June 30, 2008

The Effects of Piracy

Eagle One reports on how the piracy off the coast of Somalia is threatening to end food shipments. He also makes some typically sensible proposals for
dealing with the situation.

Here is a proven solution....

For extra credit, who can identify the ship?

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What is Needed...is Balance....

   The concept of the Maid Cafes isn't my cup of tea...In part because I'm waaayy to old for that sort of thing, but there is a disturbing element too.

Last year, in Akihabara, Bob and I, being unclear on the concept, nearly went to one for lunch one day on a lark...but our creepy sense activated and we backed slowly away from the obsequious fawning Stepfordettes who were young enough to be our daughters...

     Anyway, despite my discomfort with that extreme I can think of  little to appeal to me here....
Yes boys and girls...its the Tsundere Cafe. 

I really didn't see this one coming.

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June 29, 2008

Range Saftey Failure....

Steven Den Beste reports on a terrible accident at a French Marine Corps open house.

While giving a dog and pony show for the public a soldier fired his rifle at a crowd.

 Instead of blanks however the weapon was loaded with live ammo.

17 people were hit, including some children, fortunately no one has died. Without even knowing what weapon he was firing it is not really possible to say muchiven but given the probability that people were very tightly packed it seems likely that he pulled the trigger for a very short time before realizing what had happened.

There is already some speculation that this must have been a deliberate act on the part of the armorer or the soldier. However, it should be remembered that the USAF recently unwittingly flew several atomic warheads over the US before the mistake was caught.

Awful things can happen without a plot or malice.

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Conflicting Assesments.....

...abound about the nature of the Benevolent All Caring God Head Sun King.

Not all of these are particularly helpful or insightful.

A case in point is the notion that there are obvious parallels between this Senator and another famous and eloquent senator....Palpatine.
This sort of silliness does not advance the discussion at all...

For one thing, George Lucas should know, and disagrees vehemently with this assessment. Additionally, over at Machine Overlords, a convincing case is made that Lucas is correct and the Benevolent All Caring God Head Sun King is in fact a Jedi Knight.

For my part, given the length and accomplishments of his senatorial career and the scope and depth of his policy proposals, I am reasonably confident that the Illinois Senator is as likely as anybody to simultaneously bring about truly astounding change as well as open relations with the Toclafane.

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June 28, 2008

Bad Banality...Bad I say!


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June 27, 2008

You might need to get out more if....


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June 26, 2008

One of the Most Influential People You Have Never Heard Of

Colleen Doran has a long and informative post on Rose O'Neil, the inventor of the Kewpie Doll and a person far more important in the development of the film and comic industries than you probably know.

Go read the whole thing...it is worth it!

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The Constitution Still Applies...For Now

  As pretty much everybody knows by now, the Supreme Court has upheld the right of the individual to bear arms.

 I'm very pleased to say the least. I firmly believe that an armed citizenry is  important for individual self defence and as such is a profoundly basic human right. It is also on balance a very important public good. In an area with a concealed carry law every thief, murderer or rapist knows that his victims may have the power to end his/her life....there is no better deterrent than that.  Finally it also deters governments to a certain extent from going all Mugabe on the population....the greatest atrocities in history have been perpetrated by governments upon populations they previously disarmed.   

Lots  of  good  discussion of this can be found  most everywhere but  these  two posts by Ilya Somin over at The Volokh Conspiracy  are important in that they get beyond the general sigh of relief and giddiness current in the rightosphere regards this....and point out that there are a few caveats thrown in by Scalia...and a reminder that a 5-4 decision is very susceptible to whomever the upcoming President is.

On a related note, the all loving, all knowing, God-head-sun-king is throwing his previous positions under the bus to better position himself for reaffirming them upon us all.

UPDATE: Murdoc has a huge roundup of Heller Links.

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June 25, 2008

Odysseus Returned to Ithaca: April 16, 1178 B.C ( about noon)

Via Jerry Pournelle
Scientists using archaeological and astronomical evidence have pinpointed the most likely date for the return of Odysseus to his wife Penelope, April 16, 1178 B.C ( about noon). The accuracy was due to the fact that only one total eclipse was visible from Greece during any time in the ballpark for an actual war between Greece and Asia Minor. Additionally several other astronomical events (some quite rare)  occurred about this time that seem to be alluded to in the Odyssey.

