U.S. Military Weapons Systems, Part I

Since my last foray into describing new kinds of new military technology was somewhat popular, I figured I’d look in to systems already deployed by the U.S. military. I have first hand knowledge of the capabilities of some of the systems I’ll be discussing here, so I hope it will be interesting to our 6 or 7 regular readers. This first part will delve into some of the missile systems presently being used. Not all systems in use will covered here, but this should give a general overview of what is presently deployed.

Air to Air Missiles (AIM or Air Intercept Missile)

-- AIM-120 or AMRAAM (Advanced Medium Range Air to Air Missile)

Designated as the Scorpion, but better known as the Slammer, the AMRAAM is what as known as a ‘fire-and-forget’ missile, capable of tracking and destroying airborne targets beyond 20 nautical miles range. Carrying its own radar transmitter, it will lock on to a target and track it even after the aircraft launching it has turned away to engage other enemy aircraft. This means that the launching aircraft can engage multiple targets simultaneously.

U.S Air Force, Navy, and Marine fighter/attack aircraft carry AMRAAM, including the F-15, F-16, and F-22 for the Air Force, the F-14D and F-18 for the Navy, and the F/A-18 for the Marines.

This was the last weapons system I worked on before leaving the defense industry.

-- AIM-7M/P or Sparrow

The Sparrow has a long history with the U.S. military as well as its NATO allies. It is a semi-active (or beam riding) radar guided medium range air to air missile. I worked on four different variants of Sparrow while employed by Raytheon – 7E (it used vacuum tubes!), 7F (the first solid state electronics version), 7M (the first to use an onboard digital computer for advanced capabilities), and 7P (not much different from 7M except that the software for the computer could be updated in the field, as well as adding some new capabilities). There was one other version of the AIM-7, the 7R. The 7R was a dual mode missile, meaning that it used both radar guidance and infrared tracking for terminal guidance. Though I had little connection with that program, I was aware of its existence. The 7R program was cancelled in 1997 as it was seen as redundant in light of the AIM-120 deployment.

The Sparrow is carried by the F-15, F-16, F-14, F-18, and F/A-18.

There were also two ground-launched variants of AIM-7 – SeaSparrow (RIM-7) and Sparrow Hawk.

The SeaSparrow variant is launched from ships and can be used for ship-to-air engagements against anti-ship missiles or enemy aircraft. The SeaSparrow is housed in a box launcher and uses folding fins that extend once the missile exits the launch canister.

The Sparrow Hawk variant used the Hawk Surface-to-Air missile launchers tied in with the Hawk ground radar tracking system. Though never deployed, it gave the Hawk system some additional capabilities.

-- AIM-9 or Sidewinder

In service since 1956, the Sidewinder has been a primary air to air offensive and defensive weapon for the Air Force, Navy, and Marines. It is a heat seeking short range missile capable of all aspect target lock on, meaning it can acquire a target from behind, ahead, above, below, or from the side. Its short range makes it useful in ACM (Air Combat Maneuvering) environments, or dogfighting.

There have been many variants since 1956, however the only operational versions are the AIM-9M and 9M-9. The 9M has advanced infrared countermeasure detection capability, meaning it is more difficult to spoof using flares or other heat source decoys. It also has advanced background discrimination capability and a reduced smoke rocket motor. These modifications give the missile better target locate and lock-on abilities while decreasing the chance of being detected by enemy aircraft while in flight.

The Sidewinder also employs an Advanced Optical Target Detector (AOTD) for fuzing the warhead. The AOTD uses lasers for target ranging and triggers the warhead when the missile is within optimal range for target destruction.

Surface To Air Missiles (SAMs)

-- Patriot

Patriot became famous during Operation Desert Storm in 1991. The Patriot is capable of engaging multiple targets simultaneously. Though designed primarily as an antiaircraft missile battery system, the Patriot was used to shoot down incoming SCUD tactical ballistic missiles fired by Iraq in to Saudi Arabia and Israel. Though it was never conceived as an antimissile defense system, its performance in the Gulf was nothing less than fantastic. Despite the controversy about the number of SCUDs destroyed, the fact that the system was able to engage the incoming missiles at all was incredible.

Upgrades to the Patriot system (PAC-3) have included new and better target discrimination systems, allowing better antimissile intercepts.

The Patriot Missile battery consists of a phased array radar (part of the Patriot system I worked with), an engagement control station, computers, power generating equipment, and up to eight launchers, each of which holds four ready-to-fire missiles. There are about 90 soldiers assigned to a battery, but three soldiers in the engagement control station are the only personnel required to operate the battery in combat.

-- Theater High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD)

Deployed as an adjunct to other theater air defense systems like Patriot PAC-3, THAAD uses a hit-to-kill warhead designed to destroy tactical ballistic missiles. It is capable of protecting population centers, though its primary purpose is to defend dispersed military forces.

The THAAD system consists of four primary components – truck mounted launchers, interceptors, the THAAD radar system, and the THAAD battle management /command and control.

-- RIM-67 Standard Missile 2 (SM-2)

The Standard Missile 2 is the U.S. Navy’s primary surface-to-air fleet defense weapon. It is an all-weather, ship-launched medium/extended range missile. SM-2 employs an electronic countermeasures-resistant receiver for semi-active radar terminal guidance and inertial midcourse guidance capable of receiving midcourse command updates from the shipboard fire control system. SM-2 is launched from the Mk 41 Vertical Launching System (VLS) and the Mk 26 Guided Missile Launching System (GMLS). SM-2 continues to evolve to counter expanding threat capabilities, and improvements in advanced high and low-altitude threat interception, particularly in stressing electronic countermeasures (ECM) environments, are being implemented through modular changes to the missile sections.

It is capable of tracking and destroying incoming enemy aircraft, missiles, or surface ships.

Air to Ground Missiles (AGM or Air-to-Ground Missile)

-- AGM-114 Hellfire

The Hellfire missile is primarily used in its anti-tank/anti-armor role. Different versions have been deployed, but primarily it is the laser-guided version that has seen the most use. The Longbow variant is designed to be used in conjunction with the AH-64 Apache Longbow and incorporates an optional radar/IR seeker, giving it a ‘fire-and-forget’ capability. The Hellfire can be launched from helicopters, fixed wing aircraft including UAV’s like the Predator, and from ships.

A Hellfire missile launched from a Predator drone was responsible for taking out a high-ranking Al Qaida chief in Yemen earlier this month.

The more advanced variant of the Hellfire missile includes dual warheads designed to defeat reactive armor, making it one of the best anti-armor missiles in any military arsenal.

-- AGM-65 Maverick

The Maverick is designed for close air support, interdiction and antiaircraft suppression. It can hit a wide range of targets including armor, air defenses, ships, transportation equipment, fuel depots, and other targets. The Maverick saw action in the Persian Gulf War in 1991. Over 57,000 were used over the course of the war and over 85% of them hit their targets.

There are three versions of the Maverick – electro-optical (i.e. TV guided), infrared imaging, and laser guided. The warhead is located in the center section of the missile body and is cone-shaped. There are two warhead variants used – a standard cone-shaped warhead triggered by a contact fuze in the nose of the missile, or a heavy penetrating warhead using a delayed action fuze to allow the warhead to penetrate the target using its kinetic energy before detonation.

The Maverick can be carried by the A-10 Warthog, F-15E Strike Eagle, and F-16 Falcon. During the Gulf War, A-10 pilots used the infrared imaging Maverick slung under their wings as a poor man’s FLIR (Forward Looking Infra-Red) system, giving them night attack capabilities the A-10 doesn’t usually have.

-- AGM-88 HARM (High Speed Antiradiation Missile)

The HARM is designed to detect, track, and destroy enemy ground radar systems. This can include SAM missile and antiaircraft artillery (AAA) radar and other elements of integrated air defense radar systems. Though not considered a smart weapon and incapable to differentiating between friend and foe, the HARM is still a highly effective weapon. The F/A18, A-6E, F-4G, and F-16 aircraft can carry the HARM. HARM is used primarily by Wild Weasel antiaircraft suppression squadrons whose mission is to take out enemy antiaircraft capabilities, making easier for follow-on strike aircraft to reach their targets without worrying about enemy SAM’s and AAA.

Man-Portable/High Mobility Missiles

-- FIM-92A Stinger Missile

The Stinger is a short range heat seeking air defense missile capable of protecting ground forces from low flying fixed wing aircraft, helicopters, unmanned aerial vehicles, and cruise missiles. Originally designed to be fired from a shoulder launcher, it can also be launched from Bradley Fighting Vehicles and HMMWV Hummers. It also has short range air to air capabilities when mounted on Kiowa and Apache helicopters.

The effectiveness of the Stinger missile was well demonstrated in Afghanistan when the U.S. supplied them to the Afghan Mujahadeen fighting against the occupying Soviet forces in the 1980’s. The Stingers greatly changed the battlefield tactics used by the Soviets by denying them use of aircraft and helicopters for close air support of ground troops and armored units.

