May 30, 2019

A Little Story That's Getting Little Coverage That's About Little Things

This is a little troubling as the little things are nuclear warheads.

Little ones.


Russia has likely been secretly carrying out nuclear tests with very low explosive power to help it upgrade its nuclear arsenal, according to a new U.S. intelligence assessment that challenges Moscow’s claims that it is faithfully adhering to an international treaty banning nuclear tests.


There's more here, here and here as well as a little skepticism expressed here.

While a little worrying, it is also an excellent opportunity to post video of a little nuke, in this case 1 kiloton, which is a little big for a little thing.


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May 29, 2019

They're on the March.

Be Afraid.


via

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Some Unsolicited Advice

I'm not a Catholic, but let me just suggest that the Holy See should not hire Baptists as architects for their repair work.



Come ON people.

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May 28, 2019

A Fish Out of Water Has Not so Much Escaped His Problems as Found New and More Challenging Ones

Rising of the Shield Hero is approaching its 21st episode and frankly deserves more than the laconic mentions this blog has given it thus far. It is a show that has generated quite a bit of "talk" because its story tends to go down the less traveled paths of its genre.


As opposed to the above path, which they all go down.

This is a isekai show, a genre that generally involves a social outcast getting yanked/summoned/reincarnated/teleported/excreted into another world which just happens to have remarkable similarities to a video game, role playing game, or light novel series that the introverted, maladroit audience insert had obsessed with to the detriment of their standing in polite society. With a few exceptions, these shows generally have the protagonist come to an insight along the lines of , "All those years of playing D&D have prepared me for this very moment!". This epiphany is usually followed by 13 to 26 episodes of geek wish fulfillment as all the important people (and especially the attractive members of the opposite sex) in the new world learn to respect, adore or fear (but NEVER ignore) this now most consequential of human beings who has been groomed by years of geekery and avoidance of obligations to be the hero the world needs and wants to have children with.



Aaaand then there is Iwatani Naofumi,  a reasonably well adjusted graduate student who has some geeky habits among his hobbies. However, he's not a hard core gamer, and most significantly for his well being hasn't played a particular multiplayer game about 4 legendary heroes.  When he notices an anomalous leather-bound parchment-paged antique-looking book among the light novels in the library, he opens it and gets bamfed into a summoning circle with 3 other Japanese men of about his age Each of them has attached to them a weapon, Spear, Sword, Bow....and OK Naofumi has not a weapon but a shield.


"Cool! we're a sentai team!"

They are surrounded by a bunch of wizards and priest types who provide exposition.


I'll bet there is.

They are told that they are the 4 legendary heroes who have been summoned from other worlds to deal with "The Wave", a demonic incursion into this high fantasy D&D type world.
Some years prior, (I think about a decade, its not entirely clear) the four legendary heroes of that age were summoned and successfully kept this monster spewing phenomenon at bay, though over half the population of the world is believed to have died. Once these things start, they come about once a month and each one is exponentially stronger than the last. The first wave, was barely defeated (with heavy losses) by the kingdom's regular forces and some adventurers a few days prior to this summoning.

Now the other three fellows are all expert players in an online video-game that is essentially identical to this world.  Nayofumi has no idea what he's doing, furthermore in a brief cram session with the other three, he learns that while shield characters are marginally harder to kill in the game, they are basically useless as they can't use weapons and can't easily level up. The shield is almost never played except by children.

Still our hero understands the basics of video game RPGs, is reasonably genre savvy, and, after all, has been summoned to a magical realm to do hero stuff, so he's handling this reasonably well.



The four are granted an audience before the king, who asks something along the lines of "Why did you waste spell points on summoning a shield guy?"


Well, that bodes ill.

It's then explained to our heroes that they must go on adventures to level up and hone their skills. They are all basically level 0 and the next wave is arriving in a month. Also, it is noted they need to train separately from one another because...



...reasons. 

They are expected to have retinues and all the local adventurers are allowed to join up with the 'Legendary Herotm' of their choice. This is especially important for the shield hero as he can't wield weapons, and the shield has no offensive capabilities until the wielder is at a much higher level.


The heartbreak of cooties.

No one picks Naofumi, because shield heroes are like the nerds of Middle Earth and well no one wants to be associated with him.



There are a few things that Nayofumi's shield will do that allow him to slowly level up, mostly involving crafting healing potions. However, he is physically unable to even touch a weapon. In order to level up he must quest and gather ingredients, and if attacked, he can only bash things with the shield. Furthermore, crafting and deflecting blows give very little in the way of "experience points". Even slaying a relatively harmless beast like a carnivorous pumpkin (don't ask) grants a vast improvement in the speed he can level up. So he's in the pumpkin bashing business.

