April 29, 2010

Pacific War Pics

I had to work late tonight, but when I got home there was a present of sorts in my e-mail box.  The latest edition of the Battle Of Midway Roundtable had come out, and contained therein was a link to a Denver Post blog.  "So what," I hear you asking.  Well, that particular blogpost has 110 pictures from the Pacific War, starting at Pearl Harbor and finishing at Tokyo Bay.  And they aren't all the usual pics, either.  For example, I give you this:

That's the wreckage of a Japanese B5N ("Kate") being fished out of Pearl Harbor shortly after Dec 7th.  Or this:

That's flak over Yontan Airfield, Okinawa, sometime in March of 1945.  Lots more where these came from, so go take a look.  It's unsafe for dial-up users, though, as all 110 pics are inline to the post, not thumbnailed or linked.

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April 29th, 1983: The Greatest Press Conference Ever

On April 29th, 1983, the Chicago Cubs lost to the Los Angeles Dodgers.  Afterwards, during post-game press conference Manager Lee Elia, frustrated by the fans booing the team's 5-13 record, unleashed what became the greatest tirade in baseball history.

Best line:  Eighty-five percent of the bleepin' world is working. The other fifteen come out here.

Amazingly, he wasn't immediately fired... that happened in August.  But he went down in history nevertheless.

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April 28, 2010

Zoom Player Help?

Chiyo-chan's fully recovered from her bout with the sniffles, but I need some help.  Zoom Player is my primary media program, I'm quite fond of it, but after reinstalling it everything starts up at 640 x (whatever) resolution.

How in the world do I make Zoom Player start playing a video at its native resolution???  I know there's a way to do it, I just can't find the right combination of thingies to make it happen and it's driving me crazy!

Okay, crazier.

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April 27, 2010

Viruses Suck

So I came home from work, booted up my computer, and went into the bathroom.  When I came back, my antivirus programs were screaming bloody murder.  Oh, merde.  Immediately, I tried to start Malwarebytes' Anti-Malware program... and got an error message.  Trend Micro?  Error message.  Anything?  Error message.  Rollback?  Error message.  Crepe.

Then other, random, error messages began to pop up.  As in, my video card no longer had drivers, for example.  Time to break out the reinstall disc and the Flash Drive Of Doom!

Four hours later, Chiyo-chan is fresh and new again. 

Viruses suck.

UPDATE:  Yes, I know what caused it, and yes, I'm an idiot.

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April 26, 2010

A Lap Of The Green Hell

This viddy has been floating around the web for a while now, and been in my collection for almost as long, but I've never actually put it up here.  Quite simply, it's in-car video of a lap of the Nordschliffe at the Nurburgring, aka 'The Green Hell,' aka the greatest circuit on the planet.  Nearly 21km long, over 100 turns.  At one time, F1 cars drove here though not 1976, the year Niki Lauda had his hideous accident.

Just sit back, turn up the volume, and marvel at the magic of Hans-Joachim Stuck and his BMW M3 GTR.

There may have been faster laps (in fact, someone just turned a lap in 6:58, driving a Ferrari 599XX), but none of them could be as wonderful as this one.  The sound alone makes me feel kinda tingly.

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April 24, 2010


Where Rumpole was basically my cat, his counterpart Hercule was Ph.Duck's kitty.  Together, the two of them were a more furry version of Laurel and Hardy.  Where Rumpole was a big, dumb, lovable galoot, Hercule was the epitome of what one thinks of when you think of a cat... aloof, independent, reserved, dignified, dexterous yet capable of extreme moments of silliness.  All of it in a small fur-covered frame.  I always called Hercule a medium-hair; his fur was too long to be a shorthair, but too short to be a longhair.  Still, it always seemed like he was mostly fur... the biggest he ever got was 12 pounds, where Rumpole nearly reached twice that size (muscle for the most part). 

When Rumpole died two years ago, Hercule lost a bit of his zip... which was understandable, as they'd been together for 15 years or so, ever since Hercule was one.  Shortly after Momzerduck passed away last September Hercule, then nearly 18 years old, got very ill.  His kidneys weren't working well, and amongst other things, Ph.Duck had to "top off his tank" every day with an IV bag so Hercule would be hydrated.  He was down to 6 pounds, moving kinda slow as you'd expect an 18-year-old cat to do, but still (mostly) happy.  Just a couple of weeks ago he was (slowly) chasing after a laser pointer and nomming catnip.

