May 30, 2016


That's approximately how many U.S. servicemen have laid down their lives in battle since 1775. 

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My Credulity is Being Pinched

Sadly, I think they are talking ABOUT the plot, rather than anything occurring IN the plot.

High School Fleet is an absolutely amazing mess. 

Something has been nagging me about this for several episodes and I couldn't put my finger on it until now: This series has very good animation, an overarching plot and some very Japanese moments...but the generally PC feel of the world, the didactic resolutions to the various pinches the girls find themselves in, and spectacular catastrophes with body counts of zero all result in an overarching tone that actually reminds me of a Hanna Barberra adventure cartoon from the '70s or perhaps a Rankin Bass show from the '80s. 

There are some neat bits, the tactical use of tide-tables being a particularly good moment, and the overarching threat is a global one that the girls thus far have been able to stave off via their wits (and the Deus Ex Machina of having their corpsman in training be a prodigy). However High School Fleet continues to steer erratically through the strait separating naval otakuism from the great derp reef. So far the show has run aground on both shores multiple times. 

But enough forced metaphors, I cannot in good conscience recommend this show to my readers, though I will continue watching this train wreck because it amuses me for some reason (most likely a deep-seated character flaw on my part).

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May 29, 2016

That Moment When.... discover your place in the world.

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May 28, 2016

This, Gentle Readers.... why I say "no" to Vox Day.

I keep telling people this and keep getting blown off because "Vox is smart and hates the right people" or somesuch.

...and while this post languished in "draft" part two dropped

I urge you to read both in full.

Then tell me, is this what you want conservatism to become?

This is actually one of the most pernicious and vile problems with political correctness. When you define racism down, when you declare vast swaths of discourse off limits and smear everyone who expresses a political disagreement with the label of bigot, then you actually normalize people like this guy, and in doing so give them a way to ooze into our national discourse.

It doesn't help when some of his critics are SO vile that he can look good by comparison to them. 

To wit: It used to be that if someone was accused of being a racist and their retort was "Well, I'm against child rape! SO THERE!" that the public could point out that such a defense is not only a non-sequiter, but an utter straw man. Pretty much everyone was in agreement that having sex with children is wrong. Alas now we have his vocal critics amongst the current Sci-Fi luminaries,  who can't quite denounce a NAMBLA advocate on one side and a whole bunch of people on the other side who have been victimized over the years  and for whom Vox Day  is, ironically an advocate who is not only affirming the fact that they have been hurt, but is hated by, and reciprocates the animosity of those who caused them so much suffering. 

So yes. Some of the people that dislike us, and that Vox Day also dislikes are truly vile pieces of work. I would go so far as to call them monsters.That doesn't mean he should be allowed to define who we are or not be called out by us for espousing views unrelated to child abuse that we not only find abhorrent, but that the left has been slanderously ascribing to us for decades. 

Just as many on the left have missed the point that 1984 is a cautionary tale and not a how to manual, so do many of Vox Day's apologists not quite grok the lessons of Faust (or Elric for that matter). The alt-right (which is actually old school, Wilsonian progressivism) currently has an undeniable energy and has attached itself like a suckerfish to the (valid IMHO) backlash against political correctness.

However, allying with them comes at too high a price, for these toxic remoras will either drown us by their weight of their odious views, or in the worst case, use us as a platform to spread and legitimize their loathesome beliefs. The results of that are not likely to be good, either politically, or morally. I for one won't have it on my conscience. 

When fighting monsters it is important to not become one yourself, for that rather defeats the purpose of the exercise. 

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An Ama Diver Perhaps?

I have no idea who this is.

I've inquired...

...but she's being rather koi.

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May 27, 2016

It Took Three Days

...but on May 27th, 1941 the Bismarck was found by the Battleships King George the 5th and Rodney, two cruisers and six destroyers. 

The ship was hit by around 400 shells and several torpedoes before sinking. 

Of her 2200 man crew, there were only 110 survivors. 

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May 26, 2016

This Seems...Ill Thought Out

One of the Brickmuppet's Crack Team of Science Babes reacts to the latest information on  this "tunnel bus" or "straddle bus"currently being tested in China. 

