FOD Fireball’s Observations of the Day October 8th through 9th 2018

FOD Saying of the Day

In the Presidency it is character that counts above all. – David McCullough 

FOD Trivia Question

What US President was the first to survive being shot while in office?

Previous FOD Trivia Answer

A molecule of linked amino acids is a _________________.  Answer: Protein


Fireball Opinion

The confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh as a Supreme Court Justice has been but the latest contentious episode in our nation’s history. He was officially and privately sworn in to the Supreme Court on Saturday after the Senate narrowly confirmed his nomination.  What I find objectionable is the rhetoric during and after Justice Kavanaugh’s confirmation.  President Trump insisted upon another ceremonial swearing in on 08 October, in which he offered an unusual apology to the judge and his family.  He said the confirmation process was based on “lies and deception.” “You, sir, under historical scrutiny, were proven innocent.”  There was no conclusion as to Kavanaugh’s guilt or innocence in regard to any of the sexual misconduct allegations made against him and the FBI, in their supplemental background investigation was not tasked with providing and determination as to his culpability.  Hours later our President called the claims against Kavanaugh “totally untrue and were brought about by people who are evil.”  I find Mr. Trump’s comments disrespectful to the confirmation process, the Senate and to the nation.  Is this one of the great crises of all time?  Perhaps not, but it’s the tone of the argument that is disturbing.  Some greater crises must include: Lincoln entering office on the eve of the Civil War during which 600,000 Americans perished; Teddy Roosevelt dealing with a conflict between rich and poor so contentious, talk of revolution was in the air; Franklin Roosevelt entering office when the Great Depression had paralyzed the economy and spirit of the American people; and Lyndon Johnson taking office in the wake of the JFK assassination when the Civil Rights Bill was stalled in Congress and racial divide spawned riots in the streets for years afterwards.  Each of these events saw a great leader come forward, but it also saw ordinary people from all aspects of society support the common good of all our citizens.  The anti-slavery movement, the progressive movement and the civil rights movements were not the work of an individual leader, but rather the product of many citizens seeking discussion and the greater good.  I’ll paraphrase Teddy Roosevelt  (‘cause I couldn’t find the exact quote): ‘The rock on which democracy will founder will be when regions, classes, races and parties begin to regard each as the other, rather than as fellow citizens marked by feelings banded together for the best interests of the country.’  Each of us must seek to be more positive and more inclusive.  We must select leaders who are inclusive.  In closing, I’ll paraphrase Abraham Lincoln (again because I couldn’t find the exact quote): ‘We must engage together in calm and in large consideration ranging far above personal and partisan politics.’  Your comments sought and appreciated.

Continue reading “FOD Fireball’s Observations of the Day October 8th through 9th 2018”

FOD Fireball’s Observations of the Day October 2nd through 4th 2018

FOD Saying of the Day

(Prince Feisal to Lawrence after Lawrence of Arabia has taken Damascus with his Arab army)  There’s nothing further here for a warrior.  We drive bargains.  Old men’s work.  Young men make wars, and the virtues of war are the virtues of young men.  Courage and hope for the future.  Then old men make the peace.  And the vices of peace are the vices of old men.  Mistrust and caution.  It must be so.  – Prince Feisal


FOD Trivia Question

What vaccine was developed in 1955 while Dwight D. Eisenhower was President of the United States?  Hint – It’s been covered in FOD


Previous FOD Trivia Answer

As we gaze at the stars on a clear night, they seem to flash or twinkle.  What causes this? Answer: Uneven heat distribution in the Earth’s atmosphere.


