Sunday, December 20, 2009

Snow!



There is a lot of snow outside. Hope it melts by tomorrow.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Nive littering asshole

Heading back from class tonight, it's dark and wet out. I come to a red light and the person in front of me rolls out her window and throws garbage out. I can't really tell, but it looks large, latex, and suspiciously like a covering for a meat dildo, if you catch my drift. I'm so pissed off I actually start to honk my horn at her, unfortunately the light turns green and she(I'm guessing a she, it has one of those pretentious pink ribbon vanity plates) peels out. On the dark wet road she goes tearing down Little River Turnpike in a manner that suggests she wants to get away from the other people that were at the stop light as soon as possible. Lost sight of her when she (almost) ran a red light.

Seriously, what the fuck is wrong with some people?

Thanksgiving week. I'm looking forward to the days off, but not the spending it with family.

Friday, October 9, 2009

The winner, by virture of drawing oxygen...

In 1906 the sitting U.S. President, Theodore Roosevelt, was presented with the Nobel Peace Prize for successfully using the good offices of the President of the United States to mediate between Russia and Japan, bringing about the end to the Russo-Japanese War. The action gave both powers a chance to exit from a war that was growing too expensive and bloody for them. This gave an immediate reason with tangible results that allowed the Nobel Peace Prize Committee to present it. This is how one should present an allegedly apolitical award where an objective conclusion is arrived at.

Today the NPPC award President Obama the Nobel Peace Prize. This was, to be frank, a completely moronic decision.

Some caveats: I voted for BHO, and barring some horrible incident happening between now and 2012, will likely vote for him again. In a lot of ways I’m conservative, but in more ways I am liberal. I think the shift of tone in his speechifying with our foreign partners is a good thing(compared to GWBs tone of talking down).

But. But. He absolutely should not have been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. He has done nothing in the past 9 months(of course he was nominated after being in office for 11 days) that puts him ahead of any dozen dissidents in third world oppressive locales, or even French President Sarkozy(who, if one believes, stopped Putin from rolling on to Tbilisi and “hanging Saakashvili by his balls”). Unless something spectacular and tangible happens, Obama should not get the Nobel Peace Prize while sitting in office. If at some point down the line, many years later, folks can look back and reach an objective conclusion that his foreign policy was on the whole furthering the interests of world peace…okay fine. After all, Jimmy Carter had to wait a few decades for his Peace Prize.

Oh wait, unlike this time around, when Carter was presented with the prize the committee specifically took swipes at GWB, thus watering it down to a circle-jerk.

I’m sure President Obama is pleased with receiving the award(who wouldn’t be?), but I bet it would have meant a more lot to him if the Committee hadn’t already established a policy of “poking Republicans in the eye” as a main bullet point. In other words, him earning it on the basis of his accomplishments…not being “not-Bush.”

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Friday, August 21, 2009


Fans of German military prowess make much of the so-called “Z-plan” that the Kriegsmarine embarked upon in the winter of '38-39. The story goes that Admiral Raeder proposed to Hitler two plans: The first was a short term warplan that only included surface ships either commissioned or in advance stages of construction and submarines. The second was the more ambitious Z-plan, which would center around a massive capital ship program. The Z-plan would not be ready until 1944, and Hitler promised Raeder that the fleet would not be needed until 1946. The Z-plan was selected, with 6 H-class BBs and three new BCs projected for '44-'45. By 1948 the Kriegsmarine would have grown even larger in size, and been a terror to the RN. If only Hitler had held off invading Poland!


As my mother likes to say, “If 'ifs' and 'buts' were fruits and nuts we'd all have a Merry Christmas.”


The likelihood of WW2 in Europe starting later seems to be extremely low. But let's say that, for whatever reason, Germany did not start it's campaign of conquest until 1944, what happens then?

For one, the RN would have been in a much better position then they had in 1939. The massive building program across the North Sea would not have gone unanswered, and it seems likely that at the very least all 5 KGVs and the 4 planned Lion class BBs would have been completed(or in the case of the Lions the first hull or two would have been finished with the others in advanced stages of construction). The Mighty 'Ood would have undergone it's much needed modernization, and the QEs not modernized in the original timeline would have been as well. The RN Battleline would have been more formidable, not less, with a delayed start to a European war.


Across the Channel, the FN re-arming proceeds apace, with the fine Richelieu class BBs entering service, as well as a new aircraft carrier that will provide much needed air cover for the fleet(the old Bearn being unsuited for modern operations). The only concerns are whether or not Germany will be able to pull off the same rapid conquest that they did originally(a success more due to British ineptitude than French) and whether the Italians would enter the war on the German side.


