Saturday, October 25, 2014

Tall ships? Angry whales? I'm in!

It looks like this may be made right.

For those who know the basis for the book Moby Dick, then you should already have your heart beating a bit more right now.

Ron Howard is bringing epic book of the true story, In the Heart of the Sea: The Tragedy of the Whaleship Essex to the big screen;

Friday, October 24, 2014

Fullbore Friday

This FbF is, in a way, obligatory - but a good obligatory.

We'll get there, but let's set the stage.

These men and women are all around us. You might be one of them. Most, however, will never be known for what they are. Events show one's nature, we rise to the occasion, we embrace our destiny, or - in a cold way - sometimes the training kicks in.

There was a study done awhile back of all things about ferry sinkings. The researchers found some striking consistency of reports that broke people's response to one of three areas. Some panic, some freeze, and a small percentage take action and save themselves and others.

Those who take action do the best. Then those who panic. But the final and larger group just wait for their fate, often sitting at their tables with blank faces in disbelief as the waters rise around them.

Some just have the right stuff, and we hire those who seem to have it for positions where one day that type of personality is needed.

In the words of Dave Grossman; the sheepdog.
“Then there are the wolves,” the old war veteran said, “and the wolves feed on the sheep without mercy.” Do you believe there are wolves out there who will feed on the flock without mercy? You better believe it. There are evil men in this world and they are capable of evil deeds. The moment you forget that or pretend it is not so, you become a sheep. There is no safety in denial.

“Then there are sheepdogs,” he went on, “and I’m a sheepdog. I live to protect the flock and confront the wolf.” Or, as a sign in one California law enforcement agency put it, “We intimidate those who intimidate others.”

If you have no capacity for violence then you are a healthy productive citizen: a sheep. If you have a capacity for violence and no empathy for your fellow citizens, then you have defined an aggressive sociopath--a wolf. But what if you have a capacity for violence, and a deep love for your fellow citizens? Then you are a sheepdog, a warrior, someone who is walking the hero’s path. Someone who can walk into the heart of darkness, into the universal human phobia, and walk out unscathed.
What does a sheepdog look like? Well, there he is, Kevin Vickers, the 58-year-old ceremonial Sergeant-at-Arms of Canada’s parliament.

I think at this point, the best thing to do is to show how his flock showed their thanks.

Note that Vickers did not need to wallow in therapy. He just needed to get back to work. Bravo Zulu.

A final note, there were other sheepdogs present that day, but fate gave them a pass.
After they heard gunfire outside their meeting room door Wednesday, Members of Parliament snapped close to 15 flagpoles to make sharp weapons.

Some positioned themselves on risers that flanked doors, ready to attack an assailant.

“There were 15 flags up at caucus and all but two were taken down,” one MP recalled.

“These guys were up there holding these spears ready to impale anyone who came in,” the source said.

“It was that or get mowed down,” the Member of Parliament said of the threat posed by a gunman who was ultimately shot dead by Parliament Hill security.

Mr. Harper, meanwhile, had been whisked into a closet in the Centre Block room shortly after the gunfights outside began.

There were more than 150 Tory MPs stuck in this caucus room during the ordeal.
MPs kept their flagpole weapons as souvenirs.

“Everyone was taking their spears home,” said the MP. “I’m going to frame mine.”
Defending their Prime Minister. In 2014, the Anglosphere still has it. 
"Honor never grows old, and honor rejoices the heart of age. It does so because honor is, finally, about defending those noble and worthy things that deserve defending, even if it comes at a high cost. In our time, that may mean social disapproval, public scorn, hardship, persecution, or as always, even death itself. 
The question remains: What is worth defending? What is worth dying for? What is worth living for?"

- William J. Bennett
In a lecture to the United States Naval Academy
November 24, 1997

Thursday, October 23, 2014

John Nagl's hard truth on Iraq

Over at FP, John Nagl rolls up what is going on in Iraq about as good as anyone else.

I'm just nodd'n my head in agreement.
The United States is now at war in Iraq for the third time in my lifetime, and after being in the middle of the first two I'm planning to sit this one out.
We seized defeat from the jaws of not-quite victory by not leaving behind a force of some 20,000 American advisors to stiffen the spine of the Iraqi Army and, perhaps more importantly, moderate the anti-Sunni tendencies of the Shiite politicians. But once he came into office, U.S. President Barack Obama overruled the advice of Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and Petraeus, who had since become director of the CIA. Obama's advisors urged him to keep troops in Iraq. Instead, the president chose to fulfill a campaign promise that he would end the war in Iraq during his first term. He abandoned a country in which Americans had been working and fighting continuously for more than 20 years in an effort to build a stable state.

