Friday, May 31. 2013 | Comments (3)
Today's video and music theme is Texas Rangers walk-up songs:
1st up, Lance Berkman uses "God's Gonna Cut You Down" by Johnny Cash.
A thing that won't trigger nostalgia: Blockbuster Video.
Top 25 Epoch-Making Anime
The Lord of the Rings Family Tree project. Ambitious, and still not the easiest thing to follow.
7 Pictures of Tom Cruise being tall.
Brad Johnson: The Price of an NFL career.
The much-hated A.J. Pierzynski uses "Bullets" by Creed, "Set It Off" by Audioslave, and included below because it's the most interesting, "AJ Scratch" by Kurtis Blow:
MLB's State-of-the-art Replay System
The Giant Rubber Duck in Hong Kong; coming soon to a major city near you.
Political: The Brickmuppet sums up all of the scandals of the current governmental administration that started breaking the past few weeks.
Political/Cultural: The Part of the World That Shoots Back
And finally (for now) Adrian Beltre's song is "Pa Que Retozen" by Tego Calderon:
A video I really wanted to find, or a recording even, is George Chandler's cover of Del Shannon's "Runaway". Chandler performed the cover for an episode of The Benny Hill Show, and apparently never recorded the song otherwise. Which is a shame, because it was probably the best version of the song ever performed. I have video from the show, but I am somewhat reticent to upload, as Benny Hill related videos seem to be taken down regularly.
My current video game project, since hitting the level cap in Scarlet Blade (it's been upped since, and a new area added) is to use the free trial of World of Warcraft to level every class with every race to level 20, and to make judgements thereon. So far I've leveled a Warrior for Human, Dwarf, Gnome and Night Elf, and I'm working on Draenei. I won't do Pandas until the end. One thing I can tell you is that the Draenei starting area hasn't been optimized for the free trial. At least one quest chain requires access to mail, which is blocked in the demo. The four original races have all been streamlined to make the level experience to 20 quick and rewarding. In fact, it's probably a little "too" quick, and it's clear (especially in areas that I had previously visited with older characters) that a lot of quests had been cut, even though their resources where sometimes still in the game. This is an improvement in some cases; e.g. a hunting quest chain in Loch Modan has been cut in half at least. Originally you had to "kill 8 xxxxxx's" for four different low-level animals, then four different medium level animals, then four different high-level animals, then a boss animal for each. Each group was located in a different area; the entire quest chain could have you running over the entire area (pre-mount if you're doing it at the appropriate level) and can take hours and hours of work (days for a casual player). However, in some cases Blizzard cut off a quest chain half-way through, leaving a story half-finished, or cut out a quest chain that uses unique resources. A good example is in the human starting area, which cut out the quest chain involving one of the kobold-infested mines, even though the kobolds and mine are still there. Most of the quest chain involving the human bandits is gone, leaving this group of bandits that everyone talks about, but that you never really do anything about. But more about all of this later.
Thursday, April 11. 2013 | Comments (0)
Interesting theory, which I think has a lot of merit...
Sunday, March 17. 2013 | Comments (0)
Sarah Hoyt: Digging Under/Building Under
Viking "Sunstone" found in shipwreck.
"Hair Archaeologist" discovers how to recreate (realistically) the fabulous 'dos of antiquity.
Hat-tip to Anthony Cagle's Archaeoblog for some of the links.
I went and dug up some more AMVs after WonderDuck did an AMV post. First up, WonderDuck's own "Angel" based on Kanon.
Here's one I found. This video is short, but is waaaaay better than I expected it to be. Very tight editing with good timing. Surprisingly effective use of Nichijou.
The Alamo siege chronology.
The Mission San Antonio de Valero
The Last Days of Davy Crockett
Michael Lind's The Death of Davy Crockett
Tour of The Alamo. Doesn't work very well, but has some interesting information.
A video shared by WonderDuck, "Gratuitous Violets" featuring Revy from Black Lagoon and Motoko Kusanagi from Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex:
Shinji's a bitch. (It's an old conversation, but this is the first time I've seen it in comic form.)
The third ClimateGate document dump has occurred. I bet you heard all about it on the news this week, didn't you?
