October 31, 2016

Happy Halloween

Halloween Mercy by Tako Seijin

Touhou's Marissa by Bakanoe

Idolmaster drama generators by Ilo/Mairo

Blake the Candy Pirate by Lesupa

Finally, if the above images are just too pleasant for you, there is always the Halloween episode of Gumball, which has Gumball, Darwin and the ghost girl who haunts their school encounter the most accurate depiction of a shouggath ever.

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October 30, 2016

RWBY Season 4 Begins

When last we left our intrepid heroes in team RNGR (or JNRR, there is some disagreement on this point) they had struck out across the continent in the hopes of finding out who was behind the destruction of Beacon Academy, and the devastation of Vale.

This episode takes place between 6 and 18 months since the last one and there have been some developments....

This person, despite not a whit of dialog, seems to be significant.

We do learn several things, including the true nature of Pumpkin Pete, but mostly that three years of practice and a major increase in budget allow for a tremendous boost in quality. This looks gorgeous! The fight sequence was much more in the spirit of Monty Oum than the trailer, which I was somewhat critical of. the voice work is still very good and the pacing is excellent. 

On the debit side, most of the new additions to the villian side seem to lack the panache of the ones we know, and seem to be mimeographs of cardboard cutouts, though their screen time was brief and that may well change moving forward.  

This series went through a dramatic shift in tone and direction at the end of last season to something rather darker than many of its fans had grown accustomed to. That hasn't changed, however it is refreshing to see that the show has not lost its sense of humor or heart. This season is starting off promising.

Note that as I type this, RWBY is not on Crunchyroll's front page, but it is viewable there

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October 28, 2016

I Don't Think That Punnett Squares Work That Way

Art by Nukomasu

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While all eyes are on today's explosive developments in the Sinclair Lewis, Ian Fleming and Judy Blume collaboration that is the presidential election, we should take this time to at what else is happening.

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Oh Look! I'll Have to Buy Some Froot Loops

Crunchyrool will start running RWBY tomorrow at 08:00, so I guess I should go in for the whole Saturday Morning cartoon experience. 

I haven't watched anything this season. I'm curious about Flip-Flappers, mainly because its name indicates a certain whimsy or at least the potential for something that's entertainingly bad. 

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October 24, 2016

Steven DenBeste 1952-2016

Steven DenBeste has passed away.

I just received word from Steven's brother, graciously thanking me for making the welfare call to the police and confirming that what many of us feared had indeed come to pass.  I did not inquire as to specifics, but Steven had been in very poor health of late, having had a stroke just under four years ago.

Steven was brilliant, a former engineer with a crackerjack mind. His old blog, U.S.S. Clueless was tremendously important in the early days of the 'blogosphere'. It is hard to overstate the importance of U.S.S. Clueless and the brilliance of his analysis. Sadly, that site went down this past week as well, when Steven's server failed. That site was immensely influential to many of us, and I am far from the only person he inspired to blog or helped along.

Bill Whittle once described Steven as 
..brilliant, insightful, inspiring and ALWAYS RIGHT.

Bill, like so many others, was positively impacted by Steven's writings and inspired to do his own. Mr. Whittle also described Steven as one of the most gentle people he had known.

Some years ago, due to declining health and vicious internet trolling, Steven started Chizumatic to focus on less consequential topics, but he continued to be inspirational and influential in his new bailiwick. 

Pete describes it thus:
 Named after a character in Mahoromatic, Chizumatic was one of the oldest anime blogs.......

.....From the beginning, Chizumatic offered a strong editorial voice for the most competent direction and the cutest girls, as well as an excellent understanding of the classical blogging, which Steven brought with him from the political arena. Explanations and WMG were another hallmark. Did you think too that the crow in Haibane Renmei represented Rakka’s dog? We aren’t getting such insights anymore and animeblogging has become poorer for that.

Steven DenBeste had an overwhelmingly positive influence on the world despite his physical frailty, one out of all proportion to his resources. The world today is undeniably a better place for his having lived, but it is a bit dimmer today with his loss.

He will be sorely missed.

