Jun 22 2014

Why couldn’t the NCAA do this?

Published by under American Society

I was going bash my favorite group of deluded people tonight, namely those who seem to think that after 8 years of effort, almost 5000 American lives wasted, and 5 times that number wounded-we should some how go back into a country that proven itself completely unworthy of the sacrifice the first time. And now they want us to do it again?

But instead I got sidetracked in working on my course work-and watching the World Cup-where, speaking of worthless Arabs- the damn Algerians beat South Korea.Incroyable! Arabes ne méritent pas le moment de la journée, et encore moins une victoire sportive. Vive l'Algérie française !

And as I watched the match-it made me wonder. Why couldn't the NCAA conduct a real college playoff using the World Cup format?

I get that there are big differences between Futbol and US Football. But consider. There are 11 Conferences in NCAA division 1 football. That's 11 Conference champions. Throw in some independent teams and take the 2nd place teams with the best records-you could easily come to 24 teams that could play in a tournament along the lines of the world cup. Create 6 groups of 4 teams each. Start from scratch-arranging the top teams across the six groups. Shorten the college football season so that it ends in the second week of November. Then, the day after Thanksgiving you start the group stage with teams playing every day until they reduce to 12 for the knockout phase. ( Play two games a day (or night) which would be in each group). Once the group stage is done-take a 4 day break then start the playoff's. You could arrange the timing so that it came down to the wire sometime the 3rd week of December.

Groups of States could compete to host the playoffs and it could rotated among geographic regions. An example: Tennessee, Georgia and Alabama could host the NCAA tournament. Between them they have enough quality venues to host good game with lots of fans. It could be a real money maker for them and for the ancillary industries in those states.

It certainly would be better than the current BCS system-and the out of control Bowls. Plus it would allow teams to come head to head to have to earn the title of #1 team in the nation. The college football season could stand to be 9 or 10 games-instead of 11 or 12. ( As could the pro season stand to be shorter). Colleges would still get a homecoming weekend.

I think it would make a lot of sense-and it would get folks fired up about sports like the World Cup does.

Its just a thought. Tell me why it would not work. With 6 groups there would be six days between games in the group stage and once it went to the knock out stage you space the games out to give teams the right amount of rest, so there goes that argument. There would still be plenty of advertising revenue, and it seriously would not disrupt the pro season.

So what I have missed?

 

3 responses so far

Jun 17 2014

It is that wonderful time of the year.

Published by under Fun things!,Job Hunt

When one updates one's "brag sheet"-and gets a little counseling. Mine typically goes something like this.

223506.strip

 

2 responses so far

Jun 13 2014

Did not see that one coming.

Published by under Beer and Babes

I sure did not expect to see Spain fold like a cheap suit in the first match.

It just got its culo- well and surely kicked by Netherlands 5-1. 

On an unrelated note, legions of Croatian fans are looking up the Portuguese phrase for "lousy referee" and hurling it at Japanese referee  Yuichi Nishimura.

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2 responses so far

Jun 13 2014

When do we get to blame the Iraqis?

I woke up this morning to see articles blaming the current situation on Iraq-on our failure to leave troops there. John McCain is living up to his reputation of never meeting a war he did not want Americans to fight. They are trotting out the "I told you so" brigades to say its Obama's fault for living up to a SOFA agreement that his predecessor negotiated.

This is the 21st century. At some point Arabs have to take responsibility for their own stupidity and the burdens brought on by a slavish devotion to an apostate religion. What I find so interesting in our current discourse is that no one, and I do mean, no one, ever blames the Iraqis.

And according to Dr. Adam L. Silverman, perhaps we should.

Iraqi Sunnis have been telling us, explicitly, since as far back as 2007 when we started partnering with the Anbar Awakenings guys that as soon as they had a chance – read as soon as we were gone and conditions were right – they were going to go after the Shi’a. They are specifically and especially interested in going after the expatriate Shi’a that we had empowered and put in charge: Maliki and his Dawa Party and the Hakim’s and their ISCI Party and its Badr Corps militia. The Sadrists are not too high on their list of favorites either. By not actually listening, and by listening I mean hearing what they said and observing their behavior in order to get a fuller understanding of their messaging, we have helped to make this worse.

 

You remember 2007 don't you-the year the surgeaholics were telling us the surge was "saving Iraq"? And nay sayers like me were saying the Iraqis-as the Arabs they are were not worth saving.

And time would appear to be proving me right.

Once they realized they could run out the clock on us, they did. As a result we are no longer there to play referee and other events have diverted our attention. That is why now is a good time to settle scores. Syria is stuck in a Civil War, which provided the Levantine al Qaeda affiliate a way back into Iraq. They have capitalized on the dashed hopes and angers of a lot of Iraqis and scores are now being settled. Some of this is just vengeance, but some of it is also the process of state and societal formation, regardless of whether we like the potential outcome of that process. For all that we do not like to think about these things, state and societal formation, or reformation, is usually violent. It is often serially violent as well. There will be periods of violence – challenges to the established order or by the order to consolidate power, as well as to determine who gets to be included within society and who is to be partially or fully excluded. These periods will be interspersed with periods of calm. It is not, however, a quick or even easy process. The US has gone through this, though we like to ignore or forget it unless we have no other choice.

 

Read the whole article, it is worth your time. Arabs are nothing, if not remarkably consistent in their ability to screw up a good deal.

3 responses so far

Jun 12 2014

The real winner on Tuesday night.

Apathy, hypocrisy, laziness, sloth, selfishness, and greed. They are all still hung over from celebrating their victory on Tuesday night.

 Another election season in the United States has come and gone. This previous Tuesday, a series of primaries in the most reactionary,   southern states produced a variety of results. It is my purpose today, to set the rest some of the most ridiculous commentary from the thugs of the blogosphere. They of the “Tut tut-I am so superior” set, think they can take the opportunity to lecture the rest of us on how we don’t get it, along with the usual notes about limited government is better, and power should be returned to the states. There will be a cite of James Madison to prove this-even though when you actually research it, Mr. Madison had no use for any of their philosophy.

Let us start with the expected result. Lindsey Graham trounced 6 Teabag loons all of whom thought that it somehow made sense for South Carolina to jettison a Senator with a great deal of seniority, because they don’t think he is crazy enough. Of course this is South Carolina, a state that has not been in the mainstream of American thought since before 1861. The GOP voters there actually showed some sense by voting for Graham-and against my fellow wearer of the ring sending her packing as she so richly deserved.

Of course Nancy Mace was never in it to win-rather it was build a campaign organization, test the waters to see how many Citadel alumni really remember the true circumstances of her being the “first” woman to graduate the Citadel, and build contacts for a her real ambition:  to run for a Congressional seat in some back water district in Georgia or South Carolina where the deluded Teabag folks she so casually allied herself with reside.

Moving on, the shocker of the night was, of course, the loss of Eric Cantor in the Virginia 7th district. Now some of the usual hacks are out proclaiming how this proves the public is fed up with Washington ways somehow this shows that Cantor was out of touch with the American people. If so, then its hard to see how the guy that beat him is much of an improvement. David Brat is hardly a worthy person to be elected to a school board-much less to the United States Congress.  Despite his assertions that his victory was a “gift from God”, trust me I can assure that God had nothing to do with it. ( And if he did, it just shows how much God really hates the United States.).

I mean really, its not like Eric Cantor was some sort of beacon of moderation in American politics. By tossing him out the voters in Virginia basically said that, “we don’t really care about being able to accomplish anything, we just want someone who will reaffirm our intrinsic selfishness and stupidity. Phib says it is because Cantor became to aligned with “Washington”. I say, that is utter and complete nonsense.

You know why Cantor lost? Dollars and lazy, stupid, American voting habits. Let’s start with the latter first.

