Jul 222016
 

Russia Bombed a U.S. Base in Syria

Oh, neato.

A Russian aircraft last month bombed a base in southeast Syria secretly used by American and British forces in order to pressure the Obama administration to better cooperate in the stricken country, U.S. Defense officials told The Wall Street Journal.

Huzzah. And guess what: it worked.

 

 Posted by at 5:47 pm
Jul 222016
 

So a few days ago somebody went a little silly on a train near Wurzburg, Germany… took an axe and  knife and went after the passengers, injuring five before getting shot. Today in Munich someone (potentially up to three someones) opened fire in a shopping mall in Munich, Germany, killing at least 8. The motive for the latest attack has not yet been determined. It is far, far to early to begin even guessing what might have caused this.  Disgruntled Tea Partiers? Self-hating closeted homosexuals? Trump voters? We may never know:

A witness who will only be identified as Lauretta told CNN her son was in a bathroom with a shooter at the McDonald’s. “That’s where he loaded his weapon,” she said. “I hear like an alarm and boom, boom, boom… And he’s still killing the children. The children were sitting to eat. They can’t run.” Lauretta said she heard the gunman say, “Allahu Akbar,” or God is great. “I know this because I’m Muslim. I hear this and I only cry.”

Nope. Got nuthin’. Maybe it was some kid who was driven to kill because he played too much Call Of Duty or Grand Theft Auto or Pong or some such vile murder simulator. Perhaps he was a fan of heavy metal and backwards-masked exhortations by Satan to shoot up a McD’s twisted his fragile little mind. We may never know.

So yet again another terrorist attack in the west, with many, many people making expressions of sadness and horror. But in even the darkest times, there are those who find such things to be the cause of levity:

 Posted by at 4:39 pm
Jul 212016
 

Out here in the Mountain West there’s a chain of stores called “Hastings.” They carry books, comic books, magazines, DVDs/Blu-Rays, video games, board games, collectibles, action figures, pop culture memorabilia. There are two within range of me that I visit on a  fairly regular basis looking for magazines and books and such. Quite good stores.

Correction: There *used* to be a chain called “Hastings.” A month ago they declared bankruptcy, and today it was announced that they’ve been bought out by liquidators who will sell off their stuff and be done with them. When they are gone there will no longer be any book or magazine stores within a reasonable distance of me. Logan, Utah, a fairly major college town, will have no more book or video stores of any consequence. Logan used to have a Borders; that’s of course long gone. Used to have a really good hobby shop with long rows of model kits; long gone. Used to have one hell of a used book store; vanished like a fart in a tornado a few years ago.

Hmmph.

Get off my lawn, kid.

 Posted by at 6:10 pm
Jul 172016
 

H.P. Lovecraft’s Cthulhu Mythos has been remarkably influential over the decades. It is thus not surprising that if you do a Google image search for “Cthulhu” you will find a *vast* array of depictions of the terrifying Great Old One, along with various other of Lovecrafts creations. But here’s the thing: most of them fail.

There are two reasons why there have been, so far, no real efforts at making a faithful adaptation of a Cthulhu story into a  big-budget movie, despite their popularity. Firstly: Lovecraft almost never described the appearance of his monsters in great detail. When he did, like the “Deep Ones” in “The Shadow over Innsmouth,” the monsters are fairly mundane… fish-people, essentially.  The biggies like Cthulhu and Yog-Sothoth are described vaguely at best. Secondly: the monsters often don’t even put in a visible appearance; or those few characters who see them promptly go insane at the sight.

And that’s what stomps on most of the artistic depictions of Mythos Monsters: no matter how skilled and talented an artist is, painting or sculpting a vision of Cthulhu that drives the viewer insane is pretty much impossible (not to mention unwise). Critters from the Mythos are some of the best examples of things that work great in your head, but not so great visually.

So, if you GIS Cthulhu, you’ll find a myriad of sketches, paintings, sculpltures, CG renders. A lot of them are exquisitely rendered and detailed with great clarity… and are just not terrifying. “Winged Squid Guy” just doesn’t really come off as a particularly spooky vision.

But there are a few exceptions. The image I posted yesterday from “The Cthulhu Wars” with Cthulhu getting nuked is all kinds of awesome, but it’s still not *quite* there with the terrifyingness. I think what you really need to do to make a truly effective depiction of Cthulhu is to render it so that you *can’t* see Cthulhu with any clarity. The creepiness comes not from clarity but from obscuration. Here, this one is good:

“Awakening” by Russian artist Alexander Andreev. Cthulhu paying a visit to St. Petersburg; nothing good is going to happen to that town. I assume that TU-160 is going to unload a thermonuclear “howdy” onto the visitor.

