August 16, 2017

An Utter Destroying Childhoods

Disney has put the first two episodes of Duck Tales online.

This is really well written and surprisingly faithful in tone to the 80's Cartoon, but even more so old Carl Banks comic it was loosely based on. 


The characterizations of the kids, (er ducklings)are way better I was particularly relieved with what they did with Webby, who is a really neat character.

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Oh...Sorry About That.

That wail of despair you heard just now was me.

I apologize for the inexcusable lapse in stoicism.


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Just Received A Brief, Terse Text

It contained information on how to access the following file...

I'll leave it to you to asses its importance.

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August 15, 2017

Attack on Titan Season 2

Attack on Titan continues to be unpredictable, generally well animated and interesting. It is also a seinen show and keeps the attention of its adolescent audience by tempering its introspective moments and thoughtful observations with  amazing action scenes and visuals that frequently go beyond graphic to full on baroque in their depiction of carnage.

This space intentionally left blank.

After all the hints in season one, they are finally exploring what the hell was (and is) behind the calamity that inflicted  implacable solar powered cannibalistic giants upon society.

That actual expository plot is kind of incoherent and at the end of the series we still have no idea what is actually behind this calamity, except that there appears to be a conspiracy of some sort. The whole thing is treated as the MacGuffin that it is. 

The show's strength, however is in how its characters react to their frankly insane and increasingly hopeless situations. 

Mercifully not pictured; their situation.

This is a show that's had very good characterizations...except for the main character, who seems to be a parody of a shonen protagonist. He's not at all lacking in courage or determination, but he's not particularly good at his job. The side charachters however, are fascinating and intelligently written. Several of them are quite likable too...

 The moody direction and sense of trancendental dread of the early episodes of the season are not as well handled in the latter half, which relies on increasingly bizarre plot twists, and breakneck pacing only interrupted by an episode of fairly non-expository dialog that seems to have been placed there just to get to the requisite number of episodes. 

Despite that and its gruesome visuals the series is still interesting enough that I hope they do another season. Its splatterpunk tendencies notwithstanding, the show manages to have some remarkably effective and even subtle horror. It has quite a bit to say about the importance of redemption, as well as the nature of true heroism....

...the 'last stand of Potato Girl' being particularly epic in that regard .

The show was wildly uneven and should not be watched while eating, but it remains surprisingly interesting. 

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It Appears That There Might Be Job Openings For Disc Jockeys in Piti and Agana

In the early morning of the 15th (which was yesterday in Guam) the radio stations KSTO and KTWG broadcast a civil defense missile attack alert

I looked them up to see if Guam had two competing gonzo troll stations, but it appears that KSTO is adult contemporary and KTWG is gospel. Neither seems likely to pull a stunt like this and given their formats, a coordinated broadcast between the two seems unlikely. 

My guess (as a former DJ)  is that they got a new DHS duck and cover alert and being a PSA it was placed in the tray with the PSA carts (or whatever these kids today use instead of carts now). 

The the announcers coming in on the graveyard shift were both in a hurry and...

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Still Not Actual Content: (but better than re-runs)

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August 14, 2017

Fire and Fury Appear to Be Delayed

It looks like Kim Jong Un has blinked.

I wouldn't advise Guam to take down these posters though.

At least...

 North Korea has an unknown capacity to make highly enriched uranium. We’ve long noticed that the single facility that North Korea has shown off to outsiders seems smaller than North Korea’s newly renovated capacity to mine and mill uranium; we naturally wondered where all that extra uranium is going. (My research institute thinks it might be fun to estimate how much uranium North Korea enriches based on how much it mills, if you know anyone with grant money burning a hole in her pocket.)

I do take some bittersweet satisfaction in this excerpt though...

There was a common view that the North Koreans, well, kind of sucked at making nuclear weapons. That was certainly my first impression. But there was always another possibility, one that dawned on me gradually. According to a defector account, North Korea tried to skip right toward relatively advanced nuclear weapons that were compact enough to arm ballistic missiles and made use of relatively small amounts of plutonium. That should not have been surprising; both Iraq and Pakistan similarly skipped designing and testing a more cumbersome Fat Man-style implosion device. The disappointing yields of North Korea’s first few nuclear tests were not the result of incompetence, but ambition. So, while the world was laughing at North Korea’s first few nuclear tests, they were learning — a lot.

Do note that there was a post on this very blog positing that very thing 4 years ago

" 'cause this blog's awesome." 

