Category Archives: Today’s Failure

The Odd use of the Ferry Elyros is today’s failure

Built in 1997 by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (Full disclosure, I am presently employee as part of a time study student job at MHI Vestas, a joint venture), the Elyros is presently owned by the Greek shipping line ANEK Lines, nothing unusual so far.

Like a lot of ferries, the Elyros have changed name several times, owners several times, again, nothing to odd so far, just another standard RORO ferry that sail the Mediterranean, so what’s odd?

The odd thing, is that Elyros have the distinction of being a seat of government for a brief period in 2014, from the 2nd of September to the 25th, one of the civil war factions leased the ferry to house their legislative assembly, which means that at least for a while, using standard international protocol, the legislative capital of Libya was the Elyros itself.

Of course total failure of the Libya post-Gadaffi is a big chunky failure, so frankly it should never have been allowed to happen in the first time.

Junk Bonds and Drexel Burnham Lambert is today’s failure

So, for those of you who don’t know how bonds work, they basically come in different grades, AAA being the Bonds with the lowest risks, also those with the lowest interest, you get more they more risk you take, pretty standard mode of operation in the amazing world of finance.

So for instance bonds from for instance the Kingdom of Denmark are AAA bonds, corporate bonds from IBM or General Electric would usually be AAA, none of these instances are likely to go down in flames.

On the other end of the scale, you’ve got junk bonds, extremely high risk loans from companies that are basically a few steps away from being pornography studios and old school pawn shops, the interest rates are high, so obviously so are the profit, if the loaner can pay of course, which they couldn’t always do.

Now, Junk Bonds still exist to this day, but they true Golden Age was the age of Michael Milken of Drexel Burnham Lamber, the company itself was a shadow of former glories, a mid-range player in a world of giants, consigned to a slow but steady existence on the borders of the world of wealth.

Michael Milken knew people, people with money, and managed to literally network his way to starting an insane bonanza of Junk Bonds, backing the Leveraged Buyouts of the 80’s.

A Leveraged Buyout is a version of the Management Buyout, just with a lot more loans, a lot less secured, and sadly, the party of Leveraged Buyouts ended and Drexel ended up with a nice big pile of toxic junk bonds, you can probably guess the rest of that story.

Turns out that Milken had been “milking” the company for millions of dollars, taking kickbacks, the whole package of illegal shit you shouldn’t do. Drexel died, Milken got send to jail.

The story ends, with Michael Milken doing lectures on the dangers of Junk Bonds while enjoying all the money he somehow managed to keep.

Camp Century, Nuclear Powered ICE BASE!

Camp Century was yet another insane nuclear powered idea of the 1950’s US, “hey, let’s built a base under the ice of Greenland, so we can spy on the Soviets!”.

Awful idea in concept, really awful once they actually got started, sure, you can build a base inside of the ice sheet, that part worked flawlessly, it’s basically just a giant fucking igloo, nothing to spectacular there, just a matter of scale.

However, the heat and the power, now normally in Polar conditions, those would be provided by the magic of diesel generators, small, flexible and very reliable, they’ve been powering polar bases for just about a century by now, however, again, this is a REALLY big base.

Estimates from the US Army, showed that it would take a full MILLION barrels of diesel a year to keep Camp Century online, which even the US Army found a wee bit impractical.

So they asked the AEC (Atomic Energy Comission) to design and build a small, ultra simple, boiling water only, reliable and so foolproof even a US Army Private could operate Nuclear Reactor.

Which they did and then installed it in a giant underice base in the middle of the Greenlandic ice-sheet, without really asking the Danish Government, let alone the native Greenlanders, for permission.

Now all of this might have been forgivable, if better radars had rendered the spy part of the base utterly redundant by the time it was actually built.

Add the fact that the ice sheet is a basically a massive glacier, which moves and warps the tunnels, it didn’t take that many years until even the US Army realized just how stupid the whole concept was.

They buried a whole bunch of: Chemical waste (nasty shit) and radioactive waste (really nasty shit) and biological waste ( actual shit) and just left it there forever.

Until Global Climate changed started causing the ice-sheet to melt. That’s going to be fun to explain to the next generations: “Why is that fucking glacier bleeding radioactive literal human waste?”, “It was the fifties kid, what did you expect?”.

