September 30, 2008

So..Anyone Hear Anything From Mt. St. Helens ?


Static...never what you want to see through "Volcano Cam"

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September 28, 2008

Coast Guard Patrol Boats Revealed

The US Coast Guard has announced that it has finally settled on a patrol boat design to replace its aging 110 foot "Island Class" patrol boats. It appears that they have made a very good choice.

Behold! the Sentinel class, 153 foot patrol boats.


A very modern off the shelf design, the vessel has been in service with the Dutch Coast Guard for several years. The Dutch area of operations ranges from the North Sea to their colonies in the Caribbean and so is a pretty good match for the USCG's needs.

 The vessel is robust, steel hulled, lightly ice strengthened and considered seaworthy enough that a version of these vessels was  recently been put into service with the South African Coast Guard, where its patrol area includes the violent seas around Cape Agulhas and parts of the Southern Ocean. A version is also in service with the UK's customs service.

In other words...the design has been vetted!

NO SURPRISES THIS TIME!

It looks really cool too....



Interestingly it will be built at Bollinger, which has given the US Coast Guard a generally good customer experience in the past and has built many of the patrol boats in service with the Navy and the Coast Guard. Between 34 and 58 of these vessels are planned.

The vessel is quite heavily armed for a Coast Guard cutter with 4x.50 caliber machine guns and a 25mm chain gun. Stern launch systems are exceedingly convenient and safe, but because of their location and the need for a large hole in the structure, they have caused some structural issues and had teething problems.
However, this stern launching system is in service with both the closely related Dutch and UK versions of the design. Thus, it has been through its "learning experience" phase. Thus there should be minimal issues with it.

After the delays, disappointments and disasters involving procurement, this is a very heartening decision.

More here and here.

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September 27, 2008

The Underreported Aftermath of Ike

As we happily reported here, Ubu Roi survived hurricane Ike unscathed.
However, many did not.  Over at Houblog he points out that literally hundreds are still missing.

The most disturbing bit is this piece by a commenter,
 

This is third hand but I am told of a coast guard member that is saying that they are pulling bodies out of the bay on a daily basis and is suprised that it is not being reported in the media. I am also being told that many people on the Bolivar peninsula were overtaken by events. That Thursday evening many people got home form work and started packing up to leave Friday morning, but TXDOT stopped the ferry early Friday morning and that within an hour or so of the ferry stopping, the road through High Island flooded from the storm surge in seargent leaving them no way off the peninsula. I too am questioning the official body count.


Ubu says that that report about the citizens of Gilchrist and the rest of the barrier islands is supported by other reports. If true there could be HUNDREDS dead. Reportedly very few bodies have been found. Now, there are the usual conspiracy stories about corpses being stacked and a conspiracy by the media to cover it up of course it is more likely, that they are buried in debris, the marshes, the sound or were washed into the gulf. There were very few survivors from the Bolivar peninsula, some idea why can be seen here.


(Before and after pics via Jeff Masters)
Few places have noted the utter destruction of the towns on the Bolivar peninsula particularly Gilchrist. I imagine the reason is why there was so little appreciation of the parts of the Gulf Coast that were utterly destroyed by Katrina and Rita (as opposed to New Orleans, which missed the brunt of both) the reporters weren't where the surge was highest (which is why they still live) and the people who make up the media either don't care or are so hateful that they get a chuckle* out of Hurricanes that hit the areas of the southeast that they do not fit their narrow, provincial, definition of "hip".

The aftermath of IKE is remarkable, particularly for a cat 2 storm, but as was noted elswhere, the surge of this thing was unusually high due to the storms massive size. Only a very few storms in the past 150 years have done the kind of total annihilation of a populated area that this one has. The areas that were not subject to the full brunt of the surge like Huston and Galveston were very badly damaged by winds.

Regards Charities, I have recently heard good things about Portlight and the charities listed in this post have all had first hand vouchers.

(*That bastard Wolcott deleted his bigoted screed when  Hurricane Katrina sideswiped a place he could relate to.)

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September 26, 2008

Black Lagoon Second Barrage

The first and second volumes of the second season of Black Lagoon came in.

For those unfamiliar with this show, it is despite its name, annoyingly Creature free.

