Sunday, December 14, 2008

If appointing Hillary to SecState didn't bring about some serious Buyer's Remorse, maybe this will.

To make a long story short, it seems as if the sitting NASA Director is butting heads with the Obama transition team. Obama appointed the former PAO of NASA to run the transition team, which is an odd choice considering the eggheads he's otherwise been surrounding himself with.

The S
huttle is due to be retired in '10, and it looks as if the Transition Team wants to kill NASA's proposed replacement, a booster that not only would replace the shuttle but be capable of a moonshot, with modified Atlas and Delta boosters. The Atlas and Delta family entered service in 1957 and 1960, although both have evolved significantly since then.

Using the Atlas and Delta line is a signal to give up all attempts to return to the moon, for at least the foreseeable future. I had s
een a article earlier this year(well before the economic meltdown got well and truly underway) that indicated a plan to slash the NASA budget. At the time I had hoped against hope that it would turn out to be a meaningless blurb, but now it doesn't appear so...

Friday, November 28, 2008

Victor Davis Hanson interviewed on "Hardcore History"

Hardcore History by Dan Carlin interviewed historian Victor Davis Hanson this week. Topics discussed included the decline of classical studies in higher education, the utility of history in today's world, the nature of humanity, and who would win in a football game:Julius Caesar or Alexander the Great. The podcast can be found by following the link or downloading it from iTunes.

Dan Carlin is a political commentator and podcaster. In addition to his "Hardcore History" series he has his current-events political commentary,"Common Sense". I happen to disagree with some(most) of the conclusions he reaches in Common Sense, but it's still a good listen

Victor Davis Hanson is a prolific writer, historian, and conservative commentator. I recommend his books The Western Way of War,A war like No Other, and Carnage and Culture: Landmark Battles in the Rise of Western Power.

Monday, August 25, 2008

The McCaine Mutiny

I don't like McCain.

I don't like his economic policy, I don't like his healthcare plan, I don't like him waving the "Bloody shirt" of his POW-ness, and I don't like his war platform(which may or may not take us to war with Iran and/or Russia).

With all that said, I am immensely pissed off at the Huffington Post for the unbelievable amount of class they have shown. If you can't bring yourself to click the link, that's understandable. To summarize, Chris Kelly is comparing McCain to Captain Queeg of Herman Wouk's novel The Caine Mutiny. Reading his column leads one to conclude:

(1)He has not read The Caine Mutiny
(2)He has not SEEN The Caine Mutiny
(3)If he has read it, he has failed very basic high school reading comprehension.
(4)Or he's a dishonest turd cherry picking the book like Verhoven and Starship Troopers.

Having read the novel multiple times myself(mostly on deployment, which I will wager that Mr. Kelly has not done either), it's very clear who the author thinks is "at fault" in the mutiny. Hint: It's the mutineers. Specifically, the cerebral proto-Berkeley type Keefer, who has egged the XO on to relieve Queeg. Greenwald, the lawyer who got Maryk off(and who is quoted in Kelly's column) says:

I'm coming to Old Yellowstain. Coming to him. See, while I was studying law 'n' old Keefer here was waiting for his play for the Theatre Guild, and Willie here was on the playing fields of Prinshton, all that time this birds we call regulars--these stuffy stupid Prussians, in the Navy and Army were manning guns. Course they weren't doing it to save my mom from Hitler, they were doing it for the dough, like everybody else does what they do. Question is, in the last analysis--last analysis--, what do you do for dough? Old Yellowstain, for dough, was standing guard on this fat dumb and happy country of ours. Meantime me, I was advancing my little free non-Prussian life for dough. Of course we figured in those days, only fools go into the armed service. Bad pay, no millionaire future, and you can't call your mind or body your own. Not for sensitive Intellectuals. So when all hell broke loose and the Germans started running out of soap and figured, well, it's time to come over and melt old Mrs. Greenwald---who's gonna stop them? Not her boy Barney. Can't stop a Nazi with a lawbook. So I dropped the lawbooks and learned how to fly. Stout fellow. Meantime, and it took a year and a half before I was any good, who was keeping Mama out of the soap disg? Captain Queeg.

