Thursday, July 24, 2008

In the UK - Diving for Tanks

An impressive find of D-Day tanks in the waters off of England:
Divers look to solve sunken tanks mystery

A diving club is set to find out whether Second World War tanks found on
the seabed are two of only four left in the world.

On Saturday Southsea Sub-Aqua Club will send divers down to take
pictures and video footage of what they think are Centaur CS IV tanks.

And during the dive they will also try to work out the mystery of how
they were lost, given there is no shipwreck nearby.

The tanks, assigned to the Royal Marines Armoured Support Group, lie
eight miles off East Wittering, West Sussex.

They were part of an 80-strong contingent bound for France on D-Day but
sank in mysterious circumstances.

. .. .
Alison Mayor, who is leading the diving team, said: 'It's a real puzzle
how the tanks and bulldozers came to rest so far off shore when there is
no shipwreck nearby.

'These war machines are of significant interest, and we hope to find
clues to solve the mystery of how and when they sank.'

. . .

The rusting tanks lie with two bulldozers and a field gun, but no ship.

The bulldozers are believed to be armoured Caterpillar bulldozers, used
by the 79th Armoured Division of the British Army - there are no known
surviving bulldozers of this type.

A very neat find indeed, and it goes to show how much of historical value yet lies beneath the waves waiting for a diver to find it.

The Centaur Tank was designed by the Royal Marines for close marine infantry support and mounted a 95mm howitzer.

Here's a pic of a Centaur:

An interesting and very rare find.

Hat Tip: The Drawn Cutlass.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

As the US comes to the table the Iranians stall

And the US State Department looks like a bunch of pikers yet again.

Iran nuclear talks stall -- even with U.S. at table
GENEVA -- A U.S. decision to bend policy and sit down with Iran at nuclear talks fizzled Saturday, with Iran stonewalling Washington and five other world powers on their call to freeze uranium enrichment.

In response, the six gave Iran two weeks to respond to their demand, setting the stage for a new round of U.N. sanctions.

Iran's refusal to consider suspending enrichment was an indirect slap at the United States, which had sent Undersecretary of State William Burns to the talks in hopes the first-time American presence would encourage Tehran into making concessions.

Officials and diplomats refused to characterize the timeframe as an ultimatum, but it appeared clear that Iran now has a de-facto deadline to show flexibility.
After backing away from a pledge not to negotiate directly with Iran, the Department of Islam Appeasement (oops sorry I meant the State Department), they get shown that Iran wasn't really serious about negotiating and now the US is shown to have given in to a demand and received nothing in retunrn.

No wonder US diplomacy is the laughingstock of the world.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Terrorist scum released by Israel get heroes welcome from Lebanese

Israel certainly does not live in a nice neighborhood.

Just look at the heroes welcome cop-killer and child murderer Samir Kuntar received in Lebanon today. Greeted by a crowd of thousands cheering this scum on.

Thousands cheer 5 released Lebanese militants

Not only by Hezballah, but also by the "moderate" Lebanese Government.
"Your return is a new victory," President Michel Suleiman told the freed men as he stood in combat fatigues supplied by Hezbollah in what was meant to display its unending fight against Israel. Suleiman, who was supported by all factions for election to his post, congratulated Hezbollah "for this new achievement."

Prime Minister Fuad Saniora, a leader of pro-American factions that had to accept Hezbollah and its allies in a new unity government after the street fighting, did not attend the rally. But he was seen kissing the five freed men in greeting at Beirut airport.

