October 21st, 2009

#1774: Noo, why??? (I need ep 20 of Saki!)

As I said yesterday, ep 20 of Saki was missing.

More correctly, the wrong file had been uploaded: instead of ep 20, "Sisters", there was an episode of some show I can't be bothered to remember the name of.

Problem: according to the tease at the end of ep 19, the next episode is a pool episode. The Kiyosumi Mahjongg club went to a pool for "special training", if the tease is to be believed, and...

*sob!* *snort!*

...Hisa-chan in her swimsuit is not to be missed! But I have to miss it until the right episode is uploaded!!

Yes, I said "Hisa-chan" and not "Nodoka".

I can't believe I'm saying this, but Nodoka is too fluffy. The boobs are too big and it doesn't look right. The pic of Hisa in her swimsuit shows that she's appropriately busty without being ridiculous, and I really like Hisa anyway; but I'm not going to get to see that episode until and unless the folks at The Hylia fix the file.

I ended up skipping to ep 21; so now we're in the middle of the individual competitions. It's okay; when I do get to see ep 20 I'll call it a "special" and enjoy it.

* * *

For some reason, the Vampire Princess Miyu eps have #3, "The Next Station", as a "special". That's a really creepy ep, though, so I decided I'd save it for Halloween.

* * *

The guys in charge of Hayate no Gotoku!! 2 have done a bang-up job of making the series appropriately crazy. I like the frenetic nature of the series; sometimes they slip a joke past me such that I realize a few seconds later that that was frickin' funny and then I start laughing. Delayed action humor!

Rie Kugimiya does Nagi's voice. She did Taiga in ToraDora!, too.

There is a sound clip from the first HnG series where Nagi says angrily, "Baka, BAKA, BAAAAKA!" which I wish I had digitized the first time I heard it. It's perfect.

I like HnG as much as I do because I like all the characters. (Except Klaus.) And the second series is giving everyone a wider range; I don't recall seeing Isumi get angry in the first series, yet in the second it's happened at least twice. (And it's incredibly cute. Mou! she said, in her soprano voice.)

...Interesting! Shizuka Itou, who plays Hinagiku in HnG, plays Hisa Takei in Saki; Iori Yoshizuki in the I"s OVAs; Nadie in El Cazador; and Kei Enomoto in Hatsukoi Limited. I hadn't realized.

Norio Wakamoto does all the narration. He also did Chiyo-chan's dad in Azumanga Daioh. This guy has a fantastic voice. If I ever learn to speak Japanese fluently, I'm going to do my damnedest to talk like this guy does. (No, actually, I won't.)

* * *

Every time I start checking out the seiyuu database at ANN I get sucked in and start cross-checking that stuff. I could do a huge long post with nothing but links to the things I find out.

Like? Kenichi Ogata, who did Analyzer in Star Blazers, also did Genma Saotome in Ranma 1/2 and Ataru's father in Urusei Yatsura.

...and I'm stopping right there before I really get going.

#1775: This is getting ridiculous.

An eight-speed automatic transmission? For a passenger car?

...if you delve deeper and have a look at Jalopnik's review of the car itself you learn that the transmission is, in fact, a continuously variable transmission (CVT) and not an eight-speed.

My objection to an 8-speed auto was that, WTF, if you need that many damn gears you should just specify a CVT and get it over with; this thing goes into a big luxury car and you only need a huge pile of gears if you're trying to make a weenie motor perform well. Luxury cars have big engines; four or five gears would be plenty. Maybe six. Not eight. Jesus.

* * *

I know just how that cat feels:

due to lack of interest  today has been canceled.

#1776: Aluminum and water

Apparently it makes rocket fuel. Well, that's not terribly surprising.

What I'm here to talk about, though, is this quote: "Current space shuttle flights release about 230 tons of hydrochloric acid in the exhaust left behind by their solid rocket boosters."

The space shuttle solid rocket booster (SRB) and the first stage of Ares both use the same kind of fuel: HTPB (a variety of rubber, as fuel), aluminum powder (as a burn-rate modifier), and ammonium perchlorate (as the oxidizer). Rocketry enthusiasts can obtain the same material--in much smaller sizes--to fill reloadable motor casings. It works well.

