The Humorous Chemist

In my perusal of this vast and wonderful Internet, a couple of years ago, I discovered this site, Things I Won’t Work With.

This is written by a chemist who has a droll sense of humor, bordering on the “British Dry” side. He talks about compounds that he amazingly enough, won’t work with because they are unstable and tend to create beautiful and cataclysmic explosions. I have just enough understanding of chemistry to have a glimpse of what he talks about.

Here is an example:

You may not have felt the need for a better synthesis of metal azides. Personally, my metal azide requirements are minimal, and very easily satisfied. I can get all I need by looking at a structure drawn on a whiteboard from about twenty feet away, thanks, and have no desire to actually prepare any of these things. I do not see this as an irrational reluctance. For example, last year I wrote about mercury azides, a most alarming class of compounds whose synthesis would be much easier if the two solvent layers didn’t keep getting disturbed by explosions. I’ve also covered selenium tetraazide, a cheerful lemon-yellow solid with the annoying habit of blowing up when it gets warmer than about -64C, which would explain why you don’t run into it very often.

I could hear his eyes roll as he wrote this:

… It turns out that silver azide in liquid ammonia slowly does redox reactions with a variety of other elements, giving a wide variety of otherwise hard-to-obtain compounds. The careful reader will have noted a defect in this scheme: you first have to make a supply of silver azide, which is enough of a show-stopper for me. That Wikipedia article drolly notes that “In its most characteristic reaction, the solid decomposes explosively”, and because it’s a silver salt, that decomposition can be set off by foolhardy behavior like shining a strong light on it.


So there’s your starting material – now let’s use it to make something lively. Shown is a corundum crucible before and after heating up a sample of the manganese azide product (as an ammonia complex). Again, the careful reader will note a crucial detail about the post-analysis state of this labware: it has been blown to hell and gone. This will surely happen to everything in which you heat up samples of metal azides, and believe me, many of these items will be less sturdy than a corundum crucible. Before performing this operation, be sure to ask yourself: “Do I want this apparatus to be blown to pieces?”


And before making the metal azide in the first place, naturally, you need to ask “Do I want to blow myself to pieces?” That’s because this isn’t one of those set-it-and-forget-it Crock-Pot azide reactions. No, you’re going to have to hand-craft these things…

I’m reasonably sure he could do stand-up comedy while performing these chemical experiments. He would probably get a standing ovation at the end… if there were any survivors in the audience.



Everyone is (not) an expert

I will be the first to tell you that I am not an expert. In anything. I am knowledgeable in several areas, however I am not an expert.

I found this article, The Death of Expertise and found it to be simultaneously interesting and frightening. I found it interesting in that he is correct on multiple points.  I found it frightening because of the same thing.

The term “expert” implies you know most, if not all of the knowledge that is applicable to any particular field. I continue to learn new things every day. I know that I do not have the corner on knowledge, nor possess some special insight or skill no one else has.

I consider myself knowledgeable on the Second Amendment and the RKBA (Right to Keep and Bear Arms), politics and military tactics and strategy in wargaming. I am learning about Project Management and Masonry. I used to be knowledgeable in model and high power rocketry as well as scuba diving and practical shooting. For one reason or another, those last three have fallen by the wayside.

For example, I became involved with firearms and the Second Amendment when I purchased my first firearm in 1990. At that point, I began reading and asking questions of the people I saw at the range. I asked a question, then kept my mouth shut and listened with the intent to learn, not the intent to reply. I read more (a lot more) and thought critically about my positions and why they were what they were, and the facts I used to arrive at that position. It took about seven years between the time I purchased my first firearm and I started voicing my opinion publicly on this subject.

So, when someone says something like, “Citizens don’t need to own firearms, let the Police handle the criminals” I can quote SCOTUS case law (like South V. Maryland, 1856) that says the Police have no responsibility to protect individual citizens. I quote facts, like the average police response time is 15 minutes and that you can be dead long before the Police can get there. I then point to societies across the world, in current events and in history where when only the police have guns, the people are oppressed and quite often slaughtered.

