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Sturgeon's House


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Everything posted by Zinegata

  1. None except maybe Dubai, but they're one tiny island with a ton of infrastructure that's surrounded by states in danger of imploding.
  2. The Manila food scene sadly still hasn't caught up, in large part because most restaurants here used to emphasize ambiance and customer space over the cooking areas. When people are more concerned about the family name of the owner than the quality of the food. It's changing though, and for the better, particularly due the influx of Japanese restaurants who carried over the same sort of restaurant discipline in Tokyo; which in turn seems to be attracting all sorts of international talent as we have a growing pool of line cooks who've learned from the early entrants and know how to cook a scrambled egg properly. I'm not sure about the coastline thing in Japan though. They seem to like consolidating their catches into a handful of big fish markets, the most famous of which is Tsukiji (which I managed to visit). While this may result in rather "cookie cutter" food, I must say I was impressed by how efficient Tsukiji was and how they used every scrap of the fish; on top of the bewildering variety available.
  3. MREs are not actively bad, but we are talking about long-term preservation food which means it will never be as good as properly cooked food. Cooking is ultimately about controlling the amount of heat that gets into food; which means you need to watch the food and make sure it gets the right heat depending on a variety of vague factors - like the outside temperature, air pressure, and the quality of your pots, pans, and heating element. It's the difference between a seared steak and a lifeless one. This is why it's often considered an "art" - you can't just follow the recipe and expect the exact same result every time in every place. Making long-term preserved food is primarily industrial chemistry; because you're mass producing the stuff and making sure it's immune to decay. But that also deprives the food of a lot of its character; which is why to compensate they just load up on the sugar or salt content to make it more palatable.
  4. An observation about food in Japan: They love food prep spaces more than they love profit margins. Many of the places I ate in had bigger kitchens than eating areas. This included chain stores like Matsuya or Yoshinoya. Most were also open to the public so you can watch them cook your food - including to an extent McDonalds. Japanese food is not necessarily great. But it is good because it is consistent. You will simply not get a bad meal in Japan because the chef has no excuse for lack of elbow room. The bad ones can be easily spotted by the customers and were forced to commit ritual suicide long ago. If you don't like something you ate in Japan, it's almost certainly a palette issue. Also, there is a ridiculously cheap 1 star Michelin joint in Shinjuku that specializes in Sardines. Paid Y1,500 for Sardine Sashimi and breaded sardines. It's a great demonstration of how a tiny, disciplined cooking crew (just 4 guys and 1 waitress) can serve 20+ people at a time and do amazing things with cheap, oily, and smelly fish.
  5. Looks like my next vehicle is going to be Korean - a Hyundai 2016 Tucson.
  6. Oh, and I've been "discussing" the topic of multirole FFGs with someone on the WoWS who is supposedly a former FFG skipper. And he insists that all of the bad examples like the British constantly losing ships in the Falklands are just flukes caused by human error. If he was there instead of the incompetents it would all be fine.... even though he only has around 60 seconds to out-math a missile guidance computer that processes targeting calculations several times faster than a human can. Because apparently he has the power to slow down 60 seconds to become an infinity in AAW.
  7. Yeah, I meant SeaRAM. Bloody RIM/RAM missiles confusing me! And yeah the Koreans have their own Burkes too. One thing I haven't covered yet with regards to the smaller ships is the effect of drones to the equation. There is a school of thought that posits the creation of a drone-carrying ship that can replace the multi-role combatant. Thing is I don't think the small ships can really carry enough to be super-effective against other top-tier navies; especially since the Russians and Ukrainians are now showing how you can EM and hard-kill each other's drones with sufficiently advanced tech. So my sense is that drones will be mainly complementing, and perhaps eventually replacing, helicopters. Figure that hangars meant for one helicopter can now carry three or four drones instead; which is very useful against pirates with no real EM or AA capability. Against a serious enemy, you'll need a sufficiently large drone wing to deal with attrition and that means something like the 20,000 ton Japanese "destroyers". Finally, and this is utter naval heresy, I still think there's a niche for a 4,000-5,000 ton "patrol" ship for 3rd World Navies; which would be much better and more useful than the multi-role frigates everyone is buying now. The ship will have small but efficient engines - sacrificing speed down to 20 knots if necessary. They will have a grand total of one deck gun as armament, and have no sonar system and only navigational radars. However they will try to fit as many helicopters (and later drones) as possible in the largest hangar possible - along with the necessary C&C space to direct the air wing - with the idea being this ship will specialize in being the airborne eyes and ears of smaller 1,000-ton craft whose job is primarily S&R or hunting smugglers and pirates. An enlarged LCS could have been this ship, but some idiot wanted that 40 knot ZOOM ZOOM speed.