In the spring, a young man's fancy turns to thoughts of love. To wit:
Readers of El Goonish Shive have been speculating for a long time that Elliot's relationship with Sarah was doomed, and it seems Dan Shive finally started the final ball rolling when Elliot was thrown into long-term proximity with Susan. Of course, Elliot didn't have a clue, until...
Jeph Jacques has stated that he doesn't plan Questionable Content in advance; he just rolls with what feels right. He seems to be rolling into finally having Marten enter another relationship. Specifically... This could be interesting. Claire is high-strung and craves affection for who she is, and just doesn't click with people. Whereas Marten is basically a wimpy, less-glib version of Matt LeBlanc. Jacques has made it clear that Claire has a crush on Marten, but Marten's feelings are more circumspect (he wants to love and please the entire world, of course.)
In Girl Genius, Princess Zeetha has her hat set on Mr. Higgs...
But on the other hand, Order of the Stick just had one of the saddest moments ever. However; well done Mr. Burlew. Excellent writing.
Speaking of excellent writing. Macross Frontier debuted five years ago. I haven't watched it. I'm scared. Other than Super Dimension Fortress Macross and Robotech I have seen Macross Plus and some of Macross 7. Plus was OK, but I didn't really like 7. However, in a fit of extreme nostalgia that occurred while I was sick earlier this week, I decided it was finally time to watch Frontier. So far, I've watched the three versions of the first episode, plus the second and third. I have some concerns, but some high hopes as well. Frontier is very much an homage to the original, but they've certainly messed with the characters a bit. I like the male lead, Alto; but I'm not too thrilled with the two female leads, which are, at this point, Lynn Minmei split into two characters. Older Minmei is "The Fairy of The Galaxy" Sheryl Nome, and Younger Minmei is high-school student and wanna-be singer Ranka Lee. There isn't enough separation. The other big problem is that they really have to rush the story (it's only 25 episodes). I will be talking more about Frontier, I'm sure. Oh, love the art. Love it.
Speaking of not-so-excellent writing, I'm trying out the new free-to-play MMO by Aeria Games, Scarlet Blade. This is the western regions release of Queen's Blade Online. If you're familiar with Queen's Blade, you know what that means.
Here's a short video with very little content. I'm still learning to play.
Sunday, March 3. 2013 | Comments (2)
Remember Michelle Jenneke, the Australian track star who won fame for bouncing up and down and shaking her butt before an Olympic race on international TV? It got her a gig with Sports Illustrated.
James Lileks: Everything you know about the 1920s is wrong.
Visual timeline of the One Ring.
Vernon responds: Letter to "The Breakfast Club" explaining why they failed their detention assignment. And have to come back next week.
Hat-tip to Kaedrin for the previous two links.
Sarah Hoyt tackles group identity, why racial and other divisions in America are a "first world problem", and how people self-seperate and seek support in truly difficult circumstances. When The Chips Are Down.
Imperial Incompetence: The Battle of Hoth
U.S. Judge overturns lower court's decision: Sea Shepherd are indeed "pirates".
Watt's Up With That looks at Global Cooling media of the 1970s. It looks...familiar.
The Soviet Union got the cream of the intelligentsia, Vietnam got the hottest actors and politicians...North Korea gets Dennis Rodman.
Rachel Maddow busted for Twitter spam trend manipulation. No comment from Twitter, but they have suspended all of the accounts.
The Sequestration in one chart. It's in the upper-right-hand-corner. Highlighted in RED and CIRCLED. And you still might not notice it.
Same song by ZONE:
Sunday, February 17. 2013 | Comments (0)
100-year-old photos found in 112-year-old camera.
Turning Vincent Van Gogh's self-portrait into a photograph.
Japan's second-oldest man found to be a mummified corpse; family was still cashing the pension checks.
Stealing magic tricks, the honor system, and Teller.
Working with Lindsay Lohan is similar to working with a lit stick of dynamite. Nothing we didn't already know, but this article makes you laugh and shake your head in wonder.
Hat-tip to Mark at Kaedrin for the previous two links.
The video isn't so great IMO, but I love the song. The artist is Aya Hirano, who spent about five years as the top voice talent in Japan and one of the best voice actors evar. Now people just make fun of her for being a nut.
Dragon Season breaks down the Guild Wars 2 personal story from the general to the specific for every possible choice in the game. It's a little less impressive when you look at it that way.
