Monday, April 21, 2008

Interesting Times

I feel a little sad about PCIF reverting back to dead blog status after what I thought was a rather successful run. I will certainly pick it up again when I have more time. I don't know how other servicemen, especially those in the Iraq, are able to manage blogging along with keeping the world safe for democracy. I suspect it has something to do with shipboard life.

I'm basically on a 24-hour clock. Sure I have a little downtime here and there, but as far as what's going on in the world, I couldn't tell you. I have lost all awareness of the presidential election, let alone any of the other issues that interest and I used to write about frequently. Not that the news isn't available, but here I am, Chief Engineer and Senior Watch Officer on a U.S. warship in the Persian Gulf, and I am just a bit on the busy side. We find a way to use all 24 hours and then some of every day. I can't say the same is true for other services, but I've been wrong before.

When you stand ten hours of watch every day and don't make port for a month or longer, all the days just kind of bleed together. I'd have to think real hard to remember that it is Monday (it is Monday, right?). I could spit on Iran from here.

So, if you're a reader or someone I've traded links with or just randomly Googling me, perhaps there will be more to say later, but there is much going on right now that there is not much to report. Red, Mom, and the rest of my family: I love you and will get in touch as soon as I can. I have been keeping my Facebook page slightly more regularly updated with photos and other random junk.

Stay frosty, blogosphere.

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Sunday, March 09, 2008

Everybody Relax, I'm Here.

In case you were wondering, I've been inactive because of the amount of work I've had to do getting set up with my new department and ship. There's always that period of adjustment and for me, it's about two months to really get things going the direction I want them.

Anyway, I'f you've been reading the news, you'd know my time is occupied with keepign the world safe for democracy:

Cole replaced off Lebanon by two US warships: official
WASHINGTON (AFP) — Two US warships have taken up position in the eastern Mediterranean off Lebanon, replacing the USS Cole, a US Navy official said Wednesday.

The Cole, an Aegis destroyer that was attacked and nearly sunk by suicide bombers in Yemen in 2000, was headed to the Gulf after transiting the Suez Canal, canal authority officials said.

"The USS Cole was relieved by the USS Ross and the USS Philippine Sea in the eastern Mediterranean," the navy official said.

The Ross is an Aegis-guided missile destroyer and the Philippine Sea is a cruiser.

"It's a sign of our commitment to stability in the region," said Bryan Whitman, a Pentagon spokesman.

The Cole was deployed to waters off Lebanon to signal US concern over a protracted political crisis in Lebanon.

Feuding between a western-backed parliamentary majority and the Syrian and Iranian-backed opposition has left the country leaderless since November.

So forgive the inactivity - connectivity at sea is iffy and loading Blogger is 50% at best. Should really switch over one of these days. Not to mention OPSEC concerns. I'll post when able.

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Friday, November 30, 2007

Achievements in Tolerance

I liked the comments I got yesterday regarding the crime and punishment of Gillian Gibbons, because they were shining examples of the air of political correctness and non-confrontationalism that has overtaken the discourse on terrorism and politics.

Why doesn't anyone ever tell these bloody savages they have to be sensitive toward schoolteachers who make innocent mistakes? Why don't they have to be concerned about insulting our cultural sensibilities? I think it's condescending to the Sudanese to not expect from them what they seem to expect of us. Why do we treat them like children not capable of dealing with such concepts?

I am all out of patience for the uncivilized bastards that apparently represent the majority of the Religion of Peace. If I meet a Muslim on the street, I will treat him as I would any other person until given a reason to do otherwise. I will judge him on the content of his character and by his actions. I will buy him a smoothie if I make friends with him. That doesn't change my view of Islam in particular and religion in general as a tool to keep people from thinking for themselves and acting in their own best interests.

The only thing attempting to understand and tolerate the insanity perpetrated by fanatical Muslims has earned us is 50 years of death and destruction, but in small, tolerable, forgettable doses (until 9/11 finally got our attention). Wouldn't I love avoiding entanglements with other countries like George Washington cautioned, unfortunately the world has gotten much smaller than it was then and the nations of the Earth only grow more and more interdependent. I reluctantly acknowledge that requires an active interest in foreign affairs, but it doesn't require that we tolerate cruelty and murder.
Anonymous said...

Reminds me of the incident in the Bible (as reported in Twain's Letters from the Earth) in which God sends bears to maul 50 children for making fun of a man's bald head.

Unfortunately for the kids, the man was a prophet.

