September 10, 2018

Open Thread 8

As you should expect by now, we're doing our biweekly open thread. Talk about anything you want that isn't culture war.

During the last OT, DirectrixGazer mentioned Neptunus Lex, who I had never heard of. I'm glad he did. Most of his writings can be found here, with the exception of his astonishing Rhythyms series, a portrait of a day aboard a carrier. Highly recommended.


  1. September 10, 2018Eltargrim said...

    The Rhythyms link appears to be broken; it takes me to the Wayback Machine home page.

  2. September 10, 2018cassander said...

    My company is still looking for an aircraft MRO analyst in DC. If you're a data person interested in aircraft or an aircraft person with better than average data skills, please drop me a line at

  3. September 11, 2018Johan Larson said...

    What is the lowest US military decoration that is actually impressive? My impression is that a Bronze Star is not particularly impressive, but a Bronze Star with a V Device is.

  4. September 11, 2018doctorpat said...

    Johan, I think you're going to have to define what you mean by "impressive" in this context.

  5. September 11, 2018bean said...

    Rhythms link is updated. Sorry I didn't get to that earlier, but I was on the road yesterday.


    I think you're about right on that. Bronze stars are pretty easy to earn for non-combat things. V devices, silver stars, and above are not easy to earn at all.

  6. September 11, 2018sfoil said...

    "Impressive" is pretty subjective. Campaign medals from way back can be impressive in a Pokemon-collection sort of way, especially to other servicemen. Other rare medals are "impressive" in a similar way even if they don't really mean much. If you show up somewhere official wearing an Antarctic Service Ribbon you will receive an steady stream of gawkers.

    The answer you're probably looking for are awards for valor, and the lowest one is the ARCOM/NAVCOM with V for Valor device.

  7. September 12, 2018Johan Larson said...

    OK, I'll bite. What sort of thing does one have to do to get a Commendation Medal with a V device?

  8. September 12, 2018bean said...

    Naval Book Mini-Reviews:

    Dreadnought by Robert Massie

    Overall, I enjoyed Dreadnought. Massie writes very well, and seems to have an expert grasp of the political and diplomatic history leading up to WWI, which is the main thrust of the book. Unfortunately, this is not matched by an equivalent grasp of naval matters. The naval history in the book isn't terrible, but it's also not great. There were more than a few stupid mistakes, such as claiming that HMS Warrior had a wooden hull, and it showed its age in a lot of places. It came out a couple years after Sumida's In Defense of Naval Supremacy, but doesn't reflect those findings, or any of the other new interpretations of the late 19th and early 20th century RN that have come since. I'm not saying to avoid the book. I am saying that if you come across something that contradicts what I've said on the naval end, believe me over him.

    The Cruel Sea by Nicholas Monsarrat

    The Cruel Sea is an interesting book. A novel of escort crews in the Battle of the Atlantic written by an officer who served aboard them, it's a harrowing look at what those men went through. It was not an easy read, and there were times it was rather graphic in the horrors of that battle, but it also gave me a much better grasp of what went on in that battle. Recommended.

  9. September 13, 2018Johan Larson said...

    You are invited to guess what "ratfucking" refers to, in a modern military context.

    Hint: It is not actually about fucking rats.

  10. September 13, 2018bean said...

    I know the answer, but I'll let people guess. He is correct, and I will further hint that rats themselves are not involved at all.

  11. September 14, 2018Johan Larson said...

    Let me +1 Bean's recommendation for "The Cruel Sea". Serving aboard a corvette subhunter in the Battle of the Atlantic was a really damn hard way to fight a war, and Monsarrat gives us a vivid picture of what it was like.

  12. September 16, 2018sfoil said...

    "OK, I’ll bite. What sort of thing does one have to do to get a Commendation Medal with a V device?"

    I means that you did something valorous enough that someone felt the need to write it down and ensure you got something for it, even if it didn't meet the (totally subjective) standards of higher awards.

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