FOD Fireball’s Observations of the Day April 12 through 15 2018

FOD Saying of the Day

I would like to apologize to anyone whom I haven’t offended yet. Please be patient, I will get to you shortly.

Air Strike on Syria – Comment

First let me say I applaud President Trump’s decision to launch what appeared to be a successful surgical strike on Syrian chemical weapons infrastructure and capabilities.  In aligning our efforts with those of Britain and France we establish a unified position against the Syrian government of President Bashar al-Assad and his Russian and Iranian supporters.  The Pentagon   boasted Saturday that its coordinated show of military force obliterated key chemical weapons facilities in Syria and set back the country’s chemical weapons capabilities “for years.”  I have severe doubts in that regard.  Russia has already publically stated it will replace weapons lost during this US led strike with more viable weapons.  See my thoughts on Operation El Dorado below.  But military and Middle East experts say the predawn onslaught — touted by the Defense Department as “precise, overwhelming and effective” — appears to have been little more than an empty gesture and likely did not do much to alter Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s military calculus.  Gen. Douglas Lute, the former U.S. ambassador to NATO, said that Assad’s threshold for pain is very high because “he’s in a fight for his life” to maintain control of his country, which has been mired in a seven-year civil war.  He doesn’t fear a mid-term election.  The airstrikes, which targeted three facilities involved in research or storage of chemical weapons in western Syria, won’t disable him from taking further action — whether chemical or conventional, Lute said.  “I think he’s feeling reasonably good right now,” Lute said of Assad. “Some of his facilities were struck, but it doesn’t really challenge his hold on the country.”  President Donald Trump on Friday ordered the military to strike targets in Syria in conjunction with France and the United Kingdom after a suspected chemical weapons attack reportedly killed dozens of Syrians. According to the Pentagon, those targets included a scientific research center in the capital of Damascus, a chemical weapons storage facility near the city of Homs, and a chemical weapons equipment and military outpost also near Homs.  Syria and all the issues surrounding the conflict in the area is a complicated issue.  We have allowed it to become much more complicated because US administrations, past and present have been unwilling or unable to take a leading role. Into that vacuum have stepped Russia and Iran.  If we want regime change, then we need to be strong in our efforts to effect that change.  That means stronger sanctions, a possible no-fly zone, a possible shipping blockade and border embargos. It would be most inappropriate to call it “mission accomplished.”  Oh, it’s too late for that!

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FOD Fireball’s Observations of the Day February 12th through 15th 2018

Saying of the Day

You matter… Unless you multiply yourself by the speed of light … then you’re energy.

 

China Thinks US Is Insecure Regarding China

One of the missions of the US Navy is to keep lines of communication and transportation open throughout the world for all the world’s nations and economies.  It’s much easier to break or interfere with those lines of communication and transportation than it is to maintain them.  I saw this in Asia TimesThe United States has a sense of insecurity that is “beyond comprehension”, according to China’s foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang. He made that remark on Wednesday while refuting claims by the US National Intelligence director that the US faces multiple threats from China.  “I don’t know why the United States has such a strong sense of insecurity,” Geng said at a press conference. He said there was “no such thing as absolute security” and one country’s security could not be achieved at the expense of others.  Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats told a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing on Tuesday February 13 that the US is confronted with multiple threats by countries like Russia and China – cyber-threats, espionage, and weaponization of outer space.  He said Russia, China, Iran and North Korea posed the greatest global cyber-threats.  “Frankly, the United States is under attack,” said Coats (below left).  Coats noted that US adversaries and “malign actors”, including Russia and China, would use several tactics, including cyber and information warfare to challenge US influence around the world. But Coats devoted most of his remarks at the hearing to Moscow’s meddling in US elections.  The Chinese foreign ministry spokesman, in response, urged the US to discard its confrontational, zero-sum-game mindset and make concerted efforts with China, Russia and other members of the international community to “correspond with the trend of the times.”  Global conflict was higher than at any time since the end of the Cold War.  “The US is the No.1 major power in the world with unparalleled military might. If it constantly thinks that it’s threatened hither and thither, what would other countries feel? How could they even survive in that case?” Geng retorted.  Concerns about China in regard to security, however, have gained steam. FBI Director Christopher Wray also told the Senate Intelligence Committee on Tuesday that Beijing has been aggressively planting spies on US campuses.  And last week, Senator Marco Rubio of Florida wrote to five Florida institutions and asked them to shut down joint programs with China’s Confucius Institute, a Beijing-funded exchange scheme to set up centers overseas to promote Mandarin and Chinese culture. The centers have come into a media glare in recent years amid suspicions of espionage and an erosion of academic freedom in host countries in the West.  So do we need to be concerned regarding threats from China.  You’re damn right we do!

