September 14, 2014

But... When We Started From Scratch We Did it in Three

This article discusses the state of america's aging nuclear arsenal and points out once again that the United States is no longer are making nuclear pits (the core of atomic weapons) and hasn't since 1989.

 I think the article is sightly unfair to Bush (1) in that canceling the deployment of the new generation of weapons that were originally intended to come online in the early 90's was absolutely necessary to calm the Russians down after the collapse of the U.S.S.R.

 In any event, there is this damning revelation at the end of the article...
  In 1989 the executive branch shut down the nation's only facility to produce plutonium pits — the hearts of nuclear weapons — making us the only nuclear weapons state in the world unable to produce nuclear arms. Since then, executive branch fumbling and congressional denials have combined to prevent replacement of this absolutely essential production facility. If a decision were made today, it would still be 10 to 15 years before pit production could start.
Emphasis mine.

Although the Manhattan Project started in 1939, it was only a fact finding and technology feasibility assessment project until it got seriously spun as a weapons project in early 1942. By late 1944 and early 1945 pit production was a reality and they started out going into a previously unknown field. Thus, one can reasonably assume, given 70 years of experience and the leaps and bounds technology has made since Trinity, that, the tripling of the time necessary to do what was done with 1940s technology in 2014 is due to institutional inertia and bureaucratic asshattery.  Most of the Chinese dynasties ended due to the machinations of the eunuchs and other bureaucrats in administrative empire building at the expense of the state, rendering it vulnerable to new developments.  The Mandarins in Washington are a Gordian Knot that we really need to cut. 

Note that this is specifically talking about plutonium pits. Plutonium is necessary for most modern weapons especially if they are lightweight and compact. However, it is my understanding that Oralloy (a type of highly enriched uranium)  can be used to make perfectly effective bombs but they are heavier and less safe to store in the confines of a submarine (due to their higher radioactivity) and in any event not using plutonium would require extensive testing of new bomb designs or the use of old ones ill suited to our current delivery methods. 

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Groundskeeper Willie Speaks on the Scottish Question

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Current Watch List

I've been quite busy of late but I am watching a few things in between schoolwork and work-work. 

RWBY has been mentioned quite a bit. It's the only show I actually am able to watch weekly and keep up with in part because its twelve minute run time is easy to justify as a study break. It's really hitting its stride and is amusing me far more than it ought to. 

Tonari No Seki Kun is an older series that likewise can be consumed in 7 minute doses. I'm watching one or two a week. It has remained cute and refreshing. 

I was quite thoroughly traumatized a while back by Stella Women's Academy Emo Paintball Fight Club With The Ridiculously Long Name That Started Out Really Cool but Despite its Message Of Redemption Was REALLY Depressing and For Some Reason Ended in C-3, so I had judiciously  avoided the latest 'cute girls doing cute things in survival club' show. However, despite the subject matter (CGDCT+Guns) it is based on what is ostensibly a Shojo rather than a Seinen manga so this appeared to at least have the potential to be different. Also I've heard some good things about it and the show's name, even with the subtitle, is only 4 words long. 

I'm only 3 episodes into Sabagebu! Survival Game Club, but it's pretty enjoyable thus far with a quirky and likable cast, many of whom share my opinion of hornets and natto. I may have to write on this at length in the future. 

Dr. Who is a show that I rarely get to watch due to scheduling and a lack of DVR. However, a quirk of fate has allowed me to watch the first 4 Cappaldi episodes and I'm becoming more convinced that  the PC venom displayed in episode 2 is not intended to be seen in a good light. It looks like The Promised Land is going to be a new Bad Wolf and Robin Hood was a hoot. I like that the doctor is not completely omnipotent "Wait . You're Right. That's a STUPID idea!" It's interesting at any rate.  

In the queue: I picked up the second half of Ghost Hound, and second season of K-On!, both of which which I watched the first halves of YEARS ago. 

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September 13, 2014

Comments Issue

I've been informed that some people are having difficulty commenting. Specifically, I'm told that comments are being sent to moderation and I'm not approving them. 

Well, I don't moderate comments. In fact the blog does not even have it as an option, so something is amiss. I tried commenting myself and had no problem so this may be specific to certain users. 

Anyway, if you are having any problem commenting, please leave a comme.....


Oh well. While our crack team of datapixies work on that problem, I can at least do my bit to help my readers avoid heartbreak. In 1992, I learned to my considerable dismay that the following line does not, in fact, work. 

Sugar, spice and copper telluride.

