Monday, April 27, 2020

Unknown Iranian Humorist Has Fun with Words

Any illegal, provocative move to receive Iran's rigid, resolute response reads the headline from the Islamic Republic News Agency ot the Iranian General Staff (either way, propaganda units of the dictatorship by Mullah):
Cannon Fodder at Sea
Describing presence of the US Army in Persian Gulf, Strait of Hormuz and Sea of Oman as disrupting regional security, the statement said that Persian Gulf, Strait of Hormuz as main international waterways and lifeline of global economy have always been safe zones for oil and trade ships and Iran has tried to maintain the stability and peace at an acceptable level in cooperation with regional states.

Dangerous and disruptive measures against shipping security began when the adventurous and terrorist country of the United States and some of its allies appeared in this sensitive region, it said.

General Staff of the Armed Forces pointed out that the US has virtually become a source of lawlessness, wickedness and insecurity with its harmful commutation and setting up military bases, and Iran has repeatedly warned the world and international community of the destabilizing and disruptive regional security measures as well as US violation of international law.

The year 2019 can be considered the peak of evil and insecure US movements in the region, the statement said, noting that under the false pretext of shipping security in the Persian Gulf, the Strait of Hormuz and the Sea of ​​Oman, it has formed multiple coalitions in the region and posed numerous threats by sending warships and increasing the buildup of the military forces in the region.
Well! how does it feel to have that kind of smack talked about the USA put out into the world media stream?

For me, I'm beginning to think somewhere in one of those propaganda units there's some guy with a wicked sense of humor who is managing to poke fun at the irrationality of the Iranian regime while ticking off boxes on some "list of charges to make against those Yankees" that is posted on a wall chart in a room where this stuff is prepared. 

Imagine you were the lackey charged with writing this gibberish and knowing certain keywords would be required to get it approved by the super-lackey you work for and on up the food chain. Thus, choose one word from column A and one from column B and one from column C and you end up with "lawlessness," "wickedness," and "insecurity" coupled with words from the "use these in case of emergency" pile. You then have:
lawlessness, wickedness and insecurity with its harmful commutation and setting up military bases
Oh my gosh, those horrible Americans and their nasty "commutation."

I mean, I haven't commutated today, but there's always tomorrow when I may just go around commutating everywhere. I don't know, it may all be part of being both "adventurous" and "terrorist" while disrupting that glorious form of "regional security" that would exist under the Mullahs, just as it does in Iran.

I found the highlighted words particularly awesome.

Nice job, unknown IRNA/Iranian General Staff of the Armed Forces writer, one of the better humor pieces I've read today. Well done!

Not quite as humorous, except for the last paragraph, from Mehr News:
Therefore, the Armed Forces of the Islamic Republic of Iran considers the presence of the United States and its allies illegitimate and the source of evil and insecurity in the region. The Iranian Armed forces also urge them to comply with the regulations of the Islamic Republic as well as the International laws and refrain from any adventure and dangerous behavior in the region.

The Islamic Republic of Iran strongly believes that regional countries have the necessary capabilities to maintain the security of the Persian Gulf, the Strait of Hormuz, and the Sea of ​​Oman. Fake coalitions led by the United States not only do not help maintain stability and security in the region but also disrupt regional order and peace. On the other hand, the only safe alternative to stabilize peace is the withdrawal of US troops and their allies from the region.

The Iranian Armed forces urge the US and their allies to stop the spread of tension and insecurity in this strategic region of the world and strongly warns them to comply with the International regulations while crossing the exclusive economic waters of the Islamic Republic of Iran in the Persian Gulf and the Sea of Oman as well as the airspace of these regions including FIR and ADIZ.

As has been repeatedly stated, the Islamic Republic of Iran has not and will not initiate any tensions and conflicts in the region, but it will always defend its territorial integrity with readiness, strength, and power, and it is obvious that any adventure and provocative actions will be responded strongly by the Iranian Armed Forces.

Today's Pandemic Song: "Child of Mine" Bill Staines

U.S. Navy Office of Naval Intelligence Worldwide Threat to Shipping (WTS) for 26 March -22 April 2020 and HORN OF AFRICA/GULF OF GUINEA/SOUTHEAST ASIA Weekly Piracy Update for 16 - 22 April 2020

Sea robbers have remained active. Attacks in the lower Gulf of Mexico involving armed men and hostage taking while robbery goes on. Gulf of Guinea kidnapping and violence.

U.S. Navy Office of Naval I... by lawofsea on Scribd

U.S. Navy Office of Naval I... by lawofsea on Scribd

Sunday, April 26, 2020

On Midrats 26 April 2020 - Episode 538: End of April Free For All

Please join us at 5pm EDT on 26 April 2020 for Midrats Episode 538: End of April Free For All

Last week, we could have gone another hour, so we thought the easy thing would be to bring it forward to this Sunday.

