April 29, 2014

What's This?




"Must...text....EVERYBODY!"

  John Boyega, Daisy Ridley, Adam Driver, Oscar Isaac, Andy Serkis, Domhnall Gleeson, Max von Sydow, Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, Mark Hamill, Anthony Daniels, Peter Mayhew, Kenny Baker .

A text with a bunch of random names?
Whatever could this MEAN?
Oh well, I'm sure it's of no interest to anyone. 

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April 27, 2014

Still Scarce

   I have a big exam on Monday so the next two days will entail cramming and sleep (the latter being a very important component of test preparation that I frequently forget).

 

In the meantime a quick perusal of the interwebs  reveals several bloggers who actually have taken the time to provide content over the last several days.

 

Medieval Otaku gets in touch with his inner his Edith Hamilton to discuss the Oresteian influences in Kill-La-Kill.

 

Don has one of the two blogs whose embeds are invisible to me on Epic, so I very nearly missed his latest post, which I had initially taken to be a formatting error. That would have been tragic as I would have missed this gem, which shows that these kids today still have an appreciation of the classics. (There is a side by side comparison here.)

Borepatch alerts us to this comprehensively insightful and profanity laced analysis of dubstepby Foamy the Squirrel. Testify!

Observing us from his secret headquarters in Australia with a mixture of bemusement and horror Pixy seems to have come up with the line of the week…

 

 The Hillary poster in particular seems to come from some weird alternate universe in which Eva Peron was an admiral of the Imperial Japanese navy.

…which has, in turn spawned further discussion.

Heretefore I had thought the term "twintails" meant something entirely different from this.


Now I know better.

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April 26, 2014

Epic Observations

I've been using  the Epic web broswer for 20 days and have gotten a feel for it. 

One of its features is a little pop up window that tells what trackers it is blocking. 

To the right is the NY Daily News. Interestingly 4-chan of all places had only one, and that’s only on certain boards. I probably need to stay away from those boards anyway...I already wear glasses.

Of course the browser’s extreme focus on privacy comes with a few quirks, with a lack of spewlchek being the most keenly felt. Since it carries no cache data it is a bit slower to load. Occasionally one finds a site that reacts badly to anything that doesn't let it track its viewers and demands that you its their cookies like some rabid girl scout. I haven’t been blocked from any site however.

Aside from the slightly slower loading, the only functionality quirks I’ve found so far are as follows. Occasionally embedded videos on some Wordpress blogs do not show up. There are a few quirks with the Dashboard in Minx (The Mee’n You blog engine) but said quirks are present in Safari and Opera as well. 

On the plus side, it seems to have the amazing ability to disable only the bad pop-up windows.

Let me explain.

ODU’s website opens certain features in pop-up windows and pop up blockers (like the ones ion the ODU learning commons computers…) generally disable that functionality. However, they work fine in Epic. On the other hand, I have not seen a pop-up AD since I started using the browser. I have had no issues with Paypal, which surprised me. I understand that Epic allows people to view HULU from outside the US and while I cannot confirm that, I can say that I was able to access one Japanese site that normally blocks US  access…and I was thoroughly scarred by the experience.

One's mileage may vary, but I think the slightly slow loading is a small price to pay for the added privacy.

This of course is assuming that the whole thing isn’t an NSA honey pot to snare us paranoids .



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This is Sure to Calm Things Down

While everyone was looking at Ukraine, the Chinese siezed a Japanese merchant ship on Monday. MV Baosteel Emotion was imponded as per orders from a Chinese court that declared the bulk carrier a war reparation.   It was released yesterday only after the company paid about 28 million in fines. 


This one issue seems to be resolved, but the precedent has the potential to open a huge can of worms in the future. Given the ammount of Japanese investment in China, if they start calling in reparations from a war 70 years ago it's going to be a huge mess. 

It may not be entirely coincidental that the Chinese real estate bubble has shown signs of popping over the last few weeks, though the opacity of the the Chinese market makes it hard to be sure exactly what is going on. Thr large Japanese holdings in China are probably seen as a ready supply of cash, from a particularly hated creditor. 

Far less likely, but still within the realm of possibility is the potential for rthe US backing of Chiang Kai Shek to result in unwelcopme surprises for American companies. 

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A Brief Update

Finally,  some cheesecake.....



Art by Miyo
more...

