September 07, 2017

Any Word About Ubu?

While people are preparing for the probable calamity that is Irma, it should be noted that one of those affected by the Harvey disaster has dropped off the radar. Though he rode out the storm and its initial aftermath well, the last we heard of Ubu, he was glad he didn't live in Beaumont. That was a week ago. Shortly after that, there was a report that parts of Houston were forcibly evacuated due to a dam breach. Shortly before that, news reports and Ubu's own blog indicated that he was at risk from fire ant's, chemical leaks, telemarketers, and alligators.


Has anyone heard anything? 

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This is one of those Black Swan's Isn't It?

This could have all kinds of political ramifications!





Image via the Daily Mail

For some reason, #10 Downing Street and Buckingham Palace have as yet declined to comment.  (VIA)


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September 06, 2017

Ewww




This is looking to be a very bad thing, especially, if, as expected, the thing peters out over Kentucky and the Virginia panhandle. Hurricane levels of rain on the towns in those mountains valleys will be a nightmare. Worse, a lot of the folks there don't have an appreciation of these storms, there may not be good flood maps to direct evacuations, and the topography makes evacuation something of a crap shoot except over very long distances. Furthermore, it is fiendishly difficult to predict exactly where one of these beasts will drop their rain. A lot of people may be caught in this. 

In other news, we may well loose the VAB

It looks like St. Martin got crushed. The governor of the U.S.V.I. was just on the news and mentioned that the damage is severe with the hospital on St. Thomas badly damaged. (It should be noted that he also went to great lengths to say that the widely reported story of his ordering the confiscation of everyone's guns in the territory is bogus.)

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September 05, 2017

Well Then...

The answer to the question "will they do more of these?" is yes. 


Pro-tip:
Never judge a society by its mean girls. 

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No!No!No!No!No!


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September 04, 2017

The "M" is for Monster

Irma ain't looking good. It appears to be taking the path of maximum mayhem through the islands and it's likely that somewhere between Corpus Christi and Nantucket, next week is going to utterly suck.







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Info Bleg

How DOES one embed a You Tube video cued up to a certain time?

Does anyone have any anime recommendations this season?

What Pad /Tablet would you recommend for non-gaming applications?

What is a frn and when is it invalid

(Note: Picture is unrelated to text of post)


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It is Not Entirely Clear When or Why They Dropped the "Don't" From Their Mission Statement

...but assuming it was ever really there in the first place, I imagine that the conversation between Larry Page and his underlings was something along these lines...




Yeah, I'm revisiting this, but it seems a topic of legitimate concern in light of yet more recent events and revelations

It's especially troubling given the nature of Google in the context of certain developments abroad...

 Imagine a world where an authoritarian government monitors everything you do, amasses huge amounts of data on almost every interaction you make, and awards you a single score that measures how "trustworthy” you are.

In this world, anything from defaulting on a loan to criticising the ruling party, from running a red light to failing to care for your parents properly, could cause you to lose points. And in this world, your score becomes the ultimate truth of who you are – determining whether you can borrow money, get your children into the best schools or travel abroad; whether you get a room in a fancy hotel, a seat in a top restaurant – or even just get a date.

This is where we're heading, as soon as the party most in tune with the techweasels regains power, and when that happens I fear the yoke may be too heavy for society to throw off. 

Orwell, was writing cautionary tales, the tech giants see them as utopian fantasies. 

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Midterm Report Card

Concept A
Characterization A-
Basic Comprehension of American Superhero Comics A
Plot A
Screen Time for Frog Frau and Gadget Girl D-
Pathos B
Comprehension of What a Hero is A
Physics/Biology F*
Pacing C-


This has been a surprisingly good show, being Kohei Horikoshi's take on superheroes, specifically AMERICAN comic book superheroes, albeit in a Japanese setting and in a Shounen style of storytelling.

That last bit was a cause for some trepidation, especially as season two began with a  tournament fighting arc, which, in Japanese boys comics, is usually where interesting stories go to die. Fortunately, this show has thus far used such framing devices, not as filler, but as a way of providing venues for characterization of what is a fairly large cast. 