Russian family cut off from all contact for 40 years. Apparently an old story, as the family was discovered in 1978.
WARNING: Political Links below:
Reagan through liberal eyes; re: the upcoming Reagan biopic.
Drinking Their Own Ink by Sarah Hoyt. Confirmation bias on the Left. Spawned a later post, because in the comments NPR was included as an example of the mainstream liberal media, to which an NPR listener took exception. After refusing to engage with facts, he apparently left a $1 tip and a snarky rant for Sarah, which was returned and prompted another post.
Chief Greek statistician threatened with jail for revealing true size and scope of Greece's financial problems.
The following video is NSFW (language) but if you don't mind that, you have to watch it. Not just listen to it, watch it.
I mentioned on Twitter that I stopped my World of Warcraft subscription. There are so many free-to-play and buy-once MMORPGs now that I felt foolish still giving money to Blizzard while trying out all of the other games. And that's without the penchant to suddenly load up GTA: Vice City. I've gone through the prologue in TERA with the controller; I think I'll try it again with the keyboard. Opinion seems mixed as to whether the controller is adequate. I have The Secret World loaded, but haven't tried it yet. I played through the prologue of Rusty Hearts months ago but haven't returned. And of course, I've still got Guild Wars, Guild Wars 2 and Age of Conan loaded as well.
Sunday, January 20. 2013 | Comments (0)
No players were elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame this year, due mostly to the addition of several players linked closely to the "Performance Enhancing Drugs" scandals. Joe Posnanski writes about eight players who are borderline candidates, but are not very likely to ever make it.
And while we're on baseball, Reason covers Curt Schilling's Crony Capitalism Debacle. I remember when Schilling founded 38 Studios, back when he first started talking about retiring. It sounded, at the time, like someone had got their hooks into him and promised they had the only road to the future in their back pocket. And apparently that's exactly what happened. The only question at this point is when did Curt Schilling himself become aware of the farce his company was. This article is just a sum-up, unfortunately. While the author spends some time trashing Schilling and the Rhode Island Economic Development Corporation, he barely mentions any of Schilling's partners (I guarantee Schilling wasn't running 38 Studios, and he sure wasn't programming).
Sankaku Complex has pictures of a novelty shopping bag. SERIOUSLY NSFW I MEAN IT. As in this bag probably violates a lot of community decency laws in America.
A little less controversial is Nvidia's new handheld remote gaming system. I.E. an Xbox controller with an LCD screen that connects remotely to your computer.
Doug Ross, "Don't Cry For Me, America". Argentina was once a world power. Not just technically; they were a major player in world politics. What the hell happened?
Grassroots effort to save photos damaged by Sandy. When I spent a short amount of time as a photographer, this is what I actually made money with. Photo restoration. It's fun.
7 Most incredible tank graveyards on Earth. Not a great article and I hate the slideshow design, but the photos are interesting.
Japan is proud of it's 99.8% criminal conviction rate. Unfortunately, citizens have been getting more alarmed about the number of innocents pressured into confessions.
I linked this on Twitter. Sarah Hoyt's "It All Ends in Chickens".
I finally started playing Guild Wars 2. It's pretty obvious I've been a big fan of the original Guild Wars for a long time, partially because of the game mechanics but more because of the story. Not that the storytelling is actually very good, but the story itself is very interesting. The history is very deep and the interactions between the various races of Tyria is fascinating. If not always entirely clear.
With Guild Wars 2, the dynamic has skewed a bit for me. While Guild Wars was challenging, the interesting game mechanics made the game fun. The game mechanics of Guild Wars 2 are *phenomenal*. It's one of the few games I play just because it's fun to play, not necessarily to get another achievement or to level up. In fact, I kind of wish the game was a little slower...I've been playing for two weeks now and I'm already up to level 55. (Keep in mind; I only play a few hours at a time every few days).
But the story is a major disappointment.
