September 29, 2010

Ich bin ein Ente...

The story behind this duckie just takes my breath away.  The father of one of my old high school flock (Marty Suspenders) stopped into the Duck U Bookstore a couple of weeks ago.  I was surprised, as I hadn't seen him in years, but he just stopped in to chat.  Very cool catching up with him, but when he mentioned he was going to Germany, I asked him to beg, steal or borrow a duckie from that European country.  Now, I ask anybody who's going overseas (heck, a trip of any duration) to look for rubber duckies from their destination, but only once has there ever been a result.  In my dreams, right?  I've gotten the distinct impression that rubber duckies just aren't all that common in most countries of the world.

Anyway, Suspenders the Elder walked back into the store on Monday with the above duckie and a world of smiles.  He and the friends he was visiting were on the Metro, on their way to go dancing in Berlin (for some reason, I never picture people in Berlin dancing), when at a stop he saw this kiosk selling, amongst other fripperies and geegaws, the Berlin duckie!  Of course he picked it up for lil' ol' me, and off they went with Mr S trying to explain about the weird friend of his son...

What he didn't realize, he told me, is that the duckie had already fallen out of his jacket pocket and gotten lost in the crowd, which must have been sheer torture for the Berlin duckie.  Imagine being told you're going to America to hang out with 400+ rubber duckies, and then have that dream taken away from you... yeesh!  But, surprisingly enough, Mr S found the duckie in the Metro station on the way back.  Dramatic tale of duckie rescue!  Then it made the long flight back to Duckford and into my wings and a happy introduction to the rest of the flock here at Pond Central.

That's it, that's the whole story.  Pretty darn cool, huh?

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September 28, 2010

Random Anime Picture #57: Suddenly, A Sanya Appears!

-Strike Witches 2 ep12

The new series was really quite good, but it could have used more Sanya V Litvyak for my tastes.  As a lark, I went back and watched the original OVA, which I called "the greatest seven minutes of anime ever", and I discovered something...

-Strike Witches OVA's amazing what you can do with a budget.

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September 26, 2010

F1 Update!: Singapore 2010

Dark clouds overhead but a brightly lighted track below, with the five points leaders sitting in the first five slots on the grid.  Sounds like a perfect setup for a great race, but is that what we got?  THIS is your F1 Update! for the 2010 Grand Prix of Singapore!

*LIGHTS OUT:  For once, the entire field made it away and through the first couple of turns without serious incident.  Felipe Massa made a fantastic start from his grid position in Palembang, catching up with the rest of the field very quickly.  However, all was not well amongst the thundering herd.  Vitantonio Liuzzi earned himself a Mooooooo-oove of the Race nomination by managing to run into both ends of Grizzly Nick Heidfeld's Sauber on one pass.  Heidfeld had to limp around to the pits, while Liuzzi's Force India struggled to complete the first lap, so it came as quite the surprise when he blew right past the pit entrance.  However, Felipe Massa didn't, intentionally.  He came right in at the end of the first lap and changed from the soft tires to the harder compound, gambling on a risky strategy.  And why not?  It's not like he'd fall any further behind.  But Ferrari didn't account for the incompetence of Vitantonio Liuzzi. 

*SAFETY CAR:  Liuzzi zipped past the pit lane and began Lap 2.  He never completed it.  His suspension, showing obvious signs of damage from his mugging of Heidfeld, gave out and he came to a halt out on track... at a point on the circuit where there weren't any cranes.  Out came the Safety Car, and out the window went everybody's strategy.  The back half of the herd pitted immediately, with the top 10 staying out... except for Mark Webber.  Webber rolled the dice and pitted, potentially putting himself in an excellent position.  If he could stay in contact with the leaders, when THEY stopped later in the race the Red Bull would leap high up the standings, potentially as high as first.

*RUNAWAY:  It quickly became clear that Webber was going to be racing for third.  Polesitter HWMNBN and Red Bull's Seb Vettel rapidly pulled away from the McLaren of Lewis Hamilton.  By Lap 20, the two had a nearly 15 second lead over the 2008 Champion and over 20 seconds over fourth place Jenson Button.  The lead kept widening as the two frontrunners took turns setting fast lap of the race as they tried to open up a big enough gap to pit and stay ahead of Webber.  Hamilton blinked first, coming in on Lap 29 after he had run his tires into the ground.  Mark Webber swept past as Hamilton crawled down the pitlane to return to the race.  On Lap 30, HWMNBN, Vettel and Jenson Button in third pulled in for new tires.  The Ferrari driver came out first, despite Vettel having a faster pitstop... until the Red Bull driver tried to exit his pitbox in 2nd Gear.  Once again, the young speedster choked under pressure, with a chance to take the lead in the balance. 

