May 31, 2005

Infected Again

Filed under: — Chap @ 10:44 pm

Skimmers. Always putting my name in the plural. They think I’m a chaplain or something. I’d recommend a reconsideration of that one–the sleeve insignia might be a little, um, off. I qualified under the belief that movie time was not-qualifying time, and I was born dink, so no movies for me. But, a tasker infection needs addressed.

At least Tammi remembered to spell my name right…how’s that puppy doing?

Prepare to be seriously disappointed.


Filed under: — Chap @ 10:16 pm

Barry’s right. Mount Philo’s been spewing big lava lately. Just keep scrolling, as they say…

Someone Is Bound To Put This In A Techno Track

Filed under: — Chap @ 8:41 pm

Courtesy the Sub Report, the submarine equivalent of the K-Car’s audio warning system.

Turns out USS Seawolf had an odd warning system that is sampled on the linked page.

I got to drive that K-car once. Thing had a nasty habit of informing you “Your Windshield Washer Fluid Is Low” during a high-g turn between Jersey barriers in torrential rain at night. I wanted to make delicate adjustments to it with a ball peen hammer…

The Chinese Admiral Gorshkov Is Having A Bad Day

Filed under: — Chap @ 8:31 pm

so says this Yomiuri article:

A Chinese Navy submarine stalled apparently after a fire broke out aboard the vessel while it was submerged in the South China Sea, sources close to the Japanese and U.S. defense authorities said Monday.

As of Monday afternoon, the submarine was being towed above the water in the direction of Hainan Island. The Japanese and U.S. governments have been monitoring the vessel, and it is unknown whether there were any casualties, the sources said.

The warship in question is a Chinese Navy Ming-class diesel-powered hunter-killer submarine, the sources added.

According to the sources, the accident occurred in international waters about halfway between Taiwan and Hainan Island on Thursday, and the submarine was being towed by a Chinese vessel apparently in the direction of Yulin Naval Port on the island. It is not known whether the submarine surfaced on its own, the sources added.

Three or four Chinese warships were spotted around the site of the accident, and another Chinese submarine was detected, which suggests that an accident may have occurred during a military exercise, the sources said.

Fire in an enclosed tube is very bad. The Chinese lost an entire crew a few years back when they drew enough of a suction n the ship to remove the oxygen, so this is not the only recent tragedy we’ve seen in the Chinese submarine force.

Moral of the story? Twofold. Submariners are of a type, and I hope those guys make it back okay. The rapid expansion of the Chinese navy has had a price, and this is one of them.

A Robust Non-Defense Of The ICRC

Filed under: — Chap @ 3:05 am

From the journal The National Interest, an article that describes well the pickle Americans are in with respect to the International Committee of the Red Cross:

So the ICRC’s claims that it is treating the United States impartially, no better or worse than other countries, should be severely discounted. In fact, the ICRC’s continuing public attacks on the administration’s detainee policy have much more to do with the group’s advocacy agenda than with any actual violations by the United States. The ICRC recognizes, and has promoted for thirty years, a different set of norms that are far more favorable to irregular or guerrilla warfare than those traditional norms recognized and applied by the United States.

There’s good backstory on Protocol I, including the benefit seen to guerilla fighters and the ICRC’s birthing of the Protocol (which the US hasn’t signed, by the way):

Protocol I has rarely been implemented in practice, and it is simply not the case that merely because the ICRC claims that a particular requirement is customary international law it therefore must be accepted as such. Although the ICRC is often described as the “guardian” of the Geneva Conventions and its published commentaries on these documents are sometimes called “authoritative” (although “argumentative” is often a more accurate description), it has no legally recognizable role in interpreting or applying those treaties. States alone make international law, and each state is entitled to interpret that law itself–this is the essence of sovereignty and self-government. To the extent that the ICRC commentaries are respected, it is because they generally follow the relevant negotiating records, not because of any inherent wisdom. When the commentaries depart from those records, they are nothing but rhetoric.

Article is well worth a read.

