Going Vertical

Going Vertical

Friday, March 27, 2020

Friday Film: Lessons for CV19 - "Joan Avoids a Cold" (1947)

Yes, it may be hard for some young people to think about this, but there were infectious diseases back in the dark ages - uh - 1940's. Even later than that, when our school teachers were out sick, the AV gang would roll in a projector and pull down a screen and we'd get to watch movies designed to make us better human beings. Some were pretty good extended commercials for GE or GM or DuPont, others were from Coronet films, which were created in consultation with educators and so were usually hokey as all get out (a little slang from the past). Here's one on keeping yourself healthy when all those around you are dropping like flies.

Thursday, March 26, 2020

For the Quarantined "Three Reactions to Shelter Life" (1964)

Yes, it was for "that time" when the Cold War went hot and people entered their shelters to live. However, it it an interesting look at what confinement at close quarters might do to some people:

Sunday, March 22, 2020

On Midrats 22 March 2020 - Episode 533: Obedience, with Dr. Pauline Shanks Kaurin

Please join us at 5pm EDT on 22 March 2020 for Midrats Episode 533: Obedience, with Dr. Pauline Shanks Kaurin:
What is the nature of obedience for those in the the profession of arms and the civilian political community?

With a review of classical studies, philosophy, history, international relations, literature and military studies, can you get a firm grounding on what it is, what it means, and how it should shape decisions and behavior?

Returning to Midrats to talk about this and more based around her new book, On Obedience: Contrasting Philosophies for the Military, Citizenry, and Community, will be Dr. Pauline Shanks Kaurin.

Pauline holds a PhD in Philosophy from Temple University, and is a specialist in military ethics, just war theory, philosophy of law and applied ethics. She is is a professor in the College of Leadership and Ethics at the US Naval War College. Prior to her arrival in Newport, she was Associate Professor and Chair of Philosophy at Pacific Lutheran University in Tacoma, WA and teaches courses in military ethics, warfare, business ethics, social and political.

If you can't catch the show live and you use Apple Podcasts, you can pick up the episode and others and add Midrats to your podcast list simply by clicking the button at the main show page - or you can just click here. Or on Spreaker. The show also is reportedly on Spotify.

Saturday, March 21, 2020

Saturday Is Old Radio Day: Horatio Hornblower - "Quarantined for the Plague" (1953)

Michael Redgrave as Horatio Hornblower on the radio

Gregory Peck as Hornblower in the movies

Friday Film (on Saturday) - Before the CCP Covid 19 Mess, the Fight Against Polio Virus


Made by the National Foundation of Infantile Paralysis, this film shows the war against Poliomyetis, and the introduction of the vaccine developed by Dr. Jonas Salk. At this point the vaccine had not yet proven its effectiveness, and tests were ongoing. At the 1:39 mark, Immunoglobulin injections are shown, a stop-gap measure in fighting the disease. At 1:59, iron lungs are seen being used to treat respiratory patients, and later both rocking bed and chest ventilators are shown. At the 7 minute mark various rehabilitation of survivors of infant paralysis are shown, including use of braces and wheelchairs.

Poliomyelitis, often called polio or infantile paralysis, is an infectious disease caused by the poliovirus. In about 0.5% of cases there is muscle weakness resulting in an inability to move. This can occur over a few hours to few days. The weakness most often involves the legs but may less commonly involve the muscles of the head, neck and diaphragm. Many but not all people fully recover. In those with muscle weakness about 2% to 5% of children and 15% to 30% of adults die. Another 25% of people have minor symptoms such as fever and a sore throat and up to 5% have headache, neck stiffness and pains in the arms and legs. These people are usually back to normal within one or two weeks. In up to 70% of infections there are no symptoms. Years after recovery post-polio syndrome may occur, with a slow development of muscle weakness similar to what the person had during the initial infection.

Poliovirus is usually spread from person to person through infected feces entering the mouth. It may also be spread by food or water containing human feces and less commonly from infected saliva. Those who are infected may spread the disease for up to six weeks even if no symptoms are present. The disease may be diagnosed by finding the virus in the feces or detecting antibodies against it in the blood.

The disease is preventable with the polio vaccine; however, a number of doses are required for it to be effective. The United States Center for Disease Control recommends polio vaccination boosters for travelers and those who live in countries where the disease is occurring. Once infected there is no specific treatment. In 2013 polio affected 416 people down from 350,000 cases in 1988. In 2014 the disease was only spreading between people in Afghanistan, Nigeria, and Pakistan. In 2015 Nigeria had stopped the spread of wild poliovirus.

Poliomyelitis has existed for thousands of years, with depictions of the disease in ancient art. The disease was first recognized as a distinct condition by Michael Underwood in 1789 and the virus that causes it was first identified in 1908 by Karl Landsteiner. Major outbreaks started to occur in the late 19th century in Europe and the United States. In the 20th century it became one of the most worrying childhood diseases in these areas. The first polio vaccine was developed in the 1950s by Jonas Salk. It is hoped that vaccination efforts and early detection of cases will result in global eradication of the disease by 2018. In 2013; however, there were reports of new cases in Syria and in May 2014, the World Health Organization declared a public health emergency of international concern due to outbreaks of the disease in Asia, Africa and the Middle East. The disease does not naturally occur in any other animals

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

COVID19 and Hiker Safety on the Appalachian Trail

If you are one of those people, which includes me, who were planning to hike all or part of the Appalachian Trail this year, please heed the advice of the CEO of the ATC and stay off the trail - not only for your safety, but for the safety of all the people you might hike with, ride with, or visit with in the communities along the way.

