Monday, April 29, 2013

A Thank You Speech to Remember

Actually there are three, but the last is the most eloquent and appropriate acceptance speeches ever given. This is from Rush being inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, an ever controversial institution. I know I'll never forget Alex's passionate speech.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Area 88 Ep. 4: The Treacherous Sky

It may start with a bang, but this episode is more about revealing Shin’s mysterious past than aerial combat. When a mission goes wrong, the Japanese mercenary pilot finds himself alone in the desert. As he struggles to survive he is forced to remember how he ended up in a civil war far from his home.

Area 88 Main TitleArea 88 04 Title

Area 88 is at its best during slower moving episodes rather than the flashy dogfights. That’s rather ironic since I suspect most people who watched the series were attracted by the action. With the fourth episode, the main story begins in earnest. The questions of who is Shin and why is he here are finally answered.

Area 88 04 Shin's F-8E CrusaderArea 88 04 Shin and Gustav

An ominous tone is set early on when Shin Kazama lands his aging F-8E Crusader to refuel. Pickings have been slim in the skies lately and this causes the resident ace to press his luck. His mechanic Gustav warns him he’s being reckless, but the dollars associated with each kill matter more.

Makoto photographs all this as usual despite feeling something is wrong. Gustav, on the other hand, actually knows something is wrong. He can hear a malfunction within the Crusader’s turbojet engine.

Ah, There You Are Spring!

At long last we broke the 60 F mark today. This tied a record for the region set in 1951 according to the National Weather Service. I’m feeling slightly better so I’ll venture out to hike the driveway to the mailbox in a bit. Oh and there is sunlight coming out of a blue sky too. My thimble runneth over!

It has been a long, hard winter and I’m glad to see it finally end. Maybe people around the area will start cheering up. For awhile now it has seemed if everyone was either on edge or gloomy. Yesterday at the clinic there were a lot of comments about doubting spring would ever come only partially tongue in cheek.

Oh and the  right front brake has been fixed on the car, though it will be necessary to replace the other side soon. At least we don’t have to worry about braking anymore. Trying to down shift and not stop doesn’t work so well once you are in the city.

The world might end tomorrow (doubtful), but at least there is sun today.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Health 4-24-2013

Oy vey is the phrase that fits right now. I’d been feeling dizzy the last week or so and also noticed a little pain where the infection from February was but saw no swelling. That changed today.
The pain escalated until it was impossible to ignore this afternoon and so I checked again. It looks like the infection has returned. My suspicion is that it never fully went away because there has been no cat clawing me incident lately.

So it is off to the clinic tomorrow.

All of this is adding injury to insult thanks to one of the car’s rotors being shot. So no safe long distance travel and now this again. I’m going to have to get a ride from a neighbor at this rate.

What an exceedingly bad year this has been so far.

UPDATED 24 Apr: Back on antibiotics and the abscess is draining again. That's almost as nasty to type as witness happening. Thanks to what I learned last time, I got in early enough this time around. At least I now know why I've been out of it since Sunday!

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

A Very Strange Blogger Referral

I checked my stats today and found a referral that looked extremely suspicious:

mysql . removeyourcontent . com / russ_pornbb_spider / admin / hentai_check . php

An attempt to access this through a virtual machine asked for an admin login plus password and when I limited it to the domain I got an Apache 2 test page. Apache is one of the most common software packages that runs servers.

To my eyes, it appears to be a misconfigured spider checking web sites to see if it can drop porn spam. Either that or it is looking for porn. The hentai part of it relates to anime and the referral showed up on one of my anime reviews. Since I don’t have any hentai this is a dead end if it is a search.

Could it also be a way to get into an Apache server? I wish I knew more about the software to say.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Monkey Business (1931) Review

What do you do when you’ve had two smash hit movies adapted from Broadway plays? In the Marx Brothers’ case, they headed West for their first Hollywood film. The result is a movie that is very different from the previous two while cranking the insanity to eleven on a scale of one to ten. A wafer thin plot usually sinks a movie, but the Marx Brothers manage to stay afloat in this truly madcap comedy set on an ocean liner.

Monkey Business Title

A mere four years after the revolutionary The Jazz Singer ushered in sound for movies, Monkey Business showed just how important the new technology was for comedy. There is no way the Marx Brothers would have been a success on the silver screen without hearing the machine gun patter of Groucho, the puns of Chico, or the harp playing of Harpo. Zeppo was always going to be along for the ride and could have been mute.