Greenwald goes on to say how much he regrets torpedoing Queeg's career, how making a fool out of a Freudian psychiatrist is like shooting a fish in a barrel, and how he deserved better.

Mr. Kelly, I don't like Senator McCain. But he deserves better than cheap shots from an illiterate draft-dodger(which is how I mentally think of ALL folks who haven't served) who seems to be very skilled at guessing Herman Wouk's wants and needs, despite not correctly reading the intent of The Caine Mutiny

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Entirely Overpowered.

My mother has a problem. Her computer is beginning to show it's age. Indeed, it struggles to open up simple applications such as web browsers, and suffers from severe overheating problems. With a mighty 1.8Ghz P4 and 512MB of DDR it gets much agitated when my brother plays Medieval: Total War 2 on it.

Alas, my mother does not want to use Vista, coworkers telling her that it is not mature yet. In addition, the Dell/HP/Gateways being sold with XP coming in at over a grand. I suggest that there may be a better way. Using my vast array of technical "skills" I can assemble a long lasting computer for her.

I plan on approaching this with the appropriate amount of
restraint. After cogitating upon the $700 budget(not including the OS purchased through her work) I settled upon the following:

Antec Sonata III 500 Black 0.8mm cold rolled steel ATX Mid Tower Computer Case 500W Power Supply

MSI P35 Neo2-FR LGA 775 Intel P35 ATX Intel Motherboard

EVGA 512-P3-N800-TR GeForce 8800 GT 512MB 256-bit GDDR3 PCI Express 2.0 x16 HDCP Ready SLI Supported Video Card

Intel Core 2 Duo E8400 Wolfdale 3.0GHz

SABRENT CRW-UINB 65-in-1 USB 2.0 Internal Card Reader w/ USB 2.0 Port

HITACHI Deskstar P7K500 HDP725032GLA360 (0A35411) 320GB 7200 RPM 16MB Cache SATA 3.0Gb/s Hard Drive

Sony NEC Optiarc Black 20X DVD+R 8X DVD+RW 8X DVD+R DL 20X DVD-R 6X DVD-RW 12X DVD-RAM 16X DVD-ROM 48X CD-R 32X CD-RW 48X CD-ROM 2MB Cache SATA 20X DVD±R Burner

In addition, I have another 2 GB of DDR2, and a Creative Xi-fi handy. Tom's hardware managed to run two 8800GTs in SLI, so I'm not too concerned about the power source. As it happens, I came in $60 dollars under budget. The specimen jas been constructed, and software loaded, so far it's running extremely smoothly. And QUIET! I had to open up the case to make sure the fans were running.

Some have called me crazy for constructing "an overpowered machine for a middle age woman", but would I not be more mad if I didn't grab the bets bang for the buck?

Plus, it came in under budget. Bite me.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Bring forth the Burke Swarm!

The USN announced Monday that the DDG-1000 program would be effectively killed at 2 vessels. The Navy has indicated that they are going to purchase an additional 9 or Burke class destroyers instead of the 5 other planned DDG-1000s.

Unfortunately, this is somewhat par for course for the USN's acquisition program the last 15 years or so, starting with the plan to ditch the "luxury" Seawolf SSNs in favor of the "economy" Virginia SSNs. That didn't work out as planned, with the "economy" Virginia ending up costing significantly more than the Seawolf.

Later on the USN decided that it needed a number of low-cost surface vessels for presence purposes. In the past a frigate class would take up this role, but since this is all about Transformation(tm) the "Littoral Combat Ship" was born. Unable to decide between 2 of the 3 competing designs(in other words, a lot of districts in each of them) a pair was ordered from each. Originally suppose to coast $200mil a hull, the costs ballooned to $400mil, due to shoddy workmanship, yard fires, and technology integration problems.

Which brings us to DDG-1000. Rather than some of the more "mundane" new tech in existing vessels, the USN opt to make everything from scratch on the DDG-1000s, starting with the hullform which was created due to a overriding requirement to minimalize radar cross section.

From there it got worse, with new radars, drive system, missile launch systems(that are poorly placed), gun systems, automation systems and comms gear all being integrated into a hull that is potentially very unsafe. Oh, and the automation brings with it a critically understaffed ship for watchstanding and damage control, not to count the normal "maintenance of the ship's material condition".