May 30, 2005

Memorial Day Red State

Filed under: — Chap @ 12:36 am

Omaha’s newspaper (incredibly annoying registration process) has a several page spread in the Sunday paper about a Nebraska NG ambushed convoy that got through a tough battle with the assistance of a Kentucky National Guard unit. Good article, gathering different viewpoints, photos, maps and video.

But few others were escaping the firestorm. About a mile to the north, Staff Sgt. Jeffrey Uhl of Bellwood, commander of the convoy, felt helpless.

In the lead truck in the convoy, he and his driver had gotten through unscathed. They secured an evacuation zone and called in helicopters for the wounded.

As the long minutes ticked away, Uhl was desperately trying to learn what was happening back there. Though it would have gone against his training, he was about to go back into the kill zone.

A woman’s voice over the radio told him not to do it.

“We’re coming out,” she said.

It was Beck, stuck in the middle of the convoy.

Some would later be surprised that the soft-spoken Beck, the only woman in the squad, would coolly take charge in the midst of mayhem.

But the former high school basketball standout had always been one to take care of what needed to be done. Somehow, she knew, the convoy needed to get moving.

Becoming the de facto platoon commander, she worked to untangle the mass of trucks, get them rolling and figure out what was happening ahead.

“Ricketts, can you hear me?” she called into the radio. “Has anyone heard from Ricketts and DeLancey?”

She couldn’t help thinking they were dead.

In fact, DeLancey and Ricketts, still dazed after the rocket blast, were only beginning to realize they were still alive.

They heard Beck’s voice but had no idea where it was coming from, their radio now lost in the wreckage of their truck. Both were sure the end was near.

Looking back on that foggy moment, DeLancey still doesn’t know what came over him – perhaps a burst of adrenaline or some primitive instinct to survive. But in a profanity-laced tirade, he decided he’d go down fighting.

He kicked out what was left of the windshield, leaned over the hood with a light machine gun and raked the berm from where the insurgents were firing.

He fired a 200-round drum. After Ricketts, pinned beneath the dash, was able to use a free arm to shove another drum across the truck floor, DeLancey reloaded and fired again.

Official reports credit DeLancey with killing or wounding two to five insurgents, but it’s based mostly on conjecture. What is known is the heavy fire coming from the berm was suppressed, taking heat off the stalled convoy.

About that time, MPs from the Kentucky National Guard rode in like the cavalry in an old Hollywood western.

Ten guardsmen from Kentucky’s 617th Military Police unit aboard three guntrucks had been shadowing the southbound convoy from a distance. They now moved up to join the fight.

Their impact on the battle was immediate. It’s probably no coincidence that a home movie of the ambush shot by an insurgent suddenly goes black just after the MPs rolled into the frame, their big turret guns thundering.

The Kentuckians pulled off the highway onto a side road perpendicular to the highway, out-flanking the insurgents’ main position. Most of the MPs dismounted and took refuge along a berm, engaging the insurgents in a fierce gun battle. Three Kentuckians quickly were wounded.

“It was crazy,” Kentucky Sgt. Leigh Ann Hester later told a reporter. “It was basically kill or be killed.”

With most of the fire now off the convoy, Beck led a line of trucks forward, stopping after about 100 yards to inspect the smoking cab of Ricketts’ truck.

She found DeLancey sitting on the ground beside a wheel. Ron Hart, a civilian contractor and Army veteran, moments earlier had relieved the wounded soldier of his machine gun and was laying down bursts of suppressive fire.

Telling the bloodied and scared DeLancey to climb into her truck, Beck ran to the mangled cab and anxiously peered inside. She later called it the scariest moment of her life.

Ricketts was lying in the cab, face to the floor.

Then he raised his head and looked directly at her. She may have been as happy to see him as he was her.

Ricketts told her he was hopelessly stuck, but she cursed at him and said she didn’t care.

“There’s no way we’re leaving you here,” she yelled.

She grabbed his arm. “On the count of three, you push and I’ll pull,” she said. “Do it for me and yourself. You’re going to be OK.”

It took all the strength she had, but Beck hauled the 205-pound Ricketts free of the wreckage and down to the road.

