More cuteness here!

What's Going On

Ninme was kind enough to drop by with her iBook, so I'm able to post some actual content with links. Unfortunately, I developed a touch of post-operation pneumonia, so I'm probably stuck here at the hospital for a while longer. Here's some news of interest that you might want to discuss in the comments:

1) Space Submariner CAPT Stephen Bowen was in Groton yesterday discussing his recent trip into space.

2) Eighteen senior Sailors aboard USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69) were disciplined for cheating on the ORSE written exam. Show of hands -- who thinks that providing the exams to the ship ahead of time is just setting people up to fail in a high profile situation?

3) SubRon FOUR is leading the way with "Warrior Wednesday", wherein the Squadron leadership dons the new Navy Working Uniform. Excerpts:
Every Wednesday, Capt. Robert E. Clark II, CSS4 Commodore, the Commanding Officers and Chiefs of the Boats don the grey and blue digital camouflage Navy working uniform (NWU).
"The idea behind Warrior Wednesdays is twofold," said Clark in a recent interview.
"First, it's a great way to show the uniform to the Sailors who will eventually be wearing it. And secondly, it allows us to reflect and honor the sacrifices of our shipmates who are forward deployed, whether they are on or under the sea as well as on the ground."
When Sailors see the uniform, Clark noted, they ask questions: What does it feel like? How does it wear? When do we get to wear it?
"Not a day goes by that I don't get stopped with a 'Sir, is that the new uniform?'" he said. "And to answer the questions, I am very satisfied with this uniform. It's comfortable, wears well and is right for the times. It is a warrior's uniform."
The effects can already be seen from the warriors on the waterfront.
"Besides giving the crew the opportunity to see the new uniform, it also makes us feel like we are more closely related to combat operations," said Cmdr. Dennis Boyer, USS Miami (SSN 755) commanding officer.
Since I'm still kind of drugged up, I won't go off on a rant about this story; I'll leave that up to you in the comments. 

Update From Room 1674

Some quick notes from my first few days at the hospital recovering from cancer surgery:

1) Everything is going as well as could be expected. The pain from the 36"+ incision ( ! ) is getting more manageable, and they've pulled the most annoying tubes out. (I've decided there are few things more annoying than a nose tube.) The pathology report from the surgery shows that the cancer hadn't spread to any local lymph nodes, and that the radiation had done its job in killing the tumor.

2) I had a wonderful visit from the inimitable ninme and her husband yesterday. Before that, I was really in no condition to have anyone visit. This has given me a much better appreciation of how major medical issues can really make people weak.

3) I'm surprised that, at least at this hospital, they don't encourage more interaction between patients. For some reason, I thought there'd be more than just nodding at each other when doing out mandatory walks.

Still Alive

My surgery is done, the doctor says it went very well. I'm still in a lot of pain, but they're giving me some good drugs so I love everybody.

French, British Boomers Collide

Last week, I noticed a small story about the French SSBN FS Le Triomphant (S 616) returning to port after colliding with what was described as likely being a "shipping container". Today comes word that the collision wasn't with a piece of nautical junk -- it was with the British ballistic missile submarine HMS Vanguard (S 28). Excerpts from this article:
French Navy sources confirm that Le Triomphant, one of four strategic nuclear submarines of the ‘Force de Frappe’ (Strike Force), was returning from a 70-day tour of duty when it collided with HMS Vanguard.
During heavy seas in the middle of the night between February 3 and 4, French sailors heard a loud ‘bang’ that all but destroyed the submarine's sonar dome.
This part of the boat should have detected the Vanguard in the first place, but Le Triomphant’s crew of 101 neither saw or heard anything before the collision.
Between them the submarines had 250 sailors on board...
...The French last night also tried to play down the collision, with a Navy spokesman saying: ‘The collision did not result in injuries among the crew and did not jeopardise nuclear security at any moment.’
Le Triomphant took at least three days to limp back to her home port, although she did not have to be towed.
HMS Vanguard, by contrast, apparently had to be towed back to her home base in Faslane, Scotland.
As expected, the British press is trying to make the potential consequences of the accident as scary as possible, as they normally do whenever the word "nuclear" is used. Submariners know that accidents like this are always possible when countries that don't coordinate waterspace management for certain boats operate in the same waters, but the "big ocean / little ship" theory normally keeps it from happening. In this case, it apparently didn't.

