Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Terse Messages

The United States is rush deploying some ships for training Westwards.

USS Carl Vinson (CVN-70), refueled and overhauled in 2005:

USS Bunker Hill (CG-52), upgraded in 2006:

USS Gridley (DDG-101), commissioned in 2007:

USS Stockdale (DDG-106), comissioned in 2009:

And they're probably picking up some new members in Pearl Harbor. This is going to be literally ship-for-ship the most modern, most powerful surface combatant group in the world.

The most logical explanation is that it's headed to North Korea's vicinity. You know, where Yokosuka's George Washington Group is already conducting exercises in the Yellow Sea.

But they're not signaling North Korea. Nope. This is a message to China: Get the North in line or we will raise such a shitstorm in your backyard that it's going to spill onto your front porch.

Speaking of China, wonder what they're up to?

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Schooling Math

There are always people giving talks about math education.

I always hear, the way math is taught is boring.

Boring boring boring.

No, some people find it boring. But others will enjoy mastering the system.

The truth is, you can make math the Amazing Race and some people will hate it. The point is there are some things everyone needs to know, and if you have a good teacher, he/she will make sure everyone knows it.

Everybody should be able to understand up to fractions and algebra. It should be expected in that we expect everybody to be able to write coherent sentences. No, not everyone can do it with the same amount of effort, but that's just a matter of applying oneself.

Why? Because you literally need to know 8 things:

1) Addition and subtraction
2) Multiplication and division
3) What a numerator and a denominator is
4) Multiplication of fractions and inverse multiplication of fractions
5) Finding common factors; how addition and subtraction apply to fractions
6) You want to isolate the unknown in an algebra statement
7) If you move something to the other side, invert the operation
8) How to translate a word problem into algebra

From grade 1 to 8, we have eight years to teach this! EIGHT YEARS! Fractions might be hard for some people, but not literally "can't memorize 4 rules in a year of practice" difficult!

Look at the mathematical proficiency in China. India. Japan. Are their kids smarter? No, they're told to suck it up and work harder. Are their systems the best? Definitely not in all ways but with respect to math, it gets the material taught and it proves that the material can be taught.

What about people who need to know more math than that? Well anyone who needs to know more math than that is going to need to know a lot more math than that, and when you get to higher levels, looking at "boring equations" and learning "boring rules" is not going to go away.

Aiming to teach people how to formulate their own solutions sounds clever, but when your problem is fluid dynamics, nobody has the time or energy to rediscover the Navier-Strokes equations on their own. You get your stupid equations, you get your stupid rules on how to use them and you learn to plug numbers in. If you can't handle that, look into doing something else.

The curriculum is fine; if you want to overhaul the educational system it always comes down to finding the best teachers and attracting them. Overhaul that instead.

] ] ] ] ]

Like how after KyoAni made K-on, they didn't know how to unmoeblob their other works (Haruhi), Shaft is having a had time unwinding after they made Sayonara, Zetsubou Sensei.

[Yes, I did just use "moeblob" as a verb]

Bakemonogatari (Ghostory)-

[I'm fascinated at how the title portmanteau translates into English]

keeps the best parts of (Zoku/Goku/Zan:) Sayonara, Zetsubou Sensei (wordplay and reducio ad absurdum), while tossing the worst (opaque references to Japanese culture) and throwing in some of its own (staplers).

[My knowledge of Japanese culture goes as far as Dragonball Z]

After a terrible first impression (immediate and uplifting wind) I've decided it's pretty much great.

[That's not true; the first scene is awful, but my actual first impressions were internet pictures of floating girls and staplers]

[Which is actually a great first impression]

In summary, staples staples staples staplesta plestaples staplestaples staples staplestaplestaplestaples staplestaplestaplestaplestaplestaplestaplestaplestaples staplestaplestaplestaplestaplestplestaplestaplestaplestaplestaplestaplestaplestap-

Friday, November 26, 2010

The Blues

A logical consequence of creatures getting stronger, is that control magics have become more expensive.

This is Mind Control. It's 5cc. I hear it's quite a Limited bomb.

This is Control Magic. The original, as you can see, it costs a full mana less than Mind Control. What should you be demanding for 5 manas instead?

How about, repeatable effect?

How about, untap all your lands?

How about, search your opponent for Emrakul and beat his face in with it?

Oh well, at least it's not Followed Footsteps.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

How bad?

Crazy bad.

Let that be a lesson to you clever developers on embedding jokes in your code.

Or maybe not.

Just as Planned!

