August 22, 2014

Aw Come ON!

I didn't put in any pictures, center anything or use an animated .gif inside the spoiler tag of the last post and yet the spoiler tag put every bit of text that was inserted into it, on the outside. 



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August 21, 2014

Well. That Was Underwhelming.

This weeks episode of RWBY seems to have been eaten by ants. Instead we were presented with a 2 minute 16 second slideshow explaining the show's main deus ex machina, 'dust'.

Narrated by "Mysterious Narrator" (playing herself) it tells us, the poor hapless viewers very little save for one tantalizing detail.
 It does pose some interesting questions, certainly more than it answered. 

Much we already knew:
Dust is an explosive or propellant that interacts with Human (and Faunus) "auras".
According to the large hadron collider, therefore, it can't exist.
Ahem...
Anyway...


So there is this stuff that can be induced to interact with  an individual's 'aura'. 
We can assume from Pyrrha's exposition in the first season that Aura is best described by imagining a point on a Venn diagram  where chi, elan vitale, pneuma, "precious bodily fluids" and The Force overlap. A person with sufficient self awareness and discipline to exert control over their life energies can use this 'aura' to interact with dust in various ways.

There are 4 types of dust making for an easily memorizable periodic table. However, Madame Narrator did not provide us with the names. Going from the picture provided one can assume that they have the ptoperties of fire (or perhaps speed), ice (possibly water), burnination and spinach. 

These 4 substances can be combined in numerous ways to make compounds that have a wide variety of characteristics, and this stuff can be used in shells, both as propellant and explosive depending on the compound. 

We knew that there were items that were infused with dust. Weiss uses a dust infused rapier and also wields additional quantities of dust for further effect. The mention of dust infused clothing would therefore follow.

However, we also learn that some people have had dust implanted into their bodies. This is new info and makes for some interesting speculation. 

A few characters possess a "semblance" a fancy dancy RWBY word for superpower. Ruby and Blake have super-speed (Blake may have something else going on there) and Pyrrha has magnetism. Yang has the power of a flywheel charged by punching and none of these are things that anyone can physiologically achieve so barring some other, as yet unmentioned deus ex machina, one wonders if they had dust implanted in themselves at a young age.

How? Was there a tragic dust accident? Were they given dust implants shortly after birth. Was this voluntary and when (RWBY is 15 and has been practicing for a while)? Did they get to choose what their semblance would be beforehand?

Dust is frequently used as a consumable (explosives, freezy-pop mass production techniques). However, the existence of weapons, clothing, and implants suggests that some dust compounds are not actually consumed as fuel but are, instead acting as broadcast and modulation antennae for the aura. Weiss's rapier seems to work this way (in part) and Cinder's dress is probably a weapon in itself.  Blake wielded dust provided her by Weiss in the last episode, and did so with considerable skill using her chain-scythe-gun-sword-ribbon thingie as a focus. It glowed blue when she did so.

Given that dust is quite expensive and given that Blake comes from exceedingly modest means, if this line of reasoning is correct it is probable that Blake was implanted with the stuff by the White Fang because she was considered quite reliable. There's nowhere else she could have afforded it, been trained in it's use, or even permitted to do so. This makes her betrayal all the more galling to them, which, in turn, brings us to the fate of poor Tuckson in episode 1. Even if the "Blake is carrying dust implants provided by White Fang" is bollocks,  Blake is a marked woman, and if her identity is revealed.

Hence the real reason for the bow.

(She should probably dye her hair and wear a less silly outfit too)

One other thing. The Planet is called Remnant. 
It is quite possible that this is set in the far future on another world that contains the last remnant of humanity. 

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Freudian Radio

To my utter astonishment and joy, the car only cost 288 Sacagaweas to be resurrected after rolling an 18 on its "save versus ants" skill. 


As I drove around performing all the errands I had needed to do this week, I listened to NPR's All Things Considered and one of their segments was a special on the 200th anniversary of the burning of Washington DC. Instead of just having some historians come and talk, they did a mock new report...as if NPR was covering it at the time. 


