Così Fan Tutte

For the New Year, two selections from Mozart's opera. We'll start with wit and wisdom about human folly and the wounds it causes:And we'll close (or rather, open a new year) with the hope and the potential for something beautiful nonetheless:

The Best Films of the Decade

I've seen many "best films of the decade" lists along with the usual "best films of the year" compilations. If nothing else, it's a nice way to make a viewing list. Ann Hornaday at The Washington Post had a great reader chat on 12/18/09 about the best movie scenes of the decade. This helped add in many comedies, which often get overlooked otherwise (I'd add the chest-waxing scene from The 40

"...Rocket's Red Glare..."

Yesterday marked the 50th anniversary of the commissioning of USS George Washington (SSBN 598), the first ballistic missile submarine. As an early celebration, USS Alaska (SSBN 732) completed the 130th consecutive successful test launch of a Trident D-5 missile during a DASO.

Service in SSBNs might not be as glamorous and exciting as being on an attack boat, but the bottom line is that our strategic capability is the cornerstone of our national security, and as the most survivable leg of our nuclear triad, SSBNs play an unmatched role in our defense. I'm thankful there are men out there on strategic patrol during this holiday season so that my family can sleep soundly at night.

Submarine Force No Longer Shrinking?

Based on a calendar of events put out by the Navy in NAVADMIN 367/09, it looks like we'll have two submarine commissionings this year (USS New Mexico in Feb/Mar and USS Missouri on July 24th) and only one decommissioning (USS Los Angeles on January 23rd). That's a reason to celebrate!

(Actually, there will be one additional submarine being inactivated this fiscal year, according to NAVADMIN 210/09 -- USS Philadelphia on June 10th. Still, we're not getting smaller -- and still getting newer.)

Update 0826 31 Dec: PCU New Mexico (SSN 779) was just delivered to the Navy, four months early.

Christmas Wishes

I hope all of you and yours have a great Christmas season, and that Santa was able to make it to your home or boat, like he did for the Miami in this picture from earlier this month:

For your reading enjoyment, check out this story about the arrival of submarines in San Diego in 1910.

Hallelujah Chorus from Handel's Messiah

This is a repeat, but it's hard to beat it for Christmas Eve. First, Cantillation with the Orchestra of the Antipodes, conducted by Antony Walker:The Robert Shaw version is also quite nice, and then there's this one from the Roches:Merry Christmas.

Santa's On His Way!

Once again, the good folks at NORAD are tracking Santa on his trip around the world. Last year, I didn't see the submarine video they'd had in previous years; hopefully they'll bring it back for 2009. Everyone loves to get a visit from Santa! What do you want him to bring you this year?

USS Buffalo CO Relieved

Posting from my phone, so no link yet. The CO of USS Buffalo (SSN 715) was relieved for cause. Word on the street was that it was for some maintenance issues. More later.

Update 1955 21 Dec: Here's the Navy Times story on the firing. Excerpts:
Cmdr. Christopher Henry, who took command of the submarine Aug. 7, was relieved as a precautionary measure, said Lt. Cmdr. Greg Kuntz, spokesman for Submarine Group 7 in Japan.
Henry’s relief was due to a “loss of confidence in ability to command,” Kuntz said.
Capt. Doug Wright, commodore of Submarine Squadron 15, removed Henry after assessments were conducted on the ship, evaluating operations and overall trends...
... Kuntz said Henry’s relief from the post was not attributable to a specific item or incident, but to overall trends.
“The conduct of operations fell short of high Navy standards,” Kuntz said. Operations on the submarine had been conducted at a safe level, Kuntz said, but were still enough of a concern that it brought about Henry’s relief of duty.
Only four months in command really doesn't seem like enough time for a CO to get a fair shake, so some pretty scary stuff must have happened. I don't know Commodore Wright, but I trust RADM McAneny to make the right call.

Cruise Missile Attacks In Yemen

According to ABC News, U.S. forces yesterday carried out cruise missile attacks on Al Qaeda operatives in Yemen. Excerpts:
On orders from President Barack Obama, the U.S. military launched cruise missiles early Thursday against two suspected al-Qaeda sites in Yemen, administration officials told ABC News in a report broadcast on ABC World News with Charles Gibson.
One of the targeted sites was a suspected al Qaeda training camp north of the capitol, Sanaa, and the second target was a location where officials said "an imminent attack against a U.S. asset was being planned."
The Yemen attacks by the U.S. military represent a major escalation of the Obama administration's campaign against al Qaeda.
No indications yet what the launch platform was, but I'd guess it could be a destroyer or cruiser on station with CTF 151 as easily as a passing submarine.

It's interesting to me that the Administration seems to be learning from real-world experience that you just can't defeat terrorists using "law enforcement".

See Title Of This Blog

From a Stockton TV station:
Sometimes, setting a trap for thieves can backfire, as a car theft victim in Stockton found out the hard way.
The man saw an advertisement for his stolen car on Craigslist and set up a meeting Wednesday night. A friend drove him to a gas station on Charter Way, where he jumped into the car with his own keys and sped away.
Unfortunately, the friend who drove him to the station was left standing alone with the thieves. In turn, they stole his car and drove off...

Sara Bareilles and Ingrid Michaelson - "Winter Song"

Building New Classes Of Submarines

There are a couple of articles out on potential plans for building new classes of submarines in the U.S. The first discusses possibly building diesel submarines to sell to Taiwan; one theory is that we could then use the expertise developed to build diesel submarines for our own fleet. I'm skeptical; first of all, it would still cost a lot for us to build diesel submarines, because we really wouldn't be able to reduce the SUBSAFE requirements. Also, as present-day submariners know, speed is life in modern submarine combat, and that's something the diesel boats tend to lack compared to SSNs.

The second article discusses plans to build a replacement for the Ohio-class SSBNs. Excerpts:
Although the first of the Navy’s fleet of ballistic missile submarines won’t retire for another 17 years, the time to start the design work is now, said Vice Adm. Jay Donnelly. “This is the right time for the Navy to commence efforts to replace the Ohio-class SSBN. It’s not too early,” said Donnelly, who is the commander of the Navy’s submarine force...
... For the Trident program, the Navy plans to adopt technologies from the Virginia-class attack submarine. The plan is to incorporate systems from the ready room, navigation room and torpedo room...
... Donald predicted that the Navy’s “assumptions, decision and plans” for the Ohio replacement will experience “intense scrutiny,” given the climate of restricted budgets and skepticism about ship acquisition programs.
“We have an obligation to deliver that capability at the best price without compromising reactor safety, submarine safety, or the capability that that nation needs. We welcome that challenge,” he said.
What would you like to see on the next generation SSBN? Swimming pools? Tanning rooms? Or maybe a reactor that's big enough to actually push it through the water at some speed such that it has a better chance of evading incoming torpedos?

Arts Roundup 12/17/09

It's all film today. Congratulations to Liv Ullman, who just turned 71. She's quite a good director, and an exceptional actress. Her performance in Scenes from a Marriage is one of the best I've ever seen. Elvis Mitchell's radio show The Treatment has been especially interesting recently. Two weeks ago, he sat down with director and mad genius Werner Herzog, who offers some great (and

Keeping the Blog Fires Burning

("I'm coming for you, Nixon!" )Two of my favorite blogs, Digby's Hullabaloo and Crooks and Liars, are holding their annual fundraisers. I'm sure many people are tapped out financially, especially with the holidays coming up. (I've seen - and posted on - more blogger tales of woe this year than in previous ones.) But I'm sure even small donations and kind comments go a long way. I've

"Sub Commandments"

There's a viral E-mail going around in submarine JO circles that's an .mp3 of a rap song called "Sub Commandments" that's pretty good. It lists the Ten Commandments for submarine junior officers. Number 1: "Never let XO know what contacts you hold, 'cause you know you press your luck to wake you up for reconstruction; won't leave 'til you know his course, bearing, and speed". Unfortunately, I don't seem to be able to post .mp3 files to Blogger, so I'll probably have to convert it to a movie and post it to YouTube for you guys to hear it. I'll see what I can do.

What are your Ten Commandments of Submarining?

Update 0945 21 Jan: A reader sent in a link to the .mp3 of the song.

Roland Hedley

If you're not following Gary Trudeau's Roland Hedley on Twitter yet, you should. He's got Stephen Colbert maniacal self-absorption, but without the amiable charm. (He's very serious.) Roland can deliver all the same insipid observations as his corporate media buddies, but at least you're laugh.

