Tuesday, March 31, 2009


For the second time in five years I've fallen victim to the scourge of identity theft. This morning while balancing my bank account I found an odd charge. It was to a well-known chain store, which I frequent. Except, since I live in California I don't shop in Georgia.

Humm... "Honey, have you made any online purchases from this store? NO?!" Double Humm...

So, off I trotted to my bank, printouts in hand. Turns out the great state of Georgia is a current hotbed of identity theft fraud.

Seems there is an insidious e-scam out there. I got this from a friend who works electronic crime for LAPD. A lowlife, creep, dirtbag wearing a nice suit goes to an independent small business, say a gas station or market. Said dirtbag offers a wonderful credit card reader to the business at a much better rate than the current market price. The small business allows the nice-suited dirtbag to install his wonderful card reader and viola! business as usual. Except, every time the card reader gets serviced, all the electronic info is printed out to the dirtbag and his dirtbag partners in crime. They now possess all the card numbers, PIN numbers and even those mysterious little numbers on the back of our cards, too.

The upshot is, I will probably get the $250.00 returned to my account. BUT, and a big BUTT it is, the bank took my card and I don't get it back until the issue is resolved--for up to three months.

Holy Mackerel, think about it... I have to carry cash. I have to remember to write checks to cash while I'm at the bank. No more pulling up to the gas station for a fill-up with just a card. This is going to be a major readjustment in thinking and planning. It's like... the seventies all over again.


Wednesday, March 25, 2009


In memory of the six million Jews, twenty million Russians, and untold numbers of Christians, Gypsies and others who were murdered some 63 years ago. People did this to other people. Why? as Yechiel Denure said when he faced Adolph Eichman on trial at Nuremburg: "I saw that I am capable of the same thing." We must never dismiss evil as some sort of unusual aberration. It is inherent in the fallen human condition. It is WHY we need a divine savior.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009


Dennis Prager notes: "There are Mao Restaurants in major cities in the Western world. Can one imagine Hitler Restaurants? Che Guevara T-shirts are ubiquitous, yet there are no Heinrich Himmler T-shirts."

He's got a great point. Why is totalitarian Nazism defined as "BAD" while totalitarian Communism gets a pass? Check out Prager's piece here.


Last Friday there was a collision between two US warships in the Strait of Hormuz. The strait is the narrowest choke-point between the Arabian Sea and the Persian Gulf. The submarine USS Hartford and The Amphibious troop ship USS New Orleans were both entering the Gulf early in the morning. More pictures at this location.

Apparently, Hartford was running submerged at periscope depth--on a Los Angeles class sub, that means the keel was about 65 feet below the surface, making the top of the sail just beneath the surface--Hartford could have been at, ascending to, or diving from, periscope depth at the time. There is some question as to whether the search periscope was raised to watch surface traffic or not at the time of the collision. This would have been normal and expected given the depth of the sub. However, given the condition of the Sail after the collision, and the fact that neither of the periscopes can now be moved, it is probable the sub was traveling down-scope at the time.

A look at a chart of the Strait of Hormuz shows that it is not only narrow but curving. Based on the photos and the submarine's depth it seems that the sub and ship crossed paths at a shallow angle during the turn through the Strait. New Orleans' bulbous sonar dome, located at the bottom of the bow, seems to have struck the port side of Hartford's sail, crushing the hardened steel and ripping the structure from its weld points on the hull of the submarine. Remember, those sails are hardened, designed to smash through several feet of arctic ice. Unconfirmed reports say the blow caused the submarine to roll over an incredible 80+ degrees--for the geometrically challenged, that is almost flat on her side.

