January 31, 2015

The Answer is Sarmat

The question is : "What is Russia's new ICBM called?"

Wow. There had been reports that Russia was developing a new heavy ICBM to replace the old R-36 (NATO reporting name SATAN). However,  it was assumed that the new heavyweight missile would be a bit smaller than the massive old cold war relic, perhaps something with a payload along the lines of the MX-Peacekeeper

It was also assumed that ISIS was a JV team, that "Never again" was more than hollow posturing and that we would notice a Russian submarine in the Gulf of Mexico before it left. In keeping with the sterling record of our designated assumers, the stats for the new Russian ICBM have been released.

SARMAT, the replacement has a declared throw weight of 10 tonnes and can hit targets in the US while firing over the south pole. That is the opposite direction most US early warning radars point. 

 R-36 (SS-18 SATAN) being launched (via the Military today article)

22,046 pounds is an awful lot of ordinance. Keep in mind that the R-36, is, by a WIDE margin the most powerful ICBM in the world. It has a "throw weight" (as reported to comply with the START treaty), of 8.5 tonnes. There was an improved version with a payload of 9.5 tonnes that was cancelled. Reportedly, this was cancelled in order to comply with arms limitation talks. Wikipedia lists some payload options that were cancelled to comply with the 10 warhead treaty limit.  
 Three of these versions would carry regular warheads—38 × 250 kt yield, 24 × 500 kt yield, or 15–17 × 1 Mt yield. Two modifications were supposed to carry guided warheads ("upravlyaemaya golovnaya chast")—28 × 250 kt or 19 × 500 kt. 
Note that one of the two latest versions of the R-36 is a single warhead version as well, carrying a huge 20 megaton warhead that was, in part developed to maximize EMP effects. These huge warheads were removed and stored in 2009 as the Russians sought to maximize the number of warheads given the 10 warhead limit and the dwindling number of serviceable missiles. The R-36 was manufactured and serviced in Ukraine and recent events....well...the replacement program is a rather high priority. It need not, however be a challenging one. The Russians are quite capable at rocketry and the characteristics are a modest improvement on 1970's technology, but without parts made in Ukraine. Indeed, it appears that testing will begin this year. There is more on this (in Russian) here (google translate version behind spoiler tag)

This rocket is fearsome, but it is not a huge advance over the missile it replaces. However, it may itself represent a further rejection of the arms limitation treaties. and it drives home the fact that the Russians are very serious about relying on their nuclear forces.

 What could possibly go wrong?

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Log Horizon Continues

The show continues to focus on the trek of Minori's party. It seems that,  due to circumstances, our plucky, peripatetic protagonists have lost their horses, and so must PUSH their colorful conestoga from town to town. They are thus far unable to solve (or frequently notice) any of the actual mysteries that they encounter, since they keep getting distracted by monsters who aren't wearing any rubber masks. 

For instance, it's unclear if Serrara takes any rice with her mayo.

The meddling kids do find a new companion. Roe2 is the meganekko in the top left of the picture. In keeping with the saturday morning theme, this weeks special guest star teaches our viewers an important and cautionary lesson about min-maxing.

Along the way Serrera continues to be a tad creepy and there is a disquisition on the comparative merits and drawbacks of various sauces and philosophies...

Not pictured: Bolshevism.

Meanwhile, the adults back in Akihabara are dealing with political intrigues and societal issues...

All the while Minori's party continues to plod along their way doing good, discovering new things, and...making new friends.

This was a quiet episode which mainly consisted of conversations around dinner or the office, and yet it was thoroughly engaging, moved the plot along quite a bit and added materially to the shows suspense.  There is a LOT more going on here than was previously apparent and they only have eight or nine episodes to pull it off, leading to some concern. Nevertheless, Log Horizon remains an enjoyable and surprisingly thoughtful show.  

UPDATE: This show is solid enough that it's earned a dub from Sentai and the casting looks to be pretty decent, with lots of people from Highschool of the Dead, Gai Rei Zero and Baccano which were themselves above average dubs. 

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January 26, 2015


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...a remarkably strong winter storm looks to be forming up on the northeast. 

If I were malevolent and had planned ahead, tonight would be the night I'd have myself and some conspirators try to take some pot shots at sub stations. Hopefully the weather is too bad for such mayhem. 