*BUT THEN:  If F1 fans didn't love Gandalf Kobyashi before today, when he hip-checked Slappy Schumacher into the next neighborhood they had to begin feeling all tingly.  A rookie asserting himself on the Great Schumi?  That's just beautiful.  However, a lap later saw Gandalf fishtail himself into the wall but hard, coming to a stop on the racing line just out of sight from cars coming down on him.  The HRT of Bruno Senna, the first car to come across the broken Sauber, arrowed right into the side of Gandalf.  Felipe Massa, showing the sort of reflexes that one expects from frightened cats, barely avoided adding to the carnage.  Another Safety Car comes out as the track marshals try to figure out how to untangle the wrecks.  The restart came on Lap 36, with the standings reading HWMNBN, Vettel, Webber, Hamilton, and Button.

*SAY GOODBYE TO A CHAMPIONSHIP:  While HWMNBN and Vettel had clear track in front of them, somehow the Virgin VR-1s of Lucas DiGrassi and Timo Glock had gotten gathered up by the Safety Car so he was sitting directly in front of Webber... and this is one of the few places that F1 could take lessons from NASCAR.  In NASCAR safety car situations, the field is lined up in order of standing for all intents and purposes.  In F1, the field bunches up in whatever order they get to the Safety Car.  Webber and Hamilton got past Glock, but DiGrassi balked the Australian quite badly.  Hamilton, taking advantage, pulled right tight behind the Red Bull then swept past on the outside.  Everything was to the advantage of the McLaren as they approached the next turn: he had the racing line AND he was clearly in front of the Red Bull.  Webber, however, saw an opening that truly wasn't there and smashed hard into Hamilton, deranging the MP4-25's suspension while the RB-6 continued on merrily.  Hamilton made it into a run-off area and, furiously throwing his steering wheel into the night, retired from the race for the second time in a row.  Unlike at Monza however, this time wasn't his fault.  While the stewards declared it a "racing incident," replays pretty clearly showed that Webber wouldn't have made the turn if he hadn't hit the McLaren.  The Red Bull did sustain some damage, picking up what was later described as a nasty vibration, but Hamilton's chances for a second Driver's Championship suddenly look grim indeed.

*THE ENDS:  Ahead of the carnage, HWMNBN and Vettel pulled away again, continuing to exchange fast lap between the two of them for the rest of the race.  While the Ferrari held the lead, the Red Bull wasn't letting it get away in the least.  Eventually, they swept across the finish line only 0.2 seconds apart, one of the closest finishes in recent memory.  All wasn't calm behind them, though.  Robert Kubica had managed to get himself to 7th place, but drove the tires off his Renault... literally.  On Lap 46, he had to pit for new rubber, his right-rear tire showing the canvas backing in some places.  He dropped to 13th by the time he returned to the track... and thus began one of the better drives we've seen in a while.  On Lap 52, he passed Buemi for 11th and his Renault teammate Petrov for 10th, and pulled up to Massa, whom he passed on Lap 53.  On Lap 55, Kubica passed Force India's Adrian Sutil for 7th, regaining the position he relinquished when he pitted.  Just awesome driving from the Pole.  And then there's the Heikki Kovaleinninninnie story.  On Lap 59, the Finn and Seb Buemi bump, with the Lotus ending up pointing the wrong direction but able to continue.  Unknown to the Finnish driver, the contact caused a small fuel leak in his Lotus.  By the time he made it to the front straight, his engine was fully aflame:

Understandably unwilling to bring a blazing car into the pitlane, Heikki instead pulled to a stop just short of the start/finish line.  Once the Lotus stopped, the rear of the car went up like a molotov cocktail had been thrown at it.  Unfortunately, the pitlane fire crew wasn't near his stopping point.  However, Heikki himself grabbed a fire extinguisher and began to fight the blaze.

The Lotus was pretty much toast by the time HWMNBN and Seb Vettel ended the race, the smoldering car a dramatic counterpoint to the victors.

*DRIVER OF THE RACE:  HWMNBN and Seb Vettel both deserve this award as the two of them drove flawless races.  The Ferrari driver, however, pulled off the rare F1 Grand Slam: pole, win, fast lap, and he led every lap of the race.  Yeah, that's pretty dominant. 

*TEAM OF THE RACE:  Red Bull.  2nd and 3rd, retaking the lead in the constructor's championship, and one of your men leading the driver's championship?  Yeah, pretty good race for the team.

*MOVE OF THE RACE:  As previously mentioned, Robert Kubica pitted from 7th late in the race and then fought his way back up to regain the position relinquished.  What was really impressive was the pass on Adrian Sutil to complete his quest, passing the Force India driver on the outside of the 90-degree Turn 7 at the end of the longest straight on the track.  Well done for the Pole, and maybe enough to earn him a drive for Ferrari next year... or so the rumors say, anyway.

*MOOOOOOOOOO-OOVE OF THE RACE: Grizzly Nick Heidfeld was happy.  He was finally back in a F1 car for real, and had proven that he hadn't lost anything in the meantime.  The first lap had gone swimmingly, and things looked good for the rest of the race... maybe even points!  And then Vitantonio Liuzzi came along and did bad things.  First the Force India driver slammed into the rear of the Sauber.  In one swift mooooo-oove, Liuzzi went past the damaged Sauber, then cut back across Heidfeld's nose, sending pieces of it flying off into the night.  That's right, Liuzzi somehow figured out how to damage both ends of the Sauber in one move, without sending it into the wall.  Pretty impressive, and quite the Moooooooo-oove!  Heidfeld, his downforce compromised, ended up in the walls around Lap 30 or so.  Liuzzi, in a case of just desserts, retired his car on Lap 3.