We're ahead of the curve!

Lets hope this trend does not continue since we're also on record as suggesting that the  China-India standoff is where things are more likely to go pear shaped. There is a further complication to this mess beyond the Pakistani factor...winter is coming, which may force the issue. 

A further perusal of the archives for predictions we hope to botch reveals that we've been beating the drum about DPRK and Iranian cooperation for some time. We were doing so as early as three years ago*. 
It's not like there's no support for this unwelcome hypothesis, see here, here, here, here, here, here and here

There is a report here, (PDF) that has some worrisome revelations...

A delegation of Iranian nuclear experts headed by Mohsen Fakhrizadeh- Mahabadi, director of the Iranian NW project, was covertly present at the
third NK nuclear test in February 2013. This test was apparently based – unlike the previous plutonium-core-based field tests – on an HEU (highly enriched uranium) core nuclear device (as, presumably, were the fourth and fifth nuclear tests, which took place in 2016). In 2015, information exchanges and reciprocal delegation visits reportedly took place that were aimed at the planning of nuclear warheads. These include four NK delegations that visited Iran up until June 2015, one month before the VND was completed. It may be noted that in August 2015, a new gas centrifuge hall apparently became operational in the NK main uranium enrichment facility.  
The emphasis is mine. The significance is alluded to in the first Jeffery Lewis quote above. The larger point regarding Iranian involvement is worrisome enough. 

IF Iran and North Korea are cooperating to the point that Iran has access to a tested bomb design, then their "breakout time" is essentialy whenever they feel like it. Uranium enrichment is a chemical and physical process, not a nuclear one, so it is much easier to conceal as Lewis alludes to in his previously mentioned article. Iran is HUGE has its own uranium supplies and there's no telling what sorts of facilities they have squirreled away in the Zargos mountains. It is after all, not like we can inspect the place

So one day, five or so years hence Iran just might shock people...

In any event, this has the potential for their first nuclear test not be a proof of concept exercize, but a simple confirmation that their by then considerable nuclear stockpile will go "bang" when they want it to. They have centrifuges that we KNOW about. If they ran reactor grade uranium through them, they could make 25 bombs a year

But bad could that actually be?

This is another area we hope not to be prescient on. We ran the math on that question some time ago in this click-baity assesment of a potential summer blockbuster plot and realized that they only needed 30 nukes to largely knock the world into the 7th century. far less actually, since that number includes a lot of ocean and icecap. 

Alternatively, they might just be able to field a sizable nuclear arsenal without warning. 

While we are on the subject of things that we hope to be utterly off base on it should be noted in reference to Pakistan's numerous tactical nuclear warheads that an ISIS or Al Quaeda affiliated group getting ahold of even a very small warhead or being sold HEU by....somebody (see above), to make their own  that the potential for mayhem on a continental scale is worrisome. If an EMP were to leave Europe without power, given the current ethno-political tensions there, well....that could be very bad indeed. 

It still seems likely that the next use of nukes in anger will involve a conflict on the subcontinent, but there are a lot more things that we hope the blog is wrong about.

* (note that tl;dr of a post also referenced a report that the Norks had developed miniaturized nuclear that only became widely known recently)

" 'cause this blog ROCKS!"

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August 12, 2017

William Butler Yeats (1865-1939)

 Turning and turning in the widening gyre
    The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
    Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
    Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
    The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
    The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
    The best lack all conviction, while the worst
    Are full of passionate intensity.

    Surely some revelation is at hand;
    Surely the Second Coming is at hand.
    The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out
    When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi
    Troubles my sight: a waste of desert sand;
    A shape with lion body and the head of a man,
    A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
    Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it
    Wind shadows of the indignant desert birds.

    The darkness drops again but now I know
    That twenty centuries of stony sleep
    Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
    And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
    Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?

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August 09, 2017

"HAH!" he thought to himself, before looking around, nervously hoping no one noticed his impolitic bemusement.

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August 07, 2017

Dispatch From the Disaster Department

My sister, you may recall has recently had a hernia operation. She can't pick my nephew up, which has vexxed him quite a bit. My nephew, it should be noted has JUST learned the level 0 skill "Barely Walk". Over the weekend, he decided to express his displeasure at not being carried by somehow unlocking the level 4 skill "Flying Tackle".


Anyway...after much agony and mad scrambling, my sister is now back (again) from the hospital. The prognosis is inconclusive. There may be stitches loose. If things don't improve in a few days she goes back under the knife. 

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