The 7th district in Virginia has 758,000 people in it. In 2012 about 381,000 of them voted, 223,000 of them voting for Cantor. (And probably for the Mittster too, who after all represents the same kind of elitism that both Cantor and Brat are examples of). Now fast forward to 2014. Only about 65000 people, out of a population over 10 times that number voted. And only 36000 voted for this religious , Ayn Rand loving whack job. That is barely 5% of the district’s population and certainly less than 10% of the districts total GOP registered population.

Now in today’s America, where 27% percent of the voting age population would vote for Satan if he were to actively campaign against Obama-aided and abetted by a set of media organizations that prey on the weak minded. (Glenn Beck supported Brat after all) it probably is not that hard to get 36000 motivated idiots    voters to get out and vote for a certified whack job.

The second set of numbers is the dollars that media rabble rousers spent to make sure the faithful voted against their own self interest. Worthless people like Hugh Hewitt, Ann Coulter, Laura Ingraham, and the ever hate able Mark Levin. Drudge of course was right there-egging on its completely clueless readership.  The Teabag front group , Americans for Prosperity gave Mark Levin ( he really needs to be run over by a bus) 800,000 dollars to get the word out. And Brat himself appears to to owe his job to Cato Institute president John Allison.

Dave Brat, the guy who won yesterday, may have had a lower profile than Cantor, but as Salon's Jim Newell pointed out, prominent members of the right-wing demagogue community pulled out all the stops for Brat:
 

… it was hard not to notice this morning that Drudge, in the prime upper-left real estate of his site, had listed a full 14 links regarding immigration and a supposed impending push for "amnesty" among the House Republican leadership….

What gives on this sleepy Tuesday? …

Hmmm … maybe something about Tuesday … primary season … it's a Tuesday during primary season … Ohhhhhhhh, we get it: House Majority Leader Eric Cantor's primary is today!

… The [Cantor-Brat] race hasn't gotten that much national media coverage, but it’s sure grabbed the attention of the prominent right-wingers who devote their entire lives to stopping comprehensive immigration reform. There's Drudge, of course. And Ann Coulter. And radio/TV personality Laura Ingraham, who recently suggested that the United States should have traded Eric Cantor to the Taliban for Bowe Bergdahl. And the writings and tweets of Mickey Kaus, now of the Daily Caller, have been indistinguishable from those of a Brat staffer in recent months.

Glenn Beck also backed Brat.
 

Taken together it paints a much different set of reasons for Cantors defeat. Lazy Americans, most of whom are too stupid to understand the seriousness of the issues at play, who can’t be bothered to get out and fulfill their one and only civic duty, combined with a relentless , agenda driven propaganda machine epitomized by my least favorite Canadian , Mark Steyn, and conspired to create a set of circumstances that have foisted this rancid sack of human excrement, David Brat,  on the government of the United States.

This is how low your democracy has fallen America.  This is what passes for “principles”  in the brave new world of our Gaultian overlords.

A note of clarification: This is not to debate, by the way, Phib's assertion that there are people who spend too many tours in DC. He's clearly right about that. But that's a simplistic explanation at its heart.  We have to ask ourselves why that is-a Navy gets what it rewards. And a Congress gets what it legislates. The Congress, your Congress,  has essentially been useless for the last 6 years, primarily, "[because] the primary bona fides for Republican members of the House of Representatives is how thoroughly you can refuse to do the job of governing, especially in the area of immigration, but also as regards the critical elements of the national economy. " The Navy can fix its DC problem anytime it wants to by setting board precepts that reward operational excellence. Congress could fix a lot of the Navy's problems by voting for straightforward revenue increases and supporting the effort to leave the wars behind us.

However, its not DC-or the fact that there are a lot of foreigners who want to live the American dream working there-that are at the heart of the American problem of today, nor is it a reason Cantor lost. The real problem dear Brutus is our American selves-and how lazy and stupid our populace chooses to be. Aided and abetted by some really evil people ( yes that's you Messer's Steyn and Hanson) who prey on that selfishness, that laziness and overall lack of comprehension-the results are not surprising.

5 responses so far

Jun 07 2014

Because I like beating a dead horse.

This will be my second and hopefully last post on the abomination that is the Harry Harris sponsored assrape investigation into the Blue Angels "command climate". Also known as its more common name, assassination by IG.

There have been wonderful comments made that , "since the events were substantiated as occurring", all objections to the way the investigation was handled and the timing of the complaint are irrelevant. And by implication it is perfectly fine to destroy a good officer's career as a result of one set of time.

I thoroughly reject that contention. And you Navy folks who are voicing it-may rest secure in the knowledge that you have completely sold your souls to Satan. Enjoy life in this brave new world you are creating with its protected classes and diversity bullies run amok.

If you have not read the investigation report, I think you should. It can be found here or here. Sadly, it is clear that the investigation team failed to look at some of the background issues that are also at play in a command like the Blue Angels or for that matter TOPGUN. They are not "normal" commands say that the Captain's VFA squadron was, a tour he did exceptionally well at.

Now perhaps it is because both the Blues and TOPGUN believe their own hype, about having the best of the best, that it sets folks up for the kind of dramas that ultimately created this vendetta by a butthurt subordinate and the subsequent with hunt. Personally, I think Maurice is right and this is a case of someone trying to get even when a selection board did not go her way, and now in the brave new world, the Navy is quite accommodating of this particular type of character assassination. But I think there is insufficient understanding of the group dynamics that are in play in an organization such as the Blue Angels or TOPGUN.

Some history. I was at NSAWC when the three weapons schools, CAEWWS, Topgun, and Strike were brought together in the ultimate "shotgun marriage".  The Topgun guys were our "neighbors" so to speak so we got to observe them up close. TOPGUN very much resented the merger and went out of its way to avoid integrating into the rest of the NSAWC organization. Like the Blues, they had their own set of traditions and rituals. They also like the Blues, have a huge set of powerful "alumni". You tinker with the organizations at great peril. The flag officers who ran the larger organization of NSAWC understood this. I remember having a conversation with one, who really felt that his efforts to reign in the outfit was having a direct impact on the way the rest of big Navy worked with him.

In the Blues, how the 8 aviators get along is more than just important, its a foundation on which their life is built. Thus I categorically reject the assumptions made by the investigators that the support officers were shunned. Anybody who has spent any time in Carrier Aviation knows there is a pecking order in the world, and learns to deal with it. After all in the Blues there are still plenty of good deals to be had.

But you are absolutely kidding yourself if you think a new CO can go in there and be an authoritarian from the gitgo. They have had people who tried to do that. They got run out of town on a rail. So the wise person is going to be very mindful of that and try to shape the change he wants subtly and carefully. Also the squadron is on the road a lot-and that creates its own unique challenges. I personally think CAPT McWherter was mindful of that and thus was trying his best to be collegial with his wardroom and foster camaraderie. Remember that? Much of Naval Aviation tradition is  (or was) built on it-and the best squadrons I served in were where the camaraderie was high and so was the interaction between the wardroom.  During my 20 years of flying, based on this criteria outlined in the CPF report, everyone of my CO's, including myself would have been fired. That alone should tell you it's an unreasonable standard.

Does that mean that there were things in hindsight, that could have been done differently? Of course there could have been. But a simple course correction would have sufficed-not a public shaming. I also don't think the incidents that are discussed are as numerous and non-stop as the report makes out. Seems to me there was also a lot of emphasis on the squadron's primary mission of good demonstration flying. And when you have a lot of young men together, the talk will turn to women and girls. And calling someone gay is still a accepted pejorative. It is a fact of life.

It may not have been right, but the Blues will be a unique organization.  It is not, just another squadron. And it never will be. And in making judgments on this case you should keep that in mind.

And for the record. Maxim style shots of women are not pornography-and people who say they are should be horsewhipped. As should subordinates who think it is their duty to "mentor" people of their gender. ( A key warning flag that this was a withchunt, mentioned in the investigation).

