March 31, 2009

Filed under: — Chap @ 1:32 pm

Any of y’all submariner types think this is a bit, uh, dumb?

What aren’t they spending money on in order to do this, I wonder?

March 30, 2009

Pass This Info To Wounded Warriors

Filed under: — Chap @ 8:46 pm

I learned this from a relative who makes a living resolving Social Security claims. Some cases coming up have been troubling, and I’m passing what I learned along so maybe some other Purple Heart wearers can avoid losing money. Relative works to pay the rent but also says it would be better not to have to work on these kinds of cases, even discounted or pro bono. So, with what I’m sure are many mistakes, here’s what I’ve learned.

Bottom Line
Some wounded military, who are getting medically boarded out of the military, are getting SSA benefits delayed or denied–incorrectly. Part of the problem is that a new program designed to give them money is new and not everybody knows about the program.

This is the website from the Social Security Administration with the supposedly authoritative information. Don’t blindly trust a word I write on this post, as I’m only a pogue; the government website will at least have been looked at by someone in the government at some point.

If a military member has been

  1. Injured in the line of duty after 2001
  2. Has orders shifting them to a special transient unit (such as the Wounded Warrior Battalion)
  3. Has a medical board in process but not yet discharged

then that person’s eligible for social security benefits above and beyond other benefits listed. At this point the military admin folks should be encouraging the guy to apply for SS disability, which covers SSI, Medicaid, and Medicare. There’s a new program in the SSA called the Wounded Warrior Program which expedited this process.

Here are some potential glitches to this process.

  • In order to get SS disability you can’t be working (that means gainful and substantial and at this point I’m talking out of my hat; go see an expert). SSA’s made allowances for this, keeping guys from losing eligibility solely because they’re waiting to get discharged. Sometimes this concept gets lost in the SSA bureaucracy.
  • Some guys are getting denied benefits because the bureaucrat doesn’t know his department’s own program. Some guys are denied because their case isn’t presented right and nobody can make heads or tails of it because the military member just dropped a medical file on some schlub’s desk.
  • If there’s a denial, there’s an admin appeal (reconsideration request) which is a pain, and then there’s a possibility for a hearing about it. A case can take a year and a half to get to a hearing, with appeals. That’s a long time to need rent money.

If a guy goes to a hearing, it’s before an administrative law judge. This is more informal than most courts, but the judge is the person who makes the decision. Those judges also don’t necessarily know about this program, and their caseload is high so waiting for their decision can take a while.

Okay, so that’s what I heard second hand from a person who gets paid for going in front of those judges. Take it for what it’s worth–but please pass to someone who might need it the link above and the caveats I mentioned. It might save them a lot of money, or a long delay.

Data Call Snarled

Filed under: — Chap @ 8:04 pm

If someone is trying to do something sensitively, the best way to derail it is to make it public before they’re ready. That might be the thinking behind the leak of this Marine Corps P4:

In a March 13 “P4” — personal-for message — to all 82 of his general officers, [Marine Corps Commandant Gen.] Conway asks four questions, including this one: “How strongly should we, as an institution, challenge the ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ policy?” The other questions covered in the e-mail, which came under the subject line, “2009 UPDATE FOR THE COMMANDANT,” covered priorities at a time of “dwindling budgets,” seabasing and a general question about “any topic that you think is important and should influence the course and speed of the Corps.”

Responses are due by April 10.

A spokesman confirmed the e-mail came from Conway, but said it was “not meant for public consumption.”

“We’re not going to discuss or put into perspective an e-mail that was meant to be personal correspondence between him and his general officers,” said Lt. Col. T.V. Johnson.

But a senior Marine Corps official said the commandant is soliciting input from his general officers on an issue that he knows he will be asked about. The commandant did not intend to appear to be taking a position when he posed the question, the official said.

Sounds as though the publicity will make any policy the commandant wants to do harder, no matter what that policy is…

Tunes Of The Day

Filed under: — Chap @ 7:58 pm

Getting my head bent by the sheer tone of this oud player–distorted as all get out and fronting a massive beat. From an Internet TV channel I’d not seen before with some seriously different content. The channel I’m picking from is from the Sublime Frequencies guys, who are noted for CDs of what sounds like an evening hopping around the dial of a cheap shortwave radio a thousand miles from the nearest Starbucks.

March 29, 2009

And This Is Early Tech

Filed under: — Chap @ 9:37 pm

While researching some new solid state hard drives I noticed that one of the companies sells this.


