Keeping the blogosphere posted on the goings on of the world of submarines since late 2004... and mocking and belittling general foolishness wherever it may be found. Idaho's first and foremost submarine blog. (If you don't like something on this blog, please E-mail me; don't call me at home.)

Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Attack Subs Moving West

More examples of secrecy going down the tubes today. On the same day that announces that the "United States Navy plans to secretly transfer submarines from its Atlantic to Pacific fleet" we see announcements from Congresspersons that the boats are going to be transferred... maybe it's not as big a secret as the overseas papers would like us to believe.

Anyway, the news is full today of stories talking about the Navy's plans to move six attack boats out west; the first two Seawolf-class boats to Washington State, three LAs to San Diego, and an additional LA to Pearl; Guam will apparently stay at 3 boats.

The move of USS Seawolf (SSN 21) and USS Connecticut (SSN 22) to the Puget Sound was expected, although I admit I was taken by surprise by the initial announcement that the boats would be going to Bremerton Naval Base, rather than the Sub Base at Bangor. The Congressman's later "clarification" that the Navy hadn't decided between Bangor and Bremerton made me think that the Congressman had messed up his announcement, and was trying to save face.

This Seattle P-I article says that the other boats that are moving, sometime before 2010, are USS Albuquerque (SSN 706) from Groton to San Diego, USS Jacksonville (SSN 699) from Norfolk to Pearl, and USS Hampton (SSN 767) from Norfolk to SD. The 3rd boat moving to San Diego hasn't been identified yet, but since all the PacFleet VLS boats are stationed there, it could easily be one of the newer boats -- maybe a Virginia named after a Pacific Ocean state?

The articles all mention the same final numbers of attack boats at each port -- Guam 3, San Diego 7, Pearl 18, and Kitsap County 3, for a total of 31 on the West Coast, leaving 21 on the East Coast -- Groton dropping from 17 to 14, and Norfolk from 11 to 7. Since the East Coast is losing one more boat than the West Coast is gaining, and we'll still be bringing Virginia's into the fleet, I think this is telling us that the number of attack boats we'll be decommissioning in the next four years is one more than the number we'll be commissioning.

My opinion --it's a good move. I've said before that the most likely locations for wars involving submarines that we don't start are off Korea and Taiwan, and having boats closer to the action makes sense -- but maybe not too close, which might be why Guam didn't plus up. Also, if something happens in the Straits of Hormuz, it's nice not to have to think about transiting the Suez Canal...

The Sub Report Turns One!

Happy birthday to The Sub Report, the absolute best source of submarine news on the web! Thanks for all the great story ideas, shipmate...

Monday, February 27, 2006

Things I Would Have Blogged About...

...this weekend, had I been motivated enough to do so:

-- The public comment period for the proposed sonar training range off the coast of North Carolina has ended. Local newspapers used the occasion to write editorials opposing the range. In addition to a "blizzard" of form letters containing "identical paragraphs opposing the undersea warfare training range" there were lots of other submissions, including the NOAA letter questioning the allowed maximum sound levels I discussed earlier. See if you can spot the technical error(s) in the following statement from this article: "Southall acknowledged that the difference between 173 and 190 decibels can be significant, depending on the intensity of the noise and the period over which it occurs. Like the Richter scale for earthquakes, decibels are logar ithmic, meaning a difference of 10 decibels generally indicates a sound is twice as loud." (Here's a short primer on acoustics for reference -- check out Sect. 8.3.3. The thing is, this newspaper error has the effect of making the Navy look better...)

-- It used to be that protests against military recruiting on campus focused on the "don't ask don't tell" angle, hoping not to be seen as simply opposing the military because of what they do; now the protesters don't even try to hide their anti-military agenda.

-- CDR Salamander has more on the disbanded FY07 CDR Selection Board.

-- Some noted liberal think tanks have issued a report pooh-poohing the Chinese nuclear threat. While I'm more inclined myself to believe that China isn't an immediate threat to the U.S. (for political, rather than military, reasons), my initial reaction would be to look very skeptically at the conclusions of the report, due to the inherently political nature of the organizations (particulary the National Resources Defense Council) involved in the report. It doesn't mean the report is wrong, though -- just requires more in-depth analysis.

Going deep...

Saturday, February 25, 2006

"Brokeback" Reference Backfires

Last night was boys BB district championship night here in the Boise area. My oldest son's school lost badly, but still advances to State [actually 4 or 5 teams from this district make the eight team 5A (biggest school) state tournament -- outside of the Boise area, there aren't that many big schools in Idaho], but the more interesting game was in 4A, the next biggest class.

The crowd for the home team underdogs, Kuna High, decided that their best chance to win was to insult the best player of the visitors, Matt Ballenger. It doesn't talk about it specifically in this article, but on TV last night they showed lots of pictures of some Kuna fans holding up a big sign that said "Brokeback Ballenger". The Skyview junior answered the allusion of homosexuality by throwing down 35 points, including 27(!) in the 2nd quarter alone, to lead his team to a 62-43 victory.

I'm kinda surprised that high school administrators would allow a sign like that at a school event; even colleges have been trying to get their students to tone down on the "Brokeback" chants. Of course, Ballenger showed the best way to respond to such juvenile taunting... by giving the taunters a figurative spanking.

Speaking of "Brokeback" spin-offs, I forgot to post a couple of weeks ago when Midshipman Greuning over at Synonym (who just requested subs for his 2nd class cruise) posted the infamous "Brokeback Midshipman" video a couple of weeks ago. As you might guess, it was put together by a West Point cadet.

Friday, February 24, 2006

Sub Screening Board Results On The Web?

I was poking around the Naval Personnel Command site looking for more information on the cluster that was the FY07 Active O-5 Line Board (disbanded due to "possible breach of integrity" -- apparently some NPC guy gave the board info that SECNAV hadn't approved), and I decided to drop by the Submarine Detailers page. You might remember a while back when I blogged about how secretive the submarine community was when it came to XO (and CO) screening results. It looks like they've gotten a little more open, but now that they have, I'm not sure I like it. On the right side of the PERS-42 home page, it advertises, under "New Information", the "FY07 DH Board Results". And sure enough, when you click on the link, it gives you a Word document listing everyone who screened for Department Head this year, headed by the list of "2nd Look Screeners". I'm sorry, but this seems like too much information. Any of you active duty guys know the reason for the apparent change in policy? Chap?

Disclaimer: Yes, I know some other communities have always done this; it's just a big change to see the sub guys doing it. Does this mean we'll finally get some transparency in XO screening?

Update 0924 25 Feb: Chap responds, and adds a parenthetical aside at the end that completely made my week/month/year/decade:

"(By the way, Bubbles doesn’t know this, but I’m working right now with more than one JO who was positively influenced by him in his active duty previous life, including one who’s convinced he’s commissioned because of the recommendation letter Bubbles wrote for him. It’s all about influence, and looks like our Bubbles had it in spades as far as these LTs are concerned. Good on ‘im.)"

Just got a little something in my eye, that's all...

Hercules, The Blanket-Molesting Cat

[Note to my regular reader: This is a compilation of various Hercules-blanket-molesting-related pictures and video I'm putting together to send in to Carnival of the Cats. Nothing here that you haven't already seen.]

Our 11 year old cat, Hercules, has a hobby. He likes to molest blankets. He'll pull the blanket to some preferred spot, straighten it out, and then grab a piece of the blanket in his mouth while he walks in place on it while mewling loudly. This happens 4-5 times a week that we know of... probably more. He's been fixed for 10 years, and he's been doing this for over 3 years now -- only he knows why. Here are some pictures:

We put together a short video of some of Hercules' greatest moments with his blankets -- we hope you like it! We even included an original song worthy of "American Idol" -- the Audition episodes:

We love him very much, but fleas have clearly eaten his brain...

