Friday, August 24, 2007

Heroes


It looks like sons of the CO may have located the remains of USS GRUNION, lost near the Aleutian Islands in the early days of WWII. In the month before her loss, GRUNION had sunk two Japanese submarine chasers and heavily damaged a third. Sailors, rest your oars.

Thinking of the men who fought so gallantly during WWII makes one wonder how our modern submarine force would aquit itself in battle. Would a 3 small skimmers for 1 SSN be an acceptable exchange ratio in today's risk averse environment (quick answer - no!)? Is there any situation in which we would risk losing a submarine? Or an aircraft carrier? Has the blue-water Navy become too expensive to be used effectively in battle?

One thing is certain, mankind has not seen the end of battle on the high seas. The U.S. Navy has not been really tested since WWII and, despite the ongoing War of Terror, remains at heart a peacetime navy, with the path to senior leadership paved with staff duty (vice operational assignments). Masters Degrees, Joint Service, ROI, and Lean Six Sigma will quickly become meaningless nonsense when the incoming ordnance is for real. Sadly, as in WWII, the first few months of our next major conflict probably will see high casualties until the careerists are flushed out (or killed - along with their crews) leaving the true operators in charge. 150 men and $2.2B per CO's mistake is a pretty steep price to learn we've focused on the wrong things.

Hope I'm wrong...

- Gee

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

More Cool Submarine Video

For those of you who can't get enough, check out the motivational video over at Bubblehead's site.
- Gee

"One...Away", "Two...Away"...

It warms my heart to see my former ship returning to the forefront of our nation's defense. Then it was deterring the Soviets; now, it's delivering precision strike where and when it's needed. This amazing video shows two of FLORIDA's 154 Tomahawk missiles being delivered on target. Our enemies are soiling their shorts. If they're not, they should be.

video

- Gee

Sunday, August 5, 2007

S.C. police detain 2 for suspicious item

According to AP, two men pulled over for speeding "were being held pending a charge of unlawful possession of an explosive device." There is one report that the men were of Middle-Eastern descent. They were pulled over about 7 miles away from the Naval Weapons Station in Goose Creek. Of course, Michelle Malkin and others are all over it.

One thing I haven't seen mentioned anywhere else is that, among other things, the Naval Weapons Station is home to the Navy's Moored Training Ship (MTS) site. For non-submariners, MTS's are former ballistic missile submarines that have been affixed to the pier where their still operational propulsion plants are used for training Navy nuclear operators.

If they were trying to deliver a bomb, and if they were going to the Naval Weapons Station (two big "ifs"), if makes one wonder what their target might have been.

As an aside, why do so many [alleged] criminals get tripped up when they get caught for some minor, unrelated offense - or the police just get lucky (the millennium plot, for example)? Either these people are really stupid, God is on our side, or some combination of the two. Getting nailed for speeding while you're driving around with a bomb in your car - geez...
- Gee

Saturday, August 4, 2007

Obama: "I am not prepared to be Commander in Chief"

Well, that's not exactly what he said, but that's what Democratic Presidential hopeful Barack Obama signaled when he recently proclaimed, "'I think it would be a profound mistake for us to use nuclear weapons in any circumstance...'" Giving him the benefit of the doubt, he may have been misquoted (does anyone have a video?), or he may yet come forward with a more coherent statement clarifying his position. If not, this was a presidential career-ending statement. By declaring that he is unprepared to use the full range of military options, even if circumstances dictate, Obama has removed himself from serious consideration for the job of Commander in Chief.

August 2, 2007 - the day Barack Obama's run for the Presidency ended. Mark it.
- Gee

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Le Tour


Before this year's Tour de France gets too far away in the rear view mirror, here are some observations.

First, my credentials. I have been an avid bicyclist for over 20 years and hold amateur racing licenses in the U.S. and Italy where I have competed in too many races to count. (BTW, for those unfamiliar with the sport, the stupidest question you can ask your cycling friend is, "Are you going to be in the Tour de France/Giro d'Italia/etc.?" Trust me, if they were good enough to be in those events, they wouldn't have time to be standing around talking to you!)

Regarding this year's Tour, I, like Charles Johnson, found that "my enjoyment of this event was seriously damaged this year" by the ongoing doping scandals. Nevertheless, I can't get over the incredible athleticism of the riders. So, if they're such great athletes, why the doping and what can be done about it?