For those people, Professor Van Kreveld would like a chat with you.

3 responses so far

Jun 05 2014

The ease with which some people abandon their conviction.

Today was a sad day for me. It is probably the first day since I graduated from the Citadel, that I was ashamed to wear my ring. A ring I worked hard to earn-and usually wear with pride.

Why? Because it is disgusting to me, to watch legions of my fellow alumni, throw one of their own, CAPT Greg McWherter under the bus, solely to appease their own, pretty much flawed consciences.  The comments have been brutal on the alumni boards I monitor. And in the depths of hypocrisy, many are from the same people who rabidly applauded his ascension to command as the first Citadel graduate to command the blues.

I'll spare you the details-they can be found at Phib's place.  He has a good rundown on the case-and a copy of the investigation. He very ably points out much of the hypocrisy in it-and of the fine art, now being perfected, of assassination by IG.

Worth repeating:

You know I like words. Searching the document about poor performance of a Blue Angels CO and we have homosexual mentioned 18 times, gay 4 times, and the first clue, support officer 13 times. Safety 8 times.

He's been smeared as a sexist homophobe … all they left out was racist, but maybe I missed that.

In some ways, this is just another way to destroy the male oriented, warfighter, TACAIR culture. Tailhook was only the start – this has a similar genesis and is going to be used for the same agenda.

Ironically, the people who will be hurt most will be our female Shipmates – our fellow warfighters of all designators who know what the core of our business is, have a sense of humor, are secure in their womanhood, and as officers, are not going to break in to tears because they miss the drama of Middle School. 

It doesn't take long to figure out that this huge frag pattern that, like Tailhook, will destroy the careers of many good people and was started by a female support officer. Which one? Hard to tell … but with googlefu, you can narrow it downto a few possibilities.

Not really important who though – complaining, weak, and entitled administrative burdens have always been with us. It is what the institution does with it that is important.

Is this proportional? Look it over and tell me.

 

There is so much, that is wrong with this investigation-and The Skipper has done a great job of documenting it. There are so many things that are wrong with this investigation. Lets ask a few questions shall we?

 

The Navy proactively issued a press release within 24 hours of non-judicial punishment, to include release of the investigation. Was that based on FOIA requests from the press or did they do it so they could control the narrative?

 

Is it possible the high-castrati discussed how this case was to be handled before it was handled? I’d bet my stock portfolio it was. That’s unlawful command influence, and it’s against the rules. Just ask General Amos.

 

Do you think it a coincidence that a nuclear submariner was appointed to lead the investigation of an elite squadron? Is that not like asking a pole-vaulter to evaluate a baseball locker room? They are both sports, are they not?

 

Why is it CNATRA is not doing the investigation? They are the first flag in the chain. And where was TRAWING Six in all this. If these things were as rampant as was said-I GUARANTEE you they would have heard about it. The Commodore was too busy to do some discrete counseling? I know Greg McWherter would have taken it to heart.

 

Why did the accuser wait fifteen months after the commanding officer left to lower the boom?

 

If you are flying at 400 knots and pulling 4 Gs in a rolling maneuver with a guy’s wingtip 18 inches from your nugget, do you think it might be helpful to bond with that person and build trust? Would you feel comfortable flying next to him if you knew he would stab you in the back and look after only himself as soon as he deems it warranted?

 

The investigation says that he twice inherited a broken squadron. What of those who broke it? They’re good, then?

 

This whole affair stinks, not the least of reason which, I know the final endorser in the chain. The irony of this whole case is rich- because anecdotally , I know he treated his own JO's like shit. But he got a pass for it. Greg McWherter on the other hand got thrown on the ash heap of Navy history.

Don't kid yourself, for all the high handed rhetoric about the Navy doing the right thing, it did not. It f*&ked one of its own for no purpose. This is clearly a case of where the service was spring loaded to f*ck someone at the drive though.

Look hard at the investigation. You will find what you need on page 16, paragraph 45. I should warn you that the investigation as published is incomplete-since it does not include any of the enclosures -and thus lacks context.

But context is not what Harry Harris cares about.  He would throw his own mother under the bus if he thought it would improve his interests.  As such, he is the typical flag officer in today's Navy.

PS. Here is what a pornkin looks like. It ain't that bad, Which is yet another reason why his accuser can suck a big bag of dicks.

Oh, and for my brothers who wear the ring? Just blow me you chickenshit bastards.

 

4 responses so far

Jun 03 2014

Sideshow Bowe

It is with sad and undisguised disgust that I watch the collective conservative freak out of the release of SGT Bowe Berghdahl, the only prisoner of war held by the Taliban. In the early morning of June 30, 2009, Berghdal went missing from his unit's small outpost in Mest, a restive area in Paktia province. Within several hours, radio chatter from the Taliban indicated that they'd captured the soldier.

He spent the next five years in captivity, growing gaunt in the numerous propaganda videos that the Taliban trickled out to the press. On numerous occasions, they publicly threatened him with execution. Many Afghans and some Westerners in similar positions had been tortured, decapitated, or shot to death.

This passed weekend he was released by his captors in exchange for 5 prisoners being held in the concentration camp prison in Guantanamo Bay. And then the hounds of hell came rushing loose from the caves of the Glibertarian Kingdom.

And who was leading the way? Princess Dumbass of the Northwoods and The Town Hall Harlot herself.  She is pretty much setting a record for hysterical posts screaming about the man, which is a lot considering that this little specimen of female self loathing is always hysterical about something. But in this case-she has her well oiled plagiarism machine working till all hours of the night.

Over on Facebook or any of the normal blogs its no better either. The ranting is especially virulent. It runs along a consistent set of themes:

1) Obama negotiated with terrorists.Which is an interesting whine considering it simply makes him well, President, and is doing the same thing that Washington, Adams, Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt, Johnson, Nixon, Carter, Reagan, Clinton, and George W. Bush did.

2) Second, he released some bad guys.  People say he should not have done that. However, as the Christian Science Monitor points out-they were going to have to be released soon anyway:

But dealing with people you find odious – your enemies – is how most wars end. And with the US set for full withdrawal from Afghanistan at the end of 2016, the prospect of a crushing defeat for the Taliban is pretty much nil. Getting POWs back, whatever the circumstances of their capture, a crucial goal.

Did Obama just swap five dangerous "terrorists" for Bergdahl, as Sen. Cruz alleges? It depends on your definition of "terrorism."

Four of the five men released into Qatar's custody, where they are supposed to remain for at least a year before being allowed to return home, were indeed senior members of the Taliban movement. The Taliban have been seeking the release of the five in exchange for Bergdahl since 2011, and there had been fitful progress in that regard, with Qatar acting as a mediator, since at least 2013.

Outgoing Afghan President Hamid Karzai has sought in recent years to find a reconciliation deal with the Taliban, and the release of the "Guantanamo Five" has been a part of those efforts.

 

Boo fucking who. The guy is home and that is the main thing.

3) And of course now we come to the real turd in the punchbowl-the guy is alleged to be a deserter. Soonergrunt over at Balloon Juice addresses this in a quite logical fashion:

I don’t know if SGT Bergdahl voluntarily walked off his camp and surrendered to the enemy or not. Just because a few fellow Soldiers in his unit say that doesn’t make it so. The most powerful communication system in an Infantry company is what we used to call “S-5–rumor control.” I’ve never been in a unit that wasn’t essentially a knitting circle with automatic weapons. Young Soldiers, for whom boredom is an almost constant companion (punctuated by moments of sheer terror) can give the most catty junior high school girls’ clique a run for their money. That doesn’t mean it’s necessarily wrong, but I wouldn’t put a lot of stock in it without some corroboration. So I’ll hold off judgment on that. It’s also been brought up that he supposedly sent some emails to one or more people expressing doubts about US military actions. So did I. So have a lot of guys who then went out and did the very best they could do for their buddies and their country. It’s irrelevant anyway.

