May 23, 2018

Fabulousaurus

Instapundit points out a new development in the field of paleontology...



I didn't think that any new dinosaurs had been made for quite some time. 

Well, this is an updated model from China that appears to be a cross between a Velociraptor and a gay pride flag that sparkles like a Stephanie Meyers vampire.



One of the Brickmuppet's Crack Team of Science Babes has thoughts on the potential ramifications and applications of this discovery. 

"Gay. Vampire. Dinosaurs.
The slash writes itself!"

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May 22, 2018

Oh What Fresh Hell Is This?

One of THOSE headlines...


What in the world do robots need organs for? I can't think of any non-worrisome reasons.


Let's ask one of our Crack Team of Science Bots what possible use robots might have for organs besides living tissue over a hyperalloy endoskeleton to make them more successful as Infiltrator units. 


"Are you kidding!? I'll be able to ditch these 'splody Samsung batteries, 'cause I'll have a stomach and intestines and a liver so I'll be able to charge by eating Carolina barbecue and Moon Pies and  drinking RC Cola! And I won't stop with digestion either! I'm gonna be STACKED!"

Oh.
Well OK then!


(Art is by Sukabu)

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May 21, 2018

Meanwhile: On Twitter...

Thales is not there...

Some of my readers may already know that I’ve been banned from Twitter. You may not know the reason, however. Some folks were arguing that the word "retarded” should be banned from Twitter discourse. Naturally, I replied that this was retarded. Twitter has apparently sided with those demanding censorship, so let it be known that the social media platform has banned use of this word. Using it results in account suspension.

That’s pretty retarded.

Unlike Facebook, Twitter has not banned me. Largely because I havent tweeted in two years. ISTR that one of my last tweets was something to the effect of "Twitter is being especially stupid today!" I've never really looked back.

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May 20, 2018

A Very Interesting Discussion on the Great War


This week's episode of Midrats (#437) is a history episode with Norman Friedman focusing on his recent book about the naval aspects of World War One. Listen to all 71 minutes because this one is really eye opening. 

Friedman has gotten hold of Tirpitz's diary and this interview  goes into some depth depth regarding the domestic German political issues that were one of the less appreciated origins of the war. There is also discussion why forcing the Dardenelles/Gallipolli campaign reasonably appeared at the time to win a rational cost benefit analysis* and why Fisher's "crackpot" baltic invasion alternative was actually a very good idea. 




* Britain imported a lot of their grain from the Ukraine in Russia. It was considered easier to try and force the Hellespont than to raise the price of bread.

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May 18, 2018

Excellent Work Padawan!

One of those daring actionistas who answered the recruiting drive is distinguishing himself! Or herself. 
(It's hard to tell in Ninja clothes.)


Explanation here. First hit's free!

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Can You Concieve of the COSMIC CUTTLEFISH!?

Wait. What!?

This is a peer reviewed paper. 

33 scientists agree that cephalopods come from space


"Don't act so surprised! "


Of course, there are those in the scientific community who desperately want to deny that Lovecraft had it all figured out.

Not sure if this is a major boon to panspermia theory, or just too many liberative pedagogies being allowed into science. I suspect the latter, though I'm unsure if the octopus identastarian movement has that much sway on the academy. 

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Meanwhile, In Hawaii....

Live-cam, for as long as the reporter can endure. 



UPDATE: I think he said that the house with the decorative lava fountain in its yard that he periodically focuses on is actually the same house where the first fissure opened up. It's just flowed elsewhere. The house was still extant as of 13:30 EST Friday.



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Some Marketing Advice From a Z-List Blogger

This is a hobby for me so I'm not dreadfully concerned about traffic, however, there are those for whom traffic is a real concern. 


For those people I have a bit of advice:

If one, hypothetically, has an anime/tech blog and it is a beautifully laid out, visually appealing website, with richly illustrated 6000 word reviews then one has probably put a lot of time and effort into one's blog. 