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September 25, 2010

F1 Quals: Singapore 2010

Those must have been some darn interesting emotional swings in the Ferrari pits today.  Let's take a look at the provisional grid for the 2010 Grand Prix of Singapore:

Pos Driver Team Q1Q2Q3
1 HWMNBN Ferrari 1:46.541 1:45.809 1:45.390
2 Sebastian Vettel RBR-Renault 1:46.960 1:45.561 1:45.457
3 Lewis Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 1:48.296 1:46.042 1:45.571
4 Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 1:48.032 1:46.490 1:45.944
5 Mark Webber RBR-Renault 1:47.088 1:45.908 1:45.977
6 Rubens Barrichello Williams-Cosworth 1:48.183 1:47.019 1:46.236
7 Nico Rosberg Mercedes GP 1:48.554 1:46.783 1:46.443
8 Robert Kubica Renault 1:47.657 1:46.949 1:46.593
9 Slappy Schumacher Mercedes GP 1:48.425 1:47.160 1:46.702
10 Gandalf Kobayashi BMW Sauber-Ferrari 1:48.908 1:47.599 1:47.884
11 NKOTT STR-Ferrari 1:48.127 1:47.666
12 Nico Hulkenberg Williams-Cosworth 1:47.984 1:47.674
13 Vitaly Petrov Renault 1:48.906 1:48.165
14 Sebastien Buemi STR-Ferrari 1:49.063 1:48.502
15 Grizzly Nick Heidfeld BMW Sauber-Ferrari 1:48.696 1:48.557
16 Adrian F'n Sutil Force India-Mercedes 1:48.496 1:48.899
17 Vitantonio Liuzzi Force India-Mercedes 1:48.988 1:48.961
18 Timo Glockenspiel Virgin-Cosworth 1:50.721

19 Heikki Kovalaineninnie Lotus-Cosworth 1:50.915

20 Lucas di Grassi Virgin-Cosworth 1:51.107

21 Jarno Trulli Lotus-Cosworth 1:51.641

22 Zoroastrian Klien HRT-Cosworth 1:52.946

23 Bruno Senna HRT-Cosworth 1:54.174

24 Felipe Massa Ferrari No time

One has to wonder when the last time Ferrari qualified on pole and dead last in the same race, without penalties.  You'll note that Massa set no time... either a frozen gearbox or an electronic engine management problem, one of the two (I've seen conflicting reports), brought the Brazilian to a stop out on track, ending whatever hope he had of a good race.  I've also seen reports that he's going to have to change both his gearbox and the engine.  If so, he'll be starting the race from the vicinity of Palembang.  Anyway, Ferrari then had the exciting experience of having HWMNBN call in early in Q2 reporting problems with his engine.  The team brought him in, rebooted the electronics, then sent him back out, all fingers crossed.  Of course the problem disappeared, much like when you restart your computer after it can't find your keyboard.  After that, it became a matter of HWMNBN ripping off ridiculously fast laps in a car that people were saying would stink after Monza, and nobody being able to match him.  His pole lap wasn't even done in the final shootout, but on his first flying lap in Q3.  HWMNBN now has two consecutive poles, and has suddenly catapulted himself into legit discussion for the Driver's Championship.

The rest of the heavy hitters were pretty much as you'd expect.  The big surprises today had to be the two replacement drivers, Grizzly Nick Heidfeld and Taoist Klien.  Remember what happened with Luca Badoer and Ferrari in 2009?  He stepped into the car and was far and away the slowest man on the grid.  Well, Grizzly Nick qualified midpack, a respectable performance indeed.  Over at HRT meanwhile, Jainist Klien simply demolished his teammate Bruno Senna.  He was over a second faster than Senna, which makes me wonder what the HRT might actually be capable of in the hands of someone a) talented and 2) experienced in the car.  Lord knows that DJ DNF, Senna and Cowboy Karun Chandhok haven't exactly covered themselves in glory this season.

So there you have it.  The five drivers in contention for the Driver's Championship are in the top five grid slots, which makes me think that the run to Turn 1 might be somewhat exciting tomorrow.  Of course, F1Update! will be along with the usual coverage... see you then!

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September 24, 2010

F1 Practice: Singapore 2010

I suppose it's wrong to be disappointed with a dry practice session (and a mostly dry track), particularly on a circuit like Singapore that's only been raced on twice before.  But I'll be darned if I wasn't hoping for drizzle or more, and I didn't get it.  Worse news still, the Legendary Announce Team minus The Varsha, who's on assignment at the Barrett-Jackson collector car auction in Las Vegas this weekend, told us that while its been raining during the days, the rain stops as night falls.  That'd mean a dry race, for which I say boo-hiss!  However, a lack of rain does mean we get shots like this: I guess it's a fair trade-off.

