Friday, November 30, 2018

Politics of Intimidation

Gonzaga has denied the school’s chapter of College Republicans application to bring Ben Shapiro to speak on campus, and their reason for that denial is fascinating, citing the “protests and safety issues” that the event would cause.

The VP of Student Development said that because Shapiro’s presence would, “draw protests that include extremely divisive and hateful speech and behavior,” he could not permit his appearance on the Gonzaga campus.

That’s a hell of a reason. He is saying that he does not object to Ben Shapiro speaking, nor does he object to the principles of the group which wants to invite him to speak. He objects, rather, to the violence and ugliness of the liberals who oppose Shapiro. So what we have here is liberals using threats, violence and intimidation to silence their opposition. Gonzaga is not preventing free speech, it is merely bowing to fear.

It is not Gonzaga which is the foe of free speech here, it is liberals.

Thursday, November 29, 2018

Aging Gracefully

Ginko Would that I could look so good at such an advanced age.

This is "The Elder Immortal Tree," a Ginko tree in China which is 3000 years old. Its foliage turns this color every fall. Click on the picture for a better look.

Sunday, November 25, 2018

Sea Stores

Another in the ongoing "Subron 8 Sea Stories" series.

I was always bemused when I heard someone speaking about a drinking problem and say of their time in the Navy that, “I was okay while we were at sea because there was no booze on the ship.” That dude served in a different Navy than I did, because there certainly was never any shortage of booze on my ship. In fact, the main reason for going on liberty when in port was to replenish one’s onboard stash of the good stuff, known in our vernacular as "sea stores."

The Executive Officer occasionally got a bee in his bonnet and went on a mission to seek out all of the “illicit alcoholic beverage” on board, usually shortly after leaving port, which caused us a good bit of amusement. One thing was his use of the pedantic term “alcoholic beverage,” which was a bit out of character for him, not to mention that any “alcoholic beverage” he found was by definition “illicit,” since all of it was smuggled aboard illegally.

Mainly the amusement was that he never found much because we were highly skilled at moving it from places he had not yet searched to places he had searched, and it never occurred to him to search any place twice. We were also pretty good at hiding it in places he wouldn’t think to look, like the crankcase of a main engine that was out of service.

There was also the “water round torpedo” tank, which took in water to compensate for the weight of a torpedo when it was fired. That could create problems if we were firing a lot of torpedoes, but we always knew in advance if that was going to be happening, so we could deal with that.

I won’t go into all of the rest, but sailors are nothing if not ingenious, not to mention devious. In any case, it was unusual for our sea stores to run out no matter how long we were at sea, even for cruises up to three months or so.

If our sea stores ever did run low, and sometimes just because it was good fun, we would hit the supply of torpedo fuel, which was pure grain alcohol. There are stories told about torpedoes being fired and going straight to the bottom upon leaving the tube because the crew drank all of the fuel, but I’m pretty sure those stories are bogus.

Pretty sure. Can’t guarantee it. If the men who served on those diesel boats were not insane when they came aboard, they went batshit crazy in pretty short order, so one cannot rule out any story told about those days.

What we hit was the reserve fuel supply. The Navy put formaldehyde in it, which is a deadly poison of course, to keep us from drinking it, and pink coloring to let us know that it contained formaldehyde. Not that the coloring was really needed; if the smell didn’t tell you it was there, the taste of it certainly would.

We developed several different methods of filtering, which took out the pink color but, unfortunately, did not remove the formaldehyde. Someone however, (it may have been me) knew that alcohol and formaldehyde boil at different temperatures, and so we built a distillery to distill the formaldehyde out.

Happily, the XO never found our still and we never blew up the ship by burning torpedo fuel to distill torpedo fuel, so we never had to worry about our sea stores running out.

Saturday, November 24, 2018

Well, That Was A Stupid Quiz

One of those online quickies asked, "Can we guess what team you watched when you were growing up?" LSU comes to mind, of course, but they were talking about the NFL so I went along and they came up with the LA Rams. The Rams were in Los Angeles when I was growing up, but I was most certainly not paying any significant amount of attention to them.

As a side note, the fact that the Rams were in Los Angeles then and are now, but were not there for most of the time between confuses my wife a bit. She grew up in Los Angeles, but does not watch football much. She is quite well aware, however, that the Chargers are no longer in San Diego. She gets reminded of it from time to time, usually accompanied by a bit of profanity.

