Wednesday, August 30, 2006

People watching

So I was stranded outside the HyVee in Ames today after buying my food because my roommates and I had a little miscommunication; I thought they were done shopping when they weren't. Anyway, had a chance to do a little people watching; we definitely have some interesting people in this town.

First these two attractive 18 or so year old girls come out of HyVee and get into their gigantic Chevy conversion van. So that was kind of weird. Then this older black gentleman rolls up in an ancient Mercury minivan. He's smoking a cigarette, so he pauses after stepping out of the car to smoke the cigarette for another 15 seconds. When he comes back out after shopping, he's already got another one lit and is puffing away. These two Asian chicks pulled up in a sky-blue Ford Explorer listening to, of all things, gangster rap. Speaking of music, the next guy seemed like a rather interesting character. He looked like your typical teenage hipster who should be driving a piece of crap late '80s car and listening to Good Charlotte. Instead he's driving an extremely well kept gold Sebring convertible with the top down and is blasting Justin Timberlake's SexyBack.

The person that took the cake, however, was the owner of the car parked next to me. He had four bumper stickers on the back of his car: a peace sign, "Legalize Freedom: Vote Libertarian," Free Tibet, and "Don't blame me; I voted Libertarian." He walked up sporting Birkenstocks and a scruffy beard, carrying bags full of soy milk and organic food. As he drove off, the strains of Phish filled the air.

It was perfect.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Disputed elections

I know that many in this country have complained pretty heavily about the behavior of the left in regards to both the 2000 and 2004 elections, but at least we're not Mexico.

"Mexico leftist to create parallel govt."


I'm Polish!

According to this quiz, anyway...

You scored as Poland. Your army is Poland's army.
Your tenacity will form a concept in the history of your
nation and you're also ready to continue fighting even
if your country is occupied by the enemy. Other nations
that are included in this category are Greece, Norway,
Belgium and the Netherlands.





British and the Commonwealth






United States


Soviet Union




France, Free French and the Resistance


In which World War 2 army you should have fought?
created with

h/t: Cdr Salamander.

Also, sorry for the recent dearth of posts. I'm nursing a pretty serious cold, so sleep has taken up the time I would normally be blogging in. Hopefully I'll be back to normal soon.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Tarmac Saturday

Two is better than one, right? North American certainly thought so when they created the F-82 Twin Mustang, which is today's feature.

The Twin Mustang is an interesting aircraft. Originally conceived in the waning years of WWII as a long range escort fighter for B-29 raids over Japan, it was turned into a night fighter, fought the first (and one of the most important) air battles of the Korean War, and had its swansong flying its original mission, escorting the gargantuan B-36 over the Arctic.

As I said, the Twin Mustang was designed as a long range escort fighter for B-29 raids on Japan. Both cockpits had flight controls; this was to help alleviate pilot fatigue on the anticipated long raids in the relatively cramped cockpit of a fighter. While the F-82 simply looks like two P-51Hs joined together, it was actually a completely new design. Each fuselage was slightly lengthened, and the plane featured a completely new center wing section, tail, propellers, in addition to having a new four wheel landing gear. Good picture here featuring both aircraft:

An interesting feature of the F-82 is that it is the only USAF aircraft to have a trainer version with more available power than the line version. The reason for this is that the prototypes and early P-82B models were powered by the excellent Rolls-Royce Merlin engine. Unfortunately, political pressure forced North American to start using the U.S. produced inferior Allison V-1710 with the P-82C model, which resulted in a lower top speed and poorer high altitude performance. The -B model was designated as a trainer while the -C was the first one to see real line duty, so the end result was the only USAF aircraft whose trainer version was more powerful than the standard version.

As you may have guessed, the end of WWII eliminated the need for a B-29 long range escort fighter, but the USAF needed a replacement for its old P-61 Black Widow night fighters. As I mentioned last week, all-weather jet interceptors were in rather short supply immediately after WWII, so the F-82 was drafted to stand in. This model was designated the F-82G, and was substantially different than the standard escort fighter. The biggest difference was the mounting of a radar in a "long dong" pod beneath the center wing section. The radar was operated from the right side seat, where the co-pilot's station was replaced with a radar operator's station.

The F-82G saw service in the opening months of the Korean Conflict, including, as I mentioned above, one of the most pivotal and least-known air battles of the conflict. Wikipedia has a good summary of the incident here. Suffice to say that it is very possible that the presence of F-82Gs overhead while civilian evac ops were going on may have prevented the escalation of the Korean War into WWIII. In addition to this pivotal battle, the F-82G saw service in Korea until 1951, when it was replaced with the F-94 Starfire. At this time, all F-82Gs were rotated through a depot in Japan where they were upgraded to the F-82L standard, which equipped them for cold weather ops, primarily escorting B-36 Peacemaker bombers in the Arctic. The -L model served in this duty until a lack of spare parts and high hours made it prohibitive to keep them flying, resulting in the retiring of the fleet in 1954. The F-82 was the last piston engined fighter to fly for the USAF.

