Chapomatic

September 29, 2006

This Has To Be Fodder For Some Interesting Discussion

Filed under: — Chap @ 11:36 pm

Here is a Quicktime (16MB, 5 min) I found in a pile of old files. Some of the players may look familiar. It was released officially by the folks what you see on the screen, but I got it off a now unavailable website.

Somebody may feel that there are some interesting things to think about in this little movie clip: the time it was released, the characters, the ironies, the choices made, the things that were happening as this movie was being filmed, last week’s punditry.

But judge for yourself.

September 28, 2006

A Rather Odd Rhetorical Device

Filed under: — Chap @ 9:45 pm

Via Slashdot, a link Enrevanche will like about bad business fads.  I’m linking it because I thought I’d mention that there’s no way I’ll use this manner of establishing a position, frankly.

Riiiiiight.

Filed under: — Chap @ 9:39 pm

Woman gets nice free ride through college.  Comes time to pay the bill, cites she’s agin’ it.

I’m with Lubber on this one.  This is slimy.

September 27, 2006

Michael Yon Calls Someone Out

Filed under: — Chap @ 9:35 pm

The very day I was wondering to myself “Boy, I haven’t heard from Yon in a while”, Yon reports on some new dispatches on his site.

And he’s emailing on his list that he sees problems in the embed program, and he’s naming names.   This can’t be good…

September 26, 2006

Snark Of The Day

Filed under: — Chap @ 8:02 pm

Lex on his alma mater, discussing yet another post-scandal freakout in which a freak-outer says the Naval Academy mids are setting an example for the other colleges:

Because campuses throughout the country look to Annapolis for behavioral cues. Is all.

Harvard students want to know how to properly salute and wear the uniform, while Yale undergrads are more concerned with the manual of arms during Wednesday parades. Over on the west coast, UC Berkeley students are asking how and if the Prisoner of War Code of Conduct should be applied if they get arrested during anti-war protests, while over at Stanford, a top-level commission of seniors has been asked to study whether the Naval Academy’s honor concept is more suitable for its student body than West Point’s arguably more rigid honor code.

September 25, 2006

Another Great Read

Filed under: — Chap @ 8:12 pm

I think part of this is essential reading for CODELs.

Read this…if only because of the midgets.

September 24, 2006

Filed under: — Chap @ 11:50 pm

The funny thing about Ren and Stimpy was that I wanted to love it but the timing was all wrong for me: gags were held for too many beats, and things just stood there.

So this John K. post is rather ironic.

Filed under: — Chap @ 11:47 pm

New Sisyphus isn’t happy.

He momentarily forgets his Camus, perhaps, or perhaps needs to switch to a different Camus quote: «Il n’y a qu’un problème philosophique vraiment sérieux: c’est le suicide.>>

September 23, 2006

Joint

Filed under: — Chap @ 11:54 pm

…as the saying goes, so termed because they likely were smoking one to think Goldwater-Nichols up!

Commander Salamander has a post pointing to an admiral’s gripe about the Chairman.  Salamander’s asked for comments, so here they are.

Okay, first point, a pedantic nit.  In the comments “Paul” askes what’s joint about anti-submarine warfare, assuming the answer is “nothing”.  However, Paul completely misses the point on why ASW *is* of joint interest.  ASW is slow, resource intensive, and drives logistics…meaning the other services can’t get their job done if we Navy types are dinking around trying to keep the cargo from getting sunk.  The beans, bullets, and band-aids have to get there somehow.

The article referenced, written by a retired Navy admiral, isn’t about being joint.  It’s about the JCS and the author’s perceived need to have the CJCS run everything in a theater war vice the COCOM.  It’s arguable, but frankly not the point Phibian raises.

I don’t know one way or the other about how loud the CJCS’s voice should be compared to how loud it is–my guess is that they weren’t playing beanbag, as one nearly died from the stress and the next one stood up quickly after–but looking at things like the SLRG (link is to an interview; the Esquire article is much better) and the sheer amount of time the secretary and CJCS spend together, and the ability that the CJCS has and does use to advise the President directly, tends to me to weaken the author’s case.

