June 28, 2014

As if the Last Post Wasn't Enough of a Downer

Now there is this unspeakable injustice...

"Halb! Ninduhz sdole by doze!"

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100 Years Ago Today: The Beginning of The End

Archduke Franz Ferdinand was the heir apparent to the throne of Austria-Hungary. He had initially been third in line for the throne and as such had, in his early years, led a somewhat dilettante lifestyle. After a suicide and then typhoid fever placed him in the position of heir he frequently came to violent disagreements with his father(the Emperor Franz Joseph) over what he perceived as needed reforms. While Franz Ferdinand was a bit of an autocrat and  a staunch royalist who wanted to consolidate executive power on the throne, he also wanted to establish a basically federal system granting considerable autonomy to the various regions. He also wanted to ensure all ethnicities had equal standing, which was very unpopular in some quarters, particularly the Hungarian half of the empire, which had its own legislature. In essence he wanted to extend in some ways the privileges the Hungarians enjoyed to all regions while simultaneously unifying the country on strictly national matters. Furthermore he wanted to organize a third ceremonial kingdom out of the slavic states with equal prestige as Austria and Hungary to drive home the idea that the Slavs were full citizens. Franz Ferdinand was also one of the few voices in government advocating that the Empire should cultivate good relations with its neighbors and in particular, not poke Serbia any further. 

His wife Sophie was a commoner and was not permitted any royal courtesies by imperial decree (another reason there was grief between Archduke and Emperor). However she was accorded the courtesies and privileges due the wife of a general in the imperial army if he was engaged in official military business. Thus, when he went to Sarajevo to inspect a local garrison she accompanied him.

While there they made some goodwill appearances and visited the Sarajevo town hall....

Moments after that picture was taken both were assassinated by the leader of a local chapter of a Serbian secret society called the Black Hands...which despite his melodramatic title was an an angry young loser of a man who lived with his mother.

The assassination removed one of the last voices for conciliation with the Serbs and threw the Emperor into a grief stricken rage. 

Russia stepped up to defend their Serbian allies which obliged Germany to step in and honor their treaty with Austria-Hungary, whereupon the Kaiser signed off on a unfortunate plan to preemptively take out France "quickly", lest they decided to open up a second front...which brought the British Empire into the fight. These and other decisions formed a cascade failure of strategic miscalculations amongst the governments of Europe cumulating in a disaster of unimaginable proportions from which the world has still not fully recovered. 

The entrance of the Ottoman Empire into the fray and its subsequent collapse precipitated the mess we now call the Middle East. The toll the war took on Russia begat the Soviet Union, international communism and the hundred or more millions that died from that ideology in Russian, China and elsewhere. Germany, broken and humiliated by the conflict rose up under the leadership of a fiend to lash out once more against a world still reeling, not only from the loss of a generation of young men, but from the fact that this unspeakable, and stupid orgy of carnage broke the spirit of the west.

The progress that civilization has made in the last hundred years seems impressive, but it pales between the vast leap that took place between the end of one great war  in 1814 and the events of 1914. From the cold war, to the middle east, we've spent the better part of a century putting out fires started or fanned by the First World War...and still they smolder

We hardly think of this conflict today but its ramifications are still with us. Let us hope the lessons are as well, because while history, as they say, does not exactly repeat, it does rhyme

The analogies at the link, while worrisome, can be taken too literally. There is of course, little significance to the century mark beyond superstition baed on numerology. If we were using hexadecimal this year it wouldn't even have that, but the artificial significance of a hundred years passing should be taken to reflect upon not only the carnage, but the miscalculations that led to it.  

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June 27, 2014

A Refrigerator Moment

This video has been making the rounds lately. 

It concerns a Harrier landing on a assault ship without the benefit of the planes nose landing gear.

This is pretty interesting but there is one thing that concerns me.

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June 25, 2014

It's Not Just Mee.Nu

AOL got hit too. My College G-mail account was similarly stuffed. Now, some of this is not messing with E-mail for three days but a good deal of it was pulled pork shoulder. 

To add to my annoyance the University G-mail account also threw a couple of important E-mails into the spam folder.

If anybody tried to get hold of me via E-mail and has not gotten a reply, I have deleted your correspondence by mistake and am unaware of it. 

There don't seem to be a lot of phishing schemes in any of these and spam, especially comment spam can't have a high return, so I'm wondering if some of this Hawaiian bacon festival is actually a sort of 'chaff' to cover something up.

Nah, probably just bots.
...plotting our downfall. 

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June 24, 2014

The Duck is Dark

For those who might be wondering, I have received word via text that the reason that Wonderduck has gone silent is that he has has been without internet service for over three days. There is no indication of when it might be back as his provider is, apparently, up to no good. 

An actual photo of Wonderduck's internet provider.

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Tablet Questions

I find myself in the market for a tablet/pad/Hand Computer and thus am seeking recommendations from my readership. 

Difficulty: Although I am a Mac user I would prefer that said pad bot have a lower case "i" in front of it, though I am not strictly ruling such a possibility out. 

On a completely unrelated note, here is Rin Tezuka, on a Llama. 

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June 23, 2014

Stuff and Things

Apropos the previous post. My utter contempt for the people involved exceeded the scope of my Thesaurus. I don't think I've ever dropped 'f bombs' in a post before and I certainly do not intend to make a habit of it. 


Frequent commentor Ralph Lauren Polo Shirts makes an interesting observation... 

Send cause concoction towards large zip major naff plastic bag. Increase sirloin to successfully tote  

Well, it might be an observation. 

