liberty chits they want.

Fresh Food Underway

As a special treat, here's a rough draft of an article a submariner working in a Pentagon mess wrote up to submit to Undersea Warfare magazine; he's looking for comments from the readers here. Click on the "Read More" link to read the article, and use the comments for your feedback.

Fresh Food Underway

A look into the benefits of hydroponic plant systems

By CS2(SS) Timothy Poole, USN

The delicious aroma of slow cooking marina sauce with fresh basil; the sizzling sound of piping hot meatballs mixed with oregano, thyme, or parsley; and the thought of a large batch of spaghetti boiling over is enough to make any homesick sailor come running to the mess decks to grab a bench. The Silent Service is world famous for the quality of food they provide to their submariners. Or rather the dollar amount allotted to each boat's supply department.

Meals are crucial to a crew's morale. It is up to the boat's Culinary Specalists to plan and execute nutritious and tasty meals four times a day for as long as six months at a time. The use of fresh food is very limited, usually only lasting the first two weeks underway. In the weeks and months following deployment, the crew finds nutrition in frozen meats and vegetables. Though the chefs work hard to create delicious dishes, the added touch of freshness is obsolete living deep underwater.

For many years, the absence of sunlight has equaled the absence of fresh foods. However, the use of hydroponics can make the growth of fresh foods possible in a submarine. Hydroponics from the Greek language literally meaning "water labor" is the growth of plants without soil. In combination with artificial lighting, hydroponics creates controlled environmental agriculture.

How hydroponics works

Natural plant growth involves trapping sunlight with the use of water and carbon dioxide. The trapped sunlight is then converted into chemical energy, creating food for the plant and releasing oxygen as a byproduct. Plants are traditionally grown in soil to provide a medium to collect water, provide minerals, and support the plant's root structure. By modifying the growth process and reducing or eliminating the size of plant beds, smaller plants can be grown on submarines. For the purpose of this research, the focus will be to grow and sustain an herb garden on a submarine for use in meals.

Hydroponic devices allow plants roots to be watered with a nutrient solution replacing minerals that can be found in soil. This technology further eliminates the need for soil by providing man made support for root structures. The plant can then be enclosed to maintain temperature, and placed under direct artificial light to induce growth. All factors of growth - temperature, light, water, nutrients, and pH balance can be controlled for maximum results.

The benefits of artificial growth

Plant growth in non-agricultural locations
Many groups have seen the benefits of hydroponic plant growth. The hanging gardens of Babylon, one of the Seven Wonders of the World is considered an early day example of hydroponics. Built to please his wife, Nebuchadnezzar II brought lush gardens to present day Iraq in 600 B.C. Other examples in history include the floating gardens of the Aztecs in Mexico as well as those in China. Aside from aesthetic purposes, hydroponics is widely used for practical purposes. Farmers use hydroponics to provide vegetation year round regardless of the climate as well as large scale production. Hydroponics can improver farmer profits and provide for an increasing demanding society leaning toward healthier trends. Looking toward the future, NASA has been developing hydroponic plant growth to sustain long missions in space. Further, as we continue to explore life on other planets, hydroponics can help future missions to support humans on other planets.

Ease of use
The initial development of hydroponic devices custom built for attack submarines (SSN or fast attacks) or fleet ballistic missile submarines (SSBN) will take some time to develop given restriction on available space. However, once the system is established, only basic agricultural skills are needed to maintain plant life. If implemented, the Navy will undoubtedly produce a Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) on how much water and light is needed to maximize growth. Care will have to be given to monitor the pH balance and adjust the climate in order to stimulate or reduce growth as necessary. In addition, without soil there is no threat to a plant's life by way of soil borne disease or weeds.

Efficiency
A hydroponic system is more efficient than natural plant growth in a variety of ways. First, the use of water is reduced due to the fact that water is being given directly to a plant's root. The root does not have to seek water from soil. Think of pouring a watering can over a plant bed as opposed to sitting a plant in a controlled amount of water. Second, hydroponic gardeners have found that their plants grow much faster as opposed to growth through traditional soil. Perhaps this is because the root is directly exposed to water and nutrients without having to seek such ingredients from the soil. Finally, the system is efficient because takes much less physical labor has opposed to traditional planting or gardening. On a small scale, the time and effort to grow herbs is quite minimal.

Control
A hydroponic system is in complete control of the planter. All aspects of plant life can be modified through temperature, direct or indirect light, quantity of water, and the amount of nutrients to which a plant is exposed. Gardeners can experiment in this controlled environment, changing the elements listed above to find which combinations maximize or diminish growth.

Nutrition and well-being
As plants consume carbon dioxide, they produce oxygen. In an environment such as a submarine, a plant would be the only living entity contributing to the oxygen supply as opposed to consuming the supply. In addition, plants provide a profound amount of nutrition necessary to a human diet to sustain life. Herbs in particular can provide the following:

Aloe Vera- sooths skin and digestive disorders

Echinacea- found to possess antibacterial and immune-boosting properties, helps to fight coughs, colds, viral, and upper respiratory infections

Garlic- reduces blood pressure, preventing heart disease, and preventing and reversing a stroke. It also fights infections and cancer.

Oregano- rich in antioxidant content

Rosemary- helps prevent and treat cancer, also a powerful brain booster to aid memory problems.

Saint Johns Wort- holds powerful anti-depression properties

From the nutritional benefits listed above, it is easy to see how introducing fresh herbs to a group of submariners on an extended duty tour could help raise moral. Fresh food stimulates the body to perform and work to the best of its ability. In addition, the herbs mentally prepare sailors for the difficult duties they will have to endure. Taking care of the plants and maintaining the hydroponic systems can also increase sailor morale. Cultivating and maintaining a life form can bring pleasure and a sense of pride to caretaking duties, much as gardeners or farmers simply find pure joy in working with plants.

But?

There is still much to be considered before implementing a hydroponic system on a submarine. The first consideration is availability of space. As many know, every available inch of a submarine is utilized. The best solution would be to first implement a small system on an SSBN on a trial basis. It would have to be determined if the effort to develop a hydroponic system (time, money, and use of space) is worth the output of the system (morale, nutrition, substantial plant growth). In addition, is the input to create such a system worth the effort when submariners are currently getting by on an already fantastic feast provided by their chefs? Another consideration is the use of dried herbs in preparing meals. Is this solution enough to provide benefits to sailors?

A future for growth undersea

It is important to remember that our technology and our military are ever evolving. Hydroponics can allow flexible placement of plant life in a submarine setting to provide nutritional and morale benefits to our sailors. Roasted rosemary potatoes, garlic-herb chicken, herb encrusted tenderloin, and many more recipes are what could be enjoyed by submariners with the help of hydroponic plant systems. Look, I am not suggesting that we line the out-boards with tomato vines or grow fresh mint from a hanging basket back in manuerving(though it will make it smell better after taco night!) From the research that I have conducted all i need is a 3x3x3 space and I will be able to grow enough fresh herbs to make the crew crave their next meal. They could take part in the growth process, and take pride in their role to provide for the entire crew. Finally, they could be rewarded for the duty to their country which takes a tremendous amount of mental discipline. There is a movement in our society toward health and long life. Of the strongest, must be our military, which represent the United States to the world. Hydroponic systems in submarines could be the tool to keep our sailors healthy and strong in all environments they explore and defend. Adding fresh herbs to meals now could develop into the availability of fresh vegetables throughout extended tours in the future. Healthy minds and bodies are the best tools to safely complete a mission and serve the country.