Others, far more talented and eloquent than I have opined on this sad turn of events. 
Rand Simberg, Dustbury, Aziz, Bill Quick, Neo-Neocon, J.C. Carlton, Ed Driscoll, Ace of Spades, Jim Geraghty, Wonderduck, Suburban Banshee, Paterrico, Cold Fury, and Pixy has a whole other set of links. Sarah Hoyt, being a professional author, summed it up pithily
We shall not see his like again.

It looks like most of the U.S.S. Clueless archives have been saved and others in the comments to this post are working on additional backups. 

Thank you for all you did Steven DenBeste. 

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October 23, 2016

Fearing the Worst; Hoping for the Best for Steven DenBeste (UPDATED)

On October 14th, Steven DenBeste posted that he anticipated there might be an interruption in his posting due to an approaching Typhoon. No one has heard from him since. I've called his landline, others have attempted to contact friends, and Wonderduck and Ubu both contacted vendors he's blogged about using since they are assumed to have his mailing address. 

9 days on, the power in that part of Oregon has been restored (and his landline is ringing)., many of us are beginning to fear the worst.

In addition to the storm Steven has been in failing health of late, so his absence is of particular concern.

Steven is an atheist, so he won't appreciate prayers...but they can't hurt....

In the Hopes That it Will Amuse Steven: Pious Bunnygirl with kitten by Juji Amo

UPDATE: Earlier this evening I contacted the police with my limited information, which consisted of a phone number and the city (gleaned through the first six digits of said phone number. A few minutes ago I was contacted by the Beaverton police. There were three addresses that it could have been, the second was Steven's family. The officer had offered to escort them to Steven's house, but they said they would handle things in the family and declined further assistance. That is all I know at this time, and as I'm not family it's all I am likely to discover. It does not sound good. 

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Well, This is...Edgey.

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October 17, 2016

106 Years Ago Today

...the airship America broke records and achieved several firsts.

The ship was the brainchild of reporter/adventurer Walter Wellman and was initially financed by the Chicago Tribune, being designed and built for an attempt to be the first to reach the north pole. The aircraft was actually built in France, which was closer to Norway and allowed the designers to use the considerable expertise and physical plant of French balloon manufacturers, and presumably gain some input from the Gaelic airship pioneers. The craft, was, however, quite distinctive. America was a semi-rigid dirigible with a number of innovative features including swiveling airscrews capable of providing vectored thrust. 

America, as built, about to make one of her attempts to reach the pole.

In 1906 the airship left Spitsbergen  bound for the pole, but suffered from total engine failure. However, the crew managed to return as a balloon. The engine proved unrepairable and the ship was broken down and shipped to France for repairs. After the installation of a new engine the craft returned in 1907 and made 2 more attempts, however, both were stymied by abominable weather. The ship was shipped out again this tome to America and had it's envelope enlarged, had newer, more powerful engines installed, an electrical system including electric lights, and a wireless set was fitted, as was a lifeboat and a peculiar altitude regulator called an equillibrator, described here

 The device was a 300-foot long steel cable with 30 steel tanks containing gasoline and 40 wooden blocks. Each steel tank was 4-feet long and 9 inches in diameter and weighed about 100 pounds when filled with gasoline; the concave end of one tank fit into the convex end of another, like a ball and socket joint, and was padded with felt to absorb shocks and minimize wear and abrasion. The far end of the device consisted of 40 solid wooden blocks, tapering in diameter like the tail of a snake, that would float on the surface.  

This was intended to compensate for day/night changes in buoyancy, without permanently dropping ballast. This was obviously a hazard to people on the ground, but with Robert E. Peary having gotten to the north pole in 1909. Wellman and the ship's designer, Melvin Vaniman had set their sights on a different "first", one that would push their little airship to the limits of it's capability. Their new goal was to cross the Atlantic by air, and for this, the equillibrator actually made sense as it had the potential to minimize losses of ballast and hydrogen.

America as refitted.

On October 15, 1910 America took off from Atlantic city New Jersey. Almost at once, things began to go wrong. The ship's propellors set for full vertical thrust kicked up a spectacular sandstorm. Moments after takeoff a loud screech was heard and investigation revealed the presence of a terrified cat that had stowed away in a box near the engine. He was named Kiddo. Engine trouble quickly ensued and and the ship continued on one engine. Attempts at repair proved futile as it was discovered that the engine had ingested a good deal of sand that had been kicked up during takeoff and was a total loss. It was decided to disassemble  the other engine and clean it...but engine number two chose that moment to die. 