No one will help openly help him,  few will even do business with him. The only exceptions to this are people who pose as being interested in joining his party, only to attempt to murder and rob him.

After a series of reversals that would try the sanity of anyone, Nayofumi, on his last legs and desperate, bumps into a very sketchy and incongruously dressed merchant.



And that is the point at which things get problematic.


more...

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May 27, 2019

Do Take a Moment To Remember The Reason So Many of Us Are Off Today


Hat Tip Cdr. Salamander

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It's Just Like Chocolate and Peanut Butter...But in a Bad Way

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May 22, 2019

Dis-topia or Dat-topia?

A very brief video from Bloomberg on the most disturbing aspect of the current Chinese payment system.



Now, being Bloomberg reporting on a tech issue, they are completely and utterly wrong. However, in an unusual twist, their facts seem to be correct. It's their analysis that's 180 degrees off course.

The most terrifying thing about the basically cashless society in China is (contra Bloomberg) not that the banks are being cut out of their lucrative middle-man fees. It's that every transaction shows up in your social credit score and if Tencent is told by the government that you don't need your money, well, then you starve.

Of course, being Bloomberg, they miss the schadenfreude of companies that have behaved like like Mastercard loosing their middleman privileges. 

Also, I don't think there's any reason for this to be of terrible concern for the Big Banks in the U.S.. I think they're going to loose some market share to companies processing their own payments, but the banks already have e-payment infrastructure in place and many of their ricebowls are protected by S.E.C. regulation.

I do wonder if even a very decentralized system would really help bypass the worst of this social credit system. I'm skeptical. Even today in the U.S. there are scary stories. The attempted defenestration of Subscribe Star late last year has already been noted here, and the system is fairly decentralized now in theory. In practice, the payment processors go to the same parties and hate the same people (us).

Perhaps the best near term solution is the opposite of the bitcoin utopians propose. Make it illegal to refuse actual cash that is a countries legal tender if offered in lieu of a card or ap. This wouldn't work for online payments, but it would at least allow people a chance to eat.

I just don't know.

Does anyone actual IT knowledge have any suggestions?

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May 21, 2019

DANGER! The Levels of "PROBLEMATIC" are Over 9000!

So, this Rising of the Shield Hero show; I've started watching it.



Well, I'm leaning towards "good" but that's going to depend what happens in the next few episodes.


Also: Raccoons are awesome.


So far it is a very hard show to watch, but it has really impressed me.

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While We're On the Subject of Bullying


Sourcing is sparse, but appears that a couple of Vice reporters broke into the home of the owner of 8-chan in the Philippines, and were surprised to find him in his bedroom, whereapon he drove them out with a baseball bat. Charges are reportedly being filed but info is sparse.  This is disturbing but also odd. I was under the impression that the owner of infinity-chan is a quadrapalegic. ****

In related news is this disturbing story (via ACE's sidebar). It appears that there are several reporters who are soliciting the personal information of various people from antifa who antifa defines as fascist. (Note that the people involved apparently define Dave Rubin and Tim Pool as fascists).   Anyway they are using the information to dox people into oblivion. These people can't get jobs, one fellow in particular seems to have been an EMT, was suspended, found to have done nothing wrong but couldn't get rehired because he was inviting drama from the SPLC and others.

They're stalking people and hounding them across state lines, giving dirt to their new employers and getting them fired. This is taking people who may (or more likely do not) have genuinely assholish views they express online and perhaps delusions of persicution, and teaching them two things: that they are not delusional and they have nothing to loose because they cannot ever get a job or be allowed in society.

This will only radicalize people.

This is not going to end well. 

****
UPDATE: Jim Watkins, (who runs a hosting service_ now owns both 8Chan and the Japanese site 2Channel"Hotwheels" is now an administrator.

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May 20, 2019

We're Not ACTUALLY Contributing to the Delinquency of a Minor.

Brickmuppet Blog is protesting against the cyberbullying of a 14 year old girl by Buzzfeed. She delenquitized herself way before we linked to her.

I would not want a 14 year old of mine to make herself a target to the crazies like she does here...er....here


Trigger Warning!! Language, Burkas, anti-anti-semitism, insightful armchair psychoanalysis,  and actual citations in the write-up.

...but that is between her and her parents, and NOBODY else. It is certainly not the business of Buzzfeed and not a matter that should involve the police in any way. Yes Buzzfeed called the police on her.

Parents beware, there is foul language, but rather less than I was led to believe, this is far from the tourettes cascade that was described to me. There's actually some nuance in it. She mentions that 'call-out-culture' is a subset of the left, pointing out that there are still lefties who are for free speech.

Of course it wasn't the language that pissed Buzzfeed off. It was the fact that she nails the big domestic issue of our age.

