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Baseball Challenge, Week 1

[ 0 ] April 10, 2006 |

The Green Weinies are in the lead. The Axes of Evel Knievel are near the bottom.

1 green weinies , W. Bell 230 59.0
2 St. Louis Cardinals , D. Solzman 228 57.7
Shangri-La Coelacanths , J. Daw 228 57.7
4 titleixbaby , P. Smith 205 42.4
5 Bolts from the Blue , R. Payne 203 41.1
6 Seattle HemiCats , M. Bruneau 200 39.2
7 I Love Technology , E. Loomis 196 36.6
8 Eephus , J. Schroeder 195 36.0
9 Kentucky Bearded Ducks , R. Farley 176 25.0
10 Sector 7G Carbon Blobs , S. Meredith 163 19.2
11 Axis of Evel Knievel , d. noon 157 17.1
12 Axis of Evel Knievel , D. Noon 150 14.9
13 The Stugotz , B. Petti 149 14.7
14 deez nuts , m s 148 14.3
Moscow Rats , I. Gray 148 14.3

Sunday Battleship Blogging: HMS Warspite

[ 0 ] April 9, 2006 |


HMS Warspite was the second of the magnificent Queen Elizabeth class battleships. She carried 8 15″ guns, displaced 28000 tons, and could make nearly 25 knots. Warspite and her sisters outclassed every battleship in the world upon their commissioning, and remained useful and impressive ships until the end of World War II. Warspite led the most distinguished career of any Royal Navy battleship in the twentieth century.

Warspite and her four sisters constituted the Fifth Battle Squadron of the Grand Fleet, a designation designed to take advantage of the ship’s high speed. In ordinary operations, Warspite would have been part of the main battle line of the Grand Fleet, which would have limited her to a speed of somewhat less than 20 knots. The necessities of maneuvering in formation limited the speed of a squadron to somewhat less than that of its slowest ship. Warspite, thus, had difficulty operating with the rest of the Grand Fleet. While the US Navy solved this problem by designing all of its battleships with a common (slow) speed, the Royal Navy accepted a speed differential and pursued an organizational solution. In early 1916, the Fifth Battle Squadron was detached from the Grand Fleet and placed under Admiral David Beatty, commander of the Royal Navy battlecruisers.

Due largely to Beatty’s ineptitude, the Fifth Battle Squadron arrived late at the Battle of Jutland. Beatty’s battlecruisers were being taken to the woodshed by the High Seas Fleet when Warspite and her sisters arrived, diverting fire from Beatty’s wounded ships and inflicting serious damage on the already battered German ships. For a short period, the Fifth Squadron faced the whole of the High Seas Fleet. After turning away from the German fleet, Warspite suffered a mechanical “incident”. Her steering jammed, and she sailed in two full circles in front of the High Seas Fleet, receiving fifteen hits from German heavy guns. Warspite’s accident saved the armored cruiser Warrior, on the verge of sinking after taking heavy German fire. Warpite survived, and slowly made her way back to port, avoiding two German U-boat attacks along the way. The experience at Jutland helped Warspite acquire a reputation for poor luck; she also managed to ram her sisters Barham and Valiant, to run aground once, to suffer a boiler room fire, and was a close witness to the explosion of HMS Vanguard.

Warspite was modernized twice during the inter-war period. The second modernization was quite extensive, replacing the entire original superstructure and repairing some of the damage leftover from Jutland. Warspite and her sisters remained useful in the Second World War largely due to their speed, and served with distinction in the North Sea and the Mediterranean. At the Second Battle of Narvik, Warspite helped to sink eight German destroyers trapped in a Norwegian fjord. Warspite was involved in several major actions in the Mediterranean, including the Battle of Calabria, where Warspite hit Giulio Cesare at a range of 26000 yards, thought to be the longest hit of one moving battleship against another. In 1941 Warspite was transferred to the Pacific and repaired at the Puget Sound Naval Yard before being attached to the Royal Navy’s Eastern Fleet in early 1942. The Eastern Fleet fought a few inconclusive actions with the Imperial Japanese Navy before being chased to the east coast of Africa. In 1943, Warspite was transferred back to the Mediterranean.