We’re getting out of Afghanistan, and the treaties to which this nation has repeatedly pledged itself require that we release Prisoners of War and repatriate them home. Taliban are distinct from Al Qaeda in this respect because Taliban could be considered the government forces of Afghanistan (whether legitimate, loved, respected, or not) while AQ isn’t anything but a bunch of thugs under international law. So this idea that we gave up valuable prisoners for one guy and that makes it a bad deal is bullshit on its face. We were going to release them. We were REQUIRED to release them under international law that we largely wrote. Whatever intelligence value they had was long since wrung out of them, in some cases literally. One of them had laid down his arms and pledged to work with the new government of Afghanistan prior to the Pakistani government taking him prisoner more as a propaganda tool and removing a potential political problem than anything else, I am given to understand. So we got something we wanted for doing something now that we would have done in a few months for nothing anyway. That’s not exactly brilliant poker, but it was pretty well played.

We don’t leave our people behind. That’s an Army value. The people ranting about this whole thing either don’t understand or don’t care about that simple concept. Whatever SGT Bergdahl may have done or not done, we don’t leave our people behind. If it hasn’t already, the Army will shortly start a 15-6 investigation, so called in reference to the Army Regulation that describes such things. You’ve probably heard the term “Board of Inquiry.” They are essentially the same thing. When the Army has concluded what the circumstances of SGT Bergdahl’s capture and captivity were, then they’ll make some decisions, but I’ll just note for the record that US POWs have rarely been punished for their actions or inactions while in enemy hands. Many, many of the POWs in Viet Nam, including John McCain signed documents created by their captors confessing to war crimes and indicting their fellow POWs and the US. Former CW4 Michael Durant, taken prisoner by a Somali warlord after being shot down in the battle of Mogadishu (Blackhawk Down) made problematic statements to a TV camera that were subsequently shown around the world. None of these men were ever subjected to disciplinary action upon repatriation to my knowledge.

So I’m glad that SGT Bergdahl will be reunited with his family, at long last.

David Graham over at the Atlantic points out much the same thing-pointing out too, that Obama made clear that he was not going to be bound by a stupid Congressional obstacle if it conflicted with his powers as Commander in Chief.  So much for the "he broke the law argument".

Obviously there is going to be an investigation. The Army will make a decision one way or another. And it will have to weight all the factors including what he suffered in captivity.  And somehow it will have to prove its case in court, if it has one. Personally,  I think all this public outrage is doing the defense attorney's job for him-it will make it impossible to prosecute, even if the Army did want to.

Clearly, however, the collective stupidity shown by all the usual suspects makes me wonder about how screwed up the land of my birth is becoming. Everyone needs to chill the f*ck out and remember this little tidbit of advice:

 

 

Nuff Said.

11 responses so far

May 31 2014

TV worth watching

It took the S.O. and I a long time to get Internet connectivity to the house , besides our cell phones and a stick for the computer. While I was away, it was installed-but our bandwidth is severely limited due to the lack of fiber (and cable) to our little village. So we get a whopping 3MB/s download speed.

So it was with trepidation when she went off to work today, that I tried our Apple TV box. Suprisingly it worked very well with no ( almost no) interruptions for buffering. Sitting down to play with the box and sharing via WiFi with my computer. I can access my entire I-tunes library-so that is a good thing.

In channel surfing though-I stumbled upon the PBS channel, which in our previous abode had been one of my staples. And I started watching, The United States of Secrets. Its a Frontline documentary about the NSA's warrantless surveillance program, through which, the boys and girls in Ft. Meade got to violate every American's rights under the Constitution. Now, it is not suprising that in the days after 9-11, the goverment went seeking broader authorities to violate these rights. What is jarring, and has you saying "WTF?" about every 15 minutes is the ease with which the sworn guardians of those rights just gave them away with no moral convictions. And your second "WTF?" moment comes when you see honest civil servants , who realized the government was screwing the pooch, made attempts to set things right "though the system", only to be stymied at every turn. And, like it or not, a lot of the blame or that lies with Dick Cheney.

Watch for yourself how innocently your government can turn to be as evil as that with which it seeks to protect you from:

 

 

The whole show is 4 hours in two parts-long to be sure-but worth every second of your time. If you are an American who cares about the rights of your fellow citizens under the Constitution, you will be astounded at what it discusses. (Even if you support Bush). The real revelation is not that they usurped the rights under 1st , 4th, and 5th amendments-but the ease at which they brushed aside concerns about those incredibly important issue. The precedents it created are scary.

2 responses so far

May 29 2014

Stupidity on Parade

Some things just set me off. Today was a day where I came across something quite innocently posted by someone on the old Facebook page, that when one reads it, you just have to shake your head in disgust.

Over at The Federalist, a slick conservative blog for the learning impaired, a writer named Bethany Mandel really showed her stupid chops today when she got her panties in a bunch over this Google header:(click to view properly)

CarsonGoogleDoodle-998x698

Seems it really bothers her that Google would honor a woman whose book was a landmark publication at the time, created a lot of discussion and controversy, and played a key role in our understanding of the consequences of not paying attention to our environment. Somehow, that really seems to bother her.

Those who decry life-saving anti-mosquito chemicals like DDT are the kinds of progressives who call conservatives anti-science and heartless. They do so while withholding environmentally safe chemicals from saving the lives of children in the developing world. Rachel Carson and her present-day admirers throw nets at those at risk of malaria and other mosquito-borne illnesses. There are charities that give them out like candy.

 

Next year, when Google’s doodle team thinks about what or who to honor, I invite them to spend a few nights under a suffocating net in tropical and scenic Cambodia. Experience the true legacy of Rachel Carson. After throwing off the net at 2 a.m. in order to breathe, I invite them to spend days or weeks ravaged by fever in Kantha Bopha Hospital in a non-air conditioned room with 60 other families. 

 

And here is the kicker-she has the gall to blame Carson for a setback that befell her-and blames it all on what Rachel Carson supposedly set into motion. After all she has a report from…….wait for it……..The Heritage Foundation to prove it. Like they are an honest broker.

Ms Mandel fashions Rachel Carson as some sort of genocidal murderer. There is just one problem with that conclusion and its typical of websites like The Federalist and morons like those who write for the Liars Club, it is not true. 

Not… one ….bit.

But never let the facts get in the way of a good wingnut tirade shall we

Google has really angered the Wingnuttospere this week. First off, on Monday, the search engine failed to put up a special doodle for Memorial Day, because Google Hates America — actually, the page did mark the day with an American flag and yellow ribbon icon, but they were too small and didn’t go up at midnight like they should have, but later in the day.* Then Tuesday, Google drew the wrath of all nine fulltime staffers of Twitchy by honoring Rachel Carson on what would have been her 107th birthday. This tribute to a known environmentalist sparked a Twitch-Fit, because of course by writing Silent Spring, a book that eventually led to the banning of DDT, Rachel Carson personally murdered millions:

 

Wingnuts love to distort history in any way, shape or form, so long as it makes them come out looking like the victim. Especially when the deeply disturbed people tending Breitbart's mausoleum are on the case.

Funny thing is Rachel Carson died two years after her book came out-and was never in government. How that somehow turns her into the Joseph Mengle of the 1960's is beyond me. Especially when you look at what she really believed:

Rachel Carson, who stoically weathered misinformation campaigns against her before her death from breast cancer in 1964, would find the current situation all-too predictable. As she said once in a speech after the release of Silent Spring, many people who have not read the book nonetheless “disapprove of it heartily.”