Now, the fact that she's in Marin county is causing her troubles with her school. There have been walk outs by students protesting her existence and I suspect that she's now the target of every Heather and soy-boy that wants to virtue signal. (Thanks Buzzfeed).

There is, of course a lot to be offended by here.

What pissed me off the most about her is that this 14 year old is a better writer than me.

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NOT. A. HOW-TO. MANUAL.

So the E.U. tweeted this out unironically.



Erasmus could not be reached for comment, but I suspect he would not approve.

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May 18, 2019

Some Suggestions For Game Devs Dealing With The New Chinese Rules

China has passed legislation that bans video game content that are an affront to the nations socialist values. Among other travesties, this legislates removing the word "kill" from video games. More difficult to deal with, all blood must be removed.

Chinese Tech giant Tencent Games have already adapted to this new law in at least one title. While they handle distribution of Player Unknown’s BattleGround: Mobile in China, the game has now been renamed Game for Peace.


American game developers, who have, for some time, been grovelling before the whims of CCP Censorship in pursuit of Yuan like a Crack Whore begging her pimp for a fix are falling over each other to oblige. (I'm particularly amused by the way Gamasutra seems to be presenting this as 'Super easy. Barely an inconvenience.')


One of our Crack team of 2-D tech babes has thoughts...

"First: Apologies to Crack Whores. Second: Here are some helpful suggestions for substitutions for 'kill' or 'killed' in your revised style guides..."
 
Destroy
Defeat
Conclude
Exhaust
Ruin
"Another piece has been removed from the board."
Demolish
Owned
Corrected
Ice
Smite, Smote, Smitten, Smitificatifitatemitized
Merely Stunned!
Outcompeted*
Ruined
"Running dog has been brought to heel!"
Struggled Against
Re-Educate
Re-Zone
Denied the mandate of Heaven
"His social credit score is zero!"

Interestingly, commie specific examples aside, this is remarkably similar list to a hell we in the U.S. have already lived.

You see, back in the late 1960s the U.S. started having an explosion of action oriented children's shows that mostly aired on Saturday mornings. These ranged from re-runs and knock-offs of Johnny Quest to Super-Hero shows (both original and adapted from comic books). Animation allowed cheap stunts and FX and facilitated other things (one season, all the Hanna Barbara action shows crossed over). The medium began improving rapidly as skills were honed and the voice talent pool expanded. Johnny Quest in particular, which had been a flop a decade earlier in prime time, experienced a revival in the new time slot and inspired several imitators in the U.S. and even abroad. One of those, Japan's Tatsunoko Productions was actually selling its shows to ABC (Speed Racer, Marine Boy, Gigantor) The stage was set for a new art form to....

THWACK !

In 1968 after a spate of assassinations, a commission on youth violence put together by the Johnson administration STRONGLY suggested that the 3 Big U.S. TV networks seriously scale back on their violence. Animated action shows all but disappeared for a time. The 1970s were an insipid wasteland of drek for young boys.

Now we have a first amendment in the U.S. and the internet does not have a regulatory gate like the FCCs bandwidth licensing, so in theory this should not affect us.

 "Remember. There is no difference between theory and practice in theory, but in practice there is. "



China's huge market has an outsized effect on all western entertainment industries and the CCP and PLA have there tentacles in western media companies via companies like Tencent. The temptation to water down,  or otherwise censor and rewrite games to comply with "socialist values" is already very strong and is having insidious effects on our media.

There is, perhaps, a silver lining here. These new rules are SO restrictive that developers who design fighting games and such may just throw in the towel on the China market, which will only benefit us. 



 

* No: suggests competition is legitimate and not a waste of energy and resources incompatible with socialist values.

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On Bezos and Space

Jeff Bezos, last week, gave a talk on his plans for facilitating the expansion of humans into space.

This.
Is.
AWESOME!



/images/7acbbaf195dd66c3e0345cda37401859.jpg
"We're convinced. We're dressed and ready to go!"


Indeed! That's fantastic!

And yet...I'm conflicted. 

Now I'm firmly in the Dandridge Cole / Jerry O'Neil school as opposed to the Musk/Zubrin (MARS!MARS!MARS!MAARRSS!1!) camp.

There are reasons for this.

The perils of raising kids in 38% gravity is not being given any study. We don't know how much gravity is needed for extended human habitation, but we know that zero gravity is bad, sometimes surprisingly so.  Furthermore, the whole point of going into space is to get out of the gravity well.  Being in a 38% gravity well is better than the 100% gravity well of Earth, but it's vastly inferior to orbiting Ceres, Pallas or Psyche. So I think we should certainly go with Stanford Torus's and such.  With those we can make 1g habitats and we can go pretty darn big.


...but it's Bezos. He's banning books from his bookstore, spying on us and seems to be an authoritarian prick. "Seek a Brighter Future in the Outer Colonies...as an Employee of Vault Tech or Weyland Yutani" This is not frontier I'm looking for. 

