February 26, 2014

This Continues to Look Quite Promising

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February 24, 2014

F-1 in Huntsville!

My first F-1 post!

Two of the Brickmuppet's Crack Team of Science Babes report that Huntsville Alabama is home to the first F-1 test and quals since 1969 and the first F-1 ever since 1973!


"Science Babes Moonlighting as Race Queens" is not the actual title of this piece by Tan-Tan.

If Formula One hasn't existed since 1973 what's this guy going on about?



The Science Babes are at their other job in Les Mans, which caused my confusion as they're actually talking about...

The Rocketdyne F-1 rocket engine!

The huge engines that powered the first stage of the Saturn 5 rocket which put 12 men on the moon and Skylab into orbit hasn't been built in 44 years. Contrary to popular belief the plans for these beast DO still exist, but they are in obsolete computer formats and of limited use.
You see, the Apollo program was so rushed that a lot of the little 'tweaks' that were found necessary to keep the rocket from failing. This was not fully appreciated until the '80s when NASA and USAF engineers noted that there were holes drilled and pieces added to some of the F-1s in museums...holes and fiddly bits that weren't on the plans. The engines were exploding during tests and the production crew did some trial and error modifications until the "splodies" stopped. Additional tweaks were added at the plant to facilitate production, so the F-1 plans are actually plans for an inefficient kerosene/LOX bomb.

Well, engineers in Huntsville have taken apart and are restoring some of these engines, which were discovered to be in remarkably good shape. This time making a note of Every.Single.Part. And. Hole. The plan is to do a computer model of the engine that is accurate, but they need to ensure that they are building it from a working engine...so.....

That's just a test of the engines gas generator from last year...
This project is the brainchild of Marshall Spaceflight center engineers who felt that they ought to DO something with the dozen or so F-1s lying around the research center. They've been calling in other rocketry companies to observe and consult. In addition they've been bringing in the few surviving Apollo engineers to work on this interesting side project...which has resulted in a tentative design and proposal for the F-1B 

 This is not as silly as it sounds. One of the things about the F-1 that was discovered back in the 60's was that, due to its very conservative design it was actually pretty re-useable and it was felt it could be made completely so with a few tweaks. F-1s were considered for several early space shuttle designs propelling reusable flyback boosters.

 The mighty F-1 may yet again spew pillars of fire for the chariots of explorers.

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Well, As Excuses Go

This probably should win some sort of award.
We've heard about the terrible smog problem in many Chinese cities and many of us assumed that it was a combination ofthe sheer scale of China's industrialization, perverse incentives, and corruption hindering enforcement of existing laws.

Well, it turns out we were wrong. They MEANT to do that.

Thick smog is the best defence against US laser weapons, a Chinese military chief has declared on national television.

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With A Rueful Chuckle

 ...we note that Tamara K. has summed up a good bit of recent news in one quote.

If they really hated us because of our freedoms, then they can probably stop hating us any ol' time now. 

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February 23, 2014

A Four Ring Circus of WIN

Log Horizon has been discussed here before.
Since then it has continued to surpass expectations despite its unspectacular animation and dubious concept. The show has all the tropes one would expect from a fantasy adventure series, plus a great many in-jokes and references to online RPGs, however it uses them in very clever ways and is surprisingly intelligent.

21 episides in they still have 5 episodes to wreck it, but I'm going out on a limb recomending this one strongly. I started to do a regular review but this is a show spoilers will completely spoil, so here is a deliberately vague overview of  what sorts of characters are involved in the three to four distinct but interlocking plots that stem from a mishap with a Massively Muliplayer Online Virtual Reality Role Playing Game that traps thousands of players in the game with no way to log out.

In Ring One:

We have our designated hero. He's overall a decent guy and goes to great lengths to do the right thing. He's not a frontline action hero however, and he tends to gets by on smarts, using game theory as well as working feverishly to develop political/interpersonal skills he'd never really had to (nor wanted to) pursue until just recently.

We have a thoroughly conventional would-be love interest/side-kick. Well, not quite: She's so utterly smitten and so thoroughly into the "serving her noble master" roleplay that she's a little creepy and stalky. However she's really good at her job (which involves kicking ass, and cutting throats). She's also quite smart and her perceptiveness and different perspective on things is actually crucial to everyone's survival.
Also: It's always nice to find a DFC' in anime who is non-neurotic, utterly awesome and at ease with themselves.