  8. It's a bit more of the Russians can't build anything bigger than a corvette anymore. Since 2000 their biggest new surface combatant was a frigate, and those took on average five years to complete. By contrast the Burkes were averaging around 18 months by the end of the last run. China is the only one seriously building large numbers of surface combatants, but a lot of effort went on smaller 4,000-7,000 ton ships. That they were already thinking of making a 10,000 ton ship in 2014 - or just two years after the first of their 7500 ton Type 52Ds were laid down - tells me they're beginning to realize the damn things are too small to do everything they want an upsize to Burke standards was necessary.
  9. German LMG tactics weren't overrated, but the MG-42 itself is. People keep forgetting that the MG-34 served for much longer and was still heavily used all the way to 1945 even by the infantry. There's actually an OSS video from 1943 or 1944 on Youtube which describes German infantry squad tactics. And they correctly noted that the German LMG was very likely to be an MG34 rather than the 42. By contrast pretty much all games and Ambrose-level "documentaries" or "history books" will plug the MG-42.
  10. xthetenth mentioned it but we're both rather skeptical of the idea. Honestly I'm much more inclined to believe the ZOOM ZOOM explanation wherein some speed freak naval officer managed to harangue the requirement into the design.
  11. So this is a bit of an outgrowth of my comments on the LCS... Corvettes and Cruisers - Surface Combatants in 2015 and Beyond The year 2015 is an interesting time for the oft-forgotten surface combatants - corvettes, frigates, destroyers, and cruisers - which are used to operating under the shadow of aircraft carriers that have dominated naval combat. On the Western side, you have numerous sources in the Internet reporting doom and gloom for the American Navy, citing warship shortages compared to a growing Chinese Navy. Even the Russian Navy, which mostly remains underfunded, is featured in sensationalist articles like this one: http://theweek.com/articles/583294/tiny-russian-warship-just-shocked-world Which question how small Russian warships are able to carry many more missiles than much larger American warships. The problem, unfortunately, lies with the lack of naval knowledge among the general news media and the public. Sensationalism and trivia tend to override context and timelines in the search for more viewers and clicks. Fortunately, that's why this article exists to set things straight. The Myth of the Declining American Surface Fleet One of the most enduring and popular misconceptions on the Internet is the idea that the American surface fleet is declining. Too much focus is placed on the problems of the navy's two latest ship designs - the Zumwalt and the Littoral Combat Ship - while commentators whose naval knowledge is limited to playing Harpoon wax nostalgic about the days of a massive US Navy that had dozens of cruisers and frigates. All of this tends to disguise a startling revelation: The US surface fleet is in fact incredibly strong now; and is more powerful than it was in the 90s. The key really, which everyone doesn't seem to notice, is the US Navy's concentration on a single, proven warship type: The Arleigh Burke class. There are now 62 of these powerful warships serving in the US Navy, half of which only joined the fleet after the year 2000. This production run in fact exceeds the production run of any US warship for the past 30 years - the Knox class frigate for instance had only 36 units, while only 51 of the "cheap" OH Perry class were built for the USN, And that's not even the end of the run yet. An additional 14 units had already been authorized - to make up for the cancellation of most of the Zumwalts - with potentially thirty more to be ordered. It may in fact come to pass that the Arleigh Burke's production run would exceed a hundred; which is quite an investment given that these are 10,000 ton warships that are more equivalent to World War 2 cruisers than the 2,000 ton destroyers from the same era. Yet even with the existing run of 62 ships the production of Arleigh Burkes had in fact already outweighed the production total of the OH Perry class (which was half the weight of a Burke) and the Spruance class - the two ship classes they were really meant to replace. So while the total number of ships may have decreased, in terms of tonnage the fleet's overall weight in fact increased - while lowering manpower cost. The Burkes are also simply much better ships than the old frigates and destroyers because of the improved AEGIS sensors and the versatility of its VLS system; which can load many different types of missile depending on its mission. A single Burke for instance could theoretically carry 96 SAMs for air defense or 96 Tomahawk missiles instead - the latter loadout being four times more cruise missiles that the Russians fired on Syria using their four small ships. An old OH Perry by contrast could only carry 40 short-ranged SAMs and a handful of anti-ship missiles in its main missile magazine. Moreover, the numbers of Arleigh Burkes available - alongside the twenty-two original AEGIS cruisers, give the US a grand total of eighty-four top-of the-line escorts. Compared to the nineteen US Navy Supercarriers and Marine carriers, the USN in fact has enough to provide four of AEGIS escorts per carrier. China by contrast has a mere dozen Type 51 and 52 destroyers that come close in weight class - but not in capability - as the Burkes. Indeed, their only match unit per unit are the six Kongo and Atago class ships of the Japanese SDF - who are of course American allies! In this context, it also becomes easier to see why much of the "controversy" around the Littoral Combat Ship is misplaced. Many of its critics want it to be as capable as the outgoing OH Perry class frigates. What these critics don't realize is that the replacement for these ships were in fact the dozens of new Arleigh Burkes. The LCS was instead meant to fill the roles that the Burkes could't perform - and in doing so they spelled the doom of the 4,000 ton frigates. The Death of the 4,000 ton Frigate A perennial problem in amateur warship discussion is the insistence of many commentators on the need for particular ship types. "We need cruisers/destroyers/frigates", often uttered without realizing what the particular ships were actually meant to do. This applies to the 4,000 ton "multirole" frigate - which is an