-- BGM-71 TOW Missile

The TOW, or Tube-launched, Optically-tracked, Wire-guided missile is an anti-tank system capable of penetrating up to 30 inches of armor at a range of more than 3000 meters, meaning it can take out just about any modern era tank. It is considered one of the most lethal short-range antiarmor weapons in the U.S. arsenal. It can be launched by a single infantryman using a tripod mounted launch tube, or from launch tubes mounted on vehicles and helicopters.

Because it is optically guided, the operator must keep the crosshairs of the sighting mechanism on the target. As long as the operator can see the target, he can hit the target. Advanced sights allowing use in low light or inclement weather have extended the combat capabilities of the TOW.

There are a number of variants in service, and newer ‘fire-and-forget’ versions are scheduled for deployment in 2005.


Part 2 will deal give an overview of some of the aircraft presently being used by the U.S. armed forces.


An Englishman’s View Of America On Thanksgiving

Andrew Sullivan posted an article he’d written for the Sunday Times of London back in November 1996. It’s as poignant today as it was back then, despite some opinions to the contrary. Go give it a look.

(Link via Buzz Machine)

More Noise From The ‘Peace At All Costs’ Left

An editorial in today’s Laconia, NH Citizen brings up point that in war civilians are going to die. This is nothing new, and something my brother and I have commented on in the past, both here and at other blogs.

“No doubt, modern warfare has made monumental technological advances in recent years, including "smart" bombs that are able to strike targets with pinpoint accuracy.

Like an electronic game screen, we saw for ourselves the videotaped air strikes on television, first on Iraq during the Gulf War and then in Afghanistan. We watched missiles lock onto their targets and destroy them in a blink of an eye.

Precision notwithstanding, we still must acknowledge that innocent civilians have been killed by bombs in the U.S. war against terrorism in Afghanistan.

That is a lamentable fact of war.

But professor Marc Herold is making assertions suggesting that precision bombing isn’t all it’s cracked up to be and that the U.S. campaign in Afghanistan has killed thousands of innocents — on the order of 3,100 to 3,600 people.

He implies either that precision bombs are simply not precise, that the United States and its allies have been sloppy with their targets or that allied forces are purposely targeting civilians.”

Professor Herold is a professor of economics and women’s studies at the University of New Hampshire. That right there makes me a bit suspicious since it seems a report he published is quite a bit out of his area of expertise. Maybe his efforts fall under what might be called “The Expert Fallacy”. The Expert Fallacy means that someone who happens to be an expert in one field or another believes that their expertise carries over in to unrelated fields.

Well guess what?

It doesn’t.

200 page report relies on media sources for compiling the numbers of civilian casualties, which is another factor making its veracity highly suspect. He assumes that all of the media reports he used are accurate and true. That’s an assumption he can’t afford to make because many of the foreign media outlets do not adhere to the same journalistic standards as the media in the U.S. (My Gawd! I’m actually defending the U.S. media! What’s next?!)

How many times have foreign media reports of large civilian casualties in U.S. bombing raids been able to be verified by the U.S. media? Not once.

How many of these foreign media sources are antagonistic to the U.S.? Too many.

To quote the op-ed piece in the Citizen, “It’s exactly like taking what is reported on the Arab state television station al-Jezeera as the gospel truth.”

“[Professor Herold] implies either that precision bombs are simply not precise, that the United States and its allies have been sloppy with their targets or that allied forces are purposely targeting civilians.”

What he’s really trying to say is that he believes the U.S. military purposely murdered Afghan civilians. But civilian casualties are a hard cold fact of war. They happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. As in Afghanistan, civilians in Iraq were killed during the Gulf War. Not on purpose, but as a tragic consequence of the war. But these civilians were not murdered.

“On the other hand, more than 3,000 innocent civilians died in New York and Washington, D.C., when the act of war was brought to the shores of the United States. They died as they worked to earn a living. They were not killed collaterally. They were targeted and murdered in cold blood.

Terrorists killed thousands of Americans by launching "barbarous air bombardments" on Sept. 11, 2001.

The reason we went to Afghanistan is because we can’t afford to wait for their next precision attack.”

Maybe it’s my engineering background, but I wouldn’t have used such suspect data in compiling a report like Professor Herold’s. But then again, Professor Herold has a point to prove. Why should he let something as trivial as facts get in the way?


“Expertise in one field does not carry over into other fields. But experts often think so. The narrower their field of knowledge the more likely they are to think so.” -- Lazarus Long


Thanksgiving Day

I won't be posting on Thursday, and I doubt that my brother will. We'll be too busy with family, eating, football games, and travel.

See you all on Friday and have a Happy Thanksgiving!

Global Warming, Junk Science, And Eco-hysteria

For some time now I’ve been listening and reading about the dire consequences of global warming and how it’s All Our FaultTM. Like much of the debate over the health consequences of silicone breast implants, this one is based upon a number of factors that have some correlation, but aren’t necessarily the cause of global warming. The rest of the debate is based upon junk science that has no basis in fact or tries to tie vaguely related phenomena or statistics together in an effort to say, “Ah-HAH! This is what’s causing the change in climate! It’s us evil humans!” Like one of my favorite nuclear physicists says, “Correlation does not imply causality.”

The biggest problem when trying to address global warming is that many people’s experience when it comes to their local climate is that their time frame is too short. One lifetime is nothing more than a blink of the eye when it comes to entire history of the human race. The variations in temperatures and precipitation for a given are far wider than most people realize. There are a number of factors that affect climate, both on a local and global scale. Few of them are due to mankind’s activity. Let’s look at a few of them.


Volcanic eruptions can have an immediate as well as a long term effect on climate on a global basis. The last large eruption was Mount Pinatubo in the Phillipines on June 15, 1991. Though nowhere near the largest volcanic eruption in recorded history, it was the second largest in the 20th Century. The volcanic ash and sulfurous aerosols from this eruption were lofted over 35 kilometers into the upper atmosphere, blocking a portion of the sunlight reaching the Earth’s surface and causing a drop in the average temperature in the northern hemisphere. The ash remained in the atmosphere for over a year, giving spectacular sunsets and affecting the amount of solar radiation reaching the Earth’s surface. The sulfurous aerosols remained in the atmosphere for longer than 2 years with a similar affect on insolation.

The eruption of Tambora in Indonesia in 1815 brought about the “year without summer”. It was the largest eruption in the modern era and lead to crop failures and famine throughout much of the Northern Hemisphere. Almost 50 cubic kilometers of ash and sulfur aerosols were ejected into the atmosphere.

Solar Output

The Sun’s output isn’t constant. It changes on a regular cycle. There are three cycles that can affect the climate on Earth – the 27 day solar rotational cycle, the 11-year sunspot cycle, and a recently discovered 16-month cycle. There are even longer term cycles that affect the Sun’s output as well.

Between these three cycles, the Sun’s output changes from day to day, month to month, year to year, and century to century. Though the swings in output aren’t drastic, they do have an effect on the amount of solar radiation reaching the Earth. And it is the solar radiation that drives Earth’s climate. Change the amount of solar radiation reaching Earth and you change the climate.

Orbital Variations

Earth’s orbit around the sun isn’t a perfect circle, but an ellipse. The elliptical orbit is affected by the gravitational pull of the Sun and the other planets within the solar system. Sometimes the Earth is closer to the sun (usually during the northern hemisphere’s winter) and sometimes it’s farther away (during the northern hemisphere’s summer). The Earth also wobbles within its orbit due to the moon. At a full moon the Earth is slightly closer to the sun and it’s farther away during a new moon. The difference isn’t great, but it is there.

Axial Tilt

Even Earth’s rotational axis isn’t fixed. The axis wobbles slightly, in part due to the influence of the Moon’s gravity as well as the interactions between Earth’s outer crust and its molten iron core. The variation is slight, but it might have some miniscule effect on seasonal variations.

Other Factors

In the December 2002 issue of Scientific American, an article by Daniel Grossman points out a theory that the most severe drought of the past 12,000 years caused a number of civilizations from Egypt to India to collapse approximately 4200 years ago. The drought lasted 300 years.

The time just after the last Ice Age, called the Helocene period, exhibited abrupt changes in temperature and aridity. These changes can’t be All Our FaultTM because there weren’t very many evil humans around to cause these changes. There were no SUV’s, no fossil fuel burning power plants, no massive deforestation in the Amazonian rain forest by the greedy capitalists seeking to exploit….er…rape the land, no strip mines to pollute the surrounding ground water. There were at most a couple of million people on the face of the planet at the time and they had little if any effect on the climate. But the climate changes still happened with no help from us.

What I’m trying to get across here is that global warming or global cooling have been going on for eons without any input from us. While it’s true that modern humans do have impact on the environment, and through that an effect on the climate, I believe the effect that we have is quite small compared to the normal climactic fluctuations, great and small.

It is arrogant of tree huggers and Greens to think that if we voluntarily impoverish ourselves by giving up all the Evil Things we own or do that we’ll be able to stave off climate change. The climate is going to change whether we’re here or not. And no amount of junk science or crackpot eco-hysteria is going to change that.