In the Netherlands one BC has been completed and sent to the Dutch East Indies where, after the fall of the Netherlands it will perform convoy escort duties in the Indian Ocean and remain a valuable asset in the coming war with Japan.


In the Baltic new Soviet BBs have begun to enter service, further complicating the correlation of forces.


In America the new North Carolinas and South Dakotas, on their own, compare favorably with the Kriegsmairne H-class vessels. Once the 6 Iowas are entered into the equation, with the imminent arrival of the Montana-class heavy battleships, the USN Battleline becomes the most impressive on the planet. With the addition of the Alaska-class BCs and Essex-class CVs the USN becomes an unstoppable force, with more capital ships, not less, than in the original timeline.


This all assumes, of course, that Germany is able to organize it's war industries in any reasonable fashion to meet it's target dates. Without the impetus of war, it's uncertain whether or not Speer would have been put in charge to reform the economy, or whether or not the German economy could have survived the weapons program without raiding the European continent for assets, as they did in the original timeline.


In short, just like so many other “invincible” Wehrmacht plans and weapons systems, the Z-Plan does not hold up to scrutiny as a war winner. With no immediate war need to concentrate on escort production, the number of the RN and USN capital ships increases dramatically. The delayed start means more capital ships for France, and at least one capital ship for the Dutch. The best the Kriegsmarine can hope for is a repeat of WW1, where they act as a fleet-in-being across the North Sea. The most likely result will be a death by degrees as allied navies destroy the fleet piecemeal. With Teutonic efficiency and precision, the Germans will have expended vast resources on a force structure that fails to win them anything. Just like in real life.


Sources:

The Great Ships: British Battleships in WW2 by Peter Smith

The Unsinkable Fleet by Joel R. Davidson

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Old Fogey

My body is weighed down by my elderly age...well, that and weight.


Honestly, I thought I would never get to this age.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

The Mercedes-Benz museum in Stuttgart.

Waaaay back in April I went to the Mercedes-Benz Museum in Stuttgart, Germany. By my count I took 120 pictures. Here's a few.



















InGen Cars from Jurassic Park.

Kaiser Wilhelm II's car

Hirohito's car


The Pope-mobile.


Truck Racing!


Thursday, July 16, 2009

Apple whines about "Notebook hunter" ads to Microsoft.

I am not sure how true this is, I can't imagine the COO of Microsoft out and out lying about the phone call. If so, then the mantra of "cheaper, much cheaper!" must be finally sinking in. There are really only two types of people who buy Macs: Folks who are Apple Cultists and will buy it anyway, and those who don't know enough about the platform(or technology) and buy it because it's "cool" and "reliable", without looking too closely at what exactly is meant by reliable.

Hilariously, I've read some Apple Cultists leave comments on websites that have these stories making my point that, well, it's a cult. Making claims that the reason why PCs are cheaper is because they throttle back on components..like only 256MB of RAM(I wonder where the hell he saw a PC advertised for that little RAM. Netbooks with XP go for 1 GB). In one other instance one fine specimen of consumer awareness boasted that for $1500 you could rock a 13.1' Screen with a Nvidia 9400MS, and it "beats out any PC for the price." I'm staring at a Gateway laptop with a 17" Screen and 9800 selling for $900, which just goes to show how out of touch Mac users are with reality.

It's a cult, people. A cult!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

LCS-2 gets underway

Photos lifted from Information Dissemination. While I think it's a neat looking ship, I would hate to serve on it.





Monday, July 6, 2009

Fantastic Day

I've been afflicted with a stuffed up nose and sore throat since Thursday, but no aches or pains. Using the internet, I've determined that I'm either suffering from some kind of allergic reaction, a cold, or Dengue Fever. I think Dengue Fever is a better conversation piece.

On the stretch of 1-495("The Beltway" to non DC folks) between the I-95 spur and Braddock Road exit there were about a gazillion Styrofoam plates spread out on the highway. Traffic was at a complete standstill going the other direction, maybe plastic forks and knives were on the road there.

At least the bitch didn't set me up, like she did to poor Marion Berry again today. It baffles the hell out of me that this guy still holds a public office.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

'Nother Video



If you look at 2.12, far left you might see me. This is from the 2004-2005 deployment, I was thinner, more fit, and more hairy then.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Awful story of the day:

My mother joined Facebook, and tried to "friend" me. When I ignored the request she got pissy and commented that my brother ans sister accepted her request. Well, they also live under your roof, I don't. Also, I tightened up my public profile after that.

Geez. Moms and social networking pages.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Damnation to United.


