Thursday, September 26. 2013 | Comments (2)
It's a baseball reference. Nobody panic.
New MLB instant replay rules still emphasize getting it wrong.
Two carries, six yards: The tragic story of Ricky Bell.
Vivien Maier, brilliant amateur photographer of the 1950's, wasn't discovered until 2007.
The Soviet superplane program that rattled Area 51.
The Mars Science Laboratory is still running, btw.
Would you like to own every MAD magazine ever printed?
How long has it been since DC Comics did something stupid? 8 days, when I made the link.
Akira predicted the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. Sort of. But it's still kind of...eery.
Jon Sorensen: Personal recollections of working on the film Alien.
So Los Alamos prepared three nuclear cores, right? And we used two of them right? Hiroshima and Nagasaki. You remember that. So where did the third core go?
Raising the Dead: Bushman's hole in South Africa claims the life of a preeminent deep-dive expert when he tries to return a body found in the hole to the surface.
Grand Theft Auto IV: San Andreas I'm gonna give this a try.
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.
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, 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".
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.
Sunday, October 28. 2012 | Comments (0)
Did I do this one already? I can't remember.
Results of billion-dollar treasure hunt in Hindu temple to be revealed.
WWII photos superimposed onto current photos
Correlating knowledge with political identity; Pew Research ongoing poll.
Eugene de Salignac: If you're around my age, you are probably familiar with his photography; his photographs of New York architecture in the first half of the twentieth century were rediscovered in the 1980's. As a result of the wide exposure de Salignac received then, his work became the classic baseline, or at least introduction, for photography buffs my age.
Researcher Michael Mann, who was primarily responsible for the "hockey stick graph" that purported to show temperature rise correlating with industrialization and predicted extreme increases in temperature from 2000 to 2004 (which didn't happen), is suing National Review Online for libel. The alleged libel has to do with the data Mann used to create the graph, which was included in a 2001 U.N. report that won a Nobel Prize for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Those doing the libeling have achieved their goal, which is to bring the data behind the graph before the public eye where the data and the methods used to analyse it can be judged. In effect, NRO is forcing Mann to "put up or shut up".
What really happens when your pet's food disappears quickly. (Comic)
Is Moneyball Dead? (funny)
Movies. I have watched a lot of horror movies the past couple of weeks, and I don't think I have a single film to recommend beyond what I already have.
Carved: The Slit-Mouthed Woman. Japanese. The slowest-moving, non-scary slasher movie I've ever watched.
The Dark Side of the Moon. Low-budget Alien. I had high hopes for this movie at first, but gave up about sixty minutes in.
Vampire Girl vs. Frankenstein Girl. Japanese. Heh. Forgot about this one. Like The Machine Girl, which I mentioned a couple of years ago, except this movie is explicitly a comedy. VGvFG is done very much in the Troma style, although it has a higher budget, a better story, better acting, better fx...better almost everything than most Troma films, actually. If you like that sort of thing, Vampire Girl vs. Frankenstein Girl may be one of the best movies you'll ever see. I also recommend the English dub, which adds it's own layer of humor that works for english-speaking audiences where the Japanese doesn't.
The Shock Labyrinth. Japanese. I forgot about this one, as well. Not overly frightening, but a decent creep factor and the story is way out there. A group of twenty-something Japanese revisit the scene (unwittingly, of course) of a fatal amusement park accident that claimed one of the group of friends when they were very young. The past, present and future intertwine to carry out an act of vengeance. Good story, good acting. The complex timeline mostly works, which is an accomplishment.
The Shrine. A good idea ruined by poor execution. The main characters are stupid and unrelatable, which makes the "you've got it backward" story uninteresting. Once you figure out what's going on, you don't care about the rest of the movie.
: The Legend of a Portrait. Korean. This one was actually pretty tense, if predictable. Worth watching even after you figure out where everything is going.
Parasitic. Wow, this was bad. I only watched half of it. Bad acting, bad plot. The editing and directing are either terrible or just nonexistent. There are, however, hot chicks and nudity. So it has that going for it.
Exorcismus. U.K. Man, I wanted to like this movie. And it wasn't too bad, except for the priest, until the final thirty minutes. But, like I said, the characterization of the priest was terrible. As for the rest of the movie, the setup was good but the payoff was bad. It's a shame.
Fragile. I'm turning out to be a liar. Here's another recommended movie. Children with chronic and fatal diseases are being moved from their old hospital to a new one. Unfortunately, bizarre accidents start happening, like bones breaking while you watch. The culprit is one of the best and most original movie monsters I've seen in a long time. Stars Callista Flockhart, but don't let that stop you.
I'll probably try to watch a few more, but as usual now that I've said it, I probably won't.
