Monthly Archives: November 2017

Razor Blades

By lex, on January 31st, 2012

The USS Constellation was commissioned in 1961, and was the first warship I ever made a full deployment on. She was also the last, we came home together on her last cruise – and mine – in 2003. She was a good ship, a hard fighter and well-served by her crew.  We called her “Connie”, and Ronald Reagan called her, “America’s Flagship.”

She launched Phantoms to protect US destroyers during the Tonkin Gulf Incident. Returned a year or so later to launch strikes from both Dixie and Yankee Stations. She made seven combat deployments to Southeast Asia. Her first peacetime cruise wasn’t until 1974.

We almost lost her to a fire in 1988, but the crew battled the blaze heroically. She missed the ’91 scrape due to SLEP, but did six more deployments to the Arabian Gulf afterward, including the big one in 2003.

I’ve sailed on many ships, but Connie is the only one I’d ever dare to call “mine.”

Now they’re going to turn “my” ship into razor blades. *

It is to weep.


** Original link gone – Replaced with similar – Ed.

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Inside Scoop

By lex, on January 31st, 2012

It’s been interesting hearing the details of the SEAL’s latest mission in Somalia. And it must have been fun for the White House to share them with us.

But not everyone is so pleased, according to an operator who has recently left the service:

Adm. William H. McRaven, America’s top special-operations commander, wrote in his 1996 book “Spec Ops” that there are six key principles of success in special operations. Of paramount importance—especially given the risk and sensitivity of the missions and the small units involved—is what the military calls “operational security,” or maintaining secrecy. If the enemy learns details and can anticipate the manner and timing of an attack, the likelihood of success is significantly reduced and the risk to our forces is significantly increased.

This is why much of what our special-operators do is highly classified, and why military personnel cannot legally divulge it to the public. Yet virtually every detail of the bin Laden raid has appeared in news outlets across the globe—from the name of the highly classified unit to how the U.S. gathered intelligence, how many raiders were involved, how they entered the grounds, what aircraft they used, and how they moved through the compound. Such details were highly contained within the military and not shared even through classified channels. Yet now they are available to anyone with the click of a mouse.

It’s difficult for military leaders to enforce strict standards of operational security on their personnel while the most senior political leadership is flooding the airwaves with secrets. The release of classified information has also opened a Pandora’s box of former and retired SEALs, special operators, and military personnel who have chosen to violate their non-disclosure agreements and discuss intricate details of how such operations are planned and executed…

Do the president and his top political advisers understand what’s at stake for the special-operations forces who carry out these dangerous operations, or the long-term strategic consequences of divulging information about our most highly classified military assets and intelligence capabilities? It is infuriating to see political gain put above the safety and security of our brave warriors and our long-term strategic goals. Loose lips sink ships.

Yes, but they are ships that belong to the little people. No real harm done.

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Heterogametic Sex

By lex, on January 30th, 2012

England’s King Henry VIII famously went through six wives on his way to finding one that would deliver a male heir for the throne. Poor Catherine of Aragon was a political marriage that didn’t quite take, although her daughter Mary would survive to give Ann Boleyn’s Elizabeth a hard time. Elizabeth I was their only issue and would go on to make any mother proud, but Ann lost three subsequent pregnancies to miscarriage, and her head soon followed. Jane Seymour gave birth to the heir Henry craved, but lost her life doing so. Ann of Cleves probably got the best of the bargain when Henry – by this time morbidly obese and oozing – declared he liked her not, and had the marriage annulled. Catherine Howard lost her heart to another man, and her head followed. Catherine Parr survived the king’s fatal attractions chiefly by outliving him – he died two and half years after their marriage.

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Thanksgiving Conversation


I would say that the typical family get together for  Thanksgiving has almost become a subject of comedy when it comes to conversations around the table. Google the subject and you will find literally dozens of posts on how to avoid the pitfall of political conversation among family who have converged from far and wide.

My family is a bit different.  First of all, you could count my extended family on less than the digits of  both hands (for most people). And with the death of my father a couple of years ago it is that much smaller.

Secondly we have never been so set in our ways as to shut off all communication with those who have different opinions.