Action on-track was about what you'd expect from a practice session.  Lots of cars going round and round, trying desperately to get lots of laps in on an unfamiliar circuit.  This is particularly important considering that Friday's 1st Practice was truncated by rain.  Further, the heavy hitters stayed in the garage for most of the earlier session, letting the bottomfeeders go out, clean the dust off the circuit and lay down some rubber around the curves.  In P2 though, the big guys pretty much dominated the session, with the top five drivers in the Championship holding down the top five slots on the timesheet.

It wasn't all fun and games in Singapore though, as the track never really dried out; lots of rain mixed with high humidity, no wind, and no sunlight meant that the moisture never went away.  We saw a lot of fishtailing, some doinks of the rear wheels off the walls, and quite a few people touching the brakes and sliding off into the darkness.  And then you had Adrian Sutil getting a little too much curb in the Singapore Sling chicane, with results that can't be considered pretty:

Whee!  I'm a pilot!
The landing was even less pretty, with the Force India's front suspension splintering like a twig.  Shouldn't be a problem for Saturday's qualifying sessions, but the mechanics will be wondering just what else got knocked around by Adrian's attempt at imitating the Surya Kiran (or, for PhDuck, सूर्य किरण).

Which brings us to the biggest surprise of the day.  Night.  Whatever.  Anyway, the surprise... DJ DNF, Sakon Yamamoto hisownbadself, is not driving for HRT this race, allegedly because he's ill.  Taking his place for Singapore is none other than Christian Klien, last seen in F1 driving for Red Bull in 2006.  Somewhere the dark spectre of The Zsolt is gnashing his teeth... and plotting to reclaim Klien.

Quals in the morning but about two hours later than normal... the session starts at 10pm race local time, two hours later than the actual race time.  See you then!

No, no reason for this picture to be here...
...except Slappy looks goofy.

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September 23, 2010

"Explosions and Cool Vehicles!"

So I'm sitting around, doing this and that, when I get a message from a friend of mine.  Here's the pertinent portion of it:

Did I ever tell you that my friends and I watched the first episode of Popotan the other day on Netflix? Um, extremely bizarre and a little disturbing. That was months ago. Lately we find ourselves still talking about it. It was only one episode. We may have to watch more. Is this how the addiction starts? If that's the case we'd prefer anime with more explosions and cool vehicles. Got any suggestions for a bunch of anime noobs?

Now as you know, my tastes don't exactly run towards "explosions and cool vehicles."  I'm much more of a slice-of-life kinda guy, and there sure ain't any 'splody bits in Kanon '06.  So I turn to you, my loyal readers.  Give me your favoriteist splody anime... and it's gotta be available on DVD, so no fansubs.  We've got a chance to create a couple of new otaku here, so let's get them started on the right foot!

Here's a picture of a cute girl as a thank you:

Oh, and no Evangelion.

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NOT Peking Duck

Orange Chicken, actually.
Ph.Duck and I got together for dinner tonight at the Chinese place we tend to go to every month or so.  In lieu of me actually having anything to actually, y'know, write about, there's a picture of my main course.

And here's another picture:

It's good to be the Duck.

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September 22, 2010

Let's Talk Books

A couple of years ago, I was at the Duck U Bookstore when one of our history professors came in.  At the time, we had a small area set aside on the counter for "Staff Picks", books that those of us who worked at the Bookstore had read and recommended.  My two picks that month were World War Z, which I had just finished reading, and Shattered Sword, the 2005 book that turned a lot of what was known about the Battle of Midway on its collective head.

Knowing that the professor in question taught a class on WWII, I suggested Shattered Sword to him, and thus began a close to 45 minute dialogue on Midway and the Pacific War in general (it was summertime, during a stretch where we might go the entire day and see maybe three customers).  When we were finished and the prof had purchased both of my "Staff Picks", one of my co-workers looked at me with something akin to stunned disbelief.  "He's a history professor, how were you able to to talk to him like that about his specialty?", for indeed, his specialty was the Pacific War and Korea (where he himself served). 

I thought for a second and replied "I read a lot."  Her reaction, again, was stunned disbelief.  "History books?  You read history books for fun?"

Well, yeah.  I do.

I'd like to write a little bit about some of the books on Midway that I've in my collection, if I may indulge myself a bit... and, seeing how it's my blog, I think I can.


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September 21, 2010

Question for the Pond Readers

Anybody seen Tokyo Tosho recently?

Picture unrelated; I just wanted to post a Kanon '06 shot.

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F1 on SPEED!: Singapore 2010

With the European leg of the season completed, the F1 Circus packs up and hauls their tents halfway around the world to the island nation of Singapore this week.  Home to the world's busiest port, Singapore is also the home of a F1 race with a difference:

It takes place entirely at night.  This'll be the third time Singapore has hosted a race on the Marina Bay Street Circuit... let's take a look at the track map:

As a spectacle, Singapore is wonderful.  The cars shimmer and gleam under the fifty-gazillion overhead lights, in a way they don't anywhere else.  A highway flies over the front straight, there are two bridges involved with the circuit, and the cars actually run underneath some of the seating grandstands, just to make everything all that much cooler.  As a street circuit, there are many buildings lining the circuit, many of which are beautifully lighted themselves.  From the air, the track itself glows, looking like a ribbon of light against the dark background.