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....It Gets Worse

A quick addendum to all the unbridled joy in this recent post. It appears that the new Saudi King may have a few additional ...issues

  King Salman, Saudi Arabia’s newly crowned monarch, has a controversial history of helping to fund radical terror groups and has maintained ties with several anti-Semitic Muslim clerics known for advocating radical positions,

Words are failing me at the moment, so I'll let this young lady provide commentary on the matter. 

Happy Monday.

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January 25, 2015

A Few Quick Notes

I have a fair amount of homework due this week so posting is likely to be sporadic at best, especially Tuesday. As compensation for that and the banality below the fold, here is some Kongos .


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January 24, 2015

In 1986 I Would Have Been Unsurprised At Speculation That Such a Thing Would Be For Sale in 2015

Allow me to explain...

Suidobashi Heavy Industries has offered a 12 foot tall mech starter kit. (via)

It appears to be kit build rather than a complete vehicle. 

It's available on Amazon Japan.

One of the "Brickmuppet's Crack Team of Science Babes" has thoughts on this development...

    From Google Translate... 
  • Weight about 5 tons, height 3.8m engine driven human four-legged giant toy robot (weight, height, changes in both optional)
  • Unlike normal riding toy, safety and comfort is not guaranteed, you can guarantee the dream of mankind "consisting robot pilot".
  • It will be the starter kit without arms, forearms, please purchase separately option.
 So the arms, and hands are separate meaning that getting the full super robot experience and participating in the mechatronic gladiatorial combat (which will surely be the killer ap for this device) will take some time. Note however, that this is a tripod, which might facilitate going for a slightly different aesthetic. 

"Uuu Laaa!"

One hopes that a heat ray and Thunder Child RC target model will be forthcoming. 

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The End of an Era

Moot quit.

While this is unlikely to be a matter of any earth-shaking import, it is probably worthy of note. 4-Chan has certainly been a significant force in some ways, Whether that has been a net positive is a matter of debate. However, Moot single handedly built a place that appeals on some level to about 20 million visitors a month, so he must have done something right. 

Moot held forth for 8 hours on his last Q&A. 

If you want to peruse that, well, go knock yourself out. 


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The Buried Lede

...in the State of the Union Speech is actually kind of disturbing...

"CRAP!...this sounds like it's gonna involve discussing Politics and I don't wanna get struggled against this early in the semester!"

Don't worry. We put these things below the fold...

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Arabian Entropy

As I type this, the news is abuzz with a story that has sufficiently severe ramifications that it has finally galvanized the nation into focusing on current events.

However, we here at Brickmuppet Blog have nothing to add to the high-stakes investigation into under-inflated footballs.

Instead, we find our attention drawn to events in the vicinity of the Persian Gulf, where the government of Yemen, until a US ally in the fight against Al-Quaeda has collapsed and the nations capital has been overrun by a group calling itself the Houthis. The State Department had this to say...
"The Houthis are a legitimate political constituency in Yemen and have a right to participate in affairs of the state. We urge them to be a part of a peaceful transition process," Psaki said.
This does not sound terrible on the face of it and reports indicate that the Houthis , being affiliated with a Shia sect, are violently opposed to AQIAP, the same Al-Quaeda affiliate that we've been fighting in Yemen.  This encouraging bit of information was somewhat tempered by actually doing a cursory web search to discover who they are and who these Houthis are affiliated with. To our considerable surprise and dismay, the list did not contain any Blowfish at all, but rather organizations such as Hezzbolah, Iran and Syria. The groups ideology consists of Anti-Americanism, Anti-Zionism and Antisemitism and just to clarify things their slogan (which has been loudly chanted of late ) is "Death to America, death to Israel, a curse on the Jews and victory to Islam".  This seems at first glance like a rather more sub-optimal development than the White House is letting on. With this group of raving crazies facing Al-Quaeda, the best option would seem to be to stand back and hope they both loose,. Unfortunately the situation is more complicated due to the long suffering nation's geography. 

Yemen borders Saudi Arabia, and borders or is close to the Gulf States who control vast amounts of the worlds oil. While that is not as important as it once was, these states, while being human rights hell holes that, amongst other things, practice slavery are opposed to both Al-Quaeda and Iran. The fall of Yemen puts these countries between Iran, Yemen, which has just become an Iranian client state,  and the expanding abattoir that is ISIS. Al-Quaeda continues to operate in the region sowing further discord. 