In our absence, Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki gave in to his worst sectarian tendencies, firing Sunni leaders of the Iraqi Army and replacing them with incompetent Shiite cronies. Al Qaeda in Iraq staged a comeback across the border in Syria, where another civil war raged without American involvement to moderate it. And this year, the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham came roaring to life, seizing most of the Sunni territory in Iraq. Maliki's stooges abandoned their units under fire, and the Iraqi Army, built with billions of U.S. dollars and at the cost of many American soldiers' lives and limbs, crumbled in the absence of American air power and advisory support. Two years without Americans engaged in combat in Iraq ended in tragedy, and last month the president announced that U.S. combat troops were returning to Iraq to fight yet another war there, this time against the Islamic State.

With luck, we have learned a few things from these decades of war in Iraq: that the enemy has a say about when wars end, that in the absence of American leadership such evil forces will rise to power that we get dragged back in to fix things again, that wars are messy and slow and last a long, long time. Unless we finally get it right, I expect a fourth war in Iraq. I'm not optimistic.

Diversity Thursday

Time for another broad-view DivThu where we pull back and see where the foolishness you see from the Diversity Bullies in the Fleet come from and more importantly, where the people who are filling the civilian diversity and inclusion offices are intellectually coming from; what the Cultural Marxists world view is of those who are running the "affinity groups" and their sectarian awards and workshops our Department of the Navy budget money supports. In general, the toxic stew our leadership insists on injecting in to our Sailors.

First we have to tell a tale of warning. Yes, we have to fight these people and their cancerous socio-political agenda, but we also need to make sure we support our mates who are injured in battle. The enemy fights dirty - we have to fight smart. If you have a connection to a university or organization that has or is about to let themselves get mau-mau'd in to canceling a speaking appearance - push back hard.

One of our Shipmates in need of support is Robert Lopez, professor of English and Classics at Cal State-Northridge;
On August 6, 2012, I published an essay in Public Discourse, entitled “Growing Up with Two Moms.” It described my life growing up with a lesbian mother and her partner. Discussion of same-sex parenting until that point generally treated the children of gay parents as extensions of gay adults. Whatever was good for gay adults was presumed to benefit children they raised. No serious consideration was given to divergence between the children’s interests and the interests of gay adults who wanted and loved them. My point was this:

Quite simply, growing up with gay parents was very difficult, and not because of prejudice from neighbors. People in our community didn’t really know what was going on in the house. To most outside observers, I was a well-raised, high-achieving child, finishing high school with straight A’s.

Inside, however, I was confused.
There were loving things about my childhood, but it was hard. That is all I wanted to say. I didn’t argue anything about gay marriage or even gay adoption. Eventually I did come to voice support for traditional marriage laws, but here I only spoke out of my own experience.
You need to read it all ... but this is where it all rolled down to;
Soon I was getting hit by writers all across the web. A piece on August 9, 2012, in Frontiers LA affixed my photograph and began with the line, “Perhaps you know Cal State Northridge bisexual professor Robert Oscar Lopez—and hence might understand why he wants to cozy up to the antigay National Organization for Marriage.”

At that time I had no connection to the National Organization for Marriage, yet as late as September 2014, the Human Rights Campaign would still claim that I spoke at NOM “March for Marriage” rallies. All of this would be jarring news for NOM, since I support gay civil unions and foster care eligibility for gay couples.
On August 14, 2012, the campaign reached my workplace in a whole new way when my dean informed me that I would have to turn over all emails from January 2009 onward that had anything to do with Mark Regnerus and his research team, Witherspoon Institute, Bradley Foundation, NOM, U.S. elected officials, the Romney campaign, Republican National Committee, and University of Texas officials.

A team of IT workers and student employees were allowed to access emails and turn them over to my off-campus accusers.

For a year, the provost’s office, dean’s office, and president’s office at Northridge were barraged with angry emails denouncing me and demanding that the university take action.
In the American Literature class, friends of the bisexual female student who was working for public affairs filed a complaint against me with the Equity and Diversity Office, claiming I was a homophobe. They even alleged I had erections while teaching. The accusations were thrown out, but not before I had to hire a lawyer for an investigative hearing with the university attorneys.