Despite studies by climatologists, the conclusion that global warming is occurring because of human activity is premature. They don’t have enough of a historical record to prove the long term trend. And I recall that when I was a kid in junior high school the climatologists were all warning us about an impending ice age.

I wish they’d make their minds up.


“Money is truthful. If a man speaks of his honor, make him pay cash.” -- Lazarus Long


Another One Of Those Days

Ever have one of those days where there is so much going on you have no idea which way to turn? It’s been one of those days for me.

I had about a dozen different subjects I’d thought to write about today and I thought all of them profound, but when I actually sat down at the keyboard to put them to ‘paper’ they no longer were as profound as I’d thought. Quite honestly, they were lame.

I’m still working on the military post, and it seems I’ve opened a real can of worms on that one. It isn’t that I don’t know where to start. It’s that I don’t know where to stop. It’s taken on a life of its own.

Other distractions didn’t help, even though some those distractions were pleasant. One of those distractions was a phone conversation with my goddaughter and her parents. They live out in Washington State, so the opportunity to see them doesn’t come very often. We’re trying to work out a visit over the Christmas season. It’s been too long since I’ve seen them. Of course, a lot of that is my fault, but let’s not dwell on that, OK?

Then there’s that shit-for-brains cop killer Andrew McCrae, captured in a hotel not far from my dear brother’s home. It sounds like he’s been overindoctrinated in the anti-globalization movement or overdosed by the Tranzis. About the only movement he should be involved in is a bowel movement.

One of the other good things that happened today was having lunch with my good friend Jane (Sgt. Mommy to her friends…but not of Sgt. Stryker fame). It’s always a good day when I get a chance to sit down with her and gab about everything and nothing. She has a tendency to keep me on an even keel.

So even though all of these things I wanted to write about ended up circling the toilet bowl, it still managed to be a halfway decent day (even though it was one of those days).


“Writing is not necessarily something to be ashamed of – but do it in private and wash your hands afterwards.” – Lazarus Long


Thought For The Day

The post I’ve been working on about U.S. military technology is going to take a lot longer to put together than I’d thought, and rather than doing a poor job of it, I’d prefer to wait until it’s done right and proper. So for your enjoyment, I offer the following Thought For The Day:

“The correct way to punctuate a sentence that starts: ‘Of course it’s none of my business, but…’ is to place a period after the word ‘but’. Don’t use excessive force in supplying such a moron with a period. Cutting his throat is only a momentary pleasure and is bound to get you talked about.” -- Lazarus Long


Mid-Fall Ramblings

I’d started out putting together a post detailing some of the systems presently in use by the U.S. military, but decided to put off posting the first part until Monday evening. Instead, I wanted to something with a lighter tone to it. So here goes…..


Eddie and Kim by the house today to take their motorcycle out for one last ride before putting it up for the winter. Eddie had stopped by earlier in the week to put the bike in the garage, but realized he’d failed to add stabilizer to the gas tank. The relatively nice weather today gave them a perfect excuse to stop by, pick up the bike for a ride around the lake, and add the stabilizer to the tank in the process. It’s now tucked away for the winter.


If you’re really into schizophrenic weather head for New England. As the late great Samuel Clemens once wrote, he noticed 168 changes of weather in a single day while sitting on the porch of a house in Connecticut. As the old saying goes, if you don’t like the weather in New England, just wait a minute.

And if you’re in to extreme weather, then there’s only one place to visit – Mount Washington. The mountain is host to the world’s worst recorded weather and home of the famous Mount Washington Observatory. Though only 6288 feet above sea level, the summit experiences arctic weather and is regularly buffeted by high winds (often in excess of 90 mph). The highest recorded winds at the summit were 231 mph, measured back in April of 1934.

During the summer months it’s not unusual to find temperatures in the 90’s at the base of the mountain with temps in the 40’s at the summit. If you’d like to know what the weather in Antarctica is like, just visit the summit of Mount Washington in the winter and you’ll have a pretty good idea.


Thanksgiving is soon upon us. I’ve written about how it’s one of my favorite holidays, and this one will be no exception. I’m looking forward to the food, time with my family, and the Patriots/Lions game. It’s going to be a marvelous day!


There’s one thing I’ve always wondered about – why is it that when men wear women’s clothing they’re called transvestites, but when women wear men’s clothing they’re called fashionable? Seems to me there’s a double standard there somewhere.


The last boats have been removed from their slips in the marinas. Every slip is empty and looking forlorn. The powers that be have lowered the level of the lake in preparation for the winter freeze. The railroad drawbridge over the channel has been lowered and locked in the down position, ready for the snowmobilers once the season starts.

Summer is finally gone.


It’s time to start sealing up the windows for the winter. I’ve got my gray window putty and heat shrink plastic sheeting ready to go. But I admit I’ll be putting it off as long as I can. I guess it’s my reluctance to admit that the warm weather months are gone until spring.

The other pre-winter ritual I’ll be performing is finally getting my ham radio antennas installed – one on the roof and a second hanging between two trees in the back yard. It always seems that I wait until the cold weather is upon us before I actually get around to putting them up. Somehow antennas put up in inclement weather always seem to perform better. I’ve never been able to figure that one out.


Officer Lynn is on the mend. Though she’s still feeling a little twinge in her back now and then, she’s back to work. She did have a bit of fun trying to round up a couple of loose roosters the other day. I guess she never learned that you don’t chase them (they can almost always evade you). Rather you trick ‘em or trap ‘em. She said that the next time she needs to deal with farm animals she’d give me a call.

I hope we’ll be able to spend a little bit of time together over the long Thanksgiving weekend and so far, it looks like we will.


It looks like the Eddy sense of humor has managed to get one of my nephews into a heap of trouble. Being only 14, he hasn’t yet come to realize that satire and sarcasm are learned arts. Not so much the use of them, but the when and where of using them. This time he used one of them on a teacher at the most inopportune time and managed to draw a 2-day suspension. It looks like I’ll have to take the poor boy under my wing and show him the ins and outs. Sometimes something like this is better left to a non-parental unit like yours truly.

I’ll get him straightened out.



And that’s the news from Lake Winnipesaukee, where all the women are better educated than the men, all the men play hockey, and all the children are waiting for the first snow day of the school year.


“Waking a person unnecessarily should not be considered a capital crime. For a first offense, that is.” -- Lazarus Long


The Ever Increasing Costs Of Health Care

I was perusing Jay Zilber’s blog and came across this. In his post, Jay makes a pretty good case for some kind of national health care system. He does make comparisons of our present system with Canadian and British socialized health care, rightfully blowing off some of the anecdotal evidence that their systems don’t work. But he also makes the point that their health care systems as they are now aren’t adequate. He's on point about the free market health care system in the US and how it is pricing those in the most need right out of system.

“Maybe pure socialized health care is not the answer. I'm not claiming to have all the answers. But one thing I do know is this: Free-market health care is as much a scandal, in its own right, as the worst horror stories you've ever heard about rationed health care in Canada and Britain. We already impose our own brand of rationing in America, by making our health care unaffordable to all but the rich and moderately well off. Possibly, only the chattering classes who have commandeered the debate -- among which I would certainly include professional journalist Andrew Sullivan -- have failed to notice.”

There are a number of reasons why health care costs have gone up in leaps and bounds that Jay doesn’t address, and the single payer health insurance, i.e., national health care insurance, won’t escape those same causes.

The biggest cause of the rapidly rising cost of health care can be summed up in one word:


The paperwork necessary to run a modern health care practice is staggering. Very little of it deals directly with a patient’s medical history or the actual care provided. Most of it is used to justify any treatment given, any medicines used or prescribed, any tests ordered by the physician, or for government required reports….in triplicate. This is something I’d looked into about 5 years ago. While I thought I knew what the real cause of spiraling health care costs, what I found was surprising.

Between one third and one half of the cost of health care is the insurance paperwork. That’s a lot of money going to waste that could be used to actually treat patients. Talk about bureaucracy in action. And if we are foolish enough to go the route that Canada, Britain, and so many others have, the amount of paperwork will multiply and the quality and amount of medical care will go down.

The second biggest cause of rising health care costs?

Malpractice claims and insurance.

Malpractice insurance premiums have risen even faster than health care costs. This is one factor causing physicians to rethink how they run their practices or abandon them altogether. It causes physicians to run extra tests, not so much to confirm a diagnosis but rather to collect exculpatory evidence in case there’s a malpractice suit. Many will also screen potential patients to weed out those that have filed malpractice suits in the past.

One of the cures for this malady is tort reform. Despite the claims by the Association of Trial Lawyers of America that they help keep bad doctors from practicing, they are not doing us any favors by making health care more expensive. They are doing themselves a favor, enriching themselves at our expense. (Who do you think receives a big chunk of any malpractice award? It sure as hell isn’t the plaintiff.)

Maybe it's time to rethink the whole health insurance structure. I can see insurance for catastrophic health care, but do we really need it, or want it, for the day to day medical needs when in the long run it would be cheaper to pay those expenses out of pocket?

