April 27, 2015

Baltimore

What I'm seeing on television now is truly dispiriting. The police seem completely overmatched and the people of the city are helpless before the mob. The mayor's behavior has been bizarre: An hour ago, I watched a fellow show Fox's Leland Vittert where he had been struck with bean bags (after throwing bottles at police). Vittert asked him if he intended to stay out and continue to protest. The fellow said that he intended to but "of course, if they imposed a curfew we'd have to respect that."
At that point I learned that the curfew isn't in effect yet.
Why?

Baltimore was much more important to the history of this nation than is generally appreciated. In addition to being the city that stopped the British advance up the coast in 1812, it is the place where, thanks to Lord Baltimore, religious freedom was first made the law of the land in North America, 366 years ago last Tuesday. 

...and now it burns.

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April 26, 2015

Right Time. Right Place.

"Wow." Indeed.

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Almost Finished

...but not quite.

Thus, there is no content here, just a red bean bun...



...and hungry eyes.
 

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April 23, 2015

Final Stretch

Next week exams begin. I've got one paper to finish and a few miscellaneous assignments to turn in Monday. In the interim, here is Calbuco...


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April 19, 2015

Slight Reprieve

Posting will continue to be intermittent, perfunctory and generally inconsequential. 

As compensation for this, as well as the banality beneath the fold, here are Hanako, Rin and Paddlefoot

more...

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What the Hell?

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April 17, 2015

Apropos of Nothing

 
"Nothing at all."

Miki here is a game sprite and as such can't be doxxed, fired, DDOSed or otherwise struggled against in any meaningful way. 
Oh, and on a completely unrelated note, she is totally the one who pointed out to me this Harlan Ellison rant from 1994.

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It Seems That I Had Misinterpreted the Situation

It's not that the Russian government is expansionist.

RUSSIA is.


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April 16, 2015

Obligatory

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Some Space News

The New Horizons probe is fast approaching Pluto, an astronomer has identified 50 objects that could well be Dyson spheres and the first color photos from Ceres seem to indicate that the dwarf planet has been, at least at one time tectonically active, though the mystery of the bright, shiny spots is still unsolved. 

We've asked one of our Crack Team of Science Babes to comment on these developments. 


"Wait...What was that middle thing again? 'Cause it sounded like there was somethin' crazy in there."

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April 15, 2015

6 More Days

Tuesday is the last day of classes and I still have about 13 pages to write spread over 4 different research projects. Thus, I'll remain scarce for a bit. 


In the meantime, here is some mundane mechatronic móe by Sukabu.




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April 13, 2015

All That and a Bowl of Grits

The first half of the Fate Stay Night remake that aired last season started well above average and proceeded to get steadily better. I liked the original immensely, but this is really surpassing it in lots of ways, in no small part because this focused much more on Rin, who is awesome. 



Rin is also the feminine form of the word "win".


The original series was based on a visual novel and this is, I am given to understand, following a different story path, however it seems to have diverged quite a bit as several unexpected developments have completely changed the dynamic of the show, though not the premise. There has been a lot of good characterization and the writing has been top notch. The production values are absolutely superb.



Rin is a very well realized heroine. A young mage thrust by birth and circumstances into a  deadly contest, she is clever, audacious, knowledgeable and graced with a strong sense of ethics that tends to complicate her situation rather a lot. Shiro,the previous shows lead, seems, to be the duteragonist of the story. Much like in the original, he is much less skilled and powerful character who is thrown into the situation without warning and is far out of his depth. However, he can think on his feet and is principled and idealistic to a fault, and by that I mean he's something of an idiot at times. In comparison to the original 2006 TV show though,  Shiro is a much more relatable and rather more likable character. 



Both of this seasons episodes have been full of surprises and there has been unexpectedly thoughtful development of the villains as well, some of whom are fascinating in their complexity and some of whom are breathtaking in their depravity.


"OMG! You're bootlegging Sriracha!?"

 Be advised that this show goes to dark places occasionally...and this latest episode was not at all as...nuanced...as previous episodes were in that regard. 

