"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...

Why I'm Thankful

On this Thanksgiving Day, I find myself even more focused than usual on reasons to be thankful for all I have in this life:

I'm thankful to a loving Heavenly Father and for the Gift and the Atonement of his Son, Jesus Christ, through Whom all will gain Eternal Life.

I'm thankful for wonderful children who are a Gift from Above, and most especially for a wonderful wife and soulmate who completes me. I'm nothing without you, Dearest Love.

I'm thankful for living in the greatest country on Earth -- not a perfect country, but the best there is and capable of becoming still greater.

I'm thankful I've had the opportunity to serve my country in what I consider to be the most focused and dedicated group of professionals I know -- the world of Submariners.

I'm thankful that, while I've put down my arms, there are brave men and women who continue to pay the ultimate price to defend our country and our way of life on whatever battlefields may await.

I'm thankful for loving friends and family, who always seem to be available to help one out when you need them. Especially as I work on beating my cancer, the good humor and support of so many has been a bigger help than you could know. I started radiation treatments on Thursday, chemo on Friday, and got a feeding tube implanted in my small intestine on Monday. I've decided that even minor abdominal surgery in conjunction with chemo kind of sucks, but this round of chemo ended Tuesday night, and by this morning I'm back to feeling pretty much normal. My middle child (oldest son, who just turned 18 and made me thankful by scoring a 35 on his ACT so I know that some lucky college will give him a nice scholarship) really wanted to show support for his old man and his chemo by shaving his head. I pointed out that I might not even lose my hair with the minimal amount of chemo I'm doing, but he really seemed to want to do it, so yesterday we did the deed; my father-in-law (right) joined in the fun:

I'm the one in the middle. For you guys who have never gone with this look, it's even worse than what we got in boot camp -- yet strangely freeing. I'm continuing radiation treatments through about Christmas, with another quick round of chemo at the end of that, then between 4 and 8 weeks later I'll get an esophagogastrectomy up in Seattle. A few weeks of recovery from that, maybe another round of chemo, and I expect to be cancer-free by spring. And for that I'll also be thankful.

Update 1224 27 November: I'm also thankful that we can still donate to Project Valour-IT, and can even get some good reading out of our donations by bidding on one of the three excellent books that Team Navy has put up on E-Bay; check them out here, here, and here.

USS Nebraska Accident Report Completed

Navy Times is reporting that the Navy has released some preliminary information from the investigation into the tragic death of MM3(SS) Michael Gentile aboard USS Nebraska (SSBN 739) (Blue). Excerpts:
A Navy investigation into the Sept. 20 death of a submariner found that the sailor got himself into a deadly situation aboard the ballistic missile submarine Nebraska...
...Gentile, of Waterville, Maine, had gotten caught and stuck in the rudder ram, which lies in the submarine’s aft section, during a cleaning evolution.
The investigation report was completed by the Silverdale, Wash.-based Submarine Group-Trident under the Judge Advocate General’s Manual.
“It has been determined that while performing routine watchstanding duties, Petty Officer Gentile disregarded posted safety warnings, which ultimately led him to become pinned between the rudder ram and nearby stationary equipment,” officials said in a statement released Wednesday...
Without further details, it's hard to determine where the truth lies. My own experience is that if a boat is planning on doing cleaning in Shaft Alley while underway, you station a phone-talker with direct comms to Control to verify everyone is clear before moving any control surface. If, on the other hand, they weren't specifically cleaning in Shaft Alley, you have to trust in the posted warnings and training.

Update 1725 26 Nov: The article has been updated and expanded since I first posted about it; it now also discusses shortcomings found in the command climate, "specifically lack of enforcing safety rules and the cleaning habits and practices in shaft alley, where some sailors had taken to using sticks or bilge grabbers to reach and clean its tight confines." It goes on to say that the CSS-17 has been assigned to determine any additional administrative actions to take against the ship's leadership; this article from the Kitsap Sun, however, says that any such administrative action would not include being removed from duty aboard the ship.

USS Georgia Responds To Russian Caribbean Deployment!

The news is full of the reports that 4 Russian naval vessels, two of which are actual warships and only one of which is a tugboat they felt they needed to bring along for some reason, have arrived in Caracas for exercises with the Venezuelan "Navy". Some people are trying to make it seem like a Big Deal that the Russian Navy is deploying in our backyard, and I agree -- I'm impressed they were able to make it all the way almost to the equator with the same number of ships they started with. As I said earlier, I'm sure this provided an excellent training opportunity for U.S. Navy forces.

In any event, even though naval professionals will recognize that this "show of force" is about the same as that of a mouse running through the den of some well-fed sleepy lions, it's still important that we make the Russians feel like they've accomplished something for their efforts -- that we've taken some notice of the fact that they can steam several thousand miles with 4 ships and are therefore somehow "respectful" of them. The Navy has responded in the most appropriate way -- by choosing this week to just happen to "release" some pictures of one of the most feared weapons in the U.S. Navy arsenal. Check it out:

Experienced naval experts the world over were, I'm sure, shocked by the evidence of this latest Yankee advance in nautical superiority -- USS Georgia (SSGN 729) shown with a working B1rD system! In the past, the Navy has only released pictures of SSNs with B1rD (CGu-11 mod). Now that we've combined Special Forces operations, a couple hundred Tomahawks, and the most diabolical Aw-Sh*t paint-fouling system imaginable, other navies will just want to pack it in -- you haven't got a chance.

(You can find more pictures of USS Georgia here, here, and here.)

Bell-ringer 1221 27 Nov: A commenter remembers that the Georgia already has experience in getting rid of tugboats, so she could be considered even a greater potential counter to the Russian ships.

Submarine Tidbits

A quick run around items of interest to Submariners I found on the 'net:

1) There's a new homepage for USS L. Mendel Rivers (SSN 686) crewmembers and fans over at riversdelivers.org. Looks like it's off to a promising start. Does anyone have any advice for the webmasters of such sites on how to help their creation to take off?

2) The Kitsap Sun has an update on the recently-completed bow replacement of USS San Francisco (SSN 711). SFO moved out of her drydock last month, and will head to her new homeport of San Diego in the spring.

3) NR-1 was retired in a ceremony held in Groton last Friday after almost 40 years of service. You can see some recent pictures of her here, here, here, and here. I'm hoping that the Navy will build a replacement; interestingly, I think that's more like with a new Obama Administration since it would help establish some sort of pro-military/pro-nuclear bona fides while providing needed scientific capabilities (and, of course, providing unionized jobs in a couple of blue states).

4) A commenter in an earlier thread pointed out that retired Admiral "Skip" Bowman, former head of Naval Reactors, has resigned from his position of Nuclear Energy Institute President and CEO. Stating that he was contemplating retirement next year anyway, he said he wanted to give the new NEI leadership a chance to hit the ground running with the new federal administration. Knowing that Admiral Bowman would never back down from a fight, I'm inclined to take him on his word, rather that thinking he resigned due to the anti-nuclear stances of the Obama team. I look forward to seeing what he'll do next.

