April 30, 2008

Filed under: — Chap @ 9:37 pm

Buddy of mine says he’s helping on the hunt for USS Grunion.

They’re getting closer to the goal, too.

April 28, 2008


Filed under: — Chap @ 9:23 pm

Who was that guy, anyway?

Bonefish Fire Recollections

Filed under: — Chap @ 1:03 am

I broke from work long enough to glance at a recent USNI Proceedings. Bad as usual: some field grade opining on foreign policy (not strategy or tactics, mind you), a guy known for his political bent lecturing us about a political matter as if the matter were apolitical–and in the process being counterfactual, and some reporter discussing the Berkeley recruiting office fiasco about seven times worse than what we can find on the milblogs.

I think I would spend my time more wisely looking at the blogs. For instance: This series over at Chaotic Synaptic is full of first person recollections about a harrowing day at sea.

The next thing I remember was a couple of hands raking down my arm and someone wheezing “Help, I can’t breathe”. I didn’t know who it was but found the persons head, took my own EAB off and put it on his face. Immediately his hands flew to the facemask and I realized he didn’t want to give it back. I forcibly took it back, took 3 breaths and gave it back to him and told him we were going to buddy breath while I secure another mask. When he had the mask, I got out another one. We buddy breathed till I got the mask setup. During all this, the CO came into control and stated “XO, it’s not worth it. Abandon ship”. I know that the word went out on the 1MC. I later heard that people aft of the engine room door didn’t hear the word…

Read the whole thing.

April 27, 2008

Filed under: — Chap @ 9:33 pm

Hook talks about an example of leadership.

April 26, 2008

“My Epiglottis Is Full Of Bees”

Filed under: — Chap @ 11:40 pm

Oh dear dear dear.

I might really want me one of these cars.

I wonder how hard it is to put a kid’s car seat in that thing?

Nelson Muntz Rides Again

Filed under: — Chap @ 9:59 pm

Inside baseball again here. Lex points out a first post by an Abu Muqawama writer that gets agreed to heartily until Major John shows up in the comments and reminds us that what he sees on the ground ain’t what you see in the papers.

I’m staying with Major John on this one.

If You’re In KC, Say Thanks To These Guys

Filed under: — Chap @ 9:37 pm

Follow the link to Chaotic Synaptic for the details on the reunion of the USS Franklin (CV-13) this June.

Filed under: — Chap @ 9:31 pm

A while back I mentioned the Amen Break, a drum break that has been ripped off from poor musicians with nary a penny in renumeration. This drum break has been put everywhere in modern music, in all sorts of forms. There’s a good video about this phenomenon at the previous link.

The Presurfer says someone thinks that the break fits the Golden Ratio.


In Joke

Filed under: — Chap @ 9:26 pm

There is a web comic called Perry Bible Fellowship. This comic purports to be ‘every Perry Bible Fellowship ever’.

I think they’re right.


Filed under: — Chap @ 9:23 pm

Ever heard of this guy?

Filed under: — Chap @ 9:22 pm

Apparently we have given up the concept of ‘strategic communications’.

I don’t think that, for example, Hezbollah has…

April 24, 2008

Let’s Just Ban Everything

Filed under: — Chap @ 7:37 am

It’s a clown idea, the exchanges only recently rebounded from the last maternalistic ninny congressman who insisted it was For Teh Childrens And Morals, and it’s stinkin’ stupid: banninating bad, evil magazines with unclothed wimmin in them.

April 23, 2008

Keeping The Main Thing In Mind

Filed under: — Chap @ 12:47 pm

Compare and contrast how Kevin Drum and Ezra Levant deal with ideological opponents who happen to agree on something important.

Drum (via Junkyard Blog):

On the one hand, I think Beinart is exactly right. For example, should I be more vocal in denouncing Iran? Sure. It’s a repressive, misogynistic, theocratic, terrorist-sponsoring state that stands for everything I stand against. Of course I should speak out against them.

And yet, I know perfectly well that criticism of Iran is not just criticism of Iran. Whether I want it to or not, it also provides support for the Bush administration’s determined and deliberate effort to whip up enthusiasm for a military strike. Only a naif would view criticism of Iran in a vacuum, without also seeing the way it will be used by an administration that has demonstrated time and again that it can’t be trusted to act wisely.
So what to do? For the most part, I end up saying very little. And Beinart is right: there’s a sense in which that betrays my own liberal ideals. But he’s also wrong, because like it or not, my words — and those of other liberals — would end up being used to advance George Bush’s distinctly illiberal ends.