The Moral: Don't judge all followers of a faith by it's harshest adherents.
More and more, it seems Islam's harshest adherents make up the majority of its adherents. The only thing non-judgementalism achieves is indecisiveness. Religion, schmeligion. This has less to do with religion than it does a cult of death and fanaticism hell bent on world domination. The current military dictatorship in Sudan overthrew the previous government with establishing a caliphate as one of its stated goals. That's a theocratic dictatorship, simply put, which bent under international pressure, even though they've been getting away with this kind of thing for years.

Thousands of this cult's "harshest adherents" are demonstrating in Khartoum demanding the head of Gillian Gibbons. Perhaps it will all go away with a little bit of understanding and tolerance. I hope there's somebody protecting her, because for the next two weeks, as she serves her reduced sentence of 15 days in a Sudanese prison. Her life will be in danger until she is deported, perhaps even after - some British Muslims are even demanding harsher punishment.

I'm sure groveling for forgiveness at her egregious offense has been a tremendous help so far. Perhaps she's learned her lesson to be more sensitive when it comes to religion (Tin Foil Hat Tip: Newsbusters), maybe cutting her head off will really put her in her place.

This one's funny:
Tolerance s*cks said...

I like your initiative for greater religious understanding (Your new pet).

I will adopt a gay child and name him Jesus.

Maybe we can arrange a play-date?
To these two I said:
Robosquirrel bloody well said...

Anon, where are the Muslims denouncing the harsh insanity of it's "extremists"? I'd not be surprised if they are unreported and obscured by the MSM - people who want others to be nice to each other don't make the news much. However, if they wanted to be heard, they could be heard.

Here is the statement from CAIR, for example: *crickets*

tolerance: That's pretty funny, I laughed out loud at that! BUT - The hell with religious understanding. I understand that the belief in imaginary, capricious, vengeful beings leads to innocent schoolteachers being whipped and killed by crazy people. Religion is an excuse for people to do unnatural things to each other and a crutch for people of weak character.

Belief in whatever you want, as far as I'm concerned, but when it encroaches upon my or anyone else's right to exist or act in productive self-interest, then we have a problem.
There is respecting the beliefs of others, and then there is turning a blind eye. We've been boning Africa for years by ignoring and paying lip service to the atrocities that happen there. Sudan needs to know in no uncertain terms that they are on our list of things to do.

All I Need To Know About Life I Learned From Star Trek
Patriot Day
Thank You, Drive Through
They're Really Very Nice Once You Get To Know Them

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Thursday, November 29, 2007

All I Need To Know About Life, I Learned From Star Trek

Geek that I am, the unfortunate situation of Gillian Gibbons reminds me of the first season episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation called "Justice" where Wesley Crusher is sentenced to death for falling in a flower bed.

Wesley Crusher was just an innocent kid playing ball with some other kids, but ignorant of the law and harshly judged for something that was an innocuous accident; in contrast with Gibbons, who I would gather is familiar with sharia law based on her chosen occupation, but is in prison awaiting trail for a similarly innocuous crime.

Like Star Trek, vistors to other countries or planets are subject to their laws. But as Jean-Luc Picard says that "life itself is an exercise in exceptions", and to every living creature within the sound of his voice, "there can be no justice so long as laws are absolute!" Take that, Sudan.

I've heard comparison drawn to Michael Fey who is famous for getting caned in Singapore for for theft and vandalism. His crimes weren't innocuous, and although the punishment may seem harsh to us in the U.S., he was living in Singapore and subject to the laws of the country. Gibbons named a teddy bear at the suggestion of her seven-year-old students. What do you suppose they've learned from all this?

If Muslims are so offended by such innocent things as cartoons and teddy bears, and willing to express their displeasure at such things by flogging and beheading people, how can anyone consider devotees of that cult peaceful, or worthy of diplomacy? Bloodthirsty savages.

Meanwhile, the enablers and apologists at the AP titles this story "Briton Charged in Religious Hatred Case". (Tin Foil Hat Tip:Michelle Malkin) Way to take a stand for religious freedom, free speech and all that, MSM.

In other news, I got a new pet.

His name is Mohammed.


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Wednesday, November 07, 2007

The Environmental Hysteria Channel

I am suffering from extreme boredom right now. I'm really in the mood to go see a movie, but looking at what's playing in theaters in nearby Waldorf, MD, and Fredricksburg, VA, I find that every single movie at the multiplexes looks like garbage. I saw an ad on the Intarwebs for a Jackie Chan movie called "The Myth", apparently released in China two years ago, but now available on DVD in the U.S. That, I'd like to see - I am a devoted fan of Jackie Chan. I even ate at his restaurant in Yokohama!

I'm loathe to turn on the idiot box right now, because (A) I know it will suck my brain out and I will watch it all night; I have a long drive to Jacksonville ahead of me tomorrow and I need some sleep and (B) watching Heroes on Monday really soured the whole cathode ray-brain sucking experience for me.