"Lighten Up, Francis"

Lots of people probably missed it because it came out on Christmas Day, but Idaho was in the national news again recently -- actually, the Police Academy just up the road from me here in Meridian made the news. Excerpt:
Idaho law enforcement leaders say they were "mortified" when a group of state police academy graduates chose a slogan that many felt was just too gung-ho.
The slogan, "Don't suffer from PTSD, go out and cause it," was emblazoned on the Dec. 14 graduation programs for 43 officers who completed the Idaho Police Officer Standards and Training Academy's latest course...
...Apparently, each class at the academy is allowed to vote on its own slogan.
The latest group, with officers bound for 19 police agencies around the state, included military veterans interested in issues such as mental survival.
"Our class president was ex-military," Black said. "It slipped in."
Lots of people have expressed extreme moral and righteous indignation, including commenters in various newspaper forums and at least one local blogger, who wrote:
The decision by the current class of the Police Academy to send a message that they’re sadists who want to afflict others with PTSD will only make their jobs harder when they get on the streets of Idaho’s city and towns.
Sorry, but I really don't think that local police officers are out there to hurt and abuse the law-abiding citizens of Idaho -- they're here to protect their communities. And I really don't think there are a bunch of law-abiding citizens who will no longer cooperate with the police because a class motto made it out into the civilian world. Maybe I've led a sheltered life, but I've never had a problem with police officers wanting to hurt me for no reason at all, and I don't think there is a huge problem with police going out of their way to pick on people just innocently living their lives. I mean, c'mon, it's a class slogan from a "boot camp"-style course of instruction -- no one takes those things seriously! No one, that is, I guess, except for people here in Idaho with way too much time on their hands and too little sense of intentional irony. (Believe it or not, military people don't actually revel in causing unnecessary bloodshed and destruction, even if we joke about it once in a while.)

Santa's On His Way!

Remember you can track Santa at the NORAD Santa Tracker website throughout the day.

Update 1627 25 Dec: Here's the annual "Santa Visits The Boomer" video:



Merry Christmas to all!

War On Tacky Christmas Decorations

A reader (my youngest son) sent in an alarming article on one of the most dangerous trends in our beloved country -- people upset about Christmas Patriots decorating their lawns and homes with tacky, kitschy, mismatched holiday decorations. As a leading local practioner of the Gaudy Arts, I was shocked to hear about people with "good taste" and "a sense of decorum" causing problems for those of us who realize that lawns and homes should be festooned with large inflatables and have enough lights to make passing airliners think there's a landing strip below. Excerpts from the article:
"People have just rows and rows of things," says Kat Shumar, an Indianapolis homeowner and past vice president of her neighborhood association. "They've got Jesus next to Santa, and Mary with the elves -- it's just tacky."
Ms. Shumar is airing her grievances online. This season, she launched a Web site called [TackyChristmasYards], where she challenges people to find and send pictures of yards with the most "violations." Her list of violation categories includes "more is not less" and "multiple Clauses" (competing Santa figures). Under the category "fallen figurines," she implores people to restore to standing position the figures that have tipped over. "No one wants to see Mary and Joseph laying down as if involved in a deadly drive-by shooting," she writes...
...Police in some areas are also saying that the large inflatables -- which can range from 4 to 12 feet tall -- are attracting the attention of vandals who like to poke holes in them and deflate them. Last year in the Cincinnati area, two men were arrested after being caught on video stabbing a Frosty the Snowman with a screwdriver. This month in Lancaster, Pa., someone sliced the head off an inflatable Santa that the Ide family had in their front yard.
"The decorations were for people to enjoy, but I guess it didn't happen like we had hoped," says Jessica Ide.
It's up to us who enjoy the complete absurdity of temporarily lowering property values for miles around just to draw attention to ourselves to Fight The Power and continue to decorate our homes, lawns, and motor vehicles with increasingly outlandish and inappropriate "art". To the Scrooges and Grinches who don't appreciate it, I say: What more do I need to do to get featured on the TackyChristmasYards website?

Update 0805 24 Dec: Woo-hoo! I made it!

"Best And Brightest" JOs Getting Out?

Via Instapundit, Washington Monthly has an article examining why the "best and brightest" young officers are getting out of the Army. It included a statistic that, frankly, doesn't pass the smell test:

In the last four years, the exodus of junior officers from the Army has accelerated. In 2003, around 8 percent of junior officers with between four and nine years of experience left for other careers. Last year, the attrition rate leapt to 13 percent.
Those of us in the Submarine Force are certainly used to the higher number -- as I discussed before, the Sub Force is designed to need only about 38% of JOs to go on to a Department Head tour. Of note, a graph in this long report indicates that the Army currently has over 50% retention at the 7 YCS (Years of Commissioned Service) point -- and this is without offering hardly any officer retention bonuses.

What I wanted to discuss this weekend was the old meme that "the best JOs always get out" that is frequently heard on the boat. I knew quite a few good JOs who got out as soon as they could -- along with others who got out after post-JO shore duty -- but, from my perspective, they weren't always "the best". Now, I recognize my perspective as an officer who stayed in may be slightly warped, so I'm looking for your input: Did the "best" JOs generally get out? Or were they considered the "best" mostly by the people who didn't like the Navy much anyway, and saw their own attitudes reflected in the early-leaving officers they admired? The comments are open...

Bell-ringer 0024 29 Dec: Chap has more over at his place; he also looks at the IA angle. As one of the earlier Individual Augmentees (2003), I can say it looks like the Navy has really improved on the IA program in the last few years, and I really hope the Sub Force does a better job of making sure it's administered fairly than they do with the normal detailing process re: the "golden boy" officers.

Movie Reviews: "National Treasure II" And "Sweeney Todd"

Today was another "two movie" day; I saw the midnight showing of "National Treasure: Book of Secrets" and the noon showing of "Sweeney Todd". I was going to make it a triple-header with "Walk Hard" but ended up taking a nap instead.

Both movies I saw were OK. "National Treasure" started out with a real treat -- a no-crap "short" in the old "Goofy Over Sports" genre; this one had Goofy hooking up a home theater. (Being a jaded 21st century kind of guy, I kept expecting it to be full of product placement, or actually turn out to be a commercial. It ended up just being a funny cartoon.) The main feature suffered from a lot of the same problems you see in other sequels -- the need to do things just like the original movie, only more spectacular. I loved the original movie, and liked the characters, but this movie ended up taking away somehow from the original -- the characters (mostly) became less likeable. The movie also fell into the most common archeological film blunder -- the heroes exited the heretofore "undiscovered" treasurehouse through an obvious entry that surely would have attracted someone's attention throughout the centuries. (The most heinous example of this, of course, is in "Raiders of the Lost Ark", where a solitary building in the middle of the excavation area is one wall away from the Well of Souls, and no one has apparently bothered to check it out.) Overall, the movie would be a good standalone film, suffering only in comparison to the original, and gets a solid three Unsubtle Sequel Setups out of five. (Expect "National Treasure III: What's On Page 47?" in 2010.)

I was really looking forward to "Sweeney Todd" -- I'm a big fan of musicals, and had seen a production of this one in college back in the '80s. Being a Tim Burton film, it had really impressive camera work and mood-defining colors; unfortunately, it also had Burton's girlfriend in a leading role -- she's a fine actress, it just turns out that she can't really sing. Johnny Depp, on the other hand, can sing fine -- expect an Oscar nomination. "Sweeney Todd" is an interesting musical in that none of the songs has really entered the mainstream; it doesn't have a real "sing-along" quality to it anyway. The movie sticks very close to the story of the play, except it's a lot more graphic in the violence area -- well deserving of the "R" rating. The supporting cast was pretty good, featuring Borat, Snape, and Wormtail. With the exception of getting better singers, Burton probably did as well as anyone could with the story, but let's face it -- it's no "Mary Poppins". I give it a more squishy three Unexplained White Hair Streaks out of five.

Eating Roadkill Revisited

This old posting on eating roadkill continues to generate a lot of traffic -- lots of people are apparently interested in how to do this.

One hit came from a US Marine computer -- which kind of makes sense.