We will cover the waterfront as the Navy continues to struggle to get past COVID-19's dominating Navy news, not just with the TR, but now the USS Kidd and everything from boot camp to the Naval Academy.

Throw in a pick up game presence missions in the South China Sea, and the Russians ditching their future surface fleet ... and there is more than enough to make a fast hour.

Open topic and open mic.
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.

Today's Pandemic Song: The Fightin' Texas Aggie Band

In memory of my friend Virgil, who did love those Aggies:

Friday, April 24, 2020

Friday Films: Shipping Containers

Sure, these films present the same concept - shipping containers make modern logistics work better, faster, cheaper. From the perspective of a military planner, it also puts lots of important eggs in fewer baskets, as it were. Having so much valuable cargo on fewer ships will continue to pose challenges for protecting this shipping should major sea routes come under some sort of interdiction effort. It also requires thinking about what ships are the real "high value units" that need protection and what assets are available to do that escort work.

Today's Pandemic Song: "Wildflowers" Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers

Tuesday, April 21, 2020

Bad Ideas: "In Seeking to Perfect Humans, We Must First Control Them"

I am reading a book, A King's Trade" by Dewey Lambdin. It's #13 in the Alan Lewrie series. In my reading,  I come across this:
... by Jeremy Bentham, himself, with his Vice Society and his damnable concept of Utilitarianism. If things didn't meet his strict and narrow key-holes of the most benefit for the most people, then damn it to Hell and do away with it ... whatever it was. Lt. Langlie had gotten a copy of Bentham's Panopticon, his view of an ideal England, and had been aghast, as had Lewrie, that it called for total surveillance of everyone's waking actions by a "morality police" as an infernal machine to "grind rogues honest"!

"Wait, what," I said to myself.

I vaguely remembered reading something about Bentham and "Utilitarianism" back in high school or college - but I certainly did not recall his concept that mirrored that which seems a precursor to Orwell's 1984 or of a Chinese style surveillance state, or even the 'hall monitor" society of the "politically correct police" with which we have become far too familiar. It even casts a sinister light on Star Trek's
“The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few”

So I dug a little, and, of course, found a nice little guide in Ethics Explainer: The Panopticon , which confirmed Lambdin/Lewrie's rant:
The panopticon is a disciplinary concept brought to life in the form of a central
observation tower placed within a circle of prison cells.
From the tower, a guard can see every cell and inmate but the inmates can’t see into the tower. Prisoners will never know whether or not they are being watched.

This was introduced by English philosopher Jeremy Bentham. It was a manifestation of his belief that power should be visible and unverifiable. Through this seemingly constant surveillance, Bentham believed all groups of society could be altered. Morals would be reformed, health preserved, industry invigorated, and so on – they were all subject to observation.

Think of the last time you were at work and your boss walked in the room. Did you straighten up and work harder in their presence? Now imagine they were always in the room. They wouldn’t be watching you all the time, but you’d know they were there. This is the power of constant surveillance – and the power of the panopticon.
Nor did I know that the modern philosopher Michel Foucault was in on this line of thinking, too:
Michel Foucault, a French intellectual and critic, expanded the idea of the panopticon into a symbol of social control that extends into everyday life for all citizens, not just those in the prison system (Foucault 1970). He argues that social citizens always internalize authority, which is one source of power for prevailing norms and institutions. A driver, for example, might stop at a red light even when there are no other cars or police present. Even though there are not necessarily any repercussions, the police are an internalized authority- people tend to obey laws because those rules become self-imposed.

This is a profound and complicated idea, namely because the process entails a high degree of social intuition; the subject must be able to situate him or her self amidst a network of collective expectations. The crucial point is that the subject's specific role within the network is incorporated as a part of the body and mind, which then manifests as self-discipline.

Yeah, well, this heightens the level of intrusion into our daily lives, as noted in the UK Guardian piece on digital surveillance:
The looming interconnectivity between objects in our homes, cars and cities, generally referred to as the internet of things, will change digital surveillance substantially. With the advent of wider networked systems, heralded by the likes of Google’s Brillo and Apple’s HomeKit, everything from washing machines to sex toys will soon be able to communicate, creating a vast amount of data about our lives. And this deluge of data won’t only be passed back and forth between objects but will most likely wind its way towards corporate and government reservoirs.

