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 30, 2015

English Spelling

The Dutch government legally controls the Dutch language, and I've been told that Dutch had three spelling reforms in the 20th Century. I think the French government could do the same for the French language if they wanted to, though I have no idea if they have done so. (I doubt it. The Dutch are very practical and see language as a tool. For the French, their language is more like a religion.)

The transition from Middle English to Modern English is generally dated to some time in the late 1600's, and Shakespeare is one of the first major writers in Modern English.

But English as a spoken language has continued to evolve since then, especially after it started to fork. The nation with the largest body of English speakers is India, it turns out, but for the majority of them English is a second language. No less than the editor of the Oxford English Dictionary declared a few years ago that the modern center of the English language was now in the US.

Everyone knows that English is long overdue for a spelling reform, but the problem is that no one can make that happen. Unlike Dutch, no single body has control. So the last significant spelling reform was in the middle of the 19th Century and was informal. It happened when American dictionary writers (like the famous Webster) decided some of the old spellings were ludicrous.

That's when plough became plow. That's when colour lost its "u". It was a unique moment when a small handful of linguistic radicals seized their opportunity. But those changes didn't propagate back to the UK, so in the Commonwealth the old spellings still dominate. I've despaired that English spelling will ever be rational again (if it ever was after the 15th century).

But it's happening now. And it's Twitter that's making it happen. Because of the 140-character stricture on a tweet, plus the sheer pain of entering text using a phone, an entirely new spelling reform is happening before our eyes.

Through has become thru. Hate has become h8. The real question is the extent to which these changes will percolate back out into real world usage, and how long it will take. My guess is "not very much" and "a very long time" but I have been known to be extremely wrong about things.

Anyway, it's interesting to watch it happening.

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August 28, 2015


I sure didn't expect the way this started.

UPDATE: One of the reasons I don't read SF&F any more, and instead spend my time on anime, is that anime generally doesn't preach. There are a few shows that do, but those I don't watch.

Sturgeon's law applies -- at least; sometimes I think Sturgeon was an optimist -- but there are shows that entertain me without trying to change my life.

If Mouretsu Pirates has an agenda, I sure haven't noticed it. Likewise for Railgun.

Most of the people involved in creating manga and anime subscribe to Walt Kelly's goal in life: "To have fun while making money." They have fun, and they want us viewers to have fun.

And usually that is all they want. And that's all I want.

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August 25, 2015

Mysterious appearances

Jesus has been doing things like this for centuries. Elvis started doing it shortly after he died.


And now it's Trump: his face showed up in a tub of butter.

By the way, today's word is "apophenia".

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August 24, 2015

Sexy Cyborg

OK, I got this from Ace. She lives in China and uses the name "Sexy Cyborg" on Imgur, and apparently is a new Internet rage, for reasons which should be obvious. I should warn you that it's NSFW.


First, she's stacked. Second, she's a nerd. Her thing is designing tech clothing and accessories, like LED platform shoes.


Which she makes herself, or at least she helps.


This time it's spy shoes. There's an amazing amount of stuff hidden in those shoes.

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August 21, 2015

Willful Blindness, French edition

A 26 year old Moroccan boarded a train in Brussels headed to Paris, and when the train cross the French border he revealed an AK-47 and started shooting.

Fortunately for everyone except him, two US Marines on vacation heard him loading his gun in the bathroom and stopped him almost immediately. 3 wounded, but no one has died yet.

Sadly, one of the Marines was hit in the neck, and is now in critical condition. (I deeply hope he isn't paralyzed. I deeply hope he doesn't die.)

And the French authorities say?

The motives behind the attack were not immediately known, although a spokesman for the interior minister said: 'It is too early to speak of a terrorist link'.

It seems like this always happens. What should be obvious to even the most casual and blithe of observers is invisible to "authorities" and "spokesmen" whose primary concern is, always, preventing anti-Muslim backlash.

In the case of the French, there may also be another reason. It isn't commonly spoken of, but in the so-called "Banlieues" Muslim extremists have been stockpiling weapons for years. By now they probably have a good sized arsenal, and provoking them might be like poking a stick into a hornet's nest.

IMHO this is also the reason why the French ignore the way that "youths" go out and torch hundreds of cars on occasion.

Guys, you can't put off the reckoning forever. You are in a war and your enemy is attacking you. Large parts of your nation are already occupied by enemy forces, and are now "No Go" places for your law enforcement. This is like a tumor: the longer you wait, the bigger and more dangerous it gets.

Your primary responsibility is to keep your citizens safe -- and you can't depend on the US Marines to protect you. They won't always be there.

They don't work for you.

UPDATE: Now they've confirmed that he was an Islamist militant. Big surprise, that.

UPDATE: The other Marine was stabbed in the fight, but is not in critical condition.

Even though they were both wounded, they still subdued the guy. I assume it was the one who was stabbed who did it.

The third wounded man was a French actor, and he seems to be getting the headlines.

UPDATE: We're getting a lot of "fog of war" in these early news reports. Some reports are saying the second Marine wasn't hurt. Some reports are saying there were three Marines rather than two. I think maybe we'll start getting more accurate reports by tomorrow.

UPDATE: And it's getting more foggy by the minute. Now they're saying that the American serviceman who got wounded was Air National Guard.