North Korea is pretty much succeeding in its plan of being a country so poorly run that no other country wants to take control of it.

Well played Dear Leader, well played.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Actually Paul Martin was pretty good

He balanced the budget and didn't rock the boat.

He wasn't perfect, but you really can't please everybody.

It's impossible for any country to have nothing but exceptional leaders, but every country needs plenty of stalwarts to keep everything running and making sure nothing breaks.

The problem was that he was no fun, not charismatic, people didn't like him.

This is the damn problem.

When leaders have fun, you end up in fuck nowhere Durkadurkastan for a decade.

So back to my point.

Here we are with Mr. Harper on the throne, slowly burrowing the country into the ground, screw by screw.

But you don't care, Canada.

At least he's not boring.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Gundam Unicorn Episode 2

Anyone reading this probably knows that I am a fan of the mecha genre.

I also know that mechas are probably a bore for many people.

That's why I would never recommend Brain Powerd even though I enjoyed it; because robots aside, objectively it's a show that's 70% of the way there in terms of plot and characters.

That said, Gundam Unicorn is good.

You see, Gundam has always had a certain formula. Reluctant protagonist somehow gets finds himself piloting a extremely powerful weapon and gets taken into a conflict that he doesn't want to be a apart. Both sides are dicks, but he keeps fighting because he has people he wants to protect and along the way we see the personal tragedies of war and a message of hope at the end.

Yes, it is formulaic. Yes, there is a running joke about the consistently lax security surrounding powerful experimental weapons. But most good stories are derivative in some way; it's a matter of execution.

Gundam Seed is what you would call Doing It Wrong.

Unicorn on the other hand, takes all the unmistakably Gundam elements and hits all the high notes every time. We have high production values, great attention to detail and a suitably epic soundtrack that doesn't involve T.M. Revolution.

The first episode had the corrupt Earth Federation battling a resurgent Neo Zeon threat, our protagonist's colony is suddenly under-siege and he finds himself being the unlikely operator of a Gundam and joining the Federation's cause. This is the Ruy Lopez of Gundam openings.

By the end of the second installment, Banagher, has been captured by Zeon and is their prisoner on a colony sympathetic to the Zeon cause. The episode concludes with the Federation planning to assault the Zeon base and a side operation to rescue Banagher is being plotted by his friends.

Here's where the series distinguishes itself: In a lesser show, this would be an excellent turn of events. Our hero will be gloriously rescued in the next episode and the bad guys will be forced to retreat and regroup.


The series makes it clear that this is going to be a very bad thing. By all indications it looks as though the Federation will get thoroughly beaten down in the subsequent assault and though the rescue may be successful, Banagher, who had just witnessed his own colony being trashed in a battle between giant robots, will witness this new colony suffer through the same fate. Plotting that out is one thing, but to make you feel it, that's not such an easy task. I certainly know that I can't.

And it does it with some of the best looking mobile suit designs in the entire franchise: Kshatriya, Unicorn, Sinanju and even the ReZELs.

Downside: As it manages to slot itself comfortably into the UC multiverse, it becomes very hard to comprehend the meaning of many events without knowledge of prior happenings. Which is a massive amount of story encompassing Mobile Suit Gundam, Gundam 0083, Zeta Gundam, ZZ Gundam and Char's Counterattack. Not all of them having aged well or being strong pieces to begin with. Unicorn isn't entirely incomprehensible otherwise, but the story does suffer.

Gundam checklist:
A Gundam being hijacked by an unlikely protagonist: Check.
Gundam breaking free of its restraints amidst flaming ruins: Check.
Someone exclaiming "It's a Gundam!" to great shock and awe: Check.
A Char: Check.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

I call it the Tunnel Boring Machine!

Because it digs and it bores.

Niv-Mizzet, the Firemind (2UURR) (General)
Teferi's Puzzle Box (4)
Mindmoil (R4)
Spellbook (0)
Feldon's Cane (U)
Trash for Treasure (R2)
Inkwell Leviathan (UU7)
Simian Spirit Guide (R2)
Lotus Petal (0)
Desperate Ritual (R1)
Seething Song (R2)
Goblin Charbelcher (4)
Izzet Guildmage (UU/RR)
Mana Severance (U1)
Lightning Greaves (2)
Alexi's Cloak (U1)
Curiousity (U)
Ophidian Eye (U2)