Baglow doesn’t go as far as I would; he still clings to the notion that the state should be able to — could be able to! — regulate emotions, like hatred. And he doesn’t fully come around on the issue of free speech. But so what? Those are only differences of degree. Baglow is now like me — a reformer. The only question is when we’ll each stop pushing for change. Baglow says he’ll be satisfied with a procedural overhaul of the commissions, some grown-up supervision of their abusive processes, and full indemnity to innocent victims prosecuted without cause. Any MP who put forward such a bill in the House of Commons would be my hero, even if he was, like Baglow, an NDP socialist.

I have had success in the past when working with other groups (other countries, other offices) and some of those successes have come through finding out what is common and working together towards the common goals while emphatically disagreeing about the non-common ones. Seems to me that finding compatibilities can be compromise, and without compromising principle.

What’s most important? What’s the main thing?

April 22, 2008

Hiding A Bad Moral Decision On “Complexity”

Filed under: — Chap @ 1:21 pm

Shame on Elliot Ruiz.

Yup, it is what it looks like.

The film is definitely a fictional portrayal. At no point are we blaming the Marines for this. I wouldn’t want to be part of something that gave the Marine Corps a bad name. I saw what the director, Nick Broomfield, was trying to do. Nick wasn’t trying to blame the Marines, Nick wasn’t trying to blame the Iraqis. And it wasn’t just a two-sided story, he also showed how the innocent Iraqis are caught in the middle between the military and the insurgents. So he’s actually showing three stories at once.

And the trailer for this? Yeah, it pretty much blames the Marines and the usual suspects. It looks like a documentary, not fiction–and if fiction was the goal the title of the movie wouldn’t try to evoke the title of “Battle for Algiers” and wouldn’t be set around a real life incident that turned out to not be what the papers said it was at the time the movie started production. Hey Ruiz–why do you think you were chosen to be in the film?

image stolen from a GIS here. Stupid idiot trick taken from the movie industry.

Filed under: — Chap @ 12:58 pm


Or maybe I should say مستنقع!

Somewhere, Leonard Pinth-Garnell Is Quietly Weeping

Filed under: — Chap @ 10:04 am

For years I’ve been saying that the “transgressive” art I’ve known about isn’t really transgressive or shocking. Looks as though some folks have acted on a similar impulse: avant garde might not have to be merely French for “bad”.

A week after 1995’s Realist protest, Assael faced Whitney director David Ross in a radio debate. “Sometimes the present created the future by breaking the shackles of the past,” he said. “But sometimes the past created the future by breaking the shackles of the present.” Assael was borrowing the words of University of Texas at Dallas Professor Frederick Turner, words describing the apparently cyclical nature of cultural movements. Like Turner, Assael hopes that a decaying modernism will lead to an aesthetic rebirth.

Tom Wolfe and Adam Gopnik make appearances. I find it hilarious that the gay poet mentioned had to keep in the closet…poems that rhymed. Also, this guy comes across as particularly foolish:

“What movement?!” demands David Ross, director of the Whitney, when asked about the Realists in a telephone interview. “There’s no such thing!” When reminded that at least 200 Realist artists demonstrated outside the Whitney less than 18 months earlier, he backtracks. “I’ve always had respect for the artist’s plight,” he says of the protest. “We even gave them an electric outlet for their equipment.”

Ross expresses great skepticism of the contemporary Realists. “That sort of hackneyed academic painting takes an enormous amount of talent and work,” he says. “But to go back to copying Leonardo is not art.”

He continues: “I admire them just like I admire people that can sing beautifully. It’s a real gift. But that alone doesn’t make you a great artist.” His voice rises, sounding increasingly agitated. “They’re old-fashioned, totally out of touch with the issues of the day. I’m interested in art that’s wrestling with the history of ideas, and they fail to deal with it! We’ve had two major world wars, the worst genocides in world history, and many other events that they ignore.”


