March 31, 2013
I'm indisposed, but I saw this at Ace's and it made me smile. Happy Easter everybody!
Tobikage was VERY 80s in its aesthetic but it was quite unusual in one respect. A large number of it's production staff including the Director (Masami Anno who also did the storyboard) were women*.
This was, you see, a Studio Pierrot MECH show.
I found this out only recently and the prospect of an 80's Josei giant robot show...well that's just different. This at least has the potential to be interesting. Of course the chances of blundering into the show now are slim.
So Imagine my surprise when I discovered recently that the whole series had been licensed for US release...and in fact had aired on Cartoon Network.
A quick search turned up...
......OH DEAR GOD.
You BASTARD! You linked to that on purpose!
I DON'T think I'll be sitting through that.
There is no sub.
I occasionally forget how bad dubs used to be.
*The only other Mech (actually a super robot) show that that was true for prior to recent years, was Acrobunch...which was about a family of adventuring archaeologists ..and their giant robot.
March 30, 2013
For those unaware, the EM-2 was a British Assault Rifle designed in the late 1940s that took into account all the 'lessons learned' from World War 2. The rifle had design input from Poles who had had the unpleasant experience of tangling with the German 'storm guns'. It was a bullpup, which made it very compact and had something akin to an ACOG sight. The gun was designed around a new 7mm round that was intermediate in power between the very heavy 7.62mm and the varmint sized 5.56mm NATO rounds. In other words exactly what the lessons from current unpleasantness in Asia would seem to indicate is ideal.
In tests, the rifle wiped the floor with US, Belgian, French and Swedish weapons besting even the FN-FAL in reliability and accuracy.
It was adopted by the UK but was withdrawn in part because the US ignored the tests and forced NATO to adopt the .308 Winchester round (as 7.62 NATO)*. The Belgian gun was better suited to the larger round and was also much cheaper to manufacture so the EM-2 never enterd full production and only saw very limited use in Burma and Malaya before it was consigned to the dustbin of history.
What I did not know was that there was actually a small lot of EM-2 rifles made in 7.62 NATO....and here one is, courtesy of the Forgotten Weapons crowd.
That's AWESOME! I want one of those shooty culverts in MY basement.
Also: I want a basement.
With so much of our kit worn out after a decade of fighting we could do far worse than dusting off this old UK design. In fact, we probably will.
*this is somewhat ironic. In the 1920s and 30s the US Army had determined the best rifle/machine gun round would have ballistics nearly identical to the 7mm British, and in fact officially adopted the .276 Pedersen for the M-1 Garand. However the financial crunch of the Depression meant that the army had to make due with the obsolete .30-06 round, the Garand was re-chambered and the lessons learned were, it seems, lost. With hindsight it seems that the Springfield armory of the 30's and Enfield in the 'late '40s were both completely right.
They seem to "stick" at about 25%, 60% and 90% of their length. This has been going on for a few nights on my machine.
Note that this has not been an issue on Crunchyroll. It seems to be You-Tube specific.
Also: bonus fire and melting.
March 29, 2013
Spoilers abound so beware.
Does anyone know what they are from and if said shows are any good?
They're a bit large so they're below the fold.
First off those are not the most efficient or realistic courses for a missile. It looks like someone drew them without taking into account the Mercator distortion. In actuality, a ballistic tragectory from North Korea would, on a Mercator plot appear to arc north. It would pass over Alaska and possibly the arctic circle (for the same reason that flying to Japan from the US frequently involves a trip over pack ice).
That aside....The targets are Pearl Harbor, Los Angeles, Washington DC and...ummm...Austin.
WHY WOULD YOU WASTE ONE OF YOUR 4 NUKES ON AUSTIN?
It's an eclectic and neat town, but depriving the nation of a cool art scene and dinner theater does not seem to have the strategic benefits of, say, wiping out San Diego or the SSBN base near Tacoma.
I see 3 possibilities:
1: It's a cunning ruse, intended to trick us into moving our ABMs to Austin.
2:The Norks, being lefties, just HAETS them some Texans and aimed at the capital, not realizing that Austin is...well...Austin.
3: They are going to use the nuke to mutate the bats, turning them into giant flappy, fire-breathing, blood-sucking horrors that will terrorize the continent and lead to the collapse of the US.
Ubu, Avatar. We need your perspectives on this.
Girls und Panzer is in a lot of ways a collection of tired old tropes and annoying recent ones. There is no new ground here. It's a sports anime with mechs aimed at a demographic that is so insecure that they can't abide male characters in their anime potentially competing for their 'waifus'. The result is that we get the galling notion that the war on boys has been carried to its logical conclusion so that males aren't allowed to compete in the sport at all.
Given this set-up and an overly large cast that seems to have been concieved by 31 die rolls compared against a moe/tsundere stock character generator, the only real question about the show would seem to be "To what depths of squalor will the panty shots descend?" But that is not the question I find myself asking. Instead I find myself grasping to figure out how this collection of mediocrities can have kicked so much ass that one can be forgiven for worrying about a trans-Pacific ass shortage.