With everything from heart-rate monitors in smartwatches to GPS footwear, a bright light is once again being thrown on our bodies. Will we feel exposed under the gaze of a central tower? Perhaps not, but with habits and physical stats charted against the norm, we will feel scrutinised nevertheless. Much of the justification of this is the alleged benefits to health and wellbeing. “Morals reformed – health preserved – industry invigorated” – not Apple marketing material but Bentham’s words on the panopticon.

There may not be a central tower, but there will be communicating sensors in our most intimate objects.
Well, it was a simple reading of a book about a fictional rakish Royal Navy Captain, but it did lead me off on a look at the human condition and those who would seek to perfect us all, if only we would give up to them control of our lives.

Like Lewrie and his Lieutenant, I am appalled. "It's for your own good" sucks as an excuse to restrict freedoms, whether by force of law or by the "all-seeing eye." That China adds to this system by "grading" its citizens and rewarding the most compliant really, really sucks.

For them it was a partially realized theory. For us it seem to have become a reality.

If you are interested in reading more about Bentham, you can head here. All emphasis above was added by me.

Today's Pandemic Song "It's Gonna Be Alright" Gerry and the Pacemakers

Monday, April 20, 2020

Today's Pandemic Song "Mansions of the Lord" from We Were Soldiers - performed by West Point Band and Glee Club

To fallen soldiers let us sing,
Where no rockets fly nor bullets wing,
Our broken brothers let us bring
To the Mansions of the Lord

No more weeping,
No more fight,
No friends bleeding through the night,
Just Divine embrace,
Eternal light,
In the Mansions of the Lord

Where no mothers cry
And no children weep,
We shall stand and guard
Though the angels sleep,
Oh, through the ages let us keep
The Mansions of the Lord

"Trump Opens Outer Space for Business "

WSJ headline Trump Opens Outer Space for Business
As a follow up to the executive order, the administration has been quietly preparing the Artemis Accords, which it plans to present first to America’s partners on the International Space Station—Canada, Europe, Japan and Russia—and later to other nations. Parties would “affirm that the extraction and utilization of space resources does not constitute national appropriation under Article 2 of the Outer Space Treaty.” That would enable NASA’s planned moon base to proceed and protect private companies that hope to build and operate facilities there or elsewhere. It would ensure that the U.S. and other nations, as well as firms under their jurisdiction, can build settlements and commercial operations throughout the solar system.

There’s a lot of wealth in space. A 79-foot-wide asteroid could hold 33.000 tons of extractable material, including $50 million worth of platinum. The 2-mile-wide asteroid 1986 DA could be worth $7 trillion. But that will require massive investment in new technology, and investors need assurance that they won’t pour billions into capturing an asteroid or mining the moon only to be told the resulting product isn’t theirs.

In some ways the administration’s policy is a logical continuation of the Obama-era drive for space commercialization. In 2015 President Obama signed the U.S. Commercial Space Launch Competitiveness Act, which provides that “a U.S. citizen engaged in the commercial recovery of an asteroid or space resource . . . shall be entitled to . . . possess, own, transport, use, and sell the asteroid resource or space resource obtained in accordance with applicable law, including the international obligations of the United States.” Mr. Trump’s order ensures that international obligations will be supportive and not destructive of such efforts.
Discussed space mining before here. You might note that there is room for a lot of innovation - including using aircraft to tote "spacecraft" up to a launch height or the reusable booster rockets now being used. Making the ventures profitable will make things happen a whole lot faster.

From that earlier post of mine:

Credit: Bigelow Aerospace
"Inflatable Habitat Ready for Space Station Trip:
According to Bigelow Aerospace, the demonstration of expandable space habitat technology supports NASA's plans in the realm of human spaceflight, which ultimately lead to putting boots on Mars. Developing a deep-space habitat is an important step along the path to the Red Planet, agency officials say.

Founded in 1999 by entrepreneur Robert Bigelow, Bigelow Aerospace has as a goal the creation of a new paradigm in space commerce and exploration via the development and use of expandable habitat technology. Expandable habitats are viewed as offering dramatically larger volumes than rigid, metallic structures as well as enhanced protection against both radiation and physical debris.
Hmmm. Inflatable spacecraft.

Seems I read something about this concept in The Planet Strappers by Raymond Z. Gallun:
Nelsen didn't listen anymore. His and Paul's attention had wandered to the largest color photo thumbtacked to the wall, above the TV set, and the shelf of dog-eared technical books. It showed a fragile, pearly ring, almost diaphanous, hanging tilted against spatial blackness and pinpoint stars. Its hub was a cylindrical spindle, with radial guys of fine, stainless steel wire. It was like the earliest ideas about a space station, yet it was also different. To many—Frank Nelsen and Paul Hendricks certainly included—such devices had as much beauty as a yacht under full sail had ever had for anybody.