But a lot of anarcho-eco-weenies leave me brilliant comments like this one by an offended roadkill eater:
wow, whoever writes this blog is a fascist. hope you rot in the ground! :)
Hope you become roadkill! :-) :-)

See, the smileys make deathwishes acceptable. Fascists like me deserve to die anyway.

Quite surprisingly, here is actually a reasonably-written response in support of eating roadkill:
peter wrote:

I actually was looking for advice on how to eat roadkill when I stumbled on this forum... I'm going traveling next month and it seems to me like a good way to eat cheap and be self-sufficient. It's true, I guess, that we live like kings or gods compared to the people of the past... but it doesn't seem to me that our lives are so much better, really. Not like we're really any happier. Actually I find modern life kind of a drag. There just isn't the same kick to it when you're not responsible for your own survival. And all the retarded hoops one is expected to jump through for the privilege of living the life get pretty tiresome. I'm talking job applications, company policies, political correctness, dress codes, moral censorship, taxes, social decency, public education, curfews, lawyers, cops, and badly programmed traffic lights. That kinda thing. Really gets me down. I'd rather be out on the open road, gutting a dead rabbit with a utility knife and answering to nobody. If I want electricity, I'm smart enough to make my own, but for the most part I don't want it. I think civilization is an addiction. We did fine before it existed, but now that we've been hooked for just a few millennia we think we'd die without it.

But that's the great thing about primitive living, RDS: it doesn't interfere with your high-tech progressive civilized lifestyle AT ALL! You have complete freedom to enjoy your non-stop to Tokyo and your cell phone and so forth, while still reaping the benefits of the ancient Earth and its ecosystems: stuff like food, air, water, life, and so on. We can both live as we please and need not give each other any shit about it. I don't hate you, and I don't think your life is a waste.
Ok, this helps explain the appeal. I kind of get it now.

Thanks, peter, for not hating me -- much appreciated.

I would personally find scavenging a carcass less self-reliant than hunting and/or trapping, but I agree it's probably easier and it does save money.

Muslims Against Sharia

Someone's getting a clue.

Here's an interesting project:
Many people talk about the need to reform Islam. Now you can stop talking and start helping.

With the help of our readers we went through the Koran and removed every verse that we believe did not come from Allah, the Most Merciful, the Most Compassionate. However, it is possible that we missed something, and we could use your help. If you find verses in the reformed version of the Koran that promote violence, divisiveness, religious or gender superiority, bigotry, or discrimination, please let us know the number of the verse and the reason why it should be removed. Please email your suggestions to koran-AT-reformislam.org.

When we finish editing process, we would like to publish Reform Koran in as many languages as possible. If you could help with translation or distribution of the Reform Koran, please email us at koran-AT-reformislam.org. If you could provide financial support, please visit our support page.

In Memoriam of Aqsa Parvez.

reformislam.org
These are the verses they had to remove.

This is what was left.

Mr. Fusion?

In a few months, we could be hearing exciting news about breakthroughs in nuclear fusion!

If the results of this test project, the culmination of years of Navy-funded research, are successful, a commercially-working fusion reactor could be operating withing 5 years at a cost of a mere $200 million.

By comparison, mainstream fusion-research Tokamaks, on which decades of time and billions of dollars have been spent, are still decades away from viability at best, and likely will never work.

This is not any kind of "new physics" or crackpot research; the basic concept of the fusor was successfully producing fusion since the 1960s and has its roots in simple vacuum-tube technology, and was conceived by Philo Farnsworth who pioneered television. The problem was the original design was inefficient and required more energy to operate than was created -- but it was fusing nuclei essentially on a tabletop!

Fusors are so simple, a high school student can build one for about $500.

In fact, many hobbyists have done so.

The standard fusion approach assumes a magnetic field squeezes ions together and circulates them until they collide and fuse -- but ions are heavy and the magnetic energy required is immense.

Fusors instead work on the idea of using electric rather than magnetic forces to accelerate the ions linearly: imagine a negatively charged cathode that attracts ions towards it in a spherical configuration; as they rush to the center they reach high speeds and head-on collisions can cause fusion. Any ions that miss will gradually slow down after heading through the focus, and then be pulled back in, to recirculate until they fuse.

Simple!

The problem, however, is sometimes particles hit the metal cathode grid, and eventually (rather quickly) melt it...

Oops!

Enter Prof. Robert Bussard -- with a PhD from Princeton and a former assistant director of the Atomic Energy Commission. His redesign of the fusor concept into the "Polywell" device may have solved such problems.

Though he passed away last October, his last prototype seemed to work well enough that a scaled-up version was given $2 million in followup funding by the Navy last summer to be built and to try to replicate their previous results.

Yes, that's a shoestring budget. Here is the official site for Bussard's Polywell, where you can donate to speed it along if you like.

If successful it could send shockwaves through the fusion community! Of course, there can always be unforseen snags in attempting to scale up the device -- but as far as I can tell, there is no obvious reason it shouldn't work. No radical new technology is apparently required; the engineering issues are complex but appear tractable.

Bussard recently gave a talk at Google; you can see the long 90 minute lecture here, or a short highlight version here.

And here is a site with good links to info on the Polywell fusion topic.

The idea is to use magnetic fields to hold a cloud of electrons at the center of the sphere, eliminating the need for a physical metal grid that would melt. Electrons, being lighter, are much easier to contain than heavy ions. The electrons then pull in the ions by the electric force.

It takes energy, of course, to make the magnetic fields, and some electrons get lost. But with the right geometric arrangement of coils, Bussard believed the efficient containment was possible.

The really exciting thing is the reaction is not confined to lighter ions like Deuterium, which tokamaks had to use; such reactions produce excess neutrons which break down the machine eventually and make its parts radioactive.

The Polywell can easily produce energies (it's just a simple particle accelerator after all!) to fuse p-B11, that is, a proton with a Boron atom. Boron is a very plentiful element, and the fusion products are simply a trio of alpha particles, i.e. Helium! Non-radioactive Helium!

We've even got a shortage of Helium...

There are no extra neutrons and no high-energy gamma rays produced -- just a little x-ray energy, easily shieldable.

And yet another bonus is the Helium nuclei, being high-speed charged particles, can be directly converted into electricity with about 95% efficiency instead of having to be used to very innefficiently heat a substance to make steam to turn a turbine to make electricity.

And the reaction can also be used as a clean fusion rocket for space travel, which will suddenly make colonizing the solar system cost peanuts by comparison to chemical rockets!

The device may be too large to be a "Mr. Fusion" to power your car...but it might power your house!

Of course, you can get a mini fission reactor from Toshiba if that suits you better...Not a hoax!
The Toshiba mini reactor is for real. They’ve been having some discussions with remote towns in Alaska. It’s an updated version of the old Army mobile reactors from the 1950’s that were used in Greenland and Antarctica. The idea is to have a very stable, safe plant with a very long life without refueling. The real market is future industrial applications.
In any event, those banking on energy being expensive and rationed in the future are going to be disappointed...

Watch for news of the WB-7 Polywell!

And in a case of life imitating art imitating life, Bussard is already "memorialized" in the future, according to Star Trek:
In 1960, Bussard conceived of the Bussard ramjet, an interstellar space drive powered by hydrogen fusion using hydrogen collected using a magnetic field from the interstellar gas.
...
A highly fictionalized variation of this concept appears in the Star Trek series as part of the "warp drive" that allowed Starfleet ships to travel faster than the speed of light. In the series, Bussard Collectors or Bussard Ramscoops were in place on the front of the warp nacelles, where they could scoop in interstellar gases for use by the ships' propulsion and power systems.
Right around the corner!

Getting a Clue

The media is finally getting a clue on the myths of human-caused global warming, though they try to downplay it:
Small group of US experts insist global warming not man-made
WASHINGTON (AFP) - A small group of US experts stubbornly insist that, contrary to what the vast majority of their colleagues believe, humans may not be responsible for the warming of the planet Earth.