Camp Century failed in it’s primary objectives thoroughly and utterly, however, again and again, an unexpected benefit happened, ICE CORES, the scientist bored out an absolutely staggering amount of ice cores, giving us nice meteorological record stretching back millennia.

WeWork is today’s silly startup failure

So, for those who wonder what WeWork is, it’s someone who did a “I’m going to disrupt some old silly business practice and try something new!” business plan, not a bad idea out of the box mind you, if done properly and with a fair amount of luck.

Now, WeWork target was Office Renting, aiming to create fluid short-term rental agreement with smaller businesses and startups, meaning that small companies wouldn’t have to sign long-term rental contracts tieing them down to specific locations and spaces.

WeWork would essentially be a Serviced Office with Millennial nonsense* and short term agreements bolted onto it.

*By this I mean public “shared” spaces were the renters can easily network and what have you not, Google-style, with Pinball machines and ball-pits and dumb shit like that.

This does ignore the single most valuable reason to own real estate: “Long-term fixed rental income”, which is one of the reasons why renting is such good business, solid income for long terms, with nice deposits in case something goes bad.

WeWork also rents out meeting spaces and all that nonsense, but if you just need a meeting space, there are almost certainly a church, a local clubhouse, a school or some such operations that can offer you the same deal, probably at lovely low prices, sure, it doesn’t look fancy and there’s no Pinball machines, but still, frugality is a good thing.

The real issue here, is the fact that WeWork signs long-term renting agreements on their properties and then rents them out short-term, essentially assuming the brunt of the risk themselves.

Combine that with a whole bunch of rental shenanigans, where the now ex-founder and CEO Adam Neumann would buy buildings and then rent them to his own company, have a bunch of his family on the Board, change the companies name and then pay a company he owned for the rights to use the new name.

Also, massive overvaluation of the company have basically caused the whole company to be owned by Softbank of Japan and the founder and his ilk thrown out of the company.

The problem? Greed basically, hell, Neumann sold his stake just before he announced an IPO, so he almost certainly got his payoff, except to see him in a few years with some other “disruption”.

Oh yeah, and the usual sexual harassment accusations, made even more damning when the company changed it’s policy from “Unlimited Beer” to “Four Beers per day Max”, apparently nobody have told them to just not fucking harass people about their tits and/or lack thereof.

Softbank will either keep the company alive in a massively restructured way or liquidated the shit out of it.

The Ferdinand/Elephant is today’s annoyingly named failure

So before I relentless mock another stupid tank, I’ll just have to briefly explain how the Nazis handle military contracts, which always makes me feel ever so delightful, nothing like explain the contractual competition of the Third Reich to make one feel ever so snugly.

But I digress, the Nazis being giant horrible fans of Social Darwinism, a failed ideology only the mad, deranged and awful still believe in, actually did something that pretty much everyone else also did, put up a couple of companies, give them an objective, let’s say “A super-heavy tank that could kill Metal Gear”, wait, wrong franchise, “A REALLY BIG FUCKING TANK”, and then let them vomit out some prototypes.

The prototypes would compete against each other, Porsche would lose due to their drive train and transmission being goddamn stupid as fuck, and everyone else would generally win.

Porsche had this thing about gasoline-electric drive, which is essentially what modern hybrid cars have today, a gasoline engine driving an electric generator, which then drives electric motors, just without anything even vaguely looking like modern batteries.

Henschel & Son was the company who actually got the orders for the Tiger and the Tiger II, because their transmission wasn’t idiotic as fuck in the 1940’s, even if both of those tanks were notoriously under-powered and had reliability issues out the nose, those problems could be easily placed on the shoulders of Adolf “I like big tanks and I can’t lie” Hitler.

So the Ferdinand, which was it’s initial common name, the official name was Panzerjäger Tiger (P) and the ordnance designation was Sd.Kfz. 184, was basically the leftovers from Porsche’s failed big for the Tiger I.

One of two surviving Elephants, one held by the USA and one by the Russian Federation.

For some hilariously optimistic reason, Porsche had produced a hundred chassis for their version of the Tiger, both proposals used a Krupp turret you see, which with the vastly superior Henschel design being selected, were now just redundant junk.

