September 16, 2012


I guess it HAS been that long.

Art by tjota.
Lord, I'm old.

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My contribution to the quickmeme of the moment.

This whole thing makes me rather madder than I've been in a long time.

For those of you who don't watch the news or tend to write in a vote for Davros just to show how hip you are, here is a brief review of what's going on.

On September 11th The US Embassy in Cairo and a US Consulate in Benghazi Libya were overrun by Islamists. The Cairo staff fled to safety but the ambassador  to Libya was among 4 US personnel murdered in Libya.

Ostensibly they were protesting a preview for a low budget, poorly crafted film mocking Islam.

It makes Troma films look like Citizen Kane

The film had been on Youtube for months, and just happened to go viral in the Middle East just in time to put angry Islamic rage boys out in the streets on Sept 11.  In actuality the mob seems to have been stirred up by Al-Queada or similar operatives to give cover to the attacks.

Since then the Arab world has exploded into violence directed at US, UK and German embassies. The protests concerning the film have even reached Sydney (Via Pixy, who is OK)

Fortunately for our Australian friends the Sydney police are dealing with this more forthrightly than our executive branch.

You see, Ambassador Stevens bloody handprints had not yet dried when the Cairo Embassy issued an apology for the film. They've 'memory holed it' so here it is the copypasta

U.S. Embassy Condemns Religious Incitement

September 11, 2012

The Embassy of the United States in Cairo condemns the continuing efforts by misguided individuals to hurt the religious feelings of Muslims – as we condemn efforts to offend believers of all religions. Today, the 11th anniversary of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States, Americans are honoring our patriots and those who serve our nation as the fitting response to the enemies of democracy. Respect for religious beliefs is a cornerstone of American democracy. We firmly reject the actions by those who abuse the universal right of free speech to hurt the religious beliefs of others.

We ought'a condemn those who go on a wilding spree when somebody publishes something that offends them.

Shortly after that apology was issued, Mitt Romney, who was not my first...nor my third choice for the Republican nomination issued a tweet condemning the above press release.  Romney is being castigated for this despite the fact that Secretary Clinton issued a concurring condemnation.

It gets worse...

There was then a huge hue and cry to shut down this mans film because it got a bunch of violent nasty troglodytes angry.

Romney has been clear that his criticism is directed at the blinkered notion that this idiotic film is an abuse of free speech and should be censored.

On the other hand, The Obama administration actually told YouTube to pull the film. Remarkably, YouTube suddenly chose this moment to develop a spine regards such matters and is refusing to pull the clip.

Now the Obama administration has hauled in the filmaker for questioning because he made a video that offended people.

This is because those people blow up things and slit throats when they are offended.

Well, that is exactly the behavior they are rewarding.

And then there is the whole troubling precedent of hauling people away and censoring art because a vocal constituency finds it offensive.

 Glenn Reynolds, a constitutional law professor has an unusually long post on this that I urge you to read in full. Here's a key bit though...

When taking office, the President does not swear to create jobs. He does not swear to "grow the economy.” He does not swear to institute "fairness.” The only oath the President takes is this one:

I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.

Ann Althouse has thoughts, and a sobering corollary to Sturgeons Law.

"90% of everything is crud," said Theodore Sturgeon. It's Sturgeon's Law... to which I humbly offer the Althouse Corollary:

If there's a crud exception to freedom, we are only 10% free.

Ace of Spades responds to Will Saletan's idiotarianism and nails it in  a post that defies excerpting.

Through all this, Romney, who has a well deserved reputation as a political weather-vane, has been remarkably firm and consistent on this matter. He has repeatedly said that we do not apologize for our nations tradition of free speech...even if that speech is offensive. Indeed it is the offensive speech that is rather the point. He's taking a hell of a lot of flack for stating this simple truth, which is disheartening...but not as disheartening as seeing the White House and DOJ haul a uy away in the middle of the night for making a film that is considered blasphemous.

Those of you who told me that you were going to once again write in a vote for Davros because both the candidates remind you of early '30s Germany or early 20's Italy...well, I'll concede something that I would not have a short time ago.

Namely, that you are half right.

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September 12, 2012

A Note on Comments

I must commend our newest spammer for his choice in handles.
To Be A Tool is more than appropriate.

 Emi  agrees.

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September 11, 2012

More Pointed Reflections on the 11th Than I Would Have Liked

The US Embassy in Cairo was stormed today and the black flag of Al-Quaeda was raised in the place of Old Glory. Our consulate in Benghazi has been stormed and burned with one of our personnel murdered.

That these savages did this on THIS DAY is no accident.