Foil (UU2)
Pact of Negation (0)
Counterspell (UU)
Cryptic Command (UUU1)
Tangle Wire (3)
Winter Orb (2)
Static Orb (3)
Icy Manipulator (4)
Pyroclasm (R1)
Evacuation (UU3)
Washout (U3)
Volcanic Fallout (RR1)
Earthquake (RX)
Nevinyrral's Disk (4)
Oblivion Stone (3)
Platinum Angel (7)
Opposition (UU2)
Capsize (UU1)
Treachery (UU3)
Lightning Bolt (R)
Shock (R)
Char (R2)
Psionic Blast (U2)
Crushing Pain (R1)
Spiraling Embers (R3)

Crystal Chimes (3)
Recall (UXX)
Brainstorm (U)
Ponder (U)
Preordain (U)
Compulsion (U1)
Sensei's Divining Top (1)
Fabricate (U2)
Reshape (UUX)
Merchant Scroll (U1)
Mystic Tutor (U)
Fact or Fiction (UU3)
Gush (U4)
Intuition (U2)
Izzet Chronarch (RU3)
Mulldrifter (U4)

Grixis Panorama
Terramorphic Expanse
Scalding Tarn
Maze of Ith
Mishra's Workshop
Forgotten Cave
Remote Isle
Lonely Sandbar
Smoldering Crater
Halimar Depths
Seat of the Synod
Great Furnace
Steam Vents
Izzet Boilerworks
Flooded Strand
Polluted Delta
Misty Rainforest
12 x Island
12 x Mountain

I've avoided any obvious broken-ness (e.g. Tinker, Lotus, Ancestral), most marginal broken-ness (e.g. Grim Monolith, Ancient Tomb, FoW) and anything that would cost $Texas in real life (e.g. JaceMS, Mox Diamond, Mox Opal) so it should be fair in power.

It also has a grand total of 5 creatures, one of them being Simian Spirit Guide.

Might proxy it for EDH to see how it plays out. I mean, Puzzle Box + Orb on the table has to be interesting.

Bonus: Find all the win conditions.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

I was like oh boy Gibbs energy of mixing!

I understand physchem!

But then I actually watched the video and I was like, oh crap, Reynold's numbers, that's not physchem, it's fluids; I don't know what anything is going on in fluids!

Actually, I think it's equivalent to a parallel plates flow problem. Since the outside wall is stationary and the inside is moving, the velocity gradient means the "mixed" colours are actually discrete sheets overlaid on top of each other. If you turn it enough, the process will still become irreversible.

Vintage Magic is pretty hilarious

A fairly recent breakdown of Vintage Top 8s and the most popular cards they ran gave 216 Force of Wills in 54 top 8 decks giving an average of 4.0 Force of Wills per deck. Any other card with that level of dominance in any non-eternal format would be banned, except Force is the rebar keeping Vintage from exploding under all the tension.

Tezzeret.dec over the past year has pretty much evolved from "Are we sure that a Tezzeret is strong enough to warrant inclusion in the deck?" to "I think having Jace 2.0 x3 is the right decision".

Blue is so overpowered that all else equal, a card literally becomes stronger just by being blue.

If you crack a fetch and you don't have a basic island, you'll probably want that over a dual because Islands have shroud from Wastelands. Islands are broken etc.

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

This video irritates me so much...

Argh! Learn to use a paintbrush properly, woman!

On music theory

I never noticed until recently how much music theory I've forgotten. But I'm pretty sure if I had an instrument just in my hands I'd be able to remember how things went.

I don't think I'm really unique in that respect; I remember in highschool there was a music theory test where they included a picture of a piano keyboard on the paper and people would come out being, "omg, piano keyboard was so overpowered, nerf paper keyboards".

Which, the silliness being as close to ad verbatim as I can recall, greatly amuses me.


Anytime I see an aeronautical piece of equipment contacting anything in a movie now, I am going to think, "Oh no! Crack propagation of scratches into catastrophic failure by metal fatigue!"

The exception is Iron Man; I will just continue assuming that his suit doesn't get scratched.

edit: To elucidate- given the same bulk material, surface smoothness increases stress cycles before failure. And this is true with roughness on the scale of angstroms, so visible scratches are huge.

Monday, November 01, 2010

Not better than squid puns after all

Well, I've given up on Oreimo because, this is just too stupid. I guess that didn't take long.

Besides, she's too much tsun and not enough dere.

On the other hand, Panty & Stocking is still amazing.

Maybe if Gainax had been the ones to do Powerpuff Z, it wouldn't be totally retarded.

This machine makes quite a nice flame

But crappy cellphone cameras are crappy.

It changes colour if you start burning metals.

I liked the oxidant dial, which basically went: Off -> Air -> Nitrous Oxide.