Year End Personal News And Notes

Thanks again for to all the readers of TSSBP for all your support throughout the year. It's been a busy week here at the Bubblehead house; I wanted to fill you in on what's going on:

1) This morning, I finished my radiation treatments in preparation for the cancer surgery I'll be having in a month or so; the chemo finished up yesterday. Everyone says I came through the radiation treatments (5,040 rads to my gastro-esophageal junction) about as well as anyone they've seen, in that I've been able to eat and drink normally throughout the treatment; one nurse said she's only seen one person through their office (a Marine) also make it through without having to tube feed. I credit the extra shielding I have (although I did lose about 15 lbs of that during the treatments.) I'll be starting back to work on Sunday, and hopefully will get the surgery scheduled in Seattle very soon.

2) Farewell, Faithful Friend: Yesterday, we had to say good-bye to our beloved cat, Hercules. It was a very emotional moment for all of us. A loving companion to our whole family, Hercules blessed our lives more than we could have hoped for, both with his affection and humor. Some of the "Best of Hercules" can be seen here; a more recent picture is here:

Thanks for sharing your life with us, old friend.

3) For the 3rd year running, I've been selected as a finalist for the "2008 Weblog Awards", this time in the "Best Up and Coming Blog" category against 9 worthy competitors (including the blog that cleaned my clock last year). I finished 2nd in 2006 and 3rd in 2007, so hopefully we'll be able to reverse the trend this year. I'll post more information as we get closer to the start of voting on January 5th (and maybe even another "Completely Impartial Voter's Guide"). As always, your support is appreciated; the "competition" has always been a lot of fun.

4) Go Big Red!

Happy New Year to all!

Update 2312 01 Jan 2009: Thanks to CDR Salamander and ninme for posting about Hercules. It means a lot to us.

SSBN CO Relieved For Cause

The Commanding Officer of the Gold Crew of USS West Virginia (SSBN 736), CDR Charles "Tony" Hill, was relieved for a "lack of confidence" in his ability to command, according to this report from the Florida Times-Union. Excerpts:
Officials at Kings Bay Naval Submarine Base, where the West Virginia is ported, said there was no specific incident that led to the removal of Cmdr. Charles “Tony” Hill. The decision was made by Capt. Daniel Mack, commander of Submarine Squadron Sixteen/Twenty.
Hill completed his first deployment as commanding officer aboard the West Virginia in November. He was commanding officer of one of the two crews that alternate patrols aboard the Trident submarine.
Hill has been temporarily assigned to Commander, Submarine Group Twenty, Navy officials said. He will be replaced by Capt. Stephen Gillespie, a former commanding officer of the USS Rhode Island. Gillespie is the deputy for training at Submarine Squadron Sixteen/Twenty...
...No commanding officer has been relieved of duties the past five years at Kings Bay, but Rebarich said she couldn’t check beyond that time period because much of her staff is on vacation for the holidays.
I didn't find any more information on any of the official Navy websites, and I haven't heard any word on the street yet about what might have happened. I'll let you know if I read anything useful.

Staying at PD...

Update 1100 30 Dec: Here's the Navy Times update on the story; it has some of CDR Hill's biographical information, but not much new data. Here's the first official Navy announcement, which has even less new info.

Update 1010 01 Jan 2009: Based on the comments here, and the "word on the street", it appears to me that Big Sub Force did the right thing with respect to CDR Hill and the 736G crew. Based on what I'm hearing, the Sub Force leadership noticed problems with the boat, conducted a fair and thorough investigation, and took appropriate action. I'm thinking that by getting ahead of the story, the Sub Force will avoid some of the negative publicity they had from the USS Florida / CDR Alfonso story back in the 90s. (Some of my thoughts on previous stories of domineering submarine COs can be found here, including some links to the Alfonso DFC.)

Movie Non-Review: Valkyrie

Normally, I'd go see a movie like "Valkyrie"; I like WWII movies, and I like murder conspiracy movies. In this particular case, however, I'm not planning on seeing it for one reason, and one reason only -- it stars Tom Cruise. In the previews, he looks so unsufferably bad that I'm convinced he's made a film that's about Tom Cruise being an "important actor", rather than an historical figure.

Are there any actors/actresses/directors who will make you avoid a movie you'd otherwise see?

(In defense of "Valkyrie", Dennis Mansfield did see it, and liked it.)

God Bless Us, Every One

Merry Christmas to all, and best wishes for a joyous holiday. In honor of this day we celebrate the birth of Jesus, I wanted to share with you the words to my favorite Christmas song, What Child Is This?:
What Child is this who, laid to rest
On Mary's lap is sleeping?
Whom Angels greet with anthems sweet,
While shepherds watch are keeping?

This, this is Christ the King,
Whom shepherds guard and Angels sing;
Haste, haste, to bring Him laud,
The Babe, the Son of Mary.

Why lies He in such mean estate,
Where ox and ass are feeding?
Good Christians, fear, for sinners here
The silent Word is pleading.

Nails, spear shall pierce Him through,
The cross be borne for me, for you.
Hail, hail the Word made flesh,
The Babe, the Son of Mary.

So bring Him incense, gold and myrrh,
Come peasant, king to own Him;
The King of kings salvation brings,
Let loving hearts enthrone Him.

Raise, raise a song on high,
The virgin sings her lullaby.
Joy, joy for Christ is born,
The Babe, the Son of Mary.
As we celebrate together with family and friends, I feel it's important to keep in mind the Reason for the Season. However you and yours celebrate the holiday, I hope you find joy and happiness. And please keep in your thoughts and prayers those who defend us in distant lands, who aren't able to be with their families today so that we may do so in safety.

Odd News


Facing a state budget crisis in July, California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger fired about 10,000 temporary and part-time workers and ordered the 200,000 permanent employees to be paid only the minimum wage of $6.55 an hour until the legislature passed a crisis-solving budget.

However, a week later the State Controller John Chiang pointed out that state payroll records could not be changed to accommodate the cut because they were written in the antiquated COBOL computer language, and virtually the only state employees who knew the code were some of the part-timers Schwarzenegger had just fired. [Sacramento Bee, 8-5-08]

Rewarding Sloth

London's Daily Mail profiled two 10-children British families in October to illustrate the inconsistencies of government benefit awards. Sean and Anne Tate and their children live on Sean's truck-driver salary of the equivalent of about $23,000 a year, plus the government's standard per-child benefit.

Harry Crompton has been out of work for 15 years, and his wife, Tracey, has never held a paid job, yet they receive the equivalent of $48,000 in various government benefits, which The Daily Mail said would require a tax-paying family to earn the equivalent of $68,000 a year to draw. The Daily Mail reporter also noted that the Tate home is immaculate and the Cromptons' home, messy. [Daily Mail, 10-17-08]

No pithy headling for this one because it's too grimly serious; this is what's called a slippery slope:

Two of Oregon's unique public health markers clashed dramatically for resident Barbara Wagner this summer when she was informed that the universal medical care available to everyone in the state (but with certain service restrictions) would not pay for her expensive lung cancer drug (because her five-year survival likelihood was poor), but was told, at the same time, that the state would pay for any necessary drugs under its Death With Dignity Law (i.e., suicide). [ABC News, 8-6-08]

Universal health care could mean sending the infirm to the glue factory to save you, the taxpayer, money. Dystopian science fiction has predicted this for years.

And here it is.

Global Warming Sham

This report by a panel of nongovernmental scientists calling themselves the NIPCC (Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change) tears apart the UN-sponsored IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) conclusions.

Their document, Nature, Not Human Activity, Rules the Planet, takes down the IPCC's political, agenda-driven whitewash with cold hard facts.

The IPCC's core claim is that modern warming is "very likely" due to human influences. They have no real basis for that claim.

The NIPCC's main points are:

-- the so-called "hockey-stick" temperature diagram has been discredited;

-- CO2 and temperature correlations are weak;

-- the computer models are based on curve-fitting with made-up parameters, not basic science;

-- some logical consequences of the human-caused warming theory, if it were true, are not being seen;

-- most of the warming is due to natural causes, depending on the Sun and clouds;

-- the computer models ignore many important effects;

-- the computer models fail to agree with other observed phenomena;

-- the IPCC economic models are strange, predicting North Korea and Estonia, for example, to be richer per capita in 2100 than the Unites States will be;

-- modest warming is a net positive effect anyway.