Who Woulda Thunk It?

Last summer, I expressed some doubt about a complaint by a Connecticut fisherman that his boat had been pulled and almost capsized by a submarine.

Well, according to the fisherman, the Navy is accepting responsibility for the mishap, saying that USS Montpelier (SSN 765) had somehow got fouled in the trawler's gear, and they're paying damages:

"Alan Chaplaski said the Navy has agreed to pay him for damages to his boat from an incident last summer when the USS Montpelier, a 362-foot-long submarine, allegedly snagged his gear and almost capsized the boat.
"The Aug. 25 incident occurred 95 miles southeast of Stonington as Chaplaski's boat, the Neptune, was trawling for shrimp.
"Chaplaski had originally thought his net had snagged on the bottom, but something began pulling his 150-ton boat backward, causing it to shake violently. He released the brakes on the steel wire attached to the net and twin 1,000-pound doors that keep the net open. That prevented the boat from capsizing."

Musta been a wild ride...

Update 0005 23 Feb: PigBoatSailor offers his own mea culpas on the incident.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Boomer News -- From An Army Guy

[Intel Source: The Sub Report] The Colossus, an Army infantry guy, has put together a most excellent summary of the current state of Boomerdom. Not being a submariner, he has no pre-conceived biases in the "Boomer vs. Fast Attack" debate, so the post contains not a whiff of speculation about the supposed sexual orientation of the boomer guys.

The Colossus is perhaps best known for his "Carrier News" series; we welcome him to the submarine side of the blogosphere... as long as he's willing to go back aft to feed the shaft seals.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

This Can't Be Good

"Explosion Destroys Dome of Shiite Shrine"

The famous Golden Dome of the al Askariya mosque in Samarra, Iraq, has been destroyed by terrorists. The mosque, sacred to Shi'ites, is held to be the burial place of the 10th and 11th Imans. Here's what the dome looked like before:

And here's what it looks like now:

Terrorists who intentionally destroy places of worship piss me off even more than do other terrorists...

Update 0144 22 Feb: The "progressives" at Democratic Underground, predictably, think that the CIA did it...

American Journalists Not The Only Ones Who Are Sub-Terminology Impaired

Check out this report from the Australian Broadcast Co.:

Submarine missile found near beach
Wednesday, 22 February 2006. 13:00 (AEDT)
Armed forces personnel have recovered a flare device found unexploded off a beach near Ulludulla.
Police say the missile from a submarine was found off Racecourse Beach south of Ulladulla yesterday afternoon.
Police managed to bring it to shore and guard it until armed forces personnel arrived late last night to inspect it.
Police say the flare was torpedoed from a submarine during a recent naval exercise off the south coast, but failed to detonate.

I can see how they're probably just trying to avoid using the same word too frequently, but c'mon... a "missile" is not the same thing as a flare, "detonate" isn't the same as "ignite", and "torpedoed" definitely isn't a synonym for "launched". What interests me is that all of the mis-used words seem to make the story more ominous than it really is.

Coolest. Guy Gadget. Ever.

I got the kewlest new gadget from the company store today for $18. Here it is:

I know what you're thinking -- "A pen? That's not so cool." But wait... there's more. In addition to being a pen, it also has a laser pointer on the other side. As you know, a laser is probably the best cat toy ever:

But this gadget is more than just an ink pen/laser pointer. Because if you open it up, it contains -- a 128MB USB Flash Drive!

This thing totally rocks. Alright, I'll admit it might not be the coolest
gadget ever, but it definitely sets the bar for kewl-to-cost ratio. You can just imagine it in use -- you're getting ready to give a presentation, so you pull out your pen, take out the Flash Drive, plug it into the computer, then put your pen back together. Now, you've got your laser pointer available to wow the crowd while your trusty thumb drive is throwin' down your Power Point.

The best part is, when the presentation's done, you can use the pen to give your contact information to your PDA-less, techno-impaired co-workers who want to start a cargo cult dedicated to worshipping your gadget.

It's innovation like this that makes America great. It also says a lot about the culture of engineers -- one panel from a classic Dilbert cartoon (that I had hanging in my office when I was Eng on Jimmy Carter) explains it better than anything:

When I was a shipyard Eng, I wore a pager, cell phone, dig-it tool, flashlight, and TLD on my belt. There was no doubt that was the best-equipped Engineer in SubLant. Now, as a civilian, I can't beat the guys with their laptops glued to their hands, but I can still have multi-purpose pens.

I can't wait until someone comes up with a way to put a mini-GPS receiver section into these things...

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Cat-Blogging World Video Premiere

I know I should hold onto this until Friday, but I can't wait. Now, for the moment everyone (except girlfriday) has been waiting for -- the world premiere of "Hercules, The Blanket-Molesting Cat": (make sure you have your volume turned up, because there's an original song on the video)

Now, we recognize that we really can't sing, so you can't bug us by saying we can't. We actually can sing, but intentionally toned down our pipes in order to better match the absurd subject matter of the video. And

Bonus points to the first person who can figure out what song I was playing on the baritone at the beginning.

Update 2134 21 Feb: I might need to tech this out a little more; the embedded video doesn't seem to be playing. Until then, you can still click on the title to the post (or here) and be taken to Google Video to see the movie.

Update 0042 22 Feb: Still can't get it to play on my computer from this post. Has anyone had any luck getting the video to play on this page? Let me know if you do.

Update 0014 23 Feb: I think it works now in the screen above...

Army Guys Need Answers!

The guys from Castle Argghhh!!! posed a question to us bubbleheads that should pose a good challenge for us. They linked to a picture over at (re-printed below, so those who want to avoid the pop-up adds that got through my pop-up blocker can skip them) of a sub at PD, and want to know what kind of boat it is:

I said that I though it might be a Permit-class boat, due to the large fairwater planes that look to be fairly close to the top of the sail. Anyone else have any ideas? As always, the best comparison shots for U.S. boats can be found over at NavSource.

Bell-ringer 0038 23 Feb: The consensus seems to be an Aussie Collins-class boat; EM1derful found a picture at Navy NewsStand from RIMPAC 2004, that looks like it might be from the same series of photos, that's identified as being a shot of HMAS Rankin (SSK 78):

Mystery solved... (?)

Monday, February 20, 2006

For All You Electricians Out There

Here's a photo that should bring back some fond memories... [*ducks to avoid thrown objects*]:

It's a photo of the crew (all off-watch EMs, plus a few others) of USS Annapolis (SSN 760) removing an aft shore power cable in preparation for departing from a port visit to Souda Bay, Crete. Hopefully they remembered to clear the danger tag on the pier breaker before getting underway...

NOAA vs. Navy

[Intel Source:] No time to really comment on this report, so I'll just present excerpts and let you discuss it in the comments:

"The civilian agency in charge of marine issues has sharply challenged the Navy's plans to build an underwater sonar training range in the Atlantic Ocean, saying that the military significantly underestimated the danger posed to whales and other marine mammals and that the science the Navy used to reach its conclusions is flawed.
"In a technical letter to the Navy, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) said the Navy had neglected to address the likelihood that its mid-frequency sonar would kill some whales and that the highly endangered right whale makes its annual migrations near the proposed site off North Carolina and could be threatened. But most telling, the NOAA letter said that the Navy had used a measure for allowable noise 100 times as high as the level recommended by the agency..."

