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, October 31, 2006

Idaho House, Gov Races Statistical Dead Heats

(Update 2333 02 Nov: An even newer poll shows Larry Grant leading Bill Sali 38-34%)

If you needed more proof that the Republicans aren't doing too well nationally, look no further than Idaho -- a state President Bush took with over 68% of the vote in 2004. From an Idaho Statesman poll that came out this weekend:
Republican U.S. Rep. Butch Otter leads Democrat Jerry Brady in the race for governor, 44 percent to 43 percent, with 12 percent undecided.

In the open 1st District Congress contest to replace Otter, Republican state Rep. Bill Sali leads Democrat Larry Grant 39 percent to 37 percent, with 21 percent undecided.
We know the national Republican party is worried -- they're sending Vice President Cheney out here a second time since August. To me, the most interesting parts of the poll were the "unfavorable" numbers. Republican Bill Sali was evenly split between favorable and unfavorable, with 33% for each, while Democrat Larry Grant had only a 13% unfavorable rating -- and this poll was taken about a week into a massive (for Idaho) media buy of negative commercials against Grant from various out-of-state special interests.

I'm not really sure if these results are due to statewide revulsion with national Republican politics, or if it's more because, in Jerry Brady and Larry Grant, the Idaho Dems came up with some really good candidates, while the Republican candidates aren't quite up to snuff. In the case of Bill Sali, especially, it appears that the Republicans probably couldn't have come up with a worse candidate. In addition to having questions about a recent lawsuit haunting him, he basically refuses to answer any questions -- most embarrassingly, his explanation of why he failed to come up with a position on Proposition 2 (the zoning change payoff proposal that basically all reasonable Idaho pols, Democrat and Republican, have come out against, but is backed by Mr. Sali's "Club For Growth" bankroller in New York).

Mr. Sali does have his supporters in the Idaho blogosphere, some of whom actually live in the 1st District. Posting most frequently have been Adam at Adam's Blog and fellow submariner Dale over at Right Mind, while Idaho überblogger Clayton Cramer and Girlfriday occasionally speak up. Most of the rest of the Idaho political blogosphere (a sampling of which can be found on the right) is solidly in Larry Grant's corner -- as are essentially all the newspapers.

While a betting man would probably still put his money on the Republicans in these two races, they're a lot closer than they would be if there wasn't something unusual going on. If the Republicans can't hold Idaho, though, they're in for a long night next Tuesday.

Background -- My previous posts on the election include the following (in semi-random order):

Why The Republicans Are Losing My Vote
Why I Support Larry Grant
Another Idaho Election Update
Can Someone Explain To Me...
An Open E-mail To The Bill Sali Campaign
Idaho Politics Update
Thrown Out Of The Idaho Republican Party
Vice President Cheney Visit To Boise -- A Success?
Idaho Democrats -- Against The Mexican War!
More Questions For Mr. Sali
The Importance Of Using Good English

Lastly, my personal favorite...
Bill Sali And The Underpants Gnomes

Maybe A Little Scarier Than They Were Looking For

Northern Idaho seems to have all the strangest "off-beat" stories lately; first the bear-hunting baby-sitter, and now this:
The teens told Kootenai County sheriff's deputies they were at a Halloween party on Grandview Drive when they decided to go "ding dong ditching" – ringing doorbells and running away. The teens said they noticed a house next door that was under construction and "thought it would be scary inside," deputies reported.
After entering the home through the garage, the teens saw what they believed were "bags" hanging from the rafters in the basement. The teens shot at the object with BB guns and threw chunks of lumber at it, the Sheriff's Department said...
...The teens went back to the party next door to get a flashlight. When they shined the flashlight to see what they were shooting at, they realized it was the body of a man, according to sheriff's deputies.
The teens said they screamed, ran back to the party and told others they had found a body, "but nobody believed them," the report said. They finally persuaded someone to go back to the unfinished home with them. But as they arrived, they were confronted by the owner, 65-year-old Norman Giddings, who was carrying a machete. He ordered the teens to get down on the ground and said if they didn't, "he would bust their heads open," according to the report.
Giddings, who didn't return a call seeking comment, told deputies he was at his nearby home when a neighbor called and said there were people in the home he was having built. Giddings told deputies he took his daughter, and a machete "for protection," and went to investigate.
Jody DeLuca, Kootenai County's chief deputy coroner, said the body of the man, who had hanged himself, had not been there long before the teens entered the home. DeLuca said there were no visible injuries to the body that would indicate it had been hit by the BB...
...According to the sheriff's report, Giddings said he didn't want to press charges. He told a deputy that the teens "had been through enough."
It's sad that the man committed suicide, but I'm sure this will be a Halloween those teenagers won't ever forget.

Monday, October 30, 2006

A Plethora Of Pictures

Some readers have sent in a couple of good pictures recently. The first is of USS Honolulu (SSN 718) in the Puget Sound recently; she's going into PSNS for her inactivation:

I've gotten quite a few visits from people looking for pictures of NPTU Ballston Spa in New York. The resolution of the one I had posted wasn't very good; a reader found a better one on the 'net:

Lastly, here's one I took tonight. We decided to try a "puking pumpkin" this year for Halloween; this is the result:

I'm pretty pleased with myself, considering it was our first attempt.

Update 0046 01 Nov: Here's an official Navy picture of USS Honolulu in the Puget Sound.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

A Sub Story Almost Too Stupid To Mention

I hesitate to even mention this, but some website called has a story up about how Al Qaeda submarines might attack Saudi oil terminals (discussion of a possible attack on those was in the news last week). Here's part of what the ThreatsWatch article says:
In an MSNBC interview with Dr. Walid Phares early Saturday, there was mention of intelligence that the threat to the Saudi offshore facility may have included the use of a submarine. Dr. Phares posited that such equipment may, if in fact accurate, be provided by Iran for such an attack.
At first glance, the use of a submarine in such an attack seems a remote possibility. Yet, in contemplating possible attack tactics and equipment and the MSNBC mention of submarines, it brings to mind the attempts in the late 1990’s of a Philippine terrorist group, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, to purchase a mini-submarine from North Korea. The equipment was never delivered, but that was not due to any North Korean reluctance to sell arms – including the mini-submarine - to terrorist organizations
The article goes on to talk more about the supposed MILF submarine deal. (Off topic -- do those Filipino terrorists know how amusing their acronym is when written in English, as the article does several times?) This important thing to realize is that if Al Qaeda does have a submarine, they'd need Iranian assistance in getting it into position, and as much as many of us wouldn't put anything past the Revolutionary Guard jihadis, I personally think that the Iranian leadership isn't suicidal enough to authorize anything that would have their fingerprints on it so clearly. I think we can safely discount the threat of Al Qaeda submarines to Saudi oil terminals.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

An Oldie But A Goodie

I was talking to my sons today (who, as of tomorrow, will both be 15 for the next 3 1/2 weeks), and one of them was talking about a group English paper they had to write. For some reason, this made me think back to one of the first funny E-mails I got when I first got on the 'net, about the results of a "cooperative writing" project. I Googled around, and found a copy of it over at Snopes; here it is:
Rebecca and Gary
English 44A
Creative Writing
Prof Miller
In-class Assignment for Wednesday

Today we will experiment with a new form called the tandem story. The process is simple. Each person will pair off with the person sitting to his or her immediate right. One of you will then write the first paragraph of a short story. The partner will read the first paragraph and then add another paragraph to the story. The first person will then add a third paragraph, and so on back and forth. Remember to reread what has been written each time in order to keep the story coherent. The story is over when both agree a conclusion has been reached.

