Ravi Shankar‪ – "Raga Ahir Bhairav"‬

RIP. It would be hard to overstate Ravi Shankar's influence on introducing world music… to the world. He was an excellent musician, a true master, and also a good composer. I'm fond of his work with Phillip Glass, he did the music for early films of the great Indian filmmaker, Satyajit Ray, and Beatles fans are well aware of Shankar's influence on George Harrison. Still, for all the fusion

How to Read for Writers, by Vonnegut

A new book is out of Kurt Vonnegut's letters, and Slate has been running some selections. His advice to a friend slotted to teach at the Iowa Writers' Workshop is interesting (and gossipy), but I really enjoyed his term paper assignment. Apparently, Vonnegut "wrote his course assignments in the form of letters, as a way of speaking personally to each member of the class."

November 30, 1965

Dave Brubeck Quartet – "Blue Rondo à la Turk"

RIP. I have several Brubeck albums, and the man had a great run, performing 'til he was 88. This tune is one of his most famous, and also one of his best.

Why We Can't Have Nice Things

Political battles do not occur in a vacuum, and the current scrum features several highly familiar elements. If you've been following the "austerity bomb" / "austerity crisis" news (better terms than "the fiscal cliff"), one of many striking features is the colossal bad faith of the Republicans. Steve Benen devised the nifty chart shown above breaking down how lopsided the current "deal" is.

The Post-Election "What Republicans Should Do" Rant

Post-election analyses about what the Republican Party should change have been pretty popular recently, and it's been fun to see sharp bloggers poke holes in the most blind, hubristic or otherwise ridiculous "advice." Personally, while I'm happy to work with decent people who self-identify as conservative or Republican, that type of person is faaaar from the norm in the conservative base or

Bad Crippie!

From CNN:
A former U.S. Navy submarine warfare specialist has been arrested and charged with trying to give classified information about how to track U.S. submarines to people he thought were representatives of the Russian Federation - but who were actually FBI undercover agents, according to federal authorities.
Robert Patrick Hoffman II of Virginia Beach, Virginia, was arrested Thursday morning on an attempted espionage charge...
...According to the indictment, on October 21 Hoffman tried to hand over national defense information to people he thought were representatives of the Russian government, including classified information "that revealed and pertained to methods to track U.S. submarines, including the technology and procedures required."...
...Hoffman, 39, is described as a 20-year veteran of the U.S. Navy who was trained in cryptology and reached the rank of petty officer first class. He retired from active duty in November 2011. According to his biography released by the military, he served as a submarine warfare specialist.
A picture of the goofball, identifying him as a former CT, along with a copy of the indictment is here.

A lot of times in treason cases like this, the prosecutors end up having to bargain away the death penalty in order to get the traitor's help in determining what he had previously given to the foreign country. In this case, since there's no evidence so far that the doofus was ever successful in passing along his information, prosecutors are under no such impediment. Also, since the guy's retired, he's still subject to the UCMJ. I say just run the case through a court martial and fast-track his appeals so we can carry out the sentence expeditiously -- despite the CNN article saying the maximum penalty is life, I'm sure the military could find a UCMJ article (like Article 106a) that carries the death penalty. Does the military still use firing squads?

Submarine Officers Earn Their Dolphins!