I traveled to Atlanta and Alabama this week. For some reason flights out of Reagan seemed more expensive than usual, so I had to take one out of Dulles. Specifically, a United Flight, which I rarely use. I was to leave on Monday at 1230, but my was flight canceled and I was re-booked on a 2150 flight. I found it odd that there were not ANY flights out of Dulles to Atlanta until then, but whatever.

That later flight didn't board until 2230, I came stumbling into my hotel room at 0130 for a early morning site visit. I was pissed off, but these things happen.

Fast forward to Friday, my flight out of Alabama gets canceled. There was no announcement over the intercom, or a United rep at the gate. How did I(and others) find out? With an email notification. Then I was informed I had been rebooked for a 1800 the next day. After going to to the ticketing counter(because I guess United can't afford to have any personnel behind the security checkpoint) I ended up waiting in line for a good 50 minutes while the one person there handled the 60 or so people. I go ahead and called the United customer service number, and I get some asshole overseas who is not in the mood to search for a flight that would get me to DC quicker. In fact, he flat out said "no, sorry, can't help you."

The poor guy at the ticketing counter, judging from his uniform, is actually some kind of baggage handler rather than customer service rep. He manages to get everyone a flight that would get people to their final destination quicker than the automatic computer booking service did. Kudos to him.

Goddamnit but I hate United. Whenever I have these long-ass delays, it always seems to be United.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Meanwhile, on the USS Bunker Hill....



My old ship, I recognize one or two of the players.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Huzzah.

Monday. 1st of the Month so rent is due. Left my Blackberry on all day so the battery died. Flat tire on the beltway on the way home. Huzzah.

Friday, May 29, 2009

This trip...

Has been unnecessarily rough. I had hoped to make it out to the Cahokia Mounds today, as my flight doesn't leave until the afternoon, but the weather has turned bad.

As it happens, I had hoped I could be going on a Hawaii trip the next couple of weeks, but that got pushed off. I'm going to be going to some of the Garden Spots of the American Southeast instead.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Idiots in security.


I was listening to this week's NPR Technology podcast and the first story was about passwords. Specifically, about idiots who had trouble with their passwords. There was a montage of idiots telling their stories about what idiots they were with passwords.

One gem came from a guy who said "I had to throw away my laptop. I couldn't figure out my password, my company couldn't help me, Apple couldn't help me."

That right there is a good example of the difference between Apple users and PC users. First off, PCs have a much higher "support" industry than Apple does, so someone somewhere could have resolved the issue, even if it came down to moving a jumper on a motherboard or enclosing the HDD and pulling the information off that way. Or they could have formatted the HDD and reload the OS. Certainly there was no reason to throw away a laptop because of password difficulties.

The guys tone also really pissed me off, as if he thought it was funny. Hell, I wish I had enough cash to throw away a Apple Laptop after some password problems!

I might be a little narrowminded in this case, as I've spent such a long time in government(either as a sailor or a contractor) that I'm used to keeping track of multiple passwords...but man, seriously? I honestly think this is not that hard.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Emotional Investment in your pet.

My cat Willy had a stroke Monday morning. He was throwing up something fierce, and stumbling around like he had no control of his hind legs. I took him to the vet who, among other things, determined that he had an enlarged heart that was probably the root cause of this problem.

I was pretty tore up about it, and as I was sitting in the waiting room at the Vet clinic I mostly stared at the floor trying not to cry. One of the things that came through my mind was how much more emotional distress Willy's condition was causing me than dealing with the '04 Tsunami cleanup during my deployment. The most emotion response that work created within me nausea and a little fear during certain events. But that fear passed rapidly and didn't really cause me distress. How is it that I'm emphasizing more with my cat than other human beings?

As of today(Thursday) Willy has recovered quite a bit, he's returned to jumping up on furniture and many of his previous mannerisms. That cat has already gone through like 8 of his lives, and it's frankly amazing this 14 year old animal has made such a recovery. He's still stumbling around a bit, and I wonder if that stumble will ever go away, but the worse appears to be over. I don't know what I would have done if the Vet had started to say stuff like "he's in a lot of pain". Probably would have done what was best for Willy, but it would have killed me a little inside.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Fearing and loathing(mostly loathing) in Central Texas

When one says "we need you to go off to support a exercise" I envision it being out in the woods somewhere, not in a parking lot with a cargo container encircled with concertina wire and sandbags to simulate "field conditions". At least the pattering of the rain on the metal keeps one focused as he fights the 39 degree weather. I can honestly say I didn't think Central Texas would be like this in March.