enormously popular type of warship worldwide and the OH Perry is an exemplar of this type. In essence, the multirole frigate promises decent all-around capability at an affordable cost. However, for the present-day US Navy, there is no place for the multi-role frigate. The Burkes served as carrier escorts and independent cruisers for showing the flag in dangerous hotspots. The LCS meanwhile was a utility ship in a carrier battle group, or a low-intensity combat ship for showing the flag in safer waters. There was no space in between for a multirole frigate. And that's because the well-loved frigate was in fact always riddled by compromise. It simply could not be good at anti-air combat, anti-submarine combat, and surface combat with only 4,000 tons displacement. Specialist ships meanwhile - such as the Knox - could not operate independently because they could not deal with all possible threats they encountered. Even the idea that they could serve as "backup" for the primary carrier escorts proved problematic, particularly in anti-air combat. Experience in the Falklands showed that having multiple average SAM systems operating independently was problematic - you had mere minutes or even seconds to coordinate your defense volleys which proved impossible with multiple ships; leading to the possibility that some of the enemy aircraft/missiles were left un-engaged. Long-ranged SAM systems also tended to be radar-guided leading to the possibility of the escorts interfering with each other's radar. The solution was a centralized and computerized SAM system on a single ship with a powerful radar - the AEGIS system on the US cruisers and the Burkes. Indeed, so powerful was this system that the Americans quickly scrapped their remaining non-AEGIS air defense cruisers while the OH Perry class was allowed to lose their SAM systems - it was better to have a handful of AEGIS ships doing air defense than a lot of lesser ships. Interestingly, the only type of SAM system that would complement AEGIS was the short-ranged RIM; which was an IR-guided weapon that did not interfere with other ship's radar while providing last-ditch defense against an enemy missile that got through the long-ranged SAM volleys of AEGIS. It was probably not a coincidence that RIM was the only SAM system equipped on the LCS; while all of the US Navy's remaining carrier escorts were large AEGIS ships. Meanwhile, anti-submarine combat had also progressed. The Knox and OH Perry class were designed with the idea that the warship itself may have to engage an enemy submarine in direct combat; which is why it had its own anti-submarine torpedo tubes and the ASROC launcher. The speed of nuclear submarines and their own guided torpedoes had long made this approach suicidal however, hence the switch to using helicopters to attack submarines without fear of retaliation. With this in mind, the only contribution of a multirole frigate in anti-submarine warfare was its helicopter pad - a helicopter pad also present on the LCS. In short, the problem with the multirole frigate was that too much of its systems had become dead weight. Its SAM systems were more of a liability if it were not up-to-date, and the anti-submarine weapons redundant in the context of using the helicopter for submarine hunting. Indeed, it could be considered wasteful to use multirole frigates in carrier battlegroups since some of their tasks were so mundane - such as the "plane guard" whose mission was to pick up any pilots who may have crashed into the sea while trying to land on the carrier. Is it really necessary for a 4,000 ton frigate with a large number of weapons (most of which it cannot use while so close to the carrier) to be saddled with this role, or is better for a smaller, cheaper vessel like the LCS whose sole anti-air weapon can be used to defend the carrier? Quiet New Dreadnoughts: Corvettes and Cruisers Put together, the Burke and the LCS both point to two emerging trends in surface combatants; as well as the dangerous continuation of many navies down the path of the multirole frigate. First, the Burkes showed it was possible to have a powerful surface combatant theoretically capable of surviving heavy air attack (theoretical as the system has never been tested fully in combat) that nonetheless retains sufficient anti-surface and anti-submarine punch. However, this design requires the ship to be nearly 10,000 tons. The Chinese Type 52D for instance is now around 7,500 tons in weight compared to the original Type 52's 6,000; and the future proposals are definitely looking at a 10,000 ton design. The British Daring class had an even more dramatic size increase, doubling in size from the previous Type 42s. All of these ships are equipped with VLS with actual or theoretical capability to load multiple types of missiles for different missions. These 10,000 ton "Destroyers" are more rightly classified as "cruisers" given they are also capable of independent action in addition to serving as escort; and their presence spells the obsolescence of the 4,000-5,000 ton "multirole" frigate. The new 10K Cruisers can simply do everything the frigates are supposed to do and better except in terms of acquisition cost; which is why the frigate will remain primarily with budget-stricken navies trying to pursue paper advantages at a discount. The higher-end Corvettes like the Sa'ar V, which are even more cash-strapped implementations of the multirole frigate that also sacrifice seakeeping, may also soon suffer the same fate. Meanwhile, new 1,000-3,000 ton corvettes like the LCS will be developed to fill the existing gap in warships suitable for low-intensity conflict or mundane tasks with a battlefleet. Given the cost of the 10K cruisers these smaller ships will focus not on packing as many weapons or capabilities as possible, but focus on a handful of roles at the most efficient possible cost. These ships will be characterized by omitting features seen by traditionalists as "standard" pieces of equipment - kept "just in case" - but for the most part really only add to the operating cost of the ship in the long run. Of course future technological developments may result in new ship types and capabilities - including perhaps a renewed interest in long-ranged naval gunnery. However, I suspect that many of these new technologies will simply be incorporated in the large cruisers and then the smaller corvettes as necessary; and that these two core types will serve as the basis of future surface combatants for the world's fleets.