There is one annoying, token lunkhead: He may have Tourettes as he frequently makes sexist comments despite the fact that they immediately result in great pain and temporary physical disability (see above).

We have an older gentleman who is intellectually curious enough to, on a lark, try something completely new (and apparently pointless) just to see what will happen. In the process, he changes the world.
In a complete break with convention, the old guy is not a perv and in fact prides himself in being a gentleman...in the very best sense of the word. He's an all round cool cat, whose urbane, almost aristocratic mannerisms belie an exemplary ethical  compass plus great moral and physical courage.

In Ring Two:

We've got five teenagers who find a mixture of idealism, inexperience  and bravado has subsequently landed them in a dire situation, far from help with the fate of thousands on their shoulders.  Remarkably, all four young adults are striving to actually be adults...how's that for novel? Of course, as they're young, they're learning and everything they punch at is well above their weight. This is an action flick so everything can punch back....hard

The group includes a crackerjack young lady who, due to her levelheadedness and self discipline becomes their leader via acclaim.  She's learning as she goes about the ins and outs of command and leadership, and doing everything she can to improve herself so that she can better keep her outmatched little party alive.

Her brother is a good man and physically brave, but, he's terribly inexperienced and it often seems that he has more balls than sense. He is however, indomitable in his determination and can think on his feet.

  There is also a girl who has been through a special hell recently and is still somewhat traumatized from the experience. She's striving to confront her demons, improve herself and save her friends...all the while coming to terms with the sheer gravity of what she's lost.

An idealistic but grounded young woman who has sufficient grasp of her own limitations that she can use her limited talents to surprising effect. Her modesty belies her remarkable effectiveness in combat which acts as a nice foil to her polar opposite in the group...

...A dapper young man of 19 years who seems to be trying to somehow weaponize the Dunning-Kruger Effect. His boastfulness seems to be in direct proportion to his failings, of which there are many...physical courage, it should be noted, is not amongst them.

In Ring Three:

The greatest test of ones character is when one finds that doing what is right requires one to make a sacrifice or take a great risk while simply walking away carries no negative judgement or cost.

Also in this ring: You magnificent bastard! You found a keeper!

In Ring Four:

There are also bout 20 different quirky supporting characters involved in a slice of life show about small businesses and local politics...oh and steam engineering and a war. Most of them are interesting enough and sufficiently fleshed out that the fanfic practically writes itself*.

  Log Horizon has been very entertaining so far and frankly if I had kids this is the sort of show I'd be wanting them to watch. It's a show about courage, ethics, hope and even civics, where intelligence and thinking things through is important, experience matters because life lessons are hard earned and most of the protagonists are pretty decent people.  It's also a surprisingly lacking in the gratuitous fan service department..one epic miniskirt notwithstanding.

Be advised though that the OP is an obnoxious, weaponized earworm.

 Those who've been watching it, have at it in the comments. I'm curious what other people think.

A few theories on what is actually going on

Spoiler tags here are as follows:
[-S-P-O-I-L-E-R-] [/S-P-O-I-L-E-R-]   
...but lower case and without any of the dashes

* As opposed to that other show where Tite Kubo got bogged down writing his own fanfic.

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February 22, 2014

A Few Links

Don explains one way of achieving the military objective of 'sweeping the field clean'.

Wonderduck reminds us that discussing literature is a follow up to a more crucial step.

Scott Lowther has important advice for any well intentioned time traveling snipers.

Medieval Otaku has thoughts on the life lessons from a Christian perspective that are represented allegorically in...um...Kill-La-Kill.

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Doing It Wrong

Banality is below the fold.
For those rationally dis-interested in such matters, here is something for the Tsukasa fans amongst you.


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February 19, 2014

We Live in an Age

...where wonders undreamt of in previous times are possible.

Like a video of Kate Upton doing a swimsuit photo shoot in zero -gee.

 (Link NSFW, obviously)

Spoiler: It looks like this...

...but different.

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February 18, 2014

Well Dang

The Wakfu Kickstarter ends tonight and my Kickstarter account is all screwy.

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February 17, 2014

Happy Presidents Day

In compliance with FCC requirements that a certain percentage of our content be educational, we feel we should point to this...

...and take time to educate our readers about the fact that the United States played no part in Gallipoli or the Battle of Verdun, both of which took place before the US declared war in 1917.

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