Things Retired Submariners Do With Their Kids

As we do most years, my family and I set up a gaudy, neighborhood-property-value-destroying Christmas display at our house:

This year I went with the rare-yet-tasteless "triple lawn Santa" theme, and topped it off with intentionally-unsynchronized lights sets along the roof over the garage. Someone once asked me if there was any limit to how inartful I would sink; I decided that while I would go with the "gutted reindeer hanging from a tree" display if my wife would let me, I would draw the line at Santa on a cross.

Meanwhile, over in Britain, a retired submarine CO's E-mail to his kids expressing his disappointment with them has gone viral. Personally, I'm very proud of my children -- my daughter with a great job, one son who's graduating from college next month, and another who returns from a two year mission for our Church next week -- and I couldn't personally imagine going off on my kids the way Crews did, I would imagine there are people who are disappointed with their family.

If given a choice between spending the holidays with your entire extended family or spending them deployed on the boat, which would you choose?

Dido – "Thank You"

A repeat, because it works so well for Thanksgiving. (Plus, I'm currently reading The Aeneid.)

Meditation, Compassion and PTSD

Yesterday, NPR ran a good (and moving) story on the use of meditation to help veterans cope with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), which afflicts roughly one in four veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. (Given a less cheery recent post on PTSD, and the spirit of the day, this seemed especially appropriate.)

The Vietnam vets talk first. Some say they'd never even heard of PTSD

USS Delaware Chosen For Submarine Name

From the DoD today:
Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus announced today that the next Virginia-class attack submarine will be named the USS Delaware. Dr. Jill Biden will sponsor the USS Delaware. A longtime Delaware educator and military mom, Dr. Biden started Joining Forces with First Lady Michelle Obama to encourage all Americans to recognize, honor and support military families.
Mabus named the future USS Delaware in honor of the first state in the Union. The name honors the great contributions and support Delaware has given the military through the years and pays homage to the state’s more than two centuries of naval heritage.
“I chose the name Delaware to honor the long-standing relationship between the Navy and our nation’s first state,” said Mabus. “It has been too long since there has been a USS Delaware in the fleet and this submarine will remind future deployed service members and state residents of their strong ties and many shared values for decades to come.”
Although not mentioned in the article, I assume this name will be attached to SSN 791, the last Block III boat, scheduled for commissioning sometime around 2018.

Drinking On Base

Back in the day, we'd hold "JO Retention Team" meetings at The Dive on SUBASE Groton. I wonder if boats are still doing those, and if they will be able to have them in the future following the upcoming review of on-base drinking ordered by the base commander (one of my old COs) in response to an incident reported in The Day:
Capt. Marc W. Denno, the base commander, said the incident did not set a good example for junior sailors.
"That's probably why Command Master Chief Vatter decided it was in the best interest of everyone that he retire," he said. "We dealt with this quickly, at the appropriate level, and the effect was minimized."
According to a heavily redacted copy of the investigation, obtained by The Day through the Freedom of Information Act, Vatter drank seven or eight beers at a poker night May 18 at the Chief Petty Officers Club on the base. He and his wife then took a cab to the Wicked Pissa, the Gales Ferry bar formerly known as Legends Rock Bar.
While the names in the report were blanked out, witnesses told investigators that Vatter and his wife got into an argument and the couple began yelling and swearing at each other.
I've always thought it's better to drink on base than off if we're looking to control alcohol-related incidents -- keep the more inexperienced drinkers within walking distance of their racks. What do you think?

School of Seven Bells – "Night"

The band solicited fan videos for this song, and this one was the winner. More information here.

Food Banks – November 2012

With Thanksgiving fast approaching, this is a good time for those with the means to donate to their local food banks, or for those in need to get assistance. In my area, the Los Angeles food banks make a little go a long way. (A few years back, I started making an annual donation about this time of year.) The Feeding America site has a useful national food bank locator. Best wishes to all

Armistice Day 11/11/12

(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

Only the Faithless Suffer

In past years for Armistice Day, we've looked at how denying loss can tragically lead to more loss. We've examined how eagerly a blind rage can be embraced. This year, I wanted to look at willful blindness. (It turns out that the Beltway establishment and the Religious Right are quite similar in that regard.)

The Morality of Drone Strikes

First, let's consider Joe Klein and his remarks in

First World War Poetry (11/11/12)

The Guardian has a video of Sean Bean and Gemma Arterton reciting Wilfred Owen poems, with Sophie Okonedo doing the honors for Rupert Brooke. Head over for all four poems; here's one:

In previous years, we've looked at the war poetry of Wilfred Owen and Siegfried Sassoon, and contrasting visions in "The Poetry of War." Rupert Brooke makes an appearance in "Demonizing the Enemy," as does Owen

Some News Items

Here are some items of interest:

1) Submarine arsonist Casey Fury pled guilty and faces a recommended 15 to 19 year sentence. Although I would have loved to see them go for life, I'm really hoping they put him on the hook for the $450 million in damage after he gets out, such that the maximum allowed portion of his post-prison income goes to restitution.