Remember, "Buddy" Is Only Half A Word

Interesting story in Navy Times about an amphib CO and XO getting fired. The CO was fired for fraternization, but it looks like SURFLANT raised the bar on what they expect the XO to do. Excerpts:
The commanding officer of the dock landing ship Fort McHenry was fired Thursday for fraternizing with a sailor on his ship, according to a Navy statement.
The executive officer also was fired for knowing about the relationship and not taking action, the statement said.
This is interesting. I can see this if the XO actively lies to investigators, but it's looking like the Navy is now expecting XOs to report on the CO up the chain of command. This is especially interesting because it appears that the amphib had been deployed since the CO took command, and just got back from deployment on Tuesday. Did they expect him to drop the dime on the CO in the middle of the deployment?

I'm not really sure what I think about this. Obviously, the XO's responsibility is more to the ship and the Navy than it is to the CO personally, but what other faults do they expect the XO to start reporting on? What if the CO is a screamer? Or just a general jerk? I think Big Navy needs to tread carefully into this water.

What do you think? And how far down the chain of command do you think this should go?

Concha Buika and Chucho Valdés – "Se me hizo fácil"

Bubblehead's "Best Of The Naughties"

Well, it's December, so the decade is almost over. It's time for my list of the top efforts in some pop culture categories I care about for the last 10 years. In these categories, I felt there were really three entries that really stood head-and-shoulders above the others, so that's why these are "Top 3" lists. With little further ado, here they are:

Best Songs Of The Naughties

1) "Beautiful Day", U2
2) "Hey Ya", Outkast
3) "Vertigo", U2

OK, so I like U2. Honorable mention goes to "Viva La Vida" by Coldplay and (yes, I'm serious) "Hot N Cold" by Katy Perry. Overall, I thought the Naughties weren't quite as good as the 90s as far as music goes; I'd rank "Semi-Charmed Life" and "Mr. Jones" as better than any of the songs listed above.

Best Movies Of The Naughties

1) "Serenity" - Simply put, the best Sci-Fi movie ever.
2) "The Dark Knight" - Heath Ledger gave the performance of the decade
3) "Casino Royale" - A great "reset" for a beloved franchise

Honorable mention to "The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring" and "No Country For Old Men". I thought the best movies of the last 10 years were better than the decade previous. Dishonorable mention goes to "Atonement" as the worst movie of the decade. I still can't believe how much it sucked!

Best College Football Games Of The Naughties

1) 2003 Fiesta Bowl: Ohio State 31, Miami 24
2) 2006 Rose Bowl: Texas 41, USC 38
3) 2007 Fiesta Bowl: Boise State 43, Oklahoma 42

I rank college football games based on how well-played they are, how important they are, and how entertaining they are, in that order. Lots of locals might think that the game I ranked #3 should top the list, but let's face it -- it wasn't that well played (lots of turnovers and penalties) and it wasn't for the national championship; only one team really had anything to play for. Still, it was the most entertaining of the three.

What do you think? Any additions or subtractions? And do you have any "Best of the decade made up of years starting with the numbers 200_" lists that you'd like to add?

Not One Person Called Giuliani a Douchebag

A favorite bullshitting technique for advanced bullshitters is to use weasel words / a lawyer's lie / deceptive truth-telling. The idea is to say something that's technically true – sometimes barely so - but to mislead the average listener, often to suggest the opposite of reality. (An older post examines Karl Rove attempting this.) The trick to pulling this off is to pick an effective weasel

Great Last and First Lines

The American Book Review has a list of the "100 Best Last Lines from Novels" (PDF). Obviously, this means some spoilers, but cautious browsing can avoid that. Their list of the "100 Best First Lines from Novels" holds no such perils. This comes via TBogg (in turn from Matthew Yglesias, whose commenters make other suggestions). TBogg has a post soliciting suggestions for the best last lines

Building Stonehenge

Via Mike Finnigan, this is pretty cool:

Moyers: LBJ's Escalation in Vietnam

One of the best pieces I've seen touching on Afghanistan is Bill Moyers' Journal from 11/20/09 on Lyndon Johnson's escalation in Vietnam. Johnson agonized about the war, and consulted many people, but they and Johnson all seemed to feel that Vietnam was a lousy situation, but withdrawal wouldn't work (for political and strategic reasons). Follow the link, and you can watch the hour-long program

Animals On Boats

I've posted before about animals on submarines (in that case, a goat on Archerfish); now, the BBC has a story up about a Russian reindeer on a Brit sub. Excerpts:
In 1941, the crew of HMS Trident were given a reindeer as a gift by the USSR navy.
The 56 crewmen spent six weeks sharing their already confined living accommodation with the fully-grown reindeer nicknamed Pollyanna...
... Living with a reindeer underwater in wartime conditions inevitably posed challenges for the crew. A barrel of moss given by the Russians soon run out and Pollyanna lived on scraps from the galley. She also developed a taste for wartime favourite, Carnation condensed milk.
Pollyanna was originally lowered into the submarine through a torpedo tube of the sub and it was hoped she could sleep in the torpedo and food store. However she apparently had more refined tastes and insisted on sleeping under the captain's bed.
Bill Sainsbury said: "There are lots of funny stories - apparently when the submarine surfaced for air, she would barge her way through the narrow corridors to the main hatch to get some fresh air before returning to the officers' mess."
Despite Pollyanna eating a navigation chart, the crew made it back to the UK where HMS Trident landed at Blyth in Northumberland.
However as the reindeer had over-indulged on condensed milk, she had actually put on weight and could not be fitted out through the torpedo tube.
Check out the rest of the story to see what happened next.

Have you ever had a mascot on the boat?

Submarine Comings And Goings On

A few news items about submarines on the 'net today:

1) PCU New Mexico (SSN 779) made it out to sea. Here's a picture of her on Bravo Trials:

2) PCU Missouri (SSN 780) will be christened in Groton on Saturday.

3) Some homeport changes were announced. The submarine tender USS Emory S. Land (AS 39) will be moving from Bremerton to Diego Garcia next year, and USS City of Corpus Christi will transfer from Guam to Pearl for an overhaul. Replacing her in Guam will be USS Oklahoma City (SSN 723), transferring from Norfolk in early 2011.

4) Returning from deployment in time to combine post-deployment stand down with the Christmas leave period are USS San Juan (SSN 751) and USS Miami (SSN 755). Welcome home, guys!

Update 2218 02 Dec: More photos from the New Mexico's sea trials can be found here.

Scratch That Victory Itch

Fafblog is always worth checking out, but "Victory Science" is especially timely:Let us never forget just what's at stake in the war in Afghanistan: nothing less than the success of the war in Afghanistan. This war may be a mistake, a blood-soaked blunder, an unholy charnel house mindlessly consuming the bodies and souls of untold thousands, an open sore on the pockmarked face of history and an

A Cubic Buttload Of Submarines

From my old XO's Facebook page, a photo of ten Los Angeles-class submarines in port at Norfolk in the mid-90s:

As the inboard submarine, what's the funniest thing you've ever done to the outboard submarine?

American Politics Seen as a Japanese Monster Movie

(Thomas Jefferson's intended original artwork for the Declaration of Independence.)Marx is the Godzilla of economics – heavy, but not real.- UnknownThe State is... the coldest of cold monsters.- NietzscheAs a teenager, I ran across the two lines above separately, and put together, they made me think of politics as a giant monster movie. Liberty versus equality! Government versus private

Simple Pleasures

I enjoy the simple things in life. I'm happy now because I have a wonderful family. I'm also happy that the local store is finally carrying Grape Crush. I also like finding cool submarine pictures, like this one of USS Pasadena (SSN 752) in Yokosuka, with Mount Fuji in the background:

What makes you happy?

Dido - "Thank You"

A repeat, because it works so well for Thanksgiving.

Happy Thanksgiving 2009

Because life is too short to go without muppets.