  12. I'm not terribly impressed by the Saudi ships honestly, because as usual the article talks all about the toys added into the hull without talking about operating range. It's relatively easy to load a small hull to the gills with various toys and weapons so long as they're only meant to operate very close to your coastline. The Israelis already did it with the Sa'ar V and what nobody ever points out about these boats is that they've never operated far beyond Gaza and their operating range (and crew endurance) is a lot of theory. Moreover I really have to question the utility of most of the added toys to begin with. A launcher with 64 Sea Sparrows sounds really nice except that the Sea Sparrow is really short-ranged and can never replace an AEGIS as an air-defense platform (and this is before we get to the fact the real solution to an air superiority problem is to deploy a carrier - SAMs are just a stopgap). Despite what the article claims, the Sea Sparrow realistically is just a self-defense system with an overly excessive ammunition count, since Sparrows aren't fire-and-forget and need shipborne guidance (limiting the number of missiles in the air). If faced with a really heavy air attack, the Saudi LCS won't be able to put up enough guided missiles into the air to survive. When faced with a small air attack, it may be sufficient but renders most of the high ammunition count pointless. Indeed, I'm extremely leery of a VLS missile system that can only engage enemy targets 30 miles out - an Exocet can travel that distance in about 2 minutes and needing every intercepting missile turn mid-flight before engaging the vampire is probably going to end with the defending ship blown up. It's also telling that they repeat the same mistake as the Israelis - who also installed a 64 missile SAM pack on the Sa'ar V (Barak missiles). Despite this impressive theoretical defensive capabilities a missile still got through in 2006 and nearly sank one of the Sa'ar Vs. The LCS actually makes a lot more sense just having a much smaller number of RIM SAM onboard for CIWS. Had the Saudi boat gotten a CIWS gun system on top of the RIM, I'd be more impressed - because that would make much more sense for a boat capable of self-defense against low-intensity surprise air attacks. Most of the other ASuW capabilities are kinda meh. Harpoons are kinda old and I doubt that they can go through the missile defenses of the combatants deserving to be fired at by one of them (e.g. a modern Chinese Destroyer). A lot of smaller missiles like the Hellfire actually made more sense because the LCS didn't have delusions of surface vs surface actions against major enemy surface units; it was always meant to pick on smaller craft. The bigger gun is more interesting, but there hasn't been an abundance of scenarios requiring the navy to use its guns to begin with. ASW capability was improved, but without a proper towed sonar array like in the bigger destroyers and cruisers it will have limited detection capability and adding those six anti-submarine torpedoes are pretty much a complete waste of weight as no surface vessel wants to get within torpedo range of an enemy submarine. The helicopters are there for a reason - they can hunt subs without risk of retaliation - and that's the one capability the LCS has. In short, the Saudi LCS is trying way too hard to be a mini Oliver Hazard Perry; which sounds really good for an underdeveloped export market that has no real navy yet and wants all the shiny new toys on their ships. Problem is the OHPs were meant for a pretty specific Cold War scenario - which is blue-water convoying of merchies across the Atlantic in the face of Soviet submarine and air threats - and the Saudi LCS is only as good or even worse compared to the OHPs in virtually all regards. Worse, it doesn't recognize that the OHPs were deeply flawed ships in an age of supersonic anti-ship missiles where the tiny range of the SM-1 (even with upgrades) simply doesn't give it enough time to engage and shoot down the vampires. What you need is really long-ranged and accurate fire control radar on top of longer-ranged missiles. Only AEGIS and maybe the Horizon/Daring class gets you that in the West (and the Russians theoretically have this also on the old Kirovs). So why didn't they just get actual frigates to begin with (I'm pretty sure the Saudis have the money for them) that would have resolved all the shortcomings and maybe fit an actual good air defense system? The problem with the LCS program is that people keep trying to make these ships into full frigates or destroyers. That's not what they're for. All you really want from the LCS is that they get somewhere (accounting for the long