 

Rachel Carson never called for the banning of pesticides. She made this clear in every public pronouncement, repeated it in an hourlong television documentary about Silent Spring, and even testified to that effect before the U.S. Senate. Carson never denied that there were beneficial uses of pesticides, notably in combatting human diseases transmitted by insects, where she said they had not only been proven effective but were morally “necessary.”

 

“It is not my contention,” Carson wrote in Silent Spring, “that chemical insecticides must never be used. I do contend that we have put poisonous and biologically potent chemicals indiscriminately into the hands of persons largely or wholly ignorant of their potentials for harm. We have subjected enormous numbers of people to contact with these poisons, without their consent and often without their knowledge.”

 

Many agreed. Editorializing shortly after The New Yorker articles appeared, theNew York Times wrote that Carson had struck the right balance: “Miss Carson does not argue that chemical pesticides must never be used,” the Times said, “but she warns of the dangers of misuse and overuse by a public that has become mesmerized by the notion that chemists are the possessors of divine wisdom and that nothing but benefits can emerge from their test tubes.”

 

Carson did not seek to end the use of pesticides—only their heedless overuse at a time when it was all but impossible to escape exposure to them. Aerial insecticide spraying campaigns over forests, cities, and suburbs; the routine application of insecticides to crops by farmers at concentrations far above what was considered “safe;” and the residential use of insecticides in everything from shelf paper to aerosol “bombs” had contaminated the landscape in exactly the same manner as the fallout from the then-pervasive testing of nuclear weapons—a connection Carson made explicit in Silent Spring.

 

Furthermore-a lot of scientific evidence backed up her contentions. Kind of like the debate about climate change today, there is a dedicated body of folks, like the writers at The Federalist, who seem content to just spew out garbage and hope no one calls them on it. My hope in this post is to call them the contemptible liars they are. For example, I am at a loss to understand why Carson is somehow to blame for the deaths of children when she herself is gone and DDT is not banned. Seems Ms Mandel missed that little detail:

At one level, these articles send a comforting message to the developed world: Saving African children is easy. We don’t need to build large aid programs or fund major health initiatives, let alone develop Third World infrastructure or think about larger issues of fairness. No, to save African lives from malaria, we just need to put our wallets away and work to stop the evil environmentalists.

Unfortunately, it’s not so easy.

For one thing, there is no global DDT ban. DDT is indeed banned in the U.S., but malaria isn’t exactly a pressing issue here. If it ever were, the ban contains an exception for matters of public health. Meanwhile, it’s perfectly legal—and indeed, used—in many other countries: 10 out of the 17 African nations that currently conduct indoor spraying use DDT (New York Times, 9/16/06).

DDT use has decreased enormously, but not because of a ban. The real reason is simple, although not one conservatives are particularly fond of: evolution. Mosquito populations rapidly develop resistance to DDT, creating enzymes to detoxify it, modifying their nervous systems to avoid its effects, and avoiding areas where DDT is sprayed — and recent research finds that that resistance continues to spread even after DDT spraying has stopped, lowering the effectiveness not only of DDT but also other pesticides.(Current Biology, 8/9/05).

And even if you do agree with Ms Mandel ( and you are a moron if you do), the book was still a landmark incident of the 60's and worthy of historic recognition. Somehow Ms. Mandel seems to ignore that. Probably because, writing inside the wingnut echo chamber, perspective and context are things that easily get lost. Certainly it works out well for her. She gets to publish inaccurate precepts, her readership is generally too stupid to know better, and so in turn they spread it around to all their right thinking friends.

This is why we can't have nice things. 

She marking them begins a wailing note And sings extemporally a woeful ditty How love makes young men thrall and old men dote How love is wise in folly, foolish-witty Her heavy anthem still concludes in woe, And still the choir of echoes answer so. (William Shakespeare)

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May 28 2014

There is such a thing as decorum.

I once again, marvel at the stupidity of the pro gun community. The bodies from the Santa Barbara are hardly even cold-and yet we have to hear this:

"Your dead kids don't trump my Constitutional rights." – Joe the Plumber (yea, that guy) to the families of the Isla vista shooting victims,

 

Somehow, the word "douchebag" does not seem to cover it.  But then "Joe the Plumber" has a long history of stupidity. There are more eloquent ways of defending the Constitutionality of the 2nd Amendment. Sorry, but I find the statement callous, regardless of how it was prefaced.

Lets pretend shall we? Even if there is some merit to his argument ( of which there is not-again, the second amendment only makes sense when the first sentence is included), there is such a thing as timing and decorum. I mean really, did he have to make this point now? Really?

And he's not the only one. Look at this:

Here is a recording of a robocall received today by a voter in the 25th Congressional district, touting Tony Strickland's pro-gun stances, voting record, and support from organizations like the NRA.

The timing could hardly be more tasteless. Just yesterday, a UCSB student shot over a dozen people and killed six (three by stabbing) – most of them fellow students. Tony Strickland actually represented Santa Barbara and Isla Vista in the State Senate until late 2012, and many of these victims were likely former constituents of Strickland's.

I am always amazed these folks have a propensity to come out strongly immediately after a shooting. Can't they wait a while and be discrete? Can't they let the process of mourning go on? I mean after all-it is not like anyone is going to do anything substantial to stop it-or at the least, severely limit the ability of people to get guns they have no business having. 20 dead children? Too bad.  6 dead-13 wounded, "well I feel your pain but I have to have a gun to open carry to Chipolte".

I'm sorry, if you need more than a pistol, a shotgun and a rifle, to defend your family, then you have made some really bad lifestyle choices. And trust me on this one-I have made more than my fair share, but in all of them I never needed a weapon. 

This is neither the time or the place to have this discussion. That idiots choose to make it the time, completely disgusts me. Save your f*cked up arguments for when someone actually brings a meaningful gun control bill to the House floor. Because you will never have to use them. In our current world there is no Congressman with the ability to do so.

And idiots like Joe know that. So all they are doing is pissing into an open grave. I would hope even gun nuts find that offensive.

Charles Pierce sums it up well:

This is a country now at war with itself. This is a phrase that is generally tossed about when political debate gets too heated. It was popular to say it back in the 1960s, when it seemed quite possibly to be true, with leaders bleeding out on balconies in Memphis or kitchen floors in Los Angeles, and students bleeding out from gunfire on college campuses, and half-baked revolutionary idiots blowing themselves up in Greenwich Village. But this is not the same thing. This is a country at war with itself for profit. This is a country at war with itself because its ruling elite is too cowed, or too well-bribed, or too cowardly to recognize that there are people who are getting rich arming both sides, because the only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun, so you make sure that it's easy for the bad guys to get guns in order to make millions selling the guns to the good guys. This is a dynamic not unfamiliar to the people in countries where brushfire conflicts and civil wars are kept alive because distant people are making a buck off them.  In Africa, war is made over diamonds and rare earths. In South America, war is made over cocaine. Here, for any number of reasons – because Adam Lanza went crazy or because Elliot Rodger couldn't get laid – and the only constant in all those wars is the fact somebody gets rich arming both sides…

 

There are not enough words to describe how these pro-gun fanatics suck.

 

 

 

 

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May 26 2014

Second of two Memorial Day Posts

I paraphrased this bit of writing from Herman Wouk a couple of years back. I still think its a marvelous bit of writing and particularly appropriate as "America begins to leave the world stage". Not because it was forced to-but because of those who feel that merely dying for your fellow servicemen is sufficient justification for their ever being there in the first place. It is not-and it is important to remember on Memorial Day above all days. For every wartime death is an unnecessary tragedy, created because the world chooses to solve its problems, after 6000 years, with the fighting and dying of young men ( and now, even more sadly, women-who are supposed to serve a different role in our world)-for conflicts that shall not be long remembered. I post this because I think since, 1991, American casualties have been equivalent to those of the British Empire in the 20th century-men who were also fighting for their contemporaries, fighting to preserve an order that still needs to exist-but were sold out by their own civilian leadership. 