Today, everyone has an opinion, and society demands that everyone must be heard. It does not matter how knowledgeable they are on that particular subject, their voice must be heard and given the same weight as all others, even those who have spent years studying this subject. Someone who once heard Barack Obama speak about government must suddenly be considered an equal to Henry Kissinger. I have one word to say about that. Bullshit.

If someone declares that explosives were used to demolish the Twin Towers on 9/11, I will ask them how much they know about building construction and demolition, as well as all of the engineering and work to accomplish those tasks. If all they know is derived from YouTube CT videos, They get ignored, unless they want to learn.

There is even a psychological term for it, the Dunning-Kruger Effect. I especially like this passage:

The Dunning-Kruger effect describes a cognitive bias in which people perform poorly on a task, but lack the meta-cognitive capacity to properly evaluate their performance. As a result, such people remain unaware of their incompetence and accordingly fail to take any self-improvement measures that might rid them of their incompetence.

In other words, they don’t know, they don’t know they don’t know, and they don’t want to know that they don’t know.

There are several stages one must go through to become knowledgeable. First, learn by observation and asking questions. Things work the way they do and in the order they do for a particular reason. Learn why this is before you try to change it. Second, form opinions and positions based on verifiable facts. Check and research your facts before you quote them. Double-check these facts, opinions and positions with those who are respected in that knowledge area. Don’t ask a Psychologist an accounting question. Third, now you can put your opinion out and check it against a broader group to see how well you are received. Stand ready to be criticized and have your facts lined up and ready. Refute those who assail you with facts.

If you get into a discussion with others, watch their method of interacting. You know you’re winning when you can quote facts and their response is to personally attack you and they start shouting to drown you out. I can agree to disagree with a reasonable person. I can respect your opinion even if I disagree with it, as long as you do the same to me. I do not hate someone just because their opinion differs from mine. If you call me a Nazi fuckwad just because I call myself Conservative, then we have nothing to discuss. If you ban me from the discussion, or delete the exchange entirely, I win and you know I won because you know you can’t refute me.

There is a difference between stupid and uninformed. If you are uninformed, you know you lack knowledge on a subject, and you want to learn more. If you are stupid, you think you know something, however upon critical examination, you know only the talking points of someone else. You also refuse to expand your pool of knowledge.

One final thought: This is inscribed outside my local library:

If a man knows not, and knows not that he knows not, shun him.

If a man knows not, and knows that he knows not, teach him.

If a man knows, and knows that he knows, follow him.

On the Internet, you can appear to be anyone you want. Why so many choose to be stupid is beyond me.


“That’s One Small Step For A Man…”

Forty-five years ago today, Neil Armstrong set foot on another world.

From the Lift-Off until touchdown on the moon, it took them 102 hours and 45 minutes to get there.

I remember my parents waking me up for Neil actually stepping out of the lander. I lived in Ohio at the time, so it was almost 11:00pm our time. I was only 8 years old, so I didn’t fully understand the magnitude of what was happening. I’m glad I got to see it.


Here is a picture of how it looks today, from Lunar orbit:


A Succinct Explanation

I found this today and it is the best explanation I have found to date to describe what is going on with and around Israel.

I can see why the Liberal media perfunctorily ignores 372 Hamas rocket attacks into Israel, then screams at the top of their collective(ist) voices when a single Israeli tactical aircraft heads over to take out the site where the rockets are coming from.

No one screams “cease fire” while Hamas, et. al., fires dozens of rockets into Israel, but they sure do as soon as a Militant Islamist gets a skinned knee running from an Israeli tank.

If you want to get a good, clear explanation of how it started, and how it could end, watch this:

As he says, it is easy to define, not so easy to solve. As long as one side wants to kill the other, this will continue. When the Muslims stop wanting and trying to wipe out the Jewish people, then and only then will it end.

The Liberal Game

Liberals seek control. Total control. Of everybody. Not only of your actions, your thoughts as well. We saw that in the Soviet Union and other Left-Wing Totalitarian states.

They do that by changing the language and using your own social mores against you. If you let them set the structure of the conversation by defining the terms, you are already defeated, because inside their structure, there is no way to defend a position contrary to theirs.

