mm344: Welcome to interesting times

April 11, 2008

MUDGE’s Musings

This is not the Navy related story I expected to write. But, as always, real life changed my plans.

More than many, the MUDGE household has been observing this past week’s American Airlines MD-80 debacle with more than passing interest.

There have been myriad news stories, in print and on line, much television (I’m told – I never watch TV news). It’s a topic that anyone who flies can relate to.

As it happens, we’re headed off on a much needed vacation next week to see the grandMUDGElets in L.A., and, as American most frequently protects that route with this disappointingly tiny (in the context of: traversing 2/3 of the continent), not to speak of disappointingly elderly (in the context of: acquired cheaply when American absorbed what was left of the once proud TWA many years ago), sardine can (in the context of: so small, there’s never been audio entertainment available, much less an in-flight movie. Not that this is much of a hardship, but, it is a 4-hour flight). It’s an awful flight, in the best of circumstances, especially for a somewhat larger than life person such as yr (justifiably) humble svt. You guessed it: we’ve got tickets on an MD-80 flight.

Q: What’s worse than flying an American Airlines MD-80 to Los Angeles?

A: NOT flying an American Airlines MD-80 to Los Angeles because the flight’s among 1,000 that they’ve been forced to cancel due to inadequate maintenance procedures finally catching up to them.

Read the rest of this entry »


mm312: Fallon the fallen — a bitter defeat for strategic common sense

March 11, 2008

MUDGE’s Musings

A good one gets away, while sleazy politics and politicians linger.

Unaccustomed as I am to following the news moment by moment, I did find myself cruising CNN.com more than usual (i.e., usual = never! exception? election night) awaiting the axe to fall on Eliot Spitzer’s governorship.

Life happened while waiting for something else: Admiral William F. Fallon, head of U.S. Central Command, resigned today.

It took an IM from my ex-naval officer son to open my eyes to the tragic implications. He directed me to a profile of Fallon that appeared last week in Esquire, which was hurriedly updated this afternoon.

esquire

The Man Between War and Peace

By Thomas P.M. Barnett | March 11, 2008, 3:10 PM

The Bush Administration wanted a war with Iran. The head of U.S. Central Command, Admiral William “Fox” Fallon, disagreed. And now, as of March 11, Fallon has resigned.

That’s the update: here’s the story. Read about an amazingly accomplished diplomat in uniform.

Read the rest of this entry »


mm310: There’s still time to Impeach!

March 9, 2008

MUDGE’s Musings

From a site we’ve looked at before (here, and here), and which we proudly display in our blogroll, one that always pussyfoots and minces words addemoticons08047.gif, The Smirking Chimp, comes an intriguing analysis of the Democratic party’s continuing challenge.

The Smirking Chimp

Democrats: Impeach, or Face Humiliation in November

by R.W. Behan | March 7, 2008 – 4:45pm

If the Democrats persist in stonewalling the impeachment of George Bush and Richard Cheney, they invite a humiliating defeat in the presidential election this fall.

For more than a year, the Democrats have gamed the system of Constitutional democracy, refusing to impeach—“It would be too divisive”—in order to assure a Democratic victory in 2008. But the year produced some surprises, and now their scheme stands an excellent chance of backfiring.

Read the rest of this entry »


mm309: The news Bush really hates you to hear

March 8, 2008

MUDGE’s Musings

The ‘R’ word: recession. It’s pretty much inescapable now. The Wall Street Journal was among all the major media to let us know:

wallstreetjournal

Jobs Data Suggest U.S. Is in Recession

Largest Payroll Fall In Five Years Spurs New Stimulus Talk

By SUDEEP REDDY March 8, 2008; Page A1

U.S. employers shed 63,000 jobs last month, the most in five years, reinforcing a widening view that the U.S. is falling into recession. Among economists and politicians, the debate is shifting to how deep the downturn will be and how to ease it.

The jobs dropoff came after the nation lost 22,000 jobs in January, the Labor Department said. In the past, such back-to-back monthly employment declines have occurred only around recessions.

Coming amid continued turmoil in the financial and credit markets, the report sent stocks lower, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average falling 146.70 points Friday to close at 11,893.69. The index lost 3% for the full week.

By far the most distressing feature of this distressing development is that the dimension of the job loss was such a surprise, especially to the guys who are paid good coin to anticipate such news, economists.