5) USS Albany (SSN 753) and USS Jacksonville (SSN 699) both recently returned from deployments. Some good pictures of the Jacksonville's return can be found here, and a story on Albany's deployment is here. Looks like the crew of the Albany got some decent liberty, with visits to Crete, France, Italy, and Norway (in addition to some Arabian Gulf ports) mixed in during their 7-month sojourn. Welcome home, guys, and I hope you get some well-deserved time off.

Grow Up and Learn Something

The resurgence of piracy and the seeming inability to stop it by Western navies points to a downfall of civilizational confidence.
The pirate city of Eyl is Somalia's only boomtown. In a country that has seen 14 provisional governments since 1991 — all of them corrupt — high-seas hijackings have been the best business in town, and may net upwards of $100 million this year.

The seizure of an Iranian-owned ship in the Gulf of Aden Tuesday was only the latest in a series of assaults that have accelerated drastically since the summer.

The International Maritime Bureau's Piracy Reporting Center said before Wednesday's hijacking that 88 attacks have been reported in the area this year, including 36 successful hijackings. About 14 vessels — and 250 crew members — are still being held hostage. Intelligence sources believe the number of vessels held presently is about 15.
Some coverage even seems sympathetic, seeing a sort of advantageous Robin Hood situation:
And in an impoverished country where every public institution has crumbled, they have become heroes in the steamy coastal dens they operate from because they are the only real business in town.

"The pirates depend on us, and we benefit from them," said Sahra Sheik Dahir, a shop owner in Haradhere, the nearest village to where a hijacked Saudi Arabian supertanker carrying $100 million in crude was anchored Wednesday.

These boomtowns are all the more shocking in light of Somalia's violence and poverty: Radical Islamists control most of the country's south, meting out lashings and stonings for accused criminals. There has been no effective central government in nearly 20 years, plunging this arid African country into chaos.

Life expectancy is just 46 years; a quarter of children die before they reach 5.

But in northern coastal towns like Haradhere, Eyl and Bossaso, the pirate economy is thriving thanks to the money pouring in from pirate ransoms that have reached $30 million this year alone.

In Haradhere, residents came out in droves to celebrate as the looming oil ship came into focus this week off the country's lawless coast. Businessmen started gathering cigarettes, food and cold glass bottles of orange soda, setting up small kiosks for the pirates who come to shore to re-supply almost daily.

Dahir said she is so confident in the pirates, she instituted a layaway plan just for them.

"They always take things without paying and we put them into the book of debts," she told The Associated Press in a telephone interview. "Later, when they get the ransom money, they pay us a lot."

For Somalis, the simple fact that pirates offer jobs is enough to gain their esteem, even as hostages languish on ships for months. The population makes sure the pirates are well-stocked in qat, a popular narcotic leaf, and offer support from the ground even as the international community tries to quash them.

"Regardless of how the money is coming in, legally or illegally, I can say it has started a life in our town," said Shamso Moalim, a 36-year-old mother of five in Haradhere.

"Our children are not worrying about food now, and they go to Islamic schools in the morning and play soccer in the afternoon. They are happy."

Meanwhile, towns that once were eroded by years of poverty and chaos are now bustling with restaurants, Land Cruisers and Internet cafes. Residents also use their gains to buy generators -- allowing full days of electricity, once an unimaginable luxury in Somalia.

There are no reliable estimates of the number of pirates operating in Somalia, but they must number in the thousands. And though the bandits do sometimes get nabbed, piracy is generally considered a sure bet to a better life.
The attackers generally treat their hostages well in anticipation of a big payday, hiring caterers on shore to cook spaghetti, grilled fish and roasted meat that will appeal to a Western palate. They also keep a steady supply of cigarettes and drinks from the shops on shore.
So it's a "business" now.

Note too how the "innocent" townspeople support piracy, and are thus culpable.

Why is not more done?

Not long ago, pirates were clearly seen as threats to civilization, and, as unlawful combatants, were eradicated with military force, and could be summarily executed if captured.

Today however, they've acquired more "rights" than traditional soldiers, apparently, due to the suicidal interference of lawyers, left-wingers, and "human rights scolds" that wish to see this as a criminal justice problem rather than a military one:
The key problem is that America's NATO allies have effectively abandoned the historical legal rules permitting irregular fighters to be tried in special military courts (or, in the case of pirates, admiralty courts) in favor of a straightforward criminal-justice model. Although piracy is certainly a criminal offense, treating it like bank robbery or an ordinary murder case presents certain problems for Western states.

To begin with, common criminals cannot be targeted with military force. There are other issues as well. Last April the British Foreign Office reportedly warned the Royal Navy not to detain pirates, since this might violate their "human rights" and could even lead to claims of asylum in Britain. Turning the captives over to Somali authorities is also problematic -- since they might face the head- and hand-chopping rigors of Shariah law. Similar considerations have confounded U.S. government officials in their discussions of how to confront this new problem of an old terror at sea.
It's as if people have no concept of history, or how things ought to function.

Oh wait, that's EXACTLY the problem!

In this Civic Literacy Report, a survey found an appalling lack of basic knowledge by American citizens about fundamentals of the Constitution, our institutions, and market economics:
Seventy-one percent of Americans fail the test, with an overall average score of 49%.
You can try the 33 questions yourself here.

Even more shocking, our leaders are even LESS knowledgeable than the average American!
OF THE 2,508 PEOPLE surveyed, 164 say they have held an elected government office at least once in their life. Their average score on the civic literacy test is 44%, compared to 49% for those who have not held an elected office. Officeholders are less likely than other respondents to correctly answer 29 of the 33 test questions.
No wonder things are in the sorry state they are!

But when schools are become softer, social-organizations instead of rigorous halls of learning (witness the mission-creep of having students perform community service -- why isn't that time spent on math drills or reading the classics?), that's only to be expected.

Newt Gingrich calls for an end to the extended adolescence we've created; in other words, grow up and learn something:
It's time to declare the end of adolescence. As a social institution, it's been a failure. The proof is all around us: 19% of eighth graders, 36% of tenth graders, and 47% of twelfth graders say they have used illegal drugs, according to a study by the National Institute on Drug Abuse and the University of Michigan. One of every four girls has a sexually transmitted disease, suggests a recent study for the Centers for Disease Control. A methamphetamine epidemic among the young is destroying lives, families, and communities. And American students are learning at a frighteningly slower rate than Chinese and Indian students.

The solution is dramatic and unavoidable: We have to end adolescence as a social experiment. We tried it. It failed. It's time to move on. Returning to an earlier, more successful model of children rapidly assuming the roles and responsibilities of adults would yield enormous benefit to society.
The costs of this social experiment have been horrendous. For the poor who most need to make money, learn seriously, and accumulate resources, adolescence has helped crush their future. By trapping poor people in bad schools, with no work opportunities and no culture of responsibility, we have left them in poverty, in gangs, in drugs, and in irresponsible sexual activity. As a result, we have ruined several generations of poor people who might have made it if we had provided a different model of being young.

And for too many middle-class and wealthier young Americans, adolescence has been an excuse to delay work, family, and achievement—and thus contribute less to their own well-being and that of their communities.