 
 Rather, it concerns 4 modern day, free agent pirates who operate out of a seedy town in northern Borneo. The audience identification character, Rock, is a former Japanese salaryman who was initially kidnapped by the pirates but, upon having his ransom paid, elected to join their crew...because...modern Japan is...you know....not genuine and shit....or something. (actually he was in a tough spot, but he's still the poster boy for Stockholm syndrome).

The show is violent, grim and surprisingly interesting. The near nonstop action does not get too stupid and the shows characterizations are intruiging. The first 3 volumes had a surprising ammount of character development.The animation was top notch, the music engaging and the stories engaging.

Black Lagoon was one of several that died with Geneon so I was happy to see it picked up by Funimation, and even happier to find that , at least for the first two volumes, they are using Geneons dub team (I assume that Geneon had the first two discs in the bag).

As to the content of these 2 discs, I'm a little nonplussed. The storyline with the two children of the damned is just over the top disturbing on several levels and it is really really gratuitous. The next arc is satifyingly action packed, while the last arc, incomplete at the end of disc 2 is less so...but looks to be serious pathos.Gut punches all around, very well drawn and well animated gut punches mind you.

This dub is hands down the best I've ever heard.

In fact after switching between the two audio tracks, I'll go so far as to say its better than the Japanese version. This is in no small part because of Venus Terzo's superb performance (via ultravoice) as the demented, murderous, implacable, mute, chainsaw wielding, goth chick.

That those last 8 words  were used together give an idea of the level of win this show occasionally achieves.


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Oh...So THAT'S the Problem.

Steven Den Beste explains my life....

If a high school girl wears glasses it means she's smart and sexy and repressed, a volcano of passion waiting to explode. If a guy wears glasses it means he's a dork. Everyone else who needs vision correction wears contacts.


This is doubly troubling as I am now far too old to date highschool girls...glasses or no.

UPDATE: It also implies that all the cute 30 something girls with glasses are, in fact, dorky traps.

( Thanks Steven! That could have led to...awkwardness! WHEW!)


It sucks to be me.


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Ouch....

Below the fold is politics... Above the fold is a picture by Emon .



The two items are unrelated.
more...

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September 23, 2008

Timely Commentary

 

From the late, great Josh White.

UPDATE: related thoughts here...via Jerry Pournelle

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Debate Schedule

In case anyone here wants to know....but is befuddeled by google.

All Seeing All Caring God Head Sun King VS Don Quixote

Friday, Sept. 26.

Tuesday, Oct. 7.

Wednesday, Oct. 15.

Gaffemaster VS The Wallflower

Thursday, Oct. 2.

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An Axe to Grind

David Axe is a freelance journalist who has done some very impressive reporting particularly over the last year.   However, he is currently engaged in resurrecting a bizarre mad on of his about the Coast Guard.

I touched on this previously here...read the whole thing, I stand by it..


 IF (and that is a really big if) the allegations are true...then those responsible for this " conspiracy" did EXACTLY THE RIGHT THING. The only thing that can come out of this IF the allegation is true is for the USCG to loose the use of a Cutter right before the Alaska fishing season, and possibly, good men and women be punished for doing the right thing.

I don't suggest that there might not be NSC related scandals....but if this is what he's wasting bandwidth on, then the Senior Sea Service  must be pretty clean.

UPDATE:  At least part of Mr Axes pique seems to stem from the USCG not affording a rebate to bloggers that big papers enjoy. Galrahn responds, thoughtfully as usual, and has thoughts on the CG and web 2.0 here.

UPDATE 2: While responding to Mr. Stinson's comment, I rather belatedly  realized that I never posted the Coast Guards denial of the whole thing.

In fact, at no time did the Coast Guard remove or re-install equipment to mislead Navy examiners.  The Coast Guard has regularly and frequently discussed in detail with congressional oversight staffs the many actual activities associated with preparation and follow-on work for acceptance trials and delivery. 


(Brickmuppet...'FLOG')

sorry...

    This excerpt is important as it might explain why some investigators Freedom of Information Requests are being denied....

   
  Specifically, the Coast Guard presented Congressional staff with information that directly counters the false assertions and unsubstantiated claims regarding this matter.  Because of the sensitive nature of the information provided to Committee staff, the Coast Guard cannot publicly disclose those documents, because that would disclose equipment capabilities. 