Embracing a carbon tax for a non-existent problem is ludicrous.

It is nothing more than a deliberate plan to limit our propserity, steal our wealth, and hand it to foreigners.

With Al Gore skimming off the top.

Santa's On His Way

As always, you can track Santa's progress at the NORAD Santa Tracker; when I just checked, he was in Cambodia. They have some new videos this year (the one of his visit to China features the "Bird's Nest"); hopefully, he'll visit the boomer in the Atlantic like he does every year.

Update 2107 24 Dec: Unfortunately, it looks like they've gotten rid of both the traditional visit to the SSBN, and they also didn't have Santa visit an aircraft carrier this year.

Home For Christmas

One thing I've noticed is that the Navy in general, and the Sub Force in particular, does pretty well is to get as many ships as possible home for Christmas. (The Sub Force also does a good job getting as many boats as possible into port for the Submarine Birthday Ball.) This year, USS Ohio (SSGN 726) returned from her 14+ month deployment (two crews) on Monday, and USS Providence (SSN 719) returned to Groton on Friday from a six month deployment that featured a trip to the North Pole to mark the 50th anniversary of the Nautilus' 1958 trans-Arctic journey. Here's a picture that shows a "visitor" they picked up at the Pole:

This story from The New London Day features a video of the homecoming:

My only Christmas homecoming on a submarine came not following a deployment, but following one of those "weekly ops" that turned into a three week cluster****. Here we were, onboard USS Topeka (SSN 754), in December 1991. We went out during the 2nd week of December to provide services for USS Chicago (SSN 721); this was to be our last underway prior to the Christmas stand-down. During the week, Chicago somehow turned her diesel into a seawater pump, so she wasn't going to be able to fulfill her obligation to head up to Nanoose for a Mk 50 OpEval. (Maybe Midwatch Cowboy will be able to fill us in with details from the Chicago's side.) The powers-that-be (correctly) decided that the Topeka would be a good stand-in, so we identified the people who were going on the first Christmas leave period and did a BSP at San Diego to drop them off; it was about a third of the crew. Due to various circumstances, we kept getting delayed from returning home, but when we finally got released, SUBPAC gave us the highest SOA I've ever seen to get home by December 23rd. (I ended up with duty that night, and that's how I came to finally believe in the concept of Decay Heat -- but that's a different story.)

Do any of you have any good stories about returning home in time for Christmas?

Update 1128 24 Dec: USS Boise (SSN 764) also got back from deployment just in time for Christmas. This story from The Virginian-Pilot has a video and some pictures of the homecoming.

Update 2141 24 Dec: Pictures of the return of USS Boise to Norfolk can be found on the official Navy website: here, here, here, and here.

New York Times Doesn't Like New Submarines

Not surprisingly, in an editorial about how President-elect Obama should "reform" the armed forces, the New York Times says we should "(h)alt production of the Virginia class sub". Also not surprisingly, the New York Times was able to fit several inaccuracies and falsehoods into two short paragraphs, thusly:
Ten of these unneeded attack submarines — modeled on the cold-war-era Seawolf, whose mission was to counter Soviet attack and nuclear launch submarines — have already been built. The program is little more than a public works project to keep the Newport News, Va., and Groton, Conn., naval shipyards in business.
The Navy can extend the operating lives of the existing fleet of Los Angeles class fast-attack nuclear submarines, which can capably perform all needed post-cold-war missions — from launching cruise missiles to countering China’s expanding but technologically inferior submarine fleet. Net savings: $2.5 billion.
Let's count the ways this statement is untrue or misleading:

1) "Unneeded attack submarines": Combatant commanders need more, not fewer, submarines to fill the vital role submarines play in the prosecution of the GWOT. Because these missions are classified, though, they don't show up on the pages of the New York Times, so the editors there apparently believe they don't exist.

2) "Modelled on the cold-war-era Seawolf": In fact, the Virginia-class boats are a complete re-design of the attack submarine. The Seawolfs were the culmination of Cold War submarine design (in that they have more and bigger of everything), and they're the best submarine in the world. The Virginia-class was specifically designed for littoral warfare and to cost less than the Seawolf. Saying the Virginia is modelled on the Seawolf is like saying the Prius in modelled on the Hummer, in that it came later and they both have 4 wheels.

3) "Ten of these... have already been built": Actually, only five have been "built"; 11 of them have been named, and the tenth won't be "built" enough to join the fleet until 2014. I think they just made that number up.

4) "Little more than a public works program": Actually, it was the last two Seawolf-class boats (the ones I was the initial manning Eng on) that were the public works projects to keep Electric Boat alive. The Virginia-class submarine is needed to replace the aging fleet of Los Angeles-class submarines to keep us from dipping down towards a fleet of 20-30 submarines we'll have in 2025 unless we build more boats. The "public works" aspect of it shouldn't be discounted, however; we need to keep specialists like nuclear welders proficient. That's a skill that would take years to reconstitute if those workers ended up leaving to fix slot machines.

5) "Navy can extend the operating lives": Here's why you don't want journalism majors deciding things that need to be left to the engineers. Submarines dive and surface as a part of operating; each surface and dive, and change in depth, causes strain on the hull. After a certain number of cycles, the hull becomes weaker, and there's more danger that the hull will break. With many components, you can reset this strain curve by annealing the piece of metal involved; however, submarine hulls are just too big to anneal. Sure, you could keep the old subs operating by reducing the engineering safety margin, but I'm sure the New York Times wouldn't write an understanding editorial if some old LA-class boat suffers a hull crack and loss of crew sometime in the 2020s.

6) "Net savings: $2.5 billion" : This is another number they just made up. Each Virginia-class boat costs about $2 billion, and there are 18 more to be built beyond those authorized. Refuelling an LA costs about $400 million. No matter how you slice it, it's a made-up number.

Luckily, I have a feeling President-elect Obama won't be listening to the New York Times; I think he'll like the "public works project" aspect of sub building for "blue" states (especially the new "blue" state of Virginia), and that will be good for the Submarine Force.

I Finally Gave In

I finally succumbed to all the peer pressure and signed up for a Facebook account; my profile is here. Anyone who wants to be my friend is more than welcome to add me. (Yes, I admit it... I'm bored sitting here at home during the last few weeks of radiation and chemo. I'm going back to work at the beginning of next year, but until then it's pretty much just me getting on my wife's nerves as I mess around with her normal routine by being home constantly. She asked last night when I was going out to sea next.)

"I'm Sorry, Dave, But I Need To Launch The Missiles Now..."

The Royal Navy announced earlier this week the successful of the Submarine Command System Next Generation (SMCS NG) system on the last of their 12 nuclear-powered submarines, including their entire SSBN force. This Command System is based on Windows, resulting in a not unexpected outpouring of (somewhat) humorous concern; a good round-up of reactions can be found here.

I'll admit that I was one of those people who didn't think that the shift to COTS (Commerciall Off-The-Shelf) technology for submarine computer systems was a very good idea, but it appears to me that it's been pretty successful. With any program, though, there are bound to be hiccups. What are your most entertaining stories about computer screw-ups onboard submarines that you've seen or heard about?

Ready For Christmas

We've pretty much finished up getting ready for Christmas here at the Bubblehead household; just a few more gifts to buy and wrap, and we'll be done. For those who are interested (Hi, Mom!) here's a picture of our tree:

...and here's a picture of our house (complete with roof inflatable):

As before, we've gone for the "gaudy" look for our yard; the only thing we added from last year were the two large inflatable Christmas "ornaments" hanging from the maple tree.

If you'd like to see some of the "best" Christmas houses around the country, check out the "Tacky Christmas Yards" website that featured us last year. The people profiled on that site are True American Patriots standing up to all that's "classy" and "dignified", and I honor them for their individuality.

