Wizards of Oz

"Life is fraughtless ... when you're thoughtless."


The King of Bombs

Approximately four years after launching the first satellite into orbit, the Soviet Union conducted the largest nuclear detonation in history. "Tsar Bomba" (nicknamed "Big Ivan" by its designers) had an estimated yield of 50 Megatons -- nearly triple the yield of CASTLE BRAVO (the U.S.'s 1954 dry-fuel [Teller-Ulam design] thermonuclear device tested at Bikini Atoll). The test over Novaya Zemlya just before noon (Moscow time) on Oct. 30th, 1961, nearly knocked out of the sky the modified Tu-95 BEAR bomber that carried it. Its blast plume measured more than 40 miles (65km) high.

A two-minute video from Discovery Channel:

An eight-minute video on YouTube:

What's ironic is that a last-minute switch (replacing the Uranium tamper with one made of lead) was done to reduce its yield and subsequent fallout. If this change had not been made, the yield could have exceeded 100 Megatons.

Increased awareness of military facility locations, coupled with improved accuracy of missile delivery systems, made massive weapons like Tsar Bomba thankfully irrelevant.

More info:

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Sweep, Reprise

A month ago, only one team in Major League Baseball history had ever won seven consecutive post-season games: the 1976 Cincinnati Reds. This month, two teams achieved that feat: the out-of-nowhere Colorado Rockies (who won 21 of 22 games to clinch their first-ever National League pennant and a trip to the World Series), and now the 2007 World Champion Boston Red Sox.

The Red Sox played an awesome series! After falling behind the Cleveland Indians three games to one in the American League Championship series, they mounted a comeback reminiscent of their legendary 2004 comeback against the hated New York Yankees to win the pennant. They kept their momentum into the World Series: their pitching was superb, and their batting simply unreal. The team averaged .333 at the plate (even counting those two games in Colorado where there was no Designated Hitter and the pitchers had to bat). Not just one player, but the entire TEAM!

Congratulations to the Red Sox and to Terry Francona, who in just four years as the Red Sox manager has not only broken the "Curse of the Bambino" but delivered an encore as well. Given the organizational collapse now ongoing in the Bronx, it looks like there's a new dynasty in town!

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Cal Collapse

15 days ago, the Golden Bears of the Univ. of California at Berkeley were just one play away from a national #1 ranking. Now they are sixth place (yes, SIXTH) in the PAC-10. Despite leading undefeated Arizona State by 13 points in the first half, Cal ran out of gas -- while ASU hit their stride. End result: Cal's third straight loss, and ASU's eighth win this season.

The PAC-10 is starting to look just like the SEC, with strong teams up and down the ranks that spend the college football season pummeling each other. Even usual bottom-dweller leland stanfurd junior univ. has knocked off a top-ten team (then-#2 USC), just like SEC's bottom-dwelling Vanderbilt beat that "other" USC (then-#6 ranked Univ. of South Carolina) last week.

Definitely a crazy year, with defending champion Florida sporting three losses (one more than riches-to-rags South Florida), USC has two losses, and Notre Dame has just one lone win come All Saints Day.

And Cal, who had visions of Roses, now needs to recalibrate its expectations come Bowl Season. My guess is, at this pace (and with USC still looming on their schedule), they'll be lucky to get a berth in the San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl.

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Redezvous with Destiny

At the 1964 Republican National Convention in San Francisco, California, a former Democrat named Ronald Reagan gave a nomination speech for Senator Barry Goldwater, a conservative from Arizona. This speech, called "A Time for Choosing" (televised again the week before the election, on Oct. 27th 1964), is considered one of the most effective speeches made on behalf of a candidate and catapulted Reagan into national politics.

Some key excerpts that are germane today:

There can be no real peace while one American is dying some place in the world for the rest of us. We are at war with the most dangerous enemy that has ever faced mankind in his long climb from the swamp to the stars, and it has been said if we lose that war, and in doing so lose this way of freedom of ours, history will record with the greatest astonishment that those who had the most to lose did the least to prevent its happening. Well, I think it's time we ask ourselves if we still know the freedoms that were intended for us by the Founding Fathers.

and ...

This is the last stand on Earth. And this idea that government is beholden to the people, that it has no other source of power except to sovereign people, is still the newest and most unique idea in all the long history of man's relation to man. This is the issue of this election. Whether we believe in our capacity for self-government or whether we abandon the American revolution and confess that a little intellectual elite in a far-distant capital can plan our lives for us better than we can plan them ourselves. You and I are told increasingly that we have to choose between a left or right, but I would like to suggest that there is no such thing as a left or right. There is only an up or down--up to a man's age-old dream, the ultimate in individual freedom consistent with law and order--or down to the ant heap totalitarianism, and regardless of their sincerity, their humanitarian motives, those who would trade our freedom for security have embarked on this downward course.

