November 12, 2017

Halp!....IT Bleg

The following sites are amongst those that are not accessible from my computer;

Instapundit 

I checked, and, interestingly, 4-chan, 8-chan, and 420-chan are down too. This is interesting not because they are dens of inequity, but because (for a variety of reasons) they are all known to be on completely different servers.


However, this condition, which is consistent across Epic, Safari, Opera, Vivaldi,(Mac-side) Midori and Internet Explorer (Windows side) and has been for just over 30 hours, now seems to only be affecting my machine. 

What could account for this?

UPDATE: Oh dear. It appears that Zero Hedge is inaccessible as well, which not only results in a cray-cray clickbait deficit, but could indicate involvement by the Omnipotent, Ubiquitous THEY.

UPDATE 2: OK turning off the Wi-Fi at the box and re-starting it finally solved the issue. I have no idea why that should have worked, but it's always the last thing I do before calling Verizon.

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November 05, 2017

Here. You Should Try This.

Seriously, all the cool kids are doing it and besides, Doki Doki Literature Club is free! It's also available on STEAM. 

Go ahead try it! 
It's a dating sim, which is not generally my cup of tea, but this game has got some interesting interactivity features that, amongst other things, give the player the option of using the word effulgent in proper context and iambic pentameter. The route I chose took about 4 hours (give or take...or give...I suppose it's a matter of perspective). I'll definitely be revisiting this.



Well, yeah... the game is not suitable for children or those who are easily disturbed, or suffer from anxiety or depression but you aren't you aren't one of them are you? 
 
You just gotta promise.

Once you've played it...

No spoilers.

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November 01, 2017

Antelope's Redemption

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This is Not as Bad as it Sounds, but it Could get Much Worse Soon


Plague-Tan by Heitor Amatsu

This story broke a bit over a week ago, but I refrained from posting on it, in part because I'd just posted about the DPRK biowarfare program. A Plague outbreak is, even today, fairly unremarkable, we get them every few years in the Southwestern U.S. and the disease is common in parts of Africa. 
However, this was a pneumonic plague outbreak, in a crowded developing world city, and the potential for mass misfortune was real. 

The story still isn't quite as bad as it seems from the headlines. It has not actually spread to 9 countries, though it is expected to. Also,  124 in a single city being killed by a disease in a week, is a pretty serious situation, but it's not as bad as the 1300 reported (that appears to be the number of infected...which, is impressive in a good way as Pneumonic plague tends to have a mortality rate quite a bit higher than 10%.

Pneumonic plague doesn't require fleas as vectors as it is airborne. It's not a distinct strain of plague, merely regular plague that gets into the lungs, and spreads via coughing. There are some strains of plague, that, if they get in the lungs, do transmit a bit better than others, but in all cases Plague is less virulent that a cold or flu, and being a bacteria, it responds to antibiotics. On the debit side, it spreads like wildfire in close quarters and can kill in 24 to 48 hours. In stark contrast to the necrotic and bubonic manifestations of plague, this has a mortality rate approaching some Ebola strains. This is, perversely, "good" news, as it tends to kill so quick, it inhibits its own spread, except in very urban areas...like where the outbreak is now.

While this is not as dire a situation as it might appear from a casual glance at a news aggregator sate, it is a very worrying development and could get very bad indeed, very quickly, if it starts airport hopping.
 

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October 31, 2017

Three More Hours on the Eastern Seaboard

Drive carefully, they can pop out anywhere!




.gif byTowarimi

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There is Already an Impressive Amount of RWBY Fan Art


Art by Esu

..for Sienna Khan, the leader of the White Fang. She's been mentioned in the show a couple of times as ruthless, but not ax-crazy. She's the one who changed the organization from one focused on peaceful protests to what can most politely be called 'direct action'. Nevertheless, she has been described as opposed to the murderous assault on Beacon in volume 3 and indeed, in episode 2 of this season, this leader of a terrorist organization is shown as the voice of reason amongst the villains. Khan is superbly voiced by Monica Rial who gives the character a regal demeanor and the impression of a mind like a steel trap.

Three episodes in, RWBY fifth (and reportedly last) season remains quite good. While the villains plot, our heroes, still scattered to the four winds, continue to do hero stuff, be likable, and make shocking discoveries. The show has really hit its stride and is doing a fantastic job of delivering genuinely surprising plot twists.



OK not all of them are twists to the audience. but it's nice to see our heroes finally in the loop.


I particularly like the idea that the only press in Australia Menagerie all appear to be bloggers. 


'cause nobody trusts Lisa Lavender!

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New York...Again

Reports are that someone drove a rental truck 14 blocks down a Manhattan bike path crushing people in the process, hit a school bus, got out of his truck, engaged police with what may, or may not have been paintball guns and, before being shot, shouted "Allah Ackbar!".


No word as to motive, though a talking head on Fox is pushing the "lone nut" theory hard..