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April 25, 2014

Two Examples of Win


Someone animated these Vocaloid videoes and posted them to Nico-Nico Douga two years ago. Who are these people? Have they been hired by a studio?




If not, we need to get a Kickstarter together and headhunt them, because I want to see more of this. 

UPDATE: OK at least for the first one, it looks like Takuya Hosogone directed , Takuya Mitome did the storyboards and "Jin"(?) seems to have been responsible for the music. 


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April 21, 2014

I'll Just Leave This Here


Note that despite the fact that this was tweeted by Wheadon himself, I'm more than a tad skeptical of this.

But it's SO awseome.

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Still Trapped in Spooftown

I'm in the middle of exams and final papers. I really don't have time to deal with this.




This epic spoof has gone on for three days.
I spent an hour on the phone this morning with AOL tech support. They were polite, responsive and courteous but the spooffage n' spam still harasses my contatcs in my name.
This evening I called again and found out that that this is a major isue at AOL now. They are working on a patch and expect it to be implemented in 24 hours.

I have a few questions of the various geniuses and experts i'm blessed to have in my audience.
Is there anything AOL can realistically do?
I've changed my password and challange questions 3 times. But since the E-mails are not actually coming from my account this is of no use in the current situation.

Is there anything I can do on my end in this situation?
Any best practies beyond theusual E-mail security basics to avoid this?
Does anyone have any suggestions for good, secure E-mail services?

In other news, my keyboard died. I dug out the awkward rubbermaid bath keyboard it replaced.

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April 20, 2014

Hacked

ANY E-MAILS YOU HAVE RECIEVED FROM MY AOL ACCOUNT BETWEEN 01:00 AM SAT APRIL 19th AND AN ALL CLEAR SIGNAL TO COME LATER IS NOT FROM ME IF IT DOES NOT CARRY THE SUBJECT LINE " I'VE BEEN HACKED". ASSUME MALICIOUS CONTENT.


UPDATE:


Apologies to everyone affected.

I've been buried in the Library studying for exams with the phone off so I was oblivious until I went out to eat last night and noted several E-mails. I immediately changed my password but another fusillade of electronic mischief went out this morning around 08:00. AOL tech support is closed for the holiday so I'm unsure if the issue is resolved. I have shut down all external permissions.

 

I was surprised that I HAD permissions enabled for other sites to access my account.

One was Facebook (which I’ve been banned from for two years) and the other was some sketchy thing that was an E-Mail addy for a "uis.coveritlive”. I have NO idea what that was but it’s blocked.

 

I note I’m not the only AOL user this has happened to in the last few days. This is the second time this has happened to me and I don’t think it was a PEBKAC error (unlike the last time where I accessed the AOL account from the school computer system).

 

SO…

 

Does anyone have  any suggestions for alternatives that aren't GOOGLE?

 


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April 16, 2014

I Had No Idea

that there were any videos of Joe and Eddie on You-Tube.






In the second one they're being introduced by Danny Kaye.


Now, even if, for some inexplicable reason, that name doesn't ring a bell, I'd wager that most of you are probably at least famillier with this performance he did with the Andrews Sisters. In any event, because of the wonders of Boolean searches, the tangential Danny Kay connection to the Joe and Eddie search then led to this particularly worthy bit of win. 


I love technology!



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April 14, 2014

Oh Dear God I am Old


My lawn...
Get off of it.

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Test

Lucinda Sans

Lucinda Unicode
Impact
Modern
Comic Sans

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April 13, 2014

A Certain Scientific Railgun 1-12

In keeping with the blogs policy of being on the cutting edge of the Anime scene, we concluded that we ought to actually get around to watching this show from 2009.

A Certain Scientific Railgun was well received  by American fans when it came out  and was successful enough in Japan to have spawned a sequel last year. It is apparently a spinoff/side story to an earlier light novel series called A Certain Magical Index about which I know nothing. 

The series is set in Academy City, a recently incorporated, planned metropolis just west of Tokyo (in present day Okutama perhaps?). The city has been set up in part as a high tech development region; a sort of government subsidized Silicon Valley with additional heavy industry. Its main purpose however, is as an educational mecca. Academy City is a vast collection of junior high schools, high schools and colleges with different specialization's (including nearly all of Japans most prestigious academies) and its atmosphere and infrastructure are both intended to be highly conducive to learning and developing the special talents of Japan's youth. 


...and developing boondoggles like wind turbines...inside a city.

