February 14, 2016

RWBY Season 3 Ends




I'm not sure how to react to that. Astonishment will have to do for now.


This final episode did not exactly end the series on an happy and upbeat note in much the same way that sticking ones hand in boiling fry oil will not exactly result in relief from sunburn. However it did provide the audience with surprises and emotional gravity in copious amounts.

The ending of this leaves several issues unresolved and lays the groundwork for either another season (or perhaps a sequel series).

 

If, as seems likely, that comes to pass, then rest assured, we're going to give it a try. 


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February 13, 2016

Oh Hell

Supreme Court Justice Antonine Scalia was just found dead.


Crap. Just ...Crap.

As Instapundit notes,
 WELL, THIS UPS THE STAKES

Rather understated; that Instapundit fellow. 
more...

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And She Can Drive Too



From Episode 18 of GATE, a series where Leilei has, until recently, mainly to her laconic mannerisms, been something of a background character. A competent apprentice mage with a knack for languages, she has been absolutely vital to the progression of the story, having acted as interpreter, had enough on the ball to inquire about the dragon scales and add her knowledge and the authority that comes with her status to the group's tookit. Leili finally got to shine in a big way last episode when she turned the tide in the fight against the dragon. . 



Now, despite her very young age, she's going to a city of mages where she is going to attempt to give what amounts to a dissertation in front of a group of elders and gain the title of Master Mage. (Some time ago, she got her hands on a middle school chemistry book and learned the basics of covalent bonds...her demonstration should be entertaining).

Meanwhile, Itami,  got sacked and relieved of his command (for abandoning his post to kill the dragon...despite the wink and the nod he received prior) . He was also presented with multiple medals, awards as well as titles of nobility (and a slave girl!?) from the locals. Itami is told to just "go out and explore".  He is to keep reconnoitering the new world paying special attention to its resources. Thus he decides to accompany Leili on her journey since she's really useful to have around a city of mages sounds potentially facinating and rich in a resource that warrants some study. Rory is along because, I gather, she wants to desecrate a local shrine and the jeep beats walking, Yao insists on coming because she's the aforementioned slave girl (WTF!?). Tuka tags along for...reasons. Leili brings a letter of recommendation from her teacher which is sufficiently glowing to get her an audience.

The result of this is that the group is nowhere NEAR the Imperial capital when Princes Penã throws a diplomatic soiree involving the Emperor and a bunch of minor characters that successfully kicks off the peace talks. With our heroes, the chaos magnets, on the other side of the Empire, and the Japanese ambassador and Penã overseeing the event, odds seem pretty good that nothing can go wron...



Almost nothing can go wrong when two very different societies meet and one has no concept of a statute of limitations and considers giving a necklace to a 12 year old girl a contractual promise to marry.  

Also Leili has a sister.

Next week: Hijinks ensue.

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Puddles

Puddles are an under appreciated menace in our modern world. They can contain all manner of perils such as typhoid, cholera, water moccasins, brain eating amoebas, mosquitoes, industrial pollutants, snapping turtles, leeches, trench foot, ducks, Guinea Worms...portals.


Portals in puddles portend  a parade of peril to people predisposed to perplexity 

From Episode 6 of Myriad Colors Phantom World, which is titled Kurumi and the Teddy Bear Kingdom and, astonishingly enough, is exactly what it says on the tin. 


You have found the intersection of cuteness and existential dread.

Even by the standards of this show this is an unexpectedly odd story, but actually works beautifully and has a surprising amount of character development in it.  This series definitely warrants further attention.

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February 10, 2016

Just in Case

...that you, gentle reader, have (for some reason) any interest in happenings that do not involve the presidential primary, here are a couple of things that seem to be getting short shrift.


That DPRK satellite has stopped tumbling and is seems to have stabilized its orbit. Amateur radio operators should be able to pick up the songs it's allegedly transmitting using information here (via). If it's working, it should sound just like this....but different. In other news from The Hermit Kingdom, it looks like they are going to pop another nuke soon, and another rocket may be being readied along their west coast. One interesting idea about why the sudden surge of tests is happening can be read here. In short, the idea is that these are to shore up domestic confidence in the countries military capabilities so that a major set of reforms and liberalization can be enacted during the upcoming Communist Party Congress. This sounds...optimistic, but they did just execute the head of the North Korean Military, so maybe their nukes are a sign of really militant dovishness rather than a nuclear armed, crazy nation being crazy. In this context the recent recommissioning of a plutonium enrichment center  is a particularly cunning way to ensure that when they do spring peace on us, it will be a surprise. 

While there are many foreign policy decisions that the current administration deserves...credit...for, he intervention in Libya looks to be one of the most....consequential. Not only is the no-man's land once known as Libya torn asunder by a civil war, but it also has become the home to a "province" of ISIS
It get's better...It appears that ISIS may have absconded with the stocks of chemical weapons that were in that countries arsenal.  The Sarin is obviously the greatest concern here, since ISIS is already making and using Mustard Gas and Chlorine

One of the biggest shipping countries in the world, Moller-Maersk has slipped into the red.


