January 31, 2010

F1 Pr0n: Renault R30

Renault also rolled out their new car, the R30, today... and there are a few surprises.

It's the first of the 2010 racers to have a low-slung nose.  The idealist would suggest that they've found that it's better than the high nose.  The cynic, however, will say that all the prevaricating over coming back that Renault did last year prevented them from doing enough design work to discover the possible benefits of the high nose.  The sidepod air intakes are larger and lower than the other new releases as well.  The front wing is pretty generic, but that'd be easy to change.



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F1 Pr0n: Sauber C29

It was a low-key debut, but SauberF1 brought out their new car today.  I think they're a little behind schedule, however.

The aerodynamics have got to be awful.

Okay, okay, click below for the real pictures.

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January 30, 2010

F1 Pr0n Sneak Peek: Williams FW32

Not a full F1 Pr0n entry as the car hasn't yet officially debuted, but the Williams took their new car, the FW32, out for a pre-test shakedown run at Silverstone a couple of days ago.  Y'know, "kick the tires, make sure everything stays in one piece, turn a few burn a few," that sort of thing.  It was supposed to be a secret thing, not for public consumption.

Autosport Magazine was there:


And two guys with a camcorder were there, too:



Of course, the car could still change between now and the first test session on Monday, but there's that high nose again!  The front wing seems pretty high off the ground, but look at the tires: those are full wet treaded; a weather-related high downforce setup?  Maybe Williams doesn't have the final nose on there? 

We'll find out for sure on Monday.

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January 29, 2010

F1 Pr0n: McLaren MP4-25

Tah-dah!

From the front, McLaren's 2010 challenger doesn't seem too different from the 2009 car.  The nose is higher, but the betting line is that that'll be the norm this season (with the wider front tires last year, the lower nose allowed more ballast to be placed up front.  This season's narrower tires will require a better balance all-round, so the high nose won't hinder anything).

It's when you look at the side view, though, that you realize that we're looking at rolling artwork as much as high-speed racer...


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January 28, 2010

F1 Pr0n: Ferrari F10!

It's finally time!  The 2010 F1 rollout season is here, and as is traditional, Scuderia Ferrari has the position of honor.  They debuted their new chassis, the F10, this morning.  And here it is:

At casual glance, it looks pretty much like last year's car, but let's take a comparative glance at the 2009 F60, shall we?

The first thing that leaps out you is the sidepods.  On the F60, they go straight across the top, but the F10 is curved, bulging at the outsides.  The nose wing is subtly different as well.  The middle element on the new car, where the Santander logo picture is located, just stops when it reaches the inner limit.  On the F60, they slope down to the limit point.  The air intake has changed, with a more squashed appearance in comparison to the 2009 car.  Other changes are visible on the rear wing and where the sidepods meet the monocoque; look at the Ferrari logo and you'll see what I mean.



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January 27, 2010

Ducks In Anime: Other Shows Do It Too!


-Shugo Chara Dokki Doki, ep14

Nope, I'm not watching the show, but the good folks at Chihiro happened to post a screenshot that showed duckies, so...

I'm pretty sure this particular entry now holds the record for most rubber duckies in a single screenshot.  The previous title holder was Kanokon ep08, with eight visible and 11 in-scene.

Yes, I'm a geek.

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January 26, 2010

Happy Birthday

Today would have been Momzerduck's 66th Birthday.

It's amazing how much I miss her.

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January 25, 2010

Not Quite F1 Pr0n... Yet

Today, Mercedes-Sauber F1 debuted... their paintjob.

The idea behind the livery is that it's a throwback to the original "silver arrows" of Mercedes.  Back in the day-- if the day you're talking about is 1934 or thereabouts-- the Mercedes team was going to join the  Eifelrennen, but their car was too heavy for the weight restrictions.  So the night before, the team sanded all the paint off, leaving just the silver chassis behind. 

