March 28, 2012


Sometimes The Sun is a loving mother bringing life to the surface of the earth Sometimes it is a strict father bringing terrible trials. These trials, which have occurred many times since the creation of the earth have come once again. The land is dry, the oceans barren, what little life survives is on the verge of extinction, clinging to the thin atmosphere that remains. But some still live on in the dry seas of sand....

Thus begins Ozuma (Ozma?) a series set in a post apocalyptic future that has generated some buzz because it's a resurrection of a canceled early-80s Leiji Matsumoto project.

Although the beginning narration doesn't sound fun AT ALL, this show is rather more upbeat than its grim premise would suggest.

This show has a decidedly retro feel.. It's not just Matsumoto's distinctive art style, which is evident both in the characters and the very retro-futuristic mechanical designs, the story is a a throwback in a lot of ways with the dystopic 'future in a desert' so prevalent in the 80's.

In other ways the times have caught up to Matsumoto. He has generally had strong women to compliment his male leads and this series is no exception. Despite the grim backdrop, the characters are pretty likable, even admirable. The show has a somewhat whimsical, occasionally upbeat feel to it as well.

OZUMA also has a decent, somewhat catchy, theme song....

...In English.

The OP sounds God it sounds like it was translated from Japanese to English to fit the rhythm...(Like several US dubs in the 80's). I feel I should be watching this on a UHF channel in the late afternoon or at, like, six in the morning.

This is actually kind of brilliant!

Two episodes in, things are proceeding at a very decent pace. The story is actually engaging and seems to have a bit of depth to it. I'm really liking it thus far.

A quick collection of spoilers from episode 1 are below the fold.

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March 27, 2012

The Medicine Gun

I blundered into information on Meriwether Lewis's air rifle.

The gun is important to U.S. history because it served to deter attacks on the Lewis and Clarke expedition (they demonstrated it to the tribes they met...and implied that they had quite a few more than they did). It also reportedly took down a Grizzly bear at one point, though its unclear how many shots this took.

I had known vaguely about the Austrian use of repeating air guns, but I had not realized just how impressive their performance was.

It was equivalent to a .45ACP carbine, had 22 shots and carried enough air for ~30 shots in each flask! (There were generally three flasks per soldier) The flasks could be charged by hand with an ingenious pump the soldier carried with him (although it took 1500-1800 pumps to do so).

This is seriously impressive performance for 1790. Something like this would be a really cool survival gun today.

More here and info on the whole family of weapons can be found here here. The second link is particularly thorough and has this interesting tidbit as well.

Made in the 1940s during WW2, this gun doesn't look like a Girandoni, but examination shows that it clearly was built by someone familiar with the Girandoni repeating airgun system. Purchased in Europe, the story is that this gun was built somewhere in occupied Europe by a partisan bicycle maker during the Nazi occupation in WW2


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Skynet Could Not be Reached For Comment.

Via Cdr Salamander comes this interesting and somewhat disturbing TED talk on algorithms.

They're still dumber than bugs, but even ants and termites make war.

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March 26, 2012

It Must be an Homage to the Brown Hornet.

For some 11 episodes, Bodacious Space Pirates has been an intelligent, enjoyable and even inspiring tale. Each episode has built on the last one in a deliberate and entertaining fashion. Even the techno-babble has been thoughtful and contributed to the story. As an added bonus, despite the lowbrow temptations presented by short skirts, Zero-G and the state of the industry today, we haven't had a single upskirt shot yet.

The show has had some important and rarely touched on things to say about the responsibilities of command and leadership. Young Marika is actually in a position not unlike that of a green ensign or "90 day wonder" dropped in command of a small unit virtually every member of which has been doing their jobs longer far than her. She has had to learn to delegate, take advice and cope with the fact that the buck stops with her, and it is upon her decisions that the crew will live or die. This has been handled with far more intelligence and subtly than one has any right to expect from a show like this.

This interesting plot has been intertwined with a slowly but logically building story of interstellar intrigue that has gradually built into a tale that looked to be nothing short of epic.

Which brings us to episode 12 which saw the suspense build to a crescendo as events converge upon the crew of the BentenMaru and their passenger. Everything has led up to this point.  This episode in particular was brilliantly paced, so much so that 16 minutes in I was literally on the edge of my seat as...

I'm sorry...WHAT!?
Wow...that was really...umm...a surprise.