* * * * * *

At first, Laurie couldn't decide which kind of tea she wanted. The camomile, which used to be her favorite for lazy evenings at home, now reminded her too much of Carl, who once said, in happier times, that he liked camomile. But she felt she must now, at all costs, keep her mind off Carl. His possessiveness was suffocating, and if she thought about him too much her asthma started acting up again. So camomile was out of the question.

Meanwhile, Advance Sergeant Carl Harris, leader of the attack squadron now in orbit over Skylon 4, had more important things to think about than the neuroses of an air-headed bimbo named Laurie with whom he had spent one sweaty night over a year ago. "A.S. Harris to Geostation 17," he said into his transgalactic communicator. "Polar orbit established. No sign of resistance so far..." But before he could sign off a bluish particle beam flashed out of nowhere and blasted a hole through his ship's cargo bay. The jolt from the direct hit sent him flying out of his seat and across the cockpit.

He bumped his head and died almost immediately, but not before he felt one last pang of regret for psychically brutalizing the one woman who had ever had feelings for him. Soon afterwards, Earth stopped its pointless hostilities towards the peaceful farmers of Skylon 4. "Congress Passes Law Permanently Abolishing War and Space Travel," Laurie read in her newspaper one morning. The news simultaneously excited her and bored her. She stared out the window, dreaming of her youth — when the days had passed unhurriedly and carefree, with no newspapers to read, no television to distract her from her sense of innocent wonder at all the beautiful things around her. "Why must one lose one's innocence to become a woman?" she pondered wistfully.

Little did she know, but she has less than 10 seconds to live. Thousands of miles above the city, the Anu'udrian mothership launched the first of its lithium fusion missiles. The dim-witted wimpy peaceniks who pushed the Unilateral Aerospace Disarmament Treaty through Congress had left Earth a defenseless target for the hostile alien empires who were determined to destroy the human race. Within two hours after the passage of the treaty the Anu'udrian ships were on course for Earth, carrying enough firepower to pulverize the entire planet. With no one to stop them they swiftly initiated their diabolical plan. The lithium fusion missile entered the atmosphere unimpeded. The President, in his top-secret mobile submarine headquarters on the ocean floor off the coast of Guam, felt the inconceivably massive explosion which vaporized Laurie and 85 million other Americans. The President slammed his fist on the conference table. "We can't allow this! I'm going to veto that treaty! Let's blow 'em out of the sky!"

This is absurd. I refuse to continue this mockery of literature. My writing partner is a violent, chauvinistic, semi-literate adolescent.

Yeah? Well, you're a self-centered tedious neurotic whose attempts at writing are the literary equivalent of Valium.

You total $*&.

Stupid %&#$!
Hilarious! Did you have any trouble figuring out which paragraphs were written by Rebecca, and which were Gary's contributions?

"Whiskey On The Rocks": 25 Years Later

This happened before I joined the Navy, so I don't have anything in the way of first-hand information, but 25 years ago today, a Swedish fisherman noticed a submarine aground in Swedish waters near the Karlskona Naval Base and notified authorities. The submarine was the Soviet Whiskey-class boat S-363 (aka U-137). This began a 10 day diplomatic dance between the Swedes and Soviets:
A daring plan by the Soviet navy to send in a tugboat to free the stranded submarine was averted after a race with a Swedish submarine that reached the stranded U-137 first.
Sweden also protested against Soviet naval forces that were grouped off its territorial waters, and feared they would try to free the submarine.
Tensions were heightened further when Prime Minister Thorbjorn Falldin gravely announced that "with all probability" U-137 was carrying atomic weapons...
...A diplomatic tug-of-war ensued with Sweden issuing sharply worded protests and demanding to interview the captain and review the logbook and charts, and Moscow refusing to allow that...
... The immediate crisis was resolved when Moscow conceded to Sweden's demands for an apology and the right to interview the captain and Besedin. On November 6, 1981 the submarine was allowed to leave Swedish waters.
Despite the Soviet protestations that the boat suffered from "navigation errors", it's pretty clear that they were surveilling the Swedish base and got unlucky (or stupid). Given that the Whiskey was basically an improved WWII Type XXI German U-boat,it appears the Soviets didn't exactly send the "first string" to keep an eye on the Swedes, and they paid the diplomatic price for it.

Update 0116 28 Oct: The website hosting the pictures appears to be really slow right now, but there are four pages of thumbnails of the incident at this Google image search for ' W-137 submarine'. I'll try to post one of the pictures I was able to download when Blogger lets me.

Update 2302 31 Oct: After several attempts, it looks like Blogger finally let me upload the picture:

Friday, October 27, 2006

OK, We Will

An article on the CNN website from yesterday says it all:

K-Fed: 'If you want to hate me, cool, hate me'

I personally think that's the best idea Mr. Spears has had in a long time.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Dive! Dive!

[Intel Source: The Sub Report] Check out this fairly lengthy (5+ minute) video of USS Wyoming (SSBN 742) submerging, as seen from the periscope:

While it's clear that Ohio-class boats aren't the quickest-diving boats in the world, it always seemed to me like it took my attack boats a long time to dive -- maybe it's just because you're so focused on listening to everything that's going on around you while you're looking through the 'scope that it just seemed like it took forever. Non-submariners will be interested in the water shooting up from either end of the boat -- that's the air being expelled from the ballast tanks as the water pushes in from the bottom.

The OOD's main responsibility after he gives the order to the DOOW to "Submerge the ship" is to call "Decks awash". I always thought that this was more of an art than a science; you can't do it when the water is first washing across the deck, but if you wait too long it ends up taking forever to get down. I never had the CO yell at me for doing it wrong, though, so I guess I had a good feel for it (either that, or it doesn't matter as much with the boats being so big nowadays). I somehow ended up with more than my share of diving (and surfacing) evolutions as a JO; I probably did about 15 or 20 of each as OOD -- plus over 100 trips to PD. I kept trying to tell the pilots I worked with on the carrier that I should get as much respect for that as the guys who celebrated their 100th carrier trap, but none of them ever believed me.

Another Idaho Election Update

With just under two weeks to go before the election, it looks like Idaho may be getting ready to surprise some people. I've been talking a lot about the 1st District Congressional race matching Larry Grant against Bill Sali, but the race for Governor looks like it's heating up as well. According to a recent poll, Democrat Jerry Brady leads current 1st District Congressman "Butch" Otter by two percentage points -- within the polls margin of error, but still a significant improvement for Brady since the same polling organization showed him down 19 points in June.

