October 08, 2019

Tooting Our Own Horn

Regarding this weeks issue with China, censorship South Park, Anime, Blizzard, the NBA, Vans, Disney, videogame content, and, "global beauty standards", we were discussing this here back in June.

One thing in particular that's not getting a lot about of coverage about this censorship: The Blizzard link is to a 20 minute video has an interesting bit of background on how China's censors have been removing or white washing (literally!) black and other dark skinned characters in video games for some time.

This is a BIG deal and it deserves a lot more attention that the flurry of attention that is likely to be over by the end of the week.

 For instance, this cancerous dynamic is actually the source of many of the "reactionism clauses" that are popping up in the Orwellian TOS's of tech and media companies.


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October 07, 2019

Well. That's How it's Done.

Ohio State's halftime show from last week commemorated the 50th anniversary of the moon landing.



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Oh Look. I Done Tooted


Actually, I just realized that I've been tooting. Every time I supported someone on Pixiv Fanbox it was tooted to the four winds of Pawoo.

Now they know.
They all know...


Anyway, I've got to figure out this Fediverse thing. I'm wondering if I can't log into other instances because my Pawoo account is through Pixiv.

UPDATE: It doesn't really matter, I'm still able to follow people on federated sites like Mastodon and Pieroma.

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October 06, 2019

"Cadet Corbet, Report to the Launch Pad."

This is just the most AWESOME looking thing.


Resizing animated .gifs without breaking them and embedding .MP4s is currently beyond our ability so click here for the full thing.

Musk is saying that once this thing makes it to twenty kilometers up and safely back down, then the following launch will be to orbit.

Crewed flights will follow in short order.

Space-X has massively updated their Starship page. See here.

Musk's decision to use simpler field serviceable materials, mainly stainless steel in the construction of his new rockets means that the main  production bottleneck is the big Raptor engines. The production capacity of those engines and their practical number of resuses for each will determine the pace of the construction program. Naturally, increasing raptor production is getting a lot of attention.

While there are very complex pieces of kit going into these ships (like life support systems in the manned ones) they are, on balance not terribly complex compared than contemporary aircraft or ships.

This has some interesting implications for mass production given that Musk is doing this as a crash program.  because constructing a 300-400 ton  stainless steel spacecraft stack, is probably not much more of an investment in relative terms than a 1200 ton destroyer was in WW1, (273 ships in ~2 years). While those numbers are far beyond the ken of a single midsized company with two production facilities, they do indicate that if production methods are nailed down, in a few years a score or more of these things might be produced.


"But wait, there's more!"

The stainless steel construction is even more interesting in the context of in-situ repairs on Mars. Steel is easily workable and while stainless steel is less so its far more so than titanium or composites and can be repaired in the field.

Morever, while Space-X's plans to produce fuel on mars are well known it should be noted that Martian soil is mostly iron oxide and the martian atmosphere is 1/3 carbon, so steel is readily available given some modest infrastructure. While stainless steel and steel are hard to weld together, it is not impossible to do so, and it's conceivable that a damaged ship on Mars might be repaired sufficiently to get into Earth orbit.

In the much longer term with enhanced infrastructure, it gets better. You see, the materials for making stainless steels are varying proportions of iron ore, chromium, silicon, nickel, carbon, nitrogen, and manganese. If one takes a deep dive into the biologically obnoxious Martian Regolith, one finds the following proportions:


Note the presence, albeit sometimes in minute concentrations of everything except nitrogen which is mainly used as a substitute for nickel, which is found in minute quantities only at the pathfinder landing site. Fortunately, floating above the dirt is the martian atmosphere which is 2.7% Nitrogen. These are minute quantities to be sure and probably not practical for extraction at an early base, but this is only the surface dirt and their presence there indicates that there is more to be found.

If Space-X doesn't faceplant, which is not beyond the realm of posibility, then there is the very real potential for the next decade to see scores, if not hundreds of these ships built to carry people, quite possibly settlers, to Mars, the Moon and the asteroids.

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Joker

It was all that and a bowl of grits.




I will likely not see it again as it is dark to the point that I found it hard to watch, (It really deserves its R-rating) but it is absolutely riveting and amazingly well done.

I'd heard that he'd done a good job, but Joaquin Phoenix just knocks it out of the park,  acting with every muscle in his body to give a performance for the ages.

The art direction and set design are superb. It's a period piece that looks like it was filmed in the period in which it was set. 

