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.)

Saturday, December 31, 2005

Last Day To Vote

Today's the last day to vote for your favorite milblog for the 2005 Mil-Bloggies awards. It's easy to vote -- you have to register with the site, and then you'll get an activation E-mail. After that, just add any number fo the 1,000+ milblogs listed to your favorites (I have a couple of suggestions below, with the page you add to your favorites to vote). Everyone should have an "extra" E-mail account for stuff like this, and they don't add you to any mailing lists.

Currently, the group submarine blog Ultraquiet No More is in 4th place among the U.S. Navy milblogs, but only 1 vote out of 3rd place. You might also want to consider voting for The Stupid Shall Be Punished; currently tied for 5th in the Veterans category, this milblog features cats molesting blankets, along with some submarine stuff.

Look, just vote for me, dammit! Validate my pathetic existence... it's not too much to ask, is it?

Update 2133 31 Dec: Might be too late for some of you, but Retired Geezer at Blog Idaho has some video warnings about the need to drink sensibly, here and here. Happy New Year's, everyone!

Hope For The Future

It's always fashionable to complain about the younger generation -- characterizing them as video-game playing "me-first"ers who don't know the value of hard work. But once in a while, we read a story about one of them that lets us know that the future is in good hands.

Unfortunately, a lot of times we only read their stories when they're taken from us too soon. You can read about a lot of their stories at the "Honor The Fallen" website. Today, though, I wanted to focus on a young man here in Idaho who, no less than the heroes in the military, gave his life for his friends. The story of 17 year old Andrew Williams is no less heart-breaking, and yet simultaneouly uplifting, than any other hero's story you might read. From the Idaho Statesman article about his death:

"Williams drowned about 10:30 p.m. while helping families in a rural subdivision south of Lake Lowell pull weeds, sticks and trash from a blocked culvert to stop rain water from flooding their homes...
"Williams was visiting a friend who lived next to the Wanns when residents in the subdivision decided they needed to clear the culvert because water was flooding the fields and streets around their homes.
"He got into the culvert under Fowler Lane near the subdivision's entrance and was tied by a rope to one of the area residents standing on the side of the road, Wann said.
"Suction from a wave of water pulled the teen down into the culvert, and those working with him were unable to save him. The father of a friend also was sucked in, but came out the other side and was uninjured, Wann said. Emergency workers recovered Williams' body at the bottom of the ditch."

Read the rest of the story. This wasn't a kid who was in it for the thrill; he was doing it to help others. (Note that they did secure him with a rope -- they just didn't understand the suction forces involved with flowing water.) Andrew wasn't planning on joining the military, but I'm sure that he would have become a leading force for good in his community.

"The Skyview High School senior, who was born in Nampa, would mow the lawn for an elderly couple near his home each summer and refused to be paid, his mother said. Though he was the center on the Skyview football team, he refused to wear a letterman's jacket because he didn't want others to feel bad, she said. He recently became an Eagle Scout, and his service project was collecting and sending bedding, school supplies and children's books for an orphanage in Kenya.
"He loved playing with his brother Sean, 12, and his sister, Allison, 9, his mother said. He took his brother to school each day instead of dropping him at the bus stop. Most recently, he had helped purchase Christmas presents for a needy family who will never know his name, she said."

This story is a good reminder for all parents to hug their kids a little tighter the next time they see them...

Friday, December 30, 2005

Ohio Sea Trials Trip Report

Photios provides his long-awaited report of how things went on USS Ohio's sea trials. It's pretty interesting, especially his description of the all-important rack situation:

"Those racks in SOF berthing in Missile Compartment, 2nd platform, port, are terrible. The inboard racks are not too bad, but the outboard ones are completely closed off. To get into one you have to hoist yourself in the end feet first (if in the lower or middile racks), or head first (if in the top rack). There are no handholds to lift yourself up with. The middle rack guy has it the worst, not high enough to climb up to, to high to raise both feet into simultaneously. And then the coefficient of friction between clothing and bed linen (serious wedgie problem). Seeing a 250 - 300 pound Navy SEAL do this is going to be fun (need to get video)."

And for those who think I was trying to be sarcastic by calling the rack situation "all-important", you'd be thinking wrong. In my experience, the two most important issues for submariners, other than flooding avoidance, are 1) how comfortable are the racks, and 2) how good is the chow. Everything else is secondary.

Photios also addresses the broom situation I discussed earlier.

Going deep...

What Makes Moonbats Different

Consider your reaction to the story of the Florida teenager who flew to Iraq. If you're like most people, you'll probably start thinking like Ninme and wonder about things like how he got the money, or what the parents did wrong in raising him. You might even make fun of the kid.

If you're a moonbat, though, your thoughts head off in another direction, as this thread at Democratic Underground shows. Their first thought? It's all a Rovian plot to make people afraid and force Congress to vote for an extension of the Patriot Act.

Going deep...

Whiny Pac 10 Teams Are Funny

For the second year in a row, a Pac 10 football team that whined about being left out of the BCS games proved that they didn't belong, losing to a 4-loss Big 12 team. Last year, it was Cal who whined continuously after being snubbed by the Rose Bowl, then went on to lose (badly) to Texas Tech. Last night, it was Oregon's turn to whine, then lose.

To me, this is like the teams that whine when they're left out of the NCAA basketball tournament; I say that if they go on to win the NIT, then I'll listen to their complaints. Until then, do your talking on the field (or court).

Speaking of football, there's a little controversy here in Boise; it seems a pre-game bowl function that was supposed to honor both teams turned into a BSU pep rally. Since I live here, I won't provide my own opinions, but here's what some other people had to say.

Going deep...

SECNAV... Departing

Gordon England resigned as Secretary of the Navy yesterday, in order to free him to spend more time as Acting Deputy SecDef. He's been "Acting" DepSecDef for eight months now, because of a hold a couple of Senators put on his nomination -- there should be a recess appointment soon.

Secretary England's farewell message is here. Excerpt:

"For 230 years our Naval Services have built a proud history. During the past five years, I have personally witnessed your service, sacrifice and courage. You have added to this legacy of excellence and victory in the defense of freedom and liberty.
"Since the attacks of 9-11 you have been part of a joint military force that has liberated 50 million people from the brutal, totalitarian rule of the Taliban and Saddam. The compassion you have shown to millions following tsunamis, hurricanes and earthquakes has showcased the highest ideals and generosity of America. Like all of your fellow Americans, I am proud of your service and also privileged to have served with you."

The incoming SecNav, Donald Winter, who was confirmed by the Senate last month, will be sworn in on Jan. 3rd. So, for five days, we get an Acting SecNav.

Going deep...

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Good Idea? Not So Much...

DARPA has come up with some pretty good ideas in their time; the Internet is just one of them, and I'm sure there are others -- I'm just too lazy to do the research right now. Their job is to think "outside the box"; sometimes, though, they're so far outside of the box that they're not even in the same zip code.

CDR Salamander brings our attention to one of those times. Meet the "Cormorant", a hypothetical SSGN-launched UAV. Here's how it's described:

"The MPUAV concept envisions the immersible MPUAVs being housed and serviced in the ballistic missile launch tubes of the SSGN. They would be released from the submerged submarine and remain buoyant at the water’s surface until launched using two Tomahawk missile-derived solid rocket boosters. Upon mission completion, the turbofan engine-powered MPUAVs return to a designated retrieval point at sea, initiate engine shut down, and splash down to await recovery. During recovery, the submerged SSGN would deploy a remotely operated vehicle (ROV) to secure an in-haul cable from the SSGN to the recovery tether deployed by the MPUAV. The SSGN would then haul the MPUAV to its designated launch tube saddle mechanism, where it would be docked and retracted into the missile tube."