Yankees, With A Convincing Wild Card Win Advance to Face Red Sox

There will be more historical Yankees – Red Sox games this season.  Wild Card games are exciting in that they are a winner take all.  It doesn’t seem quite far that your entire season comes down to one game, but that’s the current format.  I’m not in favor of more games that go on to dilute the overall play however.  Of course it’s much easier to accept the current situation when your team wins. This party started early on.  Aaron Judge staked starter Luis Severino to an early lead, belting a two-run home run on a rope to left field off of Athletics “opener” Liam Hendriks. Lou Trevino handled the next three innings for the A’s and pitched admirably, holding the Yankees scoreless. Shawn Kelley did likewise in the fifth.  In the sixth, the Yankees opened the floodgates. Facing veteran Fernando Rodney to open the frame, Aarons Judge and Hicks each doubled to plate a run. Rodney then uncorked a wild pitch while facing Giancarlo Stanton, allowing Hicks to move to third base. That prompted manager Bob Melvin to bring in Blake Treinen. Treinen finished off the at-bat by walking Stanton, who then stole second base. Treinen served up a two-run triple to Luke Voit (his first MLB triple), making the score 5-0. Voit was promptly brought home on a sacrifice fly by Didi Gregorius.  Severino wound up going four scoreless innings for the Yankees, yielding a pair of hits and four walks while striking out seven on 87 pitches. Dellin Betances pitched immaculately, facing the minimum over two innings with three strikeouts. He was great tonight.  David Robertson worked a scoreless seventh. Zach Britton allowed the A’s to get on the board in the eighth, serving up a two-run home run to the opposite field to Khris Davis. Giancarlo Stanton immediately got back one of those runs for the Yankees, smashing a solo home run down the left field line in the bottom of the eighth off of Treinen to make it 7-2.  Aroldis Chapman took over in the top of the ninth, tasked with protecting a five-run lead. He gave up a leadoff single to Marcus Semien, but rebounded to strike out Jonathan Lucroy and Mark Canha before getting Matt Chapman to ground out to end the game.  It’s a sad end for the A’s, who won 97 games during the regular season and are now out after losing one postseason game. Well not that sad.  One wonders what might have been in store for them had they been in the AL Central rather than the AL West. Meanwhile, the 100-win Yankees will gear up for a match-up with the 108-win Red Sox. It will be the first postseason meeting between the Yankees and Red Sox since the 2004 ALCS.  As usual the post game interview with Aaron Judge congratulated the A’s on their season, acknowledged the historic season of the Red Sox, pointed out the great play of his teammates and now it’s on to Boston.


Continue reading “FOD Fireball’s Observations of the Day October 2nd through 4th 2018”

FOD Fireball’s Observations of the Day September 28th through October 1st 2018

FOD Saying of the Day

Liberty is not merely a privilege to be conferred; it is a habit to be acquired.  – Lloyd George 

FOD Trivia Question

As we gaze at the stars on a clear night, they seem to flash or twinkle.  What causes this?

