Thursday, March 26, 2009

Good job to Montgomery County and the State Highway Adminstration

I noticed this overgrown brush the other day while walking up Connecticut Avenue.  Upon returning home I promptly informed the people at Montgomery County Pedestrian Safety.  They forwarded my point to the local State Highway Administration's Fairland Maintenance Facility on 25 March.  Today while driving by I noticed that the brush had been trimmed back.  Unfortunately I didn't have my camera with me and I was driving, so was unable to take a photo of the great work.  Good job and thank you to all involved!  You are serving the public well.

Lazy M-NCPPC workers

Here we see the old Exxon at 7340 Wisconsin Avenue.  When walking by last week right after it had been shut down, one of my friends proposed that they were just doing a quick remodeling to drum up sales.  Perhaps they are putting in more lucrative retail shops since it is Wisconsin Avenue in Bethesda.

What is this you might ask?  This was this morning, the 26th of March, on the Capital Crescent Trail. It appears that someone is ignoring the rules clearly posted at the beginning of the trail.
As the vehicle approached I saw that it belonged to the Maryland - National Capital Park and Planning Commission.  See below.

As it turned out the gentlemen were proceeding the length of the trail in order to put in signs giving notice to trail users of upcoming maintenance.  I wonder if such maintenance will be as accommodating to users as road maintenance is.

Almost by definition any entrance to the trail is accessible from just off the trail.  Why then do these lads feel the need to damage the serenity of the trail with their truck.  Reviewing Rule #5 I see no special exceptions for lazy workers who don't want to walk more than ten feet to install signs.  Perhaps there is an exception for emergency service personnel responding to an emergency, but these guys don't fall under the catagory. 

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Google books not pushing free content enough

You can read the series of emails between Tom - I guess google is too cool to bother with professional courtesies like surnames.  I had asked why books by Steve Fairbrain are not fully available on google books when he died in 1938.  In both the EU and the US regulators have determined that individuals
need their descendants to maintain intellectual monopoly over their
works for seventy years after their death in order to motivate people
to create works.  Thus, since it is more than seventy years since his death, his works are automatically in the public domain.

It seems that in google's attempts to please copyright holders, whose claims that it's necessary to incentivize creation ring false, they have completely failed to consider this particular avenue for works entering into the public domain. 

In case anyone wonders why I wanted to know about Steven Fairbrain's works it's due to recently rereading Mason Gross's How to Frame an Athletic Policy.

Bad photography and thoughts on today's bike ride

I took a bike ride today on my old cruiser from Bethesda to Georgetown on the Capital Crescent Trail.  I then meandered through downtown intending to go Mayor Fenty's new conference and bike ride on pedestrian safety but ended up not finding it and being late.  I tried to find the address on my iPhone, but it wouldn't show me the attachments that had the info.  I then saw some idiots on a tour via Segways and thought "what a bunch of idiots."  I took some pictures but they are over exposed since I'm a crap photographer. 

I then took some photos, which also turned out over exposed, of the magnificent American Bar Association building to demonstrate what riches are produced by a cartel.  It is almost impossible to become a lawyer without forking over close to six figures to a ABA accredited law school.  I looked a bit yesterday, and it seems two non-ABA accredited California law school graduates have successfully gained admission to the Massachusetts and Connecticut bars.  In the Connecticut case the plaintiff dropped the ABA from the suit after their excess disclosure requests. 