The Larry Grant - Bill Sali race has been drawing the most national attention, though. The recent inclusion of Mr. Sali on the GOP "Watch List", along with the National Republican Congressional Committee's expenditure of over $340,000 on Sali's behalf, indicates that the national party knows that he's in trouble -- as well they should. This is a district that gave President Bush 69% of the vote in 2004, and Mr. Sali can't get above 50% in the polls. His performance in the televised debate last night surely didn't help him at all:
The evening got off to an awkward start when Sali insisted on reading a statement tarring Grant as liberal and comparing him to Bill Clinton, despite objections from the moderator, who twice told Sali that opening remarks were not allowed.
Supporters of Mr. Sali are continuing their barrage of negative advertisements, so it's hard to predict who will win. I think, though, that the news of Jerry Brady's improvement in the polls indicates that Idaho may very well be getting ready to send a message to the national Republican Party that traditional Republicans are sick of the fiscal irresponsibility and strategic incompetence of the current crop of Republican leaders in Congress.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Way Kewl Photo

[Intel Source: Right Mind] Check out this photo of a Space Shuttle launch taken from a chase plane:

Is that sweet or what? Some blogs are claiming that the photo was taken from the International Space Station, but this is clearly being taken from a lower altitude -- something still in the atmosphere (this guy says it's a WB-57 chase plane). For comparison, here's a photo of Denmark taken from the ISS.
No matter where it was taken from, it's still a great picture.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

"Artist" Arrested For Vandalizing Groton Sub Sign

A New London "artist" was arrested for the anti-war vandalism of the "Submarine Capital of the World" sign that welcomes visitors to Groton. In this article, "Mac" Love tries to offer something of an explanation:
"I'm afraid right now I'm not at liberty to discuss the entire case. I do just want to tell the people of Groton and the submarine community that I'm sorry and I wanted to apologize and I want to say I'm sorry that my message was misunderstood."
But what was that message? William MacDonald Love, known as Mac, is an artist in residence at New London's Hygienic Art Gallery. He says he cannot discuss details now, but he did give some insight into what was not his intention.
Love says,"It was not a politically motivated message at all and it was never meant to insult it or disrespect them in any way. I never really meant that at all."
Love hinted at what he was thinking when he poured the paint on the sign. He told us to think Yellow Submarine-apparently referencing the Beatles song about friends and neighbors living under the sea in a life of ease with all they need. Love is now charged with criminal mischief and breach of peace.
"I do have peaceful intentions always in everything and the peaceful intentions were in that too," says Love.
I'm betting illicit pharmaceuticals were somehow involved in the evolution of Love's philosophy. And what the hell is "hygienic art" anyway?

Monday, October 23, 2006

The Latest "Diesel Boats Are Scary" Story

Every few months, you'll see a story in some local paper about how "diesel boats sank the most advanced U.S. warships in an exercise" or "foreign warplanes shot down our most advanced fighters in an exercise". The newest one came out last week on the website from LA, discussing the San Diego-based Swedish submarine HMS Gotland. Here are some excerpts:
According to Swedish newspapers, in training exercises the Gotland has sunk our most sophisticated nuclear submarines. But perhaps even more disconcerting, it reportedly sunk our largest aircraft carrier, the U.S.S. Reagan...
...As the U.S. funnels billions into the war on terror, countries like North Korea, China and Iran are building or trying to get submarines like the Gotland.
Two months ago in the Persian Gulf, Iran tested a new anti-ship missile fired by one of its subs.
If the Iranians are successful in getting a Gotland-class submarine, it could pose a new silent danger to vital oil tanker traffic in the region...
I'd say that's a pretty big if -- I don't think the Swedes are selling to the Iranians. Still, I think these stories actually serve a fairly good purpose, hopefully getting Congress to provide more money for the military to respond to the "threat"; they also make our allies feel better about themselves, which is important. Meanwhile, those of us who know will just keep it to ourselves that essentially every submarine in the world could "sink" a carrier in a SoCal exercise; the real question is how they'd do in a real-world situation, where they'd have to transit a couple hundred miles to the CVOA, and their torpedos would actually have to work, and they'd be going up against a screen of one or two SSNs, who know what the threat axis is and who don't have their NAUs turned on. (This is not to say the Gotland, or another Western submarine and crew couldn't do it -- they're very good. We're not planning on going to war with them, though. I'm saying that an Iranian or North Korean diesel boat and crew would have a hard time actually getting close enough to an alerted Battle Group to do any militarily significant damage. Remember, in a war with Iran, we're not going to be sending the carriers charging through the SOH until the Iranian Kilos are sunk; they'll be way down in the Arabian Sea, leveling the submarine maintenance facility at Bandar Abbas with air strikes.)

Until then, we'll just sit back and act shocked, and let everyone know that if we had a few billion more dollars, we could make it all better.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

What Other Republicans Say About Bill Sali

Update 1716 23 Oct: I'm pretty sure this is the first ever political ad to use the word "fricking" in it.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

"Birthright Citizenship"

A Letter to the Editor in Friday's Idaho Statesman (2nd letter down) has had me thinking all weekend. Here's how the letter starts (emphasis mine):
Larry Grant appears to be the solid kind of Democrat some Idahoans have been longing for. He has the credentials, the pedigree, and cuts a good figure. Unfortunately when it comes to Mr. Grant’s position on immigration, he falls woefully short of the mark.
Larry Grant views the illegal immigration issue as a "jobs problem." In other words, the supply is fulfilling a demand. What Mr. Grant fails to realize is that it is not just jobs that the illegal immigrants come for. They come for social, medical, and birthright citizen benefits for their future children.
Mr. Grant never considers the option of cutting off benefits, ending birthright citizenship and removing the welcome mat because he is too interested in pandering to business interests and Hispanic pressure groups...
I've been hearing a lot more lately about the concept of ending "birthright citizenship" -- the automatic granting of citizenship to anyone physically born in the United States. While some Republicans might say otherwise, I really don't see how you could even start to try to "end" this right without amending the Constitution, specifically the 14th Amendment, which reads in part:
Section 1. All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside.
Someone should ask Mr. Sali if he has considered ending birthright citizenship, and if so, if he would want to amend the 14th Amendment or just repeal the whole thing. Considering that the odds of such an Amendment getting the approval of the legislatures of 38 states is just about zero, it looks to me like this is just another example of Mr. Sali and his supporters tilting at windmills.

And for Mr. Sali's supporters who don't want immigrants coming to the U.S. from Mexico, I encourage you to read the story of Marine Sergeant Rafael Peralta. I for one am proud to live in a country to which men like him want to come.

Werewolves Of London?