This is who and what they are cheering for:(From Wikipedia by way of the Volokh Conspiracy)
After drowning Danny [the father] in the sea in front of Einat (as Ahmed Al-Brass, Mhanna Salim Al-Muayed, and Abdel Majeed Asslan served as look outs and backup cover for Kuntar), Kuntar turned his attention towards the 4 year-old. He took his rifle and then swung it across the toddler's head, knocking her to the ground. Kuntar then dragged the toddler a couple of feet to the closest rock he could find and laid her head down on a rock, with the intention of crushing it with the butt of his rifle. Einat, instinctively covered her head with her arms, Kuntar struggled with the toddler until he finally managed to clear her arms out of the way. Once her arms were out of the way, Kuntar repeatedly beat her on the head with the butt of his rifle and stomping on her body, until blood rushed out of her ears and mouth. Then, to ensure she was dead, Kuntar continued beating her over the head until her skull was crushed and she was dead.

Animals. My sympathy for the non-Hezballah people of Lebanon just dropped a lot. For all their talk of being pro-western, when it comes to killing Jews thye have no problem uniting with Hezballah. The next time Hezballah kidnaps Israelis and sparks off another way, these people will have to live with the consequences.

Israel makes huge mistake and further weakens its deterrence

Israel in a decision that creates incentives for terrorists to take more hostages, not less made a lousy move in the war on terrorism -- trading live terrorist scum for the bodies of dead soldiers.

Israel originally negotiated with Hizballah to return 5 live terrorists and 199 dead terrorists for what it believed was its two live soldiers kidnapped in 2006 - Eldad Regev and Ehud Goldwasser.

Instead it received the dead bodies of both. Israel then stupidly after finding out the soldiers were dead, continued the trade on the original terms.

This creates lousy incentives for Hizballah to continue to kidnap Israelis and kill them -- after all it has no need to keep them alive in order to get back its people alive.

Israel should have returned the five live terrorists in the same condition as they received Regev and Goldwasser - dead -- If only to preserve the lives of Israelis to be held in the future. Right now, Hezballah, and Hamas, the current kidnapper of Cpl Gilad Shalit have no incentive to keep captured Israelis alive - after all, they get back live terrorists regardless of whether they keep up their bargain and keep Israelis alive or if they kill their hostages and send them back dead.

This is a bad deal, and creates all the wrong incentives for terrorists.

New Survey Puts Detroit First

A survey by a leading bath soap manufacturer has found that Detroit has the highest number of people who have sex in the shower.

86% of Detroiters, the highest response in the nation indicated they had done so.

The other 14% responded they hadn't been to prison yet.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

North Carolina Vacation 3 - The Battleship North Carolina

On July 5th we visited the BB-55 Battleship North Carolina Memorial.

The 16 inch 3 gun turrets never fail to impress.

The Battleship with a commissioned time in service of only 6 years served with great honor during World War 2, playing a role in almost every one of the Pacific campaigns and earning 15 battle stars.

The ship sank one Japanese troopship and downed at least 24 Japanese planes, as well as participated in 9 pre-invasion bombardments and even bombarded the Japanese mainland, as proudly displayed on her kill board:

10 crewmen were lost in action during the war and 67 wounded. The ship survived a torpedo hit by the Japanese submarine I-19, after which the inadequate antiaircraft armanment was upgraded with more 20mm Oerlikon guns and 40 mm Bofors cannon.

Here's one of the Oerlikons:

And a Bofors quadruple mount:

The memorial also has one Vought Kingfisher aircraft on the stern, one of only 7 of these aircraft in existence worldwide.

The Kingfisher detachment on North Carolina performed quite heroically, picking up downed pilots, including picking up downed airmen under fire in Tokyo Bay.

The after decommissioning, the citizens of North Carolina preserved her, payign the navy $300,000 to keep her as a memorial and she has been proudly at rest, located across the bay from Wilmington ever since, serving not only as a memorial but an educational site for all her visitors to learn about her role in the war and the lives of the crew who sailed her and made her so effective. With so many of the ships from World War Two sent to the scrapyard, her existence is a great display of America's proud history of seapower, well worthy of preservation.

North Carolina vacation 2 - Onward to Wilmington

So after the joys of Raleigh we drove to Wilmington on the North Carolina Coast.

