Reality has a way of ventually breaking through pretenses. An interesting flurry of disillusionment with leftism in general and Obama in particular is taking place.

Item: How to Become an Accidental Conservative
In an excerpt from his new book, SPIEGEL editor Jan Fleischhauer describes his childhood in a typical West German liberal family, with parents who wouldn't let him eat oranges because they were grown in countries ruled by dictators, and his coming out as a late conservative.

I am part of a generation in Germany that knows no other reality than the dominance of the left. Everyone was a liberal where I grew up.
The way we were supposed to feel about conservatives was obvious. They were either deeply reactionary, because they refused to accept progress, or dangerously narrow-minded. In other words, they were either despicable or pitiful characters.
Go to any theater, museum or open-air concert, and you'll quickly realize that ideas beyond the mindscape of the left are unwelcome there. A contemporary play that doesn't critically settle scores with the market economy? Unthinkable. An artist who, until George W. Bush left the White House, could associate anything with America other than Guantanamo, Abu Ghraib and the Washington's refusal to sign the Kyoto Protocol? Out of the question. Rock concerts against the left? A joke.

The left has won, across the board, and has become the happy medium. When we search for a definition of what left means, we can draw on an impressive array of theories. Leftism is a worldview, as well as a way of explaining the world and how everything is interconnected. Most of all, however, it is a feeling. A person who lives a leftist life is living with the appealing awareness of being in the right, in fact, being right all the time. In Germany, leftists are never truly called upon to justify their views. In fact, their views have become the dominant views, not within the population, which stubbornly adheres to its prejudices, but among those who set the tone and in circles where they prefer to congregate.
Members of this social class are critical of the market economy, and yet are unable to specify an alternative. In their view, the current economic crisis is a gift from God, because it provides perfect fodder for all kinds of prejudices and practically eliminates the need for argument. All it takes is to mention words like "Deutsche Bank" or "Wall Street" in any discussion in which someone has dared to voice a cautious objection, and everyone standing around will quickly nod their heads in agreement, causing the troublemaker to withdraw, while mumbling apologies. In secret, however, they hope that this crisis of capitalism will not progress too far, because their own prosperity depends on capitalism and because, for the past 150 years, no one has been able to demonstrate that a comfortable retirement was not [im]possible under good old Karl Marx.

I missed the connection at some point. I don't know when it happened. There wasn't a specific day or incident that turned me off to the left. I cannot even claim that I consciously distanced myself. It just happened. Suddenly I no longer found it amusing to listen to constant jokes about the physiognomy of (former Chancellor Helmut) Kohl. I realized that I was relieved when my sons converted the puppet theater my father-in-law and I had built for them into a parking garage. When the discussion turned to the uselessness of marriage and family, I was the one who was secretly rooting for every married couple, hoping it would last as long as possible. Once, at a party, I even dared to put in a good word for nuclear energy during a conversation about climate change. It immediately put a damper on the evening.
I have since learned to go on the offensive with my conservatism. In fact, sometimes I even have the courage to address prejudices head-on. We recently invited a couple we have known for a long time, but with whom we had fallen somewhat out of touch, over to our house. He became a law professor at a university in eastern Germany not too long ago, and she promotes golf courses. The conversation quickly turned to the last Michael Moore film, and our friend suddenly claimed that the film could not be shown throughout the entire Midwest of the United States. He made it sound as if Moore were some French auteur filmmaker who was finally holding up a mirror to the Americans, which they couldn't abide.

I had a pretty clear idea of how the conversation would continue, and I knew that I would be upset with myself afterwards, once again, because I hadn't challenged him decisively enough. "To make it brief, because we'll get to this point anyway," I heard myself saying: "No, I don't believe that the CIA was behind the Sept. 11 attacks, and yes, we liked living in America." He was quiet, we drank our tea, and the two said their goodbyes before long. I was shocked by what I had said, but also a little proud of myself.
And at the American Thinker, we have a Letter of Amends from a Recovering Liberal in Berkeley, by "Robin of Berkeley", a psychotherapist:
Dear friends, family, loved ones, conservatives, Republicans, libertarians, my brother in law, Sam, and my cousin Joe: I am sorry and you were right.