Leaving out the storytelling, which once again is a bit disappointing, ArenaNet made a pretty serious mistake. In Guild Wars, your character is a faceless hero. You're the guy standing behind Prince Rurik, along with all the rest of his Vanguard, as he negotiates passage through the Shiverpeaks. Sure, you end up Ascended and fighting an undead lich, but the story is always told from the point-of-view that the player is in a party. Specifically, you and whoever you're playing with are assumed to be travelling with Cynn, Mehnlo, Devona, Aidan and Eve. In Guild Wars 2, the point-of-view is shifted to the assumption that you are playing alone, even when you play with others. ArenaNet tried to create the impression that your character is driving the storyline, rather than following it, and it works about as well as it does in most video games. The story is filled with false choices, and you end up feeling like the dupe of stupid people rather than the hero of the story. Additionally, a secondary part of the story is to reunite the gladiator team Edge of Destiny, which was comprised of the 'mentor" characters of each race: Rytlock, Logan, Zojja, Caithe and Eir. What happened with this bunch is detailed in the book Edge of Destiny, which leaves these characters on a slightly different note than what we pick up in the game.
The "My Story" concept in general is a big disappointment so far. Much was made before the game came out about your "Home Instance", which disappears after your first few story missions. I haven't fully experimented yet, but it seems like almost all of the personalization choices you make, that factor in the first third of the game, disappear for the last two thirds. It was such a good idea, but it looks like ArenaNet ran out of ideas.
Still, as I mentioned, Guild Wars 2 is just plain FUN the play. No doubt I'll have more to say about it in the future.
Sunday, January 13. 2013 | Comments (0)
After all of the adventures with Wordpress, I decided to stick with Serendipity. If I'm gonna have to program the damn thing myself, might as well stick with a platform I know a bit about already. I made a few upgrades I've been meaning to get to for a while...there is now a comments notifier at the top of a post, for example. The social media bar is a custom bit of code (sort of) that I put together myself. Unfortunately, because I want the bar to connect live each time, the load times are a bit extreme, so the social media bar only appears on the full post page now. The twitter and facebook integration may be complete. I haven't been able to verify travelling comments, yet. All of the rest of it works. I changed the image/portfolio plugin back to flickr, and moved it to the other side. Also, the random input box is back, on the right side below the twitter feed. The RSS/Atom syndication links are back as well, I honestly don't remember deleting that plugin, but I must have.
Atomic motor uses a single atom of Ruthenium as a bearing. Capable of clockwise and counter-clockwise rotation.
Rumors that Intel will finally give cable customers what they want: À la carte programming. Of course subscribing to individual channels most likely will be more expensive, not less. So, are you willing to pay more for more choice?
House Speaker John Boehner randomly tells Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to go f*** himself. Seriously. Not that Reid doesn't deserve such an insult, today, tomorrow and yesterday...but it was just such an out-of-context event...
Showing pictures of starving children in Africa isn't doing the trick anymore. Could have told you that a few years ago. People get desensitized to such things. They can also have different reactions than what is expected. My wife says the ASPCA "Angel" commercials don't bother her anymore. They still bother me. Unfortunately, while I am a huge supporter of the ASPCA, the "Angel" commercials have angered me from the beginning. Of course I have the expected response as well; the commercials are very hard for me to watch. But such an obvious attempt to manipulate people on a raw emotional level triggers my self preservation instinct, and I get very angry. At the ASPCA. I've written letters, but it's pretty obvious that the commercials must be successful, as they're still going.
The masked monkeys of Indonesia. WTF???
Obama accomplishments chart. Political, but not partisan. Seriously. Nothing but facts.
How to sell anything ONCE by Sarah Hoyt. About how the comic book industry increasingly sells issues with shock value. Change a known character using race, sexual orientation or death to sell an issue or two. The problem is that the comics publishers seem to think they can maintain audience doing this. The problem, obviously, is that no one cares the SECOND time you kill a superhero. Going straight after you go gay isn't significant; just as changing race *again*(except back to Caucasian) isn't a big deal. The last two might create a few political stories, but after you've cycled a few times, even that won't matter anymore. Here's the article she is referencing.
I finally watched Girls und Panzer. Obviously set in the future, although I have a hard time accepting the setting. Apparently all schools in the future will be located on giant (GIANT) aircraft-carrier-like ships. These schools will educate a few hundred students, and will be supported by a small city of shops. The schools are nominally run by the student council. Sure, I know in anime the student council is always portrayed as being ridiculously powerful, but really? You're going to put three 15-17 year-old girls in charge of a floating city? I guess you just have to keep in mind that despite the show's real-world historical ties, it really is a fantasy.
