June 24, 2007

Last Moments of HMAS Sydney

 Well this is an interesting bit of  history.

 Reinhold von Malapert, who was the Signals officer of the German auxiliary cruiser Kormoran, has died.

The Kormoran is the only auxiliary cruiser to have sunk a full cruiser in history, though she was herself sunk in the battle.
The Australian Cruiser Sydney had a sterling record during WW2.....until she was  lost with all hands in WW2....sunk by Kormoran .

Malapert had never discussed the sinking until last year. He succeeded in getting the survivors in the lifeboat under his charge to safety.

Read the whole thing.

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I've been out of town, and then sick.

I'm in the process of reposting (and cleaning up) some of my reviews and a very few of my non-anime articles from the old blog starting with the VanDread review that languished in draft form for over a year....and is now (due to it languishing in draft form here for a week) 3 posts down.

Normal posting to resume shortly.

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June 17, 2007

The Most Awesomest Announcement In the History of the Blog Oh Sphere

Mee.nu is now open for business!! 
This means you too can get a cool south seas blog with helpful and understanding tech support by a cool savvy Aussie...and have your own piece of the smallest republic on earth!


The konga line to interweb bliss begins

Cheeseburgers for all !

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Kawaii...or Kowai?

Johnny Depp VS. A Japanese talent show.


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In the far future, Mankind has traveled across the stars from the Earth to boldly forge a new life on the unforgiving world of Taraak. But they soon learned that they were not alone! A vicious, territorial and predatory species from the nearby planet of Mejare ruthlessly attacked them in their new home. Now over a century later, this lonely outpost of Mankind steels itself to fend off a terrifying, incomprehensible enemy that seeks to loot their cities, and feast upon the livers of men.

The name of this  incomprehensibly alien race...WOMYN!!


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Painting with Numbers

This is a repost from my old blog....primarily as a public service to protect people from making this same terrible terrible mistake....

While over at Pulp Junkie and Gorilla Daze, they astutely watched really cool (or at least creative) things this weekend, I am stuck with the awful knowledge that I just spent money on Grenadier.

Some time ago, I saw episode one which looked promising, I was told that this show was very much like Trigun, which I was very fond of, so when the econopack came available I picked it up.

Unfortunately, it is completely UNlike Trigun in every meaningful way...except in that the main character has a pistol. Although the first episode is promising, it is, regrettably, followed by episode 2 which, sadly, is followed by episode 3...this unwelcome trend continues 9 more times.

The story is disjointed, the pacing is bad and the animation (with the exception of gratuitous bosomy bouncing) is below even most '90s television norms.

The show is a cliche' buffet that seems to have been put together by brainstorming and taking elements from various shows that were popular at the time...
"blonde heroine with same...check"
"ronin sidekick...check"
"cute kid sidekick...check"
"a way to realistically work rubber bunny suits with push-up-bras into a epidode concerned with alpine survival....no...but what the heck"

The main charachters are likeable but essentially cut-outs.

Rushana Tendou, the smiling gunfighter: her goal is to spread peace and love and turn people away from the ways of war...she travels from village to village smiling and living like a monk trying to defuse conflicts...but as her only real skill other than a winsome smile and an hourglass figure is an almost magical competence with her revolver...action abounds. She not just well proportioned, she is top-heavy almost to the point of diminishing returns. The shows only glimmer of imagination is turning this bit of fan service into the shows signature stock-footage moment...

..this delightfully silly speedloading technique...
This should've been the greates show evah!

Yajiro Kojima: Mark 1 Mod 1 ronin (wandering masterless Samurai). He hates gunfighters, considering them cowards, but he is impressed with Rushana's genuine chivalry and sincerity, and so joins her.

Mikani Kurenai: Mark 1 Mod 2 kid the sidekick her parents were your typical fudal era rubber balloon artisans (!!!) and were killed by a band of thugs. She has the skills of a master balloon craftsman and can fashion any sort of latex inflatable thing on short notice....but as there is no latex or plastic readily available one suspects that she's actually a mutant or something and is excreting the rubber...(I prefer to think of it as a latex summoning spell, that bothers me less)

This should have been a decent show especially with the screwball wackieness implied by the reload antics and kids bizarre skillset, but it plods along looking for a plot until suddenly our heroes find a price on their heads....put on them by Rushana's sensei...which then devolves into a stock meet-specialist-bounty-hunter/warrior-of-the-day cliche' for several eps....Then...suddenly...the villain is revealed......to be reason...