This is just a superb piece of filmmaking.

And high-octane nightmare fuel.

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A Blast From the Past; A Legendary Asshat (UPDATED)


John Nestor was a man who followed the rules to the letter. Jonah Goldberg remembered this paragon of propriety  as part of a questionable analogy opening a 2013 column.


In the early 1980s, transit officials in Washington couldn’t figure out why traffic on the Beltway would grind to a near halt every day around the exact same time. The usual explanations didn’t fit.

Then it was discovered that a single driver was to blame. Every day on his drive to work, this commuter would plant himself in the left lane and set his cruise control to 55 mph, the posted speed limit, forcing those behind him to merge right. You can imagine the effects.

It gets better...

To his credit, this driver came forward in a letter to the editor of the Washington Post. The man’s name was John O. Nestor. He explained that the left lane was great; less traffic, less merging — why not ride it into work every day? Besides, he wrote, "Why should I inconvenience myself for someone who wants to speed?”

With that bit of daily narcissistic malice, this jackass was able to destroy the traffic in the DC area. The term "Nestoring" was coined by readers of the Washington Post to describe his antics.

It gets better worse still...

Fittingly, Nestor was a regulator at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Virtually no drug was worth the risk, according to Nestor. The FDA transferred him out of the cardio-renal-pulmonary unit to some bureaucratic backwater because he "had approved no new chemical entities ... from 1968 to 1972...
There is more on this here.

So this officious prick caused untold deaths because he stopped ANY approvals of heart medicine for 4 years. This does not count the deaths from any accidents he likely caused on the beltway or the people who got stuck in traffic in an ambulance and died on the way to the ER.

Mr. Nestor wrought all this misery by simply following the rules and exercising his lawful power over others. His comment about speeders belied the fact that Nestor was actually a bully. Devoid of empathy, he derived glee from hurting others with his passive aggressive mischief. His refusal to approve a single drug for the stated reason of fearing there might be harm speaks to either profound moral cowardice or fearful malice.


Jackasses are all around us. But few have had been able to make such a profound difference by themselves as Mr. Nestor. So today we remember a truly legendary asshat.

NOTE: The above was originally published in 2013.  In order to get reference material for this post I had to search my own blog to find Nestor's name so I just copy-pasted it and fixed the hyperlinks.

It is relevant because I had an unexpectedly intense discussion with a friend this evening about this topic and I could not, for the life of me remember the jackasses name.

It's more relevant to my Virginia readership because in looking it up, to my astonishment, I discovered that...

 VIRGINIA HAS PASSED A LAW ESTABLISHING A $100 DOLLAR FINE FOR BEING POKEY IN THE PASSING LANE.

Actually, they passed it in 2017 to very little fanfare...and even less definition of pokey.

There are good reasons to discourage people from engaging in such despicable behavior...as noted by NPR, and this Canadian, but the Virginia law seems alarmingly vague. Cripes!


Additionally, There are other,  less definitive or peer reviewed reasons besides giving a damn about traffic patterns to get out of the way when someone overtaking you flashes their high beams.

Now, let's be clear, when this dreadfully annoying thing occurs, there is a 90-99% chance that the individual coming up behind you is a complete jerk with delusions of autobahn.

But here's the thing.

A few years ago my Dad was pulled over for traveling at...rather excessive speed...in the passing lane, and he had been flashing his high beams to get people out of his way. He explained to the officer that my mom was having a stroke, after some quick checking the officer escorted them to the hospital and no ticket was issued. Mom got there in time. I've known or known of several people in similar straits when they had to determine the minutes it would take to await an ambulance versus the dire need of a loved one. Now there are plenty of reasons why this is, in a macro sense a bad idea. One is after all engaging in a different sort of risky behavior, but cost/risk benefit analysis is less clear cut when dealing with a loved one.

90% or more of high beam flashers are probably asshats, but I am not such a narcissist that I'll take smug satisfaction in the power I wield over the speeder by refusing to get out of their way, because on the off chance that the speeder is in dire straits, to not yield (if safe to do so) might result in a preventable death, and that blood would, (if not legally, morally) be on my hands.

On this. your mileage may certainly vary.



*FULL DISCLOSURE: The word "pokey"does not actually appear anywhere in the aforementioned alarming legislation.

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October 05, 2019

Ambivalence

Thanks to Mauser in the comments for alerting me to this.

New character designs are new.


I wonder if there's actually a canon reason for some of the non costume changes.