However, this is not the F-82's only claim to fame. On 27 Feb. 1947, a P-82B named "Betty Jo" set a record that stands to this day when it flew the 5,051 miles from Hawaii to NYC. This flight set and holds the records for longest non-stop flight made by a propeller driven fighter, and the fastest that such a distance has been covered in a piston-engined aircraft.

That will wrap it up for this week's feature; hope you enjoyed it. Be sure to check out SJS's Flightdeck Friday. He's discussing the P4M Mercator and other ferrets. Also, next week be on the lookout for something completely different: a enormous intercontinental cruise missile powered by a nuclear reactor.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Three months

Three months. That's months, not weeks. That's what it's going to take for the "European-led" U.N. force to deploy to Lebanon.

And people wonder why the world is fed up with the U.N. As a bit of comparison, the U.S. military had infiltrated Afghanistan and begun bombing less than one month after 9/11. Two months after 9/11, Kabul had fallen. A little over three months after 9/11 Tora Bora had fallen and the Taliban were no more (insurgency notwithstanding). So, in the amount of time it took the U.S. military to deploy from a dead stop without warning and completely conquer a country, the U.N. is going to manage to "deploy" a force that is not there to disarm Hezbollah by force. I'm not sure what other purpose the U.N. is intending the force to have, but there it is. Hezbollah is going to lay own it's arms through the political process. Which is why the U.N. force is deploying with "very permissive" Rules of Engagement. Because, you know, Hezbollah doesn't shoot guns at people or anything. But just in case.

Three months. A lot of things can happen in three months. This entire U.N. force is going to be a joke; like I said previously, I really can see Bosnia all over again. A U.N. led force that no one wants to take responsibility for, almost certainly muddled RoE, and an enemy that is media-savvy and isn't afraid to take hostages.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

More Somalia

Bill Roggio has a good summary of the current situation in Somalia. What I got out of it is what everyone has been saying all along: Afghanistan, part II: electric boogaloo.

Why I'll never trust the media

Because they continue to allow shenanigans like this to happen. Shenanigans that imperil an ally's war effort. And more importantly, they make absolutely no effort to correct them, or more importantly, catch them before they are printed/aired. But hey, at least all their fakes are belong to us.

Bubb Rub

Best. News story. Ever.

Whistle goes WHOO-WHOOOOOO!!

IT gurus

So you know what I really like? When IT guys make something "better" by making it take twice as long and requiring you to open up 2 additional programs. All I was trying to do was print off my class schedule in the AFROTC computer lab in the Armory and instead of just printing like it used to do, I had to run the Microsoft Office installer, open up a completely separate "document viewing" application, and then click print again. And then have it open up another "document viewing" window. So I can't print. Wonderful.

I love progress.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006


Sorry for the lack of posting. I've been busy getting back in the swing of things with school; physics, Calc III, statics, and AerE 261 do not an easy semester make. I've got a post in the works about the oath of enlistment I swore on Tuesday (don't worry, I'm still in college; I'll explain later) and Tarmac Saturday should be on schedule, featuring the F-82. Now would be a good time to check out the blogroll.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Israel and Lebanon

So. Israel thought that airpower alone could end the conflict (you wonder how many times it's going to take for people to realize the folly of that one.) Israel thought wrong. The U.S. and Israel thought France, in combination with the U.N., would deploy a sizeable force with teeth that would actually disarm Hezbollah. Now, Sec. Rice says that she hopes that Hezbollah will eventually lay down their arms voluntarily. France is deploying 200 engineers, the U.N. is trying to force down Israel's throat peacekeepers from countries who, as a matter of policy, don't support their right to exist, and the eventual force is going to be (hopefully) lead by the Italians, of all people. Does anyone else see Bosnia happening all over again here? 320 UNPROFOR soldiers dead, countless millions of dollars, and the end result was that NATO had to go in because the U.N. refused to do its job. Now, what I consider the worst is that we're going to send $230 million in aid to Lebanon. That we won't get credit for, because Hezbollah is still providing security in the south. So we're basically going to be indirectly bankrolling Hezbollah and increasing their stature in the areas that they control.

Good plan. I've got a better one. Israel grows a pair and decides to fight. We back Israel while telling the U.N. and the rest of the international community to go f**k themselves. We allow Israel to control the area while calling on Lebanon to back it's statements up and start training their army to take on Hezbollah. Israel does their best to wipe out Hezbollah, then Israel pulls out, the Lebanese Army steps in, and we put those $230 million to use with the Lebanese knowing that it's the Lebanese government that is their benefactor, not Hezbollah.

New Sisyphus has related thoughts.


August 22nd

Tomorrow is August 22nd. Do you know where your Iranian nukes are?


