America

Monday, September 30, 2013

Hornfischer at the Marine Corps University

Author James Hornfischer asks me to let you know that he will be speaking Thursday, 24 October, at 3pm, delivering the Erskine Lecture, discussing the Guadalcanal campaign, at Quantico/Marine Corps University in Little Hall. Attendance is open to the entire Quantico community including friends and guests of the author.

Book signing and conversation with WW2 veterans to follow in the WWII Gallery.

Mr. Hornfischer is, of course, the author of a number of Navy-oriented books, including The Last Stand of the Tin Can Sailors: The Extraordinary World War II Story of the U.S. Navy's Finest Hour, Ship of Ghosts: The Story of the USS Houston, FDR's Legendary Lost Cruiser, and the Epic Saga of her Survivors, and with SEAL Marcus Luttrell, Service: A Navy Seal at War. In addition to these excellent works, the book that will most likely be the topic of his appearance in Quantico is the remarkable Neptune's Inferno: The U.S. Navy at Guadalcanal.

We discussed this last work with him on Midrats Episode 84:


If you can break free to attend, email me for information on who to contact to make that happen.

Friday, September 27, 2013

On Midrats Sunday 29 Sep 13, Episode 195: "The Pacific Pivot Ground Element"

Please join us live on Midrats this Sunday, 29 Sep 13 at 5 pm Eastern U.S. for Episode 195: The Pacific Pivot Ground Element:
What is the role of ground forces as the conversation revolves around the Air Sea Battle Concept?

Is an emphasis on air and sea power sending the right message, driving balanced thinking, and sending the right messages to our friends and competitors?

Building off his article in the May 2013 Armed Forces Journal, Back To Reality, Why Land Power Trumps in the National Rebalance Towards Asia, our guest for the full hour will be Major Robert Chamberlain, USA.

He has served two tours in Iraq (2003-4 and 2007-8), studied refugees at Oxford on a Rhodes Scholarship, and is currently finishing his dissertation in Political Science at Columbia. He teaches International Relations at the West Point and, of course, the views he is about to express are his own and do not necessarily reflect those of the United States Military Academy, the Army, or the Department of Defense.
Join us live or listen from the archive later - if you can't join us live - by clicking here.

Friday Fun Film: "Our First Line of Defense"


Thursday, September 26, 2013

Will Governmental Agencies Seek to Regulate Environmentally Incorrect Nature as "Pakistan quake island off Gwadar 'emits flammable gas'?"

Environmentally insensitive plate tectonics is polluting the atmosphere as it shakes the planet, doing more damage than -say - a couple of herds of cows . . . as is unreported by BBC News in its report Pakistan quake island off Gwadar 'emits flammable gas':
RashRashid Tabrez, the director-general of the Karachi-based National Institute of Oceanography, says the energy released by the seismic movements of these fault-lines activates inflammable gases in the seabed.

"The seabed near the Makran coast has vast deposits of gas hydrates, or frozen gas having a large methane content," he explained.

"These deposits lay compressed under a sediment bed that is 300m-800m thick."

"When the plates along the fault-lines move, they create heat and the expanding gas blasts through the fissures in the earth's crust, propelling the entire sea floor to the surface." Tabrez, the director-general of the Karachi-based National Institute of Oceanography, says the energy released by the seismic movements of these fault-lines activates inflammable gases in the seabed.

Plate tectonics? In case you live in world you think is unrelated to geology. Image above is from NASA here,
Horizontal velocities, mostly due to motion of the Earth's tectonic plates, are represented on the map by lines extending from each site.

And about "gas hydrates" here:
As natural gas from shale becomes a global energy "game changer," oil and gas researchers are working to develop new technologies to produce natural gas from methane hydrate deposits. This research is important because methane hydrate deposits are believed to be a larger hydrocarbon resource than all of the world's oil, natural gas and coal resources combined. If these deposits can be efficiently and economically developed, methane hydrate could become the next energy game changer.

