November 30, 2008


Hokkaido zookeepers were perplexed that they couldn't get their two polar bears to mate.

stumped they were....

mystified even....

Finally, having tried everything they knew, somebody though to check one detail....

The zoo put Tsuyoshi under an anesthetic earlier in the month for a gender checkup, and learned he was a she.



I'm just an ignorant redneck geek...but it would seem to me that he first step in successful animal breeding would  be....oh never mind.

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November 28, 2008

The Dub...

The Akihabara cafe scene from the Lucky Star dub...

Wendee Lee and company did indeed earn their paychecks.

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Still More Banality Blogging

Naturally, out of consideration for our readers, the banality is below the fold.

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n: a single edged bladed weapon used by leftists to kill or torture the objects of their foetid bigotry as well as ritual extortion.

The Carleton University Students' Association has voted to drop a cystic fibrosis charity as the beneficiary of its annual Shinearama fundraiser, supporting a motion that argued the disease is not "inclusive" enough.

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A Thing of Beauty

That's a 60mm mortar....fired from the hip.

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Bombay Blitzkrieg Day 2

Thanks to ACE who provided the link to the IBN live feed.

Amongst the Indian Bloggers

UltraBrown is still blogging see here.

Retributions has updated and added several posts just scroll.

Mubai-Help is a blogspot blog set up to cover this. They have the casualty list amongst other things.

The Counter Terrorism Blog has unkind words to say about India's counter terrorism efforts here. Note though that it is early and hindsight is 20/20. There are a LOT of false alarms and once the terrorists are in the city this was a very challenging situation. Note that most of the hostage rescue operations seem to have been fairly successful, though unconfirmed reports indicate that the Aussies bore the brunt of the deaths amongst the tourists .

UPDATE: All of the Jewish hostages in the Mumbai Jewish center were killed. Damn...

As I type this IBN reports that fighting has resumed at the Jewish center.

The Captains Journal has some analysis here that is worthy of a read.
 I'm sure there will be second guessing of the Indian response. We would likely do better to apply any lessons learned.
The attack on Mumbai is exactly the sort of thing we feared for several years after Sept. 11. Now it is coming to pass.

With the possible exception of New York City, I doubt that any US city would fare appreciably better than Mumbai did if faced with a similar assault. It is only a matter of time before something very much like this happens here.

Everyone needs to give serious thought to where they sit in Jeff Coopers color coded mindset scale...mentioned here by Amanda Ripley...via

The four colors are White, Yellow, Orange and Red. If something goes horribly wrong when you are in the White state, you will fail, Cooper wrote. White is a state of relaxation and complacency. Yellow is the ideal--a state of relaxed awareness, when you are not conscious of any particular threat but you are conscious of the horizon, of what is happening around you and of the possibility that anything could happen at any time. Orange is when you are acutely aware that something is wrong, and Red is when you are in the thick of it.

Such color coding has become something of a joke of late as a result of the DHS warning system but Cooper's point is still quite valid.

No adult should be in "white" except possibly when asleep or having sex. Part of being an adult is being aware and acknowledging that there is always some risk and being willing to deal with calamities in a calm adult way when they happen.

Dr. Helen has some related thoughts here...

Be aware of your surroundings, and be aware that YOU are responsible for yourself. Sheep are led to slaughter just as easily as they are led to captivity. Don't be a sheep.
This applies to any type of calamity...not just terror attacks.
For we head into winter, how well are you prepared for 10 days without power in subfreezing weather because of an ice storm?

December 23, 1998, "The Christmas Ice Storm": A major ice storm struck central and southeast Virginia beginning on Wednesday, December 23 and lasting into Friday, December 25, Christmas Day. Icy conditions caused injuries from slips and falls and numerous vehicle accidents. Ice accumulations of up to an inch brought down trees and power lines. Outages were so widespread (400,000 customers on Christmas Eve) that some people were without power for up to ten days.

Happy Holidays gentle readers...
Semper Paratus

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November 27, 2008

Calamity at Pinedale.....

Heart wrenching on the scene footage of the incident....

Happy Thanksgiving Everybody.....

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Mumbai Attacked

A devastating terrorist attack has taken place in Mumbai India (Bombay). Numerous bombs have been set off, and an amphibious assault was launched from small boats. An unknown (but large) number of terrorists ran from the waterfront and stormed several hotels and transportation nodes. Over a hundred civilians are dead. It is unclear at this time if the assault was from the Ocean, Thane Creek or both.

Image Via BBC
There are reports that the terrorists were particularly targeting citizens of the UK and USA. It is unclear how sucsessful they were in his but it is obvious that they were not too discriminating and the people of Mumbai suffered terribly tonight.

More here here here and here.

The CounterTerrorism Blog, ACE and Rusty are blogging this extensively as is Allahpundit.

Indian bloggers liveblogging this include, The Khalma Bhat Show, Retributions, Youth Curry, and UltraBrown, whose last post, as I type this, was from the thick of things.

Hemant Kakare, the head of India's Counterterrorism Task force has been killed in the line of duty as has Mumbai's near legendary cop, Vijay Salaskar.