Now one will note that ISIS (and Al-Quaeda), being Sunni and Iran's coalition being Shia are unlikely to coordinate their efforts in any meaningful way as they hate each other with a passion, but they both crave control of the vast oil reserves of the Arabian peninsula and in particular the theological legitimacy that Mecca and Medina could bestow upon the group that controls the birthplaces of Islam. If Saudi Arabia...or just Mecca, Medina or both fall to one of these groups, then it will be a huge propaganda victory and recruitment tool and perhaps a deciding factor in the 1200+ year old war between these two islamic sects. Control of the region's oil will force states like China to legitimize them, and sale of the oil will give them the capital to fund much mischief. All three groups are dedicated to Israel's destruction  and expansion of the House of Islam into what they call The House of War via unconventional warfare. 

In other words, this is bad.

It gets worse...

The King of Saudi Arabia just died. This throws Saudi Arabia into a state of flux just as all this compost is hitting the fan. The late King had actually made baby steps toward reform, allowing women to have ID cards and conduct financial transactions, and was an opponent of Islamic terrorism, however many in the Saudi royal family are staunch supporters of Al-Quaeda. Fortunately, the succession seems to have gone smoothy for now...

But, it gets worse....

 There are reports that, due to its perilous situation and the near certainty of arch enemy Iran obtaining nukes, Saudi Arabia (which financed much of Pakistan's nuclear research) has called in their favor and has obtained or have on retainer a number of atomic weapons from Pakistan. These weapons are as much of a prize to the area's extremists as anything, and if the reports of their being in Saudi hands are not apocryphal, then, given the threats arrayed against the Saudis we could see nuclear weapons used in anger. 

It gets worse...

The large number of Saudi aristocrats with extremist tendencies is going to require considerable competence and vigilance to keep those weapons out of unwanted hands even if the nation is overrun.

However, you might be surprised to learn that...

It gets worse...

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January 22, 2015

Oddly, This Subject Came Up At a Steakhouse the Other Day

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Open Thread!

Yes the "Open Thread".

The international, IMO approved, SOLAS compliant, universally recognized code used by bloggers who are engaged in a three front war against school, work, and writers block.

Here are some random linky bits, just in case, like me, you have nuthin'.

Suburban Banshee suggests that ISIS may not be as well read on their stated policy manual as they claim to be. 

Trigger Warning! Politix...Neo suggests that Boehner may not actually be vindictive...or an idiot

On a completely different note...Don links to an article which proposes that suggestions that our society has entered a slow decline may be erroneous.  
He also links to this thing that I can't spell

Juxtaposition.Greely is doing that thing he does

Wonderduck is unaware that it is not Saturday

Steven reminds us that opining on cartoons from time to time...doesn't contradict our assertions that we're not kids anymore.  

With that in mind...Medieval Otaku claims to have found the BEST BOXING ANIME EVER! It's hard to disagree.

Borepatch has video on steam, steel and DREADNOUGHTS!

Tam and others have thoughts on flag rank payola.

Dr Pournelle seems to be recovering from his stroke and is opining on current events again. Some of it is trigger worthy.

Dustbury...poor Dustburry

CDR Salamander on China and VietNam.

Meanwhile...In Gibraltar...

Finally, Tekalili...

 Meganekko of Yith by Aor Saiun

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January 18, 2015

It Wasn't Deceptions After All

Beagle 2 has been found apparently intact, with no other nearby robots or their botprints in evidence. 

"No!...My THESIS! "

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How Limited

...is the budget of Log Horizon?

Well, besides the mediocre animation, there's the fact that they couldn't pony up the cash to commission a new song for the bard to sing....

"I didn't write it, it's just a cover of something I heard....somewhere."

I must say, though that her version of the closing credits is better. 

Of course, if you're still watching this show, you are not doing so to be wowed by the amazing visual effects or score, both of which, while not incompetent, are mediocre at best. Rather, you're watching this show because the story and characterizations transcend all that. 


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January 15, 2015

Cautionary Tale or 'How To' Manual?