A colleague who had received emails told me that he believed in the Freedom of Information Act and sided with my accusers; he ended up serving on my tenure review panel and interrogating me about my “personal revelations.”

The grants officer of the College of Humanities tried to block me from accessing grant money that had been given to me by outside donors. The Associate Vice Provost tried to block me from bringing Mickey Rooney to campus. In one phone call the following March, after receiving an email forwarded to her by a secretary who happens to be a lesbian mother, she ranted at me for my alleged unscrupulousness and dishonesty.
After I visited the European Union in Brussels with leaders of the French family movement, Manif pour Tous, the organizers of a gender studies conference at Lille University I was to attend told me the university administration did not want me on campus. More disinvitations followed. Three other universities had invited me to speak, but canceled over the concerns of administrators over hate speech.

GLAAD placed me on their “Commentator Accountability Project.” The Human Rights Campaign classified me as an “exporter of hate.”
On the morning of October 6, I was greeted with a flurry of angry emails calling me a “bigot” and a “right-wing asshole,” plus voice mail messages calling me a “bag of shit” and telling me to perform a sexual act on myself. These emails were sent to the president, provost, and chair. I spent two days in meetings with the provost, the campus police, and my students to explain what was going on. Finally I had to resort to legal measures and had my lawyer send a letter to Chad Griffin, head of the HRC.

I doubt if anything will come of my efforts to make it stop. My appeal to the American Association of University Professors on grounds of academic freedom was dismissed with a curt note. My letter to the Modern Language Association was never acknowledged.
They are, in a word, fascists. What HRC and their fellow travelers have done to many people who just don't agree with 100% of their agenda should shame everyone associated with them. I know I am a bit sheepish that I shared a trench with them in the repeal of DADT. Doesn't change my position that it was the right thing to do, I just can't control the radicalism of others - and many of those people have gone full fascist.

Going from the threatening and psycho, let's go to the patently absurd but serious. I give you Ray Mark Rinaldi, unsurprisingly the Denver Post's Fine Arts Critic; Did diversity miss the train in Union Station's architecture?
It's dangerous to assign race to people simply by glancing at their faces. Some people don't look at all like their race. Many people are a mix.

But if my recent counts of people in the restaurants, bars and shops in and around Denver's rehabbed, reopened Union Station are even close, it's an overwhelmingly white place. How can the new cultural jewel of our city — where 47 percent of the population is minority — draw a crowd that is 98.2 percent Caucasian on a bustling, buzzed Saturday night?
Well Ray, like the final part of this post below, there are somethings that white people like to do - renovation of old buildings and then hanging out in them are one. So?

I would invite Ray to kick back and enjoy it, but alas ... joy doesn't seem to be Ray's thing.
t doesn't look at all like Denver in 2014. More like Denver in 1950. More like Boise, Idaho, or Billings, Mont. This is a public place, owned by all of us, open to all, but the invitation to visit was declined by many, and it's obvious who isn't showing up.
Yes, Ray's comment seem that bigoted. Let's grab some popcorn and read him some more.
A few years ago, the station was a ghost town. Now it is wildly popular, and in many ways, a smashing success.

If, that is, you are white and not paying attention. Or if you think diversity doesn't matter. If you do, you can't help but feel like something is off amidst all the clinking of martini glasses in the swank Cooper Lounge on the mezzanine, or the low hum of pucks sliding across shuffleboard tables in the Great Hall.
It's easy to speculate why things are different at Union Station, though it requires some less elegant thinking about the way people of different ethnicities behave, some stereotyping.
Let's start with the building itself, the actual architecture. Union Station is a neo-classical mix of styles — European styles. The symmetry, arched windows, ornate cornice and stacked, stone walls have their roots in the glory days of France, England, Greece and Rome, in empires that were nearly absent of ethnic minorities and who felt fully at ease invading, exploiting and actually enslaving the people of Africa, subcontinent Asia and South America.
OK, I have to stop and bask in that incredible ignorance on display. Where to start?

France and England had little to do with South America at all. 

England was but one part of the polyglot British Empire, and were bit players in the African slave trade (that was mostly the business of others, mostly Spain, Portugal, Arabs and Africans themselves). As a matter of fact, it was the British Empire that was responsible for ending the trans-Atlantic slave trade. Google William Wilberforce for goodness sakes.