These experts believe that global warming is a natural phenomenon, and they point to reams of data they say supports their assertions.
Interesting word choices for what is supposed to be a non-opinion piece, eh?

Stubborn? Vast?

Too bad about those pesky reams of data though!

In mid-November the IPCC adopted a landmark report stating that the evidence of a human role in the warming of the planet was now "unequivocal."
...
Carbon pollution, emitted especially by the burning of oil, gas and coal [and every breath you take -- ed.], traps heat from the Sun, thus warming the Earth's surface and inflicting changes to weather systems.
Funny how carbon dioxide suddenly became "pollution", when you breathe it out and plants need it to live...
A group of US scientists however disagree, and have written an article on their views that is published in The International Journal of Climatology, a publication of Britain's Royal Meteorological Society.

"The observed pattern of warming, comparing surface and atmospheric temperature trends, doesn't show the characteristic fingerprint associated with greenhouse warming," wrote lead author David Douglas, a climate expert from the University of Rochester, in New York state.

"The inescapable conclusion is that human contribution is not significant and that observed increases in carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases make only a negligible contribution to climate warming," Douglas wrote.

According to co-author John Christi from the University of Alabama, satellite data "and independent balloon data agree that the atmospheric warming trends do not exceed those of the surface," while greenhouse models "demand that atmospheric trend values be two to three times greater."

Data from satellite observations "suggest that greenhouse models ignore negative feedback produced by clouds and by water vapor, that diminish the warming effects" of human carbon dioxide emissions.

The journal authors "have good reason, therefore, to believe that current climate models greatly overestimate the effects of greenhouse gases."
How big is this "small" and "stubborn" group of scientists?

Over 400 and growing!
Over 400 prominent scientists from more than two dozen countries recently voiced significant objections to major aspects of the so-called "consensus" on man-made global warming. These scientists, many of whom are current and former participants in the UN IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change), criticized the climate claims made by the UN IPCC and former Vice President Al Gore.
...
Even some in the establishment media now appear to be taking notice of the growing number of skeptical scientists. In October, the Washington Post Staff Writer Juliet Eilperin conceded the obvious, writing that climate skeptics "appear to be expanding rather than shrinking." Many scientists from around the world have dubbed 2007 as the year man-made global warming fears “bite the dust.” In addition, many scientists who are also progressive environmentalists believe climate fear promotion has "co-opted" the green movement.

This blockbuster Senate report lists the scientists by name, country of residence, and academic/institutional affiliation. It also features their own words, biographies, and weblinks to their peer reviewed studies and original source materials as gathered from public statements, various news outlets, and websites in 2007. This new “consensus busters” report is poised to redefine the debate.

Many of the scientists featured in this report consistently stated that numerous colleagues shared their views, but they will not speak out publicly for fear of retribution.
See the report for all the trashing of the UN fearmongering by real scientists.

And the Washington Times observes the trend:

Year of global cooling
Al Gore says global warming is a planetary emergency. It is difficult to see how this can be so when record low temperatures are being set all over the world. In 2007, hundreds of people died, not from global warming, but from cold weather hazards.

Since the mid-19th century, the mean global temperature has increased by 0.7 degrees Celsius. This slight warming is not unusual, and lies well within the range of natural variation. Carbon dioxide continues to build in the atmosphere, but the mean planetary temperature hasn't increased significantly for nearly nine years. Antarctica is getting colder. Neither the intensity nor the frequency of hurricanes has increased. The 2007 season was the third-quietest since 1966. In 2006 not a single hurricane made landfall in the U.S.

South America this year experienced one of its coldest winters in decades. In Buenos Aires, snow fell for the first time since the year 1918. Dozens of homeless people died from exposure. In Peru, 200 people died from the cold and thousands more became infected with respiratory diseases. Crops failed, livestock perished, and the Peruvian government declared a state of emergency.
And it goes on from there...

Realists Vs. Idealists

"Politics is the art of the possible" -- Otto von Bismarck

There's an interesting article in today's Idaho Statesman about a man in here in Meridian who's locked in a battle with the local irrigation district over less than $5 in late fees on his irrigation assessment -- fees that have resulted in a lien being put on his house. Most people will applaud the man's actions, standing up for his principles in the face of a heartless bureaucracy. While my heart is with his quest, my mind knows that quixotic endeavors like this normally don't turn out too well. That's because I'm a realist when it comes to politics and government.

A recent post by Sara at F-words made me realize that my political realism makes me stand out in the Idaho political blogosphere. What is "realism"? To me, it's an understanding that the system can be changed -- if at all -- only incrementally, and only by interacting reasonably with those currently in power. In the grand scheme of things, there's really not that much different between the leaders of our two major political parties. Both generally believe in American exceptionalism, the superiority of enlightened capitalism, and the need for America to protect itself from those who would harm us. (While Democrats like to make noise about opposing all three basic tenets, when push came to shove the Congressional leadership made sure that all the really important stuff got taken care of this year.)

Idealism, on the other hand, comes in many forms. The most common characteristic they share is a complete belief that their cause is Good, and all those who oppose them are Bad. They tend to deal in absolutes, and as such are more susceptible to believe conspiracy theories. While a realist will recognize, for instance, that Congress agreed to the Protect America Act this year because sober statesmen on each side of the aisle recognized that a new world required new methods of fighting terrorists, idealists believe that President Bush must be blackmailing Democrats who supported the bill with information gained through illegal wiretaps.

Here's the thing -- when the powers-that-be decide that something needs to be done, they get together and figure out how to make it happen, while still trying to spin their actions to appeal to their political base. Consider the reauthorization of the Patriot Act in the last Congress. The program is opposed by those on both the right and the left -- how did it pass so easily? In cases like this, the Whips of both parties poll their members, and figure out who absolutely won't vote for a bill and who would like to vote "nay" politically but are willing to do the right thing if needed. They count the votes, and then let the people who want to (often the ones with the toughest re-election fights) vote against the needed legislation. In cases where the parties don't work together (like the recent "game of chicken" on the resolution to impeach Vice President Cheney) you end up with humorous absurdities. Idealists on the left wonder why their leaders won't invest time and reputation in removing the Administration from office; realists in the Democratic Party know they have absolutely no chance of gaining a conviction in the Senate, and that such a move would backfire on them in the next election.

So who's right -- the Idealists or Realists? Our country needs idealists; their passion is what pushes eventual needed change (the abolitionists are a good example of this). On the other hand, realists are still needed to actually do the heavy lifting of running the country -- there really are people out there who want to hurt us, and we need to have adults in charge. It's fine to have the 5% of the people out there loudly supporting Ron Paul or Dennis Kucinich and wondering why everyone else doesn't see just how "right" their candidates are, but it's up to the realists to actually select the next President. And that's just the way it is.

More On The Submarine Weld Issue

When the news came out earlier this month about potential weld issues on Virginia-class submarines, I figured it was just another paperwork exercise -- someone doing a QA review for North Carolina's sea trials had found a discrepancy, and everyone had to jump through hoops to get all their paperwork in order. It turns out that there's a little bit more to it.

