State of the Union (and Response) 2012

Obama's State of the Union speech on Tuesday 1/24/12, and the Republican response from Mitch Daniels, are still being dissected and discussed. I've discussed it elsewhere (including at one of LA's Drinking Liberally chapters), but might as well weigh in here, characteristically long and late, and also more personally and profanely than usual. (Lucky you.)CBS News has the video and full text of

International Holocaust Remembrance Day 2012: Jew-Hunting Fun for the Whole Family

(Photos from BoardGameGeek of the board game "Juden Raus!")This year for International Holocaust Remembrance Day, I wanted to look at a Nazi-era board game titled Juden Raus! (Jews Out!) It was not made or marketed by the Nazis themselves, but the game company thought it would sell well in the climate of the time. The Wiener Library for the Study of the Holocaust & Genocide in London has a copy

Etta James – "At Last"

RIP. This is the obvious pick, but there's a reason this is her most famous song. Then there's her duet with Mike Finnigan, "You Gonna Make Me Cry."

"Paperwork To Follow..."

A reader writes:
Joel, have you ever done a post on your "favorite" PM, maintenance or "fix" done on the Boat?
I'm sure we have, but can't remember exactly when, so it was probably a while back. The E-mail got me thinking about the most memorable "midnight maintenance" that I was involved in as a JO, but everything I thought about had too much NNPI to share here. As Engineer, of course, my job was to decide when to trust my guys to do the right thing and choose to work on paperwork in my stateroom during the critical repair efforts rather than monitoring on scene.

What are your favorite stories of submarine maintenance that maybe you wouldn't have wanted surveilled by ORSE or TRE?

Tony Blankley, Civility and the State of Political Discourse

English-born conservative political commentator, former Newt Gingrich press secretary and former child actor Tony Blankley died of stomach cancer on January 7th, 2010, at the age of 63. I'll modify what I wrote elsewhere. I was sorry to hear this. Blankley was a regular on Left, Right and Center (produced by one of my local NPR stations, KCRW) and I heard him often. He was more moderate there

Election Rituals

Election coverage has a number of silly rituals and tropes. NYU journalism professor and media critic Jay Rosen at PressThink has a great piece up called "A Viewer’s Guide to Iowa Caucus Coverage" (1/3/12). Some of it pertains exclusively to the Iowa Caucus completed two weeks ago, but much of it applies to election coverage in general. His key point is:The Iowa Caucuses are presented as a

The Peach Kings – "Thieves and Kings"

The SOPA/PIPA Protests

If you went on the internet tubes at all yesterday, you probably saw that Google, Wikipedia and many other sites protested the SOPA and PIPA acts, and provided readers information about contacting their members of Congress. On one level, this battle has involved competing corporations, but their positions have not been equally valid, and smaller entities and bloggers has overwhelmingly opposed

New Submarine Force Initiatives

Word on the street is that some of the higher-ups have been talking about splitting the submarine officer path into two separate tracks: SSN/SSGN and SSBN. The idea seems to be that someone taking command of one of America's most important national security assets should have the maximum possible experience operating said asset before becoming Captain. The addition of female officers to the mix adds another issue, since they would likely choose the SSBN path (with SSNs unavailable to them for the foreseeable future) and they'd lose the SSGN platform.

Another initiative, more highly publicized, has been getting the input of younger officers and enlisted men into the design of the submarine control system interfaces through the TANG ("Tactical Advancement for the Next Generation) program. Here's a video about the program:

What do you think about these two new initiatives?

MLK Day 2012

In previous years for Martin Luther King Day, I've featured King's words and other civil rights material (see the "MLK" category below). This year, I wanted to at least link a few pieces focused on MLK himself (along with the Guantanamo piece). It's sometimes startling to remember he was only 39 when he was assassinated. Democracy Now ran "Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in His Own Words."Rick

Guantánamo at Ten

This past Wednesday, 1/11/12, marks the ten-year anniversary of the first prisoners' arrival to Guantánamo Bay. The American facility at Guantánamo remains a shameful stain on our national honor. The facility itself isn't as important as what went on there – torture and abuse, and prisoners known to be innocent being held for years – and what's still going on there – the indefinite "detention"

The Sea Is A Cruel Mistress

Normally, when one reads about a ship running aground or colliding with another ship, a mariner will think something along the lines of "There but for the grace of God go I".

The wreck of the Costa Concordia off the Italian coast does not seem to be one of those times, and serves once again as a reminder that a well-trained crew and well-maintained ship are the best defense against the dangers of the sea. I'm sure the inquiry will provide more information about how exactly the crew screwed up, but initial reports sure make it seem like this tragedy could have easily been avoided.

