Archive for September, 2019

Autumn Storm

September 30, 2019

As in snow-storm. Last Monday it was 70F. On Sunday, we had 2″ of heavy, wet snow. This Monday, the low is scheduled for 27F.

It’s the first time it has snowed in September since 1926, and that was part of the runup to the Great Depression.

Of course the leaves were still on the trees, and they captured the heavy, wet snow, and limbs came down all over. Three big ones came down in our yard, along with a bunch of smaller ones. If we hadn’t savagely trimmed our tree last year it would have been far, far worse.

By next Monday it will be 62F again.

Anime Postview: Summer 2019

September 30, 2019

This is not a real review of the anime season just ending. Instead, it’s a look at how well I did in my Summer 2019 Preview, which you might want to look at first.

Ones I said I WILL WATCH:

Dumbell nan Kilo
Surprisingly good. I learned things about weight training that I didn’t know before.

  • Vinland Saga: Didn’t hold my interest
  • Dr. Stone: Didn’t hold my interest

Ones I said I MIGHT WATCH:

Tsuujou Kougeki
Watchable fluff about how a mother embarrasses her son in public. Brings back memories.

  • Arifuretu Shokugyou: Kindof interesting in parts, but I faded out along of about episode 7.
  • Fire Force: As with ArifuSho, started out OK, and then faded. I only watched three episodes.

Ones I said I WON’T WATCH:

  • Starmu: Didn’t watch
  • Given: Didn’t watch
  • Try Knights: Didn’t watch

So, we started with six in the will/might categories, and ended up watching only two, for a 33% success rate. On the other hand, there was some good stuff that didn’t make my original list. Oh, Maidens was seriously good, and Are You Lost, like Dumbells, gave us cute girls providing actually useful information (assuming you end up in a timeline where MH-370 makes it to an island). Finally, Demon Girl, and Hensuki were both pleasantly mindless eye candy.

In a nutshell: Summers are notoriously light, and this one was no different. Of the ones I watched, only Maidens had any redeeming social value. Yeah, Vinland, Fire Force, and Dr. Stone all came well recommended, but none of them lit a fire. Dr. Stone and Fire Force  were too shonen, and historically I was always one to root for the Anglisc, fighting to save their homes from the Viking frat boys. On the other hand, it did give me a chance to go back and marathon some things I missed earlier

Better than Vikings

Green Thumb Up My Nose

September 28, 2019

Garden Report for 190930

Can you say unseasonably cold? The week started out mild but windy, and it went downhill from there. By Wednesday night they were including windchills in the forecast. By Saturday night, it was chance of 2″ of snow. Highs started at 70 and ended up in the 40’s. Lows in the 40’s became lows around 31. Time to close out the garden.

Total of 7.6kg of tomatoes for the week, plus an additional 2.3kg of the cherry-sized yellow pears that I don’t post to the scoreboard (and which cooked down into 700g of tart sauce with too many seeds).

Speaking of which, here’s the final scoreboard.

Week
Ending
09/30
Vegetable
  (bold = final)
Count Weight g Unit
Weight g
Total
Count
Total
Weight kg
  EG Garden 56 4.72
2 plants EGContainer 40 3710 93 139 11.53
EG Bag 23 2186 95 84 5.86
EG Deck 30 1.77
OtherTomato 27 1724 64 235 17.82
Summer Squash 13 2.56
Zucchini 1 140 140 25 7.89
Spaghetti
squash
2 2480 1240 4 4.97
Winter Squash 5 5.78
Pumpkin 1 980 980 2 1.74
Carrots 1.28
Kohlrabi 2 0.90
Grand Total 66.82

So, 42kg of tomatoes, 23kg of squash, 2kg of other, for a total of 67kg of produce. For the traditionalists amongst the readers, that’s just shy of 150lb, and a new record. Surprisingly, it wasn’t because of lots of heavy squashes.

The results of my Early Girl experiment are shown below.

Early Girl Results Location
Available Sunlight Available Soil Volume per plant Unit
Weight g
Total
Count per plant
Total
Weight kg per plant
Garden Medium 200L 73 56 4.72
House Container High 50L 83 70 5.76
House Planter Bag High 75L 70 84 5.86
Deck Container
Medium 50L 60 30 1.77

So, the smaller containers along the house produced larger but fewer tomatoes, while the larger planter bag produced more, but smaller. Total harvested mass was about equal, and the differences might just be statistical variability. The small container on the deck produced a third the volume, while the Early Girl in the garden —  fighting with the other tomatoes for both sun and  root space — produced 25% less harvested mass.