 UPDATE 9/12:This statement now is being disavowed by the President and was strongly rebuked by Secretary of State Clinton. It seems to have preceded the Benghazi attack but that is not entirely clear as everything over there is still higgly piggly. Here it is behind a spoiler tag in case the State Department memory holes it.
Ponder that..

We are still at war.
Kow-Towing to our assailants is unlikely to persuade them to leave us alone.

Den Beste has thoughts.

UPDATE 2: At our embassy in Libya, 4 personnel including Ambassador Stevens were murdered. Stevens is only the 6th US Ambassador to have been murdered on duty.

With the death of our Ambassador the President has issued a much more appropriate response.

"I strongly condemn the outrageous attack on our diplomatic facility in Benghazi, which took the lives of four Americans, including Ambassador Chris Stevens,” Obama said. "Right now, the American people have the families of those we lost in our thoughts and prayers. They exemplified America's commitment to freedom, justice, and partnership with nations and people around the globe, and stand in stark contrast to those who callously took their lives.”

More here, here, here, here, and here.

This is still in a state of flux, but for what it's worth, as I type this Libya has issued a strong apology and condemnation of the attack on their soil and Egypt has said nothing.

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Its Long Sleep is at an End

The Japanese just can't catch a break.

UPDATE: Everyone's favorite Hephaestupheliac, Don, sends this Wired article which takes a rather less pessimistic view. I'd contacted him in part due to another Wired article that made this bizarre statement:

The pressure in Mount Fuji's magma chamber is now higher than it was in 1707, the last time the nearly 4,000-metre-high Japanese volcano erupted, causing volcanologists to speculate that a disaster is imminent. 

Those Edo period geologists were way more sophisticated than I'd thought. ...or there is a translation glitch ...or someone is on crack.

The Volcano Discovery piece I linked to initially seems fairly straight though. Though it to makes mention of the pressure being higher than the 1707 eruption. I'm really thinking something got mistranslated.

Fuji is active, it will erupt again and given its past behavior it seems a tad overdue, but Don is correct to point out that these things are fiendishly difficult to predict.

There's been no deformation and as far as I can tell since I got home, the slight increase in steam has not been enough to cause the government to close the mountain to climbers. So it's not really awakening, but it does seem to be stirring just a bit.

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11 Years

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September 03, 2012

Upon Reflection I've Reached the Following Conclusion....DO WANT!1!

Two of the Brickmuppet's Crack Team of Science Babes gleefully report on an interesting project at the AIAA-Houston section newsletter which is undertaking a reprint and analysis of the famous series of articles published in  8 issues of Collier's Magazine in the 1950s titled Man Will Conquer Space Soon.

The series laid out a very forward thinking vision of space exploration that included detailed plans for exploring both the Moon and Mars. The plan, developed largely by Wherner Von Braun and Wley Ley was, surprisingly sound technically (if not fiscally). Scott Lowther, who publishes the superb Aerospace Projects Review, is overseeing the republishing of the articles in high resolution which is particularly significant given the art by Fred Freeman and Chelsey Bonnestell. The ads have been replaces with short aerospace articles relating to the series that include some technical analysis of what they got right and wrong. Upcoming issues of AIAA-Houston will do the same for the remaining 8 installments of the old series.

Here's a sample:

For all sad words of tongue or pen, the saddest are these "it might have been."

On a related note,Volume 3 Issue 1of Aerospace Projects Review has a extensive article on Von Braun's Ferry rocket.

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September 02, 2012

Bachelor Chow: Cheapass Japan Tourist Version

This is not a travel suggestion.

So I picked up several cup o' noodles type ramen cups from a Lawson 100. I knew I'd be schlepping around the apartment for several days while my ankle healed.  One thing I did NOT have was a pot or teakettle, but this was of no concern to me because there was a microwave in both the communal kitchens back at the maison.

However, upon  putting the cup in the microwave I discovered that I had not stared at the hieroglyphics on the side of the cup long enough. You see, in Japan, Nissins' noodle cups are foil lined, resulting in an electrical storm in the microwave.

I didn't want to buy a 30 dollar pot to cook 7 noodle cups over 18 days, so I improvised. Fortunately, I'd also decided to try out the Japanese equivalent to Jiffy-Pop.

This left me with a flimsy aluminum pan on which I was able to fashion into a spout and voila...

Note the paper handle cover, a major technology improvement over the bare scaldy wire of the Jiffy-Pop pan
I'm pretty sure this is not healthy for the long term and I wouldn't use the pan for frying or anything, but for boiling water it worked fine.

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September 01, 2012

MGFX : What's Missing?

I discussed Mysterious Girlfriend X a couple of times when I started it. Now that its done I must say it's pretty good.
It's quirky and odd, but it's kind of touching in a socially maladjusted way. 