Read the rest of this entry »


mm194: Friedman: Coulda, Woulda, Shoulda

November 14, 2007

MUDGE’S Musings

It’s apparently petroleum week here at L-HC. The previous post tackled the subject of researchers innovating to produce practical biomass (as opposed to the wrong-headed impractical but politically potent corn) ethanol as a petroleum substitute. Now, a look at U.S. oil policy itself.

It’s just downright amazing how much smarter Thomas L. Friedman has become since the NYTimes no longer charges to read him on line. 😉

Today, he tells some truths, and challenges the presidential candidates to do the same, regarding our treasonable dependence on OPEC petroleum.

thomaslfriedman

In the wake of 9/11, some of us pleaded for a “patriot tax” on gasoline of $1 or more a gallon to diminish the transfers of wealth we were making to the very countries who were indirectly financing the ideologies of intolerance that were killing Americans and in order to spur innovation in energy efficiency by U.S. manufacturers.

But no, George Bush and Dick Cheney had a better idea. And the Democrats went along for the ride. They were all going to let the market work and not let our government shape that market — like OPEC does.

So, we all understand by now why George III and his evil puppeteer took the horrible course they’ve chosen, and taken us along for this devastating six-year and counting ride.

But Friedman has a legitimate point: why have the “loyal opposition” not pushed for a tax at the pump?

[Please click the link below for the complete article — but then please come on back!]

Coulda, Woulda, Shoulda – New York Times

One has to love the proposed debate Friedman sketches for us.

His tax finances people who hate us. Mine would offset some of our payroll taxes, pay down our deficit, strengthen our dollar, stimulate energy efficiency and shore up Social Security. It’s called win-win-win-win-win for America. My opponent’s strategy is sit back, let the market work and watch America lose-lose-lose-lose-lose.” If you can’t win that debate, you don’t belong in politics.

And one has to admit that none of the serious candidates (i.e., candidates one can take seriously — sorry Dennis!) possess the steel to conduct such a debate. Not in Iowa, where present policy is just fine by the corn farmers. Not in New Hampshire where taxes are probably synonymous with Satan.

President Bush squandered a historic opportunity to put America on a radically different energy course after 9/11. But considering how few Democrats or Republicans are ready to tell the people the truth on this issue, maybe we have the president we deserve. I refuse to believe that, but I’m starting to doubt myself.

The war, $100/barrel oil — it’s all so wrong. January 20, 2009 can’t come soon enough, but if our petroleum policy stays hostage to the oil guys, the domestic automobile manufacturers and the corn farmers, all of whom are perfectly satisfied with the status quo, we’ll remain in desperate straits.

It’s it for now. Thanks,

–MUDGE

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mm175: "Islamofascism" – Deal with it!

October 22, 2007

MUDGE’S Musings

shortattention

“Islamofascism” – Deal with it!

We have stated before in this space that we’ll accept a good idea, regardless of its source, in this case, the diffident and soft-spoken Christopher Hitchens in today’s Slate.

In that spirit, we present: Islamofascism.

It’s a valid term. Here’s why.

By Christopher Hitchens
Posted Monday, Oct. 22, 2007, at 11:33 AM ET

The attempt by David Horowitz and his allies to launch “Islamofascism Awareness Week” on American campuses has been met with a variety of responses. One of these is a challenge to the validity of the term itself. It’s quite the done thing, in liberal academic circles, to sneer at any comparison between fascist and jihadist ideology. People like Tony Judt write to me to say, in effect, that it’s ahistorical and simplistic to do so. And in some media circles, another kind of reluctance applies: Alan Colmes thinks that one shouldn’t use the word Islamic even to designate jihad, because to do so is to risk incriminating an entire religion. He and others don’t want to tag Islam even in its most extreme form with a word as hideous as fascism. Finally, I have seen and heard it argued that the term is unfair or prejudiced because it isn’t applied to any other religion….

… The most obvious points of comparison  [between Islam and Fascism] would be these: Both movements are based on a cult of murderous violence that exalts death and destruction and despises the life of the mind.

[Please click the link below for the complete article — but then please come on back!]

Defending the term “Islamofascism.” – By Christopher Hitchens – Slate Magazine

So, anyone reading this with access to one of the events on a nearby campus this week — go listen.

shortattention

Free my phone!