One odd bit. At least some of the terrorists were armed with Sten Guns

Though this bastard is armed with some AK variant.

The terrorists attacked the train station as well and left this in their wake...

A few thoughts.

No atom bomb, nerve gas or large airplanes appear to have been used, yet this was a devastating attack carried out by the straightforward technique of approaching the cities waterfront, getting out of the boats, running ashore and proceeding to kill people and break things.

There do seem to have been some pre-planted bombs and this required a lot of planning, but this could, in theory, wreak havoc in an American coastal city.

The US Coast Guard needs to ensure that its port state control, pollution and facilities personnel are up to date on their weapons qualifications. These personnel are the first line of defense or at least raising the alarm against an attack of this nature. Those of us on shore side, even reservists, need to be very, very aware of that.

An attack like this on any number of coastal locations on the US and its territories would likely be a suicide mission for all involved, but it would be a devastating morale hit for the nation and in certain locations could cause serious infrastructure damage. The Gulf Coast ports are much closer to  largely deserted stretches of South America, or actively hostile Venezuela than Mumbai is to Arabia or even Pakistan.

India is at war, but we are too. If as seems likely this is the work of AlQuaeda or an ideologically related group, then this is an attack on an ally by our common enemy.

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November 24, 2008

John Corbett Talton 1921-2008

 My Great Uncle John has passed away.

Born in 1921, he was one of 7 children.  He survived a bout of whooping cough in his early years. By the time he was 10 the nation was in the throes of the Great Depression and he frequently missed school doing odd jobs to help feed his parents and 7 siblings.

When the US finally became involved in World War 2, he enlisted in the Navy. After serving in various capacities in the battle of the Atlantic, he volunteered for a spot on an underwater demolition team. Despite their name, their concept of operations at the time involved rather little swimming. Rather, they planned to use rubber rafts to approach obstacles and plant their explosives, swimming only a fairly short distance and freediving. It was hoped that darkness and surprise would cover them.

On June 6 1944 the folly of this became clear.Uncle John's unit was tasked with clearing obstructions on what would be known to history as "Easy Red" sector of Omaha Beach.

On approach their raft bottomed out, forcing them to swim nearly half a mile under the tender ministrations of Rommel's crack machine gunners. The swimmers on ether side of  took rounds in their satchel charges, detonating them and blasting his shipmates to the four winds.

Uncle John found himself unable to contact anyone else in his squad but swam through a hellish fusillade of enemy fire to plant his charges. After that, he waded ashore with the first wave and, dodging machine gun fire, pulled several wounded allied soldiers and sailors from the blood red surf. He grabbed a rifle from a fallen soldier and, despite having next to no infantry training, moved inland off the beach.

Due to the fact that his insignia (and wetsuit) had been lost when his shipmates exploded, he entered battle wearing swim trunks, a scavenged rifle and an ammo belt. As he had no way to prove that he was navy, he was pressed into Army service wearing a dead mans uniform and served along with other members of his unit in France as an infantryman for several weeks before he was returned to what was left of his unit. Of 175 UDT swimmers engaged at Normandy, 91 were casualties, including all but one of the other members of John Talton's squad.

After the war, he went to college and became a mechanical engineer. He worked at the Radford Arsenal and for Hercules Engineering where he worked on rockets and missiles. He was involved in several NASA projects involving solid rockets, particularly trans-stages, and assisted in the development of the Nike-Ajax and Nike-Hercules AAA missiles. He was also instrumental in the development the innovative solid rocket motor for the ridiculously fast accelerating Sprint point defence ABM.

He did charitable works through the Masons and Kiwannis International for 50 years as well as his church.

He can be seen interviewed at length in Peter Jennings 50th anniversary D-Day special and in the History Channel's  Suicide Missions of D Day .

Update: Fixed link. Corrected text. (John Talton did not serve in the Pacific. His brother, my great uncle Doug, served as a Landing Craft Coxwain after commanding a landing craft at Normandy.)

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November 23, 2008

Enlightened Opinion.....

Many of you have seen this bootleg vid of the trailer for the new Star Trek Movie....

There has been some grumbling from fans as there always will be. To me it looks seriously kewel despite the unspockular Spock. However John C. Wright has obtained the opinion of the only person who's opinion we care about...


Oh Well....
Still gonna see it.....

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November 14, 2008

Thoughts and Prayers to Wonderduck

Wonderduck is having a very bad week.
Send him your best.

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November 12, 2008

Rocket Girls!

Rocket Girls has been mentioned here in passing (mostly via pictures in science posts) a couple of times. Having been quite taken with the first few episodes that I saw at a party a while back,  I eagerly looked forward to the US release.

Well, I recently saw the complete series in DVD format, alone, and unprotected  on a comic store shelf. So despite financial issues, I went ahead and picked it up.

I watched it with a friend in one sitting.

The show had decent production values despite some jarring CGI.  Rocket Girls is, as I hoped, an optimistic and uplifting show. Pro-technology pro-space with a very alt-space feel, the show at least tries to look realistic on the technical side.
Despite some very real  technical quibbles, and a decidedly unlikely series of events setting up the cast, the show provides an inspiring vision of near future manned crewed space exploration. While not, strictly speaking, a comedy, it is quite cute and has some funny bits. This show, however is above all an adventure yarn and it builds steadily to a thoroughly satisfying climax.