Problem is, it stinks. It is rather less than environmentally friendly and you certainly don't want to make a habit of breathing the stuff.

Since Ares is built--essentially--out of shuttle SRB sections, this isn't going to change with the new booster; in fact, it'll be worse, because the entire first stage will be solid fuel rather than liquid-fueled. And so they're trying to find eco-friendly ways to make fuel; hence the aluminum slurpee.

On the plus side, aluminum is cheap and readily available, as is water; and the exhaust shouldn't be corrosive or terribly bad for anything that gets a whiff of it.

On the minus side, solid fuel is stupid.

Until now no one built a heavy-lift booster with solid fuel; solid fuel causes too much vibration. A booster could have any number of strap-on boosters but the main thrust was provided by liquid-fueled engines.

Example: the shuttle boosts itself using liquid-fueled engines. The SRBs boost the tank of fuel required to operate those engines, at least until the tank has been emptied enough that the shuttle's main engines are sufficient to the task of boosting it further.

NASA is going for solid fuel in Ares because it's cheap: you get the casing back into round, put in a pre-cast fuel slug, add O-rings, and you're off to the races.

NASA's had all kinds of problems with the space shuttle main engines (SSME) for two reasons: first, they were designed from the top down, rather than the bottom up; second, they have to run the damn things beyond their rated capacity to get the shuttle into orbit.

Second point first: if you watch a shuttle launch and can hear the chatter from Launch Control--or if you read a typical launch profile--you find that the shuttle engines are run around 104% of their rated capacity during each launch.

Okay, now for the biggie.

When you design a complex system, you can approach the problem one of two ways.

You can build it from the bottom up: you start with components, designing and testing, then put the components together to form subsystems, which you--again--test, and correct design flaws. Eventually you have built a complete system, and you can have a reasonable amount of confidence that your system is as good as it can be. You will still find deficiencies with the design once it has entered service, but this process ensures that all of the obvious deficiencies have been dealt with and that all the subsystems work well together. This way is not fast and it is costlier than the other way.

This is not how the SSMEs were designed.

The other way is "top-down design": you start with the whole and drill down to the individual components. This lets you keep tabs on the big picture and prevent "mission creep" or "might-as-wells" from complicating the design. You design each component as it's needed, ensuring that the specifications agree with the requirements. Absent any serious design issues, it's quicker and cheaper than bottom-up.

...and whenever you find a problem you must fix the whole thing; it is likely that your fix for one problem will raise another one, because the whole thing must work together regardless of how you designed it.

Any engineering project will combine these two methods--you can't design a blade for a jet turbine without knowing how big the rotor will be--but generally speaking an all-new system will designed from the bottom up, rather than the top down.

That's not how NASA did it. NASA designed the SSME from the top down; and so every time the engineers found a problem with the design, it prompted a debate as to whether nor not the flaw really needed fixing.

The end result was an engine which must be completely disassembled after each flight and its components subjected to a battery of expensive tests before it can be reassembled and installed into an orbiter for its next flight.

NASA, wishing to avoid this, instead specified solid rocket motors for the Ares first stage.

Oh well. At least the Russians still make liquid-fueled boosters....

#1777: They couldn't get the guns?

Today was eventful.

The tree guys arrived this morning, around 7:45. I had managed to finally get to sleep around 4:30-ish, and so I got about 3 hours of sleep before I had to get up and move the Fiero.

Around 11 I went to McDonald's for lunch, and on the way there I was listening to the radio; and the news guys reported that a recent FBI bust had captured some would-be islamic terrorists bent on shooting up a mall or some other public place where they could kill a slew of people. But they abandoned that plan. Why?

They couldn't get the guns.

Now, we are constantly told by the liberals, Democrats, and media that guns are far too easy for criminals to obtain and that we need to get the guns off the streets. It's not a problem of culture or enforcement but easy access to weapons, and we have to make guns as illegal as possible in order to stem the tide of gun violence!

Yet criminals who are bent on mayhem are incapable of finding firearms with which to commit said mayhem. Hmm.