October 30, 2014

An Epiphany

This afternoon, It suddenly occurred to me who the proprietor of Zoopraxiscope is.

The guy is obviously a genius since he can find gems like this

Thus, he probably has a PHD.

That he's musically inclined is obvious.

The final giveaway though was that, his name is Don. He probably didn't count on someone having spent their childhood playing with plastic toys that had names like Iguanadon, Trachodon and Deniedon..but I did and so I know!

BEHOLD!

My first go at doxxing....
more...

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October 29, 2014

Not Really Effective, but Surprisingly Good

While looking for info on the Ukranian situation I blundered into this, 
 It's an interesting post on penetration tests that the Soviets did matching their 14.5mm anti-tank rifles against captured German tanks. 

 
First is a "heavy tank". I have no idea what it is, aside from that it's German. Here are the results with a 14.5 mm AT rifle:
  • Lower front plate (45 mm at 10 degrees): does not penetrate
  • Turret rear (28-30 mm at 10 degrees): penetrates at 200 meters, 100 meters at a 30 degree angle
  • Turret platform side (28-30 mm): penetrates at over 300 meters, 100 meters at a 30 degree angle
  • Lower hull side (28-30 mm): penetrates at over 400 meters, 100 meters at a 30 degree angle

This is a bit better than I would have thought. 

The performance against what are described as medium and light tanks is correspondingly better. I would not want to face these in a Panzer2 or even some modern APCs, and certainly not in a Humvee.

The"rifles" are beasts of course, with the lighter, single shot version weighing nearly 41 pounds and being 79 inches long. I suppose if one put a bayonet on one it would be a serviceable pike. These were obsolescent later in the war, but it is apparent that they were still quite effective weapons if used well.  I knew these guns were still in use around the world as antimaterial rifles, but the linked post gives a much greater appreciation of how fearsome they can be.






 "That just ain't right!".

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Meanwhile

While all eyes are on the Ebola situation, one should keep in mind that as things stand now, Ebola is not at all likely to infect and kill you.



"But...but..."
So cheer up. 

There are other things to worry about....

NATO countries have been responding to incursions by Russian military assets almost daily. Now the Russians are sending their bombers in groups of 8.   Note that a Tu-95-MS (Bear) bomber can carry 16 KH-55 (Kent) nuclear tipped cruise missiles. 
Math can be unpleasant. 

I'm unfamiliar with this site and unsure if it is reads as the Twenty Committee or is looking at foreign policy from a female perspective. However, it does have an interesting overview of Poland's current preparations for hostilities with Russia, which it increasingly views as possible. 

While no one was looking, Putin pretty much annexed another chunk of Georgia (as Putin will).   
 ...In other words, the agreement’s language lays out a blatant attempt to administratively annex Abkhazia into Russia proper. The Abkhazian separatist "parliament” was given two weeks to discuss the treaty. However, Moscow does not expect any negative reactions from Sukhumi about this agreement (vedomosti.ru, October 13). And indeed, it is difficult to imagine what Tbilisi can do to avert this looming annexation of Abkhazia—a region where thousands of Russian occupation troops are stationed.

Of course, Russia is not universally bellicose and is quite capable of strengthening relationships. 

Last month, visitors to Bandar Abbas on Iran’s southern coast gathered to witness a never-seen-before event: two Chinese warships pulling into port.

It could be just the start of a budding naval alliance stretching from the Pacific to the Persian Gulf.
 

Those are not the only vessels that has been in that part of the world recently.

...a Chinese attack sub—a so-called hunter-killer, designed to seek out and destroy enemy vessels—slipped through the strait above water and disappeared. It resurfaced near Sri Lanka and then in the Persian Gulf, say people familiar with its movements, before returning through the strait in February—the first known voyage of a Chinese sub to the Indian Ocean.

 Iran of course is quite happy to use Chinese purchases get around the arms embargo it's suffering under because of its nuclear weapons program.