Elon Musk is striving like mad to travel....to the bottom of a gravity well.

OTOH Musk is working hard to make it accessible financially to middle class people willing to, say, sell their houses. Musk seems to me to be much less likely to set up a dystopian  hellhole at the intersection of 1984 and Outland than Bezos, who seems to be a member of the authoritarian tech-weasel association in good standing (which is odd, given that his parents risked everything to escape Castro's Cuba in the 1960s.

On the other hand, Bezos is completely right about best to go about becoming a spacefaring civilization. Rather than Mars and a couple of moons, we can place rotating habitats in or next to any of the thousands of asteroids, and we can use solar power as far afield as Jupiter.

One other thing I will say about both Bezos and Musk. They are thinking big and they are thinking ahead. Despite all the crazy nonsense we see today that fills us with trepidation for the future of our society, this fact can give us hope: Both men are working towards starting something truly noble that will not come to fruition until long after they are gone.

"A society grows great when old men plant trees in whose shade they know they shall never sit."

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May 17, 2019

Begun These Cheesecake Wars Have

J. Greely decided to post a bunch of visually interesting not entirely canonical depictions of various characters from Girls Frontline a Chinese gacha game that is focused on anthropomorphizations of various modern and historical firearms.

Mr. Greely is to be commended on the quality of his cheesecake.

But quantity has a quality all its own.


more...

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May 16, 2019

Looking at Bitchute...

...and when it comes to their superchats and such, I don't know what I'm looking at.

 I'm a Subscribestar member, so I can theoretically sync both channels, but the whole affair seems to revolve around crypto currencies. Now I am assured by all the smartest people in the room that cryptocurrencies* are the only secure thing in this uncertain age and only statists and luddites show skepticism towards them. Sadly, I'm not particularly smart and I'm  a history major which has left me with an irrational fear of tulips.


Well, she's doomed. Art by Akiyama (あきやま)

There is a Pay-Pal option, but Pay-Pal has been in the demonetization business of late.

Perhaps more troubling is the fact that at the bottom of the above linked page, SubscribeStar has an address that is not in Russia, but on Airstrip One.  And...the fact that this is worrisome; the notion that Jolly Old England is not a step up from Russia regarding freedom of speech (and arguably the opposite)  is a measure of how crazy the times we live in are.

But I digress...

Does anyone have any insights into the security and effectiveness of, say Bit-Backer, CoinPayments and/or similar services?

*My spell-check doesn't like either of those spellings.

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Holding Pattern

Tuesday I went to school to make arrangements for re-enrolling in my final class. I checked my Student E-mail to see if my advisor was available for consultation. It turns out that she has left the country and won't be back for over a month but she insisted that rather than signing up for the current session that I "DON'T DO ANYTHING!" She said that she's pretty sure that I'm good to graduate, but that the process of applying for another class involves removing my graduation application. I also noted that my graduation worksheet"Degree Works" says that my credits requirement has not been met; that I have 'only' 123 out of a needed 120 credits.
Well. That's odd.
So... I'm going to hold tight while the chocolate ration is adjusted.

Below the fold is the a copy/paste of what I typed in the two fields of the senior survey I was asked to complete last week.

Below this text is a good visual representation of how not to stagger ladders for safety.


  O.S.H.A. counter-instructional by Okayuu (おかゆー
more...

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May 13, 2019

Oh.

It seems that Microsoft Word has a cool* new feature. It comes with an A.I. that includes...

fixes for spelling and grammatical errors and advice on more concise and inclusive language such as "police officer” instead of "policeman.”


In an age where almost everything is connected, it's hard to see how this innovation could possibly have a downside to prospective or active despots.


It looks like you're typing wrongthink.
Do you wish to reconsider before the authorities are notified?
(YES) (NO).



In completely unrelated news, I've just downloaded Open Office.

*Creepy Ominous Obtrusive & Loathesome

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I Can SEE!

As there is likely little interest in the banality that lurks below the fold, we've decided to provide, as a service to you, gentle reader, a helpful demonstration of how to deal with some of those pesky manticore issues that may crop up from time to time.


Helpful demonstration by Painterfiend. Support them on Patreon here.


more...

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May 11, 2019

G.O.A.T.

So, I finally saw Avengers Endgame.

I loved it.
It was even better than Cats!
I am going to see it again and again.



Note that this is NOT a stand-alone film as it is a direct sequel to Infinity War, which itself is a sequel to several different films, but if you've been following the long serial that is the Marvel Cinematic Universe, then this film is an absolute triumph and is as close to sublime as we are likely to ever see from Hollywood.




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May 09, 2019

Quick, Watch This Before Disney Finds Out!


via

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