One of the author’s gripes reads to me as “The Chairman didn’t ask for More Troops!!!11!”….which sounds like a different kettle of argumentative fish entirely.  That gripe doesn’t fit his argument well since every single one of those high ranking folks have been saying “we’ll give the commander on the ground what he wants”–which I bring up not to discuss the “number of troops” argument but to note that there was already deep cultural and individual agreement with the process that gave the answer it did.  I don’t see how changing the deck chairs in the E ring is going to change that desired “independence” while maintaining civilian control of the military.  And if it’s a gripe about not being able to stand up to the secretary–we’ve got deeper problems, then, in how we build and grow our senior leaders, and a re-org ain’t going to fix that.

(Off topic: Round about 2003, how many general and flag officers do you think were selected during the previous administration?  Draw what conclusions you wish…)

Arguing about joint qua joint is sooo 1985.  We’re jointed.  Done.  Too many layers, too many GO/FOs, too much inefficiency, sure.  But. Desert One won’t happen like it did and neither will some other similar silliness, like the execution of the Grenada operation, or the Army/Navy split of “every other day” for pre-WWII intel traffic, a situation as effective as the Romans electing to have Paulus *and* Varro alternate command of the army on different days to get their butt kicked by Hannibal.

I see a lot of joint staff interaction here at a COCOM with long term issues, in much the same way we interact with the services: resourcing, buying new platforms and systems, policy, another check in the block before the plans get to OSD.  Which makes sense, since it’s all Puzzle Palace to us guys at a COCOM.

Yeah, getting purple is a pain in the proverbial.  (I will not recount the difficulty of getting the correct check in the block for some schooling, but it is nontrivial.)  Yeah, some guys get to not go to operational jobs to do silly other things.  On the other hand operational is not always the right answer–because if we made that choice consistently we’d eat our intellectual seed corn, as it were.  At some point the guys in such an insular and unknowing community as my previous one have to know some people, processes and language common to the other guys shooting.  Or they become, as is the wont of an insular community with manning pressures, more insular…then irrelevant…then uninfluential…then gone.  And that’s just for submariners relating to the rest of the Navy!

The next argument, the one I would find very interesting, comes from similar pressure as caused Goldwater-Nichols to get there in the first place: interagency…

September 20, 2006

A Small Comment On The Thailand Coup

Filed under: — Chap @ 10:44 pm

I noted that there were perhaps five blogs, none near the scene, reporting in English. No TV news I saw had a reporter in Bangkok. No information was available from the normal sources.

Bangkok is a big place. What other information around the world are we missing?

Update: Skippy provides some links in the comments.

Amis on 9/11

Filed under: — Chap @ 9:57 pm

I do not like violent novels. I don’t really read novels in the first place. But if one were to read a novel, particularly one where violent things happen, one could do worse than to find Martin Amis’ work. His memoir (Experience) was a wonderful read.

Enrevanche points to an Amis essay in the Guardian that I had originally skipped due to its length, printed it out, and read it in one go during lunch. The Amis essay is an interesting fit with the Lewis speech I mentioned earlier today.

Herewith some quibblation (I made that word up because I like it and when reading a London Times Literary Supplement type of person there should be at least a couple of words that you’re certain never existed except for showing off an obscure spot in the Oxford English Dictionary) re Amis’ evocative essay. Random points to follow. Too bad Amis will never read it; I’d love to be part of that conversation.

Rumsfeldian Discussion

As scansioned by Hart Seely:

The Unknown

As we know,

There are known knowns.

There are things we know we know.

We also know

There are known unknowns.

That is to say

We know there are some things

We do not know.

But there are also unknown unknowns,

The ones we don’t know

We don’t know.

—Feb. 12, 2002, Department of Defense news briefing

Amis mentions this as a key part of his unfinished novel. (The BBC, of course, reports that certain types hated such poetry.) But Rumsfeld’s poem is actually a concise form of an earlier concept. In the submarine force these days, commanding officers are taught to think of things on the ship in this manner, using not three but four regions of knowledge to categorize their situation:

Unknown Unknowns
Known Unknowns
Unknown Knowns
Known Knowns

The reason this actually connects to subs is that most of the time, when analyzing a bad thing that happened on the boat, like a grounding or collision, you can find something that someone on the boat knew but didn’t properly act on, process, or pass on to others. That “unknown known” could be a shallow spot on one chart, a guy re-setting a system solution he put together because “the captain knows what’s going on”, or whatever. To avoid Bad Things, find and eliminate the things you don’t know you know.

I Hate It When He’s Right Like That

Amis writes of the reason it’s taken so stinking long for me to get off my fat butt and finish the thesis proposal I’ve been blowing off for about a year now.