I guess it depends on who reads these things.
Pixy has thoughts on one of the less appealing responses to the recent massacre in Paris.

I urge you to read the whole thing.


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That is Frequently My Stated Rationale as Well

Steven explains the indefatigable and scholarly curiosity that motivates his thoughtful analysis of non-photographic visual media.

I wanted to see just how bad the pandering was, so I downloaded raws of the first two episodes...

For my own part, I find that the first week of school has left me too busy for such inquisitiveness (or rationalizations), so, to compensate my readers for the recent lack of postings, here is 35 feet of cheesecake ...

 Diane as imagined by Kai 

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January 11, 2015

Browser Compatibility Test

Let's try captioning this picture of Hanako.

Because Hanako is awesome.

Well, the superscript function doesn't work in Midori either.

Now some spoilers...
(Who could have POSSIBLY seen that coming?)    

Now lets see if we can highlight some quotes without breaking the blog.
 The only question is whether this is intended as satire   

(hmmm... that didn't work right)

Let's try that again.I filched it from Pixy's blog where it looked like this.
 The only question is whether this is intended as satire 

The italicized "intended" seems to have broken the attempt to italicize the whole thing...first let's see if we can italicize something in Midori without italicizing the whole paragraph. 

OK that worked (at least in the dashboard), now lets try the usual workaround in the quote field...
The only question is whether this is intended as satire 
....which broke the blog yesterday.

Finally I'll try another work around that only just now occoured to me....
The only question is whether this is intended as satire

Finally, I'll try the same workaround on a hidden tag.

This revelation about Mikoto's musical abilities may not be entirely accurate.

Let's see if any of this worked. 
Update: Nope.... back to work...

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January 10, 2015


Focus on current events is understandably directed towards Europe and Jihadism at the moment, where MI-5 is reporting that...

Parker said British security authorities had "stopped three UK terrorist plots” in recent months but added that "we still face complex and ambitious plots” by extremists who want to "cause large scale loss of life” by targeting transport networks and iconic landmarks.
If that is worrisome, then this 2006 article in Der Spiegel is high octane nightmare fuel. It's a review of a book by a Jordanian journalist named Fouad Hussein who had considerable contact while in Prison with Al Zarquawi and was able to interview others associated with AlQuaeda.  He says AlQaeda has a 7 point plan for world conquest and even has tentative dates for the completion of each phase.

Since the article was written in 2006, surely we can laugh at the comically wrong predictions...right?

The First Phase Known as "the awakening" -- this has already been carried out and was supposed to have lasted from 2000 to 2003, or more precisely from the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 in New York and Washington to the fall of Baghdad in 2003. The aim of the attacks of 9/11 was to provoke the US into declaring war on the Islamic world and thereby "awakening" Muslims. "The first phase was judged by the strategists and masterminds behind al-Qaida as very successful," writes Hussein. "The battle field was opened up and the Americans and their allies became a closer and easier target." The terrorist network is also reported as being satisfied that its message can now be heard "everywhere."

The Second Phase "Opening Eyes" is, according to Hussein's definition, the period we are now in and should last until 2006. Hussein says the terrorists hope to make the western conspiracy aware of the "Islamic community." Hussein believes this is a phase in which al-Qaida wants an organization to develop into a movement. The network is banking on recruiting young men during this period. Iraq should become the center for all global operations, with an "army" set up there and bases established in other Arabic states.

The Third Phase This is described as "Arising and Standing Up" and should last from 2007 to 2010. "There will be a focus on Syria," prophesies Hussein, based on what his sources told him. The fighting cadres are supposedly already prepared and some are in Iraq. Attacks on Turkey and -- even more explosive -- in Israel are predicted. Al-Qaida's masterminds hope that attacks on Israel will help the terrorist group become a recognized organization. The author also believes that countries neighboring Iraq, such as Jordan, are also in danger.

The Fourth Phase Between 2010 and 2013, Hussein writes that al-Qaida will aim to bring about the collapse of the hated Arabic governments. The estimate is that "the creeping loss of the regimes' power will lead to a steady growth in strength within al-Qaida." At the same time attacks will be carried out against oil suppliers and the US economy will be targeted using cyber terrorism.