The Greek and Roman Empires? I guess he doesn't know where the root of the word "slave" comes from. In any event, the Greeks and Romans preferred European slaves, usually Slavs, Gauls, and whoever else they felt like taking. There was no such thing as race slavery ... heck, if you want to pick on the pre-British but English nation, they were gangbusters on Irish slaves in the 1600s.

I would make a few more observations, but I don't think Ray is that interested. Methinks he is more interested in trying to convince as many people as possible that he cares so much more than everyone else. He is the true anti-racist and most inclusive of all the special snowflakes out there. Yawn.

Anyway, back to the foolishness;
Yes, that's all in the past; things have changed. But the $54 million renovation of Union Station doesn't take that into account. It restores the symbols of an old world with no updates. The gilded chandeliers have been rewired, the marble polished, but there's no nod to the present, no interior walls in the bright colors of Mexico, no Asian simplicity is in the remix. There are no giant sculptures by African-American artists bonused into the lobby, no murals on the basement walls.
History has its ups and downs, the thinking goes, and you can't blame buildings for the good or bad that happened. But a preservationist just might end up with a building that draws mostly white people — with a Union Station.

The present restoration harkens back to Union Station at its height, in the first half of a 20th century when many Americans suffered the social indignity and economic disadvantage of a segregated America.
There's no traditional Mexican restaurant, no soul-food restaurant, no sushi bar, as if no one noticed that the Mexican-American, African-American and Asian-American families that own and operate those places across the city are also our best food purveyors.
It could have let its imagination run wild and installed a basketball court or a rec center, day-care facility, museum, a theater that any group could rent, an indoor playground, or yes, a Subway.

But it chose a different path. RTD, whose buses and trains are the most diverse places in Denver, created a monster of separation. You can't keep private enterprise from doing this sort of deed, but a public entity, a common asset, might have more democratic obligations.
A friendly suggestion for Ray; dude - if you are looking for a retrograde attitude towards race and ethnicity, are concerned about people who judge others simply by the way they look, then you may want to start with yourself.

And now, the third part of our play. 

A good friend reminded me of one of the foundation stones of this generation of Cultural Marxists Diversity Bullies, the "Progressive Stack."

Something only the patronizing, predominately white and privileged uber-left could come up with.

Enjoy another woman who you should be happy you don't wake up with after your second night on the town during Fleet Week.

Maybe Ray can count faces here too.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

How about a precision fires pick-me-up?

I don't know about you, but after writing tomorrow's post, I need one.

Building off a side-topic from last Sunday's Midrats ... how about a little of Raytheon's 84 precision-guided Excalibur-Ib all up rounds fired in 2013 during qualification flight tests at Yuma Proving Ground, Ariz?

LCS Supporters as Art

Almost a decade ... almost, folks here and a few other places have been trying to tell as many people of possible the complete and epic failure of the Little Crappy Ship. As a concept, as a program, as an effective use of shipbuilding money.

Sure, we can have an build as many LCS as we want, but it will be about as useful as using BMWs to plow potato fields.

Every season, new people come in to the discussion anew. They either have not been interested in the topic until recently, have a job related to it, or are doing their best to be a team player for Big Navy.

Our message on LCS has remained fairly consistent over the last decade, and we are a bit over 86% correct. The true believers? Well, no. They keep failing.

We've used lots of words to argue with them - but how do you demonstrate to them how they look, all wet behind the ears and running right in with enthusiasm to the church of the hard truth?

Well, Dave Fothergill has provided us with a artistic representation of each new batch of LCS advocates as they approach the firm, strong, and unmoving truth of the god of the LCS copybook headings.


Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Coastal ASW - yes, it's that hard

Like many of you, I've been enjoying trying to read between the lines over the weekend as Sweden plays hide-n-seek with their old nemesis, Russia.
There are fears of Russians and it is October, but it's not a Tom Clancy novel. It is a case of international naval intrigue off the Swedish coast that brings back memories of the Cold War.

The Swedish military on Monday intensified a search in the ocean off Stockholm for an underwater mystery vessel, but stopped short of calling it a submarine. Civilian vessels were ordered to stay at least six miles (about 10 kilometers) away from the Swedish warship conducting the search, the English-language website The Local reported.

The search began Thursday after Swedish intelligence picked up an emergency radio call in Russian, reported The Local, citing the Swedish newspaper Svenska Dagbladet.

The radio transmissions were being sent to the Russian enclave of Kaliningrad, 330 miles (530 kilometers) south of Stockholm on the Baltic's southern shore, according to The Local report.