OK...I find myself in general agreement with her.

This does not seem wise. I mean it really looks like many, many, accidents waiting to happen. In a broader sense it's a neat idea though, and as a streetcar (on rails) it might work very well indeed. 

There's more on this here, though not quite as much as there was before the translation.

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May 24, 2016

It's Been 75 years

Bismark and Prinz Eugen, having sunk HMS Hood, should have been able to finish off HMS Prince of Wales with little trouble, especially given that P.o.W.s main armament was malfunctioning. However, Captain Leach had handled his malfunctioning ship brilliantly and the British battleship's parting salvo was quite consequential. It Struck Bismarck below the waterline peeling away enough hull plating to cost the German ship about a knot in speed. Much more importantly, it ruptured and contaminated a fuel tank. For reasons not entirely clear the German ship had not topped off in Norway and the German admiral was suddenly quite aware of how far from home he was and how much of hios depleted fuel reserves he needed to burn to get there. 

Dispatching the Prinz Eugen to continue the raid, Admiral Lütjens began heading home. 

Meanwhile, in England, the national threat level was raised from "Muddling Through" to "Not Amused" .  The loss of Hood was a terrible shock and the Royal Navy mobilized every asset they had to find the Bismarck and send her to the bottom.

There wasn't much available however, The royal Navy was spread thin over the entire planet and the weather in the area of concern was deteriorating to the point that air reconnaissance was becoming impractical. Bismarck eluded the cruisers that had been shadowing her and it looked like there was nothing to stop the ship's return to Germany. Late on the 26th, there was a brief sighting by a reconnaissance aircraft, but it was then apparent that Bismarck was well out of range of any UK ships and home free...

Actually, there was one ship that could theoretically make a difference, but the Carrier Ark Royal was just at the extreme range of its torpedo planes and in any event, the ship was pitching like a cork in a terrible gale that would normally preclude flying at all.

Despite hellish weather, (hurricane force winds with green water coming over the deck!) three of Ark Royal's obsolete Swordfish torpedo planes managed to lumber into the air, and some time later flew through a hail of flack to each drop a single, relatively underpowered 450mm torpedo. Only the one dropped by the plane piloted by John Moffat struck the German warship, but the location made all the difference. The Bismarck's steering gear was wrecked.

The ship's crew tried to steer via screws but the ship's three screwed arrangement and the dreadful weather made this exceedingly difficult. 

Suddenly, Bismarck was not quite home free anymore. 


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75 Years Ago Today

Art by J.C. Schmitz-Westerholt,

On May 24th, 1941 the German Battleship Bismarck, accompanied by the cruiser Prinz Eugen were engaged by the British Battleships Hood and Prince of Wales which were, respectively, the largest and newest capital ships in the Royal Navy.

During the course of the action, Hood was hit several times and a serious fire was observed just aft of amidships. About 4 minutes after the battle had started an ammunition magazine cooked off, precipitating a tremendous explosion. Of  1418 crew aboard Hood that day. Only three survived.

HMS Prince of Wales was directly behind the flagship when it exploded , stopped dead in the water and raised its bow high into the air. Captain Leach turned towards the Germans to avoid colliding with the wreck. The battleship was so new and the British situation so dire that this action was, in a sense, her shakedown cruise. As a result, her complex quadruple turrets had not had all the bugs worked out yet, and she was for a time reduced to only her twin turret. Badly outgunned and outnumbered, the battleship came under withering and accurate fire from the two german ships, receiving many 15, 8 and 5.9 inch shell hits. However, the ship inflicted some damage on the Bismarck before laying smoke and successfully escaping. That damage would prove significant in the coming days. 

When the news of this action reached England, it was not received well.

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May 22, 2016

Though it Pinches my Patience, I Persevere

In my review of episode one of this show I mentioned that, while I was unsure about it, I thought it had considerable potential. Now, 5 episodes in...I find my position unchanged.

You see, High School Fleet, is one of the most bi-polar shows I've seen in years.