...no really. The big bad is some clown in 18th century European garb who explains that the heroines hippie feelgood "get in touch with your feelings"philosophy is no match for the "enlightenment of evil". So we have sentimental emotional fluff opposed to the nashty trixie concepts of the enlightenment.

...just wrong on so many levels.

How bad?
At one point a roving band of rapist thieves are defeated, but in the spirit of feel-goodery they are all given jobs in the brothel they were trying to seize/loot/pillage...so....ummm...everybody wins(?!!)

Even given different cultural mores in Japan, I can't get past that...it is just vile.
Additionally, the peeping Tom humor and fan service gets old quick and there's even a loathsome scene with an old man feeling up his granddaughter (which is supposed to be funny).

Finally, if you are in it for the guns, our heroines muzzle brake is on the bottom....meaning it would accentuate felt recoil....just stupid...this is a really minor point compared to the utter lack of focus....but damn.

The show makes an interesting contrast with Van-Dread, another show that cobbled together a series of cliches' and fan service to make a show. In that case despite the silliness of the premise, it was a very satisfying, action packed, superbly paced and even thoughtful show with really impressive character development.
Right Way...Wrong Way

This show is just painting by numbers....badly....no vision, no spark, no clue.

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End Times Watch : Spaceblogging Edition

Two of the Brickmuppets crack team of science babes point us to this very complete, neat and well organized space-centric linkfest by one Ferris  Valyn over at...
...The Daily Kos!?

Its a great post and looks like it will be an ongoing feature there. It is so good and generally pro-manned space and entrepreneurship that one wonders why he's a diarist at Kos....

...Oh.".BTW, a warning if you want to respond to Mark Whittington in the comments section - he is firmly of the belief that liberals/progressives/Democrats who support manned spaceflight, space development, and space colonization are freaks of nature, despite plenty of other evidence."

Ah...that explains it...total denial of the lessons of history.... :-P

Sorry Ferris,  Whittington is right...(another "end times moment")...you are a freak of nature. There is no evidence that liberals/progressives/Democrats (who BTW generally are none of the above) are good for space or tech progress in general. They are too interested in hurting the successful and funding their well intentioned but counterproductive Ponzi schemes.

The idea that "we must solve all problems on earth before we go into space" is very much a mainstream one in lefty circles, The Dems in general....with the single exception of Edwards...maybe...seem to really dislike manned spaceflight. This has been true since the Mondale wing of the party took over and began attacking Apollo. It applies doubly to nuclear power and irradiated and genetically modified food. The left is in no way the friend of technological progress. *

 Nevertheless, Ferris Valen,  you are a worthy and welcome aberration and I salute you!

Partisan snarking aside, this really is one of the better space linkfests I've seen. I even agree (shudder)with several of his editorial points, as such, this is heartening proof that people on the utter opposite sides of the political spectrum can actually find common ground about things more substantive than restaurants and TV shows.

That this is such a surprise is a sad commentary on our times. This is how a Republic is supposed to work.
 (A Democracy....not so much...but that's a post for a different time.)

*NOTE: As this blog leans to the right, there will, of course, be absolutely no mention of Leon Kass and and company.

Update: Kirk Sorensen points to another sign of the end times...a pro nuke Kossack......The end times are surely upon us... I must organize my MRE's and duct tape.

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Yes this is a repost from the old blog on my initial thoughts on Bleach.

This series, like Van Dread, had hype around it that had been fairly off-putting, I'd gotten the impression that it was a Naruto clone and mainly a fight show...neither of which is my cup of tea.

In fact, it is a clever and engaging superhero show, which I did not really expect.

Ichigo Kurosaki would be a normal Japanese high-school student were it not for two things, he is of mixed race and has his late mothers blond hair...which served to get him beaten up throughout his childhood, but has contributed to his being extremely good at fisticuffs...oh and he sees dead people.Like the one behind him in the picture....

 Yes Ichigo can see spirits, ghosts, and as he soon discovers other things that exist on the astral plane.