Old Paul smirked with pleasure. "It's a shame, ain't it, Frank—calling a pretty thing like that a 'bubb'—it's an ugly word. Or even a 'space bubble.' Technical talk gets kind of cheap."

"I don't mind," Frank Nelsen answered. "Our first one, here, could look just as nice—inflated, and riding free against the stars."

He touched the crinkly material, draped across its wooden support.

"It will," the old man promised. "Funny—not so long ago people thought that space ships would have to be really rigid—all metal. So how did they turn out? Made of stellene, mostly—an improved form of polyethylene—almost the same stuff as a weather balloon."

"A few millimeters thick, light, perfectly flexible when deflated," Nelsen added. "Cut out and cement your bubb together in any shape you choose. Fold it up firmly, like a parachute—it makes a small package that can be carried up into orbit in a blastoff rocket with the best efficiency. There, attached flasks of breathable atmosphere fill it out in a minute. Eight pounds pressure makes it fairly solid in a vacuum. So, behold—you've got breathing and living room, inside. There's nylon cording for increased strength—as in an automobile tire—though not nearly as much. There's a silicone gum between the thin double layers, to seal possible meteor punctures. A darkening lead-salt impregnation in the otherwise transparent stellene cuts radiation entry below the danger level, and filters the glare and the hard ultra-violet out of the sunshine. So there you are, all set up."

"Rig your hub and guy wires," old Paul carried on, cheerfully. "Attach your sun-powered ionic drive, set up your air-restorer, spin your vehicle for centrifuge-gravity, and you're ready to move—out of orbit."

They laughed, because getting into space wasn't as easy as they made it sound. The bubbs, one of the basic inventions that made interplanetary travel possible, were, for all their almost vagabondish simplicity, still a concession in lightness and compactness for atmospheric transit, to that first and greatest problem—breaking the terrific initial grip of Earth's gravity from the ground upward, and gaining stable orbital speed. Only a tremendously costly rocket, with a thrust greater than its own weight when fully loaded, could do that. Buying a blastoff passage had to be expensive.
Of course, Gallun wrote in 1961, so we all know that his idea of a space craft made of cheap materials and dependent on recycled air (or air produced by plants grown on board) was . . . ahead of its time?

Credit: Bigelow Aerospace
Bigelow Aerospace seems to believe in the concept. Here's info about its B330:
B330 will have 330 cubic meters (12,000 cu ft) of internal space, hence its numeric designation. The craft will support zero-gravity research including scientific missions and manufacturing processes. Beyond its industrial and scientific purposes, however, it has potential as a destination for space tourism and a craft for missions destined for the Moon and Mars.
Flexible, expandable? Check. Self-sealing? Check. Solar power? Check. Ion Thruster power? Possible. Affordable? Umm. Still face that cost of getting the package to space. Perhaps a space elevator could help.

But, you might ask, why? Asteroid mining? It seems, in addition to mining rare earth elements from the ocean floor (see here), there is a movement afoot to explore asteroid mining for rare earth elements(and gold and other valuable metals). There are start ups looking into making this work, e.g. Planetary Resources. Most of these efforts seem to be directed at robot mining, but why not allow individuals driven by profit motive to get out there and try their hand at space mining?

Asteroid Mining:
Early evidence suggests that there are trillions of dollars' worth of minerals and metals buried in asteroids that come close to the Earth. Asteroids are so close that many scientists think an asteroid mining mission is easily feasible.
Plus, you know, freedom."

Of course, if there's that much wealth involved, we need a "Space Navy" to protect these "space lines of commerce" from those dreaded "space pirates." Sen. Ted Cruz is way ahead on this idea:
Cruz, a Republican from Texas, alluded to space pirates in opening remarks on Tuesday for a hearing on "The Emerging Space Environment: Operational, Technical, and Policy Challenges" before the Senate Subcommittee on Aviation and Space.

Cruz referenced how the ancient Greeks and subsequent nations have called on naval forces to "protect water-borne travel and commerce from bad actors."

"Pirates threaten the open seas, and the same is possible in space," Cruz said. "In this same way, I believe we, too, must now recognize the necessity of a Space Force to defend the nation and to protect space commerce and civil space exploration."
So the new "Space Force" may have real jobs out there.


Sunday, April 19, 2020

On Midrats 19 April 2010 - Episode 537: Midrats in the Time of COVID-19 Melee

Please join us at 5pm EDT on 19 April 2020 for Midrats Episode 537: Midrats in the Time of COVID-19 Melee
Take a break from trying to find a way to socially distance yourself from the people you are non-self-isolating with this week by joining us LIVE for a free for all Midrats. We have a lot in the maritime domain to discuss from the response to the outbreaks on the carries Theodore Roosevelt and Charles de Gaulle, PCS, the budget, upcoming FFG(X) selection, Iran, China and more. As we always do, we will keep the phone and chat room open if you have questions or a topic you would like us to discuss.