While pedaling up the long hill that is Massachusetts Avenue near the Naval Observatory, I saw some protesters outside the Iraqi embassy.  Here is the one photo that is only a little bit over exposed of Iranian President Ahmadinejad meeting with Iraqi National Security Advisor Mouwafak al-Rubaie.  The protesters were campaigning against the Iraqi government's increasingly close relations with Iran thus warning that Iraq is becoming a puppet state of Iran.  They were particularly concerned with the recent planned take over of Camp Ashraf by Iraqi forces.  They are concerned that a Iraqi government aligned with Iran will not be good for the People's Mujahedin of Iran personnel in Camp Ashraf.  They stated clearly their goals for the entire Middle East to be peaceful and democratic, neither of which seems to be the direction that Iran and Iraq are going.  Nevertheless, I hope that Emmanuel Todd is right, in which case both countries will end up relatively normal within a few generations.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Bad spot on Capital Crescent Trail

Here are some pictures I took today of where the Capital Crescent Trail crosses the intersection of Bethesda Avenue and Woodmont Avenue.  The situation is unsatisfactory for pedestrians and cyclists using the Capital Crescent Trail.  There is no clear way to get from one side to the other.  Would it be that difficult to set up another light system so that for some moments trail users have a green light while all motorists have red lights?  There only lacks a will.

NNMC BRAC Bicycle Considerations

I think that I would love being a retired person who just sites around, hangs out, and writes about trying to set the world straight on my blog.  Being on spring break and I'm on my third blog post of the day.  And I don't even know if more than a few friends have read my blog.

I have looked at both the Montgomery County BRAC site and the Navy NNMC BRAC site
and can find almost nothing to suggest that anyone has even seriously
considered the benefits of increased bicycle facilities. 

I contacted the BRAC email to inquire about what planning or lack there of have been done for bicycles with regards to the increase of 2500 workers and potentially 500,000 patients.  Being the simpleton I am, I tend to think that some people taking bicycles could help improve the traffic situation for everybody while also lower health care costs through increased fitness.  I got a response from Mr. Jeff Miller, to whom then responded.  Ms. Juvonnie Kinchen-Schneider, the BRAC PAO, then contacted me. 

You can see the email chain here , but not the reponse from Ms. Kinchen-Schneider since she labeled it For Official Use Only and possible protected from disclosure under the FOIA.  I have an email drafted to ask her permission to release it, but am waiting a day to send it in case I am being too hasty and imprudent. 

There is a meeting of the State Highway Administration on 2 April at Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School from 1730-1930 regarding the proposed changes to intersections.

More on poor navy recruiting.

More on poor navy recruiting although this happened a while ago.  I became a fan of US Navy health care on facebook.  I was quickly contacted by the Admin [sic] Ms. Srbinovich.  I inquired about how the Navy came to be on facebook.  After two back and forths I quickly realized that this was the advertising agencies decision and had little to do with actual naval officers or sailors.  She told me that I would be contacted by Navy Recruiting Command, which has not happened in the last four months.  The entire conversation can be viewed here.

In general I am interested in the military's attempts to be more networked and less top-down controlling and thought the facebook thing a good idea.  As part of my philosophy I also think that the Navy should do its own recruiting vice hiring some marketing hack.  There is no shortage of us in the Navy who would gladly be better representatives. 

For example, when transferring to my last command I had wanted to do Navy Recruiting District New York, but was told it wasn't available for me.  As it turned out it was available, but understandably the detailer (that's the guy who assigned you your jobs.) would rather put me in a submarine officer specific billet that he had to fill.  A former Direct Input Limited Duty Officer single white female with no sea-time who was from Georgia was assigned the job.  She choose to live in Navy housing in Hempstead when she had an officer a block from Ground Zero.  Without having any ill feelings towards the woman, she is not the type of person who can actually motivate people to join the Navy. 

As it turns out we spent almost $400,000 of taxpayer money on this garbage and it doesn't even offer a representative who has actually been in the Navy.  Why not instead of throwing away millions of dollars in tax payer dollars so that ass-hat marketing people can sell the Navy, just let those of us who believe in it to sell it?

Is this guy actually a JO?

I saw this advertisement on the back of The Bent, which is the magazine of Tau Beta Pi, the national engineering honor society of which I am member.  Is this guy actually a junior officer in the submarine force?  I'm inclined to think yes since I know Lieutenant Chris Carter who appears in a video about how great the submarine force is.  (Please note that although I'm very satisfied to no longer be in the submarine force, I intend no sarcasm when mentioned how great it is.) 