Update: Oh, and slightly related, this week’s icky art kerfuffle at Yale sounds to this guy like maybe the “artist” in question is accidentally responding to art in a manner that would be recognizable to Leo Strauss: if some things are unsayable (for instance, “calling this thing art doesn’t make it less wrong and repugnant”), then people who have unsayable things to say will do so in a hidden manner.

“If people say it’s art, then I have to go along with it.” It is worth pausing to digest that terrifying comment. It is also worth confronting it with a question: Why do so many people feel that if something is regarded as art, they “have to go along with it,” no matter how offensive it might be? Perhaps—just possibly—Aliza Shvarts has reminded us how untrue that statement is. If so, we are in her debt.

I didn’t think this thesis of Strauss meant that much. I guess I just had to see it in a context where speech was restricted.

April 20, 2008

Some Reading Suggestions

Filed under: — Chap @ 6:00 pm

This article is making the rounds at work and inciting vertical head bobbing from the guys with combat patches on and the guys I work with for which English is a second or third language.

In the Islamic Near East, however, the term “tribe” has a fairly specific meaning. Middle Eastern tribes think of themselves as giant lineages, traced through the male line, from some eponymous ancestor. Each giant lineage divides into tribal segments, which subdivide into clans, which in turn divide into sub-clans, and so on, down to families, in which cousins may be pitted against cousins or, ultimately, brother against brother. Traditionally existing outside the police powers of the state, Middle Eastern tribes keep order through a complex balance of power between these ever fusing and segmenting ancestral groups.

The central institution of segmentary tribes is the feud. Security depends on the willingness of every adult male in a given tribal segment to take up arms in its defense. An attack on a lineage-mate must be avenged by the entire group. Likewise, any lineage member is liable to be attacked in revenge for an offense committed by one of his relatives. One result of this system of collective responsibility is that members of Middle Eastern kin groups have a strong interest in policing the behavior of their lineage-mates, since the actions of any one person directly affect
the reputation and safety of the entire group.

Universal male militarization, surprise attacks on apparent innocents based on a principle of collective guilt, and the careful group monitoring and control of personal behavior are just a few implications of a system that accounts for many aspects of Middle Eastern society without requiring any explanatory recourse to Islam. The religion itself is an overlay in partial tension with, and deeply stamped by, the dynamics of tribal life. In other words–and this is Salz-man’s central argument–the template of tribal life, with its violent and shifting balance of power between fusing and fissioning lineage segments, is the dominant theme of cultural life in the Arab Middle East (and shapes even many non-Arab Muslim populations). At its cultural core, says Salzman, even where tribal structures are attenuated, Middle Eastern society is tribal society.

Also of note, by the way, is this Michael Totten article. The guys who were in Fallujah before can hardly recognize the place.

Filed under: — Chap @ 5:40 pm

This is the “P.J. O’Rourke goes to USS TR” article Lex mentioned earlier.

You Want I Have To Buy The Thing For You?

Filed under: — Chap @ 5:00 pm

Yon’s book gets a review in the NY Post.

Those already familiar with Michael Yon’s work might have one question regarding his book: Is it simply a printed version of his dispatches from Iraq published on his popular Web site (

The answer: No.

The best of those stories are in the book, but they’ve been expanded with the passage of time and military details too sensitive to use immediately, and told in the same gripping style that can now truly be called page turning…

I am of the firm belief that milbloggers in theater prevented a defeat early on in the war, by changing the information flow. Yon was a different kettle of fish, neither stringer nor uniformed bubba, and in that role reported that which was not available anywhere else. Yon’s work was a force multiplier in that clash of information and narratives. He (along with more establishment guys like the late Michael Kelly, Jules Crittenden and Chris Allbritton, who is on a different wavelength but also a pioneer) paved the way for folks like Bill Roggio and Bill Ardolino and Michael Totten.

Filed under: — Chap @ 4:36 am

So I hand the Iraqi guy a copy of Mike Yon’s new book. Guy takes a look at it; I say I took off the dust jacket because the cover photo hurts too much. I don’t need to confront that every time I open the thing.

Guy opens up the photo section and sees the shot of Major Bieger and little Farah. He says he remembers when that happened; the news went all over Iraq like a shot.

Book’s a compelling read. Guys in SF who were where Yon was say it rings true. People I trust in the area say it matches what they saw. Things I read match what he reported. Warts and all.

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