Navy Working Uniform (NWU) Idiocy

Navy Times has an article about feedback they received after writing about the Navy's planned new rules for the wear of the new Navy Working Uniform -- the "blue cammies of death". The Navy put out a message saying that the new working uniforms would not be allowed to be worn off base, not even for "brief stops" allowed with the current working uniforms:
The new rules are more restrictive than the regs covering the to-be-replaced utilities and wash khakis, as well as the current woodland cammies and flight suits.
Current uniform regulations allow sailors to make brief stops — such as pumping gas, picking up prescriptions and dropping off kids at day care — in the current uniforms. None of this will be allowed once sailors and officers begin wearing the Navy Working Uniform, which will be available to purchase in the Norfolk, Va., area next month...
...At the time of the message’s release, Navy officials told Navy Times that the commuting rules for the NWU were identical to the rules for all current working uniforms. Those officials have since corrected themselves, saying that the current rules for utilities and wash khakis do allow for brief stops.
Navy Times, on Tuesday morning, requested further clarification on the reason for the rule change from the office of the Chief of Naval Operations.
The rule change will likely cause problems for deck-plate leaders who need to enforce them.
That’s because once the NWU begins its two-year rollout, there will be two sets of uniform rules on the street — one for the NWU, authorizing no routine stops, and the current, and more liberal, rules for the rest of the uniforms.
Dukerulz has more on this story, including a report of a quote from the CNO on this issue. I think the Navy runs into this problem because they populate the various "Task Force" groups with people who are never going to sea again, and don't have the guts to retire; they'd rather take up office space and sit around talking about the Big Picture when they're not going to have to live by the ridiculous rules they're promulgating.

I'm hoping the new MCPON, a submariner, lets the CNO know that he got bad advice when he put the original message out, and will retract it as soon as possible.

(Among the "Big Picture" items the asshats who worry about these things came up with is a description of the "emblem" that is embedded in the pattern of the Navy Working Uniform. From the message: "EMBEDDED THROUGHOUT THE FABRIC ARE MINIATURIZED FEATURES OF THE SEAL OF THE NAVY FLAG WITH THE LETTERS "USN" DIRECTLY BENEATH IT. THE SEAL INCLUDES AN ANCHOR, A THREE-MASTED SQUARE RIGGED SHIP, AND AN EAGLE. THE EMBLEM WILL BE ABBREVIATED "ACE", WHICH STANDS FOR ANCHOR, USS CONSTITUTION, AND EAGLE." Seriously, who in their right mind gives a rat's ass about the abbreviation for an emblem on a seal on a uniform?)

Navy Retiree Gets Free SWAG

I've always figured one of the most annoying things a Navy Recruiter has to put up with is old retirees coming into their office to talk about their time in the Navy; well, last night, I was That Guy. The Navy opened up a new recruiting office here in Meridian, so I stopped in to wish the recruiters there a Merry Christmas. They were very kind to me, and even dug up some SWAG to give to an old retiree:

Since the guys were so nice to me, I figured I'd do what I could to send some business their way. (I'm already talking to my kids of the benefits of a Navy career.) So, if you're between the ages of 17 and 34 (or 39 for prospective Reservists), and you're looking for a rewarding career, and you happen to be in or around Meridian, please stop by and see Petty Officer Hegemeyer or one of the other guys at the new Navy Recruiting Office just across the street from Mountain View High School. Tell them Bubblehead sent you.

Retiring From Sea Duty Vs. Shore Duty

One of my classmates from SOAC, CDR John Kropcho III, was relieved as CO of USS Jacksonville (SSN 699) on Friday, and retired at the same ceremony. John's career was fairly unique, in that this was his 3rd sea tour aboard the Jacksonville; he had also done his JO and XO tours on the boat.

I haven't heard from John in a while, but I'm intrigued by his decision to retire at the end of a sea tour, especially considering the boat just returned from a six-month Atlantic deployment about 4 weeks ago. Normally, you see people retire from shore duty; this gives them a chance to do some job hunting while they're still on active duty, as well as making the scheduling of the required seminars / medical appointments easier. On the other hand, it would seem that being a CO might give one good connections within the boat's namesake city/state, and this could lead to some good opportunities. I'm sure John did what was right for himself, and I wish him Fair Winds and Following Seas as he embarks on the next phase of his life.

So what do you think? From what type of duty is it optimal to retire? Are there advantages to retiring from sea duty that I haven't thought of?

Update 0646 17 Dec 08: Pictures from the change of command / retirement ceremony are here and here.

Submarine Comms At Depth And Speed

To me, one of the most fascinating areas related to submarine operations is how to communicate securely with the outside world when the submarine is at depth. Unfortunately, this topic is shrouded by secrecy, so we really can't discuss it in an UNCLAS forum like this. That being said, here's some information on a new initiative that looks like it might have some promise:
The Space and Naval Warfare Systems Center and Raytheon recently tested a new system that will allow a submarine to “send a page” to surface ships or command and control centers or vice versa without having to surface or stop its engines.
Raytheon Co.’s Deep Siren tactical paging system is part of the Navy’s communications at speed and depth program. The contractor and SPAWAR conducted a series of tests this year that uses a buoy ejected from the submarine’s trash chute to establish a communications link to the outside world...
...After the buoy is ejected from the trash chute, it hovers at a predetermined depth as the submarine continues its journey, explained Barry Murphy, director of undersea networked communications at Raytheon.
When the submarine is far enough away, the buoy ascends to the surface, deploys floatation devices and sends a message to a command and control center through an Iridium satellite.
Once a link between the buoy and the command center is established, it then lowers an antenna deep into the water.
A transducer takes messages, translates them into acoustic energy and sends a pulse out through the water in an area greater than 50 nautical square miles.
How many miles and how deep the transmitter operates are classified, Murphy said.
Sending these pulses through ocean waters that have different thermal layers, with different consistencies was one of the challenges.
“Adjustments on the fly are the tricky part,” he said.
The transmitter sends out multiple signals to overcome this problem, he added.
After a predetermined number of days, the buoy either self-scuttles, and drops to the ocean floor, or the surface command center sends a message to the buoy ordering it to cease operations and allow itself to sink.
Before that, the submarine and command center can send hundreds of text messages if needed...
...In April, an initial test demonstrated that a ship could deploy the buoy. The system works both ways. If a submarine has orders not to surface, but a command center wants to contact it, the buoy can be dropped from an aircraft or tossed over the side of a ship.
Once the transmitter is deployed, it can send out the pulse so the submarine can establish a communications link.
In June, a Navy submarine deployed 12 buoys at the Atlantic Undersea Test and Evaluation Center’s deep water range in the Bahamas, according to Raytheon. The buoy established a link between the submarine and a command center in Norfolk, Va.
A military utility assessment was conducted in August, and results from that test were expected in December.
“We would like to see it migrating from Iridium into other communications bands and other communications satellites,” Murphy added.
“It is a desirable capability and it’s the first capability for communications at speed or depth,” Murphy said.
Interesting stuff...

What We've Lost

The loss of aristocratic gentlemanliness (what I wish a return of when I speak of neo-Victorianism, and relate certain historical events in support), Judeo-Christian religiosity, and a classical education leads to faulty mental programming and nihilism which is exploitable by demagogues.

Their goal is the eradication of our Constitutional Republic, to be replaced by their personal social utopia.

Wretchard illustrates the depths of mental illness to which some segments of our population has descended in this video clip of Earth First!ers wailing and whining the loss of trees in a drum circle of absurdity.

This essay by J. R. Nyquist sums up the background of the problem:
At least two writers in the 19th century foresaw the advent of totalitarianism. The first was Dostoevsky and the second was Nietzsche. Both writers grasped the intellectual trend of their day. As education advanced, as the human spirit was given new opportunities for understanding, the result was intellectual radicalism.

In the 18th century Edmund Burke warned his contemporaries that education without religion or aristocratic principles would turn against mankind. Burke wrote: “Learning will be cast into the mire, and trodden down under the hoofs of a swinish multitude.” Burke added, “In the groves of their academy, at the end of every vista, you see nothing but gallows.” Overwhelmed with a similar insight, Dostoevsky and Nietzsche updated Burke’s lament. In Dostoevsky’s novel, The Possessed, a radical young intellectual advocated a world in which Cicero would have his tongue cut out, Copernicus would have his eyes put out, and Shakespeare would be stoned to death – in the name of universal equality.

