April 08, 2016

Just a strange thought

Isn't it interesting that we have common words for the two parts of our legs (thigh, shin) but don't have for the two sections of our arms? We have to refer to them as upper arm and lower arm.

We could use humerus for the upper arm, but there are two bones in the lower arm so we can't really use either radius or ulna.

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January 15, 2016

GATE -- Noriko

This is a huge spoiler so it's below the fold.


(Lelei is still my favorite character, but Kuribayashi is a close second.)


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December 17, 2015

Star Wars 7

Are the first three movies (i.e. chap 1, chap 2, chap 3) now officially non-canon?

One of the new characters in the new movie (chap 7) is a former storm trooper who decided to change sides. He's black.

I thought all the storm troopers were clones of Jango Fett. Has that changed?

Or... we never actually saw the faces of Jango Fett or Boba Fett, not to mention any storm trooper. Are they all black? (Yikes! The SJW's will spike if so! Black slaves fighting and dying for the white emperor!)

Posted by: Steven Den Beste in Engineer's Disease at 08:32 PM | Comments (11) | Add Comment
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November 08, 2015

Meaningless Noise

A long time ago someone asked a philosopher a question, and his response was "That question is a meaningless noise." The point being it was a string of words which didn't make any sense.

A lot of science fiction double-talk is meaningless noise. I've run into a few lately. One was "temperatures below absolute zero". Temperature is a measure of the amount of randomized kinetic energy possessed by the atoms in a mass. If it's a gas, that resuts in pressure on the container. At Absolute Zero, there is no energy at all; the atoms stop moving and the pressure is zero. How can there be anything less than that? It would require negative energy which is another meaningless noise.

Another was "anti-graviton". Three of the four forces have now been united, the triumph of modern physics. The Electric Force, the Strong Force, and the Weak Force are all mediated by particles, respectively the photon, the gluon, and the weak vector bosun.

Physicists would really really like to make gravity fit into the same model, with a hypothesized "graviton" being the mediating particle. But in the only theory of gravity we have, General Relativity, gravity isn't actually a force. It's a side effect of non-Euclidian distortion of space time caused by the presence of mass.

In other words, there is no such thing as a graviton. Anyway, the mediating particles for the three forces don't have anti-particles, so even if there is such a thing as a graviton, why would it have one?

I myself made up one a long time ago: polarized sound. See, thing is, sound is a longitudinal wave, and you can't polarize longitudinal waves. (Light, by contrast, is a transverse wave and those polarize nicely.)

It ain't a term, but ice power (e.g. Gray in Fairy Tail) has always bothered me. Cold isn't a thing, it's the absence of a thing. To warm something up (Natsu) you add energy to it. All well and good. Making heat is not only completely acceptable, it's impossible to avoid at least some of that happening. (See the Second Law of Thermodynamics.) But freezing something means draining energy out of it. Where is that energy going?


The usual handwave is, "Well, it isn't our universe so our physical laws don't apply." Yeah, right. Or if not that, then "Shut up and look at the boobs, you nerd."

Posted by: Steven Den Beste in Engineer's Disease at 11:41 AM | Comments (14) | Add Comment
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October 15, 2015

Nanoha Vivid -- anachronism

The anime runs up through about chapter 30 in the manga, but the manga goes a lot further than that, especially in raw. Chapter 69 has this image:


And it bothers me a lot. Explaining the situation would involve lots of huge spoilers, so I'll skip it. For the moment, leave it that the blonde chick with the sword is a brat living at a dojo for the "Fist of the Spring Sunlight" style of martial arts, which has been taught by Rio's family for generations. (It's also the main fighting style Rio has been trained in.) That sword belongs to Micayah, and it's a katana. Worse, it's also her magical device. The brat took the sword from Micayah's luggage without permission and has been playing with it while eating greasy food, and getting greasy fingerprints all over it. Micayah (in the foreground with her back to us) is not happy about this, and has challenged the brat.

What bothers me about the image is the brat's stance. That's French; it's a fencing stance. Fist of the Spring Sunlight is clearly intended to be taken by us to be an advanced form of Kung Fu, so where the hell did the brat learn French fighting style?

She didn't learn it well. When she does her lunge, her left hand should have dropped down almost to her leg.

Midchild is a real strange place; it's too much like Earth, or rather it's too much like Japan and China. The Wesley dojo is like something out of China, and the city Vivio lives in is like a clone of Tokyo, except with magic and high tech. It doesn't look alien enough. But except for the fact that all the magic devices speak English or German, it doesn't borrow hardly anything from Europe or the United States; it's all Far East. So what in hell is French fencing doing there?

Posted by: Steven Den Beste in Engineer's Disease at 01:52 PM | Comments (4) | Add Comment
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April 11, 2015

Nanoha Vivid -- Engineer's disease

Just a small problem here. This is Vivio:



And that was the person in ancient Belka from whom Vivio was cloned, recognizably so because they both have exactly the same Heterochromia.

And that's the problem: heterochromia isn't heritable. It isn't caused by a gene. The most common cause of heterochromia is chimericism, which happens when two fertilized eggs merge and result in a single individual.

If you take a single cell from someone with heterochromia and clone it, the resulting baby's eyes will be the same color, one of the two the parent had. (Which one depends on where the cell came from.)

Not that it matters, except that it's a plot point in Nanoha Vivid -- or it will be. Einhart is going to recognize Vivio by her eyes.

Posted by: Steven Den Beste in Engineer's Disease at 03:09 PM | Comments (9) | Add Comment
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March 11, 2015


I'm a big fan of Rex Stout's Nero Wolfe stories. Just about the only mystery series (after Sherlock Holmes) I've ever really read much of.

For a long time I didn't have access to them, but when I got my Kindle it turned out that the entire canon was available for it, so I've bought and downloaded most of it, at least three quarters.

Recently I noticed something that's been bothering me -- more than it really should. In several of the stories, someone dies by being stabbed, and dies without making any sound.

That's not really possible. A stab wound can kill you fairy rapidly if it hits the heart, but you'll still scream. The classic knife-kill they teach soldiers is to get the victim from behind, to grab his head with one hand over the mouth, and to shove the knife in to hit the heart.

But that's not what happens in these stories. In at least one case the person was stabbed from the front, and she should have thrashed like a fish from the pain -- but didn't. In another case it's described as a woman walking by a man from his rear to his front, and sticking a knife in him in passing. Other people were nearby and would have heard if he'd made any kind of sound, including even falling on the floor, and they didn't.

Knifes don't act like that! Grumble...

Posted by: Steven Den Beste in Engineer's Disease at 09:00 PM | Comments (10) | Add Comment
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January 23, 2015

To Aru Kagaku no Railgun S -- engineer's disease

There are two major screwups in Railgun S which have always bothered me. They're both spoilers, so below the fold they go.



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January 22, 2015

What's wrong with this picture?

"She's beautiful enough -- in her way -- of course," the man admitted, entirely unimpressed. "But the, so is a Radelegian cateagle, so is a spire of frozen helium, and so is a six-foot-long armor-piercing punch." -- Second Stage Lensman, E. E. Smith

Posted by: Steven Den Beste in Engineer's Disease at 10:35 PM | Comments (7) | Add Comment
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January 02, 2015

Non-optimal solutions

I eat my peas with honey.
I've done it all my life.
It makes the peas taste funny,
but it keeps them on my knife.

Posted by: Steven Den Beste in Engineer's Disease at 10:27 AM | Comments (2) | Add Comment
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