Hart helped her carry him to her truck. But after opening the door, Beck quickly realized there was nowhere to put him. Three people were already jammed in the lone passenger seat: her co-driver, the wounded DeLancey and a wounded civilian driver.

She later would agonize over whether she did the right thing, whether she should have found another way to get Ricketts out. But in the heat of the moment her only thought was to get on the radio to have the next Guard truck back pick him up.

She told Ricketts to take cover under the trailer of Hart’s truck and left him in the care of Hart, who continued to fire.

Remounting her truck, she revved the engine and led a small convoy out of the kill zone.

Lying across the laps of Beck and her co-driver, DeLancey burst into tears as they raced up the road.

“It was fear, happiness, relief – everything,” he said later. “I almost died, and I knew I probably wasn’t going to die anymore.”

Back at the rear of the Nebraska convoy, Spc. Michael Sharples of Fullerton was practically begging civilian contractors hiding in a ditch to get back in their trucks.

He ran to Spc. Joshua Birkel of Columbus, in the final truck in the convoy. We have to get these guys moving, he said.

That’s when they heard Beck’s reports that Ricketts was in the road ahead.

Under fire from the right, Birkel and Sharples ran more than 300 yards, found Ricketts and loaded him in the passenger seat of Hart’s truck.

Finally, after 20 minutes in the heat of the kill zone, Ricketts was on his way to safety.

Memorial Day Blue State

Filed under: — Chap @ 12:35 am

WFMU (New Jersey) has a photoshop of the Iwo Jima flag raising, with a McDonald’s sign in place of the flag.


May 28, 2005

Link Dump 28 May

Filed under: — Chap @ 12:57 pm
  1. Tim Blair rounds up info about a kid punished for drug posession in Indonesia getting many years in prison. There’s lots of complaint about the specious nature of the prosecution but I’d like to find out why this kid gets 20 years while the guy who set up the Bali bombings got, like, three.
  2. Jeff Goldstein also hasn’t had much to say today, but has a top ten about it.
  3. Barry Campbell has taken up reading Alaskan newspapers in search of barbecue for some reason. Dude needs a hit of Wilbur’s or something.
  4. Scott Ott has the last word on the worship of graven idols. Ouch.

May 27, 2005

Filet Of Today’s LGF Posts

Filed under: — Chap @ 8:59 pm

NRO’s The Commanders.

Orson Scott Card on many things, starting from the Newsweek riots. His Smartland concept is an interesting way of thinking about things that Victor Hanson might well approve of, as shown in this article.

All three of these are very good reading.

Light Day Ahead

Filed under: — Chap @ 10:00 am

After an interesting set of discussions at work I skived out and went to the house closing. Apparently the title company had a snafu, and the realtor’s statement of professional cleaning was in error. So our effort to “de-pink” the guest bedroom stopped at the primer coat.

The movers are here, so we’ll be a little busy this Memorial Day weekend. Light posting ahead.

May 26, 2005

The Chirac Way?

Filed under: — Chap @ 11:03 pm

When the Maastricht Treaty was in danger of being voted “no” in France, Chirac’s predecessor announced he had cancer right before the vote. It seemed to help the vote along in his direction.

Guess Chirac doesn’t have cancer handy, because he has to be a little more blunt to get his point across

Turmoil as Chirac plots to disregard ‘non’ vote

By Philip Webster and Charles Bremner

PRESIDENT CHIRAC of France is preparing to throw Europe into confusion and put Britain on the spot by backing moves to keep the European constitution alive if it is rejected in Sunday’s referendum.

French diplomats say that M Chirac is expected to urge other countries to proceed with ratification because France does not want to be seen to be blocking the European project.

Should prove interesting.

Update: The daily news from French TV is preempted by Chirac pushing the “yes” vote, with a background of a lawn, the French flag, and the EU flag. He’s got all the stops pulled, sounds a little desperate.

Update: 55% “Non”, 45% “Oui” per Le Figaro. Sarkozy (former minister who’s critical of Chirac) is whacking Chirac: “If you speak for France you should face French voters”. De Villepin is bubbling up again (great guy to learn French diction from speeches, as long as you ignore what he’s blathering). Le Pen nattered about “enslavement of Europe” and I might have mistranslated this but he said something about dinner with Pat Buchanan that night.

