Friday, December 3, 2010

Classic New Wave - Flock of Seagulls

Between the hair and the chorus you can't get any better then this.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Being an Infantryman Sucks (And They Knew It)

On page 49 of The Army Ground Forces: The Procurement and Training of Ground Combat Troops volume of the Official History of the U.S. Army in World War II is a table that shows how soldiers felt about their jobs. It shows that of soldiers assigned to the Infantry only eleven percent preferred being there. Of those assigned to the Air Corps on-the-other-hand seventy-six percent preferred it.

The table also shows that as of the end of 1943 seventy percent of the casualties were taken in the infantry while only five percent in the Air Corps.

Causation is not necessarily correlation in this case, but most people in the Army at that time realized being in the infantry sucked.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Insourcing Realities

Over the last twelve months the Department of Defense has been "insourcing" its contractor employees where they believe it is appropriate. This means converting a previously contractor slot to a civil service one. It is not supposed to guarantee that the contractor becomes the civil servant but that often happens. The savings by this are hard to quantify and there has been little justification presented by the government.

Insourcing has the potential to be hard on small companies as they lose employees and revenue. Bigger companies should be able to absorb the losses of the slots but if they lose their best employees to the government it will affect them long term. They also have lost all of the money put into recruiting, training and preparing that employee for more important work.

SecDef Gates announced a further round of budget reforms this week including a plan to cut 30% of the contractor funding over the next three years. In a sign that insourcing may not be saving money it was also announced that these lost positions may not be insourced.

In an article at Robert Burton, a former defense official, was quoted as saying "The 2011 National Defense Authorization bill passed by the House in May, (H.R. 5136), actually would prohibit data on employee health and retirement benefits from being used in cost analyses produced in determining whether to convert contractor jobs to Defense civilian employee positions. Burton says this is "an admission that the government knows the private sector is cheaper than the federal government in most cases.""

Without comparing the total cost of a person which includes salary, benefits and other costs it is impossible to figure out if insourcing is cheaper. I guess Congress doesn't want that found out and insourcing is more about creating civil service jobs then saving money.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Why the Internet is Great?

One reason the internet is great is you get to hear things from people intimately involved in things. Like this comment on YouTube for this Graham Parker video:


thanks so very much for posting this - i was the bass player, and i haven't seen this video since we made it - my dear old mum slams the front door in graham's face, and the band were filmed in his parent's front room!

Who would have known?

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Restoring the Second Manassas Battlefield

Updated as I loaded a photo of the wrong memorial.

The Manassas Battlefield National Park contains most of the sites of the First and Second Bull Run battlefields from the Civil War. In the South the battles are caleld First and Second Manassas. Fought almost a year apart the two battles were Confederate victories.

I visited the battlefield last week and took a lot of photos. Looking at the Deep Cut portion it looks like the National Park Service is restoring the site back to what it looked like in 1862. This is a photo from Yahoo maps showing that part and it is heavily tree covered, which it wasn't when the Union and Confederate troops fought there.

The memorial is in the center with the cleared path leading to it.

This is a photo I took last weekend up to the memorial. You can see that it is now cleared land. This is what it would have looked like to Union troops attacking up the rise towards the railroad bed where the memorial is located.

The trees are all gone. I don't know if this is deliberate or they had a fire. I think it is planned as at another part of the cut they are cutting down all of the trees that have grown up in it. In 1862 the cut, despite the railroad construction being abandoned, was clear. The Confederate troops under Stonewall Jackson used it as a natural trench.

Good for the National Park Service as it is always good to see history as it was when it happened.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Apple Considers Alabama More Nerdy Then 11 States (And DC)

Alabama is blessed with two Apple stores. One in Birmingham and the other in beautiful Huntsville. This gives the state more stores then eleven others (and DC). Assuming Apple places these based on the nerd quotient of the state, Alabama can claim to be nerdier then 20% of these United States.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Red Dead Redemption Game Play

Here is a video of a mini-game within this game. Win it and you get immunity from complaints about your crime until you commit a murder. "Bad Company" by Bad Company seems to be the best song for this.

Our Cat Sammy

Sammy our last recent male cat died last year. Here is a video I shot of him.

