July 24, 2014

100 Years Ago Today

In response to Austria-Hungary's ultimatum to Serbia and reports that Austria-Hungary was mobilizing, the Russian Duma ordered it's army to quietly begin preparations for a full mobilization. 

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July 23, 2014


There are some headlines that one simply does not want to encounter, due to the fact that with any actual consideration they will make one's blood run cold.

To wit...


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100 Years Ago

On July 23 1914 Austria-Hungary's head diplomat in Belgrade presented a series of demands to the Serbian government. At the same time the Austrian Army was ordered to 'open the War Book' that is, begin the mobilization of reserve units for war. Although Russia had sworn to defend their Serb allies, Germany had assured Austria Hungary that they would back them against Russia. Austria-Hungary was unaware that Germany's plan to help defend Austria-Hungary's northeastern frontier involved an invasion of France through Belgium. In fairness to the Austria-Hungarians. this method of bolstering them against Russia was admittedly somewhat non-intuitive.

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While it is Certainly Good to Have a Goal

...in some cases it may be better to continue muddling through life until one can settle in a goal that is both attainable and productive. 

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July 22, 2014

Meanwhile, In China

Quite possibly less annoying than ants.

Two of the Brickmuppet's Crack Team of Science Babes bring us the latest in entomology news from China....

"Don't just stand there! Close the window!"
Oh. It appears they are having some minor difficulties with their discovery, so let us reassure you that these huge Dobsonflys are basically harmless. In fact, they've been know to the locals for some time and are recognized as a leading indicator of high water quality, which means that if current trends continue these magnificent animals probably won't be startling anybody for much longer. 

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The Current Ghibli Film: "When Marnie Was There"

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After some introspection and consideration, I have come to the conclusion that I dislike them with substantial ardor.

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July 21, 2014

95 Years Ago Today

Wingfoot Air Express was a passenger dirigible that ran a route between Grant Park in Chicago and the White City Amusement Park south of the city. 

The dirigible was one of several aircraft that operated from a short airstrip and a pier in the big urban park, which, being right next to The Loop, provided air service directly to and from downtown Chicago. 

On July 21st 1919 this all came to an end when, shortly after takeoff from Grant Park, Wingfoot Air Express caught fire directly over the Chicago Loop. The crew and passengers attempted to use their parachutes, but only the captain and mechanic survived as the dirigible exploded, fouling the other chutes in the collapsing rigging or setting them afire. 

However the disaster was about to get worse. Even given the fact that a position directly over the Chicago Loop is a most unfortunate place for an aircraft to explode, what happened next was improbably bad. The flaming dirigible crashed directly through the skylight of the Illinois Trust and Savings Building, rupturing the ships gas tank and spewing flaming gasoline all over the interior of the building. 

Pic and caption via

37 bank employees and customers were burned, hit by debris or both. 10 of them died.

The reaction from the city was swift. All air operations out of Grant Park and over the city were banned.  An airfield was built outside of town but Chicago's unique and growing air commuter businesses were all shut down as a result of the tragedy.

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July 20, 2014

A Caption With Worrisome Implications

New Jersey has a snake problem of a sort that is, hype notwithstanding, fairly unremarkable. However, this caption is troubling.

I find that I'm far more alarmed about the 30-40 foot tall man holding it. 

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45 Years Ago

How far have we come as a nation since that triumph 45 years ago?
Well, for one thing, here is big chunk from the sidebar of the YouTube page linked above. 

A dark age does not come about because a society simply can't do something they did before. That can happen because of a setback, changing conditions or hard times. Rather, a dark age is when the members of a society no longer believe that the society's great accomplishments could have possibly been achieved by mortals. 

Dark ages are bad things.

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July 17, 2014


I'm taking a very compressed summer class in Japanese. Most classes, even the most challenging ones, give me the satisfaction of learning new stuff. However, this one is unpleasantly nonfacillitative to my hubris as it drives home just how much I don't know. 

I have a big test tomorrow and am cramming, so to tide you over, here is a comprehensive selection of dessert choices.

Compensatory confectionary by Haru.

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July 16, 2014


I am awake, and as a result find myself pondering the following...

Green Lantern's power ring has at least some ability to determine if its user is sufficiently noble to be entrusted with its power. The ring is not actually magical but can be safely described as "sufficiently advanced." 
THE THING duplicates people perfectly.
Could THE THING sufficiently duplicate a Green Lantern to use the ring or would the ring reject the user after/during the absorption process? Would it be useable only until such time as THE THING shape-shifted again?

This may not seem like a productive line of inquiry, but it seemed REALLY important a little while ago. 

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Schoolhouse Rock Lives!

In other news, I HAVE ARRIVED! Weird Al has obviously read my blog and found inspiration therein!  

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July 14, 2014

Dear Japanese Spammers

Neither I, nor my few readers are your target audience. We're just not.

Your business plan is, therefore, flawed. 
I hope this helps. 

In other news, I've been a tad under the weather lately and it came to a head today as I left work, when I was afforded the rare oppertunity to examine everything I'd eaten (but not fully digested) over the last two days. 

After spending the day in bed, this evening I staggered up and went to the gas station...where I had my card declined...subsequent investigation revealed that someone had purchased all manner of stuff including an Amazon Prime membership with my card number until they emptied my account.

What, pray-tell, is someone going to DO with an Amazon Prime membership bought from a stolen card number? Seriously...

Anyway... since you just sat through all that...Here is a catgirl.

Chen by Pirou Ikeda

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15 People

RWBY is interesting not the least because it shows how much technology empowers small groups of limited means to do things that not long ago would have been possible only with a major company, considerable capital outlay and then only after persuading the suits to back the project.

Volume two builds on the lessons they learned by doing volume one and boasts a greatly expanded production staff....of 15 people (about a third of whom are also part of the cast). 

Thus, the total cast and crew of this series is now in the vicinity of 20 people. This vastly lowers the hurdles to producing ones vision, and the internet largely solves the distribution issue. This is a game changer, and it's just starting. The production diaries remind me of some of the things I've read about the early years of silent films, before the studio system was established,where things had to be figured out, but there was a lot of creative freedom.

Now, while I've liked RWBY, it is true that there are criticisms of this particular show,...it's a superhero version of a Japanese highschool  show set in a high-tech Hogwarts. Plus there are technical issues and the first volume ended on a bit of a nonsequiter. However, the show's cast and crew are, in a lot of ways, blazing new trails which will become very interesting paths indeed as more and more people get out there and produce stuff. A lot of it will be utter crap of course, Sturgeon's Law will still apply, but a group of people no bigger than a mid-sized doujin circle (or an APA for those that remember that niche of American fandom) and with similar initial capital outlay ( Poser Pro costs $450.00) will be able to do animated shorts and distribute them, free of the gatekeepers who even today presume to tell us what we shall see. 

This is an exciting time. If I had talent, I'd be ecstatic, as it is, I'm merely pleased and hopeful. 

UPDATE: Heavily edited the post.

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