The Character Of Bolton Opposition

Filed under: — Chap @ 10:58 pm

John de Ville:

As usual, my party has taken the sucker bait. We’ve focused on Bolton, his crankiness, his cherry-picking of intel, and his unilateral ways, rather than on what we should have–” American foreign policy under Bush, its crankiness, the cherry-picking of intel, and our unilateral ways.

I would tend to agree–and underline it by mentioning that the charges leveled at Mr. Moustache are irrelevant to the real objections. (One hidden objection is the Open Source Institute’s disinclination to see Bolton confirmed, which is a related bucket o’worms.)

However, those objections were the primary focus of much of the presidential election, and it had a result, so this is an effort to limit the ability of the current president to implement his agenda.

Frankly, I’d never heard of the guy until Soros’ minions started cherry-picking ten-year-old testimony to show how icky Bolton was. Unfortunately for Soros, that testimony was music to my ears. Bolton’s sure picked the right enemies for my viewpoint…


Filed under: — Chap @ 2:20 pm

coulda saved some tears if he cared enough to actually, you know, attend the committee meeting he was supposed to. You know, the one that made the decision about Bolton.

Or even made a decision and voted him down in committee.

Now he’s reduced to crying on the Senate floor?

Disobedience Is Better

Filed under: — Chap @ 2:11 pm

This Wired article has implications for a successful military.

If better information flow is the unofficial one, if dropping rules in favor of successful improvised doctrine is better, then maybe that’s why sometimes that works more effectively in the age of the “strategic corporal”. Nelson’s method of commanding his captains may be more useful at the level of the iron major.

Update: I wanted to get the post out but was entirely too shallow in my analysis. There’s good stuff to pull from analogy and analysis, but I didn’t do that here (more than spew key words and tricky phrases). Can’t do that today, though. Comments have some good observations as well.

Bargain Basement Boat

Filed under: — Chap @ 12:08 am

I had mentioned earlier that you could buy a Foxtrot-class submarine, slightly, uh, used, for about $250K.

Looks like the Canadians might be able to undercut that deal:

The Oberon-class submarines are presently docked on the Dartmouth, N.S., waterfront. HMCS Onondaga, HMCS Ojibwa, HMCS Okanagan and the Olympus were purchased between 1965 and 1968. (The Olympus was not commissioned, but used instead as a training vessel.)

HMCS Onondaga was the last of the subs to be taken out of service in 2000.

MacDonald estimated they may be able to get $50,000 to $60,000 each as scrap metal.

Sounds like they’re fixer-uppers, too:

He said it would take a lot of resources to make the vessels seaworthy. Very little maintenance has been done on the submarines since they were taken out of service.

The navy would have liked to use the subs as museums but they’ve deteriorated too much even for that.

Geez, tell that to the guys who got the Razorback back from Turkey last year. You get enough guys with nostalgia together, and you got yourself a boat.

Oh yeah, one more thing. That fifty grand? That’s Canadian dollars.

May 25, 2005

French TV2 On The Minuteman Project

Filed under: — Chap @ 11:45 pm

I was surprised to see an article on France’s TV2 tonight (Le Journal) that described the Minuteman project and border crossings in a way that wasn’t automatically bashing the American border efforts. (They started with a comment about African immigration across the Med, so perhaps there’s another narrative frame that fits.)

  • Opened with IR video of Mexicans being rescued
  • Over in Mexico, Mexican border officials, saying they don’t make arrests, instead giving tips to crossers (“This will take 3 days not 3 hours, so take plenty of water”)
  • Minutemen and border patrolmen working, with supportive comments by American locals

Very interesting to see that from the TV2 perspective.

Also in the news:

  • the Caspian oil pipeline is now open.
  • Description of the Iraqi efforts to protect Umm Qasr, with shots of caches smugglers use and descriptions of pipeline taps.
  • Spain legalized gay marriage.

It’s a good reminder to me that no matter how wide you cast your net for news, there’s more you’ll miss.

Oh, and there is a French TV blog site for some reason.