Law Enforcement Against Prohibition. This is probably one of the most important videos you will watch this year. It's well worth watching even if you are already against the War on Drugs, because the members of LEAP do such a great job of presenting their argument.

h/t: Radley Balko

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Hagel triangulates to the right

I'm sorry, but after the man compared Iraq to Vietnam and said we were losing (without any context) I view everything he says through a very cynical prism. According to Senator Hagel, the GOP has lost its way. Well, duh. When the party of "fiscal responsibility" is running up record deficits and refuses to fight pork spending, then yes, I'd say it's lost its way. When the party of free trade continues to enact protective tariffs, then yes, I'd say it's lost its way. While he's been a staunch international free trade defender, I'm pretty sure he could do a little more about pork.

And regardless of how sincere he is, I can't view this as anything more than triangulation. It's good to see someone higher up in the GOP speaking of a return to what the party is supposed to be all about, but I'll reserve my applause for when he actually does something about it.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Tarmac Saturday

Today we're going to go back in time, to a time where dads came home to martinis, no problem was too much for Ward to solve in half an hour and this guy was the first line of defense for America:

Er, wrong Mighty Mouse. THIS is what I had in mind:

That's the Lockheed F-94 Starfire, one of this week's features. The Starfire and its counterpart, the Northrop F-89 Scorpion were the USAF's front-line interceptors for much of the 1950s.

Both aircraft got their start in similarly worded USAF requests for a jet powered night fighter/interceptor. The F-89 was designed to meet a 1945 USAF request for a jet powered night fighter that would replace the WWII era P-61. It was a twin-seat radar equipped interceptor, powered by two afterburning Allison J35s. The Scorpion was originally to be armed with 6 20mm cannon mounted in a trainable nose turret. However, the Scorpion ran into several developmental problems, and did not have its first flight until 1948. These developmental problems got some in the USAF anxious, for the West had just learned of the existence of the Soviet's Tu-4, a reverse engineered B-29 with theoretical intercontinental range. This news, coupled with grumblings of a possible Soviet atomic bomb (they would test their first bomb in 1949), caused the USAF to want a modern interceptor NOW. A new requirement was drawn up in 1948 for a jet powered radar equipped interceptor that could be ready within the next year.

Enter Lockheed. They took the TF-80 (T-33) trainer version of the first operational jet fighter, the P-80, stuck a radar from the B-36 in the nose, added a new afterburning jet engine, lengthened the fuselage to relocate the center of gravity, and voila: one ready made all-weather interceptor. The Starfire had its first flight in 1949, only a year after the initial specification was issued. The Starfire was originally armed with 4 .50 machine guns mounted in the nose, underneath the AN/APG-33 radar. An incremental improvement, the F-94B, was fielded in 1951. It featured updated and more reliable avionics and electronics along with new ILS. A det. was sent to Korea during the war, with the Starfire racking up 4 kills. However, most of its time was spent doing yeoman duty on alert on various bases on the periphery of North America, including a permanent det. at Thule AB in Greenland to back up the DEW line. The Bravo model was transfered to ANG service in 1954; in ANG service some received an armament upgrade of an additional four .50 machine guns mounted in the wings, bringing the total to 8.

Meanwhile, the F-89 entered initial service with the USAF in 1950 with the -A model. Dropping the 20mm turret, it was fitted with permanent wingtip fuel tanks and armed with up to 16 five-inch aerial rockets or 3200 lb. in bombs. Only eight -A models were completed before the Scorpion was upgraded to the -B model, which featured new avionics. However, the -B model suffered from chronic engine problems, leading to the -C model, which was another upgrade intended to fix the engine problems. It didn't, and also discovered major structural fatigue in the wings, leading to the refit of all 194 existing -A, -B, and -C models.

By this time it should be apparent just how prescient the USAF was in ordering the additional Starfire; the original Scorpion interceptor would not come fully online until the -D model in 1954. By that time the Starfire had been in service for four years. In fact, the last production version of the Starfire, the -C model, had been delivered before the Scorpion was totally online.

The -C model was a rather large redesign of the original F-94; originally it was to be designated the F-97, but it was decided to keep the F-94 designation, quite possibly for political reasons (it being easier to purchase a new aircraft when it is simply an "upgrade" of an existing airframe; see the Navy and compare the Hornet vs. the Super Hornet: completely different aircraft, but they share the same base F/A-18 designation. But I digress). The -C model featured a thinner, more efficient wing, a completely new and more powerful engine (the P&W J40), a new AN/APG-40 radar, a new E-6 fire control system, and new armament in the form of an all-rocket arsenal, mounted in the nose (as shown in the first picture above).

The F-94C went on to exemplary service, only having one major issue, which was the fact that the FFAR rockets, while effective, created so much smoke during firing that they blinded the crew. The solution was to move the rockets to midwing pods, where the smoke did not create as much of an issue. The F-94 was finally retired in 1959 as more capable interceptors started entering service.