Articles in Virginia and Connecticut newspapers discuss the root cause of the problem -- welders at Newport News being allowed to carry filler material for more than one weld type. As a result, the probe is being extended to all ships worked on recently at Newport News:
An investigation of faulty pipe welds on Virginia-class submarines assembled at Northrop Grumman Newport News has been broadened to include aircraft carriers and another class of submarines.
The assessment will cover non-nuclear piping systems on carriers and subs repaired and built by shipyard workers in recent years, shipyard and Navy officials said Monday.
A shipyard spokeswoman described it as a precautionary move after the discovery in recent weeks of contaminated welds on some of the Virginia-class submarines the yard has assembled. It's possible that welders made the same mistake on other vessels - using the wrong type of metal weld filler to join non-nuclear piping systems...
...The internal piping systems under review carry such things as oil, air and water.
So far, seven ships beyond the Virginia-class subs have been targeted for an assessment, Dellapenta said. Four are carriers - the George H.W. Bush, the Carl Vinson, the Enterprise and the George Washington. The other three are Los Angeles-class attack submarines - the Toledo, the Newport News and the Oklahoma City.
The problem came to light when a couple of welds on PCU New Hampshire failed hydrostatic tests at EB; basically, welders at Newport News used copper alloy filler on CRES (corrosion-resistant stainles steel) socket welds. Having only been at EB myself, I know that it was always a big deal if we saw some welder carrying around more than one type of filler (it normally happened on the night shift). The articles don't say how long Newport News welders have been allowed to carry more than one type of filler -- does anyone know if they've always done it that way?

Update 0858 20 Dec: Springbored and Galrahn have more on the issue.

More Skimmer Nukes In The Future?

As it is now, about half of all students going through the enlisted Nuclear Power Training pipeline get assigned to surface ships (meaning carriers) -- all non-submarine volunteers, all women, and even a few Nukes who volunteer for submarine duty. If the Navy goes the direction the Congress wants in the 2008 Defense Authorization bill, there might be even more submarine volunteers getting pressed into skimmer duty:
House and Senate lawmakers are requiring the Navy to power its future classes of cruisers with nuclear reactors, unless the service decides that doing so isn't "in the national interest." This somewhat muddled provision is contained in the recently released fiscal 2008 defense authorization bill.
The provision states that all new ship classes of submarines, aircraft carriers and cruisers should be built with nuclear power plants. Since the Navy's plans for submarines and carriers already include nuclear propulsion, the provision would most directly affect the service's next-generation cruiser, designated CG(X). If nuclear powered, the service's designation for the ship would be CGN(X).
The Navy plans to award the contract for the lead ship of the CG(X) class of cruisers in 2011, at an estimated cost of $3.2 billion, and 18 more by 2023. Because of the long lead times needed to order nuclear components, procurement funds for the proposed cruiser's nuclear power plant would have to be included in the 2009 budget, currently being drafted by the Defense Department.
But if the Navy prefers to equip its future cruisers with conventional power, it does have an out. The measure states that with the budget request for the CG(X), the Defense secretary can submit a notification that "inclusion of an integrated nuclear power system is not in the national interest."
Nuclear-powered cruisers make sense on a lot of levels (especially considering the cost of oil) but it'll require a lot more Nukes in the Navy -- which means bigger re-enlistment bonuses for those who are already in. Everyone wins! (Still, the odds that the Navy won't exercise the "national interest" provision to opt out of CGNs are fairly low.)

Hilarious Halfway Night Video

Newly posted on YouTube is this really funny Halfway Night video from USS Alabama (Gold) back in 1996. Humorous bad word warning!

Last Call For Entries!

Just a reminder that entries for the Submarine Christmas Photoshop contest are due by 2359 EST on Sunday night! Just E-mail your entry to Eric at The Sub Report; the winner gets a "Hey, Shipwreck" DVD.

MAD Christmas Carols

A couple years back, I wrote a post about some funny parodies of Christmas carols that had appeared in MAD Magazine back in the 70s that have been cluttering my brain. Every December, my referrers log fills up with people doing Google Searches on these songs. I had written down the lyrics in that post to a couple of the more popular songs I remembered ("Sam and Roz Are Coming To Town" and "It Hangs Down From Our Chandelier"), and linked to some others I found. Some of those links are dead now, so I figured I should put the lyrics to some other songs down here for posterity.

"Wrap Your Gift" (found here):
(to the tune of "Deck the Halls")

Wrap your gifts with fingers agile, Fa la la...
Seal it up and mark it "fragile", Fa la la...
There's no reason to feel nervous, Fa la la, la la la...
You can trust the postal service, Fa la la...

Hear the postal worker singing, Fa la la...
As your parcel he is flinging, Fa la la...
See it crumple in the bin there, Fa la la, la la la...
Aren't you sorry you walked in there, Fa la la...

See your parcel speed to Philly, Fa la la...
Through the air to cousin Billy, Fa la la...
It will end up in Savanah, Fa la la, la la la...
Via Nome and Butte, Montana, Fa la la...
We Three Clods From Omaha Are:
We three clods from Omaha are
Spending Christmas Eve in a car
Driving, drinking,
Glasses clinking,
Who needs a lousy bar?

Ohh...
Drink to Charlie. Drink to Paul
Drink to friends we can't recall
Swerving, speeding
Signs unheeding
Drink to anything at all

We three clods are feeling no pain
Drunk as skunks with booze on the brain
Senses losing
'Til we're cruising
Into a wrong way lane

Ohh...
Drink to Melvin. Drink to Fred
Drink to those two trucks ahead
Headlights flashing
Screeching, crashing
Drink till they pronounce us dead
Oh Little Bank Americard (found here, along with other funny Christmas lyrics) :
Oh, little Bank Americard
You bring me Christmas Cheer
Without your clout
I have no doubt
No gifts I'd give this year.
Your credit line allows me
To run up bills quite large
And when I'm through
Exhausting you
I'll use my Master Charge.

(Same tune, sung in late February)

Oh, little Bank Americard
You bring me discontent
I calculate
Your int'rest rate
Is over (twelve) percent.
Each month, your cry for payments
My letter-box bombards;
I'm one more sap
Caught in your trap
Next year I'll just send cards.
I'm not sure about the interest rate number in this version being the same as in the original MAD Magazine article; the version I copied said "eighteen", but I'm pretty sure I remember it was a one syllable word.

Update 1255 15 Dec: After I posted, I did some more searching, and found that someone actually posted a scan of the entire article (here, here, and here) from the January 1977 issue, along with other MAD Magazine parodies. It turns out my memories were pretty accurate, but I did forget a couple songs, including "Out There On The Sidewalk" (to the tune of "Away In A Manger"):
Out there on the sidewalk a Santa Claus stands,
Beside a fake chimney, a bell in his hands;
A second one's smoking a smelly cigar;
A third one is picking his teeth in a bar;

A fourth Santa's trying to pick up a blonde;
A fifth one is drunk in the gutter beyond;
A sixth one is part of a window display;
The seventh and eighth ones appear to be gay;

They're fat and they're skinny, They're short and they're tall;
And none of them look like the real one at all;
With so many Santas it's tough to keep score --
Small wonder that kids don't believe any-more.

I'm Giving Up On The Broom Thing

Almost since I started blogging (and before) I've been a voice crying out in the wilderness against the new "tradition" of submarines coming back from sea trials with a broom flying from their sail. During WWII, a submarine only came into port flying the broom if they'd sunk every enemy they'd encountered -- frequently by means of firing off all their torpedoes over the course of several weeks in the face of determined enemy resistance. Here's an example of a submarine deservedly flying the broom:

PCU North Carolina (SSN 777) returned safely from Alpha Trials yesterday; these trials involve taking a submarine to sea for the first time in local waters. Sure, it's a tough job, but let's be honest -- it's not really on the order of shooting a charging enemy destroyer with a "down the throat" shot. Here's how the bridge of the North Carolina looked yesterday:

(I added the fuchsia arrow pointing out the broom on a chopped-down version of this photo.) Having been on a few Alpha Trials myself, I'm not going to blame the CO and crew for this; I know that the shipyard is usually responsible for wanting the Captain to fly the broom. I'll just have to be happy that my CO on Connecticut told the OOD to refuse permission for the shipyard to send the broom to the bridge when we came in from our very successful Alpha Trials; he had a good understanding of how to honor our predecessors. If we were the last boat to refuse the broom, so be it. I can only hope that the next generation of Captains come up with an unwritten rule that the broom should only be flown if ordnance was used against the enemy. If so, I'll applaud them. Until then, I'll try to keep my trap shut and just honor the men (and sometimes women) who skillfully take untried submarines out to sea.

