July 30, 2009

Filed under: — Chap @ 1:22 am

Guy sits around and writes slightly demented reviews on Amazon. Writes things like “An excellent thesaurus with an easy-to-follow layout. Regular use of it has enabled me practically to eliminate the word “basically” from my vocabulary” and This is a fantastic book. You can tell that it is a motivational book of the highest quality by the fact that it has not one, but two colons in the title.

Way Beyond Fela And The Ethiopiques Series

Filed under: — Chap @ 1:17 am

If you like obscure African music and already know about Honest Jon’s, Frank’s crate digging and Ghana Soundz, then this collection of cassettes from a collector might be of interest.

Filed under: — Chap @ 1:06 am

Interesting background to the star of a new show, which I haven’t seen, now playing in the States.

Filed under: — Chap @ 1:04 am

A bit of an oversell, but here are some interesting places to live when you’re broke.

I lived in Pittsburgh once and paid $300 a month for a place, utilities included. Does the Arn City count?

Yon’s Getting Better

Filed under: — Chap @ 12:49 am

I like Michael Yon’s work because he’s the only guy out there most of the time, and because he likes to report at a Joe’s-eye level.

In this post, though, he puts photos and captions together in an evocative way, and I think this report is some of his best work in terms of explaining a what a patrol is, and getting Yon’s experiences with soldiers across.

link goes to Yon's site.  From Yon: Medic Lance Corporal Beth Sparks is on her job, while Rifleman Karl Dresser talks to Ryan Grieves who is on his back. A soldier took Grieves’s weapon and cleaned it spic and span; the barrel got stuffed with mud, which can be a problem out here, and you’ve got to pay close attention, especially at night. Firing the weapon with mud in the barrel will cause it to explode, which takes the rifle out of action and possibly the rifleman, too.

Yon’s donate site is too hard to use. I complained; apparently Paypal directly to myon dot orders at gmail works. He’s running low on cash.

Original Art

Filed under: — Chap @ 12:46 am

I haz it. (You can buy one like it there too, when the artist makes some more.)

The conceit behind the link: A. Koford discovered that his grandfather invented the LOLCat in a comic strip back in the day and is showing some on the Web for your perusal.

July 29, 2009

Filed under: — Chap @ 4:52 pm

My first car was one of these, and that company didn’t get bailed out. Comment from the thread:

Studebaker was way ahead of its time–right down to the UAW bankrupting them.


Filed under: — Chap @ 3:08 pm

Dudes don’t deserve decent barbecue: Jihad, NC.

Filed under: — Chap @ 3:05 pm

That’s an interesting mark on a lemon…

Oh, Now He Tells Me

Filed under: — Chap @ 2:34 pm

A FB friend is disgusted with this guy.

One of the people who was instrumental in pushing for laws to increase the legal drinking age to 21 now calls his actions “the single most regrettable decision” of his career.

Dr. Morris Chafetz, a psychiatrist who was on the presidential commission in the 1980s that recommended raising the drinking age to 21, made his remarks in an editorial that he is shopping for publication and which he released to the advocacy group Choose Responsibility. Chafetz wrote the editorial to mark the 25th anniversary of the law that was signed by President Ronald Reagan on July 17, 1984.

“Legal Age 21 has not worked,” Chafetz said in the piece. “To be sure, drunk driving fatalities are lower now than they were in 1982. But they are lower in all age groups. And they have declined just as much in Canada, where the age is 18 or 19, as they have in the United States.”

Does he have any idea of the damage he’s done to people because of this?

I’m Totally Stealing This One

Filed under: — Chap @ 2:26 pm

Sez Skippy,

I got this in an e-mail today. Worth repeating:

"PowerPoint has largely become affirmative action for the inarticulate"

July 27, 2009

Compare And Contrast

Filed under: — Chap @ 12:16 pm

The differences in courage noted here

…and the perceived apprehension here (bonus attractive young lady photo, and yeah it’s relevant).

Filed under: — Chap @ 1:35 am

Yeah, so this photo got through the internet block, and, uh, whoa.

Certainly got my attention…

An Interesting Food Fight

Filed under: — Chap @ 1:32 am

Lex points out a Tom Ricks report of a War College paper slagging the immediate leadership after a bloody battle in Wanat. In addition, he links a Small Wars Journal discussion where LTC Gian Gentile attacks the shift from doctrine to dogma inherent in the critique.

Now, reports the Amphibian, we have congressional involvement for one platoon-level action. Longtime commenter AW1 Tim adds at CDR Salamander in response:

I am familiar with the unit involved, and the investigation, as such, is purely agenda-driven.

There are a number of factors that the Congress-critter and the “historian” are leaving out of their talking points, and, like the MPA incident at Bagram, there’s a WHOLE lot more to this story then what d!ckless & co. have put out.

As just one point, the Battalion involved is composed of 5 companies, plus a Headquarters & Headquarters Co. It is one of two Battalions of the 503rd Airborne regiment, itslef part of the 173rd Airborne brigade.

This incident involved one platoon, from ONE of 5 companies, from one battalion of one Brigade. To be raising charges about Battalion leadership at this stage is preposterous. Yes, Commanders ARE ultimately responsible for what goes on, but this is a PR head-hunting expedition.