Watching this can be rough, since like the waves upon which it is set, it alternates between crests of utter win and troughs that bottom out and threaten to break the very keel of the plot. 
Part of this is due to the fact that Crunchyroll's subtitle job on this looks to be a bit off, at least in the early episodes. The background regarding the world setting and even the year (is it set in the future or an alternate present /past?) is sufficiently self-contradicted that I think the confusion is actually a translation issue. Furthermore, the translator seems simply not aware of many nautical terms and of course there are (presumably) many (understandably) unfamiliar Japanese nautical terms adding to the general perplexity. 

The show starts out as "Cute girls doing cute things...on warships" an obvious attempt to cash in on the Girls und Panzer phenomenon from a few years ago. However whereas that was essentially a sports anime with tank fighting being the sport, the tension in this series comes from rather higher stakes than loosing a sporting event. There is something quite sinister afoot and the girls unexpectedly find themselves fighting...for their lives. The show, however retains, most of the time the feel of an ensemble 'cute girls in high school' show with the training destroyer's departments serving the same function as school clubs or the individual tank crews in Girls und Panzer

This leads to a highly schizophrenic alternation between "cute" and "thriller" that was beginning to give me a headache.

Just when I was about to pick up the towel and throw it in however....

Sena from Haganai showed up!

OK, canonically her name is Wilhelmina Braunschweig Ingenoh, but come ON! It's Sena without the butterfly pin. Sena Miss. Ingenoh was the student XO of a German school ship, the Graff Spee, which was built to look exactly like it's World War 2 antecedent right down to the plaque on the bridge.  

Our heroine's encounter with the German school ship is not as congenial as they might have hoped, but through an unlikely set of circumstances Ingenoh ends up stuck on the Harekaze. This is fortuitous, as their newfound Teutonic shipmate apparently has a genetic affinity for submarines and talks the crew through a nicely portrayed ASW evolution using World War ONE techniques (all they have is a set of paravanes and a single depth charge). 

Thanks to Frau Ingenoh's timely intervention our heroines survive long enough to learn a valuable lesson about conserving toilet paper...and  to develop a mouse problem. 

This show seems almost to be a satire of several different genres. It's a bizarre mess at times but is making me smile in spite of myself. 

In any event,  Sena's in it, so sacred honor dictates I should watch a few more episodes at least, if only to figure out what the HELL this completely gratuitous catgirl is doing here. 

Admit it. You did not expect that sentence to end that way. The individual appears to not even a main character. All the students seem to be baseline human, but during an interrogation of one of our heroines, a naval investigative officer with all of three lines of dialog just happens to have unremarked upon cat ears poking out the top of her head. This comes out of the blue and if one blinked it would have been missed. 

I think this show may just be trolling us...but I'm curious enough that I've got to watch more. 

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May 21, 2016

It's the 21st Century! WHERE IS MY....Oh!

Steven was recently disappointed to learn that the word "hoverboard" had been defined down by people who lack either vision or an understanding of the language. 

Fortunately there are those working to rectify that.  

In other, more meta news: I edited the recent post that was speculating about practical applications of scientifically facilitated hybrid vigor. This was mainly to provide proper citations. However, in the process, additional expository graphics pertinent to the subject matter were  uncovered and added.

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May 20, 2016

I Thought They Came From Eggs

It's the weekend. After an absolutely hellish day at work I just got out of the shower, having washed off all the redbugs and turtle pee.


OK. Perhaps that last bit warrants elaboration. 

I got off work an hour late and was walking up to the door when, upon dropping my keys, I bent over to get them and noted something whizz past my head and go "plop"on the porch.

I stood there for a moment slowly processing the fact that something was not right about the the thing that had gone "plop". After a moment, the thing that I did not quite recognize, (but instinctively knew did not belong) sprouted 4 legs and a head and began furtively testing the area.

A turtle had fallen from the sky...and landed on the rubber welcome mat.


It was a small mud turtle, not a box turtle or some other type of Testudine that would normally live in a suburban yard, so after determining that he seemed to be uninjured I picked him up and took him to the van, placed the terrified little thing on some paper towels and then drove to a nearby park with a pond. Along the way, the little beast became quite animated precipitating a chase that involved considerable contortions on my part. Eventually. after cunningly luring me under the rear seat, he darted out across the floor of the van with truly astonishing speed, and made a beeline for my bag of Fritos which he deftly entered and buried himself in, no doubt in a spiteful attempt to give me salmonella. Eventually I unfolded myself and got him out of the bag, whereupon he peed like a turtles will. 