Continue reading “FOD Fireball’s Observations of the Day February 12th through 15th 2018”

FOD Fireball’s Observations of the Day January 01 through 04, 2018

Happy New Year

In 45 B.C. New Year’s Day was celebrated on January 1 st  for the first time as the Julian calendar takes effect.  Roman dictator, Julius Caesar designed a new calendar based upon solar year developed by the Egyptians and calculated the solar year to be 365 ¼ days and decreed a day be added every four years in February so as to keep the calendar from falling out of step.  However their calculations were a bit off as Caesar the his astronomer Sosigenes failed to calculate the correct value of the solar year as 365.242199 days and not 365.25 days.  Likely they used the wrong app for that.  The 11-minute/year error added seven days by the year 1000 and 10 more days by the mid-15th century.  In 1570, Pope Gregory XIII omitted 10 days in 1582, institutionalized leap year, and thus implementing the Gregorian calendar.  And they didn’t have the US Naval Observatory to give them a good time hack.  And work on your assigned New Year’s resolution of forwarding FOD to two new people and ask them to subscribe.

 

Boeing and Embraer Talks Continue

Reuters is reporting talks between Boeing Co and Embraer SA are continuing but  that key questions, specifically, who will control the Brazilian plane manufacturer remain unsettled or at least not reported.  That generally means the Brazilian government has not yet approved what such a combined corporate structure might look like.  Brazilian newspaper Valor Economico had reported that the talks have focused on joint ventures and joint business agreements to share costs and revenue or develop new products without changing control of Embraer.  Such an arrangement could ease approval from the Brazilian government, which holds a ‘golden share’ giving it veto rights over strategic decisions at Embraer and has expressed reservations about a foreign company taking control. However, a joint venture may not be an effective way to combine engineering resources, explore new business opportunities and satisfy Boeing’s interest in Embraer’s portfolio of regional passenger jets, defense programs and business aircraft, said one of the sources, who requested anonymity due to the sensitivity of talks.  Boeing has worked around concerns in foreign markets before, structuring defense subsidiaries in Australia and Britain to satisfy sovereignty demands, and those cases may serve as a reference in Brazil, the sources said.  The talks are widely seen as a way for Boeing to strengthen its position in the regional jetliner market, in which Embraer is strong, thanks largely to its 70- to 130-seat E-Jets.  Less than three months ago, Boeing’s European arch-rival Airbus SE agreed to buy a majority stake in Bombardier Inc’s 100- to 130-seat C-Series jet, putting pressure on the U.S. planemaker to seek a similar partnership.  The Boeing-Embraer talks involve Embraer’s defense business, as well as its passenger business, sources have said.  In the Tuesday report, Valor said Boeing was confident it could convince Brazil’s government that it could safely operate in Brazil’s defense sector, partially by pointing to defense deals the U.S. planemaker has made in countries such as Australia.

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FOD Fireball’s Observations of the Day December 22 through 27, 2017

Friends of FOD

Christmas vacation came along and I had to give my entire staff time off.  How unfair was that?

 

“You’ll Shoot Your Eye Out”

I trust every Friend of FOD had a great Christmas and enjoyed repeated watching of the classic Christmas movie, A Christmas Story.  It’s a 1983 movie set in the late 1930’s or early 1940’s in which the adult story teller is reminiscing on one particular Christmas when he was nine years old. Ralphie Parker wanted only one thing for that Christmas: a Red Ryder Carbine Action 200-shot Range Model air rifle. Ralphie’s desire is rejected by his mother, his teacher Miss Shields, and even a Santa Claus at Higbee’s department store, all giving him the same warning: “You’ll shoot your eye out.”  While we all remember the Old Man wins a “major award” in a contest.  The major award turns out to be a lamp in the shape of a woman’s leg wearing a fishnet stocking.  It was derived from the logo for Nehi (pronounced “knee-high”) pop, a popular soft drink of the period.  The Old Man is overjoyed by the lamp, but Mrs. Parker does not like it and a feud over it — referred to by adult Ralphie as “The Battle of the Lamp” — develops and results in the lamp’s “accidental” destruction.  I have the working replica of that major award lamp and the Red Ryder Carbine 200 shot Range Model air rifle because you never know when Black Bart may show up in your backyard.  Early in the movie, Ralphie, tells us, “Some men are Baptist, others Catholic; my father was an Oldsmobile man.” Although the Olds, a 1937 four-door sedan, was seen throughout the movie, usually covered in snow, its biggest role was during the family outing to pick up a Christmas tree. After the Old Man skillfully negotiated the price of the tree, and it was tied to the top of the car, the family began their trek back home, singing Christmas Carols along the way. However, the merriment was interrupted when the Oldsmobile blew a tire. The Old Man’s prediction, that he would change the tire in record time (four minutes), unfortunately this wasn’t realized, when the lug nuts, held by Ralphie, were knocked into the air. Without thinking, Ralphie said, “Oooh fuuudge!” He, of course, didn’t really say the word fudge.  He said the big one; the queen mother of dirty words, the f _ _ _ word.  OK, here’s some car trivia:  What engine was in that ’37 Olds?  Answer:  Why the straight six of course as distinguished by the front horizontal bar grill.  The eight cylinder model had a mesh grill design.  In a stretch of events, times and places, Air Force Times is reporting One of the Silver State’s most unusual and exclusive hunts is now under way at the Nevada Test and Training Range, where 15 hunting tags have been issued in three mountain ranges normally off-limits to the public.  For most big-game hunts in Nevada, all you need to do is buy a hunting license and get drawn for a tag.  For the trophy ram hunt on the test and training range, hunters and their helpers must pass a criminal background check, submit a full inventory of their firearms, vehicles and optical equipment, and take part in a mandatory safety briefing so they don’t accidentally blow themselves up or shoot their eye out!  This year’s safety briefing took place at the Clark County Shooting Complex. The hunt began at sunrise Saturday, Dec. 16 and lasts through sunset Jan. 1.  As part of those preparations, military personnel swept the roads and designated campsites for unexploded ordnance, put up signs and blocked some side roads to keep hunters out of target areas where explosive material and other hazards are likeliest to be found.  Each hunting party is provided with a detailed map showing where it can and cannot go — distinctions that have more to do with safety than national security.  And everyone who goes on the range has to pass the same background check and only the tag holder is allowed to shoot. How did all my Cast & Blast hunters miss out on this one?