[As discussed here, today's modern "liberal" prizes "equality" in this sense over individual liberty, unlike the conservative. --RDS]

Dostoevsky predicted that the radical mentality – emerging in the 19th century – would kill 100 million people in the 20th century. [And he was right! --RDS] Those without vision, without a sense of where the world was headed, disbelieved Dostoevsky’s prophecy. Such a calamity could never happen, because the world is not a madhouse.

Enter Marx, Engels, Lenin and Stalin. Enter, as well, Mao Zedong, Pol Pot, Fidel Castro, Ho Chi Minh, and today’s politically correct mob. What characterizes them, besides their egotism and narcissism, is their false idealism and moral posturing. According to Edmund Burke: “Nothing is more certain, than that our manners, our civilization, and all the good things which are connected with manners and with civilization, have, in this European world of ours, depended for ages upon two principles; and were indeed the result of both combined; I mean the spirit of a gentleman, and the spirit of religion.”

Since Burke’s time, modern intellectuals have overthrown the spirit of a gentleman and the spirit of religion. Every structure, every religious precept, every honored tradition, came under intellectual attack. God and country were targeted. Religion and patriotism were targeted. The main surviving ideals of our day are those of leveling, equalizing and taxing into penury. Envy is the Holy Grail of our intelligentsia, and the annihilation of all values is their ultimate end.
Be sure to read the rest.

The commenter Mongoose at Belmont Club elaborates with an eloquent tour de force:
Really, there is not much difference between man’s relationship to “nature” in the past as opposed to today; certainly little has changed since Shakespeare’s day. Excluding better science, knowledge and capability, these psychotic ninnies and the vile propagandists of the Left that manipulates them are the chief differences.

OK, here is the chief difference: Today we actually take these lunatics seriously and, unbelievably, give them power over the rest of us. This is because we have become a tribe of fearful, sentimental, dimwitted and spoiled children who are afraid of their heritage, particularly their religious and material ones. This is sentimental hogwash that only a society with piles of spare wealth can tolerate. No society can survive this silliness for long should it allow itself to hold these notions as core beliefs. In Shakespeare’s day these nincompoops would have been laughed of the stage. Literally.

Political environmentalism at this level is just a modern expression of the crudest form of paganism or animism; to more refined “acolytes” it is a sort of parody of Christianity, complete with its own Genesis myth, Original Sin and even Indulgences. Hitler was surrounded by the same sort of tree hugging idiots, and should our collectivists’ propagandists achieve his sort of power for their masters then these loon’s fates will be the much same as that of their coreligionist way back then.

Moreover, if the voters cannot see through this nonsense, then they deserve what they get. Environmentalists and their Marxist puppetmasters have to be constantly exposed for the fools and knaves they are, and at every level they are encountered.

Mankind apart from nature? How can we be anything else but apart? This is what it means to be human. This is one of the signal points of the human experience: Man is perforce apart from yet amidst “nature”. It is the core mystery of our experience.

This is an age old question with many facets: The faces of which are alternately sentemental and emotional, physical and practical, intellectual and philosophical, and, most importantly, religious. Man is unique among all creatures in his ability to pose this question or seek its answer, and that metaphysical fact precludes man ever being “at one” with nature or “at peace with nature” in the senses that these sentimentalists maintain in all their dreary treacle. The West came up with unique and powerful answers to this problem and we would be wise to stick with them.

Most certainly at one level, the sentimental level, “nature” is mostly a point of view. It rests as much on imagination and inclination as it does on experience or reality, though it is colored by one’s experience and circumstances. However, no matter what poets say to their patrons, for most of history man viewed “nature” as a dark force to protect against or a powerful mystery to placate. The whole business was hardly seen as a walk in the park, so to speak. The sentimental regard of “nature” as a paradise would seem to require considerable distance from nature itself.

Here these yahoos expose themselves for the fools they are for they would not survive 2 month in the woods. “Nature” is a reverie they have while they are showering in their air conditioned room at the local Holiday Inn after one of their “outing”.

Whatever the case, one is free to feel as “close to nature” as one wishes; our times hardly require a particular view on “nature”, particularly when on can purchase all that nifty outdoor gear and all that dehydrated camp food to boil and eat.

In a physical sense it is, of course, an impossibility for man to be truly “apart form nature” altogether, though thankfully modern science can limit the damage which being “part of nature” generally incurs. Thank the heavens for pharmaceuticals.

One does imagine that at times people in the past would rather be all too glad to be “apart from nature” for a day or two, say like during a plague year.

On the positive side more people have more access to “nature” — and more leisure time to enjoy it — than ever before in history. What do you imagine that the poor folks of London did for “nature” 500 years ago when their extremely short and brutal lives where one of grueling day to day struggle to survive. On top of that, we have far greater understanding of “nature” and more control over it. This is a very good thing.

But does knowledge subdue awe? Only in savages. Does our great store of scientific and practical knowledge really diminish nature before us? It only increases our amazement.

Again, our command of nature, to the extent that we have it, is an altogether good thing.

But “nature” or the worship of it will not answer the fundamental problems of being human.

Chesterson once said:

The essence of all pantheism, evolutionism and modern cosmic religion is really in this proposition: that Nature is our mother. Unfortunately, if you regard Nature as a mother, you discover that she is a stepmother. The main point of Christianity was this: that Nature is not our mother: Nature is our sister.

We can be proud of her beauty, since we have the same father; but she has no authority over us; we have to admire, but not to imitate.

(please, let us avoid any discussion of evolution — it is a completely absurd and irrelevant issue to me. I am making a point about the human spirit in the world.)

There have been nature cults throughout history and they have all lead to barbarism. Modern Scientism can be view in a way as a nature cult. They all miss the point for there is no useful morality to the natural world in and of itself and all attempts at find it through animism, shamanism, spiritualism and all other forms of paganism leads to darkness. Judaism threw back this darkness; Christianity added to the light. From the Christian POV, God removed himself from the world after he created it and only through the mediation of mankind in the world can sanctity reenter it and god be immanent in it again. Man can only do this through redemption.
(OK, there are lots of variations on this, but you get the point I am sure.)

This is a main lesson of the West, and no matter what one’s beliefs, the working out of the Christian faith has created our humanworld, and that world includes our sciences for science would have been impossible without Christianity fecund base.

So the response of the Christian West to “nature” is a singularly profound and rich heritage — it is exquisitely more powerful in real terms than that of any other civilization, religion or culture past or present.

We forget this at our peril.

Another commenter, Programmer, adds:
What I am pondering is that the human brain, is to a great extent, a computer, or more to my point, the computer models a human brain,… as well as it can be made to do so. Computers resemble human brains more and more because humans think, design, and build computers to extend the reach of the human mind and extend the range of human senses, to magnify the ability to store and retrieve information. However, in my opinion, for this very reason computers are not to be feared, as some sci-fi writers would have. Humans teach and condition the computer to do as they wish. (I choose to avoid discussing Windows Vista at this time).
So now, it seems, we have large numbers of people who are subjected to constant bombardment of false and foolish information. In a video game, kids learn that if they need to win, they just die over and over again until they get it right and go to the next level. Games, television shows, and movies beat the constant drum for solutions to problems that just don’t work in the real world.
So my question resolves to simply: What effect is the cognitive dissonance between observed reality and politically correct falsehoods having on the programming of young brains? There is an old saying in the programming trade, “Garbage in, garbage out”. The human brain is a marvelous thing. But it must be programmed well. Truth, or the very best information we possess is required. And those truths need to be tested rigorously and constantly. Good critical thinking skill must be taught and absorbed. Anything else leads, in my opinion, to a form of mental illness.

Those poor lost souls, sitting in the drum circle, mourning and keening for loss of they know not what may be just the end result of faulty programming. Their brains have been damaged by constant bombardement with bad data and untested algorithms. So instead of being able to do something useful with their lives, they use up resources and clutter up the air with noise. Instead of becoming one with the forest and learning how to husband and harvest the valuable resources therein, benefitting others with their skills and in nonce, learning applied physics, applied chemistry, applied botany, and a whole other host of really neat stuff, they sit and whine.