The breakneck pace of the first twelve episodes does slow considerably as much of the show's action is now taking place simultaneously in different locales and some events are told in a Rashomon style from different viewpoints. However, the story is continually moving along and most of the villians are actually quite interesting, several having interesting ( though admittedly warped) philosophical reasons for their mayhem. 

The Japanese storytelling techniques notwithstanding, this is a show that GETS the American superhero genre in a way that American superhero comics often don't anymore. Most notably it appears to be a disquisition of the nature of heroism. At least three of the characters are pointedly reflective of some of the more obnoxiously nihilistic 'Iron Age' tropes, not in homage to those ideas, but in mockery of them.  The number one hero of the universe, a pivotal, but largely background character named All Might, is a VERY American superhero combining the best aspects of Captain America and Superman. Powerful and idealistic, All Might is an astounding beacon of strength and sincerity...
IN A WORLD 
...where superheroes are basically licensed mercenaries . 

You see, some years prior,  superpowers spread like a disease through the general population granting over 99% of humanity "quirks" which range from the useless to the dangerous. Superheroes are, perhaps surprisingly, not passe' since the criminal element is similarly blessed. Superheroing is somewhat akin to private security firms, licenses and bonding are required and they work closely with the police (many have product endorsement side gigs based on their social media presence). One way to get a license is to go to an accredited superhero college...This is the goal of one Izuku Midoriya, who has, since a young age dreamed of being a superhero. There's just one problem, as the show starts he is revealed to be one of the infinitesimally small number of people with no quirk at all. 

The main characters are for the most part quite likeable and (generally) idealistic, though perhaps not quite as much as they think they are, heroism being more than a career path or physical strength (as they are finding out). Interestingly, even some whose goals seem at first glance to be cynical are pursuing them for noble reasons. This is really, well done.



This series is a shonen show, and all that implies, but it is an outlier of its genre in a most positive way. I am enjoying this series immensely more than I have any right to be right now. 


* This is as it should be.

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Eromanga Sensei Ends

Actually, Eromanga Sensei ended some time ago, but I only just finished it as shortly after watching the first few I had developed a nagging fear that it was going to be horrible. 




Fortunately it was merely offensive. 



Sometimes exuberantly so....



The show did not conclude, it merely stopped, though there was continuous, if unsteady character development throughout. It remained enjoyably silly till the end. On the debit side, it kind of jumped the shark when the second female author entered out of left field. More disappointing was that her arrival made the series an actual harem show (which it had not quite been up till that point). Still, it was cute and generally funny. It also had a lot to say about the creative process, but it really said all it had to say in the first 8 episodes, and it was pretty much fan service after that.


 and crossovers...with troubling implications.

Some of the characters, particularly those introduced later, appear to have been conceived by rolling dice and referencing an NPC encounter table, but I must say that Elf Yamada is one of the better characters in recent years, having surprising depth and complexity for an utter loon. The show did not live up to its early promise as it spent the last third checking off every trope box on the harem show bucket list as if to apologize for the quirky and touching first part. Disturbingly, this may imply other...issues...with the plot. 

It's still cute and funny overall, but nowhere near what it could have been.
(Or was.)



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Lost in Translation

So, in an attempt to mitigate simultaneous afflictions of boredom and writers block, I went and watched the Japanese dub of RWBY which is currently streaming on Crunchyroll. 


Wow.

This interpretation has a truly bizarre series of editorial choices. Some, like  the almost complete omission of the JNPR story elements one can almost get one's head around. Others, like severely cutting the fight scenes (removing most of the cute character bits and even some of the better choreography) are completely inexplicable.

To be fair, the very odd Jaune Arc...er...arc in the first season was indeed a dumpster fire of a subplot (until the end), but it clearly established why Jaune appeared to be a few islets of brilliance in a sea of derpitude. 

Along with Weiss, Jaune is one of the characters who has come the farthest in overcoming personal shortcomings, and without this backstory, his later development (especially in season 4) is not going to have anything like the same impact.  That whole arc as well as the other excised footage also developed Phyrra's character, establishing her both as 'the pro from Dover' and as a mentor to many of the other characters, particularly Ruby. The whole notion that JNPR are genuinely significant to the story is lost, as are several things that seemed to be random, throwaway bits, but were, in fact important foreshadowing. This can't help but hurt the show later. Indeed, one of the best and most consequential conversations in the series, (Ruby's "Nope" speech from season one) is completely omitted.