That nuclear weapons program seems to have some relationship to what on the surface are two completely unrelated stories

The North Koreans reportedly have developed a miniaturized nuclear warhead light enough to fit on a missile.  (The original WSJ piece is here, but behind a paywall). This, of course, is of no use to them without a missile that could deliver it. In no doubt unrelated news, North Korea is building a test rig for a tube launched ballistic missile. This is odd as North Korea has no ballistic missile submarines...aside from the Golf class SSB they bought a few years ago...but using those 40 year old hulls is so far fetched as to be laughable.  The tube test could be for a land based missile or some other project, though the Global Security report does mention sightings of a submarine firred out with a launch tube. Meanwhile  Iran is also testing a similar type of launch tube, allegedly with help from North Korea.  This aparrent technical exchange brings us to the buried lede in the story about the North Koreans small warhead.
Such nuclear warheads would be small enough to fit on a ballistic missile and would be a major improvement to Pyongyang’s weapons technology. Gen. Scaparrotti said he believed North Korea also had developed a launcher that could carry an ICBM with a miniaturized warhead…

Gen. Scaparrotti said North Korea may have gained know-how on warhead-miniaturization technology through its relationships with Iran and Pakistan

Emphasis mine...

Pakistan makes sense, but if Iran does not have a nuke yet, how are they offering advanced technical assistance on nukes?

Which brings us to the Jeffry Goldberg piece in The Atlantic the other day which is notorious for quoting two senior administration officials as referring to Israel's Prime Minister as "Chick*****t". However, there is a much more troubling bit in the tirade by our administration against an ally.  
I ran this notion by another senior official who deals with the Israel file regularly. This official agreed that Netanyahu is a "chickenshit” on matters related to the comatose peace process, but added that he’s also a "coward” on the issue of Iran’s nuclear threat. The official said the Obama administration no longer believes that Netanyahu would launch a preemptive strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities in order to keep the regime in Tehran from building an atomic arsenal. "It’s too late for him to do anything. Two, three years ago, this was a possibility. But ultimately he couldn’t bring himself to pull the trigger. It was a combination of our pressure and his own unwillingness to do anything dramatic. Now it’s too late.” 

Emphasis mine...
So we have an administration official bragging about how they successfully pressured the Israelis not to take out Iran's nuclear program...then ridiculing him for being such a shmuck as to give into their pressure...and gleefully reporting that there is nothing the Israelis can do about Iran's nukes...because "it's too late".

That does not actually induce 'the warm fuzzies'.  

What if some of those later,  more successful North Korean nuclear tests were joint tests with Iran and Iran has therefore already tested their bomb? Of course there would need to be some evidence of Iranian scientists present at North Korea's nuclear tests for that silly theory to have any merit. 

It is good to put that worry to rest otherwise the fact that Iran is the state sponsor of Hezbollah might be cause for considerable alarm. You see there are further indications that Hezbollah is prepping for a huge attack on Israel in the very near future, one likely to overwhelm Israel's missile defenses. Additionally, the Israelis are assuming that there is a tunnel network in place along the lines of the one used by Gaza in the recent conflict there. 



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Snowflakes Can Help Spread Ebola!?

Actually, they have to be precious, special ones


The nurse who was quarantined after returning from treating Ebola patients in West Africa has given the State of Maine until Thursday to let her move freely, setting up what could be a test case of whether state quarantines are legal.
 

This is quite troubling. Ebola is not an unmanageable problem as Senegal and Nigeria have shown, but it is not to be trifled with.
It is said that doctors make the worst patients. Miss Hickox and her colleague in New York, (who lied to authorities about breaking quarantine ) are doing nothing to contradict that notion. 

Ace has some thoughts on this that are worth reading.

The reason we have coercive, non-voluntary quarantines is that we have learned through 4,000 years of recorded human history that people will not voluntarily self-quarantine, and will in fact act irrationally as willing agents of plague.

  It bears repeating that Ebola spread to Nigeria, and very nearly Minnesota because  an American named Patrick Sawyer decided that quarantine ought not to apply to his own special self. One of the problems America faces is a class of people who believe that they are above the laws they set for others. In the case of these doctors such aristocratic self indulgence could make a manageable problem a catastrophe. This would not be the first time political pressure screwed up a public health response, but it is far less excusable since this disease is far easier to screen for.  


The thing I like MOST about the United States is that the hypocrisy and sense of entitlement that some of its doctors have are almost indistinguishable from negligence and stupidity!

In other news: It appears that Ebola Tan's pet skull is named Wilhelm. How this information might be of use is unclear to me at this time. 

