August 31, 2016

On the Use of Laser Sighting Devices to Minimize the Effectiveness Of an Opponent's Defilade

Artist Unknown 

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August 28, 2016

Palate Cleanser

Well, that last post was not at all uplifting, so, as atonement, here are three characters from the best show of the season...

...cheerily being highly deceptive about their show. 

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It Doesn't Repeat; It Rhymes

Regarding China:

It’s not clear, however, that even well informed Americans realize how dire the situation is. It’s time they paid better attention, because China’s lawless pursuit of resources and territory is coming to resemble nothing else so much as the behavior of the Japanese empire before World War Two—a disconcerting comparison I have heard more than once from analysts and government officials here...

Regarding Russia:

"Russia is getting ready for a big war which they assume will go nuclear, with them launching the first attacks,”

See also this...

 Regarding North Korea:

North Korea on Wednesday test-fired a submarine-launched missile 500 kilometres (around 300 miles) towards Japan, marking what weapons analysts called a clear step forward for its nuclear strike ambitions.

The flight distance, which was tracked by South Korea's military Joint Chiefs of Staff, far exceeded any previous SLBM tests, suggesting significant progress in technical prowess....

If fired at the optimum angle, it could cover more than 1,000km, the source said.

Do note the neighborhood it it would have landed in if it had fired at optimum angle.
Image via


The Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) and allied tribal fighters recaptured the Waleed Border Crossing on the Syrian-Iraqi Border on August 3. ISIS mounted a counterattack on August 8 - 9 against the Waleed Border Crossing as well as the Tanf Border Crossing in Syria, which is held by the U.S.-backed New Syrian Army. Both attacks were repelled. ISW is thus changing the status of Waleed Border Crossing to ISF Control.

Iraqi Peshmerga affiliated with the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) launched clearing operations southeast of Mosul on August 14 - 15, seizing at least twelve villages in the Ninewa Plains. The operation originated from positions near the Khazir Military Base between Mosul and Arbil, and progressed south towards the town of Gwer. ISW is thus changing the status of this area from contested to KDP Peshmerga Control.

The ISF recaptured the city of Qayyarah on August 25 following more than a month of operations to secure terrain on the southern and western outskirts of the city after security forces seized the Qayyarah Airbase on July 9. The ISF breached the city limits of Qayyarah on August 23, encountering limited resistance in the southern neighborhoods. The ISF secured the city center and government complex on August 24 and Joint Operations Command announced full control over the city on August 25. ISW is thus changing the status of Qayyarah to ISF Control.

Note that....Wait! That's GOOD news!

Maybe things are finally looking u....

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Much Like This Individual...

...I've been distracted by trivialities that have caused me to loose focus regarding rather more consequential things that need to be dealt with. 

Art by Subaku

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More Evidence*...

...that this sort of thing is a larger problem in our society than is generally acknowledged. 

*for a certain value of evidence

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August 26, 2016

When Politics and Anime Converge

By far, my favorite cartoon as a child was a show called Star Blazers, the American version of Space Battleship Yamato. It was animated to 1974 standards and so does not have the following today that its story, characterizations and excellent soundtrack would normally warrant*. A remake was done a couple of years ago that was absolutely superb. However,  it really went full fan-service with some of the female uniforms  (or were they tattoos?) to such an extent that the show was not given the wide U.S. release originally intended.  

More importantly for the purposes of this post, the remake lacked this particular scene.

The background here is that the villain, Leader Desslock of the Gamilon Empire, has gotten tired of his galactic navy being roughly handled by the hero's spaceship, the Argo. When our plucky space adventurers (unwittingly) pass within tractor beam range of the Gamilon imperial capital, Desslock decides it's a really good idea to drag them into his home planet's sulphuric acid sea and pound them with all the planetary defense batteries one might expect to be set up at a galactic imperial capital. This is overkill to be sure, but not entirely unreasonable given that the Argo has been a preternaturally tough nut to crack. Obviously an epic battle ensues and umm...

Anyway, then this happened...

Which brought to mind this little on air bit of fun from Rush Limbaugh earlier in the week. 

Here Rush, who thought it was a really good idea to throw out a big swath of conservative principles to back a shifty real estate mogul who promised to never waver on one particular issue reacts to the morning paper and , ummm...