Don't get me wrong, I still love Heroes and it's still my current favorite TV show, but I was so... vexed by the initiation of NBC's Green Week during my program that I nearly turned it off. It was a short video of a few of the actors from the show planting a tree on Kirby Plaza, where the final showdown of Season 1 finale took place. I managed to suppress the urge to vomit and finish the show.

I originally thought it was just the Today show, what with the advertising blitz last week about Matt Lauer going to Greenland, Ann Curry trying to get to the South pole, and Al Roker in Ecuador (heh - go a little farther south and it's freezing in Peru!) I started watch Lauer's bit about the polar bears, but I got bored by all the platitudes and cliches and switched to the Brian Willams' interview of Mel Brooks.

Last night, they did the same thing with The Bionic Woman yesterday; all the shows this week have some kind of Environmental Hysteria subtext. Ugh.

I don't have a problem with putting issues of the day into the storyline of a TV show. if it makes sense and flows with the plot, go for it. I can handle it. But throwing it my face with "Green Week"? NBC has certainly drunk the Kool Aid and expects that their audience has too. What about those of us that like a little science to back up our speculation about the impending doom of the human race? Am I to believe that humans are causing global climate change or, indeed, that they can do anything at all reverse it just on Matt Lauer's say so.

The entertainment industry expects you to buy every bit of crap they push at you because they thing you'll do anything they want if they have a pretty face tell you to do it. It's the most condescending thing I've seen in recent memory.

EDIT - Oh by the way: Weather Channel Founder: Global Warming ‘Greatest Scam in History’

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These mornings, with the TV right at the foot of my bed in the hotel, I find myself watching about an hour of Fox and Friends before I head to class, more or less. Sometimes they sound reasonably intelligent when talking about issues of the day... and sometimes my jaw drops with disbelief at how moronic or rampantly irresponsible the things they say are.

Such is my feeling about all television news shows. I think the worst part about them is that the majority of the TV news audience thinks that it's getting actual news. Let me digress from my original point for a minute:

I have a Baccalaureate of the Arts in Journalism; yes... journalism. I took one broadcast journalism class in college because I was having such a great time at my volunteer DJ gig at Radio K and wanted to focus on radio journalism. Everyone else in my class wanted to do TV news and that was the focus, scripts, teleprompters, presentation, etc. That class was full of some of the most vapid, empty-headed sheep I've ever met in my life. All good-looking, but not a brain among them.

I was actually on Fox and Friends a few months ago - Brian Kilmeade came to Mayport and a bunch of us from different commands went to stand on the USS MCINERNEY flight deck behind him all morning in our whites for background and for him to call on us randomly about the various stuff they were talking about on the show. One story was about how oldest children are the smartest, so before the folks in the studio in New York started talking about it, Brian asked which of us were oldest children. I, of course, raised my hand.

"Would you say you're smart?" he asked.

"IT'S A TRAP!" shouted Admiral Ackbar from somewhere in the back of my mind.

"I guess so," I said.

So the studio goes to him and he shoves the microphone right in my face and asks the same questions again, but then:

"Why do you think you're the smartest?"

Nothing going on in my head, camera pointing at me, microphone touching my lips... "I went to graduate school..."

"Are you smarter than your siblings?"

Oh God. They're watching. "Oh yeah."

Hahaha. "Do you have to dumb down the dinner conversation?" Crap.

"Yeah." Not the whole truth, but we're talking about someone for whom 30 seconds is a long time.

"What's the biggest word you know?" Crickets chirping in my skull.

"Ah... sesquipedalian."

"What's it mean?" I've got nothing.

"Er... I forgot." As soon as the mic leaves my lips and short-attention-span man walks away having a chuckle at my expense, I'm thinking, "Uses long words!" I had the irony right in the palm of my hand!

Later, the folks in studio looked it up and reminded me on camera that it means "given to the overuse of long words."

I am theorizing that even for these TV professionals, the microphone/camera combo has strange magical ability to suck the brain clean of thought. Anyhow, I've strayed from my point...

This morning on Fox and Friends, the trio was discussing the recent cases where police used TASERs to subdue a violent 14-year-old trick-or-treater and a deranged 82-year-old hammer-wielding grandmother. There also have been cases of smaller children being 'tased' in the last couple years.

There also is growing concern over TASER-related deaths as Silja J.A. Talvi writes in In These Times, a Chicago publication "dedicated to informing and analyzing popular movements for social, environmental and economic justice; to providing a forum for discussing the politics that shape our lives; and to producing a magazine that is read by the broadest and most diverse audience possible." That was their mission statement; the column is obviously biased against TASER, Inc., but it's well written and interesting. Believe it or not, it is difficult to find unbiased reference material on this topic.