Something is dying in America. I fear it is the ability of a lot of Americans to engage in critical thinking. They cannot discern what is real, truthful, and what isn’t and they have no idea how to do so if they even wanted to try. No wonder we have economic issues. These hippies and others are merely consumers and produce nothing.
The answer is to learn something, and one can start by reading these great books by Dead White Males.

Nativity Camel In Meridian, Idaho

Our Ward did its annual "live Nativity" on Thursday night; it was very popular, as usual. One of the reasons I think it's so popular is that, in addition to the live sheep and goats you see at most Nativity presentations, we have access to an honest-to-goodness camel -- an animal normally not found in Idaho. (Here, you're more likely to see llamas in everybody's yard.) Here's a picture of the camel along with a Shepherd Tour Guide (Sean, left) and Joseph/Innkeeper (Robert, right; he alternated between the two roles):

Get'yer Bookmarking Finger Ready...

...and check out the new U.S. Naval Institute blog. Like the more established Milblog Ring HQ, this blog will bring together the best and the brightest of Naval bloggers in looking at the Navy from a non-official point of view. Check out the list of guest bloggers, including Chapomatic, CDR Salamander, Eagle1, Galrahn, Springbored, and Steeljaw Scribe.

I expect great things from this new blog.

PCU New Mexico (SSN 779) To Be Christened

The sixth Virginia-class submarine, PCU New Mexico (SSN 779) will be christened at 1000 EST Saturday at Northrop Grumann Shipyard in Newport News, VA. A live webcast of the event will be broadcast at this link. Here's the New Mexico Council of the Navy League's boat page, and here's an earlier post I had about the competition to design the ship's crest; a follow-on post about the winning design is here, and the symbolism is discussed here. And last but not least, here's a picture of the star of Saturday's show taken in May just after she passed the "Pressure Hull Complete" milestone:

One of my old shipmates is the Nav on the boat; I certainly hope that he and the rest of the officers and crew enjoy the ceremony and shipyard-provided food.

Update 1746 13 Dec 08: A couple of photos of the Christening ceremony can be found here and here. I also liked the photos accompanying this article from the Virginian-Pilot about the preparations for the ceremony; this one, showing the covered-up propulsor and the dihedrals, is especially good for those of you who haven't seen what the aft control surfaces look like on the newer submariners.

It's Just A Guy Thing...

Idaho ├╝ber-blogger Clayton Cramer frequently posts entertaining articles about his various projects, including work he's doing on his telescope. Now that I'm off work for a couple of weeks as I enter the last half of my radiation/chemo regimen, I figured that I might have time to post about some of my home repair efforts in the hopes of amusing my readers.

My oncologists are always asking if I'm having problems with my bowel movements; it turns out that this is one area where I continue to excel. This weekend, after making quite a substantial deposit in the First National Bank of Crap, I found that my toilet wouldn't flush properly; no matter how much plunging I did, or how many hot water/dishsoap solutions I poured into the bowl, I just couldn't get any water to drain; my handy snake just couldn't make it around the 180 degree turn in the internal water path. Being a good nuke, I did my research, determined the Probably Faulty Function (big ol' turd stuck in the furthest reaches of the drain line), and got my procedure in place. Eventually, I got to #11 on the list of immediate and supplemental casualty actions, and I realized it was more than a one-man job job to continue. It was time to remove the toilet and do the "reverse snake".

Being a submariner, I prepared my job site with care. I went to Home Depot and got a new wax ring with brass install kit ($5.97 plus tax -- significantly less than the $103 the plumbers wanted to come out with their super-whamodyne snake. Yes, my wife called; I think she was starting to doubt my home repair prowess.) I found some rubber gloves and a plastic sheet, pulled my Shop-Vac out of the corner of the garage, brought up my most trusted tools, and called my two strapping teenage boys to help their old man out. After I Shop-Vac'd out the remaining water and got everything unbolted, the boys pulled the toilet out, and when I ran the snake up from the underside of the toilet, it came back brown.

At this point I should digress and talk about how one's childhood experiences relate to our reactions to poop as we age. I grew up on a farm with cows, horse, pigs, chickens... you name it. I've dealt with crap -- literally. We used to dig up barnfuls of it and spread it on the alfalfa field. My kids, on the other hand, we mostly raised in the city (except for a couple of years in the wilds of Ledyard, CT, where we'd have deer wander though our yard). Their reaction to turdsign was somewhat disappointing to this old farmboy -- it makes me wish I'd exposed them to more animal poop when they were younger.

Anyway, at this point I decided that we'd best get the obstruction cleared if we took the toilet downstairs and out to the backyard, where I could use the hose to really get it cleaned out. The boys muscled it down the stairs (its odd shape, combined with my injunction against using the tank for support -- since it was only connected by two bolts to the bowl -- made moving it tougher.) The hose did it's job, as the boys gave me abuse for generating such a remarkable specimen. I was proud of my accomplishment, however; maybe it's just a "guy thing" that's gone out of style with the new generation.

The boys got the toilet upstairs, unaided by their old man; in fact, I was detrimental to the proceedings, since I made them laugh and have to put down the toilet by choosing to demand that "From now on, you will call me 'The Turdmaster' " as they were coming up the stairs. After installing the new brass bolts and positioning the new wax ring, the boys were able to lower the toilet into position in the cramped corner of the bathroom where it resides, and I did the final bolt tightening and water line hookup. The subsequent retests were SAT, and I left with the feeling of a Job Well Done.

Royal Navy: Just Giving Up?

This report from the Conservative opposition that the British government is potentially thinking about delaying plans to build two Queen Elizabeth-class aircraft carriers seems to me to be an admission from the the Brits that they're not even going to pretend that they're a world-class naval power anymore.

I'm betting that Admiral Horatio Nelson is spinning at about 2000 RPM in his crypt right about now.

Bell-ringer 1533 12 Dec 08: Here's a discussion of the official announcement of a "one to two year" delay in carrier construction.

Remaking The Navy's Officer Culture?

William Lind, best known recently for being completely wrong about his prediction that the U.S. would attack Iran in 2006 and for completely misunderstanding the significance of the "Chinese Song vs. Kitty Hawk" episode, is now holding forth in a new book about what he sees are needed changes in the U.S. Navy. Not surprisingly, given his previous distaste for understanding how the world works, he wants the U.S. to be more like the British Navy:
Lind, who wrote the book’s Navy chapter, contrasts the dominance of engineers in the Navy to what he describes as the preference for tacticians elsewhere. All U.S. submarine skippers are nuclear engineers, “in strong contrast to Britain’s Royal Navy, whose submarine commanders have nuclear engineers where they belong, in the engine room,” Lind wrote.
The first step to remaking the Navy’s officer culture is remaking the Naval Academy, Lind says. The curriculum at Annapolis should focus on “war-fighting,” he writes, rather than engineering, and male and female midshipmen should be educated separately. Co-ed classes create a “stultifying air of political correctness,” Lind wrote. He also recommends sweeping changes to the fleet. The Navy should mothball its Aegis warships, he wrote, because it will never fight an open-ocean war against a peer competitor such as China or Russia. It should use aircraft carriers as cargo ships, carrying supplies or helicopters, if needed, rather than fixed-wing planes.
Lind also recommends the Navy develop its own carrier-launched low-level ground-attack aircraft. The F/A-18 Hornet isn’t built to orbit a battlefield and carry heavy ordnance loads, he wrote, even though that mission will be in ever greater demand.
So what do you think? Should we follow Lind's advice and become more like the Royal Navy? Or are we doing a fairly good job as it is?