As a racetrack however, Singapore leaves a lot to be desired.  The heat and humidity makes it a chore to race on, like a cross between Monaco (for the narrowness) and Sepang (for the heat).  Last year, officials resurfaced many of the turns in an attempt to smooth out the hideously bumpy breaking zones.  Despite this, the drivers still asked for them to be improved.  Reportedly they've been ground down again.  The curbs have been lowered as well, as the teams thought that they might actually break a suspension going over them.  There's few passing zones, and a mistake at any time will put you into the Armco and out of the race.

But it looks cool.

It's pretty clear that to have a good race at Singapore, we're going to need rain.  In 2008, HWMNBN got the win after his teammate Nelson Piquet Jr intentionally crashed to give him an advantage.  2009 brought us a flat-out boring race that saw a runaway Lewis Hamilton victory.  The weather forecast calls for showers and thunderstorms all weekend, so we might just get F1's first night-rain race.  Let's hope so, just for entertainment's sake.

Of course, the good folks at SPEED will bring us every minute of Friday's second practice LIVE, from 830am to 1010am.  Saturday will see the drivers go for pole during Qualifying, from 9am to 1030am.  Finally, Sunday brings us the 2010 Grand Prix LIVE from 630am to 9am, with a replay from 12noon to 230pm.  All times are Pond Central.

Finally, the FIA released the official engine usage list, and clarified if Grizzly Nick Heidfeld would have to deal with Pete Rose's engine penalties.  Here's the updated list:

Mark Webber 6
Rubens Barrichello 6
Robert Kubica 6
Vitaly Petrov 6
Felipe Massa 8
Grizzly Nick Heidfeld 9
Everybody else has used 7 engines.

Unfortunately for Grizzly Nick, he will take a 10-spot penalty every time he uses a new engine from now on.  Of course you can always use an old engine if you wish.  Looking at this, it's clear that Mark Webber, current championship points leader, has an advantage over his rivals in that he's got two unboxed engines in hand, where everybody else only have, at best, one.  What difference will this make, with five races left to go?  We will see, won't we?

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September 20, 2010

One Year Later

One year ago today, the woman readers of The Pond knew as Momzerduck, and I knew as Mom, passed away.  I'd love to say something deep and meaningful right now, but find that I'm just... numb.  It's taken me close to a hour just to type this short statement.

I guess I'm coping with her loss.  I can't remember the last time I broke down, and I no longer run away whenever I smell hand sanitizer.  I no longer expect my cellphone to ring at 7pm. 

I miss her so very much.

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September 19, 2010

International Talk Like A Pirate Day 2010

Ahoy, maties!  T' Yan-Yan Pirates, sworn enemies o' those scurvy dogs, t' Pocky Ninjas, welcome ye t' International Talk Like A Pirate Day!  When they be comin' for your Yan-Yan, 'tis best you just run up t' white flag, fer a scruffier band of bilge rats don't exist anywhere on t' high seas!  They'll do bad things t' ye!  YARRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR!!!

Okay, they're not scruffy... they're rubber ducks, perhaps the least scruffy thing in the world.  And they won't do bad things to you; again, they're rubber ducks.  Rubber ducks just don't do "bad things."  At worst, they'll just sort of walk away with your Meiji sweets.  YARRRRR!

But the rivalry between the Pocky Ninjas and the Yan-Yan Pirates is legendary; you don't want to get betwixt the two sides.  Then bad things really WILL happen to you... very bad things.

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The Ships of Strike Witches ep11

In this episode, the Powers That Be have decided that it's time to go on full attack with (mostly) conventional forces against the Neuroi Hive that's sitting over Romagna.  The 501st will be reduced to escorting the naval vessels involved.  Well, we all know that won't last for long, but let's take a look at the ship list the show provides us with, because it's a doozy!

The first thing that leaped out at me was that it appears that I got my aircraft carriers wrong.  Allegedly.  The Chitose and Chiyoda would have been lousy choices to escort the Yamato halfway around the world.  They were poor carriers, unsurprising since they were actually converted seaplane tenders.  They weren't particularly fast, nor were they long-legged.  Meh, so I'm wrong, because that's what's up there on the screen.

Of course, there's also the Amagi.  A member of the Unryu class, which was based off the Hiryu, in real life the Amagi's career was pretty much limited to the Inland Sea before it was sunk in harbor at Kure Naval Base by USN planes.  It capsized to port, with its starboard-side island nearly parallel to the water.  So how exactly did the producers of Strike Witches miss this:

Yeah, the island is on the port side.  Whoopsie.  I'd write it off to alternate-universe, yadda yadda, but they've been so good about how the ships looked up until now. 

Ignore the flying battleship, the Amagi's island is on the bloody wrong side!  Whoopsie.

