February 23, 2011

Proofs and Thoughts

Wonderduck has found proof of Gods existence.

Steven Den Beste has thoughts on primate-amphibian relations.

John C. Wright has thoughts on the secret origin of steampunk....complete with proofs!

Colleen Doran has professional thoughts on middlemen.

Allan Harvey has thoughts on one of the strangest mainstream comics ever.



Thoughts on the relationship between intel and weaponry

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On the Christchurch Quake

This is pretty bad, it was  hasn't gotten all that much coverage here given what is happening in the Middle East right now and the silliness in Wisconsin, but this quake seems to have done an inordinate amount of damage. The death toll is 75 and climbing. It is likely to climb much higher.



 The area is being wracked by aftershocks as well. Check out this animation of the earthquake history since the main quake.


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February 22, 2011

Why there will be no Yotsuba@! Anime

 To my utter astonishment it has turned out that Bleach is a Yotsuba@! sequel!

 You see, Yotsuba@! died of a head injury many years ago. Oh, and she went to hell.



Seriously, no one wants to watch a show about Yotsuba@! that's gonna end that way.

The sequel on the other hand, while it has its share of surprises, is quite... uplifting.



This post has been brought to you by the #3.

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February 21, 2011

No one knew

...what it was that happened to Benny that day.

now it has been revealed.


Bad End
Poor Benny.

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February 17, 2011

TRANSFORMATIONAL!

This takes 'Optimal Manning' to a whole new level.


I'm sure nothing whatsoever can go wrong.


Nothing at all...

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February 16, 2011

Utewarerumono

Funimation has re-released Utewarerumono in a Super Amazing Value Edition. As a result I now own this unpronounceable title, and a few weeks ago I watched it.

*****
A man awakens in a hut, in what appears to be a medieval village, wearing a mask he cannot remove, with no memory of his past, and finds himself being tended to by an old woman and her two granddaughters, who, to his astonishment, are equipped with dog ears and tails.
 
And there are new rules to learn!

The story progresses very fast but logically, and our masked hero ( who the women name Hakuoro) and his growing band of allies encounter and must overcome a steady stream of increasingly difficult challenges, all the while trying to find out who he is (and why he is tailless).

This show is remarkable in a number of respects. First, this show is a fantasy adventure done straight.  Utewarerumono has above average production values and very engaging characters. In contrast to the fantastic elements such as magical beasts and exotic races, the  relationships, motivations and even the tactics are realistic. The world is very well realized.

Perhaps most remarkable of all, Hakuoro is a very likable, ethical, AND SMART person. This rare combination of traits is found in most of the shows other protagonists as well.  The men in the cast are generally strong, ethical adults and as such are the antithesis of the nebbish whiny brats or hotheaded punks that seem to be the norm of late (well, there is a hotheaded teen punk, but he's a foil and he advances the plot). This is not to say that the leading women are overshadowed by the guys...they more than hold their own.

To wit...

Do NOT make fun of the trenchcoat

It's just refreshing to see a show where the men are men and not jackwagons or wimps.

The show is exceedingly well paced and has a very humanistic streak. It doesn't pull its punches (characters die) but it is at times a downright inspiring show.

Utewarerumono  contains 19 episodes of the some of the most satisfying adventure anime I have ever seen.

Unfortunately it is a 26 episode series.

This is just episode 20 child. There is more fail coming than your young mind can possibly imagine.

GAINAX call your office...Mary Sue broke in and stole one of your endings.

The last 7 episodes of this show form a bone crushingly painful cascade of stupidity wrapped in schizophrenia and bound together with a truly impressive level of contempt for the audience.

I cannot type enough swear words do justice to the ending of this show. Frankly about the time the mechs show up (yes...the mechs) I had real difficulty following it. The story got disjointed nonsensical and downright hateful.

...but wait there is more...

 It tried to weave together 2 separate, out of order, quite dystopic flashbacks into the story.

Here is a semi-coherent overview of the flashbacks which I knicked from the Wikipedia entry.

If you did not read that , you are likely still sane.

Note that that only covers the flashback portions of the plot...the "present" plot has the previously wise cast becoming mind numbingly stupid...before the whole insipid mess just collapses under its own incoherence.

I know these writers can write...they wrote the first 19 episodes, so unless they switched writing teams 3/4s of the way through
this isn't likely incompetence.  I think it could be sadism.

Or perhaps this was made for the American market and this is one of those cruel jokes they play on foreigners...like natto.

Which, come to think of it, brings us back to sadism.

ahem...
 
I'm going to refrain from recommending this series...but if anyone's interested I have a complete set right here.

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February 15, 2011

Two Things I Would Not Have Thought to Combine

While I wrack my school and illness addled brain for content, d.merril has combined Tezuka and Pez to good effect.

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February 14, 2011

Space News

Via Rand Simberg comes news of a particularly intriguing study for a spacecraft .