A discussion of the "100 times" is in the sidebar, thusly:

"Much of the letter was taken up with a technical discussion about how much noise a whale can stand before it changes its behavior and suffers harm. The Navy relied on tests involving whales in captivity and concluded they would generally not be harmed by sound below 190 decibels. But NOAA argued that whales and other marine mammals in the wild are likely to react differently to noise than captive, trained animals and said that studies of animals in the oceans supported their view. It recommended a maximum allowable noise level of 173 decibels, which is more than 100 times quieter than the 190 decibel standard."

The article goes on to discuss how "brave" the NOAA is:

"The NOAA letter is truly unbelievable," said Kyla Bennett of Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, a national whistle-blower organization that supports government workers who come into conflict with policymakers and elected officials.
"It takes an amazing amount of courage for a federal employee to take this kind of strong stance against the Navy under the Bush administration," she said."

I'm sure they'll be headed for Gitmo soon. [/sarcasm]

Staying at PD...

Brit Sub Berthing Plan Causes Concern, Hyperbole

A plan by the Royal Navy to re-institute the "Z-berths" around the UK (places where submarines can dock in the UK other than their main bases at Plymouth and Faslane) is causing concern among the nuclear-phobic portions of the British body politic:

"Stewart Kemp, the secretary for Nuclear Free Local Authorities, said people would not approve of the Navy bringing a nuclear reactor into their towns.
"There is a reactor safety issue, as witnessed a few years ago with HMS Tireless in Gibraltar," he said. "This raises the same issues as that of a community living next to a nuclear power station and it is not for nothing that these are in remote areas.
"One of the riskiest times for a nuclear reactor is when it is powering up and powering down, which is what happens when it comes into port."

That last sentence is classic -- a statement with absolutely no basis in fact, but which can't be answered by the authorities because they don't want to establish a precedent of discussing specific nuclear operational questions. OK, I'll give them "powering up", but "powering down"? C'mon...

The Brit authorities are also planning on distributing KI tablets to local residents (as opposed to keeping them in a central storage location), which doesn't really do anything other than make people more afraid (and make it more likely that people will take them pre-emptively when they hear the sub is coming into port, with accompanying problems among those unknowingly allergic to iodides):

"When a submarine comes into port, potassium iodide pills, which are used to prevent thyroid cancer for people exposed to radioactive iodides, will have to be distributed to schools and residents near the base."

And I love where they put this fairly important piece of information -- in the last line of the article:

"... in 40 years of operating nuclear submarines the Navy had never had a reactor accident."

Going deep...

Sunday, February 19, 2006

More On The "Homeland Security Agents" In Boise

Earlier this week, I blogged about a report that a Boise submariner and anti-war activist had been accosted by "Homeland Security agents" in the parking lot of the federal building he works at and told to remove banners from his car. Initially, I thought sounded a lot like the fake report made by a Dartmouth student last year about "Homeland Security agents" attempting to trample free speech. Then, I read another report that indicated that the encounter had been witnessed and tape recorded, so I figured it wasn't completely made up.

The story's starting to spread a little bit, as shown by this post at Boise Guardian, and another one at New West Network. (Still nothing at the Idaho Statesman, though.) My concern with the story, other than federal employees wasting their time bugging people who are clearly within their rights under the Hatch Act, is that the blogs that are covering the story are using moonbatty terms that threaten to erase whatever real news value the story might have.

The Boise Weekly story talks about "Homeland Security agents" as if they're some super-secret zampolit organization. It turns out, from what I've been told, that the "agents" involved were uniformed members of the Federal Protective Service. Not really a Gestapo agency, they "provide law enforcement and security services to over one million tenants and daily visitors to all federally owned and leased facilities nationwide" -- kinda like mall cops. It looks reasonable to assume that someone at Dwight Scarbrough's (the submariner) office complained about the truck in question, and someone at the local level made a decision to try to take care of it without really understanding the issues. When they found out that the submariner in question had done his homework, they backed off, and are getting a resolution at a higher level. My guess is that they'll get their pee-pees slapped for stepping over the line. Not really evidence of a great Rovian conspiracy to imprison all liberals.

I tried to comment over at the Boise Guardian on the issue, but my comment got rejected for being potentially "confusing" to the readers. (The webmaster had a point: I sarcastically discussed a potential "Bush/Cheney/Rove/Halliburton/Major League Baseball conspiracy" that I normally use over at BlameBush!, which I admit is confusing in normal discourse.) He offered to let me re-post my comment, but I decided to answer his article, and various commenters, here instead.

Staying at PD....

Saturday, February 18, 2006

USS Sante Fe Returns Home

Good story on the Navy web site about USS Sante Fe (SSN 763) returning home last week (Feb 9th) from an IO deployment. During the deployment, she participated in the Exercise Malabar 2005 with the Indian Navy, which was the biggest U.S.-Indian bilat to date.

One interesting tidbit in the article did catch my eye -- in addition to talking about "CNO-directed missions" the article claims that Sante Fe was "the first submarine to cross (the)Andaman Sea submerged". I suppose that's possible, but I'm skeptical. The Andaman Sea goes from the end of the Straits of Malacca out to the Andaman Islands. Many submarines do go through the Straits on the surface (we did on Topeka back in '92) but I seem to remember submerging before we entered the Andaman Sea on our way to the Gulf, and many other subs have taken the same route. I suppose it's possible that Sante Fe just submerged earlier...

In any event, it looks like the officers and crew of USS Sante Fe did a great job on their deployment, and hopefully they'll have a good time back home.

Bell-ringer 2238 18 Feb: Chap calls me out on my spelling of USS Santa Fe, so I did some research. SubPac has used both spellings; "Sante Fe" here, and "Santa Fe" on the more "official" boat page. It also has the ship's seal there, which spells it "Santa". Undersea Warfare magazine uses both spellings in this "Downlink". To figure out the real answer, I went to the Naval Vessel Register website, and saw that they used the Clausian spelling. Additionally, the official city website for Santa Fe, New Mexico, uses "Santa", so I suppose that's the right answer.

In my defense, the article I originally linked, from, used "Sante" in the body of the story (but not the title); additionally, I'm an Engineer, so I can be excused for not knowing how to spell.

I Like Big Naps, And I Cannot Lie

Sorry for the light blogging today. Did errands and chores until about 2pm, then went up to watch the Kansas-Missouri game (ooh, sorry about that, Castle Argghhh!!! guys -- that'll teach you Missourians to send raiders to Lawrence). SubBasket and our daughter decided to go to a movie, so I thought I'd take a quick nap. Fell asleep about 3pm, and woke up with the phone ringing; the girls were on their way home from the movie -- at 6:30.

Was the afternoon wasted? When I was younger, I would have said yes, but now...

Friday, February 17, 2006

Navy Help On The Way

The Navy is sending at least two ships from the Forward Deployed Amphibious Ready Group to help with Philippines mudslide relief. The ships, USS Essex (LHD 2) and USS Harpers Ferry (LSD 49) had apparently just pulled into Subic Bay in preparation for the annual "Balikatan" exercise with the Philippine military, and pulled back out the same day. Both 'phibs have lots of helicopters that should prove invaluable in relief efforts.

Update 2156 20 Feb: The two ships mentioned, along with USS Curtis Wilbur (DDG 54) are on station.

Catblogging Video Update

I've got the video of Hercules molesting a blanket all put together, and as soon as the Google Video server lets me log on, I'll get it uploaded. Then, they have to review it to ensure it's not pR0n or anything (which, actually, if you think about it, it kinda is). Bottom line, hopefully I'll be able to have the world premiere next Friday.