So, perhaps it'll ultimately be a Good Thing that the DDG-1000 will be nothing more than a "technology demonstrator", and I suspect the new Burkes might have some of the "easier" new tech installed a bit at a time. Hopefully whatever the follow-on for the DDG-1000 is doesn't turn out to be less capable and cost half again as much though.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

New Carriers for the RN!

Finally, after a decade since the "White Paper" determining the need was issued, the British Ministry of Defense has finally signed the contract for two new fleet carriers. These will be the first new capital ships built in decades for the RN, and greatly increase it's capability on the world stage.

Of course, there are still problems ahead, as Richard Beedall over at Navy Matters notes. Not the least the much delayed JSF, which may not be in service when the Queen Elizabeth is commissioned. No F-35s mean no airgroups, or, more specifically, a much reduced one(consisting of harrier jets).

Somewhat more alarming is the lack of escorts, which will be dramatically limited when the QE enters service. While a Daring class destroyer will be significantly more capable than it's predecessor's, the numbers of hulls are sometimes just as important as the capabilities of the hulls. The USAF has discovered this with the C-17 airlifters, and the USN is attempt to rectify the problem with the "low tech" LCS program, which has not been a very successful program.

The final bit is fuel costs. During WW2 Nazi capital ships stayed in port quite a bit do to the drain of fuel a sortie would have created. Today fuel costs are one of the biggest line-item expenses militaries face. So much so that Congress has mandated that the next USN CG be nuclear powered. In theory, the USN will be able to do much more with it's CVNs and possible CGNs, while the RN carriers may end up being in port for long periods of time, with competency suffering.

Monday, June 9, 2008

McCain and the VA

There have been some claims that McCain is making $58,000 a year off of the VA on disability. I am forced to say: what the Hell?

Typically when the VA assigns a "percentage" for disability, they'll pick one injury then add another and another. You can get 1% disability if you have a lot of scars on your body after you leave the service, for example. So if you have a seizure and break your back that's another 20%(or whatever). Eventually it adds up to whatever percentage.

Now, supposedly McCain is making 100% disability, which to the VA means "unable to hold a job". This wouldn't be a big deal to me if (1)He wasn't going around talking about how he was as fit as an ox in response to questions about his health/age. (2)He wasn't, as has been pointed out in the link, voting against a GI Bill as "too generous" while he is feeding at the public trough.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Taking the cat to the vet.

Took the cat to the vet today. Actually, I was kinda spooked into it due to a rotten teeth story. This visit(they had to update his shots first) set me back over 200 clams. One of his back teeth looks like it's almost gone, but they say that a cleaning is in order. The estimate for that is almost $500.

Anywho, taking the cat back to the apartment, and he starts to meow in terror. This is fine with me, as that's what he does when he travels.

Then he switched octaves like he was panicking. Like, heart-attack panicking. He starts moving around his little cat carrier like he's pacing. As I consider to turn around to the vet...he takes a massive dump. The size of both my fists.

And, of course, I manage to hit ever red light between the vet and to the apartment, and since the cat won't brace himself for turns he rolled into...the poop.

So I got back, locked him in the bathroom while I cleaned out the carrier, THEN gave him a bath in which he was dead set in inflicting as much retaliatory harm against me as possible.

Good afternoon.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Fit Only for Powder

The British Army in the late 18th century was a grim institution. Small, and the junior of the two services(it was, after all, the RN that preserved England, not the army), it was third on the list for surplus noblemen(after the clergy and RN). One such useless surplus noble was Arthur Wellesley, whose mother had a commissioned purchased for him(He was "Fit only for powder"). Wellesley went on in India and Europe to become one of the great captains of history.

"All you will ever amount to," Theodore Roosevelt told Ted Jr., "Is a $12 a day clerk." Theodore Roosevelt Jr. himself bemoaned that he would always be known as "Teddy's son." Perhaps so, but it did not make his accomplishments any less impressive. Serving in the AEF during WW1, he was gassed and wounded, eventually earning a Distinguished Service Cross. After The Great War he helped found the American Legion, and when WW2 came around he again stepped up to the plate. Like his father, he preferred to lead near the front and loved his men dearly.Unfortunately his direct superior, MG Terry Allen was not popular with Omar Bradley, and Ted Jr. was relieved along with his boss in Sicily. Ted Jr. went on to be the only general to land in the first wave during the Normandy invasion, and his rapport with the troops during a confused situation helped the men get off the beach quickly.Ted Jr. died of a heart attack a month later, and was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor in Fall of '44.

