July 27, 2015

We Sincerely Hope

...that the fact that the last transmission from Don was on the 22nd and concerned an approaching tornado is merely indicative of a vibrant and rewarding social life. 

May everything on his end be going well. 

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Wait...Is This A Game?

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July 26, 2015

"Have You Ever Seen The Blue Sky?"

This is a disturbing hour and a half that went viral and gained two hundred million views in less than a week before being banned by the Chinese Government.

It even attracted praise from the newly-installed environment minister, Chen Jining, for its contribution to the national debate on public health – but that was before it was abruptly scrubbed from the internet on Friday, ordered offline by the Communist Party's central propaganda department.

The segment that begins around 1:00 is disturbing in an entirely different way..as it highlights just how precarious the Chinese industrial economy actually is. 

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July 25, 2015


Those weren't accessorized ears.
It was just a damned HAT!

From episode 4 of GATE!, which,  in a completely unexpected development, manages to work in an onsen scene. This, however, is not one of THOSE shows as this remarkably non-gratuitous interlude makes clear. This brief scene moved the plot forward in a number of ways, provided significant character development and remained Comics Code Compliant throughout. The above scene of Leili (left) and Mercury (Right) washing the orphan's hair is as risque as it got. 

After the events of last episode, 2nd Lt Itami took his recon force and the refugees back to the main Japanese base much to the dismay of his immediate superiors who are appalled that he has brought all these orphans for them to take care of. The general in charge of the operation however, is impressed both with Itami's initiative and humanity and puts our hero's unit in charge of getting the refugees situated.  

...and our hero in charge of filling out the requisite paperwork tsunami.

The aforementioned bathouse scene is actually part of a montage of the refugees (and Mercury who is examining the Japanese of her own volition) reacting to such wonders as backhoes, prefab housing, field kitchens, and canned food....

Along the way, we do learn that Leili has a knack for languages. She can speak Elvish and is picking up Japanese very quickly...rather more quickly than the Japanese are picking up the local tongue. She is exceedingly smart as befits a mage and we learn a little about her past. It seems Leili grew up amongst nomads before she arrived in the imperial village, so this is not her first experience with a huge technological and cultural shock. 

 Or learning to use new kit.

Chika, the Elf, is still traumatized by the recent loss of her entire town, which, even amongst the elves was a somewhat insular tribe with an obscure dialect.  She is in mourning for her father and seems to be taking double rations to make offerings to his memory. Having lost everything she owns she is also concerned that she and the other female refugees will be forced to sell themselves in order to repay the kindness they have received...or, barring that, simply to survive in the world.

Meanwhile, Itami is tasked with taking his unit to reconnoiter a nearby town called Italica, but that won't happen 'till next week. 

No action to speak of, and our heroes didn't go anywhere, but this episode moved the story forward quite a bit.

This remains a very entertaining and intelligent show. it is just full of win right now, you should definitely be watching it. 

UPDATE: There is an extensive discussion of this episode regarding combat engineering over at Chizumatic.

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July 24, 2015

Gentle Readers

...I urge you to watch this.

I do so mostly because I am a very bad man, but also because watching this will kill sufficient brain cells that it might distract one from any pain one might be experiencing.

Warning: May also cause psoriasis. 

Via Moe Lane, who's write up, while technically accurate, did not prepare me for the epic dreadfulness of this thing. 

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July 22, 2015

Double Shifts Plus

I'm pulling near Christmas hours at work this week.

As compensation for the resulting light posting, here is a piece by Jumpei99.

Of course, I find myself wondering why there are no fairy-sized doors anywhere in this cityscape.

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July 20, 2015

46 Years Ago

A quarter of those who walked on the Moon have already passed

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Gatchaman Crowds :INSIGHT

Gatchaman Crowds was a strange but enjoyable series from two years ago. Perky quirky and completely unpredictable, it ended up being well above average through sheer charm and cleverness. The show closed with a definite hook for a sequel, and this summer, that much anticipated sequel is here!

Gatchaman Crowds: INSIGHT continues the franchises habit of surprising its audience by producing a perfunctory painting by numbers pastiche of periphrastic prattle.

Actually of all those "P" words the most applicable one is probably likely perfunctory.

We are introduced to two new characters one of which seems to be an audience surrogate (there was nothing like that before as the cast was just so....odd)

It is possible that this jumbled mess is going to coalesce into something entertaining, but this was such a muddled, talky episode that confidence is not high. The pilot just gave the impression of trying to emulate the series by being weird...but to no purpose other than to fill a time slot. There are actually two more episodes available, but I'm going to take a break for now.

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July 19, 2015

Something Retro and Japanese

Here is Yamada 2, a Japanese blimp from 1911.

Don has discovered something else in this ridiculously broad category...proto J-Pop.