distances the USN has to travel), and deploy its mission-specific helicopter. If it gets into trouble it has the minimum needed for self defense and evasion - not to stand up there and try to fight it out as though it was an Arleigh Burke (the Burkes would probably run too anyway). Bringing all of the other stuff like air defense when you're just fighting Somali pirates is a waste of resources. Every non-essential system removed adds to reaching its cost-effectiveness objective; even if it leads traditional thinkers to worry that they won't have a SAM system to defend the ship with "just in case". This is why the most important stat and benchmark of the LCS had always been operating cost - which is the bulk of the USN's cost. It was always about making the ship as cheap as possible to do the mundane jobs that didn't require an AEGIS (of which the USN has eighty-four in service - a mix of Ticos and Burkes - and anyone telling me there is a shortage when there are at most 19 US carriers on the roster including the Marine mini-carriers is crazy). And the jury is still out on that - if the operating costs end up being very high then and only then can the program be considered a waste. Oh, and I still have no bloody idea what the hell the 40 knot speed is actually for.
  13. Except the 8th Air Force claimed that the B-17 was more survivable which is why they wanted more B-17s rather than B-24s; even though it emerged that the prime determinant of bomber survival was in fact top speed to allow the bombers to better outrun enemy interceptors. There were serious studies done during the war showing that B-17s were better off ditching all the guns and gunner crew so they could fly higher and faster; but 8th Air Force was obsessed with its self-defending mythology and loved all the publicity from displaying "rugged" B-17s that returned despite being all shot up... and ignoring how planes like the Mosquito simply returned without fanfare and with lower losses despite perennially drawing the hardest and most dangerous assignments . Quite simply, the B-17's reputation is built out of a lot of outright lies by the Eight Air Force. Sure, it's still better than anything the Germans ever built, but it was terribly misused to a level of criminal negligence.
  14. Yeah B-17 wankers like to point out various flaws of the Liberator but at the end of the day the B-24 had a higher top speed which is the most important stat for a bomber's survival. But no, the Mighty Eighth continues to peddles its mythology.
  15. Yeah the Panzer III is better in those regards, but that comes at the price of being 15 tons heavier. Armor-wise they're actually very similar in thickness level and the gun is about as good as the Panzer III with the short 50mm. That's again a surprising amount of capability for something designed under one year using a lot of civilian parts. The SU-76 then pretty much rectifies most of the problems to begin with.
  16. It was unremarkable until you consider its extremely short design time (less than a year) and the use of a lot of "off the shelf" parts like the twin bus engines; and yet it was essentially the equivalent of a mid-range Panzer III which took nearly 3 years to design with only half the weight. It wasn't a great tank stat-wise, but from a design and manufacturing perspective it's a reflection of the Soviets being able to make do despite the massive industrial losses caused by Barbarossa. Indeed, I would say the T-70/SU-76 was the second most important tank in the Soviet arsenal, second only to the T-34; and was the most important vehicle in the critical year of 1942.
  17. Fireflies were definitely overrated. Trading more gunpower for poorer accuracy doesn't really help very much. Mustang is way overrated. There is a general idea that the P-51 was better as a fighter than the P-47, but in reality the later-model P-47s pretty much outperformed the Mustang in every way while the P-51 couldn't be anything more than a long-ranged light fighter. They were complementary systems. The Pershing's pretty overrated; as its engine issues were still a problem in the Korean War. I don't think the SU-152s were really considered for heavy anti-tank work except for the rush job at Kursk; and in any case the tank destroyer that was reknowned for cat-killing was the SU-100. Of course with Panzer General logic the Su-152 is the bestest TD you can upgrade to. On the reverse side of things, the Mosquito really needs more credit even though everyone already sings it praises - it was just that good and it demonstrates what really kept bomber pilots alive instead of the silly "self-defending" delusions. Armoured vehicle-wise the one everyone keeps forgetting is the T-70 / SU-76.
