sunset from behind the wire

sunset from behind the wire

Saturday, June 23, 2018

It's Time to Speculate

US Service Precedence:

US Army (senior service - service of the Revolution from Great Britain) (13 OCT 1775)
US Navy (13 OCT 1775)
 - - US Marine Corps (10 NOV 1775)
US Coast Guard (28 JAN 1915)
US Air Force (18 SEP 1947)

US Central Intelligence Agency (18 SEP 1947) Non-Uniformed Military Service (During wartime, CIA ranks revert to US Army ranking as a matter of protocol. It's a technical fact, but true none the less)
US Space Force (18 JUN 2018)

It's time for speculation. Will the newly minted Space Force adopt US Naval ranking or will it follow the US Air Force (which separated from the US Army)? Will it have its own Space Marines? The nature of Space SHIPS suggests that a nautical format will be adopted, but art doesn't necessarily follow national will as represented by the the thoughts of Generals and Admirals in the Pentagon.

I expect all of you arm-chair Trekkies to weigh in.


Friday, June 22, 2018

You can Call it Progress


At long last, the steel roof is going up on the hovel at the White Wolf Mine.


If you click to enlarge the photo above, you'll see the steel cladding on part of the roof. That should be finished on Monday. Soon after, the siding will arrive and it will begin to look more complete. More like a shack than a hovel. In due time, the concrete floor on the lower/guest level will receive its epoxy finish and will be sealed and harder than rock.

Update on North Korea

Some of this blog's readers have e-mailed me and asked why my obsession with Norkland. It's not an obsession, but you'll recall that I predicted nuclear war. Now peace is breaking out, painting me as completely wrong (in a good way).

Let's hit a few points, and it's generally very good news:

Red Cross 

Delegates from South Korea and the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) are engaged in Red-Cross talks at the Mount Kumgang resort on 22 June. Talks began at 22:00 EDT 21 June.

A key item for discussion was the reunion of families separated during the Korean War. The delegations are expected to discuss the examination of whether all the lost family members are alive, exchange of letters, and visits by the families to their hometowns across the border.

South Korean President Moon Jae-in and DPRK leader Kim Jong Un agreed to hold a reunion around 15 August. That is the 73rd anniversary of Korea’s liberation from Japanese colonial rule (1910-1945).

This is the first discussion of separated families since late 2015. North Korea previously refused to engage in these talks until South Korea repatriated 12 North Korean restaurant workers. Supposedly their defection to South Korea in 2016 was coerced. The issue is likely to be raised, but it was not an impediment to the first session of talks.

Kim agreed to these talks at the 27 April Panmunjom summit with President Moon. He is delivering on this commitment.

Remains of US soldiers

News services reported that North Korea plans to transfer the remains of 200 US soldiers to the US in the next few days. That is a commitment Kim made to the US President at the Singapore summit. The US Defense Department carries 7,702 US military personnel as unaccounted for from the Korean War.

Heavy is the Head that Wears the Crown

Sources of The Daily NK, the defector daily published in Seoul, continue to report on the extensive security measures that the regime put into effect during the 70 hours Kim was in Singapore. They suggest that Kim’s worries ranged from public protests of his policies to plotting against him.

The latest reports indicate the security measures during the special security period were more extensive than first reported. Even North Koreans considered them excessive. 

According to one source, Kim took the Minister of the Peoples Armed Forces and some of the senior Central Committee members to ensure they could not plot against him. He deliberately had them shown in televised imagery.

The measures included restrictions on movements by selected individuals and vigilance against whispering campaigns.

A separate source said Kim ordered the temporary confiscation of cell phones of senior officials and returned them the day he returned from Singapore. This measure supposedly was to prevent them from conspiring against him.

The armed forces were confined to barracks, but units were assigned officers from the Ministry of State Security to supervise them. Normally, the armed forces security units enforce special period restrictions on the armed forces.

Finally, Kim appointed no one in charge of North Korea in his absence. 

As usual the sample is limited. Some of the restrictions are normal when the Supreme Leader leaves the country. The explanation for some of the measures – that Kim is worried about plotting –cannot be confirmed but is plausible. Kim’s uncle Jang Song Taek was executed in 2013 for plotting against Kim Jong Un, with Chinese support. 