He lives with his 2 sisters and rather stressed out father who runs a small private medical practice. (Dad has not adjusted well to Moms death and although he is a good doctor, and basically decent sort, he is a holy terror of bizarre behavior around the house) Although a bit hotheaded, Ichigo is a remarkably decent fellow with a strong sense of ethics. In fact he is one of the more likable heroes of recent years.

Kurosaki Yuzu is one of his younger sisters.With her light colored hair and sunny demeanor, she seems to take after their late mother. She tries hard to fill in for Mom. She cooks, she cleans, and is generally domestic. She very much hopes someday to be able to see ghosts too....which she thinks would be the "coolest thing!"
Kurosaki Karin Yuzu's fraternal twin sister looks, and acts utterly different. She is fairly dour, in part because she CAN see ghosts....but she says is in denial about it...the whole thing seriously creeps her out. she wants to be normal...but thanks to circumstances, is basically a goth in spite of herself.

Kuchiki Rukia
A "shinigami" currently assigned to Japan (shinigami translates as Death God...but in the
English dub it is translated , perhaps wisely, as "soul reaper" ).

She is part of an astral order that deals with problems of the spirit realm. Specifically, she helps the spirits of the dead move onto the next level, (a place called the "soul society") and fights monsters ( "hollows" ) on the astral plane that feed upon the spirits of the dead....and occasionally the living.

Note that although the soul reapers exist in another dimension/plane or whatever...they do most of their work amongst us, but in spirit form...and thus are invisible to most people.

Rukia is extremely competent, professional, and dedicated.(Top of her class, all that).
She also claims to be very old and, at the beginning of the show, has the powers of a minor god. Although she does most of her work on earth in spirit form, she has the ability to interact with humans by channeling her spirit into a human looking body she keeps stashed for emergencies in her area of responsibility. (But what is the likelihood that she'd EVER have to do that? )
Rukia is really impressive and likable character. Brave, as well as practical, she is able to think on her feet and adapt to the most dangerous...and ignominious....situations.

A soft spoken giant on the rare occasions he chooses to speak at all, Chad is a classmate of Ichigo...and one of a handful of people Ichigo genuinely admires. He has unbelievable physical strength. However, out of
fear of killing someone (likely well founded...he can break concrete and bend steel) he never fights back...against humans. He is remarkably tough though, as well as idealistic, and physically brave to a fault. Chad chooses to speak so little, that he has a reputation for being a bit "slow". It is a reputation quite undeserved.

Other characters are revealed as the show progresses, but their explanation involves spoilers...

...such as this, which is simply the most awesomest bird EVER!

Of course explaining superhero origins is usually going to involve episode one spoilers...

...with that in mind...


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The Dawn Patrol

Glenn Reynolds makes the inarguable point that the Dawn Patrol should be mentioned more often.

This daily linkfest over at  The Mudville Gazette really is an excellent source of often overlooked  news compiled by those that fight this long war.

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Jets are not Rockets...but Both are Cool.

Rand Simberg takes this Popular Mechanics article to task for calling the rocket pack being marketed by Go Fast International a jet pack.

In fairness this is the name they give their product.

It is true that the terms were clarified in the 50s or thereabouts to refer to jets as air-breathers, and rockets as those that carry their own oxidants, the terms were once interchangeable  and  the propulsion  (as opposed to fuel details) are pretty much identical (turbofans notwithstanding). However the capabilities of the systems are vastly different. Rand is absolutely right that a real jet pack would be much cooler than this as it would have orders of magnitude more range.

I want one!

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Energy Dilettantes

One of the Brickmuppet's crack team of science babes storms out of lab 4 and right off the smoke free wagon....Why so glum you ask?

Well, according to James Fraser's blog , the senate has nixed Senastor Pete Dominici's National Renewable energy portfolio, which would have increased nuclear power and clean coal, in addition to wind, solar, tidal, geothermal and biomass....

Fraser seems fairly sanguine about this but the "Clean Coal" tech, despite its oxymoronic name, is quite valuable in that it sets prizes and research grants for  developing exhaust scrubbers and CO2 sequestration techniques that are vital for coal burning even if we suddenly got no electricity from coal. ( coal is  a vital feedstock for several processes....including steel production) . The nuclear option is the only long term effective solution to our energy needs, and it can make some of the marginal biofuel processes viable or vastly more productive. The other initiatives that weren't nixed all have some potential in limited geographical areas, but aside from wind and, possibly, geothermal have fairly serious environmental impacts of their own, and are simply feel good ticket punching for greens...right up until said greens sue to keep them from being built. A few might be developed into nontrivial energy sources, particularly for small scale applications, but the aggregate of all of the favored technologies will make a very small dent in our total energy needs.

