January 27, 2005

Going Sinker; Next Comms Period **** Zulu

Filed under: — Chap @ 4:48 pm

Out of the barrel and into the frying pan, ladies and gentlemen. Off to sea we go, and damn’d be he that first cries “hold” or summat like that. They’ve got a very interesting plan ready for us, with lots from the Dirty Tricks and Bad Surprises departments. Even the SEALs dropped by to say hi.

Final SITREP to follow, over:

  1. An anonymous commenter kindly sends the news that Gunner Palace trailers are up–and it looks like they’ve got Palm Pictures to distribute, which means that the movie might show up on DVD somewhere. I want this movie to be good. I expect it to be interpreted through people’s political filters, but just seeing what military folks are like may be an eye-opener.
  2. Speaking of political filters, the post-tsunami UN/NGO embark has had two opposing views aboard the Lincoln: one hyperbolic and Hackworth-quality rant, and one Public Affairs-quality counter. The two are both right, I bet; the truth is congruent to both viewpoints.

    In addition, I remember a few months ago I sailed with good and true sailors from NATO countries–the guys were great; their countries made what I call bad acquisition and foreign policy decisions. I have sometimes met good people working UN things who were doing things I didn’t agree with. (And I’ve met some real dough heads, but that’s another ball of dough entirely.) And that may inform what these two guys saw.

  3. Apparently a few days ago I had a post completely disappear. Which is a damn shame, because it was about 1LT Prakash, a heroic American–and a damned good blogger besides.
  4. I was an ensign on this boat, and this picture hurts. Take a look at the hi resolution photo. See those red blocks on the front right side? Torpedo shutter doors. On the other side of the green wall? The people tank. SES and 21 man berthing. The sonar sphere sticks out the front of the boat and is covered by a fiberglass fairing to make the bow nice and round–which is why you can see all that space there. Bubblehead has been on the case. I’m not able to add what I know here, sorry–the investigation is what’s important, anyway, not the personal stuff.
  5. Cori Dauber knows well that this is an information war–and points out a warrior who might also have figured this out.
  6. En Revanche is on a roll, and he’s always a pleasure to read.
  7. I’m in a nice little internet cafe’ for the single sailors here. Jeff Jarvis links to one amazing MEMRI video (the top one, marked “Iraqi Elections Broadcast”). Well worth thinking about, especially given sites like this one via LGF.
  8. Risawn is in Kosovo, earning hazard duty pay. Good luck, kid; only got as far as Croatia, myself.
  9. Smash always seems to be on top of things.




January 20, 2005

My Turn In The Barrel

Filed under: — Chap @ 1:38 am

Thanks be to Captain Lex.

Here’s where the term comes from. (Not for the faint of heart; we’re sailors here and the only reason I’m not cursing is that typing takes too long.)

One day back in the age of sail a new man came aboard and was welcomed by his peers. Among the many comforts on the ship was a barrel, which had a hole that was useful for those who had certain…needs…not normally found aboard ship. The new man gladly employed this device and was happy it was there.

Until he was roughly awakened one night and stripped down.

“Why is this happening to me?”

“It’s your turn in the barrel, kid.”

Everyone gets their turn. My own turn in the barrel is happening now. A skill I was extraordinarily good at five years ago is currently kicking my tail. The method changed and I can’t unlearn the old way and get the new way down. If I don’t figure out how to get better at it, woe be unto me, and I. Hate. Being. Behind. Failure Bad.

Combine that monkey on the back with the “hubris removal” process of today’s schooling methods, and the unfortunate knowledge that I will never use most everything else they will teach me, makes things a little tough.

But a nice reminder of things from Neptunus Lex was uplifting. See his “night in the barrel” posts (I can’t get to his comments on this cell phone).

Thanks for mentoring, sir, and I’ll shoot for a three wire or at least not hitting the Fresnel lens on the next pass.

January 15, 2005


Filed under: — Chap @ 1:31 am

Bubblehead has some gouge on the San Fran grounding. I’d add him to the links or shoot a trackback, but am blogging via cell phone (for the last few weeks, actually) and it’s too hard right now.

Buy Recommendation On Whamodyne Inc.

Filed under: — Chap @ 1:25 am

I seeem to have, um, hit some kind of memory bone with the technical term “whamodyne”. I believe the word fits somewhere in the phrase”buzzword compliant, high speed, low drag, won’t rust, bust, or take on dust”.

Right up there with phrases like “I’ve spent more time in the head backing down at PD than you’ve had in the Navy, son!”