As mentioned above, the first major production model of the F-89 was the -D model, but that didn't enter service until 1954. When it finally did enter service, it, like the Starfire, got rid of the cannon armament and used FFAR rockets mounted in pods of 52 on the wingtips. It also used the same AN/APG-40 radar and E-6 fire control system as the F-94. Over 600 were built.

The next production variant of the F-89 is the -H, which entered service in 1956. It featured an E-9 fire control system (like the early F-102) and massive new wingtip pods which held three Falcon missiles and 21 FFARs, which meant a total of (usually) 3 GAR-1 semi-active radar guided missiles, 3 GAR-2 infrared guided missiles, and 42 FFARs. Perhaps unsurprisingly, problems with the E-9 fire control system delayed its introduction into USAF service, by which time it was already being surpassed by more advanced interceptors like the F-102, so it was rather quickly and unceremoniously withdrawn.

The final production variant of the F-89 is the -J, which is the one I find most interesting. Why? It was the only F-89 designed to fire the MB-1 Genie nuclear anti-aircraft rocket. Yes, you heard correctly, an air-to-air missile (albiet unguided) armed with a nuclear warhead, designed to take out several bombers in formation with one missile. The -J replaced the standard Falcon/FFAR wingtip pods with 600 gallon fuel tanks and mounted one Genie under each wing. Occasionally there was a provision for an additional 4 Falcon conventional missiles. An F-89J became the first and only aircraft to ever fire a live Genie rocket. It was under the auspices of Operation Plumbbob in 1957. The -J was the longest service of the Scorpion variants, proudly serving in the ANG until 1969.

All this talk of FFARs has made me remember just how unguided those things were. As SJS points out, "The folding-fin rockets jinked around like crazy until the fins deployed, and the usual comment was "it was a wonder anybody could hit anything with them." Attacks on target drones apparently bore this out." I've also read a story of a B-45 Tornado that was towing a target and ended up having a Scorpion accidentally lock on it; the rockets were fired, but not a single one hit the Tornado. Granted, they weren't fully loaded since it was a practice run, but still.

Overall, the F-94 and F-89 both provided a blanket of protection (in conjuntion with such SAMs as Nike-Ajax and Nike-Hercules) over the U.S. in the 1950s; today, the sacrifices made by these personnel are largely forgotten, especially when compared to Korea, which just preceeded most of these aircraft's time, and Vietnam, which just exceeded them. It's an interesting window into the past, when we honestly thought that nuclear war was survivable, even winnable, just so long as we could prevent enough of his bombers from getting through.

Be sure to tune in next week when we look at yet another interceptor (I promise, this is the last one for awhile) from the post WWII but still piston engined era. The P/F-82 Twin Mustang. Also, make sure to check out Flightdeck Friday (parts 1 AND 2) over at SJS. He's doing one of my favorite Navy aircraft, the F4D, or more affectionately, the Ford.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Snakes. On a plane.

Sorry for the lack of posting, I've been getting moved in to Ames. I'm living in an apartment (albeit university owned) this year on the north side of campus with some other AFROTC cadets. Tarmac Saturday should be ready for tomorrow; we're looking at the F-89 and F-94. But that's not the real news. The real news is that (Motherfuckin') Snakes on a (motherfuckin) plane came out yesterday. Samuel L. Jackson. Snakes. On a plane. What more do you need? A really good, really camp movie. Probably made all the better by the fact that I saw it in a packed theater in a college town where half the theater was quoting all the lines, and the other half was throwing out random comments during the entire movie. Also made better by there either only being a few good actors in the film (Samuel L. Jackson, a couple of the stewardesses, and Champ from Anchorman) or by the entire cast realizing what the film was and really camping the performance up. Which is likely, because the production company wanted to change the name to Pacific Flight 121; Samuel L. Jackson said that the movie he made was called Snakes on a Plane, and that's what it was going to be.

Bottom line is that if you are between the ages of 17 and 25, you must see this movie.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Quick thoughts

Not gonna have much tonight or tomorrow because I have a Halo LAN party to get to tonight and an end of the summer $20 poker tournament to attend tomorrow. If you aren't familiar with a LAN party, it's best described as a "nerd" party. 10 or so of us get together with our computers, a bunch of ethernet cable, and a couple hubs and/or switches, link everything together, and play Halo against each other for the entire night, while consuming large amounts of Red Bull and Mountain Dew.

Just a few thoughts:

First, saw an interesting phrase painted on the back of a plumbing van today. "How can a moral wrong be a civil right? It can't!" Made me think.