Open mind; open topic.

Come join us!
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.

Photo credit: U.S. Navy photo by MC1 Julio Rivera - 
NAVAL BASE GUAM (April 16, 2020) Equipment Operator 3rd Class Tyler Dowling, assigned to Naval Mobile Construction Battalion (NMCB) 5, speaks with Capt. Eric Correll, commander of Task Force 75, during expeditionary medical facility (EMF) site preparations.

Today's Pandemic Song "Oh, What a Beautiful Morning"

Friday, April 17, 2020

Fun with Iran: Revolutionary Guard Navy Edition #401

From the U.S. Fifth Fleet, examples of Iran IRGCN trying to provoke an incident so they can claim victimhood and steer the average Iranian away from hating the mullahs'dictatorship:

Why #401? They so often do this sort of thing that I decided to arbitrarily assign a number ...

Friday Film: Copper

Wonder how copper plays a role in National Defense?

Lots of my family history involves those big open pit mines in Utah (Bingham), New Mexico (Chino), and Nevada (Robinson).

Today's Pandemic Song: "Simple GIfts" Yo-Yo Ma and Alison Krauss

Tuesday, April 14, 2020

A Trend of Decline in Overall Deaths? Or just a delay in reporting?

The CDC has chart which contains information about deaths from COVID 19 as well as deaths from pneumonia, and influenza. The charts and support are here, but here is the interesting graphic:

Click on chart to enlarge

If I am reading this chart correctly, there has been a decline in the number of "expected deaths" ("Percent of expected deaths is the number of deaths for all causes for this week in 2020 compared to the average number across the same week in 2017–2019. Previous analyses of 2015–2016 provisional data completeness have found that completeness is lower in the first few weeks following the date of death") since February 1. This is subject to the CDC caveat that
NOTE: Number of deaths reported in this table are the total number of deaths received and coded as of the date of analysis and do not represent all deaths that occurred in that period.

*Data during this period are incomplete because of the lag in time between when the death occurred and when the death certificate is completed, submitted to NCHS and processed for reporting purposes. This delay can range from 1 week to 8 weeks or more, depending on the jurisdiction, age, and cause of death.
Still, it's interesting to see that during the week of Feb 1, 56,461 deaths of all causes occurred and that this represents 95% of "average deaths" - which means that the "usual" number for projected deaths for that period was 59,432. Now go down the chart to the week of 28 March - deaths from all causes is set as 48,682 or 87% of average deaths (55,956 being that number). The following week of 4 April, the total number of deaths from all causes is 38,203 or 73% of expected deaths (52332 expected). Both of these week include reported deaths from COVID-19.

It will interesting to see, as the CDC gets in more info for those weeks, whether this decline in overall deaths from all causes is a continuing trend and what factors may contribute to it.

As set out here, about 40,000 people die each year in traffic deaths, roughly 110 per day, so on any given week, we'd expect 770 traffic deaths. With reduced traffic due to COVID-19 stay at home rules, perhaps 60% of those could have been avoided, but that's only about 462 avoided deaths, which is but a small fraction of the "missing deaths" for the weeks I cited (.008 for week of 28 March and .009 for the week of 4 April).

Something to keep an eye on.

Monday, April 13, 2020

South China Sea Political Mess Summed Up

What the South China Sea tells us about the new geopolitics of Southeast Asia from ASEAN Today
Beijing’s actions in the South China Sea, on the other hand, already offer key indications
of what this next stage of geopolitics in Southeast Asia will look like. As China projects its power amid the pandemic, Southeast Asian governments will increasingly see their economies and development defined by how they embrace or contest Beijing’s agenda.
China asserts rights to 90% of the land, water and seabed that falls within a boundary known as the nine-dash line, which stretches 2,000 kilometres from the Chinese mainland and comes within a few hundred kilometres of the Philippines, Malaysia and Vietnam. To support China’s claims, its military has also built over 3,000 acres of artificial islands over the past 10 years.

The Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague declared the claim illegal in 2016 after the Philippines brought a case under the 1982 Law of the Sea Convention. The court also determined that China’s moves to build artificial islands, still ongoing, are illegal under international law, due in part to their extremely detrimental environmental impacts.