The REALLY [bad word] part, to me, is that Brigade is in training to deploy in the very near future BACK to that are, their FOURTH deployment to Afghanistan. This seems more like a serious, and very ill-timed distraction designed to intentionally reduce the effectiveness of a premier combat unit on the eve of a deployment, in order to distract certain folks from a failed presidential agenda, and play into a “failed policy” in Afghanistan.

LTC Gentile reminds us that (1) being a nice guy isn’t all there is to winning wars, even though some of that’s required in COIN, (2) sometimes you do all the right things in COIN and still have people shooting at you, and (3) Sun Tzu didn’t just say “know yourself” because the enemy gets a vote.

I have two reactions to this discussion.

–There are a whole lot of reasons you can have one small battle in one place in a big area of operations. Is the attention to this one event significant, or stochastic? Is it just because the fight was desperate and deadly to Americans? Is the enemy allowed to pick a place and time of attack, or is this only happening because of things we do?
–The effect on the leadership and the unit of this public condemnation, and it’s not “scrutiny” it’s “condemnation”, will be devastating. So far, what I’m hearing second hand is that the guys who were on the ground don’t agree with what I’m hearing about the report. If that guy Ricks is advertising is wrong, and he may well be based on Jimbo’s dismissal, Gentile’s critique in the comments here (“…None of the false information that Tom Ricks has said about my unit will change that basic fact”) and that of folks on the ground, then both Douglas Cubbison and Ricks have done something very damaging to people and organizations when they shouldn’t have. I claim no expertise and am outlining the potential cost to reputations and more importantly future operations. In World War Two we used to be better at being coy about naming names in order to get the lessons out faster; we do similarly with safety investigations. The process Cubbison started and Ricks reported is different and may have unintended consequences in the future. If they were wrong, then that’s a significant cost to pay for their error. If they were right, then they have to convince a lot of people who aren’t buying it.

But Senator Webb’s getting involved so everything will be better, right?


July 26, 2009

R.I.P. Andy Borchardt, CAPT, USN

Filed under: — Chap @ 12:30 pm

One of my many teachers suddenly died while on travel. CAPT Borchardt was the chief of staff at Submarine Group Seven in the mid-nineties. Although I was a lowly lieutenant far from the flagpole, he taught me several useful tricks about how the world really works.

My wife was the only person I’ve ever seen render CAPT B. speechless when she responded back to some teasing at a local social event with a small thermonuclear device of submarine wife snark. She and he got along very well after that…

Some of those lessons were ‘funny later’ kinds of lessons. After a sea tour doing ops and no real exercise experience, I got thrown into a big and visible exercise with another country that hadn’t been done in a long time. So here I am, the railroad tracks on my collar months old, dodging bizarre traffic in a place I’d never even thought about going to, arguing with admirals as politely as I could as we established the baseline safety rules by which the two navies could completely rewrite the schedule of events two days before the exercise. (Those who know, wince.) CAPT Borchardt, in his irascible manner, guided me through that process like a lion gently cuffing a cub, keeping my confidence just up enough to get the job done and just deal with it. A couple of days later I’m underway and standing nose-to-nose with the TAO on the USS John S. McCain, grabbing the red phone and stopping the exercise because of a problem with those safety considerations. It was a good time to wonder when my court-martial was going to be scheduled.

I somehow missed the green table and got thanked instead, once things cooled down and the exercise was safely completed. From CAPT Borchardt and other officers mentoring me, I learned that the best performance in a job sometimes means being on the ragged edge of being fired.

CAPT Borchardt taught me other life lessons as well. About that time we also had a sad event that required an official investigation–and some sensitive actions I won’t repeat here. Suffice it to say that I learned without having to learn the hard way that sometimes truth without compassion is cruelty, an excellent lesson I’ve tried to follow when I could.

After that time our paths would occasionally cross. He and his family had a good plan leading to and past retirement, he was doing well for himself, and was getting along fine until he suddenly died.

I’ll miss him.

July 23, 2009

Filed under: — Chap @ 5:10 pm

I think I would have liked having a beer with B-17 turret gunner and SF fan Howard DeVore. He’s kind of legendary in a small group–google his business cards some time, or his “First Fan” work. Since gone but remembered.

Filed under: — Chap @ 1:57 pm

An odd list of RSS feeds put into a blog. Some interesting stuff.

Includes a T-shirt that might well bring the Internet meme apocalypse.

Filed under: — Chap @ 1:26 pm

I had forgotten this analysis by Subsunk and Mountain Philosopher. It’s worth a skim with a little time behind it; it’ll be interesting to see how it plays five years from now.

What He Said

Filed under: — Chap @ 1:16 pm

Cobb makes me think from time to time. I think we’ve been occasionally talking to each other for several years now. I do know he spurred me to a long post I did about five years ago that I’ve occasionally returned to and thought about.

This week Cobb says something that resonates with me strongly. I sense that like me it took him a while to get to this conclusion. I like it.

I don’t even much pay attention to race outside of the basic notion that people are fundamentally tribal and that it takes skill and incentive to overcome that.

I usually say it as “people are people and people can suck” but yeah, what he said. I began to understand tribes here in the Middle East by thinking Scots-Irish and mapping Hatfield and McCoy et al to other tribal behaviors; it makes sense to expand that map to other groups too.

Filed under: — Chap @ 12:19 pm

Via Boston Maggie’s ridonkulous Twitter feed (the sheer torrent of tweets she puts out blots out the rest of the Twitterverse–I have to scroll three pages to see anyone else): the new decomm list includes LA and Philly.

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