Thursday, July 03, 2014

Sooo....

First off, setting up the bomb:
Bockscar, the plane that dropped the atomic bomb on Hiroshima as seen by the Sandmich at Wright-Pat
Ooof, the only thing more difficult than dropping that bomb was getting the picture of that plane out of iPhoto, Ha! ha, um, next...

Secondly:

I wanted to mention the noise about places like Target and Starbucks frowning on people 'open carrying' firearms in their store.  This puts them in the same category as radical companies like, oh, the nearby gun shop.  Open carry has it's place, I suppose, but as a self defense measure it's stupid.  Adherents liken it to having security sign on the front lawn and a big dog in the house.  It's all that, along with a post-it on the sign with the alarm code and a side of bacon to feed the dog.  The effective deterrent of concealed carry is the possible threat but if a criminal can see where the firearm is they can plan how to negate it (or worse, take control of it).  This would get complicated, along with much else, if everyone was open-carrying, but you see what I'm getting at, perhaps....

Lastly, some video game noise:
Devil May Cry 5

Chop-chop!

I was like a lot of other people in that my love of the previous games biased me towards wanting to hate this game.  The previous games were strange ducks in that they were English language games developed by some great minds within Capcom in Japan.  After the last title was (in my mind unfairly) maligned Capcom turned the game over to a British development studio.  I have to say that the results are fairly spectacular.

I'll step back for a second and note that I played this game with a note of sadness in that one day in the not too distant future I will be too old and slow to play a race car of a game like DMC5.  This game has the smoothest combo system of any brawler ever (including the likes of God of War and its many, many clones).  With the exception of a few boss fights there was never a time where an enemy landed a hit on me where I could blame the game.  The developers give the players all the tools that they need to completely control any situation, provided that your reflexes are up to snuff.  Some days are better than others: on one particular replay through a level I played like my hair was on fire and was slicing and crushing enemies like they had something bad about a pizza that I had made and it turned out at the end that I had played through the whole level without being touched.  Unfortunately most of the time I found myself grunting "oof, should'a caught that, perhaps twenty years ago...".  

Anyway, top notch art, music, challenges, and most of all, gameplay; it's not to be missed if you still have the chops to pull it off.

Unfortunately, I do have to shave some points off since the later boss fights feature copious 'unfair' hits and something about the story didn't sit right with me; just a light touch of Bush Derangement Syndrome along with a force play at the end to make sure that the story fit with the Devil May Cry canon.


Remember Me
NeoParis can never hope to be as good as NeoTokyo

Which brings us to the brawler made by a French studio.  The French aren't too dissimilar from the Japanese in that they can't help but bring a whole truckload of their historical baggage to any story-telling experience.  At different times in the story class warfare is played up, along with smugness within the rebel cause, snooty indifference from the ruling hierarchy and, of course, a storming of the NeoBastille.  Unlike DMC5's ultra smooth combo system, the system used here is all French dictate which features a series of button presses which must be pushed in the proper order and timing in order to work.  Where DMC5 rewards button pressing ingenuity and freedom, Remember Me punishes any drifting from the rigid control scheme.  With that being said, this game is gorgeous as some art department poured their heart and soul into this title (rarely has in-game art so closely matched the concept art).  As well, whereas most video games get loose with the story as the game progresses, I thought this one actually tightened up and surprised with an ending that inferred the superiority of individuality over the statist "ends justifies the ends meme" that can crop up at times (Asian games being especially egregious offenders in that department).

Points chopped off for the nasty combo scheme and, ugh, copious 'expository dialog'.

Tuesday, June 03, 2014

Drunken Airport Blogging

As if there was any other kind of 'airport blogging'.  I recall the famous professional skeptic James Randi remarking about how he never drank because he did not ever want anything clouding his mind.  Now that's some dedication, bordering on mental illness in my mind.