I am a strong supporter of the submarine force recruiting more minorities to help make it better reflect the actual diversity of the United States.  I often thought about the subject while teaching Navy ROTC in New York City when I lived in Harlem and then Fort Greene, Brooklyn.  It does bring up the point of how nearly every submarine or nuclear specific advertisement, almost always shows a minority submarine officer to show how diverse we are.  I then am curious what percentage of minority submarine officers have ended up in an advertisement. 

Monday, March 23, 2009

Unsafe actions by the Montgomery County Police Department

My wife and I went for lovely walk along the Capital Crescent Trail this afternoon to enjoy the sunshine and check out Kensington.  We were rudely disturbed in our serenity by a police officer on a motorcycle.  I enjoy my own Harley, and I support police officers in their work to keep us all safe.  Further, I'm even glad to see the Montgomery Country Police Department patrolling the trail.  However, is it truly necessary to do it on a Harley, a vehicle intended for the streets.  According the the Capital Crescent Trail website, it is designated 'car-free, park-like setting."  In general Maryland traffic laws consider motorcycles to be similar to cars in that they may not pass in a lane already having a car in it.  I understand that if there is an emergency, the police might need to ride their Harleys on the Capital Crescent Trail, but in this case, with no sirens running, I doubt that to be the case.  I also expect that any response by Montgomery County Police Department to be defensive in nature because that's generally how police operate when we the citizens questions them.  I would be happy to be proved wrong.
I must contrast this with my experiences on Worth Way in West Sussex over Christmas break when I saw two police officers jogging, having left their car at the road, to look for a possible abducted child. 

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Joint Forces Quarterly hasn't even made it to Web 1.0

Joint Forces Quarterly needs to create a website that reflects the modern use of the internet as something more than a medium of distribution of pdf files.  Not only is a website of pdf files not user friendly and cumbersome to the potential reader, but it also fails to take advantage of any user interaction. Now of course some senior officers might respond by saying we don't want just anyone to be able to post on the JFQ website.  If the Navy Exchange website can verify my identity to allow online ordering of uniforms, then I would hope that JFQ could as well. 
I'm using firefox on OS X, not an unusual browser/operating system combination, and I see text placed atop images such that I have difficulty reading it. 

Friday, March 20, 2009

College Sports

Some of the most well known commentators on college sports wrote about the end of amateurism in American college sports in today's NY Times in March Money Madness.  Bill Walton is disillusion in his idea that the ideals of the amateur remain alive in any way in today's NCAA basketball tournament. 

Professor Dowling writes about the damage to the university, but his argument is premised on what the definition of the university is.  He remains stuck to an archaic idea of what the university is.  His reference to real colleges makes clear that a university concerns itself with "academic and intellectual values."   Rutgers' own mission tends to support Professor Dowling's view point in that the state has not established providing spectator sports entertainment as part of the universities mission.  It does refer to "performing public service in support of the
needs of the citizens of the state," but I doubt anyone would truly claim that spectator sports constitutes public service.  But what if the state legislature revised the Rutgers Law of 1956 to state that providing the citizens of the state sports entertainment of a high level was part of the university's mission.  This would likely not happen in New Jersey, but does anyone doubt that such a proposal would have overwhelming support in a state such as Texas or North Carolina? 

Professor Dowling fails to realize that due to the unique manner in which universities came into being in 19th century America the definition of university has changed.  I'll compare to the United Kingdom since that is the country I know best besides the United States.  In late nineteenth century England, football clubs came about to provide the sports entertainment that people wanted, while the universities, which remained the purview to the small middle and upper classes, had nothing to do with professional sports.  Hence, football is the British working class sport while rugby so much more up the class scale that Rugby Union officially remained amateur until 1995.  In America in the late nineteen centuries states felt compelled to start universities that from their onset were far more open to all classes.  Yes, there were and still are class distinctions to education in American, but it was and remains less than in the UK. 