Previous FOD Trivia Answer

What force propels a car forward or stops it? Answer:  Friction 


North Korea Says It Won’t Disarm First

In a continuation of what has been the playbook of North Korea for decades, North Korea has now declared they won’t disarm without sanctions relief.  North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho told the United Nations on Saturday that continued sanctions on Pyongyang were deepening its mistrust in the United States.  “Without any trust in the U.S. there will be no confidence in our national security and under such circumstances there is no way we will unilaterally disarm ourselves first,” Ri told the annual gathering of world leaders at the United Nations.  The comments come as U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo prepares to travel to Pyongyang next month for his fourth trip to North Korea, his third as secretary of state. Discussions of a second summit between President Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un are already underway.  China and Russia have said the U.N. Security Council should reward Pyongyang for steps taken after U.S. Trump and Kim met in June and Kim pledged to work toward denuclearization.  (Fireball note:  Reward?  What has North Korea done to demonstrate it intends to follow through with a denuclearization plan?  This is all a ploy by China and Russia to prop up the North Korean government and make this family business state a better/stronger buffer zone between China and South Korea.)  “The perception that sanctions can bring us on our knees is a pipe-dream of the people who are ignorant about us. But the problem is that the continued sanctions are deepening our mistrust,” Ri said.  However, Pompeo told the U.N. Security Council on Thursday: “Enforcement of Security Council sanctions must continue vigorously and without fail until we realize the fully, final, verified denuclearization.” Ri noted that North Korea had taken “significant good-will measures such as stopping nuclear and ICBM tests, dismantling the nuclear test site in a transparent manner and affirming not to transfer nuclear weapons and nuclear technology under any circumstances.”  “However, we do not see any corresponding response from the U.S.,” he added.  Pyongyang has also made clear that they are looking for a formal declaration to the end of the Korean War. The U.S. has not ruled it out.  “It’s hard to know. I don’t want to prejudge precisely where we’ll end up,” Pompeo said this week when pressed on the possibility as a next step. “But make no mistake about it, there is real progress being made.”  The Security Council has unanimously boosted sanctions since 2006 in a bid to choke off funding for Pyongyang’s nuclear and ballistic missile programs.  It should also be noted China and Russia have violated those sanction agreements and is providing North Korea with the means to continue to persecute their population while supporting the present regime. The President continues to defend his position and defend his work to settle a nuclear deal with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, saying he has given up nothing but his time during a June summit yet stands on the cusp of denuclearizing the North.  In a wide-ranging news conference on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly, Trump told reporters that despite tough U.S. sanctions against the North staying in place, he believes that Kim wants to get a deal done because of their close ties.  “We have a very good relationship. He likes me, I like him, we get along,” Trump said. “He wants to make a deal and I’d like to make a deal.”  (Fireball note: Obviously, the President has taken in little or none of the information provided him by US intelligence organizations.  Why would any US president say, “He likes me, I like him, we get along,” when speaking of one of the most vicious dictators in world history?)  Trump’s optimistic comments come amid widespread skepticism that Kim will actually relinquish an arsenal that Pyongyang likely sees as the only way to guarantee the Kim dynasty’s continued authoritarian rule.  Although Trump maintained that he’d given up nothing in his dealings with Kim, he has faced criticism for his decision during the Singapore summit to scrap annual U.S. military drills with ally South Korea. Critics called it a concession for the North, (Fireball note: and more importantly to China) which has long railed against the drills as invasion preparation and proof of U.S. hostility.  Trump said Wednesday that he’d long wanted to stop the drills, which had always been portrayed by the allies as defensive in nature, because of their high cost and said he could restart them if needed. “For the taxpayer, we’re saving a fortune,” Trump said.  (Fireball note:  YGTBSM)

Continue reading “FOD Fireball’s Observations of the Day September 28th through October 1st 2018”

FOD Fireball’s Observations of the Day August 22nd through 27th 2018

FOD Saying of the Day

When a man assumes a public trust, he should consider himself as public property. – Thomas Jefferson


FOD Trivia Question

What 15th century mathematician, physicist, and astronomer who is said to have set the Renaissance’s scientific revolution in motion, pulling modern science out of a magician’s hat of speculative natural philosophy?


Previous FOD Trivia Answer

The first inauguration of Franklin D. Roosevelt as the 32nd President of the United States was held on Saturday, March 4, 1933.  After taking the oath of office, Roosevelt proceeded to deliver his 1,883-word, 20 minute-long inaugural address, best known for his famously pointed reference to “fear itself” in one of its first lines:  So, first of all, let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is…fear itself — nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance. In every dark hour of our national life a leadership of frankness and of vigor has met with that understanding and support of the people themselves which is essential to victory. And I am convinced that you will again give that support to leadership in these critical days. The phrase “the only thing we have to fear is fear itself,” is actually paraphrased from an earlier adage: “Nothing is so much to be feared as fear.”  This was originally penned in 1841 by what famous nature-loving philosopher and author?  Answer – Henry David Thoreau.