One should therefore be aware that spamming the comments sections of  topically similar blogs with missives suggesting that one is the logical and worthy replacement for a beloved, recently deceased blogger will not bring one goodwill or hits, it will get one's comment deleted and give one's blog leprosy.

Furthermore, spamming the dead man's comments section is not a clever marketing strategy either. This will cause people who might otherwise be interested in one's site to sincerely and honestly hope that one dies in a fire. There are many reasons for this, perhaps nonintuitive, reaction, but it is difficult to explain decency, propriety and basic humanity to soulless, inhuman grave-desecrating ghouls so we'll focus on a lesser, but hopefully more comprehensible point.... Inviting a direct comparison of one's skill to that of someone one was never fit to wipe the ass of does not make one's product look good. 

I hope this post was helpful and edifying. 

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May 16, 2018

A Question for Those With Their Ear to the Ground on Tech

Are there any smatwatches in the pipeline that don't require an actual smatphone? It looks like one could easily have all the capability of a decent flip phone, which, honestly is all I need. 


This IS the 21st century and I WANT my Jonny Quest wrist phone.

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The Danegeld



It is always a temptation to an armed and agile nation
  To call upon a neighbour and to say: --
"We invaded you last night--we are quite prepared to fight,
  Unless you pay us cash to go away."

And that is called asking for Dane-geld,
  And the people who ask it explain
That you've only to pay 'em the Dane-geld
  And then  you'll get rid of the Dane!

It is always a temptation for a rich and lazy nation,
  To puff and look important and to say: --
"Though we know we should defeat you, we have not the time to meet you.
  We will therefore pay you cash to go away."

And that is called paying the Dane-geld;
  But we've  proved it again and  again,
That if once you have paid him the Dane-geld
  You never get rid of the Dane.

It is wrong to put temptation in the path of any nation,
  For fear they should succumb and go astray;
So when you are requested to pay up or be molested,
  You will find it better policy to say: --

"We never pay any-one Dane-geld,
  No matter how trifling the cost;
For the end of that game is oppression and shame,
  And the nation that pays it is lost!"


Kipling wrote that in 1911.  

Now 107 years later we have a different and more enlightened perspective on such matters. We know now that the Dane need not be a burly, ax-wielding honky, it might instead be a termagant harpy. 

And we have learned that we don't teach enough Kipling in school.

In the last few months this sort of thing has stepped up quite a bit, a few months ago Jon Del Arroz (and his family) endured doxxing and harassment before being banned from World-Con  and last week, John Ringo was booted from Con-Carolinas. This last one while not as viscerally frightening as Del Arroz's ordeal, was more disturbing in some ways because Con Carolinas had always had a rep as a fairly welcoming and heterodox convention, where people to the right of Mao's Red Guards could feel welcome. Well, no more. Correia, who as it happens, got canned by Origins yesterday had some thoughts on that at the time

Every time a con knuckles under to these thugs it empowers these little twits, and encourages them to do it again. Soon every con will be Wis-Con,  unless people like John Ward stop paying the Dane-Geld to these bullies. 

Of course, this assumes that encouraging this sort of blacklisting is not a bug, but a feature to John Ward, who may not be the Charles the Bald in all this...he might well be Quisling instead.  

UPDATE: Gail Heriot notes the date. It turns out that Correia's defenestration took place on the eve of an appropriate anniversary. 

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May 14, 2018

An Hour and a Half of Peter Thiel

First, here is 14 minutes of C-SPAN from 1996

It's a great talk and extremely prescient; frighteningly so.

It could almost be given today but for Thiel's youth, the C-SPAN date stamp, and the fact that what he warns will happen, has happened. 


Next, there is a very wide ranging and interesting 53 minutes of him being interviwed by FOX's Maria Bartiromo at the Economic Club of New York.



Finally, via Instapundit, there's 12 minutes of postulating why things have gone awry.

(Full speech here)

The Story of Nobel Laureate Robert Laughlin is particularly disturbing. 