There's another big mistake in the order-of-battle in the first picture.  The Amagi's plane guard destroyer is the Hatsuzuki, which in real life was sunk at the Battle of Leyte Gulf.  That's fine and all, but please note that the Hatsuzuki is also shown as being off the Yamato's starboard bow.  Whoopsie again.  The Imperial Japanese Navy built some fantastic destroyers in WWII, but none of them were good enough to be two places at once.

The USS Nicholas (DD-449) was commissioned on June 4th, 1942, and had a busy war.  She was decommissioned in 1970.  The USS La Vallette (DD-448) was put in service August 12th, 1942.  She took an aerial torpedo off Guadalcanal, then suffered crippling damage from a mine in February 1945.  She was retired shortly after the end of the war.  She stayed in the reserve fleet until 1974, when she was sold to Peru as spare parts.  I'm guessing the "USS HEY" to starboard of the Chiyoda, is the Heywood L Edwards (DD-663), named after the captain of the USS Reuben James, the first US ship sunk in WWII.  The Edwards was commissioned January 1944 and was transferred to the Japanese Naval Self-Defense Force in 1959 as the Ariake.

The doesn't appear to be a destroyer named the Federico Nani in the Regia Marina during WWII, though there was a submarine called the Nani.  I can find no information regarding who Mr Nani was, other than a brief note that he commanded a fleet in defense of Venice against the Ottoman Turks at the Battle of Lepanto in 1571.  It'd make sense that a ship would be named for him, but I'll be darned if I can find one.

I'll ignore most of the battleships.  They're easy to identify for the most part, and easy to find information on.  I will mention one, though.  In the lower-right, there's a "HMS HO" listed, and I thought that the producers had made another mistake.  After all, the HMS Hood was a battlecruiser, not a battleship.  Turns out that the last of the King George V-class was the HMS Howe, which was also the last British battleship built that served in WWII (the Vanguard was completed after the war ended).  In fact, four of the five KGV's are in the order-of-battle, and are in line in the order they were completed (only the namesake isn't listed). 

I still don't think that those were the Chitose and Chiyoda, though.

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September 18, 2010

F1 Pr0n First Look: Korean International Circuit

Usually, F1 Pr0n deals strictly with the rollout of the cars for the new F1 season.  However today we've got something special on tap: a whole new circuit.  The Korean International Circuit at Yeongam is due to play host to the first GP of Korea on October 24th, but there's been talk of the place not being finished in time.  Well, I'm here to tell you that it sure as heck looks like the talk is true.  But first, here's the track map:

Okay, let's play "Guess The Track Designer," shall we?  Nah, what's the point, it's pretty obvious that Hermann Tilke's scat is all over the layout.  There is one series of turns that I'm fascinated with on here, Turns 4, 5 and 6.  I'm fascinated because I can't imagine anybody thinking that a hairpin followed by a tight 90-degree turn followed by another 90-degree turn in the opposite direction could possibly make for good racing.

I can see Tilke's design process at work here:  "First let's draw some straight lines.  Then I'll let the cat push a piece of charcoal around the paper.  Okay, that's the layout!"  Remember once upon a time I mentioned how all the good circuits in F1 had a flow to them, how one part of the track should lead to another in a natural, organic way?  Well, the KIC doesn't do that anywhere.  It honestly feels like Tilke set out to avoid that at all costs.

To make matters worse, there's much doubt in my mind as to whether or not the whole place will be finished in the five weeks remaining until race weekend.  "But Wonderduck," I hear you asking, "how do you know that???"  Well, allow me to show you an interesting picture:

This is the view of the main straight from right around where the start/finish line is marked on the trackmap.  That's the main grandstands on the left, the paddock area is to the right.  Does that look even remotely like someplace you'd want to go to to watch a race?  Does that grandstand look like it's completed?  Other structures around the track are much the same, looking like concrete shells with nothing inside, just the exterior walls.  The actual race track asphalt is laid, but the curbs, the runoff areas, everything that allows cars to race safely?  Missing or incomplete.  But don't take my word for it, just take a look at this video.

The race organizers and Red Bull had a demonstration run a couple of weeks ago using the 2008 Red Bull chassis and the FIA's super-hard demo tires.  Surprisingly, Cowboy Karun Chandhok was the driver (the usual RB drivers weren't allowed to run, as it'd be an unfair advantage, I guess).  The FIA and Hispania Racing, Chandhok's normal team, let him do it, which is a pretty clear indicator that we won't be seeing him again this year.  I can only imagine what he must have felt, actually getting into a real F1 car and being allowed to turn some laps. 

Anyway, watching that video just confirmed all my opinions from the track map: it looks like disaster-in-the-making, as far as racing goes.  Now driving the circuit looks like it'd be a blast, but that's not the same as racing around it.

We'll see in about five weeks.  Stay tuned.

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More Like This, Please

You know, if there were songs like this on top 40 radio, I'd listen a helluva lot more.

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September 15, 2010

Random Anime Picture #56: D'AAAAWWWWWWWWWWW!