The Fifth Phase This will be the point at which an Islamic state, or caliphate, can be declared. The plan is that by this time, between 2013 and 2016, Western influence in the Islamic world will be so reduced and Israel weakened so much, that resistance will not be feared. Al-Qaida hopes that by then the Islamic state will be able to bring about a new world order.

The Sixth Phase Hussein believes that from 2016 onwards there will a period of "total confrontation." As soon as the caliphate has been declared the "Islamic army" it will instigate the "fight between the believers and the non-believers" which has so often been predicted by Osama bin Laden.

The Seventh Phase This final stage is described as "definitive victory." Hussein writes that in the terrorists' eyes, because the rest of the world will be so beaten down by the "one-and-a-half billion Muslims," the caliphate will undoubtedly succeed. This phase should be completed by 2020, although the war shouldn't last longer than

OK the rather large transition from step six to seven seems a tad dubious to be sure, but steps 3, 4 and 5...wow. It also lends credence to the notion that a big putsch may be coming on the jihadi front in the near future. 

Farther afield, Jihadists are even now having some spectacular successes. Boko Haram has sacked Baga City, overrun a military base and killed 2000 civilians. This was largely buried by coverage of the attacks in France, but this is probably a bigger story. Note that Boko Haram has also gained control of 20,000 square miles and declared itself a caliphate.

And closer to home, Molly Norris is still in hiding

Around one million people are now displaced in the Ukraine.
China faces fears of...deflation?
On a related note, James MacDonald has written a book because he does not want you to sleep soundly.
For some, the glass is always half empty.  (facepalm)

Finally, as if things were not crazy enough, this headline was in Thursday's New York Times: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar to Publish a Novel About Sherlock Holmes’s Brother Mycroft 

"That's it. We're doomed." 

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Kansas Is NOT a Completely Different Country....

There are THREE seasons of Dog Days...the latest of which debuts on the 15th of this month and, as of this writing, has not been licensed outside of Asia.

So....ignore the rest of this post and go take Don's quiz.

Heretofore, I had been under the impression that Kansas was covered by US Treaties. However, it turns out that Kansas is actually a wondrous and weird place that exists in some other reality.

Don who resides in the Magical City of Wichita, points out that in his world the Dog Days page on Crunchyroll has this annoying bit of information posted...

However, here, in the tedious, banal dimension that the rest of us call reality, a click on the episode icons on a Saturday morning, results in s Saturday morning cartoon. It is playing in another tab as I type this. 

It appears to be a fight show and never saw the first series, so I'll probably pass.

(Full disclosure: The annoying bit of information is present in this reality as well...perhaps its an old banner that hasn't been taken down yet, or it was put up early and Dog Days 2 is about to be pulled. )

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January 09, 2015

They Got'em

The French have reportedly killed both the Islamic terrorists who butchered the editorial staff of Charlie Hebdo as well as another associate who had taken the customers of a deli hostage. It looks like some hostages may have died in the process, but given the fanaticism and brutality of the hostage takers it is likely that this was unavoidable. There will be some recriminations over this affair, but it is important to remember that we are dealing with people who are utterly barbaric. 

No doubt the confederates of these savages will point to the fact that they were successful, having only  died after killing who they set out to kill and that every other person they killed was simply icing on the cake of their victory.

And they will claim a double victory since our 'betters' are sending the message that such actions get results.  

It is, therefore, up to the rest of us to demonstrate that these fiends died utterly in vain. 

I would not normally post some (most) of these because they are not my cup of tea and it would ordinarily be rude and offensive. Additionally, there are muslims out there who  deserve to be saluted rather than mocked

Furthermore, I'm from a culture that greatly values propriety. 

However, I, my culture and most of the various other cultures that make up this nation as well as the one that gave us Voltaire can agree on at least one thing. We value freedom of expression more

If you try to shut us up with threats or violence, you are going to get more of what pisses you off and little or none of what you find congenial. (Though accommodations can be made regarding martyrdom)

To do otherwise is to give those who threaten and intimidate us our leash.

Those in the media who would back down before this are empowering these barbarians and giving their message and their followers affirmation. It is the responsibility of the rest of us to show that those quislings do not speak for us and that our society is composed of sterner stuff than them. We must see to it that such  Quislingry is mocked and evaded.

Here's how it works in a civilized nation:

You do not have a right to silence those who offend you.

All stop.

Vive la France

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