This is not a show one should watch with the kids but it is a very solid supernatural adventure yarn and 14 episodes in it's looking to be one of the best in the genre and may quite handily surpass the show it's re-imagining.

 This one's looking to be a keeper.


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April 12, 2015

BYOM


The 1916 version of Verne's 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, once thought lost, is available and in the public domain. 


This is a remarkable film. It's the earliest surviving example of underwater motion picture photography (and may be the earliest ever). They couldn't build an underwater camera at the time and so used cameras on boats filming the underwater action via periscopes. I'll cut them a lot of slack on the blackface because, not only did they get Nemo's ethnicity and background largely right, he's a very sympathetic character with lots of melanin...in 1916

Of course they do diverge a bit from the novel. This film works the sequel (Mysterious Island) into the story and unlike either book, the film is in addition to a sci-fi story, both a period piece and a melodrama. 

You'll have to provide your own music, but it's probably worth 111 minutes of your time.

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Duck, Cover, Burrow



The Pentagon has pulled Cheyenne Mountain out of mothballs and has begun moving their command and control systems back into the cold war facility.

Admiral William Gortney, head of NORAD and Northern Command, said that 'because of the very nature of the way that Cheyenne Mountain's built, it's EMP-hardened.' 'And so, there's a lot of movement to put capability into Cheyenne Mountain and to be able to communicate in there,' Gortney told reporters.

'My primary concern was... are we going to have the space inside the mountain for everybody who wants to move in there, and I'm not at liberty to discuss who's moving in there,' he said.
 

The facility was mothballed back in 2006, because there was a time when a nuclear attack beyond an isolated terrorist device was considered unlikely. 

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April 11, 2015

Log Horizon Ends

The last two episodes revolve around Shiroe gathering together a scratch force of people who are not comatose, several of whom we have not met before ('cause they are all that's left). 

It seems that the communications tower in "Shibuya" is now the source of the narcolepsy-itis that is plaguing everybody. Specifically, it has been taken over by a swarm of sleep moths which take flight every night and spread moth dust, which is the source of the proble. Shiro notes ruefully that as soon as they had determined that the tower might be a key to returning everybody home, this situation pops up, which might well, necessitate them destroying the tower.

It also hints that fate...or someone, is just screwing with them.

Not to fear, Shiroe  has a particularly cunning plan... 



 
And so it ends...

The ending was as satisfying as possible given that they have apparently caught up to the source material, at least to the point that there is not enough for another season right now. The show left off at a perfectly good break point and the end certainly did not smack of Gainax.


As for the series overall, the production values on this show were quite cheap, occasionally to the point of distraction, but the story for the 50 episode run was astoundingly good throughout. The characterizations were excellent and the general tone and direction of the story were uncommonly upbeat despite a grim premise. This is a show about civics; people working together to improve their community and banding together in the face of danger. 

One of the more enjoyable aspects of the show was that, in stark contrast to most others in the genre, it truly has an ensemble cast. Shiroe is generally held to be the lead, but the focus frequently cuts to the rest of the cast, whose adventures and quirks are vital to the story.  Shiro can't do it by himself, and in fact is not even a major player in nearly half of the episodes.  Even when it is clear that he is above average at certain aspects of video gaming he does't come off as a Gary Stu. Indeed, it is in the other characters that some of the best characterizations take place, e.g.Crusty and Lenessia are one of the better anime couples of recent years. 

Another amusing bit was that there was actually some borderline "sci-fi" involved in this parade of whimsy..... If one has people that can do fireballs via sorcery, and one has the ability to make an iron pressure vessel and fill it with wate....BOILERS! 
OK, so it's actually Spelljammer, but its nice to see that the characters are smart enough to figure this out. I don't think they are going to have too much of a problem getting to the moon. 

Given the premise and "setting" the potential for this being a gratuitous fan service fest was quite high. That they refrained from that almost entirely was actually refreshing. 
 

This show has a fractally silly premise that they went a long way towards justifying and despite a visibly low budget, its strengths were such that I enjoyed Log Horizon tremendously, beginning to end. 

It is certainly to be hoped that they do another season eventually. With that in mind, we'll give Best Kunoichi the last word.






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