There were also reports that a foreign vessel was spotted in the waters near Stockholm.
Russia on Sunday denied it has any vessel in Swedish waters. Moscow suggested the vessel may belong to the Netherlands and have been involved in naval exercises off Sweden, according to a report from Russia's Itar-TASS news agency.

The Dutch were quick to respond, saying a sub involved in the exercises was anchored in Tallinn harbor of NATO-ally Estonia for the weekend, according to a report from Agence France-Presse.

What I have found most instructive about this exercise is that it should remind all that ASW is a "come as you are" type of evolution. There is no training time out for you to get your act together; you had better have the training and equipment you need to find the sneaky little bastards when they show up in your back yard.

Of course, after the Cold War, the "Awfully Slow Warfare" was often left to wither and starve with many of the unsexy but important things. Looking at what the Swedish Navy has ASW wise, well, I'm glad I'm not trying to find that Russian with their toys. Letting ASW waste away that close to the bear? Not smart, and to paraphrase Comrade Trotsky,
You might not be interested in submarines, but submarines are interested in you.
Over at FP, Elias Groll has done a great job seeing the larger picture of how Sweden found herself playing blind man's bluff, and why.
On Sunday, Oct. 19, the Swedish authorities released a photograph showing what looks to be a periscope peeking above the surface.

The man who took that photo has since come forward and says he is certain that it shows a submarine. Moreover, the newspaper Svenska Dagbladet reported that Swedish authorities intercepted an encrypted distress signal from the area in which the submarine is believed to be located. That signal was reportedly bound for the Russian naval base in Kaliningrad.
One working theory is that the submarine has been damaged and is unable to navigate out of Swedish waters. The incident comes on the heels of the Northern Archer military exercise in the Baltic Sea, which involved Swedish and Dutch forces, and some analysts have speculated that the sub was in the area to observe the exercise and gather intelligence.
But in carrying out their search, the Swedish authorities are being severely hampered by their lack of sonar-equipped helicopters. Because the Stockholm archipelago is a dense island landscape, it has become something of a notorious playground for submarines, which have ample natural features behind which to hide and evade surface vessels. Unlike ships moving on the surface, helicopters have a distinct advantage in tracking down submarines, which have great difficulty monitoring aircraft while underwater. A helicopter can quickly cover large areas, surprising submarines by dropping sonar sensors. But Sweden's fleet of anti-submarine helicopters were phased out in 2008, and the replacement isn't expected until 2018.
The cuts were part of Sweden's broader reduction in defense spending in the aftermath of the Cold War.
You know my fetish for the story a nation's defense spending as a percentage of GDP tells, regardless of the size of its economy. Well ... here is your story;

The Swedes just voted in a gaggle of leftists, so we'll see what they do, I'm not optimistic in the medium or long term. Western leftists always fold in the face of power. 

Sweden's neighborhood has been getting more interesting for awhile.
This weekend's submarine incident is a sort of grim cherry on top. "What's been happening in the Baltic Sea, including airspace incursions, shows that we have a new, changed situation," Peter Hultqvist, the Swedish minister of defense, said to Svenska Dagbladet.

As a result, Sweden may very well be recalibrating its defense spending. "I would be extremely surprised if what has happened this summer and is possibly now happening in the Stockholm archipelago hasn't had an impact on all parties' budget priorities," Allan Widman, a defense spokesman for one center-right party, told Svenska Dagbladet.
Well Svendska, you're out of power now. We'll see what you do if or when you get back from the wilderness. Until then, perhaps the Swedish politicians should just shrug and say, "Sometimes you hunt Russians with the navy you have, not the navy you wish you had ... or even need."

Until then, and to my former students and colleagues I offer you this - "You can't buy training like this!"

And to our Russian shipmates, I hope you have managed to sneak home; otherwise you have drowned, or if the Swedes capture you - when you get back to Mother Russia, you're going to have a bad day.

On balance though, I'm with the Swedes. Go get 'em. Here's your Joint Action Area (JTAA).

UPDATE: Elias just made my day and makes my heart even warmer for my friends in the Swedish military;
The Swedish Navy continues to stalk the waters off the coast of its capital for a foreign -- all but certainly Russian -- submarine, and the country's military brass on Tuesday sounded an exasperated note to describe the unsuccessful hunt. "This is very serious," Sverker Göransson, the country's top military commander, told reporters. "I would even go so far as to say," he continued, "to say that it's fucked up."