I know for many of you it will be a tough decision, perhaps this was the year you've been planning on for some time, but the trail will be there in the future waiting for you.

Trust me, the AT is hard enough with the support from the communities along the way. Without such support . . .

 It's not mandatory to stay off or come off the trail, but it's a damn fine idea.

Here then, in its entirety, is a letter to the hikers of the AT from the CEO of the AT Conservancy.

Updated COVID-19 Guidance for A.T. Multi-day and Thru-Hikers

Dear Appalachian Trail Long-Distance Hikers,

In a few days, weeks or months, you are planning to embark on a journey on the Appalachian Trail (A.T.) — a journey many have described as “once in a lifetime” and “life-changing.” Some of you may have already begun your journeys. You’ve likely scrimped and saved to make this journey possible. You’ve combed over data, maps, and countless pages of information to prepare yourself. However, there is a highly contagious virus spreading throughout the country, including in Appalachian Trail states, and we have all been asked to make changes, make sacrifices, and/or take precautions to minimize its spread.

We at the Appalachian Trail Conservancy (ATC) are now asking you to do the same: please postpone your section or thru-hike. Instead, consider alternate ways of connecting to the Trail and to the outdoors.

We do not make this request lightly. We manage and protect the A.T. because it is meant to be hiked. However, the practices necessary to support a section or thru-hike may make A.T. hikers vectors to spread COVID-19 — whether congregating at shelters or around picnic tables, traveling to trailheads in shuttle vans, or lodging at the various hostels up and down the Trail.

Should you decide to embark on your Trail journey despite the risk of exposing yourself or others to COVID-19, we ask you to consider the following:

Your starting point: Do not start your section or thru-hike at the southern end of the Trail. Amicalola Falls State Park and Springer Mountain are the most common starting points, making them difficult places to establish distance between people. Large numbers start at these locations every day in March and April, and shelters and campsites at the southern end of the Trail stay crowded for weeks.
Your finances: All hikers who show symptoms of COVID-19 should self-quarantine off Trail and stay off Trail until approved for return by a qualified medical professional. Hikers with symptoms of COVID-19 should minimize the potential spread of the virus by refraining from using public transportation — including shuttles, buses, rental cars, or planes — to travel home. Hikers should also have resources for medical and lodging expenses incurred during quarantine. Lastly, consider expenses associated with traveling home should a loved one contract the virus and require your care.
Reduced support options: Many businesses and service providers along the Trail are closing temporarily. Local search and rescue may be dealing with local cases. Shuttle providers and Trail angels may be staying home, unwilling to put themselves or their families at risk. Fewer people will likely be willing to pick up hitchhikers. Hostels, outfitters, and libraries may be closed. Places that hold hiker packages may also close. Grocery stores and other locations where you were planning to resupply may have reduced inventory or may be sold out of vital items. And, to keep ATC staff safe and to avoid spreading the virus, ridge runners and caretakers normally found on Trail will no longer be available. Until further notice, all ATC Visitor Centers will be closed.
Consider shelter: Plan to avoid shelters and other points of congregation for overnight accommodation. Self-supported camping on durable surfaces 200 feet from water sources with ample distance between tents is recommended. Hikers should also avoid using privies; instead, dig a cat hole more than 200 feet from water sources and camping areas.
Vulnerable A.T. communities/limited healthcare options: Many communities along the Trail are likely low on resources and may have over-burdened healthcare systems. Carrying COVID-19 from the Trail into these communities (or vice versa) puts their healthcare systems, their healthcare workers, and the very communities that serve the Trail at risk. Some communities do not have healthcare options at all.
Spreading the virus: The Appalachian Trail is not an easy place to isolate yourself. Staying in hostels, shopping at local grocery stores, eating in local restaurants, drinking beer in local bars — or the temptation to huddle with others in a shelter on a cold, rainy night when your gear is wet — are all chances to contract or spread COVID-19.
We know this is not an easy or small decision to make, but the impacts of potentially spreading COVID-19 during your journey are big.

Again, we urge anyone planning to section or thru-hike the Trail this year to postpone their hikes. If you do decide to hit the Trail, exercise caution and minimize risk to yourself, other Trail users, and to the Trail’s communities. If you have already begun your journey, we urge you to return home until these risks have passed.

Thank you,

Sandra “Sandi” Marra
President & CEO
Appalachian Trail Conservancy

Saturday, March 14, 2020

On Midrats 15 March 2020 - Episode 532: Unmanned and Unafraid - the Present & Future at Sea

Please join us at 5pm EDT on 15 March 2020 for Midrats Episode 532: Unmanned and Unafraid - the Present & Future at Sea:
Where will unmanned technology take us in the maritime security arena?

We already have more than a toe in the water, and with each year unmanned systems at sea are taking a larger role.

Our guests Sunday, March 15th from 5-6pm Eastern to discuss these and related topics will be Dr. William Burnett and Dr. Todd Holland.

We will use their recent article, Unmanned and Unafraid: The Transformation of Naval Oceanography, as our starting off point.

Dr. William Burnett is the Technical Director to the Commander, Naval Meteorology and Oceanography Command/ Task Group 80.7. In this role, he provides technical responsibility and oversight for a fleet of six survey ships, 2,000 civilian and military personnel and a budget over $300 Million.

Dr. Todd Holland is Chief Scientist for Littoral Oceanography Sensing at Naval Surface Warfare Center Panama City Division. He is presently detailed to Commander, Naval Meteorology and Oceanography Command to support the alignment of strategic priorities & collaborative initiatives between the two commands. He serves as senior technical representative on multiple efforts involving Unmanned Systems throughout the Naval Research & Development Establishment.