Submariner Picked To Be New MCPON

Dukerulz at No Slack, Fast Attack (who has had some interesting posts lately) posted a link to a Navy Times article announcing that Fleet Master Chief (SS/SW) Rick West has been named the 12th master chief petty officer of the Navy. Excerpts:
A career submariner and 27-year Navy veteran, West was tapped by Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Gary Roughead on Friday. Roughead was West’s former boss at Fleet Forces Command and Pacific Fleet before the admiral became CNO.
West served for 11 years as a command master chief and has seen duty onboard five submarines and one destroyer.
He will take over for retiring Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy (SW/FMF) Joe Campa on Dec. 12, when Campa departs on terminal leave. Campa shocked the fleet Nov. 3 when he announced he was leaving, saying he was concerned about losing his connection with the deck plates and becoming a lame-duck MCPON. At two years and five months, Campa will have served the shortest tour as MCPON in the 41-year history of the job...
...(Master Chief West served) tours aboard the ballistic missile submarine Ethan Allen from 1981-82; the boomer Thomas Edison from 1982-83; the fast-attack sub Sea Devil from 1984-86; worked for Commander, Naval Activity United Kingdom from 1986-89; served aboard the boomer Tecumseh from 1989-1992; worked for Commander, Submarine Forces Pacific Fleet from 1992-95; served aboard the fast-attack submarine Portsmouth from 1995 to 1997; worked for Commander, Submarine Squadron 11 from 1997 to 2000; worked for Commander, Submarine Forces Pacific Fleet from 2001 to 2004; served aboard the destroyer Preble from 2004 to 2005; worked for Commander, Pacific Fleet from 2005 to 2007 and became Fleet Forces command master chief on June 30, 2007.
Did anyone serve with Master Chief West who would like to share any sea stories about him? As expected, I'm very hopeful that the new MCPON will be able to use his influence to bring the best of the Submarine Force to the Fleet as a whole, while protecting Submariners from those new initiatives that won't work in the special world of undersea warriors.

USS Scranton Navy Spirit Spot

In preparaton for tomorrow's Army-Navy game, the wardroom of the USS Scranton (SSN 756) put together a great Spirit Spot, playing on the fact that the hit TV show "The Office" is set in Scranton:

For those who haven't seen "The Office", this video tracks closely with the opening credits of the show. BZ, men of the Scranton! (Unfortunately, since the game will air on CBS, and "The Office" is an NBC show, it's unlikely they'll show this spot during the game.)

Welcome Home, Men Of The Asheville!

USS Asheville returned home on Wednesday from the boat's 7th WestPac; here's a picture of the homecoming:

I'm trying to decide if the beginning of December is just about the best time to finish a deployment, and I think it might be. The only problem is that the last part of your I & I gets folded in with the Christmas stand-down; on the other hand, it makes it much less likely that Big Sub Force will be tempted to cut back on your post-deployment down time.

In any event, Welcome Home to the returning warriors!

Virginia-Class Submarine Homeports

Senator Inouye has confirmed that USS Hawaii (SSN 776) will be shifting homeports to Pearl Harbor next year, ahead of the planned arrival of USS Texas (SSN 775):
Officials hope the namesake submarine can take part in the 50th anniversary of Statehood Day, which is celebrated on the third Friday in August. On Aug. 21, 1959, Hawai'i became the 50th state in the union.
Pearl Harbor is expected to receive three of the first four of the latest-generation subs to be built after the lead ship in the class, the USS Virginia.
The Hawai'i, Texas and North Carolina would be based here and augment and begin to replace the 15 older Los Angeles-class attack subs that operate out of Pearl Harbor.
The Texas was projected to arrive first in 2009, but the arrival of the Hawai'i has now been moved up ahead of the Texas. Officials said the flip-flop is a result of some political clout working to bring the USS Hawai'i to Pearl Harbor as fast as possible and the need for some work on the Texas.
With the Navy's emphasis on the Pacific, it's not surprising to me that 3 of the first 4 Virginia-class boats will go west. I expect we'll see the numbers end up about 60% for the Pacific and 40% in LANTFLT when it's all said and done.

Update 1405 05 Dec: Here's the official Navy announcement on the homeport change.

Sean's "Twilight" Rant

In my review last month of the Mormon teen sensation "Twilight", I mentioned that my youngest held forth on his opinion of the movie in the theater lobby, ranking it among the Bottom Five Movies of All Time. In this 100 second video, Sean expands on his comments in his own inimitable style:

This video pretty much shows what life is like in the Bubblehead household; when Sean is home, we're never bored.

Update 2230 05 Dec: Here's another humorous video featuring Sean; this one is scripted. Yes, I'm a proud father.

Veterans And Saluting The Colors

I went to the Wyoming-Boise State basketball game last night (BSU beat the previously undefeated Cowboys 86-85 on a last-second basket off an inbounds play -- very exciting!), and I got my first chance to exercise a new right -- the right of a veteran to render a hand salute during the playing of the National Anthem, even when not in uniform. From the VA website:
Veterans and active-duty military not in uniform can now render the military-style hand salute during the playing of the national anthem, thanks to changes in federal law that took effect this month.
“The military salute is a unique gesture of respect that marks those who have served in our nation’s armed forces,” said Secretary of Veterans Affairs Dr. James B. Peake. “This provision allows the application of that honor in all events involving our nation’s flag.”
The new provision improves upon a little known change in federal law last year that authorized veterans to render the military-style hand salute during the raising, lowering or passing of the flag, but it did not address salutes during the national anthem. Last year’s provision also applied to members of the armed forces while not in uniform.
Traditionally, members of the nation’s veterans service organizations have rendered the hand-salute during the national anthem and at events involving the national flag while wearing their organization’s official head-gear.
The most recent change, authorizing hand-salutes during the national anthem by veterans and out-of-uniform military personnel, was sponsored by Sen. Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma, an Army veteran. It was included in the Defense Authorization Act of 2009, which President Bush signed on Oct. 14.
The earlier provision authorizing hand-salutes for veterans and out-of-uniform military personnel during the raising, lowering or passing of the flag, was contained in the National Defense Authorization Act of 2008, which took effect Jan. 28, 2008.
As I expected, it felt kind of weird saluting while not wearing a hat; I think I'll get used to it, though.

Old Shipmate's Wife Is Singing Star!

One of the things I like best about writing TSSBP is that it gives me a chance to re-establish contact with old friends and shipmates; they search for something about submarines, find my blog thereby, and shoot me an E-mail. This week, I got an E-mail from the wife of one of my old JOs from USS Connecticut (SSN 22). It turns out that she's now a singer, and a pretty good one at that! Check out the MySpace page for Paulette Dixon, where you can hear her amazing voice -- and if you're going to be in the Philly area around Christmas, you can even go see her in concert.

Not Feeling Like Myself Lately

When I announced last month that I had cancer, I said that I'd do my best not to turn TSSBP into a cancer blog. I'm still committed to that, but I'm finding that my treatment is causing me to make some changes in how I interact with others online. Since my last update on how my treatment's been going (at the bottom of my Thanksgiving post), I ended up having a bad day after Thanksgiving until I got rid of some bad humours. (It was pretty impressive.) Feeling about 100x better, I celebrated by running around the blogosphere spreading my own particular brand of truth and light. Reading over those posts later on, I realized that they ended up being much nastier and condescending than I intended them to be. Not to make any excuses, but my thought processes seemed somehow "strange" and frenetic to me.

In a moment of clarity, I realized that as my body fights to repair the damage being caused by the radiation treatments I'm getting each weekday morning (just finished #8 of 25 planned today), it's gotta be wreaking havoc on my normal processes. I've gotten over 1,600 rads of x-rays to my stomach/esophagus over the last 12 days; I could see my body concentrating more on cell repair rather than brain chemical regulation. (Plus, I'm sure the chemo chemicals didn't help that much.)

Bottom line: Until I'm sure that it's the real "me" that's posting, I'm going to do my best to avoid any emotional topics online. I expect this will be a few months; who knows what the painkillers might do to my cognitive functions once I start taking those. I'll still post here, and maybe leave innocuous "good post" or "happy blogiversary" and especially "your prayers/good thoughts are appreciated" comments elsewhere, but I'm going to do my best to avoid going beyond that. (Can't promise anything, of course; some especially ridiculous comment by the Kooky Local Simpleton might set me off, or Lt. Raymond Perry USN (Ret.) might post another article about submarines, and no one can truly predict the future.)

And to all those I offended over the weekend, please accept my heartfelt apology.

Update 1415 05 Dec: I decided to modify my "policy" on non-substantive comments to include allowing myself to correct obvious factual errors in a non-emotional manner. I was on the verge of tearing out my armpit hair trying to keep myself from commenting otherwise.

Dangerous Ignorance And Its Cure

Ridiculous and pernicious ideas are striding across the globe -- moral equivalence, CO2 as a pollutant, collectivist statism, retreat and appeasement in the face of islamic banditry.

