October 21, 2018

Zombie Land Saga

I suddenly find myself at a loss for words. 

I read the blurb. But that's not what I watched.



From the Blurb...

A typical morning. The usual music. Their normal lives. The peace these seven girls experience will suddenly be destroyed. By the living dead... zombies. A reality that they never wanted a part of, an amazing and terrifying zombie world. They all share one wish: "We want to live." These girls will struggle through this saga, in order to achieve a miracle. MAPPA, Avex Pictures, and Cygames team up to bring you a juicy, 100% original anime. A timeless shocker for all audiences, a brand new style of zombie anime, will soon rise.

Now ignore the blurb. 

Completely.

Just go watch Zombie Land Saga posthaste.

No. I mean NOW!

Trust me.

This is the show to beat this season.

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Thank You Mauser

If not for your post, I never would have watched this show.


It's not like the poster is devoid of appeal...



...but it and the blurb didn't really grab me. 

However, unlike the show reviewed below, this is not exactly what it says on the tin. While that poster is not, strictly speaking, dishonest, it does not adequately convey what this show is about.

Eight Word Title With Bunny Girl In It now has me totally  hooked. Despite the poster and an early scene with one of the characters running around in a bunny suit, this is a really creepy show and reminds me most of the Josei horror that was popular at the turn of the century. 

It's low key. It's well written and it's keeping me on the edge of my seat.

The characters are well done, likable and react to the just plain "off" things happening around them in rational but believable ways, while still trying to deal with day to day life.


" Yeah. I agree. Shadowbanning is a real problem." 


2 episodes in this is definitely looking like a keeper.


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In Todays World...




This is an important component of one's last will and testament.



For...some people. 
...
 
I hear tell.

From That Time I was Reincarnated as a Slime, which, perhaps surprisingly, is a show about exactly what it says on the tin.

A slime, for those of you who don't know, is a low level monster in a lot of computer role playing games, in the fantasy genre 'inspired' by D&D. They are essentially a  carnivorous blob of jello for beginning and low level players to learn the ropes on. The lowest and weakest of monsters.

Our hero, having done a genuinely heroic thing which got him killed, is granted a request by the what appears to be the Samsarra AI. However, his dying requests are contradictory and the transmigration algorithm screws up, reincarnating him in a suspiciously D&D like  fantasy world....but as a slime.

Yeah, it's another Isekai show, but the loser wish fulfillment is somewhat tempered by... 

Our hero.

But he's not just a slime! He has an intellect and all of his memories of his education, his job in construction oversight...and playing D&D. 

He quickly becomes the most OP...uh slime... you've ever seen. 

This is genuinely odd.
It's not, necessarily good mind you, but it has potential and at episode 3 it is amusing me quite a bit more than it perhaps ought to. 

Still watching.

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Follow-Up on that Hardware Hacking Story

A few weeks ago we noted that Bloomberg had broken a HUGE news story that involved China inserting small chips onto mother boards that were intended to allow back door access to ALL THE HARDWARE. 

A week or so later we noted that sourcing was rather....thin, and that no rice grain sized chips had been produced. 

Now it appears that Apple (who has vociferously denied it all along) is demanding a retraction and apology from Bloomberg.  

As Pixy noted in the comments to our first post on the matter, one of the reporters involved has a rather chequered history with computer spying stories.

To Wit:

one of the reporters on the Bloomberg story -- Michael Riley -- had also done a story back in 2014 making bold claims that the NSA had exploited the Heartbleed bug, and multiple other reports ripped that story to shreds, with multiple people denying it and no one else confirming it.
 

That TECHDIRT story goes on to suggest that Bloomberg has whittled away their credibility on this and "set fire to the scraps". 

For example people quoted in the original story are strongly contradicting it.
 
All of Bloomberg's sources on this are and remain anonymous. So as of now, the story seems to be a dumpster fire, that still hasn't produced any spy chips or any evidence whatsoever. 

