Let’s Try Something Different Today…Or…I’m Still Bored

Yeah…instead of looking for political stupidity in the headlines…I’m going to try and ignore all political stupidity and only look for your basic garden variety stupidity.

Eagle news first…as I last reported a couple days ago…the second egg had not hatched but a bit after the post there was a sighting of a pip (i.e., a hole) in the second egg but it just had a wing sticking out of it up a little past the elbow. Things stayed that way overnight and when I looked the next morning…the hatching had been completed and now there were two baby chicks in the nest. They’re about 2 days and a little apart in age…which means that the earlier hatched one will get more of the food since it is big enough to take it away from the other…which means that depending on how much food mom and dad bring in the younger one will have a bigger struggle to make it to fledging.

So far…they’re both getting fed and both Harriet and M15 are making them work for the food a bit to encourage greater independence and muscle development. 

Here’s a screenshot of them under M15 just now…cute little buggers they are.

Screen Shot 2020 04 04 at 11 13 36 AM

Yesterday we heard a new bird outside and after some binocular work and delving into Peterson’s Birds of North America…Connie determined it was a loggerhead shrike. Then in some sort of serendipitous voodoo or sometin’…she retweeted the photo below from the National Audubon Society, who said that it was a formidable predator but a study reveals they are even fiercer than they thought. According to the study
…they grab their prey by the neck, pinch the spinal cord to induce paralysis, and then shake them violently to break the neck…the resulting 6 G’s of acceleration is plenty to kill the prey…so alrighty then…I guess we’ll put this one under…

Badass of the week…not our photo, credit to original photographer in the image.


Ok…looking through the news for everyday ordinary stupidity…

From the BBC…there’s a story about a Venezuelan navy vessel with an unfortunate outcome from trying to get their way. There was this Portuguese flagged cruise liner with special hull reinforcement as it goes on arctic and antarctic passenger cruises in the vicinity of the icepack so basically it’s got an icebreaker like hull. It was lying too…that’s nautical speak for not moving…about 13 miles off of La Tortuga Island which is a Venezuelan protectorate and about 35 or 40 miles off of the coast…and international maritime law states that anything farther than 12 miles from land is international waters. Anyways…the cruise liner…according to the owners…was conducting routine engine maintenance…which is probably a euphemism for it broke down…when the patrol boat Naiguata radioed them asking them for their intentions and then demanding they follow it to port on the Venezuelan coast. The cruise ship declined at which point the patrol boat opened fire…and then the stupidity happened. Remember…this involves a cruise liner and a patrol boat. So the patrol boat decides to ram the bow of the liner to force them to turn toward the coast and proceed into port. In the resulting collision…the patrol boat naturally lost and as a result sank an hour later. After the collision the liner tried to radio them to take on survivors and got no answer so eventually the liner departed after talking to the rescue folks in Curacao. The Venezuelans have announced that the liner was carrying mercenaries to attack Venezuelan military sites on the mainland and that they cowardly and despicably first rammed the patrol boat and then abandoned the crew.

So…let’s examine the levels stupidity here. First…even a landlubber would know that a patrol boat, which was about 260 feet long and 1,700 tons…if it collides with a 375 foot 8,500 ton ship that is reinforced for ice operations is gonna lose. Also…under international law an unarmed cruise liner cannot commit piracy against an armed naval vessel the the shots fired makes this even less likely that the Venezuelan claims are correct. Third…a 1,700 ton ship is not going to be able to force a ship 4 or 5 times in size to change course by ramming. What were they thinking?