Earlier this week, Hercule jumped off Ph.Duck's bed and... well, we're not sure exactly.  What we do know is that for a couple of days, his right front paw was, for all intents and purposes, dead.  Maybe he sprained it, maybe he threw a small blood clot, maybe it was a pinched nerve.  It came back, though, and we sighed a sigh of relief.  This afternoon, as Ph.Duck and I were watching the GP of China, Hercule started yowling.  When Ph.Duck went to check on him, he found Hercule on the screened-in porch, dragging himself using his front legs.  His hind legs and tail were no longer working... much like the front paw earlier. 

We bundled him up and took him to Dr Kathleen, the vet that's cared for all of the family's pets for 30 years or so.  The Doc performed a quick but in-depth examination, and made it clear that it might clear up... or it (more likely) might not.  Either way, it was agonizingly clear that Hercule was no longer the happy cat he had been and was no longer enjoying his time here.  And so we put him to sleep, and hopefully he's bossing Rumpole around for the amusement of Momzerduck.

It's been a bad two years.

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April 23, 2010

Gundam Cafe

There's a report over at Gizmodo that Bandai has opened up a Gundam cafe in Akihabara.  It's filled with Gundam-related merchandise, everybody wears Gundam-inspired uniforms, etc etc etc...  Seems logical to me, I guess I'm more surprised that it took so long. 

Over at Fark's Geek tab, however, the masses are having fun with the whole concept, suggesting some other show-themed cafes... and some that you really don't want to see (the Grave of the Fireflies-based cafe, for example).

My favorite concept has to be the Ranma 1/2 Cafe.  Your dark-haired waiter takes your order and comes back a few minutes later as a hot (but damp) red-headed waitress, you don't want to order ANYTHING made with pork, there's a giant panda cooking in the kitchen, another waiter sometimes gets lost on the way to your table and winds up serving someone at a McDonalds in Belgrade, and so forth.

So I'm trying to think of others.  Maybe a Saikano cafe wouldn't go over very well... you go in happy, and come out wanting to slit your wrists.  A School Days cafe would pretty much have to be on a cruise liner, and do not wear any clothing you'd mind ruining.  Someone else suggested an Elfen Lied theme; come for the backrubs, but don't be surprised if there's a leg in your soup.  I'm surprised there isn't a Strike Witches cafe already (none of the waitresses would wear pants).  The Kanon cafe would carry nothing but jam, beef bowls and taiyaki.

Got any other ideas?

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Today is the Day of Independence for the Conch RepublicSoyuz 1's ill-fated flight was launched today in 1967.  The Chinese People's Liberation Army Navy was established on this date in 1949.  In 1989, Baywatch premiered on April 23rd.  NHL Hall of Fame member Tony Esposito was born in 1943, and Howard Cosell died on this date in 1995.

And in 1968, in a hospital somewhere near Wrigley Field in Chicago, a Wonderduck was hatched upon an unsuspecting world.  Nothing would ever be the same again.

Birthday candle!
I'm amazed that I'm 42.

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April 21, 2010

Random Anime Picture #54: Crossover

-Sketchbook ~full color'S~ ep13

As if having President Aria show up as a bowling alley mascot wasn't enough, Akari makes an appearance too!  Okay, sure, it's actually after the credits roll on the last episode of Sketchbook, but there she is.

There is a little bit of backstory here, of course.  Both Sketchbook and the ARIA franchise were animated by Hal Film Maker, and ARIA the Origination was their next show to air.  In fact, I seem to remember reading somewhere that they even ran in the same timeslot.

I really enjoyed Sketchbook, at least until Kate the Canadian otaku shows up.  At that point, my skin began to crawl a little bit, but not enough to truly dampen my enthusiasm for the show.  My recent rewatch of the series just confirmed that opinion, both of the show and of Kate.

If you liked ARIA or Hidamari Sketch, you'll feel right at home with Sketchbook.

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April 20, 2010

Kimi Raikkonen: The Exclusive F1U! Interview

That's right, we here at F1U! scored an exclusive interview with former F1 World Champion and current rally car driver Kimi Raikkonen!  It's a stunning coup, and we're proud to bring it to you.

Q: Kimi, how does it feel to be out of Formula 1?


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April 18, 2010

F1 Update!: Grand Prix of China 2010

The F1U! Staff stayed up very late to watch this race live, so we're a little wiped out right now.  However, the show must go on, and THIS is your F1 UPDATE! for the 2010 Grand Prix of China!