What do you think?


Pelosi And The Socialist Agenda

Since it seems like a lock for Nancy Pelosi to replace Dick Gephardt as the Minority Leader in the House of Representatives, it will behoove us all to keep a close watch on Ms. Pelosi and her socialist cabal. One of my earlier posts, found here, gives a brief glimpse of the attitudes we might expect from the future House Minority Leader and the extreme leftists in the Democratic Party. However, further reading and digging around have given me a better idea of the agenda of Ms. Pelosi and her cohorts despite her protestations to the contrary.

Publius at the Weirs Times writes: “To Conservatives who follow the course of events in the USA, having the other party turn to one of the gaggle of far out politicians from the San Francisco, California area proves that the Democrats have lost their moorings. Rather than defending the constitutional rights for which its founders pledged their lives, their fortunes and their sacred honor, these people care only for the “rights” discovered by Liberal [leftist] judges who rewrite the US Constitution and those of several states to suit their fancy at the moment.”

“Forget about free speech – it is only for liberals and incumbent politicians. The right to bear arms? It’s obsolete. Only government enforcers such as Janet Reno’s troops should be allowed to have weapons. The right to own property? It’s gone if the government wants to use it for any plant, insect, or animal except a human being.”

Let’s face it, today’s Liberals (actually I should call them Socialists) believe that all power lies with the courts, and the legislatures and the electorate be damned. The arrogance of these elitist snobs never ceases to amaze me. If legislation doesn’t turn out the way they planned, they turn to the courts to bypass the lawmaking progress. They use extortion of the courts and the trial bar to collect fines, fees and ‘taxes’ in lieu of going through the constitutional process of a representative government and justifying such levies before the electorate.

“The…election of Pelosi to the be the minority leader of the US House of Representatives must be understood to mean that the Democrat Party now is committed to working for more of the same. Much more sinister is the record of the new leader’s association with an arm of the Socialist International of Lenin, Trotsky, and Josef Stalin.”

If Ms. Pelosi has indeed been taken in and is influenced by the Socialist International, as have many others, then shouldn’t she be up front about it and sever all connection with them? If she doesn’t, then she is irrevocably tying in the Democratic Party with the Socialists, something most mainstream Democrats won’t tolerate. Defections from the party will grow and will ultimately destroy it. The centrists and conservatives in the party will depart, leaving the party in the hands of Socialists who do not have the American people’s bests interests at heart.

“There are indications that the baggage which their new leader carries with her may lead more Democrats, especially those from the South, to leave their party for the GOP in the manner of Strom Thurmond, Phil Gramm, Richard Shelby, and Ben Nighthorse Campbell.”

The very heart of the Democrat Party will be eaten out and it will be nothing but an empty shell. The party of Thomas Jefferson and Andrew Jackson “will go the way of the Federalists, the Whigs, the Know Nothings, and others.

And that will be a sad day in America.


“Political tags – such as royalist, communist, democrat, populist, fascist, liberal, conservative, and so forth – are never basic criteria. The human race divides politically into those who want people to be controlled and those who have no such desire. The former are idealists acting from highest motives for the greatest good for the greatest number. The latter are surly curmudgeons, suspicious and lacking in altruism. But they are more comfortable neighbors than the other sort.” - Lazarus Long

What A Difference A Day Makes

Did my last post suck, or what? Rereading it this morning I realized I obviously went brain dead partway through writing it. See what happens when you have too many distractions and not enough se...uh...sleep?



As happens so often, a subject for a blog post presented itself during a discussion with some co-workers. In this case comparisons were being made between people here in New England as compared to other places in the U.S. The discussion compared work attitudes and conditions as well as social interactions in and outside the workplace.

I won’t go into great detail as I have no great wish to bore you to death, so I’ll be sticking to generalities with just a few details thrown in here and there to keep things interesting.

One of the strengths (or weaknesses, depending on your point of view) of living in New England is what some call the Puritan work ethic. For the most part, people in New England work hard, work long hours, and in some cases even revel in it. It wouldn’t surprise me to find out that the Type A personality workaholic was invented here.

One of my co-workers, Kim (of Eddie and Kim fame), made mention of the differences between working here in New Hampshire as compared to California, and the small company work atmosphere compared to the big company work atmosphere. I’ve been exposed to both, at least here in New England. Of the two I find I prefer small company corporate life.

I worked for 20 years for one of the big companies (Raytheon). And while I enjoyed working with bleeding edge technology, the attitude of many of my fellow employees was less than encouraging. Not that they ever shirked or did less than their level best when it came to doing their jobs, but their attitudes towards other employees was something I thought I had left behind in high school. Management attitudes didn’t help, either. Too often the attitude displayed there was one of “Shut the fuck up and do what I told you to do!” It was less of a partnership and more an almost benign dictatorship. Unfortunately, there was more than one dictator, which made it difficult to please any of them. No matter what you did, you knew you were going to piss off somebody somewhere in the pecking order.

After twenty years of putting up with that, the opportunity came to get out. The company was offering voluntary separations with a large cash incentive. All it took was one look at that big bag of money they were offering to give to me if I left and the decision was made -- I was outta there!

In case you’re wondering, I decided to use every penny Raytheon paid me to leave and took some time off. Little did I realize that it would last as long as it did. It was also when I started writing in earnest. So far it’s led to a number of short stories, two novels, and starts on two more.

About 18 months later I took a job with the small fiber optics firm I’ve mentioned now and then. The differences between it and Raytheon are profound.

At Raytheon, permission to try something out of the ordinary that might lead to a new and less expensive way of doing something was damn near impossible to get. There was quite a bit of low level corporate management CYA in evidence. It kind of reminds me of a scene from the movie “Head Office” with Rick Moranis:

“I didn’t make that decision! I approved that decision! Don’t you know the difference between making a decision and approving a decision? Listen, I gotta go! I’ve got a dead father-in-law who’s pissed off because he’s in semi-private rather than private. I’ve gotta Mercedes that’s leaking more oil than…than…than Poland! I’ve got 35 phone lines to answer!” Hangs up and pulls out blood pressure cuff, wraps it around his arm, and starts pumping the bulb. “I love this business!!”

There are actually people just like that in corporate America.

Kind of scary, huh?

At the fiber optics firm, I was encouraged to try new things, or try different ways of doing old things in order to do it better/faster/cheaper. That was true of everyone at the company.

Then, not quite three years ago, our company was acquired by a big company (who shall remain nameless…..unless they piss me off). Inevitably, things changed. There were more rules, more regulations, and more paperwork, but the small company atmosphere remained.

Kim’s experience is different. She spent most of her working life out on the Left Coast where corporate society is different on many levels. One of the biggest differences she notices is there is a lot more corporate gossip in our company. She believes it detracts from getting our jobs done and makes us seem less professional.

At first I thought she was overstating the case. But then I thought about it for a while and realized that there was some truth in what she said. When it comes to ‘shooting the breeze’ with a co-worker, I am as guilty as anyone else is. In some cases, even more so. But the one thing I don’t do (at least as best as I can recall) is gossip. It disgusted me in high school and at Raytheon, and I dislike it intensely at my present company. (Kim wants me to let you know that she was the first to use the phrase “dislike intensely” while discussing this post. I merely stole….uhh.…borrowed it from her.)

But gossip is also something that is unlikely to go away. Many of the people working at our company have known each other for years, some having worked together at other companies in the past. That makes for a strong bond, almost like a family. And families gossip. With large companies, no matter where they are located, that level of widespread intimacy doesn’t exist. Under those circumstances it easier to keep yourself at a distance without seeming standoffish.

One of our other co-workers had commented to her that she would have to adapt, to blend in to get along. He might as well have said, “We are Borg. You will be assimilated. Resistance is futile.” Why should she have to change just to ‘fit in’? What should she change?

I like her just the way she is. She’s outspoken, and I like that in people. I don’t always agree with her, but I’m always willing to listen to what she has to say. We may discuss our viewpoints, then agree to disagree.

But not all companies are like that here in New England. I know of so many that are not.

And then there are the differences in social interaction.

When I was at Raytheon, I spent very little time with my co-workers outside of work. That has nothing to do with Raytheon, but the shift hours I was working (11PM to 7AM) and the fact that I lived about an hour from work did.

But it’s different at my present place of employment. It’s rare when I don’t spend some time with someone I know from work sometime during the week.

One thing that I have come to know is that everybody has his or her own idea of what is an ideal place to live. I’m not talking about the fantasy of living on the beaches of Maui, but a place to call ‘home’. For me, it’s here in northern New England. For others, it’s in Florida, Tennessee, Arizona, Washington state, Oregon, or some other place within the U.S. Whether it’s the landscape, the climate, the community, or the individual people, everyone has a place that makes them feel like they’re home.

My ex-girlfriend hated living in New Hampshire. It had nothing to do with the weather or the scenery. She disliked the politics, but even that wasn’t what irked her the most.

It was the people.

