February 05, 2016

Nature's Fireworks

Sakurajima volcano erupted explosively last night.

Posted by: Steven Den Beste in Weird World at 10:22 AM | Comments (2) | Add Comment
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February 04, 2016

An amazing picture

This completely SFW picture is awesome.

Posted by: Steven Den Beste in linky at 03:25 PM | No Comments | Add Comment
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A question of definition

I'm a big fan of Rex Stout's Nero Wolfe books. About half the books in my Kindle are from that series. But just now I ran into something I'd noted before, and I'd like to ask your opinion.

In Too Many Cooks we meet Marko Vukcic's ex-wife. And she

In The Black Mountain Archie describes Marko as being a widower. So that's the question: if a man is divorced and his ex-wife then dies, does he count as a widower?

My initial reaction is "no". A widower is someone whose wife dies while he's still married to her. But that may not be the only answer. What do you think?

UPDATE: The dictionary says:

a man who has lost his spouse by death and has not remarried.

But he didn't lose his wife by death; he lost her by divorce.

Posted by: Steven Den Beste in General Entertainment at 01:40 PM | Comments (3) | Add Comment
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February 03, 2016

We're mad as hell and we're not going to take it anymore

Like they do every four years, pundits and "journalists" (sic) are playing the point-spread game during the primary season. The idea is that the press and pundits set up a point spread for each succeeding contest, and a given candidate is a "winner" or "loser" depending on whether they beat the point spread.

Actually getting the most votes doesn't seem to matter.

So Iowa had it's quadrennial 15 months of fame culminating last Monday, and Cruz came in first. Trump was a couple of percentage points back, and Rubio a couple more behind Trump. Between the three of them they got about 3/4ths of the votes, and all the other candidates are back in the dust somewhere. A lot of those are probably going to give up now.

So what are we reading? Oddly enough, Rubio is the winner, according to pundits, and never mind that he came in third in actuality. Because Rubio beat pundit expectations, that's why. More impressive is that Trump was the big loser, we are told, even though he got more votes than Rubio. Why? Because the pundits thought he was going to come in first, and he actually came in second. A huge defeat. He didn't beat the point spread.

What's more amazing is that this is conservative pundits.

A lot of this is due to the fact that the conservative pundits really wish Trump would go away. They've spent months closing their eyes, counting to ten, and hoping he would be gone when they opened them again, and it hasn't been working. His campaign was going to collapse Real Soon Now, folks! Keep watching! Only somehow it never did. And with him getting a quarter of the votes in Iowa, the pundits are now really, really hoping that if they keep shouting "Trump is a loser!" over and over that it will become true.

I've always hated this. This kind of sports-reporting of the primary season happens every four years and has since I've been paying attention (late 1970's) and it's always a crock. A lot of the reason for it is because reporters assigned to this beat need to come up with something to say every couple of days that isn't the same thing as they said in their previous report. But a lot of it is due to a basic disconnect our betters have with how things work.

They think they are leading us. They think they are ruling us.

Deep down they don't believe in Democracy because they feel utter contempt for the majority of Americans, especially voters. They're smarter than us, and better educated. And so it is (they think) their job as reporters and pundits to tell us idiots who we should be voting for, because otherwise we'd be too stupid to pick the right candidate.

That's why Trump has made gibbering idiots out of the reporters and pundits: he doesn't play by the unwritten rules of the self-selected elite. He says things that no one should be saying. He says things that the unwashed masses are thinking, and shouldn't be thinking. That's why the unwashed are flocking to him. It's a true populist revolt.

Some people have been pointing out the disconnect between the elite and the masses and how Trump is saying things that the masses are thinking, and asking why the elite don't pay attention and realize that to the masses, these things are important. He's briding that gap, and he'd go away if the elite themselves recognized the gap and moved to bridge it themselves.

Why aren't they? Because the elite don't really care what the masses think, and what the masses want. Democracy ultimately is an impediment to elite rule; it forces them to pander to the masses every couple of years. It just gets in the way. The idea of listening to the voters and paying attention to what they want and doing something about it is idiocy because the voters are themselves idiots.

Me, I'm a populist. I think that the group-mind created by voters is pretty wise, actually -- wiser, usually, than the elite are. I think that representative democracy is a pretty good system. Not perfect, but then a perfect government has been mathematically proved to be impossible. Anyway, as an engineer I'm more interested in "good enough" than I am in "ideal".