And a legend was born.  Today's paintjob is meant to pay tribute to that one (which really wasn't a paintjob).  The car is (obviously) silver, but has part of it "sanded off", revealing the black carbon fiber underneath (not really, it's just paint, but run with it, okay?).  The greenish-blue on the leading edges of the nose and other places is the color of Petronas, the team's major sponsor.

The chassis this paintjob (actually, vinyl decal, but let's go with paintjob) is on isn't the 2010 MGP W01, but last year's Brawn car.  We should be seeing the new car later this week, when the first FIA practice session begins.  So stay tuned!

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January 23, 2010

Ga-Rei Zero, Episode 04

In the last episode, we jumped back in time three years to see how Kagura, the Schoolgirl in White, first met Yomi, the Schoolgirl in Black.  We discovered that Yomi wasn't always a bad guy bent on driving the animation company into bankruptcy by forcing them to hire new voice actors for each episode because she killed off the entire cast.  So what does Episode 04 bring us?

We start off exactly where the last episode left off, with Kagura getting into The Agency's HMMWV and the group running off to deal with a new threat.

It's not the entire team, though.  Mr Laser Weasel, Nabuu and Nabuu seem to already be on site, leaving Iwahata and Kazuki to pick up the girls.  Considering that Yomi appears to be The Agency's heavy-hitter, and they seem to expect great things from Kagura,  I'd've thought more of an honor guard (perhaps with bosun's whistles) would have been appropriate.  Maybe they don't stand on ceremony much.

An episode of Ga-Rei Zero wouldn't be complete without Pocky.  But, oh-oh, there's only one stick left!  Yomi snags it with a whimsical "first come, first served."  Coming between Kagura and her Pocky, however, can be a dangerous proposition:

Yomi, though, will not be denied her delicious chocolate-covered biscuit stick.


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January 22, 2010

The "F" In F1 Stands For "Frozen"


48 days and counting to the first Friday practice in Bahrain...

UPDATE: No, that's not the 2010 Red Bull car.  That's the official "Show Car", based on the 2009 chassis.  If you're a fan of Top Gear, it's the same one that nailed Clarkson in the plums with paintballs launched from the exhaust...

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January 21, 2010

Random Anime Picture #51: Obsession To Detail


-The Cockpit OVA, ep02

If there's one thing military-based anime do well, it's concentrating on the appearance of the hardware being used.  Case in point, the picture above.  That's a Mitsubishi G4M, perhaps better known by its Allied reporting code of "Betty." 

Unfortunately, Bettys were known by their crews as the "Type One Lighter," or "Cigars".  That's what happens when you put big, non-self-sealing fuel tanks in a lightly-built airplane with no armor... and then put it in the path of the Big Blue Blanket.

You may also notice that it's carrying a Yokosuka MXY-7 Ohka... which is the whole point of this episode from The Cockpit.  Considering that most of the Ohkas that were carried aloft never made it to a target, and the Bettys almost invariably were shot down, the above picture seems particularly detailed.  Episode 02 also the only of the three episodes I like.  Eventually, I'll get around to a writeup like I promised back in November.

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January 19, 2010

Ga-Rei Zero, Episode 03

As you may remember, at the end of Episode 02 the Schoolgirl in Black, Yomi, seemed to have finished killing off Our (new) Heroes, including the Schoolgirl in White, her friend Kagura.  So just how in the world is Ga-Rei Zero going to continue?  Do we get another bunch of sacrificial heroes?  Nope. 

We get voiceovers:
Kagura: "On that day three years ago, I met someone important."

Yomi: "On that day three years ago, I met a girl lost in sadness."

The woman in the frame is Kagura's mom.  Yomi exorcised the nasty that killed her, while she died in her husband's arms.

Yomi: "That chance meeting was the destiny of two people who bear the burden of fate."
Both: "That is where it all began."

Flashback episode!

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January 17, 2010

Yuno's Got A New Duck(s In Anime)!

Big news!  Yuno's got a new duckie!