*WHOOPS!:  Red Bull sat on the front row and looked like the clear favorites to win the race, but nobody counted on the great equalizer of F1: rain.  As the cars sat on the grid before the recon lap, it began to spit, but nobody seemed particularly concerned.  Indeed, during the pre-race coverage the rain stopped and started a couple of times.  In conditions like that the drivers have to be a bit more aware of the track, but on the whole slick tires can handle it.  Vettel had to be feeling particularly confident; he's considered one of the best rain drivers in F1, along with Lewis Hamilton and Slappy Schumacher, and he had the fastest car... "bring on the rain," he must have been thinking.

*UH-OH:  From the start, it was obvious that this was not going to be a normal F1 race.  When the lights went out, Ferrari's HWMNBN looked like he had the greatest start ever from 3rd, while Vettel seemed to be a little slow getting off the line.  The Red Car's start was so good, in fact, that it was in front of the two Red Bulls and pulling away, even before the thundering herd reached the first turn.  Too good, as a matter of fact: HWMNBN had jumped the lights and was nearly a half-length out of his grid slot before the starting lights were extinguished.  He'd get a drive-through penalty for that infraction, which would normally be the kiss of death for his chances... but this to be was no normal race.

*GEEZ, NOW WHAT?:  Back in the horde, Force India's Vitantonio Liuzzi was having difficulty.  He'd been unable to get much in the way of heat into his tires on the recon lap due to the weather conditions: cloudy and about 70 degrees.  At the start, he managed to pick up a position or two but when it came time to apply the brakes for Turn 4, he locked up his rears altogether.  The car became an uncontrollable object, and he arrowed (backwards!) right into the path of the turning Seb Buemi, collecting Kamui Kobyashi in the process. 

The hulks came to rest just barely off the asphalt which was bad enough, but debris from the crash was scattered all the way across the turn.  It was obvious that the track workers couldn't get the wreckage clear in time, and Charlie Whiting called out the Safety Car... a move that, in retrospect, played hob with almost everybody's plans.

*FACEPALM: As the field perambulated behind the Safety Car the rain began to pick up.  This sent many of the cars, led by HWMNBN and Red Bull's Mark Webber, to the pit lane for Intermediate tires.  Seb Vettel lost out on this exchange, being forced to stack behind his teammate in the pits, and losing a ton of places in the process.  Not all of the cars pitted however, as Mercedes' Nico Rosberg, McLaren's Jenson Button, and both Renaults stayed out, placing those four in the lead as the Safety Car came in on Lap 3.  The question became how long they'd be able to stay out on slicks as the rain continued to come down.  Once the race restarted, it became clear that a little more than half the cars were on Inters and praying for rain, and the rest were hoping it stayed dry... and it only took a lap for the teams to realize that those who stayed on the dry tires had made the right decision.  Slappy Schumacher was the first to come in for a second change of tires, followed by everybody else on lap 5.  The Inters had already been worn smooth, killed in two laps.  All these pit stops had the effect of scrambling the grid, not aided by HWMNBN'd serving his drive-through penalty on top of two stops for tires.  This gave us some fun, if not confusing, racing as the heavy hitters wound their way through those teams less fortunate.  Somewhere around lap 18, race leader Nico Rosberg badly blew a turn, allowing Jenson Button to get past him for the lead.

*AS IF THAT WASN'T ENOUGH: On lap 20, it began to rain again, and again it was decision time.  Webber and Slappy came in for Inters first, followed by the two Ferraris who were running together.  In a bizarre incident, HWMNBN intentionally forced his teammate into Hamilton Beach, overtaking Massa in the entry to the pit lane.  Button and Rosberg came in together a lap later for rain tires.  Then the Gods of Racing played a practical joke on NKOTT, breaking his front wing pylons.  He barely made it into the pit lane before they let go altogether, sending the wing under the car and throwing carbon fiber shards all over the pit entry.  As a result, another Safety Car was called out (for reasons that are unclear).  This was a gift for those in the field that had goofed to begin with, as Button, Rosberg and Renault's Robert Kubica had opened up a nearly-50-second lead, which was now cut to nothing.  The Safety Car came in on lap 25, and weirdness ensued.  The SC leaves the track early at Shanghai, allowing the leader to control the pace leading up to the start/finish line, and Button drove as slow as a 90-year-old grandma in a Chevy Land Cruiser, causing the field to bunch up like rush-hour in Chicago.  At one point, the accordion effect had the field four cars wide as everybody tried to whoa up and not pass accidentally. 