We Owe It to Americans To Re-Write History

I've been sent this by several people, including Tim of The Tim Channel:Also, John Wilkes Booth never killed a U.S. President... after Lincoln.On the one hand, Perino may have misspoke - since what she said is standard Fox News propaganda, but normally they add the disclaimer "after 9/11," even though that ignores the anthrax attacks. On the other, even with that standard bullshit disclaimer,

Franken Versus the Hudson Institute

This is an old item from late October, but it's great and I never got around to posting it. The short clip is from a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on medical debt. Senator Al Franken is questioning Diana Furchtgott-Roth of the right-wing Hudson Institute. She's claimed that (as Think Progress puts it) "moving towards a European-style system of universal health care would increase

This Doesn't Pass The Smell Test

A standard article about a submarine switching homeports to Portsmouth for an overhaul has one sentence that stands out like a sore thumb:
Portsmouth Naval Shipyard union officials hailed the Navy's decision announced Friday to have the USS Virginia call the shipyard its homeport as a key move that could stave off future threats to close the facility...
... O'Connor said the shipyard will now be the homeport of the Navy's newest Virgina-class submarine, which "could level the playing field for us."...
... New Hampshire Sens. Judd Gregg and Jeanne Shaheen, and Maine's Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins jointly announced Friday the U.S. Department of Navy directed that the USS Virginia (SSN 774) will have its homeport changed to the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard effective Oct. 1, 2010. The USS Virginia will undergo a planned maintenance period at the shipyard through April 2012...
... O'Connor said the Navy's announcement could also usher in a new long-term relationship with the shipyard that will not be as tenuous as it has been in the past.
He said the submarine's crew members and their families will be permanently stationed in the Seacoast region instead of just during scheduled overhaul maintenance periods.
Overlooking the problem where they say the Virginia is the "newest" (as opposed to the oldest) Virginia-class submarine, I'm pretty sure that the union official talking in the last quoted paragraph either doesn't really know what's going on, or is being intentionally misleading. He seems to be saying that the submarine would stay homeported at PNSY after the overhaul ends in 2012. Since there's no training infrastructure there, that makes no sense at all, and I really hope the Navy isn't seriously considering such an idiotic move. Since the press release of one of the Senators involved doesn't mention anything about a continuing homeport shift, I'm assuming there's nothing to this at all.

Delurking Week

Blue Gal is spearheading this one, and has more about its origins. The idea is just what the picture above says - bloggers should thank their readers, and readers - particularly lurkers (people who read but don't comment) - are encouraged to leave one. So readers of this blog - thanks again! The format of sporadic, long-form posts ain't for everyone. However, I thought the latest blogiversary

We're Committed to Saying No, But Let's Debate at Length First

Many hurdles still exist, but yesterday, the Senate voted to bring their health bill to the floor for debate. From what I've seen so far, the House bill is better overall (apart from the Stupak amendment), and many progressive measures have been severely watered down, most of all the public option. Still, it's a big step. There's plenty of circus to come, though. As Ezra Klein points out,

Old Boats And Old Shipmates

The Navy website has quite a few new photographs of one of my old boats, USS Connecticut (SSN 22), participating in the U.S. - Japan ANNUALEX a few days ago. Here's one:

Others can be found here, here, here, here, here, here, and here.

It's always good to see your old boat. I also enjoy seeing old shipmates and friends do well, so I was happy to see the results of the FY11 Submarine Major Command and Major Program Manager Selection Board. It looks like this would have been the year I would have been up had I made it that far. I was especially happy to see two of my old JO running mates from USS Topeka (SSN 754) on the list. Congratulations to all!

The Heavy - "How You Like Me Now?"

"Sixteen," borrowing from Screamin' Jay Hawkins, is also worth checking out.

Rick Perlstein at The Big Think

Via Digby, who has a partial transcript, here's Rick Perlstein, who's always worth a listen.

USS Hartford JAGMAN Released

Two media outlet -- The New London Day and Navy Times -- both published stories based on obtaining the "heavily redacted" investigation report into the recent USS Hartford (SSN 768) collision in the Straits of Hormuz. Excerpts:
The Hartford's command leadership routinely observed informal behavior by sailors operating the submarine, the report says, but did not immediately correct it. Those driving the ship would often slouch in their seats with one hand on the controls, and sometimes take their shoes off. Sonar operators and radiomen were missing from their stations for extended periods. Stereo speakers were added to the radio room to listen to music during work.
There were five known "sleepers," or sailors who would routinely nod off on watch, but no disciplinary action was taken, the report states. Two of the five sailors were working during the collision, although investigators found no evidence they were asleep.
The hands-off leadership style created a climate that "gave the appearance of tolerating routine inattentiveness and lax professional standards," the report concludes.
On the night of the crash, sonar operators chatted “for the majority of the time [in the hour before] the collision.” An officer of the deck did not look through the periscope prior to the collision after taking over contact management duties.
The navigator, off-watch, was found to have been taking an engineering exam in the wardroom “while listening to his iPod,” despite the hazardous evolution underway.
Brookhart was never in the control room during any time crossing the strait, the investigators found.
Prior to the accident, speakers had been installed in the ultra-sensitive radio room “that allowed music to be played from an iPod while on watch. This was hidden from the Chain of Command.”
Please read both reports; they include some interesting info on how the submarine's crew was able to get onto the bridge after the collision (it took 4 hours using wedges and a portable hydraulic jack).

Here's my take: the report is pretty damning. But honestly, I think that you'd be able to find similar examples on most boats if they had an investigating team crawling up their butts looking at everything. We've seen this before, where Big Sub Force seems to go out of their way to make the crews of boats that have mishaps look like the biggest bunch of shitbags in the Fleet. I think that it's more likely that most Submariners could look at what goes on in their own boats and think, "There but for the grace of God go I". That being said, this particular instance does look pretty bad, considering where they were at.

Hunger on the Rise

It's just another day in the richest country in the world:Just one day after a federal report revealed that 1 in 7 U.S. families struggled to get enough to eat last year, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack urged lawmakers to reauthorize school nutrition programs that help feed the nation's schoolchildren.Appearing before the Senate Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry Committee on Tuesday, Vilsack

Our Trustworthy Media

The SNL spoof of Fox News election night coverage (from 11/7/09) was actually pretty good:Still, no one can touch The Daily Show. They spoof pretty much every political talk show, in perpetuity, near the end of this sequence (from 11/3/09):The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10cIndecision 2009 - Reindecision 2008 And Beyondwww.thedailyshow.comDaily Show Full EpisodesPolitical

This Is Why Ensigns Shouldn't Have More Than One Ribbon

Check out this newest Navy Nuclear Power propaganda video on the official Navy channel on YouTube. Overall, it's not too bad, except for one epic fail. Check out the ribbon "rack" of the Ensign who shows up about 6 seconds into the video:

I'm pretty sure they haven't put the Pistol and Rifle Marksmanship ribbons ahead of the National Defense Service Medal in precedence. I'm not surprised an Ensign would mess up on something complicated like that, but I am a little bit amazed that no one in the video approval chain picked up on it.

Avatar and "Call Me Joe"?

And now for something mostly different...When I first saw the trailers for James Cameron's upcoming film Avatar, I thought, "That looks like "Call Me Joe."" It's nice to see others had the same thought. Cameron's film is much longer, and more involved, as one would expect. However, the central device and other key details appear to be the same as in Poul Anderson's novella "Call Me Joe," which

More on Armistice Day

Several folks on the old blogroll and around the blogosphere also posted something for Armistice Day, or on related themes.DarkBlack: "In Memory Forever." Canada still does it right. Evil Slutopia: "Veterans Day Roundup." BagNewsNotes: One, two and three.Mahablog: "It's Armistice Day."Crooked Timber: "Armistice Day," by Australian John Quiggin. Newshoggers: "Burial at Sea" (a powerful piece) "

Eric Bogle - "And the Band Played Waltzing Mathilda"

In the spirit of Armistice Day.

Submarining Is Scary

There are lots of scary things you have to put up with in submarining. To me, the scariest involved things like seeing an officer with a tool, a Doc on the Dive, the Nav or Weps heading back aft for their monthly proficiency EOOW watch, or a YN in ERLL for any reason.

What are some of the submarine things that give you the clammy shivers when you think about them?

Your New Requirements

Who knew the problem of providing health care to all Americans was so easy to solve?

Just make a law mandating that everyone buy insurance on pain of imprisonment! Problem solved!

That's what the current Bill proposes -- and if you don't buy it, the penalties are massive fines and up to 5 years in jail.

The audacity and offensiveness of this tactic is incredible!

Health care has gone from an entitlement to a "right" to a requirement!

Rights used to be things government couldn't do to you. Then they became things government had to provide you. Now they are things government forces upon you!

Why not use the same method to eliminate homelessness? Buy a (government approved!) house or go to jail! It would help out Barney Frank's Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac!

Think about the implications. The Federal government is asserting it has the power to force its subjects (because that's what we now are if they can do this: subjects) to purchase and consume particular goods and services.

Mandate everyone buys Obamabonds to help the deficit.

Or everyone has to buy at least one Government General Motors brand car, to help the auto unions.

Why not?

Obama endorses this concept according in an ABC interview:
“What I think is appropriate is that in the same way that everybody has to get auto insurance and if you don't, you're subject to some penalty, that in this situation, if you have the ability to buy insurance, it's affordable and you choose not to do so, forcing you and me and everybody else to subsidize you, you know, there's a thousand dollar hidden tax that families all across America are -- are burdened by because of the fact that people don't have health insurance, you know, there's nothing wrong with a penalty.”
Hold it right there!

The old specious "auto" analogy the anti-gunners liked to use for requiring tests and licenses for gun ownership is even less applicable here! To use that argument, Obama must be either stupid or deliberately lying.