Words have what is called, for a lack of a better term, an “Emotional Index.” This means that a word or term will cause an emotional response in the person hearing or reading the term. The word “Friend” produces a positive index because we think of our friends and our connection with them when we hear or see the word. Likewise, “Enemy” produces a similar number but in the negative direction.

So, when Liberals try to convince you to like something you don’t like, they will change the terms, from words that have a strong negative index, to words with either a less negative index, or even a positive index. If they can, they will use words outside of the vocabulary of a average person, then define the word how they want it defined, rather than what it really means.

Case in point: “Illegal Aliens,” used to denote citizens of other countries who are entering the United States without following the laws and procedures established for the orderly processing of people who wish to become Citizens of the United States. Liberals don’t like that term, because, “People are not illegal.” So, they want you to use the term “Undocumented Immigrant.” When we use the term “Alien,” we are talking about definitions like,”a foreigner, especially one who is not a naturalized citizen of the country where they are living,” or “relating, belonging, or owing allegiance to another country or government.” To prefix the term “Alien” with “Illegal” you are stating that a citizen of one country has moved to another country and is now living in the second country without going through the process as defined by law to renounce their citizenship of their former country.

Now let’s take a look at the second term, “Undocumented Immigrant.” Both of these words have way lower negative index scores than the first term. After all, the United States is a nation built on immigrants, wasn’t it? So, we switch from “Alien,” which also means unfamiliar, while also invoking at least some fear, because people instinctively fear that which is unknown, or alien to them. Thus we change from a big negative index, to a neutral or even a positive index. Then the prefix adjective, “Undocumented,” which means “not supported by documentary evidence.” We can rationalize this by saying, “If I’m driving my car and don’t have my drivers license when I get stopped, I’m undocumented.” Or you can think about that “undocumented expense report” because you didn’t provide the necessary paperwork to justify your claim. You can almost begin to think that the Undocumented Immigrant belongs here, they just haven’t made it through the bureaucratic red tape to become full citizens yet. Again, when comparing the indexes between “Illegal” and “Undocumented,” the index is way lower for the latter.

So, by getting you to accept their term of “Undocumented Immigrant,” you have already lost the argument because you have stopped using a term with a great negative index, to one with a slight positive index. You are now taking a position against someone that you yourself would feel favorable towards, because of the change in the term.If you have ever read Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell, you read about Big Brother changing the language. If you can change the language to eliminate words like “Freedom, ” “Individual” and the like, how can someone conceive of these ideas to challenge who is in control?Don’t play their game. Use your terms and definitions, and communicate them clearly and often so people know what you are talking about. When you are clear and consistent in your message, while your opponent is trying to obfuscate what they are saying and changing their message as facts against them become evident, most peoples BS meter will start to go off.
Just remember, you can only win people over to your side who are open to new ideas and concepts. If someone has their reputation entrenched and they are heavily emotionally invested in a position, you won’t win them over. Your object is to win those who are watching the conversation to your point of view.

Cannonballs in a Kiddie Pool

I have two related stories, one of which I have been sitting on for a while. The first is: The Results of a Seattle Suburb’s Minimum Wage Hike Deserve a Big Fat ‘We Told You So’ and the other one is: Seattle Businesses to Fight $15 an Hour Minimum Wage.

The first article lists these points:

  • Managers have taken more responsibilities on themselves, instead of hiring more workers.
  • Businesses have laid off workers, or eliminated their plans to hire more.
  • Area parking now comes with an added “living-wage surcharge.”
  • Hotels have cut employee benefits, free food, and overtime

Hiring has dropped to negative numbers (nobody is hiring, some are letting people go), benefits are cut and prices are going up. I really don’t see a problem here, this is what Liberals do, destroy the economy in the name of “helping the people,” which ends up causing them more grief.

The second article talks about a consortium of business to “modify” the $15 minimum wage back to a relatively less-painful $12.50 an hour.