Much of Reagan's "call to arms" against Soviet totalitarianism is apt today, in our present fight against Islamofascism and the forces of nihilism. Our choice is the same: whether we will choose a "... policy of accommodation [and] appeasement [that] gives no choice between peace and war," or if "[w]e will preserve for our children this, the last best hope of man on Earth, [rather than] sentence them to take the last step into a thousand years of darkness."

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St. Crispin's Day

Crispin and his twin brother Crispinian, the patron saints of cobblers and leatherworkers, lived in 3rd cent. A.D. Gaul, a two days' ride northeast of Paris in the town of Soissons. William Shakespeare took note of their Feast on the liturgical calendar in his account of the Battle of Agincourt (October 25th, 1415, during The Hundred Years War). To quote "King Harry" (Henry V, Act IV Scene iii):

This day is called the Feast of Crispian:
He that outlives this day, and comes safe home,
Will stand a-tiptoe when the day is named,
And rouse him at the name of Crispian.
He that shall see this day and live t'old age,
Will yearly on the vigil feast his neighbours,
And say "To-morrow is Saint Crispian":
Then will he strip his sleeve and show his scars
And say "These wounds I had on Crispin's day."

Harry, who ascended to the throne just two-and-a-half years earlier, vowed at his coronation to revive the war against France and his claim to the French throne. His lengthy siege at Harfleur, however, left little time and forces for any further campaigns in France -- and the French nobles had put aside their quarrels to unite against the foreign invaders.

Rather than take the sea route to Calais, 100 miles away, Harry opted to march over land -- across the Seine and the Somme, in the face of the steadily-massing French armies. After crossing the Somme, just 30 miles from Calais and safety, a massive French force (estimated between 30,000 and 100,000 strong) blocked their path.

The ensuing battle, recounted in impeccable detail by John Keegan in The Face of Battle, was a resounding victory for the badly-outnumbered English and Welsh. Their effective use of terrain (choosing a narrow defile over freshly-plowed fields between two densely wooded forests), the substantial number of longbows with the strength to pierce armor, the deployment of numerous palings (wooden stakes driven into the ground pointed toward the enemy line) protecting the archers, and the lack of "unity of command" in the French forces all proved decisive for Harry and his "band of brothers".

This story shall the good man teach his son;
And Crispin Crispian shall ne'er go by,
From this day to the ending of the world,
But we in it shall be remember'd;
We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;
For he today that sheds his blood with me
Shall be my brother; be he ne'er so vile,
This day shall gentle his condition:
And gentlemen in England now abed
Shall think themselves accursed they were not here,
And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks
That fought with us upon Saint Crispin's day. (Henry V, IV, iii)

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Terror vs. the Marines: Beirut

At 6:22am local time in Beirut (4:22am GMT) on Sunday, October 23rd, 1983, a yellow Mercedes-Benz delivery truck (taking the place of a hijacked water delivery truck) approached the U.S. Marine Corps compound near the Beirut International Airport. Marines from the 1st Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment (1/8) were deployed there as part of an international peacekeeping force (Multinational Force in Lebanon) to oversee the withdrawal of the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) following Israel’s invasion of Lebanon the previous year.

The flatbed truck turned onto the access road toward the Marine compound, circled a parking lot, and accelerated toward the sentry post. Since “suicide bombing” was a relatively new development in the post-kamikaze age (perfected by the Tamil Tigers in Sri Lanka in the previous few years), force protection measures pale in comparison to today: there were no “Jersey barriers” obstructing direct access into the compound, the only barricades were sewer pipes behind a raised gate, nearby perimeter fencing was simple barbed wire, and “Rules of Engagement” for the sentries were so restrictive that they could not load and raise their weapons until the truck had already crashed into the lobby of the four-story cinderblock barracks building.

Nearly 12,000 pounds of explosives were detonated by the driver, lifting the building from its 15’ circumference footings and causing it to collapse into rubble. 241 U.S. servicemen died that morning, including 220 Marines, 18 Navy personnel, and 3 Army soldiers – the deadliest single-day toll for the Marine Corps since the Battle of Iwo Jima in 1945.

Almost simultaneously with the attack on the Marine Barracks, an identical attack was made against the barracks of the French 3rd Company of the 6th Parachute Infantry Regiment, killing 58.