Now, I'm sure that something like this might be useful; intel from the air is a good thing. Despite what many people would think, the launching part isn't that bad -- since it will "remain buoyant at the water's surface" until launched into the air, the launching submarine would be able to clear datum before the rocket launch attracted the attention of every semi-alert military asset in the area. The big problem comes from the recovery: Assuming that an alerted enemy has been tracking the MPUAV, they would know where it had landed, and could reasonably assume that the submarine would come to that point at some time in the future to retrieve it. Since a submarine's stealth depends a lot on a potential hunter not being able to figure out where a submarine will be at some future time, it seems like this retrieval plan would be "Bad" on the Good/Bad scale from the standpoint of not getting shot at.

Remember, there are no stupid questions... only stupid people who ask questions.

Going deep...

Sonar And Bubbles Update

Vigilis has a great post up about bubbles as they relate to sonar performance. The most interesting part (to me, at least), which he posted as a separate entry over at Ultraquiet No More, was about the "snapping shrimp" phenomenon. Those things were loud (but not as loud as the "humping whales").

Going deep...

Update 0046 29 Dec: And speaking of Ultraquiet No More, we're just one vote out of 3rd place in the U.S. Navy category for the 2005 MilBloggies awards. If you haven't already, head on over and vote for us (and any other milblogs you think are good...). Only three days left to vote!

Baring My Darkest Secrets

Chrys at Pettifog tagged me to do the latest meme running around the blogosphere -- listing your five weirdest habits. Ninme also did the meme, but asked for volunteers instead of assigning them, so I'll say I'm volunteering for her too. Here's mine:

1) I like my steak essentially raw -- "passed over a candle" is how I order it. Light brown on the outside, gushing blood on the inside. I figure it doesn't have any flavor cooked out of it that way.

2) I spend way too much time reading the forums at Democratic Underground -- it's like watching a train wreck in slow motion, I guess. I know I'm just rotting my mind over there, but whenever I get home from work, that's usually the first place I head, even before checking comments here. (Speaking of DU -- I just remembered this excellent piece they had at IMAO back when they were funny about a "Universal DU Thread" -- it's still pretty much spot on.)

3) I have this incredible memory for facts and things I've heard, but can't remember anyone's name until I've met them about 10 times.

4) I take about 50 baths for every shower I take whenever I'm not at sea (which I never am nowadays). Unless there's no way I can avoid being late otherwise, I'll jump in the tub instead of the shower.

5) I absolutely refuse to eat ketchup with anything other than fries -- if a burger or hot dog has even a hint of ketchup on it, I just won't eat it. I'm fine with tomatoes on hamburgers, though.

The rules for the meme now say I'm supposed to assign five other people to do it, but I don't follow rules very well. (The rules also say that I'm supposed to post the rules, but I didn't do that either. I guess I'm just a rebel.)

Going deep...

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Cornhuskers Re-Discover Running Can Win Games

My hometown Nebraska Cornhuskers came up with an inspired effort to defeat #20 Michigan 32-28 in the Alamo Bowl tonight. Although they continued trying to pass for much of the game, they decided to try running enough to cap a comeback win, with Cory Ross rushing 28 times for 162 yards.

The reason this game will be remembered, though, was the bizarre last play. I'll post a link to the video when it shows up on the 'net, but basically Michigan got the ball back with 7 seconds left. They ran a hook-and-ladder, but no NU defenders were near enough to be faked out. Michigan kept throwing laterals across the field (at least five of them) and ended up well behind the original line of scrimmage (which was about the Michigan 30). It looked like the play finally ended, but about three Michigan and two Nebraska players realized that the whistle hadn't blown, and as players from both sidelines came out onto the field, NU finally tackled the last Michigan runner at around the NU 15. No flags were thrown, but if they had called NU for extra players on the field, they would have had to flag Michigan as well, so it would have been just a replayed down.

Overall, a pretty good game.

Update 1730 29 Dec: Haven't seen a good source for video of the final play, but when it shows up anywhere, it'll be linked from this page.

Columnist Jumps The Shark

I've never been that impressed by Bush-hating columnist Molly Ivins, but also never felt strongly enough about her silliness to mock and belittle it... until now.

I think it's a good thing to have people question the government -- keeps people on their toes. But, if one does, they should at least be writing about something that bears some relationship to "The Truth" other than "doesn't reflect it at all". Check out Ivin's latest column; after wrongly trying to equate the Total Information Awareness data-mining program with the NSA comms sorting, she talks about the probable use of the warrantless wiretap authority:

"Then we always get that dreadful goody-two-shoes response, "Well, if you aren't doing anything wrong, you don't have anything to worry about, do you?"
"Folks, we KNOW this program is being and will be misused. We know it from the past record and current reporting. The program has already targeted vegans and People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals -- and, boy, if those aren't outposts of al-Qaida, what is? Could this be more pathetic?
"This could scarcely be clearer. Either the president of the United States is going to have to understand and admit he has done something very wrong, or he will have to be impeached. The first time this happened, the institutional response was magnificent. The courts, the press, the Congress all functioned superbly. Anyone think we're up to that again? Then whom do we blame when we lose the republic?"

Where has anyone said that the program (NSA wiretaps) targeted vegans and PETA? As The Moderate Voice points out, the FBI has apparently been conducting surveillance of some groups, and people can legitimately be concerned about that. But, there's no indication that the NSA has been involved. This is Ivin's problem; she's trying to "connect the dots", but ends up coming across as someone who doesn't understand the difference between COMINT, FBI surveillance, and data-mining. And the Dems wonder, with public spokespeople like this, why people don't trust them on national security? Also, you might note that the FBI tracking of PETA goes back to at least July 2000 -- anyone remember who was in the White House then? (Hint: Bush didn't take office until Jan. 2001).

So, Ivins apparently can't tell the difference between the FBI and NSA. That's OK, though, because she says "we know" this program is being misused. I guess she "knows" it's being misused because she "knew", in a previous column from last week, that the DoD thought Quakers were trying to "overthrow the government", and two "feds" interviewed a Dartmouth student for trying to check out a book:

"Here is a curious fact about the government of this country spying on its citizens: It always goes wrong immediately. For some reason, it's not as though we start with people anyone would regard as suspicious and then somehow slip gradually into spying on the Girl Scouts. We get it wrong from the beginning every time. Never seem to be able to distinguish between a terrorist and a vegetarian.
"The Department of Defense has just proved this yet again with its latest folly of mistaking a flock of Florida Quakers for a threat to overthrow the government. A few months ago, a student at the University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth tried to check out a copy of Mao's "Little Red Book" and wound up being interviewed by two feds. Cointelpro and all those misbegotten Nixon-era spy programs were always making ludicrous mistakes."

I've discussed before the aim of the DoD database, and it looks like her other piece of information was just a little bit made up. One can do a threat assessment on a group that one doesn't think is trying to "overthrow the government"; in fact, the DoD would have been derelict had they not done so.

If the Democrats hope to remain a viable political force in this country, they and their public voices, like Ivins, really need to start coming up with some actual facts and plans, and avoid this kind of "Bush will take away our freedoms" reflexive nay-saying that frankly makes them look silly. And easy to mock and belittle.

Going deep...

Update 2355 05 Jan: To her credit, Ivins does admit she did confuse the NSA and FBI at the bottom of her latest column; she still doesn't mention buying into the "Homeland Security officers question student" hoax.

"LCDR Ball... Arriving"

Joe at Sgt. Foley's Fire-Eaters graduated from Navy OCS earlier this month; this got me thinking about my time at OCS. Officer Candidate School now is a lot different than it was when I went through in Newport in the late 80s. The aviation OCS, as I understand it, was always a lot like you probably saw in "An Officer and a Gentleman", and I've heard that since they consolidated both OCSs at Pensacola, everyone gets that kind of treatment. When I went through, though, we didn't have any aviators there, and the whole experience was rather comical.

Now, if you'd never been through boot camp before, it was probably pretty scary. The deal was, you were there for 16 weeks; they put the "senior" class in charge of the "junior" class, so your last eight weeks, you had people to abuse.