(Parenthetical–apparently the previous CO on Usetafish was running a toxic gas drill at test depth one day. He went to his stateroom. The OOD gets buzzed and told (raspily, since all hands donned EABs) to go all back one third. Next buzz:”Guess where I am!”

They must have been on patrol too long…)

January 13, 2005

Interesting Things I Can Talk About

Filed under: — Chap @ 11:26 pm

Noticed a private email or two made it to the New York Times this week. So it’s a really good idea to know when to shut up.

But we did spend an hour talking about “known knowns” and “known unknowns” and other such useful Rumsfeldian stuff in a submarine context, and in lieu of free time gave up a few hours of study to watch “Master and Commander” with The Boys.

Best quote today:
“Submariners are always one decision away from being either a hero or an ***hole. It’s too bad these guys went the Way of the Sphincter.”

January 9, 2005

Ow My Head

Filed under: — Chap @ 4:17 pm

Five minutes free to post while I access the Web for something work related. Too busy to breathe. I’ll post maybe five times between now and March–Lex, don’t drop me just yet!

What I’m doing:

–Humility insertion, using a big, square needle

–Relearning things I was good at five years ago (see above)

–Finding out all the rules changed.

–Except for that “entertainment through pain” one.

–Learning about all the new whamodyne stuff new submarines get that I don’t but still have to learn about.

The new simulations and systems are very interesting to see and I ain’t going to say a word about it. This week has been a near perfect vaccuum, as it has sucked mightily.

And in the middle of all this Usetafish (submariner name for a boat you used to be on) had a casualty.

One crewmember died and 23 others were injured after an accident Saturday in which a nuclear-powered submarine ran aground on its way to Australia. The Navy assured the submarine is safe, functioning and is expected on Guam this afternoon.

By the way: look at all the news articles that came from about three official announcements. It’s all the same originating data–a near perfect thought experiment because that far in the middle of the ocean there’s no way for a reporter to gather more on-scene info. If you see Professor Dauber, please let her know!

I won’t be answering any email; no time for that. I’ll drop by every once in a while and disappear for weeks at a time. Thanks, everybody, for all the kind support.

January 2, 2005

How To Be An Insignificant Microbe

Filed under: — Chap @ 3:40 am

Just Go Dark For A Long Long Time!

I’m off to a Work Related Event with limited connectivity while on land and no connectivity when not on land. Takes about six weeks.

I hope you’re able to drop by and visit when I return!

January 1, 2005

Pass The Word

Filed under: — Chap @ 4:24 pm

Jeff Jarvis responded, thankfully, to my question.

Well, first, let’s get this before the attention of reporters from mainstream media, who can report the story and get attention. If this, indeed, comes from a former vice president of Iran, that matters.

Second, Iranian bloggers started a petition when Sina was arrested. Petitions themselves don’t necessarily do much but they do focus the voice and that’s good.

Third, draw attention to the issue in blogs.

That’s a start.

So, I repeat myself.

Per Jeff Jarvis, these bloggers are being tortured. They are being forced to make false admissions and confessions.

Mr Hanif Mazruee, Ghoreishi

Ms Fereshte Ghaazi, Naderpoor

Ms Mahboobeh Mollagholi

Per Natan Sharansky, these Iranian dissidents also need our support:

Hashem Aghajari

Ahmad Batebi

Siamak Pourzand

Give Me

Please pass these names around. Let these people know they are supported out here in the free world. Let their oppressors know their time is coming, and coming sooner than they realize.

How Do We Effect This Organizational Change?

Filed under: — Chap @ 3:16 pm

Wretchard points out, with help from the Diplomads, how utterly feckless the UN organization is at the operational level. I do not wish to denigrate the efforts of the tactical level folks–but their masters in NYC are failing them and us.

The question, though, is how does this change come about?

Vandals Rule

Filed under: — Chap @ 3:11 pm

Punks play Baghdad.

If that ain’t punk rock I don’t know what is.

I sure hope they play a Red zone show, too–or get their songs played on AFRTS for the Iraqi punks.

Eyeball Failure

Filed under: — Chap @ 5:47 am

I don’t know why people conflate things just to reinforce their own biases. I try not to do so myself and am not happy when correctly called on it. In this case, though…

This link just gets me steamed. Some people have their eyes trained so much to see “bad things” that everything is bad.

The juxtaposition of news about the disaster in the Indian Ocean basin and the prices of the Presidential inauguration parties presents too great a clash for me to ignore. According to the NY Times, the Presidential Inaugural Committee expects the tab to top $40 million. Tickets are selling in the range of $2,500 per person.