 Monkey Business Groucho MarxMonkey Business Harpo MarxMonkey Business Chico MarxMonkey Business Zeppo Marx

The movie begins with a creative way to present the credits: they roll on screen pasted on barrels. If you look closely, you can see that the photos were cut out and varnished on. So why barrels?

I’m tempted to say, “Why not?”

But there is a reason for them…

Friday, April 19, 2013

Whither Spring?

I looked out the window to see a gray haze filling the far end of the valley. The winds were picking up and then the haze was upon the house. What was it?


It hit and was gone again in a matter of a couple of minutes to afflict other residences.

Sigh. I’m tired of the cold and the pain it brings to my back along with my joints.

Anyway, as I await spring arriving, I’m trying to get another movie review finished. The national events have kept me away from getting it done, but no more.

Boston Bombing Suspects in Firefight with Police

If you thought all the confusion and misidentifications were dramatic, things just got crazier. More bombs, lots of shots fired, suspect in custody and another on the run in Watertown all after killing an M.I.T. security officer. Once again things are confusing and unclear though we now have names: Mike Mulugeta and Sunil Tripathi. Incorrect info. Dzhokar and Tamarlan Tsarnaev are the correct names.

Somehow I don’t think they are Tea Party activists.


6:00 PM CST: Shots fired in Watertown, families being evacuated from one street. 20-30 shots fired. Suspect is down.

He in a boat on a trailer in a back yard. Robot being brought in to search for explosives.

6:25 PM CST: From the scanner stream… He’s still moving in the back of the boat. Police are having trouble getting fields of fire cleared to avoid a blue on blue. Police dogs are being coordinated so only one will go after him if he runs.

6:56 PM CST: Two flashbang grenades have been used after seeing a possible small fire on the boat. No movement by the suspect in reaction. This is after he’d been seen sitting up more than once. A negotiator may be brought in. Tsarnaev is on his back not moving.

7:30 PM CST: Not much happening other than the suspect has been seen moving his arms and is covered in blood. State police chopper did illuminate with Midnight Sun spotlight, plus the police are irked that somehow the downlink video has shown up on the Net. Not sure if that really has happened or if it is the scanner audio being out there that is the problem.

It has been surreal following this via the streamed scanner. Time for me to head out, maybe this will be over by the time I come back home.


Arrived to see friends play at a local American Legion to see the news go by on the TV that they captured Tsarnaev alive about a half hour after I last posted. I doubt they get much useful intel out of him since it was his brother that got the training. I am concerned that he didn’t get his Miranda rights and since he is a citizen, that’s flat out wrong. He’s not a foreign combatant and must be treated with the rights that are due to him, no matter how evil he is.

Previous postings after the fold.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Moving from Radeon to GeForce Again

Getting a better monitor seemed like a great idea at the time, but performance issues in games became noticeable on my aging system once 1920 x 1080 became the default resolution. The Gigabyte Radeon 7750OC is a great budget videocard that handled 1680 x 1050 well ever since my Palit Radeon 4850 died. It was the only card at that time which would fit in my case while having any kind of decent gaming performance.

A visit to to check out the newly released AMD Radeon 7790 based cards produced a possible replacement from Gigabyte again for $150.00. For some reason, I decided to see if any Nvidia based cards had come out in smaller size. Somehow I’d missed the introduction of the Nvidia 650 TI family of GPUs last fall.

Being one to save $20 I ended up ordering Gigabyte’s GeForce 650 TI in the 1 GB factory overclocked edition. The videocard is very small with amazing performance for its size. Luckily for me I got a good one straight out of the box.

Some initial observations follow since I won’t actually benchmark the performance.

Further Confusion and Fallout

UPDATED 12:20 PM CST: CNN is saying a suspect has been identified in the bombings. Also, more ricin packages sent to President Obama and Republican Senators.

With things still trickling out about the Boston Marathon bombing, we have another terrorist tactic being trotted out again. Mail to a United States Senator has been verified as containing ricin, a deadly poison made from castor bean plants. This particular method of trying to kill someone was last seen in 2001 and it sounds like it is unrelated to the bombings. There has been some question as to whether the government was correct about the identity of the culprit last time, so conspiracy theorists have new grist for the mill.