But Hitler really like Ferdinand Porsche, so somebody decided to use the chassis for a really big Tank Destroyer instead, mounting the Tiger II’s nice big 88 gun (8.8 cm Pak 43 for you massive nerds).

He looks so harmless doesn’t he? He was Adolf Hitler’s favorite big dumb tank designer.

In a remarkable stroke of luck, the hybrid drive system was actually really easy to relocated the front of the chassis, seeing as it’s just a bunch of electrical cables, not a great big stonking drive shaft that needs moving, so the chassis could fairly easily be used for the Tank Destroyer Role.

Ninety-One were made, with an additional three being converted into recovery vehicles, and eighty-nine of them were baptized in fire and failure at the Battle of Kursk, the biggest tank battle of World War Two.

Now, to be fair, the Ferdinand’s gun was really amazing, at range, with support, however, the Ferdinand was slow as piss and kept breaking down and the repairs could only really be done from outside of the tank itself, it also had no machine gun for close defense.

So Soviet Infantry could take them out from the side, it also didn’t help that the Soviets had so many tank it didn’t really matter what the Ferdinand’s Kill/Death Ratio was.

Especially seeing as the massive weight (65 tonnes) required FIVE recovery tanks to pull it and the Germans never had enough of those.

Kurst was a failure and the fifty surviving Ferdinand would be recalled for reworks a few months later, 43 of them being refitted with a better commanders Cupola, a machine gun in a ball mount, improved grates on the exhaust and Zimmerit anti-mine paste (More than a few Ferdinand’s were lost to mines).

Hmm? What? Oh Italy.

The now renamed Elephant would continue to serve poorly to the end of the war, for some awful reason several were shipped off to the Italian theater, nobody bothering to check the freaking bridges and roads if they could handle a 65 tonnes heavy monster of a tank, surprise, they couldn’t, so the Elephants mostly just got stuck somewhere and were used as static defenses for a while.

The Elephant Tank Destroyer, great gun, shit everything else. The story of Nazi Germany in a nutshell. The Elephant I’d argue was an even worse tank than the Maus, mostly because more of them existed.

The Panzer VIII Maus was a big sodding failure

The Panzerkampfwagen VIII Maus, Mouse on English, was an abomination of a tank, a Super-Heavy tank and one of the few who ever left the drawing table.

Super-Heavy tanks tend to share something in common, they really weren’t that terribly viable as weapons of true mass warfare, expensive and inflexible, most of them were cancelled before they ever reached anything that even vaguely resemble a prototype, most only ever appear on paper.

The Maus was basically a project assembled by piece of technological marvel that Ferdinand Porsche had developed for his proposed version of what would later become the Tiger II heavy tank.

The Tiger II was fairly silly on the grander scale, the Maus was outright fucking stupid on even a smaller scale, 188 tons of massive monstrous weight, ten meters long, three point seven wide and three point six high.

Designed as a breakthrough tank, for a period when Nazi Germany had long ago stopped doing any sort of breakthroughs beyond pointless wonder weapons.

The thing is, the Maus was by no means the biggest tank ever planned by the Nazi, the Landkreuzer P. 1000 Ratte (Rat) was so large it would have required a shipyard to build, the Ratte would have clocked in at well over a thousand tons, utterly beyond dumb, however, if it had been build, the sheer amount of resources spent on it, would probably had ended World War Two much earlier.

The Maus’ true failure lies in the fact that it actually reached the Prototyping stages, two prototype hulls were constructed, the second of the two were destroyed in the final stages of the war, with it’s turret intact.

The first hull had been dispatched as a support vehicle, but never reach anything important, the Soviet’s mated the intact turret and the first hull together, using 18 cranes to achieve it, mostly for test purposes.

After testing, the only surviving Maus was transferred to the Kubinka Tank Museum, were it remains to this very day.

Don’t stick to your ideas, when it becomes painfully obvious how dumb they are, also when Adolf Hitler think’s it’s a good idea, run the fuck away.

There are holes in the front, from various tests of “How the hell do we fuck this thing up?”

