Archive for October, 2019

They love us for our freedoms

October 26, 2019

A few days ago, retired 4-star general and former Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis was in Spokane for a fund raiser. In his speech, he talked about an Iraqi national he talked to just after the man had been apprehended while planting a roadside bomb. Mattis made two points in this story. First, the guy was attacking Americans because we were there in his country, because we were invaders. Second, the Iraqi asked what his chances were, if he were a model prisoner, of emigrating to America with his family, once he got out of prison.

American politicians, primarily Bush and the others who got us into this mess in the Middle East, have kept up a drumbeat demonization of the Muslim inhabitants of the region as the other, as evil villains who hate us for our freedoms. The fact is, as demonstrated by the Mattis story, while they don’t want US invaders in their countries, they love the idea of America.

Of course, Trump, and the others of the GOP who see our wars in the Middle East as an opportunity to loot their oil supplies, are doing their best to see that when we are done, they really will hate us.

On Thermonuclear War

October 19, 2019

If you want an animated look at what one nuclear weapon will do to one major city, here’s a link to a nine-minute YouTube, which sounds like it’s being narrated by the guy who did Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, only not as funny.

Back in 1973 I was assigned to the Military Airlift Command Indications and Warning Center at Scott AFB. Our job was to keep an eye on everything that went on around the world, if there was the possibility it could require some sort of MAC involvement: war in the Middle East, non-combatant evacuation from Congo, airlift of relief supplies to Bangladesh. Support the rest of the US military when fighting a nuclear war.

Shortly after I arrived, we had a visit from the newly-assigned USAF Assistant Chief of Staff for Intelligence, Major General George Keegan. He was traveling to every I&W Center in the AF, and he had one message, that he was delivering personally:

Your primary mission is to prevent a nuclear war.

He knew, and we knew, and anyone who has been associated with the things knew, that a nuclear war would be an unmitigated disaster, and that we needed to expend all our efforts, 24/7, to making sure that such a war didn’t occur.

As the animation says, a nuclear attack is like a wildfire, hurricane, earthquake, and nuclear reactor meltdown all at once, only worse. What it doesn’t say is, in a nuclear war this will happen everywhere at once. Don’t plan on any kind of outside help, because help isn’t coming.

I’ll talk more on this topic later, but for now, watch the video.

UPDATE: Here’s an article on our tactical nuclear weapons in Europe

 

Yes, we are rural

October 19, 2019

Our long autumnal rains have just started, here in the NENW, and the urban quail are not liking it.

About 20 quail sheltering under my car (click to embiggen).

I didn’t want to scare them off, so this is a zoom shot from 30ft away.

TLDR: Anime I never finished, Fall 2019 Part 4

October 15, 2019

I don’t know which is more amazing, how many anime I am finding uninteresting this season, or how many anime I’ve had time to watch this season.

To start with, the cute girls doing cute things with weapons lode is just about mined out, and now we are reworking the tailings.

AZUR LANE

I’m really sorry to have to drop this one, but it’s a cheap knock-off of the real thing. It’s like someone randomly merged sentences from the elevator pitches for KanColle and Arpeggio, and studio Bibury said “How hard can it be?

The ship/girl mechanics are confused, the combat mechanics are confused, the battles are confused, and the Sakura Fleet carrier pairs seem driven primarily by lesbian incest. Now, I’ve got nothing against lesbian incest, but c’mon, girls, time and place, time and place.

You should see how I’ll repair the holes in your flight deck

On top of that, the pre-tweens keep getting treated like sex objects, and one of them has a bad case of crabs.

Chidori RSC

A straightforward high school club anime about target shooting. So far, it’s mostly club activities that don’t actually involve target shooting.

Most of the time they’re eating snacks and buying clothes

I’m getting a K-On with laser rifles vibe, only without the K-On part.

Then there’s the police procedural/modern crime anime. Most are not bad, as such, but I’m finding that, as with period costume drama, these just don’t hold my interest. Last week it was Special 7. This week, it’s:

BABYLON

Even if they’ve got a neat superpower hook.

I was the new guy

and

Case File nº221: Kabukicho

A Sherlock Holmes non-thriller with a cast of dozens. Tries to make up for lack of substance with all sorts of gimmicks, most of which are of the funny once variety.