Oh well, at least I have a fun-fun ride on a piece of fine Eye-talian craftsmanship tomorrow, so I can return to DC extremely late early Saturday. Weee!

By the way, if you're ever in Killeen try Rosa's Tortilla factory...it ain't half bad.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Medical Professionals

Not having anything better to do, my company instituted a company-wide drug test. Paperwork was sent to you in the mail, and you had to go to a lab near you to pee in a cup.

Peeing in a cup is old news for me, we did it often enough in the Navy. I dutifully looked up the closest location for the lab for me, and went. Apparently my company chose the cheapest(I doubt their rates were cheap, but Goddamn did the place look cheap), undermanned, anti-customer company out there. When I called for a appointment, all I got was a recorded message informing me of operating hours for drug screenings.

So, this morning I promptly drank a pot of coffee, a can of "Coke Zero", and a plastic bottle of Crystal Light(tm) so I wouldn't have to play the waiting game. I showed up when the drug screen started at 0800, promptly signed in(# 6 on sign in sheet, and I was the only one who checked the drug-screening test box). They didn't call me until 0930 and as I handed them my Driver's License and paperwork I was told "I would be called shortly". By then I was already sweating bullets and doing the dance.

1020 rolls around and the one person at the front desk starts turning people away because they will be breaking for 2 hours at 1100 for lunch(yup...). I walk up and ask if, by chance, my name was called and I missed it. The medical professional at the desk gives me the stink eye and says "you're next". Another 20 minutes pass, my name is finally called, it takes a mighty 5 minutes for the entire thing to get done, and I head off to work.

I wonder what bizarre triage system they had going, if any at all.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Celebrating Rascism and Treason

A black South Carolina State Senator is proposing to cut off state funding for towns that do not celebrate the Confederate cause. That he's even making this proposal makes me think:



In the United States, especially the Southern parts(or even the rural areas that were never Confederate states) there's a belief that the "Lost Cause" was something of a grand thing. Claims of slavery being the cause are brushed away by pointing at blacks who served in the Confederate army(minuscule to the hundreds of thousands of Southern Blacks who joined the Northern Army), that some slave states remained with the Union(the ones with the lowest percentage of slaves in it, and no Free states joined the Confederate Cause) or by cherry picking quotes from Northern politicians(while ignoring Southern ones).

Confederate Revisionism continues to be a major cultural problem in this country. People like Stonewall Jackson and Robert E. Lee are lionized while Generals like Grant and Sherman are reviled. Students are taught the fiction that the war was "States' Rights" without getting into the specifics of what those alleged rights are. This South Carolinian senator is showing how even today slavocrats continued to be worshiped in this country, and how politically dangerous it is to call a cigar a cigar.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

The Geek President

This story is fictional, but based largely on fact. Obama may be our first geek president since, oh, Teddy Roosevelt at least(although Teddy might better qualify as "Captain Awesome" from Chuck). After all, how many other Presidents have posed with statues of Superman, thrown up the "Geek Horns"(Vulcan Live Long and Prosper" sign) to Leonard Nimoy, or have FCC Chairmen who play WoW?

Saturday, January 24, 2009

An incredibly dangerous crack addiction.


Well, I turned in my text-camera-voice phone for a Blackberry Storm today. I was suffering a serious case of smartphone envy, as my brother was rocking a corporate BB model, my sister a storm, and various coworkers storms,iphones, and palm phones.

Already the automated email pull listed is making this dangerous, as is the youtube client on the handheld. The touchscreen takes some getting use to, and the bevy of features makes sitting down and looking through the instruction manual a requirement(which I have not done yet). It certainly maintains the "this is a corporate PDA" mentality, while the iPhone remains a "hey look I can hold this up to the radio and find out what the name of the song is" party tool.

All in all, I'm pretty pleased with it so far, and will probably spend the rest of the weekend messing with it.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Qualifications

In case you didn’t hear, Obama has picked former White House CoS Leon Panetta as the new head of the CIA. Such a decision is only modestly better than, say, picking a lawyer for the Arabian Horse Association to head up FEMA. A professional won’t care what the information is, as long as it’s vetted and confirmed. A Politican might be more inclined to have info go the way he wants for political reasons (yeah yeah, George Tenet…).

Why pick Panetta? The first reason is obvious: Obama wants to have more control over the CIA than would come from having a professional in there.

The second is the idea that the CIA, or the entire intelligence community it seems, is “Tainted” by virtue of being there during the Bush Administration, and someone has to be brought in from the outside. This is a largely political assumption.