That's what made it funny. Here were 22 year old kids, with 8 weeks in the Navy, yelling at these newbies, like they were some salty veteran. When I went through, probably a quarter of the candidates were enlisted guys going for a commission, and we came from all communities. The funniest thing was seeing some guy who barely even shaved yelling at an enlisted SEAL that "you're never gonna make it through". For those of us who were prior enlisted, the biggest challenge the during the first ("Indoc") week was not to burst out laughing.

It was basically like the first week of boot camp, so if you'd never gone through it before, you never knew what was coming next -- or even when it would end. The funniest tradition they had in my battalion is that, all week, the new guys would get told that if they screwed up, the Regimental Discipline Officer, LCDR Ball, would come at the end of the week and make them do Indoc Week over. Every couple of hours, you'd hear about LCDR Ball. I'll admit that even I was looking forward to seeing what this guy looked like.

Then, Friday afternoon of Indoc week, the newbies would be lined up in the passageway and yelled at, and were told that they were such screw-ups, they'd probably all be kicked out; LCDR Ball was coming to make the decision. Then, the seniors would all start shouting, "Attention on Deck for LCDR Ball!"... and every rubber ball they could get from the gym would be thrown at the junior class, followed by lots of laughing and hand-shaking. Lots of nervous energy got released that way.

And then everyone went to the O-Club and drank.

Going deep...

"Suppose You Have Four Cookies..."

So there I was, posting over at BlameBush! (Liberal Larry posted about the reported monitoring for radiation from the streets that's been in the news) when, unbidden, the "four cookies" question emerged from the darkest recesses of my brain. For those who don't remember from their qual boards, here it is:

"Suppose you have four cookies: A gamma cookie, a neutron cookie, a beta cookie, and an alpha cookie. You have to eat one, put one in your pocket, hold one in your hand, and throw the other away. Which do you do with each, and why?"

Amazingly, at all the boards I asked this question, no one ever gave the best answer: "It depends on the curie content of each." Assuming the curie contents are the same, though, the answer is -- in the comments.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

The Friend Of My Enemy... Redux

Every couple of weeks, someone posts about asshat Fred Phelps, and I get a lot of spillover hits from background links to the post I had about Phelps' protest at the funeral of CPL Carrie French here in Idaho back in June. Today, Michelle Malkin posted about some people who are working against the hate being spewed by the Phelps clan. Since I can't update the original post anymore, and have the ability to put up better pictures than I did the first time, I'm re-posting my report here, minus a couple of dead links (the original, with its 120+ comments, is here):
The Friend Of My Enemy... is also my enemy. OK, that's not the way the old saying goes, but it's still true. The asshats coming to protest today at the funeral of Cpl. Carrie French say that God killed her, and will continue killing American soldiers. Since those who killed her also think that God is on their side, it seems to me that the protesters share beliefs and goals with the terrorists in Iraq.

Now, I won't treat these enemies of America the same way I'd treat our terrorist enemies; these people are too wacko to take seriously... at least for now. I'm off to join whatever counterprotest there is at the funeral site today, and hope to have pictures and a report later. (Rumors on the street are that we might have some visitors from Mountain Home AFB.) I've never been to a demonstration, so I'm not sure what I'm supposed to do; normally, I'd mock and belittle them (or as my liberal friends might say, "stifle their dissent") but I don't think that would necessarily be appropriate at a hero's funeral.

Going deep to reposition to the west...

Back at PD, 1419 15 Jun: Just got back from the funeral site. Fred Phelps and what I guess were his family were there in all their "glory"; let's see what these self-described "Christians" have to say, shall we?

Not very nice, is it? These asshats were out to protest against the funeral of CPL Carrie French in her hometown of Caldwell, Idaho. I headed out there to show my support for CPL French, her family, and fellow Soldiers; here's what I saw...

I arrived about 1230; Fred Phelps and his family were already set up at a corner across from the grounds of Albertson's College, a private university in Caldwell. The Caldwell Police Dept. was handling the event in a very professional manner; a Caldwell Police Captain I was talking to said that they wanted to ensure the safety of the protesters (since they seem to complain a lot that they're in danger of being bombed). Here's how they provided for their safety:

He did say that the Phelps clan complained a little bit that they weren't very visible from the front of the auditorium, but hey... their safety was what counted.

I went over to take some pictures of the asshats, and get a closer look at them. I can report that they appeared to be mono-gastric, bi-pedal, and carbon-based; other than that, I really couldn't see even a glint of humanity in their eyes. As I left, one of them shouted at me, "Make sure lots of people see those pictures." I didn't respond.

At 1245, some fire trucks arrived, and parked in their pre-designated spots. I asked the Police Captain if this was pre-planned; he said that "it just worked out that way". Here's the view of the protesters that the family would now have to endure as they entered the auditorium after the fire trucks arrived.

The French family had apparently said that they didn't want an organized counter-demonstration, but some people felt the need to come out and silently show their support for the family. (All in all, there were probably fifteen civilians, including four off-duty Boise policemen, standing a silent vigil.) Here's one such young lady:

At 1252, the blue-shirted protester, probably Phelps' son, shouted at a carload of soldiers turning into the parking lot, "Watch out for IEDs!" After this, he started shouting "French is in Hell" to everyone who passed. On two occasions, he shouted this to young women who appeared to be the right age to be Carrie's classmates. Their mothers had to restrain them; I talked to one who walked by afterwards, tears streaming down her face as she sobbed "Those bastards", and I told her that I'd do my best to tell the world what horrible people these are. The other young woman so accosted just yelled "F*ck you!" back at the protesters; the protesters just laughed.

They were doing a lot of laughing. The old man had about four signs (including "Thank God for 9/11", "Thank God for IEDs", "Fag Troops" and "U.S.A. Sin = 9/11") that he held up in turn; the "son" had an "America is Doomed" sign, and the wife? daughter? had "God Hates Fags" and "Fags Doom Nations". She also talked on the cell phone a lot:

Finally, it was 1300, and time for them to go. The loud-mouth dipshit "son" took a quick filmclip of the area, they got into their van, and they drove off.

I got to thinking about what kind of country allows people like this to flaunt their unpopular opinions while being protected by the police. The answer, I decided, is only a country that is strong in our democratic beliefs and sense of our own destiny would continue to allow this. Here, at a funeral honoring a hero who had given her life so that people halfway around the world could be free, we saw those charged with protecting the weakest of us, the police, firefighters, and Soldiers, protecting people dedicated to tearing down everything they hold dear. And these people had the strength of character to ignore the asshats trying to ruin this solemn occasion, and concentrate instead on the good of this country: the part of the country that produces heroes like CPL Carrie French. America is not doomed, Phelps "family"... it is your mindless, attention-grubbing hate that's headed for the dustbin of history...

Going deep...

Update 1636 15 June: Fellow Ida-blogger BinkyBoy seems to be questioning my manhood in this post; he seems brave after the fact, but beforehand, he didn't seem so -- eager to fight, shall we say. In case he changes his post from before the funeral, here's what he said this morning..."There are still a lot of soldiers from Mountain Home going to stop Phelps, which is definately something that we don't want to be in the middle of."

Update 1627 16 June: Thanks to everyone who's stopped by and left their thoughts. Ft. Boise has a report from when Phelps' and his crew last came to Boise; I think this helps explain why the local papers are pretty much ignoring their stunt. Here's what the Idaho Statesman had to say about the funeral itself.

Update 1502 17 June: Ma Deuce Gunner was there for the first part of Cpl. French's last journey, and has some thoughts on the matter...

Update 0921 20 June: Welcome to the readers of all the great blogs who've sent traffic this way, including Instapundit! If you'd like to read more about submarines (the main topic of this blog), feel free to look around, or check out the submarine group blog at Ultraquiet No More.

USS Boise Supports Boise St.