Meanwhile, we know a little more about what happened in Boston. Pressure cookers packed with black powder and probably ball bearings were used for the bombs. This is a method favored in Pakistan, India, and Afghanistan by Muslim terrorists which hints at a jihadi. In those circles there has been a call to hit sporting events lately.

Nobody has stepped forward to claim responsibility. To me this suggests a lone wolf though the idea that drone kills and such have driven terrorists further underground to the point where they don’t take credit intrigues me. This would show a level of intelligence and restraint previously unseen which would be a very bad thing. I’d rather it be a lone wolf.

It doesn’t matter if it is a lone wolf or an organized operation at this point because the government is acting like they have zero leads. While not reassuring for the public, it could be ruse so that they can track down the terrorist. At least I hope that’s the case.

What’s worse than the horror of the explosions is how the media is behaving. There has been a desperation to make out the culprit as being a white male right winger rather than simply report the news. Even if that does turn out to be the case, there is more than just a bias showing. There’s a desire for it to be thus that overrides factuality and demonstrates how hopelessly divided the nation is becoming. It is also begetting a backlash.

So score one for the bomber whatever his political, religious, or ethnic motivations may be. He’s helped make things politically worse on the national stage.

In other words, he succeeded despite all the feel good that Bostonians have rallied together stories.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Terrorism Hits Boston Marathon?

I checked in on Yahoo and saw that two bombs have gone off at the Boston Marathon today. The use of trash cans and backpacks have been reported, which sounds like a classic lone wolf bomber, but it is very early yet. Other reports say a suspect is in custody. As is usual not much is really known with talking heads and Internet denizens speculating all over the place.

There are deaths and many injured, that much has been confirmed.

It doesn’t look like an Al Qaeda style operation and reminds me of the Olympics bombing in Atlanta…

…and as soon as I typed that, the rumor that a 20 year old Saudi national is in custody. Like I typed before, it is early. That would go against the talking head speculation that it is domestic terrorism connected to Patriot Day or anti-tax groups.

UPDATE: Cell phone service is being shut down to prevent further bomb detonations. Precaution or do the authorities know something?

UPDATE: Now the Boston PD says they don’t have anyone in custody and cellphone companies say there is service in the Boston area but that it is under heavy load. Total confusion.

UPDATE: I think it is going to be awhile before we know a lot. In the mean time, I feel the frustration of not being able to do anything other than pray for those killed and injured along with their friends and loved ones. Also, the police, EMT's, and those that helped on the scene go through a lot dealing with such carnage. Please keep them in mind too.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

The Most Successful Lightweight Jet Fighter

I’m on record as being a fan of lightweight fighters and there has been none more successful than Northrup’s F-5 family. Starting with the T-38 Talon supersonic trainer and F-5A Freedom Fighter the jets have been gracing our skies since the 1959. F-5E Tiger II fighters are still in service around the world in upgraded form and as Marine aggressors in fighter school training here in the United States.

Lovely little jets and the video is in HD at YouTube.

The Swiss have flown them as a demo team for years and this is one of the most attractive schemes the F-5 has ever worn. If you are in Europe you still have the opportunity to see them in action at air shows.

What amazes me about the plane is how small it is when you see it in person. It reminds me of a sports car in its compact size and looking like it is going fast even when parked. What a beauty!

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Health 4-11-2013

While being energetic is permanently out of the question, there has been a slight increase in energy. Dizziness is still there on occasion, but far less than it has been. The last year has taught me that I have to pace myself no matter what now and that I can’t be pushing my limits like I prefer to. I really don’t like that.

One thing I’m grateful for is that I don’t suffer from seasonal depression. It seems a lot of people are and the long winter has gotten to them in more than an annoying way. Me, I’m just annoyed when ice causes me to get stuck in the driveway.

Of course, my attitude may have something to do with bright sunlight hurting my eyes. Gray days are actually more productive for me in my strange existence.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

April Hail

This is supposed to be the season of April showers to bring forth May flowers, but what does April hail bring?

April 09 Hail

We had quite a storm here last night with two rounds of hail involved. The entire area was hit by this according to Channel 19 and I feel sorry for anyone outside at the time.

Fortunately the car is not dimpled from I can see this morning. This is despite the gale force winds driving the hail that made a din that I’d never experience before. Later rain reduced the cover somewhat leaving a well salted yard under the gray skies of today.