One thing that has bewildered me since I was a child is how a small turtle can contain so much urine...I swear his bladder must be larger than his shell, which should not be possible, but I guess physics is different for sky turtles. 

Anyway, I took the presumably now dehydrated shellback to the pond, which involved rather more mucking through pine straw and 8 inch deep mud than I had anticipated.

Now, after my shower I have an opportunity to reflect on the implications of these recent events...

Previously, I had thought that these creatures came from eggs, but it is now apparent that turtles are actually invaders from space, which, I suppose makes sense given that they are in the same zoological family as Gamera.

Of course it's tenuously possible that there is another explanation, perhaps one that involves a hawk, but it makes sense to err on the side of caution. 

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May 19, 2016

Burying the Lede at NPR

The full implications of this story seem to have passed over the heads of the folks at NPR.  In fact, they seem to be focusing mainly on potential pitfalls .

Here's one of The Brickmuppet's Crack Team of Science Babes to explain just how this sort of scientific inquiry may positively affect life in the 21st century.

Thank you...Catherine...That is not quite the example I was going to use but it's close enough and may still be of interest to some of our readers.

For everyone else, here's Ayumi Hamasaki quietly explaining one reason why we want this miracle of science to be funded. 

Full Disclosure: "Science Babe" is not really named Catherine, but is, rather, a rendition of Touhou's Nittori Kawashiro by Nagumo.  

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May 17, 2016

"All Year"

An ill-bred and uninformed individual, blinded to their own ignorance by the Dunning - Kruger Effect, might foolishly conclude that purchasing a product that is good "All Year" would indicate that said product is implied to be good for between 365 and 366 days, or, alternatively, is valid for the rest of the calendar year. 

Of course, a person of sophistication and nuance such as, say, an academic, understands that these two words are not so provincially constrained in certain contexts...such as the Old Dominion University Parking Services Department. As I'm sure you are aware Gentle Reader, a person of letters is astute enough to appreciate that an "All Year" parking pass is, in fact, not actually valid during the summer semester for reasons so obvious as to render any inquiry into the matter a troubling indicator of low intellect, as well as a degenerate worldview centered around the retrograde and problematic notion that words mean things.

Of course, one might somehow arrive at the conclusion that this is just some contemptible means to bilk students out of 89 dollars on top of the 248 they paid for the "All Year" pass, but to be so rash as to express such ill-informed views would indicate that one engages in the sort of conspiratorial contemplations that good thinking, respectable people never, ever apply to those in academia,

So shut up.

(Not that I'm bitter or anything)

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May 14, 2016

A Most Horrid Deed

The other day, on the way to work, I noted that Merrifields Boulevard was blocked by a barricade of sorts. An uprooted street sign and a large box had been placed in the middle of each lane.

I was short on time to get to work and it was raining so I did not get out and pull them out of the street as I normally would have. Instead, I pulled over ,called 911, and told them about the idiot prank before proceeding to work. 

I have had a week to ponder the repercussions of that decision.

I made the call at about 03:35. At 03:45 a young lady returning from work apparently swerved to avoid the obstruction (or hit it) and careened into the subdivision's greeting sign, demolishing it and killing herself in the process. 

The police were still there after I returned home from work, and I offered a statement but had little of use to provide. 

I imagine the barricade was kids being jerks, but whoever they were, they have blood on their hands. 

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Food: GLORIOUS Food (When Geography is Secondary)

Saffron: Mediterranean Cuisine is, despite the the highly misleading geographical implications of its name, a small Afgani restaurant  The owner, a recent immigrant from Afganistan has turned an old Country Kitchen into a sublimely apportioned eatery which is actually a bit intimidating due to the quality of its fixtures. 

I, of course, am white trash, so high falootin' decorations mean nothing to me except in the unlikely event that I'm dating. Still, my curiosity regarding Afgani food outweighed the nagging fear that I was really underdressed. Fortunately a couple of hipsters arrived shortly after I did and dissuaded me of any such notions. 