None of this is to suggest that its a good idea to be subcontracting our most vital components to overseas slaves whose masters hate our guts, or that this isn't an obvious and even likely threat. However, IF this story is in fact bunk, (as now seems likely) the "Cry Wolf Effect" will make it harder to prepare for such matters. Furthermore if this is bunk then those of us who reported it credulously will find it harder to be believed when it does come to pass.

If I were the CCP, that would suit me just fine.


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October 18, 2018

Ao Dais, Hoop Skirts, Cheongsams, Saboks and Other Things YOU Can't Wear For Halloween

So much appropriation here.

I don't think this video could be made in the U.S.A. without someone loosing their job.

 
Fortunately for all that is good and decent, South Korea doesn't care.

May Korea learn from and continue to avoid our society's mistakes.

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October 17, 2018

11 More Days

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American Civilization and Where it is Headed

There are two essays by T.S.W. over at DeclinationThe first one looks at what American Civilization actually is and the second looks at current trends and does comparative analysis with historical examples.  Both are quite lengthy (over 4300 words for the second one) but thoughtful.


I strongly recommend you read them both in full.



"You should probably disregard his recommendation if you are easily disturbed, prone to anxiety or depression, are on any medication that can cause suicidal thoughts, or have a particularly frail constitution."

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Project H.A.V.O.C.

While the acronym does accurately convey the idea, the High Altitude Venus Operational Concept acronym might need some tweaking for PR reasons.


In any event,  the project is quite interesting and NASA's announcement Monday that it is seriously considering it for one of its upcoming manned missions is genuinely exiting.  Conceived by N.A.S.A.'s Langley Research Center, H.A.V.O.C. has actually been around for a few years, Scott Lowther did an extensive write up on it in U.S. Spacecraft Projects #5 earlier this year. 

The concept involves using a rocket to go to Venus, (which actually is easier to get to than Mars) which will drop a manned survey vehicle into the atmosphere. 

So far so good, except that as we all know, Venus's surface temperature is that of molten lead, its pressure is higher than in the Marianas Trench and after CO2 and Nitrogen, the most common atmospheric gas is sulfuric acid. Also it's gravity is about the same as Earth and so would require a full sized ( Titan or bigger) acid proof rocket to get the crew back into orbit in the unlikely event they weren't baked, dissolved, and crushed.

This is why Venus has not been on N.A.S.A.'s shortlist for places to visit. 

Fortunately there is an amazingly cutting edge technology that allows a manned survey of Venus. 

The Blimp!

The High Altitude Venus Operational Concept takes  advantage of the fact that temperatures 34 miles above the surface are around 80 degrees and the pressure is that of Boulder Colorado. However because the CO2 atmosphere is much denser than nitrogen, earth air is a lifting gas at that altitude. 


 "Dirigibles in space!"

So the idea is to inflate the "landing" party's ship on the way down and have it double as a 423 foot long airship, (Actually a manned, dirigible, rockoon) and then fly around the planet for a few weeks or months doing more detailed surveys than can be done from orbit and tele-operating probes on the surface. This also allows for detailed chemical analysis of the atmosphere, using sensors lowered on tethers into the dense lower atmosphere, much like a oceanographer uses Nansen bottles to sample the deep. 

After completing the mission, the Blimp will launch a rocket from high altitude (Like a Pegasus) and transport the crew into space, where they'll rendezvous with their mother ship and return to Earth.


Assuming an acid proof blimp, Venus is actually much safer than Mars for the astronauts. The gravity is about the same as Earth, the thick atmosphere plus the planet's weak magnetic field would protect the crew from cosmic rays even better than earth does. Venus is much easier to get to and launch windows open much more often than they do for Mars. Two precursor missions, one manned but confined to orbit and one using a 1 quarter scale drone dirigible to test acid proofing and demonstrate that the inflation/deployment system works would precede the crewed Venus blimp sortie..