Or is it Seawolves of Guam? Last month, I blogged about reports that USS Seawolf (SSN 21) had made a port visit in Yokosuka; this surprised me a little, because she's not scheduled to transfer to PacFleet until next year. It looks like SubGru SEVEN decided it'd be a waste of time to have her visit only one port in the Pacific while she was there, though, based on some photos a reader sent me from Guam. They were looking for help in identifying the strange sub they saw:

I'd say that based on the "boot" in front of the sail, it could only be a Seawolf- or Virginia-class boat, and she's too short to be my old boat Jimmy Carter. Since Seawolf is the only other such boat known to be in the Pacific recently, I'd say that Guam is getting a visit from the 'Wolf. Here's hoping the crew has a good time, and the maintenance activity doesn't get too confused by all the new systems they'll be working on!

Update 0107 26 Oct: Yep, it was the Seawolf.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Adventures In Babysitting, Idaho Style

From a story in last Friday's Idaho Statesman:
A northern Idaho baby sitter shot and killed a 422-pound black bear that broke into a backyard where three toddlers were playing...
...The baby sitter, who asked not to be identified, was sitting for her sister, Becky Henslee. Henslee said her 3-year-old daughter Brooklyn and twin 2-year-old sons Cleo and Charles were playing in the backyard of their home on the Canadian border early last week when Brooklyn alerted their aunt by shouting “Bear! Bear!”
Henslee said her sister looked up and saw the bear running out of the woods toward the backyard. She grabbed the three children from the yard and ran inside the house, shutting the door.
After taking the children into a bedroom, the woman loaded a 7mm hunting rifle and returned to the back door, where the bear had pawed the screen door and broken the door frame. When the bear looked away from the door, Henslee said her sister opened the door slightly and shot twice, killing the bear instantly.
Now I know where you all are thinking this is going -- the story gets out, and suddenly the state Fish & Game people are all over the poor aunt for killing a game animal. Normally you'd be right, but remember, this is Idaho:
Henslee said her sister had a valid Idaho bear hunting tag.
Just part of the standard babysitting qualifications list here: Dependable, CPR trained, valid bear-hunting tag...

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Some Sub-Related Stuff Around The 'Net

Last week, I blogged about my old shipmate taking command of USS Cheyenne (SSN 773). Being the new guy on the block, it looks like they're sticking him with all the pain-in-the-butt VIP stuff, as shown by this story of his ship hosting some actors from the TV show Lost.

Rontini has a couple of fascinating pictures, here and here, of how the Japanese Navy does out-of-the-water maintenance on their submarines without a drydock. Here's one of the pictures:

Lastly, we have reports from Groton of some idiots who defaced the "Submarine Capital Of The World" sign just off I-95. (Video of a news story is here.) The anti-war vandals splashed yellow paint on the sign and also painted "F**k War" in white near the stern:

I'm sure these hooligans think they're helping out Ned Lamont with stunts like this, but I think they'll find they're sadly mistaken.

Update 0723 24 Oct: A 27 year old New London man has been arrested for the vandalism.

A Threat To MilBlogs

Blackfive, Dadmanly, and Greyhawk all discuss the newest threat to MilBlogs -- the DoD. A National Guard team was activated in July to scan weblogs and other unofficial sources for OPSEC violations:
The team, which works under the direction of the Army Web Risk Assessment Cell, Army Office of Information Assurance and Compliance, notifies webmasters and blog writers when they find documents, pictures and other items that may compromise security.
The team uses several scanning tools to monitor sites for OPSEC violations. The tools search for such key words as “for official use only” or “top secret,” and records the number of times they are used on a site. Analysts review the results to determine which, if any, need further investigation.
Unfortunately, an unscrupulous milblogger could use the information provided in this official Army article to increase their hit counts. While I never use "for official use only" or "top secret" information in my blog, I now understand that by using the phrases "for official use only" or "top secret", I could get visits from the team, and also the follow-on analysts. If I were to say "for official use only" and "top secret" enough, I might even gain promotion within the TTLB Ecosystem. Bwa-hah-haaah!

But I wouldn't do that...

[Note: No "for official use only" or "top secret" documents were used in the writing of this post.]

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

No New Posts Here

Sorry, spent all my blogging time tonight playing the time-wasting "Line Rider" game below. Just so this post won't be completely bereft of content, though, I'd like to announce that I'm totally addicted to the new TV show "Heroes". It's really good, but if you haven't been watching it all along, I think you'd be completely lost if you started watching it now. Of course, you could always try reading Hiro's blog to get caught up...

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Another Time Wasting Game

Via Myron posting at Rontini's BBS, click here if you're ready to waste some time. I found out it is possible to get the sledder to make it around a loop, but he gets hung up inside of it. You can also make him crash headfirst into the mountain, thusly:

Update 0206 17 Oct: Actually, I found that by leaving a gap in the loop, you can make him go all the way around -- theoretically, at least. I've gotten the sled to go all the way through, but not with the sledder still aboard.

Monday, October 16, 2006

More Questions For Mr. Sali

Back in August, I sent some questions to Mr. Bill Sali, the Republican candidate for the open 1st Congressional District seat here in Idaho. While a staffer did acknowledge receipt of my E-mail, I haven't heard anything else back. Since I'm basically an optimistic sort, though, I'll try again:

Mr. Sali,
In my last letter to you, I indicated that it seemed as though your campaign was "massaging" the numbers of attendees at campaign events with national big-wigs in order to make it seem like actual Idahoans were monetarily supporting your campaign. I notice your web site has a picture of a nice couple at the Vice President Cheney fundraiser who were said to be "in line for a picture with Vice President Dick Cheney". The inference a reasonable person could draw from that caption was that this young couple had paid the $2100 required to get a picture with the Vice President. I note with interest, however, that in your most recent disclosure of contributions, they aren't listed as having contributed the required amount; in fact, they aren't listed for any itemized contributions. Can you explain this discrepancy? I also note that there were only three $2100 contributions listed in the middle of August, when the event was held. Did only three couples get their pictures taken with the Veep? Most importantly, did the Coleman's get the picture you said they were waiting for? (As an aside -- it seems like most of your money is coming from out of state. How does this square with your stated desire to represent Idaho?)

In a recent guest opinion in the Lewiston Tribune, you implied that your opponents don't have a basic understanding of the military -- I take this to mean that you feel you do have an understanding of the military. Would you be willing to publicly answer some questions from veterans to determine your actual level of understanding of today's military? We'd start with some simple ones -- how many active duty divisions are in the U.S. Army, how many commissioned aircraft carriers do we have -- and then move on to some other basic questions. How did you do on those first two questions, Mr. Sali? (The answer, in both cases, is 12.)

Your biography indicates your faith plays a great role in your life, and I respect that. Many people in this district feel the same way. Do you feel that you could effectively represent those in this district who don't share your beliefs? I'm a little concerned about this because the national leader of your church, Calvary Chapel, doesn't believe that members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints are Christians. Considering that over 25% of Idahoans are Mormons, I think it would be of interest to us to know if you believe the teachings of Chuck Smith in this regard: do you personally believe that Mormons are Christian?