First, not everyone has to buy auto insurance. If you don't buy a car, no insurance!

Second, even if you do own your own car, you don't have to buy collision insurance, which is the analog of health insurance -- the other insurance for the car is liability in case you injure someone or damage their property, which isn't an applicable concept.

And third, the Federal government has no such power to make people buy auto insurance, it's a State issue.

So how in the world do they think they have the ability to force me to buy a particular type of product whether I want it or not?!?

Just like in Star Wars: Liberty dies to thuderous applause.

War and the Denial of Loss

(This post is part of a series on war, and a smaller set of posts for Armistice Day 2009.)Nations wage unnecessary wars because their leaders lack wisdom or conscience, and the checks to force them to act wisely and conscientiously are tragically wanting. However, wars also start – and persist - because of the denial of loss. Scoundrels and fools in positions of power and influence can urge

The Little Mother

(British WWI poster.)One of the most memorable sections of Robert Graves' WWI memoir, Good-Bye to All That, is his reprinting of a newspaper letter written "By a Little Mother" and the reactions it spurred. It might help to know that "Tommy Atkins" or "Tommy" is "a term for a common soldier in the British Army." It's late in the year 1916, and a disillusioned Graves is recovering from injuries

Giddy Minds and Foreign Quarrels

(This is a long post in three parts. It's part of a series on war, and a smaller set of posts for Armistice Day 2009.)Therefore, my Harry,Be it thy course to busy giddy mindsWith foreign quarrels, that action, hence borne out,May waste the memory of the former days.- Henry IV on his deathbed to Prince Henry, Henry IV, Part 2, 4.5, 212-215. There was nothing macho about the war at all. We were a

11/11 Armistice Day 2009

(Click on the comic strip for a larger view)In 1959, Pogo creator Walt Kelly wrote:The eleventh day of the eleventh month has always seemed to me to be special. Even if the reason for it fell apart as the years went on, it was a symbol of something close to the high part of the heart. Perhaps a life that stretches through two or three wars takes its first war rather seriously, but I still think

The War Poetry of Wilfred Owen

I've featured Wilfred Owen's poetry before, but his work relates to several posts this year, and it's always relevant for Armistice Day. The British (specifically English and Welsh) Owen was tragically killed in combat just a week before World War I ended. Owen is widely considered to be one of the greatest of war poets. I first read his work in college in a course on World War I, and I've

Demonizing the Enemy

(British WWI poster, from this helpful site. A few more are scattered throughout this post. Click them for a larger view.)There's an observation I've seen attributed to several different people, that in a democracy, sustaining a war effort over a long time depends on increasingly demonizing of the enemy. The basic idea is that pitching honor, glory and country might be great for initial

Élan in The Guns of August

PRINCE HENRY Why, thou owest God a death.Exit Prince Henry.FALSTAFF 'Tis not due yet; I would be loath to pay him before his day. What need I be so forward with him that calls not on me? Well, 'tis no matter; honour pricksme on. Yea, but how if honour prick me off when Icome on? How then? Can honour set to a leg? No. Oran arm? No. Or take away the grief of a wound? No.Honour hath no skill in

A Day To Honor Veterans

Today, on the 11th day of the 11th month, we take time to honor the Veterans of our Armed Forces.

To all my fellow Veterans, thank you for your service.

Audio of British World War I POWs

Public Radio International's show The World has a short, fascinating piece on audio of British World War I prisoners of war in Germany. The audio was recorded by a German linguist. What's particularly valuable is that he recorded British regional dialects that in some cases don't exist anymore. The last sample is a bit moving (it's from a Scotsman, naturally).

Blogging Light

Blogging has been light lately and will remain so for a while. Why? Happily, I am just too busy with moving into a new house and working with my fiance on our wedding details.

In the meantime, I suggest keeping up with events by reading the excellent essays at Belmont Club, checking the headlines at Drudge, and finding the interesting tidbits at Instapundit.

And tell your Senators to stop ObamaPelosicare in its tracks, it's our only hope!

Lesser Evil

Found via Instapundit. Jerry Pournelle opines:
“Unemployment is over 10%. It wasn’t supposed to get that high. TARP was supposed to fix that. . . . If the health care bill passes, it will fundamentally convert these United States into a different kind of popular democracy, which generally means rule by a unionized bureaucracy organized to vote. Once that much of the economy is run by government, economic recovery as many hope for will simply be impossible. Permanent unemployment at 7% or so; median income perhaps 10% higher than it is now, but not much higher; and a long period of stagflation. Reluctance to take on new employees, and great incentive to export jobs. Is this a picture of the future? We will have to see, as Congress debates the health care and carbon tax bills. . . . With Detroit a ruin and manufacturing industries on the ropes, small business is the only possible engine of recovery from what they don’t call a Depression; so the Congress is going to add an 8% tax on employing people. We already have the longest period of increasing unemployment since the Great Depression; I presume we are going for a really big record setting period of increasing unemployment. . . . The incentives are now to the job black market — hire illegal immigrants who don’t have to have health insurance — or to export the job if that can possibly be done.”
All I can say is,

Preventing People From Dying is Just Like Genocide

These photos from the teabagger rally of Congresswoman Michelle Bachmann (R-MN) have thankfully been getting some exposure:The sign says “National Socialist Healthcare, Dachau Germany – 1945." I first saw this item via Richard Blair of All Spin Zone. Distributorcap also has a brief item on this, and notes, "This was no Glenn Beck or Sarah Palin event - this was an event sponsored and pushed by

Glenn Beck, Stewart Style

This has been all over the blogosphere, but I'm still not tired of it, and it's an instant classic. Stewart plunges into the demagogic truthiness of Glenn Beck:

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10cThe 11/3 Projectwww.thedailyshow.comDaily Show Full EpisodesPolitical HumorHealth Care Crisis

If you're not familiar with Glenn Beck's shtick, Crooks and Liars has a good collection.

Please Support Project Valour-IT

It's almost Veteran's Day, so you still have time to donate to Project Valour-IT, a wonderful organization that provides adaptive laptops for disabled Servicepeople. The drive is running through November 11th, so if you can, please contribute to this worthy cause through Team Navy. (You can find more information through this post by the Navy team leader.)

Amadou & Mariam - "Sabali"

The very last "bye-bye" is clipped here, and I wish the song was longer, but it's memorable.

Prayers Going Out For Soldiers At Ft. Hood And Their Families

Reports of a shooting incident at Ft. Hood indicate that 11 are dead (plus a shooter) and 31 are injured. Initial reports indicate that the dead shooter is Maj. Malik Nadal Hasan, and that two other soldiers have been detained as suspects. The dead major is reportedly a psychiatrist. My prayers are going out to the victims, their families, and fellow Soldiers.

We all know that initial reports of incidents are often in error, so hopefully this was a case of one guy losing it, and not a coordinated attack -- hopefully the two suspects are found to just have been in the wrong place at the wrong time. Obviously, the name of the dead shooter could lead reasonable people to believe that he is of Muslim heritage. I really, really hope that this wasn't a sleeper cell, and if it was, that people will remember that there are a lot of Muslims and people of Muslim heritage serving honorably in the U.S. Armed Forces.

Update 1700 05 Nov: Newer reports are saying the two Soldiers arrested have been released, indicating that it was a lone gunman.

Blue Gal Blogiversary

Champion of small blogs and scourge of the wicked, obtuse and humorless, the indispensable, indefatigable Blue Gal keeps the internet hamsters running. She also celebrates her fifth blogiversary today. Swing by to say hi.

Inadvertently Humorous Submarine Fiction

Anyone remember this blurb from The Hunt For Red October?
"The engineers went about their duties calmly. The noise in the engine room spaces rose noticeably as the systems began to put out more power, and the technicians kept track of this by continuously monitoring the banks of instruments under their hands. The routine was quiet and exact. There was no extraneous conversation, no distraction. Compared to a submarine's reactor spaces, a hospital operating room was a den of libertines."
Discuss. Remember, though, that we have some wives reading, so you should avoid stories that go something like "the throttleman fell asleep so the RO put his junk in the throttleman's ear"... unless they're really, really funny.