These are not easy words for anyone to utter, much less a leftist from Berkeley, or a recovering leftist, that is. Even though I've been in recovery for 14 months, 2 weeks, and 3 days, leftists are always right in your face, in an I-hate-you-if-you-disagree sort of way. Hence, this letter of amends to all the people I've lectured, scolded, ranted and raved at, and otherwise annoyed during my 30 plus years of "progressive" politics.
Much like the revelation of the editor of Spiegel, Robin of Berkeley's transformation began with a realization that leftism was not interested in reasoned debate, but in social coercion, and that it was logically incoherent:
How did I go from a rabid, sanctimonious liberal whom you steadfastly avoided at family gatherings to a fan of Limbaugh, Hannity, and Savage? Recovery encourages us to share our story, so here's mine:

In February of 2008, I saw a new client, a bright and sensitive young woman who came in looking like she just escaped a war zone. In some ways she had; she had innocently shared with others at her job that she voted for Hillary rather than Obama. Immediately she was being targeted for abuse that put her in fear for not only her job, but her life.

We both suddenly became aware that something had grown really dark in the Democratic Party. I started hearing about many other incidents where loyal Democrats were being physically and emotionally threatened for supporting Hillary. A woman in Berkeley had her front window broken because it displayed a poster of Hillary. Randi Rhodes, an Air America talk show leftist, called Hillary a f______ witch. (Rhodes was recently promoted to a national talk radio show, illustrating another disturbing trend: the deafening silence about what Rush Limbaugh has dubbed the new "thug-ocracy.)

An acquaintance had her car broken into, and the only item stolen was a NoObama bumper sticker. A South Park episode featured an episode where a nuclear weapon was being aimed at Hillary's genitals. My local greeting card store sold very flattering cards about Obama, insulting ones about Hillary, and a Hillary "nutcracker." When I complained, the young male manager literally laughed in my face.

Things went from bad to worse when Sarah Palin entered the scene. When Geraldine Ferraro ran for Vice President, there was no debasement of her character, no sexual threats. But with Palin, a full scale "wilding" ensued that chillingly reminded me of the random sexual attacks on women by gangs of men in New York. She was called every vile name in the book by both male and female liberals.

Actress Sarah Bernhardt hoped a gang of black males would rape her. When Palin's church was torched with children inside, the press was missing in action (somehow I imagine the press would have been all over this if Obama's church were torched). Not only was the misogyny disgusting, but the classism was abhorrent. The Democrats, by ridiculing Palin's voice and her education, were acting like arrogant snobs. The party had changed, I had changed, and the differences looked irreconcilable.

The final straw for me was when a close friend flew into a rage at me when she learned I wasn't supporting Obama. The political became personal when she began impugning my character. Worse yet, she tried to intimidate me into changing my mind by threatening to dump me.

Suddenly a light went on. The peace and love and flower power of the old left was dead and gone (if it even existed to begin with except in my imagination). The Democrats had morphed into a power hungry Thought Police, and I was done with them. My new motto in life: don't PC on me.
Robin of Berkeley follows up with How to Deprogram a Liberal, well worth a read! We see the similar thread of indoctrination:
I wasn't just your garden variety liberal who voted Democrat and that was about it. I was a true believer. A zealot. Like many leftists who had abandoned Judeo-Christian religion, I worshipped at the altar of liberalism. For instance, I never missed watching the Democratic National Convention. I watched every speech, with tissue box handy. (What kind of a freak was I anyway?) The Democratic Party symbolized hope, love, compassion, promise, everything that was good and holy in the world. I gave money, my time, my heart, my soul. I cried with joy when Democrats won; I was distraught when they lost.

I was programmed from birth to be a devout liberal. My dad, a hard working first generation Russian Jew, would lecture me on a regular basis, "The Democrats are the party of the little people. The Republicans are the party of the rich guy." He would also get a little weepy when he watched the DNC (so that must be where I got it from). One of our rare moments of bonding was reading the newspapers together on opposite ends of the couch, interrupting each other with stories about the bad Republicans and the heroic Democrats.
Robin sees the light:
To my disbelief, the more I listened and read, the more these folks made sense. For instance, at first I couldn't understand why so many conservatives expressed concern about morality issues, like gay marriage. Berkeley is Lesbian Central, and I know many good hearted gay people. But the more I learned, the more I started getting the larger picture; that conservatives were not necessarily impugning the character of gay people, but they were alarmed at the breakdown of traditional values. If the basic structure of society goes, e.g., traditional marriage, religion, patriotism, common language, what remains? If everything becomes fluid, what is there to hold onto? Without any moral structure and traditions, a society descends into anarchy and mob rule, as it is clearly doing today.