Of course, given that this faithful commentor has helpfully provide similar insights twenty times this weekend, my first impulse is to violate the promise made in the first paragraph.  It occurs to me however, that perhaps what I need is not a bigger thesaurus, but a cypher.  It could be that this is a coded message and all that stands between me and a great adventure is deciphering this! What if all of these comments, together form a sort of Rosetta Stone that has the potential to unlock the secrets of the Voynich Manuscript? Solving such a puzzle would have the potential to unlock wealth beyond the dreams of avarice. Formidable enemies would seek to suppress that disruptive information, but the potential to bring about a golden age of enlightenment would surely be worth the risk!
Heck, cute girls might talk to me!
If only...I hadn't deleted all those comments....
Once again I have sabotaged myself.


I may have to check out this show. Not only is this barista into military history, I hear tell she has good trigger discipline too!

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June 22, 2014

One Hopes That There is a Special Concierge Service in Hell To Give These People the Extra Attention They Deserve

Suburban Banshee has an extensive, link-heavy post on the utter monstrousness of Marion Zimmer Bradley, child molester and protector of her child molester husband.

Go read the while thing.

I mentioned this to my friend BOB! last night and he said that he'd heard about a lot of this years ago and had written off the author for that reason. Another friend mentioned yesterday that she'd known about enough of this for years that she had long ago burned Bradley's books. 

I, on the other hand, had muddled trough life blissfully ignorant of this.

It's a squalid, foetid affair that involves a couple of truly evil people. That word "evil" gets bandied about a lot, but this is the real deal.

But the reason I'm most angered by this is that the story is actually far worse than the depredations of 2 fiends. 

What is REALLY disturbing about this is the fact that elements in the Sci-Fi community had been covering this up since 1963. Oh, they had banned Breen (Bradley's eventual husband) from a con, but no one bothered to call the cops. 

This passage from the letter is particularly disturbing...After laying out the fact that Walter Breen is a CHILD MOLESTER, he suggests that Breen be...get this...banned from a con.
 I came to this conclusion most reluctantly. I have no axe to grind. And quite apart from my emotional reluctance, I expect some of my friends to get mad at me if I do anything about Walter. Others will be "disappointed" in me because of my "persecution" of Walter, poor innocent Walter who loves and understands children. Also I rather expect some damage in my race for TAFF in 1965.[/quote]

You know, I have something to say to the author of this letter....

Hal 9000, Skynet, and the Krell mind machine, combining their processing power and crunching numbers for a decade could not calculate all the fucks I do not give about your fanboy electioneering. You have, with that paragraph, proven yourself to be a soulless, malignant waste of skin that could be put to vastly better use by burn victims. You know of a child molester and you do not report it to police because you are afraid it will harm your popularity? If ratting out a pederast will endanger ones social standing, then I suggest that it is time to get another peer group. You have no axe to grind? ARE YOU HUMAN?

This was 1963. How many children were raped because no one on this mailing list had the spine to call the cops? (ed: at least 22) Why in the hell didn't SOMEONE call the authorities? Is it because as a member of fandom you'd been bullied and didn't want to cast judgements? If so you deserved every wedgie you got and more...far more. This was not being a beatnik, or some other alternate lifestyle, this was children, and this was a hell of a lot more children who suffered agony and terror because not ONE person in this circle of fen had sufficient ethical grounding to call the police.

The Kitty Genovese story was utter bunk, but this is as real as it gets. 

You know what's almost as disturbing than that?


No news here, just a couple of glowing testimonials...well, the only people covering this are the French and the Italians.

Someone from Google must be an MZB fan.


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Wait...That's not a Megaphone

It's 100 KiloTons of 'splody!
The tiny Mk 4 reentry vehicle containing the tinier W-76 warhead weighs only 368 pounds allowing up to 14 to be carried on a Trident missile, though treaty restrictions limit them to considerably less than that. The joint U.S./UK W-76 is the most common warhead in the American and British nuclear stockpiles and one of the two oldest in the US arsenal. Rather than replacing these elderly warheads, the rather questionable decision has been made to refurbish them.  This is the warhead that caused the stir some years ago when it was belatedly discovered that the U.S. had lost the knowledge of how to produce a crucial component of the bomb.

While 368 pounds is a bit too heavy for a backpack or suitcase nuke, the impressively small size of this terrible weapon, along with its comparatively moderate weight, mean that a weapon comparable to this (far from state of the art) device could fit into any number of vehicles, steamer trunks or porta-johns. 

Fortunately nothing could get past our border security, so rest easy and enjoy the summer!

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June 18, 2014

Home the Conquering Heroes

Battered but unbowed,  SY Seascape sits quietly at a local shipyard's marina awaiting repairs. Mom and Dad are exhausted but in good spirits. Their sometimes harrowing trip covered 5000 nautical miles via the intercostal waterway, Atlantic ocean, the Gulf of Mexico and a grove of cattails in the Great Dismal Swamp. 

They were vey pleased with the performance of the boat, though, they did note one quirk that initially caused them some dismay. The boat is not what Americans generally think of as a motorsailer. That is, when being operated bare pole in a heavy sea, she will roll almost onto her beam ends with great enthusiasm. Once they got the whole "sailing" thing down this was no longer an issue. It is an exceptionally strong boat and withstood being driven aground by the waterspout with hardly a scratch. Most of the mechanical issues were of the sort one encounters on any shakedown, though as anticipated, the engine repairs (replacing the head gasket) will be a shipyard job. I'll help him haul the boat next week.

Hurricane season starts next week, so any further attempts will have to wait until November at least. 

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