Great article today in the local newspaper about the lengths a Boise native aboard USS Boise (SSN 764) has gone to demonstrate the boat's strong commitment to namesake support, just in time for tomorrow's BSU-Boston College game here in Boise:

"Lowe is the first native Boisean to serve aboard the USS Boise. Norfolk is the nuclear submarine's home port. Not only are most of the crew's non-New Englanders backing BSU in the game, he said, the Boise's mess (dining room) now has a BSU theme.
"The crew wanted to jazz it up," he said. "The green 'Great Outdoors' color scheme was replaced with a new blue one, and our Chief of the Boat suggested a BSU football theme to spark and inspire the crew."
"Lowe worked with BSU to get the materials. The result: a blue dining room with orange accents, BSU posters, a Liberty Bowl jersey, a team photo and plaque, a picture of the stadium and a Bronco helmet. Tony Wagster, the sub's supply chief, made a wooden cabinet to display the helmet on a swatch of blue turf. Blue curtains with Bronco logos complete the look.

"The submarine's hatch cover sports a Bronco logo. Some of the sailors have taken to wearing ball caps with "USS Boise" incorporated into the BSU logo."

BZ, MMC(SS) Lowe. I think that anything a crew can do to encourage support for the namesake is a good thing -- this support has a way of coming back to the boat in the form of cool stuff for the crew. The crew's support for the BSU Broncos didn't end in Crew's Mess, though; check out this picture from the article of the boat's diesel:

As you probably guessed, BSU's colors are blue and orange.

Monday, December 26, 2005

A Boat's Public Forum

Sub-blogger Rob reports about a new web page by and for the Sailors of USS Olympia (SSN 717) -- it's just starting to come up to speed, but looks like it has promise. Since it's being run by the ship's Recreation Committee, it seems to have offical sanction; it'll be interesting to see if it ends up working.

Going deep...

Favorite Sci-Fi Western

Just finished watching Serenity, which I got on DVD as a Christmas present. Even on the second viewing, I still think it's the best sci-fi movie I've ever seen. Mostly because of the acting and the story, and not at all because of the physical attributes of some of the stars.

Sunday, December 25, 2005

Merry Christmas! And Happy Hanukkah!

Whichever holiday you might be celebrating today, my family and I send out our sincere best wishes to you and yours.
--Joel Kennedy -- "Bubblehead"

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Christmas Preps

The presents are all bought, the Christmas Eve turkey is in the oven (with the Christmas Day turkey thawing in the sink), and family has been stopping by all day. That means that it's Christmas Eve, and time to blog about some administrative items that this season brings forth.

1) Santa's started his trip: you can check his progress at the NORAD Santa Tracker. His visit to the USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72) was pretty cool.
Update 1801 24 Dec: This clip, from the Azores, features an unnamed SSBN.

2) For the first time since 1959, the first day of Hanukkah and Christmas both fall on December 25th. That'll next happen in 2024.

3) Speaking of Hanukkah, I think the best description of the duality faced by a Jewish youth in a majority-Christian society remains Kyle Broflovski's heartfelt rendition of "It's Hard To Be A Jew At Christmas" from the first South Park Christmas episode:

"It's hard to be a Jew on Christmas.
My friends won't let me join in any games.
And I can't sing Christmas songs or decorate a Christmas tree
Or leave water out for Rudolph, cause there's something wrong with me.
My people don't believe in Jesus Christ's divinity..
I'm a Jew, a lonely Jew, on Christmas.

"Hannukah is nice, but why is it
That Santa passes over my house every year.
And instead of eating ham I have to eat kosher latki
Instead of Silent Night I'm singing "Hu, haghtol gavish"
And what the f*ck is up with lighting all these f*cking candles tell me please..
I'm a Jew, a lonely Jew,
I'd be merry, but I'm Hebrew
On Christmas."

4) If you really feel you need to get me something for Christmas this year, I really could use some votes for the Mil-Bloggie awards. There's one week left to vote, and The Stupid Shall Be Punished has slipped to a tie for 7th in the Military Veterans category. Also, Ultraquiet No More could use some help in the U.S. Navy category (we're currently fifth). It's easy to vote -- the instruction are in this post of mine, or you can go straight to the source. I figure out of my 300 visitors per day, I have about a hundred of those who are pretty regular. If you're one of those, please think about voting. I think if I get 15 votes, I get to put up a banner or something...

But don't do it for me... do it for Submarine Santa.

Chap's Spidey Sense Was Right

Fellow sub-blogger Chapomatic had posted earlier this week about a claim from a Dartmouth student that federal agents had visited him because he had ordered Mao Tse Tung's "The Little Red Book" from his college library. Marquette Warrior had done a good job dissecting the claims, and decided that something didn't make sense.

Turns out the student in question made it all up.

"The 22-year-old student tearfully admitted he made the story up to his history professor, Dr. Brian Glyn Williams, and his parents, after being confronted with the inconsistencies in his account. Had the student stuck to his original story, it might never have been proved false.
"But on Thursday, when the student told his tale in the office of UMass Dartmouth professor Dr. Robert Pontbriand to Dr. Williams, Dr. Pontbriand, university spokesman John Hoey and The Standard-Times, the student added new details.
"The agents had returned, the student said, just last night. The two agents, the student, his parents and the student's uncle all signed confidentiality agreements, he claimed, to put an end to the matter.
"But when Dr. Williams went to the student's home yesterday and relayed that part of the story to his parents, it was the first time they had heard it. The story began to unravel, and the student, faced with the truth, broke down and cried."

If you'd like to do some interesting research on the evolution of stories like this in the blogosphere, check out these Technorati listings for "Dartmouth Student". The most recent entries, as expected, are from conservative blogs about the debunking of the story. As you go back through the listings, though, check out some of the apocalyptic rantings from some of the more "progressive" blogs... it'll be interesting to see which of them posts an update. I've posted before about the dangers of reconfirming your political belief system from stories that turn out not to be true... Everyone's guilty of that, including me, but stories like this should keep everyone on their toes.

Me, I'm waiting for word from Lawrence that the KU Religious Studies professor who was "attacked" for daring to confront fundamentalist Christians made the whole story up...

Update 0705 24 Dec: This post at Daily Kos is educational (as well as showing that some "progressive" blogs are admitting their mistake). In addition to providing the links to their earlier posts about the subject, the comments provide a microcosm of reflexive anti-Bush thought -- some people admitting their prejudices, some blaming Bush because (paraphrasing) 'I know he's probably done things like this, so it's his fault I believe anything bad about him', and a couple others who think that either the student was forced to untruthfully recant or that the professor who broke the story is a Bushitler plant.

Fascinating stuff...

Not Getting The Concept

I've never really understood contrarians -- those who absolutely refuse to go along with what everyone else is doing because of principle, no matter the consequences. They'll turn an easily resolved dispute into an ongoing problem that causes lifetime animosity because they're standing for "what they believe in". I'm not talking about important issues here -- I'm talking about the simple things that everyone does everyday. They'll confront someone about a small annoyance that everyone else lets slide, even if it will likely make the person they're confronting hold a lifelong grudge.

Here's an example (via Drudge Report): A substitute teacher in Pennsylvania was assigned to read "A Visit From St. Nicholas" to a 1st grade class. Since she didn't believe in Santa Claus, she decided that it would be against her principles to simply read the story -- she decided that she had to let the children know that Santa Claus didn't exist:

"On Monday night, Jamey started to recite Moore’s famous poem while sitting on a couch next to a freshly cut tree, trimmed in tinsel and topped with a golden star: “’Twas the night before Christmas, and all through the house. No creatures stirred.”
"She paused, looked up, and said that’s when the teacher interjected, just a few lines before the verse that announces the arrival of “a miniature sleigh and eight tiny reindeer.”
“The teacher stopped reading and told us no one comes down the chimney,” Jamey said, curling into a ball on the couch, bracing her chin on her knees, her voice shrinking away like melting ice cream. “She said our parents buy the presents, not Santa.”

In what I think was an appropriate response, Jamey's mother sent the substitute teacher a copy of this famous newpaper column:

"DEAR EDITOR: I am 8 years old.
"Some of my little friends say there is no Santa Claus.
"Papa says, 'If you see it in THE SUN it's so.'
"Please tell me the truth; is there a Santa Claus?

