September 23, 2016

A common desire

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Some of them really need it!

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August 10, 2016

Let us meat

There's a kind of food I have been seeing in anime ever since I first started watching it.

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It's a single bone, with symmetrical lobes on both ends. And it's surrounded in the middle with red meat.

So what's wrong with that? There ain't no such beast! There is no such bone on a mammal skeleton. The fibula and tibia have a lot of meat but it's all on one side, and it's two bones together rather than one. (And neither of them is shaped like that, anyway.) The radius and ulna are symmetrically surrounded by meat, but again it's two bones together and neither of them are shaped like that. The femur and the humerus don't have symmetrical lobes like that. And that's it for long bones; there aren't any others.

It always bugs me when I see it; where do the artists think that bone is coming from?

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July 21, 2016

It isn't a grand old Flag

A nation's flag is important. It represents the nation, it leads men into battle. Men have died for flags, not just rhetorically, but literally. The raising of the flag on Mount Suribachi is one of the most iconic news photographs of the last century, and it's especially poignant since some of those men didn't live out the day.

A flag should mean something; it should represent the country. The US flag's meaning is well known: 13 stripes representing the original 13 colonies of the revolution, and a star in the upper left corner for every state. Which means that every time we add states, the flag changes, which last happened in 1959 when Alaska and Hawaii became states.

A flag doesn't have to be complex to be meaningful. The flag of Japan is a simple red circle on a white background, but it represents the rising sun, which has always been Japan's identity as the Land of the Rising Sun. And it's a noble flag.

I like the Union Jack. It is made up of the Flag of St. George representing England and Wales, the flag of St. Andrew representing Scotland, and the flag of St. Patrick representing Ireland. (Which could have become a sick joke in 1921, but isn't because Northern Ireland is still part of the United Kingdom.)

These are flags with meaning, symbols that are symbolic. I've never felt that way about a lot of the flags of Europe; too many of them look like they were stitched out of spare rags from the nearest tailor shop and if they have any kind of symbolic meaning I never figured out what it was. This has bothered me my whole life!

So let's try a quiz, shall we: What countries are these flags?

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How many millions of men have died for these prosaic rags? And if they do have any kind of meaning, it's probably something like "Habsburgs Forever!"

(I've left the nation names as filenames on those pictures.)

Why is it that so many national flags in Europe are just two or three panels of solid colors, horizontal or vertical? Seems like there's a bunch of "...well, they're doing it!" going on here, and that's a hell of a reason for creating a symbol that men will die for. Pfeh.

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June 15, 2016

Say what?

I just ran into a new term I had never seen before: "Toxic Masculinity". I'm not even sure what it means, but I suspect it means "Men who refuse to act like women."

Apparently it's important because it was one of the things that was responsible for the Orlando slaughter, at least according to this poster on Metafilter.

There are lots of reasons why this individual was radicalized and chose his victims and why he was able to do so much harm before being stopped.

Guns
Homophobia
Radicalization
Toxic Masculinity
Etc

All of these probably contributed to this event and all of them will continue to be massive issues once the headlines fade.

I have to believe that things will get better that tolerance will eventually win out or we will get tired of innocent people getting killed but I have to say I am getting really tired of people using violence as a way of lashing out at the world for whatever grievances they have real or imagined.

I am sick of young men because most of the time it's young men perpetrating these types of crimes feeling that they have the right to kill people because they are so mad at the world for whatever reason.

I understand being angry and mad but I am sick of this culture of entitlement that seemingly encourages young men to take out their rage on innocent people just trying to live their lives. I know that there are often various reasons these young men lash out but I have to believe that the constant cycle of violence is indicative of something deeply wrong in our society that is telling people that this sort of violence is somehow okay.

Our society. Our society. No indication here that the guy who shot up that bar was from a different society, nor what society it was.

How the hell are we supposed to win a war when we're not even permitted to name the enemy in the war? This isn't just a Democrat thing, either. Bush started it with his constant claim that "Islam is a religion of peace" and other aphorisms just as stupid. It's a leadership problem, leadership on both sides of the aisle.

The leadership doesn't trust the population. They fear us more than they fear the enemy, because they think we're stupid and uninformed. They feel nothing but contempt for us.

And that's why off-the-wall candidates have done so well this year. The population knows how the leadership feels and it's responding in kind. This backlash was long in coming, but I really hope it's now unstoppable.

It's our country. We are not slaves or serfs.

UPDATE: Google is our friend.

Toxic masculinity is one of the ways in which Patriarchy is harmful to men. It refers to the socially-constructed attitudes that describe the masculine gender role as violent, unemotional, sexually aggressive, and so forth.

I might have known...