Lastly, considering that you have only a small 6 point lead in a district that went 69% for President Bush, are you going to continue with your negative campaigning and self-admitted lies about your opponent, Larry Grant? And do you really expect us to believe that you didn't know about the aggressive "robo-calls" that have been bothering District residents? And when are you going to update your web site? One press release in 2 1/2 weeks during October makes it almost seem like you're afraid to say anything because it'll probably lose you votes. (Actually, I note that you are keeping the Upcoming Events section fairly up-to-date, but I admit I'm puzzled by the statement in the blurb to tomorrow's Meridian Forum: "
I will be paying for Bill's lunch." I thought you were Bill; are you paying for lunch for everyone named William? Very strange...)

Update 2335 17 Oct: I guess they got my E-mail -- they removed the "lunch" comment from the post about the Meridian Forum.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Can Someone Explain To Me...

...why it is we need the Republicans to keep control of the House? Consider H.R. 602, the "Keep Our Promise to America's Military Retirees Act". This bill would, among other things:
Directs the Secretary of Defense to enter into an agreement with the Office of Personnel Management to provide Federal Employees Health Benefits (FEHB) coverage to the following eligible beneficiaries: (1) a member or former member of the Armed Forces entitled to military retired or retainer pay; (2) an unremarried former spouse who was married to a member for at least 20 years, during which such member performed at least 20 years of retirement-creditable military service; (3) a dependent of a deceased qualifying member or former member; (4) a dependent of a living member or former member; and (5) a family member.
It was introduced in February 2005, and as of today has 260 co-sponsors in the House -- more than half of all Congresspersons. You'd expect a bill this popular to pass easily, right? Not with the current Republican leadership -- it's still in sub-commitee, for "a period to be subsequently determined by the Chairman". If you know politics, you probably figure that the Health sub-committee chairman just doesn't like the bill, so he doesn't have to schedule a hearing on it (which he hasn't). Here's the thing, though -- the sub-committee chairman, Rep. Henry Brown (R-SC) is also a co-sponsor of the bill! This does not make sense.

You might be thinking, "Well, this is a complicated matter; the House Republican leadership probably needs to think about it for awhile." That might be, but consider that it was also introduced in the last Congress, in 2003 as H.R. 3474, and attracted 256 co-sponsors without getting a committee hearing. The fact is, the Republican House leadership has decided they don't like the bill, so they won't even hold hearings about it -- all the while allowing the many Republicans who co-sponsored the bill to claim they're "watching out for America's veterans".

My bottom line: I'm happy this undemocratic (little "d") House leadership is about to be tossed out on their ears, and I hope they don't let the door hit their asses on the way out of their committee chairmen offices. I only hope that my fellow Idahoans in the 1st Congressional District realize that it will be better for us to have Larry Grant, a moderate Democrat with a voice the new House leadership will have to listen to, representing us in the next Congress. I really hope they don't decide to elect Bill Sali, who makes a big deal about wanting to cut the Medicare us military retirees will have to rely on unless this bill gets passed.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

You Owe Me, Ken Jennings!

Have you ever had one of those moments where you suddenly realize what your purpose is? I did a couple of weeks ago, when I was watching a commercial for a new TV game show. First, though, some background information is in order...

People who know me know that my brain is full of all sorts of trivial facts; for some reason, I have a good memory for things I read, and I'm very good at recalling these facts. (My brain makes room for all that information by getting rid of things like the names of non-famous people with whom I actually interact.) Everyone I've ever wasted in a game of Trivial Pursuit has said that I should go on "Jeopardy", but I was always afraid to try out -- I didn't want to embarrass my shipmates (and myself) by going on the show and looking like an idiot when all the categories turned out to be about Opera or Fine Wines. When I was doing my twilight tour in San Diego, I was in a job where I got home early enough to watch Jeopardy most nights, and I think SubBasket was getting sick of me yelling answers at the screen and calling the contestants bad names when they missed "easy" questions. She finally said: "Look, you don't have any more excuses for not going on the show. Get online and sign up." I realized she was right, so I called up the show and they told me when to show up for the screening.

When I went to the contestant tryout in June, Ken Jennings was about 8 days into his run on the show. They have you take a 50 question test of what are supposed to be Final Jeopardy-level questions -- they never say what the "passing" grade is, but I've heard that it's about 35. Then they came out and announced who had "passed" the test, and sent everyone else out. After that, they had us play a practice game with the buzzers (it was in the studio where they film the show, but we didn't get to go up onto the stage) and told us all of us had made it onto the contestant's list for the upcoming year.

They also never say how many of the people on the contestant's list actually make it onto the show, but I've seen numbers of 50-70%. Unfortunately for me, the 2004-05 season was different. Due to Jennings' phenomenal popularity, they decided to run an "Ultimate Tournament of Champions" that knocked out about 3 1/2 months from the schedule of "normal" games. As a result, I was never called, and my dreams of fame and fortune went unrealized. Since they wouldn't have had the Ultimate Tournament if it wasn't for Jennings, I blame him.

That's why I was so excited to see the commercial for the new show "1 vs. 100". It talked about how one person will go against a "mob" of 100 people, who include valedictorians, Mensa members, school-teachers, and... Ken Jennings. It was then I knew what I had to do -- get on the show and beat Ken, one on one.

I'd be a perfect contestant. I'd be obnoxious and totally overconfident. I'd say things like, "C'mon, when are the real questions gonna start", and I'd dismiss the non-Ken Jennings "mob" members with snarky comments. Best of all for the producers of the show -- I would keep going until it was just me vs. Ken. I wouldn't be like the first guy they had, who took the money and ran with over a third of the mob still left. I'd bring the tension; I'd bring the drama; I'd bring the (intellectual) pain to anyone who tried to stop me from getting my mano a mano shot at Ken.

And then I'd have that last sig I needed on the Great Qual Card of Life.

Transiting The Straits Of Malacca

In a Stars & Stripes article about USS Frank Cable (AS 40) returning to Guam after a five week "deployment", I saw this interesting paragraph:
After the ship left Malaysia, it acted as a “sea shield” for USS Houston through the Straits of Malacca, from Port Klang to Singapore. Submarines navigating the straits are safer on the surface due to underwater obstacles, so shielding is critical in case of confrontation from an enemy, the Navy said.
I only went through the Straits once on a submarine, and we had to follow behind a skimmer as well. I remember manning the 'scope, verifying range every 2 minutes while watching the movie they were showing on the destroyer's helo deck. Anyone else have a story about being escorted on the surface?

"New" Submariners In The Blogosphere

You should head over to The Desert Periscope and meet Dan, a submarine officer just over halfway into a 1 year IA tour in Iraq. Chapomatic just mentioned him, but looking through the sub-blogosphere, I notice quite a few other guys already had him blogrolled.