  18. The Martian was a much funnier movie than Interstellar for one thing. It speaks volumes that the funniest and most interesting characters in Interstellar - as in the ones the geek group I watched with actually talked about afterwards - were the two box-shaped robots. Given how screwed up mankind is in Interstellar and how unlikable the whole damn cast is, the robot with unfulfilled dreams of enslaving humanity and becoming king of his new colony wins "Best Character in the Movie" award easily. Also, The Martian was very clearly written with the geek crowd in mind. Leather Goddesses of Phobos as a reference? Project Elrond and everyone getting it (including Jeff Daniels who is still clearly playing his Newsroom character only he now heads NASA after Atlantis Cable went under) except the PR girl? These bits were clearly written with a specific audience in mind.
  19. I actually liked the ending. Better than Mass Effect 3, where the problem was the concept and the betrayal of the game's main themes. MGSV clearly suffered from a rushed ending, but conceptually it was actually sound. Spoilers ahead: Essentially, MGSV really has five separate endings (one not completed), which fits with the open-world structure in the sense that an open-world is meant to have multiple story arcs instead of having just one overarching plot. And I think the endings make enough sense standing on their own, but with a bit of thinking they can be considered to have coalesced into one overall theme which I feel makes for a satisfying enough ending. To elaborate, let me go through the five different endings and the subtle points each has: 1) The "Revenge" Ending - in this ending Venom Snake and Kaz basically manage to take their revenge on Skull Face. This is often commented on as a rather unsatisfying ending, because after being built up as a super-evil special villain it turns out that Skull Face was, in a word, a loser. He was someone who held a grudge against Big Boss and Major Zero simply because he wasn't good enough to be anything but the clean-up crew. Which is why we don't even kill him in a boss fight - he just gets squished by some debris and ends up begging for death. Instead of being killed however, Kaz and Venom basically dismember him while leaving him alive in agony - and it's up to Huey to finally finish off with a pretty insincere-sounding celebratory cry of "Revenge!" That said, the whole narrative actually makes sense, which is surprising for an MGS game, if you consider that the theme here is not "revenge", but how "revenge is hollow". Revenge for its own sake brings no catharsis or satisfaction. Indeed, it often simply ends up being farcical, as demonstrated by Huey's rather pathetic mercy-kill of Skull Face. This is why it is different from justice - which is supposed to bring real catharsis to injustice. 2) Quiet's Love Story - surprisingly for all of the fan service, Quiet's story ends on a very beautiful bittersweet note that revolves around a lost love. Quiet drew a lot of controversy in the beginning, and she is over-sexualized for most of the game, but she does have two moments in particular that ended up humanizing her. The first was the "playing in the rain" scene, which at first seemed sexualized, until Quiet suddenly turns the tables and begins to play with a level of child-like innocence that Venom Snake responds to with warmth. It's the first real indication that Quiet and Boss are falling in love with one another. But what really sells it is her final mission and aftermath. As Quiet is guiding Pequod (the helicopter pilot) to save Venom Snake's, Pequod reacts with palpable joy when he realizes that it is Quiet who was guiding him. This is a very clever but subtle moment, as it's the first time anyone has actually reacted to her as a person other than Venom Snake. Always, she was treated as a weapon, as a danger, or as a freak. Pequod's reaction was in many ways giving the player permission to finally see her as a person too. And then she's gone. Permanently. With no way to bring her back. And it's as though videogames finally remembered that for a lost love to be meaningful, then it has to be permanent and not something that can be reversed with a DLC. 3) The Phantom Episode - It's now well-known that there was a "missing" mission that was planned but never included, and a lot of people feel that its exclusion really made the game worse (I would argue the bigger problem is the repetition of older missions to pad the game out). However, on watching the cut mission's demo reel I can understand why it was the mission that was cut. At the end of the day, it was only reinforcing concepts already elaborated in the other four endings; particularly in the last two endings which really form the core of The Phantom Pain. The folks who got shafted were mainly those who wanted a "cleaner" continuity that showed how Eli - who was really Liquid Snake - ended up hating the Boss so much leading to the events of Metal Gear Solid. 