This is a very good idea for an icebreaker mission. It's more advanced than the moon or asteroid missions currently in the pipeline but still far quicker, easier (and probably safer) than the upcoming mission to Mars. Such a mission would be far shorter in duration than a Mars landing and would be a nice stepping stone on the way to those missions as well as expeditions to the asteroids Mercury, Ceres and Callisto. Flags and footprints albeit without flags or dirty feet (but with a blimp!).

So, today we've discussed rockets, space travel, a manned mission to the planet Venus and an airship, nay, a rockoon even! The only thing that would make this cooler is a swordfight. 

Or floating cities...

The fact that air is a lifting gas means that large, long term settlements are theoretically possible, with all the advantages regarding radiation and gravity listed above. Even the sulfuric acid is not that big a problem as it is mostly below the altitudes proposed, where it is quite dilute. In fact, the temperatures while hotter than Death Valley are such that one could could probably do something one can do nowhere except Earth: step outside in a birthday suit and survive as long as one could hold one's breath (but run to the cold shower/eyewash station afterwards!). As an added bonus, unlike anywhere except Titan, due to the sheer density of the CO2, such cloud cities would also be far better protected against meteor strikes than any city on Earth. 



A 2015 study at Rutgers (preliminary draft here) published the above artwork some time ago to illustrate what a (very hypothetical) more permanent research station might look like and news reports on Monday's announcement almost universally featured the below N.A.S.A. image of a large floating outpost acting as a tender to several H.A.V.O.C. type airships. 



Both of these are very ambitious indeed and probably quite far term. For one thing, despite its advantages, Venus would seem to make little sense as a location for space cities, as they'd be far down a gravity well, there's no water except what one can crack from the sulphuric acid and no easy way to bring in supplies from asteroids. In an O'Neal cylinder or on the surface of a planet like Mars a major damage incident is survivable with space suits and repair teams, on Venus if you balloon deflates you're baked, dissolved, and crushed.

So unless the view of the clouds is SPECTACULAR and sufficiently so to somehow justify interplanetary tourism,  there's little reason to believe that there would ever be any kind of permanent outpost on Venus.  

I mean what could Venus produce that has real value and couldn't be gotten FAR easier somewhere, indeed anywhere else?



"PHOSPHOROUS!" 
Oh right...

One of our Crack Team Of 2-D Science Babes reminds us of this paper (PDF) we perused recently that reviewed what scientists know about Venus's atmosphere. Here's an interesting excerpt...

Venera 13, Venera 14, Vega 1, and Vega 2 descent probes all carried X-ray fluorescence instruments. These instruments measured elemental composition of the cloud particles and found not only sulfur, but also phosphorus, chlorine and iron – notably, as much phosphorus as sulphur in the lower clouds below 52 km [Andreichikov et al, Sov. Astron. Lett. 1986, 1987]. A chemical analysis by Krasnopolsky [PSS, 1985] con- cluded that the phosphorus could be in the form of phosphoric acid (H3PO4) aerosols, which would ac- count for the particulates observed by descent probes down to 33 km altitudes

Emphasis is mine.

Phosphorus, is not a trivial thing.
Phosphorus is absolutely vital to life and while theoretically common on earth is concentrated in useable forms mainly in living organisms and in phosphate rocks (mostly fossils of dead organisms). The amount of free phosphorous pretty much dictates the carrying capacity of the planet and it is a real concern for food production as phosphates are a finite resource. Furthermore, additional sources of phosphorus need to be found if humanity is going to expand into space. such deposits are presumed to exist, but on Earth they seem to have been concentrated by biological action leaving a bit of a chicken-egg problem finding it off planet. Even without off planet colonization phosphorous shortages represent a potential disaster for human food supplies. There is discussion of peak phosphorus here, here and here.  

Even if the perils of peak phosphorus are overstated, it IS a finite resource and most off planet settlements are going to require off planet sources of phosphorus if they are to expand. Phosphorus could well end up being something akin to the dilithium, quanticum 40,or spice Melange of the real future. The only extraterrestrial places that I've read that it exists in other than trace amounts is the above mentioned cloud layer on Venus and the red clouds of Jupiter (bound in phosphene). 