Next, the cease fire in Lebanon. I'm not going to say much about this because if I do I'm likely to start swearing a blue streak (that's how pissed I am about this complete failure), but I think it's best summed up by what my Dad said to me the other day. We were at Mass, and during the General Intercessions one of the prayers was for a cease-fire to come soon to war torn Lebanon, Israel, etc. He leaned over to me and said, "I'd rather pray for peace." And that's about the half of it. There are no cease-fires with these people. You will not have peace until they are destroyed. And in case anyone is wondering if I have evidence to back this up, 10 Katyushas were launched from Lebanon today. The IDF did not respond.

Finally, one last absurdity from the French general in command of UNIFIL, or as I like to call it, the U.N. flag waving force. Here's why: "We were very saddened to see villages destroyed, columns of refugees, the region totally devastated. Of course, it breaks your heart," (the general) said. "Despite it all, we kept our flag flying high."

They "kept their flag flying high." They're French, so I guess I should be glad they were at least waving the U.N. blue flag and not a white one. /snark

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Ahmadinejad blogs

Iranian whack-job President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has his own blog. It's an interesting the same way that Mein Kampf is an interesting read. You're getting a glimpse inside the mind of a madman. His first post recounts his childhood and his impressions of the Iran-Iraq War. Like I said, worth checking out if only to follow the precept of knowing your enemy.

One thing did strike me while reading, though. Something to ponder for those who feel we're living in a theocracy. Here's the opening from his first post: "In the Name of God, the Most Merciful, the Most Compassionate; Oh Almighty God, please, we beg you to send us our Guardian- who You have promised us- soon and appoint us as His close companions."


That is what a theocracy looks like, folks. Well, that, and this...

For those of you who aren't familiar with this picture, it's what the mullocracy that's running Iran does with homosexuals. 16 year old homosexuals.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Tarmac Saturday

Steeljaw Scribe, a blog I've started reading recently, has a feature called "Flightdeck Friday" in which he takes a lesser-known, rare, or just plain weird USN carrier aircraft. Living up the adage that imitation is the highest form of flattery, I've decided to start my own feature over here called Tarmac Saturday featuring the cool, rare, or strange among USAF aircraft. Starting it off, we'll take a look at what happens when you shoehorn the engine that powered the B-29, the Wright Duplex Cyclone 18-cylinder engine, into a single-engine high performance interceptor.

The Curtiss XP-62 developed out of a Jan. 1941 USAAC requirement that called for a heavily armed single seat interceptor that was capable of a max speed of 468 mph at 27,000 ft. and a minimum armament of 8 20mm or 12 .50 machine guns. By comparison, the heaviest armed aircraft of the war were either the P-47, with it's 8 .50 machine guns or the P-61B with it's 4 20mm cannon and 4 .50 machine guns. The XP-62 was definitely designed to pack a serious punch. The airframe was pretty standard; cantilever low-wing monoplane. Things got interesting around the front end. As I mentioned before, the powerplant for this aircraft was the same one used eventually to power the B-29: the Wright Duplex Cyclone R-3350-17, an 18 cylinder 2300 hp radial behemoth. The Duplex Cyclone powered two three bladed contra-rotating propellers. 2300 hp was pretty heavy by WWII standards, but for an aircraft designed in 1942 this was astronomical. In addition, the engine was to be fitted with a turbocharger and the cockpit was to be pressurized. Turbochargers were just starting to really become common, while this aircraft was the first fighter designed from the ground up with a pressurized cockpit, so the XP-62 was a relatively advanced aircraft.

In August of 1941 some changes in the proposal were specified: the 1537 lbs. in weight were to be added, the top speed was dropped to 448 mph, and the armament was finalized at 8 20mm cannon. Design work continued into 1942, but the aircraft went through several redesigns, mainly aimed at cutting weight. Eventually the XP-62 shed some 1500 lbs., through structural redesign, dropping 4 of the cannon, and removing a propeller de-icing system. The USAAF placed an order for 100 on May 25, 1942, but then cancelled that order on July 27, 1942. The cancellation was issued because the production of the P-62 would have interfered with the Curtiss licensed production of essential Republic P-47s. Implied in this reasoning is the fact that by July 1942 the U.S. really had no need for a high performance interceptor. We were already gearing up for offensive weapons to take the fight to the enemy.

However, this wasn't the end for the XP-62. Final design and work on the XP-62 continued. Chronic problems with the pressurized cabin led to the decision to fly it without the cabin installed. The XP-62 had its first flight on July 21, 1943. Flight testing proceeded slowly due to the XP-62's low priority, and in the autumn of 1943 it was scrapped.

The XP-62 is an interesting "what if." While the extremely short flight test period resulted in few performance specs, the estimated ones compare favorably with the top interceptors of the war, the Fw-190-D9 and its sister bird, the Ta-152. Considering these aircraft were designed 2-3 years after the XP-62, that is no small feat.

P.S.- Sorry for the lack of pictures this week, but one problem with doing rare aircraft is that there aren't many pictures available. I promise more next week, including some gratuitous FFAR shots.