My Thoughts Exactly

Filed under: — Chap @ 11:09 pm

I used to get into some…pointed…discussions with a few friends in school. The Belgravia Dispatch knows how I feel (via Insta).

Particularly the comments of the German Ambassador to Washington, Wolfgang Ischinger, so dripping with condescension, disingenuousness and hypocrisy: “we tend to think of ourselves as more experienced in the way societies evolve,” “(t)his is very complicated, “(c)hanging the way people think often has to do with religious and cultural issues…Americans think, Let’s solve the problem in the next four years!” I mean, how many silly, tired, protest-placard stereotypes can the good Ambassador mutter on about in one short interview with the New Yorker?

But what really got me was the breezy evocation of the contemporary history of Central and Eastern Europe as a way to teach us boorish Americans how it is done. Without firing a shot, see!

…because of course we were firing all the stinking shots when needed–and not firing them when we could avoid it. Even Brent Scowcroft has this one down–why doesn’t the New Yorker?

Read the whole thing.

Baldilocks Puts It In Perspective

Filed under: — Chap @ 10:17 pm

I had a great conversation a few weeks ago about race here on this blog, and this post really puts the complaint I had entirely back into perspective. She generalizes, but the character of her comment rings true. When you talk racism, it sure is easier to observe in the places Baldilocks mentions. (Partially because I get to be one of those it’s flung at, but I digress.)

And unlike most Americans, the rest of the world refuses to feel guilty about its racism. They’d rather beat up on America for it. That’s one of the many dirty little secrets of the world. Don’t believe me? Look at…

May 24, 2005

Filed under: — Chap @ 9:53 pm

Austin Bay shows more proof that the some of the NGO jobs are as hard as some of the soldier jobs. This is why it’s so good when they’re able to actually, you know, work together on something…

Oh, Geez, More Homework

Filed under: — Chap @ 9:39 pm

The Mountain Philosopher has an interesting thought experiment he posed to his high school history class.

Given the above, as a newspaper editor or television news director, what is your responsibility when you uncover or are handed credible stories of abuse and/or atrocities. Do you print the story? Downplay the story? Make sure that it is only running along a more positive story? Please discuss with your parents.

The students were given a copy of the most recent prisoner abuse story, that being the NY Times story last Friday, May 20th, detailing abuse at the Bagram prison in Afghanistan, resulting in deaths of two detainees.

Yesterday, we circled up to compare notes. Here’s what they came up with, with yours truly trying not to steer, and only asking clarifying questions:

This is a great thought experiment, and I’d like to expand on it a little. This is the kind of decision a newspaper editor makes in real time, and John’s got some observations on that decision. They can be very tough to make.

What isn’t mentioned is the narrative frame of a story–the “story behind the story” that influences word choices, emphasis, and structure of a newspaper article. It’s the difference between Ann Coulter and Atrios reporting the same event, and influences the reaction to the article.

Also important and not mentioned is the trend over time. Arthur Chrenkoff spends a lot of time showing that the types of choices made by editors over time can cause an unbalanced viewpoint of what’s really going on.

Michael Yon, as I mentioned before, discusses “if it bleeds it leads” and relying on others’ reports from the front for information without context.

These are partial reasons, in addition to the more upstanding ones, why Abu Ghraib was hit on like a lab rat whacking the heroin lever a while back.

Another essential consideration for an editor is sourcing and credibility of the article. Newsweek’s getting flak due to a choice to run a story with an anonymous single source that proved to be blowing smoke up their collective tails–although the source said something someone wanted to hear. (We have that problem too–first reports are always wrong and always believed, and a person under stress or avarice will more likely tell you what he thinks you want to hear.)

There are some blogospheric references that add context to the effect of our notional editor’s decision: UNC’s rhetoric Prof. Cori Dauber’s working notes, Fletcher Prof. Richard Shultz’s torture references (scroll to end of post), and Jason van Steenwyk’s unique perspective as a veteran and financial journalist.

If you wanted to look at this in another direction, the reportage of the Maine explosion might be illustrative.

Finally, I would like to state for the record that I agree with Mr. DeVille that Pat Buchanan is an ass.

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