Kim Jong Un had his half-brother Kim Jong Nam assassinated in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, in February 2017, allegedly for plotting with Chinese government elements to replace Kim Jong Un.

The North Korean image managers present Kim Jong Un as a self-confident and competent leader who can deliver on his commitments. That probably is not entirely accurate. Despots always need to worry about plotting. Kim might be paranoid, but the plots have been real.

In the near term, the best measures of Kim’s confidence and his sincerity will be his willingness to discuss details of his nuclear program. I remain skeptical that he has the stature and authority to give away state secrets in return for peace, even with unification, without generating significant internal opposition. This interlude of relative peace is risky for Kim.


Thursday, June 21, 2018

Don't Let Them go to Waste

These Crisis Points come and go....

Am I the only one who recalls the Zika virus 'crisis' last year? We pumped $1.6 billion in taxpayer dollars to solve the problem.

Projections were dire. 

In July of last year, CDC director Dr. Thomas Frieden called Puerto Rico’s Zika epidemic “horrifying.” He warned it could sicken 10,000 pregnant Puerto Rican women in 2016 alone, causing catastrophic birth defects in hundreds of babies.

Fortunately, that didn’t happen. How could CDC have gotten it so wrong? And what happened to the monty that we threw into that rat-hole in Puerto Rico? Once they gorged on American pork, there was no more need for money for Zika.

The progressive left needs something to wring its hands about. The 24 hour news cycle must report on some sort of crisis - breaking news. Either its illegal aliens who cross the US Border illegally and end up being detained with minors segregated, or it's anger at President Trump threatening North Korea, or it's President Trump making peace with North Korea. The daily crisis points come and go. Who can forget Harambe, the gorilla? Don't tell me that you forgot Harambe. 

Germany agreed to drop all tariffs on imports of our autos into the Fatherland if we would our much smaller import tariffs on their cars. Isn't that amazing? Where are the corrupt, smug, sly, lying, elite media reports on that? Maybe they're getting tired of winning?

Volcano coverage in Hawaii has stopped. Did the volcano stop erupting? 

Passing Observations

Washington DC - The nation seems to be unable to focus on more than one thing at a time collectively. Today it's the long standing, court-ordered practice of separating minors (under 18 years) from adult family members facing prosecution. The corrupt, sly, smug, lying, elite media wants to focus all blame on President Trump even though the legislature makes laws.

If we had a border wall, the problem would be moot. People profit from illegal immigration. If you want to know who has blood on their hands, watch for the people who vote against a border wall.

There's also the continuing bleed going on at the FBI, where their tarnished credibility is being thrashed again for rampant misconduct and outright corruption (referred to as "gifting in exchange for information - can't call it BRIBERY)

Yawn, more of the same. Nothing surprising in any of this. Gifting the FBI in exchange for information (bribery) was rampant during the Obama Years, and it's somehow shocking to me that it's news now. 

Summer - Meanwhile, the rest of the world drags on and today, it's officially summer.

The Solstice brings out the witches, pagans, and what some would refer to as 'Earth cults', dancing naked under the stars to celebrate the solstice. Some of the Earth cults are vegans. Yesterday I went to a vegan restaurant for lunch (not because I love animals but because I hate plants) and had hummus with pita bread and cucumbers to dip it. The plate came with kalamata olives, etc. It's a dish that I like at times. There was a big bru-ha-ha going on in the other corner where various Earth Children were debating whether it was appropriate to sacrifice an animal on solstice or whether you could just eat plants.  I stayed longer than I normally would have at the restaurant because they entertained me with their chatter back and forth (not unlike a freak show/circus), which ended with one side (I'm not sure which one) stomping out of the joint.

Nork Hysteria - Your take on the peace process now underway between almost everyone and North Korea will depend on where you stand. The US is moving forward to produce a framework for denuclearizing North Korea that includes impromptu international inspections. The Norks are going along with this. It breaks a lot of rice bowls but it will make the world safer once North Korea takes concrete, verifiable steps to do that. Kim Jong Un bet the farm on this. If it fails, they'll tie him to a post and shoot him to pieces with an anti-aircraft gun.