The date given  is fairly close to the most likely time frame of the fall of Illos/Troy and in any event astronomical cycles are likely a more precise dating system than some of the archaeological dating techniques.

More here, here and here.

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June 24, 2008

Its a Blimp! COOL!

The Coast Guard and Navy are leasing a British airship for patrol duties in the Caribbean.

More here from not-Rueters.

Brickmuppet Blog previously engaged in an above the paygrade rant upon this very topic here.

This is a cool idea that has been toyed with before....  An overview of a notational design (from 1980) for a Patrol Airship for the USCG is here. ( 330 page PDF...not dial-up friendly!)

Info on the versatile and popular Skyship 600 can be found here and here.

The vessel will have  a lot of advantages over  helicopters in endurance and economy, and an  advantage  in  "mast height" and visible horizon over a  cutter  as its sensors can be carried  very high up.

One odd bit of info, possibly a criticism, jumps out at me.
Although the ship has an endurance of 52 hours, patrols will be limited to 8 to reduce crew fatigue. Given the size of the gondola in relation to the 3 person crew,  it seems like little effort to install a few bunks. There may be concern regards providing enough privacy for a mixed gender crew, but if this is the case then it is a great reduction in capabilities for utterly PC reasons. There is no reason that single gender crews couldn't be flown, perhaps an all male and all female crew in a blue and gold (blue and pink?) arrangement.

(Of course, it is quite possible that my knee is just jerking and that there are other issues  that a junior enlisted Marine Science Tech on convalescent leave is simply not privy to.  ) 

On the plus side, the ship is ridiculously fuel efficient, is faster than any cutter (or destroyer) and has far longer range and endurance that a helicopter,  even with the 8 hour time limit.

This is in my humble opinion a stellar idea.

UPDATE: Welcome Information Dissemination readers!

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Aiee again....

 ...this time it's Cylons!

Who'd have thought that standards and  practices was actually ahead of the curve in all the '80 cartoons redubbed so that the armor consisted entirely of "Robot Tanks".

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June 21, 2008


Art by Toshihide Sano (Link contains NSFW pages)
Buy his stuff either here or at J-List.

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June 20, 2008

New US Infantry Cartridges?

Anthony G Williams has the scoop on his forum. 

I've just spent some time talking to people on the AAI stand at Eurosatory. They are very interested in developing an intermediate calibre version of the LSAT LMG (c. 6.5mm), and a carbine using the same ammo. If they can meet requirements, the caseless version will prevail (the ammo is much more compact as well as lighter), but if that meets insuperable problems then the plastic-cased telescoped version will be used (that's already been through a successful testing regime). Earliest in-service date is 2014.

There is considerable thoughtful discussion in the associated  thread (interspersed with the rantings of a "Munchausen" who wants to use shotguns for designated marksman rifles)

The latest on the US future rifle ammo experiments is here.
An accurate representation of what the caseless carbine will not look like is here:

Caseless is actually nothing new....muzzle-loading, black powder weapons are, in fact, caseless. One of the big advances in firearms development was cased ammo, which made repeating rifles practical.

 Now the US Army is looking to either get rid of the case altogether or use a polymer case with the bullet telescoped into the round for compactness. Either of these will save considerable weight when multiplied by the number of rounds an infantryman must carry.

 The caseless option is a tremendous advance in this area, but it is a challenging prospect. The US, France, Germany, and possibly Russia tried to do something like this for decades with no success. The only successful modern caseless rifles thus far are the now discontinued Heckler & Koch G-11 which served briefly with German Special Forces and actually worked, but was discontinued for mainly financial reasons (oddball, completely nonstandard ammo  for one thing)...

...and the rare but extremely neat Voere 5.56 and 6mm bolt action caseless rifles that use electric ignition. The main drawback to the Voere weapon is getting ammo from Austria and the fact that handloading is not really possible.

The polymer cased option is a good fall back and has been pretty much perfected already....