In 2003 a U.S. District Court judge declared that the Islamic Republic of Iran was responsible for these attacks, since Hezbollah was entirely dependent on Iran in 1983. Just last month (September 2007), the same District Judge ordered that Iran pay $2.65 Billion to the families of the killed servicemen.

Today, 1/8 continues to proudly serve our nation as part of 2nd Marine Division under II Marine Expeditionary Force (II MEF). They are currently under the able leadership of LtCol Mike Saleh, USMC, deployed to Al Anbar Province in western Iraq as “Task Force 1/8”.

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Wizards is Global!

Wizards of Oz is officially global! Today, at 10:40am, we had our first visitor from the continent of Africa -- in particular, the nation of South Africa. We've had visits from all other continents (except Antarctica) in our first three months of blogging -- so "Baie dankie" to Midrand, Gauteng!

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PAC-10 Football

What a difference a couple of weeks can make.... I suspect my SEC brethren are quietly snickering as many of the pundits who proclaimed "PAC-10 dominance" a month ago are now recanting. (All due apologies to Dan of tdaxp for Stew Mandel's disrespect of Nebraska in that article -- especially since there are only 119 "Div. I-A" teams, so it's mathematically impossible to be ranked "120th".)

After back-to-back losses against non-ranked teams, Cal finds itself once again right behind USC -- but with both teams squarely in the middle of the PAC-10 standings. The Bruins of UCLA (the only team to lose to Notre Dame so far this season) and the Sun Devils of Arizona State (who have yet to face a ranked opponent) are atop the PAC-10 standings with 4-0 conference records.

Six PAC-10 teams are in the BCS "Top 40", and three PAC-10 teams are still ranked in the AP Poll "Top Ten". Other than the inclusion of Boston College, the top rankings are starting to look like a regular season of college ball (with traditional powerhouses Ohio State, Oklahoma, LSU in the hunt). Maybe it won't be such a startling National Championship Game after all... (Though BC vs. USF would have been a hoot!)

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Trafalgar Day

One of history's most significant naval battles took place on this day, October 21st, in the year 1805. After years of chasing Admiral Villenueve and Napoleon's "combined fleet" through the Mediterranean Sea and Atlantic Ocean, Admiral Lord Horatio Nelson and his fleet of 32 ships (including 25 ships of the line) attacked a numerically superior foe off the Costa de la Luz in southwestern Spain. The battle, named for the nearby Cape of Trafalgar, established the Royal Navy as the dominant naval power in the world for more than a century to come. It also ensured the legacy of Admiral Lord Viscount Horatio Nelson as one of the most capable and inspiring commanders in history. His death on the day of his greatest triumph only served to heighten this legacy.

Though the Battle of the Nile (Nelson's resounding victory in 1798, fought almost entirely at night) is a more impressive tactical victory, Trafalgar merits special consideration because of the decisive strategic effect it had on Napoleon's campaigns in Europe -- and the world. While Napoleon and his foreign minister Charles Maurice de Talleyrand harbored secret plans for a "North American Empire", their eviction from Haiti (thanks to the extraordinary leadership of Toussaint L'Overture, the most important historical figure you've never heard of) and eventual sale of the Louisiana Territory to the U.S. forced Napoleon's attention east: to Moscow, and ultimately to defeat. Nelson's victory at Trafalgar dashed any hopes Napoleon had of ever attacking Great Britain.

Here's to The Immortal Memory of Nelson!

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Yorktown Day

About 15 miles to the east of the original Jamestown colony in Virginia (the first permanent British establishment in the "New World") sits the port of Yorktown -- and its deep water access to the York River, Chesapeake Bay and Atlantic Ocean. This is ironic because, in the space of about 30 minutes, one can drive the Colonial Parkway through the National Park Service's Colonial National Historical Park across nearly 200 years of British rule in America.

The Siege of Yorktown (Autumn 1781) was the perfect storm of:
  • strategic miscues (General Charles Cornwallis was sent to Yorktown to secure a deep-water port, but he wanted to "split" the colonies in the middle to shatter their cohesion)
  • operational brilliance (particularly Washington's deceptive maneuver from Dobbs Ferry, New York to the Virginia Peninsula, freezing Clinton's forces in New York to defend against Washington's already-departed army)
  • French naval success (Admiral de Grasse's stalemate against Admiral Graves in the Battle of the Capes allowed Compte de Barras to create a naval blockade in the Hampton Roads)
  • and lucky weather (storms prevented the pinned-down Cornwallis from evacuating across the York River to Gloucester Point)
After three weeks of intense bombardment by Washington and Lafayette, with reinforcements from New York still many days away, Cornwallis realized his tenuous position. On October 19th, 1781, he formally surrendered to General George Washington.