Until then, here's another photo of Hercules molesting a blanket from last week:

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Ride 'Em, Cowboys!

Great picture of USS Asheville (SSN 758) underway off SoCal on the Navy web site front page today:

I used to love the surface watches in heavy seas; not sure why, but I always remember wondering why they were paying me to do it...

Unless, of course, the weather got too rough, and you had big slugs of water going down the Bridge Access Trunk; then it wasn't so fun. Having the screw come up out of the water also played hell with the ME overspeed limiter sometimes...

Funny how you forget the crappy watches, and focus on the good ones as time goes by.

Update 1725 16 Feb: Here's a close-up I cropped from the photo; hope that guy in the cockpit didn't drop his M-16 overboard...

Nuke School Flashback

My previous post about "clamp(ing) down severely on... clothing of women" reminded me that the SI swimsuit issue is coming out this week. In honor of this, I present a picture that all you nukes out there probably figured you'd never see again:

Yep, it's the "fission yield curve", known back in the day as the "Dolly Parton curve", and before that as the "Mae West curve". I'm sure that now they call it something different, like the "Jessica Simpson curve". Actually, since there are now persons of gender going to Nuke School, maybe they don't give it any nickname at all.

On a personal note, I'd like to point out that, although I subscribe to Sports Illustrated, I haven't seen the swimsuit issue at all the last two years. I think my oldest son "confiscates" it to protect my moral compass...

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

I Like Letters To The Editor

The local paper, The Idaho Statesman, seems to get better that its fair share of wacky LTTEs. One of the letters in today's paper especially caught my eye (sixth letter down) for its' complete lack of coherence. In addition to advocating a "federal program to deposit a reasonable sum in bank accounts of grossly overweight persons, with withdrawal when goal is achieved" (no other explanation given), the writer calls for some unspecified entity to "(c)lamp down severely on repulsive, sexually slanted TV programs, unfit language and clothing of women". I have a feeling that they meant for "repulsive" and "sexually slanted" to apply to all three of the items listed, but I think most submariners would be more likely to agree with the third item the way it's written...

Update 2322 15 Feb: I just noticed that I used all three forms of "its" in the post above, and have no idea which ones are used correctly. Actually, I'm pretty sure the last one is correct, but the first two are a shot in the dark...

Another Idaho Submariner With A Blog

Check out Dale's blog over at Right Mind; not many submarine posts, but still a good perspective from a retired boomer officer up in the north part of the state.

Update 2247 15 Feb: Speaking of other Idaho bloggers, Idaho Times seems to have about the most complete Gem State blogroll I've seen.

Idaho Submariner In The News

...and not in a good way. Back in November, I discussed a submarine veteran here in Idaho who was quite interested in sharing his "progressive" views on politics. He's back in the news again, in a story that's quite sure to blow up in his face:

"A Boise veteran who served on a submarine at the height of the Cold War says the federal government doesn't like his messages of peace.
"Dwight Scarbrough has more than a half-dozen banners and bumper stickers on his Ford Ranger pickup.
"He said an agent with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security recently showed up at his federal offices saying they have to be removed.
"Scarbrough said the agent cited a law which prohibits folks from distributing political material on federal property."

Whoa, a federal "agent" showing up at work to stifle dissent... sounds quite bad. Almost as bad as the DHS "agents" who showed up at the Dartmouth student's home to investigate his library book requests... and we all know how that story turned out.

I'm not sure what it is with the wacky left with their stories about Homeland Security "agents" -- men who come to peoples houses (or now, offices) to intimidate them because of their political beliefs. They just don't exist (the "agents", not the political beliefs -- those definitely exist). Plus, they can never seem to get the "agent's" name. The Boise offices associated with DHS are the TSA office at the airport and an Immigration sub-office, as near as I can tell. I don't think baggage inspectors are showing up at Forest Service offices to stop people from speaking truth to power.

I just hope my good friends at the progressive Idaho blogs don't get caught up in this story -- except for Binkyboy, of course...

Staying at PD...

Update 1837 16 Feb: Much more on the story, from an obviously biased source, but very troubling if true. The story claims that the conversation with Homeland Security personnel was taped, and has their names (although it doesn't give them out). I still have a hard time believing people with "Homeland Security" insignia would be harassing people in government parking lots, but this one is sounding a little more believable; at least, the basic research into finding a DHS office in Boise matched what I found initially this morning:

"If you're unfamiliar with the Boise office of the Federal Department of Homeland Security, you're not alone. There's not a listing for it in the most recent federal government listings in the local phonebook. The representative from Idaho State Bureau of Homeland Security, located at the Gowen Field Air National Guard Base behind the Boise Airport, hadn't even heard there was an office when I contacted him. Neither had the receptionist at the local U.S. Marshal's office, though she was able to track down a number for the local office of the Federal Protective Service, the section of DHS in charge of protecting federally owned and leased facilities, after putting me on hold for a few minutes (It's (208) 334-9374, in case you're curious. Your taxes fund it, after all.).
"I was only able to confirm the location of the office after asking the security officer at the Natural Resource Complex, whose job (ostensibly, at least) it is to enforce the rules concerning pamphlets, dogs and other controlled substances on federal property. He would not comment about the incident, saying, "If this is about what I think it's about, I'm not allowed to say nothing." He referred me to "FPS, Federal Courthouse, Department of Homeland Security," to find someone who would be able to comment. When I asked who I should say referred me, he covered his nameplate with his hand.
"The "office," once I found it, wasn't much of an office at all, from a service perspective. The door was locked and there was neither a receptionist nor a desk at the front window. When I rang the doorbell, a woman emerged from a nearby cubicle and spoke to me through a tennis-ball-sized hole in the window. She would not confirm the name or identity of the officers, nor their badge numbers (Scarbrough, of course, had written them all down). I slipped a business card through the hole, and by press time, no one had called me back.
"However, when I tried the number provided by the U.S. Marshals, Terry Martin at the Federal Protection Service was able to confirm that the officers identified by Scarbrough did, in fact, work for Homeland Security. He then referred me to the Department of Homeland Security's media spokesman in Texas, who had not responded by press time to my request for information about the incident, or about any change in federal law concerning stickers on vehicles in federal parking lots."

I'll be keeping my eye out on this one to see what transpires...

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Video Of Hercules

I just shot a video clip of Hercules molesting his blanket. Does anyone know how to upload and display video clips on Blogger?

They Can't Screw This One Up... Can They?

The news that Vice President Cheney accidentally shot his hunting companion should be a "shot in the arm" for the Democrats... if they can avoid their normal reaction of "shooting themselves in the foot". Here's why--

Most of the "Angry Left" has been suffering from a bipolar frenzy the last 6 years; they go back and forth between "Bush is evil" and "Bush is stupid". They've kind of ended up with a "Bush is stupid / Cheney and Rove are evil" compromise, but that hasn't worked out that well -- the average swing voter, who they really need if they want to win elections, can see for themselves that President Bush isn't stupid. IMHO, if they wanted to make inroads, they need to push a meme for which there has been some evidence: the current administration is incompetent.

The main advantage the Republicans have always seemed to have over Democrats is a public perception that they're better able to run things. I think it was Dave Berry who once wrote something like: "If you have a flat tire on the side of the road, the Republican will drive right by and ignore you; the Democrat will stop to fix your flat, but burn your car to the ground in the process". The one time Democrats have been able to change this perception was when Dan Quayle was Vice President.