This moves the notion of a floating city on Venus from technically feasible to potentially practical and indeed desirable. See, if the Soviet probes were correct, then there is, in Venus's lower atmosphere, phosphorus (in gaseous form) in greater concentrations than the ubiquitous sulfur. You'd need to pump up atmosphere near the surface, filter out the undesirable stuff and if its phosphoric acid then you have to take out the water and oxygen (I'm sure uses can be found for those) I don't know what reagents might be necessary but this represents a steady supply of phosphorous.  

But wait...there's more. Venus has more sunlight than earth, a zillion times as much CO2, and about 4 times as much atmospheric nitrogen as Earth. There's also water to be had from the phosphoric and sulphuric acid. And remember you're better protected from meteor strikes and cosmic rays than on Earth. A Venusian phosphorus-gas mine could grow all its own food. 


Art from Technica Molodezhi TM - 9 1971 a Soviet Science Magazine

In the longer term, expanding upon such floating farms, Venus could be the breadbasket of the solar system. All that stuff that can be got so much easier on Luna, Mercury, Mars or The Belt? Well, the cloud cities of Venus ought to be able to just buy them. Of course you have solar power out the wazoo so it's at least conceivable that such an outpost might make something useful out of the carbon in the CO2. Note too that the referenced report also mentions the apparent presence of gaseous iron compounds in the lower atmosphere which might be industrially exploitable as well. Finally, Venus has, as mentioned, well more that three Earths worth of nitrogen in its atmosphere. If Venus sold Mars an atmosphere, there'd still be enough left over for thousands of O'Neal Cylinders. Venus has the potential to be not only self-sufficient but an exporter of food, fertilizer and air. 

Of course for any of that that to eventually come to pass we need to confirm the Soviet probe data and do close surveys of the planet. N.A.S.A. seems to be planning just that in the next decade.

This is awesome. Even putting aside the longer term speculations; the fact that N.A.S.A. is looking at innovative missions like this is truly heartening.

With regard to the more ambitious proposals, I think we should begin a movement to have high pressure gaseous phosphoric acid referred to by the trade name "Tibanna". 



UPDATE:
:Fixed some typos. 
:Added 2 additional pictures
:While trying to hunt down a picture credit I discovered that there is an extensive disquisition on the topic of Venusian settlement and even terraforming from 2014 here.  

UPDATE 2:
:Thanks to Pete Zaitcev in the comments there are some links to much earlier thoughts by John Goff on the matter regarding safe rocket recovery here and here as well as Venusian industrial chemistry here and here.


Crackerjack 2-D Science Babe is Rikka from Haganai 

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Apropos of NOTHING

That is our story. We are sticking to it.

If one is in an online forum and something involving an issue that is on the borderline of the established rules requires a decision from a moderator, a call by the moderator that is against one's liking does not make the moderator a marxist. It means they are moderating...that is their job. They don't get paid. And on a large forum they are having to make a LOT of calls and do a lot of work as well as tend to their own lives so if one is told to stop pushing the envelope (which will then entice a whole bunch of edgelord shitposters to shitpost on the edge and make the mod's life even harder) then one should probably not go all derp-chan & call them a Marxist. A Marxist is every bit as bad as a Nazi and we ought not to throw these words around higgly piggly. Yes. I know. Some people do. A majority of them are Marxists. They're also dicks. Don't be a dick. I have confidence that one is better than that. 


"And I believe in you too!"

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October 16, 2018

Oh. So That's How They Did It.


 All those years I'd thought it was some theremin related instrument or a synthesizer.

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It's the Sci-Fi Crossover of our Age

I bet the pitch meeting was a hoot. 


"We'll call it Bill and Ted 451. It'll be like Minority Report meets 1984, done as black comedy."

Oh wait. This is really happening.


Some are trying to find a silver lining in this.


"Woah! Larry Correia does COMICS !? Sweet!
Where can I get them before they're burned?"