-Hidamari Sketch x Hoshimittsu, ep02
This makes three different duckies we've seen accompany her into the bath.  I think we can actually begin to count her amongst the ranks of the collectors!  And here's the thing: it's a new style of duckie, to boot:

Her previous duckies have a much larger open bill, painted eyes and more detail to the tailfeathers, like so:

-Hidamari Sketch x 365, ep05
...so it's pretty clear that she's gotten a new one.  Or the animators drew it wrong.  But I'm going with the first guess, because it fits my reality better!

And here's the neat part.  If she DID get a new duckie, the other two are somewhere in her apartment, because Yuno's not the type who could throw away a duckie.

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January 16, 2010

A Little Housekeeping

I'm currently working on the post for Ga-Rei Zero, Episode 03.  It's a remarkably time-consuming process.  I take roughly one screenshot per minute of running time per episode (25-30 screencaps per 24 minute show), plus variants for many of them.  For example, let's look at this shot:

I actually had five different versions of this picture.  The only differences were the positions of the "overhead lights" (she's actually standing underneath an overpass, and as cars went over, the lights moved.  No, I don't understand how the highway bridge is see-through either, but it's a neat look). 

Then, of course, I have to adjust the saturation, contrast, and size of each screencap as well.  ZoomPlayer's snapshot feature is good, but the resulting pictures sometimes seem washed out; maybe it's just me, though.  Then comes the uploading of each picture, and THEN I get to write a thousand words around them.  Each writeup seems to take between three or four hours all told, not including the initial viewing of the episode.

In other business, there's little going on in the world of Formula 1 at the moment, but that'll be changing very soon.  The first Preseason Test session is February 1st at Valencia, and many of the teams are rolling out their cars just ahead of that date.  Ferrari, for example, will debut their car to the press on January 28th.  Of course, I'll be doing a F1 Pr0n entry for each one!

Fortunately for my sanity, the motorsports season is just about to get underway.  First there's the Barrett-Jackson Scottsdale Auction, which begins on the 19th.  Legendary Announce Team member Bob Varsha is the head voice for SPEED's coverage, and it's great to see all those cool cars.  Then we get the Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona on January 30th.  I love watching the 24-hour races, and the Daytona one is pretty much the unofficial start of the American motorsport year.

So, yeah, that's what is going on over here at The Pond at the moment.  Only 54 more days until the first practice for the Grand Prix of Bahrain!

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January 14, 2010

Ga-Rei Zero, Episode 02


So Episode 01 of Ga-Rei Zero ended with every character we'd been introduced to, including the two apparent leads, turned into cold cuts at the hands sword of a schoolgirl dressed in a black seifuku.  How can Episode 02 top that?

Well, first it pees all over the dismembered corpses of Our (fallen) Heroes by bringing the recently defeated (via Holy Water-based Aerial Bombing) Category B monster back to life, and putting the few remaining grunts in mortal peril because of it.  As if their day wasn't going poorly enough!  They're outclassed and outnumbered by one monster, and Our (fallen) Heroes' success turns to ashes to boot. 

 ...and then the Category Cs come back, too.  At this point, you just know the grunts are saying "F*ck you, Ga-Rei Zero, just f*ck you."


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January 11, 2010

The Hawk and Big Mac

It's hard to think baseball in the middle of January, but over the past few days there's been two big news items to come from America's Game.  It might be interesting to compare the individuals involved, Andre Dawson and Mark McGwire.

Andre "The Hawk" Dawson started his major league career in 1976 as an outfielder for the Montreal Expos.  He won the National League Rookie of the Year award in 1977, and eight Gold Gloves for his defense (1980-1985, 1987-1988).  He was what they called a "five-tool player," able to hit for average and power, had good speed, a cannon arm and played excellent defense in the field. 

A testament to his offensive abilities is that he became only the third member of one of the most exclusive clubs in baseball, the 300-300 club, in 1991.  At the time, only Willie Mays and Bobby Bonds had reached those numbers in home runs and steals (there are now six players with those numbers). 

