Archive for the ‘Military’ Category

Miscellany 12

Monday, October 11th, 2010

Bohemian Rhapsody performed on ukulele by Jake Shimabukuro.

NPR’s feature on Lyle Ritz.

Tchaikovsky did what? (I recently ran across a printout I made of this page some years ago. The page is gone, but has preserved it.

Wallace and Gromit in A Matter of Loaf and Death.

I keep getting mailers suggesting that I sign up for receiving mail ballots for all future elections. Here’s one reason why I haven’t.

A cause of rising ocean levels that is not attributed to “global warming.” I remember reading about the falling levels in the Edwards Aquifer a couple of decades or more ago. I can’t imagine that things have gotten any better in the time since then. Fresh water supplies are going to become more and more important as time goes on and population increases.

Vessels such as this were being proposed way back when I was in the Navy. I’m sure it’s got impressive speed, but there’s not a lot of visible armament. It looks (to my long-out-of-practice-and-behind-the-times eye) like one gun emplacement on the foredeck, and something that looks reminiscent of a Vulcan/Phalanx close-in missile defense system up top. If that’s all there is, it’s a continuation of a trend that dates back to at least the 1970s – I can remember looking at our warships and comparing them with the Russian K-class warships, which bristled with weapons in comparison to ours. Still, the armament necessary for a given ship depends on its mission.

This makes more sense than I like. It might not be a deliberate aim, but it certainly seems to fit the facts.

Lucky Me

Sunday, October 10th, 2010

I was over at Cassandra’s last night, and listened to this. I think she’s right about it.

Miscellany 8

Monday, June 14th, 2010

Airplane! was a remake – who knew?

The Japanese have extended their alphabet. As if there weren’t enough characters already.

The last veteran of The Great Escape has died. I remember reading Paul Brickhill’s book in high school, before I saw the movie.

Everyone talks about using good passwords, but everyone uses ‘password’ or their mother’s maiden name, rather than using something harder to guess.

A comparison of features between the Rosetta Stone and the iPad? I have to believe that there’s a larger market for the iPad, though.

I remember a song from sometime in the 60s with a line in the chorus that went, “Ride, ride, ride the wild surf!” Somehow, I don’t believe that this is what they were singing about.

How to deal with …

Friday, May 28th, 2010

nostalgia for the Navy life.

It’s Anzac Day

Sunday, April 25th, 2010

And I’m just going to point to my previous post on the subject.

Burial at sea

Thursday, March 11th, 2010

A veteran is someone who, at one point, wrote a blank check made payable to ‘The United States of America ‘ for an amount of ‘up to and including their life.’

Read it.

A decision fraught with dangers

Wednesday, February 24th, 2010

The Department of Defence has decided to change policy in order to allow women to serve on submarine crews. Unless stopped by legislation, it goes into effect in 30 days.

This is not, to my mind, a good idea. I served on a missile sub back in the 1970s, and I doubt that too many things have changed all that much. Most commentary on the issue has dealt with the close quarters and lack of privacy. I agree with those concerns – as a junior officer, I shared a stateroom with two other JOs. Most of the crew had only a curtain on their bunk to provide privacy. Those aren’t the only concerns, though, and I’d like to address some others.

Let’s start with health issues. The big one is, of course, pregnancy. Pregnant women may not serve in shipboard billets; they have to be assigned to shore duty. This causes resentment in men, because they end up serving longer tours at sea because shore billets are filled with pregnant women. It causes problems on shore, because up to 34% of the billets are filled with pregnant women who are unable to handle necessary duties.

Ship movements can be affected – women who become pregnant prior to a deployment must be replaced, and submarines aren’t assigned superfluous crew who can take over as last-minute replacements. When I injured my knee while we were tied up to the tender prior to a patrol, I was told by the doctor that if I weren’t on a submarine crew, he’d have put me into the hospital. He didn’t, because there was nobody to take my place on the patrol. The latest information I was able to find showed that in 2005, 14% of all women in the Navy were single mothers, and almost two-thirds of the pregnancies were unplanned. It seems obvious that single mothers aren’t easy to assign to sea duty, and single women aren’t easy to keep on sea duty.

Operational security can also be affected. Particularly with missile subs, the idea is to head out alone and hide as much as possible. Missiles are less effective as a deterrent if the sub that carries them can be found and sunk before it can launch them. Normally, it takes a severe medical emergency to get someone medevac’d from a missile sub. Would a woman whose pregnancy was discovered during a deployment be eligible for a medical evacuation?

This brings up legal issues related to health. The atmosphere on a submarine does not match the normal atmosphere. Carbon dioxide has a significant effect on blood chemistry; when I was on the sub, the CO2 scrubbers couldn’t keep the CO2 level anywhere near as low as it is in the general atmosphere. The excess CO2 went into solution in the bloodstream and formed carbolic acid, dropping blood pH like a rock. The Navy was just starting investigations of long-term health effects when I was serving, and I don’t know what, if anything, has been determined about them. I would not take odds against someone bringing suit against the Navy and citing these issues if her child was born with problems. Or claiming that exposure to radiation was the problem – everyone on a nuclear submarine is considered a radiation worker.