She didn’t care for the way that the people in the small town where she made her home always seemed to know her business. I’m not talking about the townsfolk knowing what color panties and brassiere she was wearing, but about things going on in her life. It unnerved her when she found out the people in town knew about the trouble her teenage son had gotten himself into. She didn’t understand why anyone would be interested in his troubles. She didn’t understand that most of them were not putting her down or disparaging her for it. They were concerned for her and her son. She didn’t understand that what affects her also affects the community. What they were showing is what is called neighborliness. She saw it as being too nosy. They saw it as looking out for a neighbor – her. It was a matter of misconception.

But she’s now in Virginia after a false start towards Indianapolis. She feels she fits down there. As long as she’s happy, that’s all that counts.

Kim loves it here. As she said to me today, “I have never felt as much at peace as I do here.”

There are some acquaintances and friends that I know who moved up from Texas. They would never move back there. New Hampshire fits for them. They love the people, the neighborliness. They’ve found ‘home’.

There are other friends that moved away and won’t be returning here because they’ve found a place that fits them. They’ve also found ‘home’.

There are two families that I helped make the move from the People’s Republic of California to northern New Hampshire. Both families love it here. As one of them said, “There’s a lot less BS to deal with here than back in California.” Welcome home, folks.

It’s no different than some people preferring to live in cities and others preferring to live in suburbs, along shorelines, in the desert, or in the mountains. The social interactions may be different from place to place, but somebody somewhere will find them perfect while others will think they’ve landed in the seventh circle of hell. The funny thing is that they’ll both be describing exactly the same place.

There is no one place that is the best place to live for everyone, just as there is no one company that is the best company to work for. To quote Albert Einstein, “It’s all relative.”

But it is these differences that make us what we are as families, communities, and as a country. It these differences that can give us great insight. It is these differences that make help make life interesting.


“Stupidity cannot be cured with money, or through education, or by legislation. Stupidity is not a sin, the victim can’t help being stupid. But stupidity is the only universal capital crime; the sentence is death, there is no appeal, and execution is carried out automatically and without pity.” --Lazarus Long


Oh, Drat!

Damn, but it’s been one of those days today. I’ve been busy from the moment my alarm went off this morning. With meetings in the state capitol this morning, and meetings upcountry, and helping my friends Ed and Kim get ready to move in next door, and yet another meeting back in the state capitol this evening, I’ve had very little time to put together The Great American Post Of All Weblog Posts.

So, instead you’re going to get yet another bit of the philosophy of Lazarus Long.

The Great Ramblings of a disturbed mind in northern New England will resume tomorrow, same Bat-Time, same Bat-Channel!


“You can have peace. Or you can have freedom. Don’t ever count on having both at once.” -- Lazarus Long


A Retrospective Of The Weekend

I have to admit that I was a bit lazy over the weekend, not making an effort to post something other than a quote from a dead author’s novel Monday evening. But I have an excuse.

I was shoveling snow.

A very short fall here in New England turned into winter over the weekend with the arrival of a Nor’easter and all of the precipitation and wind that comes with it.

Normally I wouldn’t mind that, except that I still had quite a bit of fall yard work to do. There were still leaves to haul to the dump and others still to be raked (some last stubborn leaves waiting until all of the others had been raked up before falling), and one last mow of the lawn before putting the mower away for the winter. Unless there is one heck of a warm spell over the next week or two, none of that is going to happen. The chances of that are looking poorer by the minute. The National Weather Service is expecting more inclement weather over the weekend.

But the weekend wasn’t a total loss, assuming you count Friday afternoon and early evening as part of the weekend. At least Friday was productive.

More than once I’ve mentioned here that I’m an engineer for a small fiber optics company. One of the parts of the job I like is going to a potential customer’s site and displaying all our wares. Normally that’s a job for the sales weasels, but the powers that be like to send the engineers out now and then to help us keep our perspective. This time it was particularly enjoyable because I was visiting one of the local high schools and the head of IT for the school district happens to be my friend Tim.

What was going to be a two hour demonstration turned into a four hour demonstration and a hands on lecture for one of the high school students that works with Tim. He learned all about the equipment I’d brought with me, in this case a video microscope for inspecting fiber optic connectors and a pair of prototype optical loss testers. He also got a chance to use the equipment and was performing most of the tests. We all gained valuable knowledge. Kyle, the student, learned more about the hardware the school district uses in its network. Tim learned that the contractor that installed the network should be taken out and shot. And I learned that I need to tweak a few things for the production models of our prototypes.

But that’s not the best thing about Friday.

Tim, his family, and I went to see Harry Potter And The Chamber Of Secrets at the local movie theater. If you haven’t seen this picture, go! Though it’s 2 hours and 40 minutes long, it doesn’t seem that way at all. It’s also much better than the first Harry Potter movie.

The only downside was that Officer Lynn and her daughter couldn’t join us. Apparently Lynn pinched a nerve in her back and it left her bed-ridden for the entire weekend. At least if she had to be stuck flat on her back, this was the weekend to do it. She’s not 100% yet, but she expects she’ll be fine by the end of the week.

And that’s the news from Lake Winnipesaukee, where all the good lookin’ women are from somewhere else, all the men are semi-sober, and all the children are medicated with Ritalin.


“If ‘everybody knows’ such-and-such, then it ain’t so, by at least ten thousand to one.”

- Lazarus Long


Thought For The Day

"Throughout history, poverty is the normal condition of man. Advances which permit this norm to be exceeded -- here and there, now and then -- are the work of an extremely small minority, frequently despised, often condemned, and almost always opposed by all 'right-thinking' people. Whenever this tiny minority is kept from creating, or (as sometimes happens) is driven out of a society, the people then slip back in to abject poverty.

This is known as 'bad luck'." - Lazarus Long


Further Evidence Of The Demonization Of Men

I don’t know if it was serendipity, great timing, or just two great minds thinking alike. In any case it appears Glenn Reynolds has picked up the gauntlet, bashing the feminazi’s by slamming Germaine Greer for her sexist op-ed piece in the Guardian. Glenn points us to two posts, one by Erin O’Connor over at Critical Mass, and the other an article by Fiachra Gibbons reporting on novelist Doris Lessing’s warning to feminists to lay off “rubbishing men.”

Gibbons writes, “Lessing, who became a feminist icon with the books The Grass is Singing and The Golden Notebook, said a "lazy and insidious" culture had taken hold within feminism that revelled in flailing men.”

I’ve seen it too often in some of the colleges and universities. There are plenty of Women’s Studies programs, but no Men’s Studies. It seems I’ve heard of men wishing to take some courses in Women’s Studies have been ostracized by female students or bullied by instructors to drop the courses because, after all, they’re men!

To quote Lessing, “"It is time we began to ask who are these women who continually rubbish men. The most stupid, ill-educated and nasty woman can rubbish the nicest, kindest and most intelligent man and no one protests.”

"Men seem to be so cowed that they can't fight back, and it is time they did."

William Sjostrom also chimes in, ridiculing Germaine Greer for her sexist diatribe.

To quote the late, great Peter Finch as Howard Beale in Network, “I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore!”


“A touchstone to determine the actual worth of an ‘intellectual’ – find out how he [or she] feels about astrology.” - Lazarus Long


Feminazi Mentality

I know I’m going to get hate mail on this one.

After reading this, I felt an overwhelming urge to fire up the word processor and spew my (verbal) venom. Mind you, the original article in question was published back in 1997. I’d like to think that the author, Martha Burk, has mellowed a little since then. The fact that she’s trying to gain membership for women at the Augusta National Golf Club without getting into reproductive rights shows that maybe she has, but I doubt it.

The premise for her article is that it should be mandatory for all men to be on some kind of birth control. Her justification is that women on welfare can have benefits reduced or eliminated if they continue to have children while on welfare. Judges can order them to have Norplant birth control implants if they want to keep their benefits.

How does she want to control men’s fertility?

Ms. Burk writes:

“Mandatory contraception beginning at puberty, with the rule relaxed only for procreation under the right circumstances (he can afford it and has a willing partner) and for the right reasons (determined by a panel of experts, and with the permission of his designated female partner). This could be easily accomplished with a masculine version of the contraceptive implants some judges are now trying to force on some women by court order.”

Notice she makes no mention of which men will be required to undergo such treatment. Why? Because she wants all men to be required to do this. She has immediately created an underclass whose reproductive rights will be determined by a government panel. Sounds a little too much like the lebensborn program of the SS in Nazi Germany. It wouldn’t take much for the fertility panel she envisions to start deciding who can and cannot have children based solely on eugenics.

While I can agree with Ms. Burk about punishing men who knowingly father children with a woman on welfare, it seems to be a stretch to require every man to undergo mandatory contraception because of the actions of a few.

“The current welfare law allows states to eliminate support for many women with children and deny additional assistance to single mothers who have more than one child while on welfare. Why not punish men caught fathering more than one child with a mother who’s already on welfare? With DNA fingerprinting, the method could be foolproof, especially if doctors reported any man who refused the implants or sought medical attention after unsuccessfully attempting to remove them himself. Understand, men’s right to control their own bodies and life choices would not be infringed.”