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Oh

Proto-molecule

Protogen Corporation



Its not shlocky sci-fi prefix mongering.

It's corporate branding.

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May 12, 2018

A Place Farther Than the Universe (eps. 1-3)


What a wondrous age we live in! Despite having run its entire 13 episodes over the winter A Place Further Than the Universe can still be watched on Crunchyroll, and that is a wonderful thing because it would have been a crying shame to have missed this show. 



Mari Tamaki
is inert. Suffering from an excess of anxiety and a deficit in motivation, she suddenly realizes to her abject horror that she's accomplished nothing of note in her entire life. No achievements beyond the most perfunctory, no books written, lovers loved, children raised, careers, or adventures of any kind have punctuated her monotonous existence. 

She's also 16 so she's in a better position to rectify this sort of deep and profound personal failure than most of us. 

After several false attempts at breaking her life's cycle of unrelenting banality, she notes a young lady drop something while rushing to catch the train. 


Oh look. Foreshadowing!

When her attempt to return the item fails, she notices that it contains 1,000,000 yen. The girl was wearing a uniform from Mari's school so our heroine tracks her down and eventually reunites Shirase Kobuchizawa with her cash. As this is Japan and not an America high school, the money is not the result of Miss Kobuchizawa selling reprocessed fentanyl to the gym coach*, but rather money that she's been tallying up from various part time jobs with a specific goal in mind. 

Shirase Kobuchizawa wants to go to Antarctica. 

You see, Kobuchizawa's mother was an Antarctic researcher. 3 years prior, Mom went to Antarctica as part of a research expedition. In the process she encountered some mishap, and no body was ever found. Just before she left Mrs. Kobuchizawa had written a book (titled A Place Farther Than the Universe  ) , a copy of which Kobuchizawa gives Mari.

Mari is quite impressed that Shirase has her act together to such a degree, and is working towards a genuinely outre' and interesting goal. She asks to help and tag along in hopes of doing....something...and so the adventure begins. 



The show has a very different style than most. Live action backgrounds are used occasionally and the animation, while top-notch, gives off a very experimental vibe. In some ways it reminds me of a visual novel in its look. This is a genuinely well done show on all levels.the characters are surprisingly well realized and are pretty believable as precocious 16 year olds. That is, they alternate between determined, clever, naive and...dumb as a box of hair...much like actual teenagers. 


"Wait...THAT was you're plan?"

Other characters include Yuzuki Shiraishi a lurking cultist a successful but lonely singer and You-Tube personality, whose character type is somewhat cliche' but is beautifully handled here. Her mother/manager/slave-driver has signed her up to do an eco-friendly youth reporting gig on the expedition, and to say that Shiraishi is unenthusiastic is a massive understatement. When the girls try to sign on a junior reporters she tries to arrange for them to go in her stead....but is only half successful. On the other hand, finding friends that don't see her as a prop, connection or tool is an acceptable trade off.   



There is also, intriguingly, a rare, positive portrayal of a young Freeta. Hinata Miyake is a 16 year old who works in the Lawsons that Mari ends up working at.  Miyake does not go to high school, and supports herself. Japan, you see, has no compulsory education past 16. Hinata's is not at all interested in dealing with the BS of high school and since high school in Japan is mostly college prep, she's just gone ahead and taken the equivalent of a GED exam. She is studying independantly and plans to apply to college in a few years after building a nest egg and hopefully doing some traveling. Miyake has saved up a fair bit of money and when she finds out about the heroes plan, she eagerly asks to contribute. 


Which is another way of saying, "The stars are right".

Thus far, this is one of the best of the 'Cute Girls doing Cute Things' shows I've seen and unlike most has a sense of real direction personal growth. 

Remember though, this is a show about putting together an expedition to find what happened to someone who dissappeared...in Antarctica. The title of the show and the book that guides our heroines is A Place Farther Than the Universe, a title which has all sorts of eldritch implications**. We've all read enough Frank Belknap Long, John Campbell Jr.  and Lovecraft to know where this delightful girls adventure series is really going. As of episode 3 however, there is little indication of the any impending dread. I guess they are building the tension gradually. 