The fact that (from the above quote) they seem to be using this as an opportunity  to upgrade to a general purpose round (they are talking about a 6.5mm round.) is welcome news...albiet late in coming. While the .223 round in current use is not nearly as bad as some say (It is killing terrorists quite effectively) it is quite sub optimal and lacks range.    Nearly a century after  US Army ordinance people determined the ideal characteristics (and developed the .276 Pedersen) and 60 years after the Brits came to exactly the same conclusion...they might finally get an intermediate round with about the same  performance that soldiers have been asking for all along.

More on the optimum infantry rifle caliber  here and here.

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June 18, 2008

M. Night Shyamalan's Biggest Shocker Yet

M. Night Shyamalan has produced some of the absolute best suspense films  of the last several years. His works are  highly regarded for their atmosphere creepiness, quirkiness, and  totally unexpected twists.

Now, with "The Happening" Shyamalan hits his viewers with what may be the most superbly crafted "GOTCHA!" of his career.

...a film that sucks ass.

Being familiar with the mans body of work I was utterly unprepared for this.

Thus another feather in the mans cap I suppose.

This is not to say that it is not a creepy film, at least at first...
There are some truly  horrific moments, all the more terrifying for their matter of fact presentation. The film , however, doesn't really get out of a sort of one trick pony rut except to preach about the irredeemable ills of industrialized civilization, and, with not a hint of irony, expound on the inherently evil nature of rural people (who as everyone in Hollywood knows are crazy, murderous, or both). There is also provided as comic relief, a befuddled military enlisted man who seems to be based on Gomer Pyle and a crazy, hot-dog-munching hippie couple who are, of course, a fountain of insight.

All of this is paint by the numbers situation normal for Hollywood...which given that this is a
Shyamalan picture is really surprising...so you get 2, count them 2 utter surprises in one film!

The above list of Brickmuppet pet peeves would certainly be forgivable if the film were satisfying PC Greenpeace claptrap, but the last 20-30 minutes of the film tends to rather amble along and then just sort of ends....most unsatisfingly I might add... and that is simply not forgiveable.

I could have seen the Hulk...

1.5 Bricks

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June 17, 2008

Cannibal Otaku Miyazaki Hanged

One of the creepiest of Japans serial killers, Tsutomu Miyazaki, has finally been hung.

Good riddance.

There are those that will point out that this will bring none of the girls back as if this is some profound revelation. They will point out the obvious fact that the death penalty did not deter this creature from doing his deeds and congratulate themselves for their incisive deductive skills. Many of these same people will say that when someone like this is removed from our world that those of us who support this are as bad as the killer himself.

At that point they prove themselves to be rather nonserious or utterly devoid of perspective.

This unspeakably evil bastard raped, killed, raped again...and ate...little girls as young as four.

There are some actions so heinous that if a society places any value upon life, then it must insist that the perpetrators forfeit any claim to life. The very health of a society requires that such monsters face the ultimate punishment.

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June 16, 2008

Most Helpful Product Reviews...Evah

Via Rand Simberg we learn that some company has offered a $500 dollar Ethernet cable geared towards the...um...connoisseur.
Well that would just be mere idiocy if we weren't provided with these helpful customer reviews.

Now this cable is legend.

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June 14, 2008

Coastiecopters Save Fishermen In Bering Sea

A particularly challenging rescue...

Great video from Popular Mechanics, with really lukewarm narration here.

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June 13, 2008

Japanese Earthquake...Eastern Honshu...7.0

Via USGS the epicenter is here..it's in the mountains 200 miles northeast of Niigata which was so badly damaged last year.

UPDATE: Not as bad as I had feared, 2 dead and a few dozen injured.
See here and here.

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Another great One Passes

The youngest person to have ever been awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor since the Civil War has passed away.

 Rather Large for a 14 year old, Jack Lucas lied about his age to enlist in the Marines during World War 2. Just shy of his 17th birthday he saved his platoon on Iwo Jima.

Go read the whole story at CDR Salamander's.

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Machine Overlords links to this inspiring campaign commercial from one of the lesser known candidates.

In a related vein Colleen Doran posts on the McCain campaigns surprisingly effective answer to Obama Girl.

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June 12, 2008

Important Update to the Akihabara Stabbing Post...Scroll Down 2

Updated With Actual Text: A Quick recap in light of the important corrections that I made to the previous post as well as additional information.

