Thursday, November 01, 2007

Y'all cut that out

Professor Barry Sanders* is back with a reply to his critics: "Y'all quit picking on me!"

Kidding. I am sure that Professor Sanders is sophisticated and would never be caught dead throwing 'y'all' about in conversation.

His reply does seem a tad whiny. It's not his fault, you see, because the military operates behind a scrim of secrecy and it's really difficult to get information out of them. You'd think the military is some kind of bureaucracy or something.

That and people were correcting his mistakes in a way that was not respectful. Shame on y'all. Professor Sanders is from the academic world where people are more polite and don't call bullshit in such vulgar ways.

Let me begin by saying that this is a new world for me, the world of blogging.

One could be unkind and reply that the world of logic, facts and clean prose is new to him as well.

As a friend told me from the outset, one cannot take on the military in this country, without getting knocked about.

Is there a lot to criticize about the military? Darn right there is. My own beef is not that he is taking on the military but that he did so with a poor logic and ratty data.

As for the Standard, Goldfarb does not like the line, "The USS Lincoln helped deliver the opening salvos and air strikes in Operation Iraqi Freedom." He says the Lincoln has no "guns." I took that line from the Navy's own web site. If I am wrong, the military has it wrong.

Reading comprehension is clearly not Professor Sanders strong suite - the Navy web site doesn't mention guns but ordnance. Ordnance is typically defined as 'stuff that goes boom', but they don't mention guns. Clearly the Navy is wrong for not being specific and inserting verbage like this

Lincoln delivered a big bunch of boom stuff by airplane. Because that's what aircraft carriers do.

Or something like that.

He (Goldfarb) claims that only one aircraft carrier is not nuclear powered and so my claim about "ship tracks" is wrong. First, does he not think that nuclear power pollutes, or that no danger exists from an accident? What does he think one should do about spent fuel rods?

The article is titled 'The Military's Addiction to Oil' so the confusion might be understandable. Goldfarb took his argument from the title - if he is wrong, Professor Sanders has it wrong.

The USS Independence did move out to the Gulf in the first Gulf War, in 1991. I mixed up the dates for the two Gulf Wars and inserted the wrong one.

The article centered around current activities and never mentioned a conflict more than a decade in the past. Yet one key point was meant to jump back sixteen years and talk about a now decommissioned ship. Maybe - he's clearly not the most organized thinker.

Also, I inadvertently left out the word battalion in the sentence, "a pair of Apache helicopter battalions can devour more than 60,000 gallons of fuel in a single night's attack

The sentence as published was "Just one pair of Apaches in a single night's raid will consume about 60,000 gallons of jet fuel." Ya - inserting battalion in the middle of that makes a whole bunch more sense. Sure, Ace. And I am Marie, Queen of Romania.
Let's now turn to the question of the number of carrier task forces in the Gulf. First, from Reuters: "On January 20, 2007, the USS Stennis set sail for the Persian Gulf as part of an increase in US military presence within the Middle East. The Stennis joined the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower in the United States Fifth Fleet of operations. On May 23, 2007, the Stennis, along with eight other warships including the carrier USS Nimitz and amphibious assault ship USS Bonhomme Richard, passed through the Strait of Hormuz. US Navy officials said it was the largest such move since 2003."

How many ships does this total? Ten or Twelve? How many "carrier task forces" does that constitute?

This is not difficult - only an academic would make it so. A 'carrier task force' requires a carrier.

Now - all of this has a shooting fish in a barrel feel. I wrote this as a follow-up for yesterday's post out of a sense of obligation and in the hope that by showing people like Professor Sanders he can't use obfuscation and bad data in his arguments we'll get honest data and real discussion.

If not we'll get to make fun of them, which ain't bad either.

*Take a look at his bio page: the title of two of his books is spelled wrong. I don't know where the Huffington Post gets this data but one suspects that Professor Barry Sanders lack of attention to detail is to blame.

Cross Posted to The Daily Brief.
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