Up next week, we'll look at some interceptors from another era, the rocket-armed Northrop F-89 Scorpion and the Lockheed F-94 Starfire.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Christopher Walken branches out

Dale Dobson asks the question, what would have happened had Christopher Walken not become an actor?

The answers will amuse, surprise, and shock you. Make sure you check out the clergy; it's my favorite.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Jack Bauer for Senate!

Jack Bauer is running for Senate as a write-in candidate in both Massachusetts and New York. Sometimes you have to break the rules in order to save America. I think we can agree that Jack would be strong on defense, and as an added bonus we know from last season that he's not afraid to pick fights with the Executive Branch.

One man. Two states. No other choice.

Bauer in 06.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Yip, yip, yip

That's the sound the Argentines are making again over the Falklands. The Argentine President has been shooting his mouth off and even went as far as to create a special parlimentary group to focus on how to win back the islands. Supposedly the Argentines are attempting to wage economic warfare by banning charter flights to the islands; this is rather amusing considering the state of Argentina's economy.

The bottom line is that the English are spending $191 million a year on the forces they garrison there. The Argentines aren't getting the islands back anytime soon. The whole issue (along with the actual war in '82) does provide an interesting look into a nation's psyche; how seemingly insignificant issues like who owns a pile of rocks can matter so much.

USAF Ad Campaign

That's what this initiative that the latest Letter to Airmen talks about is. And it's exactly what the Air Force needs. Let's cut through the B.S. and call this for what it is: a plea for money. As Secretary Wynne alludes to in his letter, because we do our job so well, the public takes the Air Force for granted, and this lack of awareness ultimately roots itself in the Hobson's choice the USAF was recently given: face cuts in several new weapons systems, including some replacing 50 year old aircraft, or lose 40,000 personnel. Keeping this type of budgeting up will result in a gutted Air Force that cannot defend the country. So we're doing something about it, by educating the public about the Air Force and what it's contributing to the GWOT. Good on Secretary Wynne and the rest of the leadership for trying something, but I suspect that we'll need a lot more than this.

That said, a grassroots effort IS necessary, because in the public's eye all the Air Force is good for is flashy jets and the Thunderbirds...and in the public's mind, this doesn't transfer well to the fighting in Afghanistan and Iraq. So person to person education is necessary; I just hope that it doesn't stop here.

Monday, August 07, 2006

The First Media War?

Really good read over at Winds of Change relating to how we are in the First Media War (and have been for the past 20 years, and will be for the next 50+). It's interesting especially to note the author's background; previously he was "developing statistical interviewing and measurement technology to answer the question of "how do we quantify all sorts of qualitative information about the way our company operates" for the civilian sector." He didn't really think about the military applications until he read about 4GW and COIN, but I have to say his quantification of breaking the mediawar down into "messages," "sales," and "options" is right on.

Somalia summary

Good summary of the Somalia situation (albeit a bit outdated considering the recent apparent resolution of the government schism) from the Times.

h/t: Winds of Change

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Somalian consensus?

According to the AP, the Somalian provisional government has resolved its differences and is apparently united again after the weeks of turmoil and resignations that have plagued the government. Ethiopian Foreign Minister Seyoum Mesfin led the delegation that mediated the agreement between Somalia's President and PM.

If the agreement holds up, this is great news. The more united the government is the better chance the situation has of stabilizing to a sort of status quo. While having a Islamist government in power is bad, having an Islamist government control the entire country and be engaged in open warfare against Ethiopia is worse.

Conspiracy nuts

In one corner, we have the 95% of the U.S. population that isn't insane and who understands Occam's razor.

In the opposite corner, we have a physicist who associates with education professors who are "smart enough to know that fire from airplanes can't melt steel."

You can't make this stuff up. I really wish I could get inside one of their minds for a week just so I could experience what it's like to lose all touch with reality.

AP Hack Job

Interesting "news" article that I caught off the AP wire. Basically a recap of all that is wrong with the conventional wisdom when it comes to Iraq and the reasons for going to war. According to the article, we found no WMD, the WMDs that we did find weren't relevant, there never were any WMDs after Desert Storm, and the only reason we went to war was for WMD. And Bush has "deluded" himself into thinking otherwise.

And this is a supposed "news" article from a news organization. Not the NYT's editorial page, not Time, not a CNN pundit, it's the AP that put this stinking piece of dog shit opinion out there. I really can't do this article justice to how bad and slanted it is. Read it for yourself.

How to tell you've been surfing YouTube too long

When you find the audio from the Miami Vice trailer dubbed to shots from Anchorman. Pretty damn funny though.

BSG Overload

I'm a huge fan of the show, so I'm posting this trailer to tide me over till October.

While searching for the trailer, I found these other two...what happens when you cross the Office and Monty Python with the opening music from BSG? Hilarity!