By nixing nuclear power, this congress has proven that energy policy, the environment and pollution are not serious considerations to them.


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Why we Have Coast Guards

Via Murdoc

The Front Fell Off

Having seen the actual interview this was parodying ...I can say that the main difference is in the timing.

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What in the Hell?

ACE has an on running quiz feature focused on identifying relatively obscure firearms. This one has me utterly flummoxed.....

What in the hell?

A 16+shot double barreled revolver!? And how does one unload it? ThereThere is a little pin at the forward end of the cylinder, that hints at an extractor rod, but it doesn't  look like a break top or swing out cylinder. If it were a muzzle loader there should be a rammer or something.

One of the commenter's mentions a  Lefaucheux revolver, which it does bear a similarity to...but damn this is a weird one.


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June 15, 2007

Annoyances...To do list...General Banality

While things are going OK...they are  hectic...and occasionally surprising. I'm not likely to blog much this weekend so as compensation here is an accurate representation of what it would look like if 3 x24 foot high  loli-goth giantettes were to steal a P61-B and go for a night combat joy ride....guns blazing

Which is far more interesting than the Brickmuppet banality which is tastefully hidden below the fold.

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Carnival of Spaaaaaace

Star Stryder is hosting the latest Carnival of Space. Lots of cool space related linky luv on topics ranging from Earthlike worlds, to space diving to the many uses for astronaut poo!
Go check it out!

Illo, is by the late, great Ed Emshwiller for Heinlein's Have Spacesuit Will Travel.

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June 13, 2007

Space Blipverts

Despite being just as busy as the Brickmuppet himself, one of the Brickmuppet's crack team of science babes finds time to send  us these quick space related links

EADS , a European aerospace company is jumping into the space tourism market.

TGV Rockets is touting its successful engine tests. These guys are fairly local and have a particularly neat concept based on minimum ground infrastructure.

Over at Tales of the Heliosphere....Useless Mars News! (Well, it's still cool news)

Colony Worlds reports on a group of private citizens trying to put together a manned Mars shot by...... 2014 ?!!

Though there was some disappointment at the lack of a big methane sea on Titan....the moon may yet have a sea of some sort...
There seems to be a subsurface ocean on Titan.

(I'm on the home stretch on my active duty, but posting will  still be erratic until  until about Monday. )

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Law of the Sea Treaty....Moon Treaty

Rand Simberg has thoughts on both.

He is not enthused.

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The "most recent comments" sidebar now shows comments from over a month ago....I wonder if I screwed something up when I deleted gibberish boy's comments?

UPDATE: Now the list has vanished entirely...what'd I do?

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Coast Guard in the Persian Gulf

Well...the Persian Gulf has a coast too!
I mentioned this before but it deserves its own post.

USCGC Wrangle operates with Iraqi and Kuwaiti patrol boats.

The US Coast Guard is operating several cutters in the Persian Gulf, enforcing blockades, assisting local navies in training and dealing with coastal pirates and, of course, rescuing any one who needs rescuing.

(Lest we forget, Nathan Bruckenthal, the first active duty Coast Guardsman to die in this long war, was killed while preventing an Iranian suicide boat from hitting the Iraqis offshore oil terminal. )

Note that the picture is from this Australian MOD release which highlights the Aussie contribution.

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Makin' Spray

The 'Seenotkreuzer' Herman Marwede of the German Sea Rescue Service plows through heavy seas in the Skaggerak during a training exercise.

Despite being only 45 meters long, the ship is claimed to be capable of maintaining 25 knots in sea state 5. 

The US Coast Guard is currently looking for patrol boats of about the same size, they could do far worse than fitting this one with uprated engines and a few guns.

An informative article on this vessel is here (German text).

Note the Babblefish translation keeps talking about "ship throwing" or "ship tossing" ....of course they mean 'launching'...this makes more sense but I was disappointed to realize that no trebuchet was involved.

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