Friday, September 14. 2012 | Comments (2)
I mentioned this on Twitter earlier today. The American League West, long considered a "weak" division in baseball, this year has all four teams in playoff contention. Technically, the Mariners are closer to "not eliminated...yet" than actually competing for a wild card slot. However, by winning percentage the West is the most competitive division in baseball this year. Of course, if you add the Houston Astros in, as they will be next year, then the A.L. East is better, again. In that light, I am firmly rooting for the Houston Astros to be a winning team next year. Also, I want to point out that, regarding the second-place Oakland A's...I called it.
Naturally occurring bacteria eats large portion of Deepwater Horizon oil spill.
Political, but funny as hell: At the DNC convention, you probably heard there was a bit of a kerfuffle regarding the removal of the word "God" from a statement that was originally about "God-given rights", and the removal of a statement concerning the recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. After the media stink occurred, the man in charge of the platform committee was recognized in order to propose amendments to reverse the removals. Unfortunately, the convention representatives didn't cooperate, leaving Chairman Antonio Villaraigosa, the mayor of Los Angeles, at a loss.
Stanley Kubrick's One Point Perspective.
Yay! 40 More of the worst Liefeld drawings!
Japan: A Nation of Bullies. Apparently.
Roman Polanski's Rape that wasn't a rape.
Confessions of a Disney Employee Part 2:
Apocalypse Not: Why You Shouldn't Worry About End Times. Hat tip to The Unwanted Blog.
Tomb of China's First Emperor Still Sealed; Waiting for better Science.
Tuesday, August 28. 2012 | Comments (0)
I've been needing something to get me to do a post, and unfortunately I got something today:
Lavan "Van" Cliburn, Texas-raised pianist extraordinaire, diagnosed with advanced bone cancer.
Cliburn was known as "The Man Who Won the Cold War" and other similar appellations after winning the first quadrennial International Tchaikovsky Piano Competition in Moscow in 1958. The twenty-three year old became the only musician in history to be honored with a ticker-tape parade in New York on his return to the states.
I saw Cliburn perform live once, on the opening day of The Ballpark in Arlington in 1994. I couldn't find a recording of that performance, but here's a video of Van Cliburn performing the same honor at Jerry's Football Palace and UFO Homing Beacon in 2010:
The Forty Worst Rob Liefeld drawings. Every time I see a Liefeld, my first thought is "What's wrong with your arms?!?" followed by "oh, now that I see the rest of your body, I realize you're obviously a mutant." Liefeld's writing doesn't even bear mentioning.
Why Science Can't Replace Religion. No, it's not what you think. It's not some argument about how science can't explain everything, only God can. The article is about the roles religion plays that science by it's very nature cannot. I know some people won't agree with the article, and that's fine. I know a few people who are completely dismissive of the idea that religion of any kind can be good in any way; some are hostile to religion and believe the only benefit to religion is that sometimes it keeps the stupid people occupied. Personally, I think the article makes some good points.
Always been a fan of Herb Alpert and Tijuana Brass. While the group is mostly known for easy-listening instrumentals, a few of their songs kicked it up a bit. And the album covers rocked: Interview with Herb Alpert's Whipped Cream cover girl.
Need to touch up on your Guild Wars history? Here's another ArenaNet article covering the races of Tyria and a bit about the elder dragons.
Shamus Young of TwentySided and a guest discuss the specifics of what makes Spec Ops: The Line a good game for people who normally scoff at military shooters.
Hey! More Japanese bullying news! Vigilante hammers suicide principal.
Bettie Page and The Camera Clubs: Not another Scooby Doo mystery. But something that might help explain who Page was and why we still have photos and videos.
Monday, July 23. 2012 | Comments (0)
The Wagon Queen Family Truckster...a testament to the quality of American Cars in the 1970's and early 1980's.
What the WQFT really was: an early-80's Ford Country Squire Wagon.
...and of course what it should have been by then: The Ford Aurora Concept Car.
Many thanks to the Car Lust blog for the wonderful articles.
Speaking of which:
XKCD's Relativistic Baseball.
Remember the bullying problem in Japanese schools? It hasn't gone away, yet.
I tweeted a link to this post on The Unwanted Blog. Diane Feinstein wants to disarm the police following the Aurora, Colorado shooting. Of course that isn't literally what she says, except disarming the police is the only effect her proposal would have. Assault Weapons are extremely difficult to obtain legally in the U.S. You can steal them, but that generally requires contact with gun smugglers, as the difficulty of obtaining an assault rifle keeps legal supplies down. You CANNOT just walk down to gun store and buy one. Maybe order one, but of course you have to go through the licensing before they'll even talk to you about it.
The only people in the country who own and operate a large quantity of assault rifles on a daily basis are your local police force.
Now, I'm pretty sure Diane Feinstein knows this. She knows the rifle used in the Aurora massacre wasn't an assault weapon. At least by now she does. But calling it an assault rifle, and thereafter calling for the "ban" of assault rifles may get the ignorant on board. If you're a leftist, you want guns banned regardless. Either you've been indoctrinated into the thinking that banning guns=improving society, or you are an actual stateist who knows that the guns have to be gone before you can fully transform the country.
I'm not trying to change your mind with this. I'm just asking that you be honest.
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