The GOP's Non-Existent Health Care Plan

The GOP still doesn't have a health care plan. They never have. This has rarely seemed to bother them, or the media. It's been pointed out again, though, this time by Harry Reid. Maybe it'll get some coverage this time. This comes via John Cole, who has some thoughts on the enduring myth-making around nasty partisan and policy dunce John McCain and his magical kumbaya powers. Remember

Another Sub Skipper Relieved For Cause

Haven't found an official Navy statement, but Navy Times and a couple of Honolulu newspapers have a story about the CO of USS La Jolla (SSN 701) being relieved for cause yesterday:
Cmdr. Doug Sampson, who had been in command of the Los Angeles-class submarine since October 2007, was relieved of command by the commodore of Submarine Squadron One, Capt. Stanley Robertson, the Navy said.
“This action was deemed necessary due to the failure of Cmdr. Sampson to meet the high Navy standards necessary to remain in command,” the Pacific Fleet submarine force said in a statement...
...Lt. Cmdr. David Benham, a spokesman for the Pearl Harbor-based Pacific Fleet submarine force, said he could not go into specifics on the submarine skipper’s removal. Those issues are under investigation, he said.
“The issues, I would say, concern some of the in-port planning, the operations and the administration, which fell short of the high Navy standards,” Benham said.
Hard to say what the cause was based on this statement, but it sounds like it was operational vice shortcomings in the CO's personal life.

USS Texas Surfaces Through Ice

USS Texas (SSN 775) recently became the first Virginia-class submarine to operate in the Arctic; here's photographic evidence:

This occurred during the boat's transit from Groton to her new homeport of Pearl Harbor. From the CSP article:
“Words can not describe how impressed I am with my crew’s performance and professionalism,” said Cdr. Robert Roncska, Commanding Officer of USS Texas. “The ship performed extremely well in the cold, under-ice environment and I am honored to carry on the tradition of arctic operations by our awesome submarine force.”
Though the submarine force has continually operated in the dangerous region successfully for over 50 years, this occasion marked the first such venture by one the Navy’s newest assets.
“Once surfaced, the ship moored safely to the ice for over 24 hours,” said Ens. James Robinson, Supply Officer of USS Texas. “Activities on the ice included a very special re-enlistment ceremony for 12 crew members and a pinning ceremony in which one crew member received his submarine warfare qualification dolphins, as well as some down time to play touch football in the five degree weather.”
Sounds like a good time was had by all!

Sufjan Stevens - "John Wayne Gacy, Jr."

"Music Video using educational films from the 50s and anonymous family footage. Dir: Claire Carré." In honor of the upcoming Halloween, here's a haunting song. It's from Sufjan Stevens' 2005 album Illinois, which is extremely varied and creative (and the rest isn't as dark as this song).

Another Sig On The Great Qual Card Of Life

Our youngest child turns 18 today, so I guess I get a sign-off on the "get all your kids safely to adulthood" signature on Life's Qual Card. Sean is the only one of our children I didn't get to see born; I first saw him through the periscope when he was about 3 weeks old. Since then, he's kept me entranced as I've seen him grow; he's everything I wasn't growing up (confident, popular, good-looking, tall, imbued with common sense) along with having my good points (smarts). As he continues to grow in adulthood, I can only hope he knows how proud I am of him.

Happy Birthday, Sean.

USS Hartford Lessons Learned

VADM Donnelly, COMSUBFOR, made some extemporaneous remarks recently about lessons learned from the March 2009 USS Hartford (SSN 768) collision. Excerpts:
Speaking Wednesday at the annual Naval Submarine League meeting, Submarine Force commander Vice Adm. Jay Donnelly described a control room with “a lot of informality” and a “series of personnel failures” he blamed on the sub’s leadership.
The collision, which happened at night, came as the sub was making a submerged transit to Jebel Ali, its last port call before heading home to Groton, Conn.
The crew had just finished an intense operational phase of its deployment and “everybody let down their guard” for what was actually one of the most challenging phases, crossing the strait at periscope depth, he said.
“There was a great deal of complacency involved in the crew,” he said. “They had been at sea for 63 days operating in areas with high contact density.”
Another reminder that submarining is always dangerous, no matter how good you think you are.

Update 1049 31 October: Turned off comments.

Now We're Sure To Win The War!

At the risk of having too much recent discussion about women and their role in today's Navy, I couldn't let this one slip by. Check out newly-released NAVADMIN 304/09, which features rules for permanent cosmetics. I guess I didn't know that a lack of such a policy was a problem, but this article on the Navy website set me straight. Excerpt:
A Sailor who elects such a procedure must pay for it herself, be prepared to take leave if necessary to recover and be available for shore-based medical care for two weeks following the procedure.
The updated cosmetic policy applies to new Sailors, including prior-service veterans, officer candidates and midshipmen and was expanded to reflect the changing norms of society.
"Due to the increasing popularity of permanent makeup, the update may increase the size of the recruitable population," said Lt. Cmdr. Heather Kline of Navy's Personnel, Plans and Policy Division. "It could also help with retention by providing an option for female Sailors to always look professional and feel good about themselves while saving money on cosmetic purchases."
I bet Al Qaeda doesn't have a permanent cosmetics policy, so their retention will go down! Another win for the Home Team.

But now, what happens if society's norms continue to change, and male Sailors want to get some permanent eyeliner so they can feel good about themselves? I guess then it'll be time for another war-winning NAVADMIN!

Boats Dreams

Last night I dreamt about being on the boat again; it seems to happen about once a month. In this one, I was XO on the Connecticut (and somewhat confused about why I was back in the Navy), and I had to go yell at a newly-qualifed Topside Watch who had just made a 1MC announcement that twice featured the word "fire" without referring to actual combustion or a launch order, and for some reason I didn't have any shoes on.

For those of you who are out, do you still dream about the boat? (I'll take it for granted that you active duty guys do.)

I Cannot Tell You What Being Pro-Life Entails

Chris Matthews has his moments:Far right politicians and activists are often extremely dishonest about their views and goals. I'll never forget a C&L thread where some Ron Paul groupie started by saying that Paul didn't want to outlaw abortion; he just wanted to return the decision to the states. That's a problematic position as it is - states shouldn't get to remove essential rights - but the

Maha in Trouble

Maha (Barbara O'Brien), a very sharp blogger, is stuck in a tough situation and in danger of losing her home. Any help would be appreciated.

Singing Protest by Billionaires for Wealthcare

I've seen this several places. Billionaires for Wealthcare got creative in raising issues at a America's Health Insurance Plan (AHIP) conference: From Sam Stein's piece on the event:Republican pollster Bill McInturff was the keynote speaker on the final day of the America's Health Insurance Plans's state issues conference on Friday morning.But his speech on how the health care reform debate was

Gustavo Dudamel and the Los Angeles Philharmonic

The LA Phil has a new conductor, Gustavo Dudamel, and PBS just ran a "Great Performances" featuring the inaugural concert. I enjoyed it. Over at the PBS page for this event, you can: Watch part of Dudamel’s inaugural concert online! Here on the Great Performances Web site, watch an abridged version of the program that premiered on October 21, 2009, featuring the last movement from John Adams’

Submarine Non-Vols

We always say that the Submarine Force is made up entirely of volunteers, but there are some people who really aren't. Every once in a while, the Naval Academy doesn't make quota, so they have to "force" some graduates into the Submarine Force. According to this Navy Times article, they're looking at getting an additional 33 "volunteers" out of this year's class. Excerpts:
In a message to the Brigade of Midshipmen on Tuesday, the academy’s director of professional development, Capt. Stephen Evans, wrote that the academy this year was required to send 125 officers into the nuclear submarine training pipeline, but that only 92 had been accepted by Naval Reactors. That meant 33 midshipmen would be asked to volunteer or told to become sub nukes.
“If you are subsequently identified for a submarine interview, understand that you were released from your preferred community after serious consideration,” Evans wrote. “Be professional and focus on the positive aspects of serving your country in the submarine force.”
Naval Academy spokesman Cmdr. Joe Carpenter said it wasn’t uncommon for academy officials to move midshipmen from preferred warfare areas to areas where they were needed, although he said there weren’t records showing when or for which disciplines. The academy’s mission to provide the officers the Navy requires means the school must sometimes supercede mids’ wishes, he said...
...In last year’s graduating class, 78 percent of midshipmen entered the warfare area they selected as their first choice, and 92 percent got their first or second choice, Carpenter said. The first midshipmen this year who will be urged to choose submarines are those who picked it as their second choice, he said. They are required to serve at least five years after commissioning.
I knew a couple of Academy guys who were ordered into the Sub Force against their wishes, and they ended up being good officers. Still, I think it's better when everyone who's on the boat knew they had volunteered at some point (even though there are plenty of Submariners who, if they had it to do over again, might have not volunteered in the first place). For those Academy guys who do get lassoed into the Sub Force, I say "Welcome", and if you have hard feelings about it, I can only pass on the words of one of my wise old LCCs at prototype when ship assignments came out and some people were complaining: "Tough shit, why do you think they call them 'orders'?"

Health Care Track Meet

This is a very clever spot by MoveOn featuring Heather Graham. It comes via BAGnewsNotes, where you'll find some other thoughts.