"Boy howdy! Did they ever! "


The NPR reporter was embedded with the advancing British troops . They seemed to imply that the Madisons were having marital problems (not mentioning WHY they left the capital separately). To my surprise. they seemed to give fairly short shrift to Dolly Madison's heroics in getting certain national treasures out of DC .There was no mention of the one other bright spot in the debacle ( The President taking charge and turning what was a rout into an organized fighting retreat, as well as changing the direction of the shattered army towards Baltimore and away from the hinterlands).  One of the embedded reporters noted a Redcoat carrying a decorative pillow as he applied gunpowder paste to the White House. Robert Siegel asked if she meant that they were looting and she said that was not the case, but rather, the British troops were just taking souvenirs. 

An NPR reporter in a tavern tried to interview the American general who had just been defeated, but said officer was too inebriated to say much. 

There was actually some credit given to Madison, though it was for the empty but quite inspirational gesture of having Congress re-convene in the burned out ruins of DC.

Finally, a pair of commentators (actually Historians) discussed what they thought was likely to follow and argued a bit before making different predictions, that, with the benefit of 20/20 hindsight were nevertheless, both highly prescient. 

Not able to be captured in this run-down is the palpable glee with which the whole catastrophe was reported. 

At one point I was actually wondering if this was a parody, but no, it was completely straight, just not terribly self aware. At the end of the broadcast, they were happy and I was perversely amused, so a good time was had by all. 

I guess that counts as some quality radio. 

UPDATE: Duh...It's NPR so the actual broadcast is archived here. The whole episode, most of which lacked the spectacular levels of self parody is here

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Volcano Pr0n

No. Really....



One of the Brickmuppet's Crack Team of Science Babes seems rather embarrassed to report that Rule 34 applies to vulcanology.
You see, Carl over at Volcano Cafe has discovered two Icelandic volcanoes having sex under a glacier. Carl explains in graphic detail at the link below. 

TRIGGER WARNING! VOLCANO SEX! If you have ever been traumatized by pervy puking Plinian precipices procreating, then you should think long and hard about clicking here

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August 20, 2014

A Caption is Needed

Art by Jittsu.

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All Eyes Are Upon the Unrest in Ferguson

So it might behoove us to look at what is happening elsewhere. 


IS (o ISIS or ISIL there is some disagreement on the proper acronym for these fiends) has beheaded  an American journalist ( James Wright Foley) on video and placed another reporter, Time's Steven Sotloff next to Foley's corpse and threatened to behead him unless their demands are met.  

Foley seems to have been quite highly regarded. A brief excerpt of a 2011 interview with him can be seen from 00:33 to 01:58 here. 


It should be noted that the executioner has a British accent, which is not entirely surprising, but is worrisome. Likewise, the fact that Sotloff was taken prisoner in Libya and transported to Iraq indicates an impressive reach and logistical capability by ISIS.

*****************

The situation in the Ukraine has taken a hopeful turn as Russian and Ukrainian leaders representatives are set to meet  negotiations next week. This comes as Ukrainian forces seem to be getting the better of the secessionists. This is a  conflict with some very nasty ethnic components, so a diplomatic solution would be most welcome. 

In related news; Apparently there is a group of American volunteers/mercenaries fighting with the Ukrainians and one of them was just killed

**********

In response to China's bellicose gestures, Japan is 'modifying' Article 9 of their constitution

Meanwhile, China has sent two survey vessels to survey the Philippines for...future construction. 

The PRC last week also tested a hypersonic (Mach 10) cruise missile. The week prior they tested what seems to have been  MIRVed versions of their old DF5 and the new DF31 ICBMs. China also felt this an opertune time to mention that announcing that the long rumored DF-41 road mobile ICBM was in fact, operational. This was just after.a test of an anti-satellite weapon

The People's Republic also snubbed a US proposal that countries not do things like build outposts in other countries territorial wasters. 

Chinese troops have been moving into an area claimed by India and planting flags

*************

On the Ebola front, the experimental drug tested on the three missionaries from the US and Spain looks promising. While the Spanish patient died, the two American aid workers seem to be recovering. The few remaining samples have been sent to Liberia, but the drug takes a long time to make, and there are regulatory hurdles. However, accelerated testing is being done of this and other vaccines. 

