FOD Fireball’s Observations of the Day July 21st through 24th 2017

ISIS Potential Dirty Bomb Story Published by The Washington Post

When the city Mosul, Iraq fell to ISIS back in 2014, they laid claim to a huge stockpile of weapons including small arms, bombs, rockets and some additional heavy weapons such as artillery pieces and even tanks.  Banks were overrun and millions of dollars in hard currency were lost.  Mosel’s college was also overrun during that same time frame.  The college supported two radiotherapy machines used to kill cancer cells.  And contained within the heavy shielding of the radiotherapy machines is cobalt-60, a metallic substance with high levels of radiation and which is highly lethal.  One of the goals of Isis leaders in the field has been to develop a dirty bomb or Radiological Dispersal Device (RDD).  An RDD is a radiological weapon that combines radioactive material with conventional explosives. The purpose of the weapon is to contaminate the area around the dispersal agent/conventional explosion with radioactive material, serving primarily as an area denial device against civilians. It is however not to be confused with a nuclear explosion, such as a fission bomb, which by releasing nuclear energy produces blast effects far in excess of what is achievable by the use of conventional explosives.  Dirty bombs are admittedly difficult to construct as the radioactive material must be sufficiently radioactive so as create radiological damage.  It must also be transportable with enough shielding to protect those transporting the device but not so heavy as to make it unmaneuverable.  And then of course the radioactive material must be dispersible over a large area so as to contaminate the area around the explosion.  If you had highly radioactive material and the ability to disperse it you could create an incident comparable to the Chernobyl disaster .  In any event you would create a psychological event, mass panic and terror requiring considerable time and expense to clean up rendering areas of a city perhaps unusable.  Western intelligence agencies were aware of the cobalt-60’s presence and watched to see if the militants would attempt to use it.  The obligatory studies were conducted and our troops and Iraqi military commanders were appraised of the potential threat.  When the Mosel campus was retaken (above right) by Iraqi forces, the radiotherapy were found to be intact.  Good news, except the fact The Washington Post has now published a story on the entire incident.  Whether the Islamic State has a subscription to The Washington Post is unknown, but they have provided the enemy with knowledge of a source of radioactive materials available in hundreds of cities around the world, some of which ISIS has control over.  Additionally there is the potential for US troops or our allies to be directly harmed by this information.  The Washington Post’s tagline is “Democracy Dies in Darkness,” but they should remember another line from an earlier conflict, “Loose lips sink ships.”

 

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FOD Fireball’s Observations of the Day July 16 through 20 2017 An Overlap Edition

White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer Resigns

Sean Spicer, one of the best-known faces of the Trump administration has submitted his resignation as Press Secretary.  His departure came shortly before President Donald Trump named Anthony Scaramucci, a transition official in the Trump campaign and longtime Wall Street financier, as named White House communications directorSarah Huckabee Sanders, has been promoted to press secretary. Scaramucci (left) is not a communications or media professional, but rather a Wall Street businessman.  The real question is will Saturday Night Live be able to put together a Spicy skit with Melissa McCarthy.

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FOD Fireball’s Observations of the Day April 21 through 23, 2017