It's time to change this—to shift to serious work, learning, and responsibility at age 13 instead of age 30. In other words, replace adolescence with young adulthood. But hastening that transition requires integrating learning into life and work. Fortunately, innovations in technology and in financial incentives to learn offer hope.
Indeed, going to school should be a money-making profession if you are good at it and work hard. That would revolutionize our poorest neighborhoods and boost our competitiveness.

The fact is, most young people want to be challenged and given real responsibility. They want to be treated like young men and women, not old children. So consider this simple proposal: High school students who can graduate a year early get the 12th year's cost of schooling as an automatic scholarship to any college or technical school they want to attend.
An interesting idea.

Something perhaps is in the air; also recently Prof. Victor Davis Hanson proposed:
Four years of high-school Latin would dramatically arrest the decline in American education. In particular, such instruction would do more for minority youths than all the ‘role model’ diversity sermons on Harriet Tubman, Malcolm X, Montezuma, and Caesar Chavez put together.

Nothing so enriches the vocabulary, so instructs about English grammar and syntax, so creates a discipline of the mind, an elegance of expression, and serves as a gateway to the thinking and values of Western civilization as mastery of a page of Virgil or Livy (except perhaps Sophocles’s Antigone in Greek or Thucydides’ dialogue at Melos).

After some 20 years of teaching mostly minority youth Greek, Latin, and ancient history and literature in translation (1984-2004), I came to the unfortunate conclusion that ethnic studies, women studies—indeed, anything “studies”— were perhaps the fruits of some evil plot dreamed up by illiberal white separatists to ensure that poor minority students in the public schools and universities were offered only a third-rate education.
In other words, grow up and learn something!

Hanson also notes a related symptom of this clinging to childishness: a civilizational emasculation that takes us right back to not knowing how to deal with pirates any more:
Something has happened to the generic American male accent. Maybe it is urbanization; perhaps it is now an affectation to sound precise and caring with a patina of intellectual authority; perhaps it is the fashion culture of the metrosexual; maybe it is the influence of the gay community in arts and popular culture. Maybe the ubiquitous new intonation comes from the scarcity of salty old jobs in construction, farming, or fishing. But increasingly to meet a young American male about 25 is to hear a particular nasal stress, a much higher tone than one heard 40 years ago, and, to be frank, to listen to a precious voice often nearly indistinguishable from the female.

How indeed could one make Westerns these days, when there simply is not anyone left who sounds like John Wayne, Richard Boone, Robert Duvall, or Gary Cooper much less a Struther Martin, Jack Palance, L.Q. Jones, or Ben Johnson? I watched the movie Twelve O’clock High the other day, and Gregory Peck and Dean Jagger sounded liked they were from another planet. I confess over the last year, I have been interviewed a half-dozen times on the phone, and had no idea at first whether a male or female was asking the questions.

All this sounds absurd, but I think upon reflection readers my age (55) will attest they have had the same experience. In the old days, I remember only that I first heard a variant of this accent with the old Paul Lynde character actor in one of the Flubber movies; now young men sound closer to his camp than to a Jack Palance or Alan Ladd.
Another observer made the same point two years ago:
You hear this soft, inflected tone everywhere that young people below, roughly, 35 congregate. As flat as the bottles of spring water they carry and affectless as algae, it tends to always trend towards a slight rising question at the end of even simple declarative sentences. It has no timbre to it and no edge of assertion in it.

The voice whisps across your ears as if the speaker is in a state of perpetual uncertainty with every utterance. It is as if, male or female, there is no foundation or soul within the speaker on which the voice can rest and rise. As a result, it has a misty quality to it that denies it any unique character at all. It is the Valley Girl variation of the voices that Prufrock hears:

I know the voices dying with a dying fall
Beneath the music from a farther room.

It's parting wistful wish for you is that you "Have a good one."

Above all, it is a sexless voice. Not, I hasten to add, a "gay" voice. Not that at all. It is neither that gentle nor that musical. Nor is it that old shabby lisping stereotype best consigned to the dustbin of popular culture. No, this is a new old voice of a generation of ostensible men and women who have been educated and acculturated out of, or say rather, to the far side of any gender at all. It is, as I have indicated above, the voice of the neutered. And in this I mean that of the transitive verb: To castrate or spay. The voice and the kids that carry it is the triumphant achievement of our halls of secondary and higher education. These children did not speak this way naturally, they were taught. And like good children seeking only to please their teachers and then their employers, they learned.

This is not to say that the new American Castrati of all genders live sexless lives. On the contrary, if reports are to be credited, they seem to have a good deal of sex, most often without the burden of love or the threat of chlldren, and in this they are condemned to the sex life of children.

No, it is only to say that this new voice that we hear throughout the land from so many of the young betokens a weaker and less certain brand of citizen than we have been used to in our history. Neither male nor female, neither gay nor straight, neither.... well, not anything substantive really. A generation finely tuned to irony and nothingness and tone deaf to duty and soul.
Here there is discussion about why men are marrying later and later...if they marry at all. Partly it is another symptom of this extended retreat from adulthood and responsibility; partly it is a reaction to the anti-male tendencies in popular culture, wrought by a misguided and extreme offshoot of feminism, and ties right in with the emasculated male phenomenon:
“The dating and mating scene is in chaos,” writes Hymowitz. “SYMs [Single young males] of the postfeminist era are moving around in a Babel of miscues, cross-purposes, and half-conscious, contradictory female expectations that are alternately proudly egalitarian and coyly traditional.”
But the real question, in an age that cops to an over 50% divorce rate, isn’t “Why aren’t more men getting married under 30?” It’s Why are any?
Some of the commenters offer further insights:
The true reason is that there has been an ongoing concealed, systemic effort to stigmatize the men, starting from the age of 2, by decades-long educational, social and technological hindrance of their natural developments and ignore them for the sake of the females. The results? The men of today (age 18 to 30) are not the same kind of men from the decades before 1965. So what happened between 1965 and now? Feminists, radical sexual liberation theorists, leftist/Marxist wonks & academic scholars and powerful entities have conspired to make women more empowered and men less empowered in the years that continue to this day.
It’s ALL about unrealistic expectations and lack of adulthood on both sides.

If you’re sitting on your butt with your buddies watching CartoonNetwork, you are not an adult. If you’re hanging with your girlfriends and your most serious topic of discussion is affording new shoes, you’re not an adult. Being not an adult is not a lofty goal, nor is it an excuse. It’s just a fact.

Society is supporting a generalized overall tilt towards remaining in adolescence. Like the lifelong hunt to stay 18 is something laudable and to be glorified. From looks to behavior, the grownup is dying.

Sorry, one can talk about the woman’s movement or the men’s movement, or anyone’s movement and it only touches on a part of it. It truly is about a global avoidance of all things adult, unless there is some sort of payment for it.

It was never meant to be easy. It was never meant to be completely fulfilling or one big date. It was never meant to meet all of one’s needs, that is what a balanced life is for.

And if you spend your time blaming someone else for what you cannot do, that makes you basically lame. But it fits the basic picture. Children blame others, adults own their own lives. This attitude is gender non-specific in my eyes. I’ve met just as many adolescent females as I’ve met males.
In other words, grow up and learn something!!!