Called a “neural impulse actuator”. From a review, which notes that this is marketed to gamers:

For thousands of years now, man has used simple, relatively intuitive controls to make machines and animals do his bidding—be it squeezing his thighs to make a horse gallop faster, cranking a wheel and axle to draw water from a well, or flooring a car’s gas pedal to run a red light. Applying mechanical force to get something done is second nature to most folks, and video games are no different. We use joysticks, gamepads, mice, keyboards, and other controllers to translate finger or limb movements into actions on the screen. Want to move your character left? Push the analog stick to the side. Want to fire? Squeeze the trigger. Easy.

What OCZ has done with the NIA is throw most of that out the window. By incorporating an electro-myogram, electro-encephalogram, and electro-oculogram into a small headband and a little black box with a USB connector, the company has developed a control system that can translate eye movements, facial muscle movements, and brain waves into game input. As a result, the NIA is a strange contraption that requires some very unusual participation from the user.

I first heard an account of something like this in the real world a while back, and the company says that the idea is based on a $3000 device sold recently. This is gamer quality here–for serious geeks only, with a UI that could use tweaking–but, geez, it’s a hundred thirty bucks or so. The device has some real potential. Here’s a rival with a snazzier website.

I wonder if that quadraplegic vet in Omaha will be able to get the 2.0 version of this thing.

March 27, 2009

The Band And The Cake At The End

Filed under: — Chap @ 3:18 pm

Successful command tour? Check. Congratulations, shipmate. And the hell with the landlubbing anklebiters who know nothing, but have a loud voice when complaining.

His speech is here. Some context added here as well.

March 26, 2009

Intermingling The War On Some Drugs With The War On Terror

Filed under: — Chap @ 7:39 pm

I’m thinking the wheat-for-poppies thing mentioned here is a sop to the UK, who are hard over on poppy eradication. Problem is, the issue there is Talib control not drugs, and also the places where poppies are grown don’t have much water so how is wheat going to grow? Afghanistan used to be a fruit exporting capital…but not in those regions.

I’m more inclined towards the Senlis Institute opinion of what to do, but what do I know. I’m sure this will be as effective as the War on Drugs has been elsewhere.

March 25, 2009

Filed under: — Chap @ 4:16 pm

Here’s a ‘faster, please’ moment (h/t Insta) : DARPA working on an early stage of eventual limb regeneration.

John Hope Franklin, RIP

Filed under: — Chap @ 4:14 pm

Barry mentions the passing of a historian from the old school.

John Hope Franklin, the revered historian who chronicled the South and gave definition to the African-American experience, died this morning at age of 94.

Franklin, the James B. Duke professor of history emeritus at Duke University, died this morning at Duke Hospital, said Ddavid Jarmul, a spokesman for Duke University.

Franklin was considered one of the most influential historians of the 20th century. His book “From Slavery to Freedom,” first published in 1947, was a seminal work on African-American history and has sold 3.5 million copies.

Here’s the Duke bio, and check the end of the Wikipedia article on Franklin for several interviews with the man.

Filed under: — Chap @ 6:36 am

The comments on this week’s collision over at Bubblehead’s place are getting ridiculously long, but worth trolling for gems. I hadn’t seen this CNN interview transcript from back when the submarine force revealed a little more about itself than expected in conjunction with a hundredth anniversary of the force.

PHILLIPS: Why don’t we begin, Admiral, with you. Take us back to March 17th, 1978 and set the scene for us.

EVANS: Batfish had gotten underway from our home port of Charleston, South Carolina on the 2nd of March, proceeded up north to the upper end of the Norwegian Sea about 200 miles north of the Arctic Circle, where we established a patrol zone and searched to look for the next Soviet ballistic missile submarine deploying from the Barent Sea (ph).

On March the 17th in the afternoon we got our initial contact on the Yankee class ballistic missile submarine and then proceeded to track and follow that submarine south through the Iceland Farrow Strait (ph) into the North Atlantic and down toward the east coast of the United States and then followed her through her entire patrol and back up into the Norwegian Sea as she headed back home into the Barents. …

March 24, 2009

Filed under: — Chap @ 5:08 pm

Lots of people linking this essay by Jerry Pournelle today. It’s a good ‘un.

Filed under: — Chap @ 5:06 pm

Consul-At-Arms points out a leetle problem at State.

Like, nobody in the expensive offices.

There are six undersecretaries, each of which also has a single letter abbreviation: Political Affairs (P); Management (M); Democracy and Global Affairs (G); Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs (R); Arms Control and International Security (T); and Economic Affairs (E). These are the most senior positions in State other than the Secretary and two Deputy Secretaries, and each supervises somewhere between six and fifteen bureaus and offices. Think of the undersecretaries as the government equivalent of a business with Vice Presidents who oversee a number of offices.

So why am I telling you all this? Because nearly six weeks into the Administration (and four months since the Obama transition team started work), four of the six positions — G, R, E, and T — all remain unfilled.