"VIRGINIA, your little friends are wrong. They have been affected by the skepticism of a skeptical age. They do not believe except [what] they see. They think that nothing can be which is not comprehensible by their little minds. All minds, Virginia, whether they be men's or children's, are little. In this great universe of ours man is a mere insect, an ant, in his intellect, as compared with the boundless world about him, as measure by the intelligence capable of grasping the whole of truth and knowledge.
"Yes, VIRGINIA, there is a Santa Claus. He exists certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist, and you know that they abound and give to your life its highest beauty and joy. Alas! How dreary would be the world if there were no Santa Claus! It would be as dreary as if there were no VIRGINIAS. There would be no childlike faith then, no poetry, no romance to make tolerable this existence. We should have no enjoyment, except in sense and sight. The eternal light which childhood fills the world would be extinguished.
"Not believe in Santa Claus! You might as well not believe in fairies! You might get your papa to hire men to watch in all the chimneys on Christmas Eve to catch Santa Claus, but even if they did not see Santa Claus coming down, what would that prove? Nobody sees Santa Claus, but that is no sign that there is no Santa Claus. The most real things in the world are those that neither children nor men can see. Did you ever see fairies dancing on the lawn? Of course not, but that's no proof that they are not there. Nobody can conceive or imagine all the wonders there are unseen and unseeable in the world.
"You tear apart the baby's rattle and see what makes the noise inside, but there is a veil covering the unseen world which not the strongest man, nor even the united strength of all the strongest man that ever lived, could tear apart. Only faith, fancy, poetry, love, romance can push aside that curtain and view and picture the supernal beauty and glory beyond. Is it all real? Ah, VIRGINIA, in all this world there is nothing else real and abiding. No Santa Claus! Thank GOD! He lives, and he lives forever. A thousand years from now, nay, ten times ten thousand years from now, he will continue to make glad the heart of childhood."

Friday, December 23, 2005

Navy Deserter Misses The Spotlight

Former Sailor Pablo Paredes, last seen being booted from the Navy for a high-profile desertion from his ship USS Bonhomme Richard, is trying to make the news again. This time it's because of a recent story by NBC News that the Pentagon is "spying" on domestic anti-war groups. From the San Diego NBC affiliate:

"The Pentagon database showed how government agents were tracking a May 11 protest at the 32nd Street Naval Station. That protest was in support of Pablo Paredes, who is a former Navy Petty Officer who refused to board his ship for Iraq. While Paredes was facing a court martial inside the Naval base, his sympathizers offered support outside the gate.
"Paredes said the Pentagon was trying to stifle public debate on the war.
"Of course they see it as a threat," Paredes said. "Where there's civil disobedience and public awareness in trying to raise awareness of what an unjust and immoral war this was."
"The Paredes support rally was one of 1,500 incidents tracked by the Pentagon. The local protest was listed as a "threat." Organizers said that was ridiculous, adding that government surveillance scares away some potential supporters."

Unadulterated bullshit. Despite the scary words "military spying" and "domestic spying" being thrown around in articles like this one, this isn't a case of the military sending people out to spy on local peace groups. It's a damn database of information collected from local agencies! Someone looks at the information, decides if the people in the upcoming protest are likely to start throwing Molotov cocktails at the gate guard, and sends out a threat assessment. Base security is then ratcheted up for the day of the protest if needed. The biggest problem seems to be that they aren't purging it after 90 days as required. I suppose one can believe that Bushitler, Cheney, and Rove personally ordered the administrative weenie in charge to keep the data in a computer in order to "stifle debate", or you can believe that it's more likely an example of someone forgetting to do their job. And, "Organizers": How is the existence of a heretofore "secret" database, that no one knew existed until a week ago, supposed to have scared away supporters at a protest seven months ago? The Chewbacca Defense really doesn't cut it...

His Vision Founded A State

American history is full of visionaries who dared to try great things, but of very few people can it be said that their work led to the founding of a state. Roger Williams, founder of Rhode Island, is one such man. Another is Joseph Smith, whose vision led to the settling and founding of Utah.

Today is the 200th anniversary of Joseph Smith's birth. Born Dec. 23, 1805, in Sharon, VT, Joseph went on to found the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. When it was clear that the Mormon community he led in Nauvoo, Illinois, was going to be forced out of the state in the mid-1840s, he started making plans to move the settlers to the northernmost Mexican lands to the west. Although Smith was martyred prior to making the move, his followers, led by Brigham Young, fulfilled Joseph's vision and established several viable colonies in what was basically unsettled desert (which was transferred from Mexico to the U.S. very soon thereafter). Utah became a territory three years after the colonists arrival, and a state in 1896.

All in all, not a bad legacy for a poor farmer's son...

Another Keyboard Ruined

Never, ever be drinking a soda when you read Liberal Larry's satiric posts. I made that mistake when I read his new movie review of "Brokeback Mountain", and as a result of the pop shooting out of my nose, my keyboard is not working right because the keys are all stickyzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

DOJ Responds

[Intel Source: Instapundit] The Department of Justice explains the legal rational behind their contention that the President had the legal authority to authorize warrantless intercepts of international communications. While I'm sure that opponents of the action will continue claiming that this decision by the President was criminal, this should move the debate into the sphere of whether or not the action was necessary, rather than illegal.

Update 0334 23 Dec: In this article that discusses the letter mentioned above, we see the author trying to make it look like the NSA just started intercepting communications that go through the U.S. A closer reading, though, indicates that they've probably been "intercepting" them for a long time; what's new is that they're running their computer filters through the data now:

"The NSA's system of monitoring e-mails and phone calls to check for search terms has been used for decades overseas, where the Constitution's prohibition on unreasonable searches does not apply, declassified records have shown.
But since Bush's order in 2001, Bamford and other specialists said, the same process probably has been used to sort through international messages to and from the United States, though humans have never seen the vast majority of the data...

"...Among the risks, he said, is that the spy agency's computers will collect personal information that has no bearing on national security and that intelligence agents programming those computers will be tempted to abuse their power to eavesdrop for personal or political gain.
"But even when no personal information intercepted by the NSA's computers make it to human eyes and ears, Rotenberg said, the mere fact that spy computers are monitoring the calls and e-mails may also violate the Fourth Amendment, which protects against unreasonable search and seizures."

Ninme has a post about the new Ann Coulter column that expresses some of my feelings (don't normally like Ann Coulter, but thinks she makes some good points here). Coulter makes a rare good point when she says:

"But if we must engage in a national debate on half-measures: After 9/11, any president who was not spying on people calling phone numbers associated with terrorists should be impeached for being an inept commander in chief."

Ninme goes on to opine:

"See, the thing is (and you get this if you listen to talk radio callers for about 20 seconds) they’d never admit it’s a fair comparison because they really think Bush staged 9/11, lied about WMDs, and turned the world against us (including a lot of nice Muslims) so he could get better Christmas gifts from a richer Dick Cheney. So it’s not even about politics, really. It’s about stopping everything George Bush tries to do because everything he does is evil and he shouldn’t be there anyway."

Reasonable people can disagree that these actions are needed; a lot of the complaints about the President's actions I've read, though, seem to be coming from the perspective Ninme talks about, rather than principled opposition to a danger to privacy rights.

SSGN Program Off To Bad Start, Tradition-wise

USS Ohio (SSGN 726) just returned from sea trials after her conversion, and it doesn't look good. I'm sure the ship and crew did fine, but -- I know you won't believe this -- they flew the damn broom from the sail. For completing conversion sea trials!?! Next, I'm sure they'll ask for a MUC for putting up with so much pain and heartache in the shipyard.

I've sub-blogged before about my distaste for this practice. Flying a broom from the sail traditionally means that you've "swept the seas clean" of enemies, i.e. you sank every target you prosecuted. I'm pretty sure Ohio didn't sink any Al Qaeda freighters on her sea trials, so she didn't really earn this particular right, IMHO.