James Roosevelt, FDR's son, served with the Marine Raiders in the Pacific during WW2. The Marine Raiders were a proto-Force Recon, and he most certainly was "in the shit". He earned a Navy Cross for his time in the Marines.

Prince Andrew, one of the surplus children of Queen Elizabeth II, joined the RN and served as a naval Aviator. During the Falklands War he was in very real danger of being shot down by Argentine forces. His actions, and the actions of all the aviators that took part in the Falklands, were a credit to H.M. Armed Forces.

Prince Harry, after being denied a deployment to Iraq, finagled one to Afghanistan, in a FOB.

What's the point of this blog entry? Well, I guess I'm a little disappointed that the current Administration(and the one before that...and the one before that...and the one before..well, I think back to FDR) is more than willing to send American Sons and Daughters into harms way, so long as they're kids are not in trouble. George Bush's daughters are suffering as Peace Corps Argentina. In a time when the US Army is being squeezed by demands from two major ground conflicts(not including other obligations), the Bush family should be setting an example. Whatever happened to "leading from the front"?

Friday, February 15, 2008

To the Asshole in the white Excursion.

Traveling back from "Jumper" at Tyson's Corner(it sucks by the way, don't see it) I nearly got ran off the road on 495.

Actually, nothing "nearly" about it. I came up on the ramp to 66 West(I had been traveling behind a semi, yet I had no problem seeing the "EXIT HERE" sign for 66), got on the ramp, and some asshole in a white Excursion, comes from in front of the Semi, across the "It's too damn late to merge into the ramp" corner white lines, and forces his way onto the ramp, and drives me off into the shoulder(such as it is, more like the worn asphalt by the giant sound barrier), and the asshat guns it. In this whole process I hit a big thump and the XM Radio dies. When I get back I swap out my Garmin/iPod AC adapter...nothing, the power outlets in the dashboard and in the trunk are completely fucking dead. I must have a blown fuse or something somewhere. I'll have to check tomorrow.

Damnit I'm pissed. If the driver who did this happens to read this, I hope you get run over by a train.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Berkely to treat Military recruitment stations like Porn establishments

Apparently with no other pressing concerns one of the initiatives that will be on the ballot this fall in Berkeley is requiring public hearings and special licenses in order for recruitment stations to be set up, and certain criteria(distance to public places, schools, churches) must be met.

One of the city council members commented that she would support action to remove the existing recruitment station in Berkeley.

No word yet as to what the Status of the National Guard would be in the event of a massive Earthquake.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

More Metro rants

As someone who takes the entirety of the Orange line (from the Vienna stop to the New Carrolton stop) to work each day, I have a love-hate relationship with the DC Metro Rail. Love because it's better than traffic, and cheaper when gas is factored in(I'd rather put a bullet in my head then try to drive to work in Maryland everyday).

Hate because, well, the people.

90% of the folks on the train are well behaved and courteous, it's the 10% that are problematic. The 10% that stop and stand still on the left side of escalators despite that everyone else before her(and it seems to always be a her, or an old man) were using the left hand lane as the PASSING lane.

The 10% that are from some craptastic town in PG County, are 12 years old, and seem to think that the appropriate behavior is to screen and yell like retards. Fortunately, they don't stay on long in the afternoon.

And finally, the assholes who decide to YELL INTO THEIR FUCKING PHONES while on the train. Maybe Verizon shouldn't have installed those repeaters.


Having said all that, Metro is great, which is why I looked forward to the proposed expansion all the way past Reston to the Dulles airport. Frankly, we need more rail in this area, not less. And then the FTA went and threw a wrench in it. Hopefully the FTA gets off their ass and helps provides the funds, becuade if they think only Virginians are going to be using the expansion, they are smoking some serious crack.