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September 11, 2014

Dance Dance Infiltration

Well, the latest episode of RWBY answers a question that everyone has been asking since episode 9. 


This was a really good episode, it moved the plot, developed the characters and managed to be cute as well as dramatic. The pacing was near perfect. 
This show has really hit its stride. Seven episodes in and the season hasn't had a miss yet. 

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13 years or nearly 1300

It's been 1282 years since the Battle of Tours prevented, by the slimmest of margins, Western Civilization from being snuffed out for all eternity. As the 21st century dawned, no one seriously thought that western civilizations ancient enemy would pose a serious threat. Though it came within a hairs breadth of snuffing out Europe before its advance was stopped by Martel, Jihadist Islam was thought to be but a nuisance, long moribund after its defeats at Granada, Vienna and Lepanto. 

Then they struck in a most spectacular fashion. 

Now 13 years later, they are even more powerful than they were then. Their most visible branch, ISIS, takes their inspiration from the Umayads with a dash of Tamerlane and is doing a fair job of emulating the early victories of both. 

However, while there is great concern that these fiends might pull off some mass casualty attacks, no one expects these barbarians will be able to actually bring down any countries outside their immediate sphere of influence; just as no one 1300 years ago thought that this might happen....

Of course, this is not the 6th century. Things are different now. Advances in transportation and communications mean that events move much faster nowadays, and the savages have a non trivial number of confederates in the territories they covet. 

History does not end and no society is invulnerable to barbarians, especially if they do not take them seriously. 

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September 10, 2014

OK. The Speech

It was not actually an egregiously bad speech

However, I was somewhat perplexed that he wants to use Yemen and Somalia as templates for action against ISIS. Both countries are nightmarish Hobbesian jihadi generators and Somalia is not so much a country as a no-mans land. I suppose that recent successes in killing terrorist leaders there was the point, but neither country has any hope right now of being free of the jihadists in the foreseeable future. I'm a little concerned with the notion of arming "vetted" insurgents in Syria. Our vetting of insurgents has been singularly unimpressive historically, and over the last 5 years in particular. 

It is good that he recognizes the threat, but the proposed actions seems to risk making the same error as Rumsfield's "light footprint" model did. However, close air support and giving those who are fighting against ISIS weapons might have a better than even chance of working in this case. I suspect that ISIS is not adept at winning hearts and minds. If their religious appeal is such that they are, then this is a far greater problem than even the most concerned analysts have supposed.   

I do note that Bush, who already had what some describe as a troublingly broad Authorization of Military Force giving him legal justification, still felt the need to go before the Congress to get approval for going into Iraq. This president does not and I await with bated breath to hear the intense indignation at this factoid from those who considered  Bush's actions to be beyond the pale. 

One last criticism. 
We currently have over 1300 troops in Iraq. Can we PLEASE issue them some boots? Fighting in Birkenstocks cannot be good for morale. 

Finally it should be noted that this is one of the most grave decisions a President can be faced with. While there are legitimate criticisms galore regards the decisions that led us here and the manner in which they were relayed, it is not necessarily a dreadful thing that after previous debacles the president has been very deliberative in coming to this conclusion.  War is sometimes necessary, but it is always a wretched enterprise. That the President has sought to avoid this may not have been wise, but it should not elicit contempt.

I am no fan of the policies of this President,  but I ask that people of faith keep him in their prayers this evening. 

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Wild Speculation

Trigger warnings: cis, heteronormative, minor spoiler 

OK, the clues are there and I'm thinking that some of these questions will be answered in the next episode so lets speculate on a few things

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September 09, 2014

Tuesday 'Splody

One of the Brickmuppet's Crack Team of SCIENCE! Babes sends us this video from her research into the effects of comparatively small volcanic eruptions upon merchant shipping.

The Hephestian hoopla was caused by Mount Tavurvur in Rabaul, Papua New Guinea on the 29th of last month. 

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September 08, 2014

This is Dismaying

Street is river.Water rising rapidly. Garbage cans floating by. Car blocked by floating debris.

UPDATE: rain falling incredibly hard. Water still rising. Storm drains are spewing water.This could be bad. I may swim away from 800 dollars worth of textbooks.  

UPDATE 2: Now that I'm inside and not pecking away at a Blackberry....

This was taken only a block from my parent's took me 2 additional hours to get there.  

Sadly, I did not get some of the more spectacular visuals as they coincided with excitement in driving. It should be noted that, while in the great scheme of things this was a minor flash flood, it was the first time in the 29 years my folks have lived at their current address that the water rose all the way to their house. Even hurricanes did not get water this high. We got something like 9 inches in 6 hours. It actually flooded the garage, which is currently a bit of a mess. 