I guess you can take the boat out of the SSBN category, but you can't take the boomer out of the crew...

Chaplain Doth Protest Too Much

The latest fallout from the Air Force Academy "religious persecution" affair is playing out now in D.C. A group calling itself the "American Center for Law and Justice" has collected signatures for a petition calling for President Bush to issue an executive order allowing military Chaplains to "pray according to their individual faith traditions".

That all sounds well and good, but what this group is really fighting for is to prevent Chaplains who pray in the name of Jesus in public forums (i.e. outside of chapel services) from being counseled by their superiors. I really can't support them on this one, and I wonder if this group, founded by "Dr. Pat Robertson" -- yes, that one -- would be happy to have a Muslim Chaplain give an Islam-centric prayer at a ship's commissioning (my guess: no). Despite what this article implies, there are no restrictions against Chaplains praying according to their faith's traditions in regularly scheduled chapel times; it's just bad form for them to do so in public forums where not everyone might be a member of their religion. At every such ceremony I've been at, the Chaplain has prayed to or in the name of "Almighty God" or something similar -- probably doesn't make the Wiccans happy, but the Abrahamic religions all get represented that way.

Here's where it goes overboard. Seems there's an active duty Navy Chaplain, LT Gordon Klingenschmitt, who's currently holding a hunger strike outside the White House. Talk about tacky! I guess as long as he's not in uniform, he's probably not breaking the letter of any laws, but it's still not something someone who wants to advance in the Chaplain Corps would do. He seems to have a lot of complaints, and lots of stories about how great he is, and how he's been picked on by everyone, as mentioned in this article. He's also apparently flat-out lying on TV shows. He's claiming that his contract isn't getting renewed, and he'll be out of the Navy at the end of the year.

Good riddance.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Must Be The Radiation...

Reports of strange goings-on in the natural world in both my new and old hometowns -- bothenook sends a warning from that ultra-reputable news source Weekly World News that potatoes in Idaho are starting to develop intelligence; once they get opposable thumbs, Idaho will surely be theirs!

And back in Nebraska, here's a picture of a "big-big mouth" rainbow trout caught in Lincoln. I like the fisherman's devotion to science:

"The second mouth didn't appear to be functional, Olberding said. He has plans for the fish, which don't included mounting.
"I'm going to smoke it up and eat it," he said.

Victory In The GWOT

[Intel Source: Instapundit] Posting will be light today, as I'll be over reading Tigerhawk's thoughts on what will constitute victory in the current war. While the article itself isn't that long, the references (including this earlier post from Tigerhawk) should also be required reading.

I'll meet you back here when you're done...

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

I'm Speechless

As long-time readers may know, I like to mock and belittle people who deserve it. Sometimes, though, I run across an item that is so completely self-mocking that I'm almost left without anything to add. Such was the case today when, via The Sub Report, I came across this article in the UK's Guardian:

"The use of a Trident nuclear missile, or its successor, would breach international law, the government is warned today. Even the threat to use nuclear weapons is unlawful, ministers are warned in a legal opinion by leading human rights lawyers.
"They say use of Trident would infringe what the international court of justice calls the "intransgressible" - or absolute - requirement that a distinction must be drawn between combatants and non-combatants. Nuclear weapons would also breach the requirement that use of force in self-defence must be proportionate.
""A Trident warhead would be inherently indiscriminate," says Rabinder Singh, QC, and professor Christine Chinkin of the London School of Economics, in a legal opinion for the campaigning group, Peace Rights..."

No crap, Perfesser... that's kinda the point of nuclear weapons; they're so bad, no one will use them against you, since you would then respond in kind. If you announce you won't use them, as you apparently want the British government to do, it sorta defeats the purpose. Oh, and I suppose if someone does use them against Britain, "Peace Rights" will be able to bring them up on charges in the International Criminal Court.

And then all these "progressives" wonder why people laugh at them. Morons...

Dead Man Walking

I have a new standard by which I'll measure the success or failure of the current Administration: whether or not this scumbag is still breathing in January 2009. Chapomatic makes pretty much all the points I'd make about the Germans freeing Mohammed Ali Hamadi, murderer of SW2(DV) Robert Stethem, in what they're claiming was not a "terrorist for hostage" deal.

As much as I'd like to see Hamadi dead, I guess I wouldn't mind too much if he's just captured and returned to the U.S. to face trial and subsequent execution. And if he's captured overseas, and our European allies make a big stink about flying him through their airspace, I know just the warship that should carry him here.

Monday, December 19, 2005

USS Dolphin On The Prowl

Today brings a new picture of and article about the American diesel-powered submarine USS Dolphin (AGSS 555). Returning to sea for her first long underway after the 2002 flooding and fire incident, it looks like she's ready to show HMS Gotland that there's another diesel boat ready to help out in San Diego!

Update 1826 20 Dec: Speaking of HMS Gotland, here's a new report on how they did during the Reagan Strike Group JTFEX. Excerpts:

"According to Swedish Liaison Officer Lt. Cmdr. Peter Ostbring, Gotland and her crew played a number of roles during the joint exercise, which mutually benefited the U.S. and Swedish navies by enhancing overall anti-submarine warfare (ASW) proficiencies and further strengthening the relationship between the two countries.
"Initially, [Gotland] was acting as an opposing force, and in the middle of the exercise, she acted as a green (friendly force) submarine, like a third country in a coalition doing intelligence and reconnaissance missions for the strike group," he said. "Later, she returned to being an opposing force."

Update 0630 21 Dec: Here's another article about the Dolphin.

Canadians Are Still Funny

A while back, I blogged about Canadian displeasure with American warships, including submarines, treating their self-proclaimed territorial waters as if they had to grant the same right of innocent passage as every other country on Earth is required to do. What makes it so funny is that Canada has no idea if American subs are passing through... unless we tell them.

Today, in the run-up to the Canadian election, it's becoming an issue again. Based on U.S. Navy press releases that USS Charlotte (SSN 766) passed through the Arctic, the Canadians are assuming that we passed through Canadian territorial waters, and the Prime Minister says he'll "take the necessary measures". (The article says he spoke more strongly in French than in English... that should tell you something.)

Of interest, they're not mentioning USS Salt Lake City's recent Arctic transit, probably because the Navy hasn't publicized it as much.

I might be back to make fun of our Canadian allies some more after dinner.

Update 2000 19 Dec: I thought about it, and decided that this is just standard election-season posturing, and no reason to make any further fun of our neighbors to the north. I did find another resource that talks about U.S. Freedom of Navigation (FON) exercises; no Canadian exercises are listed, but it's pretty much the same concept if we do go through the Northwest Passage. Pretty much all of the technical discussion I covered in the earlier post, and the rest of what I might add would probably just be variations on how Canadians say "aboot" and "eh" all the time.

Bell-ringer 0642 20 Dec: Inspired by Ninme's comment -- the Canadian Anti-U.S. Submarine Defence Force in action:

And on a more serious note, this article looks through the posturing to point out that, this late in the year, it's more likely that Charlotte would have exited the Arctic via the Greenland/Iceland gap (not claimed Canadian waters), vice the Greenland/Ellesmere Island channel.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Halls Decked

Earlier, I posted pictures of some of the more "extreme" houses in our neighborhood, decoration-wise. Today, we finally finished our bough-hanging and such. As expected, I wasn't able to compete for the title of "Gaudiest Eyesore", but I think I did a pretty good job.

(You can click on the picture for a better view.) I added the green lights because I thought the red, white and blue theme I had going was dangerously close to being tasteful. SubBasket was responsible for directing the tree decorations, though, so it ended up looking very nice, I think.

Yes, I know it's leaning a little-- that's my bad. It still looks good.

Going deep...

President's Speech On Iraq

I thought the speech tonight was very good; I just wish he would have given something similar about a year ago. For those who missed it, a transcript is available here.