-High School of the Dead, ep11

Who's a cute widdle warrior?  Alice is, Alice is a cute widdle warrior!  Yes she is!  Yes she is! 

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September 14, 2010

The Zsolt Comes For Another

Pedro de la Rosa stood outside the Sauber factory, surrounded by boxes filled with the contents of his desk.  He flinched slightly as two burly security guards slammed the gates closed with a massive clang, his mind recoiling from the finality of the sound.

Turning in place, the Spaniard raised a fist in the general direction of Peter Sauber's office, which was actually located somewhere towards the back of the building and thus out of sight from the little show of defiance.  "I still intend to be in F1 for the 2011 season, you trumped-up Swiss chocolatier!  I'll show you that you just made a terrible mistake, dropping me, Pedro de la Rosa, for that unshaven German Nick Heidfeld!"

From behind him, a quiet voice hissed, "At it again, are you?"  A frisson of cold terror ran up his spine.  His small lizard hindbrain started to wail in fear, but F1 pilots laugh at fear and danger.  It still took a supreme act of will from the recently released driver to turn from the gates.  What he saw turned his legs to pudding.

"Hello, Pedro.  Long time no see."  A small man, dressed in a black firesuit with the word Minardi embroidered across the chest and holding a black race helmet, stood before the recently fired man.  "You got away from me once.  What did I say to you then, do you remember?"

"That you'd be coming for me again."

"That's right, Pedro.  That I'd be coming for you again.  And now, there you are.  And here I am."

"I'll race in F1 again."

The figure in black laughed, a sound not unlike the gates of Hell opening.  "You're 39 years old, de la Rosa, and you haven't had a full year of racing under your belt since 2002.  You only got in the points once this year, while your teammate has scored five times.  And then there's your role in the whole StepneyGate saga.  What team is going to want you as a driver after all that?  I hear USF1 is hiring.  No, Pete, you're mine now, and you won't get away from me again."  The figure in black lifted his helmet to his head, then paused for a second.  "If you're lucky though, you might get to run one of those radio-controlled cars you were so good at once."  Then the helmet was on, covering the dark face.

Coming from inside the helmet, the voice of the figure in black sounded sepulchral as he moved towards de la Rosa.  "Some of us only got one go at F1, and we had to buy our way in.  You got a second chance, Pete.  You got a second chance after testing for McLaren all those years, and you screwed it up.  You screwed up your second chance, and how?  By being slow, Petey-boy, by being slow.  And you really expect to get a third shot?"  The Zsolt pulled on his racing gloves, and from somewhere the theme music from The Exorcist began to quietly play.  "Never again, de la Rosa.  Never again." 

He slammed the visor down with the sound of a thousand garbage trucks falling off a cliff.  "I'm am definitely going to enjoy this."

Then the screaming began. 

By the time the security guards got to the gate, there was nothing to be seen.

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September 13, 2010

Current Engine Usage

Okay, as of the end of the Italian Grand Prix, here are the number of engines used:

Felipe Massa and HWMNBN: 7
Pete Rose: 9
Robert Kubica and Vitaly Petrov: 5

If a driver isn't one of the above, they've used six of their eight engines so far.  Of course, Pete Rose will suffer a 10-spot grid penalty for every race now, for there's no reason for him not to use a new engine every time out. 

It is perfectly legal for a driver to use an engine that ran in a prior race.  For example, Mark Webber used his Spa engine at Monza.  So if the Ferrari boys want save their last fresh engine for Abu Dhabi and put their Monaco powerplant in for Singapore, it's quite legal. 

Guess the Renault wins the reliability award for the season.

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September 12, 2010

F1 Update!: Italy 2010

For the tifosi of the team of the Prancing Horse, this was the dream setup.  Ferrari on the pole, at their ancestral home of La Pista Magica, with their lead driver in combat for the driver's championship.  But would the church bells be ringing in Maranello, or would the dream end up a nightmare of epic proportions?  THIS is your F1 Update! for the 2010 Grand Prix of Italy!

*BAD DREAM: When the lights went out to begin the race, the McLaren of Jenson Button lept off the starting line, just slightly faster than the Ferrari of HWMNBN.  As the two drivers sprinted down to the ridiculously tight first chicane, the Spaniard tried to intimidate the Brit by sliding down on him.  When the defending Driver's Champion didn't budge, it became a simple drag race.  The problem arose when it became clear that by dodging across the track, HWMNBN had lost a small amount of forward momentum.  It might have been just a handful of feet, but it was enough.  As they entered the chicane, the silver McLaren had the advantage, the racing line, and by the end of the chicane, the lead.  A small bump from the nose of the Ferrari took off a small piece of the McLaren's rear end, but neither car seemed particularly affected.  Just as in Quals, Button's car was substantially faster in the turn-heavy (well, as turn-heavy as any part of Monza can be) second sector of the circuit, while losing time to the Ferrari on the long straights.   The upshot of it all was that Button opened up a 6/10th of a second lead over the red car... and there it stayed.  It would fluctuate a tenth here or there, but for all intents and purposes neither man could get away from the other.