Enormous amounts of methane hydrate have been found beneath Arctic permafrost, beneath Antarctic ice and in sedimentary deposits along continental margins worldwide. In some parts of the world they are much closer to high-population areas than any natural gas field. These nearby deposits might allow countries that currently import natural gas to become self-sufficient. The current challenge is to inventory this resource and find safe, economical ways to develop it.
I am waiting for environmentalists to condemn "Nature" or "Geology" or declare that this is somehow "man caused."

In any event, there is some concern that if a large amount of methane gas hydrate was release all at once there will be serious consequences.

On the other hand, the earth could get hit by a really big meteor or something. If it's not one damn thing it another as far as doomsday scenarios go. Or, as the poet put it:
Fire and Ice
By Robert Frost
Some say the world will end in fire,
Some say in ice.
From what I’ve tasted of desire
I hold with those who favor fire.
But if it had to perish twice,
I think I know enough of hate
To say that for destruction ice
Is also great
And would suffice.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

America's Cup: To the Wire

Wing-sailed multi-hulls! ORACLE TEAM USA, Emirates Team New Zealand in winner-take-all race for the 34th America’s Cup:
After staging an improbable comeback from 7 points behind and with no margin for error, ORACLE TEAM USA has forced a winner-take-all race {25 September} for the 34th America’s Cup after sweeping both races {on 24 Sept}.

ORACLE TEAM USA won Race 17 by 27 seconds and Race 18 by 54 seconds and now stands even with Emirates Team New Zealand on the scoreboard with 8 points each. Only twice before in the 162-year history of the America’s Cup has there been a winner-take-all final race, in 1920 and 1983. In 1920 the defender won and in ’83 the challenger won.
NBC Sports Network 1-3pm US Pacific time (4-6pm US Eastern).

If you like fast sailing boats in SF Bay, it doesn't get any better than this.

Putin says: Greenpeace activists "lawbreakers" "not pirates"

Greenpeace photo
The Times of India reports "Greenpeace activists 'not pirates' but broke law: Putin":
Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Wednesday that 30 Greenpeace activists arrested in Russia over their open-sea protest in the Arctic were not "pirates" but they did break the law.
***
"Our law enforcement agencies, our border guards did not know who was trying to seize the platform under the guise of Greenpeace," he said.

He added that the siege of a shopping centre in Kenya heightened fears.

"And against the background of the bloody events that happened in Kenya, anything could happen after all," he said.

The Greenpeace incident happened before the Kenyan siege began, however.
Putin apparently reserves reserves the right to be concerned in an alternate time line in which the Kenya thing happened first.

In any event, this appears to be setting up  hand slaps for the "activists" should this incident go to trial.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Oil and Gas Shortages? Not so Fast . . . "World hydrocarbon supply ‘relatively boundless'"

Okay . . . here's a bit of perhaps optimistic news from the Oil and Gas Journal: World hydrocarbon supply ‘relatively boundless,’ SEG told" :
Geophysical advances have contributed to the identification of a "relatively boundless supply" of oil and gas worldwide, Barry Smitherman, chairman, Texas Railroad Commission (RRC), told the Society of Exploration Geophysicists annual meeting Sept. 23.
***
So much oil and gas have been located in unconventional formations worldwide that the so-called “Peak Oil” web site has shut down, Smitherman noted.
In fact, the web site of the Association for the Study of Peak Oil and Gas, peakoil.net seems a bit - uh- musty. On the other hand, peakoil.com seems alive and well to me. Mostly wrongheaded, but alive.

I hope that Mr. Smitherman is right about that "relatively boundless" thing. Or right enough that we have time to perfect other energy sources.

UPDATE: Interesting financial (read "investment") thoughts from The Motley Fool America's Peak Oil Plan in Two Charts, increase (or hold steady) production, incentivize reductions in consumption and work on practical alternatives.