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October 30, 2017

All the Cool Kids

...are doing Halloween stuff or blogging about World of Warships. I lack time for the former and sufficient internet connection for the latter. However, through the miracle of You Tube, I can hold forth on both!


Sorta...


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Obviously Its Reporting Back to the Mother Ship

While many of us were distracted, a new comet (C 2017/U1 PANSTARRS) was observed. After a bit of math, it was realized that the "comet" was moving faster than solar system escape velocity, meaning that it had to be an extra-solar object passing through our system.

One of The Brickmuppet's Crack Team of Science Babes has some...comettary.



There's more on this neat story, herehere, and here


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October 29, 2017

Crossing the Streams

Art by Canadawbd

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October 27, 2017

Breaking the Mold

I mentioned in an earlier post that a vast majority of the MMD dance numbers on You Tube use stock dance choreography. There was some lamenting in the comments regarding this. 

Note that 'vast majority' is not all.

Also, I think there are some official motion capture files for a few songs but for the rest of the dance videos there are some MMDers that do the original choreography that are downloaded by the bulk of the hobbyists that do that particular subset of videos. The original choreographers are generally credited in the videos. Note that there seems to be a high importance, at least in Japan placed on getting the dance moves to match the official music videos...it may be a cultural thing. 

However there are some completely original arrangements as well, particularly in MMD vids that are not exclusively dance numbers..

This one was done over 6 years ago and I'm pretty sure that its animation was not frame grabbed from some Garnidelia video. 


This seems to be by the same individual, and is in the same vein, albeit with an emphasis on...escalation.


As a bonus, both teach important life lessons!

Below is one refreshingly devoid of any lessons at all. I'm pretty sure that its animation does not closely follow any William Tell dance videos either. 


Finally there's one classic that has been pulled from You Tube, ostensibly for DCMA reasons, but given the plethora of videos of versions of that song on You Tube, its probably due to...well, see for yourself

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Nobody Expects the Spanish Civil War

Well this Catalonian secession situation certainly seems to be escalating
Spain was plunged into crisis Friday as Madrid seized power from independence-seeking Catalonia,

  The previous vote for independence was a vote to begin coordinating with Spain on a peaceful transition to an independent Catalonia. Given that the response from the Spanish government has been an emphatic "NO!", Catalonias regional parliament today flat out declared independence, to much cheering from the Catlans and jeering from the rest of Spain. The Spanish government responded by declaring the Catalan Parliament void, dissolving it, charging the Catalan PM and several MPs with felonies  and declaring that there will be an election on December 21. The Catalonians, in defiance of Madrid, have called for civil disobedience in response.


It's a good thing that Spanish Civil Wars aren't human abattoirs that historically have tended to foreshadow even darker times to follow around the world...

Oh...
Uh...
Wait... 


Perhaps now would not be a good time to remind everyone that the last remaining title of archduke in the world is held by the King of Spain.

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October 25, 2017

Some Thoughts on the Politics of the Moment

He who fights monsters should see to it that he himself does not become a monster. And if you gaze for long into an abyss, the abyss gazes also into you.
— Friedrich Nietzsche: Beyond Good and Evil

The best revenge is not to be like your enemy.
— Marcus Aurelius: Meditations

As soon as men decide that all means are permitted to fight an evil, then their good becomes indistinguishable from the evil that they set out to destroy.
— Christopher Dawson

The creatures outside looked from pig to man, and from man to pig, and from pig to man again; but already it was impossible to say which was which.
— George Orwell: Animal Farm (Last line)

I may elaborate on this later. 

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October 24, 2017

Content Substitute


Miku Miku DanceVideos (at least those that are basically music videos) frequently use stock choreography downloads which essentially rotoscope the official music videos of the songs. The one above does as well, but I do like the fact that the animator added and animated the girl with the guitar. 

The one below likewise adds a few non stock elements to the standard choreography and the costumes are particularly well done.

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October 22, 2017

Let Us Hope

...that we don't come to envy the penguin, who in his passing is thus spared seeing what is to come.


The US bomber force is now gearing up to go back on 24 hour nuclear alert, for the first time since the end of the cold war. Actually, this is probably not a bad thing per se' as the current situation was making them vulnerable and of limited utility for deterrence. However, in a related development, the U.S.A.F. is recalling retired pilots to active duty which indicates sufficient unpleasantness afoot that there is a non-trivial potential for penguin envy. 

Shinzo Abe's LDP party has just won the two thirds majority in Japan's legislature needed to amend their constitution and thus is expected to amend or rescind article 9 of Japan's constitution. This ought not to cause too much alarm, as a nation unable to use military force to defend itself and its allies is not really a nation as much as it is a vassal of whoever it is allied with. However, the Japanese let this stand all through the cold war and Abe is not particularly loved in Japan. The fact that things are going to worms in East Asia to such an extent that the generally pacifist Japanese public is signing off on this now...with Abe as its standard bearer is a worrying sign.