*NIGHTMARE: Away from the leaders, Hispania's DJ DNF was having communications problems.  His radio malfunctioning, on Lap 24 he came into the pits for his tire change and a radio technician practically jumped into the cockpit with him to work on the electronics.  The pit stop went cleanly with the new rubber being slapped on smartly, and the lollypop man quickly cleared DJ DNF to pull back into the race.  Except there was one problem: the radio tech was still leaning over the cockpit.

(The FIA removed the video after one day)
Very quickly, an ambulance was summoned into the pits, closing access to the pit lane while the race continued on.  He was taken to the infield hospital with minor injuries... a case where looks really do deceive because if you base your opinion on the video, the guy is dead.  (UPDATE: I included the video here simply because the F1 cameras never showed the incident.  If the Legendary Announce Team hadn't have mentioned it, we never would have known.)

*DREAM ON:  With the pitlane closed, everybody was forced to keep circulating.  Up front, the two leaders may as well have been connected to each other with a bungee cord; the lead would increase, then contract, then boing back up again, but never more than 6/10th of a second.  It became obvious that barring incident, the pit crews would decide this race.  On Lap 37 Button came in.  It took the McLaren mechanics 4.2 seconds to slap on the new tires and get their man back out on track, rejoining the race in third.  The next lap, it was the turn of HWMNBN.  He was stopped for only 3.6 seconds, the fastest pit stop of the race, and came out of the pits just barely ahead of the silver car.  Button tried to get past in the first chicane but couldn't quite pull it off.  When Massa came in on Lap 39, HWMNBN took over first place, a position he would never relinquish, eventually winning by a scant 2.9 seconds over Button, with Massa crossing the line just over a second later.  One begins to wonder if the small amount of damage that Button suffered in the first chicane back on Lap 1 made any difference to the aerodynamics of the car.  It didn't have to be much, just about a tenth of a second total over the first hour or so, for that might have been the difference between the two when HWMNBN came out of the pits.

*MEANWHILE:  One Red Bull driver was having a bad day.  Mark Webber had another patented Red Bull Lousy Startâ„¢, dropping from 4th on the grid to 9th in a heartbeat.  He eventually climbed back up to 6th, but had to be frustrated.  Seb Vettel, on the other hand, slogged around and around, driving as hard as he could without doing anything stupid or stunning.  Car after car ahead of him pitted while he kept going and going.  Eventually, he found himself in 4th place with a nearly 20 second lead over Nico Rosberg's Mercedes... but it was Lap 52 of 54, he hadn't made his mandatory pitstop yet, and the pit "bogey time", or the total time it takes to drive into the pitlane, stop, make the tire change, then get back out onto the track was right about 20 seconds.  On Lap 53, he dove in fast, smoking his tires as he slammed on the brakes to make the pit lane speed limit, made his stop and re-entered the track... just ahead of Rosberg.  He ended up a surprising 4th in a car that really wasn't that good on this track.

*DRIVER OF THE RACE:  For perhaps the first time, this award is going to go to two drivers.  Both HWMNBN and Jenson Button drove their hearts out today, getting absolutely the best out of their vehicles.  That the two cars were set up to specialize in different parts of the course, yet ended up less than a second apart for the first 40 laps, just highlights the skill both showed.  Without a doubt, both deserve the award, and for providing an incredibly tense race both get it.

*TEAM OF THE RACE:  Ferrari.  First and third on the podium, and the race won by the mechanics?  That's a team victory, and there's no way any other team deserves this award more than the boys from Maranello.

*MOVE OF THE RACE:  There were surprisingly few passes on track today, so without a doubt this has to go to the Ferrari pitcrew.  When McLaren got their man in and out in 4.2 seconds, they knew that they had a chance to decide this one.  Everything went like clockwork, and they gained their car about 150 feet of track distance over their competitors.  It couldn't have gone better, and made all the difference in the world.

*MOOOOOOO-OOOVE OF THE RACE:  While we here at F1U! are not fond of giving the Mooooooo-oove to something that occurs during the chaotic events of any Grand Prix's first lap, we're making an exception today.  Lewis Hamilton qualified 5th and jumped to 4th by default when Mark Webber had another in a long line of Red Bull Lousy Startâ„¢s.  Heading into the first chicane, the two Ferraris were side-by-side into the narrow first turn, yet Hamilton thought he could get himself some of that action.  He got his front wing alongside Felipe Massa's cockpit, and his front-right tire just in front of Massa's left-rear, but only just.  When Massa either accelerated slightly, or Hamilton slowed a touch, there was contact; the impact pushed the McLaren's suspension forward.  Now, carbon fiber is a ridiculously strong material, but it has an odd property... it's only strong in the direction that it's woven to be strong in, unlike a steel rod which would have the same amount of strength no matter which way forces are applied to it.  The result was predictable.

His front suspension broken, the man leading the Driver's Championship was out of the race before he reached the second turn.  Now he's behind Mark Webber.  A questionable decision to knock yourself out of the championship lead?  Good job, Lewis, here's your Moooooooo-oove!



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September 11, 2010

Lest We Forget...

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