Looking at the pictures of the cruise liner…the damage is to the bow and the extending bulbous dome underneath…it’s really not possible to tell whether the patrol boat rammed the liner or the other way around…which could have happened if the patrol boat tried to force the liner to turn by essentially cutting it off. Again…under international rules of the road there are designations of what used to be called the privileged and burdened vessels but have been changed to stand on and give way vessels…essential there are rules for determining which ship has the right of way and which one has to get out of the way. Despite these rules…and this frequently happened back in the Cold War days between US and Soviet naval vessels and which eventually resulted in a special “Rules for Preventing Incidents at Sea” agreement between the two countries…anyways Soviet vessels would typically like to play chicken in which they would maneuver so as to present the possibility of a collision but position themselves in the encounter as the privileged or stand on vessel…basically forcing the US ship to maneuver out of the way and…at least I guess in the Soviet’s mind…winning this game of chicken. The intelligence gathering “fishing trawlers” that used to hang out off of US submarine ports did this quite often and Neil had more than one encounter with them back in his submarining days…but that’s ‘nother show as Alton Brown would say.

Depending on which article you read…the patrol boat might have been attempting a boarding and got herself rammed by the cruise liner…but the stupidity remains…one should never deliberately collide with another ship at sea…Bad Things© will happen.

I saw some guy who made himself a corona mask out of a 2 liter soda bottle that he got out of his bin…he’s British so that’s the trash to us Americans. His idea was to turn it into some sort of shield over his face, attach a hose to the original opening, and stick the hose down inside his clothing to allow the clothes to filter out the virus. And no…this isn’t an April Fools joke as it was posted on the third.

Mr. Schiff…well he’s apparently moved on from impeachment and wants to implement a post election 9/11 style Independent Commission…oh, never mind…that’s political stupidity.

You probably saw on the news about the aircraft carrier captain who wrote a “scathing memo” to his superiors demanding that his ship be brought into port and essentially abandoned at the pier to treat the corona patients on board…but there is apparently a little more to the story than that. SecNav said the other day that the CO had a “direct line to his office” and could have contacted him…which shows how much both SecNav and the media know about these things.

An aircraft carrier CO has a chain of command above him…well, actually there are two of them. First is the administrative one…which in this case was the admiral commanding the battle group then various others that handle administrative matters. Then there’s the operation one…which again goes through the onboard admiral, then to Commander in Chief Pacific Fleet, and then to Commander in Chief Pacific then eventually to the Joint Chiefs of Staff. The operational chain of command handles things like…well, operations of the ship, where it goes, ensures it gets proper supplies, makes sure it’s in whatever place it needs to be to accomplish the ships mission as determined by national command authorities, arranges for a replacement (if possible) if it can’t handle it’s mission and things like that.

So the ship had recently had a port call in Vietnam…and this was in mid March after the virus was known in Wuhan and had started to spread…personally I think that the visit should have been cancelled in view of the situation and the ship remained at sea where it’s safe. It has plenty of food on board, plenty of fuel in both it’s onboard tanks for aircraft and in accompanying logistics vessels for escorts and is well away from viruses. During the visit…the sailors naturally were allowed liberty…and as sailors are wont to to they went to bars and establishments with hookers, partied, got infected, and went back to the ship.

Infections multiplied…and the CO apparently felt that in his mind the mission should be abandoned, the ship returned to port in Guam, and almost all of the crew evacuated…and that his superiors were ignoring his demands. The problem with this is that the chain of command has to worry about other things in addition to crew safety…like do we have carriers where they are potentially needed, can we slot another one in to take over, can we get sufficient medical assistance to the ship…in other words they need to think things through and do the best to meet both medical and security needs.

Anyway…so the CO writes this memo which he sends to his chain of command essentially stamping his feet and making his demands for what he has decided is best. Nothing wrong with that at all…absolutely not…he’s perfectly within his rights as CO to do so albeit at some risk to his further career prospects depending on which seniors he pisses off. He would have been fine there…but instead of just sending it up his chain…he apparently sent copies to 20odd other people. I’ve not seen any list of who those 20odd other people were…but the words used were “broadly distributed” in the articles. Either one of them was the paper in San Francisco or one of the recipients sent it to the paper…who then broke the news about how the “heartless Navy was recklessly endangering life and limb of the crew by ignoring the outbreak” or some similar nonsense.

