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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.