If you can't catch the show live and you use Apple Podcasts, you can pick up the episode and others and add Midrats to your podcast list simply by clicking the button at the main show page - or you can just click here. Or on Spreaker. The show also is reportedly on Spotify.

U.S. Navy photo

Friday, March 13, 2020

Surprise! Old people die more often than younger ones - flu, cancer, car crashes, hear disease, and corona virus

Several times in the past I have put up information about what causes death in the United States (see here and here).

First, here's the latest info from the CDC about the COVID 19:

Second, from here, odds, by age, of corona virus death:

Want more interesting age - related info? What about a correlation between age and death in car crashes? From here:

This Research Brief provides updated statistics on rates of crashes, injuries and death per mile driven in relation to driver age based on the most recent data available, from 2014-2015. Drivers ages 16-17 continue to have the highest rates of crash involvement, injuries to themselves and others and deaths of others in crashes in which they are involved. Drivers age 80 and older have the highest rates of driver deaths. Drivers ages 60-69 were the safest drivers by most measures examined.
What about cancer? From here:

Heart Disease? From here:
About 82 percent of people who die of coronary heart disease are 65 or older. At older ages, women who have heart attacks are more likely than men to die from them within a few weeks.

Flu? From here:
It has been recognized for many years that people 65 years and older are at high risk of developing serious complications from flu compared with young, healthy adults. This is in part because human immune defenses become weaker with increasing age. While flu seasons can vary in severity, during most seasons, people 65 years and older bear the greatest burden of severe flu disease. In recent years, for example, it’s estimated that between about 70 percent and 85 percent of seasonal flu-related deaths have occurred in people 65 years and older, and between 50 percent and 70 percent of seasonal flu-related hospitalizations have occurred among people in this age group. So, influenza is often quite serious for people 65 and older.
Hmmm. Had your flu shot? By the way, 70% of 55,000 = 38,500.

Number of deaths of persons age 65 and over: 2,067,404
Deaths per 100,000 population:
65-74: 1,790.9
75-84: 4,472.6
85 and over: 13,573.6
Source: Deaths: Final Data for 2017, tables 6, 7 (pdf)]

So, what's the point? It's tough being old, especially if you have done things in life that screw up your respiratory system, or are otherwise in an "at risk" population (diabetic, obese, etc).

Right now I would be more concerned about getting the flu or driving a car.

Ultimately, of course, getting old eventually is 100% fatal.

Friday Film: "Our Mr. Sun" (1956)

Just a reminder that our planet ultimately is nuclear powered.

Which, for all those "green" people out there, ought to be where we should be headed for producing electricity for powering things like your Teslas/

Thursday, March 12, 2020

Putin Being Putin Seeks Term Limit Change that Could Keep Him in Power to 2036

NPR report Russian Presidential Term Limits Could Be Reset Under New Proposal
Russia's lower house of parliament on Wednesday approved a constitutional amendment to allow President Vladimir Putin — already the country's longest-serving leader since Josef Stalin — to extend his rule until 2036.
The Duma: A Room Full of Rubber Stamps

Lawmakers in the State Duma voted 383 to 0 in favor of the amendment, with 43 abstentions. Putin said on Tuesday that Russia's Constitutional Court would have to rule on whether the move would contradict Russian law. Putin's critics have said approval by the court is all-but certain.
Apparently, the Russian form of strong man government must be couched in democratic terms.

We had a discussion about Putin and who might replace him om Midrats with Dmitry Gorenburg a couple of weeks ago:

Listen to "Episode 529: Russia's 2020, with Dr. Dmitry Gorenburg" on Spreaker.

Tuesday, March 10, 2020

Migrants Attempting Rubber Boat Crossings of English Channel

An on-going saga as reported by Noonsite and the U.K. Daily Mail
A record 102 migrants have attempted to cross the English Channel today, just one day after 90 asylum seekers including 15 children reached British shores.

Five inflatable boats carrying individuals claiming to be from Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Syria were picked up by Border Force, the Home Office said.

Nine migrants managed to get to a beach in Kent where they were detained by police before being transferred to Home Office officials.
Photo from May 2019

The 102 migrants - who included seven children - are believed to be a new record for a single day. The crossings come after 90 people were picked up on Thursday and as Britain braces for winds of up to 80mph and heavy rain when Storm Ciara hits.
As Noonsite notes,
"Men, women and children risk everything to cross this narrow gap of water, probably one of the busiest shipping lanes in the world and at this time of year, near-freezing conditions."
So what kind of hell-holes are they willing to risk so much to get away from? I guess the country names says it all.

More info on historical patterns of the attempted Channel crossings House of Commons Library:

Piracy Report to 10 April 2020

From the ICC IMB Live Piracy Map, piracy so far in 2020:


 Gulf of Guinea:

Southeast Asia:

Recent attacks ICC IMB Live Piracy Report):
Number: Narrations:
032-20 07.03.2020: 0150 UTC: Posn: 05:16.0N – 004:02.2W, Abidjan Anchorage, Ivory Coast.
A robber in a canoe approached and boarded an anchored offshore tug. The alert crew noticed the presence of the robber and raised the alarm. All crew mustered and a security search was carried out throughout the vessel. Port Control informed and a security boat was sent to the location. It was reported that a mobile phone was stolen from the vessel.
031-20 05.03.2020: 1246 UTC: Posn: 05:36.13N – 002:20.38E, Around 45NM SSW of Cotonou, Benin.
Six armed persons boarded a product tanker underway. Distress signal activated and regional authorities notified. All non-essential crew mustered in citadel. The Benin Navy responded, boarded the tanker and rescued the crew. One crew reported missing.