Speaking of submarine blogrolls, I somehow neglected to put LazLong and Ramblinboy on mine during the last few months. I shall rectify that shortly.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Moonbat "Science" vs. Reality

There's been quite a kerfuffle around the 'net because of a study released by The Lancet saying there have been about 655K "excess" civilian deaths in Iraq since March 2003. Idaho überblogger Clayton Cramer got Instalanched for discussing the report, and Julie at Red State Rebels mentioned it in a supportive way. Many of those on the left who are reflexively supporting the study (because, while they might not admit it -- even to themselves -- it feeds into their preconceptions that the American military is full of blood-thirsty animals who are slaughtering Iraqis for fun) claim that those of us questioning the report's outlandish conclusions aren't finding any problems with the methodology -- only the result. Well, here's a critique of the methodology...

The survey relied on doing interviews in "clusters" of homes. From the report:
By confining the survey to a cluster of houses close to one another it was felt the benign purpose of the survey would spread quickly by word of mouth
among households, thus lessening risk to interviewers.
They also tried to verify each death; amazingly, in 90% of the cases they families of the "dead" were able to provide a death certificate. The problem with this is that the surveyors didn't record the names of the dead for comparison later. In the West, this might not be a problem, but it's different in the Middle East. Arab culture is built around the extended family; therefore, many people are likely to say that someone who had died (especially a "heroic" death) would have lived in their home. This is especially true when Iraqis know that Americans often pay "blood money" to the families of those who died accidentally in coalition attacks. So here's an Iraq family, and these Americans come to their door and ask if anyone has been killed lately by Americans. How do you think they'll respond? Since they did the study in a "cluster", I could see people running a "death certificate" from house to house ahead of the surveyors -- "Hey, show this to these Americans, and we might get blood money. Those Americans sure are stupid."

This is the problem with "moonbat" science -- failure to adjust their assumptions for clearly outlandish results. Any normal scientists, seeing results that were completely outside the expected range, would check their assumptions and methodology to see where they went wrong. (Actually, for this group, they were clearly hoping for a high number, so they had no incentive to question their methodology.) It's the same thing with the supposed "discrepancies" in exit poll numbers in the last two Presidential elections; the people running the exit polls, to their credit, took steps to fix their methodology -- realizing that, for some reason, Republican voters were more likely to refuse to answer the exit poller's questions. Moonbats, on the other hand, take the results and spin them into a huge conspiracy theory where hundreds of computer programmers (a notoriously conservative lot, I know) conspire to make electronic polling devices all change enough votes to the Republicans so that they win by just a little bit.

Those of us who appreciate real science should continue to speak out against the fake science of both the left and the right -- even if people accuse us of a "lack of regard for human life".

Update 2207 14 Oct: Huckleberries Online linked to this post (Thanks, Dave!), which generated some interesting discussion in the comments.

Another Topeka Guy Makes Good

Last year, I discussed what happened to the group of JOs I served with on USS Topeka (SSN 754) in the early 90s. I went to one's Change of Command ceremony this summer; now, a second one has taken command of his own submarine -- USS Cheyenne (SSN 773). Congratulations, Captain Tesar!

And for you Cheyenne crewman who want to get on your CO's good side -- ask him how the dried minnows taste in Korea.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Marijuana Adversely Affecting Canadian Military

While I was surfing around looking for more humorous news of the continuing "Desperate For Attention" tour of Angelina Jolie-wannabe Madonna, I stumbled across a story of the problems the Canadian military is having with marijuana. No, it's not what you think:
Canadian troops fighting Taliban militants in Afghanistan have stumbled across an unexpected and potent enemy -- almost impenetrable forests of 10-feet (three metre) high marijuana plants.
General Rick Hillier, chief of the Canadian defence staff, said on Thursday that Taliban fighters were using the forests as cover. In response, the crew of at least one armored car had camouflaged their vehicle with marijuana.
"The challenge is that marijuana plants absorb energy, heat very readily. It's very difficult to penetrate with thermal devices ... and as a result you really have to be careful that the Taliban don't dodge in and out of those marijuana forests," he said in a speech in Ottawa.
The story continues with what happened when the Canadians tried to burn down the offending forest while some of their troops were downwind.

I imagine the Dutch troops are all asking when they'll be sent to "help out" in the Canadian sector.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

An Update To The Kinky Dolphin Saga

I just put in an update to my earlier post on Texas independent candidate for Governor "Kinky" Friedman wearing dolphins he didn't earn, and decided the update deserved a post of its own. Here it is (with some additions):

Kinky's people respond:
About Kinky's pins:
The "Jump Wings" were given to Kinky by his father, who was a proud veteran of WWII. Kinky is proud of him too, and wears this as requested.
A very close friend of Kinky's who recently passed away gave the "Dolphins" to him to wear before he died. Kinky is proud of his friend, and was abliged to uphold this wish.
On Kinky's right lapel is a badge that a fan made him in the style of the Texas Ranger's "badge" that instead says "Governor of Texas."
You are free to use this information as you like, and have a great day!
A poster at Rontini's BBS got a similar response (with the same mis-spelling of "obliged"). Kinky himself addresses the issue in this article; his explanation is quite different from the E-mail that "Team Kinky" sent out:
He says the dolphins were given to him by a submarine widow.
Hoff asks: "And, she wanted you to wear it?"
Friedman says: "Absolutely, she's been working very hard for our campaign in East Texas."
Some guy with a blog in Texas is claiming Texas submariner Ray is trying to "Swift Boat" Friedman. The guy's clearly an asshat (the blogger, not Ray). "Swift Boat" implies an attack on the specifics of someone's military record; the question Ray brought up is about someone who was never in the military wearing a qualification pin he didn't earn. (Ray, as near as I can tell from some quick Googling, is the Base Commander of the Austin Capitol Base of USVVI, rather than as he's described in some of the links.)

Any Texas (or other) submariners feel like getting Ray's back?

Update 2339 10 Oct: Snapshot, Tube One, Sierra "Hammer of Truth".

Update 2357 10 Oct: I just watched the video accompanying the news story I linked above, and realized that both the reporter and Mr. Friedman called the Dolphins a "medal".

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Tended In Hong Kong

Navy NewsStand has a good picture of USS Honolulu (SSN 718) and USS La Jolla (SSN 701) tied up alongside USS Frank Cable (AS 40) in Hong Kong. Here's the original:

...and here's a closer view of the two boats:

Having submarines go to Hong Kong is always a challenge; you have to anchor out, and submarines don't like having to provide their own power during port visits, so SubGru 7 always wants to find a surface ship who the sub (or subs, in this case) can hook up to. This time, they had a sub tender available, but if need be, subs can hook up to a cruiser or destroyer. The only problem with that is the skimmers who have duty always want a tour, and it's not very sporting to turn them down if they're the ones controlling the main electrical supply breaker.

More Power Point Ranger Hilarity

Neptunus Lex comes through again with a couple more "A to Y" slideshows from the Boys in Baghdad. Although you don't need to have been a staff weenie to appreciate them, it sure helps. I especially liked this slide:

Here's what the caption says:
Nothing says efficiency like a meeting held by video across the world with multiple stations fusing and sharing information. Too bad there is a guy with a hot mike somewhere in the States that doesn’t know it. Now people around the world get to watch him sing and dance to 80’s tunes, awesome.
It's funny because it's true...

