Wednesday, February 22, 2017

News? Caveat Emptor

(Source)
Before I head off with the tribe in tow to visit the matriarch, my Mom, I just wanted to share a couple of thoughts regarding "news." Well, actually, not "news" but more accurately, information.

Those fellows in the opening painting (Frederic Remington's The Smoke Signal) are passing along information. While it might be new information to the folks receiving it, that is "news," it might also be expected information, not necessarily "news."

There are all sorts of information out there in the world. There is useful information, irrelevant information, interesting information, useless information, and perhaps, misleading information.

We get all of that in an average newscast, newspaper article, or web page dedicated to informing you about something. Now of course, that's just my opinion.

All of the information presented by folks looking to get some of your hard earned money has a slant. It's only natural. Everything a human hears, sees, tastes, touches, or experiences is unique to that individual. You might not like chocolate the same way I do (dark is my preference, white isn't so let's not go there, milk is better than no chocolate), in fact you may not like it at all.

I was a witness to a plane crash when I was young. I saw the aircraft roll onto its back then watched its shallow dive to the ground, where it seemed to explode twice. That puzzled me until the next day I talked to the girl up the street who saw the exact same event as I, but from a slightly different perspective. She saw an explosion in the air, then another down on the ground. I saw what I saw, that was my truth. Another observer saw something slightly different, that was her truth.

As reasonable individuals with no agenda to pursue, other than truth, we compared observations. Her report made perfect sense when combined with mine and I realized that she indeed had had a better view of events. We reached consensus on what we had seen. It also matched reports from other observers.

I have often wondered why, during the holiday season from Halloween to Christmas, newscasts always seemed to report on fires destroying homes and apartment buildings. The fires in which children die always seem to make more headlines than, let's say, an unoccupied business burning down during the night.

When I was a kid I reasoned that the fires were caused by faulty heaters, maybe even Christmas trees catching on fire due to faulty wiring. But I also knew that homes and other buildings burn down at other times of the year as well. Why weren't those reported in such great detail? While I assumed back then that the reporters were trying to elicit an emotional response, for whatever reason, I never had a satisfactory answer for that.

And just how was that news useful to me? If it was followed by safety tips or with the exact details of how the fire started and how it could be prevented that's one thing. But I don't recall hearing those follow up reports. Ever.

So I began to view "news" as just stuff that happened but had no bearing or relevance to my daily life.

When I was in the military, news of unrest overseas and possible hostilities were of interest. But then again, what purpose did that news serve? Did I need to do anything beyond those things my service already required of me? Did I have to pack differently depending on the circumstances? No. Not really. Uncle Sam always told us what we'd need and most times would provide that without me doing anything out of the ordinary. I just had to be ready.

So what use is the news? For one thing, it's slanted to push an agenda. As far as I can see there is no truly neutral news outlet. What does it benefit to know certain things unless there is something I can do about it?

Leading up to the election of last November I paid more attention to the news than I normally do. I found the coverage appalling. Out and out lies from nearly all outlets, misleading information, irrelevant information, useless information, and (no really) from time to time useful information. But perhaps useful only to me. For instance, discovering that a particular candidate supported something I was vehemently against would obviate the need for me to ever consider that candidate as one I could support.

But I had to be careful. Sometimes I would hear (or read) something from one source, then something quite different from another source. Not everything was (or is ever) cut and dried.

Information which is important to you should never come from just one source. It's like intelligence gathering. One source is usually insufficient for what is called "actionable intelligence," what the mainstream media likes to call "news you can use." In short, single source intelligence is usually not all that trustworthy. If that intelligence has been filtered, synopsised, summarized, or otherwise "boiled down," it may not be useful at all.

Which is pretty much what nearly all news outlets do. Not to mention the infernal tendency these days (in my opinion) to editorialize the news. Back in the day we were taught the following in doing reports for school:
  1. What happened?
  2. Who is involved?
  3. Where did it take place?
  4. When did it take place?
  5. Why did that happen?
  6. How did it happen?
The five Ws and one H as it's sometimes called (with a hat tip to reader Valory).