The Nautilus-X MMSEV is on one level a flight of fancy given current budget constraints and launch cycle times, but it is really interesting in that it leverages a lot of existing and very near term technologies and builds on a rational development of the current commercial systems. The full powerpoint is here.

The design is a habitation module with a variety of well thought out facilities for scientific research and a variable gravity deck. The whole design uses largely off the shelf or soon to be off the shelf components being developed by space industry. Bigelow's inflatable modules are the most obvious of the available parts but the big gravity deck is claimed to be a straightforward development of spin stabilized comsat technology and of course the sensor pallets manipulator arms and EVA packs are all the orphans of the soon to be ended Space Shuttle program. Even light craft for landing on an asteroid or the moon are a mature technology given that the LEM worked.


The whole thing is to be attached to a propulsion module. In the illustrations that module is NASAs perpetually around the corner VASIMR system. However, if, as is proposed, the vehicle were set up at a Lagrange point, it would already be beyond the Van Allen belts, so the big problem with conventional ion engines ( that their slow acceleration would keep them in the radiation belts a dangerously long time) is rendered moot. The design can travel to the moon as well as near earth asteroids like Cruithne. There are long term expansions of the design for exploration as far afield as Mars, the main belt and beyond, but those are even farther beyond our budget horizon.  I suspect it could form the design basis for a cycler.

Clark Lindsey points out in the article that as ambitious as it is it dovetails nicely with a lot of technologies needed for and planned by comercial space companies, such as a Lagrange point fuel depot. If that infrastructure is developed privately, or in response to prizes, then this sort of design becomes tenable without too much effort. It is already designed with commercial lifters and spacecraft in mind, eliminating the need for NASA to spend taxpayer dollars on money holes like Orion/Ares.

Clark Lindsay has more:

/-- It illustrates how the use of Bigelow style expandable modules provides for great flexibility in design and in the means of delivery.

/-- It takes direct advantage of the tremendous experience in assembling structures in space that NASA has gained in the past decade. NASA knows how to do this.

/-- It would work very well with fuel depots.

/-- The contrast is striking - Constellation would have had small, single-use, expensive systems in operation perhaps by 2030. MMSEV would be a honest-to-goodness space cruiser in operation by 2020.

/-- The first pass at the design cost and schedule finds it cheaper than the Orion capsule alone.


Emphasis mine. That last inspires much skepticism, but in fairness, Orion was not only a cost plus contract but it was designed with maximum pork in mind.

The cost is estimated at 3.7 billion and the time at 64 months. 3.7 billion additional spent is of course taking the current budget 3.7 billion in the wrong direction, but if we take the take it from the 19 billion in the current NASA budget (just, you know, can the Muslim outreach ) We might still cut the NASA budget by a considerable amount if we focus on astronomy and this while leaving the development of new boosters to Space-X and others.

This could potentially be part a net savings, albeit in NASA which doesn't actually show up visually on a pie graph of the US budget.

Additionally, opening up the vast mineral reserves of the asteroids is an investment in the future in exactly the same way that high speed AmTrack isn't. Visiting near earth asteroids to learn how to deflect them in the event of an incoming Tunguska is in keeping with the defence function of the government, (analogous to flood control in this case), so it is not entirely beyond the realm of possibility that something like this might see the light of day in the current environment...just bloody unlikely.

The stimulus bill has poisoned that well for some time but this sort of thing does warrant some attention in the near future, assuming we get our fiscal house in order.

**********

In the meantime, Bill Whittle has further words on the issues with cost-plus contracts and pork as well as how to avoid them...which dovetails into  a good overview of current commercial space activities.


Watch it, it's only 10 minutes and Whittle covers a lot.
***********
Regards that mention of asteroid defense mentioned earlier, Pejman Yousefzadeh deconstructs a rather disingenuous leftie meme about tea partiers, strict constitutionalists and space defence. Namely the rather idiotic notion that because there was no means to deflect asteroids or comets in 1789 it must be considered unconstitutional by conservatives and libertarians.
**********
While we are on the subject of guarding against things from space it seems timely to visit this proposal to replace NASA and much  of the USAF's involvement in space with a non-DOD affiliated organization under military discipline modeled on the US Coast Guard. PDF here I think this has a lot of merit. Certainly the civil service model is sub optimal and in any event some branch of government would eventually be necessary for safety inspections and rescues in  space. It makes sense that it be a limited gendarmerie along the lines of the USCG (probably operated out of the DOT) that can handle the job while being non-unionizeable and able to deal with things like debris mitigation both directly and through enforcement. The USCG gets along well with the public and does scientific work as well so this might be a good fit that would avoid wasteful duplication down the road.

**********

All this talk of asteroids and comets....where are the comets coming from? Tyche possibly. We've covered this before but Tyche (which seems more likely to exist than Nemesis ) is in the news again.