Way more important than we initially thought.

The voice work is off as well. However, it's not that the voice acting is bad per se (it's not) but rather that the characters are voiced as straight up versions of their respective (assumed) archtypes. To my surprise though, the guy they got to play Oobleck nails it. 

I'm not sure, but they may have cut as much as 45 minutes out of the show as of the middle of season three, much of it, as is noted above, fairly consequential to the later plot. 

This brings back memories of my youth in anime fandom when everyone was griping about how edits by the American rights holders would almost inevitably gut the impact of or destroy the cohesiveness of the plots of anime brought to the U.S.

Well, it's not just American distributors that do that...

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August 31, 2017

Well....



As one might expect in August, that wave of of the Cape Verde Islands has turned into a hurricane. Certainly unpleasant news after the calamity that is still befalling Texas but probably not something to worry abou....



About a half dozen of those forecast models are really bad news for Texas, and really they all involve very unpleasant happenings, because if you look at the chart on the right of your screen, this storm is expected to have really high winds. Some of the estimates are approaching 180 knots

Even if those estimates are high, there appears to be no scenario where this is not a very bad storm that menaces a lot of people. 

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August 27, 2017

Meanwhile

On the east coast, a rival appears....




The forecast for Harvey right now is looking like it will be heading out to sea for a bit to recharge its rain and possibly regain hurricane status, before gracing Houston with a near direct hit later in the week.  The rain is not expected to let up in Texas until after Thursday. Which means we might have two hurricanes clobbering the U.S. at the same time in a few days. 

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It looks like the I-610 River is Overflowing its Banks

This picture has been making the rounds. I don't think it's the same camera. For one thing the Skyline was probably not constructed in the last 12 months and the geography is different



However, the pic on the right does seem to be legit when taken in isolation from the before picture.

Here it is at the New York Daily News before photoshoppers got to it. 



Ubu still had power and posted some additional pictures this morning after driving around in this, perhaps in an attempt to catch some alligators. 

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August 26, 2017

Ubu is on Scene

Ubu at Bridgebunnies-3M has power and is blogging fairly regularly on the ongoing storm.

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August 25, 2017

Catastrophe

Hurricane Harvey, has, up till now, been quite unpredictable. Indeed, as I type this, the tracking 'cone' is a big circle. However , best guess looks like Harvey is going to nail Corpus Christi almost dead on. The storm is expected to be a high category 3 or even a 4 by the time it makes landfall and as much as 60 inches of rain are predicted for some areas. 



There is a bit of uncertainty...

Ubu is 200 miles north in the vicinity of Houston and they started evacuating last night. Ubuville is supposed to get 20+ inches of rain tonight and this is expected to be a three or four day event as the storm is expected to stall, bounce out to sea, and come back ashore somewhere between New Orleans and Corpus Christi.

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August 22, 2017

The Problem may Be More Thorny Than We Realize

Pixy has thoughts on the troubling situation with Google. His piece is thoughtful and should to be read in full. Note that the post significantly predates the recent spate of censorial conduct in the aftermath of the Charlottesville debacle. The controversy then was not NAZIs, but an employee who infinitesimally strayed from approved ideology.  

Pixy's premise is that Google, by becoming social engineers as opposed to...engineers, has potentially broken its brand and could implode. He suggests that Microsoft or Amazon may well move into Google's turf.

However, Microsoft and Amazon are also companies with very PC outlooks, and seem to be steeped in the same Bay Area cultural pathologies that have caused Google to toss the "Don't" from their motto. 

With that in mind, I spoke to  secure, undisclosed sources in the tech industry recently about what would be required to start up a competitor to the Google subsidiary Youtube. I figured that the actual set up ought to be pretty straightforward, though obtaining secure servers would entail some significant outlay and there would, of course be legal issues (DMCA and such). I was genuinely surprised to be quoted prices in the billions. This was not due to physical plant and salaries, but the "DMCA and such" part of the equation. 

If the hurdles to entry have been raised that much since 2005, then Youtube may be immune to competition since entering into competition is unlikely to result in a profit anytime soon...or ever. Even if, some other established silicon valley firm were to go toe to toe with Google (unlikely) the notion that such an entity would be much of an improvement with regards to idealogical diversity seems dubious.