Not even Ladybeard could help it.

Besides, it’s on Funimation, and the interface is terrible.

To wrap things up, we’re now to the point in the season where I’m watching anime from years past, trying to find something to fill the newly emptied time slots.

Makai Ouji: Devils and Realist

I started this 2013 anime because it was featured on a list of really good OP’s. Two episodes in and there still was no sign of any female characters. There were a couple of false alarms, and one curvaceous person that appeared in the ED, but that was it.

The question is, are either one of them female?

So far it’s all male, with lots of bonding and opportunities for shipping. Sorry, guys, but if you’re going to make something about a band of brothers, I’d much rather it was Band of Brothers, ya know?

That’s the last time I take programmatic advice from a fujoshi.

Side Note: Five of the shows I was interested in were Funimation exclusives. Three were crap, and two were uninteresting. Given that watching stuff on FN is a painful experience, I might just have to rethink my subscription.

Backing up the President

October 11, 2019

On 24 February 1964, President Johnson announced the existence of the YF-12 supersonic interceptor (a variant of the SR-71), based at Edwards AFB in California. Unfortunately, there weren’t any YF-12s at Edwards. They were all at Groom Lake, Area 51, in Nevada. What to do? Well, you don’t want to make a liar out of the President (these were more innocent days), so they rushed two of them at supersonic speeds down to Edwards. Despite the announcement, any details about the aircraft were still secret, so when they landed they were quickly rolled inside a hangar. It turns out that even such a short flight, at close to Mach 3, heats up the skin of the aircraft considerably. They rolled the aircraft into the hangar, closed the doors, and the fire suppression sprinkler system went off.

I bring this up because President Trump just announced that all US troops were now out of Syria. That’s wrong. Not only are there hundreds of troops assigned to other places than the northeastern border, even the thousand or so removed from the Kurdish areas were merely relocated further south (although, not so far south that they couldn’t be hit by Turkish artillery).

Obviously, the military didn’t get the word, and is at risk of making the President look a liar.

I’d suggest that the only way to back up the President’s words is to pull all our troops out of Syria now, and pull them out fast enough to set off the sprinkler system.

 

Kurdish Debacle

October 10, 2019

Pity the poor Kurds. As Pat Lang points out, they are just the
latest in a long line of erstwhile allies that we have betrayed and abandoned. Those betrayals go back to the Apache Scouts, who
sided with us in the Indian Wars and were jailed with the rest of their brethren for a quarter century, through the Hmong of Southeast Asia, the Shiites of Assad’s Iraq (who we encouraged to revolt in 1991 and then ignored), and the many translators and helpers in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria.

The Kurds are an ethnic Iranian, mostly-Moslem people who have the misfortune to be living in a region at the intersection of four different countries. They were supposed to have been granted their own country in the breakup of the Ottoman Empire at the end of WWI, but what one treaty gives, another can take away. Ever since, the Kurds have been on the outs with their various host countries.

Greater Kurdistan

In the most recent set of events, the Syrian Kurds sided with the US in its fight against ISIS, and contributed significant forces to the mission of holding the northern region of Syria and preventing ISIS from getting aid from that part of Turkey. Turkey has a large Kurdish population in the southeast, and looks on them the same way they do the Armenians — as an untrustworthy minority that needs to be kept oppressed.

On a practical note, there weren’t that many US troops in northern Syria, just a few hundred acting as observers and keeping the Turks from trying to overrun the area. Those few hundred had an impact far beyond their size, and pulling them out  allowed Turkey to unleash a major invasion, no matter what Trump claims.

Another result is likely to be halt of all anti-ISIS operations and the release of some thousands of ISIS prisoners, currently held by Kurdish forces, an event that the US has already said it can’t do anything about.

Finally, everyone but the US and the Kurds will benefit from this. Both Putin and Bashar al-Assad will. ISIS will. Assuming they don’t get bogged down (and the terrain is mostly flat and tank-friendly), Turkey will be able to advance its political Islam agenda.