Walt Mossberg of the Wall Street Journal and his All Things Digital blog states a cogent case for demonopolization of the cellular telephone industry.

Suppose you own a Dell computer, and you decide to replace it with a Sony. You don’t have to get the permission of your Internet service provider to do so, or even tell the provider about it. You can just pack up the old machine and set up the new one.

Now, suppose your new computer came with a particular Web browser or online music service, but you’d prefer a different one. You can just download and install the new software, and uninstall the old one. You can sign up for a new music service and cancel the old one. And, once again, you don’t need to even notify your Internet provider, let alone seek its permission.

Oh, and the developers of such computers, software and services can offer you their products directly, without going through the Internet provider, without getting the provider’s approval, and without giving the provider a penny. The Internet provider gets paid simply for its contribution to the mix: providing your Internet connection. But, for all practical purposes, it doesn’t control what is connected to the network, or carried over the network.

[Please click the link below for the complete article — but then please come on back!]

Print : Free My Phone

Monopolies of all kinds are unpleasant. This writer rails against his monopoly cable television / Internet Service Provider that also (heaven help us!) wants to be our telephone company!

Walt, at least with cell phones, I’ve got choices.

shortattention_thumb[5]_thumb[2]

Innovation Nation: Losing our edge

This Business Week book review is definitely worthy of attention.

Innovation Nation

Innovation Nation: How America Is Losing
Its Innovation Edge, Why It Matters,
and What We Can Do to Get It Back

By John Kao; Free Press; 306pp; $26
The Good An insightful, and scary, account of the innovation challenges faced by the U.S.
The Bad A key issue gets little space: the role of global corporations in innovation’s changing geography.
The Bottom Line A very useful book that punctures America’s complacency about innovation.

In a Sept. 7 speech before a World Economic Forum meeting, Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao announced his country was “pursuing an innovation-based model of development.” Why should America care if China puts innovation at the center of its next five-year plan? In fact, why worry about Brazil, Britain, Canada, Denmark, India, Israel, Korea, or other countries whose government policies push innovation? After all, Google (GOOG ), Facebook, the iPod (AAPL ), and the Boeing (BA ) 787 Dreamliner all have “Made in America” stamped on them. Right? And we have Silicon Valley. They don’t.

Well, actually they do. In fact, as John Kao, an innovation consultant, points out in his new book, Innovation Nation: How America Is Losing Its Innovation Edge, Why It Matters, and What We Can Do to Get It Back, all the key advantages once enjoyed by the U.S. are going, going, nearly gone. In a scary, insightful, and ultimately very useful book—written to inform the 2008 Presidential primary agenda—Kao punctures America’s smug self-congratulation.

[Please click the link below for the complete article — but then please come on back!]

America’s Fleeting Edge in Innovation

Innovation has been a key theme at BW for some time, and one wants to hope that the message is getting through to business leaders. One wonders, actually, whether any corporation near you ever has hired the likes of Mr. Kao, an innovation consultant.

Can’t happen soon enough, apparently.

It’s it for now. Thanks,

–MUDGE


mm156: There’s a war on, folks, and this must be a military weekend…

September 29, 2007

MUDGE’S Musings

So, yesterday’s post on Predator (not the Governator’s flick, the UCAV, silly!) was not impelled by news, but rather by the (semi-) creative gestation process.

Then, today, while strolling through Digg (which this MUDGE must admit has somehow elevated itself over what was happening a few weeks ago — could it be that school is back in session and people are a bit more serious-minded?) found a couple of Navy related stories.

Now, MUDGE and the U.S. Navy go way back. No, never served. Yes, as one interested in the history of technology, and therefore military history, and technology in general, and the Navy has long embodied applied technology at its most dramatic.

This interest apparently was infectious, and this draft evader (in thought if not in deed) was bemused to have spawned MUDGElet No. 2, mentioned before in this space, a proud graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy, and distinguished former lieutenant in the Navy’s surface warfare community.

Parents: be careful what you read, and what books and magazines you leave around for your kids to find!

Just kidding. I couldn’t be prouder of our children, and their spouses, and No. 2’s spouse happens to be proud graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy (tough as it is for men, extraordinarily so for women), and distinguished former lieutenant in the Navy’s surface warfare community.