As I educated myself, I started thinking and rethinking. I'd wake up in the middle of the night with the sudden realization that deeply held beliefs made no sense. Take the anti war stance of the left. Noble and sanctimonious and all that. But how easy it is to sit back and preach peace when you have an army defending you; to rail against the U.S. when you are protected by free speech laws; to demonize Israel, when you've never lived through the murderous pogroms of Tsarist Russia or the Holocaust. How hypocritical to lambast Big Business while you are making money from their stocks in your mutual fund portfolio (that is, until Obama took over). And how ludicrous to admire Chavez, Castro and all things socialist, when the closest experience you've had to standing on a bread line is queuing up for goat cheese/arugula pizza at Whole Foods.

And this love affair with Radical Islam -- what's up with that? I had previously thought of Islam as a quaint, folksy religion. But when I started actually reading about it, especially Dr. Phyllis Chesler's illuminating books and web site, I realized extremist Muslims were advocating some seriously scary stuff, like destroying Israel and the West. I had been oblivious of the horrendous treatment of women: the honor killings, beheadings, genital mutilation. It now seemed like the height of naivety, if not masochism, to embrace with open arms people who want to kill you. While as a liberal I was socialized to believe everyone was good, all cultures were the same, and We Are The World, We Are The Children, I began to understand that evil exists. The emergence of evil always offers warnings signs, and we ignore them at our peril.
In an even juicier item, the despicable far-left "cartoonist" Ted Rall (see this link for some examples of his "wit") is now "disillusioned" with Obama -- not that Rall has become rational and seen the reason behind conservative positions, but that he at least now knows that Obama is a charlatan. Indeed, Rall calls Obama a "monster"!
We expected broken promises. But the gap between the soaring expectations that accompanied Barack Obama’s inauguration and his wretched performance is the broadest such chasm in recent historical memory. This guy makes Bill Clinton look like a paragon of integrity and follow-through. …

Obama is useless. Worse than that, he’s dangerous. Which is why, if he has any patriotism left after the thousands of meetings he has sat through with corporate contributors, blood-sucking lobbyists and corrupt politicians, he ought to step down now — before he drags us further into the abyss.
Belmont provides more insight to Rall's disillusion:
Then we learn a piece of information which almost explains it all. Mr. Rall has been laid off. Editor and Publisher reports:

“I’ve been laid off,” reads the headline on the blog of cartoonist Ted Rall, president of the Association of American Editorial Cartoonists. Rall, an editorial cartoonist for Universal Press Syndicate, has served as editor of acquisitions and development at United Media for the past two years. “My job was finding new talent — comic strip artists, columnists and writers of puzzles — to syndicate to newspapers,” Rall writes on his blog. “Considering the circumstances, I enjoyed remarkable success. … I am proud of what I accomplished.”

Transterrestrial Musings delivers a kick to Rall while he’s down. “It’s actually a sign of how good the economy has been for the last several years that a talentless hack like him could make a living in it.” Meaning that Rall had a job under George W. Bush and he ain’t got one now. Personally I think that the assumption that one was a function of the other is at the core of Rall’s disillusion. Perhaps the phrase “I’m from the government and I’m here to help you,” is a phrase that Mr. Rall misunderstood by taking it at face value. In the coming days, in areas ranging from the economy to foreign affairs to national security, how many people will confess themselves to being as they say, the last to know?
Oh, the schadenfreude...but before we get too deep in it, Belmont Club warns:
But its sobering to realize that every proof that Rall was wrong to support Obama will necessarily be another increment of public pain; job loss, fear or uncertainty. In a way keeping Ted Rall company is like being on a dinosaur island with someone who took you there believing it was a petting zoo. As the rustling in the bushes comes closer and hearing him loudly complain that nobody told him that t-rexes were meat eaters, you want to laugh; indeed it might almost be worth it even if in the end you know that the joke is on you.
Indeed. But otherwise, people would never learn, having things so good.

The blog The Other McCain quips, If Obama's lost Ted Rall, he's lost un-America
It is my firm belief that Reagan's background as an ex-Democrat, a labor union leader, and indeed something of a commie dupe, accounted for his tremendous courage and clarity as a conservative leader. He not only knew what ideas he was opposing, but he had some insight into the sentiments and character of the people he opposed.

I've described the Democratic Party as the Evil Coalition of Liars and Fools. Reagan had been one of those fools, and he possessed a very canny understanding of the liars who had misled him into believing in that progressive mirage.

Progressives are utopians, and it is important to remember that Thomas More coined the word "utopia" from Greek roots, so that the meaning of the word is, "nowhere."

The progressive is marching down the road to nowhere, seeking an objective that does not actually exist and can never exist. The progressive claims to cherish liberty and equality, yet supports a policy agenda that, if fully implemented, would annihilate liberty and render the great bulk of men the servants of a political elite.