Sun seems to be the main driver here, with the higher yields going to plants that have more direct sun, plus reflected light off the house and the lawn. Plants in the garden not only have a shade problem (and no, I’m not going to cut down the 60-year-old spruce), but also have to fight for sunlight with plants further south in the section.

I’ll save the policy conclusions for a later post.

Green Thumb Up My Nose

September 23, 2019

Garden Report for 190923

This week was cool and sometimes wet, with lows in the mid- to upper 40’s, and highs in the mid- to upper-60’s. More cool and showeryness in the offing, becoming downright cold (lows in the 30’s) at the end of next week.

So, here we are at the equinox and the garden has pretty well played out. Quite different from previous years, where things kept happening well into October. This despite the lack of early frosts or similar infelicities. About the only things left are 60 or so late-ripening tomatoes and the squashes. I’ve cleaned up and dug over Section 3, and will do the same for Section 4 Real Soon Now.

Harvested the last of the Buttercups (1.2kg, 900g). Summer squash are done. The remaining Zucchinis are all the Genovese variety, looking almost like European cucumbers. Since I’ve culled most of the squash, I can whack away the leaves, and pull up the carrots I planted in Section 1 — half a kilosworth, making just under 1.3kg for the year. Used my now-standard approach of planting them via SeedsOnTape underneath the wire shelving frames. The wiring keeps off the varmints and the green bits grow up between the stiff wires. When time comes to harvest, I just lift the shelf, and it pulls up all the greens, and the carrots come along for the ride.

Here’s the scoreboard.

Week
Ending
09/23
Vegetable
  (bold = final)
Count Weight g Unit
Weight g
Total
Count
Total
Weight kg
  EG Garden 56 4.72
EG Container (2) 6 275 46 99 7.82
EG Bag 3 150 50 61 3.67
EG Deck 30 1.77
Other tomato 9 1032 115 208 16.1
Summer Squash 13 2.56
Zucchini 2 375 187 24 7.75
Spaghetti
squash
1 1150 1150 2 2.49
Winter Squash 2 1940 970 5 5.78
Pumpkin 1 0.76
Carrots 580 1.28
Kohlrabi 2 0.90
Grand Total 55.6

Not quite a record year, we’re still 10kg behind 2012 on tomatoes, but we might yet make it. With the weather forecast the way it is, and the highs at the end of the week coming in lower than what we keep our house at, I’ll probably harvest all remaining, and let it ripen indoors.

Oh, Maidens

September 20, 2019

Part of getting good at something, like aniblogging, is to know when you are not good at some aspect of it, when you are out of your depth and when you have to let others, better equipped, handle it. It’s called knowing your limits. With Oh, Maidens in Your Savage Season, I think I’ve hit mine.

I’m the wrong person to be writing on this topic, because I have the wrong mix of chromosomes, and am far too many decades away from our common source material. That said, and writing in the heat of the moment while the chair in front of the TV is still warm, Oh, Maidens — a romantic comedy about a group of high school girls just coming to grips with their sexuality — is just about perfect.

The characters are distinct and well-formed, the situations are, mostly, believable (and those that aren’t fall well within the acceptable range for anime logic and adolescent imaginings); the art is clean and evocative, and the voice acting is excellent. The girls of the literature club would eschew lewdness in presentation, and so does the anime. It is mature, within boundaries and without being graphic.

It also has my vote for the best anime title of the year.

Okada Marie has created a masterpiece, for grown-ups. If you are already an anime fan, you will love it. If you are unfamiliar with the medium, and still think it’s cartoons for kids, be prepared to have your world view altered.

In any event, go watch it. You won’t be disappointed.

 

Not so fast, cowboy

September 17, 2019

So, it turns out I dodged another one. The guy who replaced me at my job who tried it out and decided to go on to another job isn’t going to that other job, just yet, and so I don’t have to do my old job again and by the time he leaves for that other job they’ll have had time to do a proper job search and hired a real replacement, rather than just a gap-filler.

I was prepared to take one for the Gipper, but it’s probably better this way. It was fun, thinking about striding back into the classroom like Moses parting the bullrushes, but the world has moved on and there’s no need for us old folks to hang around. I’m not sure I can spell MIS any more.

Besides, Fall is shaping up to be a good season for anime.

Anime Preview: Fall 2019

September 17, 2019

Unlike others, who use knowledge of the source materials, close observation of the previews, and who actually read the press releases, I’m going to base mine on pretty much just the title and the cover art.

First, let’s say what’s not in here. Sequels and continuations of stuff I dropped before (Dr.Stone, Enenen), shorts and kids stuff (Banyanya ), movies and OVA’s, and anything with Fate, Qi, or Xi in the title.