The second engine was not completely wrecked and was repairable, but a ballasting error resulted in considerable loss of hydrogen. Over the next day, a storm came up and one engine was not enough to overcome the strong winds which  pushed the ship far to the south.

The ship was far off course and the second engine became intermittent, so it was decided to abandon the flight. On the 17th, just north of Bermuda, the airship, now effectively a balloon spotted a British mail packet, the S.S. Trent, and hailed them via wireless using CQD (the predecessor to SOS). All six crewmen and Kiddo got into the lifeboat and were picked up by Trent, however, before a hawser could be attached, America, relieved of the weight of the lifeboat shot into the sky and was never seen again.
America photographed from RMSTrent. Note the visible "plug" in the envelope where the ship was enlarged & the equillibrator trailing in the water..

The flight, while unsucsessful, had a number of firsts.
2: Longest duration flight to that date by a considerable margin.
3: Longest distance covered by an aircraft in a single flight (over 1000 miles), also by a considerable margin.
4: First radio transmission from an aircraft was "Roy come and get this goddamned cat!"
5: First distress signal sent from an aircraft.
6: First launch of a boat from an aircraft.
7: First air-sea rescue....actually a sea-air rescue.

If things had broken just a bit different, America probably would have made it. An air intake filter would have prevented the loss of the engines. Of course this was one of the learning experiences that caused people to adopt them

Wellman threw in the towel on aviation after this, but Vaniman attempted another crossing of the Atlantic the next year in an improved and enlarged version of America named Akron (the first airship manufactured by Goodyear). Tragically, Akron exploded shortly after launch with the loss of all hands. The Atlantic would not be crossed by air until 1919.

If you are interested in more stuff involving airships, J.C.Carlton has you covered.

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October 16, 2016

Trigger Warning: Banality

Yes, banality lurks below the fold. 

As is traditional here, we atone for this by providing an image of some exotic and atypically proportioned young ladies enjoying the last of the good weather as they relax next to the ocean.

Art by Ebimomo

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October 10, 2016

My Crazy Theory May Have Just Been Debunked

Earlier, I stated that I had a Crazy Theory regarding the election, specifically that the world and economic  situation was so bad that both parties were trying to throw the election so that the other would have to deal with the mess, and thus accrue blame for the inevitable carnage.

That was always dubious as it assumed awareness on the part our political class. Now, thanks to those occasionally useful creeps at Wikileaks, it seems to have been debunked, and another theory, that has been in the back of my mind for some time, has been given credence.

Trump was a tool for Hillary's campaign all along. She wanted the press to take Trump seriously, put him up as the most viable option for Republicans, and the right took the bait, hook, line, and sinker. Now with the Trump campaign burning to the ground, and GOP leaders walking away due to his recent comments, the Clinton campaign's plan to put Hillary on top is coming to fruition.

No word on when Sean Hannity will go back to his pre DNC-hack policy of decrying Assange as a criminal, or when Drudge might cover this electorally relevant story. 

As he might say...Developing.

"This just in. Stupid party is stupid. More at 11."


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It's much worse in the western part of the state, and vastly worse in North Carolina.

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October 09, 2016

Self - Fulfilling Prophecy!?

I note quite ruefully that the busybody teacher who told me to stop eating the Play-Dough was the same teacher who said I'd never be an astronaut.

 My life, derailed by poor career counseling and dietary advice.

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October 08, 2016

Mathew Missed His Turn

ODU is flooded a minimum of a foot deep  and on emergency power. After driving to the dorms other students kicked out of library by power failure I noted cartops just visible above water down the street from the school. It took 2 hrs to get out of Norfolk and had to take interstate long way around. Trees down on interstate. I'm in a Truckstop in Suffolk watching water rise and power flicker.


I need to invest in a dashcam. The things I saw tonight really needed to be filmed. The phone is completely dead. I'm home now after a 4 hour trek to make what is normally a 15 minute trip. The tunnel is apparently flooded, which will make my Monday commute....interesting. The garage is flooded, trees are down all over. Power seems stable for now, but I'm signing off just in case. According to the Weather Channel, Mathew's eyewall is passing overhead (though the eye is 100 miles to the southeast...Mathew is kinda "stretchy"). The worst is supposed to hit around 3:30AM...or about 2 hours from when I typed this.