*TAKE A DEEP BREATH: On Lap 35, the leaders came in for their second stops for fresh Inters (contrast this to everybody else, who were on their fifth or sixth stops).  Button stayed in the lead, but Rosberg couldn't hold of Lewis Hamilton, who passed him for second place and set off after his McLaren teammate.  While he closed up the gap, it became clear that he had killed his tires in doing so, and Button opened the lead back up to nearly 15 seconds in just a few laps, seemingly guaranteeing himself the easy win.

*GACK:  And then Button threw his McLaren off the road.  In that one move, he lost half his lead over Hamilton, and by the way his car was twitching and squirming it was obvious that his tires had gone off as well.  Hamilton managed to claw his way back up, eating up big chunks of time and making everybody wonder what would happen when he began to pressure Button.

*FINALLY:  While Hamilton got within 1.5 seconds of Button, he could get no closer as they began the final lap.  The reigning world champion kept his McLaren on the island for the entire lap despite his tires, and brought it home to become the first driver to win two races this year.  Just an epically confusing, epically enjoyable race!

*DRIVER OF THE RACE:  Jenson Button made the right decisions on what tires to be on, and when.  His teammate did not.  However, Hamilton managed to overcome his mistakes and drove an incredible race, forcing his way up the field, and getting within two seconds of Button's car when it was all over.  Along the way, he passed just about every big name on the grid (including an epic duel with Slappy Schumacher) with relative ease.  Great drive for Lewis.

*TEAM OF THE RACE: McLaren earned their first 1-2 finish since 2008 in a confusing scramble of a race.  Renault earns an honorable mention; while they ended up 5-7, for most of the race they were third and fourth and hanging onto Button and Rosberg.  A nice result for a team under pressure from the upstart Force India team.

*MOVE OF THE RACE: There were a lot to choose from, but on Lap 12, Lewis Hamilton was trailing behind Adrian Sutil and Mark Webber as the three of them diced for position coming down the long back straight, the three of them weaving and dekeing as they raced down at 200mph.

Sutil was dueling with Webber, the two of them holding off on braking as late as possible; the first to blink would lose the battle.  Hamilton, on the other hand, slowed a touch before the others.

As the other two swung wide, Lewis took the inside line and got on the gas a touch faster, powering past and picking up two places in one outstanding manuever.

Webber added a bit of drama by making a move on Sutil while trying to keep up with the McLaren, but Sutil managed to keep him back.  Just an great bit of racing by all three in iffy conditions and close quarters.

*MOOOOOOO-OOOVE OF THE RACE:  I don't care that they're a new team, Virgin did something so embarassing that I still can't believe it occurred.  As the cars rolled off on the recon lap, it became clear that Timo Glockenspiel wasn't moving.  It's not uncommon to have a car stall on the grid, of course.  Why Glockenspiel wasn't rolling off was something much, much stupider.

They left his front end jacked up when the personnel left the grid.  How in the world did nobody notice that???  Congratulations, Virgin, you've just won the stupidest Moooooooooo-oooove of all time.



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April 17, 2010

F1 Quals: China 2010!

This is starting to become boring.  Let's take a look at the grid for tomorrow's Grand Prix of China:

Pos Driver Team Q1Q2Q3
1 Sebastian Vettel RBR-Renault 1:36.317 1:35.280 1:34.558
2 Mark Webber RBR-Renault 1:35.978 1:35.100 1:34.806
3 HWMNBN Ferrari 1:35.987 1:35.235 1:34.913
4 Nico Rosberg Mercedes GP 1:35.952 1:35.134 1:34.923
5 Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 1:36.122 1:35.443 1:34.979
6 Lewis Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 1:35.641 1:34.928 1:35.034
7 Felipe Massa Ferrari 1:36.076 1:35.290 1:35.180
8 Robert Kubica Renault 1:36.348 1:35.550 1:35.364
9 Slappy Schumacher Mercedes GP 1:36.484 1:35.715 1:35.646
10 Adrian F'n Sutil Force India-Mercedes 1:36.671 1:35.665 1:35.963
11 Rubens Barrichello Williams-Cosworth 1:36.664 1:35.748
12 NKOTT STR-Ferrari 1:36.618 1:36.047
13 Sebastien Buemi STR-Ferrari 1:36.793 1:36.149
14 Vitaly Petrov Renault 1:37.031 1:36.311
15 Kamui Kobayashi BMW Sauber-Ferrari 1:37.044 1:36.422
16 Nico Hulkenberg Williams-Cosworth 1:37.049 1:36.647
17 Pete Rose
BMW Sauber-Ferrari 1:37.050 1:37.020
18 Vitantonio Liuzzi Force India-Mercedes 1:37.161