"Why" is easy. In this year's TdF, the difference between the overall time of the winner and that of the very last finisher was a mere 4 percent. The difference between the winner, Alberto Contador, and third place, Contador's teamate Levi Leipheimer, was only 31 seconds (or .009 percent of the 91 hours the riders spent in the saddle)! Granted, winning requires more than just being 4 percent faster than the competition - tactics are vital too - but this small difference between the best and the rest gives an idea of just how closely the riders are matched. Highly competitive personalities such as professional athletes will naturally seek every advantage, from diet to training techniques to equipment to, for some, drugs. It's sad, but not surprising.

What constitutes "doping" is itself not as clear cut as it might appear. For example, taking a drug like salbutamol would seem like an obvious case of doping...unless, like Italian sprinter Alessandro Pettachi, it has been prescribed by a doctor to treat allergies. Injecting oneself with chemicals would also seem to be a clear-cut violation, but what about injecting vitamins, or an IV to replace fluids after a 6 hour race in 100F temperatures? Likewise, though sleeping in an oxygen tent to speed recovery after a grueling race might seem innocuous, akin to training at high altitude to boost red blood volume, it violates the Italian anti-doping rules (though not the UCI's). Go figure. This in no way excuses any rider's deliberate attempt to improve results by visiting the pharmacist, but it is not unknown for riders to inadvertently run afoul of the rules.

So, what can be done to fix the problem? One thing is for sure: if professional cycling doesn't get its arms around the issue, it will correct itself as sponsors flee the negative exposure and fans get so disgusted they stop watching. Eventually, without sponsors or fans, the monetary incentive associated with winning will evaporate, as will the motivations to win through cheating. Based on the crowds watching this year's TdF though - less than in years past, but still substantial - this dark scenario is still a ways off.

At least four major changes are needed for cycling to beat the doping rap:
  • The drug testing process must be unimpeachable. There are too many problems with how samples are handled, like backup "B" samples that can't confirm initial positive results because they were frozen, and appearances of impropriety by lab officials, such as releasing riders' names to the press before sample results are proven. With a valid, unimpeachable testing process riders could have confidence that they would be treated fairly. Without it, there will always be doubts that the other guy is doping.
  • Teams need to be proactive in firing riders who use drugs. Much progress has already been made in this area. Witness the differences between the teams' reactions to the 1998 Festina incident, and Rabobank's prompt reaction to this year's allegations against the yellow-jersey-wearing Rasmussen.
  • Testing needs to be frequent and independent. Former Discovery rider Jonathan Vaughter's Slipstream team may be blazing new trails in this effort.
  • Finally, riders themselves must establish an ethical code that rejects drugs, and ostracize those who fail to live up to this standard.
All that being said, bicycle racing remains one of the greatest sports for both participants and fans. This year's Tour was an exciting one despite the doping. Contador was a worthy champion, and it was great to see Discovery picking up where Lance Armstrong left off - on the winner's podium, wearing yellow.

(Photo: Lance Armstrong rides to victory in the 2002 TdF prologue time trial in Luxembourg. Photo by Gee, all rights reserved.)

- Gee

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Where Do They Get Their Money?

A recent post on Wizbang discussed some activists from New Jersey who, while plying their trade in Vermont, were encouraged by the local constabulary to modify their actions through the use of a taser. Not knowing all the facts, I will refrain from commenting on the appropriateness of law enforcement's practices. Instead, the event raises another question about which I have long wondered: Where do these professional s*** disturbers get their funding?

According to the Boston Globe, the two 32-year-old protesters were unemployed. Yet somehow they managed to travel from their homes in New Jersey to the far reaches of New Hampshire, (presumably eating along the way), obtain flowers and herbs, chains, locks, cement, and a barrel. Granted, it probably didn't cost much, but it wasn't free either - a couple hundred bucks maybe? At least one of the protesters has made a career of this kind of thing. Where do they live between gigs? Probably the answer for some is "their parent's basement," but what about the others?

The same question applies to the "spontaneous" protests at the G8, WTO, Republican Convention, or just about anyplace else where responsible adults gather. I've visited some of these places. Just getting a cup of coffee costs $2 (or more). That has to be a challenge for some of the bums in the crowd (though they appear to economize on bath soap).

Who is funding these people and for what purpose? They can't all be living off of trust funds. The MSM is strangely uncurious. Sounds like a job for the blogosphere.

-Gee