Turkey vs Kurds - Prime Minister Yıldırım said on Monday, 18 June, Turkey would target the Democratic Union Party (PYD) and its armed branch, the People's Protection Units (YPG), in Kobani, Haseke and Qamishli after operations were completed in Manbij. He said Turkey's goal was to make northern Syria a safe zone, after the US provided weapons to this terror group.

The green dots signify towns that the YPG liberated with US support. Turkish senior leaders have mentioned all of them as future targets for Turkish “counter-terror” operations.

The Turkish policy line remains unchanged. The political leaders continue to insist that they will cleanse northern Syria of “terrorists,” meaning the Syrian Kurdish soldiers who defeated the Islamic State after the Turkish-backed proxy failed.

Seven years ago, Turkey armed and supported the Islamic State as an ally in Turkey’s policy of overthrowing the Assad government and installing a Sunni Islamist replacement. Turkish leaders still intend to overthrow Assad. The anti-Kurd campaign is related to that Turkish goal.

The recent threats to defeat the Kurds partly are political grandstanding by President Erdogan’s Justice and Development Party to boost its prospects in general elections on 24 June.

Monday, June 18, 2018

Climbing the Rigging like Daddy Used to Do

Searching for the Muse

I'm still working on a pirate book that I started (working title: Quidley's Secret) and while it's somewhere shy of half way to completion, work has kept me sufficiently distracted so I'm not pounding away on it. The Research provided some vexing situations since I sincerely try to do a first rate job of portraying people and situations with a high degree of accuracy. 

Even though Charles Barry's ship, Dolphin, is not one of King James II's own, I am relying on the table of British Navy Food Rations (see right) as a guide to what men at sea would eat in the late 1600's. The fare was generally standardized as the century prepared to turn for vessels undertaking long voyages, if for no other reason than the health of the crew (and the likelihood that the voyage would be successful and profitable). A sick or lackluster crew could spell disaster at sea where there was no possibility of help if problems arose.

There is also the issue of ships convoying to the New World (from England to Jamaica). Dolphin, a fast schooner rig when schooners were relatively new, was chosen to get critical cargo to market quickly and those who commissioned the commercial venture wouldn't want it slowed down by other vessels. That was the reason that they chose Dolphin. So they are alone at sea, canvas stretched, trusting to the weather gods that they will be delivered safely to the dangerous and complex Spanish Main.

The line between a merchant ship, a privateer (with a letter of marque) and a royal ship blurred significantly in this time period.

Naval Tradition

There is a family tradition to join the US Navy. My father served in the Navy in the Second World War. My daughter, Heather, married a navy man who was disabled in the line of duty in Afghanistan after they married. His father was navy as well, black shoe, destroyers.  Heather wants to pursue a commission in the US Naval Reserve in the Supply Corps. It's a reserve billet, and I don't think that she is planning on more than inactive reserve duty. For now at any rate. She has the education and corporate experience that would support this sort of a move, and she's still young enough to pull it off.

Her husband separated from the Navy for medical reasons and is now a senior person at a US Navy Research facility. So there's a lot of salt water coursing through that  branch of my family.

Will she earn a stack of gongs, like the old man did (left)? Maybe. Maybe not. But she feels the need to do this and I told her that I'd write letters and if necessary pull strings that I still have leading back to the Pentagon, etc.

I do understand that some this blogs readers served in the Army (America's senior service) or in the Air Force. Some of you served in the Naval Service (Navy and Marine Corps) as well. There are experiences that one obtains in this sort of service - even in a reserve capacity - that can not be measured with a ruler or counted on a calculator.

And if it's a war and if she goes in harm's way - then that's the way it goes and I'm sure that she will make us all proud. For now, she's applied. Let's see where she takes it?

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Family

It's Father's Day and I have four girls, who have given me (and are still giving me) wonderful grandchildren. Eight grandkids on the runway and one in the hangar. Will they manage an even 10? It remains to be seen.