So, two stories. One odd in and of itself; one an intriguing window into the state of the generation of young women and men just a year or so younger than MUDGElet No. 3.

Odd:

navyswas

CORONADO, Calif. – The Navy will spend as much as $600,000 to modify a 40-year-old barracks complex that resembles a swastika from the air, a gaffe that went largely unnoticed before satellite images became easily accessible on the Internet.

The Navy said officials noted the buildings’ shape after the groundbreaking in 1967 but decided against changing it at the time because it wasn’t obvious from the ground. Aerial photos made available on such services as Windows Live and Google Earth in recent years have since revealed the buildings’ shape to a wide audience.

Typical government decision-making: no one can see our error, so let’s ignore it.

[Please click the link below for the complete article — but then please come on back!]

Navy to alter swastika-shaped barracks – Peculiar Postings – MSNBC.com

Don’t get MUDGE started about swastikas. I don’t hold Indians responsible for an ancient religious symbol.

As a boomer, born three years after the full panoply of horror was daylighted in a way that the world could not longer ignore, I manifestly do hold Nazi Germany responsible for every murderous, dreadful and inhuman act performed under that forever tainted symbol, and the successor generations of Germans get less benefit of the doubt from this curmudgeon than from many.

Not the Navy’s best building. If there wasn’t a war on, I’d vote for demolishing the place, just because.

Intriguing:

Military recruiting in this age of volunteer soldiering, rather than my generation’s drafted, has not previously been a problem for the Pentagon. Oh, they keep needing to seed the ground, with education benefits, and with retention bonuses (MUDGElet No. 2 reported that he passed on a $50,000 re-up bribe to resign to go onto grad school).

But, now there’s a war on. And, while the Navy isn’t on the ground in Iraq and Afghanistan and taking the casualties that the Army and Marines (yes, a branch of the Navy) are taking, recruiting today’s 17-24 year-olds is a challenge.

This story comes, quite indirectly, courtesy of Salon.com’s excellent technology blogger known as The Machinist.

Noah Shachtman, the master of Wired’s Danger Room blog, and Entropic Memes both have cool posts about a presentation put together by some Navy experts regarding the difficulty of recruiting “millennials,” Americans aged 17 to 24, to the armed forces. In the words of the presentation, the kids are not alright: They’re “coddled,” “narcissistic praise junkies” who “demand respect” though they lack experience, and who are so comfortable with technology that talking to them is like “dealing with a somewhat alien life force.”

navyrecruit

[Please click the link below for the complete article — but then please come on back!]

Machinist: Tech Blog, Tech News, Technology Articles – Salon

Navy recruiters! Of course you’re having trouble recruiting, and it has nothing to do with the fact that the generation you are focusing on doesn’t speak your language.

Of course “the millennials” speak your language. If all else were equal, the signing bonuses, and education rewards should work for that generation as well as it has for its predecessor’s.

The problem is, Navy, that there’s a war on. Soldiers are dying, or are taking combat injuries that the hospitals aren’t dealing with effectively.

Is there any wonder that the volunteers aren’t breaking down the doors of the Navy recruiters’ offices?

Even “millennials” watch the news.

It’s it for now. Thanks,

–MUDGE


mm154: Burma: The saffron revolution

September 27, 2007

MUDGE’S Musings

Our British cousins take Burma more seriously than most, befitting its status as a former colony, I guess. Kind of the way the U.S. feels about Cuba?

At any rate, the Economist, the best magazine on the planet, has these observations on what they hopefully describe as a revolution there.

Sep 27th 2007
From The Economist print edition

If the world acts in concert, the violence should be the last spasm of a vicious regime in its death throes

Reuters

“FEAR”, the lady used to say, “is a habit.” This week, inspired in part by the lady herself, Aung San Suu Kyi, partly by the heroic example set by Buddhist monks, Myanmar’s people kicked the addiction.

Defying the corrupt, inept, brutal generals who rule them, they took to the streets in their hundreds of thousands to demand democracy. They knew they were risking a bloody crackdown, like the one that put down a huge popular revolt in 1988, killing 3,000 people or more. In 1988 Burma’s people were betrayed not just by the ruthlessness of their rulers, but also by the squabbling and opportunism of the outside world, which failed to produce a co-ordinated response and let the murderous regime get away with it. This time, soldiers are once again shooting and killing unarmed protesters (see article). Can the world avoid making the same mistake twice?