19 Timo Glockenspiel Virgin-Cosworth 1:39.278

20 Jarno Trulli Lotus-Cosworth 1:39.399

21 Heikki Kovalaineninnie Lotus-Cosworth 1:39.520

22 Lucas di Grassi Virgin-Cosworth 1:39.783

23 Bruno Senna HRT-Cosworth 1:40.469

24 Karun Chandhok HRT-Cosworth 1:40.578

For the fourth out of four times, Red Bull's Seb Vettel is on pole.  If his car had managed to hang together in the first two races, I think there's a very good chance he'd be running away with the season.  Fortunately for us fans the RB6 might be a delicate little flower.

Not as delicate as Seb Buemi's Toro Rosso, perhaps, but still fragile.  No great suprises on the grid today; in fact, there wasn't much in the way of drama in any of the qualy rounds... no remarkable last-gasp heroics, no desperate clawing to get into the next round, no heavy-hitters leaving the pits with a tire blanket still attached.

Actually, I'd like to see that last one.  Bet mechanical grip would be affected a bit.

I digress.  The race is at 130am Pond time, set your VCR and we'll see you here for the F1 UPDATE!

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April 16, 2010

F1 Practice: China 2010!

There wasn't much news to report for the afternoon session, which is the one televised by SPEED, but hoo-doggie was there action in the morning!

It all started when Ferrari's HWMNBN blew an engine, which means he's now on his third of the year.  With the eight-engine limit from last year still in effect, he could be in serious trouble down the road.

Then we discovered that, seven years ago, the Shanghai International Circuit was built on drained swampland... and not all of that was actually drained!  Fast forward to today, and the waterlogged bedrock underneath the track is beginning to subside, creating some rather nasty bumps.  How nasty?  Bad enough that Timo Glockenspiel actually broke his Virgin's front wing going over one.  THAT might be a problem.

It's also cold in Shanghai.  How cold?  Temperatures were in the 40s during the morning session; according to the Legendary Announce Team, to find the last time it was that cold on this date in Shanghai, you have to go back to the 1800s.  That'll make the tires work weirdly, if at all... Adrian Sutil said it might take six laps or more to bring them up to race temps.  That's not good at all!

But all of that pales in comparison to the sort of day that Toro Rosso's Sebastian Buemi had.  Imagine what it's like to be on the highway and you get a flat tire.  Well, Buemi was going around 180mph or so down the back straight when... well, this happened:

No, your eyes aren't deceiving you.  Both his front wheels literally FELL OFF THE CAR at 180mph.  Don't believe me?  Here's another view:

And, just for the heck of it, here's video of the incident:

The upright, which is what connects the wheel to the suspension, on the right front corner completely failed.  This transferred all the weight of the front of the car to the suspension on the other side, which then exploded.  Buemi was unhurt in the rather bizarre incident, but his car was pretty much ruined.    Seems the uprights were made of a new material... which, of course, Toro Rosso has now thrown in the trash.  Remember, this is Toro Rosso's first car as a constructor, so one might expect a little of this... though not, perhaps, quite so dramatically.  The team is expected to have a new chassis built up in time for quals.

Speaking of which, we'll see you here tomorrow morning for those results!

UPDATE:  Sebastian Buemi is now the early favorite in the Quote of the Year contest: "From in the car it was not a problem. I just lost both wheels."  Nope, no problem there.

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April 15, 2010

USS Wasp: The Worst US Carrier In The Pacific

When you think of aircraft carriers from WWII, which do you think of?  The stately Lexington class?  Maybe you flash to the carriers that held the line in the Pacific, the Yorktowns?  Perhaps you think of the Essex class, some of whom stayed in service into the '70s and one of which lasted until 1991?  Or maybe your thoughts tend towards the Japanese Kaga and Akagi?  One can't forget the first aircraft carrier lost to air attack, the British Hermes, and their Illustrious class is an interesting type of ship indeed.