WILL WATCH: The title or the cover art is properly enticing, so I definitely will watch at least the first three eps (you can click on the pix to embiggen).

MIGHT WATCH: The cover art is not too off-putting, so I might watch it.

WON’T WATCH. The cover art and/or the title tells me more than I ever wanted to know on the topic.

The Saudi Oil Attacks

September 16, 2019

I’m always reluctant to chime in on a developing situation, but I thought I’d at least add some perspective to the recent attack on the Saudi oil facilities at Abqaiq. UPDATE: I note that most of the major newspapers have done a similar analysis, with better graphics. UPDATE2: Others have pointed out that there are strong political arguments against an Iranian source, and that one cannot just write off the Houthis.

Initial reports say at least 17 weapons were used (plus additional ones that failed to reach their targets). Based on the precision of the strikes they were very likely cruise missiles or drones, the difference being that a drone is controlled from a remote location while a cruise missile has an on-board GPS or similar. Given the distances involved, I’d say cruise missiles.

Saudi oil processing facility, Abqaiq Aramco
click to embiggen

It appears that every weapon that impacted in the target area hit something. The nine gas storage tanks labeled See Image 2, and enlarged below were all hit in the same quadrant by something that penetrated (and presumably vented) but did not ignite the contents. This gives us some idea of the direction of the attacks.

Four tanks, four holes

Here’s the original image, rotated so that North is toward the top of the image, the way we are used to seeing on maps.

North is up, even if you are standing on your head.

What this shows is that the weapons that hit the storage tanks came from a general WNW direction.

There are three candidate launch sites, shown on the graphic below:
A. Iran 750km,
B. Iraq 650km, and
C. Yemen 1000km

Candidate launch areas

Tracks to the target all converge on a waypoint WNW of the facility, in order to account for the observed impact points. Houthi rebels in Yemen, who have been subjected to savage Saudi air attacks for years, claimed responsibility, but the distance is great and they said they used 10 drones, which doesn’t square with what’s known. The Sunni population of Iraq opposes the Shiite Saudis, but their areas of control are mostly north of Baghdad. The Iranians are avowed supporters of the Houthi and are known to have cruise missile technology. In addition, there were reports of unidentified objects flying through Kuwaiti airspace at the time of the attacks.

So right now it looks like yes, this was an Iranian attack, and it was highly successful. The next question is why? Presumably it is to put pressure on the US, through its Saudi partners, to reopen negotiations. Implications of that deserve their own essay.

Green Thumb Up My Nose

September 15, 2019

Garden Report for 1900916

Mid-September is mild and showery. Highs in the mid 70’s, lows around 50. Next week is scheduled to be equally cool and wet.

The seeds-on-tape container lettuce has run into problems.  Wednesday, I found that something was eating them and that one of the containers has been stripped bare. I spent some time with a flashlight on successive nights, trying to find the culprit, to no avail. I need to knit some sort of mesh cover to keep the bugs out.

Winter squash are starting to come in. Three Buttercup (1.4kg, 1.2kg, 1.2kg), a spaghetti squash (1.3kg) and a pie pumpkin (800g). Plus, there’s a very pale acorn squash, that might or might not be edible. A rather nice acorn squash sat on the wet ground too long and was et up by bugs. Meanwhile, the summer squash plants are at EOL. Leaves turning yellow and remaining fruit coming out misshapen.

It’s squash time!

Coming up are a whole bunch of Early Girls, plus an assortment of tomatoes in the main garden. For winter squash, there’s two more Buttercups hanging around, three more spaghetti squash, two things that might be spaghetti squash*, and a probable pumpkin.

I cooked up another batch of tomato sauce. That’s about ten liters so far. Had to do it, because all the tomatoes on the kitchen counter are going soft. And of course, now I’ve got another 32kg to deal with.

Here’s the scoreboard.

Week
Ending
09/16
Vegetable

(bold = final)

Count Total

Weight
g

Unit

Weight
g

Grand

Total

Total
Weight
kg
  EG Garden 3 250 83 56 4.72
EG Container (2) 27 2380 88 93 7.55
EG Bag 8 600 75 58 3.52
EG Deck 30 1.77
Other tomato 17 1890 111 199 15.1
Summer Squash 13 2.56
Zucchini 2 1075 537 22 7.37
Spaghetti
squash
1 1340 1 1.34
Winter Squash 4 4600 1150 4 4.60
Carrots 0.70
Kohlrabi 2 0.90
Grand Total 49.7

This looks to be a record year, with close to 50kg already, and four biggish squash still to come.