I was agape, yet unsurprised, that Hot Blond Chick on Fox and Friends this morning said there should definitely be an age limit on who police can 'tase'. Let's think about this for a second. Aside from the obvious physical differences between, say, children and adults and the elderly, what are cops supposed to do? Card the person to ensure they are age-appropriate for 'tasing'? For a program that supposedly courts a conservative audience, I definitely raised my eyebrows at the suggestion of making police officers' jobs yet more difficult. No wonder we have Marines and soldiers being shipped back here to the states to stand trial for doing their job.

Here's the thing: if a police officer is telling you to stop doing something, the wisest thing to do is cease doing whatever it is. All law enforcement officers are trained to a "Use of Force Continuum" which are levels of steady increasing force used to apprehend or subdue a subject. A typical one goes something like:

1. Presence (using the effect of the presence of an authority figure on a subject)
2. Verbalization (commanding a subject)
3. Empty hand control (using empty hands to search, relieve weapons, immobilize, or otherwise control a subject)
4. Intermediate weapons (using non-lethal chemical, electronic or impact weapons on a subject)
5. Deadly Force (using any force likely to cause permanent injury or death to a subject)

So by the time the officer tells you to do something, he's already working his way up. Persisting in your foolish course of action will cause the levels of force to increase.

OK, does an old woman with dementia know this? Probably not in any meaningful way, but if there comes a point where the officer has to decide whether to continue allowing this crazy lady to come at him with a hammer, allowing himself or a bystander to get seriously injured, or subdue her in a way comparable to the force he is encountering from her, the officer is going to 'tase' her. What's he going to do, whip out his baton and beat on her? He's sure as hell not going to shoot her.

But what about the children, you say? I say if the officer judges that they are a danger to themselves or others, then respond on an equal level, which is how the police (and we in the military, by the way) are trained. That includes a violent six-year-old, or 14-year-old in handcuffs if the situation warrants. Just like the military, nothing ever happens to a police officer the way it happened when they were training. Nothing ever happens by the book.

Now, based on some of the stories I've been finding on the Intarwebs that have taken place over the last three or four years, it does seem to me that the use of the TASER has become liberal amongst law enforcement officials. I don't think that it is always appropriate to 'tase' a child, but it certainly could be warranted. With use of force training, you are always instructed to use the lowest level of force necessary to control the individual and if you can get the job done safely without using a TASER, then don't use the TASER.

Law enforcement officers have seconds to decide whether and how much force to use in a given situation. A moment's hesitation can quickly lead to a situation getting out of control and result in the officer or the offender getting more seriously injured. Adding a step between lethal force and soft or hard control saves peoples lives, usually ones who aren't putting other people in danger, so why should it be more difficult for the police to use that option?

I hesitate to second-guess a cop in the line of duty, because when things happen you have act quickly - it's the same with me as tactical action officer on a ship in the Persian Gulf. If I'm lucky, I'll have 10 seconds to respond to an imminent attack. It's important to look at this stuff with a critical eye, but give these guys the benefit of the doubt.

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Sunday, November 04, 2007

Hooters and Also Health Care

I realize I've been back in the US for three weeks now and have been woefully light on blogging. Let me give you a give a quick navel-gazing update.

I spent the first two weeks back from deployment almost exclusively with my son, who is 18 months old and doesn't really understand why I've been gone for half of his life. We had a terrific time, as you can see in the picture. We spent all day every day watching the Wiggles, playing together and hanging out. Red had to work most of the time, but we were able to get some time together as well.

I left Sunday to start school at the AEGIS Readiness and Training Center in Dahlgren, Virginia. I've been getting my butt kicked as I get all learned up - the AN/SPY-1 radar is all Big Gray Boxes and 'trons, folks. It's not easy, like pumps and engines. At the end of one week, it's readily apparent that more studying is in order. Thank goodness I'm the Engineer and I'm not actually in charge of this equipment.

I was perusing Technorati a bit and I noticed that over the course of the deployment I've gotten a little linkage, which is nice.

Amy Ridenour at the National Center Blog found my comments about military health care in an article about criticism of the National Center's paper SCHIP Expansion: Socialized Medicine on the Installment Plan. Though the SCHIP bill was vetoed, I still think it's relative because the advocates of socialism will not and have never stopped trying to scam an often unaware American populace.