In 1987, Dawson won the NL MVP award, hitting 49 homers and driving in 137 runs.  More amazing is that he won the award playing for a last place team, the 76-85 Chicago Cubs.  He joined the Cubs in 1986, practically begging the team to give him a contract.  This was the age of collusion, when the Major League teams had decided that they wouldn't sign other teams' free agents, no matter what.  Dawson gave the Cubs a standard contract with his signature on it, but with the amount he was to be paid left blank.  He then told the club to fill in the amount they were willing to pay.  They offered him $500000 plus incentives worth an additional $750000 if he made the All-Star team, started in the All-Star game, or won the MVP.  These numbers were well below what he should have been offered, but he still took it.

He had good reason to leave Montreal for Chicago: the field.  The astroturf in Montreal's Olympic Stadium was easily the hardest in the Majors, being barely more than a plastic grass carpet laid directly on concrete.  Over the 10 years he played there, his knees degenerated into putty from all the pounding they took.  Much of his speed was lost after 1983, when he stole 25 bases.  He never stole close to 20 again.  He was always the first to the ballpark, and the last to leave, simply because he needed the extra time to get therapy on his knees just so he could play.  While they didn't shorten his career, they certainly made it much more painful.  He's actually had one of his knees replaced twice since his retirement, and the other will be replaced sometime soon, as it has no cartilage remaining.

He retired in 1996.  In 2005, Ryne Sandburg, the Cubs' great second baseman, was inducted into the Hall of Fame.  During his induction speech, Sandburg pushed for Dawson's enshrinement, saying "No player in baseball history worked harder, suffered more or did it better than Andre Dawson. He's the best I've ever seen. I watched him win an MVP for a last-place team in 1987 [with the Cubs], and it was the most unbelievable thing I've ever seen in baseball. He did it the right way, the natural way, and he did it in the field and on the bases and in every way, and I hope he will stand up here someday."

This past weekend, Andre Dawson was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame.

Mark "Big Mac" McGwire, hit 70 home runs in 1998, breaking the single season record previously held by Roger Maris.  He hit 583 for his career.  Today, he came out and admitted that he used cheated by steroids during his career, including that 1998 season. 

Two more different people would be difficult to find.

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January 10, 2010

Ducks In Anime: HidaSketch Is BACK!

I've been way too long without my fix of Yuno, Sae, Hiro and Miyako.  And Yuno's ducks.

Not the normal way to get into a tub...
It seems like they actually have a fairly decent budget this time around, too.  It's crystal clear and the art is substantially improved (though you can't tell from the duckie scene).

I so want this duckie for my flock.
Of course, the girls are just the same as they ever were; normal, with just a dash of off-kilter to give the show something to work with.  in other words, exactly how they should be.  Hidamari Sketch x Hoshimittsu, we'll be seeing a lot of each other in the coming months!

Yeah, that's usually the look I get when I say that...

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January 09, 2010

Ga-Rei Zero, Episode 01



Brought to you by Glico's Pocky!
I d/l'd this show from BakaBT during their recent freeleech event, knowing nothing about it except for two things: one, there are cute girls in it, and two, the series is a prequel to the manga Ga-Rei... which I have never read.  So, in other words, I didn't know anything about it.  But, hey, cute girls!

Our Heroes.
So these individuals (L to R: Kudou, Tooru, Masaki and Natsuki) are part of a "special action" team, devoted to taking down supernatural forces that threaten Japan (and by extension, the entire world).  They're aided in this task by...

Mami, who's the comms experts.  They're all highly skilled in their individual talents, and they need to be.  They're called out whenever a supernatural disaster is too much for the grunts of their organization to handle... which is what's occurring in episode 01.

The supernaturals are mostly invisible to normal people (even the grunts need technological help to see them), but the heroes can see them easily.  The specters above are "Category C"-level, which is somewhere just above cannonfodder, but there's a lot of 'em in this attack.  They almost overwhelm the grunts, but one squad holds the line and seems to end the disaster.

Until this guy shows up.  It's a "Category B", and it's WAAAAY over the paygrade of the grunts.  Oh, and then the specters regenerate.  The squad is mangled, but our heroes arrive just in time to save the day!