All writers of fiction will at some point find themselves abandoning a piece of work – or find themselves putting it aside, as we gently say. The original idea, the initiating ‘throb’ (Nabokov), encounters certain ‘points of resistance’ (Updike); and these points of resistance, on occasion, are simply too obdurate, numerous, and pervasive. You come to write the next page, and it’s dead – as if your subconscious, the part of you quietly responsible for so much daily labour, has been neutralised, or switched off. Norman Mailer has said that one of the few real sorrows of ‘the spooky art’ is that it requires you to spend too many days among dead things. Recently, and for the first time in my life, I abandoned, not a dead thing, but a thriving novella; and I did so for reasons that were wholly extraneous. I am aware that this is hardly a tectonic event; but for me the episode was existential. In the West, writers are acclimatised to freedom – to limitless and gluttonous freedom. And I discovered something. Writing is freedom; and as soon as that freedom is in shadow, the writer can no longer proceed. The shadow, in this case, was not a fear of repercussion. It was as if, most reluctantly, I was receiving a new vibration or frequency from the planetary shimmer.

Whatever the heck it is it’s keeping me from writing a lousy 3000 word essay. Eesh.

Such A Good Windup, Such A Lousy Arrival

Amis almost gets there. After two and a half parts of incisive essay, he starts puttering out: criticizing Bush for being drunk on power as though it is relevant to the grand sweep of the rest of the essay; criticizing Rumsfeld for sounding callous in reaction to a (later proven spurious) sack of a museum post invasion; retreat into poetry, letters and “all religion is violent; all ideologies are violent.” It’s as though Amis almost knows what he needs to write but cannot see or allow himself to go that much further, to make that last step.

I wonder why.

Another Great Read

Filed under: — Chap @ 7:44 pm

Every time Lileks starts preemptively apologizing for sounding screedy, I perk my ears up. Try this link and (if you must) just jump to the paragraph after the Fargo link.  You won’t be disappointed.

– — –

I work in applied Armageddon.  Today I explained to a Ph.D. type exactly what a basiji was, and that Abanananananutjob was one of them as a kid.  And then I explained about the one to three million dead in one battle in Maysan Province none of us ever heard about.  Cold War thinking, with decades of peace to soften it, does not work here.

I work in applied Armageddon.  Lileks scares me, because he’s talking of a frog being boiled.

A Darn Good Intro

Filed under: — Chap @ 6:44 pm

Bernard Lewis treads on what is for him a well-worn path, but if you haven’t dug into his work you’d do well to try this short and comprehensive essay on the history of the Arab world.

The title?

“Bring Them Freedom, Or They Will Destroy Us.”

September 19, 2006

Ye Lubbers

Filed under: — Chap @ 7:55 pm

The treaty of Ryswick be damned, I’ll do my work and do it well!  Did not Lafite accept Jackson’s offer, I ask you?  New Orleans is ours!

Riots To Order

Filed under: — Chap @ 12:06 am

I mentioned earlier that the cartoon riots and the “koran flushing” riots and the pope riots aren’t riots because of the stated cause. The cartoons or whatever are the seed crystal for a supersaturated solution of process and prepared public opinion.

Jawa just found one of the ways this riot started.

As suspected, it was followers of exiled cleric Sheikh Omar Bakri Mohammed who organized a rally yesterday outside of London’s Westminster Cathederal calling for the death penalty for the Pope’s blasphemy.

Here is the call for the protest on a password protected internet forum run by Omar Bakri Mohammed from exile in Lebanon where he directs his followers in Britain.

Same guys who did cartoon riots, too. Now to find the rest of the network, the coordination paths and communication paths and cell leaders in the different countries.

I know a way to temporarily, and maybe permanently, stop these things. It would be ugly.

There’s a lot of ugly.

September 18, 2006

Just About Lost It

Filed under: — Chap @ 10:34 pm

A single picture on this page, a happy photo (hotlink) of a lady sitting next to a middle aged fella with a gentle face.

And then I read his name: Judea Pearl.

Father of Daniel.

I am very sad for his loss.

“You Did Not Treat My Brothers With Respect”

Filed under: — Chap @ 9:49 pm

After spending a few weeks in DC spending Friday nights outside Walter Reed, talking to the Code Pink protesters, Smash saw some wounded junior guys getting treated badly by those same protesters.  Shame on Code Pink.  Shame on those protesters.