2) A Russian Sierra II attack submarine (or "Seirra 2", according to ABC) has been detected off the East Coast, and is now heading home. It's a good sign of US-Russian cooperation when they send their boats to us for our submarines to get their training in. Thanks, Vlad! I'm just hoping that boats returning from deployment don't get delayed from coming home to join in the fun.

3) USS Boise (SSN 764), named after the capital of Idaho, celebrated the 20th anniversary of her commissioning this week, and returned from deployment yesterday, the day after the anniversary. I note with interest that she deployed on May 2nd, and returned from deployment on November 8th. I guess LANTFLT is adding 6 days to normal deployments nowadays. Here's an article with a video, and a picture:

4) The Iranians fired, unsuccessfully, on a U.S. drone over the Arabian Gulf. Having spent a deployment on a carrier in the Gulf and becoming very familiar with the Iranian claims of territorial waters vs. what we recognize (the Iranians claim some "straight baseline" water more than 12 miles from their shore that we correctly state is not in accordance with international law), I have no doubt that 1) our drone was over international waters as we recognize them, and 2) the  drone was over waters the Iranians wrongly claim. When we were seizing Iraqi tankers back in 2000, we'd board them in those "grey" area waters, since the Iranians gave the tanker skippers charts showing how they could stay in Iranian waters, and they included the portions that we didn't recognize. I'm glad to see we're continuing to defend the international standard in determining territorial water, and hope we don't back down from the mullahs.

5) On a personal note, I just remembered I posted this right after the election 4 years ago. Now cancer-free for 44 months. Thanks to all the readers who supported me back in the day and throughout the process.

Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings – "This Land Is Your Land"

Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings do Woody Guthrie? Just about the best pick possible for this week. (We ran with some other classics back in 2008.)


President Barack Obama fist-bumps custodian Lawrence Lipscomb in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building following the opening session of the White House Forum on Jobs and Economic Growth. December 3, 2009. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza).

Lance Mannion posted this one over at his place. It's from this gallery. It's an old photo, but appropriate for the occasion. A little

Fighting Voter Suppression

Without fail, one of the major parties has worked to expand the vote and the other has worked to suppress it. It's an important difference, especially because the voter suppression efforts of conservatives/Republicans have been in such glaring bad faith. I've seen multiple blogs post the infamous Paul Weyrich video from 1980 I linked earlier:

The New York Times delivers a scathing editorial

Voting 2012 (CA Ballot Measures and More)

The Election Protection site has a wealth of information on voting rights. Unfortunately, as usual, conservatives are trying to suppress the vote, and some Republican governors, legislatures and secretaries of state are really outdoing themselves – the *#&%@! scumbags. If you're challenged, or witness a problem, you can call 1-866-OUR-VOTE (or use their smartphone app if you've downloaded it).

Voting and Political Activism

This being a presidential election year, it's time for the left-leaning blogosphere to have another fierce debate over whether to support Obama and the Democrats or vote for a third party. Self-described liberals, progressives, Democrats, independents, Greens, libertarians and others have weighed in (including actual socialists, not the people denounced as such on Fox News). Most blog readers

Changes At The Top

Today, ADM Kirkland Donald was relieved by ADM John Richardson as the head of Naval Reactors. Also there's an election this upcoming Tuesday between the current Commander-in-Chief and an opponent who wants to significantly increase defense spending, including increasing submarine procurement to 3 Virginia-class boats a year.


Update 1220 04 November: For those who don't want to discuss national or NR politics, here are a couple of links you might like: A Cold War story about a Northern Run by HMS Conqueror (S 48), and both the official Navy story and an NBC News story about the CO and XO, along with the CHENG and OPS, of USS Vandegrift (FFG 48) getting relieved in response to a drunken port call to Vladivostok a few months ago. ("Party on, Ivan!" "Party on, Joseph!") I just like any story about the Eng getting to have fun on a port visit.

Bob Dylan – "Not Dark Yet"

I saw Bob Dylan last week at the Hollywood Bowl. Mark Knopfler, who opened, delivered a fantastic, celtic-flavored set (I'll have to pick up his latest album). Dylan's voice, alas, was pretty much shot. It was never conventionally pretty, but it could quite expressive. Some of the arrangements were great, though, including a pretty one of "Desolation Row." (The set list was mostly old