They interviewed a bar owner, who gives some hard numbers on his situation: He operates on a net profit (that’s what’s left after all expenses have been paid) of about 5%. If you do the math, his business would have to make $1,000,000 in gross sales for him to make the national average of $50,000. His labor costs run around 30%, and if the $12.50/hour goes into effect, his labor costs will go up to 40%. Now, the businesses that supply him with goods and services are going to take that same hit, so his non-labor costs will probably jump about 10% as well. His expenses just jumped 20% and he’s working on a 5% margin. What do you think his prices are going to do? Go up, of course. The business owner will have to pray that he keeps the same level of sales, or he will have to cut that labor cost by letting people go.

Here’s something a lot of people don’t know, outside of HR, Payroll and Small Business Owners. The true tax rate for Social Security is not the 7.65% that you see come out of your paycheck, it’s actually 15.3%. The employer pays half of that. So a worker who is paid $8.00/hour, the employer actually pays $8.61. If the business has to pay that worker $15/hour, it now becomes $16.15. That is a difference of $1,123 per full-time employee per year.

So, let’s say you have a business that employs ten full-time employees (or twenty part-time) at $8.00/hr. If the minimum wage goes from $8 to $15.00/hour, total labor costs will jump $156,832 a year. That is $145,600 to pay the people, and an additional $11,232 just in increased Social Security costs. At $1 million annual gross sales, and a 5% profit, you just went from profiting $50,000 to losing $106,000 a year. To stay the same, your prices will have to go up 16% and you hope your sales don’t go down, or you have to cut 25% of your workforce. Those are glorious choices, aren’t they?

That’s the reason for the title of this post. Raising the minimum wage will be like a 300 lb person doing a cannonball into a kiddie pool. The person makes a big splash that will force most of the water out of the pool, and when they leave, there will be only a little bit of water left.

If this $15 goes into effect, I’m moderately sure in 10 years Sea-Tac will look like Detroit does today.


Creating Divisiveness While Abhoring It

On July 4th, Robert Reich, the ever illustrious all-knowing Expert on Economics (he really is, just ask him) posted the following on Facebook:

True patriotism isn’t simply about securing our borders from outsiders. It’s about coming together for the common good. True patriotism requires taking on a fair share of the burdens of keeping America going, not finding tax loopholes and squirreling money abroad. It’s about preserving and protecting our democracy, not inundating it with big money or paralyzing it with partisanship. True patriots don’t hate the government of the United States. They’re proud of it. Generations of Americans have risked their lives to preserve it. They may not like everything it does, and they justifiably worry when special interests gain too much power over it. But true patriots work to improve the government, not destroy it. And they don’t pander to divisiveness; they don’t fuel racist or religious or ethnic divides; they aren’t homophobic or sexist. To the contrary: True patriots seek to confirm and strengthen the “we” in “we the people of the United States.”

Okay, I have several issues with this post.

1)     Bob says, ”True patriotism requires taking on a fair share of the burdens of keeping America going, not finding tax loopholes and squirreling money abroad.” Half of the households in this country pay NO income tax. Z-E-R-O. In fact, a lot of them get more money back than what they paid in. Is that a “fair share?” The richest 1% pay more in taxes than the entire GDP of Albania. Nobody likes paying taxes. If someone says they do, they are an idiot. I do so because it is the law and would go to prison if I didn’t. Now, if the law says that you pay less taxes if you have money in foreign banks, that is not a “loophole.” IT’S THE LAW. A loophole is defines as, “an ambiguity or inadequacy in the law or a set of rules.” If you don’t like it, contact your Congressman and tell him to change the law. Ulysses S. Grant said, “I know no method to secure the repeal of bad or obnoxious laws so effective as their stringent execution.”

2)     Bob again, “It’s about preserving and protecting our democracy, not inundating it with big money or paralyzing it with partisanship.”

The United States is NOT a Democracy. No way, no how, never has been. We are a Constitutional Representative Republic.

A Democracy is where everybody votes on every decision the government must make. With over 200 million possible voters, that would make sure nothing gets done. And if 51% want to take your possessions, they get it and you can’t do anything about it but move out. The majority has spoken.

A Constitutional Representative Republic is a government that has a clearly defined structure, as in our Constitution, the People elect representatives from their district to carry on the business of government according to the will of the people in that district. A Republic means the rule of law is in charge of the land. The law binds all people equally, no matter if they are a homeless person or the President.