This shooting incident gives them an opportunity to paint Cheney in a similar buffoonish light -- since the victim wasn't badly hurt, it's naturally humorous. Since the Democrats have been suffering lately from a perception that they're "angry", showing that they have a sense of humor should be a big help to them.

I'm going to take a "shot in the dark" and say that the Dems will find a way to screw this one up. They'll attempt to say Cheney did something illegal by not reporting it (here's the police report that shows that it was reported); they'll make a big deal out of it not being announced by the White House immediately (no law requires that); and eventually some Congressman will say that Cheney should be impeached because of it, which everyone but the Daily Kos and DU crowd will recognize as a complete overreaction.

The problem the Dems face is that their most politically active types are just angry all the time. If they had access to the Internet back in the early 90s they would have been saying that Quayle's attempt to spell potato as "potatoe" was proof that Daddy Bush is a Nazi; after all, the Germans occupied Denmark in WWII, and the Faroe Islands are part of Denmark, and they end in an "-oe", so Bush = Hitler.

To my Democratic friends, remember: Your spin on this should be Cheney = Incompetent, not Cheney = Cold-Blooded Killer.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Kilo In Drydock

[Intel Source: The Sub Report] One of the things submariners worry about is getting the "technical" stuff covered up when the boat goes into drydock. Back in the day, we'd always schedule our drydocking times for gaps in Soviet satellite coverage, so we'd have everything covered before the next pass. Nowadays, we're more worried about tour boats; we don't want some tourist snapping a picture of the screw, so that's always one of the first things covered.

The new openness in Russia seems to have resulted in the same problems, but it looks like they aren't quite as good at "keeping their fly zipped", as it were. From this web page (it looks like it might be a general "city information"-type page for the Black Sea Fleet) we see some cool pictures of Russian Kilo-class boats. Here's one of them in drydock, as the tour boat starts coming up the river:

Here's another view:

And here's a blow-up I made of an interesting portion of the last picture:

Neat stuff...

Indian President Submerges

President APJ Abdul Kalam became the first Indian President to get underway on a submarine earlier today:

"...On Monday, he became the first Indian President to sail with the Indian Navy in a Kilo class attack submarine, INS Sindhurakshak, in the waters off Vizag.
"He has made it clear that he sees his role as Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces not just in ceremonial terms.
"Commanding Officer, INS Sindhurakshak, P S Bisht says, "It was an honour that our Supreme Commander thought we were important enough to to sail with."
"During his three hours on the submarine, Kalam was acquainted with the tough life of submariners.
"Life on a submarine can be tougher than at Siachen. It is extremely claustrophobic to be in a vessel underwater for so many days on end and then there is the fact that we have no water available and cannot have a bath,"says Commander Bisht."

Now there's a VIP ride to end all rides...

"Dude... I Scored Some Gold"

Over the last couple of Winter Olympics, I've really come to appreciate the snowboarding halfpipe competition. Not only because of the athletic skill and grace of the competitors, but because it gives me a chance to embarrass my kids in front of their friends: "Dudez, did you see the sick air that betty got on the fakie McTwist; she totally didn't bonk 'cause of her mad phat skills." -- here's a glossary for those of you who aren't as "hip" and "with-it" as I am -- and also because the winners (at least on the guy side) totally seem to be straight out of central casting from the "happy friendly stoner" file. It reminded me of the line Jon Stewart said in 2002 discussing the sport (paraphrasing, because I can't find it on-line): "He who wins gold on the halfpipe, gets to hit first from the hash pipe".

Women's halfpipe is today -- they normally aren't quite as humorous, but they're really good.

Update 2342 13 Feb: I just noticed that this was my 1,000th post.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Studies In Comic Timing

Some blog posts come out at just the right time; on Thursday night, Liberal Larry came out with a story about "Bush's War On Seniors" over at BlameBush! Not two days later, Vice President Cheney shoots a 78 year old hunting partner.

Since the guy's OK, this should be a cause of lots of snarky merriment around the blogosphere. I'm sure that no one is so buried in their conspiracy theory centered world that they'd be able to come up with some deep dark conspiracy...

Update 2119 12 Feb: A Dick Cheney Duck Hunt "game"!

Update 0528 13 Feb: I was wrong... the conspiracy theories have started. My favorite were the threads in DU proving that Cheney, his victim, and host had previous business relationships -- as if proving the the VP hunted with friends was further proof of conspiracy.

What's Pablo Paredes Up To Now?

Many of you will remember the saga of erstwhile Petty Officer Pablo Paredes, who missed movement of his ship, USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6), as a way of protesting our occupation of Iraq (and ended up missing out on some imperialistic tsunami-relief efforts). He ended up being administratively separated (General, Under Honorable Conditions) after being convicted at court-martial. We last saw him desperately trying to stay in the news in any way possible.

Well, he's back -- in Vermont, of all places, speaking at an anti-war rally. You can read the article yourself; I just wanted to point out the factual errors the reporter made in the three paragraphs that cover Paredes:

"Sapp and Pablo Paredes, a former junior Navy officer [He was a "Petty Officer", which is a not an "officer" in the sense commonly accepted] who refused to board an Iraq-bound ship in December 2004, were among the activists who spoke during a 90-minute rally that followed a march from City Hall to the wide, snow-covered lawn in front of the capitol...
"...Paredes, 24, of San Diego, made national news in December 2004 when he was arrested [he wasn't arrested right away, even though he had hoped to be] after failing to board a ship transporting Marines to Iraq. He was convicted last year but honorably discharged [General Under Honorable is not the same thing as an Honorable Discharge] from the military. He told the crowd of his efforts in "counter-recruiting," trying to persuade people not to join the military.
"Paraphrasing physicist Albert Einstein, Paredes said, "Wars will stop as soon as people stop fighting in them." [I suppose that it's a paraphrase -- couldn't find anything like in this list of Einstein quotes, and a Google search of the phrase was unhelpful, but I suppose "paraphrase" could mean "follows the general ideas held by that person".]

Three short paragraphs -- three questionable statements and an unknown quote. Not bad.

I was interested, though, to read about the other speaker, SSGT Andrew Sapp. He has a web page which indicates that he and his family are committed opponents of the war -- and he actually fulfilled his contractually-obligated service, as opposed to Paredes. Therefore, I can't complain that his home page implies that he spent 18 months "in Iraq" when the rest of his site indicates that he actually spent no more than 9 months there (he was away from his job for 18 months with pre-deployment training and 3 months in Kuwait, which, despite Saddam Hussein's best efforts in 1990, isn't actually part of Iraq).

SSBNs To Attack Iran?

OK, that's kind of an alarmist headline... something you might expect from a blogger, who has no editors to check them, and no pretense of impartiality. The mainstream media would clearly do better...

So let's check out this article in The London Telegraph, which has been picked up by many other news organizations, about Pentagon contingency planning for possible attacks on Iran. Here's the first paragraph:

"Strategists at the Pentagon are drawing up plans for devastating bombing raids backed by submarine-launched ballistic missile attacks against Iran's nuclear sites as a "last resort" to block Teheran's efforts to develop an atomic bomb."

Whoa... "submarine-launched ballistic missile attacks"! Sounds like we're serious. The article goes on to discuss how "urgent" the new planning is. Many people will think this means that we're planning a pre-emptive nuclear attack on a non-nuclear rival; however, the article does explain that the planned SLBM attack would involve the forthcoming generation of conventionally-armed SLBM warheads (that I discussed last month) thusly:

"The Bush administration has recently announced plans to add conventional ballistic missiles to the armoury of its nuclear Trident submarines within the next two years. If ready in time, they would also form part of the plan of attack."