I remember during the comms check for one VTC when I was at CENTCOM, just as MND-CS was taking over the Center-South region of Iraq back in 2003, the CJTF-7 guys we were getting ready to VTC with burst into song: "On the 1st of September, the LATAMs asked from me... an armed, up-armored Humvee." Trust me, it was hilarious.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

North Korean Nuke Test Crystal Ball

North Korea has announced that they just conducted their first nuclear bomb test. Assuming the report gets confirmed, here's what I think will happen in the next few days:

1) Lots of U.S. politicians will make lots of scary-sounding statements, all aimed at blaming the other party for letting this happen. When they talk about specific military capabilities, they'll mostly sound stupid.

2) The Security Council will elect the South Korean Foreign Minister as the new Secretary General as scheduled.

3) The stock market will drop initially; within a few days, though, people will realize that the only real change in the military situation on the Korean peninsula since Friday is that North Korea now has one less nuclear bomb, so the market will come back up.

4) Posters at Daily Kos and Democratic Underground will claim that 1) this is all a Rovian plot to distract from the Foley controversy, or 2) that this is the long-awaited Rovian "October Surprise". They won't explain why the North Koreans would want to help out the Republicans.

Update 2243 08 Oct: As usual, Michelle Malkin has much more...

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Is This Something We Should Be P.O.'d About?

Over at Rontini's BBS, Myron (of Myron's Mind Meanderings) brought up a subject I haven't really thought too much about: non-submariners wearing dolphins. In this case, "Kinky" Friedman, who's running for Texas Governor (I really couldn't tell from looking at his website if his campaign is a joke or not, but he apparently is doing well enough to get included in the televised debate), has some pictures on his web site from last month where he was wearing dolphins (along with jump wings.) Here's one of the pictures:

From looking at his biography, it appears Mr. Friedman doesn't have any military experience, let alone being a qualified submariner. I know that SEALS, for one, get very upset when someone who hasn't earned it tries to wear their warfare insignia. So my question remains -- Is this something we need to get mad about, or do we accept it as a compliment from someone intending to show support for us?

Because, let's face it -- aside from the question of someone wearing something they haven't earned, the fact remains that as a fashion accessory, dolphins look gooood.

(Please, keep the discussion clean; no mention of how some young ladies may have "earned" the right to wear some submariner's dolphins in some liberty port or local bar.)

Update 1110 11 Oct: Kinky's people respond:
About Kinky's pins:
The "Jump Wings" were given to Kinky by his father, who was a proud veteran of WWII. Kinky is proud of him too, and wears this as requested.
A very close friend of Kinky's who recently passed away gave the "Dolphins" to him to wear before he died. Kinky is proud of his friend, and was abliged to uphold this wish.
On Kinky's right lapel is a badge that a fan made him in the style of the Texas Ranger's "badge" that instead says "Governor of Texas."
You are free to use this information as you like, and have a great day!
Kinky himself addresses the issue in this article; his explanation is quite different from the E-mail that "Team Kinky" sent out:
He says the dolphins were given to him by a submarine widow.
Hoff asks: "And, she wanted you to wear it?"
Friedman says: "Absolutely, she's been working very hard for our campaign in East Texas."
Some guy with a blog in Texas is claiming Texas submariner Ray is trying to "Swift Boat" Friedman. The guy's clearly an asshat (the blogger, not Ray). "Swift Boat" implies an attack on the specifics of someone's military record; the question Ray brought up is about someone who was never in the military wearing a qualification pin he didn't earn.

Bothenook Comes Through Again

Sub-blogger bothenook went through the sub-blogosphere and came up with quite a collection of recent interesting posts. In addition to the post linked above, he also directs us to this great essay by RM1(SS) --- in which he discusses the importance of a submariner's rack -- that shouldn't be missed.

I still remember the late nights on the boat when, over the hum of the ventilation system and throbbing of the turbines, I'd hear the sweet, sweet voice of my rack: "Joel, come sleep in me", it'd say...

Friday, October 06, 2006

How Many Submariners Can Fit On A 688 Bridge?

It looks like the answer is six (plus a 7th guy in the cockpit), based on this photo of USS Newport News (SSN 750) getting underway for a deployment earlier this week:

Interestingly, I don't see anyone with an M-16 up there; I guess that requirement's gone away INCONUS.

Update 1117 08 Oct: An observant reader points out that there is, in fact, a gun visible on the bridge:

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Another Albuquerque Guy Gone Bad

Coming so soon after reports that a USS Albuquerque Sailor had been arrested for passing secrets to foreigners, we read of a JO who did his Division Officer tour on the Albuquerque who also went out of his way to make the Sub Force look bad. From today's New Londay Day:
A Navy officer stationed at the Naval Submarine Base in Groton admitted during a Sept. 21 general court-martial that he deserted a U.S. Army unit at Fort Bragg, N.C., while training to head to Afghanistan this summer.
Lt. Robert J. Loomis III, an instructor at the Naval Submarine School, pleaded guilty to desertion with intention to avoid hazardous duty and dereliction of duty in regard to handling small arms.
A military judge sentenced Loomis to 13 months in a Navy brig and dismissed him from the service. However a pre-trial agreement will limit his imprisonment to 30 days, according to Navy Northeast Region spokesman Chris Zendan.
Loomis' sentence began immediately and he has been transferred from the submarine base to the Navy Consolidated Brig in Norfolk, Va., Zendan said.
For those who aren't familiar with the term, "dismissal" is the officer equivalent of a Dishonorable Discharge -- it's bad ju-ju. Probably what he deserved.

For those wondering -- no, I didn't have to go to Afghanistan, but I sure could have when I did my IA tour just before my retirement. I have no sympathy for the guy. And although the article doesn't mention it, whenever someone is convicted at court martial, a follow-on administrative board will remove the offender's submarine qualification. People like this don't deserve to wear dolphins.

A Life Well Lived

Kind of a sad time here in Meridian, Idaho. A long-time teacher, Randy Fouts, died in a horrible car accident yesterday. Although we've only been here for a little over two years, because of the administrator rotation schedule at Mountain Home High School, Randy was the Assistant Principal for all three of my children.

Judging by the heartfelt reactions of those who worked with him to his untimely passing, it's clear that he was well-liked and respected by all, and made his community a better place that it would have been without him. No man should ask for more out of life.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Submariners: Unknown World Record Holders?

As all submariners know, whenever we're asked how deep our submarines can go, all we can say is "in excess of 800 feet"; it becomes very second-nature for us to say this, much the same way that "in excess of 25 knots" and "I can neither confirm nor deny the presence of..." are. While not revealing exactly how much deeper than 800 feet we can go makes sense from an OPSEC perspective, it now appears that it's costing us some props from the World Record Book people.