I love that word, “Partisanship.” I define it as, “Standing fast, not compromising your character and holding on to your moral values.” When Liberals say “Bipartisanship ,” they are saying, “Let’s compromise and do it our way.”

3)     “True patriots don’t hate the government of the United States. They’re proud of it. Generations of Americans have risked their lives to preserve it.” I LOVE my country so much I put my life on the line for 13 years to protect it because I love the concepts of personal freedom and self-reliance that the United States embodies. Today, I FEAR my government because it seeks on a daily basis to abridge my basic human rights, some of them are spelled out in the Bill of Rights. Big Difference.

4)     “But true patriots work to improve the government, not destroy it. And they don’t pander to divisiveness; they don’t fuel racist or religious or ethnic divides; they aren’t homophobic or sexist. To the contrary: True patriots seek to confirm and strengthen the “we” in “we the people of the United States.”

This is so ironic it is sad. Looking between the Conservatives and Liberals, I see one side looking to categorize and demonize everybody who is different from them; to exacerbate rifts between social and religious groups; to decry discrimination in public, then commit that same discrimination in private. The group that is the most guilty for each of those statements are Liberals.

The only part of this diatribe I agree with is, “True patriots seek to confirm and strengthen the “we” in “we the people of the United States.” I don’t care about my neighbors skin color, his political leanings or his religion. I will show him the level of respect that I would expect from him.

There were a lot of responses, but this one kind of leaped out at me:

I don’t support government. I’m not a patriot. I don’t believe in America nor do I support it.

But I also don’t fuel racist or religious or ethnic divides. I try to let people see that we are all just human, and should not only respect our neighbors, but have a responsibility to respect each other. I try to keep the mind of my opponent open to new ideas in hopes they will see that narrow minded and goal oriented views are fundamentally flawed. I try to enforce my belief that a system built on a flawed system will never work., no matter how much you want it to. A nuclear bomb is just that, and can be nothing else, no matter how much we want it to end hunger, or cure cancer. And those who can make a difference, don’t. For every doctor who finds a breakthrough in clinical science, 9 more release a new anti depressant or erectile dysfunction pill. And we, as a people, allow this behavior by not standing together and telling these corporations, these people who would have us sell out for materialism and false hopes, to shove off and act right, or we will make sure they are shut down permanently. To me, patriotism is just a lower, less obvious form of prejudice. Why show love for country when you can show love for world? Why show your patriotism when you can show your unbiased love of the world. Everyone sees only where they live, what they do. We are all part of something bigger, and until we see it for what it is, and start focusing on what’s important AS A SPECIES, we are doomed to repeat all the mistakes made in the name of a lesser goal. I don’t seek to destroy a country, but to reconnect a world. I don’t seek to condemn those who served, I seek to elevate those who have and those who haven’t, to serve on a global level. If you want to know what’s wrong with the world, it’s simple. A house divided against itself cannot stand. Earth is the house. We are the tenants. And if we can’t start seeing humans instead of democrats, jews, mexicans, poor, or any other label meant to define us in a specific way, we will never make any progress. I agree that capitalism can be a successful venture, but until the world begins to work together, through responsibility and personal accountability, it will fail every time.

You know, it simply amazes me that people like this person want to live here. He says, “I don’t believe in America nor do I support it.” Yet he has no problem living under the protection of this country, enjoying basic rights here that don’t exist in other parts of the world.

I think the ideas he espouses would be better received in Iraq, where Sunnis are gunning for the Kurds, the Kurds are shooting the Shi’ites and the Shi’ites are bombing the Sunnis. The only time they stop killing each other is when they band together to kill Infidels that try and interrupt them. Or he could go to Iran, where the label of “gay” gets that person killed in a messy and painful way.

I personally have nothing against global peace, in fact my service helped preserve that global peace during the Cold War. My readiness to wage war upon any aggressors ensured that peace. This guy operates under the mistaken assumption that “peace” is the opposite of “war.” In truth, the opposite of “war” is “slavery.” Because if you are not willing to fight and protect your home and family, you are a slave to the person who is ready to kill you if you don’t bow to them.