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Layers of Fact Checkers...That Work

I haven't played online RPGs to any great extent and am unaware of the nuances of the cultural tics of those that do. Likewise, I've pretty much given up on dating because I simply do not understand the female of the species. 


A couple of our readers have helpfully taken the time to intelligently fill in some of the vast amounts of context related to those matters that I missed in a recent review. 


"Midlife crisis my arse"

See? The comments here are not just for practicing katakana and reading about knockoff footwear!  

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October 28, 2014

Now I REALLY Regret not Driving up to Chincoteague Today


Alas, it turned out not to be visible from here after all. 
But a sincere thanks goes out to Pete for the heads up nonetheless.

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October 27, 2014

This Week, On a Very Special Episode of Log Horizon: Nothing Happened

Well almost nothing.

Akatsuki, the awesome, badass kunoichi spent the most of the episode being mopey and neurotic. This 27 year old woman who in her previous life was in graduate school, and in this world has established herself as one of the guild's most trusted and effective members is convinced that ...
A: She's been assigned royal escort duty because she's....weak.
B: She's being out competed in romance by a 13 year old. 

Both of these fail the logic test. Regards A: It is blindingly obvious that Shiro gave her the (extremely vital) guard duty because he has confidence in her and trusts her utterly. If B were in fact correct then Shiro would, by definition, not be worth any of her time beyond that necessary to vivisect him for the good of humanity and therefore B should not be a problem one way or the other. Yet this generally awesome character spends the episode having some sort of midlife crisis, while the women around her eat cake and carry on conversations that for the most part fail the Bechdel test. 

This near fiasco of an episode has actually given me a possible insight into the show. I shall call it the 'Cake Rule'.



Any episode of Log Horizon that prominently involves a large variety of cakes will be sub par. 

Of course, like the last cake episode, inserted between the banality and the failure was what may well be a rather important development.
 

Now, in fairness, not everything in the episode was disappointing or grim. One bit was not at all unpleasant, though it must be said that from a character perspective it also made little sense. However,  I'm willing to cut them a bit of slack for it.
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October 24, 2014

Remarkably Watchable Badass Yarn

Villains...
They can vastly improve a show, particularly a superhero show. 
Season two of RWBY has taken that lesson to heart and run with it.  The villains are genuinely frightening, with style, amazing choreography and snappy one liners... 


"Pick any three." 

Yeah...This show is not high art, but it is definitely a keeper. 

First season was amusing, but occasionally painful to watch. However, the people making this have really honed their craft. 
RWBY has been pretty good all season, but now, just over two thirds of the way into this season this show has really hit its stride. 

My only complaint is that NEXT WEEK IS A WHOLE WEEK AWAY!


"We can wait!" 


Which, when one thinks about it, is not a damning complaint at all. 


For those who want an overview of the currently active plot thread, click here: 

 

I do have a few questions for those who watch the show. 


There are, I believe, still 5 episodes to go. 

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We Have Morons on Our Team

It seems that Craig Spencer, a doctor with Medicines Sans Frontiers, recently returned from the ebola hot zone in Africa. 10 days or so into his 21 day quarantine period he began feeling ill. This sad news, is, of course, not unexpected. It is why we have the quarantine for those who are exposed to this vile bug. Unfortunately, it gets worse. You see, he began feeling ill, when, as part of his..umm...quarantine...he had taken the subway to that bastion of solitude that is...a bowling alley.



Ace has thoughts
Yup. That's what you like to see. Potentially infected people should really try to mix with as many random strangers as possible. They should try to wear as many rented shoes as possible, and stick their fingers into bowling balls that other people will be handling.
 Also stand in line for food. 

I understand, that he took an Uber home.

Good grief. 
This was a fricking DOCTOR! He had just spent a tour witnessing up close what this dreadful pestilence can do, and he broke quarantine?! To go BOWLING!? 

Dr. Reynolds has a bunch of links on this here

People gave grief to the late Thomas Duncan who was, at one point, told that he was clear and sent home, but this guy was a doctor with direct experience with this disease...he knew better. Presumably, he just decided that it wasn't going to happen to him.

 Hubris kills, and it does not confine its wrath to the arrogant. 

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October 23, 2014

Somewhere, Thor Heyerdahl is Smiling

In the 1940s,  Thor Heyerdahl, a Norwegian anthropologist (and scourge of Nazi super science) postulated that there had been travel and trade between South America and some or all of Polynesia. 