And I'm not sure whether this means that the British and French boomers are both really quiet, or their passive sonar isn't quite as good as advertised, or a little of both.

Update 0414 16 Feb: Here's the CNN story on the reported collision. I love how it mentions that "Royal Navy Vanguard Class submarines are equipped with collision avoidance radar, according to the Royal Navy Web site", as if the radar would have been any use in an underwater meeting between two submerged submarines. For more updates, this post by Chap over at the USNI Blog looks like it might be a good place to go.

TSSBP Open Thread

While I'm off getting surgery and recovering in Seattle, feel free to use the comments here to post your best sea stories, or whatever else strikes your fancy. (Nothing too controversial, please!) I'll hopefully be able to post occasionally from my phone, but I probably won't be able to include links, like this one to a story about "Hey, Shipwreck" creator Pat Hrabe setting up shop in Kitsap County now that his recruiting tour in northern Idaho is done. As always, The Sub Report is the best place to get your submarine news links, and all the submarine bloggers listed on my blogroll to the right will have great commentary while I'm indisposed.

Going deep...

We Shoot... We Score

I've never been to a really big sporting event live; however, that will change next month. We just received our tickets to the 1st and 2nd round games of the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament that will be held in Boise March 20-22:

[Edit 2305 15 Feb: Redacted photo of tickets due to concerns mentioned in the comments that someone could copy them and render our ticket invalid.]

I'm way psyched; in my opinion, March Madness is the best annual sporting tournament in the world. In order to get the right to buy these tickets (for $61 for each person for each session, plus fees) we had to buy season tickets for last season's BSU Men's BB season. It was totally worth it.

What's the biggest sporting event you've ever attended live?

USS Pittsburgh Returns From Deployment, Rigs Shore Phone Line

USS Pittsburgh (SSN 720) returned from a Southcom/Africom deployment last week, missing out on watching their namesake city win the Super Bowl by only a few days. In addition to a story about their return, the official Navy website had five pictures of the homecoming, including two of a submarine evolution that isn't appreciated nearly as much as it should be -- hooking up the shore phones. The non-shore phone pictures are located here, here, and here. The first shot that really grabbed my interest was a rare action shot of a "heavie" being thrown from on top of the sail to bring aboard the shore phone line:

I think he's got pretty good form.

The second is of a Submariner trying to untangle the inevitable knot the shore phone cable had when it was brought aboard:

In the days before everyone had a cell phone, shore phones always resulted in interesting conflicts aboard submarines. It seems that every duty section had one or more girlfriends or wives who would call up the boat several times a night and expect whichever poor soul answered the phone to go find their Submariner. As the newer phone systems replaced the old "MJ" system in the late 90's/early 00s, you ended up with the resulting problem that there was nothing preventing a well-meaning but clueless coner from transferring a call from a wife/girlfriend to the on-watch SRO in Maneuvering -- as Eng, I ended up conducting personal training on that issue with everyone who checked into the command.

What are your favorite shore phone stories?

(Edited 0957 13 Feb to add photos.)

One Million Visitors

Sometime yesterday morning, my Sitemeter showed that TSSBP passed the 1,000,000 visit plateau over the last 4+ years. Thanks to all who've visited and commented over the years! I'm also closing in on the 2 million page view milestone, which we should pass sometime early next month.

While we're on the subject of blog admin, I figured I'd fill you in on what'll be happening the next few weeks. We fly to Seattle on Monday for my cancer surgery on Tuesday; I expect that blogging will be light while I'm recovering in the hospital, since I'll probably only be able to post from my phone. If anyone in the Seattle area would like to visit me at Virginia Mason Medical Center downtown between about the 18th and 25th, please drop me an E-mail [joel(dot)bubblehead(at)gmail(dot)com], and I'll send you my cell phone number. As Toby said in this season's opening episode of The Office, "It's nice to have visitors."

