December 31, 2018

Wonderduck In Hospital

I know nothing more than that. I just cut on my phone (it had run down and been charging most of the day) and received a text from Wonderduck timestamped about 6 hours before I typed this. 

The message said that due to his leg injury had not been able to get out of bed for 30 hours and that he was, at the time of the text, in the ER.

That is all I know. It's 6 hours out of date and he has not returned my text. I'm loathe to call him because he probably needs sleep.

He's been in a lot of pain of late, so keep him in your prayers if so inclined; at least go drop by his place and leave him some good cheer. 

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New Horizons VS. Ultima Thule

Well, tonight (tomorrow actually) after the fireworks and the dropping of the ball,  you should stick around because there will be an encore celebration around 12:15AM, when Clyde Tombaugh's atomic powered urn, better known as NASA's New Horizons probe, which not so long ago gave us spectacular views of Pluto is going to pass by(486958) 2014 MU69, a small but very strange transNeptunian object that has been given the unofficial temporary name Ultima Thule for marketing purposes. 

The object in question, about 12 miles across, is a cause for a good bit of speculation  as it doesn't seem to have much of a light curve, at all, which is...odd.

"But it's AWESOME, 'cause it's weird 
and we're gonna discover something!"


Note though, that possible explanations include that the object is actually surrounded by a cloud of debris, in which case there's a decent chance that New Horizons will come to an end in a collision. 

Because it is SO far away, the radio signals will take over 9 hours to get to NASA! Coverage of that is set to start around 09:45 Eastern Time(U.S.). There is a press conference scheduled for 11:30 Eastern to discuss the pictures, or what can be gleaned from the probes loss. There will be a lot of discussion of this online tonight and tomorrow morning with Launchpad Astronomy already 4 hours into their  24 hr livestream. 

So tonight, after the celebrations, sit back, watch the coverage and throw back an egg nog for Clyde Tombaugh, the little probe that carries his remains, and the implacable spirit of mankind.

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RWBY Season 6

After the dumpster fire that was the end of last season, RWBY's latest 8 episodes have been something of a shock.

A pleasant one.

Each of these episodes has had more plot and character development than the last half of last season, and most have had more action too. The fight choreography has risen in quality exponentially to levels that would make Monty proud and the show has managed to make the monsters scary again, with some episodes very effectively conveying a sense of existential  dread.

Even the most recent episode, where a bunch of characters desperately run around in circles not killing or breaking anything because someone forgot to leave a note, managed to advance the story while developing characters...

...and torturing them. 

I've been quite impressed with the season, but I'm now on my guard. The halfway point is where the last season went off the rails, crawled into its own navel and imploded, so this could all go to worms.

On the other hand, this season went "off the rails" in episode one and has doing great things ever since, so I remain hopeful. 

I certainly will be watching it.

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Zombieland Saga Ends (?)

Well, it looks like Zombieland Saga finally started running low on local places of interest....

...however the whackadoodle story sort of deepened towards the end and the show provided a quite satisfying ending that was not nearly as predictable as I'd thought it would be.

A couple of threads were left hanging, some of which are tossed aside in such a way as to suggest a sequel...

Which is almost an odd enough premise to work.

This was a 6 hour long idol show that doubled as a commercial for the Saga Chamber of Commerce. By all rights, given its purpose and premise, Zombieland Saga should have been a painting by numbers mess, and yet it ended up being a quirky little gem of a show.   Rewatch value is not particularly high, but if you were put off by the whole zombie thing in the promotions, or just missed it, I strongly suggest you give it a shot.

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In Which I Finally Resort to Clickbaiting

Just watch this and then answer the questions behind the spoiler tag.

Now I just have to wait for the hits to roll in.

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December 26, 2018

A Reminder That Tomorrow is the 27th (UPDATED)

...and will see the last of the two showings of They Shall not Grow Old in the U.S.

If you're in Hampton Roads, the only showings are at McArthur Center and Greenbriar 13. Both are at 1PM.

UPDATE: It was all that and a bowl of grits.

I'm very glad that I bought my tickets online as it had completely sold out, despite being shown in three theaters in the local multiplex.

Peter Jackson is an exceptional fimmaker, but the idea that he could take a bunch of frequently unrelated 100 year old film clips taken by the British military and make it work in a narrative form is far fetched.

It's also exactly what he did. 

This film is incredibly powerful. It is gut wrenching and horrifying at times, but it is a masterpiece.  It is not a technical or historic  analysis of any particular battle, but it is a deeply compelling, and often disturbing overview of what it was like to serve in the B.E.F. on the Western Front in the Great War. 