Of course we should honor their sacrifice on this day. But it only has real meaning if we honor the volunteers who died in these two wars by taking a lesson from these losses and work to keep this kind of stupidity from happening again. I am going to tell you this again Phib, the Afghans were never worthy of the sacrifice that was made on their behalf-and the effort expended to try to help them has accelerated our march from the world stage.  That is why it is worth reading this passage-we honor their efforts to our very soul. But if we don't find a better way to run our planet-then we have failed these valiant souls deeply. "Either war is finished, or we are!"

I've been out of pocket this weekend-down in Pensacola, playing golf at AC Read, watching the boats go across the sound, and catching up with some friends. He let me in on some very sad developments happening in our Navy-which I will proceed to document later this week. This, however, being Memorial Day, I thought I would pass on something different concerning remembering the fallen-from one of my favorite authors: Hermann Wouk. In the book is a  fictional correspondent's report, Sunset at Kidney Ridge, reflects on the decline of the British Empire; it serves roughly as the emotional midpoint of the book. While written about the path of the British Empire, I find Alastair Tudsbury's thoughts have applicability to our situation and our continuing struggle in the War without End. I have transcribed the entire piece, word for word ,  from Wouk's novel, War and Remembrance, Chapter 49.

Here then is Sunset at Kidney Ridge:

SUNSET ON KIDNEY RIDGE

By Alstair Tudsbury

By wireless from London. This dispatch, dated November 4, 1942 was the famous British correspondent's last-dictated shortly before he was killed by a landmine at El Alamein. Edited by his daughter and collaborator, Pamela Tudsbury, from an unfinished draft, it is reprinted by special permission of the London Observer.

 

The sun hangs huge and red above the far dust-streaked horizon. The desert cold is already falling on Kidney Ridge. This gray sandy elevation is deserted, except by the dead, and two intelligence officers and myself. Even the flies have left. Earlier they were here in clouds, blackening the corpses. They pester the living too, clustered at a  mand's eyes and the moisture in the corners of his mouth, drinking his sweat. But of course they prefer the dead. When the sun climbs over the opposite horizon tomorrow, the flies will return to their feast.

       Here not only did these German and British soldiers die, who litter the ground as far as the eye can see in the fading red light. Here at El Alamein, the Afrika Korps died. The Korps was a legend, a dashing clean- cut enemy , a menace and at the same time a sort of glory; in Churchillian rhetoric, a gallant foe worthy of our steel. It is not known if Rommel has made good is escape, or whether his straggle of routed supermen will be bagged by the Eight Army. But the Afrika Korps is dead, crushed by British arms. We have won here, in the great Western of Africa, a victory to stand with Crecy, Agincourt, Blenheim, and Waterloo.

        Lines from Southey's "Battle of Blenheim" are haunting me here on Kidney Ridge:

They say it was a shocking sight

After the field was won,

For many thousand bodies here

Lay rotting in the sun

But things like that, you know, must be

After a famous victory.

        The bodies, numerous as they are, strike the eye less than the blasted and burned out tanks that dot this weirdly beautiful wasteland, these squat hulls with their long guns, casting elongated blue shadows on the pastel grays and browns and pinks of the far-stretching sands. Here is the central incongruity of Kidney Ridge-the masses of smashed twentieth-century machinery tumbled about in these harsh flat sandy wilds, where  one envisions warriors on camels or horses, or perhaps the elephants of Hannibal.

        How far they came to perish here, these soldiers and these machines! What a bizarre train of events brought youngsters from the Rhineland and Prussia, from the Socttish Highlands and London, from Australia and New Zealand, to butt at each other to the death with flame- spitting machinery in faraway Africa, in a setting as dry and as lonesome as the moon?

       But that is the hallmark of this war. No other war has ever been like it. This war rings the world. Kideny Ridge is everwhere on our small globe. Men fight as far away from home as they can be transported, with courage and endurance that makes on proud of the human race, in horrible contrivances that make one ashamed of the human race.

         My jeep will take me back to Cairo shortly, and I will dictate a dispatch about what I see here. What I am looking at, right now as the sun touches the horizon, is this. Two intelligence offices, not fifty yards from me, are lifting the German driver out of a blasted tank, using meat hooks. He is black and charred. He has no head. He is a trunk with arms and legs. The smell is like gamy pork. The legs wear good boots, only a bit scorched.

          I am very tired. A voice I don't want to listen to tells me that this England's last land triumph; that our military history ends here with a victory to stand with the greatest, won largely with machines shipped ten thousand miles from American factories. Tommy Atkins will serve with pluck and valor wherever he fights here after, as always; but the conduct of the war is slipping from our hands.

          We are outnumbered and outclassed. Modern War is a clangorous and dreary measuring of industrial plants. Germany's industrial capacity passed ours in 1905. We hung on through the First World War by sheer grit. Today the two giants of the earth are the United States and the Soviet Union. They more than outmatch Germany and Japan, now that they have shaken off their surprise setbacks and sprung to arms. Tocqueville's vision is coming to pass in our time. They will divide the empire of the world.

          The sun going down on Kidney Ridge is setting on the British Empire, on which-we learned as schoolboys-the sun never set.  Our Empire was born of the skill of our explorers, the martial prowess of our yeomanry, the innovative genius of our scientists and engineers. We stole a march on the world that lasted 200 years. Lulled by the long peaceful protection of the great fleet we built, we thought it could last forever. We dozed.

          Here in Kidney Ridge we have erased the disgrace of our somnolence. If history is but the clash of arms, we now begin to leave the stage with honor. But if it is a march to the human spirit toward world freedom, we will never leave the stage. British ideas, British institutions, British scientific method, will lead the way in other lands, in other guises. English will become the planetary tongue, that is now certain. We have been the Greece of the new age.

      But you object, the theme of the new age is socialism. I am not so sure of that. Even so, Karl Marx, the scruffy Mohammad of this spreading economic Islam, built his strident dogmas on the theories of British economists. He created his apocalyptic visions in the hospitality of a British Museum. He read British books, lived on British bounty, wrote in British freedom, collaborated with Englishmen and lies in a London grave. People forget all that.

         The sun has set. It will get dark and cold quickly now. The intelligence officers are beckoning me to their lorry. The first stars spring forth in the indigo sky. I take a last look around at the dead of El Alamein and mutter a prayer for these poor devils, German and British, who turn and turn about sang Lili Marlene in the cafes of Tobruk, hugging the same sleazy girls. Now they lie here together, their young appetites cold, their homesick songs stilled.

"Why twas a very wicked thing!"

Said Little Wilhemine

"Nay, nay my little girl"  quoth he-

Pamela Tudsbury writesThe telephone rang just at that moment, as my father was declaiming the verser with his usual relish. It was a summons to the interview with General Montgomery. He left at once. A lorry brought back his body the next morning. As a World War I reserve officer, he was buried with honors in the Brisitsh Military Cemetery outside Alexandria.

The London observer asked me to complete the article. I have tried, I have his hand written notes for three more paragraphds. But I cannot do it. I can however, complete Southey's verse for him. So ends my fathers career of war reporting-

"It was a famous victory"

*     *       *

Yes it is a piece from an American novel, with a British slant. However I think if you try, you can substitute American battles, American names, and American cities and see the analogies to our present day. It is true that not all of the comparisons are apt-the Soviet Union is no more and it is pretty clear socialism has been discredited-however substitute "Globalization and rampant unregulated profit taking" and Tudsbury's prediction holds true. And I would also point out-as much as so many people try to deny it, whatever we Americans have in the way of honor and virtue, we learned it from the British.

If we seek to honor the sacrifices of the brave Soldiers, Sailors, Airman and Marines who have fallen today-we must also ask ourself what are we doing to make this country a better place to live for their children and their families. For in the end, that was what they were fighting to defend, a free society that improves itself, not simply falls back into the evils they fought so hard to protect us from.