The result was the capture of nearly 2/3s of all British forces in America, and a loss of interest by the U.K. government in the then-six year old war. Prime Minister Lord North began the proceedings that would result in the Treaty of Paris -- and would become the first head of government ever ousted by a vote of "no confidence" in March 1782.

The Yorktown Battlefield is one of the best preserved in the National Park Service, with the interior lines and redoubts available for close-up investigation as well as an outstanding audio-guided driving tour. Anyone who visits Colonial Williamsburg or Tidewater Virginia should plan to spend an afternoon at Yorktown.

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Selective Hearing

Last Friday afternoon, at the Military Reporters and Editors Luncheon, LTG(ret) Ricardo Sanchez -- former commander of the Army's V Corps and the top U.S. commander in Iraq until 2004 -- leveled a series of broadside blasts at the mainstream media, the ineffectiveness of the National Security Council, and the partisan bickering in Washington.

If you read any of the copious media reports this past weekend (like these gems from AP and the NYTimes), you undoubtedly read the most damning accusations of a national "nightmare with no end in sight", that "America has failed". However, of all the vitriol he let slip last Friday, the only parts covered by the major media outlets were those most critical of the war and the Bush administration.

Too bad the media didn't present the full story. Thankfully, the blogosphere is replete with pundits who have called the media on their fundamental failure to adhere to their own ethical standards of truthfulness and fairness.

First, and most importantly, is the complete transcript of General Sanchez's remarks (c/o his hosts last Friday). It clocks in at just over 3,400 words and about 10 pages, but it is well worth a careful read.

A sampling of blogs who have called the mainstream media on their "selective hearing":
As this 'blog is intended to be a forum for challenging our mainstream opinions, [and] for identifying the Wizards in our midst, I encourage you to each view all the available evidence and decide for yourself what message General Sanchez intended.

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How 'Sweep' It Is!

This morning, at about 1:30am EDT, the Colorado Rockies of Major League Baseball's National League continued their improbable season. A month ago the Rockies were on the brink of mathematical elimination, trailing the San Diego Padres by five games for the "Wild Card" berth in the playoffs with just two weeks remaining in the season.

By winning 13 of their final 14 games, and helped by six Padres losses, the Rockies forced a one-game playoff on Oct. 1st. A daring sacrifice off a line drive to shallow right in the bottom of the 13th inning, and Rockies right fielder Brian Giles's chin-cutting headfirst slide into home, sealed the playoff berth for a team that didn't exist before the 1993 expansion of the league.

One would think they'd be satisfied with their improbable run into the National League Division Series, but their determination continued with successive sweeps of the Philadelphia Phillies and, just a few hours ago, the Arizona Diamondbacks for their first-ever pennant -- and a trip to the World Series. They have won their last ten games, and 21 of their last 22.

The Rockies are only the second team in baseball history to win seven consecutive playoff games (the only other team being the 1976 Cincinnati Reds of the "Big Red Machine", when you only needed seven wins to claim the pennant and the World Series title). And they have only lost once in the past month -- on Sept. 28th to the same Arizona Diamondbacks they swept today. That loss gave the D'backs -- the winningest team in the 2007 National League -- their own playoff berth (and a team celebratory scrum on the diamond of the Rockies' Coors Field).

Next week the "Rox" will continue their Cinderella season, facing either the Cleveland Indians or the Boston Red Sox in the lower elevations of the Eastern Time Zone.

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Race Day

I was not a runner until I was sitting for a job interview with Col. Max Barth, USMC, the Asst. Chief of Staff for Intelligence at the First Marine Expeditionary Force (I MEF) in Camp Pendleton, California about 12 years ago. I was 28 years old, interviewing for an I.T. system administrator position. He asked, "You look like a runner -- are you?" My response ("Oh, yes sir!") did not include my mental note: 'Better buy some running shoes...'

Three years later, while we lived in Hawaii, a friend suggested I sign up for a 5k race. Then a 10k race. Then a "mini-triathlon" (the Mountain Man Tri), where I learned that I'm an O.K. runner and cyclist -- but a really lousy swimmer. As I rounded the last buoy (in the calm windward waters near Chinaman's Hat by Kailua town), I took some solace that there was someone behind me -- until he started picking up the buoys and clearing the race markers!

Our move to Virginia in 1999 saw my interest grow in longer races. Encouraged by colleagues at U.S. Joint Forces Command (like then-CPT Rich Greene, one of the finest soldiers I have ever known), I joined the USJFCOM J9 team for the 2000 Army Ten Miler. Then, as the photo above shows, I ran my first marathon -- the 25th Marine Corps Marathon -- that same month.