Last week’s incident shows that China is doing all it can to pursue its geopolitical and economic agenda during the pandemic. Beijing isn’t waiting to see how the effects of COVID-19 play out. In cases where it can pursue “face mask diplomacy,” China is stepping into a new role as benefactor—sometimes at a cost, but without all the debt attached to Belt and Road projects.

China is using the time to turn its claims to the energy-rich territory into geopolitical realities. In late March, China’s Ministry of Natural Resources announced that it had extracted a world record-breaking amount of natural gas from gas hydrates in the South China Sea.

In the days prior to the incident last Thursday, Radio Free Asia reported that another Chinese coast guard ship was patrolling in an area of the South China Sea near the Philippines, inside the country’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ).

“As countries look inward or are distracted [by the COVID-19 pandemic], like the U.S. and Japan, China has taken advantage of that by increasing its activities in the South China Sea,” said Jose Antonio Custodio, defense analyst at the Institute of Policy, Strategy and Developmental Studies in Manila. “We may soon see more unilateral exploitation of our EEZ.”

Southeast Asian governments are already seeking support from one another as well as China to combat COVID-19—both in terms of the virus and its economic and development impacts. As ASEAN or as individual states, they’re unable to challenge Beijing’s aggression in the South China Sea.

This is indicative of how COVID-19 is cementing a geopolitics in which Southeast Asia’s prospects for development, security and trade are dictated by how its leaders support or reject Beijing’s goals. However long the pandemic lasts, ASEAN’s options for the future will be increasingly defined by how well governments balance domestic and Chinese interests and how well they partner with Beijing.
China apparently has a motto: "What we say is ours - is ours. What you say is yours - is ours."

In contrast to China, which seeks to shut off access to the South China Sea, even (or perhaps especially) to its neighbors, the U.S. and its allies have tried to keep the sea lines of commerce open and free. If there is any doubt that China is seeking to upset several hundred years of history, you don't have to look too far.

Sunday, April 12, 2020

Christ is Risen

The Renewal of Baptismal Vows

Celebrant Do you reaffirm your renunciation of evil and
renew your commitment to Jesus Christ?
People I do.

Celebrant Do you believe in God the Father?
People I believe in God, the Father almighty,
creator of heaven and earth.

Celebrant Do you believe in Jesus Christ, the Son of God?
People I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord.
He was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit
and born of the Virgin Mary.
He suffered under Pontius Pilate,
was crucified, died, and was buried.
He descended to the dead.
On the third day he rose again.
He ascended into heaven,
and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
He will come again to judge the living and the dead.

Celebrant Do you believe in God the Holy Spirit?
People I believe in the Holy Spirit,
the holy catholic Church,
the communion of saints,
the forgiveness of sins,
the resurrection of the body,
and the life everlasting.

Celebrant Will you continue in the apostles' teaching and
fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in the
People I will, with God's help.

Celebrant Will you persevere in resisting evil, and, whenever
you fall into sin, repent and return to the Lord?
People I will, with God's help.

Celebrant Will you proclaim by word and example the Good
News of God in Christ?
People I will, with God's help.

Celebrant Will you seek and serve Christ in all persons, loving
your neighbor as yourself?
People I will, with God's help.

Friday, April 10, 2020

USNA Glee Clubs Message for America

Hat tip to: CDR BJ Armstrong, USNA professor

Death Rates by Race - History Tells a Tale

A chart with 1989 data:

The chart, from the National Institute of Health here, show that at certain age ranges, especially 45 to 69, that the ratio of African American deaths to white American deaths is about 2 to 1.

Today, we have news reports that the African American community is affected more by COVID19 than the white community. For example, the report here from the Chrisitian Science Monitor:
Of the victims whose demographic data was publicly shared by officials – nearly 3,300 of the nation's 13,000 deaths thus far – about 42% were black, according to an Associated Press analysis. African Americans account for roughly 21% of the total population in the areas covered by the analysis.
"The rate at which black people are dying, compared to whites, is really just astounding," said Courtney Cogburn, an associate professor at the Columbia University School of Social Work. "There are patterns at this intersection of race and socioeconomic status that make it very clear this is just not a story about poverty."
The data collected ranges from New York to Illinois to Alabama to San Diego, and covers an area that represents 82 million Americans, nearly 43% of whom are nonwhite. Other minority groups' cases and deaths are fairly in line with their demographics, although those among Hispanic individuals in some hot spots are still high.
For instance, Louisiana tracked demographic data in 512 deaths and found 70% of victims were black, despite African Americans comprising just 32% of the state's population. In Michigan, more than half of the deaths where race data was collected were black residents; the state's population is 14% black.

Illinois' population is 17% Hispanic and 14% black yet, as of Monday, 63% of its caseload of more than 9,000 COVID cases with racial data recorded were nonwhite residents, and at least 40% of the state's 307 victims were black.