Andrew Bacevich wrote recently:

Americans once believed war to be a great evil. Whenever possible, war was to be avoided. When circumstances made war unavoidable, Americans wanted peace swiftly restored.

Present-day Americans, few of them directly affected by events in Iraq or Afghanistan, find war tolerable. They accept it. Since 9/11, war has become normalcy. Peace has become an entirely theoretical construct. A report of G.I.s getting shot at, maimed, or killed is no longer something the average American gets exercised about. Rest assured that no such reports will interfere with plans for the long weekend that Memorial Day makes possible.

You should find that trend very scary-I know I do.

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May 26 2014

First of two Memorial Day posts

Published by under Memorials

Today is Memorial Day-and fortunately for me, I am alive, and spending it at home. For a lot of Soldiers, Sailors, Airman and Marines that is not true.  So it is very important that we remember their sacrifices-and honor their memories. Today I wanted to re-post about one such sacrifice-one that I wrote about a few years ago, of a brave man who gave his life so that his shipmates may live. Fate and his duty as a Plane Commander had placed him in this position and as the post lays out below, it was a terrifying event to be sure. In memory of Steven Zilberman:

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I've waited a while to write about this-as I wanted to put some space between the event and the commentary. A lot of readers are probably already familiar with the basics, namely the tragic loss of LT Steve Zilberman, USN of Columbus, Ohio in an aircraft mishap in the North Arabian sea. The aircraft was returning from an Airborne Command and Control mission over Afghanistan when it developed problems and the crew had to bailout.

The details of what caused the mishap are still under investigation-but it appears as if, LT Zilberman found himself in the position of flying the aircraft in order to keep it in a stable configuration while his crew bailed out. What I think has not been accurately told-except within the service community, is how truly frightening it had to be for him and the rest of his crew and how much of a debt of gratitude the rest of us owe this young man for his courageous actions on that horrible day.

I want you to remember this statement as I work through this post, its meaning will become apparent in a couple of paragraphs:

The new propeller is quieter, with less vibration on the airframe and equipment. It provides a little more SHP. It is virtually impossible to pitchlock, since the 8 blades can feather with loss of hydraulic oil pressure. One of the interesting performance attributes of the new prop is the reduced noise inside the airplane. The pilots and crew are able to hear noises they have never heard before. But the problem is, they don't know if these noises have always been there and they were unable to hear them because of the noise of the old props, or if the new noises are related to the new props

There is that word again: pitchlock. What does it mean? Let me explain. In a turboprop aircraft, the jet engine it has turns at a constant RPM or 100%. When you add power by moving the throttles forward, the engine is not turning any faster. What is happening is that the propellers are changing their pitch to take a larger "bite" of air and thus "pull" the aircraft through the air faster. The changing of the pitch of the propeller is accomplished normally through a hydraulic system in aircraft like the E-2 where the propellers are big and the engine nacelle is too.

The E-2 used to have a four bladed prop. It was similar to the C-130 in some ways and has a variant of the P-3 engine attached to it. The decision was made to go to an eight blade propeller in order to reduce vibration and noise as was stated above. It was also supposed to be easier to maintain since now-individual blades could be changed right on the flight deck-whereas under the "old" system I grew up with,a prop change was a major evolution require the aircraft to be moved to the hangar bay, the new prop "built-up" and balanced, and then the aircraft had to do a low and high power turn on the flight deck and a Functional Check Flight. If you have ever served on an aircraft carrier-you will know that stringing together that series of events is never easy.

If the hydraulic fluid that moves the propeller to its desired pitch is lost or is in the process of being pumped overboard ( e.g. as in a leak) there is a set of teeth that will engage with each other to lock the aircraft propeller into whatever pitch it failed at. It has to be that way because otherwise the propeller would randomly pitch as it moved through the slip stream.  That is bad. C-2s and E-2s have a pitchlock system built into the propellers to "help" the pilot if a propeller loses hydraulic fluid. Unlike the T-34, which has a spring assembly that will drive the prop to feather in the event of a failure, the C-2 and E-2 need hydraulic pressure inside the prop to drive the prop to feather. The pitchlock system is supposed to prevent the prop from going to flat pitch in the event that all the prop fluid is lost.

At least that is how it supposed to work-however if this happens at a low power setting, the prop is going to be at an angle just shy of being perpendicular to the slip stream. E-2 pilots refer to it as flying with a barn door attached to the aircraft. During my time in the community-probably after a fire ( which was a big deal when I was coming into my command tour, as the community had had several), this was the most feared emergency there was. Because the pilot always faced a dilemma, when and if he could shut the engine down and could he get back aboard if he did? Not to mention that if the aircraft pitchlocks at a low blade angle the ability to control the aircraft becomes sporting-to say the least.

So now lets return to the situation that the VAW-121 aircraft found itself in that day:

So after one engine lost oil pressure and then failed completely; after one propeller couldn't be adjusted to balance the plane; after it was clear that there was no way to safely land, Zilberman ordered his crew to bail out.

He manually kept the Hawkeye stable as it plummeted toward the water, which allowed the three other men to escape.

Time ran out before he could follow.

Zilberman, 31, was declared dead three days later.

On Thursday, more than 250 sailors, officers, aviators and friends gathered to pay tribute to Zilberman at the Norfolk Naval Station chapel.

His widow, Katrina, was presented the Distinguished Flying Cross that her husband was awarded posthumously.

My stomach hurts just thinking about it. What I hope to make you understand is just how gut wrenching this whole sequence of events had to be, and the real courage and presence of mind it took to do this.

When you bailout of an E-2, there is no ejection seat. You strap into the seat, release from it with the parachute attached to your back via a torso harness and then you have to shuffle about 20 feet to the main cabin door and roll out of the hatch.

The pilots? They have a few things to do to get ready for that. Level the wings ( if they can), call the ship,  broadcast their position——oh, and as an extra added bonus,  deal with the  emergency that put them in extremis to begin with.

I want you to think about it, the LT as the Plane Commander- had to know he was in a bad situation. So did the rest of the crew.  For him to get out, he would have to set the auto-pilot and then  hope that he could get the distance to the door, before the aircraft most probably forced the auto-pilot to kick off line and then,  in all probability,  stall and depart controlled flight soon there after. In which case the aircraft noses over and getting to the door is the equivalent of climbing a flat wall with no hand holds.

Assuming he had the altitude left to have time to do so.

And now remember this-he had to know all of these facts when he ordered the bailout.

But what about the ditching hatches,  you ask. ( There are three on the aircraft, two over the cockpit and one over the Air Control Officers seat). What about them? Besides the fact that its doubtful you can fit out them with a parachute on-there is this little matter of an eight bladed mixer turning out there and the laws of inertia.  There is only one way out. Getting out of an E-2 that was sitting still on deck when we practiced bailouts was hard.  Out of balanced flight, with the pilots working to maintain control?

Terrifying.

Yet this young man did it-and three men are alive today because of him. There can be no question of his devotion to his duty and his courage. He's a hero in every sense of the word-and the Navy and the United States have suffered a terrible loss.

Questions can and should be asked, however, about the system that put this crew in that gut wrenching situation that day. I've got three to be precise.

One: This is the third major prop related mishap in the past two years. This is a known problem.  It begs the question of what is being done in terms of training, and more importantly material solutions to fix what appears to be a big issue with a system that "wasn't supposed to work this way". Sorry, I kind of keep thinking of watching  a similar situation play out in the early 1990's with respect to fires on the aircraft.  Go back and ask someone who was in the community then about how many aircraft were lost in a three year period. And more importantly-why are not flag officers in the Naval Air Systems command screaming bloody murder about this?

Maybe they are-the skeptic in my mind kind of doubts it-I've seen this drama before.