Mind you, I am not nearly as accomplished in athletics as Überbloggers Matt at MountainRunner (who casually runs marathon distances at night in the mountains of Southern California) and Mark at ZenPundit (a powerlifter who can bench press twice my steadily-increasing body weight). I'm pleased with my 4-hour-plus marathon pace, hope to someday ride a "Century" (100 miles), and am even more pleased to encourage friends like Mike Vegh who are setting new distance records for themselves.

As soon as I post this, I will be on my way to the Atomic Duathlon -- a 5k run, 30k ride, 5k run race from the Melton Lake Reservoir, across Bethel Valley (of Oak Ridge National Lab fame) and Bear Creek Valley (home to the Y-12 National Nuclear Security Complex), then back to the lake. The fun part will be cresting Haw Ridge and Chestnut Ridge (a topographic map is here).

I hope to finish in 2:15:00 -- I'll post later on my results (as well as a postmortem of Cal's homecoming loss to Oregon State and the parity of college football programs nationwide).

Addendum (posted at 5:00pm EDT): I finished about ten minutes later than my target, with an official final time of 2:25:06. My first 5k run was right on target (25:40), my bike ride close to target (1:17:00), and my transitions faster than expected (both under 80 seconds, which included a shoe change). Where the wheels came off was on the second run -- my legs were reluctant to shift from "bike mode" to "run mode", so my pace slipped to about 11:00/mi. Then, at the turn-around, I met another "Clydesdale" (the 200+ lb. class I signed up for) -- a retired Marine with bad knees. So we walked (and occasionally ran) and talked about the Corps for the last mile and a half. Since I was well out of "medal contention" (the 3rd place Clydesdale clocked in just under two hours, as did the top 40-45 males), no worry. I stuck to my hydration and nutrition strategies (with two Gu vanilla bean energy gels before the start, two more during the ride, and about 60 oz. of Gatorade Fierce Grape cut with 1/2 part water) and feel great. Now if only I could swim better and get serious about triathlons....

College Football: Cal-OSU Post-Mortem

OSU (in this case, the Beavers of Oregon State) came to Berkeley's Memorial Stadium yesterday, bringing with them one of the top rushing defenses in the nation (allowing just 43 yards rushing per game). Their lightning-fast defensive line and linebackers threatened to thwart a big part of Cal's offense -- and, when coupled with the ankle injury suffered by starting QB Nate Longshore two weeks ago in Oregon, made this a very good match-up.

Both QBs stepped up to their respective challenges: Sophomore Sean Canfield (Beavers) looked more poised and capable than he has at any time in his collegiate career, and red-shirt freshman Kevin Riley (Golden Bears) demonstrated superb mobility and tactical decision-making in rallying Cal from a 10-point deficit in the closing minutes. Great decision-making, that is, until the final play of the game. Down by three, in easy field goal range on the OSU 15 yard line, with just 0:14 on the clock and no time-outs, Riley decided to scramble instead of throw the ball away (and stop the clock). The quick OSU defense tackled him inbounds short of a first down, and the final seconds ticked away before the ball could be set for a snap. So much for a shot at overtime and a #1 ranking....

With LSU falling to #17 Kentucky, we have a curious state of affairs in the season's first Bowl Championship Series (BCS) rankings -- with the Bulls of the Univ. of South Florida laying claim to the #2 spot. The good news is that it's a toss-up in the PAC-10 (which has demonstrated an SEC-like "bludgeon each other" mentality this season) for the coveted Rose Bowl berth. One of the commentators on Versus last night (which has had the good fortune of televising some of the best upsets this season) said "Cal is the Chicago Cubs of the PAC-10." I couldn't agree more -- Cal has the longest "Rose Bowl Drought" of all teams, with their last appearance in 1959. (And though the Univ. of Arizona Wildcats have never gone, they only joined the conference 30 years ago.) Just another reason to malign the "Broken Computer System" BCS, which has the option of putting non-PAC-10 teams in the Rose Bowl.

Cal has a tough month coming up, with away games at UCLA (always a fierce rivalry) and #12 Arizona State, then a homestand against the Washing State Cougars and the Trojans of 'SC. Roll on you Bears!!

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Happy Navy Birthday!

On 13 October 1775, the Continental Congress of the fledgling United States passed a resolution to purchase and fit out two vessels as warships. This naval force was intended to intercept British supplies that were supporting and sustaining the occupying forces in America. That same resolution also created a Marine Committee consisting of John Adams, Silas Deane and John Langdon to oversee naval affairs. The Continental Navy was born! The resolution read:

Resolved, That a swift sailing vessel, to carry ten carriage guns, and a proportionable number of swivels, with eighty men, be fitted, with all possible despatch, for a cruise of three months, and that the commander be instructed to cruize eastward, for intercepting such transports as may be laden with warlike stores and other supplies for our enemies, and for such other purposes as the Congress shall direct.

