November 06, 2015


I have never been tempted to vandalize my body that way. (Of course, I've never vandalized anything else, either.)

But of course, one of the reasons each generation has strange fashions is in order to scandalize the prior generation, which is one of the reasons I had long hair when I was in my 20's. (Also, because it was strawberry blonde and looked really good.)

So in keeping with that principle, I'm always a bit scandalized when I see a tattoo on a pretty girl, like this one:



This one is particularly annoying because it doesn't mean anything. Bad enough that she's vandalizing herself, but she's doing it with nonsense. It's not proper Japanese, and I think it doesn't mean anything in Chinese either.

As best I can tell it's this:


Which isn't a proper word or sentence in Japanese.

æ—  is pronounced mu and means "nothing, naught".

使 is pronounced tsuka and it means "use" but it never appears in Japanese without a hiragana ending. (Such as 使い tsukai which means "user" among many other things.)

So if 无使 means anything at all, it would be "useless". Why would someone want that on their skin?

grumble dumb kids grumble

UPDATE: They say a sure sign that you're getting old is when you begin to obsess about the moral failings of the younger generation, and I passed that particular hurdle a long time ago.

UPDATE: I read the first kanji wrong. See comments.

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August 31, 2015

Grumble rassafratzin

Erin McClam, NBC News:

The Texas sheriff's deputy who was killed at a gas station was shot 15 times by a gunman who unloaded his entire clip, a prosecutor said Monday as the suspect appeared in court for the first time.

Dear Erin,

Repeat after me: magazine, not clip. magazine, not clip. magazine, not clip.


UPDATE: I don't think anyone has ever made a 14-round clip, and anyway you'd have to go all the way back to something like the Broomhandle Mauser to find a handgun which was loaded with a clip. (Which held 10 rounds, so maybe a 14-round clip isn't so far fetched.)

Anyway, lots of magazines are even larger than that, up to and including drum magazines carrying 100 rounds.

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August 17, 2015

Stupid series naming conventions

These things come and go; there was a period in which series names were essentially nonsense, completely meaningless. There was a period when lots of series had English names.

And recently we've seen a trend towards series having ridiculously long names.

But the worst recent trend has been using increases in punctuation for sequels. Two examples spring immediately to mind: Dog Days, Dog Days', Dog Days'' and Working!, Working!!, Working!!!

I suppose with 50 or more new series each year, and a history going back to the 1980's, it's a bit hard to come up with something new, and fads never make sense anyway looking back at them, and often not even when you look at them contemporaneously. But it's still annoying. Grumble.

The biggest problem with this one is how you pronounce the names in order to differentiate them, which is why "Dog Days Dash" and "Dog Days Double-Dash" even though it's an apostrophe (') and not a dash (-). Me, I use "S2" and "S3".

UPDATE: I just looked it up, and ANN says it's Working!!, Working!!2, and Working!!3. That's a bit better, even if a bit unimaginative.

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June 02, 2015

Fang mail

I stopped posting to USS Clueless 11 years ago.

But occasionally people link to old posts of mine, like just happened last week when Ace did it.

And every once in a while I get fan mail, or perhaps "fang mail" would be more accurate: "This was a really neat post, but you should change it because it didn't include something I think is important."

RE this particular post, I think there is a tendency to oversimplify the idea you are presenting. It is often presented as "you need to be willing to do back to your enemy whatever your enemy is willing to do to you." I don't think game theory requires such literal Tit for Tat. It merely requires significant consequences for breaking the rules. For example, a credible threat to use Nuclear weapons if Biological weapons are deployed, would satisfy the significant consequences argument of game theory, without requiring a country to maintain stocks of Biological weapons or an open threat of Biological MAD. I think this is important, since it allows for some modifications of the Tit for Tat scenarios that avoid the danger of "turning into your enemy" in order to defeat him. You do not have to match an enemy brutality for brutality, as long as there exists some other way to punish the enemy for violations that has equal significance to him.

You don't actually get into this part of the question, but I think this might be a worthwhile update to consider to the post, since people are still reading it and it has been referenced by others as saying something to that effect.

I can't change it. Frustratingly, that server ("regulus") is sitting on my computer desk within arm's reach, but a couple of years ago Microsoft issued a Win 7 security update and now I can't access it either with telnet or with FTP. (It also fouled up my ability to access my WHS, "Deneb".) So I'm not capable of making any changes on it any more.