*On the one hand, they have a mottled, melon-like, surface. On the other hand, the vine traces back to a “Spaghetti Squash” tag.

Twisting Brexit for Americans

September 14, 2019

Professional religious apologist Rod — the Catholic Church has been going downhill since the Concordat of Worms — Dreher, has an article in American Conservative, nominally the sanest of the right wing web outlets, on among other things, Brexit. There are several problems with it.

Dreher keys off of part of a column by Andrew Sullivan in New York Magazine, purportedly explaining Brexit in terms Americans can understand. As usual with the conservative press, there’s a lot of cherry-picking involved. In this case, it’s a narrow-view drawing of a parallel with no mention of the backstory.

Basically, Sullivan likens the EU to a Super-NAFTA agreement that opens US/CA/MX borders to free flow of immigrants, and imposes a NAFTA Congress and Supreme Court that overrides the US versions, with all US laws subject to NAFTA approval. This, he says, is what the EU has become, and it’s obvious that Americans would never allow it to happen, and would support a Brexit (Amexit?) under those circumstances if it did. Of course, he leaves out a lot.

To extend the analogy and fill in his blanks, we should also posit that the US Constitution was never written and that the independent states continued under the Articles of Confederation, until even that alliance was broken into a separate North and South. That this was followed by a couple hundred years of bloody wars among shifting alliances of states of the US(N), US(S), and the independent provinces of CA and states of MX, some of which left parts of the continent burned out and uninhabited for years. The end point was a fifty year war between the US(N) and everyone else, with a short 20-year semi-truce in the middle, which resulted in the death of tens of millions of citizens on both sides and the total destruction of the US(N) industrial base.

Finally, let us posit that now someone proposes that new and more powerful Super-NAFTA. Suddenly, Amexit sounds a lot less enticing. In the same fashion, Brexit only sounds good to those who are too young to remember What It Was Like Before.

To put it more succinctly, the argument for the EU is the same as the argument for the original US, but stronger.

 

Trim Tabs and the Towers: An 18 year retrospective

September 11, 2019

Fifteen eighteen years ago, the towers fell. Ten years later, I wrote this essay about the idea of trim tabs, how they work on airplanes, and how they work in organizations. Specifically, I wanted to talk about how the idea applied in the aftermath to 9/11. In the five eight years since, nothing much has changed. what has changed is the willingness of the federal government under the current President to impose draconian rules and punishments on people he sees as the other, and the packing of the courts with like-minded ideologues. The trim tab continues to work.

And while we’re at it, here’s what Jim Wright has to say on the topic.


In the old days, airplanes were controlled by the movement of wing and tail surfaces, driven by what was essentially piano wire directly connected via pulleys to the pilot’s controls. It was like an extension of the pilot’s body, because it was a direct physical link: hand, stick, wire, ailerons. Since the controls were extensions of the pilot’s body, they were driven by the pilot’s muscles. In those days, flying was physically exhausting because there were no automated systems like autopilot, or even altitude-hold, and all inputs were physical. Flying a two-hour mission in bumpy weather was like spending two hours bulldogging steers.

As airplanes became bigger and faster, this became a problem. When you move the stick, you are forcing a slab of metal to move against the airstream created by your flight. Remember when the back windows of a car would open? Remember riding along with the window open and your hand stuck out like an airfoil? If you tilted it the least little bit, it would take off, and it took all your strength (or a certain dexterity) to get it back into position. That’s the problem pilots encountered before the invention of power assist on flight controls. Moving a big metal plate against a fast-flowing airstream took all your strength, and maybe required the help of a co-pilot. There was a limit on what was physically possible. Enter the trim tab.

The trim tab, more accurately the servo tab, was a small rudder built into the much larger real rudder. The idea is that you move the small rudder this way, the much larger rudder responds by turning that way, and the whole ship or airplane responds. The idea dates from WWI. A real trim tab is a more or less ‘set it and leave it’ item, that creates a certain continuing flight regime (for instance, to offset a heavy load in the tail of the aircraft), while a servo tab is a true continuous flight control. However, since the organizational applications were talked about (by Buckminster Fuller, for starters) as ‘trim tabs’, I’ll stick with that.

What does all this have to do with terrorism? Just this. A terrorist act is an attempt to be a trim tab. If the terrorist group plays their cards right, they can cause a reaction in the target government that causes a counter-reaction in the populace. The basic idea is that the target government will over-react, increase oppression, and drive the populace into the arms of the terrorists. Properly executed, a terrorist campaign will get the government to do the terrorists work for them That’s one reason why most nascent guerilla movements use terrorism as a tool. The trouble is, that scenario can only play out when it’s native terrorists promoting a domestic cause against an oppressive government (which doesn’t have to be a foreign power, but often is). It doesn’t work that way when the terrorists are foreign, or the populace doesn’t feel oppressed, or the government is one that reacts with Norwegian calm.