Finally, moving on to the "Proud Parent" portion of this post. We found out yesterday that our middle child is officially a National Merit Scholarship Finalist, which means his out-of-state tuition to Washington State University should be substantially covered next year. Hooray!

USS Port Royal Hard Aground

USS Port Royal (CG 73), the last of the Ticonderoga-class cruisers, is hard aground off the coast of Honolulu in 17-22 feet of water; the ship's normal draft is 33 feet. The first attempt to refloat her failed, so they're removing weight (people and fuel) in an attempt to get her off the bottom so they can pull her off the reef. There's much more analysis over at the USNI blog; that's probably a good link for updated information and knowledgeable discussion. One thing they noted is that this is the CO's first underway with his new command; he was last at sea in command on a frigate in 2004. Between his commands, he served as Reactor Officer on USS George Washington (CVN 73). The ship just came out of an overhaul, and this was reportedly her first underway since at least October.

So what do you think? Will this cause a lot of people to come out and say that surface nukes should stick to nuclear power and not try to command ships? (Answer: Of course it will. I don't think they're right, however. Surface nukes are, I'm sure, no worse at shipdriving than the normal skimmer officer. It's the Navigation team that I'm wondering about.)

Based on initial reports this whole episode sounds like it should have been really, really avoidable. I'm hoping that SURFPAC will take a really hard look at what they're doing to keep skimmer Nav Teams proficient during overhauls.

Update 0519 09 Feb: Here's the latest update; she's still hard aground.

Update 0527 10 Feb: The ship got freed yesterday by several tugs after they removed about 600 tons of fuel and anchors; the CO was relieved soon thereafter.

Update 1141 11 Feb: Lots of really good comments on this thread. Here's the latest from the Navy, after the Port Royal made it back into port.

Gun Bans Explained

One of the many frustrating things about government gun-bans is the seemingly naive imperviousness to the argument that it only disarms the law-abiding citizen, keeping the criminals armed.

It's so obvious -- why wouldn't they see?

What, do they want to give criminals an advantage?

The answer is stunning -- in Chicago's notoriously draconian gun-ban, it turns out that is EXACTLY what was intended!

The aldermen were crooked, and wanted to create a monopoly for the Mob:
Recently,The Justice Department prosecuted The Chicago Mob in a landmark trial. The Chicago Tribune reports:

In one of the biggest strikes in Chicago's history against the mob, federal authorities today began rounding up alleged organized crime figures—including outfit boss Joseph "The Clown" Lombardo—in connection with a string of 18 unsolved murders and one attempted murder dating back to 1970.

In the culmination of what officials dubbed "Operation Family Secrets," a federal racketing indictment unsealed this morning took direct aim at Chicago's three dominant mob chapters: The Grand Avenue crew of Lombardo; the Melrose Park crew of brothers Jimmy and Michael Marcello, and the 26th Street crew of imprisoned mobsters Frank Calabrese Sr. and his brother, Nicholas, who has turned mob informant.

Just whose name came up at the Family Secrets Trial as an unindicted co-conspirator of the massive racketeering enterprise? Chicago Alderman Fred Roti. Alderman Roti was named by the Justice Department on pages 27 and 47 of this civil racketeering indictment as a "high ranking made member" of The Chicago Mob.

Roti was no ordinary member, his job was to hijack Chicago's City Council which he did for 23 years. The Chicago Tribune explained how Alderman Roti ran Chicago's City Council in 1982:

Roti has placed nearly as many city employees on the payroll as the city personnel department,and many of them are his own family members...Roti's name is always called first during council roll calls, and he revels in that privilege. His initial response gives other administration alderman their cue as to what Roti-and, therefore, the mayor-wants. It's often said that roll calls could stop after Roti votes-the outcome is already known. Roti,an affable fellow, controls the Chicago City Council with an iron fist.

What could be more frightening than a "made member" of the Mob hijacking America's third largest city? Alderman Roti decided he wanted to ban guns in Chicago so honest citizens couldn't fight back against Chicago's Mob.

The Roti family's union power goes back to two late organized-crime figures, Ald. Fred B. Roti and Chicago Outfit boss Anthony Accardo, according to union investigators.