The House tries to abolish the National Guard

Sound far-fetched? Check out the National Defense Authorization Act. The House passed the Act, which has a portion that would allow the President to take control of the National Guard without the consent of state Governors in the event of "a serious natural or manmade disaster, accident, or catastrophe." If the Federal government can federalize the Guard whenever it wants, what's the point of having a National Guard at the state level?

Exceptions make poor laws. The governors understand that, the House is disregarding it in their grab for power. South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford had this to say...""The idea of federalizing yet another function of government in America is a, the wrong direction, and b, counterproductive. The system has worked quite well, notwithstanding what went wrong with Katrina."

Right on.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Interesting '40s video

comes from Wretchard

Lot's of conclusions to be drawn here, and I'll let you draw your own...just a few quick points. Interesting to note the film's viewpoint on a republic vs. a democracy. Also interesting to note the film's lack of mentioning Stalin or the USSR. Finally, best quote..."But it's in this book, it must be true!"

Moment of Zen

From Brad: "I was struck with a thought today. Hindus believe that we are reincarnated, and our souls traverse human and animal form based on how virtuous or “deserving” we are, right? Humans being the highest non-deity form.

And human population is increasing. Thus, we all must be continuously improving, right, or else we’d all be animals within a couple generations!"

Read the whole thing; he ties the Dodo and wicked elephants in it as well.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Woman gets stuck on toilet, suffers burns

From the you can't make this stuff up file comes a story with a dateline of, where else, Council Bluffs, IA. A woman got stuck on a toilet after someone applied a cement compound. Firefighters had to use nail-polish remover to break the compound down, resulting in burns that were presumably on her ass. *Snicker* The woman said that she hadn't thought about suing the mall; all she wanted was for the police to catch the pranksters and have them sentenced to six months of cleaning mall bathrooms.

Quote(s) of the Day

Come from King of the Hill...

Bobby's holding a soiled cheerleader outfit in his hands, Hank walks in: "There had better be a naked cheerleader under that bed."

Bobby: "I think I'm gonna fail home ec."
Hank: "Of course you are, you're a guy."

Hank (to Peggy): "Did you know Bobby's taking home ec? If he learns to cook and clean for himself, what incentive is he going to have to get married?"

Wednesday, August 02, 2006


It's HOT HOT HOT!!! Now with 50% more crappy guitar and sax solos!!

Make sure you check out at 1:53 where they not only let the only black guy at ASU sing, they show him as well!

h/t: BoingBoing via Chap.

Dude, I'm getting a Dell!

My new Inspiron laptop came in today...1.67 Ghz dual core processor, 17 inch high def screen, 120 GB hard drive, 1GB RAM...yeah, I'm happy. So blogging will be light over the next couple of days as I get that up and running and transfer everything over from my elderly Gateway.

Real quick, it looks like Somalia's interim government continues to fall apart as another 11 ministers resigned yesterday. Also interesting in that article is that it appears that Somalia's president and PM really have no communication as President Abdullahi Yusuf dispatched a delegation to Khartoum to meet with Arab League mediators and representatives of the UIC, but PM Ali Mohamed Gedi said that the talks had been postponed and that he didn't know if the UIC would even show up (unlikely given their statements that no negotiations will take place until Ethiopian troops leave the country).

"I don't know why this team is going to Khartoum or who they would represent," Gedi said.

Quote of the Day

Comes from Dan Gillerman, Israel's ambassador to the U.N.

"I think that President Carter's appearances, op-eds, and speeches are an embarrassment. I think that they are an embarrassment to the great institution of the presidency. I mean, President Carter wasn't that great of a president to start with ... I really don't know what has happened to him over the last few years."
h/t: Chris

Tuesday, August 01, 2006


Lots of talk around the 'net regarding Lebanon, but I'd like to step back for a moment and take the long view. What happens when Israel leaves Lebanon? Obviously Israel will leave southern Lebanon at some time, and judging by the Israeli government's statements, that day will be sooner rather than later. Israel will not stick around to clean up the mess they made. That wasn't the purpose of their operation. The purpose of the operation (which they have, thus far, failed miserably at) was the destruction of Hezbollah. While Hezbollah has been dealt a severe blow, they aren't destroyed. And they won't be destroyed in a month long operation. To be honest, there are really only two ways Hezbollah will be totally and utterly rendered impotent: option 1 is regime change in both Syria and Iran, while option 2 is strengthening Lebanon's government, and more importantly, their army. Both options suck, but we won't have "peace in the Middle East" (meaning peace for Israel and the surrounding area) until we do one of them.

Now, before we go any further, one must accept my statement that the U.N., and more specifically, U.N. peacekeeping forces are inept and powerless at best, and corrupt and criminal at worst. Point being that the U.N. is not an answer for this problem. Any force must be outside of the U.N.'s jurisdiction, if for nothing else than the fact that U.N. has "peacekeeping" forces and this region has no peace to keep. We need peacemaking forces.