When Big Navy found out about this…naturally they were pissed because (a) the CO went outside the chain of command and (b) made Big Navy look bad so he was relieved of his command due to lack of confidence in his ability to command which is the wording that is almost always used.

I don’t think we know all the facts…and despite the media and congressional demands for an investigation I think that is even true for Big Navy as well as his chain of command. However…somehow the story got to the press so either he caused it to happen or he gave it to somebody who caused it to happen or he gave it to somebody and then asked them verbally or whatever to make sure it got to the press. In all 3 scenarios he is in the wrong and in my opinion deserved to be relieved. If he had done everything absolutely by the book and somebody without his consent in the chain of command leaked it then perhaps he would have survived although given the political and media hits the Navy is taking even then he might have been fired. Since it happened so quickly…I’m guessing that his chain of command knows who those 20odd people outside the chain are and blind siding your boss is a guaranteed way to get yourself relieved. His career is now over…he will be temporarily reassigned while the JAG and/or NCIS investigates things. My guess is he will either get a slap on the wrist at an Admiral’s Mast (non judicial and not public proceeding) and then allowed to retire quietly and keep his pension. After all…he did serve for 28 years and a single mistake…even a misguided one…shouldn’t outweigh that.

But you can basically ignore all the hoopla in the media and from our Democratic Reps and Senators…they’re trying to make it political when this is really a Navy matter. That doesn’t mean that the CO didn’t have valid concerns and it doesn’t mean that the Navy did everything right…we just don’t know about that…but the chain of command and Big Navy have a lot of things to worry about…the health of the crew is certainly on that list but being ready to defend the country and not leaving gaping holes in our capabilities is also on the list as well.

As to the carrier…it’s now in port in Guam and at least some of the crew has been evacuated to hotels or barracks on the base for a quarantine period…I haven’t seen any word about what happened with the active cases beyond the original few (3 I think) that were airlifted off before they docked. Of the 5,000 or so crew…probably around 2,000 or so although wikipedia says 1,500…are the air wing and they can be taken off the ship with zero impact on the ship while it is in port. Of the remaining 3,500 or so…they simply can’t all be taken off…a ship isn’t like a car that you park in your garage and walk away. The reactor plants are obviously shut down and likely are in cold wet layup condition instead of hot standby condition since they won’t be going anywhere anytime soon…but unless they’re doing maintenance requiring everything be cold then the norm (at least for submarines and Neil believes carriers are similar) would be in hot standby. That means the reactor is maintained at temperature close to operating temperature even though the reactor is fully shut down. Temperature is maintained by decay heat from fission products inside the fuel but that fades off over time so at that point temperature is allowed to drift slowly downwards and maintained by heat input from the main coolant pumps that are always circulating the primary coolant through the core. Back in the day…subs routinely maintained hot standby conditions for up to say 6 weeks to a month…it can easily be maintained longer but for longer in port periods you try to figure out what maintenance you need to do and then do it, which may require cool down to ambient.

In any event…there are requirements for watch standers in the engineering spaces even with the reactor shut down and the numbers of them (at least for submarine plants) don’t vary for cold vs hot shutdown conditions. A submarine with a single reactor and engine room has at least 3 watch standers which means a duty section needs 9 of them total…but more typically there would be a dozen or so in the duty section. Add in another roving watch for the forward end of the ship and the topside security watch and that’s another 9 people…plus the chief and officer duty folks  so a typical submarine duty section is 30 or so people…which means an individual stands watch every 3rd or perhaps 4th day.

A carrier has many more required watch standers…they have multiple reactor plants and much larger engineering spaces…Neil really has no idea but can’t imagine the nuclear duty section being less than 150 or 175 people total. Add in many more non engineering duty section folks…security requirements for weapons and all and that’s a good number of people who are always on board. Neil vaguely remembers one of his carrier buddies back when he was at the NROTC unit in Auburn AL that a carrier was normally on a 5 or 6 section duty rotation for the crew…which for a crew of 3,500 means 500ish people onboard 24 hours a day. I don’t have any idea what they’re doing for duty section rotation, whether they are keeping the off duty sections on board or putting them in the hotels/barracks or whatever…but there are still significant numbers of folks getting on and off the ship (probably).