Bruno and "Toots" Caruso are nephews of Roti. The three were among 47 men identified by the FBI in 1999 as "made" members of the mob. "Made" mobsters, according to the report, pledge loyalty to the Outfit "and would carry this oath of commitment and silence to the grave."

If you take a oath to a racketeering enterprise you can't be serving the "public interest" of the citizens of Chicago. This means every ordinance that Alderman Roti voted on between 1968 and 1991 has the potential to be part of a racketeering enterprise. Which,of course,includes Chicago's gun ban.
So it's not misguided innocence.

It's not a philosophical difference of opinion.

It's a deliberate criminal enterprise designed to disarm you for the benefit of predators.

There it is, in black and white.

The need to be armed and suspicious of government motives is no crazy conspiracy theory anymore.

And President Obama came out of that very same corrupt Chicago political machine.

New "Hey, Shipwreck" Video

The 7th episode of Season 2 of the submarine-themed space video series "Hey, Shipwreck" has been posted over at TubeDaze. Here it is:

Rickover Stories Needed

I got an E-mail from a middle schooler, thusly:
I'm an 8th grader and live in Eau Claire Wisconsin. I'm doing a project in school on an individual in history and I chose Admiral Rickover. I was wondering if you could post a blog on your site asking people to donate any stories or recollections about the Admiral. I would appreciate it very much. I realize that this is not the purpose of your blog but I thought that other people might find the recollections interesting as well as being useful to myself.
Actually, this is exactly the purpose of this blog, so I'm glad to help. What are your best stories, either from direct knowledge or scuttlebutt, about the KOG?

Snowy Weapons Move

Check out this photo of a Mk 48 torpedo offload on USS Annapolis (SSN 760) in Groton last month:

That looks cold. What're the worst conditions you've ever seen for a weapons move?

Chinese, Russian 2008 Sub Patrols Revealed

I'm running late for work, so I'll just post some excerpts from an article that hit the wire this morning:
China nearly doubled the number of patrols by its fleet of attack submarines last year, surpassing Russia but still far behind the United States, the Federation of American Scientists reported Tuesday.
The report, based on declassified information provided by US naval intelligence, said Chinese attack submarines conducted 12 patrols in 2008, compared to seven in 2007, two in 2006 and none in 2005.
"While the increase in submarine patrols is important, it has to be seen in comparison with the size of the Chinese submarine fleet," said Hans Kristensen, director of the organization's nuclear information project.
"With approximately 54 submarines, the patrol rate means that each submarine on average goes on patrol once every four and a half years," he said.
The patrols may have been carried out by just the most modern and capable types of submarines in the Chinese fleet, the report said, noting that a new class of nuclear-powered Shang-class attack submarines is replacing the aging Han-class...
..."The patrol rate of the US attack submarine fleet, which is focused on long-range patrols and probably operate regularly near the Chinese coast, is much higher with each submarine conducting at least one extended patrol per year," it said.
"But the Chinese patrol rate is higher than that of the Russian navy, which in 2008 conducted only seven attack submarine patrols, the same as in 2007," it said.
China has yet to conduct a single patrol by a ballistic missile submarine, according to the report.
Here's the FAS report on which the article was based. So what do you think? Are we right to be worried about rival submarine forces that are, basically, operating at the junior varsity level right now?

Twenty Years Ago Today

I just realized it's February 3rd; that means that 20 years ago today, I graduated from OCS in Newport with class 89001 and was commissioned an Ensign in the U. S. Navy. For some reason, it doesn't seem like it's been that long...

Free Breakfast!

My sons are getting up early this morning to go to the Denny's "free Grand Slam breakfast" promotion today with their high school "crew" -- I predict chaos. Luckily, they've got a back-up plan to offer rain checks to people who can't get served.

What's your favorite story of free giveaways that ended up causing more hate and discontent than anything else?

Update 0559 04 Feb: It looks like they handled the rush without too many problems. My family had a really good time when they went.

Some Amusing Videos

Happy baby in time-lapsed play -- hilarious:

Extreme basejumping with wingsuits -- thrilling and amazing:

wingsuit base jumping from Ali on Vimeo.