UPDATE: The fog is beginning to clear. Powerline has a rewrite. There were three Americans who stopped the gunman. One was Air Force, one was Air National Guard, and the third was a civilian friend of theirs.

UPDATE: More clearing fog.

UPDATE It's been long enough so that a lot of the hyperbole and crap is clearing away. There were three Americans who fought the perp. One, Spencer Stone, is Air Force and was on leave. He was the first to attack the perp, and he got cut on his neck and had his left thumb "nearly cut off" maybe. Anyway, he's fine (relatively speaking); after surgery on his hand and installation of a cast, he's been released from the hospital. The other two were Alex Skarlatos (Air National Guard) and Anthony Sadler (civilian college student). The three became friends in middle school and were taking a vacation together. There was also a Brit named Chris Norman (in his 50's) who jumped in and helped.

The perp's AK apparently jammed, and one of the Americans grabbed it and used it to beat the perp unconscious. (Damned right, too. Every time I read that I get a big grin.) The four of them tied him up, and stood guard until the cops came.

Reportedly the perp also had a pistol but it didn't have a magazine in it. Clearly this guy was a real idiot. He's been telling the French Police that he found the rifle, the pistol, and the Molotov's under a bush in a Belgian park and decided to use them to rob the train, with no intention of killing anyone. Like anyone believes that.

And then there's a report that the railroad employees ran away and locked themselves in a special car, and ignored all pleas from passengers for help. Which is either astounding or not depending on your opinion of the French. Either way, if true it's despicable. (Reminds me of the Captain of the Costa Concordia.)

The three Amis and the Brit have all been given medals. And Stone's hospital bills better damned well be on the house!

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August 19, 2015


Powerline has a summary of the current state of the Gold King Mine fiasco.

To summarize the summary, there was a mine which had been abandoned since 1923. Water had been seeping into it ever since but wasn't seeping out again. The EPA got the idea that they needed to find out what was going on in there, and brought in heavy construction equipment to start moving earth out of the way -- which, it turns out, was keeping all that water inside the mine.

After they removed a lot, the rest gave way and three million gallons of contaminated water drained out into the Animas River, and from there downstream and is now in Lake Powell.


The pictures are rather memorable, with the Animas river turned bright orange. Obviously the water is carrying a lot of something and it seems that the something includes lead, cadmium, mercury, and arsenic, none of which are particularly safe to ingest.

That's where Powerline stops. Where I start is this: Lake Powell is behind the Glen Canyon Dam on the Colorado River. It's above the places where water is taken out of the river to be used as drinking water for Phoenix, Tucson, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, and San Diego, not to mention being used for crop irrigation in the Imperial Valley. And then there's Mexico.

A spill like this effectively contaminates that water forever. (Like a thousand years or more.) What are they going to do about that? Let all of San Diego and Tijuana die of heavy metal poisoning?

It will take a while (probably years) before this becomes a drinking water issue, because most of that crap is going to settle to the bottom of Lake Powell, and the amount that flows out will have to spend a few years contaminating Lake Mead. But it's definitely coming.

This is a fuckup of epic proportions, and we'll be living with the results of it for decades (if not centuries).

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August 15, 2015

Things that make me go "hmmmm"


Wil Wheaton met a woman named Anne and married her in 1999. She had two sons, and since it's been 16 years they're both grown up now. One of the sons asked Wil to legally adopt him, which Wil did, and that's a nice indication of the fact that they love each other.

Anyway, one of Anne's sons is named Nolan Kopp and the other is named Ryan Wheaton. Which makes me go hmmmm. Was their father a baseball fan? Or maybe Anne herself? Nolan Ryan was one of the greatest pitchers of all time. Are they named after him?

Both of the sons have been guests on "Tabletop" and the most recent episode is a Wheaton Family affair, with Wil, Anne, Nolan, and Ryan; and it's a lot of fun.

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July 29, 2015

Today's word

Today's word is "cis-centrism". And we have moved one step closer to tossing the dictionary in the blender, in the name of "inclusiveness".

I love (no, I don't) this new usage of "cis". "Cis-male" means "someone who looks like a man and feels like a man and acts like a man." When I was young, this was referred to as "normal", but of course that's judgemental. It's also not inclusive. (Gasp!)

By the way, I'm not "differently abled." I'm crippled. And I believe it's better to be honest about it, with myself and everyone else.

This idiocy can't go on forever; it must eventually collapse of its own pretensions. I hope. But I'm really not sure how much longer that's going to take.

A serious and sustained treatment with ridicule would probably help cure it...

As you might expect, this particular exhibit of moronism came out of one of the grievance studies departments. If I were a hiring manager and a resume came across my desk which included a "studies" degree, it would go straight into the round file.

Not because I want to discriminate, but because it's a red flag (and honking horn and fireworks in the background) that says, "This person will be a troublemaker." They spent their college years learning that everything and everyone is being unfair to them, and learning how to make a stink about it. I don't need the headache.

I'm sure I'm not alone in this, and I'm sure that people like that have a particularly hard time finding work. Which, ironically, reinforces their educational indoctrination that the world is out to get them.

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July 26, 2015


CNN says "Anime nerds trying to Google bomb ISIS". Apparently CNN doesn't know the word otaku.

More to the point, when does Rule 34 kick in?

This idea is silly as hell, and I bet 4-chan is behind it.

Posted by: Steven Den Beste in Weird World at 06:53 AM | Comments (4) | Add Comment
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