Too Human was Too Failure

Too Human was a 2008 action roleplay game, that was supposed to merge Sci-Fi with ancient Scandinavian mythology, ignoring the fact that was essentially the entire concept of Marvel’s version of Thor and Odin, in an effort to make money.

Many of the developer’s fans did wonder why Silicon Knights didn’t bother making a sequel to one of their massive successes.

Instead they made a piece of shit.

Let’s Yatzhee do the rest really.

Now, the game was a failure in itself, however, there are another thing coming, a lawsuit. They sued Epic, back before Epic turned out to be anti-consumer monopolist twats, for “delivering a bad engine”, despite the engine being the Unreal engine, wildly recognize for being amazing.

In 2012, the judge order Silicon Knight to to destroy EVERYTHING related to the Unreal engine, which included Too Human and X-Men: Destiny and a whole bunch of dreams that Silicon Knights had had too.

So you can’t actually buy this awful game anymore or the X-Men game either, unless you manage to find a boxed copy somewhere out there, I wouldn’t personally recommend that you do that, and that comes from a person who own Stalin Vs. Martians.

Anglo-Zanzibar War is a short failure

The reasons for the Anglo-Zanzibar War are the usual British reason: “You don’t have a flag, you are now the property of the British Empire”.

Zanzibar was at the time a sultanate, having been founded by Omani slave traders in 1698, where ironically, they expelled the Portuguese colonists, history is full of little ironies like that.

Zanzibar was ruled by the Omanis until one of the usual dynastic struggles caused the separation, Zanzibar would continue as a sultanate under a cadet branch, with the main branch of the House of Al Said.

As part of the Heligoland–Zanzibar Treaty of 1890, Britain traded Heligoland, a tiny island in the North Sea full of Germans, in exchange for Zanzibar, become the islands full on protector.

In 1896 Khalid bin Barghash, who had recently become Sultan, tried to assert his independence.

The British didn’t care and declared war. A war that last from: 09:02–09:40 EAT (06:02–06:40 UTC), 27 August 1896.

The Sultan’s Harem, sorry, the Ruins of the Sultan’s Harem

That would be a thirty-eight minutes long war, the SHORTEST war ever fought between nations, resulting in around five hundred Zanzibar casualties, mostly civilians and one wounded British sailor.

The British then installed Hamoud bin Mohammed as the new sultan, the previous one was exlied to Saint Helena, even if he was allowed to return to East Africa much later.

The Zanzibar also lost the HHS Glasgow, a royal yacht, ironically named after the HMS Glasgow, less ironically in fact not at all, named after the City of Glasgow.

See those two things sticking out of the water? Yeah, that’s the HHS Glasgow, this picture was taken in 1912 too.

The lesson learned was don’t fuck with the British Empire prior to World War One.

The Sultanate of Zanzibar ceased to exist in 1964, the last Sultan now lives in Portsmouth.

Luis González de Ubieta y González del Campillo is today’s glorious and magnificent failure

Luis González de Ubieta (1899-1950) was the son of a forestry engineer, who joined the Spanish Republican Navy at some point after the end of the monarchy, and remained loyal to the Republic when the Spanish Civil War broke out in 1936, resulting in him being rapidly promoted upwards, seeing as a significant amount of naval officers joined Franco’s Falangists.

Not the best picture, but it’s the 1930’s in a country in chaos

In September 1938, after the disastrous Battle of Cape Cherchell in which the Republican Navy lost a strategically important convoy, he was promoted to Captain-General of the Republican Navy, the equivalent of a full Admiral of the Fleet, commanding officer and all.

Why? Because early that year, in march, Ubieta had successfully commanded his taskforce against Nationalist ships during the Battle of Cape Palos, using the torpedoes of his force, he successfully sank the Heavy Cruiser Baleares, unfortunately, it was to little, to late.

At the time he assumed command the Second Spanish Republic was already losing ground, his victory would mean little, beyond receiving the Laureate Plate of Madrid, the highest military honour of the Republic he so bravely served.

Spanish destroyer José Luis Díez

In January 1939, Ubieta was given command of Minorca, which surrendered in February, under massive pressure from the Nationalists and the locals on the island, hope was lost at this point, resistance was sadly futile.