MUDGE confesses that, not being in any way shape or form British, he’s paid only fitful attention to Burma through the years. So, I didn’t know that,

it was an economic grievance—a big, abrupt rise in fuel prices—that sparked the present unrest.

Now it’s up to the rest of the world to “persuade” Burma’s military dictatorship to do the right thing.

[Please click the link below for the complete article — but then please come on back!]

economist

Revolution in Myanmar | The saffron revolution | Economist.com

The crux, according to the editors of the Economist, and not a great surprise at that, is China. Just as China has supported its client, North Korea, which support has aided and abetted its insane leadership, so has China more than tolerated the Burmese junta’s iron fisted, ham handed control and leadership.

And, like North Korea, it turns out that such undemocratic leadership is really, really bad for the economic well being of a country and its citizens.

So, the U.S., distracted by its own attempts to suppress “terrorists” and insurgents 6,000 miles away, not to speak of suppressing the Constitution and its amendments closer to home, can’t be bothered to do more than posture at the U.N. and let China veto any even symbolic movement to support the unarmed monks and the afflicted Burmese they are fighting for.

And China, in its cynical way, dare not publicly criticize its client by supporting its suppressed citizenry for fear, I’m thinking, of the message it might send to its own awakening underclass.

And, just so you know where I’m coming from, I read, in the ‘Sphere this week, I believe, a writer deciding that since”M—–r” is an artifact of the current corrupt regime, using the old name of Burma is perfectly appropriate and indeed shows support for the time, hopefully very soon, when the generals fade away.

It’s it for now. Thanks,

–MUDGE


mm150: Islam, the Marxism of Our Time

September 23, 2007

MUDGE’S Musings

Sept. 11, 2001 was Pearl Harbor for this generation of the people of the U.S.

And, while Pearl Harbor shocked that generation into the realization that the world they lived in was suddenly at war, in reality that war had begun almost every else many years before.

In fact, John Keegan, the outstanding military historian, begins his eminently readable history of World War II with the Versailles Peace Conference that ended World War I, because the errors of omission and commission committed there at the end of the first Great War set into motion the geopolitical forces that led inexorably to the second.

Indeed, Margaret MacMillan’s excellent history of that conference, Paris 1919, illustrates that we reap today, 88 years later, in the Middle East and Balkans, just to name two of the most egregious examples, the bitter harvest of many of the often well-intentioned but ill-chosen decisions made there.

Thus, our War on Terrorism, declared after the tragedy of the Twin Towers, was similar to our declaration of war against Japan on Dec. 8, 1941: We came very, very late to an undeclared war that, at a minimum, could be traced back to the formation of the State of Israel in 1948, or even the Balfour Declaration of 1917, or even way back, to take the extraordinarily long view, to the Crusades.

Western culture has shared the planet with Islam for 1,300 turbulent years (as if the preceding 5 billion were any less so!).

One might posit that Western Europe learned imperialism from the example set by Islamic culture. It is a fact that the enslaving of sub-Saharan African people by Europeans was learned from, aided and abetted by Arabic traders, who had begun the horrifying practice centuries before Henry the Navigator set his fearless explorers loose.

All this as introduction to some interesting reading encountered this week.

cityjournal

Islam, the Marxism of Our Time by Theodore Dalrymple

Some troubling signs in Europe

17 September 2007

From an Islamist point of view, the news from Europe looks good. The Times of London, relying on a police report, recently observed that the Deobandis, a fundamentalist sect, now run nearly half of the 1,350 mosques in Britain and train the vast majority of the Muslim clerics who get their training in the country. The man who might become the sect’s spiritual leader in Britain, Riyadh ul Haq, believes that friendship with a Christian or a Jew makes “a mockery of Allah’s religion.” At least no one could accuse him of a shallow multiculturalism.

According to Le Figaro, 70 percent of Muslims in France intend to keep the fast during Ramadan, up from 60 percent in 1989. Better still, from the Islamist point of view, non-practicing Muslims feel increasing social pressure to comply with the fast, whether they want to or not. The tide is thus running in the Islamists’ favor.

The writer’s analogy: that fundamentalist Islam has become the refuge for the young and disaffected in Western culture, in the way that superficial Marxism was for previous generations.