In fact, most people would think of many, many ships before their thoughts headed to the seventh carrier commissioned into the US Navy, the Wasp

And to be brutally honest about it, there's good reason for this lack of recognition.  To say that her career was lackluster would be on the charitable side of accurate.

The USS Wasp was designed and laid down while the US Navy was still under the constraints of the Washington Naval Treaty, which placed limits on the maximum tonnage of new naval builds.  The maximum allowable tonnage for the US's aircraft carriers was 135000, with no single carrier able to exceed 27000 tons at full load (an exception was made for two ships converted per nation; for the US, these were the USS Lexington and Saratoga.  Their weights were still counted against the total, however).  As the two Lexingtons ate half the limits on their own, and the Yorktown and Enterprise, both in the process of being built, were showing signs of being overweight, the Wasp's designers were under incredible pressure to cut weight whenever possible.  It quickly became obvious that she was shaping up to have many of the same traits as the USS Ranger (CV-4) which, like the Wasp, was constructed to get the most use out of the treaty limits.  In short, she was going to have to be small.

There is nothing inherently wrong about the concept of a small carrier; the later Independence-class CVL proves that quite well.  The problem arises when the carrier being designed is a full-fledged fleet carrier, but it has to be shoehorned into a size completely unsuitable for the task, which is what happened to the Wasp.  The Yorktowns came in at about 26000 tons at full-load; the Wasp wound up being nearly 7000 tons lighter, but was still expected to carry almost the same size air group (76 planes for the Wasp, 90 for the Yorktowns). 

To do all this on a smaller hull, compromises had to be made.  She wound up about 85 feet shorter (741 feet vs 824 than the Yorktowns) in overall length.  Of course, this made both the flight deck and hangar smaller as a result.  This made life cramped for the air group, even though it was reduced to begin with. 

In an attempt to alleviate some of the congestion caused by the reduced topside real estate and to counterbalance the weight of the full-size island starboard, the flight deck and hull was bulged to port.  While this improved traffic flow on the flight deck, it did have some consequences.  This bulge gave the Wasp the same beam as the larger Yorktown class.  However, in a weight-saving measure, her machinery spaces were smaller, producing 75000 shaft horsepower (shp).  Comparing this number to the Yorktowns' 120000shp and the substantially smaller Independence class' 100000shp is educational to say the least.  As a result of this unfortunate combination of decreased power and wide hull, the Wasp could only make 29.5 knots at full steam, considered too slow for operations with the main fleet.  Another problem with this speed, combined with the truncated flight deck, is that there was very little room for error for a fully-loaded torpedo plane (at the time, the hideously underpowered TBD Devastator) during takeoff.  This was recognized early in the design process, however, and as a result the Wasp was not built with the specialized facilities required for torpedo planes.  Of course, this was considered acceptable in the name of weight savings.

In another attempt to save weight, she was constructed with only two elevators, fore and aft.  The midships elevator was replaced by an innovative design that after the war became commonplace: a deck-edge elevator.

Unlike those on modern carriers, though, this one was a skeletal framework that had a socket for the tailwheel to sit in, positions for the main gear, and moved the plane in a semicircle up to the flight deck.  This was the first ever deck-edge elevator, and is probably the one shining part of the Wasp's overall design.  Still, all the weight saving was successful in that she slotted nicely into the Washington Treaty tonnage limits.

Like the similarly undersized Ranger, it was thought that the Wasp was unsuitable for operations in the Pacific.  At the onset of war, she served primarily as an airplane ferry, taking two loads of Spitfires to Malta for the British.  A month after the second of these runs, the Battle of Midway left the US Navy with only three operational carriers in the Pacific, with one of them (the Saratoga) still suffering the scars from a submarine-launched torpedo.  It was decided that the Wasp would be transferred as it was marginally more capable than the Ranger.  Carrying TBF Avengers (a torpedo plane, which she wasn't truly able to handle), Dauntlesses and Wildcats, she was part of the covering force at Guadalcanal that was withdrawn by Admiral Ghormley, which put the entire operation at risk.  The next month or so was spent patrolling and providing cover for convoys heading to 'Canal, until she was sent south, missing out on the Battle of the Eastern Solomons.  That battle cost the Navy the use of the Enterprise as she was badly mauled.  Shortly thereafter, the Saratoga proved to be a torpedo magnet of the first rank.  As she was sent to the West Coast for repairs, that left only the USS Hornet and the Wasp covering the entire Pacific.