Saturday, March 07, 2020

Saturday Is Old Radio Day: Fibber McGee and Molly Welcome Mayor (and CPO) LaTrivia Home from WWII

It's 1945 and the war is over, the Soldiers, Sailors, Marines, Coast Guardsmen, and Airmen are on their way home. The issue, then as now, dealt with how to welcome them home. Naturally, if McGee is involved, it's mostly the wrong way.

Friday, March 06, 2020

U.S. Navy Counting Ships and a Brief Discussion of Ship Types

When discussing how large the U.S. Navy should be, the place to start is how big the fleet is now and, importantly, what that ships make up that fleet. It would be easy to assume that a fleet of 250 ships consisted entirely of those classes of ships capable of offensive and defensive combat operations. A quick glance at the numbers and classes below ought to dispel that idea.

Let's dissect the list. At the bottom of the list are USS Constitution and AGER2. AGER2 is the USS Pueblo, which, while commissioned, is held by the North Koreans, as it has been since it was seized by them in 1968. Constitution is the oldest commissioned ship, one of the great three masted frigates, first commissioned in 1797. As the charts indicate, she in the only active frigate currently in the Navy inventory.

There are 11 MCM (Mine Countermeasure ships) and 32 amphibious ships on the list, 5 "Fleet Support" ships (2 submarine tenders, 2 Command ships and one ESB (Expeditionary Sea Base). All valuable ships but all are not capable of going unescorted into areas of threats. The Navy would like to rid itself of the MCMs.

In addition, there are currently 19 LCS class ships. 4 of these, having proved - um- useful as technology test beds, are soon to be decommissioned. More are being built, which will eventually push their number to 30. However, these ships have minimal manning and are awaiting the final versions of the various modules which were supposed to make them capable of filling several mission areas, mine hunting, inshore ASW, and countering fast moving small craft. They are not designed to go toe-to-toe with destroyers and cruisers, nor do they have the anti-air warfare systems possessed by other combatants, though improvements have been made, including the addition of the 100 mile ranged Naval Strike Missile. Though equipped with weapons, in reality, their main weapon system is their aircraft, H-60 helicopters or Fire Scout drones. Up-armed LCSs may prove useful in some missions.

Fleet ballistic missile submarines (14) and Patrol Craft (13) have special roles. The SSBNs are strategic assets which play a role in nuclear deterrence. The PCs are valuable littoral assets, suitable for operations in the near shore areas a - surprise - patrol ships. The DDG-1000 series is another set of tech experiments, which have created ships looking for a mission.

The real meat of the combat power of the Navy, however, lies in the aircraft aboard its carriers (to include Marine F-35s embarked on certain amphibs - though they are mostly for close air support of landing forces, they can perform some combat air patrol missions), and in its cruisers, destroyers, and attack submarines.

Of these forces, the Navy has 22 cruisers and 67 destroyers. More destroyers are being built, but the cruiser force is aging with the newest one commissioned in 1994 - 26 years ago. Ship lives can be extended, but ... the Navy keeps trying to decommission some of them, as set out in this 2019 piece, here:
The U.S. Navy is considering canceling six planned service-life extensions on its oldest cruisers, meaning the service will be short six of its current 22 largest surface combatants by 2022, according to defense officials who spoke to Defense News on background.

The plan, as it will be proposed to Congress, is to decommission the cruisers Bunker Hill, Mobile Bay, Antietam, Leyte Gulf, San Jacinto and Lake Champlain in 2021 and 2022, foregoing plans for service-life extensions that have previously seen support in Congress.

All the ships will be at or near the end of their 35-year service lives when they are decommissioned, but the Navy has yet to decide on a replacement for the cruisers, which are the largest combatants in the fleet with 122 vertical launch systems cells. This comes at a time when the Navy needs as many missiles downrange as it can field as it squares off with the threat of Chinese and Russian anti-ship missiles.

Cruisers have 26 more vertical launch system, or VLS, cells per hull than their Arleigh Burke Flight IIA destroyer counterparts, and 32 more than the Flight I Burkes.

But the cruisers, which act as the lead air defense ship in a carrier strike group, have been notoriously difficult to maintain. The fleet has managed everything from cracking hulls to aging pipes and mechanical systems. The ships’ SPY-1 radars have also been difficult to maintain, as components age and need constant attention from technicians.

According to the Navy's 2020 30-year shipbuilding plan, the cruisers will not be replaced with new cruisers (except as "large surface combatants"), right now meaning more Burke class destroyers (Flight III) (which might be cruisers in all but name) and a new class of frigates (FFX). The goal is 104 +/- "major surface combatants and 50 some odd "minor surface combatants" (which includes frigates) It also includes 50 +/- attack submarines, and and a force of "cruise missile submarines" or "SSGN/Large Payload" submarines.  There also remain the likelihood that the future force will include numbers of unmanned vessels of various types. These ships are cheaper to build and operate since they don't need crew spaces or food storage spaces and crews cost a great deal of money.
Here's the March 2019 plan:

All of which assumes that the Navy gets the funding for a 355- ship force as mandated by law.

Okay, that's the background from which informed conversations about the needs and size of the Navy can be had. Many of us assert that 355 still is too small and that more surface combatants are needed to fulfill some of the missions that the Navy is tasked with, such as ocean escort duties in the face of a submarines threat to sea lines of communication to protect sustainment and follow-on forces. While some of those duties may be taken up by allied naval forces, with the major exceptions of Japan, South Korea, and Singapore, many allies have not grown their naval forces since they decided to cash in on the "peace dividend" that followed the end of the Cold War. More on that topic in another post.