And then go and eradicate the pirates with military force and raze Eyl to the ground as an object lesson to its criminal-enabling scum of a populace, with the true self-confidence of a neo-Victorian.

A French Soldier's View

An interesting view of the American army in Afghanistan by a French soldier, is translated here:
Heavily built, fed at the earliest age with Gatorade, proteins and creatine - they are all heads and shoulders taller than us and their muscles remind us of Rambo. Our frames are amusingly skinny to them - we are wimps, even the strongest of us - and because of that they often mistake us for Afghans.
Read it all, for it is good!

Russian Victor I Transported By Cargo Ship

Via OObject, here's an interesting story about a Victor-I class submarine being transported from Murmansk to Severodvinsk aboard a Dutch transport ship (and paid for by the Canadians). Here's a picture:

It's probably a good idea for the Russians to transport their un-seaworthy old subs by transport ship, considering what happened to the November-class boat that sank under tow in the same waters back in 2003, killing 9 crewmembers.

Movie Reviews: "Quantum Of Solace" And "Twilight"

I saw a couple of movies this week: the new James Bond movie "Quantum of Solace" and the chick-flick "Twilight". I ended up disappointed with both.

I was really looking forward to "Quantum of Solace", both because I thought the last Bond Film, "Casino Royale", was the 3rd best movie I've seen so far in the Naughties (behind "Serenity" and "The Dark Knight"), and because I thought it had a really cool name. It turns out they should have called it "The Bond Supremacy". I'm serious -- it's not the director's fault, but all the potentially good stuff had already been done before, and better, in "The Bourne Ultimatum". What this movie does is advance the story in a workmanlike manner; you learn a little more about the re-tooled Bond, but it mainly just sets us up for the next movie. I didn't feel I wasted my money, but it's not a movie I'd stop to watch again if I see it on cable. Overall, I give it 3 Goldfinger-inspired murdered Bond lovers out of five.

We went to the midnight showing of "Twilight" on Thursday night. As expected, the audiences were about 85% female; surprisingly, though, there seemed to be a lot of adult females as well. I blame this on the fact that there are lots of us Mormons here in Meridian; you see, the "Twilight" series of books has become quite viral among LDS women and teens, to the detriment of us Mormon men and young men. "Why aren't you romantic like Edward?", we hear. Being well trained, we resist the urge to respond, "It's because we're not fictional romantic characters written by a woman, that's why!" In any event, I was hoping the movie might have some good guy stuff in it; after all, it's about vampires. Unfortunately, it featured mainly lots of longing looks, along with a thinly-buried allegory about how people (vampires, in this case) can overcome their natural inclination to do bad by self-discipline. There were some funny scenes, however. As I left the theater, I came upon my youngest, who had been in another theater (couldn't be seen with the parents) ranting about how bad the movie was. "THX 1138 was worse, The DaVinci Code was worse, and there were maybe a couple of other worse movies, but this one is definitely in the bottom five", he declaimed to looks of agreement from the guys in his party and gasps of horror from the girls. I didn't agree it was that bad, but I did give it only 2 romantic vampires out of five. (My wife and daughter, on the other hand, want to go see it again. Since I met my quarterly chick-flick requirement with this one, I'll give it a pass.)

Update 1759 04 Dec: Here's a short video of my youngest expanding on his opinions about the movie.

Victory In Iraq Day

Time to celebrate Victory in Iraq Day!

More Old Topeka Shipmates In The News

Hot on the heels of the story of my old Weps from USS Topeka (SSN 754) hosting a famous tennis star, I noticed two more Navy stories about some of my old wardroom buddies from the "Defender of the Heartland" -- these guys were JOs with me, so they're now on their submarine command tours.

The first discusses the recent return from the sub's 40th deterrent patrol of USS Maine (SSBN 741) (Blue), commanded by my old shipmate CDR John Tollier. Captain Tolliver discusses how the boat was out for 98 days on this patrol, thereby earning the sub and crew the Sea Service Deployment ribbon. The story also mentions something I either never knew or had forgotten -- apparently if a crew has two 80-day patrols then they also earn the Sea Service ribbon. I wonder -- does that only applies to Sailors on one crew, or do they get credit if they transfer from one sub to another and get the required patrols/deployments during a year? (Looking at the applicable instruction -- starting on page 4-45 of a big .pdf file of SECNAVINST 1650.1G -- it looks like that wouldn't be the case, which strikes me as kind of unfair.)

The second is a picture of my old shipmate CDR Mike Tesar re-enlisting three of his crewmen from USS Cheyenne (SSN 773) aboard the USS Bowfin Museum at Pearl Harbor:

You gotta love seeing guys wearing whites in November -- Hawaii is a great place. You also gotta love seeing the 3 junior nukes getting a combined total of almost a quarter million dollars for what normally amounts to about an extra two years each above their current obligation for their first re-enlistment. I think it's one of the Navy's best methods of long-term retention of nukes -- it gets them to shore duty, which gives them a chance to catch their breath after their first sea duty and evaluate their career options. Hopefully the term "buy-a-crow" for this type of re-enlistment (if the guy is an E-4, like the middle Sailor pictured) has gone out of favor; that being said, I'm still in favor of the use of the term "rent-a-crow" to describe all of us nukes and other technical rates who get automatically promoted to E-4 for finishing A-School; I liked the money, but always thought that was kind of cheesy -- especially for the MMs who made MM3 within 2 months of finishing boot camp back before they made all the nuke A-schools longer sometime in the 90s.

Life Submarine Photo Archive

Navy Dad has a great post about the new partnership between Google and the owners of the Life magazine photo archives; you can now search in from Google Image page for any collection of Life photos by using the followign format -- topic source:life

For instance, click here to see their collection of submarine photos.

New Navy Paternity Leave: Continuing Wussification Or Idea Whose Time Has Come?

The Navy announced yesterday the implementation of a new "Paternity Leave" benefit:
The Navy announced the implementation of a paternity leave policy authorized Oct. 14 which is part of the Fiscal Year 2009 National Defense Authorization Act.
The paternity leave policy provides Sailors another tool designed to help balance work and family. It grants 10 days of non-chargeable leave to married fathers who are currently serving on active duty following the birth a child...
...The Navy, which is committed to becoming one of the top 50 employers in the nation and attracting the best talent possible, designed the progressive paternity leave policy after considering the changing perspectives of work and family needs in the Navy. These perspectives include a desire for more family time...
..."We're pleased to be able to offer this highly-valued benefit," said Capt. Ken Barrett, head of Task Force Life Work, which helped spearhead the paternity leave policy. "Addressing life/work needs for our Sailors is a top priority. The ability for new dads to bond with a new baby or help mom at home is important to building healthy families and is a big priority for our Navy."
I guess I'm kind of confused that the Navy thinks that "a desire for more family time" is somehow part of a "changing" culture. I for one would have appreciated 10 days of free leave to spend with my family even back in the '80s.