I was excited to see the Navy website front-page an article about submarine officers earning their fish; no matter why they decided to do a story about it now, it's good to see young Sailors becoming Submariners get some positive press. Excerpt:
Three Sailors assigned to USS Maine (SSBN 741) and USS Wyoming (SSBN 742) became the first female unrestricted line officers to qualify in submarines Dec. 5.
Lt. j.g. Marquette Leveque, a native of Fort Collins, Colo., assigned to the Gold Crew of Wyoming, and Lt. j.g. Amber Cowan and Lt. j.g. Jennifer Noonan of Maine's Blue Crew received their submarine "dolphins" during separate ceremonies at Naval Submarine Base Kings Bay, Ga., and Naval Base Kitsap-Bangor, Wash.
In order to receive their dolphins, Leveque, Cowan and Noonan were required to qualify as Officer of the Deck and Engineering Officer of the Watch, perform damage control functions, and demonstrate satisfactory qualities of leadership.
Cowan, a native of Colorado Springs, Colo., and Noonan, who hails from Boston, joined two other Blue Crew officers - Lt. j.g. James Barclay and Lt. j.g. John Schaeffer - in receiving their dolphins. Cowan was pinned by her husband, Naval Flight Officer Lt. Adam Cowan. Noonan chose a former Maine shipmate and mentor, Lt. Jason Brethauer, to pin her dolphins. Schaeffer decided to have Lt. Joe Westfall, a current shipmate from the Blue Crew, conduct his pinning. The Commanding officer of Maine's Blue Crew, Cmdr. William Johnson, pinned Barclay.
They even included a picture of the pinning:

Because us old crusty retired types like nothing better than to tell new Submariners how it was back in the day, here's some unsolicited advice from one of your new brothers:

1) The sea is a cruel mistress (or swain, as the case may be), who doesn't care if you went to the White House as a non-qual; all she cares about is that you respect her.

2) The rules of Submarining are written in blood. By earning your fish, you've proven that you have achieved the absolute minimum level of competence required to be trusted with the boat. There are still lots of rules for you to learn; don't ever think you know everything there is to know about how to safely and effectively operate a submarine. Violations of the rules can kill you -- or, even worse, those who work with you and trust you. Don't ever abuse the trust your Captain has shown by signing his name on your qual card.

3) IMHO, the most effective Submariners are those who know, deep down, that they really are the best at what they do. Sure, you should show humility and good humor around your shipmates (lest no one want to work with you), but, in your most base essence, you should believe that you really are the best at what you do. And you have to be able to back it up.

4) Always respect the boat and the crew. While the reactor may be the submarine's heart and the CO the boat's brain, the soul of a ship is made up of the blood, sweat, and tears of every man and woman who serves or has served on her. Never forget that your boat is alive, and if you love her, she may love you back.

5) Congratulations and welcome to the Brother- and Sisterhood of the 'Phin. You've worked hard, and are now a member of one of the most elite groups of warriors in the world. In time, you may find you have more in common with Submariners from other countries than you do with some American civilians. Enjoy your accomplishment. Watch a movie every now and again. And get hot -- you're dink on Command Quals.

Origin of Political Correctness

How the Left creates and maintains the Narrative, from the Marxist Frankfurt School to the takeover of academia and the development of Critical Theory, all in a handy, engaging discussion from Bill Whittle:

Link to YouTube

Read all about the hideous Frankfurt School here. Note it became affiliated with Columbia University in 1935, and the infection of higher education in the US was complete. Here is just one example of how art, music, and all "studies" programs at universities have been corrupted or created with malice aforethought by these Marxist thinkers:
Philosophy of modern music Adorno, a trained musician, wrote The Philosophy of Modern Music (1949), in which he, in essence, polemicizes against beauty itself ― because it has become part of the ideology of advanced capitalist society and the false consciousness that contributes to social domination. It hence contributes to the present sustainability of capitalism by rendering it "aesthetically pleasing" and "agreeable". Only avant-garde art and music may preserve the truth by capturing the reality of human suffering. Hence: "[...]Musical language is polarized according to its extreme; towards gestures of shock resembling bodily convulsions on the one hand, and on the other towards a crystalline standstill of a human being whom anxiety causes to freeze in her tracks [...] Modern music sees absolute oblivion as its goal. It is the surviving message of despair from the shipwrecked." This view of modern art as producing truth only through the negation of traditional aesthetic form and traditional norms of beauty because they have become ideological is characteristic of Adorno and of the Frankfurt School generally.
The higher education bubble can't burst soon enough!