Claiming to be humanitarian idealists, progressives in fact have succumbed to a form of malignant narcissism that compels them to pursue their vision -- The Vision of the Anointed, as Thomas Sowell so brilliantly described it -- because it reinforces their presumptions of moral and intellectual superiority.
Even Joe Biden is mocking Obama -- the delivery of this ad-lib quip (see link for video) doesn't sound at all "good natured":
[N]ot content to leave without a jaunty ad lib, Biden noted that heavy winds were gusting through the ceremonies. One of his two teleprompters had toppled over. Alluding to the jokes of Obama’s reliance on the speech-facilitators, Biden added, “What I am going to tell the president when I tell him his teleprompter is broken? What will he do then?”

FY10 CO/XO Screening Results Posted

Blunoz has again posted the results of the most recent submarine CO/XO screening boards here. Congratulations to all those selected! (Even if some of you are people I only remember as NUB-ly students at NPTU who I figured would never be able to do anything right.) To those who weren't selected, remember it's an honored Submarine Force tradition to complain about how the guys who were picked instead of you molest puppies.

Seeing a guy who relieved me from one of my jobs take command of a boat, and getting an invitation for a change of command where one of my old JO shipmates is finishing up his command tour, makes me realize that my generation is finishing up their time in command. Good luck to the next generation coming up the pipe, and remember that we only complain about the way you're messing up because we care!

Israeli Submarine Rescues Swimmer

An unnamed Israeli submarine rescued a swimmer who had been swept out to sea by the tide earlier this week:
The submarine crew spotted the man showing signs of weakness after it came to the surface around five nautical miles (nine kilometers) from Haifa port late Tuesday morning.
The crew raised the man aboard and a medic gave him first aid.
I'm assuming the boat was on the surface when they saw him, although it would have been more dramatic for them to surface near a guy who's thinking he's near the end. Has your boat ever saved anyone in danger of the Perils of the Sea? Or did your boats only use your stealth for Evil (like using the periscope to videotape people engaged in "private" activities on the deck of their boat when they thought no one was around, then showing it to the crew on the mess decks)?

I earlier recounted my best sea story about saving someone at sea here. It involves California jet skiers, so you know it's funny.

Multicultural Poison

Commenters at Belmont Club describe succinctly what is wrong with "multiculturalism":
viktor silo:

A nation is a body of people with common values. From common vales comes common behavior and from that comes a common culture. When a nation of people occupy a common territory we call that territory a country. Under this scenario, nation and country are synonymous.

It is only from a common culture (customs and values) that a form of governance called democracy (the will of the people) can work. From the will of the people will come generally agreed upon and enforcible laws.

Under the “rule of law” no one individual is above the will of the people as enacted in its laws.

The agents of the will of the people make the laws and the judiciary administers said laws.

If the territory devolves from being a single nation (a group of people with common values and occupying a common territory) to a common territory occupied by muliple cultures (value systems), then the laws do not represent the will of the people in the same way as in a common culture.

The laws enacted under a country comprised of multiple cultures do not have the same general authority as those enacted by common culture. These laws tend to be mere expedients to please various political constituencies.

But the people long for a common thread in their governance. So they put their trust in “The Courts.” Within the law, cultural differences are thought to be put aside so that no one culture dominates another capriciously. We are all thought to be equal before the law. Justice is thought to be blind.

Not so, under Obama. He does not even pretend that he wants justice to be blind. He wants the appointees to the court to be very aware of who is standing before them and to make their decisions accordingly.

We are in a process where the judiciary is becoming politicized and it will soon rule the country. The territory will divided into a series of jurisdictions and judges will become de facto oligarchs.

Inevitably, this will lead to a court rationale that the Constitution can be unilaterally amended by the courts.

Obama’s choice of Sonia Sotomayor to fill a vacancy on the Supreme Court is an example of how the court can be corrupted. What is breathtaking is that she is a such a nakedly political appointment. She says as much “being a wise latino woman.” I’m sure Obama would agree that she’s not “typically white.”

Beware Obama. Love him or hate him, he is a force to be reckoned with. Let no one say that Obama has not given notice. His intentions are clear. He thinks the Constitution is flawed and he is impatient. Do not underestimate this man.

May 27, 2009 - 4:51 pm

31. Herb:

Viktor has put his finger precisely into the open sore of Multiculturalism. It grew out of the ward politics of the immigration waves of the late 19th Century and was refined by FDR in the 30’s and carried forward by the Dems for the remainder of the 20th Century. The whole “Immigration Reform” and Bilingualism of the last several years is part of the final push to destroy a common American political culture.