I'm gonna keep watching, it's been a really good show...but damn...episode 12 makes me feel like I've been mugged.

Hopefully some more satisfactory explanation of the WTFs will be forthcoming next episode.

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March 24, 2012

Ogilvy Assures Me There is Nothing To Worry About

Regards this.

Amateur astronomers are puzzling over a seemingly anomalous cloud that has shown up on images of Mars taken over the past few days. Is it really a cloud, or a trick of the eye? Does it really extend 150 miles up from the surface, as some of the observers suggest? And what churned up all that stuff, anyway?

The chances of anything living on Mars are a million to one he said.



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From Red to Purple to Blue : Those Appalling Poll Numbers are Likely Spot On

Over at Hot Air, they seem genuinely surprised that new polls seem to have Virginia sliding into Obamas camp. The only surprise to me is that it's not already solidly so.

Appalled girl is Shizune Hachimaki, from Katawa Shoujo..which is itself somewhat appalling.

Not JUST politics, State and local politics, the most appalling politics of all.

So as a courtesy to our readers we've hidden it bellow the fold.

Click to be appalled...

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March 17, 2012

2 out of 8 ain't bad actually.

I hope you all are having a happy St. Patrick's Day.

Art by Nayutaho

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March 14, 2012

About Last Night

Professor Jacobson has the most succinct analysis I've seen of last nights primary results.

Endgame assessment:  Big night for Rick.  Bad night for Mitt.  The Honey Badger don’t care (nsfw).

This primary thing might work better if we just got them all to put on masks have a 4 way Mexican wrestling match. It'd be over quicker and there'd be at least some surprise when the mask was removed from the winner.

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March 12, 2012

Hopeful Liscencing News.

Sentai has landed Unlimited Blade Works and K-On! season 2. This is hopeful because it indicates that some of the Bandai properties that were abandoned when Bandai USA dissolved may yet come over. ULBW gives some slim hope that there will be a version of Fate Zero available that is not....350 bucks.

Also the fact that they are putting out to have Bang Zoom do dubs for both is a vote of some confidence in there being a future.

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March 11, 2012

Post Spring Break Cleaning...

...of the tabs.

Tab Cleaning girl is actually Ohana from Hanasaku Iroha

Here's an interesting gun...Melvin Johnson developed a semiauto rifle and machine gun, both of which were adopted on a limited basis by the Marines in WW2. Shortly before the war started, he designed another gun that combined his weapons best features with a much shorter overall length. It saw very limited service (one prototype used in the Pacific) but if it had been a few months earlier it might have been the general issue rifle US rifle of the war.

It's the middle one.

Oh joy. Nothing will go awry with this I'm sure.

A Hollywood writer comes out of the closet.

This is NOT the Onion.

Testify Ace.

History repeats. Lets hope it's not Sarajevo.

This is really impressive tornado footage
.  Kind of depressing but...WAIT...these are ALL depressing.  We need a  dispatch from the department of win.

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March 10, 2012

Pursue! Beat them to it! Take a piece of the action!

Just a few observations.

It's really nice to see that Kurihara actually enjoys her work... a lot.

It's somewhat reassuring that princesses are not exempt from child labor laws.

Slower than light generation starships ought not to be making hyperspace jumps.

I predict whining about the weather, as nebulae just aren't that thick. However, they established earlier that our heroes would be inspecting proto-stars and getting perilously close to black holes. The "turbulence" is arguably consistent with those.

Having watched the series thus far in 3 sittings it occurs to me that I've caught up...and need to wait a WHOLE WEEK until I can see more. That sucks.

For those than know not of what I are sad, deprived, pitiable souls and you have my deepest sympathies.

Here's a hint...


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March 07, 2012

Eternal Father, strong to save,
Whose arm hath bound the restless wave,
Who bidd'st the mighty ocean deep
Its own appointed limits keep;
Oh, hear us when we cry to Thee,
For those in peril on the sea.

Captain Carrol LeFon USN, better known to many of us as  Neptunus Lex, has died.  After his retirement he flew F-21 Kfir's as a civilian contractor providing aggressor training to Navy and Air Force pilots. Yesterday, while performing that duty he perished in a crash.

Cdr. Salamander, has much more as well as a round up of links to remembrances.