Current listing U.S. Navy ships-
Source - NavSea Naval Vessel Registry

Friday Film: "The Communist Threat" (1962)

A little over 30 years ago, the Berlin Wall came down after dividing East Berlin and West Berlin since 1961.

A little background from the Acton Institute 5 facts about the Berlin Wall.

Saturday, February 22, 2020

On Midrats 22 February 2020 - Episode 529: Russia's 2020, with Dr. Dmitry Gorenburg

Please join us at 5pm EST on 22 February 2020 for Midrats Episode 529: Russia's 2020, with Dr. Dmitry Gorenburg:
As Russia's navy starts to transition away from the last of her legacy ships, to her approaching endgame in Syria, join us for the full hour to investigate the latest developments with Russia's national security posture, including the domestic power politics and relationships with its near abroad that influences the same.

Our guest returning again to Midrats will be Dr. Dmitry Gorenburg.

Dmitry Gorenburg is an expert on security issues in the former Soviet Union, Russian military reform, Russian foreign policy, and ethnic politics and identity. His recent research topics include decision-making processes in the senior Russian leadership, Russian naval strategy in the Pacific and the Black Sea, and Russian maritime defense doctrine.

Gorenburg is author of "Nationalism for the Masses: Minority Ethnic Mobilization in the Russian Federation" (Cambridge University Press, 2003), and has been published in journals such as World Politics and Post-Soviet Affairs. In addition to his role at CNA, he currently serves as editor of Problems of Post-Communism and is an Associate of the Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies at Harvard University. From 2009 to 2016, he edited the journal Russian Politics and Law.

Gorenburg previously served as Executive Director of the Association for Slavic, East European, and Eurasian Studies (ASEEES). He received a B.A. in international relations from Princeton University and a Ph.D. in political science from Harvard University. He blogs on issues related to the Russian military at Russian Military Reform. He is a native Russian speaker.

If you can't catch the show live and you use Apple Podcasts, you can pick up the episode and others and add Midrats to your podcast list simply by clicking the button at the main show page - or you can just click here. Or on Spreaker. The show also is reportedly on Spotify.

Friday, February 21, 2020

Election Reminder TANSTAAFL

A reposting from a couple of years ago here in which a reminder of "There ain't no such thing as as a free lunch" (TANSTAAFL) as a warning of the efforts of "democratic socialists" to claim power over your lives. What are you willing to pay of sacrifice for "free stuff."
Just how far out are some members of the "Democratic Socialists of America?"

Some clues in the National Public Radio piece What You Need To Know About The Democratic Socialists Of America
Here's how one socialist sums up his beliefs:

"I think we just need to realize that the end goal is, ultimately, like social control of the means of production," said Joe Cernelli, a founding member of that West Virginia DSA chapter. "You know we don't just want to improve capitalism, we will ultimately want to get rid of it."

That's not just his idea; the DSA views capitalism as an oppressive system — "We see it as fundamentally undemocratic," as DSA National Director Maria Svart put it. Here's how she sums up what the group wants:

"When it comes right down to it, we believe people need to be able to live a dignified life. I mean, there are certain things that should not be left up to the market," she said.

Removing some parts of the economy from the forces of the free market, for example. In other words, socialism.

In the DSA's ideal economy, some sectors — like health care and utilities — would be government-controlled. Other businesses would be worker-owned, as Svart explains it.

"Let's say you were negotiating at a bargaining table with workers in a bakery, and the workers said, 'Look, we want more than a quarter of the bread; we want half of the bread, or we want two-thirds of the bread,' " she said. "The socialist would say, 'Actually, we want the bakery. We want to control it all, for all of our benefit.' "
Oh. Management by committee? Or by the whole? Are some workers going to be more equal than others in order to direct the effort of the bakery? Will there be meetings to discuss what products will be produced - a ban on unhealthy things like cakes and doughnuts and an increase in non-GMO, gluten free products? What happens if the consumers reject the bakery products? Can the workers dump "free-riders" - non-productive "owners?" Or will they demand other bakeries conform to their product list?

I've got to hand to these people - they truly believe that humans can be perfected by this approach and "if only" "real socialism" were applied then everything would be wonderful. That "true belief" relies on a total lack of historical knowledge and a whole lot of magical thinking.

Then there's the need to get rid of that messy U. S. Constitution thing:
It's easy to focus on the "socialist" part here, but the word "democratic" is also a part of the group's name, and members often stress that part of their ideology. They say putting workers in charge of businesses, for example, necessarily makes those businesses more democratic.

But beyond that, the group advocates for some pretty revolutionary changes to democracy, like abolishing the Senate. The DSA calls it "extremely unrepresentative" for the way it gives both tiny and huge states alike two senators each — the group would like to replace it with a more representative body.
And, of course, money is never a problem for these folks - they'll just raise taxes on the "wealthy" and on "corporations" to pay for their pipe dreams. Of course, those "corporations" have employees who are free to purchase stock in their companies or other companies, thus becoming "worker-owners" - who will be hurt by the confiscation of the income generated by their work and the work of their fellow workers.

Well, as many of us know, this sort of thinking has not worked well in other places.

What Exactly is a Socialist Economy?:
In a capitalist economy, the market determines prices through the laws of supply and demand. For example, when demand for coffee increases, a profit-seeking business will boost prices to increase its profit. If at the same time, society’s appetite for tea diminishes, growers will face lower prices, and aggregate production will decline. In the long run, some suppliers may even exit the business. Because consumers and suppliers negotiate a new “market-clearing price” for these goods, the quantity produced more or less matches the public’s needs.