So that said, I think it's obvious that option 1 will take at least another generation to achieve (barring something unexpected, like Iran going apeshit with their nukes) because of political realities in the U.S. and on the international stage, so that option isn't relevant to this discussion. Which leaves us with option 2. In order for option 2 to be a viable one, the Lebanese government must obtain a sponsor, someone to fill the role that Iran and Syria occupy with Hezbollah.

Let me step back for a minute and explain why this is so important. The Lebanese people are sick of Hezbollah. They have been for a long time. They kicked Syria out of their country just a few short months ago, so there is no love lost between the Hezbollah-Syria-Iran axis and the Lebanese people. But now all of that anger is directed against Israel, for a basic reason: Hezbollah-Syria-Iran isn't blowing up their country. That anger must be turned back towards Hezbollah, and by extension Syria and Iran, if option 2 is to work. That anger will probably swing back that way automatically once Israel stops attacking and Hezbollah reasserts itself in Lebanon, stronger than ever (if the above linked post is to be believed.)

So, assuming we have our preset conditions of leaving the U.N. out of it and having the Lebanese people reawaken their anger at Hezbollah and Co., how do we go about option 2?

As previously stated, an outside agent must come in and support the Lebanese government in its fight against Hezbollah. So we're clear, what I mean when I say "support" is a couple of things. First, the outside agent must provide a sizeable amount of weapons and military training to the Lebanese military. Second, the outside agent must provide an even larger amount of aid to the Lebanese government for the Lebanese government to distribute in rebuilding the country. Finally, the outside agent must let it be known that it supports the duly elected Lebanese government, and it will not stand idly by should someone *cough Syria cough* choose to overtly interfere with that government.

Who will the outside agent be? In my mind, we have three choices: a U.S. led coalition, a NATO-led force, or some sort of EU operation. To me the EU would be least plausable because the EU does not have the political will to back up this type of operation. Also, they really don't have the military know-how or the military coordination. This requires an organization that has shed its training wheels. In a perfect world, NATO would take on this role, but they are pretty tied up in Afghanistan right now, and are unlikely to want to take on more responsibilities. So that leaves the U.S. While the U.S. might not seem like the best option, I think we can pull it off and here's why: while we're seen as friends of Israel over all else in the Middle East, that perception is rather weak in Lebanon, and in any case the people of Lebanon are more anxious to get rid of Hezbollah. Plus, we wouldn't be acting directly, but would simply be providing support. And that is the crucial difference. While Israel went in to do things herself, this gradually turned the Lebanese people against Israel. They might hate Hezbollah, but they hate getting their homes blown up and losing their country's self respect even more.

How would we go about doing this? President Bush needs to propose this as part of his larger Middle East initiative of promoting liberal democracy. He needs to make sure to emphasize the point that all we are doing is providing aid to the Lebanese government so they can retake their own country from the terrorist thugs who currently control a large chunk of it now. We have no interest in control, and the only troops we have on the ground are advisors who will leave as soon as the Lebanese forces are stood up. But as I said previously, he also needs to emphasize that we will brook no external interference in Lebanese affairs, and that we are prepared to back our promise up with force.

The logistics of it would be extremely simple, and relatively cheap. $50 million 0r so in arms and military aid plus a couple hundred U.S. advisors to train the force. Also worth looking into would be bringing in coalition forces to help train up the Lebanese military; Jordan has helped train Iraqi special forces, and I know several other countries are involved with the training of Iraqi troops. It would definitely be worth it to bring them into this effort as well. In addition to the military aid, we would need around $100 million to disburse to the Lebanese government for rebuilding, especially in Hezbollah controlled areas. It's important to show that the Lebanese government can provide a viable alternative to Hezbollah when it comes to local administration and aid/rebuilding. (For the record, the monetary numbers are just spitballing, but I think they should be relatively accurate, given Lebanon's size and current condition. If anyone thinks they need to be drastically altered, drop me a line.)

Of course, the question is could Bush realistically pull this off. Most would say no, but I would say that it is possible, provided a few things. Bush accepts the fact that he has only 2 years left in office to make his mark, and that the next GOP candidate will distance himself considerably from Bush, and the fact that the GOP is going to lose some seats in Congress, to a variety of reasons, most of them domestic and of Congress' own making. Basically, he needs to say f**k it and just do this.

To me, $150 million, deployment of a couple hundred U.S. advisors, and the possibility of taking a severe political hit is more than worth the price of the start of viable peace in the Middle East.

Carnival of Liberty LVI

Carnival of Liberty LVI (56 for all you uncultured unroman barbarians out there) is up over at Homeland Stupidity. Lots of good posts on liberty from several top-notch bloggers, including your humble correspondent. Check it out!