No SecNav, either…

March 22, 2009

Protein Wisdom Goes Fishin’

Filed under: — Chap @ 9:04 pm

I dropped by, got a 404, checked the front page and the proprietor looks as though he’s had it for now. I’ll miss him.

The armadillo, not so much. That mangy leprotic thing never did dance like he promised and spent the money instead on bootleg ebay purchases of every color of MD 20/20 ever made for some reason.

Filed under: — Chap @ 5:58 pm

Moving house in prep for deployment. It’s very not Navy around this place. I’ve also learned this week that Apple’s “we’ll back this up whether you think about it or not” policy saved my bacon when the laptop made clicky noises instead of whirry noises. Boo to the clicky noises.

Also, I’ve learned that on the same day the laptop dies, the OLPC will reveal a fatal error in that its little rubber-coated chiclet keyboard will be just weak enough to be able to be torn apart, key by key, by inquisitive little fingers in the time it took you to read this sentence…

March 21, 2009

Hartford Vs. New Orleans

Filed under: — Chap @ 5:45 pm

Joel over at The Stupid Shall Be Punished has the details and a high noise, occasionally interesting comment thread. CDR Salamander has video of a news clip.

that's not a list, that's a bend.

090321-N-9909C-993 BAHRAIN (March 21, 2009) The Los Angeles-class attack submarine USS Hartford (SSN 768) arrives pier side at Mina Salman pier in Bahrain where U.S. Navy engineers and inspection teams will asses and evaluate damage that resulted from a collision with the amphibious transport dock ship USS New Orleans (LPD 18) in the Strait of Hormuz March 20. Overall damage to both ships is being evaluated. The incident remains under investigation. Hartford is deployed to the U.S. 5th fleet area of responsibility to support maritime security operations. (U.S. Navy photo by Cmdr. Jane Campbell/Released)

That’s not a list, that’s a twist, and a bend, and a rip. Nontrivial hit.


Filed under: — Chap @ 2:31 pm

Via both Skippy and Swift, a sad event: a father relaying the news about his late son.

Please don’t comment over here. Instead, send your condolences to Chuck Butcher at his place. (I’m late to Friday’s news due to being off line for a house move; his reaction to the comments is here.) They need all the love they can get.

March 18, 2009

“I found the limits of my ability, but in doing so liberated myself from fear of failure.”

Filed under: — Chap @ 10:13 pm

From an interview with ADM Stavridis about a new book, over at the USNI blog. It took a long long time for me to understand that concept well; submariners and naval officers aren’t allowed to be seen as failing, or discuss failure as anything other than some other guy who’s a lesser being. (Yes, we do admit smaller failures, particularly in the nuclear world where the culture is to admit mea culpa almost before it happens. I’m talking about personal failures.) But we do fail, being humans, and perhaps it’s healthy to have a successful four star talk about his own frailties like that. Might be useful in changing the culture a little bit.


Filed under: — Chap @ 7:46 pm

Conquest’s law strikes again: turns out the reaction was a little more intense than the administration wanted.

Five’ll get you ten this will come back in other ways, though.

Update: Via Ace, this one got a climbdown, too.

March 16, 2009

Oh, Great: Let’s Make The Disabled Vets Pay For Their Medical Care

Filed under: — Chap @ 7:24 pm

General Shinseki has more than a hat issue to deal with here.

The leader of the nation’s largest veterans organization says he is “deeply disappointed and concerned” after a meeting with President Obama today to discuss a proposal to force private insurance companies to pay for the treatment of military veterans who have suffered service-connected disabilities and injuries. The Obama administration recently revealed a plan to require private insurance carriers to reimburse the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) in such cases.

“It became apparent during our discussion today that the President intends to move forward with this unreasonable plan,” said Commander David K. Rehbein of The American Legion. “He says he is looking to generate $540-million by this method, but refused to hear arguments about the moral and government-avowed obligations that would be compromised by it.“

The Commander, clearly angered as he emerged from the session said, “This reimbursement plan would be inconsistent with the mandate ‘ to care for him who shall have borne the battle’ given that the United States government sent members of the armed forces into harm’s way, and not private insurance companies. I say again that The American Legion does not and will not support any plan that seeks to bill a veteran for treatment of a service connected disability at the very agency that was created to treat the unique need of America’s veterans!”

I’ll tell you what, fellas. Why don’t you give the legless veteran his legs back. You took them; you owe. This issue is about as tone-deaf as they come and deserves all the opprobrium it engenders.

No wonder the nominees are talking about the Bonus Army.

March 15, 2009

Filed under: — Chap @ 8:13 pm

The radio squabble about the anti-immunization zealots in England made it to video…and on B3ta, of all places, un-messed with. Bogus copyright claims were used to try to squash the doctor; the Internet routed around the block.

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