A significant attack came in the latter part of the 20th Century in their attacks on the founders (Jefferson’s child by Hennings, Lincolns alleged homosexuality, all the slave holding)

Obama is the point of the spear. The utterly multicultural. That’s why he seems so unlike the rest of us.

Commie Thugs

Obama closing Chrysler dealerships on the basis of their past political donations?

Data crunching and long list of updates on Dealergate are here.

Dealers closed had given millions to Republicans, but only $200 to Obama.
Lawyer Leonard Bellavia, of Bellavia Gentile & Associates, who represents some of the terminated dealers, said he deposed Chrysler President Jim Press on Tuesday and came away with the impression that Press did not support the plan...

"It became clear to us that Chrysler does not see the wisdom of terminating 25 percent of its dealers," Bellavia said. "It really wasn't Chrysler's decision. They are under enormous pressure from the President's automotive task force."
High sales volume would not save Republican-donating dealerships, but
Large Democrat Donor groups not only remain open in all locations, but have their competition eliminated... and/or can purchase for pennies on the dollar.
Obama administration manipulating the media?
Last Thursday afternoon, for example, the White House invited in journalists, mostly opinion writers, to sell them on the substance of the president’s big speech on Guantanamo and the treatment of detainees.

Unbeknownst to the writers until afterward, they had been divided into two groups, one more centrist with a sprinkling of moderate conservatives, the other more liberal. (I was in the liberal group.) The president made an unscheduled appearance at each briefing. As is his way, he charmed both groups.

The idea, as far as I can determine, was to sell the liberal group on those aspects of Obama’s plan that are a break from George W. Bush’s policies, and to sell the centrist group on the toughness of the president’s approach and the fact that it squares with Bush’s more moderate moves later in his second term…
The smell of "useful idiots" burning in the morning would be pleasant if nor for the fact we are all going down together.

People are already saying:
This country is going to look back on the George W. Bush administration as a golden age of responsibility and integrity.

Utter Failure

Wretchard of Belmont Club opines grimly:
May 27, 2009 - 7:39 am

For whatever reason, and following from the NYT’s article, it seems unlikely that the current administration or anyone else will do anything but nibble at the edges of the problem. Freeze an asset here, make a gesture there, but really do nothing substantive to stop North Korea. I think the basic problem is that we are now looking at a breakout. The final, in-your-face collapse of the nonproliferation regime. Kim Jong Il has just buried Obama’s dream of “a world without nuclear weapons” on the White House lawn.

This is the fundamental crisis. In a little while, perhaps not very long from now, there will be similar challenges. From Iran certainly; and perhaps Pakistan will start selling to all comers. North Korea may start selling to non-state actors. Why not? If they haven’t stopped him at this point, will they do it when he has Tokyo and Honolulu in the crosshairs? The day of the exclusive nuclear club died yesterday. It had been expiring for a long time, but it finally climbed into the grave and shoveled itself in.

With this turn, we may now be palpably closer to the nuclear car bomb. It’s not there yet, but with North Korea on the loose and the sheriff impotent, the danger of nuclear terrorism is no longer unthinkable. One response will be to let the nonproliferation regime collapse entirely. If the US can no longer be counted on to deter the tyrants of the world, then other nations may feel themselves free to do so. And it’s not Kim that did this: the West did it to itself, by progressively undermining it’s authority until it has reached this nadir. It was Kim’s very insignificance that underlined the totality of the collapse. Because if Barack Obama can’t stop the ludicrous madman from a starveling nation from threatening the world, then the system is well and truly broken.


Now whatever anyone thinks of Barack Obama, these are ultimately insults aimed at the United States of America, and indeed at all civilized people. And due to the seriousness of events, there’s no room for gloating, because these maniacs, though ridiculous, can kill. We’re not even into the second hundred days yet and the challenges keep mounting. At some point the West has to pick itself up and act. “Words matter”, but they’re not everything.
The world is changed.

You Make The Call!

Check out this story in today's Idaho Statesman:
The girl told police a man made her get into his car as she walked down Chinden Boulevard about 3:40 p.m. Monday.
She said he drove her to a business on the 4200 block of Chinden where he attacked her. Afterward, he told her to break into a nearby business. She was breaking the window to gain entry when witnesses called the police to report a break-in.
The girl described the man as being between 35 and 40, about 5 feet 5 inches tall, with short brown hair with a grayish tint, a red beard and bad teeth.
Now, I'm no policeman, but I'm betting I can guess what was going through their minds as they heard that story. Which do you think is most likely? That someone forced a girl into his car in the middle of the day on a major thoroughfare, assaulted her, then (somehow) "forced" her to break into a business while he stayed at a safe distance away? Or is it more likely that she got caught breaking into the business, and came up with this story of being abducted, abused, and mind-controlled by Danny Bonaduce on the spur of the moment?