Since Al Qaida was facing a different problem, they had to have a different immediate goal. Al Qaida’s goal was to target the US populace and government in such a way as to cause the US to overreact, both internally and externally, and to bankrupt itself the way the USSR did in Afghanistan.

Our reaction has validated AQ’s view of the US as a blind giant, ignorantly flailing around in response to stimuli we don’t understand. A measured approach to 9/11 would be to fill in the hole and turn the problem over to the FBI and the Treasury Dept. The world was on our side on 9/12, and we could have gotten unbelievable levels of cooperation. A strongman approach would be to follow the measured approach, plus invade Afghanistan, beat up on the Taliban, and chase AQ into the hills. The world would still be on our side, but the countries of SW Asia would begin to feel threatened, and would begin hedging their bets. Domestically, we had 99% of the US Muslim population on our side — the remainder being the disaffected youth who, like DYs of any persuasion hate the man. A measured domestic approach would be to armor the cockpit doors on airliners so it was impossible for another 9/11 to happen, and increase our police contacts within the Muslim community.

Instead, we embarked upon a decade-long attack on domestic freedoms, we demonized the Muslims in the US, we engaged in two wars in exactly the wrong place, the outcome of neither will be of any benefit to us. Let me emphasize that. In another year or five, we will be substantially out of both IQ and AF, and those two countries will be in whatever state we leave them. If we could have gotten them into that state for free, if the genie in the lamp could have delivered today’s Iraq and tomorrow’s Afghanistan without it costing us a dollar or a life, we’d still be worse off than we were in 2001. The fact that it cost trillions of dollars, and more American lives than were lost in 9/11 is just a side-benefit for the terrorists. I think The Onion’s headline on this year’s media coverage is appropriate: our nation would rather think about 9/11 than anything from the subsequent ten years.

So, here is the unexpected (by us), emergent, trim-tab-induced result. We have bankrupted our country, morally, politically, financially, and militarily. We have trampled on the US Constitution and the rights of citizens. We have squandered our post-Cold-War international advantages. We did it by reacting in exactly the wrong way to the 9/11 trim tab event. The terrorists acted. The government reacted in a predictably inappropriate fashion. The country and the economy responded by flying into the ground like a hijacked airliner. I can’t say the terrorists have won, but I can say they are well ahead on points. You can say that, hey, we’re still here, and Bin-Laden is dead, and Al Qaida a scattered, hunted remnant. But no suicide bomber expects to live to see the fruits of their sacrifice. I’m sure that if we could reassemble OBL from the inside of whatever sharks he’s now inhabiting, he’d say yeah, it worked. It was worth it.


So, what has changed since I wrote those words? Not a lot, except that our knowledge of things has expanded. As predicted, we still have a presence (read Americans being killed) in Iraq and Afghanistan. As predicted, neither of those countries has a successful government. As not predicted, the instability spilled over into Syria, and now our supposed ally, Turkey, and our opportunistic opponent, Russia, are working together to prop up the Assad regime, and destroy our friends, the Kurds (read domino effect). Guantanamo is still an extra-judicial detention camp, with 60-some prisoners, 40 of whom are too dangerous to release (read, they hate us), but are infeasible to prosecute because of their treatment (read, tortured, which may have something to do with why they hate us).

Then, Edward Snowden pulled back the drapes and let some sun shine in on what our government had been doing in the dark, behind our backs, in our computers. Now we know that not only has the US Intelligence Community been unleashed on its citizens, in ways that are manifestly unconstitutional — and other ways that probably would also be, if the Republicans didn’t have (until recently) a majority on the Supreme Court. Those intrusive techniques have trickled down to the local police, who have conducted their own unconstitutional operations, and lied to the judges about it (or didn’t bother to lie, because the judges didn’t care).

And speaking of police, they are now armed with the latest in military hardware, courtesy of the unending wars, and their interactions with the citizenry have taken on many aspects of an occupying force, making a mockery of serve and protect. And if anyone complains, well, do you want the terrorists to murder us in our beds?