Women on submarines is an issue that’s come up before – this comment on a Metafilter thread brings up several issues. There are others that come to mind – in the Naval Aviation community, it’s generally considered that you can’t make flag rank without having served in a command billet at sea. One of the original reasons for women being assigned to sea duty was the difficulty in advancement to high rank without having served at sea. I’m unaware of any similar requirement to serve on a submarine, though, unless it’s to command a submarine group, so that shouldn’t be an issue here.

Even without considering submarine duty, women in the Navy recognize that there are problems with women in the Navy. Not with all women, but there are both good and bad performers of both sexes, and the accommodations that are made for women provide opportunities that some women will take advantage of to the detriment of others.

I think allowing women to serve on submarines is a bad idea, for several reasons. But what do I know? I’m a guy who felt that it was a mistake to let women into the Naval Academy. Just because at that time women weren’t allowed on sea duty at all (except on hospital ships) was surely no reason to prevent them from taking one of the limited slots available, was it?

One of those timeless messages

Saturday, February 6th, 2010

Message to Garcia

A Message to Garcia is a standard topic in leadership courses, at least in the ones I attended back in the 1970s. Lt. Rowan is held up as someone to emulate, although the assistance he received sometimes left him with so little control over his situation that he was concerned about where he was being taken.

I’d never read Rowan’s description of his trip, so that was interesting, and re-reading Hubbard’s essay was also interesting – I picked up on his examples about grammar and punctuation this time, partly because I had just read an essay on that topic, and partly because I’ve written about that particular topic myself.

I don’t like tequila anymore …

Wednesday, November 11th, 2009

But I like this idea.

If you know a veteran, thank him or her.

Miscellany 2

Wednesday, August 12th, 2009

Gerard Vanderleun has a marvelous advertisement from Johnny Walker on his site. The video is over five minutes in length, and it, and Gerard’s comments, are well worth the time.

Technology marches on, and as usual, technology in service of selling things often advances most rapidly. After all, website advertisements had to show up before adblockers could be developed.

Want to read faster? The video at the link describes a method of decoupling your speech center, which is useful because vocalizing as you read will limit your reading speed to the fastest you can imagine speaking. Follow the link beneath it, though, because there’s more good information there.

Better thinking through chemistry. I can’t vouch for accuracy, or even worth, but it’s the sort of thing I find interesting to read and think about. It’s another avenue for personal improvement, but not one I’ve really investigated. There’s another avenue I’m not even going to consider, no matter how desirable it may become in the near future, until I have adequate assurances that I can’t be hacked. With reference to the link above about flash cookies, isn’t it reasonable to assume that even something like computer implants to improve your vision will be hijacked to present advertisements as soon as they start becoming prevalent? I found the first article a few links down into this site, which has some interesting articles. So far, I’ve particularly enjoyed Signs That You’re A Bad Programmer.

Forbes Magazine has ranked West Point as the number one college in the country. The Air Force Academy ranked seventh, and Navy came in at thirtieth. Back when I attended Navy, we took it more or less as an article of faith that we, and Air Force, were better academically than Army because all West Point instructors were active-duty military, while Navy and Air Force had a mix of active-duty military and civilian instructors. I have no idea if that’s still the case. One factor in the rankings, apparently, is the site, which many people consider to be a “sour-grapes” site.

Gaius has some interesting numbers about the size of the National Health Service in Britain. Apparently, it employs about 2% of the British populace, and is either the third or the fifth largest employer in the world. This is the model of efficiency being held up as something to emulate?

More news from across the pond: More than thirty people are injured in a collision on a roller coaster. This, of course, demonstrates the moral bankruptcy of capitalism, given that there could not have been a collision if the operators had only waited until one car was back in the station before starting the next one. Or maybe it’s because the first car wouldn’t have stopped if essential maintenance had been performed. Then again, it’s the first such accident in 86 years – that’s not a bad safety record.

Staying with British news, Dennis the Menace is now taking after his American counterpart, in that he is no longer an antisocial bully. I’m not sure how I feel about this – one the one hand, it removes a role model, as far as making a change today removes 58 years of presence. On the other, it’s a stifling of free expression, not that there is anything like our Constitutional guarantee of free speech over in England.

The British newspapers have their share of silly articles to distract people, too. Here’s an example: a composite picture of the ideal pet, comprised of “49 per cent dog, 35 per cent cat, nine per cent horse and seven per cent rabbit.” I’ve seen this sort of thing before, but it was done better. Perhaps more honestly, it appealed to me more. Back in 1978, I got to take some leave in England after one of my patrols. I picked up a copy of a newspaper which had an article describing the ideal woman as envisioned by a group of men and women. I don’t remember if it was a celebrity “team,” or just some of their reporters/columnists. They chose the legs from one woman, torso from another, and so one, and had at least one composited photo published in the article. I believe they also had photos of the “source material.” As I said, I found it much more appealing.