July 27, 2014

One Hundred Years Ago Today

On July 27, 1914 the German Kaiser returned from his cruise earlier than planned. Below is an excerpt from page 103 of Daniel Allen Butler's Burden of Guilt.

The British sent another offer to moderate the dispute. It was passed along by Germany, but the German foreign secretary deliberately omitted a key bit...an addendum by the Kaiser endorsing the peace plan and stating that the Serbian agreement to most of the demands removed the legal case for war. .  In Austria-Hungary, Emperor Franz Joseph's "top men" were therefore unaware that the return of the Kaiser meant the German's public pronouncements that they desired peace were suddenly sincere.  

Russia, taking a less bellicose tone, offered a counterproposal to Austria-Hungary. It did not get past the Austrio-Hungarian foreign minister, who was more concerned that the window for war might pass without an invasion.

Also that evening, the British parliament became quite aware that something really bad might be imminent on on the continent and began debating what to do about it. First Lord of the Admiralty Winston Churchill did not wait. Having kept the reservists at their stations the previous day and rescinded the order to disperse the active fleet, he ordered the Royal Navy to go to full military alert and rig for battle. The magazines were filled with live ammo, and the ships were stripped for action. This caused the German stock exchange to collapse. 

Through the night of the 27th the Kaiser drafted a compromise proposal whereby Austrian troops would temporarily occupy Belgrade alone in substitution for having police powers in the whole country. He gave it to his foreign minister to deliver to the Austrians...

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July 26, 2014

A Minor Tidbit...Scarcely Worth Mentioning

An interesting peek at what Disney is doing with the franchise. 

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Creepy Horror Story Takes Unexpected Turn

Via Ace of Spades, we have a follow-up to that disturbing story about the dolls who appeared on the doorsteps of young girls (each bearing a resemblance to the girls in question). It has been solved. Astoundingly, the resolution did not involve dreadful discoveries in a basement or shallow graves.
It appears that the dolls were intended to be gifts from a woman who attended the girls church.
It was a scary story involving dolls, yet it appears to have just been someone being nice. Who on earth would have expected THAT!?

Who else?

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100 years Ago Today

Emperor Franz Joseph of the Austrio-Hungarian Empire was reasonably satisfied with the Serbian response to his governments demands and ordered the Serbian Chief of Staff to be released with apologies. On the same day and perhaps in response to this act, his Army Chief of Staff and Foreign Minister quietly exchanged letters
 Berchtold: "We should like to deliver the declaration of war on Serbia as soon as possible so as to put an end to diverse influences. When do you want the declaration of war? Conrad: Only when we have progressed far enough for operations to begin immediately—on approximately August 12th. Berchtold: "The diplomatic situation will not hold as long as that.”   [/quote] 
(Quote via Wikipedia)

....Meanwhile, the diplomatic heads of both Austria and Russia rejected an offer by Sir Edward Grey (the British Foreign Minister) to mediate the dispute.

In July of 1914, the British Royal Navy was conducting a reserve mobilization drill. This once in a decade endeavor involved calling up reservists and bringing old ships out of reserve, getting them seaworthy and conducting training maneuvers with the active navy which was largely recalled to home waters for the affair. This drill was scheduled to end on July 26th, however, First Lord of the Admiralty Winston Churchill, ordered all hands to stand fast and the fleet to not disperse as planned.  From this moment the RN was on a full war footing, something that would normally have taken months to achieve.

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I don't think that word means what some Russians think it does.

 "de-escalation”—the idea that, if Russia were faced with a large-scale conventional attack that exceeded its capacity for defense, it might respond with a limited nuclear strike. 

It's probably just a translation glitch. Do read the whole thing.

The gist of the article is that Russian policy is such that in the event of a major military confrontation in their immediate sphere of influence (Chechnya is specifically mentioned) , a very limited nuclear strike will cause the other side to pause and reflect., thereby defusing the situation. There is another, albeit rather dated, article on this policy here

Russia is not the only country that does not have a no first use policy. The same is true of the US and France for instance and US policy has been that if attacked with non-nuclear WMDs (especially a severe biological attack) nukes might be used. However, the Russian policy is odd in assuming that this will lead to a racheting DOWN of tensions. Once nukes start popping off, the potential for things to go completely pear shaped becomes very great indeed. 


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July 25, 2014

100 Years Ago Today

Austria-Hungary turned down a Russian proposal to extend the deadline on the terms previously presented to Serbia. Serbia, to everyone's astonishment, agreed to nearly all the humiliating demands by 5:58pm on the 25th. However they did not accede to the demand that Austria-Hungary be given legal jurisdiction and arrest powers inside Serbia's border. Their response was otherwise humble to the point of groveling. At 6:30pm, the Austrio-Hungarian  consulate evacuated their embassy in Belgrade. The Serbian Chief of staff General Putnik, on his way back from consultations in Russia was arrested that evening in Budapest. Taking the hint, the Serbs voted on, and their monarch signed orders for a full emergency mobilization. Most of their government then abandoned the capital and relocated to the more defensible city of Nish. 

It should be noted that Germany's Kaiser was on vacation during this time, golfing cruising on his yacht and was only gradually beginning to understand the gravity of the situation. Likewise, Franz Joseph returned from his retreat where he had been since the funeral of his nephew. He was 84...in 1914. Though he was aware of the negotiations with Germany and the seriousness of the Russian assurances of their Serb allies, he was reportedly quite surprised at the harsh language of the ultimatum sent to Serbia by his ministers. 

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July 24, 2014

Well THAT was an Amusing 15 minutes.

RWBY is back and is simulcasting on Crunchyroll.

"Yay! We're back!"

The episodes are a bit longer this time around (14:45 with credits) and they really have upped the production values. There is also quite a bit of action, though not at ALL what I'd expected. 

We do learn a few important things.
The preview trailer is somewhat misleading.
Soda cans in Vale are NOT made out of aluminum. 
It's strongly implied that Blake is in a lot more trouble than has been apparent. 
Turkey and scallions do not go together as well as I'd have thought. 

The voice acting is still uneven, but Jessica Nigiri does a very good job as Cinder (there was some speculation that her brief scene in last season's stinger was a fluke). 

Also, as a catch phrase, "Don't play with your food." is wanting.

However, this was, all in all, a very promising kickoff for the second volume. This is definitely on the watch list. 

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I Had NO Idea This Thing Was Real

Do want!

I'd seen this thing in some TV shows but I'd always thought it was a special effect. 

The Williams WASP was designed to meet an Army  from the 1970's.  It actually fulfilled all the requirements but twas not adopted as the Army beleatedly decided that the requirements were ill-considered. 

Good grief!  With a range of 30 miles it's really not all that much more impractical than a motorcycle for commuting. It can fly above traffic and the fact that it flies means it's significantly less dorky than a Segway.

This is the future we were denied!

Someone must make this happen. 

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If Nightmare Fuel is a Nonrenewable Resource

...then perhaps we are pumping it at such a rate that our reserves will soon be exhausted!

This story (which i got via  Ace) has me especially enamored of the 'peak nightmare fuel' idea. 

 Eight families in San Clemente have been targeted in a disturbing pattern under investigation by authorities: porcelain dolls have been left at their homes resembling young girls who live there. 


The horror novel writes itself. 

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Oh. I misunderstood.

I saw an excerpt from an opinion piece this morning and assumed it was satire.

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