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March 06, 2012

Pellet Train Update: Was scheduled to be at destination 40 minutes ago. Curiously, I am sitting in a train car in a fallow field on the edge of a pine forrest ~90 miles from my destination. Welcome to government run railroads. In other news: Dagny Taggart rumored to laugh.

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March 03, 2012

I'm on the pellet train headed north. Oddly enough it's completely sold out.UPDATE: Saw 2 beavers and an eagle just south of Fredricksburg. Neat.

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March 01, 2012

The Ghost Town I Missed

Don links to an interesting post over at Spike Japan which describes a ghost town.

It's of particular interest to me because, I'd narrowly missed this ghost town due to poor timing. 

Let me explain.

On my last foray into Japan, I took a detour when the bullet train stopped at Sakurandai and (as I was often wont to do) got off on a local line (the Koumi line) to explore the less traveled areas. The abandoned town Kiyosato is near the end of the of the line and by the time I got there it was already dark. Had I come the other way, via the Chuo line past Mt Fuji, I'd have seen it.

What I DID do was bumble between nearby Anonuma and Usuda looking for what turned out to be a more or less abandoned museum that was quite peculiar in its location...amongst other things. I also stopped in Koumi, and Shinano-Kawakami which is only two stops from the ghost town at the link...(たいへん!).

 See here.

While walking to the "turret" I encountered an abandoned building that appeared to be a rec center (but I can't quite make out the kanji)

And of course there was the much photographed shrine which appeared to have been abandoned. As well as lots of half finished landscaping that had not been worked on in a while and had washed out a bit.

 Spike Japan says that Kiyosato was abandoned due to consolidations resulting from local mismanagement.

This certainly jives with some of the oddball things I photographed nearby like the museum and the seemingly outsize, yet unfinished station at Koumi proper,. It had a skyway across the tracks, but no stairs to the other side, causing passengers to have to walk across the tracks to get to one of the platforms. I saw a few other projects that looked like they'd just stopped in mid construction...a few years ago.

My Japanese is very cursory and I only know about 200 kanji (so I'm functionally illiterate). For this reason I'm loathe to comment on Japanese  politics , however the local take on this ( near the Koumi line and at Washinomiya) was slightly different.

In both cases, I ended up asking about the consolidations because maps and signs were not quite updated yet..causing me additional confusion. The locals story (to the extent I understood it) was that the DPJ was consolidating the towns for political reasons . That is, they'd take several local towns and merge them...into a town that was controlled by the DPJ thus the local officials and  chambers of commerce were effectively purged of non-DPJ people. I got an earfull of this from a convenience store owner in Washinomiya who was quite upset that Kuki, and not the ancient shrine town was the city that was now on the map.

Keep in mind again that I'm NOT fluent, proficient or even amusingly awkward in the language. I can get by as a tourist and describe symptoms to a doctor if needed. Lord knows I've heard commentary on US politics from English speaking countries that indicates a serious lack of understanding of issues AND THEY SPEAK THE LANGUAGE so take this  survey of two people, one of whom seemed...bitter...with a grain of salt.

Note too that neither explanation is mutually exclusive of the other either.

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Well, Crap.

 Andrew Breitbart died last night.
 11 months older than me...which...I'm thinking is really too young.

Few have had as much impact. With Drudge he really changed the media world.

More here and here.

In any event, reaction to this individuals passing reinforces my view that however infuriating it is to be on team stupid, it is a far more noble calling  then the other side. Ace has further thoughts on that.

Note that this headline at the Telegraph seems to kick the guy by focusing  on the Shirley Sherrod controversy, claiming that he maligned the woman through editing. That's not quite what happened.

(More behind the spoiler tag)

In the first video, Sherrod describes how she racially discriminates against a white farmer. She describes how she is torn over how much she will choose to help him. And, she admits that she doesn’t do everything she can for him, because he is white. Eventually, her basic humanity informs that this white man is poor and needs help. But she decides that he should get help from "one of his own kind”. She refers him to a white lawyer.

Sherrod’s racist tale is received by the NAACP audience with nodding approval and murmurs of recognition and agreement. Hardly the behavior of the group now holding itself up as the supreme judge of another groups’ racial tolerance.

Sherrod was making an important point. The audience was missing it. The video did not put her in a bad light, but the Administration threw her under the bus. Beck and others on the right came to her defense and it is clear from Brietbarts own story that the video was not an expose' on Sherrod.

These facts of course mean  nothing to those who feared Brietbart.

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