The C4SIR system is classified and so there is likely some lack of forthrightness in its discussion....which is perfectly proper.

Aviation Week has covered this too.

The point of these two posts is not to dispute the Coast Guards version of things but to make the case that even if Mr Axe's anonymous tipster is accurate....the "scandal" being pursued here is not an ethical failure.

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September 22, 2008

Quick and Dirty Fire Support Upgrades

Fire support is on the radar again as the Navy's solution to the problem seems to be in trouble.

The on again off again saga of the DDG1000 has hit another snag. The  program has been cut to a tech demonstrator of two hulls, and then increased to 3 hulls, possibly for industrial capacity reasons.

Now there is apparently a nontrivial issue with affixing the composite superstructure to the hull. This could actually kill the program. Unless a better composite material can be found, this could require a complete redesign of the vessel...which at this point in the troubled program could well be a program ender.

First some background and explanation.


The DDG 1000 was conceived during the 90s as a fire support vessel in part to replace the old battleships. It grew as new weapons systems were added and became quite expensive. These ships are designed to take a huge ammount of  punishment and they have very robust scantlings and thick shell plating...up to 20mm thick which is nearly as thick as the unarmored sections of a battleship. There are also design features associated with stealth that are giving some naval experts pause, such as the sloped sides (tumblehome) They are designed around 2 experimental  155 mm guns and have 80 missile tubes. Its development has been troubled to say the least, in no small part because virtually every piece of equipment outside of the galley, laundry, rope locker and the 2 Bofors guns is new and experimental..



The ships referred to as Arleigh Burke class destroyers are actually 3 similar classes of warship that are based on the same basic design. The later ships have helicopter hangers for 2 Seahawk helicopters which greatly enhances their peacetime potential and anti submarine capability.



However, the latest ships omit some useful secondary systems as an austerity measure. The vessels were rather long in development and were designed at the height of the cold war to replace obsolete guided missle destroyers designed in the 50s and 60s. They were intended as carrier escorts and have a version of the AEGIS air defense system which makes them extremely effective anti aircraft ships. They were also designed with attention paid to toughness but they are still built to destroyer standards. The vessels are designed around percieved cold war needs, the gun was very much an afterthought as were the helicopter araingements which are located right aft for maximum pitching in a seaway. Their soft power projection ability is limited and they are really expensive ships to be risking inshore. These vessels are well liked and have a fine reputation for reliability, though expensive to build and maintain they are, on a ton for ton basis fairly economical when considering their firepower and targeting capability.

Keeping in mind the situation with the DDG 1000 program, Danger Room! reports that there is interest in fitting new 'Burkes with some additional kit like the AGS gun. This is problematic to say the least.

The Advanced Gun System is HUGE...Naval architects say it would displace the forward VLS nest as well as the 5 inch gun, cutting the ships missile capability by one third. It would mean a lot of weight forward which is problematic for seakeeping and that much weight and recoil would require design changes that a 3rd class enlisted Coastie can't even begin to get his head around. The Danger Room! post also notes that magazine capacity would be a miserable 120 rounds


The AGS Advanced Gun System is a 155mm (6.1 inch) cannon intended to fire shells about 100 miles away. Its a lot bigger and heavier than its medium caliber (a standard caliber for NATO armies) would lead one to believe. This weapon, at ~100 tons,  is as heavy as the main guns on some battleships! It fires a shell that is actually heavier than most 8" shells from WW2. In the 1990s an 8 inch 60-62 caliber weapon was successfully tested , however the 155mm shell diameter was chosen in part in anticipation of using standard NATO ammunition for less demanding shots. This was mistaken as the NATO shells can't actually be fired from the gun as developed.

( Caliber in large guns generally refers to the length of the barrel multiplied by the diameter so a 5 inch 54 caliber gun is 270 inches long. Longer barrels can, in theory, achieve higher velocities. )


The Navy currently uses 2 types of medium sized guns, both 5 inchers. The old 5"54 caliber weapon developed in the 60s is supposed to be replaced with the 5"62 caliber gun. This can fire the old ammunition at a higher velocity and was intended to fire a new super long ranged guided round the EGRM as far as 60 miles but that has been canceled by the current congress. The 5" guns are reliable but have limited hitting power. They are probably adequate for most cases though.