WWII Subvet Tells His Story

I really enjoyed reading this story about WWII Submarine Veteran Edgar Martin. Although he didn't make a war patrol, he did serve under legendary CO Slade Cutter on USS Requin (SS 481) after Cutter's history-making patrols as Captain of USS Seahorse (SS 304). My favorite part of Martin's story:
There were, Martin soon found out, other benefits to being part of a submarine crew: benefits such as 80 percent higher pay, access to the best food in the Navy and relaxed regulations.
But for someone who'd grown up accepting racial segregation as a part of life, perhaps one of the most unexpected benefits of serving as part of a Navy submarine crew was the absence of overt racism.
"You work in such close quarters on a submarine, it was difficult for anyone to focus on things like that," Martin said. "For the most part, everyone was friendly and there were no vestiges of segregation. Everyone worked together; everyone was glad to help you.
In my experience, this lack of overt racism aboard submarines has continued to the present day. As long as you can do your job and not cause problems, Submariners are very accepting. When it comes to dealing with those who can't hack it, however, we tend to be ruthless.

First They Came For the Racists...

It's been an interesting couple of weeks for racism. Let's take a look, shall we? Most of the World Consists of White ConservativesAs noted by Sadly, No and many other blogs, after Obama won the Nobel Peace Prize, Erick Erickson of Red State said:I did not realize the Nobel Peace Prize had an affirmative action quota for it, but that is the only thing I can think of for this news. There is no

VV Brown - "Crying Blood"

She'll be doing a live session at KCRW next week.

Intrusive Leadership

USS Hartford (SSN 768) was in the news for something good today. They were commended by the Navy for going 1000 days without a DUI. Excerpts:
Prairie Grove, Ark. native Cmdr. Robert Dunn, Hartford's commanding officer, accepted the commendation on behalf of the Los Angeles class attack submarine.
"Although you're giving this to me as the commanding officer, the intrusive peer leadership of the hard-working Sailors makes this possible," said Dunn.
The crew also received a personal message from Submarine Force Commander Vice Adm. John J. Donnelly, calling Hartford "a prime example for the submarine force on how focused effort and deckplate leadership can curb reckless behavior and poor decision making."
"I recognize the fight to prevent DUIs is one of many tasks you undertake which requires constant, intrusive leadership. Hartford's accomplishments in this area are a testament to the crew's professionalism and dedication," wrote Donnelly.
What do you think of the value of "intrusive leadership"? Is it the right philosophy for the unique crew composition of submarines?

A Year In The Life

It was a year ago today that I found out I had esophageal cancer. Now, thanks to all the support from my friends and health care providers, I'm pretty much back to normal (just a lot thinner). The cancer is gone, and I only have to go in for follow-up CT scans every six months. Thanks to everyone here who supported me during the past year!

Equality in Maine

This is easily the coolest damn thing I've seen today. I lived in Maine for a few years, and while New England certainly has its busybodies, there's also a strong live-and-let-live contingent. This comes via DougJ at Balloon Juice, who writes, "Why does this hippie want to undermine the sanctity of marriage?"

Moral Imbeciles

Ready to be disgusted?

Need more proof Hollywood is out of touch with reality?

Here is the petition to free poor old Roman Polanski, where we can see who are the moral imbeciles.

It is quite a list of so-called luminaries including several big names.

But first let's dissect the wording of the petition, for its decadence is glorious to behold:
Petition for Roman Polanski

We have learned the astonishing news of Roman Polanski's arrest by the Swiss police on September 26th, upon arrival in Zurich (Switzerland) while on his way to a film festival where he was due to receive an award for his career in filmmaking.
Mon Dieu! What poor taste to arrest a great filmmaker! He should be immune while receiving our awards!
His arrest follows an American arrest warrant dating from 1978 against the filmmaker, in a case of morals.
You see, it was just a backward, Puritanical American morals charge -- not a real crime, just a case of morals. You know, morals, which are just a matter of opinion.

The "morals charge" these vile morons are speaking of is the drugging and rape of a 13-year-old girl (30 years his junior), in the face of her protests, to which (in spite of whatever "prosecutorial misconduct" his defenders rush to announce) he admitted his guilt, and was convicted. The unsealed details are here.
Filmmakers in France, in Europe, in the United States and around the world are dismayed by this decision. It seems inadmissible to them that an international cultural event, paying homage to one of the greatest contemporary filmmakers, is used by the police to apprehend him.
Do we laugh or cry at this? International cultural events are off limits to police?

These "people" are dismayed by justice, but not by Polanski's crime.
By their extraterritorial nature, film festivals the world over have always permitted works to be shown and for filmmakers to present them freely and safely, even when certain States opposed this.

The arrest of Roman Polanski in a neutral country, where he assumed he could travel without hindrance, undermines this tradition: it opens the way for actions of which no-one can know the effects.
What, they're diplomats now? The self-importance is unbelievable.

Then they demand his immediate release...or else Franco-American relations will suffer. The international filmmaking community stands by the predatory child rapist!

So do many others. They say the "alleged" victim wants the case dismissed.

Justice doesn't work that way.

It looks like 800-900 names so far, mostly French. Several are starlets and eurotrash directors. Others are big names, supposedly serious people. For example:

Woody Allen - no surprise there
Pedro Almodovar - "acclaimed Spanish filmmaker"
Jean-Jacques Annaud - directed Name of the Rose, Quest for Fire
Jonathan Demme - Silence of the Lambs
Terry Gilliam - Time Bandits, Brazil, etc.
John Landis - Animal House, Blues Brothers, etc.
David Lynch - Twin Peaks, Blue Velvet, Dune, Eraserhead, etc.
Jeanne Moreau - "greatest actress in the world" (said Orson Welles)
Martin Scorsese - Taxi Driver, Goodfellas, etc.
Tilda Swinton - Oscar-winning actress
Wim Wenders - Buena Vista Social Club, Wings of Desire, etc.

May they be jeered, shamed, and impoverished for their support of evilness.

Franken Takes on Halliburton Rape

Earlier this month, Al Franken introduced his "Defense Contractor Mandatory Arbitration Amendment." Here's the video, and his prepared remarks from Franken's website:Remarks on Defense Contractor Mandatory Arbitration Amendment2009-10-06Mr. President, the amendment I offer today is inspired by the courageous story of a young woman who has dedicated four years of her life to make sure no other

CNN Leaves It There

I imagine most readers of liberal blogs have seen this already, but if you haven't, here's one of The Daily Show's best segments on a typical failing in the mainstream media. Fact-checking? What's that? (Most people following health care as an issue would know, roughly, the population of the United States and the number of people who are uninsured. Why don't paid journalists know this, and

Play Senate Finance Committee

Senate Finance Committee 380x284This swell game was made by Doctor Zaius and Derek the Jerk. You can play a larger version over at Zaius Nation, and also pass on your compliments.

Movie Review: "Where The Wild Things Are"

I went with my wife, sister-in-law, and 4-year-old nephew to see the new movie "Where The Wild Things Are" yesterday morning. I'd read this beloved book (written the year I was born) to my kids frequently, and always put on a really good performance of my favorite lines:
They roared their terrible roars,
And gnashed their terrible teeth,
And rolled their terrible eyes,
And showed their terrible claws...
This movie didn't feature teeth gnashing or eye rolling, but it gave us something more -- a really good film that really young kids will like while their parents are getting an emotional roller coaster ride. The pre-schooler loved it, and both the ladies with me admitted to being in tears at points. (I just got something in my eyes.) Kids over 8 years old, however, might find it a little too intense.

The movie works on many levels. It explains why Max makes mischief of one kind and another (a broken home and unhappy childhood) and spells out -- without shoving it in your face -- how the Wild Things are manifestations of the people and feelings in his life. The CGI and voice acting were incredible; the Wild Things seemed as real as the boy. It was the adaptation of the story that will cause the most controversy; this movie really isn't aimed at kids, even though the advertising campaign seems to be. Will children from unhappy homes leave the theater in tears? Will they emulate Max in making mischief? They might, but they might have done that even without seeing the movie. For parents who are worried about how the film might affect their more sensitive kids, I'd suggest seeing it yourself first -- you'll have a first-rate theater-going experience even if you decide not to take your children. I give this movie four Wild Rumpuses out of five.

There's a Rep for That


Rodrigo y Gabriela - "Buster Voodoo"

This is from their new album. They're fantastic live.

Blogger Aid

Maggie Jochild of Group News Blog and Meta Watershed is in the hospital for major abdominal surgery. Any donations, and all best wishes, would be appreciated. Thanks.Update 10/17/09: The surgery went well, and Maggie is in good spirits. Great to hear.