When I was at my departure airport (and not sauced, not good for business to show up drunk despite what Bill Clinton's memories might say) I again thought about my love of the airport.  There's the term 'future shock', and I would think that airports would be a perfect manifestation of that: being able to near-instantly transport to anywhere.  It's a credit to the human race that many people who sit in airports wonder where their stinking 'space ports' are; and if there were space ports, nothing less than trans-dimensional gateways would do!

The view from the Timberline restaurant at DEN
Yes, with airports the fact that I could show up and go anywhere, anytime....
Well almost anywhere.
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Mrs. Sandmich and I used some frequent flier miles to purchase round trip tickets to China for "Sally's" sister's wedding.  After moving miles around, etc. it ended up setting us back $200 for the tickets.  Okay, not bad.  However, what is bad is the $200 per person fee plus four pages of documentation (per person) for a travel visa in order to enter the 'peoples paradise'.  I saw that and thought "why doesn't China just pull the trigger and ban travel outright?".  As documented by The Sandmich, they're already recalcitrant about letting their own people leave, but what does it say to a two week visitor when there is a novella worth of information and a flight-worthy fee just to get in?  Compare this to places like the Dominican Republic which has signs at their airport that basically say "Got money?  Come on in!".  If it wasn't for a friend of the family getting married and the fact that I might be missing out on the biggest party that I'll ever attend in my life I'd tell those ChiComms to screw off.
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On that note, how about some language?

While traveling in Colorado on my latest spell I thought of my hour long travel both ways to my brother's family's place where I stay, to the plant where I work.  I thought that I could stay at a hotel instead and be there in fifteen minutes, and then since I was by myself I could drive up to see my brother's family and drive back that night and...well that doesn't make any sense, best just to stay an hour away.  I can't complain much at all since there's someone who actually works at that plant who makes that drive every day of their lives.  The drive I could do, the $60 a week gas bill I could not though.

Anyway, while driving I feel like I should expand my mind by listening to language classes from iTunes U.  Last time I tried to relearn some Spanish (especially helpful in Colorado), but my mind begged for mercy and a return to A State of Trance.  "No room in the inn" I could hear the gray matter screaming.

Not to be deterred completely, since I scheduled the trip to China I decided to do some Chinese audio lessons.  What a cluster-F of a language.  In the past, while listening to Sally talk to her dad it sounded like she was constantly asking him questions (the tone most typically heard in English when someone says "Really?").  It turns out that is one of four vowel accents used to differentiate vowels and words.  For instance, the words (as pronounced in English) "pa", "pa?" and "pa?!" are three different words (there's a forth that's barely different from the first).

"Okay" I figured, I get it, nothing too bad.  Then I listened to the lesson that taught how to count from zero to ten (which is actually irrelevant when it comes to East Asian languages).  But I remarked to my brother that if I listened to that lesson all week to and from his house that I might be able to count to three.  It's odd since two of the numbers are the same as Japanese.  It's almost as if the Japanese said "nice language you got there Chinamen, we'll take these handful of words and you can keep the rest of that hot mess".
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So I of course purchased the HD version of Final Fantasy X (review forthcoming).  I played it all the time at home.
Back into the...whatever it's called
Also of course, when visiting someplace as scenic and interesting as Colorado I would want to do something more interesting than playing any silly video game...until I learned that my brother who turned me onto the game more than a decade ago was playing it as well.  I'm sure my sister-in-law was amused to no end to see her husband and 'future version of husband' sitting around for hours on end playing a redux of a twelve year old video game that we'd both played already a couple times between us already.
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'Beautiful People'
Just to wrap this back up before I wolf down a steak at the Timberline that isn't past due, I thought I'd make another airport remark.  Most, I would say north of 90% of the people, dress and prepare themselves as if flying is still something special.  I recall a whole article in United's Hemisphere's that detailed how men should properly dress for transportation via air flight.  I can't say as I follow any of the advice (typical jeans-dockers-untucked dress shirt hipster look), but it's nice to know that somewhere in the universe, some level of standard is being maintained.