At the lower end of the scale The USN and USCG have, since the 1970s used a license built version the old Italian OTO Melera 76mm (3inch) gun for frigates and the larger Coast Guard cutters. This weapon is reliable and very popular around the world but is no longer state of the art. There are much more modern versions of it available.

Instead of going with those versions, the Navy, after a series of tests, decided on a 57mm gun originally developed in Sweden. It is a modernized version of a weapon that has given good service overseas for 40 years and fires twice as fast as the fastest 3" guns available. It is a better anti missile weapon and, surprisingly, has a longer range than the current 3"weapon.

 

This weapon is the 'main gun' on the Littoral Combat Ships. The 57mm weapon has some utility because, with a rate of fire of  4 rounds a second, its effect has been likened to a cluster bomb going off. However, its six pound shell is half as powerful as the 3 incher and neither is generally considered an adequate shore bombardment weapon. In fact the Brits determined in the 1960s that something in the vicinity of 105mm was the minimum as fire support needs to provide indirect fire...that is lobbing over hills and such.

So, if the AGS system is not going to go to sea any time soon, what might we do to give Uncle Sams Misguided Children fire support both on and off the beach?

This does not just mean air strike or launching cruise missiles. This requires being able to hit targets, possibly moving targets exactly where the ground forces tell you. It means firing a lot of times (and missiles are bulky) It also means giving close support and escort landing craft, or (food convoys) all the way to the beach. Note that the ground forces might not be Marines or Army but could be allied forces in joint operations.

In the immediate term this is going to involve sending very large expensive ships with large crews inshore to shoot at bad guys with their 5 inch guns. If the targets are in 5 inch gun range the ships are within the range of much unpleasantness in the form of guns, missiles and torpedoes. This is a suboptimal solution but its all we have.

In the near term, if the program is not nixed, we have the Littoral Combat ships. One option might be to fit a bigger gun than the 57mm, but these are lightly built vessels and it is unlikely they could take a 5" gun.

There is an interesting option however......and that is the French 100mm gun. (gasp!)

The export version is shown above on a Malaysian OPV. It  is also used by China and a few other nations. It weighs 14 tons...which makes an interesting comparison with the 14 ton 57mm weapon already fitted.

That is not entirely true since the 14 tons only includes 114 rounds of ammo, a magazine and ancillary equipment brings its total to 18 tons, which is still quite close to the current weapon (and the additional weights would be low in the hull). The version the French use themselves has some whistles and bells (like local control) that bring it to 22 tons. Even this might still be doable with a slight redesign of subsequent versions of the LCS. 

 

The French arrived at this weapon after considerable testing. It is intended to be light enough for effective AAA fire and fire a heavy enough shell for shore bombardment. Indeed, it was intended as the main weapon of French Avisos (colonial gunboats) and incorporated the fire support lessons of the Indochina War. The shells are about 30 pounds and while less than half the weight of the 5" weapon these have a better chance of taking out a pillbox or a tank than the 57mm gun. The AAA rounds proximity fuse can likely ruin an infantry platoons whole day. The weapon is already developed, highly regarded and the gun and ammunition is in use with several nations, including Argentina, Brazil and  Uruguay in the Americas. It could meaningfully upgrade the capability of the LCS in surface combat.

18 tons-22 tons is pretty light, this weapon could be fitted to fairly small vessels (It is used on 1300 ton OPVs ) that would be built in greater numbers.

On the debit side the weapon uses nonstandard ammunition and parts. 

To get around that there is the possibility of marinizing a 105mm artillery piece such as that used in the Striker MGS or the Buford light tank.

This would have the advantage from the defense procurement officials standpoint of expending lots of unnecessary money and time to achieve almost the same results as buying an off the shelf weapon....but without any AAA capability. On the other hand using standard NATO 105mm ammunition could be advantageous and such a system might be very light indeed both of which might discourage this approach. (What...ME cynical?)

There is a discussion of this here where Tony Williams notes a UK project along these lines involving a tank turret that weighed 6 tons!?.....damn...put two of them on a Cyclone or similar small ship! There are likely to be issues with this approach but it is an interesting idea nonetheless. 6 tons puts it in the capability of some VERY small craft.