First, by the numbers
Death Toll is 7.
Injured 10.
This is a total number of 17 victims rather than the previously reported 14. I'm guessing that the 3 run over by the truck were initially omitted from the count as they were not stabbed.

Danny Choo has a very good, succinct post  on the incident that gives a timeline. It does appear from the news reports that the perp was stopped by a policeman drawing his weapon.
 Danny links to this You Tube.

The perpetrator does seem to have gotten a remarkable distance, though at least one person tried to tackle him and was stabbed. Also, the bastard was reportedly an impressive athelete.

Japan Probe has an interesting article on the use of deadly force (or lack there of) by the Japanese police...

Which requires a note to my fellow members of  the 82nd chairborne division:

 While this is certainly a situation where deadly force is authorized (this was the sort of scenario in which we were told in Maritime Law Enforcement School to "take the shot") This was Akihabara... on a Sunday. Any of my readers who have been there know that there was likely no clear shot presented to this officer. There are kids all around and the Cop has to hit a flailing, moving, crazy ass target at range with a .38 caliber revolver...this is a no win situation. According to the video he prepared to fire in the less populated alley. This is a call best left to the officer on the scene. Keep in mind that if he had missed and hit a bystander or the bullet had gone clean through and hit someone, the cop would be castigated by the same people who are upset he did not fire into a crowd.

Another, rather creepy bit of information via Danny Choo.

According to him, there have been 3 previous stabbing incidents this year similar to this one. In all four incidents, the perps, upon being apprehended, said..

 "Anybody would have been fine."

This is worrisome, not just because of the utter sociopathic nihilism it indicates, but 4 murderers saying the exact same thing in such short order is just creepy. Is it a copycat spree, or something organized like one of those suicide chat rooms?

Meh this is just speculation but damn, that's odd.

One final thing... Those pics in the post below came from Japan Probe, which I gather from the .jpeg titles got them off of 2chan. These pictures are extremely important as they show something that the newscasts and newspapers (other than the Youtube linked above) do not.  People jumping to action before the paramedics arrived.

The mainstream English language coverage of this showed no such thing and it is an important thing that needs to be seen.

This is an awful thing, but these kids are alright...


So Brickmuppeteers, give a big thanks to Japan Probe for posting these heart wrenching but important and informative pictures.

UPDATE: Welcome Gunpundit readers!

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Pixy provides us with this version of Hatsune Miku doing the caramel dance...

No really, you should click on it...

Wait for it....

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June 11, 2008

The Akibahara Stabbing

Several days ago a bitter, worthless, little man drove into the Anime, gaming and comic mecca of Japan, Akihabara. He ran over 3 people, exited the truck he had taken for the purpose and began stabbing people. 7 are now dead.

Japan Probe has a very good roundup here including the medias inevitable focus on the fact that the killer was an Otaku who had virtually no possessions aside from Doujinshi...While this line of reportage is understandable given recent events involving the impending release of another crazy Otaku, it tends to confuse cause and effect. Humanity had bitter petty killers long before modern video games...before Pac-Man,  before Dungeons and Dragons, before cartoons, comic books, dime novels, plays at the Globe, Jousts, or tournaments at the Colosseum. Media is unlikely to have made this sicko sick. No modern day Hays Code or Comic Code Authority is likely to have filled the dark void in this nihilists soul...

The real question is how he was able to stab 14 people before being subdued

UPDATE: Upon reflection, and after sleep, that question is easily answerable...Akihabara on a Sunday is wall to wall highschool and college kids. 14 stabbings, if he was fast would take roughly 14 seconds, especially if the people were unaware of who he was or what he was doing (given the location he could have been momentarily mistaken for a cosplayer doing some ad-libbed street theater).

 Rather more importantly, it appears from the Japan Probe pictures that first aid was indeed being rendered mainly by bystanders including the two in this picture trying to save the stabbed policeman.  

Also here performing mouth to mouth and other first aid..there doesn't seem to be a first responder in sight yet but these kids and someone with a first aid kit have stepped up...

Additionally,  it appears from this picture that a bystander actually helped subdue the assailant (unconfirmed, but likely from the pic)...look at the picture to the left.

None of this has been in any English language media that I've yet seen which does a disservice to the people of Tokyo. The purpose of the post was never to rag on the Japanese in the first place, but this omission needed to be corrected in this post....we now resume the otherwise unmodified ....  but now rather less topical rant...