I hold military health care up as a shining example of why not to elect anyone who intends to nationalize the health care industry. The only things the federal government really ought to be doing is defending its citizens and maintaining/building infrastructure, in my opinion - and that infrastructure part should be limited to what it takes to defend the country, like freeways and such. Local government is more than capable of filling that hole in front of your driveway.

Anyhow, Ms. Ridenour's linkage to me was in response to a column by Philip Boffley of the New York Times where he states:
No one has the nerve to brand this country’s purest systems of “socialized medicine” — the military and veterans hospitals — for what they are. In both systems, care is not only paid for by the government but delivered in government facilities by doctors who are government employees. Even so, a parade of Washington’s political dignitaries, including President Bush, has turned to the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, Md., for checkups and treatment, without ideological complaint. Politicians who deplore government-run health care for average Americans are only too happy to use it themselves.
I believe that was exactly what I called the military health care system, but it's certainly much easier to write in sweeping generalities than to actually ask anyone in the military.

Boffley continues:
Meanwhile, the two current butts of the “s-word” are such hybrids of public and private elements that it is hard to know how to characterize them. The State Children’s Health Insurance Program, or S-chip, was denigrated by one Republican congressman this week as “a government-run socialized wolf masquerading in the sheep skin of children’s health.” It might better be thought of as a “double-payer system” in which the states and the federal government put up the money, the states take the lead in defining the program and the actual care is typically delivered through private health plans by private doctors and hospitals.
What Boffley fails to realize is that states and the federal government have to tax their citizens in order to pay for things - that's what socialism is. It takes choices away from the individual and gives them to the government which doesn't earn a damn thing which seems to result in a lack of give-a-crap about spending the money it does take. He concludes by cautioning the reader about discounting any government health care plan as socialized, when that's exactly what it is when the government runs something instead of individuals running it for profit.

Ms. Ridenour also has a follow-up article today, well worth reading, regarding Rudy Guiliani's comments comparing the British and American health care systems' records on prostate cancer.

As I said a few months ago, I haven't had too many problems with the military health care system because I don't get sick much and usually just tough it out when I do. I haven't been seriously injured or anything - just a couple persistent chronic exercise injuries. My few negative anecdotes come from corpsmen (great at triage, sometimes iffy at regular medical care) and from my wife, who hasn't been in for a check-up in far too long, because she feels like the care she gets from military doctors is inadequate. She's used them much more than me, what with gynecological and prenatal care.

We stopped taking my son to the navy hospital for his check-ups because of having to wait hours sometimes for his shots and for the doctors. As long as there is an alternative that will accept our insurance provided through the Navy, we will use that instead of Navy doctors. Boffley also talks about Medicare in his column, which is indeed socialized. A comparison could perhaps be drawn between Medicare and TRICARE, which I use; the difference is that I earn my TRICARE coverage through military service while Medicare is provided by the government to anyone at all. Though both are government programs and taxpayer funded, one provides an obvious return on investment - taxpayers caring for the military professionals they expect to keep them safe and provided from and employer to an employee, while one is provided forcibly by taxpayers through the government to people for whom they have no self-interest in providing health care.

Please also realize that the doctors and corpsmen are most often good at their jobs, it is the system that doesn't always function well. So why shouldn't I be able to chose another place to receive health care when I am dissatisfied? Well, I can't - I have to go there, unless they refer me somewhere else for some reason. Red and Jack have the option of going elsewhere. For now.

EDIT: For something really weird, see this post translated into German!
Leute Haben in Fisch Bedeckt: Sirenen und Auch Gesundheitswesen

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Saturday, November 03, 2007


I'm sitting here in the hotel room vegging out after a great run with the DCH4 and I saw a trailer finally for Beowulf. I have no idea how long they been showing trailers, but I'm a big fan of Neil Gaiman and have been waiting for this movie for a few years. I thought MirrorMask was terrific, in case anyone else saw that.

And just as I was thinking about how cool that was, yet another trailer comes on for Hogfather. Good grief, one of my other favorite authors, Terry Pratchett, finally got a Discworld novel made into a TV movie. It looks very cool, the effects seemed very good, I only hope I'm able to catch it, since I will be home for Thanksgiving. I don't think I'm alone in wishing the Discworld novels could get a good screen treatment.

Whew, anyway, coming down off the geekgasm now. Thank you, drive through.

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USS Gary (FFG 51) vs. Godzilla

I was pointed to this by a friend in my class. It never made the Army/Navy Game, but it's hilarious!

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Friday, November 02, 2007

The Coolest Guy on Earth

Will upload this later.I can't believe i forgot about Pat Sajak's birthday this year. Shame on me. Happy 51st, Mr. Sajak! Speaking of television, why is everyone so hyped about the Patriots-Colts game Sunday? Is it going to be that good?

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