Chinese president Xi Jinping has had himself and his platform written into the Chinese Communist Party charter at the recent 19th Communist Party congress. He had previously reversed Deng Xoaoping's post Mao policy of checks and balances via a division of authority by having himself named the head of basically every department/ministry. He is now listed as one of the 3 great leaders along with Deng Xiaoping and, more worryingly, the greatest mass murderer in history. The Party unanimously voted to remove all of the Deng era restrictions on how many executive positions he can hold, term limits and retirement age and formalizes his already de facto status as absolute head of state, head of the Chinese Communist Party and leader of the People's Liberation Army. 

In surely unrelated news, it appears that China is fitting their new Coast Guard cutters for ramming(!?)
The Communist Party’s People’s Daily made the purpose of these ships crystal-clear, stating they were designed to have "the power to smash into a vessel weighing more than 20,000 tons and will not cause any damage to itself when confronting a vessel weighing under 9,000 tons. It can also destroy a 5,000-ton ship and sink it to the sea floor.”
The rest of the linked article postulates a major Chinese Military adventure either against Taiwan or Japan (ultimately both) starting around 2020. That opinion piece is backed up  up by several other articles published over recent years.

In other China news, As part of his general crackdown on all things double-plus ungood, the new party Chairman will oversee the implementation of social infrastructures heretofore only dreamed of by the Stasi. Yes, social media will finally make the telescreen reality

Remember that our techweasels are facilitating this. 

 

North Korea appears to be ramping up bioweapons production. This is actually very hard to confirm and its not like the DPRK's having a scary bioweapons program is news, but this post needs some DPRK clickbaitery, so here...and here and here. In related clickbaitery, there are reports that the mountain that the DPRK has used to test its nukes is about to implode fall over, sink into the swamp and release gobs of radiation. This story seems a dubious allocation of ones limited anxiety reserves, which are probably more productively spent preparing for a DPRKEMP

Poland is increasing the size of its army by 50% in anticipation of international mischief.

Quartz identifies another single point failure mode for our financial system (actually there are just over 30 GPS satellites and 24 are needed to have the network globally accurate).

Fear not! One courageous group of Americans has a plan to make everything better.
Over 4,000 Facebook users have RSVP'd—another 33,000 are interested in attending—to the Nov. 8 event being held in Boston that is literally titled "Scream helplessly at the sky on the anniversary of the election." 

Remember that Grape the Penguin will not have to deal with any of this.



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October 19, 2017

Suddenly: A Mid-Life Crisis

I find myself gripped with an existential dread.

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October 18, 2017

Oh. We've Got TWO!

NASA has recently noticed a heretofore undocumented moon that has apparently been squatting here undetected for some time. Due to NASA's limited border enforcement budget and the fact that the interloper's arrival predated the Johnson-Reed Act by about a decade, it is not (as of now) going to be deported. 


It's unclear how the change in the number of dependents will affect Earth's Tax status. 


Art (sans text) by Kiichi

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October 14, 2017

RWBY's Final Season Begins

Immediately we get confirmation that team RNGR as a group has important and oft overlooked habits which are absolutely necessary for those who would protect themselves and others.



Good trigger discipline and always checking one's targets.

This episode picks up exactly where the last episode of last season left off, with no time-skip. In fact, most of this episode takes place hours before the very end of last season's final episode. Most of the titular cast is still scattered to the four winds but we do get a bit of exposition that provides Ruby herself  and her B team with some perspective and a new goal. Blake is still on another continent, Weiss is still de-remittanced, hunted and (unknown to them or her) en route to their general location in possession of an important bit of information
Yang's subplot has taken an unexpected turn...



...literally, she must have done a U-turn after taking that right in the closing credits.


 The only thing that really indicates a new season is that there has been another of the show's annual upgrades in quality; production values are visibly better. 



This is actually a couple of screencaps from a still pan, but the attention to detail is remarkable, especially when one remembers the "shadow people" of the first season. 

There is no spectacular opening fight as there has been every other season, and indeed only one punch is thrown. Improved backgrounds notwithstanding, the season is not so much beginning as the show is continuing, with last season's conclusion feeling even more like a midseason finale. The show, however, remains enjoyable and still looks promising. 

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October 13, 2017

I Gather My Hero Academia Has a Large Female Fan Following

I base this entirely upon the gender composition of the MMD dance parodies. 



This one is unusual, in not only having one female cast member, but two (OK, one and a half).



The show itself remains uneven in pacing but quite enjoyable and surprisingly intelligent given its silly premise. It's on hiatus now but has had a third season greenlit, which I must say is quite welcome news. 

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October 12, 2017

Perspective is Important, but not Necessarily Welcome



Looking to give proper credit for this insightful quote only yielded Snopes engaging in what is obviously some sort of cover-up.

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