Two: Why is the US Navy-after some 50 + years of being the jet age, and the advances that have taken place in propulsion systems, still operating aircraft with propellers on the carrier? Jet engines don't pitch lock-more importantly they would have provided some definite tactical advantages f0r the E-2 in the current operational environments it is operating in. Better dash to station, the ability to accelerate to more reasonable airspeeds for the coming innovation of air refueling to the E-2 and most importantly-it would eliminate a huge hazard to personnel operating on the flight deck.

When I got to my first fleet squadron, they were just two months away from an incident where a blue shirt got chopped to smithereens by a turning propeller when he turned the wrong way after removing a huffer hose. Kid was 20 years old. In the intervening 30 years I can think of at least two other similar mishaps and five others where the propeller struck something metal on the flight deck sending shrapnel through the skin of the aircraft.

Jet engines have their hazards too-I know this, but they also have their advantages.

Three: In conjunction with item two-why, after some forty years, has there not been a redesign of the crew placement in the aircraft to potentially allow the possible installation of ejection seats?  The dome is a problem I know-but ask yourself this, not every AEW aircraft is using a rotodome anymore. Phased array's are the wave of the future.  And perhaps the dome could be moved slightly and the weight compensated for to allow for an ejection seat.

This is a pipe dream I know-because even as I write this, I can think of about five or six really insurmountable challenges from an engineering standpoint. At the same time-there have been marvelous advances in aircraft design and there were during my time, several unique attempts to convince the Navy to adopt a new airframe for the AEW mission. I was on the record as being in favor of that. I can also tell you that it was never considered a popular position-the P-3 community was not the only community that was fixated on one type of platform for it's mission.

So let me state it again-I believe strongly that the E-2 could be redesigned into a twin engine jet aircraft with the crew positions to lined up like the Prowler or S-3 ( with canopies too!) and with the advances in avionics could still have the radar work in a manner to perform its mission. It probably would have looked like a "stretch" S-3. I remain convinced it could have been done.

It would cost a little bit of money to be sure-and that was something the leadership of Naval Aviation could not abide. There were after all boatloads of Hornets to buy and JSF.

Most of us, most of the time, live in blissful ignorance of what a small, elite, heroic group of Americans are doing for us night and day. As we speak, all over the globe, American Sailors, submariners and aviators are doing something very dangerous. 'People say, Well, it can't be too dangerous because there are no wrecks.'

But the reason we don't have more accidents is that these are superb professionals; the fact that they master the dangers does not mean that the dangers aren't real. Right now, somewhere around the world, young men (and women) are landing … aircraft on … pitching decks … at night! You can't pay people to do that: they do it out of love of country, of adventure, of the challenge. We all benefit from it, and the very fact that we don't have to think about it tells you how superbly they're doing their job — living on the edge of dangers so the rest of us need not think about, let alone experience, danger."-George Will.

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May 23 2014

Musings of a moron

David Brooks, also known here by the not so affectionate moniker of “Chunky Bobo”, has written a column so absurd that you just have to shake your head in stupefaction that this man still has a job-much less a respected position in American journalism. Like McMegan-it appears that Chunky Bobo has thrown in the towel on making democracy work-and has instead decided to go down the path that Lenin led the Russians down almost a 100 years ago.

According to Brooks,  it is all the government’s fault-while the actual voters who are the machine that makes a good democracy work, are to be held guiltless:

It’s now clear that the end of the Soviet Union heralded an era of democratic complacency. Without a rival system to test them, democratic governments have decayed across the globe. In the U.S., Washington is polarized, stagnant and dysfunctional; a pathetic 26 percent of Americans trust their government to do the right thing. In Europe, elected officials have grown remote from voters, responding poorly to the euro crisis and contributing to massive unemployment.

According to measures by Freedom House, freedom has been in retreat around the world for the past eight years. New democracies like South Africa are decaying; the number of nations that the Bertelsmann Foundation now classifies as “defective democracies” (rigged elections and so on) has risen to 52. As John Micklethwait and Adrian Wooldridge write in their book, “The Fourth Revolution,” “so far, the 21st century has been a rotten one for the Western model.”

 

Brooks’ solution. Send for the sycophants and call on the wisdom of Lee Kwan Yeu:

A new charismatic rival is gaining strength: the Guardian State. In their book, Micklethwait and Wooldridge do an outstanding job of describing Asia’s modernizing autocracies. In some ways, these governments look more progressive than the Western model; in some ways, more conservative.

In places like Singapore and China, the best students are ruthlessly culled for government service. The technocratic elites play a bigger role in designing economic life. The safety net is smaller and less forgiving. In Singapore, 90 percent of what you get out of the key pension is what you put in. Work is rewarded. People are expected to look after their own.

These Guardian States have some disadvantages compared with Western democracies. They are more corrupt. Because the systems are top-down, local government tends to be worse. But they have advantages. They are better at long-range thinking and can move fast because they limit democratic feedback and don’t face NIMBY-style impediments.

Really? China? A model for free people to follow? It is hard to believe Brooks actually wrote that line and believes it. Yet it would appear he does.

There is just one big problem with Brooks’ prescription-he has not examined all the side affects that come with the cure. While I am a believer that some of the Singaporean programs could be applied to good effect in the US- it is important to remember that Singapore is not, by any remote stretch of his Gaultian imagination a real democracy-or a place where equality and freedom of speech are thriving. There are more than a few facts that Brooks is leaving out of his narrative.

Specifically, Brooks slants his narrative to make it look like the Sinagaporean system does not have anything in place that he hates, such as universal access to health care. Or mandated ( and strongly enforced) mandates to pay in to both employers and employees. Ask yourself how that is going to go down with his teabagger friends. When Brooks makes the statement that 90% of Singapore’s pensions come from employees, he is either flat out lying, or showing his ignorance once again. ( A citizen is required to provide 20% of his income to his CPF fund, but he also gets an employer contribution of at least 5 and mostly 14%.). And it has to be looked at in context-Singapore provides services to its people that , based on Chunky Bobo’s other pronouncements, are an anathema to the true believer in Burkean Bells. Well financed and run public transportation for one.

And of course, either through ignorance or just plain deceitfulness-he ignores the fact that there is a tiered system of Singapore’s populations that would not welcome American ideas of equality of all under the law. Or put another way-a lot of Singapore’s progress is built on the backs of people who don’t enjoy the benefits of the government he suggests, and are in fact marginalized by the same government. Ask Filipinos and Bangladeshis how much of this Guardian State idea benefits them. This as they work for wages that are well below what their Chinese employers would ever see.

And you could also ask Mr. Brooks how much he enjoys a one party state, where criticism of the government is allowed, but only to a certain point. And folks who try to bring opposite view points are harassed and or sued out of existence. Kind of forgot that little detail, didn’t you David?

Brooks is wrong about what is broken. American Democracy is not broken-at least the model of it is not. The participants in that model however are badly broken-especially those residents of one political party, that to put it idly has gone completely insane. Our country used to get things done, now we have the most unproductive Congress in years. And its because of a collective freak  out by people who ought to know better-over the election of a black man to the white house. As I have said before, I don't think it is necessarily racist-but it is part of an effort to marginalize one political party. It is crazy. And it happens because a certain percentage of the American population proves itself to be really stupid.

However, this is typical Bobo. He fancies himself as a member of the elite. He forgets that under Singaporean rules-he can't. He's not Chinese. But Bobo would never take the time to learn that.

 

 

 

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May 17 2014

Busy week.

Published by under Uncategorized

Still here-just it has been a busy week. out of the hotel at 7:15 and home at 8PM. By the time one eats dinner and gets to bed, there is not time for anything else. Day off today though-then back to the grind tomorrow. (In Israel, Sunday is a work day). 

Some Jerusalem pix to follow.

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