Skimmers To Adopt Risky XO/CO Fleet-Up Scheme

Looks like the surface community is following the lead of the aviation side of the house in how they plan to handle XO/CO rotation; under this plan, an officer will serve as XO of a ship for 18 months, then take over as CO:

"Vice Adm. Terry Etnyre, commander, Naval Surface Forces, said, “'XO/CO Fleet Up' is about command. It provides focused command leadership stability throughout a ship’s life. A commanding officer will reap the benefits of the actions and policies he or she institutes as executive officer. He or she will know the crew upon assumption of command and will be intimately familiar with the material condition and the combat readiness of the ship. This improves readiness and will provide an unprecedented level of command leadership stability in our Surface Force.”
"According to Surface Warfare leadership, the plan will increase flexibility in the Surface Warfare Officer (SWO) career path in order to send more SWOs to Junior and Senior War Colleges, qualify SWOs sooner as Joint Specialty Officers (JSO), send more SWOs to multiple joint tours, ensure command leadership stability on ships and staffs and increase the proficiency and experience of major warfare commanders.
"Etnyre added, “'XO/CO Fleet Up' helps us meet SWO requirements by providing a career path that solidifies future progression to command and warfighting expertise while enabling our officers to complete critical joint tours as we fight the global war on terrorism. Combatant commands, fleet and joint staffs will also regain critical SWO representation.”
"The career path for SWOs will change under the plan. The start of an officer’s XO tour will move to the right (15.5-year point vice the current 13-year point), and the start of the CO tour will move to left (17 years vice 18 to 18.5 years)."

I don't like the plan, because I've always seen the roles of the XO and CO as requiring the the assigned officer to take on different "personalities" -- XO more of a hard-ass, while the CO can be more "friendly" because he can make the XO or the Chiefs be the hard-asses. It just seems like the transition from XO-personality to CO-personality will be a little harder to accept if you go from one to the other, on the same ship.

On the other hand, it seems to work for the airdales, so maybe there's something to it. It's just that I'd have such a hard time believing that any new initiatives the skimmers come up with could be a good thing...

Going deep...

Person Overboard

When I did the deployment on the carrier, I sometimes shuddered to think what would happen if I fell overboard at night, and ended up bobbing in the water watching the ship sail away. For this Sailor on the USS Theodore Roosevelt, it looks like his (her?) shipmates must have seen the Sailor fall overboard at 0215, and the Sailor was rescued expeditiously.

I just hope that the new Navy uniforms, when they come out, don't make it harder to see someone who's in the water.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Oh, Those Poor Prisoners!

The Guardian has a new report out under the heading "Britain's Secret Torture Centre" and reports that prisoners at this secret prison were starved and tortured. The article makes it clear that the mean Western brutes were unduly harsh on the poor, misunderstood prisoners:

"The inmates were starved, woken during the night, and forced to walk up and down their cells from early morning until late at night. When moving about the prison they were expected to run, while soldiers kicked them. One warder, a soldier of the Welsh Regiment, told Hayward: "If a British soldier feels inclined to treat a prisoner decently he has every opportunity to do so; and he also has the opportunity to ill-treat a prisoner if he so desires...
"Former prisoners told Hayward that they had been whipped as well as beaten. This, the detective said, seemed unbelievable, until "our inquiries of warders and guards produced most unexpected corroboration". Threats to execute prisoners, or to arrest, torture and murder their wives and children were considered "perfectly proper", on the grounds that such threats were never carried out.
"Moreover, any prisoner thought to be uncooperative during interrogation was taken to a punishment cell where they would be stripped and repeatedly doused in water. This punishment could continue for weeks, even in sub-zero temperatures.
"Naked prisoners were handcuffed back-to-back and forced to stand before open windows in midwinter. Frostbite became common..."

Read the article, and you might be surprised to see who it is that The Guardian is so mad about the Brits mistreating. Here's a hint:

"All of these men had been held at Bad Nenndorf, a small, once-elegant spa resort near Hanover. Here, an organisation called the Combined Services Detailed Interrogation Centre (CSDIC) ran a secret prison following the British occupation of north-west Germany in 1945."

Warrantless COMINT

A hue and cry is being raised throughout the land over the recent disclosure by the New York Times about President Bush authorizing interception of communications between the U.S. and overseas. Michelle Malkin has most of the pertinent information; some people are claiming that this warrants impeachment. While it's understandable that people will debate whether this is right or wrong, people who are claiming that President Bush was operating with a reckless disregard for the law are just plain wrong, IMHO.

As President Bush himself pointed out today, the required people in Congress were informed about the program. If I remember right, for this type of "black" program, at a minimum the Intelligence committee chairman and vice chairman of both the House and the Senate (this would make a total of two Republicans and two Democrats for those keeping score) are briefed. If these people don't like the program, they have the power to do what needs to be done to stop it, if they're so inclined. Additionally, the Justice Department provides continuing legal reviews of programs of this type. This isn't Watergate -- it looks like all the hoops were jumped through to get this program up and running. And remember -- this isn't spying on people arranging trysts with their neighbor; it was overseas communications with people who were strongly suspected of associating with Al Qaeda. Sure, it has the potential for abuse, but from what I've heard so far, they tried to keep it as closely controlled as possible.

I just hope that people don't go off and start complaining about us intercepting communications overseas... that could put a lot of people I know out of business.

The Wonderful World Of Misheard Lyrics

A while back, I posted about how my brain is full of song lyrics. The thing is, a lot of times I'm not even sure if the words I remember are even the right ones; not because I'm forgetful, but because I didn't know the right words in the first place.

It turns out that there's a word for misheard lyrics: Mondegreens. Snopes has a page on Christmas Mondegreens that's somewhat amusing, but I don't have as much of a problem with those types of songs. It's the rock-and-pop era songs that seem to give me the most trouble.

Case in point (and the reason I bring up this topic): I really like the new song by Nickelback called "Photograph". I think it's because I'm of "a certain age" and the theme of examining your life appeals to me. Anyway, there were some lines that I was pretty sure I didn't have right. Here's what I was hearing:

"Look at this photograph
Everytime I do it makes me laugh
How did our eyes get so red
And what the hell did Aunt Joey said
And this is where I grew up
I think a prison woulda fixed it up
I never knew we'd ever went without
The second floor is hard for sneaking out"

Those words don't even make sense. Here are the actual lyrics:

"Look at this photograph
Everytime I do it makes me laugh
How did our eyes get so red
And what the hell is on Joey's head
And this is where I grew up
I think the present owner fixed it up
I never knew we'd ever went without
The second floor is hard for sneaking out"

This isn't the first time I've had this problem. For years, I thought the Eagles were singing "Well I've got at least four easy feelings" rather than "Peaceful Easy Feeling". I knew it didn't make sense, but I'd sing it anyway. There are a few websites devoted to these misheard lyrics: this one looks like it hasn't been updated too recently, and this one's up-to-date, but harder to navigate.

And for one of the most famous ones -- I used to sing "Wrapped up like a douche, you know the rumors in the night" rather than "Revved up like a deuce, another runner in the night". (Some sites say the first word is actually "Racked".) In this case, I think my version of Blinded By The Light makes as much sense as the actual line... (Interestingly, the lyrics as originally written by Bruce Springsteen are less liable to be misunderstood.)

Going deep...

Friday, December 16, 2005

Submarine Aircraft Carriers?

Mil-blogger Murdoc Online posted earlier this week about a thread on a discussion board that started talking about submersible aircraft carriers. Someone found an official-looking drawing of a proposed design for one, and this set off quite a discussion of the feasibility of such a beast. The discussion kind of petered out, though, after a commenter noted that the drawing in question came from the October 1963 Proceedings.

We submariners have got to get involved in these discussions earlier...