And we're the lucky ones, here in the West and particularly in the Anglosphere, who have the luxury of undeservedly coasting (for the time being) on the legacy of our forebearers who hewed our political rights, rational mindset, and economic opportunities from the Hobbesian darkness.
Hobbes postulates what life would be like without government, a condition which he calls the state of nature. In that state, each person would have a right, or license, to everything in the world. This inevitably leads to conflict, a "war of all against all" (bellum omnium contra omnes), and thus lives that are "solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short."
How to reclaim our heritage?

How to fight the tide of pernicious ignorance?

The answer is education.

Indeed, self-education!

Getting back to basics.

The classics.

Specifically, the canon of great books is the place to start -- including the foundational texts of our political and economic systems. (I am dismayed, for example, at the lack of knowledge -- indeed, of disinformation -- concerning how the U.S. Electoral College works, the real purpose of which I explain here and also here. There's really a good reason for it, and it's not to thwart the will of the people!)

See a fascinating discussion of some potential lists here. The first list by David Allen White (DAW) is novel-heavy; the second list by John Mark Reynolds (JMR) is more to my personal liking with a balance of important political and historical treatises.

The two professors discuss their picks in the accompanying transcript. For example:
People who don’t have time to read are going to be ineffectual, rotten at what they do, and are not going to be the leaders that we need, particularly in the conservative movement today.
JMR: Yes, so sorry. I think Virgil’s Aeneid is also important. If you’re going to read Dante and Homer, Virgil counts. I’m going to go out on a limb and say that everybody in your audience should go home and memorize Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address, if they haven’t done it already. That’s what I’m going to work on this year, actually, as a private project, and read and totally imbibe the spirit of Lincoln’s Second Inaugural Address. We’re at war, but we’re not at war with human beings, in one way, but with bad ideas. Christians, at least, my tradition, are called to love their enemies. That doesn’t mean we can’t do justice on them. But we need to start thinking about our enemies, I think the way Lincoln thought about his enemies.
DAW: My sense is, and this is personal opinion, it’s a miracle we’re here at all, it’s quite extraordinary. But one of the things I, at least, think most people should do in the time that they spend on this planet, is have a sense of the greatest [gift] that’s been given to us. A life itself is the greatest gift, to have an immortal soul is extraordinary, but in beginning to understand what that means, I think you’ve got to turn to the greatest writers who can give you some sense of what it’s all been about, why you’re here, what it means and where you’re going. And that means you’ve got to delve into the great writers.

[As an aside, since fiction writers can "stack the deck" in terms of plot and outcome, I've always advocated studying the history of war to understand the human condition, because it's all there -- tragedy, triumph, sacrifice, irony, etc. -- and it's all real. -- RDS]

HH: John Mark Reynolds, why this list? What’s it do?

JMR: We need young men and women with souls that are good, true and beautiful. And if we’re going to form souls that are good, true and beautiful, we can’t begin with our own souls, because all of us are in process, too. The great writers know how to shape us morally, to get to goodness. They know how to help us find the big ideas, the truths that never change from culture to culture. And they know most importantly how to make us beautiful, so that we don’t fall into the trap of thinking only things that work matter. We need beauty in our lives as well.
The Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States are miracles of modern thought, taken the 18th Century forward as modern, and we sometimes forget that just because we’re Americans doesn’t mean that we can’t be proud of something we did. I also think to understand those works, you should have read the Federalist Papers, and Democracy In America.
JMR: Everybody should read Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, and its contrast, the Communist Manifesto by Marx. If you’re ever tempted to be a socialist, the Communist Manifesto will argue you out of it.
DAW: Well, here we go. I agree with the Odyssey. The Odyssey’s got to be on there. Here’s a curiosity. It’s the first complete play we have. It’s Aeschylus’ Oresteia. And it’s about the establishing of the courts of justice in the city of Athens. It really is in a way the dawn of Western civilization, and one of the great plays ever written. So I’m going with Aeschylus’ Oresteia.
I’m going to include one of my favorites, everybody who wants to be married has to read it, Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice.

HH: Oh, that’s a disaster for the men listening here.

DAW: No, no, no. It’s a great book, and boy, they can learn something about being a man. She had a better sense of manhood than most men in our time…

HH: Can we watch the movie instead, David Allen White?

DAW: No, you’ve got to read it. The sentences are exquisite, and the wisdom of this woman is profound. Here’s one, again you can call it a cheat, but this book actually exists. And in fact, I bought it when I was in high school. It’s still out there. It’s called the Immortal Poems of the English Language. It’s an anthology – Sidney, Spencer, Marlowe, Jonson, Donne, Milton, Dryden, Pope, Blake, Wordsworth, Coleridge, Byron, Shelley, Keats, Tennyson, Browning, Hopkins, Whitman, Dickenson, Frost, all in one volume.
JMR: If you’re at war, you ought to be reading Boethius, the Consolation of Philosophy.

HH: Wait. What? That is alien to me. I have no idea what you just said.

DAW: Oh, it’s a great work, Hugh.

JMR: Yeah, it’s the work that deals with fate and God’s relationship to fate. The world’s a tough place to live in, and how should we handle the tough things that happen to us?

HH: Go back over the title and the author again slowly.

JMR: It’s Boethius, the Consolation of Philosophy. And for about five hundred or six hundred years, it was the most widely read book in the Western world.

HH: Wow.

JMR: So it’s an important one to take a look at. I’m going to agree with the Orestia. And then for my students, I’m going to add Cicero on Friendship and on Duties. These are must reads for modern people who have forgotten all about doing their duty, and the nature of friendship as well. And then finally, a book that I think is vile and evil, but everyone should have read at least some of, is Hobbes’ Leviathan, if you want to see the kind of state we want to avoid at all cost.
Now I’ve got to ask you both, given that there is so much agreement about the canon, and there really is. If you talk to educated people who are serious about ideas, they always say the same thing. Why isn’t it taught, David Allen White?

DAW: Because modern universities and colleges are the biggest fraud on the planet.

JMR: Here, here.

DAW: And they continue to get away from it. They loathe Western civilization. They hate Western civilization, and they will do anything to destroy it, which means destroying the canon. If you don’t teach the young where they came from, and the greatness of the past, you can do away with the whole thing. And sadly, I think that’s what’s happening.
JMR: We end up with waiting lists of people begging to get into this kind of thing. You know what? People eventually understand that they’re being defrauded of their roots, they’re being defrauded of a good education. And as you start to help them get a hold of the real thing, they become hungry for it, with a passion that passes anything you’ve ever seen. Our students aren’t worse than they were 100 years ago. The teachers are worse. We’re worse.
JMR: Some things are hard to learn, but they’re worth learning. You need to press on and trying to get what you can. Repetitive reading of books is a great idea. If a book’s worth reading once, it’s generally worth reading multiple times.

[I've always believed in repetitive drill, especially in math -- "rote" learning has gotten a bad name. -- RDS]
DAW: the Divine Comedy, when Dante’s taking his journey, he’s got to have Virgil there to guide him, and then Beatrice and then St. Bernard. You know, you’ve got to have a guide.
Read the full transcript carefully, and start reading those books!

And make your own lists of essential reading!

And share with your friends and children!

The long hard slog of re-education is essential for defeating the leftist disease rotting out the core of our civilization. We must reclaim a pride in our heritage, which first requires knowing what it even is!

Otherwise our society could easily end up like this commenter at Belmont Club observes of certain others -- that our civilization is different is an incredible gift; it didn't have to be that way:
Witnessing the differences in culture up close for so long has changed my mind about the likelihood of success. The nature of the Arab/Muslim society is so dysfunctional and unsuited for modern democracy and a free society I don’t see how we can withdraw in three years with any chance of lasting change.

The symbiosis of tribal life and Islam seems to mold a society that is at the simultaneous moment aggressive and abrasive and claimant to victim status. The shame culture leads to perpetual deceit and the inability to reconcile one’s mistakes and make changes. The perpetual degradation of women is abetted by other women and results in a male female dynamic we in the west would never tolerate. From my discussions with our guest, who blamed her sister for her brother’s repeated beatings of same sister, the entire nation suffers from battered woman syndrome.