Here's the show stats at this point:

Penguins-2 (stuffed)
Bodies-0
Shuggoths-0
Moe' Blobs-4

Recommended? -YES!



*No indication is given as to what Shirase's job is, so fentanyl is technically a possibility. 
** (I think that's where Azathoth lives)

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May 09, 2018

In the Queue

This is what I'm looking at as I'm trying to get caught up amongst some of the shows that came and went while I was distracted.


Laid Back Camp: Another high-school after school club with an all girl membership, this show nevertheless is highly recommended by people whose judgement I trust, so I'm giving it a go.

A Place Farther Than the Universe: A girl goes to Antarctica to find her missing father, dragging her friends along in the process. This one is particularly intriguing. Allegedly another high school girls show focusing on self-discovery, it's plot involves Antarctica as well as missing people and I've read enough Frank Belknap Long and H.P. Lovecraft to know where this is going.

Yona of the Dawn: Another journey of the hero story where a young noble must gather together a team consisting entirely of the opposite sex to avenge the late king and save the land. The protagonist, Yona, is a princess in an exotic medieval fantasy world, one with a decidedly asian flavor and where women's breasts are much smaller than their heads. 


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May 07, 2018

It's Back IT'S BACK!



Actually My Hero Academia has been back for over a month, but given exams, papers, work and health issuesI've been completely oblivious to this happy development. 

This was, perhaps, fortuitous as the first episode and a half of the new season are rather uninspiring. Had I been watching them as they came out, I might have dropped the show. That would have been a shame.

  The season opener is a recap of previous episodes through the eyes of characters reflecting on the events of the last 38 episodes including a new instructor being given a run down of every character's superpower. They top off this collection of Shounen tropes by making it a beach episode. 
A completely safe for work beach episode.  
Episode two starts off much the same but ends with some vague hints that the series might be turning around. Episode three continues to remind us that this is definitely based on a Japanese shounen comic, as it is liberally sprinkled with the cliche's of that genre. However, these are well done and it turns out that...

This is where season three REALLY begins!

...ahem.

So far this is everything that the second half of season one was.  This is a kids show, and yet as I watched these 5 episodes, it actually brought tears to my eyes. It's more enjoyable and better storytelling than 99% of what's on. If I had a kid they'd be watching it. Probably. I say probably because especially around episode 42 parental previewing is advised. Your milage may vary, but, parents be aware that, while the heroes (with a few pointed exceptions) are very idealistic in a particularly American silver-age way, the villains are...not

At its heart, My Hero Academia is a love letter to American superhero comics of yesteryear and its Japanese flavor makes it something more. The show continues to do things that one doesn't see much of in American comics and visual media any more. It ponders the nature of heroism, while acknowledging the virtues of arete', stoicism honor and sacrifice. 

If you dropped My Hero Academia after the first episodes of this season, be aware that  you've been led astray by a cunning trick perpetrated by nefarious villains to get people to drop the show, get it cancelled and deny the world this show's heroic life lessons. DON'T FALL FOR IT! Go watch it now!

PLUS ULTRA!

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That's a Bad Thing to See on Your Commute




Via Volcano Cafe, which is doing a great job on covering the situation in Hawaii. 

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Signs, Portents and Ponderables


 This story dates from March, but it caught my eye for a couple of reasons.

"We’re seeing members from all the three letter agencies,” said Fortitude creator Drew Miller, a retired Air Force colonel and intelligence officer, in a reference to the Central Intelligence Agency, Defense Intelligence Agency and Federal Bureau of Investigation. 

The gentleman being quoted runs Fortitude Ranch, a prepper outfit that provides a number of fallout shelters and protected compounds around the U.S. in the event of a societal catastrophe. 

The two facilities near D.C. are reportedly getting a lot of business from civil servants in agencies that would be standing duty during a crisis with the aim of protecting family members.