Memo From the Dark Side

"Jack, you want to prosecute a member of the Bush administration for assaulting suspected terrorists?""The word is 'torturing.' And yes — it's about time somebody did."Law and Order's season premiere a few weeks back, "Memo From the Dark Side," deals with the torture authorized by the Bush administration. I thought it was pretty impressive overall, with some powerful moments. Scott Horton has a

Diggit Tools

As a shipyard Eng, I had this cartoon frame hanging on my office wall:

(This comes from the classic "Techno-Bill" series of Dilbert strips in the early '90s.) This visual representation described me pretty well -- I had a pager, cell phone, Leatherman, and flashlight always hanging from my belt, along with a TLD. Didn't have the glasses, though.

What stuff did you have hanging off your belt or packed away in your poopy suit when you were (or are) on the boat?

(Off topic, I got some E-mails that said NCDOC has placed on the listed of "denied sites", so people can't access blogs like this from Navy computers anymore. Is this worldwide, or just in certain regions?)

Vespucci Day

Monday was Columbus Day. Hurray for the New World!

The news of course trotted out the accounts of Columbus bashing in the schools.
TAMPA, Florida (AP) — Christopher Columbus' stature in U.S. classrooms has declined somewhat through the years, and many districts will not observe the explorer's namesake holiday on Monday.
In McDonald, Pennsylvania, 30 miles southwest of Pittsburgh, fourth-grade students at Fort Cherry Elementary put Columbus on trial this year — charging him with misrepresenting the Spanish crown and thievery. They found him guilty and sentenced him to life in prison.
How nice.

More examples abound, like this tired complaint:
"You don't hear people using the world 'discovery' anymore like they used to. 'Columbus discovers America.' Because how could he discover America if there were already people living here?"
That complaint only makes sense in a multiculturalist context, because for Western Culture, which is my culture that I am not ashamed to defend as a very good and successful one, he DID discover it.

Or did he?
Amerigo Vespucci (born in Florence in 1452), whose name was given to the American continents by Waldsmuller in 1507, worked in Seville (where he died) in the business house which fitted out Columbus' second expedition. Here he gives an account of the first of his own four voyages. If his claims are accurate he reached the mainland of the Americas shortly before Cabot, and at least 14 months before Columbus.
Interesting. But that's not really the issue.

What's the issue is how we hear everyone complain how horrid the Europeans were to come to the pristine, innocent New World, bringing only disease and death to the noble indigenous peoples who were otherwise living in peace and harmony with Mother Nature.

Or were they?

From Vespucci's letter, we read some interesting observations:
Warfare is used amongst them, which they carry on against people not of their own language, very cruelly, without granting life to any one, except (to reserve him) for greater suffering.
and the cause of their wars is not for lust of dominion, nor of extending their frontiers, no for inordinate covetousness, but for some ancient enmity which in by-gone times arose amongst them: and when asked why they made war, they knew not any other reason to give than that they did so to avenge the death of their ancestors, or of their parents:
and so are they stirred up by fellow-feeling: they have no judicial system, nor do they punish the ill-doer: nor does the father, nor the mother chastise the children
and we saw a village of only thirteen houses where there were four thousand souls: every eight or ten years they change their habitations: and when asked why they did so: (they said it was) because of the soil which, from its filthiness, was already unhealthy and corrupted, and that it bred aches in their bodies, which seemed to us a good reason:
When they die, they use divers manners of obsequies, and some they bury with water and victuals at their heads: thinking that they shall have (whereof) to eat: they have not nor do they use ceremonies of torches nor of lamentation. In some other places, they use the most barbarous and inhuman burial, which is that when a suffering or infirm (person) is as it were at the last pass of death, his kinsmen carry him into a large forest, and attach one of those nets, of theirs, in which they sleep, to two trees, and then put him in it, and dance around him for a whole day: and when the night comes on they place at his bolster, water with other victuals, so that he may be able to subsist for four or six days: and then they leave him alone and return to the village: and if the sick man helps himself, and eats, and drinks, and survives, he returns to the village, and his (friends) receive him with ceremony: but few are they who escape: without receiving any further visit they die, and that is their sepulture: and they have many other customs which for prolixity are not related.
they eat little flesh except human flesh: for your Magnificence must know that herein they are so inhuman that they outdo every custom (even) of beasts; for they eat all their enemies whom they kill or capture, as well females as males with so much savagery, that (merely) to relate it appears a horrible thing: how much more so to see it, as, infinite times and in many places, it was my hap to see it: and they wondered to hear us say that we did not eat our enemies: and this your Magnificence may take for certain, that their other barbarous customs are such that expression is too weak for the reality:
we remained 37 days: and went many times to their villages: where they paid us the greatest honour: and (now) desiring to depart upon our voyage, they made complaint to us how at certain times of the year there came from over the sea to this their land, a race of people very cruel, and enemies of theirs: and (who) by means of treachery or of violence slew many of them, and ate them: and some they made captives, and carried them away to their houses, or country: and how they could scarcely contrive to defend themselves from them, making signs to us that (those) were an island-people and lived out in the sea about a hundred leagues away: and so piteously did they tell us this that we believed them: and we promised to avenge them of so much wrong: and they remained overjoyed herewith:
And they went and had their way with the evildoers, with cannon and lance.

America Doesn't Care About Your Feelings

This is a few days old, but well worth checking out if you missed it. Grayson is spot on. C&L has a transcript.Update: Jill has more Grayson goodness.

Meridian, Idaho Property Values Plummet!

It's the time of year again where I lose whatever sense of dignity I might have and populate my lawn with tacky holiday decorations. During Christmas, I unfortunately can't compete with a few neighborhood houses when it comes to gaudily dressing up one's yard, but during Halloween I'm at the top of the heap. I improved upon last year's effort by adding a couple more inflatables, thusly:

As you can see, I've matched my achievement during the Christmas season of two years ago by "purr"-fecting the methodology to mount a roof inflatable -- still unmatched in the neighborhood. The black cat on the roof ended up exceeding my wildest expectations; it looks really, really good. I can't wait to see it at night, since its eyes light up.

I still have to string up some border lights, but other than that I'd say I'm ready for Halloween!

Everyone Loves The CFC

Here's a video of President Obama urging all Federal employees to contribute to the Combined Federal Campaign:

It looks like this year's campaign is kicking off again for the Navy; I'm sure most commands have goals like "100% contact". Did you ever get stuck with the thankless job of being CFC Coordinator? Did you think it was punishment for something you'd done? I remember back in the days when you pretty much had to contribute (since goals were based on "percent of command contributing" vice "contacted"); did you ever donate to a completely off-the-wall organization as a kind of protest against the whole process?

I Like This Result Better

Back in 1990, #3 Nebraska held a 12-0 lead over #9 Colorado going into the 4th quarter. CU scored 27 fourth quarter points for a 27-12 win.

Tonight, #24 Missouri held a 12-0 lead over #21 Nebraska going into the 4th quarter; the 'Huskers scored 27 unanswered fourth quarter points for a 27-12 win. I like being on the winning side of such games better.

(For those who wonder if 'Husker football is really important to Nebraskans, here's a clue -- I remembered this 1990 result without seeing any mention of it anywhere. It's ingrained into our DNA.)

Baaba Maal - "Television"

Here's his recent live session at KCRW.

Torture Watch 10/8/09

There are several important pieces on torture from that past month or two that I haven't featured yet, so here they are.While The New York Times news desk has been gutless in covering torture, often refusing to use the word or pretending that defining torture is some great mystery, its editorial board has been fantastic. From 9/2/09, the short and superb "Dick Cheney’s Version":After the C.I.A.

Local Soccer Player In The News

Here's a great article about a girl's soccer player at our local high school, Shalese Miller. Excellent reading, but they consistently mis-spelled the name of her coach (who's also the Latin teacher who took my boys on a school trip to Europe last year). For the record, it's Jason Lang.

Normally I don't post stuff like this, but in this case I'm a very proud uncle. Good luck to Shalese and her teammates in the upcoming State Tournament!

Neutrino Comms With Submarines?

Here's an article about an idea that won't come to fruition for several hundred years: using neutrinos to communicate with submarines.

When you consider that any such communications would have to be encrypted (since they'd be sent worldwide), I really don't see any way this would be feasible with the low data rates they're talking about as anything but a bell-ringer, which we already have with ELF.

40 Years Of Monty Python

Forty years ago today, the first episode of Monty Python's Flying Circus aired on the BBC. In honor of this, here are two of my favorite Python sketches -- "The Spanish Inquisition"...

...and "How Not To Be Seen":

When I was a student at Kansas, I saw the late Graham Chapman give a lecture in which he said he'd never really heard a good definition of "Pythonesque" humor. Here's what I came up with: "Humor involving a person or persons, who may or may not be silly themselves, either interacting with silly people or finding themselves in an inherently silly situation". Watching Monty Python's Flying Circus on Sunday nights on the local PBS station when I was in high school was when I started learning to appreciate absurdity, a pasttime I continue to enjoy to this day. For this, I'm thankful for Monty Python. I'm sure that even in another 40 years, they'll still be bringing laughs to generations of new fans.