The restored and colorized footage (taken from hand cranked cameras over a century ago) translates quite well to the big screen.

I cannot recommend this film highly enough. When this comes up for sale on DVD or Blue Ray, buy it.

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December 25, 2018

Merry Christmas!

Whatever you're celebrating, I hope the holiday is being good to you. 

Also, to everyone who has stopped by and done me the courtesy of reading my blather over the last 15 years, thank you, from the bottom of my heart.

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December 24, 2018

50 Years Ago

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Oh Wow!

THAT was a lot of boxes...

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December 23, 2018

Almost There

As many of you know, I work in the shipping industry. I am currently beset by boxes.

Until I dig out, here is something seasonal and pleasant by John Law

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Oblivion is at Hand

At 04:30, outside my window, an eerie silence persists aside from an occasional car. It is VERY dark...aside from a few streetlights.

What ever shall we do?

We are forsaken.

Post your experiences with this catastrophe in the comments, while the internet is still up.

Art by Tokyogenso

Posted by: The Brickmuppet at 05:25 AM | Comments (4) | Add Comment
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December 19, 2018

Mea Culpa

An earlier post here embedded a video that was described as "seasonal". However the only things seasonal were the winter quipaos and snow.

This is obviously problematic as it clearly exclusionary to our antipodean readers. 

To rectify this inexcusable lack of inclusivity, sensitivity, and geographical awareness, here is a video that is completely seasonal with regards to women's optional casual attire in the southern hemisphere around this time of year.

Note too, that while not strictly seasonal, the lyrics, plane crash and Arn Anderson(?) do not directly contradict near-current southern hemisphere weather patterns or holidays and thus the video should not offend anybody.

So please don't deplatform us.

Posted by: The Brickmuppet at 08:18 PM | Comments (3) | Add Comment
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December 18, 2018

It's Like a Southern Noir Novel

A young debutante makes a shocking discovery about her ancestry that threatens to cast her out of "society".

Social calamity will befall her if she cannot keep it secre...

Oh crap. She's on You Tube. 

Well that was a short book. But hey, no one got killed and she didn't have to spend anything on detective bills!

This is making the rounds and some people are being mean, because some people suck. I can certainly understand why it was a shock to her. 

Cheer up young lady. You've got a lot going for you.

You're an entrepreneur in the tradition of Madame C.J. Walker and, quite frankly are a shining testament to just what an awesome perk hybrid vigor is to our society. 

Congratulations Miss Hope, you're an American!

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December 16, 2018

Well THAT Sucks

Oh look. it appears that Ryosios has captured the state of my life...except for there being a girl in the picture he's spot on.


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December 15, 2018

Well, My First Post After Coming Back Was a Bummer....

Here's something that's both seasonal and more pleasant.

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December 14, 2018

While I Was Out the Situation Deteriorated

Carl Benjamin, a YouTuber who goes by the ever-so-modest online handle of Sargon of Akkad got banned by Patreon earlier this week. 


Sargon is a Vlogger from the U.K. who opines on everything from video games to human rights. 

He's a bit of a troll.

OK he's a lot of a troll, albeit a particularly erudite one. 

He's definitely a mixed bag, occasionally doing absolutely spot on commentary like this take of the ethics and politics of STARSHIP TROOPERS of all things, and sometimes being an utter, douche, like here where he says mindnumbingly stupid stuff in defense of the Incel asshattery that is the asinine THOT audit. Sargon's a leftie and an atheist and so I disagree with him about a lot of things, but one of the things that I do agree with him about is his uncompromising stance on free speech. 

Here he is on his best behavior...

It seems that almost a year ago, for some inexplicable reason, Sargon used the "N word" while mocking and berating some white supremacists who's loathsome antics he has been reporting on; and who in turn have been getting all stalky and doxxy with his family. 

Now, using the "N-word" is always an inadviseable thing for us honky crackers. Indeed, this rule applies even when talking down to literal is evidenced by the fact that the literal nazis he was responding to reported his unwoke language to Patreon's reassuringly named Trust and Safety Council,* which promptly banned him....for something he'd said on a livestream that was not in any way associated with Patreon.

"And we should care because...?"

Here's why this bit of internet drama is a concern...

A solid argument can, of course, be made that Patreon should be allowed disallow any behavior on their platform that gives them hives. 

That's freedom.

However, if they are going to do that then that needs to be in the TOS, you can't just nuke someone who has not violated any of your terms of service. Which is exactly what Patreon did.  Worse, the offending behavior was not even on their platform. 

This is unethical. Highly unethical and means that Patreon at this point cannot be trusted to honor contracts. 