I wrote the above prior to rereading Mason Gross 's How to Frame an Athletic Policy available in The Selected Speeches of Mason Welch Gross, and must make sure that the reader knows that everything from this point onward has been influenced by this article. 

I just conducted a quick google book search regarding the relationship between the state and the universities.  There is enough information to write a book explaining how the different situation in the United States compared with the the United Kingdom brought us to our current paradigm despite culturally being a direct descendent of the United Kingdom.  For now, I'll just say that when one examines the college football teams in America that don't suffer economic competition from NFL teams, they nearly all had long established traditions prior to any NFL competition for football entertainment.  This, and the fact that unlike in the UK those the customers of sports entertainment had a positive relationship with the state universities, lead them to supply the economic demand of sport entertainment. 

Which brings me back to one of my original intents of discussing my experience in the United Kingdom for the 1997-98 academic year at the University of Bristol.  When I first learned of the fact that all sports were clubs - that varsity sports as Americans know them don't exist. - I was distraught at the fact that sports teams have to fund themselves.  As I relearned today in reading Mason Gross, this is due to sports participation "will contribute to the educational development of the students."  He also explains that spectators and coaches must know their role.  Spectators are permitted to watch, but the team does not exist for them.  Coaches are hired not to work towards "what his profession would consider success," but to develop young men physically and emotionally to be prepared for the ardors that life has in store for them. 

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

NNMC Post Office Hours

Today I attempted to find the hours for the post office at NNMC online.  The post office link on the NNMC website goes to  Not very helpful.  I post the hours here in case anyone else is ever searching online.

Mon - Fri 0800-1600,    closed for lunch break from 1330-1400

IED Kits for Estonia

Many countries face different military circumstances the the United States and her large imperialist allies such a the UK and France.  (Note I do not intend anything positive or negative by use of the word imperialists; merely that we have, and intend to keep, a military designed to operate throughout the world)  Other modern countries, often smaller, merely want to stop or dissuade a much large neighbor from occupying their country.  In the case of Estonia, Lativia, Lithuania and George the big neighbor is Russia. 

The countries steadfastly support American endeavors with troops solely to gain a potential future supporter when they are next invaded by Russia.  Georgia lost their war with Russia the moment when the Columbia educated Saakashvili decided he did not want to turn Georgia into another Chechnya.  I don't blame him, but the only way to win a war is to be less willing to give up than your enemy.  Russia is willing to turn Georgia into another Chechnya so Georgia needs to be more willing. 

As part of such a plan Estonia, and any other country in their situation, should deploy, in a very public fashion, IED and MANPAD kits throughout the country.  Make a big deal out of it so that every Russian soldier knows that Estonia will present them with a plethora of IEDs and MANPADs.  These kits should be distributed via the Estonian Defence League such that no one person knows where more than a handful are.  Thus, just like a ballistic missile submarine at sea, it would be impossible for anyone to located them all. 

The kits should contain video cameras, satellite internet connections, explosively formed penetrators, laptops to connect the videos to the internet, instructions, and any other equipment deemed necessary for a IED.  Most importantly there should be multiple differe types of kits along with different employment guidance to minimize the chances that in the event the Russians invade, a standard modus operandi would be deciphered by the Russians. 

Two potential options to avoid having explosives distributed throughout the country would be to have all kits be locked with cipher lock.  The combination which could be distributed electronically throughout the country nearly instantly in the event of hostilities breaking out.  Secondly, no actually explosive could be included only plans and key ingredients to that when opened, untrained but capable citizens can easily manufacture explosives. 

The MANPADs could be bought cheaply since instead of purchasing so many of the most recent version, many different versions of many different systems should be acquired.  Thus, no enemy pilot will be able to assume a specific countermeasure will work. 