And, no, providing bicycles for every one in Houston will not work as a practical alternative.

Eco-Pirates? "Russia to Investigate Seized Greenpeace Ship for Piracy"

Greenpeace photo
Russia to Investigate Seized Greenpeace Ship for Piracy:
Russian authorities said Friday that a seized Greenpeace icebreaker was being towed from the Arctic Pechora Sea to the port of Murmansk, where it will be investigated for “piracy” over its alleged attack on a Gazprom oil rig.

The Arctic Sunrise icebreaker “is being towed because the captain refused to steer it,” a spokeswoman for the Murmansk Region branch of the border guard service told RIA Novosti. The ship is expected to arrive in Murmansk by Monday or Tuesday, she said.
***
Two activists who had traveled to the Gazprom oil rig aboard the Arctic Sunrise were detained by border guards on Wednesday for trying to climb up the facility. A day later, border guards stormed the ship and took control of it, Greenpeace said, adding that the seizure was done at gunpoint.

The border guards believe that the attempt to scale the oil rig “bore signs of piracy,” Russia’s Investigative Committee said Friday, adding that it would be handling the check into the allegations.

Piracy is punishable with up to 15 years in prison, according to Russian legislation.
From the UN discussing the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea
The definition of the crime of piracy is contained in article 101 of UNCLOS, which reads as follows:

''Piracy consists of any of the following acts:
(a) any illegal acts of violence or detention, or any act of depredation, committed for private ends by the crew or the passengers of a private ship or a private aircraft, and directed:

(i) on the high seas, against another ship or aircraft, or against persons or property on board such ship or aircraft;
(ii) against a ship, aircraft, persons or property in a place outside the jurisdiction of any State;
(b) any act of voluntary participation in the operation of a ship or of an aircraft with knowledge of facts making it a pirate ship or aircraft;
(c) any act of inciting or of intentionally facilitating an act described in subparagraph (a) or (b).''
See my earlier post on this Greenpeace misadventure here.

Piracy? Attempted piracy?

Simple trespassing?

I am glad I am not the Greenpeace defense counsel.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

EPA Rules on Coal Burning Plants: An "ideologically driven fight to tear the capitalist heart out of western civilization"


Earth's Ice Age
No mincing of words in this Investors Business Daily Editorial, "New Rules On Power Plants Will Kill Coal Industry":
The administration finally has released its rules for curbing CO2 emissions from U.S. power plants. Far from being a plan to clean up the environment, it is in fact a road map to de-industrialization and poverty.

The tough new rules that will limit carbon dioxide output from new power plants immediately drew protests from the power industry. No surprise. But if Americans really understood what Obama is doing, they'd be up in arms, too.

Far from being an economically sensible plan to reduce U.S. pollution, this proposal will sharply raise the cost of energy to all Americans, while doing little to improve our environment.
As we face the remainder of the 21st Century, one can but hope that real science will begin to overcome the nearly absolute baloney that is driving us down the path set out by the anti-human zealots who set up these programs that are working - as designed- to bring our country to its knees while doing nothing that makes real sense.

Am I in favor of bringing back the old days of pollution? Not at all. But neither can I support the idiocy of this batch of people who seem driven to take us back to pre-industrial days while ignoring scientific research that poke large holes in their fundamental core beliefs.

Which, I suppose, as others have noted, this is not a scientific debate at all - but a form of a religious attack, which is why the supporters of this ruinous nonsense seems so unswayed by evidence that is contrary to their beliefs.

Want more?

"Gas Leaks in Fracking Disputed in Study", which the the NYTimes cumbersome way of noting that a scientific study has reported that not much methane escapes from fracking operations (see also WaPo's  "Fracking may not be as bad for the climate as we thought").