Even if I were inclined to do so, which I'm not. Dammit, I wrote that post in 2002! Let it rest, already! USS Clueless wasn't a series of academic papers, it was a fucking blog.

(I do have to admit that I get three of four letters a year from people who thank me for doing USS Clueless and who don't try to convince me to rewrite parts of it. And I am grateful.)

UPDATE: Besides which, I did write what he's saying, in a different post.

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May 15, 2015

Grumble roundhouse kicks


In anime when someone who is an expert at karate does a roundhouse kick, they always, always, do it open-foot.

Which is stupid. That's not how it's done. My sensei taught us to fold our foot up and strike with the ball of the foot, just below the toes. This concentrates the force in a small area and doesn't risk your ankle.

If you kick open-foot, like in the picture above, you're going to break your ankle. You're also spreading the force over a much larger area so it is less effective.

You'd think that someone in the anime industry would go find some karate magazines to see what proper form looks like, wouldn't you?

(And while I'm at it, when you're defending against a punch or kick, you don't try to stop it. Instead, you deflect it. Putting your forearm up and taking a kick there is a good way to break your arm. Plus, deflecting the blow puts your enemy off balance and makes him vulnerable for a counter-strike.)


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March 16, 2015

F1 Melbourne 2015

I still can't comment over at Wonderduck's Pond, and I wanted to make some comments about the F1 season opener.

There were supposed to be 20 cars on the circuit. One team couldn't even get its cars to run; they didn't even try to qualify. One of the McLaren cars didn't reach the starting line on race day; its engine exploded.

And there were other misevents, and when all was said and done, the two cars from Mercedes finished 1-2, only about 2 seconds apart. Third place was fully 30 seconds behind that.

Only 11 cars finished the race. Which means every car but one got points. The one that didn't was the other McLaren, which apparently is using a 2-stroke lawn mower engine as its powerplant.

Mercedes performed the way they should. They did what they were supposed to do. Everyone else needs to go back and finish clown school. If the season continues like this, then this year will go down as the worst in F1 history.

They may as well toss a coin right now between Rosberg and Hamilton, award the winner the driver's championship, award the constructor championship to Mercedes, and call the whole season off. That'll give everyone enough time to design cars that work for 2016.

What's the problem? It's the assumption that they Must Have 10 Teams And 20 Cars every year. What this race proved is that it can't always be done. There are three teams which shouldn't even be participating this year, for one thing.

At the beginning of the season, before the first race day, there ought to be a season qualifier, where each team has to prove their cars can run 80 laps on some track, somewhere, at a reasonable speed. If they can't, they don't get to participate that year. If that means only 14 cars, so be it. If it only means 8 cars, such is life. At least you'll get a race season that isn't a gross embarassment.

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October 08, 2014

Thomas Duncan dies

I have very mixed feelings about this.

On one hand, it's natural to feel sorry for the guy, since he died horribly. But on another level I'm having a difficult time suppressing feelings of hatred for him.

He knew he was infected with Ebola when he came to the US. He did it because he thought he might get better medical care here, and maybe have a better chance of surviving.

So, in hopes that he himself would survive he decided to risk 300 million Americans getting the same disease, including the family members he was visiting.

No one wants to die, but risking others without their permission or knowledge to save yourself is wrong, evil, hideous, monstrous.

And it didn't save him. He died anyway, but because of him who knows how many Americans might now die?

UPDATE: Potentially or actually sacrificing others to save yourself is cowardice. Heroism is to sacrifice yourself to save others, like this guy. Him I'll mourn. But not Thomas Duncan; he doesn't deserve it.

UPDATE: Brickmuppet is less vindictive than I am.

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September 25, 2014

Imminent threat

One of the big talking points last decade was the idea that we can't preemptively attack to relieve a threat unless the threat is "imminent". That always annoyed me; it amounts to saying, "Don't fight the forest fire until you can see flames from your front porch."

It never made sense. The best time to fight a big fire is before it gets big, and the best time to deal with a threat is before it becomes imminent. (And the best way to fix a software bug is to prevent it in the first place.)

And now that Obama has finally started taking the threat of radical Islam seriously (or at least is pretending to), the usual suspects are talking about whether the threat is "imminent" again -- albeit in muted voices, because Obama is a Democrat, a Progessive, and an African-American. Don't wanna be racist, donchaknow...