There is a whole boatload of speculation as to HOW and WHY this could have happened. Lots of armchair quarterbacking and finger-pointing, too. I am not qualified to comment on that. The facts are, the Strait is an extremely narrow, shallow and dangerous passage. It is only 150 feet deep and Los Angeles class boats are some 360 feet long. 150 feet may sound deep but that is tight for such a submarine. Submarines do not normally dive on leaving port until there is somewhere above a thousand feet of ocean beneath the keel. The older boats were designed for the deeps, not the shallows,

Hartford was most likely running submerged because the Navy prefers submarines to remain covert throughout deployment. That way no one knows if a sub is present in the area of operations or not. This operational necessity has proven costly before. But it simply may be a continuing fact of life aboard subs. I have read comments by submariners indicating that the strait is a vile place to travel. Since it appears New Orleans was coming up on the Hartford from astern, this presents another problem. Submarines are acoustically blind from the rear. Since the periscopes were apparently down at the time, the ship-control team might not have known the other ship was closing their position at all.

Fifteen crewmen aboard the sub received injuries--thank God none of them are reported as life-threatening, and the sub made it to safe harbor in Bahrain. No one on New Orleans was injured though a fuel tank was ruptured. It should be stressed that the nuclear reactor was undamaged and even rode out the shock and roll without scramming. Sadly, heads will roll over this. Captains and navigators rarely survive such collisions with their careers intact. Even sailors having nothing to do with the collision will have to deal with the political fallout over the next several months. It will be interesting to see if the sail can be repaired in the Middle East or if the Navy will have to ship Hartford Home like they did USS Cole, a decade ago.

The good news is that both crews survived, attesting to the hardiness of our warship construction. The sobering news is that life in the military is inherently dangerous. We owe our soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines a great, unpaid debt. Please pray for the continued safety of these crews and all our warriors around the world.


Friday, March 20, 2009


Writing a book is an adventure. To begin with, it is a toy and an amusement; then it becomes a mistress, and then it becomes a master, and then a tyrant. The last phase is that just as you are about to be reconciled to your servitude, you kill the monster, and fling him out to the public.
Winston Churchill


Friday, March 13, 2009


Volkswagon is currently running a series of trendy commercials with their talking, Ludvig Von Drake Beetlebug. I find "the people want it now, event" to be irritating in the extreme. Apparently what the people want is a bunch of focus-grouped, marketing cliche's.

Sheesh, give me a break. The phrase itself grates like fingernails on a chalk board. "The People" is a discredited phrase from the bad old days of the happily defunct Soviet Union. "The People" was an excuse to foist policies and programs on citizens without their approval with the tacit assumption that it was all for the greater good of "The People."

Here's a couple of examples: Introducing The People want it NOW!
The People want taxation without representation!
The People want gulags!
The People want self-righteous government officials to chew out
corporate CEO's for daring to ride on private jets paid for by company
funds while said government officials gallivant around on Air Force
jets at taxpayers expense!
The People want nationalized healthcare so the same government
mis-management found at the Post Office can ruin the medical
industry, too!

Nuts. This particular People wants Volkswagon to stop putting words in my mouth.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Friday, March 6, 2009


"I gotta tell you, this industrial espionage is kinda fun. There's no guns, no explosions; it's like going on the kiddie rides at the carnival."

Ex-Navy SEAL Sam Axe from the TV show, Burn Notice

Thursday, March 5, 2009


I haven't written much on this site for the last month because I'm making final corrections to my novel, COLOMBIAN KILO. I received the Galley copy last month. The Galley is the book in printed form as it will look for the public. The author looks over the Galley for final corrections and revisions. I've read through it myself and caught a bunch of changes, many of them word processor format errors. I also have three people checking the galley independently, mostly for spelling and typos.

Not really happy with the silhouette of the sub. Looks like one of the newer German "Type" boats instead of a Kilo, to me. I've asked the artist to update it.

As soon as we finish the work the book will be ready for printing and available on Amazon and the major online book distributors. The younger writers in my group call this Snoppy Dance Time. I call it Walter Brennen Dance Time. (Dag nabit, Luke!)

Tuesday, March 3, 2009