A couple of very bad pictures of Ghent and ODU

I went to check on my parent's boat this morning. The trip required some detours.

One thing I noted was that many streets that were no longer impassable due to water were nearly impassable due to the large number of no longer submerged cars that had been abandoned.

My parent's boat was OK, but the marina was roughly handled. They had just gotten their boat back in the water after scraping the bottom. This poor fellow...

Standing water remains..

As I type this, the sun seems to be coming out and the wind, while still high is not so bad. 

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October 06, 2016

OK...This is a Cute Use of the Format

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More on the Implications of Mathew's Current Track

Rand Simberg had this to say yesterday. 
But the latest is that it’s still headed right at the Cape, and could even become a five when it hits tomorrow. If that happens, it will probably destroy the VAB, and other facilities, which are only rated for 125 mph winds. It would also probably wipe out much of the infrastructure at CCAFS, which would put both SpaceX and ULA out of business for low-inclination launches until it can be repaired. The only access to ISS (at least with any significant payload — one can dogleg out of Vandenberg, with a big performance penalty) would be from Wallops, via Orbital ATK. Hard to understate what a blow this would be in terms of our space capabilities.  

This is the track as of 8pm tonight.

UPDATE:It's actually worse. Via Scott Lowther comes this:
Kennedy’s Orbiter Processing Facilities are rated to withstand sustained winds of 105 mph. The Vehicle Assembly Building and launchpads hold together up until about 115 mph, while newer buildings constructed after Hurricane Andrew in 1992 are designed to weather 130 mph winds.

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Go Home Mathew. You're Drunk!

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October 05, 2016

What a Difference a Day Makes

It looks like the Floridians and the Bahamians are in for a rough couple of days.

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The Correct Response to the Visionless Chucklehead Mentioned in the Previous Post

Two of the Brickmuppet's Crack Team of Science Babes have thoughts on the implications of this test and how it might  benefit humanity.

"Mass access to space is almost here!"
"Rocket powered dildos!"

Well....we'll focus on just one of those implications as we are ill-equipped to opine on the other.
The booster was not expected to survive, but was sufficiently overbuilt that it did. This indicates a very good design margin. While this system is intended for tourist flights, and strictly suborbital, it is a proof of concept rig and is intended to scale to fully orbital systems. New Glenn is the name Bezos has given to the larger members of this rocket family. 

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It's Time to Have a Little Talk With HR

Scott Lowther notes another scolderiffic luddite pantywaist killjoy douche-mongler who is all upset about Elon Musks rather ambitious Mars plan. The piece is a sad commentary on our culture but would not really be worth noting were it not for one tidbit that Mr. Lowther turned up about this Calvinistic sourpuss who thinks that the ideal model for society is a pot of crabs. 

• Manager of Communications , NASA Astrobiology  Program, Jan. 2007 – present.
• Communication  research, planning,  and  analysis, NASA Planetary Protection Office, Sept. 2002 – 2006.
•  Director of Communications , SPACEHAB, Inc., Washington,  D.C., Sept. 1999 – Aug. 2002 .
• Chancellor’s Fellow  (1996 – 97, Knight  Fellow  (1997 – 99) , Indiana U. School  of Journalism.
• Director of Science Communication,  Life Sciences Division,  NASA HQ, Oct. 1994 – Aug.  1996.
• Manager of education  and  out reach, exploration office, NASA HQ, Dec. 1993 – Oct. 1994 .
• Senior editor/analyst, BDM International, April 1990 – December 1993.
• Editor, Lockheed Engineering & Sciences Co., July 1988 – April 1990.
• Senior editor for space, Air & Space/Smithsonian magazine, December 1985 – July 1988.
• Public affairs officer, National Commission on  Space, Sept. – Dec. 1985.
• Consultant, National Science Foundation, August – September 1985 .
• Editor, Space Business News, June  1983 – August 1985.  

"So...she's diametrically opposed to the Raison d ' être 
of the organization, and is more generally an enemy of reason. 
Why is NASA paying this person?"

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