What the HELL? How did they do that? This show is not refinement of stale tropes. This was frickking alchemy. It was lead into gold. Oh, and the answer to the unasked question above is "None". I don't think there was a panty shot in the whole show...they get points just for that alone. However, this show is about way more than propriety. Girls und Panzer manages to deal with ethics, sportsmanship and honor in a way few shows have.
The show does this without being preachy. Furthermore, despite what ought to be a completely predictable storyline, it manages to keep the viewers on the edge of their seat. The use of WW2 tanks was inspired and the battles with them were thoroughly entertaining and well thought out. Even the fairly by the numbers characters were well written to the point that one actually cared about them. These girls are smart and make up for their vastly inferior equipment by being clever and audacious.
The few problems with the show did not stem from the writing, or the directing but with a subcontractor who flamed out requiring two 'clips' episodes be inserted and the last two episodes be delayed over three months. After the spectacular surprise hit the show had been nothing could live up to the anticipation the last two episodes engendered.
Despite this handicap the two episode finale is a thoroughly satisfying rollercoaster that still manages to surprise.
I am in awe.
March 28, 2013
I was told that the earliest possible date was next week, unless I was there between 7:30 & 8:00 AM in which case hey could fit me in. This resulted in a 10:30 appointment. (?)
At 10:30 I arrived to be told that they couldn't see me until my X-rays had been done and the backup radiologist wouldn't be in until 13:15. ( I suspect that the fact that a backup radiologist needed to be called in was the crux of the problem). At 13:15 I arrived an was put in the rather large radiology queue. I finally got X-Ray ed and sent to the doctor who informed me that I have a stone slightly larger than a peanut M&M 2/3 of the way down my urinary tract. Given that these things generally have the texture of hedgehogs the doctor seemed surprised that I was walking as easily as I was. She pointed out that the pernicious pebble had passed through a particularly tight area to get where it is.
"Yeah...that would have been....Tuesday."
In any event, the thing may actually be too large to pass.
I also have a cold.
But there is good news.
I'm now (FINALLY) scheduled to get the sonic de-stoneimitation treatment. This had been delayed a year due to the huge number of X-Rays I'd had last year. However, as it stands now, as of next Thursday, my guts will be a stone-free zone.
In the meantime ..."Ouch".
Picture is Unrelated:
I have no idea.
*Note that if you are in Illinois, the subject DUCK SEASON IS OPEN does not count as odd.
March 27, 2013
As mentioned here and here the Horizons newsletter of AIAA Houston is republishing high resolution annotated reproductions of the entire "Man Will Conquer Space Soon!" series published by Colliers in the 1950s. This series is a fascinating bit of history as it was extremely important in convincing people that Spaceflight was practical. They are also interesting in that they show step by step how major technical issues were dealt with in an age when most calculations were done with slide rules.
It's also rather sobering. Today, with technology nearly 60 years more advanced, and so much more power at our disposal, our society rarely speaks of doing great things.
Be advised; there appears to be much spoilage therein.
March 26, 2013
They have found an unexpected empty space where a container of a nasty airborne hemmoragic fever is supposed to be.
Yes. A vial of Guanarito virus has gone missing from the Galveston National Laboratory.
Guanarito is a nasty hemoragic fever. Depending on which news report one looks at the disease has a human mortality of 20-30 percent. Low for a hemoragic fever but damned scary nonetheless. It exists in Venuzuela mainly in the rodent population, but unlike Ebola Reston (which is also transmitted airborne) it does affect humans and ' at least several hundred cases' have been reported over the years.
The officials quoted in the news reports claim that this fiasco is of no real concern. However, according to Wikipedia:
Because the virus is contracted by aerosol dissemination, concern arose shortly after the first cases emerged in 1989 due to fear of biological warfare. Potential biological terrorism agents were identified and categorized in 1999 by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as part of the Congressional initiative to further response capabilities to biological weapons  . Arenaviruses causing hemorrhagic fevers, along with a genus of virus called filoviruses, were categorized in Category A; these are pathogens with the highest potential impact on public health safety.
In other words, this particular virus is one of the very few Ebola type bugs that is spread like the flu, via sneezing, coughing and such.
It is therefore one of very few such diseases that would make an effective bioweapon...
...and IT is the one that went missing.
Officials are claiming it is most likely a clerical error, that there is nothing to see here, and citizens should move on.
UPDATE: Found picture credits for the "Science Babe". Picture (minus biohazard symbol) is by Kiollion and is of an actual science babe. Riako Asakura is about the only person in Genshenkyo who believes in science and is from one of the early Touhou games.
March 24, 2013
One might find it necessary to secure the backing of a large, comparatively rich, yet totalitarian, one party state, preferably one with no qualms about culling any subjects that do not conform to stated party goals.