He fled to France, until the invasion by Germany in 1940, forced him to Mexico, later he would settle in Venezuela.

He the tale could end, but it doesn’t.

At the start of the 1950’s, Ubieta, once in command of a navy, found himself in command of a Panamanian-flagged cattle transport named Chiriqui, sailing the waters of South America.

Franco’s power in Spain was now absolute, he had kept his nose out of World War Two and was awarded by not being invaded and obliterated by the Allies, a smaller Western Betrayal compared to the much larger Eastern Betrayal of the now Soviet Satellites states of the later Warsaw pact.

Luis González de Ubieta, an admiral without a fleet, a sailor without a nation, must have been devastated, knowing that he couldn’t return to Spain without the threat of almost certain execution, knowing that his beloved homeland was suffering under the tyranny of Franco, knowing that the Republic was dead.

I couldn’t actually find a picture of the Chiriqui, but it would have looked fairly similar to this ship.

On the 30th of December 1950, the Chiriqui sunk near the mouth of the river Magdalena in Colombian waters, having ensured the safety of the crew, Ubieta refused rescue.

The Captain goes down with his ship, in his last moments, he seized his destiny and went out as a proper naval officer, it wasn’t under fire, but it would have to do.

And thus Glorious Failure was had.

SimCity 2013 is just the saddest little failure

SimCity 2013, from 2013, is not the real name of this particular videogame, it is in fact simple named “SimCity”, this is a lie, SimCity was released in 1989 and is one of the classical bedrock videogames of an entire generation of poor bastards.

It was a massively successful series of video games, all about building a city, supplying it’s inhabitants with services, designing the layout of the city and generally being solid simulators.

The intial 1989 game has been released on just about everything:

  • Acorn Archimedes
  • Acorn Electron
  • Amiga
  • Amstrad CPC
  • Atari ST
  • BBC Micro
  • Browser
  • C64
  • CDTV
  • DESQview
  • DOS
  • EPOC32
  • FM Towns
  • iOS
  • Linux
  • Mac OS
  • Mobile phone
  • NeWS
  • OLPC XO-1
  • OS/2
  • PC-98
  • SNES
  • Tk
  • Unix
  • Windows
  • X11 TCL
  • X68000
  • ZX Spectrum

Not bad eh? In 1993 a sequel was released in the form of SimCity 2000, which I never played as a child, my graphics card couldn’t handle 256 colours, on 16.

Followed in 1999 by SimCity 3000, which sold a million copies in six months, which by 2000’s standard, hell even by today, it pretty fucking good for a niche simulator game. Hell, most sources report that the game end up selling around five million copies by 2007.

SimCity 4 came out in 2003, adding cool features like regions, enabling you to essentially building cities and then zooming out to an over-world, where all the cities you could see would then interact with each other, in a fairly limited way true, but cool nonetheless.

SimCity 4 would sell somewhere around two million copies fairly quickly too. But then came the Sims and basically wrecked everything, combine that with a couple of crap games from Maxis, the developer, and the result was a TEN YEAR GAP.

And then came SimCity 2013, one of the early attempts at “Games as a Service” it essentially shoehorned in a whole bunch of online elements, like cooperative multiplayer and leader-boards and then made the entire game online-only.


“EA wanted to make it more of a platform, an ongoing platform, that they’d sort of build and develop on,” Quigley explained. “And so that […] mandated, kind of, the server and online stuff. Which, in retrospect — I mean, obviously — was the fatal flaw in it.”

Yeah, this was a failure of infrastructure before anything else, a million people logging into the game at once drove the servers into the abyss and EA had to basically go all out fire-fighter to fix it.

The game never really recovered, and worst of all, only sold two million copies, the same as the previous game had, after ten years, EA’s moronic executives obviously expected much more.

Didn’t help that the entire Online component and always online requirement, the developers told the customers that there was server-side calculations involved in the requirement, could be disable totally by removing two lines of code.

And offline mode was introduced in a later patch, the game got a bunch of crap DLC and a moderately okay Expansion.

EA don’t learn at all, Maxis no longer really exists, the Sims is a shell of idiots buying the same expansion over and over again and SimCity?

Go buy Cities Skylines instead.