Senator John McCain Will Rest Where His Service To Our Nation Began

According to Military Times Sen. John McCain’s service to his country began more than six decades ago at the U.S. Naval Academy at Annapolis (Class of ’58) and will end there in a cemetery overlooking Maryland’s Severn River.  A private burial service next Sunday will conclude nearly a week of events honoring the Navy aviator, prisoner of war, congressman, longtime senator and presidential contender. The Arizona Republican died of brain cancer Saturday at 81 at his ranch near Sedona.  McCain will lie in state in the Arizona State Capitol in Phoenix on August 29 (McCain’s birthday), followed by a service at North Phoenix Baptist Church on August 30. His body will travel to Washington to lie in state in the rotunda of the United States Capitol on August 31, before a service at the Washington National Cathedral on September 1. He was a “lifelong Episcopalian” who attended, but did not join, a Southern Baptist church for at least 17 years; memorial services were scheduled in both denominations.  He will be buried at the United States Naval Academy Cemetery, next to his Naval Academy classmate Admiral Charles R. Larson.  Tributes were widely given on social media, including from Congressional colleagues, all living former Presidents – Jimmy CarterGeorge H. W. BushBill ClintonGeorge W. BushBarack Obama – and former Vice President Joe Biden, as well as Vice President Mike Pence.  Colonel Trần Trọng Duyệt, who ran the Hỏa Lò Prison when McCain was held there, remarked “At that time I liked him personally for his toughness and strong stance. Later on, when he became a US Senator, he and Senator John Kerry greatly contributed to promote [Vietnam]-US relations so I was very fond of him. When I learnt about his death early this morning, I feel very sad. I would like to send condolences to his family.”  Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) announced that he would introduce a resolution to rename the Russell Senate Office Building after McCain.  His family’s military tradition extends to the latest generation: son John Sidney IV (“Jack”) graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in 2009, becoming the fourth generation John S. McCain to do so, and is a helicopter pilot; son James served two tours with the Marines in the Iraq War; and son Doug flew jets in the Navy. President Donald Trump was not expected to attend any of the services. McCain had long feuded with Trump, and two White House officials said McCain’s family had asked, before the senator’s death, that Trump not attend services. Vice President Mike Pence is likely to attend, said the officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity to describe private discussions.  Trump noted the senator’s death in a tweet Saturday: “My deepest sympathies and respect go out to the family of Senator John McCain. Our hearts and prayers are with you!” First lady Melania Trump tweeted thanks to McCain for his service to the country.  Bush and Obama had been McCain’s political opponents, too, blocking his White House ambitions in 2000 and 2008, respectively. “These were bitter contests, both of them,” Senator Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., said Sunday on CBS’ “Face the Nation,” and “to ask them to speak at your funeral, and for them to be honored at the opportunity, that tells you all you need to know.”  One of McCain’s long-serving Senate colleagues, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said Sunday, “The nation mourns the loss of a great American patriot, a statesman who put his country first and enriched this institution through many years of service.”  Senator McCain penned a farewell message before he died that appears to take thinly veiled shots at President Donald Trump for fanning the flames of “tribal rivalries” and hiding “behind walls.”  The moving message, a personal tribute to America and its people, was read to the public Monday by Rick Davis, a close friend of McCain’s and the national campaign manager of the Arizona Republican’s 2008 and 2000 presidential campaigns.  Speaking of country’s best qualities, McCain wrote that “we weaken our greatness when we confuse our patriotism with tribal rivalries that have sown resentment and hatred and violence in all corners of the globe.”  “We weaken it when we hide behind walls, rather than tear them down, when we doubt the power of our ideals rather than trust them to be the great force for change they have always been,” Davis, holding back tears, said as he read McCain’s message in Phoenix.  “Do not despair of our present difficulties but believe always in the promise and greatness of America, because nothing is inevitable here,” McCain wrote. “Americans never quit. We never surrender. We never hide from history. We make history.”  “To be connected to America’s causes — liberty, equal justice, respect for the dignity of all people — brings happiness more sublime than life’s fleeting pleasures,” McCain wrote. “Our identities and sense of worth are not circumscribed but enlarged by serving good causes bigger than ourselves.  “‘Fellow Americans’ — that association has meant more to me than any other. I lived and died a proud American.”

Continue reading “FOD Fireball’s Observations of the Day August 22nd through 27th 2018”

FOD Fireball’s Observations of the Day July 31st through August 3rd 2018

FOD Saying of the Day

Every good act is charity.  A man’s true wealth hereafter is the good he does in this world to his fellows.    – Mohammed


FOD Trivia Question

What Spanish painter, who died in 1973, is the only artist to have his work displayed in the Louvre while he was still alive?


Previous FOD Trivia Answer:

Aristotle taught that all things were made up from four great elements.  Name the four Aristotelian elements.  Answer:  Earth, Air, Fire and Water.


Apple News

On 02 Aug, Apple Inc. became the first company to be worth one trillion dollars.  Wow! 