4 Yawkey Way Begins Hosting Baseball

After a two day rain delay, a new baseball stadium opens.  The date was 1912.   4 Yawkey Way is famous as the address of Fenway Park, the Red Sox’s home stadium, and is closely identified with the park and the team. It is the oldest ballpark in MLB.  Because of its age and constrained space its renovations and expansions have resulted in a quirky features including The Triangle, The Green Monster, Pesky’s Pole, and of course the Lone Red Seat. The Lone Red Seat in the right field bleachers (Section 42, Row 37, Seat 21) signifies the longest home run ever hit at Fenway. The home run, hit by Ted Williams on June 9, 1946, was officially measured at 502 feet.  Of course there has to be a Yankee controversy involved here in that Babe Ruth hit one in the pre-1934 bleacher configuration which landed five rows from the top in right field. This would have placed it at an estimated 545 feet (166 m) from home plate.  There is a move afoot to make Fenway a Boston Landmark which will regulate further changes to the park.  The first game was played April 20, 1912, with mayor John F. Fitzgerald throwing out the first pitch and Boston defeating the New York Highlanders (renamed the Yankees the next year), 7-6 in 11 innings. Newspaper coverage of the opening was overshadowed by continuing coverage of the Titanic sinking a few days earlier, and was covered by FOD a few days ago as well.  Since the Red Sox’ 1967 “Impossible Dream” season, attendance has been outstanding.  On Wednesday, June 17, 2009, the park celebrated its 500th consecutive Red Sox sellout. The sellout streak ended on April 11, 2013; in all the Red Sox sold out 794 regular season games and an additional 26 postseason games during this streak.  Neil Diamond‘s “Sweet Caroline” has been played at Fenway Park since at least 1997, and in the middle of the eighth inning at every game since 2002.   If you’re a baseball fan, it needs to be on you short list of baseball venues to visit.

 

Weeghman Park Opens For Baseball

Four years after Fenway Park opens, the Cubs open their new stadium called Weeghman Park on April 20, 1916 and coincidentally beat their opponent the Cincinnati Reds by the same 7-6 score and in 11 innings.  In late 1915, Weeghman’s Federal League folded. The resourceful Weeghman formed a syndicate including the chewing gum manufacturer William Wrigley Jr. to buy the Chicago Cubs from Charles P. Taft for about $500,000.  Weeghman immediately moved the Cubs from the dilapidated West Side Grounds to his two-year-old Weeghmam Park.  In 1918, Wrigley acquired the controlling interest in the club.  In November 1926, he renamed the park “Wrigley Field” located on the city’s North Side.  The ballpark is famous for its outfield walls which are covered by ivy.  The distances from home plate to various points in the outfield have remained essentially unchanged since the bleachers were remodeled during the 1937 season. They were originally marked by wooden numbers cut from plywood, painted white, and placed in gaps where the ivy was not allowed to grow. Since the early 1980s, the numbers have been painted directly on the bricks, in yellow. Although the power-alley dimensions are relatively cozy, the foul lines are currently the deepest in the major leagues. The flat rooftops of the apartment buildings across Waveland and Sheffield, which pre-date the ballpark, were often populated with a reasonable number of fans having cookouts while enjoying the game for free. The Cubs tolerated it quietly until the 1990s, when some owners of those apartments began building little bleacher sections, and charging people to watch the games.  This led to meetings and to a peaceful settlement among the various parties. The building owners agreed to share a portion of their proceeds with the Cubs.   Some of the rooftops became legendary in their own right. The Lakeview Baseball Club, which sits across Sheffield Avenue (right-field) from the stadium displayed a sign that read, “Eamus Catuli!” (roughly Latin for “Let’s Go Cubs!”—catuli translating to “whelps“, the nearest Latin equivalent), flanked by a counter indicating the Cubs’ long legacy of futility. The counter was labeled “AC”, for “Anno Catulorum”, or “In the Year of the Cubs”. The first two digits indicated the number of years since the Cubs’ last division championship as of the end of the previous season (2016), the next two digits indicated the number of years since the Cubs won the National League Pennant (2016), and the last three digits indicated the number of years since their last World Series win (2016).  This is another destination to put on your list.

Continue reading “FOD Fireball’s Observations of the Day April 21 through 23, 2017”

FOD Fireball’s Observations of the Day March 15 through 17, 2017

Fireball’s Observation of the Day

Fireball’s Observation of the Day.  Did you know that in 2015, women working full time in the United States typically were paid just 80 percent of what men were paid, a gap of 20 percent? While the number has gone up one percentage point from 2014, the change isn’t statistically significant — because the increase is so small, mere tenths of a percent, it doesn’t amount to perceptible change. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the earnings ratio hasn’t had significant annual change since 2007. Since President John F. Kennedy
signed the Equal Pay Act of 1963, it has been illegal in the United States to pay men and women working in the same place different salaries for similar work.  But the pay gap has not gone away.  This is wrong.  Support equal pay for equal work!