In mid-September, however, she was engaged in flight operations when the Japanese submarine I-19 performed the greatest feat of marksmanship by a submarine ever.  The I-19 fired a full spread of six torpedoes at the Wasp, three of which hit.  Two others passed ahead of the carrier, one of which struck the destroyer O'Brien as she maneuvered to avoid the other.  The O'Brien sank shortly thereafter.  The sixth torpedo apparently passed underneath the stern of the Wasp, narrowly missed the USS Landsdowne, then proceeded on for another seven minutes before striking the USS North Carolina, a wound that required a month in Pearl Harbor to fix.

One of the worst decisions the Wasp's designers had made in their quest to save weight was the deletion of just about any armor plating.  While this would have been normal for most Japanese carriers and was considered the price of speed for them, the lack of armor for the Wasp extended to her having absolutely no torpedo protection whatsoever.  Further, her two engine rooms were grouped close together instead of being separated (to be fair, this was a failing common to US carriers at the time).  Another strike against her was that, when the torpedoes struck, she was engaged in flight operations.  Her avgas system was in full use, in other words, with predictable results when she was hit.

45 minutes after the torpedoes hit, the fires onboard had consumed most of the forward part of the hangar deck and were raging out of control.  Abandon ship was called, and the Landsdowne was detailed to scuttle her.  At approximately 9pm on September 15th, 1942, she finally sank in a pool of blazing gasoline.

A victim of terrible design choices, she never really got a chance to prove herself in battle (the Guadalcanal landings notwithstanding) and has thus faded into obscurity.  A shame, as she could have been an outstanding "medium carrier" if designed just a couple of years later, when such things were recognized as being feasible.  That's all hindsight, however.  In use as she was actually designed, she was unfortunately the worst US aircraft carrier in the Pacific... and the unluckiest.  To be fair, no carrier on the planet at that time would have survived taking three torpedoes at once.

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April 14, 2010

Even Robots Like Ducks!

In Episode 02 of the BBC2 series James May's Big Ideas, the presenter deals with such things as powered suits, artificial eyes, AIs, and robots.  One such robot that he meets is able to recognize items just from seeing shapes.  It's actually quite impressive; at one point it sees a chair, then is presented with a computer stool.  It can tell that both items fall into the category of "chair", despite not looking anything alike.  It can also tell that a table isn't a chair, despite having many of the same characteristics (flat surface, four legs, etc etc etc).  Of course, we do that without giving it a second thought, but for a robot/computer to figure it out?  That's quite the feat.

So Mr May decides to show it some items, and what's one of 'em?

A really nice duckie!  And what does the Asimo see?

Yep, it knows just what's important in life... though it calls it a "toy duck" instead of the more correct "rubber duckie."  It also completely ignores James May.  Clarkson and Hammond would be proud.

(and for the record, that's a "Racer" Bud Duck... Bud is a fine maker of luxury duckies, and not easy to find in stores.  I've only got three, and they were gifts.)

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April 13, 2010

F1 On Speed!: China 2010

A long time ago, Momzerduck said to me "Hermann Tilke's house probably has one very long hallway, then lots of small twisty hallways coming off of it."

No, wait, it was the Official Overseas Reader of The Pond, Flotsky, who said that.  Momzerduck said "if you can't say something nice about somebody, don't say anything at all."  Looking back through previous "F1 On SPEED!" entries for China, I find that I just can't bring myself to say anything nice about Shanghai.  So...

Here's the track map for Shanghai International Circuit.

(insert two minutes of silence here)

The Varsha should be back at the helm of the Legendary Announce Team during SPEED's coverage of the Grand Prix of China, which begins with Friday's Second Practice from 1am to 240am.  Quals will come to us almost live on Saturday from 1am to 230am.  The actual race, however, is from 130am to 4am Sunday morning, with a replay from 1pm to 330pm later that afternoon.

See you then!

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April 12, 2010

"Green Racing" A Reality

"Powered by chocolate.  Steered by carrots."  That's the humorous tagline for WorldFirst Racing, the first-ever "green" racing car. 