Plans to add these new missiles to the "armoury" within the next two years... sounds alarming. See, that's the important part -- the article has to make it appear that we'll attack Iran during the remaining years of the Bush presidency; after all, he's the source of all evil in the world. (Interestingly, I've noticed that the Telegraph is probably the most conservative of the mainstream Brit papers -- I'd normally expect stuff like this from The Guardian or LA Times.)

The only problem with this is that the proposal to develop these warheads is being included in the new budget that's was just submitted, and the contractor says that if they get the money this year, they'll be able to start producing the new weapons by 2010. So maybe, just maybe, this contingency planning we're doing is more of the "long range" variety? Naw, that doesn't sell newspapers.

On the other hand, it might be good to occasionally remind the angry Islamists in Tehran that, because of the non-conventionally armed portion of our boomer fleet, that they really can't ever win a war against the U.S.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Winter Olympic Update

After last night's triumphant Opening Ceremonies, in which a formerly-famous singer invited visitors to heavily-Catholic Italy to "Imagine" a world in which religion doesn't exist, the athletic competition has started. The first event for the Bubblehead household was "find a web site that shows what's on TV today".

I knew that the Olympics are showing on the NBC consortium of stations, so I went to They said that there would be "Winter Olympic coverage" at 7 p.m. (MST), but weren't too helpful in specifying what I might see. The website did direct me to another site called "", which I figured would have an easily-accessible complete listing of televised events. I was excited when I got to the site, since it had the logos for USA Network, MSNBC, and CNBC, the other channels showing the games (and the only ones apparently showing them during the morning).

Unfortunately, it was not to be. While the website had lots of good information, it didn't have an easily-findable section about "here's what you can see if you turn on the TV to this channel at this time". It turns out that it does exist; you have to first set your local NBC channel, after specifying your cable provider, after providing your zip code, after clicking on an inconspicuous button. Not that it says you'll get this information after providing what they're asking for; you just have to take it on faith.

After going through the procedure, I found that I could watch the Figure Skaking Pairs "preview" this afternoon, along with the Men's Downhill "Practice Run". I also found that lots of events were either in progress or complete in real time, but apparently the network figures that more people are home to watch TV on Saturday night than on a winter Saturday afternoon. (An American wins a gold in one of them.)

I awarded myself a silver medal for "extreme Olympics web searching"... I'll be conducting the medal ceremony at 3 a.m.

Friday, February 10, 2006

That "Internet Video" Thingie Is Becoming Popular!

While most videos put out on the Internet are intended for entertainment, others provide vital information on important safety issues. For example, Retired Geezer at Blog Idaho provides an important video about aviation safety, whilst CDR Salamander (who, unlike Neptunus Lex, is in no danger of being outed) serves up a video that combines insightful social commentary with a visual depiction of the importance of having proper floatation devices available if you're near a pool.

Force de Frappe Gets An Upgrade

Most people don't realize that almost the entire French and British nuclear arsenals are located aboard their strategic submarines. This article in the Guardian details some improvements the French are making in their nuclear deterrent force:

"The source said there had been two major changes: the bombs can now be fired at high altitude to create an "electromagnetic impulsion" to destroy the enemy's computer and communications systems; and the number of nuclear warheads has been reduced to increase the missiles' range and precision.
"During his surprise speech, which was made in January, President Chirac said: "The number of nuclear warheads has been reduced in certain of the missiles in our submarines".
"Military experts said this was not a step towards disarmament, but a move to improve the performance of the weapons. Until now each submarine carried 16 French-made M45 missiles, each fitted with six nuclear warheads. After being fired, each warhead would separate to hit a different target, in effect giving each submarine 96 nuclear bombs.
"In reducing the number of warheads, down to one per missile in some cases, the weapon is lighter and has a longer range. It can also be targeted more accurately."

The French are the only Western country continuing to build SSBNs, although the Brits are in the middle of a debate about how to modernize their boomers. With the exception of a few air-launched missiles, the French nuclear force is based almost entirely aboard the four submarines that make up the Force Océanique Stratégique: the aging L'Inflexible (S615) and three Triomphant class boats. (A fourth Tripomphant, Le Terrible (S 619), is due to be launched in 2008, and will reportedly join the fleet in 2010 with the new M51 missile as part of her initial loadout.)

Say what you want about our French allies, they give good names to their submarines.

"Wuv... Twue Wuv"

In honor of Friday catblogging, I present a couple more shots of Hercules and his continuing infatuation with blankets. He tends to "make his move" on the blankets either after we go to bed, or after SubBasket leaves to take the boys to school in the morning. Since I wasn't leaving for work until after she left, I figured I might have a chance to get some action shots. Alas, as I was taking my bath, I heard SubBasket talking to Hercules: "Jeez... have you no shame, cat? Are you not even embarrassed at all by what you're doing?" I asked if he was molesting the blanket, and was told he was. I figured I had missed my chance. So, when I got downstairs, I went ahead and snapped a picture of a wistful-looking Hercules admiring his conquest from afar. I figured I'd call it "Afterglow":

It turns out that this wasn't the end of the encounter, but merely a short rest. SubBasket and the boys left, and I was collecting my stuff to leave when I walked past the stairs, and he was at it again:

He's got some stamina, that cat does... I was disappointed, though, because I hoped to get a short video clip, but the camera's batteries were too low. Therefore, you'll have to be satisfied with video of another cat who loves her blanket; she just doesn't grab it in her teeth and make strange noises...

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Mark Of The Beast

Whenever one of the Boise television stations has a story about submarines, I figure I have to comment on it. The small town of Arco, Idaho, is the nearest town to the Idaho National Laboratory, where the Naval Reactors Facility (home of the Nautilus and Enterprise prototype reactors) is located. When USS Hawkbill (SSN 666) was decommissioned, the Navy decided to honor Arco by donating the boat's sail. Excerpt:

"It is leased to Arco for a hundred years," he says. "This actually belongs to the Navy yet. And every year we have to send a report in to the Navy on the condition of it."
"Submarine in the desert," says Clay Condit. "Yeah, an oxymoron if you ever had one."
Condit says Arco erected the sail in 2003.

Via The Sub Report, some more background information on the memorial is here.

It seems some of the townsfolk weren't to happy to have a submarine with such a "scary" hull number in their park:

"666 is clearly marked on both sides of the sail. 666 is sort of the sub's serial number. And it led to its nickname.
"It was called 'The Devil Boat."
"The Devil Boat -- because 666 is in the Book of Revelations in the Bible. And that's created mixed reaction in conservative Arco.
"Some of them didn't like it," Dean says about some Arco residents. "And some of them still don't like it."
"And we came back one day, and some guy climbed up there and changed that into G-O-D for God," Condit says with a chuckle. "And we had to go re-paint it."

There's an urban legend in the Sub Force that SSN 666 almost had another, even more "devilish" name. The story goes that Admiral Rickover didn't care much for religion, and saw a chance to tweak some noses when it came to naming the boats. As "666" was coming up, he thought it might be a good idea to honor the WWII submarine USS Sea Devil (SS 400) with a new namesake. Cooler heads prevailed, though, so that illustrious name was assigned to SSN 664 instead. Probably for the better, but still...

Going deep...