I feel that the "Why" of things is overly represented in today's so-called "reporting." Sometimes we just don't know, even perhaps can't ever know, why something happened. Many of us saw the space shuttle Challenger explode on live television. We could see with our own eyes what happened, we knew who was onboard, we knew where it was happening, and we knew the when. The how and the why, that took a long investigation. The how became crystal clear but the why may never truly be known. Greed? Incompetence? Sloth? All of the above?

Most news stories are like that. But the modern media would have us believe they know it all. More's the pity, far too many of us still trust them and believe them. I don't, not fully.

By all means, watch/read the news, but don't believe everything you read, hear, or see in the media, any media. They're selling us a product, someone has to pay for all that effort and the people putting the reports together. As consumers we must always remember - caveat emptor, let the buyer beware.

Anyhoo, that's my two cents.



Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Visitors!


A gorgeous weekend. The WSO has come for a visit from California, bringing two of my adorable grandchildren. We picked them up Saturday at the airport and had a chance to play outside that very day in our rapidly dwindling snow. No snow at all where they live so we needed to, ya know, carpe diem.

Sunday dawned and it was nearly a perfect day. Temperatures in the high 50s, maybe even creeping into the low 60s. Which for Little Rhody in February feels an awful lot like spring, summer even.

I was out on the deck enjoying the warmth when the senior granddaughter Little Bit came out and announced that we should once again play in the snow. While we still had some. So we did. Snowballs were thrown, hits were registered and a good time was had by all. Even Little Bit's sister enjoyed herself, though she ain't too keen on touching the muddy ground with her bare hands, sitting in the mud, even if accidentally was rather amusing to herself and to the rest of the tribe.

I'm off all week, away from the grind, getting to spend time with my youngest child and her sweet brood. I was going to talk about politics a little, but that can wait.

For now life is just too precious to waste even a moment of and as I have my wee bairns with me, some of 'em at any rate, I mean to make the most of it. So I am going to enjoy this week and not worry too much about the blog. Sorry, but some things come first, other things must necessarily wait. The grandchildren will win that contest every time.

Blogging might be sparse, but who knows, I might squeeze in a post or two between naps. Mine and the grandkids.

Have a great week!



Monday, February 20, 2017

"Take a Seat!"

Long week...Recovery from influenza officially took through Thursday morning.  Realistically, I'm still in recovery.  Whoda thunk having difficulty breathing would be so difficult?  /sarc

But...Mrs Juvat and I are back in bidness and looking forward to a bit of family vacation visiting Sarge's ancestral homeland (not that he's ever lived there) over spring break.

And....I was forced to exhaust the story repertoire stored in RAM defending Fighter Pilot Honor from infantile attempts at humor this week. (Not to worry, I still have plenty loaded in long term storage, but the loading time for them is considerably longer.).  So, I'm forced to review a couple of news stories that caught my eye yesterday.

 I was thumbing through Instapundit and saw this "F-15s scramble to intercept unresponsive aircraft over restricted airspace over West Palm Beach" which linked to this Fox News Article. 

Had to get a couple of chuckles there.  First was the dark picture of the F-15 which caught my eye.  There's just a couple of things wrong here.  First, take a look at the canopy.  There's two seats.  Second, supposedly this jet just scrambled to intercept an unidentified potential threat to the President of the United States.  It is unarmed.
Fox News Original Hard to tell the actual paint scheme
Source
An Eagle that is sitting Air Defense alert would more likely be loaded like this.
6 AIM120s (4 on the Belly) and 2 AIM-9s
Source

As to the first, the darkness of the picture led me to believe it might be an F-15E, given that in the Eagle vernacular they are referred to as "Dark Grays", but, when I photoshopped it to get a look at the Fin Flash, it's obviously a "Light Gray", meaning an F-15D.  
Photoshop with about 50% brightness applied to entire photo


However, that Eagle belongs to the 194th FS out of Fresno California.  
Note the fin flash
Source

While the D model could stand Air Defense Alert, it wasn't usually done (at least BITD) as the prepping the back seat for a scramble and making sure everything back there was tied down correctly was an unnecessary risk when single seat models are available.  