And this one I think *really* nails the right way to depict a Lovecraft monster:

Here, rather than seeing Cthulhu clearly, it is depicted vaguely. If you look at the image full-rez, it’s pretty clearly a fairly quickly Photoshopped image; the artist, Bulgarian Andrey Nazarov, took a photo of a road in his native country he found on Google and added the Cthulhu figure. Since this in the Internet, enough people actually *believed* this to be an actual photo that even Snopes had to get involved. Particularly amusing/distressing are the claims that this photo was shot during a tornado outbreak… in Oklahoma. The mountains of Oklahoma. That’s madness.

The distinctly Lovecraftian movie “The Mist” was at its most effective when the monsters remained shrouded in the obscuring mist. The bugs flying around attacking people inside the grocery store? Yeah, that was bad, but it was comprehensible. The things outside just yoinking people away? Bleah!

In short… you *can’t* do cosmic horror justice. And the more detail you show, the further you get from it.

 Posted by at 12:50 pm
Jul 142016
 

News out of France:

Nice, France, truck attack kills 80, Hollande says

In short: someone driving a military-grade high-capacity high-powered assault truck drove through about a *mile* (report also says two kilometers) of a Bastille Day parade in the French city of Nice, killing around 80 and injuring Odin knows how many. The driver is reported to have also fired out of the window, making this less likely that this was just some schmuck who got likkered up and drove like an idiot. The police have apparently shot and killed the driver and have found explosives in the truck.

No motive given yet, but somehow I think I have a sneaking suspicion it just might be one of those Surt worshippers.

 Posted by at 7:54 pm
Jul 132016
 

MGTOW is something I’d not heard of until a week ago: Men Going Their Own Way. Depending on who you ask, the MGTOW movement is either:

  1. Straight men who are tired of the BS so often involved with Certain Things, and have decided to have no social interactions with women
  2. Losers who can’t possibly get a date, and are coming up with rationalizations.

I suspect thsere’s some of both. But if you want to jack up the percentage of #1, this is how you do it:

Nottinghamshire police to count wolf-whistling in street as a hate crime

Catcalling, wolf whistles and “unwanted physical approaches ” are to be considered “hate crimes.”

Behold:

Misogyny hate crime is classed under the new policy as “incidents against women that are motivated by an attitude of a man towards a woman, and includes behaviour targeted towards a woman by men simply because they are a woman”.

Examples of such incidents may include unwanted or uninvited sexual advances, physical or verbal assault, unwanted or uninvited physical or verbal contact or engagement, and use of mobile phones to send unwanted or uninvited messages or take photographs without consent.

Ho. Lee. Crap.

Basically, among things that might be reasonably suspected of being inappropriate such as taking photos of people and assault, they are criminalizing a guy simply *talking* to a woman. Because a guy might want to do that.

It’s places like this that will lead to the creation of truly effective Marylin Monrobots and the extinction of the human race. Or, perhaps rather more likely, the population crash of the indigenous population and their replacement by colonists from different lands and cultures. Which, frankly, might well be partially the intent. You don’t actually think wolf whistles will be illegal under sharia law, do you?

 Posted by at 5:33 pm
Jul 102016
 

The mysterious syndrome impairing astronauts’ sight

Short form: zero gravity over a span of weeks or months shifts fluids up into astronauts heads, applying pressure to the back of eyeballs, trashing their vision. One astronaut went from 20/20 to 20/100. It’s not yet clear if this is temporary or permanent, but it’s moderately disastrous for long duration spaceflight such as trips to Mars.

There is, of course, a simple solution: artificial gravity. Centrifugal force will do the job. But the question is, what level of gravity is needed? If you go to 3/8 of a G, Mars gravity, will you be just fine forever, or will it just take longer? Can we get by on 1/6 G, Lunar gravity? 1/10 of  G? 1/20? 1/100?

These are questions that *cannot* be answered on the ISS. We need a real space station, one that either has different rotation rates over a span or years, or multiple levels with different G-levels. This would obviously be a better setup then pure zero-g fr a “space hotel.” It’s not even remotely certain that all space tourists will be able to well tolerate or even want zero-g non-stop for the duration of their stay; a rotating station, especially one attached to a zero-g module via a rotary bearing airlock, would provide both environments within just a moments travel.

Best solution: develop some good zero-g, vacuum-capable 3D printers that can work with aluminum and steel and titanium, and send to the ISS along with a modified woodchipper. Feed the ISS into the chipper then the printer a module at a time, turning it into a properly designed station, one with inflatable modules and artificial gravity.

 Posted by at 11:28 am