FOD Fireball’s Observations of the Day 11 through 15 August 2017

What Our President Did and Didn’t Say

While many in President Trump’s administration have since spoken out against the hatred and violence of groups like white supremacists, the KKK and neo-Nazis, during the events in Chancellorsville, Virginia this past weekend, it is what President Trump did not say that is concerning.  These extremist hate groups have no place in the American debate and by not condemning them, you allow them a voice.  The President needed to condemn those groups.  As Dante Alighieri said in his Divine Comedy, “The darkest places in hell are reserved for those who maintain their neutrality in times of moral crisis.”  I am encouraged by President Trump’s statement on the morning of 14 August 2017 where he did call racism evil and where he did explicitly denounce KKK and neo-Nazis organizations and stated they would be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.  Woulda, coulda, shoulda is the operative line here.   As a consequence of the President’s comments, the African-American CEO of pharmaceutical giant Merck & Co Kenneth

Frazier (below right) resigned from President Donald Trump’s American Manufacturing Council Monday after Mr. Trump failed to condemn white nationalists for deadly violence at a weekend rally in Charlottesville, Va.  “Our country’s strength stems from its diversity and the contributions made by men and women of different faiths, faces, sexual orientations and political beliefs. America’s leaders must honor our fundamental values by clearly rejecting expressions of hatred, bigotry and group supremacy, which run counter to the American ideal that all people are created equal,” Merck CEO Kenneth Frazier said in a statement announcing his departure from the council.  “As CEO of Merck and as a matter of personal conscience, I feel a responsibility to take a stand against intolerance and extremism,” Frazier added.  Less than an hour after Merck released Frazier’s statement, Trump slammed the exec in a tweet.  I don’t see where alienating this individual adds positive value to the discourse.  In a similar manner I don’t see how lashing out at his own party’s Majority Leader of the United States Senate Mitch McConnell (left) benefits the President’s agenda on issues such as increasing the debt ceiling, tax reform, infrastructure improvements, and of course health care reform and gets worse with every tweet. Hey, there are daunting budget related deadlines coming with the end of the fiscal year, September 30th.  Comments appreciated!

 

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FOD Fireball’s Observations of the Day July 10 through 13, 2017

Friends of FOD

I’ve been travelling and working on the ’31 Chevy and as a result new editions of FOD have been delayed.  Photos in the next edition.  Congrats to Friend of FOD Rickey on his retirement from Boeing.  Rickey, all I can say is that retirement is good!

 

Navy Asking For New FFG Design Inputs

Contrary to the existing LCS platform designs, the U.S. Navy is looking for inputs from industry on a new multi-mission guided-missile frigate adapted from existing ship designs, a major departure from its modular littoral combat ship, according to a Request For Information (RFI) released Monday and covered by Defense NewsThe RFI lays out a ship that opens the door to almost any existing design that can be adapted to the Navy’s needs, which extends beyond just the two LCS hull forms being built by Lockheed Martin and Austal USA (left). The Navy is looking to avoid “sticker shock,” said Rear Adm. Ronald Boxall, the service’s director of surface warfare, said in a Monday telephone interview, and engage with ship builders about what trade-offs the Navy would have to make to get the most capability from the ship. Boxall (right) did not say how much the U.S. Navy is willing to spend but said the RFI was intended to draw out what the U.S. Navy could get for its shipbuilding dollar. In order to get the ship to the fleet as fast as possible, the U.S. Navy wants builders to adapt from existing designs, the RFI said. “A competition for FFG(X) is envisioned to consider existing parent designs for a Small Surface Combatant that can be modified to accommodate the specific capability requirements prescribed by the US Navy,” it reads. The U.S. Navy wants a frigate that can keep up with the aircraft carrier — a nagging problem with the current classes of small surface combatants — and have sensors networked in with the rest of the fleet to expand the overall tactical picture available to the group. “The FFG(X) will normally aggregate into strike groups and Large Surface Combatant led surface action groups but also possess the ability to robustly defend itself during conduct of independent operations while connected and contributing to the fleet tactical grid.”  The U.S. Navy would like for the ship to be able to: Kill surface ships over the horizon

  • Detect enemy submarines
  • Defend convoy ships
  • Employ active and passive electronic warfare systems
  • Defend against swarming small boat attacks

The U.S. Navy is looking to limit the number of ground-breaking technologies that go into the ship, looking for engineering and combat systems that are already common in the fleet. The U.S. Navy lists several capabilities, among the most important including:

Other capabilities in “tier two” include various sonar equipment such as variable-depth and towed-array sonar, Cooperative Engagement Capability to be able to share target data with other ships and aircraft in the fleet, rigid-hull inflatable boats, Next Generation Surface Search Radar, and a MK 110 57mm gun and related systems.  The U.S. Navy wants the ship to be used for surface and anti-submarine warfare — traditional frigate roles — and to take on lower-level missions, such as security cooperation, that don’t require multibillion-dollar warships. It also must be hardened against electronic warfare attack.  The U.S. Navy is also particularly interested in having the frigate be a platform for deploying unmanned systems “to penetrate and dwell in contested environments, operating at greater risk to gain sensor and weapons advantages over the adversary.” The frigate should be able to establish a complicated picture of a tactical environment with its on-board sensors, unmanned systems and embarked aircraft and beam that information back to the fleet through secure communications.  The U.S. Navy intends to award the contract for the first FFG(X) in 2020. It will buy one in 2020 and one in 2021, followed by two each year after that. The U.S. Navy’s requirement is for 52 small-surface combatants, the bulk of which will be LCS.