That a Committee of three be appointed to prepare an estimate of the expence, and lay the same before the Congress, and to contract with proper persons to fit out the vessel.

Resolved, that another vessel be fitted out for the same purposes, and that the said committee report their opinion of a proper vessel, and also an estimate of the expence.

For nearly ten years of existence, the Continental Navy served to bolster American morale during the Revolutionary War. However, its cultural success far exceeded its tactical success -- virtually every ship constructed was either sunk or captured. Those that weren't were eventually auctioned off, the last remaining vessel (
USS Alliance) being sold on 01 August 1785 for $26,000.

After the American victory at Yorktown and the disarmament that followed (since many felt that having a standing military force would "only serve to involve America in conflicts it had no service in being a part of" [1]), it would be nearly 13 more years until Congress authorized the creation of a permanent naval force in response to an overseas threat. The United States Navy was formally chartered in April 1798 to protect America's growing interests abroad, and to thwart the threat posed by the Barbary Pirates.

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Terror Salvo: USS COLE

In August 2000, the USS COLE (DDG-67) guided missile destroyer departed Naval Station - Norfolk in southeastern Virginia for a five-month deployment to the Arabian Gulf. After transit through the Suez Canal, it moored on a floating refueling platform in Yemen's Aden Harbor (near the southern tip of the Arabian peninsula).

Approximately two hours after arriving in the harbor, a small inflatable craft laden with more than 500-lb. (200kg) of C-4 military-grade plastic explosives made its way to the "dolphin" where COLE was refueling. Watchstanders mistook the boat for one of the many harbor craft routinely seen in the area. At 11:18am local time (08:18 GMT) on Thursday, October 12th, 2000, the two suicide bombers on the inflatable craft detonated their shaped charge alongside the port hull near COLE's galley, tearing a 10m-wide hole at the waterline. 39 sailors were wounded, while 17 gave the "last full measure of devotion" in service to our nation.

The seventeen sailors who lost their lives in this attack:
  • Hull Maintenance Technician Third Class Kenneth Eugene Clodfelter
  • Electronics Technician Chief Petty Officer First Class Richard Costelow
  • Mess Management Specialist Seaman Lakeina Monique Francis
  • Information Systems Technician Seaman Timothy Lee Gauna
  • Signalman Seaman Apprentice Cheron Louis Gunn
  • Seaman James Rodrick McDaniels
  • Engineman Second Class Mark Ian Nieto
  • Electronics Warfare Technician Third Class Ronald Scott Owens
  • Seaman Apprentice Lakiba Nicole Palmer
  • Engine Fireman Joshua Langdon Parlett
  • Fireman Apprentice Patrick Howard Roy
  • Electronics Warfare Technician Second Class Kevin Shawn Rux
  • Mess Management Specialist Third Class Ronchester Managan Santiago
  • Operations Specialist Second Class Timothy Lamont Saunders
  • Fireman Gary Graham Swenchonis, Jr.
  • Ensign Andrew Triplett
  • Seaman Apprentice Craig Bryan Wibberley
A memorial page with poems and photos is here. Only through the quick action and extraordinarily competent damage control by her crew did USS COLE remain afloat -- and is still in commission today.

This attack was ultimately traced to al-Qa'ida, in their escalating war against the United States and the forces of freedom and egalitarianism -- a war that was sown in the mountains of Afghanistan during the insurgency against the Soviet Union in the 1980s, and began in earnest in America with the 1993 World Trade Center bombing.

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Middle School Football

Yet another benefit of living in Oak Ridge: Middle School football! In Oak Ridge, our two middle schools are four-year schools for grades 5-8 (ages 10-13). Both middle schools (Jefferson and Robertsville) feed into Oak Ridge High School, and both boast student bodies of about 600.

They also have organized football teams. The photo above is from this month's City Championship, in which my daughter's school (the Robertsville Rams, in red) thoroughly trounced Jefferson. In fact, Jefferson's net offensive production for the final three quarters of the game was minus-six yards. Final score: Robertsville 38, Jefferson 6.

Add to this an outstanding music program (starting with 4th grade strings), a phenomenal science curriculum (including not just one, but two Advanced Placement physics classes -- along with 17 other AP classes offered -- at ORHS) and national recognition for sustained excellence in education, and you'd be hard pressed to find a better public school system anywhere else.