China Continuing to Coerce South China Sea Neighbors With Maritime Force

China announced on 31 July that it would buy all the Iranian oil that might come on the market at a discount regardless of sanctions imposed by other nations.  That caused the price of oil to stay below $70.00/barrel.  It’s a move to strengthen its Belt and Road Initiative or more specifically the land-based Silk Road Economic Belt (SREB).  Additionally China persists in employing a variety of tactics to coerce Taiwan, its maritime neighbors and put more pressure on Japan, a panel of experts agreed last week.  Nowhere is that more visible than Beijing’s “persistent and flexible presence” from its maritime militia, Coast Guard and People’s Liberation Army Navy. It is a maritime force that also keeps open the Malacca Straits, a vital passageway for its energy imports, as well as backing up its territorial claims far from its shores and extending its reach into the Indian Ocean and Africa, Bonnie Glaser, director of the Center for Strategic and International Studies China Power Project, said on Thursday.  In addition to its maritime forces, China has expanded the capability of its artificial island network in the South China Sea. The installations are now capable of handling patrol aircraft, fighters and strategic bombers as well as anti-ship and anti-aircraft missiles. The expansion allows the PLA “to develop operating concepts… they could use further north” to intimidate Tokyo and raise new threats to U.S. bases on Guam, she said.  Collin Koh Swee Lean, a research fellow at Singapore’s Nanyang Technological University, said some South East Asian nations, already operating at a quality and numbers disadvantage with China on law enforcement and naval vessels.  They “could not match what China has” when Beijing was only employing its coast guard or maritime militia in these disputes. In a confrontation with the Chinese under those conditions, a South East Asian navy and coast guard would likely “turn tail and run.”  “Modernization is moving at a snail’s pace” in these nations’ coast guards and navies, he said. Because the security needs vary widely, there is little or no coordination among neighbors on buying together, setting common needs, developing interoperable capability and a general reluctance to spend money in this area. They also don’t want to risk provoking China — militarily or economically.  Maritime domain awareness must be the building block in responding to China’s assertiveness, Hideshi Tokuchi, of the Sasakawa Peace Foundation USA, said. Tokyo does not distinguish between Beijing’s behavior in the South China Sea or what it is doing in North Asia — from intimidation of civilian fishermen to insisting on specious claims to islands in the East China Sea.

China’s aircraft carrier Liaoning takes part in a military drill of Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Navy in the western Pacific Ocean, April 18, 2018. Picture taken April 18, 2018. REUTERS/Stringer ATTENTION EDITORS – THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. CHINA OUT. TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY

From that point of view and geography, “Taiwan is more important than before” because it is in the connecting position between the two bodies of water. Its security concerns “should not be ignored” with strike aircraft from the mainland constantly circling the island and causing scrambles of fighters and periodic threats of invasion.  Glaser said despite its military moves and sometimes heated rhetoric China was not looking for a war with anyone in the Indo-Pacific.  “There has been some pushback” against China, surprisingly enough it came from Europe, Richard Heydarian, a fellow at ADR-Stratbase Institute, said Acknowledging France and Great Britain joining the United States in freedom of navigation operations around the artificial islands was new, he warned that those missions “alone could be counterproductive.” In Beijing, they could be dismissed as “empty tactics” because they “are not robust enough to deter” the Chinese from beefing up their military presence on the reclaimed lands or extending their reach to reefs and rocks further out or to the north.  Complicating matters is the behavior of Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte’s “meek” and “humble” approach to China in its territorial dispute, despite an international arbitration panel’s supporting Manila’s claims, he said.  This has caused a split between the country’s military, “with its constitutional responsibility to protect Philippine sovereignty” and the president’s “leaning to China.” Signs of this include his allowing PLAN naval vessels to make port calls and military aircraft to fly into bases without treaty or much formal notice.  Further complicating matters in the Philippines is Duterte’s periodic bashing of the United States, that throws into question American use of naval and air bases. At the same time, the Philippine military has more closely embraced Washington to counter China and is seeking to expand exercises and training assistance.  While a way ahead would include a “negotiated Code of Conduct” for the South China Sea, Heydarian said for the countries in the region to accept such a deal it would have to include a freeze on militarization, reclamation and naval exercises.


Continue reading “FOD Fireball’s Observations of the Day July 31st through August 3rd 2018”