I'm betting on the latter...

Movie Reviews: "Terminator Salvation" And "Star Trek"

The summer mega-movie season is off to a good start, with a couple of good sci-fi movies firing the first promising salvoes: "Terminator Salvation" and the re-imagining of "Star Trek", both starring that famous actor Anton Yelchin.

"Terminator Salvation" came out this week, and I must say it exceeded my expectations. I liked how they used realistic weapons for the human forces -- basically things that were available in our arsenals on "Judgment Day" when the machines launched the nukes under their control. Therefore, you see the punishment-absorbing A-10 Thunderbolt as the primary human air weapon, and they even use a submarine (either a Seawolf- or Virginia-class boat, based on the boot in front of the sail) as a "command center". (For some reason, the submarine has extraneous cables or supports connecting the main deck to the sail, which would be a really bad noise source; however, that's something that only us Submariners would worry about.) They did good job getting us up to speed on the characters and their motivations, and the John Connor character wasn't nearly as annoying and whiny as in previous films in the series. The special effects were good, the new machine weapons were interesting, and the action flowed nicely. Sure, you had to suspend disbelief occasionally (Why didn't the machines wait until they had 2 of the new Terminators to unleash their plan? you'll wonder otherwise) but not as much as in the last couple of movies in the franchise. Overall, it was worth my time to see it, and I give it four ugly-but-effective Warthogs out of five.

I was really, really worried that "Star Trek" was going to suffer from the "odd-numbered movie" curse we've seen in the series to date -- luckily, it avoided that fate completely. Sure, it's kitschy, but that's what Star Trek is supposed to be. It was nice seeing Leonard Nimoy as "Spock Prime", and I thought the casting overall was really good. The changes they made -- Spock acting more human (particularly with respect to random kissing) -- were generally OK, the action sequences were great, and they didn't overdo the use of the "mandatory" classic lines. Sure, there were problems -- the black-hole science was particularly bad, but the only thing that really detracted from enjoying the film for me is the continued problem of how StarFleet does promotions. This one was probably the worst of all -- Kirk goes straight from Cadet to Captain. Sure, it was needed to set up the sequel(s), but it was still distracting. Since that was the only bad problem, and the rest of the film kept me thoroughly entertained and they set it up nicely for sequels, I give it four Warp Core Dumps out of five.

Kooky Local Simpleton Confused By Science, Facts

Kooky Local Simpleton Bryan Fischer, who last month made up the "fact" that the U.S. currently has 15 aircraft carriers (we actually have 11 since USS Kitty Hawk got decommed in January, and haven't had 15 since 1993), yesterday weighed in on the cause of the AIDS epidemic. Here's some of what he said (emphasis mine):
A prominent molecular biologist at Cal-Berkeley has argued for years, persuasively in my mind, that the HIV virus is not in fact the cause of AIDS. It is his theory that AIDS is a result of a combination of sexually transmitted infections and intense drug use among homosexuals which work together to gradually weaken a homosexual’s immune system. (Homosexuals frequently use drugs to heighten and prolong their sexual experiences, particularly relying on “poppers,” consisting of amyl nitrates.) In his view, HIV is a “harmless passenger virus,” meaning that even if a cure for it were found, it would not reduce the incidence of AIDS. Magic Johnson may illustrate this. He was famously diagnosed with the HIV virus 18 years ago, but is in the pink of health today...
Note that this unnamed "prominent molecular biologist" (a German, no big surprise) and Fischer aren't alone in their beliefs; other "AIDS Denialists" include the Foo Fighters and former South African President Mbeki. Other than the obvious scientific evidence, KLS Fischer somehow decided that he was "persuasively" convinced despite the fact that AIDS is spread mostly heterosexually in Africa, where people are unlikely to use "poppers", it would seem. However, since Fischer has had problems with science concepts before, I'm not surprised he's come out on the side of this particular cause. (Maybe Magic is healthy because he takes his drugs?) Normally he would make fun of a philosophy where many adherents have died as a result of their foolish beliefs. When it comes to science, however, he just can't help being wrong. What a kook.