She had me agreeing with her until the last sentence. What she is proposing would eliminate men’s right to control their own bodies. Their life choices would be infringed. It’s obvious that Ms. Burk has decided that the U.S. Constitution or the Supreme Court would probably allow such draconian measures, despite many court decisions that could be used to say just the opposite.

“Men could continue to have sexual intercourse and to father children. They would merely be required to accept a few minuscule and ever-so-reasonable restrictions.”

‘Oh-so-reasonable restrictions’? Not to me they aren’t. I don’t like the idea of women being forced to take contraception. But somehow I should accept that men would be forced to do the same thing, just on general principle?

Some may look at Ms. Burk’s article and see satire. I see a dangerous trend.

I’m just waiting to see if she starts espousing the ‘All men are evil’ line that feminazi’s like Andrea Dworkin and Katherine McKinnon use every chance they get. Many feminists (and here I mean the classical feminists, i.e. equal rights, reproductive rights, etc., not the more rabid ‘all women are good and all men are evil’ type) look upon Dworkin and McKinnon with disdain, knowing they and their ilk (God, I love that word!) have hijacked the National Organization of Women (NOW). They’ve even marginalized one of the founding members, Betty Friedan, because she won’t go along with the militant line.

Dworkin and McKinnon look upon all sex as evil, a tool used by men to subjugate women. In their minds there is no such thing as consensual sex, only rape. These supposed feminists say that women are powerless and incapable of consenting to sex with men, that intercourse itself is a metaphor for women’s inequality. They constantly try to propagate the idea that women are always victims. This victimization of women by these women undermines all of the progress that has been made over the last century, trying to force them back into the “Oh, woe is me! Who will protect me? I’m only a woman and can’t protect myself!” mentality. Who wants that? Dworkin and McKinnon, that’s who.

One interesting take on all of this is this article by LaSara W. FireFox, looking at the history of feminism and breaking down the differences in the various factions of the feminist movements and the revitalization of the classical feminist (or as she calls it, neo-feminism). She doesn’t feel victimized. She feels empowered. She works in the sex industry (adult entertainment). And she feels freer than Dworkin or McKinnon will ever be.

(Link via PontifexExMachina)


“The second most preposterous notion [that H. Sapiens has ever dreamed up] is that copulation is inherently sinful.” - Lazarus Long


The Electorate Be Damned

It is unfortunate the possibility that future House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and her minions will take the attitude of ‘no compromise with the electorate’ is pretty darn good. One should consider that she and other members of her faction within the Democratic Party have a skewed understanding of what America is. We must remember that she represents a congressional district that voted overwhelmingly for Al Gore in 2000 (Gore 77%, Bush 15%, Nader 8%).

According to columnist George Will, “Nancy Pelosi……now will referee the Democrats' intramural rumble between those who ascribe the party's failure to its message and those who blame only the "articulating" (Daschle's word) of it. Actually, the party's message, frequently communicated with ruinous clarity for five decades, is condescension toward the American people.”

In other words, they believe the American people are too dumb to be trusted with making decisions for themselves, and particularly when it comes to government. The only way to help us poor misled citizens is to hand power over to an elite, a group of ‘right-thinking people’ who only have our best interests at heart. Of course it will be the elite’s definition of ‘best interests’ and not the American people’s.

The fact that they will wish to curtail our rights to make our own decisions and spend our own money, squash free speech (unless of course such speech agrees with the party line), and force us to live in a smothering Nanny State bothers them not at all. After all, they have our best interests at heart.

George Will continues:

“The canonical text of liberalism's disparagement of Americans' competence was John Kenneth Galbraith's 1958 book "The Affluent Society." It argued that the bovine people beyond the faculty club are manipulated by advertising, so businesses produce not the things people want but the wants that businesses find it convenient to supply.

Two conclusions flow from this materialism and determinism. First, the cardinal rule of politics must always be "It's the economy, stupid," because the electorate is too stupid to have a more elevated or nuanced approach to politics. Second, the masses are passive lumps needing supervision by a government of their betters, [a.k.a.] liberals.”

The type of thought that George mentions above is antithetical to the American way. It also shows the arrogance of those such as Pelosi and those of her ilk. It is that attitude that helped spawn a revolution over 200 years ago, throwing off the tyranny of a ruling elite that did not have our best interests at heart.

“It believes Americans are not competent to invest a portion of their Social Security taxes in individual accounts. And not competent to exercise school choice. And not competent to own firearms without hundreds of regulations. The party believes that many African Americans are not competent, period. Hence they need to be treated as permanent wards of government and swaddled in paternalistic preferences.”

Is this the kind of thinking that we want to be prevalent in our elected representatives or the bureaucracies they fund? I sure as hell don’t.

“But liberal Democrats say success could have been had by "sharpening differences" -- by being more adversarial toward a president with high approval ratings, less adversarial toward Saddam Hussein (by opposing, as Pelosi did, authorizing the use of force against him), more adversarial toward American taxpayers (by opposing, as Pelosi did, the president's tax cuts, and opposing, as Pelosi does, making them permanent).”

So, we aren’t smart enough to realize who our enemies are, nor smart enough to spend our money that we earned? Who do these effete snobs think they are? Do they actually believe that a majority of the American people are misled, deluded, or mind-controlled by the Republicans? They’ve got to get out of their sacred halls of power, condescend to actually talk to the very people they disparage, and maybe get a clue that they are suffering from cranial-rectal inversion.

“After Britain's Labor Party was demolished by Margaret Thatcher in the 1983 general election, an undaunted Laborite vowed, "No compromise with the electorate." That can be the rallying cry of Pelosi Democrats.”


In a mature society, “civil servant” is semantically equal to “civil master.” -Lazarus Long

Words Of Wisdom

There are many times when words fail me, or that I find that somebody else has managed to express what I’m thinking or feeling far better than I could ever hope to do. I’m not too proud to quote them, paraphrase them, or even steal some of their words and mix them up a little bit to make some small part of what they’ve said my own.

This time round I’m going to quote verbatim from one of my favorite sci-fi author’s alter ego. Many of you will recognize whom it is I’m quoting even though I will attribute the quote to his alter ego. The words ring true today as much as when they were written thirty years ago.


“A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, [and] die gallantly.

Specialization is for insects.”
- Lazarus Long


“Never underestimate the power of human stupidity.”
- Lazarus Long


Has Iraq Blinked?

I caught it while I was listening to NPR's All Things Considered, but I had to check here to see if it was true.

If all indications are right, Iraq just blinked, acceding to the demands made by the UN to allow unconditional inspections and to disarm. Of course, I'm not going to hold my breath to see if they actually allow inspectors top go where they may. It could be just another one of Saddam Hussein's delaying tactics, in which case he's doomed.

On the other hand, it could be real.

If that's the case, then George W. Bush has managed to pull off part of what he was aiming to do -- get rid of Iraq's weapons of mass murder. Despite the anti-war leftist's lamentations, the U.S. military did its part without firing a shot. Sometimes the credible threat of force is enough to prove that we aren't kidding.

Saddam's statements that the Iraqi military would defeat the U.S. is just so much bluster and he knows it. He knows that the Iraqi armed forces wouldn't last very long if the U.S. launched an attack, just as he knows he wouldn't last much longer than his army, assuming some of the military commanders didn't take him out first.

Now all we have to do is make what's left of Al Qaida go the way of the so many other extinct extremist groups.

Will Iran Fall after Iraq?

Though most attention in the Middle East has been focused on Saddam Hussein and Iraq, we should start paying attention to Iraq's neighbor, Iran.

Civil unrest has been growing in the Islamic Republic, particularly amongst the middle class. It is becoming apparent that the mullahs are out of touch with the Iranian populace and losing control. An example is the four days of rioting by students of Tehran University in protest of the death sentence handed out to academician Hashem Aghajari for questioning clerical rule in Iran.

President Muhammed Khatemi has spoken out against the harsh sentence imposed by the Islamic court, bolstering the protests of the students and voicing the sentiments of many in Iran.. Aghajari had been charged with blasphemy for his stand against the rule of the mullahs in Islamic Republic.

Such protests would have been unthinkable only a few years ago. But Iran is not the extremist Islamic Republic it was in the beginning. Many of the younger generation don't remember the days of the Islamic Revolution that brought forth the downfall of the the Shah, Reza Pahlavi, and the rise of the Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomenei. Secular law was brushed aside for the most part. The ruling mullahs had the power to overrule any legislation passed by the Majlis, the Iranian parliament. The rights of women were curtailed, though to nowhere near the extent that of women under the Taliban in Afghanistan.

It appears that most of the people in Iran are tired of living under a repressive theocracy and have had enough.

What might trigger a new revolution and the overthrow of theocratic rule in Iran?

Maybe an invasion of nearby Iraq.

Though it wouldn't happen overnight, I suspect that once the Iranian people get a view of truly democratic rule in their former enemy's land, the days of the mullahs will be numbered. Already they are seeing the changes being brought about in Afghanistan, slow as they are. I doubt a revolution in Iran will be as bloody as the one in Afghanistan, though blood will be spilled. Hopefully few will die if such a thing comes to pass.