So I've been really amused the last couple of days by all the news coverage declaring Trump's campaign to be dead, and how Rubio is a huge winner. Never mind that Trump got more votes in Iowa than Rubio did.

And in the end, point spreads don't matter. What matters is how many votes a candidate gets. This campaign doesn't end with the Iowa caucuses. It's not even clear it begins with them. Iowa is a small state (in population) and tends to have very parochial issues (Ethanol, baby!) and New Hampshire isn't a lot better.

Trump could still blow it (and today's exhibit of sore-loserness probably doesn't help him, though I think it's probably being played up as part of the same process of trying to deflate him) but the fundamental issue that is pushing his candidacy is still important and won't go away. American voters, especially Republicans, are mad as hell and aren't going to take it any more. The self-selected conservative elites can go pound sand.

Posted by: Steven Den Beste in Weird World at 02:46 PM | No Comments | Add Comment
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February 01, 2016

Cat cutout

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The new cheesecake meme is called "cat cutout" and it refers to a large bra with a hole in it, the hole being in the shape of a cat head. Gelbooru currently has 591 hits for that keyword.

Why, Japan? WHY?

UPDATE: Peter Payne has been posting pictures of these lately: one two three four

The complete fetish includes rather stylized panties which have two triangular ears sticking up. And sometimes other peekaboo holes.

Posted by: Steven Den Beste in Cheesecake at 11:58 AM | Comments (7) | Add Comment
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January 30, 2016

Luck and Logic -- ep 4

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We seem to be doing girl-of-the-week episodes. Last week was Yurine and this week is Chloe. The series is also inherently monster-of-the-week, obviously, and this week's monster was pretty impressive.

Our Hero wasn't actually in the spotlight much, surprisingly, and they don't seem to be developing the show as a harem. Which is fine with me; it wouldn't be appropriate.

The team currently has two logicalists who don't have partners, and therefore can't participate in missions. One is Olga, the guy with green hair, and apparently he's been like that for a long time. He's desperately looking for a partner but none has come to him and none of the captured monsters will do it no matter how much he begs. My guess is that the reason is that he's an asshole, but that may have developed out of frustration. Anyway, he stays back at HQ and can only observe the missions. The other is the girl we saw recruited in the first episode. She seems to be a nice person but she also can't participate in missions.

I have a guess. Our Hero used to be a logicalist and engaged in a super-power battle in Hong Kong, where the only way to win was for him to use "Super Trance" which ultra-powered him but also cost him his memories. We've never heard who his partner was then, and my guess is that it was Athena, and the memories he lost were of her. She refused to accept that, and spent years finding and collecting his logic cards. When she had enough (all of them?) she came to him, in the first episode, and renewed the partnership, though he doesn't know that.

Anyway, there seems to be a problem with Athena; they were having problems with the trance in this episode and she confessed at the end of the episode that it was her fault. Next episode we're going to learn about Lucifer, the level 9.8 demon who appeared at the end of last episode. At that time I thought he was going to become Olga's partner. For a while I entertained the idea that he would team up with the new girl. But it's also possible that he's the series big-bad, or maybe the big-second-place-bad. We'll find out more next week.

This continues to be fun but it isn't breaking any records. Kind of grade B.

UPDATE: An interesting alternate possibility: his original partner was Lucifer, and Athena knows it, and that's why she's tied in knots now.

Posted by: Steven Den Beste in General Anime at 03:15 PM | Comments (1) | Add Comment
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January 29, 2016

Gate 2, ep 4

Something I thought I'd never write: I'm starting to lose interest in the GATE anime.

My problem is that I've been reading (and rereading) the manga, so whenever I reach some point where they diverge, I'm jerked out of the story. Not just because it's different, but because the anime is worse. It's always been worse. And a lot of the changes have been unnecessary. I wonder if there is animosity between the mangaka and the team doing the anime?

For instance, they've changed the character art for a lot of characters, and I like the manga versions better. For instance, Countess Myui of Italica:

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Sage Cato:

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And Delilah:

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I can't believe that the anime version of Delilah is any easier to draw or animate than the manga version would have been, with a bit of streamlining. Their reason for changing Cato is that in the anime he's a silly old man who only serves as comic relief, and the manga version is entirely too dignified. And I can't think of any reason at all for changing Myui besides Not Invented Here.

They're also abbreviating the story, too much IMHO. It's disjointed; they're leaving too much out and characterization and character motivation is suffering. They've done so much of that that the anime is close to being incoherent.

It feels like they're in a hurry. The next-ep preview suggests that That's where I originally thought this series was going to end, and it's going to happen in the fifth ep.