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April 25, 2014

Si vis pacem, para bellum

A couple of months ago I got involved in an email exchange with a gun control fan, who asked me why there was a Second Amendment and why people like me thought it was so important. Here's what I wrote back to him:

Alright, I'll try to explain the theory. You're not going to like this, and it's going to strike you as being tinfoil hat territory, but work with me here.

Let's rewind back to 1789 when the Bill of Rights was written. It was only 6 years since the Revolution ended. And the early battles of the Revolution were fought by men using their own weapons. (That's what the Patriots used in the Battles of Lexington and Concord, for example.) Those who wrote the Bill of Rights were acutely aware that the only reason the Revolution was possible was because of widespread ownership of guns.

The Revolution was fought because the British government was perceived to have become tyrannical, and the Founders were well aware that the new government they were establishing could in turn become tyrannical. They included lots of checks and limits on the government, but knew that in the end the only sure way to prevent that was if the people had the means to rise in revolution, again.

The Second Amendment is the ultimate check. That's why it was included in the Bill of Rights.

This is what you're not going to like: the purpose of the Second Amendment is to make sure that the citizens of the US are sufficiently well armed to fight a revolution, if a new one is needed. That's what the "militia" referred to in it is about: in that time the word "militia" referred to the kind of thing that happened in Boston at the Battles of Lexington and Concord, where all able bodied men grabbed their own guns and fought on behalf of the community.

Which means that issues like hunting or self defense are a distraction. The Second Amendment is about allowing citizens to own weapons which are good enough to permit them to fight against a tyrant's army and win.

In 1789 that meant muzzle-loaded muskets, because that's what the British Army (and the Hessians) were using. In our time it means the AR-15 and similar weapons.

Now to continue this, one of the reasons that a lot of conservatives object to establishment of gun-owner registries is that historically, just about the first thing a tyrant does is to collect all the weapons owned by citizens, so that they no longer are able to rise in revolt. Then there's no check left to stop him. A gun registry would make that a lot easier.

I'm not saying I think that we need a new revolution. What I am saying is that the presence of a huge and powerful arsenal in the hands of private citizens acts as a tremendous deterrent for anyone thinking of trying to establish a tyranny, because the would-be tyrant knows that a revolution is possible.

Arguably so far it's worked.

The Romans said, "Si vis pacem, para bellum". If you seek peace, prepare for war. (That's where the name of the 9x19 Parabellum cartridge comes from.)

The Second Amendment permits the citizens of the United States to prepare for war, in service of seeking peace.

And it is precisely "slaughtering lots of men" which is protected, because in a revolution that's what you have to do.

It isn't a perfect solution, but there aren't any others which have been as successful.

Does that mean I think we need to be able to buy machine guns? No, I'm happy with that ban. Semi-auto rifles are good enough; the fire-rate difference isn't significant enough to be prohibitive. But I do think it means we citizens should be able to buy semi-auto rifles and large magazines, because in the world as it is now you need that much, at least, to be able to fight a revolution come the day.

The Gun Grabbers use "It's for the children" and similar arguments in favor of gun bans, and focus in on school shootings (which are really very rare, in fact) and lone nutcases attacking shopping malls. "Gee, if only no one had any guns, this wouldn't happen."

But that's not really what they fear. It isn't guns in the hands of lone nutcases or jihadis that they fear. It's guns in the hands of law-abiding conservatives. It's because the left wing wants to establish a tyranny, but knows it can't because of all those gun owners. The Second Amendment, even today, is doing what the founders wanted it to, by establishing a huge deterrent.

Arguments about hunting and self defense all (deliberately) miss the point. "Why does anyone need an AR-15"?

Well, two answers to that. First, since when did anyone in this country have to prove they needed something in order to own it?

Second, come the revolution (God forbid) it's going to take weapons like that to win.

We aren't to that point yet, and my argument is that the existence of a huge and powerful arsenal in private hands will prevent us from coming to that point. The fact that the American people have the means to rise in revolution means we won't ever have to.

The people of America are prepared for war, in the service of seeking peace.

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March 25, 2014

Usage note

I've run into this several times in the last week:

"diffuse" means "diluted, spread out".

"defuse" means "to render harmless".

That is all. As you were.

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