I could go into how "tank arts" is "the sport of girls"...but I won't do that.
By "tank arts" (or in the Crunchyroll subs, "tankery") I mean the complete operation of World War II era tanks in mock battles, using live, if underpowered, ammunition. Maintenance is mentioned, but it also seems to get handed off to the "Auto Club" more often than not. So, Girls und Panzer is another anime based on the idea of "come up with a bizarre idea for a school club, then create a setting that allows for the club". However, as derivative as the idea is, the production team manages a good balance between the fanciful setting, interesting characters (although it gets a bit extreme toward the end) and awesome tanks. And really, that's why you would want to watch the series; the tank animation and information is fabulous. Unfortunately, the final episodes of the series have been delayed until March, due to undisclosed "production problems". There is some discussion that such a severe delay actually means the production run of the series is effectively over. However, there was already enough interest in the series for a sequel to be in planning stages, so I imagine there will eventually be more Girls und Panzer. Unfortunately, what is generally considered to be one of the best parts of the anime was left out of the Crunchyroll release because of copyright issues:
What is Katyusha?
I've also been watching Chuunibyou Demo Koi ga Shitai!, my own (very poor, I'm sure) translation of which is "Despite Chuunibyou, Love is Wanted"...or to use the translation on Wikipedia, "Even (chuunibyou) want to experience love." Chuunibyou is a Japanese slang term which translates to "Middle School 2nd Year" syndrome. We might express the idea in America as "Junior High Syndrome", characterizing the crossover period from childhood to adulthood. The concept is used to describe both young children who act older than they are and look down on their peers as "children"; as well as middle-school and older children who act as if they are magical, supernatural or powerful beings. I'm not sure if the term applies only to those who literally "role-play" their lives in such a manner, or if it also applies to older children who still engage in fanciful, imaginative play.
Anyway, enough of that. The set-up for the series is another "think of a bizarre idea for school club" story, although that tiring cliche is only briefly introduced. Thankfully, the focus is much more on the characters. Wonderduck has written a bit on the series, and suspect may have more to say in the future. I don't really have much to add that isn't brought up by Wonderduck, although I have really been taken by the idea that the series is a kind of "anti-Haruhi". However, my primary interest along those lines is in Yuta as an "anti-Kyon".
Saturday, December 29. 2012 | Comments (0)
I've got a handful of links, and some commentary on eBay because of a recent nice experience.
eBay introduced, several years ago, the "Second Chance Offer" buying mechanic. The stated reason was to reduce fraud via unofficial transactions; the real reason was to just flat out prevent unofficial transactions of any kind. eBay was having a problem with auctions being ended early when an acceptable price was reached. Or more commonly, the "reserve price" option would be used. Once upon a time, there were very few auctions that did not have a "reserve price". The reserve price would be set ridiculously high, then when the auction did not end successfully, the highest bidder would be contacted and the item sold through a means other than eBay. While this practice certainly introduced an element of fraud for the consumer, it mostly resulted in eBay not making money. So, they made "Reserve Price" an option you had to buy and introduced the "Second Chance Offer." In conjunction with these mechanical changes, eBay started a massive advertising campaign warning about the dangers of "off-site transactions" and email offers. eBay's efforts appear to have been successful, as I have received dozens of second chance offers in the last few years and no off-site transaction offers.
Anyway, what brought this up was that I recently received an unexpected second chance offer. Most "second chance offers" are received within thirty minutes of an auction's end. Either a huge number of bidders win an auction then contact the seller to let the seller know they won't be paying, or we're getting back into the shill-bidding problem I've written about before. The seller shill-bids the auction up, then contacts the second-highest bidder and informs them that the winning bidder backed out (something eBay strongly discourages and supposedly punishes if you make a habit of it) and offers the item to you at the winning bid (not your highest bid). I would imagine this would be a fairly successful tactic, psychologically. So it really surprised me when, a week after coming in second best in an auction for a figure, the seller sent a second-chance offer at the price I had bid to. It was so surprising I had to go back and work through the auction bid-by-bid and re-verify the seller before I accepted.
Photographers climb Russia's tallest structures.
You may have heard that the Kyoto Treaty is now officially dead, and all attempts to replace the treaty have failed as well. The failure may be because of this man. For what it's worth, I agree with Lord Monckton that most of the DOHA delegates had never heard anything he said before.