Note that we are not being whimsical or abstract when we say "special talents". Some years prior to the events in this series, ESPer abilities were scientifically confirmed to exist latently in certain people. Intense study revealed ways to exercise and thus improve these abilities. A single person can have one ( but only one) of the hundreds of known talents. However, they are rated on an ability level that goes from 1-5. This seems to be an exponential scale and frequency dwindles rapidly with power. There are less than a dozen level 5's in the entire city. Since these abilities are psychic in nature, improving them is largely a mental discipline. Thus, schools are a good means of pursuing this research. The schools pursue an intense, broad spectrum education since few ESPer abilities have any marketable use and in any event, this many educational institutions in close proximity foster a critical mass that the powers that be no doubt hope will become a high capacity Japanese genius generator. 

  The educational theme extends to certain city services. 

First some cultural background:
 Japanese high schools often have student councils with a great deal of responsibility. They manage the basic janitorial duties of their school, do a good deal of the scutt work in organizing field trips and school activities, assign students to do groundskeeping and equipment inventory and divvy up their budget between various clubs and school events. In some high schools they even provide (through the Home-Ec classes) the cooking staff for lunch and to a very limited extent, discipline (well...hall monitors).There are faculty advisors overseeing this of course, but they only get involved if necessary.The idea behind this affront to the sensibilities of the NEA and DoED is that high school students are young adults and should have organizational skills, be acclimated to work and be given increasing responsibilities. In a high school setting this can work pretty well.

In Academy City they've applied this concept of high school students administering things to the whole metropolis...thus dystopia. 

OK, not quite: In addition to the individual school's councils, there is an inter-school student council that coordinates members of various school's councils to deal with student related concerns throughout Academy City. One can assume that this council co-ordinates, festivals and spelling bees but those activities don't lend themselves to a crime drama so we never see those committees. The manifestation of the inter-school council the audience encounters is JUSTICE...a city-wide network of STASSI glorified hall monitors with limited ticketing and arrest powers. While this seems at first glance to be whacked, remember that this city is overwhelmingly (80%) populated by students, most of whom are teenagers trying to develop their super-powers. Having as much discipline as possible meted out by peers helps to minimize the social dynamic of having a bunch of super powered kids being disciplined by mostly unpowered adults.  The city does have a regular police force as well as a frighteningly well equipped SWAT team in case the teenagers decide to rumble. 

Everything in the city is geared towards technophilia and academic achievement. Students with good marks are local celebrities, but "good marks" has come to mainly mean having an unusual power. Universities, corporations and eclectic individuals have descended upon the city to study the abilities of those with talent and Academy City is as much a scientific observatory as a learning center. This is most harshly expressed in the fact that those who cannot manifest any ESPer abilities are not held in particularly high regard. They are the level 0s and are termed "Human Errors" by medical professionals and while not actively discriminated against they are considered 'broken'. However, if they keep their non paranormal grades up they are allowed to stay in the cities schools. 


Among the more famous people in this odd town is our heroine...

Mikoto Misaka: 



...She is one of the few level 5 ESPers in the city. Her ability is to control electromagnetic forces. She can generate electrical fields, magnetic fields and using the latter propel arcade tokens at mach 3. This latter ability has resulted in the nickname 'Railgun'. She is a top student at the prestigious Tokiwadai Girls School and has become something of a local celebrity, which she finds a bit annoying. She's a fairly reserved and modest person, who responds to her schools alarmingly brief uniform skirts by wearing hiking shorts beneath hers. Mikoto is not part of any student organization and seems to be given somewhat wide latitude to develop her powers which are of considerable interest to the scientific establishment. She is decent, level headed and sane. This latter characteristic is somewhat surprising given that her dorm-mate is....
Kuroko Shirai:



Kuroko is an extremely skilled (high level 4) teleporter and a student at Tokiwadai. She is smitten with her dorm-mate and periodically attempts to romance Mikoto despite constant rebuffs. Kuroko is the vector by which Mikoto gets pulled into any number of adventures, you see she's a field agent for JUDGEMENT. She takes great pride in her job and is considered quite conscientious, though she in fact has been becoming increasingly overconfident of late and in any event has numerous other character flaws. She is currently acting as mentor to her rookie partner...