Of course one of the complaints about fire support is that the current weapons are too small, and going with a gun that is half as powerful does not address that. To that end the UK is developing a marinized version of its 155mm artilery piece. Intended to fit in the same turret as a standard Royal Navy 4.5 inch gun the weapon or something like it would be a good replacement for the 5 inch guns on USN cruisers and destroyers giving considerably more hitting power and perhaps even an increase in range now that the EGRM round has been canceled. Whether this is worthwhile is debatable.

On a tangent...The old Cruisers of the Ticonderoga class were actually strengthened and had space reserved to take an 8 inch gun that was developed in the 70s, though its unclear if...1: we could build those guns now or 2: if they could still take these weapons after their many upgrades. If it could be produced, it could certainly be fitted to specially designed new build ships of modest size.....as it was a successful weapon and the tests were actually conducted from an old (2800 ton) Forrest Sherman Class destroyer. 


Guns are the most economical in space but missiles can be useful too. For really heavy artillery the Army's GMLRS rockets are quite impressive, carrying a precision guided 200 pound warhead 40 miles away. The warhead on this 9" diameter rocket  is bigger than the bursting charge of a 16" shell. These can't be fired from warships for a variety of reasons, however in 1999 Lockmart proposed POLAR,  The Precision Over the horizon Land Attack Rocket which is mentioned briefly here used a marinized and lengthened version of the same weapon that could be packed 4 per cell in a vertical launch tube and would have had a range of over 100 miles. Hitting nearly as hard as a battleship gun from 5 times the distance and with precision guidance and being relatively cheap this weapon would have solved the heavy fire support problem at a stroke, but was canceled. It could probably be revived  without too much trouble Many of these options have been looked at before and were rejected in favor of the AGS which, being a battleship sized weapon, requires a ship as big as a predreadnaught to carry it with any efficiency.

These need to be looked at again, but not without a careful look at tactics, and long term strategy.  Otherwise the best kit on the planet is of limited use.

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September 20, 2008

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It's Like a Freak Show Without JoJo

                                                             
                                                               
It's so political that the health department made us put it below the fold for the safety of those with weak constitutions!

  Image via
more...

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In Japan the Gideons are...Different

In a Hotel in Nagasaki



more...

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Budget Domicile

Upon arriving in that thar ole' Jaypan I suddenly discovered that my accommodation arrangements were FUBAR'd due to an apparent oxidation mishap. I took no pictures of the grave of Casa Nova on that rainy night but I snapped this one 22 days later...
this old promo photo was taken from almost the same angle as the one below it.

 


 



The Tokyo boarding house I found was rough around the edges, but it was a surprise expense that fit within my budget. Green House cost about 500 dollars for a month. with a roughly 250 dollar deposit for utilities. It is less than a click from the train station and is only two stops on the express ( 9 minutes) from the big station in Ikebukaro.

The building known as Green House is old and was initially quite off-putting but the place is very casual, reasonably watertight and had,  at the time I was there, 18 other occupied rooms (out of 19), about a third of which were families as large as 5. This was really interesting to watch and I was able to interact with some of the tenants from time to time.

The rooms are in fact rooms, single rooms, but they come with a kitchenette which is a step above the late, lamented Casa Nova. On the debit side the place was in materially worse condition than the other place had been in August of '07.


On the bonus side it was in vastly better condition than that apartment was in August of '08.



The postit note speaks the truth...take my word for it.


The coin operated showers were nearly a foot shorter than me on the inside.
I quickly learned that in Japan the most valuable thing on earth is a 100 yen coin. This shower, phones, laundromats, some vending machines and even one automat would take nothing else!

The two big utility sinks in the halls are the traditional Japanese type...The upstairs one was no longer in commission. One of the tenants intended to turn that one into a planter for vegetables which I thought was a cool idea, but then, I am a nerd. I gather the landlord did not object as he was stacking bags of potting soil in it the day I left.


I realized early on what the problem was with the restrooms...it seems that due to a miscomunication, right was frequently disabled by the tenants, and, as nature abhors a vacuum, the restrooms would then fill up with wrong.