Meanwhile, Trump is asking what have the Kurds done for us lately, and the transactionalists are saying that this won’t hurt our credibility, because we don’t have any. That our reputation in the world is exactly the same as Trump‘s as a businessman. That all these people are supporting us because a strict calculus of costs and benefits says that it’s to the Kurd’s benefit to support us, despite our dismal record.

That’s the “You knew I was a snake when you married me” defense. It’s as abhorrent in international relations as it is in business and personal ones, and it doesn’t take into account the fact that more people around the world seem to believe in the idea of America than do those actually living here.

 

CabbageOats

October 10, 2019

The last time I tried using the water left over from cooking cabbage as the broth for oatmeal, I said it was bland. Cabbagy, but bland. What I forgot is that there’s more than one way to broth a cabbage.

So here’s the plan. Instead of forcing the poor, wilted cabbage leaves to carry the full flavor burden, why don’t we share it out, and use the cabbage as a supporting actor? Not in a three-drops-of-shoyu way, but in a somewhat bigger role? Like maybe half the broth?

Setup: 1/3 cup of stone ground rolled oats, one half cup cabbage broth, one half cup beef broth, two dinner teaspoons of potato flakes, salt. Cook for 10 minutes or so, depending on the exact style of oats. Add the potatoes at the end. I like to put a fat pinch of shred cheese at the bottom of the breakfast bowl.

Results: Very good. Beefy, with just an undertone of cabbagosity. You can go as low as 25% cabbage broth, but If you increase it above 50%, it lapses back into bland.

Rating: ***

TLDR: Anime I never finished, Fall 2019 Part 3

October 9, 2019

We’ve been through a full week now, and the really bad shows have fallen by the wayside. What’s left are the good ones, and the not-bad ones that haven’t been able to hold my attention. OK, and some newcomers.

Special 7: Special Crime Investigation Unit

Lovable collection of misfits assigned to a special police operations unit. Think of them as the official version of Bungo Stray Dogs. For what it’s worth, they’re in Tokyo, not Yokohama, so there’s a certain metropolitan panache to the project. Not bad, if you like that sort of thing.

Hi. I’m the new guy

Fate/Grand Order Absolute Demonic Front: Babylonia

I should have known better than to watch an anime with both Fate and a punctuation mark (and three subcomponents) in the title. At least it didn’t have Certain, or Re:

Confused mess of characters and plot points understandable only to those who have followed the franchise for the last decade and a half, preferably with a notebook and a copy of DBase II next to the TV.

I only understand every other word

Kandagawa Jet Girls

Look, HiDive, if the girls in an ecchi anime are going to bare their all, the least you can do is show it. Don’t make them sacrifice their modesty for nothing. Don’t make the act of their freezing their …. salient features …. off a worthless endeavour. More worthless.

Poor things. They’ve got nothing in the way of original character, their dialogue is cringeworthy enough that they should be embarrassed to rehearse in the bathroom, and the plot has been used so many times that the velveteen is worn off the corners. You should at least let them flaunt their one advantage, but no, you’ve got to have them change into their skintights in this dark, shadowy relic of a building, when other viewers get a nice bright room with lots of windows.

All is darkness

Shame on you, HiDive.

Autumn Storm 2

October 9, 2019

Remember last week’s snowstorm? First September snow since 1926. Well, now we have the first time there’s been more than a trace on October 8th in, like, forever.

Our back yard got about two inches. Fortunately, all the limbs that were going to come down, did so in the last storm. All we had this time was a power outage. UPDATE: And a couple of big branches that fell into a neighbors yard, so they don’t count.

Meanwhile, across the street, a major branch peeled off our neighbor’s tree, and two other big branches are broken and hanging. I’ve decided not to do any yard work today. Maybe just stay inside and watch anime.

TLDR: Anime I never finished, Fall 2019 Part 2

October 5, 2019

It’s taking a while to get all of my TLDR’s assembled, because half of the shows are hanging back, to see how the battle goes. Other foolhardy fools have foolishly rushed right in. Fools.

High School Prodigies Have It Easy Even In Another World

This show is taking the Okada Mari approach to isekai story development. “You want isekai? I’ll give you isekai that will turn your brain to porridge. You want overpowered heroes? I’ll give you heroes who can beat One Punch Man to the punch.”