[Per L-HC’s reformed process, please click the link below for the complete article — but then please come on back!]

Islam, the Marxism of Our Time by Theodore Dalrymple

All this suggests that Islam is fast becoming the Marxism of our times. Had Fritz G. and Daniel S. grown up a generation earlier, they would have become members of the Baader-Meinhof Gang rather than Islamic extremists. The dictatorship of the proletariat, it seems, has given way before the establishment of the Caliphate as the transcendent answer to some German youths’ personal angst.

This is good news indeed for Islamists, but not so good for the rest of us.

A blogger I had not before encountered, but added to the blogroll2 thanks to this submission, a psychiatrist calling herself Dr. Sanity, responded to the City Journal article, by indicting the current state of Western culture that is providing safe harbor for Islamic fanaticism.

Dr. Sanity: Islam and Marxism: A marriage made in Allah’s socialist paradise

In an article from City Journal, Theodore Dalrymple makes a compelling case that Islam is fast becoming the Marxism of our time.

I want to take Dalrymple’s analysis one step further. Islam is not simply the alternative that today’s angst-ridden, alienated youth turn to because Marxism is waning in intellectual circles; it’s extremism and violence resonates harmonically with the socialist revolutionaries of the 20th century; and they have appropriated the jihad as an essential component of their political and intellectual strategy to revive Marxism in the 21st century.

Let us take a look at the strategy and how it has evolved to include the Islamic fanatics.

Multiculturalism and political correctness are two of the fundamental pseudo-intellectual, quasi-religious tenets that have been widely disseminated by intellectuals unable to abandon socialism even after its crushing failures in the 20th century. Along with a third component, radical environmentalism, they make up three key foundations of leftist dogma that have been slowly, but relentlessly, absorbed at all levels of Western culture in the last decade or so–but primarily since the end of the Cold War.

All three have been incorporated into most K-12 curricula as well as the academic curricula in Western university and colleges. In combination, they are the toxic by-products of postmodern relativism.

Dr. Sanity includes a useful map (MUDGE loves maps) of the evolution of the Marxist/Islamist union.

[Per L-HC’s reformed process, please click the link below for the complete article — but then please come on back!]

Dr. Sanity: ISLAM AND MARXISM – A MARRIAGE MADE IN ALLAH’S SOCIALIST PARADISE

A bracing analysis. Thanks, Dr. Sanity!

Finally, since there’s a war on, we turn to this look at a less than formal effort to reach the “Arab Street” with a more balanced view of U.S. policy:

At State Dept., Blog Team Joins Muslim Debate

nytimes

By NEIL MacFARQUHAR

WASHINGTON — Walid Jawad was tired of all the chatter on Middle Eastern blogs and Internet forums in praise of gory attacks carried out by the “noble resistance” in Iraq.

So Mr. Jawad, one of two Arabic-speaking members of what the State Department called its Digital Outreach Team, posted his own question: Why was it that many in the Arab world quickly condemned civilian Palestinian deaths but were mute about the endless killing of women and children by suicide bombers in Iraq?

Among those who responded was a man named Radad, evidently a Sunni Muslim, who wrote that many of the dead in Iraq were just Shiites and describing them in derogatory terms. But others who answered Mr. Jawad said that they, too, wondered why only Palestinian dead were “martyrs.”

The discussion tacked back and forth for four days, one of many such conversations prompted by scores of postings the State Department has made on about 70 Web sites since it put its two Arab-American Web monitors to work last November.

The postings, are an effort to take a more casual, varied approach to improving America’s image in the Muslim world.

Imagine! The George III-marginalized State Department actually figuring out how to used that new-fangled Internet thingy, and blogging in a potentially useful way!. The mind bloggles. Sort of a micro version of Radio Free Europe; one has to wonder whether the effort is worth the expenditure, however tiny.

[Per L-HC’s reformed process, please click the link below for the complete article — but then please come on back!]

At State Dept., Blog Team Joins Muslim Debate – New York Times

So, what do we learn from today’s trifecta of stories related to Islamic culture and its transactions with the West?

We’re at war, people.

Not the war that the simplistic Bush administration (as in naively incompetent, for which there is no excuse nearly seven years in) would have you believe.

We’re at war with Islam (as the Western world has been for 1,300 years); and with our own university-grown pestilences of “multiculturalism, political correctness, and radical environmentalism,” as Dr. Sanity reminds us. And there’s no moral high ground in war.

