May 30, 2009

Country Life

I live in southeastern Virginia. This area was, some years ago rather more rural in character than it is now. The neighborhood where my folks live in Portsmouth was surrounded by farms when they moved there and when I moved into my mobile home in Newport News  it was walking distance from a working dairy. The area is all suburbs and congestion now but I occasionally encounter people with no concept of rural life complaining (or boasting) that they live in the sticks...Hampton Roads is not the is the oldest continuously populated urban areas in North America.

Many years ago, I used to live in Zuni in Isle of Wight County which is still somewhat rural (but not really). When we lived there, aside from the main state routes,  we didn't have paved roads...which sucked when the weather was bad....and we depended on wells for water. Before we got a deep well I had to change the filter under the house daily. Aside from the general store/Citgo station and a lawn and garden place, there wasn't any shopping closer than 40 minutes away.  There was a nudist colony about 10 miles away....which took advantage of the isolated nature of the area.  I never went there but I know it was on the Ivor side if the county line, in the vicinity of the insane asylum. The  little town was (and still is) dominated by the grim visage of a ruined grain elevator ...the explosion of which had cracked windows in Smithfield, some 20 miles away. There were also a few (2?) wild  kangaroos...but they are probably all dead now. Even then we were only 40 minutes from a hospital and less than an hour from downtown Norfolk. It wasn't really the wilderness.
 In recent years the area was devastated by the freak disaster that was Floyd and since then the side  roads have been paved (which is a big improvement).
It has also had many of the peanut fields filled with exburbs. These in turn are filled with people who boast of living in the country and how genuine this makes them. At one time I delivered the area (except Zuni) for UPS and at one point, while taking lunch in Windsor, I was told about a local political stink involving those roads. 
When the roads were paved many of the inhabitants of the new exburbs had tried to get the county to NOT pave the roads that did not lead to their little enclaves. They argued that the gravel (and sometimes dirt) roads made the area more authentic and picturesque. This did not sit well with people who had much experience with what it meant to deal with mucky roads in the winter and the terrible dust in the summer. Accourding to the gentleman who told me this, these people had the chutspah to claim that paved roads would encourage more people to miove into the area....just like they had...and they even sued to get the road paving stopped on environmental grounds arguing that the roads for others...(but not for them of course...but then that was a fait acompli) was an environmental problem. When they failed at that they did demand curbside garbage pickup...since it sucks to take ones garbage down to one of the county dumpster stations in ones Prius (these people are so edgy and authentic they can live in the country without a pickup truck). So no...even out in Isle of Wight County...its not the sticks...If someone claims it is cock your eybrow at them.

Why this programming detour?
Well its a tail of country living and all the cool kids are doing it...
At least this cool kid.
 Go read her tale of rural life really she's a professional writer.
It's a 10.0.
It is win. 
Read the whole thing... her writing brings all the boys to the yard.

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May 29, 2009

Fingers are Crossed

Raymond Pritchett, better known as Galrahn, is really one of the best naval policy bloggers out there. Now he has gone on hiatus for undisclosed reasons, but the fact that he has requested prayers for his oldest daughter does not bode well.

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May 27, 2009

An Update

There is a fairly substantial update to the post about that abominably abominable abomination which is mercifully buried far from unsuspecting eyes here. Or you can cut out the middle man and go here.

I'm gonna be appalled either way aren't I?

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Vikings VS Pirates: Round 1

Round one goes to the VIKINGS!

Early this morning, suspected pirates attacked a Greek Bulk Carrier in the Gulf of Aden.  The pirates fired upon the ship with small arms and RPG (Rocket Propelled Grenade). A distress call was picked up by the EU NAVFOR Swedish warship HSwMS MALMO which immediately proceeded to the area.

HSwMS MALMO made visual contact with the attacking skiff and fired warning shots and flares. The skiff stopped after pursuit and was boarded by a VPD (Vessel Protection Detachment).  Weapons, GPS equipment, grappling hooks and barrels of fuel were found on board the skiff. 7 suspected pirates were captured and are at present being held for further investigation........

The Swedes have stationed two Stockholm class corvettes in the area since last year. The tiny vessels are supported by a tender.