In Africa however, the situation is still quite dire, with a raid by a mob on an Ebola treatment facility eliciting some concern. Reportedly, in addition to freeing all the patients under quarantine, they stole bloody sheets and other infected items, so it's going to get worse. 

***************

While all this is going on the military is downsizing. That's not necessarily a dreadful mistake as there is a good bit of waste in the Pentagon. Particularly in the Army, after 10 years of war, one might well consider it good to weed out the people who in that time avoided combat and promote those who displayed out of the box thinking in time of war. One might especially want to retain those with awards for valor. Well, if one thinks that, then one is not in charge of the current downsizing process....

This is terrifying:
 The derogatory information didn't have to be recent. Got a GOMOR as a 2nd Lieutenant for Dumb LT Tricks, eight years ago? Kiss your ass goodbye. Got an Article 15 as a private before soldiering your way back into the Army's good graces, and then getting a ROTC scholarship? You're gone.

A non-GO Memorandum Of Reprimand was also a career killer, if you got it for something the Chief of Staff doesn't like - like carrying a personally owned weapon. That sent one combat-vet with a Purple Heart to the Dreaded Private Sector.

Being overweight, or looking overweight in your photo: killer.

A more trivial career killer, but one the board actually used: having your official DA photo in the old Army Green service uniform, not the new blue Army Service Uniform. 

Purple hearts and bronze stars seem to have no effect on ones assessment.  Having no combat experience is NOT a demerit. This is how you build an Army of bureaucratic wienies. It is how third world dictators set up their armies, with yes-men and those who fear above all taking a chance or trying new things.   

***************
Just before the unpleasantness started in Ferguson, there were some really revolting anti-semitic incidents including a mob shouting "Jews go back to Birkenau!"...In Boston.  

****************

As to Ferguson itself...it's probably good to withhold judgement until the facts of the shooting are made public later this week. Like so many recent news stories most of the initial reports were wrong, and that trend seems to continue nightly. The near nightly looting, is, of course, unacceptable and ( conversely) there are many concerns, not unfounded, regards the militarization of police forces. However, I urge you to read Tamara K's thoughts on the issue in full. It makes no judgments but provides important historical perspective. 

******************

Finally, it should be mentioned that there is another demonstration taking place by individuals who are fed up and seek respect from the police. For some reason, despite being in the media mecca of New York, this is not garnering a lot of coverage...

Who would have thunk it?




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August 16, 2014

test post

Just checking to see if we can


To that end we'll post a random picture, (of a World War 2 Thai gunboat) and center it...

We'll also caption it, mentioning that the ship carried four 8 inch naval rifles on 2300 tons full load. That's smaller than a Fletcher class destroyer. 

Next, we'll express our confusion and discomfort at this animated .gif


Seriously guys...What the HELL?

Then we'll bring about an end to the spoiler tag text by typing [ / s p o i l e r ] but all scrunched up like so

Now we'll type some text outside the spoiler tag and just for good measure we'll post some surreptitiously taken footage of Steven Den Beste enjoying his hiatus. However, out of consideration to our readers we'll put it behind a NSFW tag...
 



Aaaaaand let's see if it works....


UPDATE:
The blog does indeed seem to be broken.
(Though thankfully the NSFW tag still works.)

Let's try a simple spoiler tag with only text inside it here

UPDATE 2: It looks like the hidey tags just don't like centering. Of course I eliminated the centering on the RWBY post at one point but that did not fix the problem. 

Now I'll try de-centerizing the images and captions and see if that works. 

UPDATE 3: Nope. That did not fix the problem. All but the first line of the spoiler text is still visible and now the formatting just looks bad. Obviously the blog is possessed so we'll re center everything and call in the exorcists from Oceania. 

Be advised gentle readers that Tiki torches may present a burn hazard. 

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Star Wars: First Impressions

No, not by me.