So, Fox just found a convenient file folder and posted it.  Lazy dogs!  Googled Homestead Air Reserve Base and found the list of Tenants.  Found the 125th Fighter Wing listed and looked at its components.  Found the 159th Fighter Squadron and found a perfectly reasonable, and accurate, picture of the jets that might have actually scrambled.


The two in back, I'm pretty sure, used to be Kadena birds.
Source

The Fox News article went on to describe that the Jet's scrambled and intercepted a civilian aircraft that was threatening to penetrate the restricted airspace surrounding Mar-A-Lago which I gather is a resort that the President owns, used to own, was visiting (whatever).  The report then says "The jets flew at supersonic speeds and residents were startled by the loud boom."


No Kidding?

OK, The President of the United States was on the ground and normal restricted airspace was established around him.  An unidentified aircraft is approaching that airspace and is not responding to radio calls from controllers.  

Is he a lost student pilot who's on the wrong frequency?  Or is he a nutball that's taken it into his mind that this is his path to glory? 

To the people charged with protecting the President, how would the two situations look any different from each other?  And, if you assume one option, what happens if you're wrong?  Those Eagles are going to be scrambled and they're going to be getting there quickly.

So, let's look at the Physics of the problem.  I have no idea what the dimensions of the restricted airspace are, but let's just say 25 NM.  A small aircraft traveling at 120K can cover that in 12.5 minutes.  Homestead ARB is 85.44 NM from Mar-A-Lago.  Assuming the pilots were sitting 5 minute alert, (which is not unreasonable, they would not be sitting cockpit alert with engines running unless they'd gotten some specific threat warning), once they got airborne, the threat is at 15 miles away from the President or 7.5 minutes.  

Assuming that the report is true, and the Eagles were supersonic, the 85.44 miles to the President would take 6.74 minutes, plus whatever acceleration time to reach the Mach.  So...This is going to be, as they say, a Close One!

According to the report, the Eagles were able to establish contact with the aircraft and escort it out of the restricted airspace, so all's well that ends well, but....

I'm sure there will be someone that complains (in my best Thurston Howell III imitation) "Blast, Buffy, why'd those fighter pilots have to positively RUIN our tea today.  It's only that boor, Trump"

But, given the antics of the anti-Trump league, is there anyone here that doesn't think an attempt on his life might look remarkably similar to this?  To paraphrase Instapundit, "You want more Trump, your actions are how you get "more Trump" and this is what "More Trump" looks like.

So....Well done Eagles!  And, Miami, that boom you heard?  The sound of Freedom!  

Sarge and I engaged in a little friendly tit for tat this past week (of course, HE came out a sad second best, but....that's another story).  While that was going on, a World Class slam was put on one of our (not so) esteemed members of Congress.

Seems "Dick" Blumenthal, a Senator from Connecticut has made some incorrect statements about his military service, implying that he'd served in Vietnam.  That appears to have raised the ire of a group of people who have proven their worth "above and beyond the call of Duty".  They chose to express their ire in a letter to the low-life.  For your reading pleasure.