Anyway, the quiz was multiple choice and did not provide the answers I would have chosen. It asked, for instance, for my preferred area of the country and did not offer the Midwest as one of the choices. It asked what color I would paint my car and did not offer red and gold. That will probably tell you that when I was growing up, and to this day, my favorite NFL team is the Kansas City Chiefs.

Monday, November 19, 2018

Our Laws are Their Laws?

The United States keeps claiming that we are not an empire. This is usually relevant to us having military bases in no fewer than 135 nations other than our own, which certainly sounds like an empire, but the term “empire” could be applied to our expectation that the entire world is subject to our laws.

We recently, for instance, actually indicted a whole bunch of Russians for not complying with our election laws. I found that little move to be high comedy ironic, since our government only marginally obeys our own election laws itself.

Actually, election laws are not the only laws with which our government is only marginally in compliance with, but that’s a different issue.

Dean Baker wrote yesterday, as he does on a regular basis, of the gross impropriety of China’s “wanton violation of the copyrights and patents of U.S. companies,” without mentioning that such copyrights and patents are matters of United States law and that China is not really required to comply with US law.

China has a whole host of laws with which we do not comply on a regular basis, and their economists seldom complain about it.

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Subron 8: Flaming The Brass

Another in the ongoing "Subron 8 Sea Stories" series.

I’m standing in the lobby of the base exchange at Submarine Base New London with my friend Tom, just hanging out and trying to decide what to do next before heading back to the ship. I’m admiring the new cigarette lighter I just bought, which has the insignia of Subron 8 on it, a pair of dolphins peering out from behind both sides of an eight ball.

An officer, seeing that I’m smoking a cigarette and holding a lighter, walks up to me and asks for a light. The fact that he’s a full commander doesn’t bother me much, I’ve been around for a while, but the fact that I have a brand new lighter which has a lot in common with a napalm-fueled flame thrower does.

So I hold it down at my waist to strike it, intending to let it calm down before I bring it up to light the commander’s smoke. Unfortunately, he’s the impatient type and bends down just as I strike the flint. My lighter does its imitation of the thing that Marines used to use for burning the Japanese out of bunkers, and the commander leaps back, dropping his hat and nearly falling on his ass.

Tom does a good imitation of someone who just happened to be passing by, may not even be in the Navy, and certainly is not acquainted with this dangerous pyromaniac Electrician’s Mate. The commander gets his shit together while I’m trying to decide whether running for my life is a good idea or not. I decide it’s probably not and ask the commander if he’s okay.

He doesn’t actually answer, just gives me a dirty look which momentarily makes me reconsider the running for my life thing, and then says, “You need to trim the wick on that damn thing, sailor,” and walks off. I don’t know if his cigarette is lit or not, but I’m not going to run him down and ask.

Tom decides he does know me after all, but can’t talk to me because he’s laughing too hard to speak. For months afterward he’s asking me about the length of my wick. No, moron, that's my "wick" he's asking about.

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Serving With Heroes

I was getting a routine checkup at my neurologist yesterday. He’s been seeing me two or three times a year, sometimes quite a bit more often, for a bit over twenty years, so we usually chat a bit during such visits. He was telling me, apropos of Veterans’ Day, that he had an uncle who had served in the Marines and had participated in the invasion of Saipan and Tinian.

I expressed my admiration of the Marine Corps, and went on to tell him of the Marines coming on board my submarine for training. Of course that led to me describing some of the pranks we pulled on those Marines, which he enjoyed.

That in turn led to me mentioning that some of the men in my crew had served in submarines during World War II, and had experienced depth charging by the Japanese Navy. He was sort of flabbergasted at the thought. I was, of course, a young kid at the time, and we revered these “old salts” greatly.

Thinking back on it, it is quite remarkable. Serving with those men was a great privilege, and is a memory that I treasure immensely.

Sunday, November 11, 2018

Sunday AM Football Notes

The Chargers play the Raiders today and are 10-point favorites. Probably should be about 24 points, but I hope they watched the Aztecs last night, who were 27-point favorites playing UNLV, and lost. I think it's called a "trap game."

"Hey, dude, that thing is a football and the goal line is over there. Go."

Alabama's Josh Jacobs, #8, is a beast. When he runs the ball, yardage is not his purpose. He is looking for somebody to hit. He is disappointed when he scores a touchdown, because it means he didn't get to hit anybody. He would have no fun as a linebacker, because at that position you can't hit anyone unless he is carrying the ball. As a running back with the ball, anyone in a jersey of the other color is fair game.