From the UK Daily Mail, "World's top climate scientists confess: Global warming is just QUARTER what we thought - and computers got the effects of greenhouse gases wrong":  Referring to the famed IPCC, the Daily Mail notes the things that the "leading" climate change crowd has not or cannot explained, if their concerns are, in fact, as "scientifically settled" as has been argued by people who refer to simple folks like me as "deniers" worthy of being declared some sort of climate "heretics" -
But they cannot explain why world average temperatures have not shown any statistically significant increase since 1997.

They admit large parts of the world were as warm as they are now for decades at a time between 950 and 1250 AD – centuries before the Industrial Revolution, and when the population and CO2 levels were both much lower.

The IPCC admits that while computer models forecast a decline in Antarctic sea ice, it has actually grown to a new record high. Again, the IPCC cannot say why.

A forecast in the 2007 report that hurricanes would become more intense has simply been dropped, without mention.

This year has been one of the quietest hurricane seasons in history and the US is currently enjoying its longest-ever period – almost eight years – without a single hurricane of Category 3 or above making landfall.
As I have said before, there is evidence that the world has warmed - we no longer have massive glaciers covering Canada and the upper U.S. and most of Europe (see map above) but those glaciers disappeared long before industrial man arose.

Is the world warming now? Hard to tell from the most recent, accurate real reports (as opposed to computer-based theories).

Before we drive ourselves back to the Dark Ages, I would suggest we take a long pause. After all, what if all these "true believers" are wrong?

Just for fun, some facts from our friends at the USGS about glaciers (emphasis added):
  • Glaciers store about 69% of the world's freshwater, and if all land ice melted the seas would rise about 70 meters (about 230 feet).
  • During the last ice age (when glaciers covered more land area than today) the sea level was about 400 feet lower than it is today. At that time, glaciers covered almost one-third of the land.
  • During the last warm spell, 125,000 years ago, the seas were about 18 feet higher than they are today. About three million years ago the seas could have been up to 165 feet higher.
So, just how many coal burning plants were around 125,000 years ago? How about 3 million years ago?

Just saying . . .

Update: The quote in the post header? Read the IBD editorial.

Sunday Sept 22, 2013 on Midrats: Episode 194: "DD214, Unpacked Boxes and the road ahead"

Please join us at 5pm (Eastern U.S.) on Sunday 22 Sep 13 for Midrats Episode 194: "DD214, Unpacked Boxes and the road ahead":
When a few years turns in to many. When all of a sudden you seem to be the oldest guy in the room. When you have but days of memories of your kids and in the blink of an eye they are a year older - eventually everyone on active duty reaches the point where it is time to pack the sea bag one more time and put it in the attic.

It is time to retire or leave active duty. Better or worse - it is time to go.

What are the paths someone follows to reach that point? What decisions and inputs lead to that point where you say, "It's someone else's turn."

What are the important things you learn in the process of leaving going out that you wish you knew earlier? What are the myths about transitioning to the civilian world - and what are the no-kidding hard truths?

How do you interact differently with the civilian world? What must someone leave behind, and what are those things that if you want them or not, they will always be with you?

To discuss this and more on the subject of "what's next" when you leave active duty will be out panel with returning guest Commander James H. Ware, USN (Ret.)., and former active duty Sergeant Marcus Penn, USMC.
Join us at 5pm on Sunday 22 Sep 13 or pick the show up later by clicking here.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Friday Fun Film: The Kingsbury Thrust Bearing - 101 Years

No, it's not the exciting Navy film I'm looking for (though I understand the Naval Academy has the 16mm film in its library) and it is a highlight film of the Kingsbury Bearing Company, but, you know, 101 years counts for something. And there are some nice Navy ships in it.

Without further ado:



Bearings make the world work much better.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Oh, great another "trans-national" maritime security threat acts up: "Greenpeace assails oil rig in Russian Arctic"

BBC News - Greenpeace assails oil rig in Russian Arctic
Greenpeace activists have launched an attempt to board a Russian oil platform and prevent it drilling in the Arctic.