Larry Correia doesn't work in comics. He doesn't draw comics, he doesn't ink comics, he doesn't write comics, he doesn't really opine on comics to the best of my knowledge. He just writes his fantasy and sci-fi books.

But he's been PREEMPTIVELY blacklisted, because he associates with the wrong sort of people, or has the wrong sort of views (they're vague on this point).



"Marxists SUCK!"

While the mercurial, enforcement of random and ever-changing rules that might theoretically be broken at some future date has a undeniable appeal to certain termagant totalitarians, for legal reasons, it might be advisable that the industry settle on some sort of standard policy regarding defenestration of potential contributors. 

Fortunately, there's an AP for that


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This Should Allow Everyone to Declare Victory and Go Home

J. Greely has what ought to be the final word on Fauxcahontas and her 23 and Me adventure.


I mean, at 1/1024, she’s clearly a homeopathic Native American.

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October 14, 2018

Wow!

Jerry Miculek takes his trusty Barret M-82 "Light .50" against body armor. This seems pretty pointless, as an anti material rifle against a foam chest plate light enough to be used in a life preserver is not even a....Wait. What!



M-82 Tan seems to be taking it well. 

 Art, by Saru.


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October 13, 2018

Well, That's Not Good.

In addition to the already horrific news regarding the aftermath of Hurricane Michael,  there is a report that the Air-Force may have lost as many as 22 of its currently irreplaceable F-22 stealth fighters when Hurricane Michael flattened most of Tyndall AFB. While the initial report is from the New York Times,  there is photographic evidence of at least one Raptor destroyed and Air Force Magazine is reporting much the same story albeit with a smaller number of fighters (12 as opposed to 22). Given that we can't MAKE the things anymore, this is bad news regardless. 

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Well, Power's Back

The 3 out of four freezers need to be cleaned out.


The storm did damage out of all proportion to its actual strength when it hit here. It was a mere tropical storm, yet trees are still down all over. I attribute this to a combination of wet ground and the fact that big storms around here generally don't come from the west, so many trees which had survived hurricanes and nor'easters were tested from  a new direction and found wanting.

As of last night 200,000 people in Virginia were still without power.

From what little I've seen over the last few minutes, we got off very easy here. The people in Florida and Georgia are going to take years to recover from this.

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Stygian Blackness



Enveloping me
I cannot see
where to pee

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October 09, 2018

Four Ring Circus

El Paso is going to get wet.



Of course everyone is bracing for this.


This might be something.


Siergen called it! It's turning around again...

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The Soul Crushing Heartbreak of First World Problems

There's been a schedule change.

Now I am forced to decide between Tucker Carlson and...


Woe and grief.

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October 08, 2018

Meanwhile...

Well...we're gonna get wet again. Pinar del Río, Mobile and Pascagoula are going to get worse.




I fear that the Iberians may not grok just how serious these storms are.



Another?



Oh good grief.
BEN! You're not going to believe this but...



Wait...Why isn't Sergio a Typhoon?

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Follow Up

Regarding that Bloomberg Story about the hardware hacking that is alleged to have affected 30 companies and the U.S. military.. Here's a video of Jordan Robertson, one of the story's authors, being interviewed by...Bloomberg.


Interestingly, one of the Bloomberg anchors asks Robertson some very pointed questions regarding various details in the first two minutes or so. 
Robertson keeps referencing Snowden.

Note that the DHS is saying that there is no reason to doubt the denials of the companies implicated as being hacked in the report. Which is a way of saying "No!" that allows all sorts of deniability down the road. 

For a story as potentially explosive as this is, it hasn't been getting a lot of coverage over here past the initial flurry of interest,  but it is reportedly making some waves in Asia.  Note, that to the best of my Googling however,  as of 4 days later, no one has produced a single rice grain sized spy chip. 

However, there IS an interview in NY Mag with a guy who wrote a techno thriller based on the concept. 


"Sourcing may be thin."

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