Restroom wrongness aside, the building was, while dilapidated, not actually unclean. I never saw a roach for instance. On the other hand there were a lot of jumping spiders (which I did not molest...and reciprocated the behavior).

Despite the rustic touches there are a few things to be said for places like this. First the place is cheap.
500 a month in Tokyo is pretty damned good. You are unlikely to get better private accommodations for that without a 6 month lease. Gas is cheap, the 250 dollar utility deposit was 80% refunded.
Second the place is casual.
"What does he mean?"
Other, newer places, like this that actually cater to foreigners frequently cost twice as much and have a ton of restrictions. No guests, a curfew, no food in the rooms...its like dorm life without D&D. This place allows you to cook in your room, go and come at 3 AM and as long as you observe shoe discipline and aren't loud..they don't care.
As an aside, when I told my friend  Bob Mitchell about the pillows* that were in the closet he asked about the layout and the nearby bathouse. We realized that by bizarre coincidence he had stayed here before. In fact he had brought some friends, who balked at the place got another, better maintained place that cost more than twice as much and were miserable in the "prison" whereas Bob stayed here and had a fine time, being able to come and go as he pleased with no fear of being locked out.

 The purpose of accommodations when on a vacation is to give you a place to sleep and put your stuff. This served that purpose well. I was not in Japan to see the inside of an apartment but to see the many sights of that strange land. Particularly given that this was found quite on the fly I think I did pretty well. For that reason I actually don't recommend against this place.


* Pillows in Japan are constructed to an utterly different standard of softness, more appropriate for a beanbag. Bob informed me of this in '07, and mentioned that he always bought several pillows from Sams Club before going to Japan. On the way back, the luggage space used for pillows was taken up with the stuff he'd purchased. When I discovered several Sams Club pillows in the closet I laughed and  mentioned it to Bob...after a bit of exchanging notes we realized he had stayed in this place. I asked the landlord and sure enough he remembered Bob as  "that really nice polite American".
Bob Mitchell ...legendary Gaijin.

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September 19, 2008

Unfurl The Sails!

Arrrrr.....one of the Brickmuppet's crack crew of alchemaic wenches has  picked up this bit of scuttlebut from that thar scurrvy dog Brian Wang.

 It seems that a bunch o' 'lubbers at ESA have been lookin' into spacejammers, and have figgued ot how to get more speed outa their sun sails by usin' St Elmo's fire!

This here sail there talkin about doesnt ride the light from the sun like other spacejammers, it rides the suns own westerlies!

That might not be of any interest to us 'ceptin that this Wang feller has figgured out how to use this here contraption to find treasure amongst the planets. Real treasure mayties, not just gold and silver mind you, but platinum and fresh water too!

If'n this thing works it'll be fast too! ...about 1, 494, 625 kts faster than one of them new fangled 15 kt clipperships!






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September 18, 2008

Brickmuppet Breaking Down

UPS physical today.

Blood pressure was 175 over 100.

UPS has therefore laid me off until I can get it under control.

Suck.




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Reality Breaking Down

I've been under the weather a bit lately so I pretty much crashed this evening. A while ago I got up turned on the news to see what was happening in teh real world, only to discover that /b/tards are causing trouble in /po/.

WTF? 4chan has entered the election.

Now I can't sleep because of the nagging nauseating  fear that /d/ might be under the bed.

Interestingly, while a lot of people are looking for an elite group of crackerjack anarchist hackers who call themselves anonymous. Michelle Malkin of all people has posted a rundown from a reader which explains what is much more likely to /b/ the truth.

That some adolescent pulled this off is not all that surprising, but the fact that Gawker and others posted screencaps of the accounts as well as contact info for the Governors whole E-Mail list is pretty damned obnoxious.


Profanity is tastefully below the fold.

more...

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September 14, 2008

Ubu Lives!

Ubu Roi has power and internet again. He has a post up on the aftermath. It looks like the surge WAS as bad as expected but was to the northwest...

Across the bay to the north, the Bolivar Peninsula, Crystal Beach, and High Island…. everythings gone. Not damaged, gone. There were once dozens of beach houses on stilts there, and the area had several canals dug so that even houses 3 and 4 rows back from the beach could have docks for their boats. The occasional lonely piling is still sticking up, plus one very incongruous house that somehow survived. Other than that, water and the occasional bit of greenery. It appears that a historic “iron lighthouse” is gone; the media chopper couldn’t find it.