UPDATE: So Toxic Masculinity refers to all men who are not metrosexuals. Great.

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May 21, 2016

Here's a news flash from our Vice President

The most important thing about an army is how diverse its soldiers are.

We'll win future wars because our enemies will look at the Army and say, "Hey, they have lots of women and homosexuals in the ranks. We better surrender."

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April 26, 2016

Roger Zelazny

Roger Zelazny died about 20 years ago, and has frustrated me before and ever since, because he left so many things unfinished. Zelazny was the Writer's Block poster child.

This afternoon I purchased "Madwand" for my Kindle. It's the second volume of a trilogy, the first of which was called "Changeling". We'll never know what the third volume was going to be named, because he never wrote it.

And he never finished the second Amber series. It just kind of ends, not quite with a cliff-hanger but nearly so.

Zelazny was 58 when he died in 1995, and I'm sure he would rather have stayed alive and kept writing, but that's not how it worked out.

Jack Chalker is another of my favorite authors, who wrote a lot of multi-volume stories. He's dead now, too (he was morbidly obese) but when he began work on a multi-volume story, he had all the volumes planned out before he began writing the first one, and he cranked straight through until he had finished the last one -- and didn't work on anything else in the mean time. Sometimes he would come back and visit a canon later (like the fourth and fifth books of the Dancing Gods series) but you can easily ignore those and not miss anything.

But Zelazny danced around and worked on all sorts of things. He was badly afflicted by squirrel-brain.

And in the first Amber series, it's obvious he didn't really have the whole thing worked out in detail before he began. (In particular, he changed his mind about the source of the Black Road. There are two mutually exclusive explanations for it.)

One reason he didn't finish the second Amber series was that he got distracted by working on a computer game, during development of which he died.

One of the worst things an author can do to his audience is to not finish a story, leaving it hanging. And though Madwand is a reasonably self-contained story that hangs together pretty well, it's obvious the story is not over and I want to know what comes next. I've wanted to know for 35 years.

He wrote Changeling in 1980 and Madwand in 1981 and never came back to it in the remaining 14 years of his life. Grumble.

UPDATE: Two rants in a week. I must really be a cranky old man now.

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April 23, 2016

Shakespeare

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That's a reproduction of the enscription on Shakespeare's grave stone.

400 years ago today, Shakespeare died. Widely considered the greatest playwright in the English language, his works are widely performed, widely studied, and widely read -- except not in most university English departments anymore which seem to be dedicated to eradicating any notion of worthiness of any Dead White Male™.

Revisionism is rampant when it comes to his works. This isn't anything new; in the 19th Century a man named Thomas Bowdler published a book called "The Family Shakspeare" (sic) which removed all the worst violence from Shakespeare's plays. (He then gave his name to the term "bowdlerize".)

But modern revisionists are mostly concerned with Race, Class, and Gender™. And there's one particular revision that has grated with me for 30 years. I'm going to take this opportunity to gripe about it.

"The Tragedy of Othello, the Moor of Venice" is now known usually as just Othello. And it has become accepted wisdom in theatrical circles that the part of Othello must be played by a Negro. Every effort is made to avoid mention of the fact that Shakespeare thought that Othello was a Moor.

See, the problem is that Moors were Caucasian, not Negro. The historical dividing line between Caucasians and Negros was the Sahara desert, not the Mediterranean. Revisionists (such as the radical "Afrocentrists") try to lay claim to northern Africa on behalf of Negros, despite the fact that the only Negros historically north of the Sahara were slaves.

That's because the majority of important African political, scientific, and cultural contributions to the world came from the part of Africa north of the Sahara.

I don't care who actually did it; I just care about the fact that our intellectual betters seem to feel it necessary to lie about it. Nearly everything like that came either from Egyptians, Greek conquerers, Roman conquerers, or Arab conquerers -- and all of those were Caucasian.

I don't think caucasians are in any way superior to any other race, not that it would help any for me to say that. Anyone inclined that way has instantly decided I'm a racist and probably piled a whole lot of other negative adjectives onto that description.

What I care about is being honest. Shakespeare thought that Othello was caucasian. The modern attitude seems to be "Who cares what he thought? He only wrote the play."

That doesn't mean I think Othello shouldn't be played by a Negro actor. You cast whoever you think can give the best performance. It means I think you might also cast a non-Negro if you think he would give the best performance, and you don't worry about political correctness.

UPDATE: Another one that I find really grating: "The most beautiful woman in history was African." I thought Helen of Troy was Greek. "NO, no, no... Cleopatra!"

I've heard that from people who didn't really know anything about Cleopatra other than she was a queen in Egypt when Julius Caesar conquered the place for the Romans. The problem is, Cleopatra was part of the Ptolemy dynasty.