Smash is a leader, and knows what a leader must do.  Read what he did this week.

I look forward to his next move, because this is a man who walks the talk.

Note: Career Change

Filed under: — Chap @ 8:42 pm

Talked to someone in the Pentagon today. Interesting news.

Where other services have military occupational specialty codes, the “MOS” number that says what you are to your peers, us naval officer types have designator codes. A submarine officer designator is 1120 (or 1125 or 1127 or a couple of others for special types of skill sets).

I went in to work as an 1120. I now, based on that phone call to DC, am no longer an 1120. My new code is for a foreign area officer, a new community for the Navy. The new number was recycled from a number that used to be for a designator that is no longer with us–it was cheaper for the contractors to reuse the series than it was to build a new one. The fish stay on the uniform–as the man puts it, I earned it, I’m still a bubblehead. But I’m no longer a submariner to BuPers. My new orders will appear when the poor guy writing orders for the entire community catches up with the backlog of people waiting to change jobs before I do.

It’s a single digit change, from a one to a seven, but the cultural difference is significant. I no longer am dead man walking careerwise, which is nice. More importantly I now have a chance to make a difference, in a different way that uses other skills than the old ones. Apparently my skills are actually needed, not just the skill of “warm body filling a random staff billet until he retires”.

Good. I’ve got work to do.

I Am Outclassed

Filed under: — Chap @ 8:05 pm

I read several of the 9/11 posts around the web.

The Old Coot was on one hell of a deployment–the first boat at the scene, the ones who prepped the battlespace, did some useful things, shot missiles, you name it–after immediately turning around from what was going to be their homebound track from an already long time away. (h/t Willy Shake)

Steeljaw Scribe was in the Pentagon when the Coot was at sea.  SS, prior to the attack, was leading a team that was doing some wonderful and useful work in the Pentagon, doing interesting things.  On that day his team were among those who bore the brunt of the casualties.  Decimated means one of every ten went down; this was much worse than being decimated.  Scribe’s team could have curled up in a ball and tended to quite reasonable grieving and healing; instead, they threw themselves into their work and adapted and overcame in very difficult circumstances.  Some of SS’s efforts directly affected me and my work, and I saw the scars of what they had to do in order to overcome–for years a particular OPNAV web page, a lower priority at the time, was dated 11 September 2001 because there was no one there to update it, and the world changed before anyone got to it.

The Pope’s Actual Speech

Filed under: — Chap @ 7:02 pm

I noticed the other day that Willy got a mention in the Corner for his excellent discussion of the Pope’s speech. Well done, and well played; good points all.

Some other interesting links:

  • The Anchoress’ work is good as well, with many updates.
  • Fr. Richard John Neuhaus kicks it old school here. He provides context and his view from knowledge of the Pope.
  • Bryan at Hot Air makes excellent points in regard to what secularists miss when quoting scripture, discussing what he sees as common misconceptions in conventional wisdom.

But that all isn’t why I am posting this. In the delay time before the cartoon/Koran flushing/you name it riots could spin up, a group of us folks had already circulated, read and discussed the speech because it was so interesting. (Said group, by the way, including a Catholic, an evangelical, a Lutheran, a missionary atheist, and an apathist.) The Pope’s clearly working from a comfortably academic tradition here, and makes good points about the importance of theology to the university, and the interaction between reason and faith.

What I thought most interesting is that he seems to be applying Gödel’s Incompleteness Theorem to scientific inquiry (oversimplification: every system has an expression that can’t fit in the system, or as I put it every record player has a record that breaks the thing.) That’s a whoa moment there.

So. Here’s the Pope’s actual speech, translated by Zenit. It’s worth a read, laden with obscure historical references I haven’t read but find fascinating. I recommend it.

My take? An academic in a political role isn’t used to the political reaction, and the former Pope’s speech guy isn’t going to automatically hand a speech out to get checked by someone. He’s traveling to Turkey soon, and before the trip might be a great time to discuss it. I think the Catholic folks I’ve talked to think that the Pope’s reaction was a nonapology, but that’s not how it’s playing in the press.

One dead so far, with more to come–whether or not the Pope does anything. Like the cartoon riots and the Newsweek “Koran flushing” riots, the reason for these latest riots is not really the reason; it’s a seed crystal for the riots. The structure and the existing process is ready to have the “street” blow up at any time; no real “reason” is needed, merely a pretext.

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