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FOD Fireball’s Observations of the Day June 12th through 14th, 2017

T-45 OBOGS News – No News

In a FOD update from the last edition, Marine Times reports, After more than two months, the Navy still has no idea what is causing serious problems with the OBOGS (On-Board Oxygen Generating System) oxygen systems in its training aircraft and fighters.  “We’re not doing well on the diagnosis,” Vice Adm. Paul A. Grosklags, Naval Air Systems Command , told lawmakers on Tuesday. “To date, we have been unable to find any smoking gun.”  In April, the Navy temporarily grounded all of its T-45 training jets after dozens of instructor pilots refused to fly, citing a spike in pilots suffering from dangerous symptoms caused by a lack of oxygen or contaminants in the oxygen system. FOD and Navy Times first reported in May 2016 that Navy and Marine Corps F/A-18 Hornets and Super Hornets and EA-18G Growlers also experience oxygen system failures with alarming regularity.

170320-N-QI061-024
ATLANTIC OCEAN (March 20, 2017) A T-45C Goshawk training aircraft assigned to Carrier Training Wing (CTW) 1 approaches the aircraft carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69). The ship is conducting aircraft carrier qualifications during the sustainment phase of the optimized fleet response plan. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Nathan T. Beard/Released)

Worse: The potentially catastrophic failures have been becoming more frequent.  Most of the problems in the T-45s involve breathing gas, while the F/A-18s tend to have problems with cockpit pressurization, Grosklags told the Senate Armed Services Seapower Subcommittee on Tuesday.  The Navy has literally torn T-45s apart at Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Maryland, where investigators have tested every single component in the aircraft, yet the root cause for the problem remains elusive, he said.  “To date, we have not been able to discover a toxin or a contaminant in the breathing gas, despite our testing,” Grosklags said. And in a related story, the Air Force’s variant of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter is also experiencing problems with its oxygen systems. Flight operations at Luke Air Force Base, Arizona, have been suspended after five pilots from the 56th Fighter wing reported suffering symptoms from lack of oxygen.  In May 2012, F-22 Raptor pilots went public with their concerns about the aircraft’s oxygen system. Two months later, the Air Force determined the cause of the problem was a valve on the pilot’s Combat Edge life support vest, which improperly tightened, making it harder for the pilots to breathe. More news as FOD hears about it.

 

Senators Push Bill to Raise Military Pay

Frustrated over increasing issues with military salaries, a pair of senators on Wednesday June 14th will introduce new legislation to ensure “equal compensation” among senior enlisted service members and limit the president’s ability to reduce troops’ pay raises, according to Military Times.    Under the measure, the president would no longer be able to use “economic concerns” as a reason to decouple the military pay raise from the Employment Cost Index, which estimates private sector wage growth.  The bill — sponsored by Sens. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, and Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass. — could affect President Trump’s plans for the 2018 military pay raise, if lawmakers finalize the measure before the end of August.  But it faces an uncertain future, given the busy budget schedule facing Congress in coming weeks and the restrictions it would place on the executive branch.  Both Trump and President Barack Obama used that clause in recent years to offer smaller-than-expected pay raises for troops, redirecting the money to other readiness and modernization accounts. The bill sponsors criticized that as bad policy. “Our men and women in uniform serve this country with honor,” said Warren in a statement. “They know they won’t get rich in the military, but they serve with skill and dedication, and they are entitled to basic pay increases that will give them a chance to build some economic security.”  Trump’s suggested pay increase for 2018 is 2.1 percent, equal to the 2018 pay raise but 0.3 percentage points below the Employment Cost Index figure.

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FOD Fireball’s Observations of the Day June 7 through 9, 2017

‘Summer of Comey’ Underway

I watched the public portion of the James Comey’s hearing today.  I didn’t hear any great new information that had not been released ahead of time or that would rise to the level of obstruction of justice.  While it appears so far President Trump likely acted inappropriately, it would seem unlikely any legal effort could be put forth that would attempt to prove he acted illegally, since obstruction of justice requires proving intent.  And since presidents are not charged in a court of law, but rather in Congress through the impeachment process, the question will likely rage on as a political one, rather than a legal one.  Likely it fits into the Trump pattern of actions as political naiveté.  We had a president who we knew perjured himself before a grand jury under oath and he wasn’t found guilty.  The questioning itself was somewhat interesting in that both political parties attempted to add their spin to the proceedings by shaping their questions so as to support their political interests.  Secondarily it will be important to see what republican capital the President has remaining in Congress.  That will play out over the summer and as the Former FBI Director Robert Mueller, investigation into Russia’s involvement during the US elections gets down to business.  Also significant was that Comey said without a doubt Russia attempted to interfere with the last presidential elections and they would do it again and again.  Their goal is to degrade American’s trust in our institutions at any turn and to degrade America’s influence abroad.  Well that’s not new, just their methods.

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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”