Then there is the Inshallah syndrome, which means you never have to take initiative or sort anything out really, much less think rationally.
Perhaps that assessment is too pessimistic -- maybe the culture can change, especially if they can get away from the bondage of islam.

But if we can't be bothered to pick up a book and learn where all our freedoms and bounty came from, we are unworthy of these gifts.

The solution is to get serious and learn.

The notion of discrediting the "dead white males" was designed to weaken our culture so it could be destroyed.

Don't fall for it!

Here are the lists; the side notes are from the Professors:
Professor David Allen White, U.S. Naval Academy
Dialogs of Plato
Homer's Iliad
Dante's Divine Comedy
Cervantes' Don Quixote [I read it every year]
Dickens' David Copperfield [great story, great storyteller]
Dostoevsky's Brothers Karamazov [historical, philosophical]
Brideshead Revisited – Evelyn Waugh
The Gulag Archipelago – Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn [the great book of our age]
Homer's Odyssey
Aeschylus' Oresteia
Aristole's Ethics
Virgil's Aeneid
Aquinas' Summa Theologica
Pensees – Blaise Pascal [French for "thoughts"]
Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austen [everyone who wants to be married has to read this]
Immortal Poems of the English Language – edited by Oscar Williams
Moby Dick – Herman Melville [greatest book written by an American]
Sophocles' Oedipus Rex
Song of Roland, Chanson de Geste [great battle poem of all time, extraordinary character study]
Canterbury Tales – Geoffrey Chaucer
Alice In Wonderland – Lewis Carroll [understand the modern mind]
Through The Looking Glass – Lewis Carroll [here is the modern world in spades]
Anna Karenina – Leo Tolstoy
Collected Poems, 1909-1962 – T.S. Eliot
Witness – Whittaker Chambers
The Complete Stories – Flannery O'Connor
Of A Fire On The Moon – Norman Mailer
Lost In The Cosmos – Walker Percy

Professor John Mark Reynolds, Biola University
Homer's Odyssey
Aristole's Ethics [learn to think about things correctly]
Plato's Republic [I reread every semester of my life]
Sophocles' Oedipus Rex [understand the nature of truth, and where theater comes from]
Augustine's Confessions [I read every year]
The Divine Comedy – Dante Alighieri [great poetry, great science, great theology]
The 2nd Treatise on Government – John Locke [one of the hardest books to read]
Virgil's Aeneid
Lincoln's Gettysburg Address
Lincoln's 2nd Inaugural Address
Declaration of Independence [miracles of modern thought]
Constitution of the United States
Federalist Papers – Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, John Jay
Democracy In America – Alexis de Tocqueville
Wealth of Nations – Adam Smith
Communist Manifesto – Karl Marx
On the Origin of Species – Charles Darwin [it's not fascinating, it's important]
The Birth of Tragedy and the Genealogy of Morals – Friedrich Nietzsche
Civilization And Its Discontents – Sigmund Freud
Abolition of Man – C.S. Lewis [best essay written in the 20th Century]
Aquinas' Summa Theologica
Canterbury Tales – Geoffrey Chaucer
The Prince – Niccolo Machiavelli
The Faerie Queene – Edmund Spenser [C.S. Lewis described as a psychologically purifying moment]
Calvin's Institutes
Paradise Lost – John Milton
The Consolation of Philosophy – Ancius Boethius [tough things, fate, God's relationship to fate]
Aeschylus' Oresteia
Cicero's On Friendship and On Duties
Leviathan – Thomas Hobbes [a vile and evil book]

"Sharks Of Steel" Segment On YouTube

Check out this excerpt from the old "Sharks of Steel" documentary, featuring mostly shots from my old boat USS Topeka (SSN 754), filmed back in 1992:

Most of the shots in this clip were from the Topeka; we did all of the "Man Battlestations" action shots when we were in port the day after we did the at-sea shots. (You can see me at about the 2:22 mark; I'm the guy on the inboard side of the wardroom table who stands up and pushes my chair back in, correctly stowing it for sea). The other submarine shown is USS Georgia (SSBN 729); it's their CO who's speaking at the end. This clip also shows several shots of my old CO, "He Who Must Not Be Named" (aka "Fast Eddie" Jablonski). Even now, it kind of scares me to hear his voice...

Don't Mind Me... I'm Just Ranting

A few thoughts as I get ready to go back to work for a couple of weeks before my body completely shuts down from the radiation:

1) I love college football. My beloved Nebraska Cornhuskers are probably going to a New Years Day bowl, and the arguments caused by a simple failure to set up a playoff system in the one major sport that doesn't have it enables those of us who love to argue to really enjoy this time of year. The local Boise State Broncos completed another undefeated regular season last night, and it makes me wonder -- why do the people who put together bowl games think that people would want to see two-loss Ohio State suffer another BCS embarassment rather than watch what promises to be a completely non-boring BSU team?

2) I go back and forth over who is more sanctimonious and annoying -- whiny progressives or whiny social conservatives. Today I'm leaning towards progressives, because morialekafa, the "crazy old uncle in the attic" of the Idaho lefty blogosphere, included this little nugget of "wisdom" in his daily rant in response to yesterday's tragic death of the worker in the New York Walmart:
Our profligate ways have now painfully caught up with us, as evidenced by our now virtual dependence on Wal Mart. Even people who would not have been caught dead there previously are now flocking there in droves (alas, I am one of them). When I enter a Wal Mart I feel I am entering a giant warehouse full of losers. The clerks are losers, working for small wages and few benefits, the shoppers are losers, looking for the cheapest bargains they can find.
Wow... elitist much? This follows a statement where he mentioned that he bet that Brits, French, Germans, Russians, and Iranians would never trample anyone. Soccer and Iranian funeral violence notwithstanding, I'm really wondering if progressives who rail against all these horrors of American society ever really think through what their proposals would lead to. Would they outlaw sales? Is wanting to spend less really bad? Does spending more make you a "winner"? Would they outlaw concerts by The Who? Or should we just not buy anything and live off the land and love each other, like back in some earlier mythical century that has never existed in human history? It seems to me that, for now, progressives seem to want to outlaw and control more human behavior than even the most Old Testament-centered social conservatives. I'm sure that will change soon, though. (Please note that I haven't lost all perspective. I recognize that, when all is said and done, the truly most sanctimonious and annoying people are the "realists" like me who like to mock and belittle the people on the fringes.)

3) People continue to speak completely different languages, politically. Take the recent passage of Proposition 8 in California to overturn the decision of the California Supreme Court to establish the new right of homosexual marriage. Opponents of the measure say that it "takes away the civil rights" of gays and lesbians. I disagree, and here's why: both before the California Supreme Court case and after the passage of Prop 8, every adult Californian had the exact same right as every other, granted by legislative action -- the right (if not imprisoned) to marry exactly one consenting unmarried person of the opposite sex who was of age and not too closely related. Just because gays and lesbians choose not to exercise that right doesn't mean it is lost to them. It's as if one were to say that my wife had her abortion "rights" taken away from her because she chose not to get an abortion (my feelings on the subject of a "right" to abortion/privacy can be found here). The fact that she's not been given some closely-related other "right" to make up for the fact that she didn't exercise that one doesn't take away from her the original "right". The unvarnished truth is that the right to marry someone of the same sex would be a brand new right, and if some legislature wants to enact that I'd accept the result. Please just don't expect that I'll willingly accept accusations that I "hate" homosexuals just because I believe that the process for expanding our civil rights should have a legislative component. And just because us Mormons once supported polygamy (over 100 years ago) doesn't mean that we now have to support all new forms of marriage. None of us were alive back then, and at the same time Mormons supported polygamy, remember that Democrats supported Jim Crow and slavery.

SSN Seen In Puget Sound

A reader sent in some pictures recently taken from a ferry on the Puget Sound of a newer SSN; here's one:

Based on the "boot" at the front of the sail, she's clearly a Seawolf- or Virginia-class boat. And based on the length of the main deck vs. the height of the sail, I'm thinking the reader got a rare glimpse of my last boat, USS Jimmy Carter (SSN 23). What a pretty submarine...