Let's start with goods carried by train in the U.S. Since the middle of last March, carloads of agricultural products, chemicals, coal, metals, autos and other goods have declined every week:

On the bright side, the category "unaccompanied minors" is not suffering nearly as much

I have no idea what this means but the words "Banking", "Crisis" and "Scarier" are in the headline, so it might belong here. This certainly does. 

Someone at Vox, having talked to experts and run the numbers has decided that the chances of a war with Russia are only 11% which probably represent the most optimistic numbers in this entire post so we'll ignore that it's Vox and leave on an upbeat note. 

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February 07, 2016

This Evening: On a VERY Special Episode of RWBY



That was an impressive 17 minutes. 
I...think I'm going to have to watch that again.



Whether the penultimate episode of RWBY is actually good will be determined next week. However, this was certainly a riveting continuation of last week's episode that thrilled the fans in completely unexpected ways.

Given the highly consequential nature of the last few episodes for the characters as well as their world, it is not entirely clear that there will be a season four...  

We are waiting with baited breath for next week.

Please avail yourself of the spoiler tags in the comments.

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February 06, 2016

Cherry Blossom Island



They still call this mountain by that name, even though the huge 1914 eruption rendered it a peninsula. Eruptions on Sakurajima are not unusual. However, given its location, every time this mountain burps it is a cause for some concern.


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February 05, 2016

Even The Most Stoic

...are permitted a moment of well deserved satisfaction when they are achieving a moment of trancendental magnificence...





From episode 17 of GATE, where we are reminded that Leili's name can be found in the dictionary next to 'Win', 'Bodacious', and 'Arete'.

That was a thoroughly satisfying battle.

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Why Japan Still Has Payphones

When our protagonist got the call from Ruru (Lulu?) I immediately asked myself how the hell the 12 inch tall genie got a cellphone, and if it's magical how does she connect to...oh...



I've heard of a hair-shirt, but a hair-wallet is new to me.

From the latest episode of MC Phantom World, which is another in a string of character background stories, but this one felt much less like a discrete, stand alone tale as it not only references previous episodes, but manages to intersect with what appears to be the larger plot. 

A ferocious but poorly drawn dragon is menacing middle school chicken-coops and rabbit hutches and our heroes are...unaware of the situation actually since no one would trust them with this assignment. However, due to a series unrelated misunderstandings they manage to thoroughly screw things up anyway and end up trying to come to the rescue of the young lady assigned to their school's lepus lounge and save the bunnies...



Things do not go as anticipated

I'm convinced that the club advisor is manipulating the protagonists, whether for good or ill remains to be seen.

The story seems to be back on track and resuming its quirky and occasionally thoughtful direction. If we can avoid a Maudlin episode about the loli I think we'll be fine. 

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February 04, 2016

Yet More Thoughts on That Non-Gargantuan Nork Nuke

Business Insider is reporting that the claim by the North Koreans that they conducted an H-Bomb test may indeed be something more than a crate of commie kimchee. For one thing, recent analysis of the seismological data indicates that the detonation was actually much deeper than was initially supposed (more than twice the depth of the previous tests). There seem to be other indicators as well, that this was a test related to specific components used in an H-bomb, though officials are a tad coy about specifics, about how they have come to this conclusion or what components they might be. One interesting fact is that air samples aren't detecting any radioactives, which could mean that the DPRK is getting better at preventing any venting. (I suppose it is also possible that they popped of between 7 and 10 thousand tons of TNT; that's not without precedence but there doesn't seem to be any reason to do that as they clearly do have atomic weapons). There is more on this test here and here. American tests that tested H-bomb components prior to the first official H-bomb (Ivy-Mike) included Greenhouse-George. That test (and not Ivy-Mike) was was actually the first thermonuclear burn, though its fusion yield was far less that its fission yield. It was a proof of concept test and could well be what is being implied for the North Korean test. Something along those lines would make North Korean claims about the test substantively true. 


Note that the Buisness insider piece also has this to say....
As Alex Wellerstein, a nuclear historian at the Steven Institute of Technology and creator of Nuke Map, told Business Insider on January 6, a country that's mastered thermonuclear-weapons design suddenly has a number of possible options open to it.

For instance, a country with a thermonuclear capability could build "a very thin-cased bomb of low yield [in this case 1 to 10 kilotons, or 1,000 to 10,000 tons of TNT] that would emit a lot of radiation relative to its blast power."

This jives somewhat with what we posted on the subject last month, though the assumption here is that this was just a proof of concept test, and not (as Nigel Cook suggests) a test of an operational device.

In another area of weapons technology, the North Koreans have an indisputably operational unconventional weapons system, though in this case a minimal amount of R&D was required since the technology involved is quite mature, or, shall we say, quite ripe.  



While the threat of these other weapons is somewhat limited, any country that bombards its neighbors with profanity-filled, exploding poop-balloons is bat-scat bonkers enough that its nuclear arsenal, however modest, should warrant considerable concern. 

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February 02, 2016

Politics Intrudes


"Oh PLEASE not that! I don't wanna get doxxed and Tweeted and fired and..."

No worries, we'll put it below the fold.
(No one will ever know.)
more...

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