Very Interesting Submarine Web Sites

I'm finding all sorts of things today. From the links page of the website of the Tullibee Base of USSVI, and thence through the USS Diodon (SS 349) website (which is a treasure trove in itself), I found the home on the 'net of the Submarine Research Center. This group of retired submariners sends out bulletins, one of which is the elusive foldout picture of my old boat, USS Jimmy Carter (SSN 23), from Popular Science. The picture itself is pretty humorous (Seawolf-class boats don't have VLS tubes, and the representation of the propulsor is quite -- inventive) but it's still kinda cool.

Anyway, those sites listed above, which are part of the submarine presence on the 'net that exists outside of the sub-blogosphere represented by the "Submariners" blogroll to the right, should provide anyone -- if they're interested -- with hours of fun-filled surfing.

Going deep...

Idaho Marine Injured In Iraq

I was touched by this story about an Idaho track star who joined the Marines in his junior year in college. He was badly injured in an IED attack in Iraq earlier this month:

"Marine Cpl. Travis Greene, a 1999 Twin Falls High School graduate, is recovering at the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, Md., after losing both legs above the knee.
"The 24-year-old, in his third tour of duty in Iraq, was part of a team of Marines evacuating other Marines who had been injured in an earlier explosion. During the early December operation, a second explosion occurred.

"Three other Marines and one Navy corpsman also lost one or both of their legs in the blast. Two were badly burned.
"The injured soldiers were taken to a battlefield hospital and then to Germany before being flown to Bethesda. Greene was given 79 units of blood by the time he reached the United States."

I admit that sometimes I get depressed about what a cluster has been made of Iraq; I start to think that while we went in with good intentions, somehow our lack of understanding of both Arab culture and the ability of the American body politic to maintain the required resolve has made it unlikely that we'll be able to "transform the Middle East" in this campaign.

But then I think of the service of people like Idahoans Carrie French and Travis Greene, and I can't in good conscience support stopping short on our effort without seeing it through -- we may change at least part of the Middle East into a society that doesn't want to attack us (what I think the President means by "victory") if only we hold on a little longer. We owe that much to those who have given so much, that we do all we can to ensure their sacrifices were not in vain.

Going deep...

Another Good Submarine News Site

I'm not sure why I haven't posted this before, but the SubSim website, while mostly devoted to discussing submarine simulation games, has a pretty good news ticker. [Intel source: Joe Buff]

Update 1844 16 Dec: Here's another source for submarine news, from the USS Diodon website (which is quite interesting in itself). This new news source appears to be quite good -- it looks almost official (and probably a little time-late compared to The Sub Report, if that new site is what I think it is).


I love geeky science web sites. Via Science Magazine's site, I found this collection of rocks that people have thought were meteorites; by clicking on the pictures, it tells you why it's probably not a meteorite.

I also love geeky science memory aids. One of my favorites is from Scott Adams, writer of, discussing how to remember the difference between stalactites and stalagmites:

"Remember, stalagmites might stick to the ceiling, but they don't"

Best Friends

Last night, in preparation for Friday catblogging, Deepdiver took some pictures of our cat, Hercules, sleeping on a blanket, looking to all the world like the cat and blanket are best friends. Isn't he cute?

However, another angle shows that Herc's intentions towards the blanket might not have been exactly friendly -- or, rather, maybe too friendly. Check out the evidence of a recent cat mouthprint on the blanket.

My guess is that the blanket had recently been the object of Hercules' amorous advances, as shown in this picture I had posted earlier.

Poor blanket.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Russian Nuclear Plant Explosion

This is probably nothing, but there are reports of an explosion Thursday at a Russian nuclear plant near St. Petersburg. Radiation levels are reported as "normal", since the explosion reportedly happened in a smelter. As I said, it's probably nothing, but the Russians don't have a very good track record of having accurate initial reports of problems.

They don't say, but it was probably at this plant.

Update 2358 15 Dec: More here; it appears that it was at the Leningrad NPP, as I suspected. They're saying the explosion in the smelter was outside of the grounds of the plant, but that one of the reactors was shut down as a precaution.

Update 2007 16 Dec: Much more here; the article says the smelting operation is involved in melting down decommissioned Russian submarines. It also changed the description of the accident from an "explosion" to a "splash" of molten metal.

Bubblehead Shows The Way

Remember that post I had up last month of the hanging, gutted, lighted reindeer? It looks like someone else ran with that idea, and now Michelle Malkin is posting about another one. Remember, though, you saw it here first. (The new one has a red light on the nose, though, making it an identifiable reindeer. The one I posted didn't.)

Going deep...

Update 1637 16 Dec: Blog Idaho has another example of redneck Christmas decorations.

Update 1635 17 Dec: Via Rontini's BBS, a flash video on the same general topic.

Big News From Boise

Well, it's actually from Boulder, CO -- the Boise St. football coach is heading off to coach the Colorado Buffaloes. Many BSU fans don't understand the difference between Boise St. and a real football school, so they wonder why he'd leave. Expect Coach Hawkins to leave, get fired, or quit to become a strange religious leader after a few years, like all the other CU coaches do...

Holiday Greetings All Around!

The Secretary of the Navy has his yearly "Holiday" message out. So does Gen. Pace, the JCS Chairman. Expect more messages next week.

That is all...

Ewww.... Gross!

Now, I've never been to sea on a diesel sub, so I guess I never noticed something missing from the few I've been on inport -- a Trash Disposal Unit, or TDU (a partial picture of one is here). Apparently, at least the Australian Collins-class boats don't have them.

Via The Sub Report, here's a report on how the RAN is planning on "taking care" of the stink that comes from the trash that gets collected during a long underway.

"The stink is the rancid odour from solid garbage stored in Collins-class submarines, that will literally be covered up by a new biofilter blanket that DSTO has recommended as the best cost-effective solution.
"The biofilter blanket was successfully trialed by HMAS Sheean during its record 55-day deployment to North and South East Asia recently.
"During the trial, the biofilter blanket was used to cover garbage and significantly reduced the vile smell that usually wafts through the narrow confines of a submarine on a long deployment."

Maybe all those DBF guys are right, and us nuke boat Sailors are spoiled... at least all we had to put up with was the cloying smell of amine, and not last week's midrats.

On a not-so-gross note, The Sub Report also has links to other good stories about Australian submariners: an RAN Captain who was awarded a Bronze Star from the U.S., profiles of several submariners, and a story on a recent ASWEX.

I Love This Clip

I know everyone's probably seen it already, but I just can't get enough of the "Penguin Slapdown" video, decorating the post over at Blog Idaho.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

CSP PAO Accuracy And EOT Awards

I was reading the article on the SubPac website on the USS Bremerton (SSN 698) change of command, and realizing that pretty soon, my peers are going to start showing up as the new COs. Anyway, as I was skimming the article, I was surprised to see that the outgoing CO was awarded a "Meritorious Achievement Medal". This apparently new medal was mentioned not only in the body of the story, but also in the blurb attached to the accompanying picture.

I was a little surprised that the outgoing CO of a submarine would be getting a Department of Transportation medal given to Coast Guard civilians, but figured that it must be a new Homeland Security initiative or something. However, as I examined the picture more closely, I saw that the award was actually of a more mundane Meritorious Service Medal. It was just a sloppy job of editing by the CSP Public Affairs Office.

Regarding "End Of Tour" awards: While official Navy guidance is that EOT awards are not "an integral part of the awards system", in actuality they are. (The PDF version of the previous link is here.) I'm pretty sure I remember seeing a Sub Force official-type document someplace wherein they discussed the guidance for EOT awards. For enlisted guys leaving their first boat, it said something like half should get NAMs, and the other half would rate Letters of Commendation. For JOs, it was something like 90% NAMs, 10% NCMs; DHs, I think, were all supposed to get NCMs, as were most XOs (some small percentage could get MSMs). For COs, the standard award was a Meritorious Service Medal, but something like 10% could get a Legion of Merit.

So, if you see a story about a CO getting a LOM for his non-integral End of Tour award, you know he done good.

Going deep...

Update 2328 15 Dec: They fixed the "Meritorious Achievement Medal" part...