What does this do for US security? In a pinch…the ship could recall symptom free crew and get to sea in a day or three, perhaps 4 if they needed to load food. Normally the air wing flies the aircraft off to a shore base before the ship docks for any extensive period…this may or may not have happened in the case since the air wing pilots and maintenance folks are among the potentially infected. What likely happened is the Navy has the other deployed carrier in the Pacific out at sea and it is sort of hanging out in the most likely areas of potential stuff happening instead of just being responsible for say half of the western Pacific.

Apparently…the corona relief bill part 3 that got passed and signed a week ago has some dumb things in it. That’s true…and a lot of the dumb things are political so I’ll ignore them. However…one requirement is that any of the airlines that get aid must keep on flying planes to and from all destinations they served before the crisis, although this may be a Department of Transportation requirement rather than an in the law requirement…the article isn’t clear. However…these planes are flying pretty much empty since nobody is flying, and even after reducing the number of daily flights from say a half dozen to 1 to meet the requirement the planes are still empty. Spending the money on staff, fuel, landing fees, and maintenance to fly empty planes seems pretty stupid to me…but why do I know.

What’s new in the corona today? Hmmmm…

Our governor here in Florida finally initiated a stay at home order…that was signed with much fanfare and publicity on Thursday. This is after ignoring the calls from many to cancel all spring break related activities here in the state which almost certainly helped in the increasing number of cases both here and elsewhere. There are just 2 problems with this order. First is that it is not as strict as the one that Dade and Broward counties over on the east coast (think Miami and Fort Lauderdale which have most of the cases in the state already). Second…right after the public ceremony he went back to his office and signed another far less publicized order stating that no locality, town, county, or other local government may issue any shutdown order that is more strict than what the governor issued…essentially telling the local governments that “mine is bigger than yours”. Dumb.

His order shuts down all but essential activities…then lists things like medical, food, and essential business activities and most of the examples of essential make sense. But then there’s the essential activity of…you guessed it since this is Florida…golf. Yes, golf is an essential activity and is specifically allowed to continue under the “recreation is allowed as long as you maintain social distance” limits. Funny though…Neil was out yesterday on a bike ride…carefully maintaining his distance from all people as he cycled around Magnolia Landing…and noticed at least 4 carts of people with 3 or 4 people on them and another 2 groups of 4 that were close together on the greens talking to each other. 

He’s still trying to figure out how…golf…is essential. But according to the governor’s office it is included under “recreating”.

Yesterday’s grocery pickup at Wally World went well; we got just about everything on our list and stopped by the Winn Dixie (less crowded and people were staying away from each other) to get the last few things so we’re good for probably 2 weeks on bread, dairy, and produce and probably a month for staples.

On to interesting things found on the net.

In the apparently this is happening department…a reporter for one of the Detroit TV stations interviewed an employee of the Amazon warehouse there on how things were going…and the employee was complaining that folks ordering essential items was one thing…but that he was risking his health to ship…his words here…a massive number of dildos.


In other news…out in
Cascade Michigan
…police have finally broken a decades long crime spree…they caught the guy known as “The Cascade Flasher”.

Screen Shot 2020 04 04 at 1 09 24 PM

Scientists in Japan
have figured out that in the year 774/775 there was a massive bombardment of the earth by cosmic rays from the sun. They discovered that Carbon 14 in tree rings from those years  is higher than it should be. Neil thought the article present some pretty cool findings in the way they figured things out. 

This is cool too.


Speaking of essential business…in most states that have implemented this liquor stores have been deemed essential. Leave it to the Italians to figure out what is really essential though.


And speaking of recreating…I guess both of these fall into that category.


Corona humor

My neighbor stopped over.


This one requires a bit of thought.








About Gunther

The full time RV travels and experiences of Gunther the Bear and Kara the Dog…along with their human staff neil and Connie.
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