At BGI Shenzhen, scientists have collected DNA samples from 2,000 of the world’s smartest people and are sequencing their entire genomes in an attempt to identify the alleles which determine human intelligence. Apparently they’re not far from finding them, and when they do, embryo screening will allow parents to pick their brightest zygote and potentially bump up every generation's intelligence by five to 15 IQ points.
On the one hand boosting human intellect seems like a worthy goal, on the other hand there are all sorts of practical issues with this. As I was working on this post I noted that sci-fi author Sarah Hoyt has already looked at a few...
So… anyway, they’re picking these highly credentialed people from Europe and Asia (where of course, connections family, privilege have nothing to do with credentials. Excuse me, I have some sarcasm stuck in my throat.)
That is a biggie.
This in part is a product of the Chinese Confucian tradition which views credentials themselves as a virtue rather than a characteristic. This view is certainly not something the Chinese have a monopoly on, it has permeated the US in the last decades to our detriment. This is NOT to say that credentials should be ignored completely or that they might not have some utility for this endeavor, however given the issues Hoyt brings up (connections, privilege ect.) there need to be other issues to take greater weight.
Hoyt also points out that there are some undesireable traits that seem to be tied to high IQ's. She specifically mentions Autistic related characteristics. That is not the only potential downfall however. There actually is one example of (somewhat unintentional) successful selecting of a human population for intellect; the Ashkanazi. Note though, that this site, which is dedicated to genetic diseases that are especially common among that population, shows that there are more physical issues that might well be tied to the same alleles. I must emphasize "MIGHT" because there is considerable debate on this point. Assuming this is the case, then given time these problems might be cleaved from the alleles.
However straight IQ test performance is not the be-all and end all of what a society needs and the weirdoes who make up a lot of geniuses are not likely to do well in the learning environment that stresses conformity, and test taking ability above all else.
Nonlinear thinking, motivation, ambition and moxie are at least as important. These are not things China has traditionally valued and are certainly not things that a leftist education system encourages. IQ is of limited utility without discipline ( of course the Chinese have THAT in spades so...Advantage Middle Kingdom).
None of this is to say the ChiComs CAN'T pull it off which Hoyt's post seems to be strongly implying. They have hurdles, but they are very, very smart and they are very, very motivated so, while I'm skeptical, I would not completely write them off.
That's where the ethical issues come in. In the US, without any genetic tweaking beyond marrying up, we have developed a class of people who feel perfectly entitled to rule, by virtue of their credentials. They have a sense of entitlement comperable or greater than a European Aristocrat, because they ae where they are not because of devine providence, (which might lead to some sort of noblise oblige') but because they feel that by virtue of the credentials they have obtained they are intrinsically better than the rest of us.
Imagine the attitude of those who will know they have been scientifically selected to be geniuses...even if the selection produces little or no gains they will be groomed to lead with that knowledge...insuferable, entitled geniuses. How's that strike you?
Our first experience with the friendliness problem might well be with spoiled wetware rather than AIs.
Of course there is whole question of a totalitarian one party state setting out to create Ubermenchen.
Great potential, great peril.
In the early 1980s, transit officials in Washington couldn’t figure out why traffic on the Beltway would grind to a near halt every day around the exact same time. The usual explanations didn’t fit.
Then it was discovered that a single driver was to blame. Every day on his drive to work, this commuter would plant himself in the left lane and set his cruise control to 55 mph, the posted speed limit, forcing those behind him to merge right. You can imagine the effects.
It gets better...
To his credit, this driver came forward in a letter to the editor of the Washington Post. The man’s name was John O. Nestor. He explained that the left lane was great; less traffic, less merging — why not ride it into work every day? Besides, he wrote, "Why should I inconvenience myself for someone who wants to speed?”
With that bit of daily narcissistic malice, this jackass was able to destroy the traffic in the DC area. The term "Nestoring" was coined by readers of the Washington Post to describe his antics.
It gets better worse still...
Fittingly, Nestor was a regulator at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Virtually no drug was worth the risk, according to Nestor. The FDA transferred him out of the cardio-renal-pulmonary unit to some bureaucratic backwater because he "had approved no new chemical entities ... from 1968 to 1972...
So this officious prick caused untold deaths because he stopped ANY approvals of heart medicine for 4 years. This does not count the deaths from any accidents he likely caused on the beltway or the people who got stuck in traffic in an ambulance and died on the way to the ER.
Mr. Nestor wrought all this misery by simply following the rules and exercising his lawful power over others. His comment about speeders belied the fact that Nestor was actually a bully. Devoid of empathy, he derived glee from hurting others with his passive aggressive mischief. His refusal to approve a single drug for the stated reason of fearing there might be harm speaks to either profound moral cowardice or fearful malice.
Jackasses are all around us. But few have had been able to make such a profound difference by themselves as Mr. Nestor. So today we remember a truly legendary asshat.
March 18, 2013
I do miss....ONE MILLION DOLLARS
UPDATE 2: after taxes.
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