Warspite’s service in 1943 focused mainly on support of British and American landings in Sicily and Italy. On September 15, 1943 a German glider bomb hit Warspite, tearing through her superstructure, her main deck, and her hull. Warpite had to be towed to port, and was never fully repaired. She participated in shore bombardment at the Normandy landings, but hit a mine shortly afterward. Pieced together enough to deliver further shore bombardment in late 1944, she was retired in early 1945.

A campaign to preserve Warspite after World War II failed. Although the reluctance of the cash-strapped post-war British government to spend money on preserving a battered, aging battleship is understandable, it is nonetheless unfortunate that no British capital ships of the twentieth century survive. Warspite, the most active of Royal Navy battleships and the most beloved of the British public, would undoubtedly have been the best choice for preservation. On the way to being scrapped in 1947, Warpite ran aground. She was taken apart over the course of the next three years.

(Images courtesy of www.maritimequest.com)

Trivia: What battleship was the sole survivor of the June 21, 1919 “incident” at Scapa Flow?

Leaky

[ 0 ] April 9, 2006 |

Indeed.

So, just for the record, in the hermetically sealed moral universe of conservatives (where all compasses point to the right), when the President sends out his lackey to spread false information about the President’s ex-girlfriend, it is inexcusable, a threat to the republic. When the President sends out his lackey to spread false information about why the President sent hundreds of thousands of American troops to invade and occupy another country, it’s no big deal. Got it?

Boggled

[ 0 ] April 8, 2006 |

There’s something mind-boggling about the notion that either a) a sustained bombing campaign will topple the regime in Iran, or b) sanctions will force a revolution in Iran. The mind boggling thing is not that these ideas are absurd, that they have no empirical support, or that they are doomed to failure.

The mind-boggling thing is that these arguments are coming, presumably, from the same people who thought that invading Iraq was a good idea because a) a sustained bombing campaign was unlikely to topple the Iraqi regime, and b) sanctions had failed to force a revolution in Iraq.

Or maybe I’m wrong, and it’s just that the neocons in the administration have been shunted aside by the equally idiotic paleocons. Is that progress?

If we let them have Kaus, will they just leave us alone?

[ 0 ] April 8, 2006 |

Mickey is afraid that Mexican immigrants are going to rise up and “take back” California.

Heh.

Posts Worth Reading

[ 0 ] April 8, 2006 |

Erik on heroin in the Espanola Valley.

Redbeard on abortion on Saipan.

[ 0 ] April 7, 2006 |


Friday Cat Blogging… Nelson and Starbuck

Biddle

[ 0 ] April 6, 2006 |

AG has an excellent review of Stephen Biddle’s excellent book, Military Power. Read the review, and read the book if you get a chance.

AG sums Biddle’s argument up as follows:

His argument is that it is not superior manpower, superior technology, superior firepower, or superior mobility that wins battles – it’s superior force employment. If you’re on the offensive or defensive side, superior tactics and skills are what wins the day.

Which is not quite accurate; Biddle allows that numbers and technology can overwhelem employment advantage in certain cases. In the Desert Storm chapter, Biddle notes that the outcome in 1991 was over-determined, as advanced Coalition technology would likely have won the day regardless of the force employment advantage, and that the two in combination led to the historically low casualty rate of that operation.

One of my students asked an excellent question about this book; how would Biddle explain the performance of the PLA against the US Army in 1950? Force employment and technology clearly favored the Americans, yet they were soundly defeated by a PLA with overwhelming numerical superiority. My initial cut would be a) numbers still matter, b) US Army force employment in 1950 was not what it had been in 1945 and not what it would be in 1990, and c) MacArthur’s Korea strategy put the US in an operationally hopeless situation. Any other thoughts?

Also see Kingdaddy’s commentary on Biddle’s latest on Iraq. Biddle disputes the Malaya/Iraq analogy, and Kingdaddy disputes Biddle.

NRO: Our Generals Suck

[ 0 ] April 5, 2006 |

Matt helpfully points us to this:

“As our generals have said, the war cannot be won militarily. It must be won politically.”

Some generals may have said that, but it’s wrong. It’s what is said by generals who love to train and parade and buy expensive weapons systems and then retire to cushy jobs at Lockheed. The fact is we have to win both militarily and politically.

We have to learn to fight and win a war against terrorist and insurgent groups. If we have a military that can’t win this kind of war, then Iraq will be only the first of many defeats–Afghanistan, Jordan and Pakistan will soon follow. What would prevent that?