The McCarthyist Style in Glenn Beck's "White Culture"

Imagine if Glenn Beck were forced to defend some of his most irresponsible statements. Katie Couric gives it a go:She could have pushed him harder, but still, it's good that she raised the question – what did you mean by "white culture"? ThinkProgress has a partial transcript. Crooks and Liars links some of the good recent articles on Beck (and their Beck category is pretty extensive). I'd

Grayson Remix

Brave New Films has a nice new short cross-cutting Grayson's floor speech with other clips:This comes via Digby, who has more on this, including Grayson being criticized for using the word "holocaust."Update: Here's Grayson on Hardball. C&L has a partial transcript, but I agree that the best line is "I can’t decide on health care, on energy independence, on jobs, on the economy based upon dirty

USS Buffalo Undocks

From the Navy website, here's a picture of USS Buffalo (SSN 715) undocking in Pearl Harbor:

My best sea story from being in drydock is when I was Ship's Duty Officer on USS Topkea (SSN 754) in San Diego during the magnitude 7.3 Landers and 6.5 Big Bear earthquakes on 28 June 1992.

This was the first night I had felt comfortable enough as SDO to actually sleep in my rack; prior to that, I had always slept on the Wardroom bench when I was Duty Officer. It was our first night in drydock, and I woke up immediately as the ship started shaking. My first reaction was "Earthquake?", then I thought, "No, the drydock's afloat". (I didn't remember, being mostly asleep, that pins connected the drydock to the pier when it was in its normal raised position.) I next wondered if the drydock did LP blows on their ballast tank, and had just about decided that it was a carrier sailing by at a high speed when the Duty Chief burst in and said "Earthquake!" I immediately headed up the Weapons Shipping Hatch ladder and found the topside watch still clutching his desk. I verified that we didn't have any real damage (other than that the CD overboard connection duct tape had come loose) and got ready for turnover.

The duty section had all turned over, except for me (the oncoming SDO was late) when the Big Bear quake hit. I was back aft, and one of the nukes had real fear in his eyes when he yelled out, "What's happening". Being an "old hand" at this, I calmly said, with arms akimbo, "Don't worry, this is only about half as bad as the last one."

Do you have any good drydock stories?

David Gray - "Fugitive"

It's slightly out of synch, but this is the official version from David Gray's channel. What I've heard so far of the new album is quite good.

"America's Navy: A Global Force For Good"

It appears that the Navy has a new advertising slogan, replacing the "Accelerate Your Life" campaign they had been running the last few years. Here's the first commercial using the "America's Navy: A Global Force For Good" tagline:

For some reason, when I hear this new slogan, the first image that comes to my mind is Danny Noonan telling Judge Smails "I want to be good" in Caddyshack. I'm not a big fan of the new slogan yet, but I suppose it's better than some of the advertising campaigns the Navy has done over the last few decades. I enlisted during the "It's not just a job... It's an adventure" period, so I'm probably not the best judge of what works. Still, this one just sounds so frickin' corny...

MEDEVAC From Ohio-Class Boat In Pacific Northwest

A Submariner was evacuated off a Bangor-based Ohio-class submarine Tuesday night by a Coast Guard helicopter based on Oregon; here's some video of the transfer:

Some excerpts from the article:
The Navy contacted the Coast Guard at 5:50 p.m. to request help in transferring the crewman from the submarine to a hospital. Coast Guard Air Station Astoria, Ore., launched an MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter. It arrived at 7:12 p.m. and hoisted the sailor by basket from the sail of the submarine.
“Great teamwork between the Navy and the Coast Guard got our sailor off safely and he’s doing well,” said Lt. Kellie Randall, spokeswoman for Bangor-based Submarine Group Nine.
She couldn’t say which submarine was involved, or what injury or illness caused the sailor to need care.
The sailor will be transferred to a local military hospital as soon as possible, she said.
Have you ever been part of a helicopter transfer from a submarine?

Bell-ringer 1806 01 Oct: Commenters are saying that the video at this story from KOMO-TV is better.

Why Baucus' Bill is Dangerous

DDay passes on a great piece, "Everything You Need To Know About The Baucus Bill In Two Minutes":Wendell Potter at Salon and Maggie Mahar in The Boston Globe have more on the Baucus bill. DDay also has a piece on the ridiculous decision to give millions to abstinence-only sex ed programs that don't work (as Judy Berman notes, even Texas is moving away from them because they've been disastrous).

Grayson Unleashed

Republicans are outraged over this presentation by Representative Alan Grayson (D-FL):It's pointed, but it's pretty accurate. Digby has much more on this, including video of Republican representatives lying about death panels and Democrats attacking seniors (yes, after the GOP has tried to cut Medicare for years, and opposed its creation – they have no shame). Grayson then went on CNN:For the

Your Mom Did; She Had It Coming

If our current health care system is unsustainable, then reform is a necessity. The question should be not whether we should reform health care but how best to do it. Given that other countries do a better job at less than half the cost, there really isn't any sound reason to oppose reform – just lack of awareness among the general public - and politics, ideology and spite from reform opponents

Will The Adults Keep Control?

(Test post 11/26/11 for a new blog -- please ignore)

The Idaho Republican Party is coming up on a legislative session and subsequent election that could determine their direction for years to come. The battle, as it is elsewhere in the country, is between the more Libertarian/State’s Rights wing of the party and the establishment (hereafter referred to, in the preferred language of the insurgents, as “RINOs” – Republicans in Name Only). Were one to only look at the Idaho GOP platform adopted in 2010, an outside observer might think that the extremists had already won; the platform calls for, among other interesting ideas, the repeal of the 17th Amendment and returning to the gold standard.

It’s one thing for party activists to adopt a bold party platform, but another for the more reasonable members of said party to actually vote for it when their actions may be noticed by the wider public. In the two examples noted above, many Idaho Republican legislators failed to follow through when given the opportunity to cast a vote in favor of these two principles, despite the “loyalty oath” also included in the new platform: the House State Affairs committee failed to advance a “repeal the 17th” bill, and a “sound money” bill failed to even get a motion from the same body. That these elements of the Idaho GOP platform were too extreme for the Idaho House is telling (or, more likely, too potentially embarrassing to open for public debate), since it’s normally the Senate that was counted on to act as the “adult” last session. (The House actually passed the Health Care Nullification law only to see it shot down in the Senate committee.) This proves that there’s a disconnect between some of the more extreme Idaho Republican partisans and the elected officials of their party – the “adults” of the Idaho GOP are willing to say one thing and do another when the more extreme theories of the new Idaho GOP orthodoxy are put to the test of the real world.

Idaho freshman Congressman Raul Labrador filled out the questionnaire for TEA Party Boise before the 2010 election, and, with two exceptions, pledged or committed to carry out everything on their checklist – even the items that were clearly delusional. When the rubber met the road, however, Rep. Labrador decided that there were times when real world political considerations outweighed his “pledge” to work to enact a theory. He voted for at least one bill that hadn’t been “published on the web for at least 7 days prior to the vote”, and still hasn’t posted a list of “all campaign donations on your website, including date, name of parent organization as well as the donating entity, and the amount of the donation”. I don’t blame him for his actions in these cases; where House rules only require 3 days posting of bills and FEC rules only require disclosure of donations of $200 or more, it would be silly to go beyond that. I would, however, hold him accountable were he to make the same ridiculous pledges next year.

So where does this leave the Idaho Republican Party? While the case could be made that the 45% of primary voters who voted for someone other than Butch Otter in the May 2010 primary are the forefront of a potential wave of disaffected “True Republicans” who will overthrow the RINOs and lead the way back to the 1850s, I think that the powers that be will do whatever it takes to limit the extremists to a few planks in the Party platform and will let them win a few symbolic votes in the Legislature for bills that either have no effect or will quickly be thrown out by the courts. They know that the only way the Republican Party can lose their stranglehold on Idaho politics is to give control to the most extreme members of the party (the 26% who voted for Rex Rammell in May 2010) and watch the moderate voters desert the party in droves when the main accomplishment of a future legislature is to enable citizens to pay their property taxes in gold or silver coinage or all their legislators follow the lead of Rammell and declare themselves de jure citizens. The upcoming session will be a good barometer of how far the “adults” are willing to let the insurgents go, and if failure to enact the more extreme elements of the party platform will energize the extremists to actually vote out some of the RINOs in the primary. It should be fun to watch – as long as they don’t actually pass any bills that would irrevocably hurt the citizens of our state.