I must say, despite my ambivalence, I do like Weiss's Saber Cosplay. The continuity with Ironwood's beard over the last few seasons is actually cool. 

Everything LOOKS great and there seems to be a lot of development of concepts introduced in previous seasons.

We'll see.

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Another Question For You, Gentle Readers

I know that there are people here who do research into events that were recently current, so, I've got a question.

Is anybody else finding it REALLY hard to find old news articles online?

One example. I can't find a lot involving the American response to the Russian movement into the Donbass back in 2009-10 2014 and particularly the fact that at that time there were actual Nazis (not neo-, not alt-right, I'm talking Jew Hating socialists sporting a Crooked Buddhist Sunwheel) in the Ukranian parliament.

I'm not a particular fan of Milo, but I recently tried to look up info on the hit job against him. I found plenty on the false accusations, but I had to use the mee.nu search engine to find one of my own posts with 6 links debunking them, none of which were searchable without EXACT wording.

I'm now having a hard time finding old blog posts, particularly ones on my old blog, or references to my, um,  ill-fated Congressional run.

I'm SURE there used to be an option where one could search by date ie: by year and month and keywords as opposed to just "Anytime, Past Week, Past Month, Last Year".

Am I imagining this?

Anybody?

That is all.

Here is a completely coincidental video:



 

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And Another

A female employee of Kyoto Animation is now the 36th employee of that company to die as a result of injuries sustained in the fire. She was one of three still hospitalized and aparrently contracted an infection in the ICU.




She was in her 20s.

UPDATE: From the Mainichi Shinbun:
Most of the victims were in their 20s and 30s, as the company is known to hire young animators as regular employees and conduct in-house training, while many other studios tend to rely on skilled freelancers.



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October 03, 2019

That Feeling When...

...one realizes that the Twitterism TFW stands for "That Feeling When" and not .

I'm not on Twitter that much and most of the time when I encountered the acronym either interpretation was appropriate.

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October 01, 2019

Chariklo and the Importance of Reading the WHOLE Page Before Linking it

I was curious about that ringed asteroid/dwarf planet they found between Uranus and Saturn a while back. Chariklo is one of several asteroids in that region between Uranus and Saturn which have collectively been named the Centaurs. The objects in this small group are named after centaurs from Greek mythology and as there aren't many of those, any non-Centaur spouses/children from when the myths implied that the achievement "hybrid vigor" was unlocked...still they are likely to run out of names from Greek Mythology and will soon have to go to other sources.


Ms. Shianus by エルセン(Elsen?)

Etymology aside,  these objects don't represent a large field like the Main Belt, the Jovian Trojans, or Hildas, but are thought to be a few objects from the Kupier Belt tossed sunward like Triton and Pluto/Charon. The largest of these, Chariklo, (named after Chiron's wife) had caused some confusion due to uncertainty about its size and readings that indicated it was either big and icy or small and surprisingly not so. It turned out that the Chariklo is a largely spherical object with an icy ring system that may imply two or more shepherd moons as well.

Not enough is known about this object to know if it will ultimately qualify as a Dwarf Planet (it would have to be in hydro-static equilibrium) but there's a chance that it might.  It's certainly at the low end of the scale of such things as can be seen here.....



Because Ceres is not a common frame of reference, the below picture may be helpful.



Besides the general coolness factor of the rings, one thing appears curious from the perspective of a layman with a mere Bachelor of Arts degree. The rings were discovered in part because when viewed front on the object appeared to be an icy object, when viewed ring edge on the moon appeared to be ice free. Now, "ice free" might mean largely anhydrous like Psyche, or just covered in regolith like Ceres. If the former, Chariklo might be something even more interesting. If all it's water is baked out then this thing might be a differentiated object like Vesta and Psyche, with all the potential for mineral wealth that that would imply.

As of now I have not learned anything more along those lines.

However, while looking,  I did encounter the exact opposite of learning. Well almost. In my search I blundered onto this website and very nearly used it as a reference hyperlink...after all it linked to space.com and had a nice overview of the object...the etymology of its name, and it then went on to discuss where the object can be seen in the sky at various times of the year which might be useful if one somehow has a ridiculously powerful telescope as this is a very dark object, (though the rings might be visible to some very well equipped amateur astronomers if one knows where to look).

Alas, this positional information was in reference to which HOUSES the object is in when viewed from Earth because the discovery of this object fills in some of the gaps in the predictive powers of...astrology.