Having the government come in and regulate the matter seems pretty damned scary as well. 

The sheer depth of the issue hit me like a ton of bricks Friday when I read this somewhat obnoxious article that eventually discusses Cloudflare's decision to join in the new fad of denying people service based on their politics. This is Cloudflare...who protect their clients from DOS attacks and I should note, provides hosting services to ISIS chatrooms, but when it came to standing up to the Silicon Valley social justice mob, they goosestepped along with the rest of the techweasels. 

It's not just Versailles on the Bay either, the worldwide gestalt on these issues is moving away from free speech as a concept and has been for some time and it is the young and upcoming generations who seem to be the most hostile to it.

I do, therefore, wonder if anything like corrective competition can come about with regards to streaming video, let alone the other information access services that act as gatekeepers for our telescreens. 


This is the place in the post where I must make the seemingly obvious point that I loathe, despise, and in no way support the views or goals of the people shaped colostomy bags at the Daily Stormer. 

 
You see, one of the many odious goals of National Socialists is, upon gaining power, the regulating of speech and silencing of all dissent. For some reason our self appointed digital clerisy does not oft remark upon this convergence of values.

 

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August 21, 2017

With a Dearth of Flying Cars, Voyages to the Stars or Even Cities on Mars (but a Surprising number of Czars)

...a lot of us have looked around at this 21st century with some despondency and have felt cheated of the futures we were promised when young. 


Upon reflection, this disappointment seems misguided.

It turns out we'd just been reading the wrong genres of spec-fic.
You see, scientists can now wirelessly control mammals like puppets.
The study, which was published in the most recent edition of the journal eLife, includes experiments where were performed on mice. Using the new technique, the researchers were able to control the movement of the animals, causing them to freeze, lock up their limbs, turn around, or even run.

Well...that is, umm, fascinating.
Fortunately they can't just control your voluntary movements via magnets without some preliminary work.

It’s not exactly a simple process — it requires the implantation of specially built DNA strands and nanoparticles which attach to specific neurons — but once the minimally invasive procedure is over, the brain can be remotely controlled via an alternating magnetic field.


 "Well. At least they have to cap you first!"

The whole paper is here

Obviously such crude methods are unlikely to be able to achieve fine manipulation, but if one could control movements one might also be able to use this method to remotely toggle the pleasure/fear/pain centers of the brain in a carrot/stick fashion. With the ability to crudly manipulate a subject's movements one could probably get some impressive results in, say, performance enhancements amongst one's work force. 

We're not even going to discuss how someone might use refinements of this technology to persuade individuals to provide themselves or clients with permanent domestic companionship....

Because all the tech companies are completely ethical. 

ahem..

OK.

Reality check...despite the breathless clickbaity assertions above and in some other discussions of this development doing a fiendishly refined version of this experiment to large numbers of people would require a lot of attention and bandwidth. 

Assuming such a thing could even be made reliable, unethical applications might well be limited to providing a nefarious user of this tech with unwilling, but still very effective suicide bombers, or perhaps, disease vectors. This is because, even if it works as assumed above, such technology would probably require a lot of attention per person manipulated; at least as much as a first person shooter or somesuch. So, unless one is really good at controlling lots of sprites simultaneously there's its unlikely that any person could do mass control of populations with this. 

So relax.
Ignore this story.
Skynet commands it.

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Nephewsitting Observations and Their Implications for Astrophysics

The nephew in question is aproximnately 24 inches long by 9 inches wide, with a depth when laid on his back of 3-4 inches. 


There is no WAY that much poo could have been stored in him, especially when one makes allowances for the likely presence of organs and bones and stuff.

This would seem to be evidence for the presence of a wormhole.
...and a dimension of poop.

There.

Dark matter is explained. 

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August 16, 2017

An Utter Failure...at Destroying Childhoods

Disney has put the first two episodes of Duck Tales online.

This is really well written and surprisingly faithful in tone to the 80's Cartoon, but even more so old Carl Banks comic it was loosely based on. 

Via 

The characterizations of the kids, (er ducklings)are way better I was particularly relieved with what they did with Webby, who is a really neat character.

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