More here. There is growing evidence that a big gas giant or brown dwarf is in our solar systems Oort cloud. 


Finally this scientiffical type post would not be complete (or worthwhile) without paying all due respect and homage to one of those who made it possible: a member of the Brickmuppet's Crack Team of Science Babes.


In this case  ZZGundam's Elle Vianno as rendered by by Monocoque

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In Which I Pariah-fy Myself

I have long had a great deal of respect for Allan West, ( R, FL-22).

Below is video of him giving a superb speech at the close of CEPAC 2011. The speech itself is quite good, but that is not why I'm commenting on it. It is after all being widely shown throughout the rightosphere.

I'm commenting because this clip, which I got via Cdr. Salamander, has footage I had previously missed...Footage that bothers me.



West's speech begins about 8 and a half minutes in, but it is what happens prior that I find disturbing. Specifically, West is introduced by a military service member in uniform who proceeds to make a very short but quite partisan statement at a completely partisan function...I remind you that he is in uniform.

I like West a lot, but this is a no-no.

A big no-no.

 It is not acceptable for the military to get involved in politics in any way.  That is how republics die. I would expect West, who is a history buff ought to know that. He is certainly aware of  Department of Defense Directive 1344.10 (and for the USCG, the Hatch Act).

It is inevitable that when one party is the one that spat on our military and still  treats them with barely disguised contempt, that many in the military lean the other way...when out of uniform and off duty. It is not in any way acceptable for them to be expressing that as military members in uniform.

As I mentioned during the McChrystal fiasco, we have many republics to the south of us in this hemisphere.Most had the military get involved in politics in some way.That did not turn out well.

This is disturbing. But not as disturbing as the fact that I've not heard ANYONE comment on this, which bothers me rather more than the indiscretion itself. 

UPDATE: Over at Cdr Salamander's, people are commenting on this impropriety. I note that they all seem to be current or former military.

UPDATE 2:The video has been removed by the user. A slightly shorter version with the 8 minute introduction removed can be seen here . It contains the bit relevant to my concern as well as the otherwise excellent speech. The full C-SPAN vid with intro is available on C-Span for now here

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Worrisome Rumors

I agree with Instapundit. One would think this from the Daily Mail would be bigger news. As it is the best coverage seems to be in the UK at the moment.



‘So, specifically, you're looking for the dirty bomb? You're looking for the nuclear device?’ asked Mr Blacher.

‘Correct. Weapons of mass effect,’ said Mr Hallor.

‘You ever found one?’ asked Mr Blacher.

‘Not at this location,’ Mr Hallor said.

‘But they have found them?’ asked Mr Blacher.

‘Yes,’ said Mr Hallor.

While it is no surprise to me that someone has tried to sneak something really bad into the U.S. it would seem that this would get some more US coverage.


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February 13, 2011

Save the Turtles!

Oh noes! Star Turtle Village is 4 ninjas short of the number needed to maintain  our elemental decompressor! We need space turtle ninjas!




...What?
You don't wear black or blue pajamas and adventure?
You don't have experience in space?
You aren't a turtle?
Well, fear not 'cause we aren't picky!
We have a crackerjack apprenticeship program headed up by a highly respected...ummm...dolphin..ninja...biker...ummm...


...actually...we don't know WHAT the hell he is but he's very good at his job so you can learn your ninja trade right here!

Since we are classy SPACE ninjas (with a fashionable Turtle motif) we take care of our members. We have a Ramen shop, a Burger Ninja and a Pizza Witch in our food court and if that doesn't impress you we've got SCIENCE!tm, and a Party House with a fully stocked Juice Bar. We even get to beat up on  undead zombjas periodically 'cause we are just that bad ass.

Click on the banner above to start your ninja career today and not only will you be able to tell your grandkids that you saved an entire village from being elementally undecompressed....you'll even know what the heck that means!

Just remember to keep all kunai stowed and all hands and feet onboard the elephants.

Please note that this week's announcements are sponsored by:
 Ankh-Morpork Assassin's Guild:
Inhumation with a contemporary touch.

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February 07, 2011

Clothes are Expensive All Over

I go through clothes, particularly pants, pretty fast at work so I am always looking for  a cheap alternative.

I saw a couple of kids at school wearing Zongshans. This was unremarkable in itself as this is a college campus and some idiocy is always going on, but it occurred to me that Zongshans are work outfits and the kids, being college students, might have picked them up really cheap.

Alas no...~200 bucks is the cheapest I found, ...they don't look terribly durable..and one would still need to go at them with scissors so as to not look too much like a mass murderer.

Damn commies.

Of course this means that those kids likely aren't using these as cheap attire....but as a none too cheap statement.

Damn commies.

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February 03, 2011

Year of the Rabbit!

Happy Chinese new year!

...What?

Hey! A jackrabbit counts!

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February 02, 2011

WE'RE SAVED!

 Rejoice!

Uh Oh...

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