Iraq And The UN Security Council Resolution

Iraq's rubber stamp parliament convened earlier today in an emergency session and declared that UNSCR 1441 is a "declaration of war". Despite the fact that Iraq lost the Gulf War in 1991 and signed an agreement that Iraq has never lived up to not withstanding, it's a ballsy move by the Iraqi lawmakers to thumb their noses at the UN, and particularly the US.

It is understood that no Iraqi lawmaker would go against the wishes of the Great Leader, unless of course said lawmaker had a death wish.

Despite what the Iraqi Parliament decided, it is understood that the only opinion that matters in this issue is that of Saddam Hussein.

I can see it now. Dubya will say to Saddam, "So, did I drop 500 tons of bombs, or 600? In all of the confusion, I lost count. So you've got to ask yourself, 'Do I feel lucky?' Well, do ya', punk?"


One Of Those Days

It was 70 degrees here in New Hampshire today. 70 Degrees in November! You gotta love it.

Of course it might have been better if it hadn’t been raining most of the day, but what do you expect for a Monday?

It’s also been the kind of day that has left little time to think of something witty or controversial. For the life of me I can’t think of anything that someone else hasn’t already written about at length. It must be the Monday blahs.

I hate it when that happens.

But I promise something better tomorrow, something witty or urbane.

For now, I’m just going to go to bed.....


Random Thoughts On A Sunday

The Dems are still having a tough time getting a handle on why they lost on November 5th. Despite Barbara Streisand’s witty analysis (with the emphasis on anal), it’s obvious that the Democrats lost because they ran against their Republican opponent’s plans and ideas rather than for their own.

Maybe they’ll figure it out before the 2004 election. And maybe they won’t.


Indian Summer has arrived in New England with daytime temps in the mid-60’s and warm nights. I’ve even been able to leave the windows open all day. It’s great weather for raking leaves…..or taking one last cruise out on the lake before the winter weather arrives. I managed to do both today.


In light of the anti-war protests in Florence against a possible U.S.-Iraq war, a number of veterans in Dover, New Hampshire have spoken about their beliefs. The consensus at the American Legion Post in Dover is “It’s time to take them out.” Veterans from a VFW Post in the Lakes Region of New Hampshire also believe it’s time. These are men that understand the horrors of war, but also have an understanding that a dishonorable peace with a murdering tyrant can come at too high a price.


Thanksgiving is less than three weeks away and already I’m looking forward to it. It’s one of the best holidays during the year, in my mind. The busiest travel day in the U.S. has been the Wednesday before Thanksgiving -- Everyone is trying to get home for the holiday, to spend time with their families, eat too much, watch some great football, and store away more precious memories. I remember many Thanksgivings over the years – crisp, cool November afternoons, either sunny or cloudy. Big gatherings with grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins by the dozens. Small gatherings with Mom and Dad Eddy, one set of grandparents or the other, and the Eddy siblings. There were a few Thanksgivings away from home, but those few away were shared with close friends. I don’t remember a fraction of the Christmases or Fourth of July celebrations nearly as well as the many Thanksgivings over my life time.

Some friends of mine in the UK have always wondered why Thanksgiving isn’t celebrated there. After all, English settlers in the Massachusetts colony celebrated the first Thanksgiving. I have pointed them to Plymouth, Hampshire, where many expatriate Americans gather to celebrate Thanksgiving on the fourth Thursday of November. They have since made it to Plymouth three of the four past years on Thanksgiving. Maybe it is time for the UK to consider adding Thanksgiving as a national holiday. I believe that if it was held on the same day as in the US, it could bring both nations even closer together, celebrating our common roots.


I made the mistake of watching the New England Patriots play the Chicago Bears. It wasn’t a pretty sight. The Pats folded like a cheap suitcase in the rain during the first three quarters. I stopped watching before the fourth quarter. So what happens?

The Patriots win! *sigh*


Does anyone remember when Johnny Carson was the host of the Tonight Show? He had this one character he’d do from time to time called Carnak the Magnificent. He’d be all dressed up in a fancy turban and robes. He’d take an envelope from a pile in front of him, hold it against his forehead for a moment, give an answer, and then open the envelope to read the question.

The funniest one I remember was this one –

Answer: “Siss, Boom, Bah.”
The question: “What sound does and exploding sheep make?”


This, from Thomas Sowell:

“ The spectacular success of some people with no college degree, like Bill Gates and Rush Limbaugh, may give college education a bad name – justifiably, in some cases.”


One thing I noticed during my little cruise around the lake today was the number of boat trailers waiting near launching ramps. At the start of the weekend there were still a dozen boats tied up in some of the slips near my house. Now there are four. I expect that the number will be down to one or two by the end of the day tomorrow (Veteran’s Day). The last vestiges of summer will have disappeared from the lake until next year.


This winter had better actually be a winter! None of this halfway in-between sorta winter weather. If it’s going to be winter, I want snow, I want cold, I want at least one blizzard, and I want to go cross-country skiing! I want the big lake to be frozen over from end to end, not like last winter when the center of the lake never froze over. I want a winter wonderland, dammit!

Otherwise I want to skip the whole thing and go directly to spring.

The U.S. Military And Next Generation Weaponry

It was while reading this over at VodkaPundit that got me to thinking about the U.S. military and the advances that have been made since the Gulf War in 1991.

One of the most surprising advances made has been in stealth technology. Boeing has developed a new stealth aircraft. Unlike the B-2 Spirit and F-117A Nighthawk, the Bird of Prey is capable of performing its mission in daylight. Looking vaguely like the Klingon starship of the same name, it incorporates much of the existing stealth technology as well as new applications of older technologies that render it difficult to track with radar and difficult to see in daylight with the old Mark I eyeball. How do you shoot down a target you can’t see? The answer: you can’t.

Everyone is familiar with the Predator drone, particularly after an upper echelon Al Qaida chief was killed by one carrying a Hellfire missile. But more effective drones, called UCAVs, or Unmanned Combat Air Vehicles are on the drawing boards or in prototype testing. Some possible UCAV variants include an unmanned version of the F-16C. Boeing’s X-45A UCAV is under development and has undergone flight testing at Edwards Air Force Base.

It is expected that UCAVs will be able to undertake hazardous missions that a manned aircraft might not be able to survive. Because there is no pilot on board, a UCAV will be able to maneuver at higher speeds and under greater gee loads than is possible with today’s fighter aircraft. A pilot can withstand forces of up to 9 g’s for brief periods of time, the kind of stresses that can occur during combat air maneuvering or defensive maneuvers to avoid enemy ground fire. An unmanned fighter would be able to stand up to g-forces many times that, making it possible to survive attacks from other manned fighters or ground-based antiaircraft missile or gun batteries.

The U.S. Army’s Land Warrior program is set to make Army and Marine ground troops unmatched anywhere in the world. Land Warrior integrates small arms with high tech systems to make combat on the 21st century battlefield a one-sided affair.

"Land Warrior soldiers fight as a system, and the most important part of the system is what's between his ears," says Army Lt. Col. Robert Serino, Land Warrior product manager.

"First and foremost, Land Warrior is a fighting system," Serino said. Land Warrior has several subsystems: the weapon, integrated helmet assembly, protective clothing and individual equipment, computer/radio, and software.

The weapon subsystem is built around the M-16/M-4 modular carbine. It has a laser range finder/digital compass, a daylight video camera, a laser aiming light and a thermal sight.

The Land Warrior system gives the individual soldier information and abilities unlike any seen before, making him or her far more effective in any kind of weather, day or night, in jungle, desert, mountains, or urban combat.

Then there’s THEL, or Tactical High Energy Laser. Used recently to shoot down an incoming artillery shell, THEL changes the entire battlefield landscape. Developed by TRW, the THEL can be used to keep the skies clear of enemy artillery shells, rockets, aircraft, and tactical ballistic missiles. Star Wars lives!

Joint Direct Attack Munitions, or JDAMs, make laser or TV guided bombs of the Gulf War era look ancient by comparison. Employing GPS/Inertial Guidance systems, JDAM turns an ordinary dumb iron bomb into a smart weapon having pinpoint accuracy. One of the advantages to the JDAM system over laser or TV guided bombs is that it is an all weather system. Laser or TV guided bombs can’t easily be used in inclement weather because rain, snow, or fog can obscure sight of the target or disperse a laser beam to the point of uselessness.

There are other weapons systems on the drawing boards or in the lab, some of which are non-lethal, but no less effective in combat -- Lasers that are used to dazzle and disorient enemy troops; sonic vortex weapons that stun; EMP generators that can knock out enemy electronic or electrical systems; rail guns that can accelerate projectiles to 30,000 feet per second or more.

Author Tom Clancy cited a new term for the kind of warfare that the U.S. military is or will soon be able to wage: Hyperwar. The first to get a small taste of hyperwar were the Taliban and Al Qaida in Afghanistan.