Update 1030 21 Dec: Here's a short video of the North Carolina on the surface returning from Alpha Trials.

Bo's Bubblesphere Blog Roundup

Everyone should check out bothenook's roundup of recent submarine-related post by many of the talented submarine bloggers out there.

On a blog admin note: Birdie, I've been trying to reply to your E-mail, but it keeps getting kicked back. Send me an "e" if you have an alternate E-mail address.

My Congressman At "Work"

It's no secret that I'm not a big fan of my Congressman, Bill Sali. While I don't agree with a lot of his priorities, I've always thought that he was a man of principle -- he tends to vote his conscience, even when it might be politically unpopular. This week, though, he voted for something popular that seemed to go against his principles as previously expressed to me by his spokesman.

Back in October, Rep. Sali voted "Present" when Congress passed a resolution recognizing "the religious and historical significance of the festival of Diwali" (a Hindu festival). This came soon on the heels of Congressman Sali's controversial statements in opposition to having a Hindu prayer open the Senate earlier this year. Considering he had voted "Yes" on a similar resolution honoring Ramadan, I wrote to Mr. Sali's spokesman asking about the difference between the two votes. Here's what he said in return (previously posted by me at the Idaho Statesman's website):
Congressman Sali’s vote indicates that he neither approves nor disapproves of the resolution. Rather, it indicates he thinks the issue involved was unnecessary for House consideration. The problem we’re experiencing now is that the House is getting into the habit of recognizing the celebrations and rituals of many religions, which seems in a way rather condescending and, perhaps more substantively, is unnecessary in a country where freedom of religion is intrinsic to our way of life. Our Founders established a government that honors and protects liberty of religious practice for persons of all faiths. For more than two centuries, brave men and women have died to defend this freedom. Consequently, highlighting one ceremonial day after another seems not only redundant but also patronizing to the practitioners of the faith traditions followed in our great, free Republic.
Fair enough. Very idealistic, I thought. Well, it turns out he wasn't really that idealistic, in that he voted "Yes" this week on a resolution honoring Christmas. Is that surprising? No, but it is just a little bit disappointing. I can respect a man who stands up for what he believes in, even if I don't agree with it. To see a man like that turn into just another politician who says one thing and does another, though, is just sad.

Update 1455 14 December: Congressman Sali's spokesman, Wayne Hoffman, responded to my concerns thusly:
The content of the Christmas resolution is entirely consistent with Bill's work. Congressman Sali has been extremely involved in addressing human rights issues. He has been active on the issue of human trafficking (the 21 st century human slave trade), is a member of the Task Force on International Religious Freedom and the House Human Rights Caucus, two groups that have consistently worked to secure human rights around the world. You will note that, in addition to recognizing the importance of Christmas and recognizing the role played by Christians and Christianity in the formation of the U.S. and western civilization (which is entirely consistent with many, many statements Bill has made), the resolution also rejects the bigotry and persecution that has been directed against Christians.
Once again, I'll have to take Congressman Sali at his word, since there's no hard evidence otherwise. Still, it'll be interesting to see how Mr. Sali votes on future resolutions expressing support for non-Christian groups that also might call for rejecting bigotry and persecution of said groups.

PCU North Carolina Underway On Alpha Trials

Just a quick post while blogging from the Land of the Dial-up Internet Connection (more on that later). Despite the recent discovery of potential class-wide weld issues, PCU North Carolina (SSN 777) got underway yesterday for Alpha Sea Trials. Since they aren't "first of a class" trials, they should be pulling back in today -- hopefully without the damn broom on the sail.

Courage To Do Nothing

Interesting reporting at the U.S. Senate website for the Environment and Public Works committee, on The Courage To Do Nothing About Global Warming
Skeptical Scientists Urge World To ‘Have the Courage to Do Nothing' At UN Conference

BALI, Indonesia - An international team of scientists skeptical of man-made climate fears promoted by the UN and former Vice President Al Gore, descended on Bali this week to urge the world to "have the courage to do nothing" in response to UN demands.

Lord Christopher Monckton, a UK climate researcher, had a blunt message for UN climate conference participants on Monday.

"Climate change is a non-problem. The right answer to a non problem is to have the courage to do nothing," Monckton told participants.

"The UN conference is a complete waste of our time and your money and we should no longer pay the slightest attention to the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change,)" Monckton added. (LINK)
...
Evans, a mathematician who did carbon accounting for the Australian government, recently converted to a skeptical scientist about man-made global warming after reviewing the new scientific studies. (LINK)

"We now have quite a lot of evidence that carbon emissions definitely don't cause global warming. We have the missing [human] signature [in the atmosphere], we have the IPCC models being wrong and we have the lack of a temperature going up the last 5 years," Evans said in an interview with the Inhofe EPW Press Blog. Evans authored a November 28 2007 paper "Carbon Emissions Don't Cause Global Warming." (LINK)

Evans touted a new peer-reviewed study by a team of scientists appearing in the December 2007 issue of the International Journal of Climatology of the Royal Meteorological Society which found "Warming is naturally caused and shows no human influence." (LINK)

"Most of the people here have jobs that are very well paid and they depend on the idea that carbon emissions cause global warming. They are not going to be very receptive to the idea that well actually the science has gone off in a different direction," Evans explained.

[Inhofe EPW Press Blog Note: Several other recent peer-reviewed studies have cast considerable doubt about man-made global warming fears. For most recent sampling see:
New Peer-Reviewed Study finds 'Solar changes significantly alter climate' (11-3-07) (LINK)

New Peer-Reviewed Study Halves the Global Average Surface Temperature Trend 1980 - 2002 (LINK)

New Study finds Medieval Warm Period '0.3C Warmer than 20th Century' (LINK)

For a more comprehensive sampling of peer-reviewed studies earlier in 2007 see
New Peer-Reviewed Scientific Studies Chill Global Warming Fears LINK ]


UN IPCC reviewer and climate researcher Dr. Vincent Gray of New Zealand, an expert reviewer on every single draft of the IPCC reports since its inception going back to 1990, had a clear message to UN participants.

"There is no evidence that carbon dioxide increases are having any effect whatsoever on the climate," Gray, who shares in the Nobel Prize awarded to the UN IPCC, explained. (LINK)

"All the science of the IPCC is unsound. I have come to this conclusion after a very long time. If you examine every single proposition of the IPCC thoroughly, you find that the science somewhere fails," Gray, who wrote the book "The Greenhouse Delusion: A Critique of "Climate Change 2001," said.

"It fails not only from the data, but it fails in the statistics, and the mathematics," he added.
...
New Zealander Bryan Leland of the International Climate Science Coalition warned participants that all the UN promoted discussions of "carbon trading" should be viewed with suspicion.