Based on my experience, though, I could see submarine commands not finding time to give their guys their "free" 10 days until sometime around Christmas leave period or a post-deployment stand down. (I still have my copy of my disapproved leave papers from when I wanted to drive my family cross-country for a move while the boat was in port for 2 months, and my relief had already been on board for a month, because they "couldn't afford to let me go for 10 days".)

Russian Sub Force: Mess Up Your Logs, Go To Prison!

Some "details" have emerged on the "cause" of the fire suppression system casualty on RFS Nerpa I posted about earlier. The Russians have charged one of the submarine's watchstanders with entering the wrong temperature data into the ship's environmental system:
The business daily said, quoting a source close to the investigation, that sailor Dmitry Grobov is suspected of having entered the wrong temperature data for the submarine's living quarters, which caused the fire safety system to release Freon gas.
The source said that according to information obtained from the sub's Rotor data block, similar to an aircraft's black-box, "the temperature...increased sharply all of sudden and the fire safety system reacted as programmed."
The daily said that at the time of the incident Grobov was on a scheduled watch and the access code to the fire safety system was written in pencil on the surface of the equipment...
...However, former Navy officers have told the paper they doubt that Grobov was solely to blame as it is impossible for one person to activate the system, which is protected from unauthorized activation by multiple levels of confirmation...
...Investigators earlier announced that they had brought criminal charges against the crew member, and that he faced up to seven years in jail.
"Military investigators have determined the person who activated, without permission or any particular reason, a fire safety system on board the submarine. He is a sailor from the crew, and he has already confessed," Vladimir Markin, a spokesman for the Investigation Committee of the Prosecutor General's Office, said on November 13.
This is almost too stupid for words. Do the Russians expect people to believe that one incorrect data entry will cause an automated system to engage? Has no one ever heard of a temperature sensor failing high before? Who would design a system to automatically actuate based on one false reading? (OK, you nukes all know about one particular protective action that happens because of that, but we won't discuss that here. It couldn't kill anyone, anyway.) It's becoming apparent that the sub's fire suppression system was put together incorrectly, but the Russians are trying to deflect blame from the shipyard and/or the possible problems inherent in taking over 15 years to construct a submarine.

While I Was Away...

Lots of submarine news while I was up in Seattle for testing. Here are some links:

1) It looks like the Russian Navy has identified their scapegoat for the recent fire-extinguishing system accident on the RFS Nerpa; it appears they didn't have any foreign nationals onboard to blame, so they're going after a crewman. Apparently the Russian Navy has learned from the U.S. Submarine Force (or maybe it was the other way around) that's it's a lot easier, when something goes wrong on a boat, to publicly blame the crew rather than admit either a) to possible force-wide problems, or b) that the accident was potentially something that could not have reasonably been prevented with the current Force operating procedures and philosophies.

2) An ASDS "mini-submarine" caught fire in Hawaii during "routine maintenance" that included a battery charge. Bull Nav at OPFOR has more on the troubled history of the ASDS batteries.

3) The Supreme Court ruled in favor of the Navy in the active sonar case I wrote about earlier. It looks like at least two Justices bought into the faulty airborne vs. seaborne Sound Pressure Level comparison the environmental groups were disingenuously using in support of their case, proving once again that some of the people can be fooled most of the time.

4) Most ridiculous headline involving submarines: "Terror Jet Was Zapped By A Sub". This one is dumb even by the standards of the British press, since the story never says that a sub is a possible cause of a jet losing altitude quickly; it postulated that powerful VLF transmissions from the Navy Communications Station in Exmouth, Australia, was responsible for interfering with the jet's systems; this is despite the fact that VLF is chosen for submarine communications precisely because it hugs the ground, and that the station has been transmitting for over 40 years without causing other problems with aircraft. It's just important for the British press to try to blame the U.S. military for every problem that happens in the world.

5) The Family Readiness Group of the USS Nebraska (SSBN 739), in conjunction with the "Big Red Sub Club" from Nebraska (home of a football team that's gonna kick KSU's butt today) donated 600 turkeys to the Central Kitsap food bank. Go Big Red!

My test in Seattle went pretty well. They determined that my cancer had penetrated to the "2nd layer" of tissue, but had not spread to the lymph nodes; they say I'll have the best chance of becoming completely cancer-free if I get the radiation/chemo before the surgery. (This was a "borderline" case for whether rad/chemo or surgery was indicated first; had I not been so "young", they said they would have gone with surgery, but figure I can handle the radiation OK and have a better chance of beating it completely thereby.) Hopefully that will be starting this week. I'm just happy to have a way-ahead laid out, and just want to start eliminating this thing -- with extreme prejudice. Radiation is my friend!

Submariner In Space!

On Friday (or maybe a little later), CAPT Stephen Bowen will become the first Submariner in space when he blasts off onboard the Space Shuttle Endeavour as part of STS-126. I know he'll do us proud!

Update 0803 15 Nov: Endeavour took off with CAPT Bowen aboard as scheduled. As commenter Rubber Ducky points out, it turns out that CAPT Bowen is not the first Submariner in space; that honor goes to former astronaut Michael J. McCulley, who served on 3 submarines while enlisted before getting picked up for a commissioning program and going Navy Air. McCulley was the pilot for STS-34 in 1989.

The Beta Radiation! It Burns!

Once again proving that the press can turn even the most innocuous nuclear event into the End Of The World As We Know It, check out this Telegraph article on the spillage of some controlled pure water from HMS Trafalgar (S 107). Excerpt:
More than 61 gallons (280 litres) of toxic coolant poured into a river from a burst hose as it was being pumped from the nuclear submarine HMS Trafalgar on November 7.
But the Navy has only now admitted to the spill of the liquid, which contained tritium, a substance which can cause burns, cancer and DNA mutations as it breaks down...
...The incident happened as the coolant was being pumped from the hunter-killer submarine into a large tank on a jetty at the Devonport Naval Base in Plymouth, Devon.
When the pipe split, the liquid, which had been used to cool the sub's nuclear reactor, poured into the River Tamar causing the worst spillage at the base for 23 years...
...Tritium is an unstable radioactive form of hydrogen which glows in the dark and is used to create the luminous glow on watch dials. Concentrated tritium is also used as the fuel to kick-start the uncontrolled reaction in a nuclear bomb, but in nuclear reactors it is a by-product of the reaction process.
It is classed as a 'soft beta emitter', giving off low-energy beta radiation as it decays into a form of helium. Beta radiation can cause burns, cancer and DNA mutations, and tritiated water can enter the body through the skin's pores.
I'm not sure how beta radiation can cause burns at anything other than the highest doses, unless they're talking about electrical burns, because that's what beta radiation is: an electron. You get more "beta radiation" from shocking your hand on a doorknob from static electricity than you would from drinking a gallon of CPW (remember Rickover drinking a glass of it in front of a Congressional panel). Plus, the "beta" from tritium comes out with a ridiculously low amount of energy -- about 5.7 keV. I'm almost amazed they didn't mention that the water spilled from the Trafalgar almost certainly contained traces of DHMO.

(Interestingly, the BBC had a completely non-hysterical report on the incident on their website.)