4) The End of Innocence - the most powerful scene in The Phantom Pain happens in the mission when you're forced to shoot your own soldiers. You have to shoot them or else the world pretty much ends. It reaches its climax when you get to the last group of soldiers - hiding in the basement - who decide to face death with dignity and allow themselves to be killed. It's a powerful scene not only because of the tragic devotion showed by your ordinarily nameless mooks, but by the added touch of having the soldiers humming a tune before they shoot them: It's the Peacewalker song. The song, which is a really upbeat tune otherwise, reflected the much lighter tone of the preceding Peacewalker game. Before Phantom Pain the Big Boss series of games was much more happy and innocent than the serious and often sad tale that The Phantom Pain had become. Killing the soldiers and ending their humming was in many ways a symbolic end of that era. Now, Kotaku complains that this ending was robbed of its meaning by the revelation that Huey had in fact infected the Mother Base soldiers; hence "absolving" Venom Snake from murdering his own men. The thing is, the ending showed not only the end of innocence, but how delusionally clinging to innocence can be so destructive. Huey, despite all the evidence showing that he was the cause of the massacre, denies his complicity to the very end. He denies murdering his own wife and trying to use his own son as a weapon despite recordings demonstrating otherwise. Kaz notes bitterly, upon Huey's exile, that people outside of Mother Base would likely even believe these outright lies. By contrast, Venom Snake doesn't cling to innocence. He doesn't take the easy way out and blame Huey. He instead takes responsibility for shooting his own men, and insists that the actions are his alone. In short, he shows that the end of innocence may not be a bad thing, but instead be the start of the acceptance of responsibility. And there's a measure of brillance to this approach as it shows why accepting responsibility is so hard - it's easier to blame others for something you did. 5) The Truth - And this all ties with the final twist of the ending, that reveals that Venom Snake was in fact just an ordinary soldier who was used as a body double for the real Big Boss. The ending is somewhat controversial for two reasons. First, there are those who felt that the "twist" was a cheap way to provoke reaction and screw with our minds. Second, it added to the perception that The Phantom Pain failed to show how Big Boss became the villain of the series - since this story wasn't about the real Big Boss at all. Both of these points of view, while having some merit, are mistaken. The "twist" was in fact a very subtle nod towards the player, because it is you, the player, who did all of the things that made the world think he was Big Boss. "You are Big Boss" was in fact a tacit, 4th wall-breaking congratulations from the Kojima team, rewarding the player for playing the game by affirming that it was their skill and effort that resulted in them becoming Big Boss. More importantly, from a plot perspective, it firmly establishes the real Big Boss' villainy: Because in the end Venom Snake was a victim of Big Boss. Venom Snake lost everything - his face, his love, and even his memories - all to serve the whims and wishes of another man. This is why Venom Snake, while initially smirking at Big Boss' affirmation, eventually comes to resent it before his final death in Outer Heaven. Now, those familiar with the series will probably complain that it didn't show how Big Boss went from being a hero to a villain. The problem, which relates to the "end of innocence" ending, is that most players don't realize that Big Boss had shown he was evil a long time ago: Namely way back in Metal Gear 3. At the end of that game, Big Boss defeats his mentor and love - the original Boss - and executes her in the field of white flowers. Compare and contrast this act to Solid Snake - who is considered by Kojima to be the real hero of the series, and who Big Boss declared as being the person who could have avoided all of the mistakes they had made in MGS4. Solid Snake, when faced with the opportunity to destroy Metal Gear, balked because he would also end up killing his friend Grey Fox. Even when commanded to by the player, Snake will repeatedly refuse and say he "can't do it". And that really shows the difference in character between the two men. Big Boss is generally better-liked by the fandom (and even Kojima from a writing perspective) because he had a much more jovial personality than the grumpy and nihilistic Solid Snake. But when push came to shove, Big Boss pulled the trigger and killed his love and mentor. Solid Snake refused to do so when faced with the same situation. That is why Solid was always the hero, and Boss was always the villain. Venom Snake, the player-character in MGSV, does not have a defined morality - but many indications are that he is in fact a born out of a more heroic mold like Solid Snake. He showed mercy to Quiet resulting in their tragic love story. He refused to kill child soldiers. He refused to judge Huey and murder him outright. He took responsibility for his actions. Hence, Venom Snake (and hence the player) was playing the part of a truly good person sacrificed in the name of holding up the reputation of a bad one. It is this tragic irony that makes TPP have an ultimately satisfying ending.