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FOD Fireball’s Observations of the Day February 21 and 22 , 2017

On 21 February 1945 and during the Battle of Iwo Jima, (mentioned yesterday in FOD), two Japanese kamikazes hit the USS Bismarck Sea (CVE-95).  The Bismarck Sea (left) was a Casablanca class escort carrier, She was launched on 17 April 1944 by Kaiser Co., Inc., Vancouver, Washington.  The first kamikaze aircraft strikes the starboard side under the first 40 mm gun (aft), crashing through the hangar deck and striking the ship’s magazines. The fire was nearly under control when the second plane struck the aft elevator shaft, exploding on impact and destroying the fire fighting salt water distribution system, thus preventing any further damage control. Shortly after, the order was given to abandon ship. The USS Bismarck Sea sank with the loss of 318 men, and was the last US Navy aircraft carrier to be lost during World War II.  Three destroyers and three destroyer escorts rescued survivors over the next 12 hours, between them saving a total of 605 officers and men from her crew of 923. Survivors were then transferred to Dickens and HighlandsAdditionally five kamikaze aircraft strike the USS Saratoga (right).  Saratoga participated in the Battle of Iwo Jima as a dedicated night fighter carrier.  Saratoga was assigned to provide fighter cover while the remaining carriers launched the strikes on Japan, but in the process, her fighters raided two Japanese airfields. The force fueled on 18 and 19 February, and the ship provided CAP over Iwo Jima on 19–20 February.  The following day, Saratoga was detached with an escort of three destroyers to join the amphibious forces and carry out night patrols over Iwo Jima and nearby Chichi Jima (see note below). Taking advantage of low cloud cover and Saratoga‘s weak escort, six Japanese planes scored five bomb hits on the carrier in three minutes; three of the aircraft also struck the carrier. Saratoga‘s flight deck forward was wrecked, her starboard side was holed twice and large fires were started in her hangar deck; she lost 123 of her crew dead or missing as well as 192 wounded. Thirty-six of her aircraft were destroyed. Another attack two hours later further damaged her flight deck.  Slightly over an hour later, the fires were under control, and Saratoga was able to recover six fighters; she arrived at Bremerton, WA on 16 March for permanent repairs.  Note: Chichi Jima was also the subject of a book by James Bradley entitled Flyboys: A True Story of Courage, a factual account of the lives of a group of young World War II pilots, including a young George H. W. Bush.  It’s on the Fireball reading list and should be required reading by every high school student.

 

19–20 February 1979: Professor  Neil Armstrong of the University of Cincinnati College of Engineering, member of the Board of Directors of Gates Learjet Corporation, former United States Navy fighter pilot, NACA/NASA research test pilot, Gemini and Apollo astronaut, and The First Man To Set Foot On The Moon, set five Fédération Aéronautique Internationale(FAI) and National Aeronautics Association class records for time to climb to an altitude and altitude while flying the prototype Learjet 28, serial number 28-001.  Armstrong, with Learjet program test pilot Peter Reynolds as co-pilot, and with NAA observer Don Berliner aboard, flew the Learjet 28 to 15,000 meters (49,212.598 feet) in 12 minutes, 27 seconds at Kittyhawk, North Carolina on 19 February. On the same day, during a flight from Wichita, Kansas, to Elizabeth City, New Jersey, Armstrong flew the Learjet to 15,584.6 meters (51,130.577 feet), setting records for altitude and for sustained altitude in horizontal flight.  The following day, 20 February 1979, flying from Elizabeth City to Florence, Kentucky, Armstrong again set altitude and sustained altitude in horizontal flight, in a different class, by taking the Learjet to 15,585 meters (51,131.89 feet). Neil Armstrong was not only a hero, but a true gentleman.  I had the distinct opportunity to sit next to him at lunch during an SETP Convention a few years back.  I will never forget it.