Steven Den Beste mentioned the sad story on Sunday and it provoked this thoughtful and disturbing comment from Toren Smith. Here is an excerpt, but read the whole thing..

...there was a recent incident on a train where an unarmed guy flashed a girl, and when she protested, he beat her up right in front of the other passengers and at the next stop stuffed her down between the train and the platform.  No one did anything to stop him during the act or his escape, and no one even stayed as a witness...snip... When one of the witnesses to the train flasher assault later came forward via anonymous phone call to a TV station, he said the reason he didn't want to get involved at the time was he didn't want to get hurt (the pathetic pussy) but worse, he would have been late for work if he'd stayed to be a witness for the cops.  He was dead serious with that excuse and had called in to make it clear he had a perfectly understandable reason for not getting involved.

Like a lot of east Asian nations, Japanese culture has what we in the west might perceive as a passive streak. A society influenced by close proximity and limited resources Japan tends to place high premiums on honor, courtesy and not bothering each other. 

That is not the issue here.

There is a large difference between the sort of nonconfrontationalism born from centuries of basically urban society and the sort of aloofness referenced in Toren's comment..

That is NOT unique to Japan. It is becoming endemic in many parts of the world. It is symptomatic of a deeply disturbing sheep-like mindset and is not at all consistent with an adult worldview.

It is every persons responsibility to have at least a cursory preparedness for something out of the ordinary happening and lending assistance if at all possible for those unable to do so.
This is called adulthood.
If you are uncomfortable with that sort of existence, take heart, after adulthood you won't have to worry about it any more.

It should be noted in passing that some of the most restrictive gun control laws on the planet did not prevent this from happening. On the contrary, one of the reasons for having adult citizens being armed in some way, even with a leatherman, is not just for personal safety, it is good citizenship, as it provides a robustly decentralized safety net and deterrent against things such as this. Japan is singularly unlikely to adopt this model for historical and cultural reasons and as such this particular option is of mainly local (USA) interest in discussing this incident...but it does bear discussing.

 However, even in circumstances such as Japan, the UK or Washington DC, where even a cursory armament  is not possible, there are things an adult can do to be prepared...things as low maintenance as simply making a note of the nearest fire exit or knowing enough to apply direct pressure to a wound...or having the gumption to pull someone out of oncoming traffic...
...or to not stand by and let a kid get knifed, do something, throw rocks or your cellphone...
...yet doing just that....which is nondebateably the right thing...is being criminalized.
Toren again...
Also, the honest truth is there is much less likelihood of the passersby stepping in to do anything (mostly for passive societal reasons).  The Japanese are as comprehensively disarmed as the British.  As there, using any item as a weapon proves intent and possession--ie, pick up a rock at the side of the road for defense and you are have now "voluntarily armed yourself "with an "weapon intended to do bodily harm."

(emphasis mine)

This is not unique to Japan. Toren mentions the oft mentioned disarmament in both body and spirit in the UK, and it is a mindset not unheard of here either. But like everywhere it is generally supremely impolitic (and often downright rude) to ask...
 ...for instance...
...why a large group of basically military age people might scamper out a window and leave an 76 year old instructor alone to face an assailant with a .22 ...without so much as helping the old man hold the door shut..... These are painful and indeed hurtful questions but they need to be asked.

Murdoc has rather related thoughts in this well thought out Gunpundit post.

  Citizens need to be adults for a republic to work and,  rather happily,  history has shown they are quite capable of actually  being able to do so.
UPDATE: Post revised 3 hours after timestamp to fix hyperlinks and replace an accidentally deleted block of text...in order to (hopefully) achieve coherence.

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June 09, 2008

Wow! Widget Works! Wo0t!


Some months ago one of the cables to my camera was lost. Recently I got a new 35 dollar widget that allows me to download pics. Even more recently I dug out my Japan pictures chip.

Behold...Himeji Castle.

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Most Awfulest Merchandising Idea EVAH!

Murdoc's other blog Gunpundit, is generally worth a read. Be advised that eye and soul protection are hardly ever required because stuff like this almost never happens over there.

Yes Mr. toy designer....we mean you.

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