Read the whole thing.

'Gwendolyne D. Barista' who moved not so long ago to the area sends this via E-Mail....
...there were a bunch of reports of a few thousands using their fireplaces when their power went out... AND THEN ABANDONING THEIR HOMES WITH THE FIRES STILL GOING. Loads of houses have burnt down. Good job, guys. *shakes head* I am so ashamed. It's called flashlights. It ain't like you people are going to freeze to death here in Texas...
So then, much to everyone's chagrin (they can't claim to be surprised) the storm moved up into Houston and took out a lot of the downtown area. Unbelievable flooding and blown glass and debris. There was a snippet rolling by on the ticker that said 'Houston's Tallest Building Loses Nearly All Windows' or some sensational bullshit like that. It's true- all the glass is on the street ....It's intense.
Also, there were notices of Boil Alerts in Houston in order to keep contamination down. That, and there was another alert that popped up later (so as not to appear related, methinks) that there had been a chlorine leak. GOODY.


Here is video of Galveston from the Coast Guard Falcon that was sent to assess the damage as soon as weather permitted. It is humbling.





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September 13, 2008

You...You Spilled Gainax on My Robot Show!

The long awaited paycheck arrived...the first one in 5 weeks...and after the filling up the pickup of peril....with what must have been vintage wine or something... and getting the last book for school I walked out of a local store with Gurren Lagaan Volume 2. Today was spent studying, composing E-mails in Japanese and fretting about Ike, but at 6pm I hung it up and popped in the much anticipated DVD.
Like volume, one volume 2 is a very reasonably priced 2 disc set containing 9 episodes. Unlike volume one however, the marketing department very sensibly put teh Yoko on the cover of volume 2.

I had been quite taken by the first volume and was looking forward to 9 episodes of teh Yoko, giant fighting robots, adventure and teh Yoko...

What I got was 8 episodes of satisfying giant robot battles, a goofy albino Moe Maiden, adventure, heroism, a basically satisfying wrap-up of most plot threads and not quite enough of teh Yoko.
Oh, and one episode of patented Gainax Gut Punchery....

My biggest problem with the show is the crass stupidity and pig headedness of a lot of the cast, which frequently leads to seemingly unnecessary plot complications this is not as annoying as it could be due in part to the fact that said problems are usually resolved by thoroughly amusing giant robot battles. I should mention that the bombastic character Kamina comes off much better in this volume than he did in the first disc


This show is indeed very goofy on its face but there is a surprisingly poignant side to it too.Nia Teppelin the Erie pale outsider with the jigsaw eyes introduced at the end of volume 1  is an effective foil for and observer of the rest of the cast, alien in her outlook, her decency and forthrightness are not only admirable but, at the end of volume1, had saved everyone's behind, however she is so socially inept and awkward that she frequently comes off to the cast as callous or thoughtless. 

image via Concrete Badger
 Now I'm a bit put off by the Moe' thing (which Pulpjunkie describes as "a girl as a pet" ) and Nina is so Moe' it is jarring, but the character is actually quite deep and strong in an utterly different way than teh Yoko.

The goofball nature of the series combined with the genuine drama and pathos is an odd mix that has rarely been pulled off, being reminiscent of Van Dread in a way. All in all it was a very satisfying and quite enjoyable 8 episodes. I was impressed.

Then suddenly... I was reminded this was a Gainax show...and the show began chanelling Josh Wheadon.
There is a clifhanger.
We'll leave it at that....
...while we contemplate the obligatory beach episode...and teh Yoko

Posted by: The Brickmuppet at 11:47 PM | Comments (5) | Add Comment
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Ike Follow Up

Ubu's last post was shortly before 01:00 local.
Weather Nerd# says the surge was less than expected which is hopeful but reports from the area# are grim. I hope the tide gauges didnd give false readings due to the storm.


Via Colleen Doran comes a list of vetted charities active in the area.

The worst is over at least.

Posted by: The Brickmuppet at 09:25 AM | Comments (2) | Add Comment
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