Dear Sen. Richard Blumenthal,
You recently called upon your Senate colleagues to subject Judge Neil Gorsuch's record to "extreme vetting," questioning both his qualification and biography. The Senate certainly has the right and obligation to closely review any nominee for the United States Supreme Court. Conversely, it is our right as Americans and veterans to scrutinize your hypocrisy in doing so.
 We are veterans of the Vietnam War. We fought alongside our brothers in arms, many of whom died or were gravely injured there. We saw the treatment meted out on us and our fellow military personnel upon our return, yet we never questioned our commitment to our nation's freedom. But perhaps more relevant to this discussion is that we know you were not there with us.
 The fact you repeatedly and consistently claimed to have served in Vietnam is a gross case of stolen valor in our opinion. You obtained at least five military deferments between 1965 and 1970, at least two of which were seemingly political favors to you so that you could avoid joining us in a war zone. Here are just a few examples where it appears that you have chosen to buttress your political resume by shamefully inflating your record of military service:
 In 2003, you apparently stated, "When we returned [from Vietnam], we saw nothing like this [a public outpouring of support for deployed military personnel]. "
In 2008, the New York Times reported you said, "We have learned something important since the days I served in Vietnam ..."
 At a Vietnam War memorial in 2008, it is reported you stated, "I served during the Vietnam era ... I remember the taunts, the insults, sometimes even the physical abuse."
 We recognize that military service of any kind is valuable to the protection of our nation's freedom. There is no shame in engaging in "Toys for Tots" campaigns, recycling efforts, or assisting in the improvement or construction of various facilities, which appears to be a fair description of the bulk of your duties during the Vietnam War.
What is offensive to those who fought in a most brutal conflict, some of us who were captured and tortured by our enemy, is any comparison of those most brutal experiences to the ones of people like you who never even sniffed the air in Vietnam.
You should be proud that you shared a uniform with so many brave souls who endured the hardships of war, but instead you chose to attempt to deceitfully and craftily join their ranks with your intentionally vague statements and false claims. Quite simply, it is impossible to "misspeak" about having seen a war.
Valor is too uncommon a commodity, and too precious a virtue, to be stolen by those who have not paid the high price for freedom. We recognize that some concerns over any appointee, especially the Supreme Court, are honest and legitimate.
 You, sir, are neither. If you ever had a sense of duty, if ever you respected the service and sacrifice of others, then please recognize your duty now:
 Sen. Blumenthal, "take your seat"!

Respectfully,
Retired Command Sgt. Maj. Bennie Adkins, U.S. Army, Auburn, Ala.Retired Col. Don "Doc" Ballard, U.S. Army, Grain Valley, Mo.Retired Maj. Gen. Pat Brady, U.S. Army, New Braunfels, TexasRetired Col. Bruce Crandall, U.S. Army, Manchester, Wash.Retired Sgt. 1st Class Sammy Davis, U.S. Army, Freedom, Ind.Retired Col. Wesley Fox, U.S. Marine Corps, Peoria, Ill.Retired Col. Harold Fritz, U.S. Army, Peoria, Ill.Retired Maj. Gen. Jim Livingston, U.S. Marine Corps, Mount Pleasant, S.C.Retired Command Sgt. Maj. Bob Patterson, U.S. Army, Pace, Fla.Retired Sgt. Maj. Kenneth Stumpf, U.S. Army, Tomah, Wis.Retired Maj. James Taylor, U.S. Army, Trinity Center, Calif.Retired Lt. Mike Thornton, U.S. Navy, DallasRetired Col. Leo Thorsness, U.S. Air Force, St. Augustine, Fla. Retired Col. Jay Vargas, U.S. Marine Corps, San Diego

Sunday, February 19, 2017

A Long Time Ago


While I was casting about for things to pick on Juvat about, I ran across that photo above. I'd downloaded it from the koobecaf a while back from a friend's post. He's in that picture, as am I.

The photo was taken in the fall of 1970, no doubt October. I remember a local sports guy coming to take pictures for the local paper. It was taken, as I recall, in the week leading up to our last game against our rivals a bit to the south. Oddly enough, my hometown's biggest rival was the town I was born in. We never lived there, it's just that my dad and mom liked the hospital better there. Or maybe it's because it was closer to both pairs of grandparents.

I don't remember, I was just a baby.

At any rate, that team is the guys I played football with in high school. For the seniors it had been four years together. Two-a-days in the hot August sun, practice five days a week once school started, a game every Saturday. I remember some of it, I've forgotten probably more than I remember. Bits and pieces of games and practices will sometimes spring into my mind from out of the blue.