...but I digress...

Oh. Yes. The food. 

Good grief that was good! It's like a fusion of Indian and Greek cuisine with added unicorns! Also, when they brought me the plate, I was afraid I'd  mistakenly ordered a platter for two (that's not a salad fork).

That was just awesome. 
Saffron: Mediterranean Cuisine is on Warwick Blvd. just west of Main Street in  that eclectic cluster of businesses known as "The Village" in Newport News.

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Food: GLORIOUS Food (And the Breakup of the Ramen Empire)

For almost 30 years, Kappo Nara was one of the best Japanese restaurants in Virginia, with a vast menu that included sushi, steaks and the particular take on seafood they have around Nagasaki. Sadly, it closed two years ago. However, it was resurrected last year as a chain of very nice Ramen Houses on the south side of the Roads. Those stores are mainly Ramen eateries now (though they do serve curry).  While there have been lots of Japanese restaurants, there has never been an actual, genuine ramen shop here before, so these  are a welcome addition to the southside's food scene, particularly as their dishes (er, bowls) are outstanding examples of the noodle chef's art. 

Currently there are two of these awesome little establishments, one is near ODU on 21st street in Ghent (set back, behind the bank) and one is at 989 Kempsville road in Virginia Beach. Both are superb. 

Meanwhile, back on the Peninsula, near where the old Kappo Nara once stood, One of the old shop's Chefs decided to not move to the southside and instead set up, with a partner of Thai extraction, an asian fusion restaurant. 

To avoid any confusion he named this establishment Kappo Nara

There is no sushi here, but there is a bunch of Thai and Vietnamese cuisine, an exuberantly gay waiter and the food one might get at an actual Japanese steak house in Japan...including the Teppan Steak.

Those who who are from this area just had their ears perk up...

Yes. That steak. The one we thought was lost forever still lives! (Full disclosure: when you get it it's actually quite dead and sizzling in an inimitable sauce.)
Kappo Nara Asian Cuisine (which is not affiliated with Kappo Nara Ramen) is at the corner of Denbigh and Warwick in Newport News. 

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May 13, 2016

Debunking Friggatriskaidekaphobia

Today I got off of work early, got an annoying Parallels update that has so vexed me this week to finally work right, discovered a superb Afgani restaurant and observed the first Monarch Butterfly I have seen in years. 

Note too, that when we all wake up tomorrow, even though it will be Saturday the 14th, none of us will be able to wake up from this nightmare... 

...which, it should be further noted, predates this unjustly maligned Gregorian quirk by more than a week.

Thus we have scientifically proven that Friday the Thirteenth is not especially bad.

So cheer up.

For the rest of the day. 

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May 08, 2016


There should be coral, barnacles and sea squirts all over the submerged portions of Tokyo Tower and the surrounding edifices.

From episode 1 of High School Fleet, which is exceedingly odd. It's set in a future where the sea level has risen dramatically. The fact that society has adjusted quite well is a nice departure from the norm, and probably a more accurate prediction than most. Likewise their portrayal of the survivability of an LCS is quite astute but there are issues besides the growth rate of barnacles that do give one pause.

You see, our heroines are on a school ship that is built to broadly resemble a WW2 Japanese destroyer....

Despite the vessel's high pressure steam plant, Harekaze is highly automated and is crewed by a mere 36 high school students who are unsupervised except indirectly from an instructor's flagship. 

The student CO, one Misake Akeno, is quite astonished at her assignment given that she just barely made it into the school academically. 

The crew's first training cruise hits a snag, partly due to human error and partly due to the ship's finicky steam plant. While the crew does get these matters battened down, things nevertheless turn pear shaped quite suddenly, and not in a way anyone would expect.

I'm not sure what to think at this point. It looks like Girls Und Panzer with destroyers rather than tanks, but with a completely incongruous bit of...edginess.

Anyway, though it appears to be a collection of current anime fads this show has a certain potential. 

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May 05, 2016

Meanwhile, in Gensokyo...

...Rossini appears unexpectedly.

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