And you thought that just one isekai hero was too much

After a five minute expository lump we find that the high school heroes-to-be (each of whom is world-class at something — medicine, ninja,  governing countries, something) were flying in a private jet from somewhere to somewhere when, in typical isekai fashion, the jet was magically transported to a medieval fantasy world. One with bunny girls but no runways and wolf-men but no crash recovery services. But do not despair. Our Heroes are miraculously thrown clear of the crash, and the plane burns to a cinder, all except a few spare nuclear reactors and such. Too bad about the pilots and cabin staff.

After that, the only mystery is, how will our multi-talented crew solve the next trivial puzzle the world throws up for them. Of course, we know that part of the plot is to conquer the world using the culinary arts of Greater Nihon (it always is). So, their first step is to introduce a sauce that will amaze the foreign taste buds.

You will never guess…

Well, maybe it’s not this kind, but it’s close.

Now, all the other isekai that I’ve read take chapters and chapters to find the rice and edamame and so forth to produce proper shoyu, or miso. Our Heroes find an easier way, with eggs (which we saw in the opening shot) and oil and vinegar: Traditional.  Japanese…. Mayonnaise.

The best I can say is that it’s mildly amusing, and at least they haven’t used a German suplice. Yet.

Val x Love

Really scary/ugly protagonist with a heart of gold? Check. Pre-made harem of cute girls living in his house? Check. Contrived plot-line requiring that the girls get molested by our protagonist in order to achieve their full potential as maidens? Check. OK, we have three in a row. We’re good to go.

We’re only halfway through my preseason list of shows I want to watch, and already I’ve dropped half of those. Bodes not well for the second half

The German Suplex Trifecta

October 5, 2019

Is now in play for anime Fall 2019.

Will they get one more? Who will do it? My money’s on High School Prodigies Have it Easy, but we’re still in Week 1, so anything can happen! Don’t touch that dial!

Azur Lane, first impressions

October 4, 2019

I haven’t done a first impressions article before, but AL cries out for one.

The plot is a riff on KanColle, with alien enemy fleets (Sirens instead of Abyssals) opposed by embattled humanity, said humanity being represented by cute girls who embody the souls of warships of the past. The major differences are the girl/ship mechanics and the underlying plot point that humanity is divided and fighting among themselves.

The girl/ship relation doesn’t fill in the empty cell in my Ship Girls analysis (real girls/imaginary ships). Like Arpeggio of Blue Steel, they really are real ships. Unlike Arpeggio, they disappear into a cloud of ice cubes (or maybe cherry blossoms) when the girls clear them for action, so maybe they are semi-imaginary, like a pain in a real big toe. Like KanColle, the girls are rigged out like the ships they represent, and roller blade across the water into action, mostly. You see, some of them just fly into action on their own, and some of them fly into action on their spirit beasts — fox deities, unicorns, Dauntless dive bombers, the usual. The inconsistencies are not explained in the first episode, but there’s lots of expository time left.

The second major departure is the plot structure. Turns out, it’s a three-way fight. On the one hand the WWII Anglo-American alliance is fighting the WWII Axis (so far only the Japanese have appeared) over issues of how to fight the Sirens, in their Fleet of Fog style modernistic ships. On the other hand, the Allies are the only ones actively fighting the Sirens.

Halfway through Episode 1, the Allied base is attacked by the Sirens, and then the Japanese fleet attacks under cover of the Siren attack. The Allies immediately drop the fight against the Sirens and turn their full attention on each other, while the Siren fleet (which outnumbers the combined human force by many manys) apparently just sits back and does the alien invader equivalent of eating popcorn. It’s not until the Enterprise Girl shows up that anyone pays attention to the Sirenians.

So far, so much naval porn. Maybe not as good as Arpeggio or KanColle, but not totally unwatchable. Except for the shipgirls. Now, I like anime girls, as long as they meet a certain level of maturity. They don’t have to carry all their equipment on their upper decks, but they do have to be old enough that I wouldn’t get strange looks if I were talking to one at a bus stop. Half the girls in AL are pre-tweens, and are presented with the same camera angles as you would Hanekawa Tsubasa. Exceedingly off-putting. I’d attribute this to the source being a Chinese mobile game, by a company who did a statistical analysis of what individual elements Western buyers might like, and combined them all in one package.