Of course, we don't get to see the valley floor, littered with all the experimental wingsuits that didn't quite work...

Polywell Fusion Moving Forward

In mid-December it was reported:
The experiment, funded by the U.S. Navy, was aimed at verifying some interesting results that the late physicist Robert Bussard coaxed out of a high-voltage inertial electrostatic contraption known as WB-6. (The "WB" stands for Wiffle Ball, which describes the shape of the device and its magnetic field.)

An EMC2 team headed by Los Alamos researcher Richard Nebel (who's on leave from his federal lab job) picked up the baton from Bussard and tried to duplicate the results. The team has turned in its final report, and it's been double-checked by a peer-review panel, Nebel told me today. Although he couldn't go into the details, he said the verdict was positive.

"There's nothing in there that suggests this will not work," Nebel said. "That's a very different statement from saying that it will work."

By and large, the EMC2 results fit Bussard's theoretical predictions, Nebel said. That could mean Polywell fusion would actually lead to a power-generating reaction. But based on the 10-month, shoestring-budget experiment, the team can't rule out the possibility that a different phenomenon is causing the observed effects.

"If you want to say something absolutely, you have to say there's no other explanation," Nebel said. The review board agreed with that conservative assessment, he said.

The good news, from Nebel's standpoint, is that the WB-7 experiment hasn't ruled out the possibility that Polywell fusion could actually serve as a low-cost, long-term energy solution. "If this thing was absolutely dead in the water, we would have found out," he said.
Nebel and his colleagues have already drawn up a plan for the next step: an 18-month program to build and test a larger fusor prototype. "We're shopping that around inside the DOD [Department of Defense], and we'll see what happens," he said.

Nebel said some private-sector ventures are also interested in what EMC2 is up to, and that may suggest a backup plan in case the Pentagon isn't interesting in following up on WB-7.

For the time being, Nebel said his five-person team is getting by on some small-scale contracts from the Defense Department (including these three). "I've got enough to cover the people we've got, and that's about it," he said. "What we're doing with these contracts is trying to get prepared for the next step."

He's also waiting to see what the Obama administration will bring. Will the White House support EMC2's low-cost, under-the-radar fusion research program alongside ITER and the National Ignition Facility? "We just don't know," Nebel said.
See earlier posts here and here for background.

Real Scientists Repenting on Human Global Warming Fraud

Well well well, the now-retired NASA supervisor of James Hansen, the researcher who has made a 20-year career out of hyping global warming (and who is known to be VERY sloppy with his data), is slamming his former colleague.

In an e-mail to the U.S. Senate Committee for the Environment and Public Works, Dr. John S. Theon writes:
I was, in effect, Hansen’s supervisor because I had to justify his funding, allocate his resources, and evaluate his results. I did not have the authority to give him his annual performance evaluation. He was never muzzled even though he violated NASA’s official agency position on climate forecasting (i.e., we did not know enough to forecast climate change or mankind's effect on it). He thus embarrassed NASA by coming out with his claims of global warming in 1988 in his testimony before Congress.

My own belief concerning anthropogenic climate change is that the models do not realistically simulate the climate system [That is true. --ed.] because there are many very important sub-grid scale processes that the models either replicate poorly or completely omit. Furthermore, some scientists have manipulated the observed data to justify their model results. In doing so, they neither explain what they have modified in the observations, nor explain how they did it. They have resisted making their work transparent so that it can be replicated independently by other scientists. This is clearly contrary to how science should be done. Thus there is no rational justification for using climate model forecasts to determine public policy.

That's a scathing indictment.

Dr. Theon states:
As Chief of several NASA Hq. Programs (1982-94), an SES position, I was responsible for all weather and climate research in the entire agency, including the research work by James Hansen, Roy Spencer, Joanne Simpson, and several hundred other scientists at NASA field centers, in academia, and in the private sector who worked on climate research.
So he knows of what he speaks.

Hansen, on the other hand, has publicly called for those questioning human-caused global warming to be put on trial for crimes against humanity.

Is that science, or Stalinism?