Thus Patreon sucks and will screw you over as soon as you're on the outs with the "cool kids".  The fact that the deplatforming seems to have been initiated by neo-nazis it not technically relevant but adds another layer of dreadfulness to the affair.

"'kaaay...So patronize someone besides Patreon."

INDEED! There ought to be no need for concern here. 
Sargon should take his money to a competitor who wants it. Everybody wins.
That's FREEDOM...enabled by capitalism.

Lo and behold, it turns out there is at least one Patreon-esque outfit struggling to get out of Patreon's shadow and find some killer ap to differentiate themselves from Patreon

Well, that killer ap is freedom of speech.

So, Mr. Benjamin went to Subscribe Star.
He was followed there by other creators** who were also de-platformed by Patreon. More significantly, he was also followed by a surprising number who feared that they might be banned due to their views and Patreon's demonstrated perfidy and lots of others who migrated in solidarity with some outre' concept called "freedom of speech".

"See. Competition works."
"Now, why are people saying that a limey s**tlord's bad 
customer service experience is DEFCON 5 for free speech?"

Well, it most assuredly wasn't.

Until it was. 

You see, Pay-Pal , the ubiquitous online payment service then told Subscribe Star to ban Sargon and the other Patreon refugees. Subscribe Star refused and Paypal has now just cut off Subscribe Star's payment system. Stripe did too, and according to Subscribe Star, appears to not be releasing the creators funds it is holding!

Subscribe Star, to their considerable credit, is not buckling.

15 Dec 06:57

Dear friends.
We are here now not to tell you that "we are sorry but they made us to shut our shop down and now we are going to cry ourselves to sleep goodbye”.
Just the opposite - we are fighting back and integrating new unbiased and predictable processors that will allow us to grow with you. This takes time, we estimate anywhere between 2 and 3 weeks from start to finish. This may require us to extensively travel across the globe for the best possible solution.
Stars, you have to know - all your money were successfully rescued from the PayPal and will be paid out to you in a timely manner. We had less luck with Stripe, but it all manageable.
Subscribers - we temporarily paused accepting new subscribers, as well as new donations and tips. All previously contributions are safe and will be distributed to corresponding Stars properly. Thank you for your patience and understanding.
Our team is working tirelessly for all of us being able to secure our future without fear of being bullied by the crooks in corporate suits and their subservient weasels.
We are online and will stay so. We wish you the same.
Talk to you soon!
Truly yours, Team

"OK. That's genuinely scary."

That is the sort of thing that can lead to lead to idiot conspiracy theories, but this is where it gets scary. Here, is Jack Conte, founder and CEO of Patreon  on Dave Rubin's show a few months back discussing the culture of Silicon Valley.

If the embed doesn't cue right, the money quote is from 30:17 to 32:30

So these tech CEO's are all sitting down together or via conference call and deciding (amongst other matters of import) what their workers salaries are going to be. 

"Oh God. That's his....COVER STORY!?" 

Conte is describing the smoke filled rooms of Gilded Age trusts. These guys are also talking to each other about the issues of the day and who should and should not have a platform. This is a syndicate.

It get's worse..

You see, there was another Patreon-like outfit until very recently. Thunderclap was very much the same thing as Patreon although worked largely through Facebook

In August of this year, Thunderclap was shut down when Facebook disallowed it from using their services.

Being a Russian company Subscribe Star is somewhat outside of Silicon Valley's more direct sphere of influence,  certainly they are more immune to the social pressures of acceptance in the virtual Versailles of the San Jose' virtue signaling clique. However, like all online businesses, Subscribe Star is still dependent on online payment services, which, as we are seeing, do feel those pressures. And of course, it's run out it has all sorts of other potential issues, particularly regarding freedom of speech, election meddling and dangerous ursine bicyclists.

We're in a situation where the current bolt hole for free expression is a sketchy site run out of Russia, a situation that is so transcendentally wrong that it has left even the foul-mouthed Razorfist temporarily unable to cuss...

Razorfist embed atypically SFW              

I understand if one doesn't want to click on a Razorfist link, but he's right. When speech is disallowed, violence becomes the medium of discourse. This is a bad highway to be on. 

We often joke that Animal Farm, 1984, and Brave New World are not a three volume how to manual. For some people though, they are. We've now got fricking "Trust and Safety Councils" that turn anyone with the correct politics who hate the right people this minute into members of their little Stassi. With the power to control the information and to deny people financial services if they hold unpopular views, comes incredible power for mischief.

We've covered the Chinese Sesame Credit System before and that, I am convinced, is where many of the individuals behind this policing of speech want to be.