Thankfully they didn't mention anything about the proper sobriety level as I get ready to stumble to the gate; ready for a three hour flight of illegal bootlegs of amazing BluRay rips of Cowboy Bebop and trips to the bathroom...

Monday, April 28, 2014

Pseudo Cash

 More than a few people know of the cover Johnny Cash did of Nine Inch Nails Hurt.  Recorded late in life, I can recall the DJ who played in when I first heard it remarking that it sounded like Cash poured soul into it and produced a product that was in many ways better than the (already pretty good) original.

Cash had made another somewhat famous cover in the late ninties that I wasn't aware of: Soundgarden's Rusty Cage.  The reason I didn't know of it was because I always thought it was a Cash song from the moment I heard, it having a sound much like his original works (though with the volume turned up).  Likewise, U2 produced a song titled The Wanderer which they commissioned Cash to sing, and also which I thought was a Cash song given it's sound, but was in fact original.

Anyway, I bring this up because Amazon has an album out on sale that has all those and more for a mere $5.  If nothing else, it's worth checking out The Wanderer, perhaps one of the few pieces of modern art that has a mild anti-socialist message to it.

Feigned Outrage

Last week that Bundy character in Nevada made some comments that (very sloppily) equated blacks being on the government welfare cycle to slavery.  This point isn't new by any stretch and it has in fact been made by black people themselves.  The point has already been made that Bundy is not the model case for fighting Federal power (though maybe perhaps for taking issue with it); and it's rather unfair to expect that every American will posses pundit-levels of verbosity and quick thinking when a reporter starts quizzing them.  Never the less, that didn't keep the self righteous prigs who make up the current incarnation of National Review from writing pages long critiques about how outraged ("outraged!") they were at the remarks.


Do they really care?  It's not as if Bundy was positioning himself to be a spokesperson for their cabal.  The best I can figure is that they did it so that when they show up someplace and some high-minded idiot makes mention of it they can then mention their screed that they posted to denounce such an animal; and then they can all be friends.  Heaven forbid they're challenged on this and they say "I...just don't care, sorry".  I guess if you're in the pundit business though, you better have a well formed opinion on everything, and it better be the 'correct' one.


Along those lines is the owner of the Clippers who, I guess, made some very racist remarks.  I haven't listened to them so I'll take their word for it.  Sportscasters are the worst when it comes to speaking to such things though.  Steve Sailer had mentioned in the past that sportscasters work in profession where racial differences are glaringly obvious for all to see, so therefore they have to engage in a never ending kabuki-a-thon where they pretend that racial differences do not exist.  We can now expect years of sports commentators talking about how much they hate 'Jimmy "The Greek"/Richie Incognito/Whoever Owns the Clippers' in order to prove, not how much they hate them, but that they themselves would never be guilty of such crimethink.


That's irritating enough, but what irritates me more is why someone who hates black people so much thought that it would be a great idea to buy an NBA team.

Friday, April 11, 2014

GM

So GM has put two engineers on paid leave, and then named them publicly, because that's what a classy joint does to people who have little to no responsibility for the screwed up nature of their organization.


A little back story first though.  I work for a company that has at times been a third tier (in terms of position, not quality) supplier to the automotive industry.  It's something we generally don't do because the buyer (or I should say, the buying committee) will want everything under the sun; generally yearly price cuts and the ability to shove warranty claims down the chain in a 'guilty until proven innocent' agreement.  Some people were surprised by the word that GM wanted Delphi to eat warranty claims even if the issue was because of GM's design.  However, this is par for the course for the big three especially. 


More to the point however, the rot of government ownership is showing through in GM's production.  Sure they aren't technically owned by the government anymore, but I'm sure there's a feeling that another bailout will be in the offing for when they screw up again.  What would one expect of a government owned car company?  Perhaps dangerous design defects?  That are then covered up?  That are then scapegoated out to a few employees that drew the short straws?  And then without fixing any of the issues that led to the problems to begin with?  It's very difficult to overstate how huge and incompetent the bureaucracies are at these organizations even when they're not involved with the government.