On the topic of education reform, Überblogger ZenPundit has begun a two-part blog entry on "building an innovation-intersectional idea society" (Part I of II is linked here). I'm doubly pleased that my review of John Kao's latest book Innovation Nation helped catalyze such an outpouring of creative synthesis of a variety of ideas from the ZenPundit.

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Game of the (20th) Century

As a kid, I enjoyed reading "The Guinness Book of World Records." One of the records that always stood out was the "highest scoring college football game": Georgia Tech's 222-0 victory over Cumberland College in Tennessee.

In the 2007 "Year of the Upset", it is fitting today, October 7th, to recognize the most lopsided victory ever in any sport -- a game that took place 91 years ago today, on October 7th 1916.

While there is very little in terms of "color commentary" available on this game (the photo above, courtesy of Mrs. Lena Dugat via the Cumberland University website on the game, being the only picture available), there are some notable facts:
  1. Georgia Tech was coached by the legendary John Heisman (yes, of the trophy), and was a veritable scoring machine that won 33 straight.
  2. Cumberland had embarassed Georgia Tech the previous spring 22-0 in baseball -- allegedly using professional ringers.
  3. The Cumberland football team had been disestablished and reestablished several times during the previous years -- and the squad that faced powerhouse Georgia Tech was a newly-created team that had only played four or five games together.
Perhaps our 2007 "Season of the Upset" (replete with a proposed classification system for upset victories) is evidence of greater parity across diverse programs. It used to be that you had to go to a big Southeast or Texas school to get notoriety in college football; now even humble Appalachian State in tiny Boone, NC, has gotten a boost to its recruiting program.

What a crazy season...

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Cal #1!?

OK, maybe... not.

leland stanfurd junior university (archnemesis of the University of California Golden Bears) has just stunned the trojans of 'sc with a 24-23 victory in the L.A. Coliseum. Not bad for a team whose mascot is a color. With the Gators of Florida leading #1 LSU in the 3rd quarter at the Bayou, a loss by the Tigers would mean #3 Cal (with a bye this weekend) would become the #1 team in college football.

What a crazy season...

Addendum: LSU shut down Florida's final four drives (including two turnovers) and took a 28-24 lead with barely a minute to play. Good, tough football in Death Valley.

Looks like the SEC gets to hang on to the top spot in the AP Polls.

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Review: John Kao's Innovation Nation

Ten years after Prof. Clayton Christensen’s groundbreaking book The Innovators’ Dilemma defined the relationship between “sustaining” and “disruptive” innovation, Dr. John Kao has come out with a Paul Revere-esque “call to arms” for America. The subtitle of Innovation Nation (“How America is Losing Its Innovation Edge, Why It Matters, and What We Can Do to Get It Back”) is intended to be a wake-up call to our cultural complacency regarding emergent threats in the world – not just transnational terrorists, but market threats that are eroding the long-term viability of our economy. Since my truck’s personalized license plate is a play on the word “Innovate”, and my own work experience has shown me firsthand our propensity for “outsourcing” the intellectual heavy lifting, I find John’s warning both apt and very timely.

John Kao is a true 21st century “Renaissance Man”. He is a doctor of medicine (holding an M.D. from Yale as well as a Ph.D. in Psychiatry), an entrepreneur (with an M.B.A. from Harvard Business School and 14 years on its faculty teaching “innovation”), who has also been engaged in film making (he was a production executive for 1989 hit sex, lies and videotape and Executive Producer for 1992’s Mr. Baseball), and is an accomplished jazz pianist (spending a teenage summer in L.A. recording with Frank Zappa and The Mothers of Invention).

John is perhaps the world’s foremost “innovation advocate”, and a mentor to many Fortune 500 corporations, government agencies (both U.S. and abroad) and international organizations. I have been fortunate to have known John for several years, since then-Major General Jim Dubik (as Director of the Joint Experimentation Directorate at U.S. Joint Forces Command) sent me to San Francisco to check out the guy who wrote a tiny (5cm x 10cm) “innovation manifesto” – tiny because it’s “for very busy people”. Those two-and-a-half hours Kao’s office in the San Francisco Film Centre at The Presidio – an office once occupied by Robin Williams – is perhaps the most inspiring rap session I’ve ever experienced.

He is also a man with a true “long view” – a vision not just for our immediate future, but for this and the next century. In Innovation Nation, Kao describes the evolution of “innovation models” – from individual achievement to today’s “version 4.0” that rapidly adapts best practices across a globally diffuse environment of open architectures and collaboration. America is the “incumbent”, but also seemingly blind to the challenges posed by emergent innovation powers like Singapore, Denmark and Finland.