Check out this Reuters article about how a Brit singer recently set a "verified world record" by performing an underwater concert:
Singer Katie Melua swapped the recording studio for a North Sea gas rig in her successful bid to set a new record for the deepest underwater concert, the Guinness World Record organisation said on Tuesday.
Melua and her five-member band performed two concerts of one hour each on Monday at a verified depth of 303 metres underwater to an audience made up of staff from the Statoil Troll A platform.
Doing the math, it looks like 303 meters is about 994 feet. While we don't know how deep our submarines actually go, of course, if for some reason our submarines can go enough "in excess of 800 feet" to get to greater depths than what the concert was held at, a submariner may be the rightful holder of this World Record. What is a "concert", anyway? Wouldn't someone singing a cheerful ditty like "The Ballad of the Silver Dolphins" to one of his buddies count? And if he did it at some depth below 994 feet, he could be famous now -- if the Navy would only verify it (which they won't).

Who knows how many other World Records submariners could be recognized for if not for the secrecy surrounding the Force: Most disturbing discussion of bodily functions by people being paid to work? Biggest duct tape ball that contains a person? Most disgusting nicknames for normal food items? The possibilities are endless...

Bell-ringer 2109 05 Oct: Vigilis has more on the subject.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

There Shall Be Groundings And Rumors Of Groundings

Here at TSSBP, I normally try to avoid posting single-source rumors -- except for tonight when submarine news is slow. This one really doesn't pass the smell test (as far as this being something the Navy wouldn't announce), so I don't think it's true, but here goes...

Over at the submarine discussion board, "Mack the Knife" posts:
Unbelievable - the stellar crew of the USS Texas managed to run it aground at Port Canaveral! I have two emailed pictures of tugs pulling her off of the mud - about 20 yards from a grassy bank. Looks like someone's back yard. (Little bike path, little 'grassy knoll' veeeery close aboard). Haven't figured out how to post 'em. The caption says "...nothing was damaged, except some egos..." Um, try a 4-striper's career!
Some of you may remember how I have decried the loss of basic seamanship skills in today's submarine force. Here is another prime example. I know we are talking about littoral tasks for submarines - but this is ludicrous.
I wonder if Cat Futch....nahhh.
As I said, I don't necessarily believe this is for real, but if anyone happens to have the pictures they're talking about, I'd love to see them...

Update 2252 03 October: Speaking of USS Texas, I was looking through some of the other posts on the Submarine discussion board, and came across one item that I hadn't noticed earlier. From the Navy NewsStand article about Texas' commissioning:
U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, a Galveston native, said her hometown has had strong historical ties to the Navy. The city was the homeport to the Texas navy that fought for independence from Mexico, she said, and is home to USS Seawolf (SS 197), a decommissioned World War II submarine.
[Emphasis mine] As "edclark65" points out:
I'm sure I'll not be the first to point out to the Senator that the USS Seawolf (SS 197), went down with all hands during WWII. There is a USS Seawolf (SS 197) memorial abeam the bow of the USS Texas (BB35) in San Jacento, and there is the USS Cavalla (SSK 212) and the destroyer escort Stewart (DE 238) at Seawolf Park. USS Cavalla is a memorial to the USS Seawolf. Each state has been designated a lost submarine crew to perpetuate. Texas was assigned the USS Seawolf (SS197) which was lost on October 3, 1944 with all hands--83 men and officers including 17 U.S. Army Rangers that were in transit to the Philippines.
I discussed the effort to get WWII submarine monuments in each state here.

Update 0634 04 Oct: I'm wondering if this is the picture the original poster I discussed was talking about:

If this is the picture he was talking about, then, as Emily Litella used to say: "Never mind".

Bell-ringer 1944 04 Oct: Based on MT1(SS)'s comment below, I think we can safely say that, in fact, Texas did not run aground in PCAN.

Monday, October 02, 2006

A Sad Loss For Idaho

I was going to blog tonight about the state of Idaho politics in the last month before the election, but given the news of the tragic death of former Representative Helen Chenoweth-Hage in a car accident earlier today, I think I'll hold off for a bit. Dennis Mansfield offers some personal memories, and Adam also offers his thoughts. Sympathy is also expressed over at the campaign blog of Larry Grant, who's running for the seat she once held.

Update 2243 02 October: I almost hesitate to link to this, but I think it's important to remember the state of unthinking hate the unbalanced left has allowed themselves to drift into; that being said, check out the responses to the story of Helen's death over at Democratic Underground. Disgusting.

New Navy Professional Reading List

The Navy just came out with a new professional reading list that differs greatly from the existing lists (officer and enlisted). The new list has a total of 60 books, 12 for each of five "experience levels": Junior Enlisted (E1-E4), Leading Petty Officer (E5-E6), Division Leader (O1-O3, CWO2, and E7), Department/Command Leader (O4-O5, CWO3-CWO4, and E8-E9), and Command Leader (O-6 and up, CWO5, and CMC) -- I think that's a better breakout than the old "officer/enlisted" lists. Each of the 12 book lists has two books from each of six categories: Leadership, Naval and Military Heritage, Joint and Combined Warfare, Regional and Cultural Awareness, Critical Thinking, and Management and Strategic Planning.

I'm excited to see some of the additions ("Ender's Game" for Junior Enlisted and "The World Is Flat" for Division Leaders), and perplexed about some others ("Starship Troopers" under the Leadership category for Junior Enlisted?), but overall they seem to be pretty good choices. I was disappointed, though, to see two books in particular that didn't make it from the old lists: "Thunder Below" by Gene Fluckey, and "The United States Navy: 200 Years" by Ned Beach. The fact that both were by submariners had nothing to do with my sorrow at seeing them go -- they're just good books. (I'm wondering, though, if Capt. Beach's tendency to take a more "critical" look at some Naval leaders of the past may have led to his book not making the list.)

I think that Navy's plan to give a copy of all the books to each ship (fittingly, USS Constitution got them first) is a great idea; as a taxpayer, I fully approve of this use of the Navy's money. (On a personal note, Master Chief Juskiewicz, SEA CMC, shown in this photo delivering the books to the Constitution, is an old shipmate of mine.)

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Gallant Men Gather On Sacred Ground

There have been many men of uncommon valor who have sailed aboard USS Constitution in her storied history, but probably very so many as those who gathered for her turnaround cruise on Saturday. Here's a picture of the group:

What makes these men so special? Well, they include 70 recipients of the Medal of Honor, who were onboard the Constitution for a very special purpose:
More than 60 Medal of Honor recipients took part in a special Medal of Honor flag presentation in a ceremony aboard USS Constitution, "Old Ironsides," here Sept. 30.
The flag was created by an Act of Congress and signed into law by President George W. Bush Oct. 23, 2002. Each service was charged with presenting the flag to its recipients in an appropriate ceremonial manner.
The flag can only be presented to a Medal of Honor recipient or a recipient’s primary next of kin by a top-ranking member of the armed forces.
More pictures of the event can be found here. I was originally going to call this post "A Gathering Of Heroes" when I first saw the picture this morning, but I saw tonight that Eagle1 had beat me to that tagline. No matter what you call it, it's still a chance for us to reflect on the valor shown by these men in the service of our country, and honor them for their bravery.