Put a fork in that beast.  A real bankruptcy with a real clearing of the air may (may) have set GM on the road to future success, but there's no where to go but down for a government manufacturing business.  It won't be long before GM cars are (completely) manufactured elsewhere and rebadged under their old brands like the French and British government car makers of old.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Spot the Spam

"It looks odd, but I'm desperate for business so..."

Fober LTR is the most famous manufacturer of paints and wall hung gas boilers from Romanian market.More about us you can find visiting our website"www.fober.ro "
We are interested in purchasing some barrel type commutators for electric forklift's motor.
i'd like to send you a drawing with dimensions of that item, so please send me your email's adress., to contact you directly .
Hopping in your early reply,
Kind Regards,
Purchasing Dept.
eng.Cristina Butnar
FOBER LTD ROMANIA
"Paints and 'wall hung gas boilers'?  What could possibly go wrong?"


[Update: I changed the name of the company, but this message actually turned out to be legit.]

Tuesday, March 04, 2014

Full Bluff

ZH notes a Russian advisor who said:
"We hold a decent amount of treasury bonds – more than $200 billion – and if the United States dares to freeze accounts of Russian businesses and citizens, we can no longer view America as a reliable partner,” he said. “We will encourage everybody to dump US Treasury bonds, get rid of dollars as an unreliable currency and leave the US market.”
Sooo, you sell your US Treasuries in your quest to destroy the dollar and in doing so you now no longer have ~$200 billion in Treasuries but ~$200 billion in US dollars.  Now Mr. Ruskie, what are you going to by with all those greenbacks since the whole reason that you bought Treasuries to begin with wasn't out of kindness but because you did not want to buy anything else.

The hope on his part, I guess, is to drive up interest rates to the point that America would have to fully monetize it's debt and radically devalue, if not destroy, the dollar.  This could only happen if they were to cause a panic since the Federal Reserve, as ZH notes, would have those Treasuries sponged from the marketplace in three months tops.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

NetFlunx

There have been reports of speed issues with the Netflix streaming service (a service which consumes more bandwidth than even the hog-rific bittorrent).  Supposedly some ISPs are throttling the service and of course Netflix has the opinion that this is out of spite.

However, professional ass Karl Denninger has what is probably the best take on the situation.  Mulling it over I figured that his point could be simplified even more.

One can imagine their local city streets and what would happen if, say, their neighbors got addicted to furniture.  Every day big box trucks are clogging the streets to deliver another furniture fix.  Of course it wouldn't be long before the city would slap down time and/or axle restrictions; throttling the deliveries if you would.  This isn't out of spite, but a self defense mechanism since streets are expensive and not everyone wants to pay outrageous sums so that their neighbors can get a weekly batch of sofas.

Some have come back at Denninger with the, not outrageous come-back, of "well myself and my neighbors all love furniture and we pay a proper amount for streets sufficient for the trucks so they shouldn't throttle deliveries".  In his point though, Denniger carries this analogy out to the Netflix business model: what about the next town over, do they want to pay for roads so that neighboring towns can feed their furniture addiction?  What about the state?  Do they want to extract extreme taxes from the populace in order to supersize the highways to accommodate an ocean of box trucks?  Highways all the way back to whatever far-off warehouse that the furniture originates from?  Or perhaps, should the furniture factory shoulder some of that cost?

In the real world trucks pay a ton of taxes to cover their size and weight so that (hopefully) the roads that they're on can be properly maintained.  Netflix, though, wants to play the crooked property developer where they build a giant mall and pawn all the infrastructure costs off onto others.

*Full disclosure: The Sandmich household subscribes to Netflix and other video streaming services; give me truckload of furniture dammit!

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Kokopelli Gun

I never put this together until this trip to Colorado, but not too infrequently I see little lawn ornaments, stickers, etc. of what turns out to be something called kokopelli:

However over at one of the plants, someone put their metal working skills to good work improving the model:

The rifle is mightier than the flute.

Thursday, January 16, 2014