Thursday, July 31, 2008
Tuesday, July 29, 2008
Jackson and I played a game of "red ball" ... the only rule to this game was that we had to use the red ball.
On Sunday, we went to visit the USS Midway, which is now a museum. I used to work with the Midway back in '79 and '80, when it was homeported in Japan. Now it's a museum. (Damn, I'm old.) But it's a really well-done museum with lots of interactive stuff. Really cool.
Monday, July 21, 2008
One time, I inadvertently crashed a working lunch for negotiations between the Bosnian and Serbian sides. I've seen friendlier faces at an Appalacian family feud. It was a damn good thing their weapons were checked at the door.
The whole peace process almost came unglued one night when a Serbian general took a wrong turn and wound up at a NATO checkpoint at the border between Serb and Bosnian sides. The NATO soldiers arrested him, as they were supposed to do under the accords signed by all sides. Holy moly, you'd have thought we launched an unprovoked attack on the Serbian Motherland! Things were hot and testy for quite a while, and the Serbs were a millimeter away from pulling out of the agreement. But eventually everybody understood that the Serb general really did take a wrong turn, nothing more, and relations returned to their "Appalacian family feud" normality.
What's this got to do with Karadzic? Well, at the time, there was a huge push in Western countries for NATO forces to arrest Karadzic and Ratko Mladic, the senior Serb general in Bosnia. It was a thirst for blood masquerading as "justice". However, the NATO commander at the time, Admiral Smith, didn't want to do it. His rationale was that NATO was there to bring peace to the country. Once peace was established, then you could bring about justice. But if you wanted "justice" first, then there would be no peace.
Admiral Smith was right. Bosnia, Serbia, and Croatia have been at peace now for twelve years. It's not the greatest peace, and they're certainly not bosom buddies, but there has been no large-scale violence. And rather than NATO military forces shooting their way into some Serbian stronghold to bring Karazic to "justice", it was Serbian forces themselves who arrested him. They finally got tired of dealing with economic sanctions from the European community. And they're better prepared to deal with disgruntled Serbians than NATO is.
Let's hope this experience is not lost on those negotiating in the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts.
Sunday, July 20, 2008
Thursday, July 17, 2008
Since there's no jury in this trial, Judge Thornburg graciously let me sit in the jury box so I could get these drawings.
The day I attended the trial, there was only one witness all day. He was an expert witness for North Carolina. He had two points to make: (1) TVA could have put pollution control measures in place anytime it wanted in the past and still can, and (2) the expert witness for TVA is an idiot. Everything else he said was a variation on those two themes. There. I just saved you 8 hours of listening to expert testimony.
Sunday, July 13, 2008
In addition to his other talents, Bob is a helluva good photographer. He put together two exceptionally beautiful online photo books based on the trip. One is basically a record of their trip. The other is about Bob's impressions of China as seen through the faces of the people he encountered there. I recommend taking a look at them both.
Click here for the family travel book.
Click here for the Faces of China book.
Saturday, July 12, 2008
Thursday, July 10, 2008
So what brought these musings on? Well, I stumbled across a couple of videos on YouTube that featured the ol' "Wordenski Maru". Really cool to see the ship operating; brought back a lot of memories. These videos were shot long after I transferred, but they show the ship as I remember it. Well, almost: one video shows a 5" gun turret firing shells, which was from an older destroyer, as the Worden didn't have guns like that.
This video was taken while getting underway from Pearl Harbor ...
Missiles painted blue are training units that can't be fired. Missiles painted white are the real thing. And this video is the real thing!
Sunday, July 06, 2008
Friday, July 04, 2008
Thursday, July 03, 2008
Tuesday, July 01, 2008
It doesn't really matter whether George Bush or Ehud Olmert launches the attack. The end result would be the same. Let's step through it.
- An American or Israeli attack is launched against Iranian nuclear facilities. Some, but not all, of the facilities would be destroyed. The Iranian program would be set back months, if not years, but not ended. (Remember that the US intelligence community issued a National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) last December that said the Iranians stopped their program back in 2003, but didn't dismantle it. In other words, the attack would be against a program that isn't doing anything anyway.)
- The Iranians are a proud and nationalistic people, pretty much like us. And like us, they have an idiot in the front office who would love nothing more than to get involved in a war. The Iranian idiot is Ahmadinajad, whose approval ratings are on par with George Bush's. But to the Iranians, Ahmadinajad is their idiot, so any attack on him is an attack on all. So they'll rally around the flag, just like we did after 9/11. An attack on Iran will instantly give Ahmadinajad all the credibility with his own people that he currently doesn't have. And he'll use it.
- The Iranians could lob a few ineffectual missiles at Israel. Some might even hit it somewhere. More importantly, they'll shut off the Straits of Hormuz, through which approximately 20% of the world's oil supply moves. How? By launching a few attacks by aircraft, surface vessels, and surface-to-surface missiles. All they have to do is hit one or two tankers, maybe sink one, and no tanker owner will send his ship through there. Plus, it'll create an ecological disaster that would make the Exxon Valdez look like a kid spilled his Coke.
- Our Navy is permanently operating in the Persian Gulf just for this contingency. So the ships will get underway and try to keep the Straits open. But it will take time to knock out the Iranian capabilities and then convince the oil shippers that it's safe to go back in the pond. Months.
- Meanwhile, what do you think will happen to the price of oil when 20% of the world's supply is suddenly unavailable? We've seen wild price swings on minor things like a militia attack on a Nigerian oil rig. Right now oil is at $143/barrel; it could easily double or triple, meaning gas would be $8-$12 per frickin' gallon.
- Now picture what happens to the US economy with gas prices that high. People quit driving. (Great for the environment, not so good for the pocketbook of your average Joe). Trucking firms don't operate. Airlines scale back their flight schedules to almost nothing, or else go out of business entirely. With transportation costs skyrocketing, everybody else has to raise their prices to pay for it. Wages can't rise nearly as fast, so people will cut back their spending to just the basics. So tourism will come to an abrupt end. Goodbye ski resorts, beach towns, art towns, artists, Disneyworld, and much of the economy of every state in the Union. There are already rumors that GM might go bankrupt due to the drop in demand for its SUV's and trucks; if nobody can even buy their small cars, then they'll definitely go under. There won't be a ripple effect, there will be a tsunami of small, medium, and large companies closing their doors and throwing people out of work. Recession, hell, it sounds like a depression to me.
- And if the US goes into a recession/depression, so will the rest of the world. China's economy is built on providing cheap stuff to US consumers, so if we're not buying, they're in a world of hurt. Europe's economy is closely linked to the US's and is based in large part on oil as well, so their economic troubles will mirror ours. The "developing nations" won't have markets to sell to, so they'll suffer too.
- We've already seen riots around the world recently related to sudden spikes in food prices. What do you think will happen when all prices spike, while income doesn't?
I don' think this is a worst-case scenario. I think it's a realistic one. In fact, it probably understates the consequences, since there are always factors that nobody foresees.
And all this to get the Iranians to stop a program that they already stopped in 2003.
Take action now. Write your senators and congressmen. Letters to the editor. Picket. Whatever. We can't afford for this to happen.