 

 

In one of the most dramatic upsets in Olympic history, the underdog U.S. hockey team, made up of college players, defeats the four-time defending gold-medal winning Soviet team at the men’s ice hockey tournament at the 1980 Winter Olympics in Lake Placid, New York on February 22, 1980. The Soviet squad, previously regarded as the finest in the world, fell to the youthful American team 4-3 before a frenzied crowd of 10,000 spectators. Two days later, the Americans defeated Finland 4-2 to clinch the hockey gold.  The victory became one of the most iconic moments of the Games and in U.S. sports. Equally well-known was the television call of the final seconds of the game by Al Michaels for ABC, in which he famously declared in the final seconds, “Do you believe in miracles?! Yes!” In 1999, Sports Illustrated named the “Miracle on Ice” the top sports moment of the 20th century.   As part of its centennial celebration in 2008, the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) named the “Miracle on Ice” as the best international ice hockey story of the past 100 years.  I remember completing two back to back ACM flights and had the opportunity to watch the third and final period.  It was a great, great moment in sports.

 

 

At 7:12 a.m. on the morning of February 21, 1916, a shot from a German Krupp 38-centimeter long-barreled gun—one of over 1,200 such weapons set to bombard French forces along a 20-kilometer front stretching across the Meuse River—strikes a cathedral in Verdun, France, beginning the Battle of Verdun, which would stretch on for 10 months and become the longest battles of the First World War on the Western Front between the German and French armies. The Battle of Verdun lasted for 303 days and became the longest and one of the most costly battles in human history. An estimate in 2000 found a total of 714,231 casualties, 377,231 French and 337,000 German, for an average of 70,000 casualties a month; other recent estimates increase the number of casualties to 976,000, during the battle, with 1,250,000 suffered at Verdun during the war.

 

 

On February 22, 1732,  George Washington was born.  He of course went on to serve as the first President of the United States from 1789 to 1797 and was one of the Founding Fathers of the United States. He served as Commander-in-Chief of the Continental Army during the American Revolutionary War, and later presided over the 1787 convention that drafted the United States Constitution. He is popularly considered the driving force behind the nation’s establishment and came to be known as the “father of the country,” both during his lifetime and to this day.  Washington was widely admired for his strong leadership qualities and was unanimously elected president by the Electoral College in the first two national elections. He oversaw the creation of a strong, well-financed national government that maintained neutrality in the French Revolutionary Wars, suppressed the Whiskey Rebellion, and won acceptance among Americans of all types.  Washington’s incumbency established many precedents still in use today, such as the cabinet system, the inaugural address, and the title Mr. President.  His retirement from office after two terms established a tradition that lasted until 1940 when Franklin Delano Roosevelt won an unprecedented third term. The 22nd Amendment (1951) now limits the president to two elected terms.  Washington presided over the Constitutional Convention in 1787, (depicted below) which devised a new form of federal government for the United States. Following his election as president in 1789, he worked to unify rival factions in the fledgling nation. He supported Alexander Hamilton‘s programs to satisfy all debts, federal and state, established a permanent seat of government, implemented an effective tax system, and created a national bank.  In avoiding war with Great Britain, he guaranteed a decade of peace and profitable trade by securing the Jay Treaty in 1795, despite intense opposition from the Jeffersonians. He remained non-partisan, never joining the Federalist Party, although he largely supported its policies. Washington’s Farewell Address was an influential primer on civic virtue, warning against partisanship, sectionalism, and involvement in foreign wars. President Trump would do well to read his Farewell Address.  And of course he had those wooden false teeth and never wanted to smile in a portrait.  He retired from the presidency in 1797, returning to his home and plantation at Mount Vernon.