The book continues with an honest critique of America’s education system, comparing and contrasting our response (in terms of funding, curriculum development, teacher training, school construction, etc.) to Sputnik and President Kennedy’s famous challenge at Rice University in 1962 to today’s sagging U.S. aptitude test scores and lackluster performance in math and science. John compares the high barriers to entry (both literally and figuratively) of our nation’s immigration system to that in global innovation hot spots, along with the perils they bring.

The closing chapters of his book make it “real” by offering prescriptions – from the micro (building personal “dream spaces”) to the macro (crafting a “National Innovation Agenda” and empowered policy-making entities). Although some historical anecdotes are slightly dated (e.g., a reference to Thomas Friedman’s quote that two nations with a McDonalds have never gone to war – the Balkans being the notable exception), the positive aspects of Globalization hold true. And like any prescriptive work that is future-focused, it is here that he is taking the biggest gamble – and will undoubtedly be derided for offering specific solutions that may not stand the test of time. But like the esteemed professor at Harvard Business School who told him everything “useful” about innovation has already been written in the literature, John will take it all in good measure – and continue to be a strident champion for the grease in the gears of entrepreneurialism. I encourage anyone that is serious about cultivating an ethos of innovation in their organizations to study the insights of Innovation Nation.

Addendum: Last night (Oct. 4th) John was featured on The Colbert Report, which used the 50th anniversary of Sputnik to examine the competitive landscape of innovation today. You can see it here:

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Free Burma!

Free Burma!

We enjoy many freedoms in the developed world -- the "functioning core" of globalization. We take for granted the freedom to express ourselves, to criticize our leaders, to own property, to assemble in large numbers, to bear arms.

But there are many in the world who are denied those basic liberties -- and who suffer profound persecution.

Click the image above and learn about the atrocities being committed in Burma today by a ruling junta that denies the most basic freedoms to the people living under their charge.

(H/T to ZenPundit)


Sputnik Day

Tomorrow, October 4th, is the 50th anniversary of the launch of the first artificial satellite into Earth's orbit. While our 20/20 hindsight shows that this bold action had a cathartic effect on the American space program -- and the technical evolutions that accompany richly funded research programs -- the first official report of the launch "was buried deep inside Pravda" and elicited little more than a knowing yawn from Premier Khrushchev that Soviet technical preeminence was intact. [1] Only later, after receiving heaps of praise from foreign nations, did Pravda provide a banner headline.

What was essentially a brash gamble by a daring Chief Scientist Sergei Korolyov (whose identity remained a closely-held state secret until his death nearly ten years later) shifted the Cold War arms race into a higher gear and sowed the seeds for America's current technical prowess. In fact, Korolyov was so convinced the Americans were on the brink of their own launch that he dramatically accelerated his program's schedule. Hence the name "Prosteishiy Sputnik" -- "The Simplest Satellite".

Think about it: just a scant 50 years ago, there was only one satellite orbiting Earth (and that one wasn't man-made). Imagine what the next 50 could have in store for us....

[1] http://www.physorg.com/news110428604.html

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Cub Scout Campout

The Cub Scouts of Oak Ridge (Pack 226) braved the wilds of Tennessee's rustic "Frozen Head State Park" this weekend. Since our Tiger Den (1st graders) were the largest den present, they got to be the "Honor Guard" for the presentation of the colors.

With nighttime temps in the high 30s F. (single digits C.), it's a good thing we loaded these boys up with Calories during evening s'mores around the campfire!

Fearless Pack Leader Keith Jeter taught the boys knife safety, while other parents provided stories and knot-tying lessons. After a breakfast of pancakes, bacon and sausage (plus a few shots of espresso for the adults from my hand-pumped portable espresso machine), we hiked to the nearly-dry DeBald Falls.

After breaking camp and getting back into T-Mobile coverage, I was happily surprised to see fully half of the NCAA "Top Ten" football teams lose -- allowing unbeaten Cal (who narrowly defeated #11 Oregon in what SI's Stewart Mandel calls "... easily the season's most compelling game to date ...") to nip at USC's heels in the #3 spot in the nation. Hmmm.... Two PAC-10 teams in the Top 3, while five teams in the top 18 hail from west of the Continental Divide.... Wonder what that says about the SEC? :-) BTW, casual observers who check the AP Poll "Top 25" should note that #6 is not the defending champ Florida Gators, but rather the Bulls of South Florida. The Gators have dropped to #9.

(Congrats to Dan at tdaxp's 'Huskers, who have moved into the Top 25 rankings and hold the top spot in the Big-12 North.)

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