USS Hartford Returns Home

Check out this article from The New London Day, including some good pictures, of the return of USS Hartford (SSN 768) to her homeport of Groton. Excerpts:
But “it was a long ride,” said Hospital Corpsman 1st Class Chris Yaras of Groton, who met his month-old daughter, Ella, for the first time Thursday.
Many of the crew's families were at the base to welcome the Hartford home. Yaras called it “awesome” to be back.
As the corpsman, Yaras treated the injured crew members after the collision. Most had minor cuts and scrapes, he said.
“It was amazing,” he said. “I went from 'I don't think we're going to make it through this to holy cow, there's no one hurt.' ”...
...In July, the Hartford will go to Electric Boat, which has been awarded a $15.8 million contract to restore it to “full service condition,” according to a Defense Department release on Thursday. The work is expected to be completed by October. The formal investigations into the collision are still in the endorsement phase, with senior leaders providing their input. The crew has been given a month off.
Harkins said he will soon turn over command of the Hartford to Cmdr. Robert Dunn, who was serving on the staff of the commander for the Submarine Force Pacific Fleet.
CDR Dunn was my relief as Eng of USS Connecticut (SSN 22) back in 1999; I'm glad to see the Hartford got an officer of his caliber to lead them through this difficult time. I'm also glad to see the crew is getting a standdown; the writer's description of the standdown as "a month off", however, shows that The Day still hasn't quite found a seasoned replacement for writing about military matters since Robert Hamilton left a few years ago.

Submarine JO Transition Blog

Check out The Cyborg Life by a Submarine JO who's getting out next year; it's really a good read. I like the interviews the best.

Happy Armed Forces Day!

The third Saturday in May is designated as Armed Forces Day. Let's hear it for all the services! In celebration, here's a video taken from the bridge of USS Toledo (SSN 769) during a recent media availability:

More videos from the underway can be found here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here and here.

Japanese Admiral "Drives" USS Seawolf

Check out this picture of Japanese Fleet Commander Vice Adm. Tohru Izumi sitting at the Ship's Control Panel of USS Seawolf (SSN 21) while the boat was in port this week:

I think it's great; it's always good to see our allies getting a good look at our most capable class of submarine. (Note that the other Japanese admiral in the shot is the head of their submarine forces.) One reader wrote in to say that the picture kind of gave them "the creeps". I can understand that a little; to explain that, I'll have to explain the one prejudice I have against a national group. I'll come right out and say it... I don't feel comfortable around Germans.

As far as our former enemies from WWII go, I've never really had anything against the Japanese; it seemed to me that they accepted the verdict of the war, and they really have been a good ally since then. The Germans, on the other hand, took losing two World Wars before they came to their senses, and even then we were still adversaries with half the country during the Cold War. None of that history should make me feel badly towards this new generation of Germans, I know... it's just a prejudice that I can't justify. Nevertheless, it exists. When I was stationed in Groton in the early 90s, a German U-boat came over for a visit, and I got to help tour them around the Topeka. This was the first time I had met German military personnel, and I just couldn't help but think about what their grandparents had done. Later on during my Topeka JO tour, we met with Japanese submariners who were visiting San Diego, and I didn't have these bad feelings at all towards them. Later, when I was at CENTCOM during 2003-'04, the German officers had no problems with letting us know how smart they were for not getting involved in Iraq; even the French officers were much better, saying they were sorry their government wasn't acting like a good ally.

So what do you think? I recognize that I'm wrong to feel uncomfortable around Germans for what their grandparents did, but I know that the feelings are real nonetheless. Do any of you feel uncomfortable about being around any of our former enemies? (To avoid too much political debate, please don't say you don't like Mexicans because of what Santa Ana did to the Alamo.)

USS Hawaii Submariner Death Ruled A Suicide

The death of a Submariner assigned to USS Hawaii (SSN 776) last Friday has been ruled a suicide. Excerpts from this article in The New London Day:
Machinist's Mate Third Class John Carlos Rodriguez, who was assigned to the USS Hawaii, died of a gunshot wound to the head, according to the office.
Rodriguez, of Doylestown, Pa., was working early Friday on the pier at the base, said Lt. Patrick Evans, Submarine Group Two public affairs officer.
He was taken to Lawrence & Memorial Hospital in New London around 5 a.m. Friday after the incident. He was pronounced dead at 10:20 a.m., according to the hospital...
...”We grieve with the family,” Rear Adm. Bruce E. Grooms, commander of Submarine Group Two, said Tuesday, calling it an “unfortunate incident.”
”We are investigating what drove this,” Grooms added. “We looked really closely at the climate aboard the submarine, and I can tell you with 100 percent certainty that the boat and the senior leadership are as good as it gets.”
Any loss of a shipmate like this is sad for the Submarine Force, but especially when it happens when the Sailor is at work. Back in 2006, I blogged about how the Submarine Force was studying how to reduce a spike in suicides they'd seen in the 2005-'06 timeframe; I wonder if maybe we need to revisit the lessons learned from then.