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This is REALLY Getting My Hopes Up

Shamelessly nicked from J.Greely

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One of The Brickmuppet's Crack Team of Science Babes reacts to a report about lava loving hammerheads.

"Can we get LASERS for them?"

In order to study the volcano, Phillips’ team used robots and cameras. While the volcano was not erupting, the images are blurred by orange plumes and bubbles. Carolyn Barnwell, writing for National Geographic, said that in the video "carbon dioxide and methane gas bubbles” can be seen rising from seafloor vents, and that the color of the water was "due to reduced iron and sulfur.”

Phillips and his team were shocked to find both hammerhead and silky sharks, in addition to stingrays and smaller fish, swimming around inside the volcano 

Presumably,  the sharks leave when the caldera fills with lava so this is not actually a Sci-Fi channel movie made real. OTOH it is hoped that this might lead to an eruption prediction system.

Of course, if the sharks preternatural predictive ability amounts to "Hmmm...getting a bit hot here...Let's leave." Then the potential implications are less exciting. 

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Meanwhile...This Happened...

Someone has been cutting fiber optic cables in California.

There is also the matter of the nontrivial terrorist attack in France recently that is not getting anywhere near the coverage it warrants.  

On the Russian front....wait...lets not put it that way.
Regarding Russia, there is some relief about the reports that the Russian air-force is having a bad month. This is an understandable sentiment , but it doesn't necessarily mean that their planes are no threat. It could just be a byproduct of training at a high tempo under realistic conditions...which they'd be doing if they were anticipating trouble.

Iran will not be allowing US nuclear inspectors to...inspect. 

In what I'm sure must be completely unrelated news, North Korea is hinting at a new series of nuclear tests in October. 

Pakistan, that bastion of reason and stability in South Asia, is greatly expanding their nuclear arsenal.

Venezuela has laid claim to two thirds of Guyana.

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July 18, 2015

Occassionally, There is a Reward for Clean Living

For example...in the latest episode of GATE, our heroes do not die at this point.

"Wait...did you say GOOD?"

You see, the Elegant Gothic Lolita (Catgirl?) is" Roary Mercury, Apostle to the Dark god Emloy" which apparently means that she is some sort of priestess. What is certain is that she is a person with considerable ability that is at this point indistinguishable from magic.

Not pictured: Just HOW ridiculously large her elegant gothic choppy thing is. 

When we first meet her she confronts several dozen brigands who she proceeds to slice, dice and circumcise. It is quite obvious by the end of the episode that she could have killed Itami and his entire command without breaking a sweat. Indeed, that was probably her initial intent, but to her surprise, she discovers that this small detachment of the interlopers who have curb-stomped every army sent to destroy them have not been raping, looting and pillaging, but rather have been rendering aid to commoners without regard to ethnicity and that they are in possession of carts that move without horses.

Nor is Mercury the only character possessed of unusual ability. Leili, the blue haired young lady is an apprentice to the fellow in the wizard hat, who is named Kato, and is, shockingly enough, a Wizard. 

The Force is STRONG with her.

The JGSDF unit has taken a detour from reconnoitering to help evacuate a village that is being menaced by the dragon that they saw razing the town in the last episode. In this episode we learn that there was but one survivor of that unfortunate town, an elven woman who speaks elvish. While this is not, upon reflection, surprising, it should be noted that the extemporized phrase books they are using don't contain any elvish. 

This is unfortunate as the young lady has very useful information to share.

This is an intelligent, well thought out show, and despite the abattoir aspect of the last episode, it is proving to be both suspenseful and upbeat

 Lt. Itami is is a genuinely likable hero. Having been a brevet commission he has a greater hurdle than most to earn his troops confidence, especially since his hobbies are known and held in low regard by his medic and senior NCO. Nevertheless he proves quite capable as a leader and demonstrates considerable decency complimenting his tactical verve.  

This episode was fast paced, introducing several new intriguing characters and was quite thoroughly satisfying .

Certainly not the darkest and grittiest of entourages. 

The cast members introduced in this episode add a nice bit of wackiness and whimsy. Despite much potential for stupidity and squalor the show remains quite smart and engaging. This is a very impressive show thus far, my biggest complaint at the moment is that the next episode is a week away.

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Take Heart!

This sort of thing will correct itself in a generation or two.

As the cool kids say...



In the meantime I advise stocking up on nonperishables. 

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Surprises on the Outer Rim

One of The Brickmuppet's Crack Team of Science Babes ponders the conundrums faces by NASA boffins as they try to interpret the data from the Youggoth probe. 

In any event, there are mountains as high as the Rockies on a planetoid that's about as far across as Alaska or Quebec.

Charon is really interesting too, with a surface largely crater free, indicating it is also very young and thus, probably, tectonically active.

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