Kazari Uiharu:



...who looks up to her a great deal. Uiharu is a level one ESPer and her ability seems to be to grow flowers out of her head. This power is of no discernible utility in the scholastic or law enforcement fields so she must get by with determination and wits. She is very good at research and data acquisition and is normally Shirai's support, but she is increasingly being trusted with field work. As she is a mere level one, she is a student at Sakugawa school, which is not particularly prestigious. The school does not provide dorms for it's students and Uiharu lives in a nearby apartment with a classmate from Sakugawa...

Ruiko Saten:



 
...who came from a not terribly affluent family that pretty much put everything they had into getting her into an Academy City school where she could develop her abilities and move up in society. Despite much effort, she appears to be a level zero. This bothers her a great deal more than she lets on. She's quite smart, she just has no super powers in a city full of ESPers being groomed to be the leaders of tomorrow. Despite her brave talk she is becoming increasingly desperate to get in touch with the powers she is sure she must have. Saten frequently assists Uiharu in research, though as she a level zero this is in an unofficial capacity. Saten is quite astonished to find out that Mikoto Misaka is not at all the pompous prima donna she had imagined.

**********

This is actually a pretty good teenage superhero high-school cop show thus far. The adventure elements are well thought out and the show is developing nicely. Misaka, Uiharu and Saten are thoroughly likable, decent characters...and Kuroko is fun to laugh at. 

The show has a lot to say about what happens when one defines worth too narrowly and how credentials of any type can be given too much weight to the exclusion of other qualities. 

 Funimation's dub is pretty good. Allison Viktori's version of Kuroko is a rather annoying.... which is exactly as it should be. The rest of the cast are also very nicely realized with Brina Palencia doing an especially fine job as Saten. 


These 12 episodes were quite enjoyable and I'm eagerly looking forward to the rest of it.

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April 12, 2014

3 Moose and a Lawn Sprinkler

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STOP THE PRESSES

 I've been working on this post for hours. It is a scandal that exemplifies the terrifying abuses of power many of us have come to fear. The fact that it has not been getting a lot of coverage is in and of itself disturbing. 


After considerable digging, here's what we know....


"It originated with an Info-Wars link."

Oh...

Well then...

It has been a beautiful day here in Virginia. I'm going to go back outside and partake of it. 

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April 09, 2014

Hiatus

Yeah, there hasn't been much going on here lately.
I am swamped, with three tests looming later this week, a dreadful cold that has resulted in a fever of 101, and that kidney stone fragment that was left by last years surgery has started to move. 

In lieu of actual content, I was going to post some cheesecake. Regrettably, I could only find crumpets, crackers and fondue.


Art by Tobusa

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April 07, 2014

This is REALLY Looking Interesting

...but it's gonna be kind of hard to live up to these trailers




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April 06, 2014

Acronym Troubles





It's nice to see their government exhibiting such honesty. 

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And Now, A Musical Interlude






UPDATE & WARNING: You may THINK it's like SchoolhouseRock but this Russian historical disco video is such a dangerous earworm that we fear it might be a nefarious Kremlin plot.





UPDATE FROM LEGAL: All Voice Actors are 18 years or older.
That is our story...and we are sticking to it. 






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A Bother

So, the day revolved around trying alternatives to Firefox...I have tentatively settled on Epic, which is basically Chrome without the Google. It's extreme privacy philosophy adds some annoying quirks (like a lack of spewllchek) but it is otherwise very nice and as a happy coincidence, the dashboard at Mee.nu is slightly more functional with it (I assume that holds true for Chrome, though I've never blogged with Chrome). All in all it's nice and the privacy features, imperfect as they likely are, have a special appeal now.


For background on why I was motivated to go through this bother, there are some thoughtful disquisitions over at The AnchoressGay PatriotAndrew Sulivan(!), someone named Yitz Jordan that everyone is linking to, Instapundit, and in an interview with Tammy Bruce.
***
UPDATE: Professor Jacobson makes an important point about thisRichard Fernandez brings together why this one firing is but a thread in a darker and more troubling tapestry than it might at first appear and Neo explains why Mozilla does not grok that.
***
While appalled, I had not initially intended to dump Firefox, indeed when the notion first came up I thought it silly. To do so is a rather impotent gesture and giving up an admittedly  splendid browser is a contender for the most comically gimp, first-world example of self flagellation there can be. Furthermore, I detest the hyperpolitization of everything and I loathe the purity police of any political stripe even more. 

However, those despicable trends of modern life are at the core of the Firefox scandal where they are intertwined with the moral cowardice that facilitates them. 
more...

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