(On a Blog Admin note, posting has been light because I switched back to night shift this week, and I'm not as young as I used to be; also, we just got our new computer to replace the one that stopped working last week. Specifically related to this post, any troll should be warned that if you start posting any bizarre theories or ridiculous questions, your comments will be deleted ruthlessly. This isn't the time or place for idiocy.)

Newest Dolphin Scholars Announced

The Dolphin Scholarship Foundation has announced the 30 newly-selected Dolphin Scholars for 2009, including one that is causing great joy here in the Bubblehead household -- our middle child, Robert. (He missed out on being the 1000th Dolphin Scholar by the vagaries of the alphabet.) If you'd like to see what a Washington State University-bound Dolphin Scholar (and National Merit Scholar) looks like in his natural environment, check out this video:

Actually, his room doesn't normally look like that; the memos strewn around his walls and ceilings are part of the answer his Prom date gave to him. (He had asked her to Prom by giving her a "Jump To Conclusions" mat on which all the answers were some form of "Yes".) I'm still not sure if these complicated date invitation rituals are limited to the LDS community, or if it's spread throughout the rest of society. All I know is I never had to go through any of this back in the early 80s.

USS Annapolis Video From The Arctic

Here's a video that the wardroom of USS Annapolis (SSN 760) made for the USNA Submarine Birthday Ball this year while the submarine was in the Arctic for ICEX:

Have you ever participated in making a PSA or "Spirit Spot" on your boat?

Do Our Dolphins Have Names?

An old shipmate turned me on to this discussion thread from last year over at the forums. It claims that the names of our dolphins on our warfare insignia are "Castor" and "Pollux", the Gemini Twins and patron of Sailors:
I've been trying to figure this one out for a few months now, and am having no luck at all. Here's the story behind it:
About a year ago, a junior guy in my division was at his submarine pin qual board, and was asked, "What are the names of the two dolphins on the warfare pin?" He had no clue, and at the time, neither did I. I mentioned it to my wife, and she (on her own) searched online for 3 hours and actually found the answer. He checked with the board members and they agreed. Several other chiefs on baord concurred as well with the names "Pollux and Castor" (aka the Gemini Twins).
Now, here's my problem. Ever since then, nobody I know seems to know WHERE the two dolphins are ever mentioned as to having names. Some even say it was an "urban legend."
Does anyone out there happen to know this? My guess is some kind of Naval History and Traditions book, but I'm stumped.
The discussion goes on and provides some pretty good history of the Submarine Warfare insignia, as well as a link to all the old "All Hands" magazines. They never did end up determining where to find an actual authoritative source for the claim.

Do any commenters here have any idea if this claim is correct or not?

New NUPOC Video And Blog

The NUPOC (Nuclear Power Officer Candidate) program recruiters an interesting blog, and well as a fairly humorous video up on YouTube:

It's nice to see the Navy embracing the technology of the 21st century.

"Tasmanian Swine Flu"

As the media and Vice President hysterically flog calmly discuss the new Swine Flu "epidemic", us Submariners can think back to the times that horrible diseases swept through our boats. (As all Submariners know, there's no place more conducive to the spread of disease that the close confines of a submarine underway.)

Back on the good ship USS Topeka (SSN 754) during our '92-'93 WestPac/Arabian Gulf deployment, we had a last liberty call in Hobart, Tasmania -- in my opinion, the absolute best liberty port in the world, because the people genuinely liked American Sailors. We picked up a new crew member and headed towards home via the realm of the Golden Shellback. Since we had an ORSE scheduled prior to our return to port, we planned to spend the whole transit working up for the inspection. Unfortunately, the new crew member had brought aboard what we ended up dubbing the "Tasmanian Swine Flu" -- a really virulent form of the dreaded "double-header disease" (the one where you're puking and crapping liquid simultaneously and violently) and it spread through the crew quickly. We were lucky that we never ended up with only one person at a watchstation; it had you down for about three days, and about a third of the crew was off the watchbill with it at any time, but we always had enough people to stay port and starboard. Our CO, "He Who Must Not Be Named", somehow used his powers of Evil to stave off the disease until the deployment was over, at the cost of coming down with a 10 day version of it as soon as we returned to port.

What horrible / humorous epidemics have you experienced on a submarine?