The Ptolemy's were descended from a Greek general who was made governor of Egypt by Alexander after he conquered Egypt. Alexander then left to travel to the east, conquering every nation along his way, until he died in India. At which point all the governors he had left behind effectively became kings of their respective states, and so it was with the Ptolemy's.

The Ptolemy's and other Greeks who ruled Egypt during that period still considered themselves to be Greek, and they continued to rule Egypt for 300 years right up until Caesar showed up and the Romans took over.

So it's true that Cleopatra was African, in the sense that she was born in Africa and lived her whole life there, but that doesn't have anything whatever to do with the part of Africa south of the Sahara or the people who live there.

History is what happened. It shouldn't be rewritten to fit a modern ideology. We harm ourselves when we lie to ourselves about how we became what we are. We must face the truth, warts and all.

And we can start by not rototilling Shakespeare's grave.

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July 13, 2011

Ichiban Ushiro no Daimaou -- North American BD

I did a guilt-buy of the Sentai BD about a week ago, and tonight I took at look at it. It's two discs, one about 40 GB and one about 20 GB. The first one has the first eight episodes, and the second one is the other four.

Sentai didn't include the omake. There were six on the Japanese BDs, each between 3:00 and 3:30 in length, but American audiences don't get them.

The only extras were a clean OP, a clean ED, and a bunch of production drawings. Those are always disappointing on DVDs because they're shrunk so much, but in this case they're 1080p. Only they aren't. Looks like they were upscaled, and there are jaggies and JPG artifacts.

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Finally, I myself can't play them. I don't have a player program that will handle BD correctly. I can look at the files using MPC, but they don't play, as such. (I own the most recent version of PowerDVD, but when it's installed it fouls up everything else involved in playing videos.)

So let's look at the chart:

    Torrent     NA BD release
Timeliness within days of
Japanese availability
A year later
Quality high high
Price free $47
Extras 6 omake production
drawings
Dubbed no yes, but I
don't care
Karma poor good

It really isn't any wonder that the North American market for anime discs is imploding. The product is worse in nearly every regard, for someone like me who doesn't care about dubs.

It's only really karma that induces me to buy. And now that I've looked at it, it'll go onto my shelf and never get opened again. The rips I downloaded months ago are better and more convenient.

I hardly ever watch discs anymore. Having rips on my server is so much more convenient that when I find myself wanting to watch some older show, it's easier to go out and find a rip of it to download than it is to go get the disc off my shelf. In fact, I don't remember the last time I did watch one of my older discs.

UPDATE: While we're bitching, I might as well talk about something else. Sentai made the English title "Demon King Daimao".

Ichiban Ushiro no Daimaou means "Demon Lord in the back row". "Demon King Daimao" is redundant, and stupid. And they romanized 大魔王 wrong. Either it's "daimaō" (in Hepburn) or it's "daimaou" (in Wapuro).

UPDATE: I was wrong. Zoomplayer handles them fine.

Except that I can't choose the Japanese audio, or turn on the subtitles. In fact, I don't get any audio at all.

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April 15, 2011

Miracle Whip

The only miracle about Miracle Whip is that anyone buys the stuff. Every couple of years the price of vegetable oil goes up, and Kraft reformulates Miracle Whip to reduce the amount of oil they put in it, so as to keep the price down.

Now they sell a version which doesn't have any oil at all.

Miracle Whip is to mayonnaise what Velveeta is to cheese. Velveeta isn't cheese, and Kraft isn't permitted to call it cheese. It's "pasteurized process cheese food".

And they're not permitted to call Miracle Whip "mayonnaise", because it doesn't satisfy the legal definition of mayonnaise per the FDA. Miracle Whip is "sandwich spread".

If you want mayonnaise, you get Hellman's. (Known as "Best Foods" in the western part of the US.) Or you make your own.

...and that's today's rant.

Posted by: Steven Den Beste in Rants at 08:23 PM | Comments (8) | Add Comment
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October 08, 2009

Save me from zealots

I tell you, it never fails. In any thread where someone asks for help with their computer, someone will pop in and suggest running Ubuntu. They're worse than Mac freaks.

I tell you, there is nothing that the holy Open Source cannot fix! It can make the blind walk and the lame see! Yea, brothers and sisters, your souls can be saved if only you turn away from the demon Gates and follow the true faith!

And it's cheaper, too.

(Sorry. I can't post this in that thread because it would be a violation of the rules, and I needed to vent.)

UPDATE: By the way, Pete, you have my eternal gratitude for not being like that!

Posted by: Steven Den Beste in Rants at 09:16 PM | Comments (12) | Add Comment
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