Alas, the show then continues for 6 more episodes with decidedly mixed (but still generally positive) results. Describing the setup of the first 2 eps necessarily involves spoilers and as such is below the fold. Subsequent spoilers are behind spoiler tags.

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November 11, 2008

Thank You

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November 10, 2008

Cannibalism, Self Mutilation and Consensus Building

Lord...I wanna break from politics. I've got partial posts in the "tube" on Rocket Girls, Haruhi, Space, water purification,  energy and curmudgeonism. Ubu Roi however, has posted a long and passionate comment on politics that deserves a full response. So...below the fold we go....

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November 05, 2008

Post Election Roundup

No is not yet the appropriate time to resort to cannibalism...

Seriously guys....

It may surprise some of you that this is almost never an appropriate response to anything...well, at least in politics...

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Black Lagoon, Second Barrage,Third DVD

Black Lagoon is a fairly dark show. Rather darker than I ordinarily like.
 The improbable story of 3 Americans and a Japanese Salaryman operating as a band of more or less ruthless modern day pirates out of northern Borneo is not happy or lighthearted in any way. It has, however been a perversely fun show, heavy on the action, snark, and over the top situations.

Volumes one and two of the second series had fallen into a pattern of one or two gruesome shows followed by a sad episode and then one or two shows very satisfyingly stocked with violence sarcasm, and girls in hotpants committing all manner of improbably spectacular theoretically reproducible violence while shouting obscenities.  In other words "win".

Volume two in particular had this delightfully gratuitous bit of dreadfulness...

....Sawyer, the local corpse disposal expert who sidelines as an assasin is an implacable, mute, chainsaw wielding  goth chick delivering her sinister one liners through an ultravoice.

I mean really....THAT is quality entertainment boys and girls!

When volume 3 came out I picked it up at once.  I headed over to Allans house, we broke out the popcorn and popped the dvd in. Our reactions can be accurately summed up via the following illustration.

Holy hell that was merciless! We have finally discovered the point of diminishing returns in pathos, gratuity, and gutpunchery. Yikes!

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November 04, 2008

It's Official...(Hail to the Chief!)

Congratulations! President Elect Obama!

Update: McCain has given one of the classier concession speeches ever.

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Well That is Disapointing...

I am not convinced that we are not seeing a rehash of 2000 regards the early  call of PA (which as I type this has been called with only 5% of the votes tallied and only urban areas reporting). However, that is indeed a long shot.

Barring a miracle, it appears that Barak Obama, an individual with virtually nil executive experience, and very disturbing economic and political views is going to be our president.

Lets say that again, our president.

He is the President of the United States in a trying and dangerous time and his obvious inadequacy for the job means he needs our support more than most.

On January 20th the weight of the world is going to be on this mans shoulders and he is going to have to deal with actual problems in real time, not through the comfortable filter of 20/20 hindsight. He will, as all presidents do, screw up occasionally (OK...a lot in his case). However, he is going to be our president, the captain of our team. We need to remember that and treat him with respect even as many of oppose him on the myriad issues on which he is likely to be wrong

"Gird yer loin's" kids. It's going to be a rough 4 years.


In the meantime, Brickmuppet Blog hereby assigns everybody homework.....
Actually read the Federalist Papers. Then get ready for 2010.

On the upside, we can certainly take as consolation the fact that after 221 years a man of color has finally been elected the president of this great nation. That is a historic moment and certainly cause for bipartisan nationwide celebration!

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VOTE! (Bumped)

Image shamelessly nicked from Strata-Sphere.

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Tim Kaine's Home Court Advantage

I voted.

Being pressed for time, and a bit curious,  decided to use the lonely, shunned touch-screen machine in the corner of the Palmer Elementary school gym.

The layout was....interesting.

The first screen has one choice in big bold letters


Now it is not at all clear from the first screen that there are any other choices, but, if you look closely, there is a "next" button. In order to see the other presidential candidates. One must click the little touch button marked "next"...which adjoins the "vote" field. If you do not fumble finger the vote/next field and vote for Barak Obama you are taken to the next screen the POTUS wannabe ghetto which contains the 4 other presidential candidates in smaller type.

The Senatorial and House fields are laid out the same as the mere non-Obama contenders.

As we have a secret ballot (until at least January 20th) I will leave you guessing ( yeah right) and refrain from disclosing my choices, except to say I voted for whom I intended.

This touch screen may be as bad as the butterfly butterfly ballots of Boca Raton.

12 hours & this horrid election will be over.

Now go vote...and stay away from  the touch screen machines!

UPDATE: Well, I've left E-mails and comments with a couple of A and B list bloggers, and called the McCain-Palin fraud hotline (it was busy...which bodes ill I suppose )
Also called a local news channel (busy) and tried to use the "ureport" function on  FOX...but it seems to have crashed. (update..successful )
This is, of course really, really small potatoes compared to the
Black Panthers taking over the polls in Philly, but it's just sleazy and passive aggressive enough to have really pissed me off.

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