Update 17 Jan, 1523: It looks like there's proof that the "captain" left the ship before the evacuation was completele and, basically, behaved like a complete coward. I'm normally not a fan of piling on, but if it turns out this guy did what they're claiming he did, I'd be all for the maximum public humiliation. A ship's captain gets a lot of nice things, but it comes at the price of possibly having to stay with your sinking ship if there are people still onboard. Someone who voluntarily signs up for the bennies without being willing to pay the possible piper is among the lowest of the low in my book.

"Boogah Man" – The Phantom Blues Band

"Phantom Blues Band in the first music video from their new record, Inside Out. Group members are Tony Braunagel, Mike Finnegan, Larry Fulcher, Darrell Leonard, Johnny Lee Schell, and Joe Sublett."

CAPT Robert Nestlerode (1951-2012)

Retired Captain Robert Nestlerode, former CO of USS Birmingham (SSN 695) and Submarine Base New London (among other commands) passed away on Saturday.

Captain Nestlerode was one of the good guys; in my interactions with him, he was always professional while still having a great sense of humor; he was a mentor and a leader in the best sense of both words. Sailor, Rest Your Oar.

iVIP Tour

Why, yes, that is the actress from iCarly looking into Tube #1 aboard USS Hartford (SSN 768) today:

The cast of the Nickelodeon show was at SUBASE NLON today for an advanced screening of their upcoming episode that talks about how kids can provide support for U.S. military families. More pictures from the visit are here.

 What's the funniest lie you've ever told a VIP tourer on your boat?

Occupy the Hunger Games

A few friends kept raving about The Hunger Games trilogy, a series for young adults by Suzanne Collins, so I checked it out. It's well done, certainly markedly superior to what little I've read of the Twilight series (ouch). The first book is the strongest and most self-sufficient, and features some artful and memorable touches. It's not for young kids, though, given the plot: gladiatorial

A Different Language

The Navy as a whole, and Submariners in particular, really do speak a different language. While each occupation has its own acronyms and key words and tricky phrases (in my current job, I often find myself saying things like, "I'm taking this FOUP down to CMP and then going to talk to the MT about those SEM CDs"), but I think that submarining is among the "worst" at being understandable to someone who comes in off the street and tries to follow a conversation. From a VIP cruiser in AMR hearing the announcement "AEA, 2JV" to a visitor to the bridge being told to be careful of the bear trap when coming down the ladder, I would venture to guess that our terminology is among the hardest non-Mandarin languages in the world to learn.

What are your favorite words in the Submarine language?

(To download the paper, including Appendix 2, from the link above with many of the words and phrases we know and love, click here.)

21st Century Technology

I gave in to the inevitable and started a Twitter account, @JoelBubblehead. I have no idea what I'm going to do with it, but you can follow if you want. #firstworldproblems

The Republican Candidates' Tax Proposals

The American Institute of Certified Tax Coaches has a neat graphic of the Republican presidential candidates' tax proposals. Three want to impose a flat tax, that would of course massively benefit the rich. In a similar vein, six would seek not just to lower the estate tax, but eliminate it altogether (alas, a standard position in their party). Because the estate tax already has a very large

2011 Battle "E" Winners Announced

Here's the list of SUBPAC Battle "E" winners for 2011:

Commander Submarine Squadron (SUBRON) 1: USS Texas (SSN 775)
SUBRON 3: USS Olympia (SSN 717)
SUBDEVRON 5: USS Connecticut (SSN 22)
SUBRON 7: USS Santa Fe (SSN 763)
SUBRON 11: USS Hampton (SSN 767)
SUBRON 15: USS Buffalo (SSN 715)
SUBRON 17: USS Nebraska (SSBN 739) - Blue and Gold
SUBRON 19: USS Michigan (SSGN 727) - Gold
Submarine Tender: USS Frank Cable (AS 40)
Floating Dry Dock: Arco (ARDM 5)
Special Category: Devil Ray (TWR 6)

It looks like Hampton and both Nebraska crews are repeat submarine winners from last year, while Michigan kept the award on the boat, it just went to the other crew. (Frank Cable and Arco also won last year.) I'm glad to see my old boat Connecticut on the list, especially since DEVRON 5 didn't give out an "E" last year. The award for Texas comes only a few days after she returned from her initial WESTPAC.

I'll post the SUBLANT list as soon as I see it.

Update 1645 03 Jan: Here's the SUBLANT list:
SUBRON 2: USS Providence (SSN 719)
SUBRON 4: USS New Hampshire (SSN 778)
SUBRON 6: USS Newport News (SSN 750)
SUBDEVRON 12: USS Annapolis (SSN 760)
SUBRON 16: USS Florida (SSGN 728) - Blue and Gold
SUBRON 20: USS Alaska (SSBN 732) - Blue and Gold