Anyway, then this happened...

I've been called a cuck, a fool, a traitor and a snob because I not only pointed out that Donald Trump is a dumpster fire of a candidate, an affront to reason and not someone we want the movement associated with, but that every promise he makes has an expiration date. 

This is not in any way meant to support the corrupt, totalitarian, corporatist harridan or carbon taxing, statist,  first amendment skeptical "Libertarian"(WTF!?) that captain comb-over is running against, but as I sit here in our smoldering national handbasket trying to ignore the ear-popping from our rapid decent, I am going to take a moment to savor the schadenfreude of this development...and ponder the admittedly silly notion that Trump may in some small way live up to at least one of his supporters hopes....

*Also: Get off my lawn.

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August 24, 2016


We advised skepticism earlier, but  it has now been confirmed that Proxima Centauri, the closest known star to our solar system, does indeed have a rocky "Earthlike" planet.

It get's better...

  Although Proxima is considered a moderately active star, its rotation period is about 83 days (ref. 3) and its quiescent activity levels and X-ray luminosity4 are comparable to those of the Sun. Here we report observations that reveal the presence of a small planet with a minimum mass of about 1.3 Earth masses orbiting Proxima with a period of approximately 11.2 days at a semi-major-axis distance of around 0.05 astronomical units. Its equilibrium temperature is within the range where water could be liquid on its surface5.

One of The Brickmuppet's Crack Team of Science Babes has thoughts on the matter....


There is more here and here

This is still, an insanely long way out. An Orion drive (which involves propelling a ship by exploding atom bombs behind it) could get a crewed expedition there in about 100 years. More advanced nuclear pulse propulsion systems (that, unlike Orion would require considerable advancements to get working) could make a one way trip in around 45 years, as could the proposed laser sail designs. 

Ok, that's a littler silly given that one needs to be darned sure of a destination if one embarks on a one way trip.

Obviously an unmanned probe could get there faster little as 15 years for one design using near term technology and a very small probe. Well, that design now has a concrete goal. 

And IF there was something very interesting found there...well, assuming a 20 year lead time to build the ship (which would involve the equivalent of constructing 4-10 Nimitz class aircraft carriers in terms of mass) then we could still put a, flag, some footprints and a small town there in the lifetime of the people that set the project in motion.

This is, on the one hand, unspeakably extravagant and optimistic given the challenges our civilization faces regarding its health and even survival in the near term. However, given those difficulties and others peculiar to having all of our eggs in this pale blue basket, such an extravagant project is not quite as insane as it sounds at first blush, given that a successful implementation would mean that our civilization would be multi-stellar at that point and our species's survival far more likely. 

In any event, this is an awesome development in astronomy, for other reasons. The fact that the very closest star to our sun just happens to have one of these planets makes the odds of such things far more likely...especially since red dwarf's such as Proxima Centauri are the most common type of star in the galaxy. 

The implications for that are nontrivial indeed. 

UPDATE: This image, by ESO Calcada is, of course, pure speculation regarding the planet's appearance, but it gives a very good idea of the scale of space. Note that Proxima Centauri is generally considered to be a part of the Alpha Centauri System, Alpha Centauri A and B are both about the same size and brightness of our sun (A liitle larger and a little smaller respectively). Keeping in mind that they are in the same solar system as Proxima, note their distance from their little red companion in this picture.

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August 18, 2016

Historical Perspective

The U.S. shows up at 14:25. 

Note that during the time represented by nearly 15 minutes of this 15:56 minute video (which slows down a bit at the end), slavery was an ubiquitous institution except in isolated locations for fleeting seconds. The fruits of the enlightenment are an aberration in history that have survived as of now for a far shorter time than the vast majority of nations. This is far from mankind's natural state and we desperately need to grasp how precious and fragile this anomalous blossoming of knowledge and human rights is. 

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A Mere 4.25 Light Years Away....

One of the Brickmuppet's Crack Team of Science Babes brings us up to speed on potentially consequential news from the world of astronomy. 

"Take the following with a grain of salt."