More rain, freezing rain, and snow are in the forecast to make things even more fun. It will be hostile weather until Sunday rolls around with 50F temperatures again. Have they executed that groundhog out East yet?

Monday, April 08, 2013

Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind (1984) Review

Hiyao Miyazaki’s second film that he directed displays all the elements that have made him legendary: a brave heroine, a strong environmental message, dazzling flight, and extraordinary images that linger in the mind long after the movie ends. The story follows a young princess trying to save humanity while facing hostile neighboring kingdoms, deadly giant insects, and a world devastated by an ancient war. It is a great pleasure to review the movie that allowed Studio Ghibli to be founded.

Nausicaa Title

Way back in the early 1980s, animated movies were in the doldrums with Disney suffering a creative and financial slump. Other studios attempted to recapture the magic, but none saw great success. In later years Disney would rise again, yet it was over in Japan that real animated magic was reborn thanks to the creative genius of a struggling forty year old animator named Hayao Miyazaki.

Having had some success in directing the adaptation of Lupin the Third: The Castle of Cagliostro in 1979, Miyazaki wanted to make his own creations but was getting nowhere. It took Toshio Susuki the editor in chief of Animage magazine befriending him for things to finally start rolling. Finding Miyazaki bursting with ideas he suggested that Hayao create a manga to run in the magazine.

That manga debuted in 1982 and was called Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind. Its success made it possible to raise funds to make a movie and the world of animation, not just anime, would never be the same. Miyazaki’s works would go on to influence traditional animators and even the new wave of computer generated animation movies at Pixar.

Nausicaa Yupa on BirdNausicaa Giant Warriors

Nausicaä opens with a masked man riding a strange dodo-like bird out of a wind swept haze. Visually and auditorily striking, the scene seems to step straight out of one the era’s fantasy magazines such as Heavy Metal or Epic Illustrated. I have the vague memory of seeing the intro either in stills or possibly flipping past the horrifically altered version Warriors of the Wind on HBO at the time. Suffice it to say this was nothing like the staid Disney animation of the time and made an impression.

The man investigates the ruins of a settlement that has become overgrown by fungi in a very grim introduction to the setting. Once the credits start rolling it becomes clear that this is the future Earth and not some fantasy world. A wealth of information is quietly and quickly conveyed through intercutting tapestries depicting the downfall of man with the actual events briefly glimpsed. Fire breathing giants laying waste to the world alternate with images of a white winged woman sometimes clothed in blue dominate the introduction…

Saturday, April 06, 2013

The Week That Was

It is hard to believe it is General Conference time again – time does fly. The past week itself went by rather quickly thanks to a road trip on Wednesday.

Monday I accompanied my father on a pair of repair jobs and ended up not helping at all due to not being needed. However, it was good to get out of the house. Having the car out of action again has been frustrating. Anyway, the second call was at a friend’s place where the dishwasher pump isn’t working properly. While I was there, his son suggested watching his new Yellow Submarine Blu-ray which looked great even if the animation was pretty bad.

Also, in retrospect it made Magical Mystery Tour look sensical (this isn’t a word, but should be) by comparison in my opinion. This opinion will be shared by exactly zero other people in the world.

Tuesday, April 02, 2013

April Fools Day Delivers the Spam

It was an unusually sedate April 1st without any friends pranking me. But a wave of spam hit one of my email accounts. 61 were caught by filters and three made it through for the biggest spam assault I’ve seen in years. All were diet/weight loss centered with many purporting to come from celebrities ranging from Oprah to Pamela Anderson. Other common elements were the phrase “special offer” introducing a link and Microsoft Office Word 12 formatting.

It makes me wonder if it is connected to the attacks on Spamhaus, an organization that blacklists known spammer IP addresses. Probably not, given the ridiculous number of spammers out there. There seems to be no end to the Black Hats on the Net.

More interesting is that weigh loss spam is amongst the most successful in getting people to open it. Nothing beats social engineering for finding a way into a system as the banks in South Korea found out last month. I remember when it was false protestations of love or romantic interest that was the best bait to get people to open emails.

It is amazing that spam is still successful given how old email and the Internet are now. One would think people would stop falling for this by now. I guess P.T. Barnum was correct about “a sucker born every minute” – except he never said that.

Can’t trust anything, can you?