MOre are speaking out against him. In Launch Magazine, NASA physicist and Apollo 7 astronaut Walter Cunningham writes:
NASA should be at the forefront in the collection of scientific evidence and debunking the current hysteria over human-caused, or Anthropogenic Global Warming (AGW). Unfortunately, it is becoming just another agency caught up in the politics of global warming, or worse, politicized science. Advocacy is replacing objective evaluation of data, while scientific data is being ignored in favor of emotions and politics.
It doesn’t help that NASA scientist James Hansen was one of the early alarmists claiming humans caused global warming. Hansen is a political activist who spreads fear even when NASA’s own data contradict him.

Warming in the upper atmosphere should occur before any surface warming effect, but NASA’s own data show that has not been happening. Global temperature readings—accurate to 0.1 degree Celsius—are gathered by orbiting satellites. Interestingly, in the 18 years those satellites have been recording global temperatures, they have actually shown a slight decrease in average temperatures.
Cunningham goes on to review how hard data does NOT support human-caused global warming claims, and that given how thin our atmosphere is, the greenhouse effect is nearly maxed-out already -- which is why most of the time historically the Earth is actually a frozen ball of ice!
When former NASA mathematician Ferenc Miskolczi pointed out that “greenhouse warming” may be mathematically impossible, NASA would not allow him to publish his work. Miskolczi dared to question the simplifying assumption in the warming model that the atmosphere is infinitely thick. He pointed out that when you use the correct thickness—about 65 miles—the greenhouse effect disappears! Ergo: no AGW. Miskolczi resigned in disgust and published his proof in the peerreviewed Hungarian journal Weather.

For nearly a decade now, there has been no global warming. Even though atmospheric CO2 has continued to accumulate—up about 4 percent in the last 10 years—the global mean temperature has remained flat. That should raise obvious questions about CO2 being the cause of climate change.
In the face of overwhelming evidence for natural temperature variation, proponents of AGW are resorting to a precautionary argument: “We must do something just in case we are responsible, because the consequences are too terrible if we are to blame and do nothing.” They hope to stampede government entities into committing huge amounts of money before their fraud is completely exposed—before science and truth save the day.
Make no mistake, cap-and-trade is just a massive wealth re-distribution fraud.
The reality is that atmospheric CO2 has a minimal impact on greenhouse gases and world temperature. Water vapor is responsible for 95 percent of the greenhouse effect. CO2 contributes just 3.6 percent, with human activity responsible for only 3.2 percent of that. [In other words, one one-thousandth of the effect, or 0.1%, at best. --ed.] That is why some studies claim CO2 levels are largely irrelevant to global warming.
But wait, there's more!

The scientific tide is changing, even as the political clamor to be irrational grows; according to the Senate EPW site:
The prestigious International Geological Congress, dubbed the geologists' equivalent of the Olympic Games, was held in Norway in August 2008 and prominently featured the voices of scientists skeptical of man-made global warming fears. Reports from the conference found that Skeptical scientists overwhelmed the meeting, with '2/3 of presenters and question-askers hostile to, even dismissive of, the UN IPCC' (See full reports here & here).
the U.S. public has grown ever more skeptical of man-made climate doom predictions. [See: Global warming ranks dead last, 20 out of 20 in new Pew survey, and Survey finds majority of U.S. Voters - '51% — now believe that humans are not the predominant cause of climate change' - January 20, 2009 - Rasmussen Reports]
Can't fool all of the people all of the time! Indeed, as 9% "aren't sure" about global warming, only 41% blame humans -- which is a 9% drop since last July!

So in spite of the propaganda from the MSM, people are finding the truth in droves. How? The internet. For example, blogger Tom Nelson has been publishing very interesting graphs, which you can scroll through here. A few of my favorites are below.

The upshot is:
-- The sun is very important in driving temperature changes
-- Solar activity decreased rapidly from 1650-1700, starting the Mini Ice Age, and then increased from 1950-2000 back to medieval levels
-- Atmospheric CO2 has been MUCH higher in the past, and temperature has been all over the place
-- The "climate models" failed to predict the decrease in temperature we've seen over the last 10 years
-- James Hansen, rather than being muzzled, has been an outspoken alarmist to whom the MSM has given a sympathetic ear