Chariklo aspects seem to be prominent in individuals who take a step into the future. It may be through science (Pierre Curie, who studied the various types of energies, had a close Chariklo conjunct Sun...the greatest source of energy for this planet; Alexander Graham Bell, who studied ways to communicate with the deaf and who invented the telephone, had a close Chariklo conjunct Mercury....planet of communication).


Oh Lord.

Yes, the cray-cray is strong with this link. The author manages to tie in many of the cast and crew of Star Trek, Dr. Who, The Outer Limits and various other Sci-Fi authors to being born under the sign of this object, because this space-rock being linked...somehow...to forward thinking people is obviously linked to those involved in science fiction. Obviously.

Obviously.

Actually, there is a tremendous amount of research that went into this page. There is the equivalent of four typed pages that catalog when people of note were born when this asteroid happened to be in a certain arbitrary location when viewed from the Earth*.

There's an awful lot of numbers and charts.
 
So, (checks) I appear to be a Capricorn. If I were to apply this websites knowledge practically, what conclusions could be drawn about me?


Ms. Shianus by Okayado. Profound wisdom inspired by the Onion.

Indeed.

But wait.

This stupid actually gets worse.

Three out of the first five pages that came up on Chariklo in a web search were in fact astrology pages. None of them were the Space.com page that the Astrology page linked to.

The algorithms that are deciding who gets to speak and what is a credible source can't tell the difference between astrology and astronomy.

This is why we can't have nice things. 

We're doomed! DOOMED!

Of course, in a few million years Chariklo might be too, since it's likely to eventually join the Saturnian or Uranian system....perhaps catastrophically.



Green=Uranus  Yellow=Saturn  Unlikely Pink=Chariklo



*The third large object orbiting an unremarkable green dwarf in a big  empty bubble in the Orion arm of The Milky Way Galaxy, one of what is provincially known as The Local Group, a cluster of Galaxies which is somewhat removed from the apparent center of Lainekia.


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September 30, 2019

A WinRar is Me

Last week I received an E-mail apologizing and informing me that me that my confirmation E-mail had gone to spam and that the snacks were in the mail.

Allow me to explain...



BILLY VERSUS SNAKEMAN is one of the many less than productive slices on the time allocation pie-graph of the Walter Mitty LARP that is my life.

 It's a fun little anime themed browser game where one vicariously lives the life of a text based ninja living in a text based ninja village working with one's fellow ninja villagers to protect the village from attacks by other ninja villages, rampaging Kaiju, zombies, snowstorms, petitioners, sketchy peddlers, gambling schoolgirls and renegade tattoo artists, all the while going on quests and missions (to other anime genres) that pit you against the malign elder deity that is The Random Encounter Table. There's a TV Tropes page for it.

The game is actually surprisingly well designed. It's fun and despite the limitations of a text based browser game, it  affords considerable freedom and a surprising ability to cooperate with other players in your village, and occasionally others villages as well.

 It's  run by Hammergirl Anime in Rochester New York which is relevant to this explanation because on the very day I had it confirmed that I'd graduated from college, I was informed that I had won "25 Dollars in Weird Japanese Snacks From Hammergirl".



And today...



Huh...



This box from Hammergirl Anime contained a whole bunch of 'Weird Japanese Snacks'.

But that's exactly what was promised!


"So. As a video game company Hammergirl is already way ahead of Bethesda."

Indeed!
If you're interested, you can play Billy Versus Snakeman here. Pixy and I are in Snowflake Village. Which is...totally not for snowflakes. Hopefully,  we will be accepting memberships again this evening or tomorrow.
Update
: Snowflake Village is accepting new members. Thanks Pixy.





Anyway.

Now I must deal with these Weird snacks.

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Best. Fan-Letter. EVER.

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September 28, 2019

Big Rocket is Big


Actual speechification begins at 16:55

Musk seems a bit off his game in this presentation, though the speech itself is mostly a recap and celebration of Space-X's accomplishments to this point.

There is an overview of the current second stage of the rocket which has undergone a considerable redesign just in the last few months...loosing the tail fin for one thing.


Musk notes a typo in this slide, Dry mass is actually ~120tons.

Musk does point out the advantages of stainless steel pointing out how much easier it is to work with in comparison to the more exotic materials his company has been using. He notes that this rocket which is set to fly in a few weeks has been welded in the open on a concrete slab on a barrier island surrounded by beach sand and boonie by a team of welders who he takes the time to thank. This is important when considering field repairs on the Moon, Mars or Ceres.