ZIP code data in New York City released last week showed that black, brown, and immigrant communities are disproportionately represented among the diagnosed virus cases and deaths. On Wednesday, the city's Department of Health released racial data showing 27.5% of the victims whose race is known are black, although blacks are only about 22% of the population.
What's the point here?
Given the 1989 numbers, a ratio of 2 to 1 of African American deaths in certain age ranges might be just the historical pattern repeating itself.

Now, given that, the underlying reasons for that ratio represents a challenge - a "curve that needs to be flattened." Now, the argument is that African Americans lack access to healthcare or health insurance coverage that would help the flattening process. However, some indications are that African Americans in the US are 79.2% covered by insurance and white Americans are 84.6% covered. "Latinos" are roughly 70% covered. Under these conditions, logic would dictate that Latinos would have a higher ratio than African Americans, but the chart shows that they don't.

Some else from the CDC here:
COVID19 just seems to be tracking along the historical rates. As noted in the following graphic, the underlying causes for this mortality rate might be controllable, especially in reducing of smoking and obesity and increasing activity:

Friday Film: Destroyer Escort and More

In time for the new Tom Hanks' movie "The Good Shepherd" - a look at the small heroes of naval warfare, the destroyer escort. The book behind the Hanks' movie is about action in the Battle of the Atlantic.

But the small ships were everywhere - some of the great U.S. Navy heroes fought in these - especially at the Battle off Samar in WWII Battle off Samar starts about 14:15

Small ships, aggressively handled, fight off a superior force.

Great book on the Samar topic, The Last Stand of the Tin Can Sailors by James D. Hornfischer

Friday's Pandemic Song "High Hopes' Frank Sinatra

Thursday, April 09, 2020

Saturday Is Old Radio Day - Fibber McGee and Molly "Molly's Easter Dress Creation" (1948)

We all know that the Easter Parade will take hit this year.

Oh, for simpler times (if right after WWII and just into the Cold War and shortly before Korea were simpler times).

Spring frocks.

Seem to have hit the "publish" button when I thought it was scheduled for Saturday morning. Ah, well. Enjoy!

Today's Pandemic Song - Billie Holiday "On the Sunny Side of the Street"

Wednesday, April 08, 2020

It Case You Didn't Know - The Government of China Lies About Almost Everything

Case in point:

China "Coast Guard" vessel runs down Vietnamese fishing boat. China claims fishing boat attacked the "Coast Guard" vessel, as reporte in Philippines backs Vietnam after China sinks fishing boat
The Philippines on Wednesday expressed solidarity with Vietnam after Hanoi protested what it said was the ramming and sinking of a Vietnamese fishing boat by a Chinese coast guard ship in the disputed South China Sea.
China claims virtually the entire South China Sea and has built several islands equipped with military installations in the area, one of world's busiest shipping lanes. Vietnam has been the most vocal opponent of Beijing's territorial assertiveness.

The Philippines' Department of Foreign Affairs recalled that 22 Filipino fishermen were left floating in the high seas after a Chinese vessel sank their boat at Reed Bank on June 9 last year. They were rescued by a Vietnamese fishing vessel.
The Philippines warned that incidents like the sinking of the Vietnamese boat undermine the potential for a trusting relationship between the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations and China. It cited “positive momentum” in talks between ASEAN and China on a proposed “code of conduct” — a pact to prevent major clashes in the South China Sea, which many fear could be Asia’s next flashpoint.

China responded to Vietnam's diplomatic protest and demands for an investigation with its own statement accusing the Vietnamese boat of illegally entering Chinese waters. It said it collided with the Chinese ship Haijing 4301 after conducting “dangerous actions.”

All eight Vietnamese sailors were rescued by the Chinese and admitted to wrongdoing, China Maritime Police spokesman Zhang Jun was quoted as saying in a statement.

China seized the islands from Vietnam in 1974 and frequent confrontations have occurred there.
This is not the way civilized countries act, China. This is the way bullies act.

Monday, April 06, 2020

Today's Pandemic Song - with Ella Fitzgerald

U.S. Navy Office of Naval Intelligence Worldwide Threat to Shipping (WTS) for 5 March - 1 April 2020 and HORN OF AFRICA/GULF OF GUINEA/SOUTHEAST ASIA Weekly Piracy Update for 26 March - 1 April 2020

Missing from these reports due to its recency is the saga of the Venezuelan "coast guard" vessel and its unsuccessful encounter with an unarmed, albeit ice hardened, cruise ship as set out here:
A Venezuelan navy coastal patrol boat sank in the Caribbean after allegedly ramming a cruise ship that it had ordered to change direction.