...Eleventh Day Of The Eleventh Month..

As we take today to reflect on the service that all Veterans have given to our country, we should ask ourselves, "How can I truly honor those who have given so much for my freedom"? One way you could consider helping is to donate to Project Valour-IT; they provide Voice-Activate Laptops for OUR Injured Troops. With 21st century warfare and medical care resulting in a large number of surviving Heroes without the use of their arms, these voice-activated laptops provide them with a needed link to the world. If you're in a position to share of your gifts with them, please consider donating to this worthy cause. For more information, check out Navy Team Leader Galrahn's post from today.

USS Providence Visit Touches Off Diplomatic Row

Japan is protesting an "unannounced" visit of USS Providence (SSN 719) to the White Beach Naval Facility in Okinawa today:
A statement from the Japanese Foreign Ministry says Tokyo reminded the United States that it must give Japan at least 24 hours notice before submarines arrive at its ports.
Japan has asked U.S. officials to explain why the USS Providence arrived on the southern island of Okinawa today without prior notice. The U.S. embassy in Japan said the incident was due to what it called "miscommunication" in the U.S. Navy.
Of course the State Department spokesman will blame the Navy. I'm more inclined to believe that some staffer in the U.S. embassy would fail to pass on the information from SubGru SEVEN than I would believe that the submarine staff messed up. Of course, the civilians get the last say.
This appears to be only the 2nd screw-up we've had with Japan since we signed the 1964 agreement covering warship visits. The first was in April 2001, when USS Chicago (SSN 721) pulled into Sasebo for a touch-and-go at the pier when the Japanese had only been informed that the boat was only going to do a PERSTRANS or something out in the bay.

Submarine Officers In Navy ROTC Commercial

The Navy posted a video on YouTube that features two submarine JOs talking about how they came to join the Navy and the training they got:

Pretty much just guys talking about submarining in front of a black background... not the most exciting video I've ever seen.

At Least Twenty Deaths Reported On Russian Submarine

Russian media sources are reporting that 20 sailors and shipyard workers were killed during "testing" after a "fire extinguishing system unexpectedly went off". From a BBC report on the incident:
Russian Pacific Fleet spokesman Igor Dygalo said both sailors and shipyard workers died in the incident, which occurred during sea trials.
He said the submarine itself had not been damaged and there had been no radiation leaks...
...The submarine, whose name and class have not been revealed, has been ordered to suspend sea trials and return to port in the far eastern Primorye territory, Capt Dygalo said...
...There were 208 people on board at the time, 81 of whom were servicemen.
Twenty-one injured people have been evacuated from the submarine, sources at the fleet said.
Reports say the incident occurred in the nose of the vessel. The nuclear reactor, which is in the stern, was not affected.
The first linked article says that the sub is "now moving to a temporary base. It is being escorted by an anti-submarine ship and a rescue vessel."

The number of civilians on board indicates that the BBC report is correct that this seems to have happened during sea trials. I mentioned late last month that the Akula-II submarine RFS Nerpa, rumored to be heading to India on lease after shakedown, was out on sea trials. As I doubt that the Russians would have enough shipyard resources to have two boats out on sea trials in the Pacific simultaneously, I'd guess that this is the affected boat. This AFP article on the new incident reaches a similar conclusion.

Russian submarines operate with much smaller crews than American boats, so I would imagine that they rely more on automatic fire suppression systems than our boats do. (The Russians have lost at least one submarine to fire relatively recently, so I imagine they have a special interest in designing robust fire extinguishing systems.) Most naval fire suppression systems would probably use either CO2 or a Halon-like chemical, both of which would displace oxygen in the environment. While you have to take everything the Russians say with a grain of salt, I could imagine the fire suppression system emptying its contents into the torpedo room, and the inexperienced crew following their fire procedures and isolating all compartments; this could have resulted in the O2 concentration in the Torpedo Compartment dropping below that required to support life. In any event, this is quite a tragic accident. Our thoughts are with the families and shipmates of the fallen mariners.

Update 1951 08 Nov: This Reuters article is reporting that the Russian media is quoting a shipyard source as saying that the submarine involved is the Nerpa.

Update 2053 08 Nov: Russian Navy Blog has a translation of a Novosti report that discusses the types of fire suppression systems used on Russian submarines. Applicable excerpt:
The chemical system is designed to extinguish any type of fire in a space except for fuel and ammunition fires and consists of a fire supression station located in all compartments except the reactor compartment. The reactor compartment is covered by stations located in the 5th and 7th compartments.
The extinguishing agent is Halon 114B2. The system can deliver three shots of extinguishing agent to each space. The system can be activated remotely from the central command post or from a local control panel as well as manually from the station in the compartment.
I could imagine that if the whole Halon storage tank emptied into one compartment due to a failed valve/pipe, rather than operating in a fixed number of short bursts, that could result in a Halon concentration high enough to drive the oxygen levels too low in the breathing space --especially if the compartment was isolated so as not to spread the Halon to the remainder of the ship.

Update 0730 09 Nov: An update from the CNN website:
The victims died of poisoning from Freon gas that was released Saturday when the fire-extinguishing system accidentally turned on, said Sergei Markin, an official with Russia's top investigative agency.
His agency has launched a probe into the accident, which Markin said will focus on what activated the firefighting system. He suggested there could be possible violations of operating rules, which points to human error...
...The submarine returned to Bolshoi Kamen, a military shipyard and a navy base near Vladivostok, state-run Rossiya television said.
Dygalo said the deaths and injuries were due to the "unsanctioned activation" of the firefighting system in the two sections of the submarine closest to the bow.
Seventeen civilians and three seamen died in the accident and 21 others were hospitalized after being evacuated to a destroyer that brought them to shore, Markin said in a statement, revising earlier casualty figures.
Hopefully Sergei Markin was misquoted, or at least his investigators know the difference between Freon and Halon. And the Navy spokesman quick announcement of "unsanctioned activation" indicates that they're looking to go the scapegoat route, or anything to take blame away from bad construction or design. My guess is they'll blame one of the dead shipyard workers; it'll be especially good for Russia if one of the dead was an Indian rider, 'cause that'll give them someone non-Russian to blame.

Update 0955 09 Nov: Based on this translation at Russian Navy Blog of a commentary on the navy.ru site, I'm starting to think that the Russians don't have a separate word for "Halon", and use "Freon" to describe both the refrigerant and fire suppression haloalkanes. My Russian is a little rusty, but I picked up the word "фреона" in the Russian article ("freona" would be the English transliteration), which clearly means "Freon".

Update 1255 09 Nov: This AP article has some good updates, including the information (Russian-supplied, so evaluate accordingly) that the victims were found to have "Freon" in their lungs. This CSM article, on the other hand, confuses AFFF with chemical extinguishers, so probably isn't worth spending your time reading.

Update 1437 10 Nov: Here's an AP follow-up with some theories from some Russians about what might have happened.

Update 1551 11 Nov: Some of the survivors speak.

U.S. Submariners Rode Japanese Boats Back To Japan At End Of WWII?