His answer to the inquiry about living space seems to indicate he hasn't given much thought to artificial gravity.

There's a bit where he mentions taking this type of rocket to the Saturnian system. While this might be ballistically possible, Solar power isn't really practical beyond Jupiter, and very challenging beyond the asteroid belt. It's unclear if Musk has some nuclear power plant in mind.

The big news however is that he expects to reach orbit with this rocket or one of its sisters in 6 months, with a manned flight shortly after that!



And good grief that rocket is big!


This is just the second stage...about a third of the whole thing.

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Is it OK to Try and Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon?... Ends

Somewhat surprisingly after last week's cliffhanger, we are presented with a quiet episode that was at times quite touching. This story also does a bit of world-building regarding life outside of the cosmopolitan adventure haven of Oraria and touches on the implications of how the people in the rest of the world get along.



While very low key, this was a perfectly solid episode that despite an abrupt tonal shift in comparison to the wackiness of last week's episode or the breakneck pacing of the previous cour, gives some rare, momentary insight (or at least a hint) into Wallenstein's outlook, further explores Bell's er, concerns and does let Hestia do things in her actual bailiwick and remind us that she is a good per...er...individual.


Hell if he knows, It's not like there are any Edith Hamilton books in this universe.

The episode also sets up what looks like to be a new storyline starting next week.

But wait...

I was quite shocked to learn this morning that this week's introspective and quiet bit of filler is the series finale!


"Dance, DANCE before the bonfire of the plot threads!"


Fortunately it looks like J.C.Staff is not just trolling us.

This is welcome news because Is it OK to Try and Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon? despite being wildly uneven in both pacing and tone, has managed to be consistently enjoyable throughout both of its iterations.

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September 27, 2019

Homonyms in Scotland

Two traps find a trap.




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While We Weren't Looking

One of the things that comes up from time to time when discussing futurism and space travel is that there is a theoretical (if tenuous) basis for violating the generally accepted impossibility of superluninal travel.

Developed by an acclaimed Mexican scientist named Dr. Miguel Alcubierre, the  Alcubierre Warp Drive sounds superficially similar to the propulsion in Star Trek, but is based in real physics..albeit very theoretical physics.

You see, since the speed of light is very firmly established as an insurmountable obstacle Dr. Alcubierre was only able to develop a mathematically sound way of violating this by using negative values for certain variables....in this case, um, mass.



In the above interview, Dr. Alcubierre is quite up front that this is a dubious prospect as negative mass is not something that one encounters...it is simply not forbidden to exist, we're not talking about anti-matter...we're talking about "stuff" with a value of less than nothing.

So unless someone invents/discovers "negative mass" this is basically at the intersection of physics, mathematics, special pleading and vapourware.


"Unless..."

Now, one of The Brickmuppet's Crack Team of Science Babes points us to this post at Next Big Future which offhandedly mentions that scientists from The University of Rochester generated negative mass last year and further poking around reveals that Scientists in Washington did so in 2017.


Seems a rather LARGE thing to have avoided news coverage, but it does appear to be legit. This is not to say that the Alcubierre Drive is imminent, or even practical, but it is just a tad more possible.

The above link that started all this concerns research paths on various FTL proposals and discusses the humbling obstacles to being able to do this such as a million fold increase in the sensitivity of various sensors i order to observe adjustments in the warp fields. That is indeed a large hurdle...but for the first time scientists know what they need in the way of calibration and sensors to study the problem.

Scientists now know a little more of what they don't know and that is actually progress.

If negative mass can be produced in any quantity (and there are formidable issues with that)  then even if there is no practical result to the warp drive  research, the negative mass has some interesting (potential & theoretical) applications that border on Clarke-Tech.

And even if the Warp Drive is possible, it's likely that we'll never see anything like FTL in our lifetime, but the fact that scientists are discovering things like negative matter point to a very bright future indeed, if we can avoid some dystopian speedbumps on the road to tomorrow. 



* Science Babe by Tony Taka

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The Last Couple of Days




(OK not quite as combustible as all that.)
more...

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Vee...

....It's a satire site.



17 minutes...
To be fair.
This is an easy mistake to make in another language, particularly when this was sent as a tip. Frankly, I wish I was close to as proficient in Japanese, Spanish, or Latin as Vee is in English.

No link out of mercy to Vee.



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September 25, 2019

And Then It Happened



more...

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