A couple of things about that sentence: "Earthlike" in that context seems to mean a terrestrial planet, which is referring to rocky worlds like Mercury, Venus, Earth and Mars...only one of which would be described by laymen as Earthlike. The habitable zone of a red dwarf is very narrow , so this is a very lucky happenstance if their figures are right. Note though, that we have three terrestrial planets in our solar system's habitable zone and only one of them had everything break just right. Finally, the actual paper has not been released yet, The article is based on an anonymous leak to Der Spiegel. 

Still, if a random planet has been found around a red dwarf, especially the closest star to our solar system, this is a big deal, if it IS in the habitable zone, it's an even bigger deal. 

It should be noted though that even this, closest of stars would take thousands of years to reach with our current fastest spacecraft. Nuclear pulse propulsion and laser sails however, both have the potential to reduce that to less than a century. 

"Science Babe" is Mercy from Overwatch as imagined by GGGG
Painting is an imagining of another planet orbiting a red dwarf in a trinary star system Gliese-667c and comes via ESO-Calcada

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August 15, 2016

Holeeeee Crap

4 brief posts ago I gave my impressions of the first 14 episodes of Re:Zero. Tonight, my schedule finally free, I started to catch up and as one might expect, this involved episode 15.


That was masterfully done and utterly horrific. White Fox has somehow fused Dario Argento with VP-16 to make 114 octane nightmare fuel.

One of the episodes more upbeat moments....

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While we in the U.S. are striving to make Idiocracy a documentary, Australia is utilizing evolution for other applications.

* "SOON!" in this context is to be understood as applying to a geological timescale and as such given the great difficulty of extrapolating developments over time might be better understood in layman's terms as "maybe" Additionally, in cases where there is a cursory understanding of biology or the knowledge that skinks are not snakes and have legs to begin with, "SOON!" as used in this post title might best be interpreted as "probably not".

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August 14, 2016

So...Cheer Up!...Maybe...I Think...

Could be a threat, I suppose....

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Operation Chromite

This may warrant some attention....

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Re: Zero

Unimpressed by the premise and the series poster (which screams harem) I started this show several weeks late. Life's little interventions have seen to it that I'm still 5 episodes behind, but this series warrants some comment before I rectify that transgression.

Re: Zero Starting Life in Another World is yet another story about a directionless young man who is zapped (for reasons unclear) into a Tolkien-esque  land of adventure. 

But wait...don't go yet...

Subaru Natsuki takes a break from his grueling schedule of computer games to zip off to the local convenience store for a bite to eat, upon walking out his vision goes blurry for a moment and as as he refocuses, he notes that he is not in Saitama anymore...

Our intrepid hero, after a moment of astonishment is remarkably calm. Having played MMORPGs and watched anime all his life, his first conclusion is not that he has had a stroke, or suffered head trauma, but that he has been drawn to this world to be a champion. 

Over the course of the day he notes that he is illiterate in this land, has no legal tender, no special powers, and his starting inventory consists of a bag of nabs, a cup of tonkatsu ramen, a manga, a cell phone ( that is of limited utility as he is currently out of area) a jogging suit, a wallet and a plastic bag. Things begin to deteriorate from there until he encounters a young half-elf lady who introduces herself as Satella.

She determines, via inspection of his hands and physique that Subaru must (like her) be foreign nobility. They assist each other for approximately 17 minutes at which point the aforementioned situational deterioration resumes...with interest.  

This is an astonishingly well written and thought out show. Subaru is a teenage geek and the story pulls no punches in laying out his delusions and incompetence.  However, while he is realistically portrayed as initially pigheaded and self absorbed, he gets better in a believable (given the conceits of the show) and satisfying way. This is some of the best character development I've seen in a while. Subaru screws up a fair amount, but his errors are often not stupid. He learns from his mistakes and even when he learns the wrong thing he never stops fighting the good fight. Subaru is also terribly alone, not just because he's in a strange land, but because he becomes privy to a secret he cannot share, and what those around him assume to be flashes of insight are earned in the most horrible and painful way possible.  

"Satella" is an astonishingly well realized character. She too is, for different reasons, quite pointedly alone. However, what is remarkable about her is that her responses to events and, in particular, Subaru's antics are all quite realistic (given the caveat that she's a bit of an odd duck). She is very well written and comes across as an actual, complex, believable young woman. She is a magic user of some skill, but she has great strength of character as well.