This story from the Florida Times-Union about the Kings Bay World War II Submarine Veterans Memorial Service, held ysterday, had one particular passage that caught my eye:
He was serving on the USS Bluefish, an American submarine, when his crew learned the Japanese surrendered. But he still had one more mission.
Hiatt, 85, of Lansing, Mich., visiting Kings Bay for the 20th submarine veterans reunion Friday, was one of four crew members who boarded a Japanese submarine to accompany it back to its home port. The sub was on its way to attack the Panama Canal when the crew was ordered to surrender. Haitt arrived to Japan in time to witness the signing of the surrender documents that formally ended the war.
This is fascinating; I'd never heard that this happened. This is one reason why it's so important for the Submariners of today to learn as much as they can from the heroes who fought and won WWII under the sea -- while they're still with us. This is also why it's important for WWII submarine (as well as veterans of the Cold War) to record their recollections for public use -- whether it's through an oral history project or just as a post on your boat's webpage. This history is too important to lose.

Bill Sali Fan Hangs It Up

Based on this comment over at HBO, it looks like Idaho satire blog personality Bill Sali Fan is giving up the ghost. As the writer of Standing Up To Pelosi, it appears that Bill Sali Fan used BlameBush! as a model for satire, except he was in "favor" of his target rather than "against" him -- I guess kind of like Shelley The Republican.

Personally, I thought there was some clever writing going on over at BSF's site, and I was hoping to get the opinion of my regular readers to see if they agree. Check out this post defending Idaho Senator Larry Craig posted soon after news of his arrest came out. (Very bad word warning!) So what do you think... does Bill Sali Fan have any talent as a writer?

Many have wondered what BSF's motivation was. As near as I can tell, he started the blog right after Bill Sali's victory in 2006, hoping to become established enough that by the time the 2008 election rolled around, Bill Sali might actually link to BSF as a "supporter", and then people could make fun of Bill Sali for not recognizing obvious satire. Unfortunately, BSF made it too obvious, even to true believers, that he was engaged in satire, and that plan fell through. My guess is that he just kept writing afterwards because he thought it was funny.

Brits Considering Letting Women On Submarines

Vigilis covered this earlier, but I wanted to jump into the discussion on rumors the Royal Navy is considering designing their replacement for the Vanguard-class SSBNs such that they can accomodate mixed gender crews. From this Daily Mail article:
The next generation of Britain's nuclear submarines are being designed to carry female sailors as the Ministry of Defence is considering scrapping a long-standing ban on women submariners.
Defence officials confirmed that the current rules barring the Royal Navy's 3,700 female sailors from serving in the submarine branch are 'under review', and said design work on a £20billion new fleet of nuclear-missile submarines was taking into account 'the possibility of women serving on submarines in the future.'
The Navy is facing a shortage of suitably-qualified engineers willing to serve for months at a time beneath the waves, and officials believe legal challenges based on gender equality laws could eventually make the current policy untenable, forcing them to adopt mixed crews.
Other nations have already accepted women into submarining, and at least for the Aussies, it looks like this hasn't fixed their "manning" shortages. Although a civilian advisory panel at the end of the Clinton Administration recommended women be allowed on U.S. submarines, the idea really hasn't gotten anywhere in the last 8 years; it's still enough of an outrageous idea to be a source of the New York Times April Fool's joke this year. (OK, so it was really the guys from SubSim who came up with that, but it's still not a mainstream idea.) The Brits are at least smart enough to recognize that a submarine would have to be designed from the ground up to accommodate women. I wrote earlier about the problems you'd have if you attempt to put women on a submarine that's not designed for them:
The biggest problem I see is that either you'd have men and women in much closer quarters that you do on surface ships, or you'd end up with empty racks in the "female only" berthing areas when people stay behind... not very good for morale when most of the crew is hot-racking. Plus, which head becomes the female head? And do you need to install an extra head in the goat locker and wardroom areas? Or just have a sign you put up depending on the gender of the occupant? (That's what we did when we had female riders -- except for middie ops, when boats will turn one head over to them for the night.)
Plus, we all know what "feminine products" would do to the san pump...
We all know that sometime this century the U.S. will put women on submarines; hopefully, though, it'll be done the right way, and not rushed into half-assed. The question of the day is: Do you think the new Administration will try to rush half-assed into putting women on submarines?

Hip-Hop Conservative

I Got My First Tattoo Today

For over 21 years on active duty in the Navy, I was able to avoid the temptation to get a tattoo. Today, though, I got my first one (or three, depending on how you look at it). They're small -- just one needlepoke worth of black ink -- and spaced around my abdomen, one on each side and one just below the bottom of my sternum. They're alignment marks for the radiation therapy I'll almost certainly start in the next couple of weeks. This will hopefully help cure the stomach cancer I have that was discovered 15 days ago.

I'm actually very lucky. While this is generally a really bad form of cancer, it was found very early. Normally, cancerous tumors at the gastroesophageal junction (where the stomach and esophagus meet) aren't found until the patient complains of pain, or the tumor grows so big that it blocks off the esophagus and you can't swallow anymore. Luckily for me, I vomited up some blood one morning, and figuring that was sub-optimal I went to our family doctor. He sent me to a GI tract specialist who stuck a camera down my throat and verified that an ulcer-looking thing had been bleeding into my stomach, but had stopped. We did a follow-up endoscoping 2 weeks later, and the doctor noted that it had grown significantly, and the biopsy confirmed cancer. Since then, I've had a couple of tests (one involved getting injected with F-18, which all you nukes should remember from having to learn about all the primary sample analyses), that show the cancer apparently hasn't spread from the main 1" diameter tumor site.

I'll go up to Seattle in the next couple of weeks (apparently, the only doctor who can do this surgery in the Northwest is there) for another test to see if it's spread to the lymph nodes, and based on those results we'll decide if I need radiation treatment in conjunction with chemotherapy first to shrink the tumor (followed by surgery), or have the surgery first followed by chemo. I really hope it's the 2nd option, since the radiation treatment will involve the GE junction getting zapped with 5040 rads of X-rays over a 5 1/2 week period; they say it'll be like the worst sore throat I've ever had (but it will last for several weeks), I'll be weak and nauseated, I won't be able to swallow anything, and they'll have to install a feeding tube into my stomach for me to pour my nutrients and pain meds into. Then, after 4 weeks off to recover, I'd go to Seattle for surgery to remove the tumor and surrounding tissue. Unfortunately, I'm not too optimistic the easier option will be feasible (my doctor's here think it's very likely it's spread into the lymph nodes), so that's why I got the tattoos today.

Needless to say, blogging may be erratic over the next few months. I don't intend to turn TSSBP into a cancer blog, but I find it seems to help me to talk to people about what's going on. If I do blog about it, I'll try to keep it at least somewhat entertaining and/or informative.

While I'm in Seattle, any chance any of my readers stationed on the USS Connecticut (SSN 22) or USS Jimmy Carter (SSN 23) can get your boat's initial manning Eng a quick unclas tour?

Update 1257 06 November: Thanks so much for all the prayers and good wishes. I'll be heading up to Seattle next Wednesday to take the tests on Thursday; we'll be staying with a friend in the Bangor area when not at the hospital, so if any old friends want to see us on Wednesday or Thursday night, drop me a line.