Under a true socialist system, it’s the government’s role to determine output and pricing levels. The challenge is synchronizing these decisions with the needs of consumers. Socialist economists such as Oskar Lange have argued that, by responding to inventory levels, central planners can avoid major production inefficiencies. So when stores experience a surplus of tea, it signals the need to cut prices, and vice versa.

One of the critiques of socialism is that, even if government officials can adjust prices, the lack of competition between different producers reduces the incentive to do so. Opponents also suggest that public control of production necessarily creates an unwieldy, inefficient bureaucracy. The same central planning committee could, in theory, be in charge of pricing thousands of products, making it extremely difficult to react to market cues promptly.

Furthermore, the concentration of power within government can create an environment where political motivations override the basic needs of the people. Indeed, at the same time the Soviet Union was diverting vast resources to build up its military capability, its residents often had trouble attaining a variety of goods, including food, soap, and even television sets.
Political motivations? When the government controls work, housing, and medical care it can control behavior by selectively denying access to such things to disfavored groups as happened in the former Yugoslavia, as set out in David Rieff's Slaughterhouse: Bosnia and the Failure of the West (p87)
. . . But most people still expected to work in the same place for life, and had grown accustomed to looking to the workplace for all kinds of accompanying benefits. Being fired meant losing a great deal more than a paycheck . . . what were indispensable were the health insurance and other state benefits that were immediately revoked when a person was fired.

People were even made insecure in their lodgings . . . In Serbia proper, people's fear of being fired . . . and losing a flat owned by that enterprise was one of the ways the Milosevic regime compelled consent. Better support the regime than be out in the street homeless. In Banja Luka, this legacy of the Titoist period provided the Serb authorities with the next move in the process of ethnically cleansing the urban non-Serbian population. The firing itself was only the beginning. For once when someone's dismissal had been made known officially, the next step was for a letter to be sent demanding that the person vacate the apartment in which he or she had been living.

Thus, to be deprived of a job was almost to stop being citizen, to be forcibly be moved from the status of non-Serb to the status of non-person in only a couple of official decrees.
Far-fetched in the U.S.? Noticed any people losing their jobs because of current or even lost past transgressions of the whatever today's standard of politically correct behavior is?

In case you haven't gotten the message, the DSA is all about power. The power to take control of your life and the lives of all Americans and subvert them to the will of a small group of people who have the firm belief that they know what is best for all of us - despite what we may believe.
If you've paid attention to the Democrat Party debates, the whole premise is about the right of the state to control your lives, from cradle to grave.

Some of those who think "free college" is a great idea haven't the smarts to think ahead to the point that the state eventually will decide what must be studied. Think that's an exaggeration? You can go to any local school district today and see that federal government funding has determined what major parts of the approved curriculum are and failure to comply will result in loss of federal funding.

As set out here:
....Department of Education does not directly oversee the nation’s 100,000 public schools. States have some oversight, but individual municipalities, are, in most cases, the legal entities responsible for running schools and for providing the large majority of funding through local tax dollars.

Still, the federal government uses a complex system of funding mechanisms, policy directives, and the soft but considerable power of the presidential bully pulpit to shape what, how, and where students learn.
See also here. And here:
The federal government is not without authority, however, as the federal government exercises control at times based on the amount of funding it provides states. This is especially true in higher education, as the federal government wields its unofficial power by set strict requirements for schools to be eligible for federal grant and loan programs, something that almost no college or university can survive without.

This is true in primary and secondary education also. Each state is responsible to submit their requisition for educational grants and funds individually to be eligible for federal funding. Therefore, the federal government can control state systems by funding programs that are deemed acceptable within its standards and by granting more aid to some states as compared to others based on their proposals. However, states do not get most of their educational funding from the federal government; in fact most of the funding comes from the state taxation system. Therefore, states can choose not to follow federal guidelines for funding and still run their educational system outside of the federal guidelines. Most choose, however, to follow federal guidelines in order to receive federal aid.
This semi-indirect control over education based on funding and "standard setting" may explain why some political parties strive so hard to appeal to educators, the key to controlling what is "acceptable" thinking.

Whining about the "unfairness" and "anti-democratic" nature of the Electoral College and the U.S. Senate are just part of the same lust for power. The lust that our Constitution was designed to contain.

Friday Film: "Broken Arrow" Nuclear Weapon Safety (1962)

An Air Force film, but important for the Navy, too, given the subject matter.

Perhaps related to an incident involving a B-52 flying out of Seymour Johnson AFB in Goldsboro, NC, in 1961. See here:
The 1961 Goldsboro B-52 crash was an accident that occurred near Goldsboro, North Carolina, on 23 January 1961. A Boeing B-52 Stratofortress carrying two 3–4-megaton Mark 39 nuclear bombs broke up in mid-air, dropping its nuclear payload in the process.[2] The pilot in command, Walter Scott Tulloch, ordered the crew to eject at 9,000 feet (2,700 m). Five crewmen successfully ejected or bailed out of the aircraft and landed safely, another ejected, but did not survive the landing, and two died in the crash.[3] Information declassified in 2013 showed that one of the bombs came very close to detonating.[4]

Sunday, February 09, 2020

On Midrats 9 February 2020 - Episode 527: Pre-Valentine's Day Melee

Please join us at 5pm EST on 9 February 2020 for Midrats Episode 527: Pre-Valentine's Day Melee
Come join EagleOne and CDR Salamander for an hour of all the things maritime and national security that broke above the ambient noise the last couple of weeks.