Stockholm and Malmo with their tender
The Stockholm class are interesting. These little ships are intended to operate in the Swedish archipelagos as coast defence craft.Their stats via World Navies Today are as follows:

Displacement: 335 tons full load
Dimensions: 50.5 x 7.5 x 2 meters/165.7 x 24.6 x 6.6 feet
Propulsion: 3 shafts; 2 cruise diesels, 4190 bhp, 20 knots; 1 boost gas turbine, 6,000 shp, 32 knots
Crew: 30
Radar: Sea Giraffe 50HC air/surf search
Sonar: SS304 Spira hull mounted, TSM 2642 MF VDS
Fire Control: 9LV 300 missile control
EW: EWS-095 intercept, Philax decoy RL
Armament: 8 RBS-15 SSM, 1 57mm/70cal DP, 1 40 mm AA, 2 21 inch torpedo tubes, 4 LLS-920 ASW RL

 These numbers are a few years old. They have recently had their ASW capability upgraded with a big variable depth sonar and several 40cm ASW torpedoes in place of the 21 inchers . In any event it is very likely they have landed most heavy weapons for this deployment. This would make them very economical to operate in comparison with any other full fledged warships. In theory quarters normally used by the technicians for the heavy weapons could be utilized by boarding teams.

  The fact that a tender supported vessel of this size is meeting success on the other side of the world goes a long way to validating some of Admiral Cebrowski's Streetfighter concepts.

A slightly larger vessel able to be fitted with with ASROC or ( perhaps more realistically)  and some light AAA weapons like Evolved Seasparrow or RAM might very well be a good fit for the USN.

With their heavy weapons removed they would be fairly cheap to operate in "warm war" operations like this but they might be quickly fitted  with their variable depth sonar and ASW weapons (presumably attended to by reservists) so they would act as sub chasers in a hot war  Such a vessel would be much closer to the original "Streetfighter" concept than the LCS it eventually evolved into.

RDNS Skaden of the Flyvefisken class

The closest to this idea is actually the often mentioned  FLYVEFISKEN class in service with Denmark. It's easy to see something like this fitted with the the Franco-Italian MILAS ASW missile in lieu of their Harpoons acting as sub chaser in a hot war. It would be a comparatively efficient  little gunboat in warm ones. The broad work deck could be used for various cargoes such as relief supplies or the drones the LCS prototypes are now testing....In Coast Guard service such a vessel might also tend bouys.

Vessels able to act as tenders for these vessels already exist. Some of the 'gator navy' amphibious vessels could be modifid to do so and most could provide helicopters as well.

It certainly beats ending up with 200 or fewer ships...

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May 25, 2009

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May 20, 2009

Mike Rowe Explains It

A very engaging and thoughtful talk by Mike Rowe of Dirty Jobs. He ties together some of his experiences on the show, philosophy, and the increasing contempt in which out society now holds manual labor.

He also points out the obvious but increasingly ignored fact that theory and practice are two very different things.

I highly recommend you take 20 minutes of your time and watch this. It is important.

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May 16, 2009

Tuckers For Today

A hot rod house  has produced a near replica of the Tucker '48 Torpedo using the original blueprints and mold.

Its not exact of course as the engine is moved a bit forward to improve balance (its almost a mid engine now )and the thing has A/C and a modern electronics fit (GPS/ stereo ect.) but damn....this is cool.

And yet it gets cooler still because they've done a low rider version updated, behold the Lower 48!

A bit more contemporary in style both within and without, it is still very faithful to the Tucker.
Sadly for us (though it is no doubt joyous for them) they are completely booked up at the moment. can dream.....

UPDATE: Wonderduck points out that there is a movie of the Tucker story.

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May 11, 2009

Godspeed Atlantis

Atlantis launched this afternoon on one of the last of NASA's shuttle missions. This is also the final repair and preventive maintenance mission to the Hubble Space Telescope.

Gahlran puts the task facing the astronauts in some perspective.

STS-125 is considered one of the toughest space missions in decades, repairing equipment that was never intended to be repaired in space. For context, imagine replacing a hard drive in your computer, while in a zero gravity environment, while wearing a space suit, while traveling at 17,500 mph, and oh btw you have to replace nearly 100 hard drives. Don't lose those little bitty screws either, because you have to use them to put the thing together when your done.