Republic vs. Democracy

I found a video on YouTube that clearly breaks down the different types of governments on this planet and explains each of them. Anyone who tells you the United States is a Democracy is either uninformed or lying to you.

I Pissed Off My Quota of Liberals For The Day

I’m just all kinds of warm and fuzzy on the inside right now.

During breaks while studying my Project Management course, I was on FB trading jabs with a friend of a friend, This FOAF, whom I will name Lisa to not identify her, had a wonderful idea to tax soft drinks so as to provide additional revenue to help a local municipality solve its financial distress.

I started off by saying that people will buy less of a product or service if you tax them more. It is a consistent failing of any level of government to ass-u-me that the rate of consumption for a product or service will remain constant if you tax it more. The government then budgets for that income at that level and spends accordingly. When (not if) the consumption drops, the actual numbers fall short of the projections, thus adding to whatever deficit the city was trying to address.

I also pointed out that raising taxes on things is a method governments use to modify our behavior and limiting our choices, which ultimately limits freedom.

Then Lisa got into her real reason, which is sodas (plus alcohol and tobacco) makes us unhealthy. She started alluding to all of the health benefits and healthcare savings from less diabetes, less obesity and so on.

I told her, “The hardest thing someone can do is watch another do something wrong and not interfere.” I then asked her, “What or who gives you the authority or power to limit my choices and freedoms?” How does it directly affect her how much soda I consume? It does not matter if I consume multiple 2-liters a day, or none at all.

I then explained about the 18th Amendment (Prohibition) and how it was the only Amendment that has been repealed. I stated that if people want something that is highly taxed or out-and-out against the law, they will still find a way to obtain it. Same thing with drugs.

Her response was to delete all of the comments, ending the discussion.

I love pissing people off with facts. Facts do not cease to exist just because they are ignored.

The Liberal belief and core tenet that people aren’t smart enough, or have the willpower to make the “correct” choices (in her eyes and those of her fellow Liberals) is how freedom is lost, in that death of a thousand cuts.

Guess what, Liberals… IT’S NONE OF YOUR DAMNED BUSINESS WHAT I DO. I don’t give a rats ass if you think sodas, alcohol, tobacco or Big Macs are good for me or not. If I can afford it, it’s none of your business if I set my homes thermostat to 50 degrees in the Summer or 92 degrees in the Winter. As long as I am not directly hurting another person, you need to keep your nose out of my business, lest I cut it off.


An End of an Era

I don’t talk a lot about the military, at least in this fashion. This article, however made me very sad: Decommissioning plan pulls all frigates from fleet by end of FY ’15.

Since WWII, there have been 5 basic types of fighting ships in the Surface component of the US Navy Inventory. They are, Frigates, Destroyers, Cruisers, Battleships and Aircraft Carriers. These were the backbone of the offensive side of our forces. There are other types of fighting ships such as Submarines and Amphibious ships, however in WWII they were not considered “front line units.”

There were blurring between these distinct types, such as “Destroyer Escorts” which were another name for Frigates (and Cruisers later), and “Battlecruisers,” which, according to my father, “Were able to outgun what they could not outrun and outrun what they could not outgun.”

The Aircraft Carrier, born out of the ashes of Pearl Harbor, is the main striking fist of the US Navy. Their use resulted in battles where the ships involved never sighted each other. Their ability to deliver a precision strike several hundred miles away was unmatched until recently. One US Aircraft carrier carries more tactical aircraft than some countries have in total. Every President since Harry Truman, upon being informed of a crisis, their first question has been “Where are the carriers?” In WWII, Aircraft carriers were almost always named after battles.

Battleships were the major force that could be applied in battle up until the end of WWII. They were designed to give and receive massive poundings. However, they were limited by the range of their guns. During WWII, they still saw independent action, such as the last exchange between Battleships, when the USS Washington took on single-handed and sunk the IJN Kirishima in Iron Bottom Sound. Toward the end of the war, Battleships were relegated to Carrier Escort. During the Korean Conflict, all four of the Iowa Class Battleships were reactivated to serve on the gun line and the USS New Jersey again in 1968 where she did a single trip to the firing line of Vietnam. The 1980′s saw the Iowas reactivated again, this time fitted with modern anti-ship Harpoons and strategic Tomahawk cruise missiles. However, the rising cost of maintaining them, coupled with the lack of appropriate targets, the Iowas have been transformed into floating museums. Battleships were named after states and had either 14 or 16 inch Main Batteries that provided their massive punch.