Very nice place, historic and charming, with very nice people (there is something to the ideal of the Southern Gentleman - and many in Raleigh and Wilmington more than lived up to the ideal.

Of course this being the 4th of July weekend as soon as we arrived and checked into the hotel (a nice one, with the very last non-smoking room available), we first hit the beach.

The Leah had never seen the Ocean, and Abby didn't really remember the time she saw it as a 2 year old, and they were intimidated by the crashing of the waves.

We came back on the morning of the 4th and the beach was packed.

After the beach we went into town and toured around, seein the many original historic homes there, as Wilmington was lucky in that it was unscathered during the Civil War and the local residents have preserved the exterior looks of the hisotric houses:

We took a horse-drawn carriage tour of Wilmington's historic downtown, and having a horse drawn tour was a real treat for the kids. The horses are rescue horses and treated very well and they seem to enjoy their current occupation.

We walked around the historic downtown, including walking buy the home of James Whistler of Whistler's Mother fame, and then took a boat ride around the harbor.

The great ship on the other side of the harbor caught my eye:

But its the subject of the next day and our next post.

Thanks Microsoft for knocking me off the Internet

For two days until I figured out why.

The latest Microsoft Update KB951748 conflicts with ZoneAlarm Firewall and prevents access to the internet. -- ping worked, showing there was connectivity, but no email or web browser could establish a connection.

Of course without a connection to the Internet I couldn't figure this out and Comcast didn't realize this until this afternoon as well, when a message on its helpline clued me in.

The update also seems to mess with registry settings, such as turning back on the autorun setting on your CD/DVD drive, reopening up a nice security hole that I had closed.

Thanks so much Microsoft.

For those still suffering from thsi but accessing from another computer to find a solution, the fix is to reduce Zonealarm security to medium, go to and download the latest update and then after installation put your security setting back up.

I should add that Check Point, maker of ZoneAlarm moved real quickly with a fix to this problem and certainly has endeared me to their great customer support. Nicely done Check Point.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Nothin' could be finer than North Carolina in the Summer

So for our 4th of July trek we decided to go and explore North Carolina for a week. Time for an all-American road trip, and the first time going as a family to somewhere other than Toronto, and North Carolina was it.

We had never been there and had heard lots of good things about the state, and it lived up to its reputation.

So we piled the kids in the van and headed south eastwards,as we pulled out of the driveway, Abby asked "are we there yet?", but at least she wasn't bored -- yet.

Through, Ohio, and through Ohio and through Ohio - that's a long state when you're driving through it -- Abby became super double bored. This was bad.

Then into West Virginia.

West Virginia is miles more scenic than Ohio, but we got hit that night around Parkersburg with a rainstorm that would not quit, and we pulled off the highway into a hotel that gave meaning to the term any port in a storm. (Its a bad thing when the hotel rating is in roaches not stars but beggars cannot be choosers).

On the road again that morning we crossed into Virginia and then North Carolina. The kids were pretty good with the ride, but even without the rain we would have had to stop for the night as you can't keep them in a car for 12 hours.

North Carolina was nice and warm and everyone was quite friendly. We began by looking around the Raleigh/Durham area and enjoying exquisitely excellent barbecue at a restaurant called Danny's - truly a fantastic place to dine.

The hotel at our first stop in NC, the Comfort Suites Inn in Cary was tons better than our Parkersburg stop, having hot breakfast every day as part of the stay and a pool. Leah at 22 months can now pronounce pool with excitement, emphasis and lots of insistence.

We also went to Pullen Park in South Raleigh where we took the kids on the carousel, mini-boat ride, a train ride and pedal boat rides.

Here's the train:

I then got a chance to go Scuba diving with some excellent DIR divers from North Carolina, who graciously showed me around the Fantasy Lake Quarry which was delighfully warm -- 77 degrees under the thermocline and in the 80s above.

After a few glorious days looking around the RDU/Chapel Hill/Cary area we went on to Wilmington for the 4th.