From the national security implications of the latest disease out break in China to our Navy's ongoing challenge of finding out what she wants to be, and how she wants to get there.

Open topic, open phones - so if there is a topic you would like us to address, join the chatroom, give us a call, or drop us an email or DM on twitter.

If you can't catch the show live and you use Apple Podcasts, you can pick up the episode and others and add Midrats to your podcast list simply by clicking the button at the main show page - or you can just click here. Or on Spreaker. The show also is reportedly on Spotify.

Saturday, February 08, 2020

Friday, February 07, 2020

Friday Film: U.S. Navy Aircraft Ground Rescue Procedures for the A-7E (1971)

Knowing the right way to rescue pilots from crashed or troubled aircraft on the ground is important for air station flight line crash crews. In this 1971 film an A-7 is used as an example.

There is also a pilot's significant other with big hair, short skirt, and a nice Triumph Spitfire.

Not sure why this film was marked "For Official Use Only", but see here. Also see here:
For Official Use Only (FOUO) is a document designation, not a classification. This designation is used by Department of Defense and a number of other federal agencies to identify information or material which, although unclassified, may not be appropriate for public release.

There is no national policy governing use of the For Official Use Only designation. DoD Directive 5400.7 defines For Official Use Only information as "unclassified information that may be exempt from mandatory release to the public under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA)." The policy is implemented by DoD Regulation 5400.7-R and 5200.1-R.

Saturday, February 01, 2020

Saturday Is Old Radio Day - Well Sort of. "What it was was football" (1953)

A blast from the past in honor of some event this weekend that seems to be getting bigger than a real holiday.

First put up on this blog in 2017, it features a distinguished alumnus of that school found in "The Southern Part of Heaven."

The artist seems to be George Woodbridge who used to do lots of work for Mad magazine.

Thursday, January 30, 2020

High Cost of Gulf of Guinea Piracy and Related Corruption

Pointed out here:
In 2018, the United Nations (UN) Security Council disclosed that Nigeria was losing
approximately $1.5 billion a month due to piracy, armed robbery at sea, smuggling and fuel supply fraud. According to the IMB’s Piracy Reporting Centre figures, the GoG accounted for 29 incidents in the first quarter of 2018, more than 40% of the global total. Of the 114 seafarers captured worldwide that year, all but one was within Nigerian waters, the report also noted. “The absence of an effective maritime governance system, in particular, hampers freedom of movement in the region, disrupts trade and economic growth, and facilitates environmental crimes,” Ambassador Michele J. Sison, the United States’ Deputy Representative to the UN, said at the time. She identified ineffective governance structures, weak rule of law, precarious legal frameworks and inadequate naval, coast guard, and maritime law enforcement as reasons for the challenge.

Last September, the Chief of Naval Staff, Rear Admiral Ibok Ekwe Ibas, confirmed that Nigeria loses billions of dollars annually to this menace. He also said: “The maritime domain has been under threat by piracy, sea robbery, illicit trafficking, illegal unreported and unregulated fishing and marine pollution. Now we have emerging security threats within the Nigerian maritime domain that stem largely from non-military causes such as socio-economic agitations and a large army of unemployed and under-employed youths in the coastal communities, whose activities manifest through attacks on shipping.”

It is therefore no surprise that the IMB has characterised Nigerian waters as “one of the most dangerous shipping routes in the world.” Between October 2019 and last week, there were eleven recorded attacks on the Nigerian waters and this may not even reflect the complete picture. On 23rd September 2019, a 244-metre product tanker, named ELKA ATHINA, carrying the flag of Greece was attacked in the Lagos area. Pirates actually boarded the vessel in a cargo-stealing attempt. Similarly, on 5th October 2019, a 182-metre produce tanker named UACC MIDIF, carrying the flag of Marshall Islands, was attacked by pirates in another cargo-stealing attempt. In a more daring attack on 6th October 2019, eight-armed men in two wooden boats attacked a 195-metre vessel named USMA around the Lagos port.

On 3rd December 2019, a vessel named NAVE CONSTELLATION, carrying the flag of Hong Kong was attacked at Bonny, Rivers State by pirates who hijacked the 330-metre crude oil tanker and kidnapped the 19 crew members. On 15th December 2019, a 140-metre product tanker named DUKE, was attacked. No fewer than 20 crew members were abducted. A week later, on 24th December 2019, an attempt was made on a 274-metre long vessel named ISTANBUL. Carrying the flag of Malta, the vessel reportedly conducted evasive maneuverers causing the attack to fail. Another failed attempt was made four days later on 28th December 2019 on an LNG tanker carrying a Bermuda flag. The 288-metre long LNG tanker named KNG LOKOJA was attacked at a location described as ‘joint regime of Nigeria and Sao Tome’.

The attempted hijack on 30th December 2019 at the same location of VINALINES MIGHTY and in Bonny, a 200 metre bulk carrier named DROGBA, carrying the flag of Singapore, were foiled because security personnel on board the two vessels fought back. But in one of the most violent attacks on the second day of this year, four crew members were kidnapped and four armed guards killed on an 84-metre vessel named AMBIKA, carrying the Nigerian flag. Another 155-metre vessel named MSC GRACE, carrying a Panama flag was also attacked on 21st January 2020 by armed pirates. The attack was foiled by 13 armed personnel on a speed boat who opened fire.