  20. It's not as though Monty would have benefited much from British tank experience to begin with. Instead, I'm convinced that the main reason why Monty is accused of being a "slow" or "cautious" general is because the British historical establishment is in denial about the reality of the British Army of the Second World War. The British Army was not, as often glorified, a professional army that was a wiser, more experienced version of the American Army. Instead as David French pointed out in "Raising Churchill's Army", the British Army was actually a morosely inflexible institution. It was still clinging to 19th Century belief systems that held that the liberal common soldierly could not be trusted and that only gentlemen could command them, resulting in a draconian command structure that frowned on individual initiative and innovation. In short, the British Army was in fact almost as bad as the Soviet Army when it came to junior officer leadership - with lots of officers just content to follow orders to the letter even if it led to calamitous results - because its aristocratic leadership actively condemned initiative. Montgomery's popularity among the troops - and his equivalent unpopularity among his peers - was in fact rooted in this reality. Monty had fought in the First World War and fought under the same stupid draconian structure. He knew this was why only the British Army had problems implementing infiltration tactics in that war - whereas the Germans, French, and even the Canadians implemented it successfully. Hence he understood the plight of the common soldier and the junior officers, who were chaffing under the increasingly incompetent Divisional and Corps-level leadership that nonetheless demanded total obedience from their subordinates. Monty was thus seen by the common soldiers and the junior officers as their advocate and champion against the bumbling generals. The generals in turn resented him because Monty was not shy about exposing their flaws and blunders. That said, Monty knew that the damage was already done. The junior officers could not unlearn their robotic obedience to orders with a wave of a wand; not after years of fighting under this model and certainly not with immediate subordinates who didn't believe in giving their troops initiative anyway. This is why Monty's plans always ended up being set-pieces and only very rarely involved fast-moving armored exploitation. Monty knew that his troops, or rather his Generals, Colonels, and Majors, didn't exhibit the level of initiative to make fast-moving armored exploitation operations work. That infamous incident at Nijmegan bridge - where the British stopped for tea while waiting for orders - was in fact the norm of the British army and British historians (aside from David French and a few others) have simply spent more ink trying to find excuses for these incidents rather than confronting that this was in fact a systemic problem. That same disdain for poor generalship is why Monty had such strained relationships with Ike and most of the American Generals. Ike, to be frank, was a terrible tactician and a bad strategist. Monty disobeyed Ike because he knew Ike was incompetent at moving armies around; and that Ike often concerned himself with political consequences rather than military ones. When Monty worked under someone who understood strategy and tactics, like Alexander, Monty behaved pretty well. His ego really came to the fore in incidents like the Bulge, where he was pretty much the only Allied general to not lose his nerve. By contrast one American Army general had a nervous breakdown, while Ike's HQ basically wasted the first 24 hours unaware of what was really happening. That these failures in American generalship rarely get mentioned in retellings of the Bulge point to how Monty was similarly made into a convenient scapegoat by American historians to disguise the failings of Eisenhower and his generals. In short, a good deal of Monty's bad press is due to people not realizing how flawed the British Army's command structure was, and of the overly bloated evaluations of Eisenhower's "leadership". With these factors into play, Monty really emerges as a solid, if not brillant commander working past the stupid limitations imposed on him by his nation and his commanders.
  21. More of based on a book written by a journalist (Krakauer) who was there during the disaster; which in itself apparently became pretty controversial in the mountaineering community because the author criticized one of the guides (Anatoli Boukreev). Essentially, Krakauer claimed the Boukreev turned tail and ran while his clients were still on the mountain. because Boukreev was trying to be macho and climbed without supplemental oxygen, leaving him too exhausted to help his clients. Boukreev's defenders point out that none of his clients actually died, he actually went up the mountain later and saved several people, and that he didn't use supplemental oxygen because the weight of the bottles would have tired him out. I think both sides are missing the simpler and inescapable fact that everyone was supposed to turn around and run (screaming like a little girl) back towards base camp by 2pm - whether they reached the summit or not - because they all knew days in advance that a massive storm was coming in. If they didn't turn back by 2pm, then they ran a very real chance of being caught in the said massive storm. Boukreev was thus criticized for being sane enough to try and get off the mountain before the storm hit, even though he stayed at the summit until after the deadline up to 2:30pm. Problem is, most members of the expedition WERE idiots who kept climbing to the summit way past the 2pm deadline, including the two lead guides who should have known better and should have told everyone to start running. Instead the two leads stayed until something like 4pm. Unsurprisingly, they both died along with several other people who stayed with them that high up when the storm hit. But Hollywood tends to shy away from pointing the finger at two dead guys, especially when one of them managed to call his pregnant wife to say goodbye so the audience can cry their eyes out. Drama beats reckless idiocy in Hollywood every time.
  22. Close enough, it was a messy furball and no one's entirely sure who hit who. It was more likely to be Chokai which was hit by the jeep carrier White Plains. Chikuma also very likely had her torpedoes blown up by 5 inch shells too, albeit it was probably a destroyer escort which scored the hit.
  23. Firing at short range with a fast torpedo is obviously more effective, but this has to be balanced against the risk of losing the launching craft. That's why the IJN built the torpedoes to have such a long range to begin with - so they could whittle away at the USN's numerical advantage at minimal risk to their own ships. That the IJN fell short of their pre-war hit expectations does not surprise me; most armed forces tend to over-estimate their hit rates in pre-war conditions anyway. It's worth noting in fact that at least one IJN cruiser was crippled then sunk when her torpedo mount was hit by a 5inch gun from a Jeep carrier - which demonstrates what happens when you try to close the range with dangerously unstable torpedoes still onboard.
  24. Bacon (crispy), Lettuce, Tomato, Cheddar Cheese, and Egg. Thomas Keller's BLT essentially. Also, margarine is heresy no matter the circumstance.
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