However, I noticed something else as it progressed.
No cellphones.
Also, the camera. It's a camera...not a cellphone ap and seems to use film.  Furthermore, Urabe doesn't seem worried about infinite digital copies.
So the show is set in the past.
Is it really a period piece?
If so when is it set and what are the little period trappings that I'm missing?
The "UFO" that Urabe uses on her pencil was seen a lot in the '80s (on Urusei Yatsura for instance) but that might not count.

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The Anti-Mac

With Holo in the Mac Hospital, I'm using Kuroi, the Gateway LT4008U netbook I purchased for school just before the trip.

Kuroi in a Japanese hotel, taking care of serious biddness.

At 170 dollars it's a tad slow and has no frills whistles or bells, but it is a perfectly adequate computer for school, power failures and travel.

It was a much better use of my money than the shoes.

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A Log Cabin in Tokyo

The Maison I was staying in was was only 7 kilometers outside  of Ikebukaro. I decided one evening that rather than taking the train in I'd hoof it. In addition to any cool sights on the way in, this would give me my bearings in case I ever missed the last train in the evening, 3 miles is only a short walk if you know where you are going.

To my great dismay, despite walking all the way there, I saw no headless motorcyclists, flying vending machines, Black Russian sushi chefs,  sword wielding meganekos, teeny-boppers wearing the wrong heads or technicolor gangbangers. But I did amble across a log cabin deep in the wilds of Tokyo.

The interior is decorated in early log, with a few cigar store Indians for good measure.

...and there were awesome steaks to be had for 2500 yen. Heavily peppered, marinated, and, inexplicably, buttered (!?). After debuttering it was perfect.

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Less Than 2 Weeks

That's how long it took these shoes I bought just before the trip to have their heels degenerate into this....

Which is why there is frequent mention of my feet in the posts on my recent Japan trip.

It's worse than that. The first week I did very little walking because I had a sprained ankle, so the shoes wore out in a remarkably short time. Now, it's true that there were days that I walked 14 miles or more but by the second weekend this had started to happen. The shoes left blood blisters on my heels which I shan't post here out of respect for my audience. Walking the last week was exceedingly painful, but unlike the sprain, bruises and blisters don't threaten long term debilitation, so I was able to hobble about with three pairs of socks to keep the trip from being a bust.

Shorter version of this post:
Spot Bilt sneakers: Don't buy them.

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How They Treat the Help is More Relevant Than How They Treat The Debutante'

In the previous post I mentioned the unwelcome fact that the textbook category "under 200 bucks" was in the minority for me this year by a wide margin.

This was demoralizing, but not as demoralizing as it must be for the people who work in the bookstore. These kids and their parents can't get in the face of the provincial, detached professor that ordered a 274 dollar book with no resale value because it comes with a one use online access code...because they'll get expelled.

However, they can scream at the clerk...who works for the store that ordered the book they were told to order by the professor...
...or weren' I explained to one angry angry mother who as I walked past was berating a stock clerk and demanding to know why the bookstore didn't even have the book her darling little social promotion needed.

You see, several professors do not order their books, expecting the students to buy it online....before the semester starts. I happened to have in hand my syllabus for a class where that was the case and showed it to her.
She stopped screaming at the clerk, but damn...
No effing class...
I was out of the bookstore in 40 minutes which was an impressive performance by their staff, but the staff are stuck in there dealing with angry entitled millennials and their parents  7 days a week for about 3 weeks straight.

I'm glad I don't work in retail any more.

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Annoyances Bacterial and Otherwise

Holo the iMac is in the iMac hospital with a few minor hardware issues (the SDcard slot doesn't work for instance) and some software problems that might include a staph infection.

School started this week and my joy at being on the final stretch ( I'll gradgeeait in Spring or Summer 2013) was tempered by the fact that the textbook category "under 200 bucks" was in the minority for me this year by a wide margin. This was demoralizing.

I was under the weather most of the week with a cold I'd picked up on the plane. This came to a head on Thursday morning and I called in to work. Around 3 AM I got up with an excruciating headache, burning eyes and sore throat. On my way to the loo I noted there had been a power failure. Then I noted that, even though the lights weren't on the fan was running, then I noted my father asking why I was fumbling around in the bathroom like I couldn't see....because all the lights were on and he could see me...


Noting this fully woke me up and I further noted that my eyes were in fact closed and wouldn't fully open. After some effort and panicked facewashing (and the loss of several eyelashes) I pried my eyes open, regained some of my sight and noted that the eyed were discharging blood and goop.

...and then I was all like....

After a quick trip to the hospital I was prescribed antibiotics for a severe sinus infection. I was fine by Friday afternoon, and my vision is now back to normal, but that really gave me a start.

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