I don’t want to belabor this. The moral is obvious. It’s not that we’re the richest country in the world; somebody’s go to be that. Nor even that our contribution to assist the victims, large though it may be, is far from the size it could be. But to spend millions on a gaudy party in the name of the President while so many are in such dire need seems to me to be the epitome of everything we should not stand for.

Well. I guess it would be beside the point to state that it’s not so much in the name of the President as in the name of the country and constitution that guy will be serving, or to point out that Mr. Soros has that kinda slush sitting in his spare pants pocket after the election. But the points I need to make aren’t in support of a political party, they’re in support of (1) tu quoque ain’t a way to run a railroad since I ate my broccoli as a kid and they’re still starving in Africa and (2) it’s clear that my limited experience working this kind of crisis management is that “slow is fast and fast is slow”; you get better results when you take a second to plan where you can do so.

I know it’s going into the wind but I joined the comment fray. Some of my broadsides…


There’s ALWAYS going to be something more deserving. I didn’t see you carping about anything Hollywood, or the cost of Green Day’s new video, or why celebrity ‘x’ still owns ‘y’ new toy. I challenge you to pick on that celebrity six months from now–maybe it’ll do some good.

I read $15M as available “right now” money for DART teams and planning $$ so we know what magnitudes of need exist and goes where it’s most needed. (Read some blogs to see where people without food are getting truckloads of sweaters–in the tropics–and let’s not forget Live Aid, where $$ went other places than where it should have been.) $15m to $350m in a day or two unimaginable? Ever work with USAID, who funnels most of the money that many “nonpartisan” aid NGOs rely upon? Ever see what an effective aid profile looks like as a function of time?

And don’t forget to add in the Bonhomme Richard strike group, a rather nontrivial amount. And all that NONgovenmental money, which in our system is allowed to occur without national fiat. You know, people actually giving money and aid without being forced to by The Gummint.

Three cheers for carping, apparently.

Then some comment about how evil the administration is, so I tried to keep it civil.


If indeed the money way “in the pipeline” before public criticism, is it even conceivable that the Bush administration would not have come out with the most impressive number of all? And why did it take four days for the 350M figure to come out?

Yeah, I know, the right believes that the Bush administration is ALWAYS hiding its light under a bushel basket, and that it just NEVER manages to take credit for all the wonderful things it does.

On earth, though, we have a different idea.

Although I haven’t done the planning for this disaster relief, I’ve been part of a team which short notice planning for a MEU/ESG humanitarian aid mission. The MEU can turn on a dime, as it plans continually for it. The ESG, being Navy, can sail quickly. Both organizations still, with all that training, take a finite slice of time to make a quarter-decent plan–and the whole time there’s many levels of fibrillation above us as various points of the chain of command process the decision to GO or NO-GO.

Okay, Frankly0, how do you arrange for such purchases? Where does the money go? How does it get funneled? Since Congress hasn’t made a separate appropriation, who gets money taken from them to make it work? What needs to be bought and how do we get it there? Since the strike group is racing at top speed, their logistic capability will be limited to equipment on hand until they get boots on the ground. Who writes the contract to lease the ships for the heavy lift?

Wouldn’t it make sense that these types of questions take more than thirty seconds to answer?

Even if you were correct about the reason for the money going to a larger number, I get a similar answer timewise using anecdotal experience and rules of thumb. Would it not make good fiducial sense to figure out where to spend the money so that the people who have that money taken from them (me, for instance) get that money used effectively? I haven’t checked with more than two of my NGO friends, but they also have a finite time frame to get into gear as well–unless they’re already on the ground it takes time to start rolling and flowing logistics.

Please, you say. Okay, I see that you and I have differing starting positions for our worldviews, but there is a common reality on the ground here. Have you ever done something large-scale like this? I mean, would it not cause a mortal wound to perhaps consider that this might possibly be like other human enterprises in that it’s not a miraculous and instantaneous “everything gets better”? I bet you’ll see misallocated resources, fraud, theft, and stong taking from the weak too–look at what the different parties in Sri Lanka’s eternal civil war are doing with aid near their factional borders, for instance. We may even completely kark up the crisis planning for this and have some fantastic screwups, but I doubt we’ll have soldiers with child porn rings like the UN has (as of last week–not that it’s S.O.P., but we do have better processes to prevent such things from occurring or punishing those who fail.)

Is that going to be automagically all better now that some hubris-laden arrogant functionary at the UN decided to publicly complain that he didn’t get everything he wanted?

Has your heart become so hard that you are unable to see any competence or good in others?

Or maybe it’s just eyeball failure: nothing good can be allowed to be seen.

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