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FOD Fireball’s Observations of the Day December 13 through 17, 2017

 

Happy Hanukkah

We’re in the midst of Hanukkah, Festival of Lights.  I don’t know why there are so many spellings of Hanukkah, but Hanukkah is the Hebrew spelling.  Then there’s Tiberiankhanuká or another a transliteration also romanized as Chanukah or Ḥanukah).  But whatever the spelling, it is a Jewish holiday commemorating the rededication of the Holy Temple (the Second Temple) in Jerusalem at the time of the Maccabean Revolt against the Seleucid Empire. Hanukkah is observed for eight nights and days, starting on the 25th day of Kislev according to the Hebrew calendar, which may occur at any time from late November to late December in the Gregorian calendar. It is also known as the Festival of Lights and the Feast of Dedication.  The festival is observed by lighting the candles of a candelabrum with nine branches, called a Hanukkah menorah (or hanukkiah). One branch is typically placed above or below the others and its candle is used to light the other eight candles. This unique candle is called the shamash (Hebrew: שמש‎, “attendant”). Each night, one additional candle is lit by the shamash until all eight candles are lit together on the final night of the holiday.  Other Hanukkah festivities include playing dreidel and eating oil-based foods such as doughnuts and latkes. Since the 1970s, the worldwide Chabad Hasidic movement has initiated public menorah lightings in open public places in many countries.  The story of Hanukkah is preserved in the books of the First and Second Maccabees, which describe in detail the re-dedication of the Temple in Jerusalem and the lighting of the menorah. These books are not part of the Tanakh (Hebrew Bible) but both books are included in the Old Testament used by the Catholic and Orthodox Churches.  When the Second Temple in Jerusalem was looted and services stopped, Judaism was outlawed. In 167 BCE, Antiochus ordered an altar to Zeus erected in the Temple. He banned brit milah (circumcision) and ordered pigs to be sacrificed at the altar of the temple.  Antiochus’s actions provoked a large-scale revoltMattathias (Mattityahu), a Jewish priest, and his five sons JochananSimeonEleazarJonathan, and Judah led a rebellion against Antiochus. It started with Mattathias killing first, a Jew who wanted to comply with Antiochus’s order to sacrifice to Zeus, and then a Greek official who was to enforce the government’s behest (1 Mac. 2, 24–25).  Judah became known as Yehuda HaMakabi (“Judah the Hammer”). By 166 BCE Mattathias had died, and Judah took his place as leader. By 165 BCE the Jewish revolt against the Seleucid monarchy was successful. The Temple was liberated and rededicated. The festival of Hanukkah was instituted to celebrate this event.  Judah ordered the Temple to be cleansed, a new altar to be built in place of the polluted one and new holy vessels to be made. According to the Talmud, unadulterated and undefiled pure olive oil with the seal of the kohen gadol (high priest) was needed for the menorah in the Temple, which was required to burn throughout the night every night. The story goes that one flask was found with only enough oil to burn for one day, yet it burned for eight days, the time needed to prepare a fresh supply of kosher oil for the menorah. An eight-day festival was declared by the Jewish sages to commemorate this miracle.  The version of the story in 1 Maccabees states that an eight-day celebration of songs and sacrifices was proclaimed upon re-dedication of the altar, and makes no specific mention of the miracle of the oil.  Spin a dreidel and enjoy some chocolate gelt and Happy Hanukkah.

Continue reading “FOD Fireball’s Observations of the Day December 13 through 17, 2017”