Battlecrusiers, as I had mentioned above, were one of those “in-between” designs, trying to fill a gap between Battleships and Cruisers that didn’t really exist. The United States did have a single class and only two of the planned six ships saw water. They were well regarded as anti-aircraft platforms for the Aircraft Carriers. These ships were names after territories (Alaska and Guam were the only two that saw service) and their Main Battery consisted of 12″ guns.

There were two types of Cruisers, Heavy and Light. Heavy Cruisers had 8″ guns as their main weapon, while Light Cruisers had 6″ Main Guns. Heavy Cruisers were the smallest type of ship that would lead a Surface Action Group (SAG). Light Cruisers were largely used as support ships. Heavy Cruisers were named after major cities, Light Cruisers were named after smaller cities. In the 50′s and 60′s, Cruisers experienced an identity crisis of sorts. They were outfitted with Surface-to-Air Missiles which replaced some or all of their main weapons. Several classes in this weight range were also known as either “Destroyer Leaders” or “Guided Missile Frigates.” All gun Cruisers had the designator CA (such as CA-68 USS Baltimore), while the Cruisers of today are known as CG (CG-47 USS Ticonderoga) for their guided missiles.

Destroyers were the “Jack-of-all-trades” for the fleet. They worked independently in two and three-ship squadrons, scouting and engaging other small forces, as well as using their torpedoes when going after Cruisers and Battleships in fleet engagements. They were used as picket ships in Carrier groups and supply convoys, protecting the bigger ships from Submarines and aircraft. Destroyers were named after people and had only 5″ guns as their main armament.

Frigates were the little kids of the block. Slower than Destroyers, They were not allowed out very far on their own. They stayed close to their harbors or were with the slower supply convoys, always watching out for Submarines.

The Oliver Hazard Perry Class of Frigates we enjoy today hail from this magnificent history. An OHP is very lightly armed, with only a 3″ gun (that only fires out to the sides of the ship) and a single-arm Missile launcher that can launch SAMs, Harpoon Anti-Ship Missiles or ASROCS against Submarines. Her biggest weapon system however is her powerful sonar and LAMPS helicopters for ASW work.

The OHP‘s were built to be an “inexpensive” weapons platform. Their main job, especially when operating with a Carrier, is to be a bomb/missile/torpedo magnet and thus protect the Carrier from taking one.

With the retirement of the last of the OHP‘s we no longer have any “inexpensive” ships. Come next year we will have only three fighting classes, Carriers, Cruisers and Destroyers. The Ticonderoga Cruisers and Burke Destroyers in the fleet now are amazing ships. Top of the line sensors and weapons, the only significant difference between the two are the length of their legs and the number of the weapons in the loadout.

The Admirals and planners of today have forgotten something. Expendability. A modern carrier group typically consists of only 6 ships, a Carrier, a Cruiser, two Destroyers and a Submarine. Compared to the other Navies of the world, one Carrier Group has more firepower than some entire Navy. However, if you destroy or disable one or two ships out of that group, the Carrier is a sitting duck.

I would much rather have two OHP‘s and a Burke focused on a threat axis than two Burkes. The OHP‘s won’t have the same shootdown capability as a Burke, but they could take 1-2 missiles each for a loss of 20-40% of firepower. If the same number of missiles reach the Burkes, you’ve lost 100% of your firepower.

In the 80′s, the Air Force had the F-15 and F-16 team. The very expensive F-15 provided Air Superiority, while the F-16 were the less expensive “targets.” I was told by an Air Force crewman in Guam, “The greatest danger a NATO soldier would face in an European conflict would be from falling F-16 debris.” The Navy will soon no longer have that luxury. If a general conflict should erupt, our relatively few ships will hit the bottom and have no backup.