Conservatives have come to love the idea of the military more than the actual military. Now, May is right that the US military isn’t particularly well constructed to fight this kind of war, and that at least some of the blame for failure in Iraq lies at the feet of senior military personnel. It would have been great, however, if someone on the Right had made this analysis prior to 2001. Since the end of the Vietnam War, conservatives in the United States have pursued what must be understood as a pro-military propaganda strategy. Beginning with Caspar Weinberger and the Weinberger doctrine, they facilitated and enabled the US Army narrative which said that the primary responsibility for the defeat in Vietnam lay with (Democratic) politicians. This was great, as far as it went; it helped restore morale within the military, and helped the Republicans to win elections by painting their Democratic opponents as weak, meddling, pacifist traitors.

It was not, however, conducive to healthy civil-military relations, or to the construction of a set of military organizations capable of fighting the kinds of conflicts the United States was likely to fight. Enabled by this narrative, the services turned further away from the kind of low intensity conflict seen in Vietnam and toward a high intensity model that had little applicability in the post-Cold War world. Because support of the military became so deeply embedded in a particularly Repbublican form of patriotism, cricitism of the military became akin to criticism of America itself. The Democrats are not innocent in this; to say that Bill Clinton treated the military with kid gloves is a grave understatement.

The chickens, so to speak, have come home to roost. Left to its own devices, the Pentagon has constructed a doctrinal and material edifice wholly unsuited to the challenges of the War on Terror. The most valuable political insight that American conservatives have offered is that large governmental bureaucracies are unwieldy, inefficient, and often unable to accomplish their goals. For the last 35 years, however, an article of faith among conservatives has been that this insight ought never to be applied to the US military, the largest bureaucracy in the Federal Government. Since 2001, Don Rumsfeld and his lackies have discovered that, no matter how many one-stars and two-stars you fire, the US military is too large of an institution to be turned on a dime. Like any bureaucracy, it includes entrenched interests that resist change. It cannot transform itself, will not transform itself, at the command of a few arrogant and irritable civilians.

And so they complain, and they blame, and they point fingers, and they manage to forget that the monster is of their own creation.

Lexblogging: Drinking Liberally

[ 0 ] April 5, 2006 |

For anyone in the Lexington Area,

The first meeting of Drinking Liberally-Lexington will be held at 6:30pm, Tuesday, April 11 at the Horse and Barrel (101 North Broadway). I expect that we’ll be meeting every other week. Given popular preference, the day, time, and venue may change after the inaugural meeting.

If you have any questions, let me know.

Hank vs. Wilt

[ 0 ] April 5, 2006 |

I have to agree with several of Matt’s commenters that Hank Aaron’s 755 home runs probably is the most “hallowed” record in American sports, given that hallowed is a rather inexact term.

It’s not the most unbreakable, which I’m inclined to think goes to Charlie Radbourn’s 59 wins in 1884. In the modern era, I wouldn’t be surprised if Barry Bonds 232 walks in 2004 stands for about as long as any record in sports; it’s 62 walks ahead of any player not named “Bonds”. But unbreakable does not equal hallowed, because the latter term encompasses more than difficulty. Certainly, a hallowed record must be difficult to break, because it has to stand for some time and acquire a certain legendary status. 73, for example, may be hallowed fifty years from now, but it’s not that memorable right now. However, to be hallowed a record must also reflect something central to the sport, an achievement of some note. Given the importance of the home run to baseball, I think Aaron’s record counts.

Yglesias invokes Wilt Chamberlain’s 100 point performance as another candidate, and it’s certainly the most hallowed record that basketball has given us. I don’t think it’s unbreakable, but forty years is pretty solid for a single game record. I suspect, though, that a career records are always going to carry a bit more “hallow” than single game or even single season records, because they take years to make and years to break. People have been talking about the possibility of Bonds breaking Aaron’s record for the last five years or so. Before that, they were talking about Griffey. The more attention a number gets, it seems to me, lends “hallow”.

Anyway, the Giants come to Cincinnati for three games in late September. I’ll be in the right field stands for at least one of those games. It’s obviously unlikely given Bond’s health, but I can say without hyperbole that seeing home run 756 live would be the most exciting moment of my existence on this planet.

Go Terps

[ 0 ] April 4, 2006 |

Congrats to Maryland for winning one hell of a championship game.