Monday, May 24, 2010

CBO Reinforces Reasons For Not Doing Cap and Trade

Cap and Trade is one of the systems proposed to "lower" greenhouse gases for the United States. This is basically a system where the amount of emissions has a hard top and companies buy and sell credits to get around the cap. At his blog, Reducing Greenhouse Gas Emissions: Five Lessons of Economic Analysis, Congressional Budget Director Douglas Elmendorf says that the effect of a cap and trade system would be " lower overall GDP, employment, and households’ purchasing power by a modest amount relative to what would occur otherwise".

He then goes on to state that this would be similar to one or two years growth in GDP for the U.S. Looking at TradingEconomics the U.S. growth in GDP since 2006 has been 2.53%, -1.83%, >1% and 3.2% for the first quarter of 2010.

Implementing a cap and trade system would not help the U.S. economy grow in the short term and would only be doable if one assumes some growth in the future. Despite the first quarter's rate I don't see 2010 being a very good year considering what has happened in the last month.

This does not even take into account the fact that there may be no reason to limit greenhouse gases beyond what we are already doing.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Language As Only The Communists Of The Thirties Could Say

I have written in the past about the "Annals of Communism Series" at Yale University. They just released a new batch of documents related to the Comintern and the fight for global Communism in the Thirties.

One of the documents about "the work of exposing “the wreckers in the ECCI.” included the phrase "The proof of this are the recent [and] blatant facts regarding Fritz David, the miscreant agent of the counterrevolutionaries Trotsky-Zinoviev-Kamenev, who stretched their bloody hands towards the heart and brain of the working class party, towards the VKP(b)’s Central Committee, and towards [its] leader com. Stalin."

This must have been written to the foreign Communist parties in an attempt to explain the purges by Stalin in the late Thirties. The ECCI was the Comintern's Executive Committee which was made up of international representatives.

You just don't see the phrase "the miscreant agent of the counterrevolutionaries Trotsky-Zinoviev-Kamenev," anymore.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Raiders Shift Plans And Do A Proper Draft

At the end of the 3 day circus that is now the NFL Draft the Raiders ended up on paper with a very decent one. Either through their picks or trades they got a QB, two immediate starters on defense and two offensive linemen who are projects but great athletes. They rounded out the draft yet again with the fastest man available but took him at the end of the draft. It also indicates that the JaMarcus experiment is over at great cost.

The professionals were actually impressed. Who could have predicted this?

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Just In Time Delivery Halts Nissan Production

Japan's industry pioneered just-in-time delivery as a way to improve efficiencies and control costs. Of course the problem with this is when deliveries are interrupted of even one part it can spill over into the entire production. Nissan announced that due to the volcano in Iceland deliveries of a tire pressure sensor used to monitor tire pressure and give you the warning light made in Ireland but sent to Japan production at several plants had to come to a halt.

One part made several thousand miles away that was flown into Japan has delayed production of thousands of cars for the Japan, Europe and American markets.

Reaction to the Oakland Raiders' Draft Pick

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Latest Xtranormal Twitter Movie

Xtranormal is a site that allows you to make little movies just by typing in text. This is my latest based on ten random tweets from the Twitter Public Timeline in the last hour.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Redstone Arsenal Lives In Fantasy World About Traffic

According to this article in the Huntsville Times the garrison feels that the road system is "mostly a smooth ride".

No mention of the three mile backups most evenings between US 72 and Toftoy on Rideout caused by trying to get out of Gate 9. Much of this is caused by the poor design of the gate with only two exit lanes, declining speed limits as you approach Interstate 565 and a traffic light right after the gate itself. The poor design of how Goss Road also merges with Rideout also doesn't help.

The city needs to start thinking about widening Rideout north of I-565 before things get much worse. In the five years of my working on the Arsenal the evening commute has increased ten-to-fifteen minutes due to the Rideout traffic.

Good depth to this article Huntsville Times.

View Larger Map

Friday, March 5, 2010

Mazdaspeed3 Vs. F-150

My baby after being rear ended yesterday by a F-150 in Decatur, AL. I was enroute home from Columbus, MS. Estimate to repair is around $5500.00.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Marc Broussard and iTunes

Marc Broussard's song, Home, is categorized as a Country song. At least I saw the video on a Country music station. When I use it to do a Genuis on either iTunes or my iPhone it somehow links it up with bands like Dishwalla, Better Than Ezra and The Gin Blossoms.