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September 06, 2014

16 days

This year I ordered most of my books online online as soon as the syllabi were posted. This saved me over 300 dollars and ensured that I'd have the books when classes began...well MOST of them. One book that contains my Kanji homework was to be shipped from Delaware. Alas they were out so they had their supplier send it directly to me. 

It passed through Japanese customs on the 21st of August, 16 days ago. It arrived today, with the result that I have 2 weeks of homework ahead of me this weekend. This is in addition to an English paper due Monday and sundry other homework. 

I may be scarce for another day or two so to tide you over, here is something that my friend BOB! sent me that you probably should not try at home....

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September 04, 2014

Wait...Was That...Racist?

Well, that was thirteen minutes and 8 seconds of my life that I do not regret. 

Tonights episode of RWBY  was poignant, funny and, just beautifully done. It was thoroughly satisf....WAIT! NO! DON'T END! 

It's always a good sign when a show leaves you eager for more. 

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September 03, 2014

AMVs From Before Time Began

A bit of Anime Music Video history....

One can certainly do worse than Takahashi and Terasawa. 

Neither Space Cobra nor Urusei Yatsura were big hits in the US, both had been off the air in Japan for over 5 years when the videos were made, but the videos did pique some interest in anime at the time as they were shown on MTV.

However, it may be surprising to learn that that in 1991 AMVs were not really new. In fact fans had been making them for some years (mostly via Betamax), trading them and occasionally showing them at cons. 

Due their existing long before internet streaming video existed in it's current form, and the limitations of magnetic tape as a medium, very few of the really early AMVs can be found. However, this faded, umpteenth generation copy of one I saw between 1989 and 90 is on You Tube...

It's been 24 years so I'm not sure WHO did it, but I think it was either Pam Buck or Keith Mayfield.  

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Missing Plane Watch

Actually, one can't watch them because they are missing, but via Rand Simberg, come a solution to that problem. 

Someone has helpfully generated a spreadsheet with a list of all the airliners that were based in Libya when the Jihadists took over and their current dispositions in the few cases where that is known. 

This isn't QUITE the concern it could be, because aircraft ID codes are a matter of record. If one of these ended up flying into Vatican City or New York it would probably be intercepted and shot down. Note though that air defense personel are likely to be (quite rightly) very leery of blasting an Airbus out of the least the first the number of planes missing does not translate into anything like a number of successful attacks. Add to this the availability of trained pilots and maintenance issues and using these craft for mischief becomes more difficult still

Of course if the terrorists were able to spoof the ID beacons then such a plane loaded with C-4 or a loose Pakistani nuke would be a matter of some concern. 

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Meta-Blogging Follies

I downloaded an animated .gif from Giphy, loaded it into the images folder, changed its name to something more memorable than "GIPHYGIF" and suddenly, it was gone. 

It took me a moment, but I soon realized what had happened. 

At some point I had loaded a .gif, also labeled "GIPHYGIF" and it had been overwritten by the recent addition to the image files. When I renamed the file it remained in its place in the queue, albiet under the new name. 

Somewhere in my archives, there is a post that is beset by an utterly incongruous  clip of Megaton being nuked.

Oh well. 

Always rename your files BEFORE uploading them to   

UPDATE: Less meta, but tangentially related: Pip Boy!

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Try Checking Between the Cushions

The INS has lost 6,000 exchange students. 

I'm sure there is nothing to worry about. This is less than a tenth of a percent (.89% actually) of the exchange students in the US so they're close, plus the video at the link explicitly mentions horseshoes and "close" counts in horseshoes!

Rather than getting all upset about the government loosing them, when there are so many to spare, we should be more concerned about these poor, wayward exchange students loosing stuff.

An exchange student looses some Karma. 

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September 02, 2014

This Seems Newsworthy To Me For Some Reason

This also seems utterly blinkered.

I'm putting it out there as the source is Newsweek and not Info Wars or something.

I suppose this is in keeping with the Russian policy of de-escalation via fusion, but it seems awfully odd for them to make this sort of threat in the current situation. 

There are, I'm sure, worse ideas for bringing the unpleasantness in the Ukraine to a close. I just can't think of any at the moment. 

Tactical...but not really practical.

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September 01, 2014

I'm Thinking That The Takeaway Is....

...don't buy a Taurus semi-auto. 


It's surprisingly reliable with the safety on and no finger on the trigger....but not in the right sort of way. 

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