Incidentally, six of the vessels involved in these attacks were classified as “suspicious” which means they could have in fact been carrying stolen crude. Yet, the loss to our economy and the danger this poses to our national security are enormous. When I sought the opinion of the Group Managing Director of the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Mr Mele Kyari, on the implications of heightened piracy in the GoG, he minced no words: “It means increase in the premium on risk cover, delays in accepting Nigerian crude oil cargoes in the international market, adverse impact on the market pricing of Nigerian crude related to cargo delivery uncertainty and overall adverse impact on the revenues to the federation account.”

I understand Kyari’s point. The Lloyds market association of the United Kingdom has classified GoG as a war risk area resulting in insurance costs estimated to be triple that of other areas in the world. Vessels are now compelled to insure their crew and mobilize their own armed security guards to accompany every voyage. The same high cost of insurance applies for ships and cargoes. These costs are quite naturally transferred to consumers. A report by ‘Oceans Beyond Piracy’ that analysed the cost of this crime estimated that between 50 and 60 seafarers were kidnapped in the last quarter of last year in Nigeria alone and about N600 million was paid as ransom to secure their freedom.

The Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) Director General, Dr Dakuku Peterside, who expressed his concerns about the growing challenge said Nigeria has to do more. “We must pay greater attention to the Gulf of Guinea not only because our economy depends on it but also because of its implications for our national security given the quantum of illicit arms that flow through the region,” Peterside told me on Tuesday. He added that the Nigerian Navy has, at various times, “embarked on special operations to tackle piracy and criminality on waterways and the cost of these special operations is enormous. NIMASA is spending USD195 million to buy more assets plus logistics in terms of retraining of our military forces to fight piracy. These are funds that would have been applied to social services.”

The other costs of piracy and criminality on our waterways include stifling of regional trade and food price inflation since deep sea fishing has almost been taken over completely by the Chinese whose vessels are heavily fortified, security wise. Just recently, two key London based shipping associations were about to issue a statement warning their vessels not to venture into Nigerian waters but for the intervention of NIMASA under the Deep Blue project. But I understand that the international shipping community is watching to see what the Nigerian authorities will do to tackle the menace before taking a final decision that could deeply hurt our economy.
Well, so far the answer has been not enough has been done by Nigeria which would seem to have the money and the population to develop a useful coast guard and navy.

But there's more. As reported by The Manila Times West African ‘pirates’ are revolutionary rebels, says freed Filipino seafarers:
ABDUCTORS, who spread fear and terror in West African waters and are responsible for the rising cases of kidnapping in Nigeria, Cameroon, Benin, among others, are mostly ex-militant members of a group who steal crude oil from tanker ships and sell it to buyers on the black market.

In an exclusive interview by The Manila Times, the two freed Filipino seafarers said most of their abductors were former high-ranking officials of the Nigerian military who broke away from the government.
“We learned that the abductors are former high ranking officials of the Nigerian military.They alienated themselves from the government and turned to kidnap for ransom schemes,” said “Chris,” a deck rating who flew back safely to the Philippines last January 24 after their release on January 21 at the Port Harcourt, Nigeria.

They said the groups target ships and abduct its crew in exchange for a big amount of money to sustain its operations.

“Most of them were addicts and maybe involved also in drug trafficking, aside from kidnapping. I saw one of them smoking bricks of marijuana for several days in the camp where we were held for 22 days, which they called ‘No Man’s Land,’ according to “John,” a native of Iloilo province.

They claimed that these rebels are targeting ship owners and pressuring them to directly buy fuel products from them, which they smuggle somewhere in Nigeria, and not to acquire from the government.

“That was part of their rebellious act, to paralyze the operation of the oil-rich production of Nigeria and buy fuel products directly from them,” the seafarers said.
Well, that doesn't sound good. If true, the prospects for the Nigeria, already troubled by
corruption don't look good:
Corruption is the single greatest obstacle preventing Nigeria from achieving its enormous potential. It drains billions of dollars a year from the country’s economy, stymies development, and weakens the social contract between the government and its people. Nigerians view their country as one of the world’s most corrupt and struggle daily to cope with the effects.
  • Corruption is rife across the country’s economic sectors: petroleum, trade, industrial, agricultural, infrastructure, power sector, banking, and environmental. Together, these forms of corruption erase billions of dollars from Nigeria’s bottom line and prevent it from realizing its great human and economic potential.

  • In Nigeria’s security sectors, defense sector and police corruption are destabilizing and compounding security challenges in conflict hotspots like the Lake Chad Basin, the Middle Belt, and the Niger Delta. Corruption in the judiciary and within anticorruption agencies undermines the country’s already anemic accountability mechanisms, thereby fueling corruption across the spectrum.
It certainly has created some dangerous waters - and increased costs of sea-going trade in the area both in lives and dollars.

Pay attention to that part about the "rebels" using attacks to "pressure" them into buying hijacked oil. There's a lot at play here.

You might also note the reference to the Chinese fishing fleet and its effect on food prices in the area. This was previously discussed in Gulf of Guinea Piracy and Illegal Fishing: Expensive Crimes for the Neighborhood:
The document titled, “Fisheries Crime Activities in West Africa Coastal Region,” showed that Nigeria spends about $800 million (N324 billion) to import fish to bridge the supply gap.

According to the document, Nigeria in 2018 imported fish worth $71 million, $56 million, $43 million and $174 million from Iceland, Russia, Norway and Netherlands respectively.

The document also showed that West Africa remains a global hotspot for illegal fishing with estimated losses of $2.9 billion.

The document further revealed that over 450 Chinese vessels fish illegally in Nigeria and the coast of West Africa, adding that, “a survey carried out by the West Africa Task Force showed that over 37 per cent of all fish caught in West Africa are caught illegally with China, Taiwan, Russia, South Korea, Spain, France and Thailand being the main countries responsible.