"I am an energy engineer and I know something about electricity trading and I know enough about carbon trading and the inaccuracies of carbon trading to know that carbon trading is more about fraud than it is about anything else," Leland said.
And don't miss the cornucopia of related links at that site with such titles as:
Related Links:

New UN Children's Book Promotes Global Warming Fears to Kids (11-13-2006)

Scientists Counter AP Article Promoting Computer Model Climate Fears

New Peer-Reviewed Scientific Studies Chill Global Warming Fears

Newsweek Editor Calls Mag's Global Warming 'Deniers' Article 'Highly Contrived'

Newsweek's Climate Editorial Screed Violates Basic Standards of Journalism

Latest Scientific Studies Refute Fears of Greenland Melt

EPA to Probe E-mail Threatening to ‘Destroy' Career of Climate Skeptic

Prominent Scientists Reverse Belief in Man-made Global Warming - Now Skeptics

Senator Inhofe declares climate momentum shifting away from Gore (The Politico op ed)

Scientific Smackdown: Skeptics Voted The Clear Winners Against Global Warming Believers in Heated NYC Debate

Global Warming on Mars & Cosmic Ray Research Are Shattering Media Driven "Consensus'

Global Warming: The Momentum has Shifted to Climate Skeptics

Prominent French Scientist Reverses Belief in Global Warming - Now a Skeptic

Top Israeli Astrophysicist Recants His Belief in Manmade Global Warming - Now Says Sun Biggest Factor in Warming

Warming On Jupiter, Mars, Pluto, Neptune's Moon & Earth Linked to Increased Solar Activity, Scientists Say

Panel of Broadcast Meteorologists Reject Man-Made Global Warming Fears- Claim 95% of Weathermen Skeptical

MIT Climate Scientist Calls Fears of Global Warming 'Silly' - Equates Concerns to ‘Little Kids' Attempting to "Scare Each Other"

Weather Channel TV Host Goes 'Political'- Stars in Global Warming Film Accusing U.S. Government of ‘Criminal Neglect'

Weather Channel Climate Expert Calls for Decertifying Global Warming Skeptics

ABC-TV Meteorologist: I Don't Know A Single Weatherman Who Believes 'Man-Made Global Warming Hype'

The Weather Channel Climate Expert Refuses to Retract Call for Decertification for Global Warming Skeptics

Senator Inhofe Announces Public Release Of "Skeptic's Guide To Debunking Global Warming"
Do Nothing!

Nanny State

This is just too stupid; the Nanny State is in too much control:
U.S. refuses `Any Wounded Soldier' mail
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. - Hundreds of thousands of holiday cards and letters thanking wounded American troops for their sacrifice and wishing them well never reach their destination. They are returned to sender or thrown away unopened.

Since the Sept. 11 attacks and the anthrax scare, the Pentagon and the Postal Service have refused to deliver mail addressed simply to "Any Wounded Soldier" for fear terrorists or opponents of the war might send toxic substances or demoralizing messages.

"Are we going to forget our soldiers because we are running in fear?" Fena D'Ottavio asked.
Yes.

Apparently, grown adults, our true warriors, must be shielded from the slightest possibility of nasty words.

Better that not a single one gets the thanks from half a million ordinary Americans, than one might see something on paper that is no different than the venom that flows from the media every day!

How noble of the Nanny State!

How pathetic!

Here's someone with an idea:
Some groups are offering to forward mail to the troops. Aides to Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., are offering to accept letters, screen them through the U.S. Capitol mail operation, and get them to members of the armed forces.

Megan's Murderer's Law

US state of New Jersey moves to abolish death penalty

NEW YORK (AFP) - The US state senate of New Jersey has voted to replace the death penalty with life imprisonment, a major step toward becoming the first US state in three decades to abolish executions.

New Jersey senators voted 21-16 on Monday to get rid of capital punishment in favor of life without parole for the most serious offenders, and the state's general assembly is set to vote on the issue on Thursday.

With hefty support from New Jersey's Democratic-controlled assembly, the measure also enjoys the backing of Democratic governor Jon Corzine, who has vowed to sign it into law by January if lawmakers decide to pass it.

New Jersey voters largely oppose lifting the death penalty outright, however, backing execution for the most violent murders, according to an opinion poll released Tuesday by Quinnipiac University in Connecticut.
Who will benefit from this Democratic bleeding-heart posturing?
Among the death row inmates who would be spared is Jesse Timmendequas, a sex offender convicted of murdering 7-year-old Megan Kanka in 1994. That case sparked a Megan's Law, which requires law enforcement agencies to notify the public about convicted sex offenders living in their communities.
Of course in a sane world, Timmendequas would be long dead by now, but instead has been able to experience the miracle of life for the past 13 years -- unlike Megan.

Will Corzine and his vile cronies be proud to call this legislation "Megan's Murderer's Law"???

That's what it is, and we ought to call it that.

And who will suffer now?
Megan's parents: 'To offer them life is a disgrace to their victims'
Fake Virtue was flowing freely; their Mercy knew no bounds:
Republicans had sought to retain the death penalty for those who murder law enforcement officials, rape and murder children, and terrorists, but the [Democratically-controlled] Senate rejected the idea.
Just another reason in a huge growing list of why I can never, ever, vote for any Democrat until that party's values change.

Deterrent? There's lots of evidence executions save lives.
Using a panel data set of over 3,000 counties from 1977 to 1996, Professors Hashem Dezhbakhsh, Paul R. Rubin, and Joanna M. Shepherd of Emory University found that each execution, on average, results in 18 fewer murders.[17] Using state-level panel data from 1960 to 2000, Professors Dezhbakhsh and Shepherd were able to compare the relationship between executions and murder incidents before, during, and after the U.S. Supreme Court's death penalty moratorium.[18] They found that executions had a highly significant negative relationship with murder incidents. Additionally, the implementation of state moratoria is associated with the increased incidence of murders
.But that doesn't really matter to me, as it's the principle that's more important than the pure utilitarianism. But way to go New Jersy lawmakers, you just got dozens of your constituents murdered!

Common sense would suggest, too, that if someone has just committed a crime that will send them away essentially for life, that if there's no higher penalty then suddenly society's wise lawmakers have just given them a huge perverse incentive to murder all of the witnesses and to try to kill any police that try to arrest them, because they have nothing more to lose!

How to explain this rush to refuse to severely punish the sex-murderers of our children?

Item:
A pig farmer accused of being Canada's most prolific serial killer has been found guilty of second-degree murder.

Robert Pickton, 58, was being tried for the murders of six women whose remains were found on his Vancouver farm.

Under Canadian law a murder conviction leads to an automatic life sentence. Pickton must wait 10 years for possible parole. He pleaded not guilty.
Got that?

The most prolific serial killer, caught red-handed, will be eligible for parole in a mere 10 years! The jury couldn't bring themselves to call this first-degree murder!

Even with scenes straight out of horror movies:
Pickton is charged with killing 26 women. A trial date for the other 20 murder charges has not been set.

Pickton had been charged with first-degree murder but the jury lowered that to the less severe second-degree murder.

The BBC's Ian Gunn in Vancouver says this means the jury did not believe there was sufficient evidence that Pickton had pre-planned all the murders.

Police raided Pickton's farm in 2002 and found the dismembered remains and personal belongings of the women Pickton was accused of picking up from the streets of Vancouver.

Parts of two of the women's bodies were found in five-gallon buckets in Pickton's freezer, parts of the others were discovered in a dustbin, a pig pen, and buried in manure on the farm.

The 10-month trial heard from almost 130 witnesses, including Lynn Ellingson, who said she once walked in on the pig farmer, who was covered with blood, as Ms Papin's body hung from a chain in the farm's slaughterhouse.

Our correspondent reports that the pig farmer's lawyers argued that none of the evidence proved that he himself had murdered the women.
A witness finds him soaked in blood with a dead woman's body hanging from a chain and nobody can be sure he pre-planned the murders or even did them himself?

Multiple murders just happened, over and over, by accident?

On a whim?

Oh, that makes it ok then, eh?

This is an infection of know-nothingism.

Nobody can take a stand and make a judgment.

Item:
Why Are College Kids Mocking the Dead?

Photos of two Penn State students dressed up as Virginia Tech shooting victims on Halloween have ignited a firestorm of controversy. PJM’s Aaron Hanscom thinks it’s yet another example of young people treating murder as a victimless crime.

“I know everyone will remember me as some sort of monster but please understand that I just don’t want to be a burden on the ones that I care for my entire life. I just want to take a few peices (sic) of (expletive) with me.”