The picture is from just before the last game I ever played of organized football. I recovered a fumble in that game, it was against the rival's second string, we were getting slaughtered. But it still felt good. Those guys in the picture were all pretty good guys, most of whom I called friend.

A few of those young lads are dead now. Cancer, accidents, even one suicide. I think back to how young we all were. Heck, I even had hair, all of it dark, still thick but starting to thin out in the front.

Looking at the picture again, and the two guys I'm sitting between, it struck me. All three of us served. Army, Air Force, and Navy. All three of us made it a career.

Odd that...


Or maybe not, those were different times.

Geez, I still can't get over how much hair I had...



Saturday, February 18, 2017

Watch This


As Juvat has said, more than once, "fighter pilot" is as much an attitude as it is a job description. There are many pilots who fly fighters, many of them are also fighter pilots. Those two groups do not match up one for one.

I have a fighter pilot watch. To my knowledge there are only two people on the planet who have these who cannot fly an aircraft. I am one, The WSO's father-in-law, Hornet Dad, is the other. Hornet Dad is, as you might have figured by now, Big Time's father, and a lovely man he is.

So what's the big deal with the watch you might ask, I can go to a store and buy one of those, right? Uh, no. Not unless things have changed since Big Time left the Knighthawks. (Any Hawks out there with knowledge of these things feel free to chime in.)

So back in the day when the mighty ENTERPRISE still sailed the seas and brought death and destruction to the enemies of freedom, Big Time  was a pilot in VFA-136, a part of the Big E's air wing. He was also the procurer of fine time pieces for the squadron. Big Time was, and still is, a big time piece guy. He had a deal with the company who makes these watches. Here's a close up of that watch -


Above the day/date readout is an F/A-18E coming straight at you, underneath are the "Wings of Gold" of a naval aviator. On the left is the squadron patch of VFA-136, the mighty Knighthawks. Each watch has a serial number and mine has my initials on the back. I don't know if the others have initials, perhaps a callsign instead. But The WSO thought it would be cool to put my initials on my watch.

My initials? C.A.G. or as inscribed on my watch: CAG.

Um, okay Sarge, you've got your initials on your watch, so?

According to the pedia of Wiki -
Initially and during WWII, the commander of the air group (known as the "CAG") was the most senior officer of the embarked squadrons and was expected to personally lead all major strike operations, coordinating the attacks of the carrier's fighter, bomber, and torpedo planes in combat. The CAG was a department head of the ship reporting to the carrier's commanding officer.

In 1963 when Carrier Air Groups were retitled Wings, the commander retained the legacy title of "CAG" which continues to this day.

After WWII until 1983, CAGs were typically post-squadron command aviators in the rank of Commander. Though the CAG was in command of the air wing, he functioned as one of the carrier's department heads reporting to the carrier's commanding officer when the wing was embarked. The CAG would typically subsequently promote to Captain and would track to command of a deep draft support vessel followed by command of an aircraft carrier once greater seniority was achieved in the rank of Captain. In 1983, Secretary of the Navy John Lehman elevated the CAG position to the rank of Captain and made the position coequal with the Captain of the aircraft carrier in which the air wing embarked, with both officers reporting directly to the embarked Flag Officer who was Commander of the Carrier Battle Group. During the period of transition when some air wings were still commanded by Commander CAGs and some were commanded by the new Captain CAGs, the new Captain CAGs were referred to as "Super CAG." The term "Super CAG" quickly reverted to the traditional "CAG" once all air wings had made the transition. Later a slightly junior Captain was added as the Deputy CAG (DCAG), with the DCAG assisting the CAG until he/she eventually "fleets up" to the CAG position. This system remains in place today.
 (Source)
I also have a beer mug, from VFA-2, The WSO's old outfit.

I have the ball cap too. Gotta have the ball cap.
When The WSO was ordering the mug, one of her squadron mates asked, "Why are you ordering a mug for CAG?"

"It's for my Dad."

"Your Dad's a CAG?!?"