The group released pictures of two activists scaling the side of the giant Prirazlomnaya platform, and of security forces boarding one of its boats.
***
The group said two of its activists were arrested and were being held on a Russian coastguard ship.

It said the coastguard vessel had fired 11 shots across the main Greenpeace ship.
I wonder if Greenpeace used solar powered electric motors or other "renewable source" fuels on its organic boats and ships to get to the site of its "action."

A Christmas Suggestion for the Navy Geeks in Your Life

Looking for that special gift that will have that certain special warship/navy geek in your life sitting on the floor oohing and cooing like little kids used to do with the Sears Christmas toy catalog? Or, are you that person who needs to drop a hint that, while gifts of new ties, sweaters, new tires and the like are nice and all, what you would really like is . . . THE NAVAL INSTITUTE GUIDE TO COMBAT FLEETS OF THE WORLD, 16th Edition Their Ships, Aircraft, and Systems by Eric Wertheim:
Called “the nation’s premier naval reference book,” Combat Fleets of the World is internationally acknowledged as the best one-volume reference to the world’s naval and paranaval forces. Updated regularly since 1976, it has come to be relied on for all-inclusive, accurate, and up-to-date data on the ships, navies, coast guards, and naval aviation arms of more than 170 countries and territories. Large fleets and small maritime forces get equally thorough treatment. Comprehensive indexes make the book easy to use and allow for quick comparisons between ships and fleets.
So, just what kind of naval force does Thailand have? What about Brunei? Brazil? Switzerland?

Yes, it's all there. And if you think that I am joking about the hours of fun your friendly neighborhood wannabe naval expert can have with this book, I invite you to check with my wife. I think that she's around here someplace, but I haven't seen her since my copy of this book arrived in the mail . . . well, perhaps after I read about Montenegro's fleet, I'll try and find her.

The Argument: "Why America Invaded Iraq"

You never seem to get it from the mainstream news and "entertainment" sources, but there was a rationale behind our ."humanitarian intervention" in Iraq, set out nicely from this piece from Prager University in about 5 minutes:



Me, well, I'd just say that Saddam never complied with the terms of surrender following Desert Storm and that was reason enough. Peace treaties don't mean a thing unless you enforce them.

As for the U.S. support of Saddam against Iran - well, which side would you have supported? Life is full of tough choices.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Well, even a blind hog . . .: "U.S. and Russia Reach Deal to Destroy Syria’s Chemical Arms"

NYTimes reports "U.S. and Russia Reach Deal to Destroy Syria’s Chemical Arms."


Aside from the fact that what is to be destroyed (sometime in the next year) can easily be replaced, I suppose we should all be content that no American troops, missiles and angst will be wasted in saving our "red line capacity."

As golfers are wont to say, "Sometimes even a blind hog finds an acorn."*

Of course, sometimes there are landmines:
“This situation has no precedent,” said Amy E. Smithson, an expert on chemical weapons at the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies. “They are cramming what would probably be five or six years’ worth of work into a period of several months, and they are undertaking this in an extremely difficult security environment due to the ongoing civil war.”
Not to be cynical (or more cynical) but is the destruction "red line" before or after the next U.S. mid-term elections?


*If you are unfamiliar with this expression, see here. Geez, Friedrich Schiller? Huh.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Friday, September 13, 2013

Friday Fun Film" "Service and Citizenship"

Another film from Coronet:



Hmmm. Service. Responsibility. "... [A]ll part of earning the rights we enjoy."

So ... quaint.

Or is it?

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Thursday's Navy Training Film: "Coordinated Anti-Submarine Warfare"

From the thrilling days of yesteryear, equipment no longer in service with our Navy goes looking for submarines. ASW is hard work.

Coordinated ASW is something our current Navy ought to be practicing.

From 1976:



Oh, yes, some the references may be as out of date as the equipment. Like referring to "Soviet" submarines.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

12 Years On

Do you remember?