I don't see the connection between it and bands that were considered Alternative or Grunge back in the Nineties. Perhaps iTunes is smarter then I?

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Starting Over In Defense Acquisition Programs

The Defense Advanced Research Products Agency (DARPA) announced last week that they were starting a program to develop a foliage penetrating radar. This is somewhat amusing in that my first job in the defense business I worked for a retired Air Force Lieutenant Colonel who had spent a few years in the early Seventies working on the same sort of project.

I guess it didn't work out to well then and they need to do the same thing thirty years later.

Friday, February 26, 2010

How Do You Prevent Attacks Like Today's In Kabul

Reportedly five Taliban insurgents attacked two guest house in Kabul, Afghanistan popular with foreigners. They used suicide bombs and gunfire to kill at least eighteen people. Presumably that figure includes the dead Taliban.

How hard is it to prevent these kind of attacks? There are two main ways to prevent the attacks from being carried out. First use security to prevent the infiltration of the agents and their equipment into the city. Second use intelligence to identify the plot and those who plan to carry it out so they may be neutralized prior to the actual operation. The first way requires intelligence as well to keep forces on the look out for the agents, their equipment and the methods they use to get into place.

Obviously the level of security in Kabul or the capabilities of the Afghan Government police and military have not reached a point yet where either system will work. These are difficult levels of ability to reach and it will probably take several years as well as a lot of political reconciliation to reach them.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

MDA Budget Cut 20 Percent But Can Make New Logo

The Missile Defense Agency (MDA) lost twenty percent of their budget in 2010 which was a blow to Huntsville, AL. Their formally premier program of basing missiles in Alaska to protect the United States was halted and their focus shifted to sea based systems. Canceling installation of a radar and missiles in Eastern Europe upset the Poles and Czechs as well. Don't worry though, we can make ourselves a new logo. It is on the top of MDA's public homepage, here.

There are also some pointing out its similarity to the Obama Presidential Campaign logo -- so great minds think alike in logo design, I guess.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

It Sucks To Be The Washington Post's Ombudsman

You write a nice little article that could be written anytime about how to get letters published in the Post. That doesn't have to run on this Sunday.

You completely ignore the biggest story in the blogosphere that week involving your pubication. This is how one of your Washington Post online bloggers compared the gentlemen who flew a plane into the IRS building in Texas to the Tea Party protesters. This set off a storm because the online manifesto left by the man included rants against big business, supportive words from Karl Marx and hatred of George Bush. Not exactly "right wing" or conservative values.

To make it worse it looks like the blogger, Jonathan Capehart, deliberately omitted the left wing parts to enhance his case. That is not good journalism practice and might be worth addressing by the Ombudsman.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Nissan GTR Seen In Huntsville

I was at Costco this morning in NW Huntsville, AL and there was a Nissan GTR sitting in the parking lot. This is the first one I have seen. It had Government parking stickers on it so whomever owns it works on Redstone Arsenal. Here is the photo I took:

Here is a video from Motor Trend of a top speed run in the car. He hit 191 on the strait away.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Why Don't I Post?

If you notice I haven't posted but three times this year. Why you ask are the posts down? Not enough time, I say. I work full time and blog for four different sites. Anyway through Posterous and I find it much easier to microblog.

My Posterous site is: pushes direct to my twitter feed.

It is a heckuva lot easier to do things this way.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Cultural Impact of Black Hawk Down

Some literature student should analyze the presence of Black Hawk Down (the movie vice the book) in culture. Based on the innumerable videos on setting the movie to various songs seems to fulfill some desire by many different people on different levels.

Friday, January 29, 2010

iPad Sales

Look we can all argue this way but we all also know that Apple will quite happily sell at least a million iPads this year; and a heckuva lot more next year. Personally I will buy one next year when the v2 comes out.

Wall Street: Apple Might Sell 1-5 Million iPads in the first year"

Sunday, January 24, 2010

So Much Rain Last Night

We had a lot of rain Saturday night. Here is the stream that flows out of the lower pond where I live. I shot it with my iPhone using iVideoCamera.