Difficulties beyond trying to repair items never intended to be fixed in space include the danger of debris from both the Chinese ASAT test and the possibly related breakups of two old Kosmos satellites.How dangerous? NASA estimates the odds of LOCV (that's loss of crew and vehicle!) on this mission at 1 in 185.
The Hubble Space Telescope is one of  the few things considered worth this risk. With its replacement not scheduled to be launched untill 2013...assuming no pragram slippage...the Hubble is one of the most important scientific space assets in existance.
The mission is considered sufficiently hazardous that Shuttle Endeavor is standing by in the event a rescue mission is necessary (and possible).

The STS 125 Crew:7 very gutsy volunteers

NASA's overview of the mission (STS-125) is here.
NASA TV is streaming mission control live here.
One of the astronauts is 'Tweeting' and can be found here. (lolwhut?)

Apropos of nothing, this is the 100th shuttle mission after Challengers last flight.

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General Banality Status

Still no word on Mom.
She was supposed to go into the hospital for the full biopsy just over 2 weeks ago. Unfortunately, she took an aspirin before the appointment which would have invalidated the it was rescheduled. We should know something this Thursday. Dad and I have, of course, secured the aspirin. She has seen a cardiologist and her heart issues are not directly heart related(!?). Rather they are due to inflammation around the heart. Whether this is simple inflammation or actual cancer pressing against her heart we wont know till Thursday. I would think that if it was just an infection they would have caught it, but then I'm not a doctor.

All other issues are fairly trivial by comparison.


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Wonderduck is taking the malware hits so we don't have too.

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May 09, 2009

Star Trek

Be advised that despite being an odd numbered Star Trek film, this movie kicks rather than sucks ass.

The film is at least as good as The Wrath of Khan.
Interestingly, its premise in some ways a mirror image of that film. Wrath of Khan explored the characters long after the series and how they had changed...or not...over the years.  This film ostensibly looks at how the characters started out, but because of the main plot point the film is a total reimagining. This reimagining however is astonishingly faithful to the original.

The characters are all well developed. The development of the Kirk/Spock/McCoy trio is absolutely dead on. (Karl Urban in particular is absolutely brilliant as McCoy.)  

The secondary characters are all well thought out too, Uhura  is pivotal to the story and is every bit the genius she is supposed to be. Sulu, Scotty and Chekov all are well written and acted and its nice to see Chekov be presented as goofy-smart as opposed to...just plain goofy. Bruce Greenwood is superb as Captain Pike.

The villians, despite not being particularly engaging or interesting, work surprisingly well. The villany in this movie is a banal and simplistic evil that nevertheless wreaks untold havoc.
The villans plan is, not to put to fine a point on it....WHACKED, but they have tremendous power, murderous intent and the determination of a pit bull.

Despite the assurances that the film is not aimed at Trekkies there are in jokes and references galore...(a particularly painful "red shirt moment" elicited tremendous laughter from the audience).

I expected the film to be decent or at least interesting, I did not expect it to kick ass and chew bubble gum the way it did. To be sure there are a few logical quibbles and some plot points that are dubious, (mostly revolving around a bumpy bit of exposition at about the halfway point,) but the pacing is superb, the acting excellent and the action nearly non stop. As a sumer action flick this is great. As a Trek film it is one of the best.

4.5 out of 5 bricks

UPDATE: Ubu liked it, so did this guy. (both via)

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More Uninformed K-ON! Blogging

 I still haven't seen K-ON! yet, but this series went on my to-watch list when I first heard about it.
Pixie has had the credits up for two weeks and has some thoughts (including a very considerate earworm warning for the opening). I just now got around to watching them....


The closing is particularly clever and well done.

Well this show is STILL on the too-watch list.

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May 03, 2009

This is a Destroyer

A Japanese destroyer.
There is no such thing as a Japanese aircraft carrier...

Nope nosirree .

Nothing to see here move along.

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May 02, 2009

Technology Marces Ever On

Scott Lowther reports that you can now buy canned canned chicken...A canned chicken.

I cannot do justice to Lowther's sublime commentary.....go see for yourself.

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