Over the last several years, there have been quite a few luxury bomb shelters in the news like Vivos that cater to millionaires and such. While those are certainly cause for interest with regards to what the rich and connected might be anticipating, this particular collection of facilities are interesting in part because of their austerity. 

The underground portions of the compounds are not 5-star accommodations. 



They do, however, appear to be reasonably well thought out and adequate

The company requires that everyone familiarize themselves with their facilities weapons and stand watch at the gates in the event the area is habitable. They provide air transport from the many small airports in the DC area, to get the families to the facilities in a crisis.

One clever bit: they want their clients to be familiar with the facilities so they double as rustic resorts (as they have large acrerages and the east coast facilities are in the mountains) at which the members can relax and get training on the facilities weapons(!).

So why should this be of any interest:
The impression given by their approach and lack of granite countertops is that this series of shelters is for people who are...serious...about this sort of thing. More importantly, civil servants in the agencies that concern themselves with this stuff have reportedly looked at the situation the country is in and decided to put down money on it. 

The whole thing brings to mind this...



Yes kids. It's time to get your bug out bags in order.
 

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The 2nd Fleet Returns

  The United States Navy's Second Fleet has just been re-activated. It's area of responsibility is the Atlantic Ocean. During the Cold War, this was a major unit second only to the 6th fleet (Mediterranean and inshore Europe) in importance if the balloon went up.  The 2nd Fleet was deactivated in 2011 because the Obama administration determined that there was no need for there to be a U.S. Navy fleet in the Atlantic.....



"Do what now?"

Anyway, the 2nd fleet command has just been reactivated. In the event of any hostilities in Europe it would be tasked with keeping the Atlantic sea-lanes open. This is being taken as a sign of the rising tensions with Russia, and to be sure, that is a factor. However, it's also a matter of remedial Geography and common sense that the U.S. needs a fleet whose area of operations is the Atlantic.

It would be even better if we could provide it with some ships. 

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May 06, 2018

Perhaps Not as Laid Back as They Were Hoping For.


Art By: Ueyama Michirou Buy their stuff here!

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A Solution to the Fermi Paradox

At some point every advanced species reaches such a level of prosperity and safety amongst their creative classes that whatever serves as their equivalent of an amygdala atrophies to such a degree that some theoretically intelligent minds conclude that an "internet of things" is a good idea and nobody has the good sense to tar and feather them. 


To wit.
 

The cyber threat hunters had honed their chops at the National Security Agency -- the world's premier electronic spy agency. And last fall, they were analyzing malware samples from around the world when they stumbled across something highly troubling: the first known piece of computer software designed to kill humans.

 I suggest that you  read the whole thing.

 Now yes; " first known piece of computer software designed to kill humans" indicates a lack of understanding of how fire control systems work. But, they're talking about malware here so, all pedantry aside... There is a bit in the article about a particular company's policy not to provide information on the source of the attacks. I have some questions about that for my more technically inclined readers.

I would imagine that it is very difficult to achieve any certainty on where an attack comes from since it would seem likely that routing access through a third party one might want to frame would inherently be well within the capability of entities doing this sort of thing. I'm not particularly tech savvy so I have to ask if this is this even remotely correct.

Is it still considered best practice to have an air gap between one's equipment software and the internet? Obviously this is pretty much thrown out the window by the internet of things, which are all about convenience with little or no thought to security. However if someone's internet connected slow cooker is hacked there is a culinary mishap. If someone's refrigerator is hacked to empty their checking account and order 500 gallons of natto and boiled okra, then one person stupid enough to give his the refrigerator the keys to his Amazon account has learned a lesson.   If these industrial systems are hacked we could have another Bhopal. Why is there a way to access these on site systems from the internet at all? Shouldn't that be on site? 

Of course one needs the ability to send out a general alarm but that interface can be electro-mechanical and therefore nigh un-hackable, at least remotely.  

Anyway, I'm curious what others have to say on this. 
So discuss...

 

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