I wouldn't think that's a particularly stable firing platform.
Natsuki's a talented motorcyclist, and her tires are studded with spiritually-charged runes.  Tooru is a sniper, firing rune-encrusted bullets.  He's also good at striking a dramatic pose, no?  He starts plinking away at the Cat B, and she goes to work on the specters...

...first by laying down a protective circle of rune-embossed rubber...

...then by getting a little more in their phantom faces, making her cycle dance on their heads.  While their efforts are quite impressive, and they don't seem to be in any danger, they're not really getting anything accomplished.  Too many baddies, too few heroes.  Until Kudou and Masaki arrive...

...flying a tilt-rotor airplane fire-tanker filled with spiritually-charged holy water!  No more specters!  Tah-dahhhhh!  The Cat B is weakened by this run, and Tooru drops it with a boom headshot.  But there's ANOTHER one.  Our Heroes, guided by Mami, set a trap for it in Tokyo's water supply reservoir system.  But how to get it there?

Oh.  Right.  Natsuki plays bait, the Cat B chases her like a big flaming armadillo, rolling like a ball at high speed down the Tokyo highways and byways.  Eventually they get into the reservoir system, Tooru hits the monster with a sniper rifle, and Kudou and Masaki release the water, passing it through a spiritual filter to turn it into holy water and killing the creature.

Wet and tired, Our Heroes relax with nice hot coffee and witty repartee.



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January 06, 2010

My Favorite Moments In Anime

A few posts back, I put up a youtube of Funky Cat Maybe! and mentioned that "it's one of my favorite anime things ever."  Which got me to thinking... what are my favorite moments in my anime watching?  Those scenes that immediately jump to mind when somebody asks "why do you like anime?"  They aren't automatically from my favorite shows, though some are, but even a 'meh' show can have classic moments.

Below is my collection of those moments.  They're in no particular order, except for the very last; that's my favorite.  Click 'more' and let's take a look!  Warning: there may be spoilers ahead!

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January 05, 2010

Flavor Flav(io) Reinstated

Ex-Renault team principle Flavio Briatore, who was banned for life from F1 for his role in the Nelson Piquet Jr "CrashGate" scandal, is now un-banned.

Earlier today, the Tribunal de Grande Instance in Paris overturned the lifetime ban, agreeing with Briatore's claim that the FIA did not have legal grounds for the suspension.  Which mystifies me, since both the FIA and F1 are private organizations; in theory, they should be able to make their own rules, right?

Furthermore, the court also awarded Briatore €15000 in damages.  That's a far cry from the €1000000 he was asking for, but it's still a slap in the face of the FIA.

Along with Briatore, Pat Symonds, the former Renault chief of Engineering who was given a five-year suspension, was also cleared and awarded €5000.  Symonds expressed his "eternal regret and shame" over his role in the scandal back when he left Renault.  I guess this is some subset of "eternal" that I wasn't aware of.

Any bets on if either of them will be back in F1 within the next couple of years?

UPDATE: The FIA's response:

The FIA notes the Decision of the Tribunal de Grande Instance of Paris in relation to Mr. Briatore and Mr. Symonds.  The Court has rejected the claims for damages made by Mr. Briatore and Mr. Symonds and their claim for an annulment of the FIA's decision.  In particular, the Court did not examine the facts and has not reversed the FIA's finding that both Briatore and Symonds conspired to cause an intentional crash at the 2008 Singapore Grand Prix.

However, the Court did question the FIA's authority to impose bans upon Mr. Briatore and Mr. Symonds for procedural reasons and because they are not FIA licence holders and, according to the Court, are therefore not subject to any FIA rules. The FIA's ability to exclude those who intentionally put others' lives at risk has never before been put into doubt and the FIA is carefully considering its appeal options on this point.  The Court’s decision is not enforceable until the FIA's appeal options have been exhausted.  Until then, the World Motor Sport Council’s decision continues to apply.

In addition, the FIA intends to consider appropriate actions to ensure that no persons who would engage, or who have engaged, in such dangerous activities or acts of intentional cheating will be allowed to participate in Formula One in the future.

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