This is one of those shows that looks like the writers sold it to corporate as a harem show, and included several potential suitors for our hero in the concept art. However, that is a cunning misdirection. While there is, at episode 14 at least the potential for a love triangle or an alternate love interest in another extremely well realized female character, this is not a harem show at all. In fact the poster at the top is quite misleading as it leaves out all of the male characters except the protagonist...some of whom are actually attached to women in the picture

Re: Zero Starting Life in Another World  is (as of episode 14) a first rate fantasy, gut wrenchingly dark at times, but surprisingly intelligent and  beautifully characterized. This is a really good show that has kept me on the edge of my seat. I'm enjoying it immensely. 

Do note that there are two pilot episodes(1A&1B) do need to watch them both. 

UPDATE:Also, while this is a wonderful character centered adventure, I may have understated how graphically violent this tonal rollercoaster occasionally is. 

Oh look. They added Frank N. Furter to the parody poster.

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August 09, 2016

The Jovians Are Real and They Have a Theremin!

The weather has denied me a look at the Persieds, however one of the Brickmuppet's Crack Team of Science Babes has found something 73.8% as cool as a meteor shower! 

"And it even involves magnetism!"

Wait...this sounds just like a sound effect from a late 50's Toho film. How did they know?
Oh. Right...

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August 08, 2016

Two Letters

...not found on the word Australia are "O" and "Z". 

So why do they call it Oz?

If antipodean issues of such consequence concern you then you should be aware that the Island Continent's burgeoning Jedi demographic is becoming something of an issue. Yes, it appears that a certain subset of Atheists is upset that a large number of individuals are declaring Jedi as their religion on their census forms which they claim hurts them....somehow. 

The AFA is concerned that if the government tabulates more people as religious, they’ll aim policy and tax dollars that way, instead of accurately serving the atheist percentage of the population. 

Wait.What? Does the Aussie government have separate homeless shelters and scholarships for various categories and degrees of belief that strictly segregated?

Why is this a problem? 
Well...funny you should ask. 

You see, three days after the 'tweet' in question, the Chinese Government concluded that they didn't have enough people upset with them over Scarborough Shoal and felt it necessary to announce that the CCP frickking HAETS Australia!

 Analysts say that besides trying to please the US, it also intends to suppress China so as to gain a bargaining chip for economic interests. China must take revenge and let it know it's wrong. Australia's power means nothing compared to the security of China. If Australia steps into the South China Sea waters, it will be an ideal target for China to warn and strike.

Other than a brief introduction and the concluding threat to sink RAN vessels, the rest of the piece by the state run paper is mostly a series of insults directed at the Aussies. 

Now some people might suggest that the stories are unrelated and that China's threats are a part of the ongoing territorial disputes, having nothing to do with the Jedi controversy (or abbreviations).

However, I leave you this to ponder....

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The Talking Heads Are Pondering

...if Trump is a symptom of a larger issue facing the country.

After Saturday's post on one of Trump's apparent...eccentricities, I'm wondering if these brilliant minds are focusing on the right issue.

Well, I guess we now know what H-15 is. 

If, gentle reader, you feel this post to be in poor taste, please place the blame where it belongs...on Dustbury, who irresponsibly linked to this site, from which I shamelessly nicked these pictures. 

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August 07, 2016

Exams are Over! Schools Out...

...for three weeks.

In other news, things are sometimes more than the sum of their parts. 
For example: This song is not my cup of tea and this style of AMV is one that I really don't care for...and yet....

Mai My, that embedded on an unfortunate frame. 

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Well. This Should Cover All the Bases.....

...except dinosaurs. There is a disturbing lack of dinosaurs, and given how wide a net she was casting, I can only take that as a personal slight. 

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August 06, 2016

Endorsement, Or Warning?

You be the judge...

When people on the news call Donald Trump a racist, I find that statement difficult to believe. Like myself, Donald Trump is a life-long New Yorker. Donald Trump lives, works, eats and employs people of all races and religions. Like many of my fellow New Yorkers, Donald Trump speaks his mind and that type of behavior can easily be misunderstood by people who are not New Yorkers.  

Emphasis added.


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