I was sent this by Wonderduck and it is an oddball thing of beauty.

A 19 year old athlete who had previously ignored Sci-Fi recently started doing RPGs and on the advice of some friends,  he decided to see Star Wars for the first time.....and he Live Blogged It

Then he decided he needed to see both of the sequels




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August 15, 2014

Tonari No Seki-Kun!

Tonari no Seiki-Kun! The Master of Killing Time is an odd concept for a series. Rumi Yokoi, the exasperated silver fox on the left is bothered to utter distraction by the fact that Toshinari Seki has developed elaborate methods for wasting time in class. 




That's pretty much it. 



Amazingly however, at 7 minutes an episode, it almost always works. I'm 7 episodes in and 6 have been quite solid. Tonari no Seki-Kun does not lend itself to extended marathons, being a one joke show, but it is cute, clever and quite enjoyable in its intended format.

I've really liked this so far. 

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Car Eating Ants (and Other Sundry Annoyances)

Ants have eaten my car. The spoiler tags on the previous post are all wonky. I did my GPA no favors with this most recent class. I've used up all my personal holidays at work for the year and it looks like I'll have to move very soon, Finally, I spent 10 minutes trying to find the ampersand on my Blackberry. 


Some of that may warrant elaboration, but for those already worn down by that fusillade of first world problems, here is Hanako playing billiards. 



more...

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It's the Quiet Ones You Have To Watch Out For



The last episode of RWBY ended with a huge "revelation"...that surprised absolutely no one1. This episode is just full of surprises...



 Neo (politan?)


The short interlude with Junior (the antagonist from the 4th trailer) went way more congenially than expected with Junior being surprisingly calm corporative and reasonable in attempting to find out why Yang crushed his nuts, wrecked his bar and beat up his people. 


And we still don't know why she did it.

This scene does have some worrying implications in that Junior is unaware of what happened to his henchmen in episode one, meaning none of them have contacted him from jail. Does this mean Ruby killed them? (Or more likely, did someone else?). 


Of course there was also GIANT ROBOT RAMPAGE!



This had been shown in the teaser but it was surprising to see it so soon. 

Yang's "special talent" is explicitly stated and, yeah, Super Saiyan pretty much sums it up.

All that and more in 12 minutes.

We're 4 episodes in, and I think we've already covered everything in the teaser not involving Pyrrha.



1: Penny is, get this, A ROBOT! 
2: Aside from "Iceflower" the attack names just happen to correspond to some of the "ship"names the fans have assigned to their fanfic pairings. (I an SO glad they went with Freezerburn instead of Yellow Snow.)




There are clever bits too. It's obvious that Ruby's team has been training and as a result, instead of  the "I have a plan!" trope they have a whole bunch of prepared plans with distinct and descriptive names2.

One question though : What the HELL are those 'holographic crash barriers' actually supposed to do?

That quibble aside, the pacing of this episode was excellent. RWBY is rather silly, but it's fun and developing nicely.  



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August 14, 2014

A Question For My Readers

Does anyone know the name of this show?

ISTR it being fairly recent, but an image search does not yield anything useful. 


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Poetry Corner

  This evening, my friend BOB! and I were discussing...current events ...when suddenly he broke into verse (as he is occasionally wont to do). He thus summed up the situation perfectly.




"Please don't let this be about politics...or Kipling." 
 

Fear not gentle readers....We'll put it below the fold. 
more...

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Gallows Moe

I really should not have been surprised that this exists. And yet....




 Kowaii > Kawaii

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August 12, 2014

A Bit of Good News

Brett Kimberlin, a cyberbully and convicted terrorist has lost his defamation suit against several bloggers who pointed out that he is a genuinely nasty piece of work. This was an important case as it threatened to set a troubling precedent with regard to the ability of individuals to shut down online free speech via lawfare and intimidate those with different political views . Additionally, some of the defendants in the case had endured death threats and SWATTings


Popehat has a roundup. It is particularly pleasing to me that this was not just a legal victory for the defendants. It was also a thorough, total and ignominious defeat for Kimberlin. Sometimes the good do win.   


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