"Well, yes and no. His initials are 'C' 'A' 'G'"

"Your Dad's a CAG and those are his initials too?!?"

"Uh no. My Dad's a retired Master Sergeant..."

"Ah!"

Well, she was talking to a pilot. Takes a little longer to explain.

Guns! Guns! Guns!

Yup, got the Knighthawk ball cap to go with the watch.
I've got my eye on you too Bear!
(Source)
As a bonus, here's some sweet F-16 gun camera footage. According to the guy who posted this on the Tube o' You -
Various F-16 gun camera circa 1982 from Kunsan Air Base Korea Juvat F-16s from the Wolf Pack. First four clips are from missions flown in Cope Thunder mock air combat exercised out of Clark Air Base, Philippines. Last clip is a "Juvat" doing a high speed low level and dive bomb pass in South Korea. Probably during a Team Spirit exercise.
(The video lead in says "circa 1984." Just to let you know that I was paying attention.)

Yup, our own Juvat's old outfit, the 80th Fighter Squadron. I worked on their Phantoms, Juvat broke flew their Phantoms. This is great stuff if you know what you're seeing and hearing. I do. I'll bet this brings back a lot of memories for some of you guys...

And while flying fighters is exhilarating, the groaning and grunting is from the pilot fighting off the G-forces. The Viper can pull a lot of G.



Oh yeah baby. Fight's on!



Friday, February 17, 2017

Jealousy is manifested with infantile attempts at humor!*

(Source)
It all started innocently enough yesterday when an old fellow Air Force sarge (and F-4 maintainer like me) left this comment:
That fighter pilot video brought to mind a number of jokes about them, but--not being sure of your censoring guidelines--I don't feel free to repeat most of them. Except this one. 
Q. What's the difference between God and a fighter pilot?
A. ___________ 
Come on, Sarge. Fill in the blank. You KNOW the answer.
Then Tuna had to chime in with:
No offense to Big-Time, but what's the difference between a cactus and a Hornet driver?
Juvat knew the answer to Tuna's riddle, but also chimed in with:
Heard 'em all....Jealousy is manifested with infantile attempts at humor!
That would be the blogging equivalent of "Fight's on, Fight's on!"
The gauntlet has been thrown down...

Let's do this!



(Source)
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Oddly enough, the only funny meme I could find about aircraft maintenance was this:

(Source)
Okay, they weren't all pilot jokes, when I see something that tweaks my old service, which gives me a laugh, then yeah, I'll share it. Oh, and by the way, these three guys were all in the Air Force. Seriously.


OAFS has a lock...

Fox Two!




* So sayeth Juvat.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Emergency! Everybody to get from street!


Привет российских спам ботов.

Пожалуйста заходите, выпьет чай.

Теперь, пожалуйста, идите домой.

That all translates, loosely no doubt, to:
Hello Russian spam bots.
Please come in, drink tea.
Now, please, go home.
Seems that from time to time we get a lot of hits from Mother Russia. I've noted that before and it always skews our page view counts. To the high side as you'll note above. Now if we were getting paid by the page view, that would be cool. However, look at the first part of that last sentence -

if we were getting paid

Why no, no we're not. (As Juvat and Tuna have often noted.)

So really, the hits from Russia do not irk me. Much. So let's have a brief parade. Why?

Why not?



Ah, I feel better now. (I don't mind certain Russians visiting.)

So this morning, after I checked our stats, we had an emergency meeting at Chant Headquarters...



A plan of action was laid out. A leader was selected and we prepared ourselves for the Russian onslaught. (Yup, that's me with the sword. The motorcycle and sidecar? Hhmm, Juvat and Tuna? In drag? Nah, couldn't have been. But I wouldn't put such a stunt past them. Ya know how those fly boys are!)



Anyhoo, we had to get ready. Because I knew the Muscovites would be prepared. Totally.



And there are a lot of Russians out there, and they were coming.

And...

What's that? They're all spam bots? Then who are these guys?



Yeah, I got nothing...

It's the lack of sleep I tell ya.