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Fractured Prune and Arlington Uniform Shop

So this morning I went to the Fractured Prune in Rockville and the NEX Navy Uniform Shop in Arlington at the Navy Annex.  I had to go to this uniform shop because my local uniform shop in Bethesda does not carry the Brooks Brothers Service Dress Blues.  I had inquired with Brooks Brothers about getting them at the local Brooks Brothers location but was told that they are only sold via the NEX in order to verify rank.   

The donuts at the Fractured Prune certainly constitute a taste bud
joyride.  Although they are cake donuts, and I prefer dough donuts,
they we very moist and not too dense.  The toppings were super sweat and flavorful.  I had a blueberry hill and a french toast.  It will be sad to see their quality go down as they expand.  The Rockville location is the original so even now, the other franchised locations may have lower quality. 

The Navy Annex has extreme security and is staffed by some of the nastiest rent-a-cops I've seen in over eight years of military service.  One was so fat that he would have had trouble getting out of his chair.  His boots were barely laced, likely due to some type of edema of the extremities.  Both my wife and I had to show two forms of identity as if our military IDs by themselves might be suspect.  After signing it we were told to wait for an escort.  We waited for about ten minutes when two petty officers stationed at the Quantico Branch Medical Clinic came in for the uniform shop as well since the uniform shop in Quantico does not carry Navy items for the sailors there.  They commented that the last time they had come the escort was unnecessary.  All four of us waiting another ten minutes or so during which time another rent-a-cop came from the building, but only to accompany one of the fat ones in the guard shack on a tour.  After a few more minutes the manager, whose name I later learned to be Michelle, of the uniform shop came to escort us.  She commented that the policies regarding customer escort were haphazard and seemingly random.

Exterior of the Navy Annex.  You can see the corner of my car there.  We parked in some type of reserved spot, but were fine for over an hour on a weekend.  I think the parking down one level of the hill, behind my back when taking the photo, is open.

Inside the uniform shop Michelle took fantastic care of me and fit the uniform.  I commend her for her customer service.  I was surprised to see that they sold the tiara for women in mess dress as I had looked online and wondered wear one could purchase it.  It costs $203 and is made by Vanguard.  Michelle commented that she has had one ensign in recent memory purchase it and that if anyone tries to purchase it, she will discourage them.  I disagree with her but it's alway heartening when a sales person discourages the customer from purchasing something.  It tells you that they have the customer's best interest in mind.  After fitting the uniform she also offered to bring it to the Bethesda uniform shop so that I don't have to travel back there and go through such wretched security. 

She also told me that she could order a boat cloak at over $700.  I don't recall the manufacturer, and she didn't have one on had to show the quality.  I got mine off ebay for about $300.  It's very old, but in very good condition.  The Marine Shop in Quantico also sells one at $600.  I once inquired and was told it would take about six months for delivery.  I also read once on a discussion board a post by someone who went and looked at theirs in the showroom.  He said the quality was crap and not worth $600.

The also had these not doubt expensive emergency escape masks throughout the building, including the guard shack where no individual could get more than five meters from an exit.  Good job to the DOD for playing right into Osama Bin Laden's hands.  How many millions have been spent on these masks for not one gas attack.  We are gladly obliging in his plan to bankrupt our country.  You may think that what's the big deal about a few emergency escape masks, but when you add up all the ridiculous security measures sine 9-11 the costs are astronomical.

Friday, March 6, 2009

The Navy's poor public relations

So here we see a great example of why the Navy has serious trouble recruiting minorities and making the entire Navy - I'm talking about the enlisted and officer corps here - reflect the diversity of America.  The above photo is of the standard poster found in all NEX barber shops regarding grooming standards presented to remind sailors and officers of the standards when getting one's hair cut.  Cut off at the top are the two males, one officer and one enlisted.  Here the officer is clearly non-white while the sailor is likely white.  Now look at the ten females, five officers (1, 2, 4, 5, 6 numbered left to right top row then bottom row) and four enlisted (6 - 10).  Number 3's rank is indeterminable as she could be an officer or chief.  80% of the female officers appear to be white and 100% of the female enlisted appear to be minority.