The owners of the Portuguese-flagged RCGS Resolute said the naval vessel Naiguata also fired shots in an "act of aggression in international waters”.

The collision left the cruise ship, which has a reinforced hull for sailing in icy waters, with only minor damage.

Venezuela accused the Resolute of an act of "aggression and piracy".
Also previously addressed here.

Sunday, April 05, 2020

Today's Pandemic Song

When we get through this - and we will get through this - some words on the importance of living - as much as possible - in the moment. Life's too short and precious to waste on trivialities.

Friday, April 03, 2020

On Midrats 5 April 2020 - Episode 535: Jones Act: National Security Asset or Liability?

Please join us at 5pm EDT on 5 April 2020 for Midrats Episode 535: Jones Act: National Security Asset or Liability?
The Jones Act is hailed by many in the maritime community as an essential lifeline to
keep the domestic merchant marine viable. There is an equally vocal argument that it is not just unnecessary, but counterproductive.

Are the assumptions being make by the pro-Jones Act faction wrong?

To discuss the Jones Act from the skeptical school this Sunday from 5-6pm Eastern will be Colin Grabow, a policy analyst at the Cato Institute’s Herbert A. Stiefel Center for Trade Policy Studies.
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.

Venezuela's Spin on the Ramming of the German Cruise Ship

The story, as set out in The Week's Venezuela coast guard ship tries to ram German cruise liner, sinks, is that the German cruise ship Resolute was in international waters, repairing some engine issues, when it was assaulted by a Venezuelan coastie, which rammed the Resolute repeatedly until the Venezuelan vessel suffered enough damage for it to sink. The German ship remained in the area to offer assistance to the crew of the sinking coast guard vessel, but was directed to move on.

In any event, "President" Maduro has come up with a spin to make it all the German ship's fault:
Venezuelan President Maduro accused the captain of the Resolute of “terrorism and piracy”. In addition, the Venezuelan Strategic Command Operations accused the ship of having fast-moving command boats that could execute “fast raids”. According to Venezuelan state-run news outlet VTV,

“The cruise ship RCGS Resolute, which attacked a Bolivarian Navy ship last Monday
while patrolling northeast of La Tortuga Island, is equipped as evidenced by photographs published by the Strategic Operational Commander with inflatable boats capable of transporting up to seven commands to execute incursions in coastal areas.”

VTV cited Maduro as saying that the Resolute’s refusal to allow CuraƧao authorities to access the ship “confirms the hypothesis that this ship was being used to bring mercenaries to our coasts and carrying out attacks on military units or political objectives”.
interesting, I know that several cruise ships carry rigid hull inflatable boats (RHIBs) to carry their paying passengers to shore excursions (see here), but ... "conducting "fast raids" with them? Cool idea.

I guess if I had just been put on notice that the U.S. has declared me a drug smuggling person of interest, I might start getting a little paranoid, recalling, oh, say, Manuel Noriega. Of course, Maduro has more reason than just that to be paranoid.

Friday Film: Masks - - Private SNAFU "Gas" (1944)

Masks seem to be in the news.

Wednesday, April 01, 2020

West Africa Pirates and Kidnappers- March Ends With A Bang

Source, the excellent ICC International Maritime Bureau Piracy Reporting Centre Live Piracy & Armed Robbery Report-
Incident 1:
27.03.2020: 1700 UTC: Posn: 02:45.6N – 006:54.9E, Around 97nm South of Bonny Island, Nigeria.
About ten pirates armed with AK-47 in a skiff doing 21 knots, chased and fired upon a container ship underway. Master raised the alarm, activated distress alert, increased speed and took evasive manoeuvres, resulting in the pirates aborting the attempted attack and moving away. The crew and ship are safe.
Report says it occurred about 97 miles south of Bonny Island

Incident 2:
25.03.2020: 1006 UTC: Posn: 03:07.7N – 005:35.8E, Around 75nm SSW of Bayelsa, Nigeria.
Seven armed pirates in a black speed boat approached and attempted to board a bulk carrier underway. Alarm raised and all non-essential crew mustered in the citadel. Master activated SSAS alert, increased speed and commenced evasive manoeuvres, resulting in the pirates aborting the approach. Vessel and crew safe.

Incident 3:
22.03.2020: 0557 UTC: Posn: 00:33.21N – 008:25.21E, Around 62nm WNW of Libreville, Gabon.
Pirates boarded a container ship underway. Most crew managed to retreat into the citadel. Regional Authorities notified and assistance was dispatched to the ship. When the crew emerged from the citadel seven crew were reported missing.