Has America become a police state? Heavens, no. We are still among the freest countries of the world. Too bad about slipping from that The Freest position. Have we laid the foundations for becoming a police state? It’s too soon to tell, but we are certainly establishing a framework on which those foundations could be built. Many of the elements are slotting into place: a militarized police force, contemptuous of its citizens, a ubiquitous domestic spy system that runs all the way up to the central government, a complaisant judiciary at all levels — all that is needed is a coming to power of a political party more interested in power than governance, headed by a like-minded demagogue.

If it looks like the American ship of state has careened out of control, scraping from one reef to another, that’s a tribute to the effectiveness of trim tabs.

9/11, Trim Tab Day. Remember it.

Back in the saddle again

September 9, 2019

There’s a Hollywood trope about the old gunslinger who tries to retire but circumstances force them back into the business. A good example is Shane, a 1953 movie that couldn’t be made today, first because sensibilities have changed, and second, because that part of the Jackson Hole landscape has been covered by the McMansions of the 1%.

I retired last January, after almost 20 years of teaching. At the time, I was fighting cancer and not sure what my future abilities would be. Also, I was only a year short of 75, which was my original retirement target. So I retired, took a couple of cruises, worked on my garden, turned 75, and managed to suppress, for now, the cancer.

I got a phone call. The guy that replaced me got a better job at a university in Texas, and would I come back and teach my Systems Analysis class one more time, in the Fall. Oh, and maybe the Systems Project class in the Winter.

I really don’t want to do this. I’m enjoying retirement, my cabbages are doing well, and I hate the idea of writing and correcting tests. But the University has fallen on hard times (thank you GOP), and my department can’t find anyone qualified in the two weeks available.

So here I am, strapping on my guns again and riding forth against the forces of ignorance and poor systems design. I am not happy, but a man’s gotta do what a man’s gotta do.

Steve! Come back, Steve!*

*The house has been upgraded since then.

Green Thumb Up My Nose

September 8, 2019

Garden Report for 1900909

Here we are into September already. Warm and dry to start. Warm and wet to end.

Midweek sweep got one zucchini and 14 garden tomatoes. Some of them may be Early Girls, but the plants are now so intertwined I can’t tell. End of the week picked up two small summer squash and 17 more tomatoes, some were EGs.

There’s more to come

The 60 House Container tomatoes are working on the ripening thing.

Here’s the scoreboard.

Week
Ending
09/09
Vegetable

(bold = final)

Count Total

Weight
g

Unit

Weight
g

Grand

Total

Total
Weight
kg
  EG Garden 12 830 69 53 4.47
EG Container (2) 66 5.17
EG Bag 50 2.92
EG Deck 30 1.77
Other tomato 31 3030 98 182 13.2
Summer Squash 2 274 137 13 2.56
Zucchini 1 240 240 20 6.3
Spaghetti
squash
Winter Squash
Carrots 0.70
Kohlrabi 2 0.90
Grand Total 38.0

 

Prestwick

September 7, 2019

I really hate to give Trump the benefit of the doubt on anything, usually because there isn’t any doubt, but I think this whole Prestwick kerfuffle has been blown out of proportion. Here’s a mil.com writeup on it, and below are some of my amplifying thoughts.

There are two stories here. First, Prestwick is a civil airport near Glasgow, on the west coast of Scotland. The USAF has been associated with it for a long time, partly because the UK weather patterns are such that if the airfields in East Anglia are socked in, Prestwick is open. So C-130 crews have been landing there since at least the 1960’s.

In the modern era, with the death of the Soviet Union, the USAF closed a lot of bases in Europe. Then the never-ending war on terror (NEWT) and our decision to invade every country in the Middle East stepped up the ops tempo and massively increased the flow of aircraft from the US to Europe and beyond. Bases, just like the people, are becoming overtaxed. Stopping at Prestwick can make life a lot easier for an aircrew that’s near the end of their crew duty day. Yes, it’s more expensive, but against that you have to count the additional cost of wear and tear on aircraft and crews operating in congested airspace and on congested ramps.

Second, use of Turnberry: When the crew gets down, there’s a contract housing contact that checks what rooms are available at government rates (not the same as published civilian rates), and tells them where to go for their crew rest. To be on the list of acceptable hotels, the hotel has to have agreed to US government rates. Not all hotels do this. Many that do are subsidiaries of US companies. Some might even offer additional discounts to get the business.

Aircrews must have 12hrs uninterrupted crew rest, including 8hrs uninterrupted sleep. That 12hr break includes transport time, so sending the crew on an hour-long drive to get a $25 break on the room rate is perfectly acceptable.

So, there may be more to the story than this, but at this point it looks like there’s not a lot of there, there.

UPDATE 10 October 2019: The USAF agrees with me.