So it came to pass (sounds a bit Biblical in that opening phrase) that my 93 year old mother and I had Thanksgiving dinner with some friends of many years as guests.

The guests were more of the leftish persuasion, having voted for Obama while my mother, an avid Trump hater, claims to be a conservative.

Me? Well, I supported Goldwater when I was 14 and walked precincts.

And the subject at our table this year?


One thing my mother has in common with her friend on the other side of the political spectrum was an admiration for Charlie Rose. And I was thinking with the recent revelations to be a young woman and have to see Charlie exit the shower (with an invitation to join him!) well, that would be, as my late aunt from West Virginia would say, “enough to make a dog throw up”.

And then Harvey Weinstein?   There is nothing new about the “casting couch” and Hollywood – just read up on Louis B Meyer or Harry Cohn just as a couple of examples.  They keep falling these days. Here is the latest.

I met them all. Some were vicious and crooked. But … you saw Hollywood with their eyes — an overcrowded brothel, a merry-go-round with beds for horses.”

Marilyn Monroe

I mentioned too that women – and men – use sex as a weapon.  Blackmail. It wouldn’t surprise me today that among all of the accusations flying, at least a few are seeing a cash reward.

The smarter people in Hollywood – or Washington – might want to adopt the Billy Graham rule, to avoid even the appearance of impropriety. I don’t see a lot of that happening, but you never know. They laughed at Mike Pence in the campaign for his refusal to have dinner with any woman without his wife present.

They aren’t laughing now.

If you are a woman, Lex had a simple test on how to evaluate men.

That conversation was a lot more interesting than politics.

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Target Fixation

By lex, on January 30th, 2012

In strike aviation, especially in the old days, before smart weapons made the task of identifying and destroying hard targets easier, a principal risk to the striker was a phenomenon known as “target fixation.” This typically involved a low altitude attack which took advantage of direct and indirect terrain masking to approach a target, followed by a pop up to identify the target and a shallow dive to employ upon it.

There would be a desperate few moments when the striker was on his back in a hostile environment, seeking the target and growingly aware of his exposure to a variety of threats – one of the problems of being within gun range is that the enemy is too – and then a sense of exultation as the target is acquired and the weapons run begins. That was where target fixation could creep in: A striker might press the run too close, and place himself within the frag pattern of his own ordnance, or worse, hit the target with his own airplane (typically a little long).

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Worst. Thanksgiving.Promotional.Evar.

November 22nd, 2007 by lex

But pretty dern funny, though.


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Happy Thanksgiving, part II


November 22nd, 2007 by lex

The second part of the WSJ’s annual tradition, reproduced for your viewing pleasure and convenience:

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Get Your Frogman On

By lex, on January 25th, 2012

Your host is back on the Crossfit track, the time which he has for such activities having been expanded by his more frequent absence from domestic duties. Also, something really had to be done about our creeping senescence, and this is after all a new year – a time in which it is customary and usual to start beneficial things anew, or renew good things once abandoned, or abandon things malignant. I’m rather too fond of my vices to give them up entirely, so getting back in the gym seemed a reasonable compromise. The combination of which inspired has inspired me to various and divers loaded functional movements over the course of the last cuppla, which have left me aching and sore in all the usual places, reminding me no doubt about why I had given the whole thing over in the past, not once but several times.

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Pretty Much the Coolest Thing Ever

By lex, on January 24th, 2012

When Son Number One got his wings in Pensacola these last months past, I took the opportunity to go down with hizzoner and his sainted ma, for to see the Naval Aviation Museum there. That being one of my cultural touchstones, for ours is a proud history with many fine and honorable heroes who preceded us, to serve as examples.

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Long Day

By lex, on January 22nd, 2012

Which your host is back in charming Fallon, NV, having only left the place last Friday, but such were the puts and takes of managing pilot availabilities amidst an ever-dynamic requirements set. It was nice to be @home #whileitlasted, but it’ll be good to get back in the air again, so long as the weather cooperates, which it shows every intention not to do tomorrow. Actual Snow, if the forecasts are to be believed. I positively shiver.

But: The trends for the balance of the week are favorable.

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