HMCS Windsor Leaky Air Valve Makes The News

Here's another reason why submariners don't like to make the news; when you do, like they have in Canada, every little thing that goes wrong gets scrutinized by the press. This article actually does a pretty good job of just reporting the facts, though:

"Meanwhile, HMCS Windsor, which had slipped out to sea Monday, returned to port a few hours early on Wednesday to repair a leaky air valve. The sub’s skipper, Lt.-Cmdr. Luc Cassivi, described the problem as minor.
"Before I go away for a long period . . . I always like to take the boat out for a few days, kick the wheels, as we say, and then come back to provide some opportunity for technical staff to tweak the little problems," Lt.-Cmdr. Cassivi said.
"Once a pressure drop was detected in the sub’s high-pressure air system, the leaky valve was discovered using some old-fashioned detective work.
"We did some fault-finding with some soapy water," he said.
"Some aspects of these warships are a bit rocket science. But some of it is pretty primitive. You don’t need to consult NASA to find the problems."
Windsor will leave Halifax again soon.
"It’s within a week, but my sailing dates are classified," Lt.-Cmdr. Cassivi said.
"The sub, one of four Canada purchased from Britain for $891 million, is also bound for war games in local waters and with our neighbours to the south.
"Another sub, HMCS Corner Brook, has been out of service since April 2004. Both HMCS Victoria and HMCS Chicoutimi, which caught fire last year, killing Lieut. Chris Saunders of Halifax, are also out of commission."

At least they didn't have to use the "broomstick" method to find the HP air leak.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Bio-agent Sensor Goes Off In D.C.

It looks like the possible nerve agent detection in the Russell Senate Office Building tonight will turn out to be a false alarm; apparently, pesticides and such can sometimes cause false positives.
What interested me was the reaction to the story from my favorite sources of laughter and merriment, Democratic Underground and Daily Kos. Both places, the immediate response was "Rove did it..."; some said because there was going to be a meeting for Democratic senators that night, some because Bush's poll numbers are up (or down) and this will distract the "sheeple", some thought it was because Rove wanted to plant listening devices (couldn't do that at night, when no one's around). Mostly, they think that Bushitler is directing massive media coverage of the "news" to distract everyone and make them think about terrorism.

I'm wondering if they'd be happier if, when bio sensors go off, or there's a bomb threat, that no information be released to the public while it's being investigated, so as not to "distract" anyone. Actually, I don't think anything will make that crowd happy...

Update 2002 08 Feb: I knew it wouldn't take too long until the diligent Gem State Rethug-watchers at 43rd State Blues spoke truth to power about this event. Their hard-hitting post that proves that there was no way that it was just a false alarm, but was planned by the Karl and the Reich Wing, will surely prove to "rural, white-trash Idaho" that Democratic blogs will pave the way to Dem victory in '06 -- led, of course, by the September 11 Forum at Democratic Underground.

You Never Forget Your First...

... home that you owned. Since we didn't start buying houses until relatively late (we lived in base housing from '91-'99) we still have strong memories of the first house we bought, in Ledyard, CT. We owned it when I was Eng on the Jimmy Carter, from 2001 through summer 2003.

So, I was somewhat surprised to see the house back on the market, and even more surprised to see the price: $595K. It looks like they new owners did quite a bit of work to it, but c'mon... I won't say what we got for it 32 months ago, but it wasn't even half the current selling price. I also notice that they still have snow in Connecticut:

Still, if anyone if moving to the Groton area and wants a house with a lot of submarine "history", you should take a look at it. What "history", you may ask? Well, in addition to once being owned by Idaho's first and foremost submarine blogger, it was owned before that by the Director of Naval Reactors; this resulted in one of the most perfect "set-up lines" in the history of Submarine Birthday Ball small talk.

So there I was... the first Sub Birthday Ball in Groton after the Jimmy Carter had manned up. I saw the new CO of my previous boat, USS Connecticut (SSN 22), so I went up to introduce myself to him. We started talking, and the new Connecticut XO came up, so the CO introduced him to me with the comment, from out of left field: "Here's my XO; he mixes with big wigs -- he almost bought Admiral Bowman's house!". The 22 XO (who I'd known before) then said: "Uh, Captain, Joel's the one who did buy the Bowman house." It was totally sweet...

Blog Admin note: Expect posting to be light this week; it's the last week of the wrestling regular season, so we've got three dual meets to go to this week, plus I've got a late meeting on the one free night I have. On the other hand, I did just snap some new "action" shots of Hercules molesting a blanket that you can look forward to on Friday.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

MTS Shore Stories

[Intel Source: bothenook] Justin Cline, who's been posting very infrequently over at God Can't See Underwater, surfaced long enough to provide two very good posts from the perspective of a Staff Pickup Junior Staff Instructor at NPTU Charleston (where I was a Shift Eng from '93-'95). The first is a good snapshot of where prototype training is today, while the 2nd is a great story about a checkout that took a wrong turn. It inspired me to write about a "trans-phase" exam answer that got passed around the staff back when I was a young Lieutenant...

The "trans-phase" was, if I remember right, basically a mid-course "knowledge check" that all students had to take; it was a way to make sure that someone wasn't just slipping through without learning any real facts. Sometimes it uncovered people who were doing just that. This particular student was an Electrician's Mate, so he had some "tougher" electrical questions on his exam. The question was basically: 'How does hydrogen gas get produced in the battery?' His answer was classic (remember, this is an EM): 'Neutrons from the reactor come in, and collide with the water molecules, knocking off a hydrogen atom. Two hydrogen atoms combine to form H2.'

If I remember right, the "GCE" the grader wrote on the test paper covered the entire page. (For those who've forgotten your battery equations, it looks like most of them can be found here.)

Monday, February 06, 2006

Re-scheduling The Quarterly PM

I noticed that it's been three months since I posted on that always popular topic, "Women on Submarines". Even though there's an article that just came out in the new Navy Times about the MCPON seeming to support the concept, my heart really isn't in it tonight, so I'll throw you over to Rontini's BBS, where the discussion's going on hot and heavy. Here's part of the article; the rest is in the Rontini post linked above:

"The Navy's top enlisted sailor thinks the time may be right for women to join the silent service.
"I am not opposed to women serving on submarines," Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy (SS/AW) Terry Scott said in a 90-minute Feb. 1 interview with re-porters and editors of Navy Times. "I think it could work."
"A former submariner and chief of a fast attack boat, Scott said he believes Navy culture - not a lack of funding or logistical constraints - is the only fundamental hurdle to the idea...
"...A career submariner, Scott rose from the ranks as a missile technician onboard a ballistic missile submarine to become the chief of the boat on an attack submarine. He has experienced life onboard submarines firsthand and says there's a place for women there, too. His contention comes not just from a sailor's perspective. It's driven, in part, by being the father of two very capable daughters.
"I have a daughter who told me when she was 8 years old that she wanted to ride submarines," Scott said.
"He recounted the conversation that came up after his daughter experienced a dependents' cruise with her father. "I said, you never know what's going to happen, honey," he told her. "She's 21 years old now, and still wants to."
"That's just one of the factors that shaped his current view on a long-sensitive subject in the silent service.Scott said the biggest obstacle to getting women into subs isn't the age-old, and understandable, difficulties in modifying heads and berthing areas. Instead, supporters of the idea must overcome cultural fears and concerns.
"But Scott said good leadership can solve those issues."I think it could work," he said. "I think leadership can solve many of what are considered some of our most difficult problems." Scott said he knows of no formal plans or policies to change the current exclusions, but his position on the matter was clear: "I would support a change," he said."

Of course, he is a Missile Tech...

Excuses Are Like...

Sorry for the light posting; after yesterday's Super Bowl, I decided to do taxes, so that's taken up my free time since then. (This is my first time doing Idaho taxes for the whole year; it appears that we pay a lot more in state taxes than most other states...)