Rank Isekai

September 5, 2019

I like the Rabujoi aniblog, enough so that I have it on my rss feed, in order to get each new article as soon as it comes out. Having said that, I don’t always agree with the opinions of this collective of authors. Case in point is oigakkosan’s recent ranking of isekai anime. I suppose I could go over to Rabujoi and leave a long rant, but why should I spoil other people’s fun. So, here’s my take on the world of isekai. Note, that if it’s in Rabujoi and not here, it’s because I don’t consider it an isekai.

First off, a brief digression on meanings. I am not knowledgeable in Japanese, so most of this is straight look-up. According to Google Translate, isekai (異世界) means different world:
異 = different
世 = world
界 = World (note the capitalization)

Nihongodict says
異 = different, strange, odd
世 = world (pronounced よ, or yo), or geological epoch (pronounced sei)
界 = the world of …

Why the doubling up of the kanji that mean world? Don’t know. I’ve seen something similar before. In Demon King and Hero, Maoyū Maō Yūsha (まおゆう魔王勇者) means demon king, demon king, hero.

And just to add to your confusion, Nihongodict says that 異界 by itself means spirit world, and is pronounced ikai, while Google Translate says that 異世 by itself means different world, and is pronounced kotoyo.

Getting back to our topic, I like to classify multiple sub-genres of isekai. Here’s my breakout, and my ranking within each category:

Stuck inside a computer game — like it says. Either the characters are logged into the game and can’t log out (Sword Art Online), or they technomagically become part of a real world that’s based on the game (Log Horizon).

1. Log Horizon. All 30K people on the Japan Server get dumped into the game world due to a glitch in an update patch (and don’t you just hate it when that happens?). Absolutely the best balanced, both in terms of individual powers, gamerspeak vs world-building, and story line. I’d rate this #1 in my list of the top five isekai.

2. Overlord. All 1 person on the server gets dumped into the game world when the server goes offline. Salaryman who plays an overpowered evil character decides to act the part. Great fun, but it gets old after a while.

3. Death March to a Parallel World. Programmer falls asleep and wakes up inside his game. Passes time by taking a bunch of kids on a trip to Adventureland. Low budget animation.

4. How Not to Summon a Demon Lord. So, he’s a high-powered player in an online game. Gets summoned to a game-based parallel world. Some character development and team dynamics, but mostly low grade harem fanservice. High point is him single-handedly delivering the infant demon lord into the world.

5. Do You Love Your Mom and Her Two-Hit Multi-Target Attacks? Government is recruiting families to play a full immersion video game. Interesting Mother/Teen-son dynamics. Low budget animation.

6. Sword Art Online. Evil sysadmin traps thousands inside a VR game. Protag is an obnoxious little snot who is protected by plot armor from failing at anything except interpersonal relations. Nice animation.

7. Demon Lord, Retry. Not finished yet, but I’ve seen enough. Sysadmin gets sucked into game world when he shuts down the server. Ends up as overpowered character, etc. Characters are like cardboard. Animation is like cardboard cutouts. Jokes are lame.

Transported to a different world — usually summoned from the other side for their own reasons.

1. Gate. In the great tradition of the original isekai, A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court. This is not just about the impact of the protagonist, it’s about the whole concept of a modern world intruding on native culture. Japanese food is a big hit. I’d rate this #5 in my list of the top five isekai.

2. No Game No Life. Protagonist and Protagonna get summoned into a game-playing world because they are outstandingly good at playing games. Technically an isekai, but with a whole different vibe.

3. Isekai Cheat Magician. Protagonist and Protagonna get summoned. Turn out to be crazy powerful mages. Cardboard characters and equally cardboard animation. Not so much bad as boring.

4. Re:Zero. Sorry, rest of the anisphere, it sucks. Protagonist is an idiot who plows through life in a three yards in a cloud of dust fashion, falls in love at first sight with the first pretty face he sees, and rejects the one woman who knows him and loves him. Interesting respawn mechanic.

5. Rising of the Shield Hero. Some people are natural assholes, others have to practice. For some ungodly reason this gets three seasons, while Devil is a Part Timer got only one.

Reincarnated in a different world — protagonist dies, often meets God, and remembers doing so.

1. Tanya the Evil. Salaryman is killed, meets God, gets into an argument over whether or not He exists, gets reincarnated as a girl in a 1920’s style world, fighting WWI.5. Outstanding dynamics, excellent character development, with two strong female characters (OK, one is internally a male). I’d rate this #2 in my list of the top five isekai.