WorldFirst is a F3 car/team.  You can think of Formula 3 as being Single- or Double-A level in baseball's minor leagues, if you'd like: a major step in a pro career, but no guarantee of making the majors.  Anyway, the car is made up of either recycled materials, such as the body (recycled carbon fiber... ever wonder what happened to wrecked F1 cars?), or organic stuff (the steering wheel is made out of a polymer derived from carrots and other root veggies).  The engine is is a 2 liter turbodiesel, fueled by biodiesel.  The front wing endplates are made out of potato starch and flax fiber.  Heck, even the radiators are coated with a substance that "converts ozone to oxygen".

So, maybe not the "edible racer" that some suggested, but still a pretty good start.

A helluva lot better than the stupid Honda Earthdream car...

Yes, that's Jenson Button in the cockpit.  Yes, I'm sure he'd rather we forgot about that year...

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April 11, 2010

Lack Of Spark

I seem to have misplaced my motivation to do much of anything right now.

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April 09, 2010

Nozomi Gets A Thumbs-Up!

Okay, I'm agog.  It's pretty clear that the people over at Nozomi/TRSI like the ARIA franchise, but they also appear to like the fans who like ARIA, too.  How do I know this?

The box set for ARIA the Origination has not only the OVA, ~Arietta~, and the DVD-only episode, Navigation 5.5, but it also has...

...the picture dramas.  Nozomi even licensed the picture dramas!  I had no idea those were going to be on the discs... and I've got an ear-to-ear grin because of it. 

THAT'S how I know Nozomi likes us. 

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April 08, 2010

Thoughts and Webrangling

I'm working on a couple of posts, each about a particular aircraft carrier, at the moment, but neither are ready for prime-time quite yet.  So, while you wait, here's this post instead!

Just received an order from Robert's this afternoon that I'm very excited about.  First up is HidaSketch x 365, the second series in the franchise.  The other thing I got is ARIA the Origination.  That's the third and final series of the ARIA saga, and it has what I consider the single finest episode of anime I've ever seen in it, ep09.   The interesting thing about that particular episode is that it really only works if you've watched all the others in the franchise; if you just drop in the DVD and watch it standalone, it doesn't have anywhere near the impact.  I suppose some might say that because of that, it can't be the best episode ever, to which I'd say "pbpbpbpbpbpbpbpbbpbpbthhhhhhhhh."  So there.

Nozomi/Right Stuf really did a nice job on their releases for ARIA.  No skimping here.  Four boxes, four or five DVDs per box, a "guidebook" in each as well with episode notes, sketches and the like.  Then there's the best idea I've seen in a while: the extras DVD.  Instead of spreading things like interviews, trailers, music videos, etc, across all the other DVDs in the box, thereby using space that could better be used for other things, Nozomi put them all on their own disc.  Great idea!

In other news, we've gotten our first applicant for the Formula 1 gridslot relinquished by the failed USF1.  Durango Automotive, until recently a GP2 team, made their desire known today.  Unfortunately, the reason they withdrew from GP2 was... financial problems.  Just what we need, huh?  They're confident, however, that if they get the slot, they'll find backers... sound familiar?  Best of luck to you, guys, you'll need it.

Speaking of USF1, it's official: the team is totally dead.  They fired all their employees, whom had been on unpaid leave for many weeks, via e-mail a few days ago.

Andy over at Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Catgirls, might be the luckiest person on the face of the earth.  He went on vacation back in March, with his first stop being Australia.  His itinerary put him in Melbourne for a few days around March 24th... in other words, during the Grand Prix weekend.  Which he didn't realize; he's not a F1 fan.  After Melbourne, his next holiday stop was... Kuala Lumpur.  During the Grand Prix weekend.  Which he didn't realize; he's not a F1 fan.  On the plane flight over, there were a bunch of people wearing identical shirts... the Renault team.  Then once he's in KL, he gets caught in one of those ever-present (but not during the race!) afternoon/evening thunderstorms.  Like any intelligent person, he ducks into a shopping mall to avoid the deluge... just in time to be present for Team Lotus' unveiling of their car for the home fans.  Oh, and don't forget about the static collection of early '90s F1 cars, too.  Then there's the Duck Store, too...  AND HE'S NOT A F1 FAN!  *whimper*

Finally, the first episode of the second series of K-On!! has hit the torrents, and it's just like the first series only moreso.  Hate the OP, though... sounds like someone hit the helium bottles before they started singing.  Enjoyable episode, not anything deep and memorable... just like K-On! probably should be.

Out-of-context, this screencap looks really, really wrong.
Okay, break's over.  Everybody back on your heads.

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