Conservative Values

It is time to refocus on just what conservative values are, as the Republicans seem to have forgotten.

As this site makes clear (lots of good references and resources there), "conservatism" is not a blind adherence to the past.

Here, "conservative" is equivalent to "classical liberal", as opposed to the "modern liberal", who takes the opposite view on each of the basic principles.

The six basic conservative principles are:
1. Belief in natural law
2. Belief in established institutions
3. Preference for liberty over equality
4. Suspicion of power—and of human nature
5. Belief in exceptionalism
6. Belief in the individual

The first of these principles, the belief in natural law, means simply that conservatives believe in a higher order of things. Good and evil, justice and injustice, rights and responsibilities are not subjective concepts to conservatives. Human beings do not make the laws of morality, nor are rights conferred upon us by governments but rather by a higher power.

[These are the "inalienable rights" that cannot be taken away by any government, no matter how large the majority --RDS]

What conservatives agree upon is that these natural laws exist independently of human beings, and that we are subject to them even more so than written (or "positive") law. The majority of conservatives believe that these natural laws originate with God, whereas a minority believes they exist Platonically, which is to say above God and man.
The fourth principle that defines conservatives is their suspicion of power and their hatred of big government.
And yet, what separates conservatives from anarchists is their reluctant concession that government is a necessary evil, as without it the good are often at the mercy of the evil.
The fifth and sixth beliefs of conservatives are closely related. Conservatives believe in exceptionalism because they do not believe in perfect equality. Conservatives realize that some people inevitably have superior abilities, intelligence, and talents, and they believe that those people have a fundamental right to use and profit from their natural gifts.

While it has become commonplace to regard the exceptional among us as "winners in the lottery of life" who are lifted up by the tired shoulders of average citizens, conservatives believe quite the opposite. Conservatives believe that exceptional people exist to lift us up, to improve our lives, and to give us hope.
Interesting sub-types are discussed in this formulation; for example, those who emphasize points 1 and 2 are social conservatives, whereas those more interested in points 2 and 5 tend to European-style "conservatism", favoring aristocracy.

This is distinguished from modern liberalism, which holds the following six core opposite core beliefs:
1. Belief in positive law
2. Faith in progress
3. Preference for equality over liberty
4. Belief in the benevolence of government and individuals
5. Belief in the perfectibility of human beings
6. Belief in the community
Too much to summarize here, just explore that site!

"Hey, Shipwreck" Episode 2-04

The new episode of the space submarine video series "Hey, Shipwreck" is posted over at TubeDaze. In this episode, the guys on watch discuss the Navy in popular culture and how to spot a Diggit. Here it is:

And the Planet Began to Heal

Obama said you can all now tell your children,
this was the moment when we began to provide care for the sick and good jobs to the jobless; this was the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal.
I, too, hope a bright future and a successful Presidency emerges.

Unfortunately hope, rather than evidence, is all I have to go on at this point.

The President doesn't write laws and events will likely dictate foreign policy. My biggest disappointment is in the (apparently)
lost chance to moderate the composition of the Supreme and lower courts away from judicial activists, who will continue to plague us for another generation.

Let's hope he didn't really mean it when he spoke of supporting higher energy prices, higher taxes, redistribution of wealth to non-taxpayers, and loss of secret ballots in unionization.

The stock market sold off today, with coal stocks down -10.5%, as he's said his policy will be to "bankrupt" coal-fired electricity plants, which will hurt the coal industry (i.e. Pennsylvania and Ohio, that's you!). His view is the only "clean" coal that's acceptable is one with zero emission of carbon dioxide -- but CO2 is not a pollutant and does not drive global warming!

The "good" news is it will no longer be possible to hide behind "hope" rhetoric and a shockingly fauning press -- expectations for results are enormously high.

The other good news is now maybe half the country can get over its Bush hatred and its unwillingness to do anything but obstruct; now try governing for a change, ha ha ha.

One-party rule ruined the Republicans; it will do so to the Democrats in short order as well.

Noted ex-blogger Steven Den Beste has some chilling predictions. Read it all:
I think this election is going to be a "coming of age" moment for a lot of people. They say, "Be careful what you wish for" and a lot of people got their wish yesterday.

And now they're bound to be disappointed. Not even Jesus could satisfy all the expectations of Obama's most vocal supporters, or fulfill all the promises Obama has made.

I think Obama is going to turn out to be the worst president since Carter, and for the same reason: good intentions do not guarantee good results. Idealists often stub their toes on the wayward rocks of reality, and fall on their faces. And the world doesn't respond to benign behavior benignly.

But there's another reason why: Obama has been hiding his light under a basket. A lot of people bought a pig in a poke today, and now they're going to find out what they bought. Obama isn't what most of them think he is. The intoxication of the cult will wear off, leaving a monumental hangover.

And four years from now they'll be older and much wiser.
I would have enjoyed watching lefty heads explode if McCain had won. But we're going to see lefty heads exploding anyway; it's just going to take longer.
I would have enjoyed that too.
Now, a few predictions for the next four years:

1. Obama's "hold out your hand to everyone" foreign policy is going to be a catastrophe. They'll love it in Europe. They're probably laughing their heads off about it in the middle east already.

2. The US hasn't suffered a terrorist attack by al Qaeda since 9/11, but we'll get at least one during Obama's term.

3. We're going to lose in Afghanistan.

4. Iran will get nuclear weapons. There will be nuclear war between Iran and Israel. (This is the only irreversibly terrible thing I see upcoming, and it's very bad indeed.)

5. There will eventually be a press backlash against Obama which will make their treatment of Bush look mild. Partly that's going to be because Obama is going to disappoint them just as much as all his other supporters. Partly it will be the MSM desperately trying to regain its own credibility, by trying to show that they're not in his tank any longer. And because of that they are eventually going to do the reporting they should have done during this campaign, about Obama's less-than-savory friends, and about voter fraud, and about illegal fund-raising, and about a lot of other things.

and 6. Obama will not be re-elected in 2012. He may even end up doing an LBJ and not even running again.
For a lighter side of the aftermath, see the Onion:

Obama Win Causes Obsessive Supporters To Realize How Empty Their Lives Are

Voting Machines Elect One Of Their Own As President

They Love Us, They Really Love Us!

Suddenly, it may be cool to be an American again

Oh, bite me!

It was, is, and always will be cool to be an American, except we never think about it that way.

In the linked article, William J. Kole, AP's Vienna bureau chief, revels in European adulation, and recounts having had to pretend to be Canadian or other nationalities.

But now everyone loves the American expats.

A Frenchman even gives him the permission to wear red, white, and blue again!
I'm a marathon runner, and I have a red, white and blue singlet that I've seldom dared to wear on the Continent. Marathons are difficult enough without enduring catcalls and jeers from spectators.

But my best friend and training partner — who is French — just gave me his stamp of approval.

"Will you wear your Stars and Stripes shirt now? You're allowed!" he told me.
Gee, thanks.

Let's see how long this honeymoon lasts.