A new Sena Kashiwazaki figure, based on the "Monster Hunter" episode.
Are you a fan of Super Dimension Fortress Macross/Robotech? Then you will want to keep an eye on the new manga by Haruhiko Mikimoto (the original Macross artist) retelling the original Macross storyline. Unfortunately, it's not available in English, yet.
A friendly warning to, primarily, "journalists": Get your facts straight before spewing garbage from your pie-hole.
Chuck Rothman discusses the curious history of Steve Kaczorowski. And another page detailing some of the research involved.
Leave John Boehner alone!
Know what? I tried really hard to find Christmas song mashups. There aren't any good ones. In my opinion. However, I found the WORST one:
Tuesday, December 11. 2012 | Comments (0)
Music for the week...yes and no...
This guy (the guy who makes these videos) has apparently been around a while...in fact when I showed some of these to my wife, she explained to me that she had seen most of them a long time ago. So shoot me. It helps if you're familiar with World of Warcraft; there is a lot of material that references the game as much as the contents of the songs.
An essay on John Kennedy and the Cold War. There isn't much in there new if you study history beyond your high school or college textbooks, but if you don't...
Is green energy a fad that has run it's course? (In the long run, no...but the artificial stimulation of the green energy market may be in trouble.)
Sarah Hoyt on "Ungovernable" Americans.
The book of moe dictators.
Animated gif of the refit of the Enterprise from the TV series version to the movie version. The article the gif is taken from, about whether the Enterprise was updated, or was in fact an entirely new starship.
Everything you ever wanted to know about the Kennedy Assassination. (Cynics view, although plenty of time is given to discussing conspiracy.)
Are you worried about all of the horrible things that can happen if you take a cruise? If you aren't, you will be.
I had mentioned when I built my current computer that the namesake, Saya, was from Blood: The Last Vampire. Although, technically, it was the version of Saya from Blood +. Because it's a dual-processor system, you see. In Blood +, Saya is a twin of Diva. Clever? Maybe not. I'm now working on the next computer, which will be named Sena. Because I'm using a 90-degree-rotated case, everything's up top. And while it won't be dual-processor, I will be Crossfiring two Radeon 6870's, so the computer will still have two big ones.
Ok, I'm done being childish. The character is cute, I like the color scheme, and while the...attributes...stack (snerk) up nicely, how can you resist this smile?
Sunday, December 2. 2012 | Comments (0)
But not to start with.
Some links to do with the song and artist:
The artist of this rendition is The Southern Sons Quartet, the song is Praise the Lord and Pass the Ammunition.
Did you know China is building a Stargate? If it was Japan or South Korea, I would be worried. Don't they know what could come through that thing? But it's China, so I'm kinda assuming it will just fall down.
The two big (inherent) problems with Star Wars video games are 1) Everyone is a Jedi 2) Like in other video games with "moral" sides, there is no consequence for being evil. Oh, excuse me, DARK. They aren't evil, just different. They choose the path less traveled. They eat jawas, but it's ok.
The Namib Beetle, which previously inspired the creation of Moisture Vaporators (that's mentioned in the article as well) has now inspired the Stillsuit. What's a Stillsuit?
Also on Wired.com, this short article about the U.S.S. Enterprise, the Big E, the CVN-65, the FIRST CVN, has been decommissioned. This is a very sad thing, although the third ship of the Ford-class supercarrier, the CVN-80 will be the next Enterprise. On the other hand, the Enterprise CVN-80 won't enter service until 2027. Odds that we ever see it in the water? I give it 65 against, 35 for.
Final voting trends from the 2012 election. I.E., which states voted more Republican than 2008, and which voted more Democrat than 2012. The numbers say this past Presidential election will be one for the history books. In essence, it is truly amazing that Barack Obama won re-election. How Obama managed to hang on, and/or how Romney managed to blow this chance will make for a ton of scholorship.
Back to Star Trek; how NASA could build a warp drive. Of course, that title is a bit misleading. NASA couldn't and wouldn't. But maybe it COULD be done, in general.
Things you thought you knew about Star Trek that aren't actually true.
Restoration of the original Enterprise prop by the National Air and Space Museum.