New rule. If you are behind an Alabama player and he dives to the ground falls down without you touching him, you get penalized for an "illegal block in the back." Waving your arms at the ref and claiming that you didn't touch him is useless. Refs never make mistakes. Similarly, if the entire Alabama offense starts moving with the exception of the center, who is holding the ball motionless on the ground, it is not a false start.

I'm looking into how to start a Go Fund Me account to get seeing eye dogs for football referees.

Friday, November 09, 2018

Proactive? Pre-Protest

Sizeable protest in downtown San Diego last night over acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker. They were demanding that he "recuse himself" regarding supervision of the investigation into Trump's "collusion with Russia" during the 2016 election, and because they fear he will fire Robert Mueller.

So liberals are now reacting to and protesting not what the administration is doing, but what they are jumping to the conclusion that it might do. I believe they think they are being "proactive," but I believe they are merely being half-cocked. Not to mention half-witted. They are ditching the first two firing line commands of, "ready, aim," and are going directly to "fire."

Tuesday, November 06, 2018

"Scientific" Studies

And we wonder why science is taken unseriously by so many people today, such as climate change deniers. I am not one of those, but I tend to become sympathetic with them when I see “studies” such as the one published yesterday in WebMD saying that, “Energy Drink Might Harm Blood Vessels.”

First of all, if you read the article, the “study” did not suggest that the drink harms blood vessels, it says that they might cause them to become smaller in diameter for an unspecified period of time. The report does not say if they tested to see how long it took for them to return to normal size, but changing diameter is a normal function of blood vessels and under most conditions is in no way harmful. It can, in fact, be life saving.

Further, it says that, “The study included 44 healthy, non-smoking medical students in their 20s.” No, I didn’t leave off any zeros in the number of people involved in the study.

What was the effect of energy drinks on a sedentary male in his 50s? Well, the study did not address that question, the study was only interested in the drink’s effect on 44 college students, out of a population of 320 million people in this nation. Why is that “study” worth publication?

So when a client change denier reads this “scientific study” and then reads another “scientific study” saying that the oceans will rise thirty feet by the year 2040, I’m not sure that I blame him for disbelieving it.

Sunday, November 04, 2018

What's In A Name?

The name of our nation is “The United States of America,” and yet we repeatedly hear federal legislators say that, "My responsibility is to act in the best interest of the people of my state." They are wrong when they say that, and that is a very big part of the problem this nation faces.

Their real responsibility of a federal legislator elected by the people of a state is to represent the principles which are held by a majority of the people of that state in serving the best interest of the nation as a whole.

When legislators focus is on representing only the best interest of the people of the state they serve then we become the "Divided States of America."

We have, in fact become 485 constituencies (435 districts in the House and 50 states), all fighting for the biggest piece of the pie and willing to sabotage not only each of the other 484 constituencies, but willing to sabotage the nation as a whole in order to fatten the purse of one small piece.

The legislators are not supposed to be "bringing home the bacon" to enrich their constituency, they are supposed to be governing the nation by casting votes in the legislature which are in accordance with principles that are held by their constituencies and which best serve the well being of the nation as a whole.

Throw In The Towel

Alabama 29, LSU 0, and the game was not that close. The Tigers offense was in Tide territory only once, and that was due to an Alabama facemask penalty. The announcers kept yammering about "keep the game close until Devin White returns" (at halftime, from prior game targeting suspension), but his name was not mentioned once in the second half.

This was a coaching failure. The offense kept doing what was not working, running up the middle into a solid wall, and attempting deep pass routes which got the quarterback sacked. Orgeron added stupidity of getting his quarterback sacked on his own goal line with 3 minutes remaining in the first half, and of attempting a field goal (which missed) when down 22 points with eight minutes left in the game. Even if successful, that three points would have contributed nothing toward winning the game.

Maybe the brain trust down in Baton Rouge should not have been quite so quick to dump Les Miles.

Friday, November 02, 2018

If You Have To Say It...

Headline today, "Oakland Raider Players Say They Have Not Quit."   Well, having just been beaten 34-3 by a team with a record of 1-7, maybe it would be better if they had quit. What does it say about their skill level if that performance last night was their best effort?

Thursday, November 01, 2018

Impending Doom No Longer Impending

The oceans are warming much faster than we once thought, have now reached very close to the boiling point, so now we must stop emitting greenhouse gasses altogether within a matter of weeks or we will all die next month.

Well, perhaps not, but the hyperbole is pretty close to that. The operative clause in this piece of news, however, is that, "Researchers using a new method to calculate the amount of heat absorbed by the world's oceans..."

New scientific method. If current research is not sufficiently dramatic, change the research method.