And I don’t believe that we’re winning.

It’s it for now. Thanks,

–MUDGE

Non-commercial Note!: the links to Amazon.com used above are for the convenience of faithful reader and represents no commercial relationship whatsoever. Left-Handed Complement should be so fortunate as to ever collect remuneration of any kind for this endeavor. I can link, so I link. It’s technology. It’s cool. Deal with it.


mm142: U.S. pilot helped clear the fog of war

September 15, 2007

MUDGE’S Musings

Got to tell you, like most of us, I have long since developed war fatigue. And I’m nowhere near the front. All I seem to be able to do is wring my hands and whimper, “Get our soldiers out of this!”

But, I have a soft spot for technology, and this is a technology story, about Iraq. But of course, wars are fought by women and men. And this is even more a story about a creative and determined man who took on as his mission to sell a particular technology to the command structure.

So we’ll take a look.

latimes

Greg Harbin saw a way to streamline airstrikes. The solution — and his cause — was the Rover, a device that would one day save his life.

By Julian E. Barnes
Los Angeles Times Staff Writer
September 13, 2007

In the summer of 2003, an Air Force pilot named Greg Harbin was doing desk duty at Prince Sultan Air Base in Saudi Arabia.

Day in and day out, Harbin sat in front of five computer screens, scanning photographs and video sent by unmanned planes flying 1,200 miles away, over Iraq and Afghanistan.

His job was to take that information, along with reports from ground troops, and identify fresh targets — Taliban fighters or Iraqi insurgents.

But one thing puzzled him.

When regular units called for an attack by a Predator drone, the request went to Harbin, and then, if approved by a general, to “pilots” in Nevada, who fired the missile by remote control. The process often took as long as 45 minutes.

By contrast, special operations forces could call in attacks by unmanned Predator aircraft in less than a minute.

The difference, Harbin learned, was that a handful of special ops units were equipped with a device called the Rover, which gave them the same view as the pilots in Nevada. This greatly simplified communications.

Why don’t all American fighting units have the Rover? he asked himself. Then he put the question to his boss, Lt. Gen. Walter E. Buchanan, commander of the Air Force in the Middle East. Buchanan’s reply: Why indeed.

There’s a lot that’s intriguing about this story. The Predator UCAV, symbolic of technology (Unmanned Combat Air Vehicle) that will one day make human aircraft pilots sitting inside their aircraft an obsolete and quaint artifact of the first century of aviation.

Then there’s the Rover technology.

The Rover, or the Remote Operations Video Enhanced Receiver, was born in 2002, shortly after the Afghanistan war began.

Christopher Manuel, an Army Special Forces chief warrant officer, had long wanted ground units to see, in real time, the video footage shot by Predators. After serving in Afghanistan, he traveled to Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio to make his case. Engineers quickly developed a prototype of the Rover system.

Over the next year, it was used exclusively by special operations forces. Harbin’s mission to widen access to the technology began with the 82nd Airborne, the first conventional forces to use the system. His next stop was Mosul, Iraq, and the 101st Airborne Division, which happened to be his brother Eric’s unit.

And then there’s Greg Harbin’s unique story. Take a look at the complete article, along with its embedded video.

[Per L-HC’s reformed process, please click the link below for the complete article — but then please come on back!]

Los Angeles Times: U.S. pilot helped clear the fog of war

There’s so much to like here. The Katrina angle.

The life-saving angle (his own!)

The technological evangelist angle (your humble correspondent likes to believe he maintains that role for the technology he represents in his place of employment).

“I am not the guy who invented it. I am not the guy who built it. I am not the only one who believes in it,” Harbin said. “My role was to get it out there.”

But, mainly, it’s about how one person, among millions, has used his creativity, initiative and will to make a difference. It’s Archimedes’ lever.

In the light of Harbin’s example, how much more tragic is it that, as of this writing, 3,781 soldiers have died in Iraq.

Once again, even worse than the trillions Bush has mortgaged and squandered, the human capital lost is even more irreplaceable.

Can’t get that bumper sticker out of my thoughts:

January 20, 2009

Bush’s last day

Congress, do the American people, especially its courageous women and men combatants, have to wait that long?

It’s it for now. Thanks,

–MUDGE