These words are taken from the suicide note of 19-year-old Robert Hawkins, the gunman who murdered eight people in an Omaha mall on December 5. While Hawkins succeeded in destroying innocent lives before taking his own, he incorrectly predicted how he’d be viewed by “everyone” in the aftermath of the massacre. Committing a monstrous crime, it turns out, doesn’t automatically qualify you as a monster in the eyes of many people. For example, sympathy—maybe even respect—for Hawkins is what’s expressed in an interview one of his friends gave to a local television station:

I don’t think anything less of him because I know that Robby would have never done anything like this just for the fun of it…He wanted to go out in style, and that’s what he did.

Apparently murder isn’t even enough to retire the usage of the diminutive form of the murderer’s name. In fact, the reporter also referred to Hawkins as “Robby” when asking the friend questions like “What are you thinking about now that you know that Robby was involved in this shooting?” (The word “commit” can’t be used by the nonjudgmental.) It’s hard to disagree with talk show host Dennis Prager when he makes the case that such rhetoric is symbolic of society’s inability to make moral condemnations.
...
Indeed, a report commissioned by the National Association of Scholars in 2002 found that, “A large majority of this year’s college graduates report that their professors tell them there are no clear and uniform standards of right and wrong.” That’s not surprising when you consider this selection from the text Peace and Conflict Studies by Professors David Barash and Charles Webel, which many students read in their peace studies classes:

Placing “terrorist” in quotation marks may be jarring for some readers, who consider the designation self-evident. We do so, however, not to minimize the horror of such acts but to emphasize the value of qualifying righteous indignation by the recognition that often one person’s “terrorist” is another’s “freedom fighter.”
Similarly, it should not be surprising there is no will to want to see what Iran is up to, in spite of what they plainly say and plainly do, let alone to do anything about it; Pensions and Investments Online says, for example:
Pensions & Investments has named the 10 naughtiest and 10 nicest individuals or firms who affected institutional investors in 2007. Here’s our list:

Who’s been naughty?

Joel Anderson: This California Assemblyman stepped on fiduciary toes when he pushed through an anti-terror law that will force CalPERS and CalSTRS to divest some $3.4 billion in holdings in defense- and energy-related companies that do business in Iran by year-end 2008. No one wants to support terrorism. But forcing pension funds to sell off holdings violates trustees’ fiduciary duty to focus on risks and returns.
Can you imagine supporting investing in Nazi war bonds in 1943? I mean, it could be a good investment, fiduciarily speaking, so PI Online would seem to support that in theory. That pesky little terrorism thing and the risks to our way of life don't seem to figure into their equation.

Too bad so many innocents will then have to die, killed by the Guardians of False Moral Purity.

Remember, call it Megan's Murderer's Law...

Predictions

Here is an amusing list of predictions for the year 2000 apparently written in 1900 for the Ladies Home Journal by John Elfreth Watkins.

Many seem almost too good (or precious) to be true, and I haven't confirmed it 100%, but there was definitely a John Elfreth Watkins who wrote speculative article for the Ladies Home Journal in the early 1900s, according to items at Ebay, and others commenting elsewhere have claimed to confirm it on microfilm. PBS's newshour speaks of it. And a New York Times columnist refers to it -- though perhaps that doesn't mean anything anymore given journalistic standards of "fake but accurate..."

Examples:
Prediction #9: Photographs will be telegraphed from any distance. If there be a battle in China a hundred years hence snapshots of its most striking events will be published in the newspapers an hour later. Even to-day photographs are being telegraphed over short distances. Photographs will reproduce all of Nature’s colors.

Prediction #16: There will be No C, X or Q in our every-day alphabet. They will be abandoned because unnecessary. Spelling by sound will have been adopted, first by the newspapers. English will be a language of condensed words expressing condensed ideas, and will be more extensively spoken than any other. Russian will rank second.
Have fun reading the rest!

Submarine Officer Tour Lengths Down?

Last July, COMNAVSUBFOR (whose website is currently unavailable, btw) put out a message that reduced nominal sea tour lengths for submarine JO/DH/XOs. Basically, it said that JO and DH sea tours were going from 36 to 32 months, and XO tours from 22 to 20 months. (To the Submarine Force's credit, and I think a large part due to NR's influence, the Sub Force has resisted the lead of the aviators and skimmers in reducing CO tour length.)

By keeping the shore tours at 24 months, the net effects of this change would seem to be 1) getting more officers XO tours, and 2) increasing selectivity for CO. Your basic wardroom has 8 nuke JOs, 3 nuke Department Heads, along with one XO and CO. Doing the math, if XO tour lengths go down while those of COs stay at 3 years, the number of XOs you need to fill the CO billets has gone from 22/36ths (61%) of the served XOs to 20/36ths (55.6%). For Department Heads, however, the selection chance for XO stays about the same, going from 36/(22*3) or 54% to 32/(20*3), about 53% -- but since there are more DHs, there are still 11% more officers who will serve as XO. Finally, keeping the JO and DH tours the same, you still need 37.5% retention in the Sub Force to fill the DH billets.

I'm guessing this initiative was driven by a perceived need to increase selectivity for CO. With the issues the Sub Force has been having that have resulted in COs being fired, PERS 42 needed to do something to show they were being "proactive" in fixing the problem.

So, how's this been working out after almost 1 1/2 years? Has anyone noticed officer tour lengths going down? Are any boats running short of JOs, or did we have enough in the pipeline to let the senior JOs go early? Have continued DH firings completely thrown any semblance of Wardroom Planning out the window? Let me know what you've heard or experienced in the comments.

Taking Kitsch To A New Level

As I mentioned on Halloween, I was looking for a way to attach an inflatable Christmas lawn "decoration" to my roof. Many of you probably scoffed and chortled, but I teched out most of the problems, as seen in this picture of my house in all its Holiday splendor:

I ended up attaching the motor to the roof with 2" wood screws (the motor's on legs, so I shouldn't have a fire hazard from an electric motor on wooden shakes) and put the inflatable right in front of a false gable, which protects the highest part of the ornament from easterly winds and provides a physical backstop for excess movement from the prevailing westerlies. I attached the tiedown cords to eyebolts I screwed into the gable in back, and to the gutter in front. It made it through the first night without blowing over -- although the reindeer in front did get moved towards the raingutter. (I can probably tie some line around them and attach it to another eyebolt if it becomes a problem.) As long as it doesn't get ripped to shreds while it's deflated during the day, I'll have pulled off a Great Feat in Obnoxious Christmas Decorating that all guys (and my competition) will admire! Because I'm so dang proud of it, here's a closeup of the roof inflatable. (While the elf is sticking up out of the bag now, it cycles about every 30 seconds where the elf drops down and a teddy bear pops up. It totally rules.)

You might notice that, compared to past years, the lights along my roofline aren't as bright and mismatched. I decided to "go green" this year and replace them with LED lights, which aren't nearly as bright. I figure it's a worthwhile trade-off, though; with the two new inflatables I'm probably running right up against the 20A limit of my outdoor circuit breaker.

Virtual Trident Tour

Via the retired Submariner who blogs at In Through The Out Door, I found what looks like a promising site -- a "virtual 360" tour of some spaces on the last Ohio-class submarine, USS Lousiana (SSBN 743). You have to download a plug-in to "take" the tour, but it only took me about 30 seconds to do that, without any problems noted (so far). For all you guys who miss seeing what the Ship's Control Panel or Sonar Room on a Trident looks like, this may be the site for you.

It's Submarine Christmas Photoshop Time Again!

Once again, Eric at The Sub Report is hosting the "Submarine Christmas Photoshop" contest! It's very simple -- all you have to do is submit an altered photo "including any type of Winter Holiday/Christmas with a Submarine, Sub sailors, or submarine related items" to Eric by December 16th. It's really easy to do; I found a cool picture of lockout operations on USS Hawaii (SSN 776) (other pictures of the same operation are here and here) and clumsily added a digital-type Santa head to the diver, thusly:

I know all you submariners and submarine fans out there can do much better. I look forward to seeing your entries! (Here's a link to last years contest to give you some ideas.)