This isn't what I really wanted.

Posted by: Steven Den Beste in General Entertainment at 04:24 PM | Comments (5) | Add Comment
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January 27, 2016

Musaigen no Phantom World -- ep 4

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I think I understand now why this series has been so confusing to me. It's like Kamichu! in that it's an anthology series. The author has set up a basic scenario and is telling a series of one-ep day-in-the-life stories based in that scenario.

Also, it's looking increasingly like the phantoms are created out of human dreams, wishes, lost memories, and regrets. Ep 3 was Mai's story; the phantoms were based on something she did when she was maybe 4 or 5. Ep 4 is Reina's episode; it's based on the fact that Reina's real parents are cold, even harsh, towards her. They don't beat her or anything like that, but there also doesn't seem to be any love there. And this episode's phantoms gave her the loving family she wanted.

To the extent that there is any kind of series plot line, what these episodes did do was to educate us about different aspects of phantoms. But just like Kamichu! the episodes really do stand alone.

I'm not sure I like that. I didn't really like that aspect of Kamichu! partly because there was so damned much variation in story-telling quality from episode to episode. A lot of episodes really reeked; a couple are regular rewatches for me (particularly the Yamato episode). And I get the feeling that's what this series is going to be like, too.

The scenario isn't fully set up yet; we still don't know what's going on with the loli with the teddy bear. But aside from her, it was mostly set up by the end of ep 2, and now we're kind of cruising along. The center eight or nine episodes of Kamichu! could be watched in any order without losing any comprehensibility, and eps 3 and 4 of this series could have been in the opposite order without any problems.

UPDATE: Another anthology series was Mushishi. I only watched about 5 episodes of that. Not because it was badly done, but because I don't like horror and at its root it's a horror series. IMHO.

Posted by: Steven Den Beste in General Anime at 01:55 PM | Comments (3) | Add Comment
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January 25, 2016

Crowd funding for the win

Don points to an idiotic advertisement in the Hollywood Reporter which essentially advocates censorship. Even though I don't smoke and have no intention of starting and don't want kids to smoke, I don't think censorship is the answer. Censorship is a bad thing.

Apparently censorship of movies is a big thing in the UK, and a guy named Charlie Lyne got tired of it. The BBFC (the censors) have committed to watching every minute of every film submitted to them, so Lyne raised about 6000 pounds with a kickstarter to create a 10 hour movie of paint drying. Which he has now submitted for certification.

This, of course, is a truly masterful troll.

Posted by: Steven Den Beste in linky at 03:01 PM | Comments (4) | Add Comment
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January 24, 2016

Apathy

I'm way behind on posts here and I'm sorry. I've been very apathetic the last few days, and it hasn't been helped by the fact that I found the latest episodes of my three series to all be uninspired.

Gate is screaming through the story at supersonic speed, and they're leaving out important points. Itami's late night conversation with the King was cut to the bone, to the point where it almost felt like the King had been briefed by Yanagida to help convince Itami to go after the dragon. And at the rate they're burning through it all, the dragon will be dead by the end of ep 6, quite possibly even sooner, and they'll outrun the manga three episodes after that. (Manga chapters only come out once a month.)

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Musaigen no Phantom World is busy laying out plot exposition at a merry rate. I'm sure it's going to make sense later (no, I'm not sure, actually) but at this point it feels like X-files, with them shooting all kinds of plot points at the wall in hopes that some of them will stick. Mai's figure can't carry the show forever; eventually they're going to have to start telling a story.

Luck and Logic is doing character building, but it's really pretty perfunctory. Ep 3 was about the alienation, and then dis-alienation, of Tamaki, who had previously been commander of the team but lost that job to Our Hero at the end of ep 2. At the beginning of ep 3 she was sullen and by the end of ep 3 she was fine again. A new demon just showed up named Lucifer (and his power is over 8000), and it's at least 5:1 that he's going to become Orga's partner. They're trying too hard to avoid making Yoshichika into a Marty Stu and they've turned him into a dork instead.

And I'm so apathetic that I couldn't even find any fan art to post. Sorry; maybe I'm starting to hibernate for the winter.

UPDATE: By the way, I'm becoming increasingly convinced that Musaigen no Phantom World is a story.

There was another anime series a few years ago like that. I didn't watch it and I can't remember the name, except that I think it began with Y or Z.

Posted by: Steven Den Beste in General Anime at 04:12 PM | Comments (8) | Add Comment
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