I was returning home from driving a kid to school.

Listening to Don Imus. "A plane has crashed into the World Trade Center."

Arrived home in time to watch on TV as the second plane hit.

Anger. Outrage. Sadness.

12 years later, I met a TSA guy at an elevator. "12 years," I said. He expressed the hope that 2013 would not be remembered along with 2001.

12 years before, the idea of a "TSA" would seemed unlikely. Unnecessary. Now? TSA and all those other agencies have been just good and lucky enough, I suppose, for transit systems. But there are those other on-going plots that leak through. Fort Hood. Boston Marathon.

Our wars in the Middle East? It goes on - the opening rounds fired when, exactly?

Long before 2001. Long before Desert Shield/Desert Storm. Before the "tanker wars." 60 years ago? 70? 100? When we stuck our nose into the Iran election back in the 1953?

The shift to a "holy war?" It, too, began before 9/11/01.

But . . . such things simmer always below the surface.

9-11-01 will do as a start point for the new era of al Qaeda and its ilk. None of us should ever again be as naive as we were on 9-10-01.

For those who have undertaken the long road of war and defense - now many of whom were 6 or 7 or 8 when the change began, "Thanks."

For those who died on 9-11-01 and in the battles since - we will not forget.

Ever.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Back from Vacation

Down from the mountains.

Regular posting to follow as soon as I re-learn how to use a computer.

The eagles, hawks, crows, foxes, deer, trout, cows and groundhogs send their best wishes.



The neighbors were mostly friendly.



Saturday, September 07, 2013

Midrats Episode 192: "No, I Won't Shut-up and Cover" - Sunday, 8 Sep 13 (5pm Eastern U.S.)

Join us at 5pm Eastern on Sunday 8 Sep 13 for Midrats Episode 192: "No, I Won't Shut-up and Cover":
Is there such a thing as Military Intellectual Entrepreneurialism?

Large, sated, and complacent organization do not have a good track record of survival. Organizations of any size that nurture the mentality of small, hungry, and driven by creative destruction and friction based on competing ideas - that is the path to success. Always has been, always will be.

How do we get that attitude to permeate the military? How do we harness the power of an entrepreneurial mindset to build a better national security and defense structure?

As we just start to enter another period of resource limitation in the face of an ever changing international security landscape - do we take advantage of the need for change, or do we buckle under our own moss-covered and hide-bound habits?

To discuss this concept for the full hour, as well as the upcoming Defense Entrepreneurs Forum 12-14 OCT will be our panel:

- LT Ben Kohlmann, USN – Founder of Disruptive Thinkers, F/A-18 pilot and member of the CNO’s Rapid Innovation Cell, Co-Founder Defense Entrepreneurs Forum.

- Capt Anthony Hatala, USMC – AV-8B Harrier Pilot, C-130 Harvest HAWK Operator, Founder Military Traveler, Co-Founder Defense Entrepreneurs Forum.

- MAJ Nathan Finney, USA – Armor Officer, US Army Harvard Strategy Fellow, Co-Founder and Executive Director of the Foundation for Strategy Development

- Capt Jeff Gilmore, USAF – C-17 Pilot, AMC eFlight Bag Program, co-founder MilitaryLounge
Join us live at 5pm Eastern U.S. or listen later by clicking here.

Friday, September 06, 2013

Chokepoint Attack: Small Rocket Attack on Merchant Ship in Suez Canal

UNSI News has the video and more at "Video: Terrorists Launch Rocket Attack at Commercial Ship in Suez Canal". Here's the YouTube video:

All this does is raise the cost of going through the Suez Canal. Will outriders be needed to clear the shoreline of "heroes" like these?

Most merchant hulls contain a great deal of empty space, which means that an attack like this is really just an annoyance. If these "warriors" had hit a container full of Air Jordans, well, then they would have crossed some sort of "red line."

More seriously, this sort of thuggery needs to be quashed.

In a hurry.