It’s possible that Saddam Hussein may get a chance to experience all out hyperwar.

The poor, dumb bastard.


Zen And The Art Of Raking Leaves

You thought I was only kidding when I mentioned writing something about raking leaves, didn’t you? I guess you’ll have to read on to find out one way or the other.

Normally, I don’t actually mind raking leaves. I’ve done that a couple times already, tidying up the lawns I take care of. But imagine my surprise when I arrived home from work yesterday to find that the landlords had hired a tree service to take out a few trees and trim the limbs off of a bunch more. What had been maybe three hours worth of leaf raking became a week’s worth in only a few short hours. It was more than leaves that needed to be cleaned up. There were also branches, twigs and lots of bark. None of those rake very easily.

So I did the only thing I could do under the circumstances – hired a couple of neighborhood kids to do it for me.

Just watching them made me tired.

Don’t let anyone tell you that the youth of America are lazy. These two finished one yard and put a pretty good dent in the second one before it got too dark to work. They’ll be back tomorrow to finish.

Free enterprise is a wonderful thing, isn’t it?


It’s Now A Matter Of Time

Early this afternoon the UN Security Council unanimously passed a resolution drafted by the United States that demands unfettered access for UN weapons inspectors to search for weapons of mass destruction within Iraq.

It’s now a matter of time to see if Iraq will disarm peacefully or be forced to disarm at the point of a gun. To use an old cliché, the ball’s now in Saddam’s court.

The weapons inspectors, headed by Hans Blix, expect to be in Iraq by November 18th. It will be interesting to see if they’ll actually be allowed to carry out their duties as agreed to by Iraq in the cease-fire treaty signed at the end of the Persian Gulf War back in 1991.

If not, we can look forward to Persian Gulf War II, the Sequel.


Let The Bitching And Moaning Begin

Reading the newspapers and blogs, as well as listening to NPR, I get the impression that the Democrats are in denial. Here it is, two days after the election, and they still can’t believe they’ve lost the Senate and failed to gain the House.

One of the more pathetic explanations I’ve heard came from some minor Democratic Party functionary here in New Hampshire. His take on the election results?

“Obviously, the voters didn’t get it. They ignored the issues and bought the glitzy ads run by the Republicans.”

Oh, really? And what were the issues?

At the state level in New Hampshire, it was a decision between a Tax-and-Spend liberal Democrat promising that he was going to take even more money from the taxpayers and a Republican who believed state government had grown far too quickly and wanted to modernize and reduce the size and cost of that government. Not a tough choice there.

At the national level, the Democrats tried to get the voters to focus on the ‘horrid state of the economy’ rather than the War on Terrorism and the Islamofascist pinheads wanting to destroy us and our way of life. The old campaign motto, “It’s the economy, stupid!” just wasn’t playing to the home crowds. Despite the downturn, it’s been a pretty mild recession. The signs are there that it won’t last much longer. Therefore, it wasn’t really an issue the voters could get excited about.

Some of the 'close' races for the U.S. Senate weren’t as close as the polls and the media claimed they were. It’s a lesson that the media and the political party bosses have to learn again and again: The only polls that count are the ones conducted at the voting booth.

And now maybe we can get back to the task of running the country….that is until the presidential hopefuls for 2004 start showing up here and in Iowa sometime after the first of the year. They can’t start too soon if they want to win the New Hampshire Primary, can they?



Another Reason for Al Qaida To Be Nervous

Since better writers than yours truly have done this subject to death all over the blogosphere, I’m not going to belabor the obvious. But when the CIA can target and destroy the bad guys using a drone, the old Bell Telephone motto “Reach out and touch someone” takes on a whole new meaning.

Get Out And Vote, Dammit!

Today's the day in the good ole' U.S. of A. Get out and exercise your constitutional rights! If you don't vote you'll have no right to bitch.

One option I wish was available on ballots would be 'None Of The Above'. There are times when all of the candidates for a given office are all too horrible to vote for. If a vote for None Of The Above was possible, then we might have a better chance at getting better candidates to run for office. If None Of The Above wins, a new election will be called and the previous candidates will be ineligible to run.

If only........


Even More Random Thoughts On A Sunday Afternoon

I went to the movies with friends of mine last night. We saw ‘The Santa Clause 2’. It’s not often a sequel is anywhere near as good as the original, but this one came pretty close. It also helps that Tim Allen is just as funny as ever.


The New England Patriots are playing the Buffalo Bills today. Statistically, it doesn’t look good for the Pats. It always happens that the players any of the Boston teams trade away come back to haunt them. It’s been happening ever since the Boston Red Sox traded away Babe Ruth to the New York Yankees. The Curse of the Bambino lives on, but it’s spread to the other pro sports teams in the Boston area.


A few people, including Dawn Olsen, have been asking me about Officer Lynn. At the moment, there’s not much to tell. We’re still at that awkward ‘getting to know each other’ stage. But I have good expectations. She’s funny, smart, and not willing to take any of my crap.

God, I love that in a woman!


One thing that bothers me to no end is some of the media’s claim that the people have a right to know. In principle, I have no problem with that. But when the media uses that ‘right to know’ claim to get around the law, jeopardize or hinder criminal investigations, or endanger people all in the competition to report it first, I draw the line.

While most of this kind of behavior is seen only on TV shows or the movies, the real life perpetrators of such disingenuous behavior should be dope slapped at a minimum.

Though the people have a right to know, nowhere is it codified in law that the people need to know right now. A delay of few minutes, hours, days, or weeks while an investigation is ongoing will not deny the people of the right to know. A TV crew not showing how law enforcement teams are deployed during a hostage situation will help insure the safety of the officers and civilians involved. The people will still know about the situation, but the details won’t be known until it’s all over.

The media has to get over the “If it bleeds, it leads,” mentality. Report the news, don’t be the news.


Stephen Den Beste is back from vacation and is as sharp as ever. This post blows away the misconceptions about the ‘principle of selflessness’, showing that morally, selflessness can be wrong.

To quote Stephen’s post, "The principle of selflessness: All humans are ethically equal in value. It is invariably wrong to arbitrarily prefer any person or group, and to place a higher value on their wellbeing than that of any other person or group."

He goes on to make a comparison between selfishness and selflessness.

“[The principle of selflessness] …. appears in many guises in many popular ethical systems, and shows up variously in popular wisdom. "No man is an island..." "Ask not for whom the bell tolls..." "All men are brothers..." "Think globally, act locally..." "I am a citizen of the world..." "Love thy neighbor as thyself..." Problem is, it's wrong and a strict application of it leads to terribly evil acts.

Joe has a 4 year old daughter named Jill who he loves deeply. While out shopping he sees a toy and buys it, which he gives to her when he gets home. She is delighted, gives him a big hug and says, "I love you, Daddy!" and then goes away to play with it, leaving him standing there glowing.

According to the principle of selflessness, Joe just committed a deeply immoral act. Suppose that Joe had taken the grocery money and bought a toy with it, which he gave to a strange child, leaving Jill to go hungry because there was no money left for food. That would clearly be wrong.

But the principle of selflessness says that Joe may not place a higher valuation on Jill than he does on any other child, and as long as any child anywhere in the world has less than the necessities of life, then buying luxuries for Jill means depriving that other child of the wherewithal to buy necessities. Joe was ethically obligated to give that money to charity to buy food for starving children in Somalia, rather than spending it on making Jill happy.

In fact, a strict application of the principle of selflessness would require that Joe dress Jill in rags, house her in a hovel, feed her the cheapest possible subsistence diet, and in general spend as little money on her as possible that would keep her healthy (though not necessarily happy) so as to permit Joe to give the highest possible proportion of his income to charity to help other children elsewhere that Joe has never met and knows nothing about.”

So much for selflessness.


Update: Somehow, the New England Patriots won!


Getting Fed Up Yet?

It’s getting down to the wire, with Election Day only 3 days away. The election ad campaigns are going full swing and the backbiting, sleight-of-hand, dirty trick playing is increasing exponentially the closer we come to election day. Look for some last minute doozies that will disgust even the most jaded and cynical person.

I don’t know about you, but I’m getting pretty sick of it all. It may be just me, but it seems that political campaigning has gotten dirtier over the past few years. Votes and quotes are taken out of context or twisted to imply the opposite of their true meaning.

The thing about all of it is that all sides are playing the game, not just one party. I’d like to think that someone running for office might actually be sticking to the issues rather than slinging mud. But I haven’t found that someone yet.

Of course I’m also bracing myself for the inevitable lawsuits and court hearings following the elections. The sore losers will run to the courts to overturn or invalidate the results of some election somewhere because it didn’t turn out the way they planned. These days it is more likely the Democrats will use the courts if things don’t go their way. They obviously don’t trust the electorate (that’s you and me) to decide who will represent them in local, state or national assemblies. It seems funny that a party that supposedly espouses democratic ideals will be the first to turn their backs on those same ideals as soon as they become inconvenient.

Of course, we could end some of the nastiness if only people would take our Modest Proposal more seriously. But there are only two chances that will ever happen – slim, and none.