He based this in large part on studies of artifacts and cultural aspects found on Rapa Nui (Easter Island). Opinion of the day was that the Amerindians were incapable of such voyages and that Heyerdahl was a nut. The famous Kon Tiki expedition was intended to test the feasibility of Hyerdahl's theory and address his critics objections to it. 


April 28, 1947 Kon Tiki sets sail from Callao, Peru

Kon Tiki was a replica of an ancient Peruvian balsa raft and constructed with no metal aside from a radio in the hut. It sailed from Peru all the way to Ramoia in 101 Though the voyage was successful, (and a huge, international sensation) Dr. Hyerdahl himself was quite clear that the voyage did not prove his theory but did indicate that it was possible. 

Thor Heyerdahl's theory was widely criticized and fell out of favor, in part because it was misunderstood. He did not posit that Polynesia had been populated from South America, only that there had been some cultural exchange between the two.  


Well, it appears that Heyerdahl, was, at the very least, on the right track.
Recent genetic evidence has concluded that the inhabitants of Rapa Nui are indeed the product of interbreeding between Polynesians and Native Americans. 

 Genetic data on 27 Easter Island natives indicated that interbreeding between the Rapa Nui and native people in South America occurred roughly between 1300 and 1500.

"We found evidence of gene flow between this population and Native American populations, suggesting an ancient ocean migration route between Polynesia and the Americas," said geneticist Anna-Sapfo Malaspinas of the Center for GeoGenetics at the University of Copenhagen, who led the study.  ['quote]

What's more, at least one Native American tribe was originally completely Polynesian. 

A second study, also published in Thursday's issue of Current Biology, illustrates another case of Polynesians venturing into South America. Two ancient human skulls from Brazil's indigenous Botocudo people, known for the large wooden disks they wore in their lips and ears, belonged to people who were genetically Polynesian, with no detectable Native American ancestry.
 

If this data pans out, then it sure looks like Thor Heyerdahl nailed it! 


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October 22, 2014

Ottawa Shooting

The story keeps changing, with announcements of other shootings being reported and retracted. What is known is that at least one gunman murdered a ceremonial guard at the Canadian National War Memorial before walking into the Parliament Building and shooting up the place before being killed himself. 


There were reports on the radio that Canada had just increased their alert levels due to intercepted terrorist "chatter".
 

There is a lot of confusion so I'll just link to the people on on the spot. CTV, CBC, 680, and the Ottawa Gazette all have updating pages with video. Small Dead Animals is a Canadian blog that is covering this here and here. She obviously has access to the local news outlets. 

There is some speculation  that the shooting may be tied to Nobel Laureate Malala Yousafzi's being given Canadian Citizenship today, but while quite possible, and likely if this is indeed a Jihadist action, there doesn't seem to be any confirmation of that. 

UPDATE: Wow! 

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October 20, 2014

Congratulations to Nigeria and Senegal!

Astoundingly good news! Nigeria and Senegal seem to have licked Ebola for now. It still might flare up and refugees might reintroduce it, but both countries got on top of it by taking it seriously and acting diligently. 


Meanwhile, Ebola Tan discusses current events with a colleague .

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October 19, 2014

Well Then....

That was....a week.

Some folks can take solace in the fact that the vast majority of people are unremarkable.

However, it is indeed true that The Force is quite strong with a few individuals.

The rest of us seem to have donated our midichlorians to those remarkable people, that they might do great deeds.

I suppose it is nice to have a purpose. 


One other thing. I've been ignoring the computer for a few days so if I haven't returned E-mails it is due to....


....GHAAAAH! Seven hundred and sixty three!?


Brickmuppet Blog will be up and running in a day or two.  

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October 14, 2014

Midterms

It's exam week. I can't really justify any time away from the books to blog or otherwise avoid studying. 

However, I can justify taking a moment to rectify (in a small way) the alarming lack of Princess Lanessia in the world. 


 Estal's eminent, elegant emissary to Akihabara and Log Horizon as rendered  by ジャン・ポポ

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October 11, 2014

Stupid, Stupid, Stupid Dvorak Keyboard is Stupid

On the other hand there are things like this, so life is not completely unbearable. 



A hat tip is probably redundant

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