All it takes to bring about this dream of the anointed is for each of us to say "That guy's an asshole! He deserves what he gets. That bitch over there had it coming too, serves her right." and be silent, or smug, or report the asshole to the Trust and Safety Council. Then, because every one of us is an asshole to someone, we'll be kept in our place by the very crab bucket culture we are nurturing. Meanwhile, the archdukes and marquesses of Palo Alto "tend their fields" by cutting off any poppies that grow too high

With that coming to pass, like the Greek City States before it, the 300 year aberration that is the enlightenment will disappear into the 300,000 year+ history of humanity as a short lived deviation from the mean. Things relating to freedom will go back to much as they were for the majority of that time, albeit with rather less ability to express heretical thoughts.

We're not there yet though.

There are people who will hold their noses and stand up for the rights of shitlords to opine on the matters of the day and who understand that words are not violence but rather the way violence is avoided. There are still search engines like Duck Duck Go and Epic that offer the ability for a Z-list blogger in Virginia to look up a news story that some seem to want to want to bury and we still have access to books written by great minds who saw where the path we are on leads and warn us from the grave*** to avoid the mistakes their societies made and take a different exit.  

Despair not, the fact that this post and every link in it exists is proof that all is not lost. 

But be aware. Be vigilant, and  keep your eyes open for the inevitable rough patches on the unlit road ahead.

UPDATE 12/16: Fixed links/syntax and made small caption edits.

UPDATE 12/16: Removed Google screencap and associated text as it could not be duplicated and was not germane to the post (see comments).

*and totally not Orwellian at all.
**at least one of whom seems to have actually been a genuine racist degenerate
***So perhaps a Russian site being the guardian of liberty is not so incongruous as we might suppose.

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December 08, 2018

In the Terminal Phase of Late Stage Education

The content drought will continue until both final drafts are polished and I get sleep.

However, this looks to be potentially consequential and needs to be shared.

Note that if the video begins to smoke you should back up to a safe distance and if you are pregnant, elderly or have eaten in the last two hours you might not want to watch it repeatedly. Also, it appears that there are copyright issues, so it may be good to not talk about it too much...especially at work.

Other than that it looks quite promising.

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December 07, 2018

77 Years Have Passed

It's not often appreciated that after the initial surprise, Fuchida's planes did find themselves on the receiving end of quite a bit of flak.

Today, for the first time, no one from U.S.S. Arizona is present at the memorial ceremony. Those who remember it firsthand will soon all be gone, and then people will learn of this event and the events that it precipitated from...the historians, who will surely provide our children with an approved, diverse and politically expedient account of the events of the day.

If present trends continue, we may be among the last people to learn anything approaching what happened during those desperate, crucial years. Yet even what we, (the grandchildren and great grandchildren of those who were there) know is itself distorted by time, wartime secrecy, human fallibility and the fog of war.

If you can, buy some books, (not E-books...BOOKS) on history, buy more than one on the same topic ('cause there are different perspectives).  Put them someplace safe...where they'll never reach 451 degrees.

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December 04, 2018

Finally! Someone Who Captures the Spirit of the Season.

Art by @iri_itigo

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December 01, 2018

On Bush

There are lots of memorials being written today of the late George H. W. Bush who was the last of the old-school presidents, being a patrician gentleman of considerable skill competence and civic mindedness. He was a bomber pilot, oilman, Civil servant, diplomat, intel specialist, the guy who convinced his boss (Nixon) to resign, and arguably the most successful one term president in U.S. History. 

And in that latter capacity, he saved the world. 

Regan's defense buildup and hardball diplomacy had pushed the U.S.S.R. to the brink, without firing a shot outside of a few Proxy fought spoiling actions in Central America. However, after the Berlin Wall fell, with the Soviet Union on the verge of collapse, there was the real danger that the Commissars might lash out due to spite or fear. Russia had at that time, a tad over 40,000 nuclear warheads aimed at the West

Bush did not back them into a corner, and reassured the Russians that we were not going to drive them into the dirt. There was no war. Bush (and Gorbachev and Thatcher) kept the whole thing from going to worms as it very well could have.

He also won the Gulf War, brought the country out of recession, started a big push to launch manned expeditions through the solar system (later cancelled by his successor, aside from the space station) and tried, with some success to re-invigorate the American tradition of voluntary associations (see his thousand points of light speech).

Certainly there were mistakes, and policies of his that can be debated, but now is not the time, for George H. W. Bush was a man who dedicated his life to the service of his nation and through his steady hand and calm demeanor saved the world when it when it was on the brink.

Fair winds and following seas sir.
Thank you.

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