I’m going to give it another episode or so, to see if the fun parts outshine the freakies.

Fried Green Oatmeal

October 3, 2019

OK, so most of the title is a lie. But what does your mental autocomplete come up with when someone says “fried green …”? Right, tomatoes. So, we’re talking green tomatoes here. In oatmeal.

It’s the end of summer and we’ve got something in excess of 10kg of mostly-green, just-harvested tomatoes, including 2kg of Yellow Pears which, despite the name, are actually cherries.

Little yellows

Baking them for an hour or so, then whacking them with a stir-stick, gave us 700g of a rather tart paste, with too many seeds. The flavor makes one think of an unspicy pepper, more like a banana than a bell. We’re still trying to figure out what it will go with, and while we were doing that, breakfast time rolled around.

I tried it two ways, one with a fat dinner teaspoon of the tomato mix (~30g) and one with two (~60g).

Setup: 1/3 cup of stone ground rolled oats, one cup beef broth, teaspoons of green yellow pepper tomato paste to taste, two dinner teaspoons of potato flakes, salt. Cook for 10 minutes or so, depending on the exact style of oats. Add the paste at the beginning and the potatoes at the end.

Results: Not bad. The 30g version was surprisingly mild. The 60g version was more like green chili.

Rating: ***

TLDR: Anime I never finished, Fall 2019 Part 1

October 2, 2019

It’s Opening Day, and the Fall, 2019 anime season stumbles at the very first fence.

Four new shows: two duds, one midrange, and one that I’m watching primarily because I liked the light novel. Here’s the two that aren’t going to make it.

Kemono Michi
He’s really strong, and really dumb, and he really, really likes animals. The animation is low budget. The storyline has some cute twists, but essentially this is a one-joke anime. Overall it was a waste of my limited lifetime CPU ticks.

Everybody needs a hobby of some kind

Cautious Hero: The Hero is Overpowered but Overly Cautious
He (Hero) is really strong. She (Goddess) is really dumb. They go off to save the world, but not before he spends a couple of weeks in his room, leveling up by doing pushups. Animation is slightly better than KemMichi, but that’s damning with faint praise. It might be worth watching a second episode, but only if nothing worthwhile is on the QVC Channel that night.

But wait! I’m not done yet!

 

My Fall Anime Schedule

October 1, 2019

I just spent a pleasant afternoon, cross-checking AniList against YattaTachi’s Fall Fantastic Anime and Where to Find Them and the FansubDB, deciding what I will watch, given what I want to watch and the vagaries of the various streaming services. Here’s my first pass. Note that the day of the week is the release day, and it might turn out to be more easily covered on the next day, plus, I might space them out a little more for ease of watching. Not shown are some OVA’s (Fragtime, etc) and a couple that have incomplete information (Rifle, Pet). Since this is a working paper, primarily for my own use, I probably won’t be updating it as the information changes….or maybe I will.

Day
Program/Streamer

Monday
Babylon / AZP
Didn’t I Say to Make My Abilities Average in the Next Life? / CR

Tuesday
Chihayafuru / CR
Kandagawa Jet Girls / VRV

Wednesday
Ascendance of a Bookworm / CR
The Hero is Overpowered But Overly Cautious / FN
Kemono Michi: Rise Up / FN
Ore wo Suki: Are You The Only One Who Loves Me / CR

Thursday
Azur Lane / FN
High School Prodigies / CR

Friday
Kabukichou Sherlock / FN

Saturday
Val x Love / VRV
Welcome To Demon School! Iruma-kun / CR
We Never Learn / CR

Sunday
Special 7 / FN

So, fifteen programs, or roughly two per day (until I start dropping them). The week is surprisingly well balanced, except maybe for Wednesdays, and the Big Two — Crunchyroll and Funimation — are also running neck and neck. Of the two, I prefer Crunchyroll, but that’s a topic for another post.


AZP: Amazon Prime

CR: Crunchyroll

VRV: HiDive/VRV

FN: Funimation