While I was UA, Lubber's Line posted about the successful anti-air missile test (with potential submarine-launched capabilities) that was just announced, over at our group submarine blog Ultraquiet No More.

Also, Liberal Larry at BlameBush! gives us a report on Bush's latest crimes this weekend. My favorite: "And Goddess only knows what dirt the Chimp had on the Superdome officials to make them completely ignore the 75 homeruns the Seattle Seahawks made right under their very noses. I wouldn’t be surprised if he was responsible for the drunken, face-painted barbarians who pulled down my pants and pushed me into the womyn’s restroom at the sports bar, too."

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Act Of War?

Several of my favorite bloggers, including Ninme and Clayton Cramer, have questioned whether the attacks on embassies in Arab police states are an act of war. While an argument could be made for this (especially if one makes the reasonable assumption that such an attack could not take place without government acquiescence, if not direction, in such a state), my guess is that it leaves enough wiggle-room that the European governments so attacked won't push the issue.

Additional, Clayton asks if the attacks would cause the collective defense article of the NATO Treaty to be invoked (as it was after the 9/11 attacks). A reading of the article in question (Article 5) suggests that the answer is "no", since the attacks happened in Asia Minor:

"The Parties agree that an armed attack against one or more of them in Europe or North America shall be considered an attack against them all and consequently they agree that, if such an armed attack occurs, each of them, in exercise of the right of individual or collective self-defence recognised by Article 51 of the Charter of the United Nations, will assist the Party or Parties so attacked by taking forthwith, individually and in concert with the other Parties, such action as it deems necessary, including the use of armed force, to restore and maintain the security of the North Atlantic area."

Still, if it gets much worse, you never know...

Update 2309 06 Feb: I note that bothenook, gus van horn, G-man, and The Noonz Wire have all joined the large group of bloggers showing solidarity for press freedom by posting some or all of the cartoons in question. The link at The Noonz Wire has a fairly comprehensive round-up of posters who have done this in case I missed anyone.

Movie Review: Annapolis

Went and saw "Annapolis" yesterday with my two teenage sons, while SubBasket and our daughter went and saw "Brokeback Mountain". (girlfriday has a new review of Brokeback Mountain up that gives the perspective of a conservative Idaho woman -- you might be surprised. It just convinces me even more that it's a chick flick.)

Anyway, I went to Annapolis fully expecting to end up giving it "the finger" in my review. Based on the trailer I'd seen, which featured quick shots of ships at sea, I expected a "first year midshipmen are called out to lead the naval attack on a terrorist/white supremicist stronghold" type of movie. Luckily, the trailer was misleading; it ended up being a cross between "An Officer and a Gentleman" and "Rocky" ("A Plebe and a Boxer" would have been a more accurate title.)

Storywise, the movie was OK; nothing special, but not bad either. (Kid from wrong side of tracks goes to upscale college, learns he needs to work with his classmates, meets girl, gains respect of upperclassman.) From a "military accuracy" perspective, though, it looks like another movie where they either didn't hire a military technical advisor, or didn't listen to the one they got.

The worst "continuity" error was having the only major commissioned officer character be dressed as a Lieutenant Commander (his nametag said "Lt Cdr", which makes me think the military expert they had was an Army guy), but be referred to by himself, and others, as a "Lieutenant". The ribbons people wore were at least in the right order, but mostly inappropriate for that persons level of seniority and/or warfare community. Regarding the interactions between the midshipmen, it was all straight out of central casting. There was the stereotypical sadistic upperclassman who enjoyed tormenting the plebes, who eventually gets his comeuppance. There were the misfit freshman who have to come together to overcome their tormentors. They even had a scene where a plebe had to complete the obstacle course or they'd get kicked out -- instead of a woman, it was an African-American man in the "Seegar" role.

I was most interested to see the reaction of what the Navy (which didn't officially support the film) probably hopes is the target demographic: high school students who might be interested in going to the Academy. It turns out my oldest son is in that group; he said that the film made him realize how tough the Academy could be, and probably "less likely" to want to attend. (From my perspective, that's an upcheck.) I explained to him that while the movie made it seem as though upperclass midshipmen were very powerful and mean, and that they may perceive of themselves as such, in truth all they are is 21 year old jerks without any real-world experience. Let's face it -- when they finally graduate, after four years of being told that they're the "best and the brightest" they become: Ensigns. And we all know that the only thing more worthless to the running of a ship than an Ensign is -- a midshipman. I told him that, if he does go to Annapolis, his biggest challenge should be avoiding laughing in the face of the 20 year old martinet-wannabes as they're yelling at him during his plebe year.

I don't think the movie is doing very well -- this is the only time in my life that my party was the only group in the theater. My younger son, who has no desire to go to Annapolis, thought it was a "pretty good" movie, and gave it 4 out of 5. My oldest gave it a 3.5. For me, the adequacy of the non-military storyline, and positive reviews from the target demographic, convinced me not to give it "the finger". Instead, it gets two stereotypically-hardass midshipman caricatures out of five.

And regarding "Brokeback Mountain" -- I always get in trouble here at home if I make fun of it, so if you see anyone get confused and describe it as "a tender love story between a fugitive wizard and his tempermental hippogriff called "Buckbeak Mountin' ", it wasn't me.

Going deep...

Update 0604 06 Feb: I almost forgot; they also had midshipmen doing navigation exercises where the plebes gave answers of "soandso degrees, 85 minutes" -- not once but multiple times, using numbers for minutes greater than 59 -- without being corrected by the upperclass midshipmen. It may have been a comment from the scriptwriters about how midshipmen are essentially clueless, but I think it was really an indication that the writers were clueless.

Also, I swear I didn't see this StategyPage smack-down of Annapolis before I wrote my review (I think it came out after mine anyway...)

Sympathy For The (Tasmanian) Devil

From my two port visits to Hobart, Tasmania, the thing I think I'll remember most (other than stupid Ensign tricks) are my trips to this little roadside zoo where they had a Tasmanian Devil display. They did a "feeding demonstration" where they'd put a dead rabbit in the enclosure with two devils... those things would eat the whole rabbit, bones and all, in about five minutes, while snarling and barking at each other. It was very impressive. The zookeeper said that the Devil is the only mammal that's never been domesticated -- apparently they just hate everything and anyone, probably because they're so ugly. I thought they were great.

That's why I was saddened to read about a strange disease that's been ravaging the natural Devil population. Scientifically, it's quite interesting -- it's apparently a cancer that's spread by biting:

"But while many scientists had suspected a virus, Anne-Marie Pearse, a researcher for the state of Tasmania who co-wrote the article in Nature, found abnormalities in the chromosomes of the cancer cells were the same in every tumor.
"Pearse and her colleague Kate Swift discovered that, while the normal complement of chromosomes in the devil is 14, the tumours contained 13, which were grossly abnormal. These chromosomal rearrangements were identical in tumours from all 11 animals studied by the scientists.
"This offers support for the idea that the disease apparently began with a single sick devil, probably in the mid-1990s, that directly spread the cancer cells by biting other animals. The authors propose that cancer cells are dislodged from one animal and essentially transplanted to another as a result of bites inflicted around the mouth.
"Devils jaw wrestle and bite each other a lot, usually in the face and around the mouth, and bits of tumor break off one devil and stick in the wounds of another," said Ms Pearse."

Hopefully, now that they know the cause, they'll be able to help the Devils recover. (Tasmanian farmers actually like them, because they keep the area free of corpses, and rarely kill healthy animals.) The Wikipedia article I linked earlier has a lot of good information on these fascinating animals.

Going deep...