Third is that the CIA needs to be “Cleaned up”, and only someone from the outside can do it. Apparently there are no intelligence professionals out there that are trustworthy enough to do this(there are). Good luck on being able to get more than “power-point” deep understanding as to the workings of the Intel community.

It’s interesting that Leon Panetta was picked as head of the CIA, because during his time as White House CoS he allegedly continued the practice of blocking the sitting CIA Director(James Woolsey) from seeing President Clinton outside of group meetings(the practice begun under “Mack” Mclarty). I wonder if he thinks he deserves the same respect from the WH CoS that he gave Woolsey?

Friday, January 2, 2009

Looking Back, looking forward.

All things considered 2008 has been a momentous year.

Gas:The year saw gas prices here in the States shoot up past the $4 a galleon for the first time ever. Rumors of an imminent economic collapse because of rising oil prices proved largely unfounded, as Americans began to change their habits to counter the rising oil prices. Here in the DC area the Metro reported increased ridership despite a raise in fares. The sudden rise in oil prices precipitated a financial crisis for Detroit’s Big Three, who had invested heavily in the high(in auto industry terms) profit-margin trucks and SUVS.

The rising gas prices turned out to be largely related to speculators, and the bubble popped along with the financial bubbles that created the current economic panic. Now the Big Three are in a strange position: With gas prices as low as, oh, when I was in high school, people are already returning to trucks and SUVs. Unfortunately the credit crunch is limiting new buyers, as is the rising unemployment. So while the Big 3’s Truck-lines are gaining in percentage of the market once again the actual market itself has shrunk.


Nationalization: This year has seen the partial nationalization of several financial institutions with the government buying, get this, non-voting shares. Privatized Profits, socialized losses. The system works.

The Big Three may be facing some kind of nationalization themselves, if they end up needing more money than anticipated from Uncle Sugar. No Chief Executive(not Bush, not Obama) in the middle of a recession is going to get the ball rolling on tossing 3 million jobs down the drain.


Defense: A pull-out plan has been established for Iraq, for Coalition troops to be out of the country by 2011. I would be very surprised if some of the major bases did not remain in US Custody, and a sizable residual force remained for the training of the IA and force protection of facilities there.

Meanwhile Afghanistan has shown an increase in violence, and already plans are in motion to begin shifting the troops taken from Iraq to Afghanistan.

In procurement, Northrup won(and then had the victory suspended) a contract to provide the USAF with tankers to replace it’s current aging fleet. The DoD is now planning on revisiting the tanker contract in 2012.

The Navy’s troubled DDG-1000 program has been limited to 2 hulls, and the USN will instead purchase another 11 Arleigh Burke class ships.

The Election: The election was one of the most changing in history, not the least because a black man with a foreign sounding name managed to win it. His victory was helped along by a economic meltdown, an unpopular war, and McCain not vetting Palin as nearly as much as he should have. For many it was a life-changing experience, for some the anti-Christ had came to power, and for others all you could do was wish Obama luck going into an administration where the times dictate you have to do better than just manning the bridge.



Myself: Finally came stumbling out of the Ring of Hell that is desktop support, moved on to being a “Field Engineer” on a another contract. I also returned to school(College) for the first time in 7 years, not counting classes I took in the Navy.

Predictions for 2009:

The Economy: Will continue to slide, no amount of money the Obama Administration will pump in will change that. It may be after 2010 when the economy starts to recovery.

NASA: Despite being the first “Nerd President”(collects comics, watches Star Trek) Obama has his sights set on NASA as a place to trim the fat. While the Bush Administration has resorted to printing money to stimulate the economy, Obama will likely make a pretense of “Getting the money from somewhere”, even if his economic team picks are similar to the team already in place. If Obama is smart he’ll shovel the paltry couple of billion into the Orion Project to keep our head above water, space-tech wise.

Defense: The pullout in Iraq will commence on schedule, and the augmentation of Afghanistan will continue. Obama has already indicated he’s at leats as Hawkish as the Bush Administration where Afghanistan is concerned, and will be authorizing cross-border raids into Pakistan.

Obama’s pick for energy secretary bodes well for our energy independence. Steven Chu is a Nobel Laureate who is an advocate for nuclear energy. Rather than continuing to do a circle-jerk about solar and wind, we may actually get some movement on the issue.

Myself: Currently spinning my wheels until the new GI Bill kicks in. Returning to college for the spring semester as I crawl my way up to a halfway decent GPA and college math level. I’m looking to go to a local 4-year college, but if I can get somewhere else(in, say, Texas) I’ll take it.

Also, I’m a bit disappointed in the lack of flying cars that 2009 has shown thus far.