2. KonoSuba. Sublime sendup of the whole isekai genre. Student dies, meets a Goddess, and drags her along into his new fantasy world. The group dynamics among this crowd of incompetants are the best I’ve seen. I’d rate this #4 in my list of the top five isekai.

3. That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime. Innocuous feel-good about a super-powered slime who just wants to be friends.

4. In Another World With My Smartphone. God made a mistake and so gives the protag a second life, with privileges. A good way to waste time, guessing what new thing he’ll do next with that smart phone.

5. Wise Man’s Grandson. Death, rebirth, highly skilled, etc. Very generic and low budget. What makes it interesting is the emphasis on applying our worlds concepts of technology to the operation of magic.

Reverse Isekai — protagonist is from the other world and comes to ours.

1. The Devil is a Part Timer. Demon Lord is hiding out in Tokyo, minus his powers. Hero is chasing him. He’s working in a fast food place. I’d rate this #3 in my list of the top five isekai.

2. ReCreators. Battles inside various anime, manga, and light novels get transferred into the real world. Interesting idea, but inept implementation.

Fake Isekai, where an isekai-like theme is just used to move characters around on the story’s chessboard. Includes stories of the afterlife and of a more relaxed apres vie. I didn’t finish any of these, and I’m not going to bother to rate them.
Drifters
Angel Beats
Death Parade
Grimgar of Fantasy and Ash — I include this here, because the protagonists wake up in the new world, with no memory of the old, and we’re never told how or why (at least, not as far as I followed it).

Cooking shows — In addition to being more about cooking than world-building, these are both reverse-isekai, in which denizens of a fantasy world come into a Japanese restaurant and are bedazzled by the food. (Someday I’m going to write a story where the protagonist finds out that the people in the fantasy world think nigiri rice balls are bland, and shoyu is too salty.)

Restaurant from Another World.
Isekai Izakaya.

Not an anime — I put this in so I’d have somewhere to talk about HPMoR. All of Harry Potter is essentially an isekai about a parallel and accessible world of magic.

Harry Potter. Decades old. Beloved by all. I’m sure if they’d labeled it a light novel it would have an anime by now, in addition to the live action series.
Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality. Harry Potter fan fiction. What would happen if Petunia had married someone else (“And I thought to myself, what kind of parent names their child Dudley Dursley?), and Harry’s adoptive family had been both educated and supportive (The sky was completely dark by the time they parked in the driveway of the house his family used to keep the rain off their books). What would happen if Harry had imported the Scientific Method to the land of magic? Like the original, it starts out light and funny, and becomes grimdark before it ends. Great read, and it’s free (and JKR has said she doesn’t mind). Link goes to web version. Here’s Chapter 1. There’s also a 3MB .pdf.

Green Thumb Up My Nose

September 1, 2019

Garden Report for 1900902

The end of August usually presents the best weather of the year. In this case, dry, with highs in the 80’s (low to upper) and lows in the 50’s (low to upper). Dry enough that the mosquitoes are no longer a problem, the way they are during the nice weather of Spring. Next week is to be more of the same, and then we’re into proper Autumnals.

Closing out Sections 3 and 4. Mostly failures. Leeks, peas, beans and bok choy don’t grow. Does you or I or anyone know, why leeks, peas, beans and bok choy don’t grow? Harvested a (small) basketload of carrots — 700g worth. Good crop of weeds.

Only one zucchini plant still producing, otherwise, we’re waiting on the winter squashes.

Tomato plants are still cranking out tomatoes, mostly the big ones now. House Containers showed a flash of Champions. Main Garden gave us Beefsteak, Goliath, and Whoppers. That last is a bit of a whopper, because they aren’t much bigger than supermarket tomatoes. Early Girls are regrouping, preparing for one last surge next month sometime. Made two more quarts of tomato sauce, and gave away a mixed bag of mostly Early Girls, but also the last of our Cherokee Purples.

Later Girls at dawn

A quick count shows there’s at least another 60 tomatoes that we can expect to ripen before the frosts come.

Here’s the scoreboard.

Week
Ending
09/02
Vegetable

(bold = final)

Count Total

Weight
g

Unit

Weight
g

Grand

Total

Total
Weight
kg
  EG Garden 41 3.64
EG Container (2) 66 5.17
EG Bag 50 2.92
EG Deck 30 1.77
Other tomato 16 2200 138 151 12.88
Summer Squash 11 2.29
Zucchini 20 6.3
Spaghetti
squash
Winter Squash
Carrots 700 0.70
Kohlrabi 2 0.90
Grand Total 36.6

We remain in the top three years for midsommer yields, and the others had things like pumpkins to plump them up. Only halfway to the 50kg tomato harvest from 2012.