Maybe they can pixelate them out

What is going to give American critics more problems with Hayao Miyazaki’s last movie? This:

Although “The Wind Rises” has a strong pacifist message, it is essentially a biopic of Jiro Horikoshi, an aeronautical engineer whose contribution to the world was a killing machine. His designs led to the Mitsubishi A6M Zero fighter, which was used to devastating effect during World War II.

or this:

Mr. Miyazaki’s film, which is aimed at adults, also features at least eight scenes in which characters smoke cigarettes….

It’s just a matter of time before Haibane Renmei is rated “NC-17” for Reki’s horrifying habit.

Odds and ends

Little Arkansas River

After two summers of desert heat, we now have a summer of tropical monsoon rain. The Little Arkansas River, which runs north, west and south of my place, is the highest it’s been in years. More rain is predicted.

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It occurs to me that comparing Stella etc. to Girls und Panzer is misguided. Yura has more in common with such painfully self-conscious characters as Inu x Boku SS‘s Ririchiyo and Tsuritama‘s Yuki than with with Miho, and the story thus far has been more about Yura learning to play well with others than about girls playing with guns.

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Ryutaro Nakamura, who directed Serial Experiments Lain and Kino’s Journey, recently died. Jonathan Clements’ appreciation is here.

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Jinrui wa Suitai Shimashita‘s Mediator should beware the dangers of undead hair.

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I generally consider “critic” to be a subset of the category “pompous fool.” Here’s an example why.

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ISON is approaching.

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One of my pictures was yesterday’s Botany Photo of the Day.

From the chariot boudoir

If you can’t find the video you want on YouTube, look elsewhere. (This is the complete recording of the song, not just the excerpt included in the eighth episode of Girls und Panzer (and censored on Crunchyroll). The missing section of the anime begins around 1:50.) ((Though the censored section is back on Youtube for now.))

So we’ve had girls with guns, girls as guns (or is that guns as girls?), girls with mecha, girls as combat aircraft, and now with girls with tanks. ((It’s actually not that new. See Those Who Hunt Elves — on second thought, don’t. It’s lousy; not even Kotono Mitsuishi could redeem it.)) It’s probably all just pandering to otaku, but perhaps there is something more sinister going on. If anime reflects reality, Japanese young men generally are either hapless dweebs or sparkly bishies and crossdressers. If you want to form an army, they’d be useless. You’d be better off drafting young women, who in Japan have talent for using the tools of war, and often magic, too. Girls und Panzer may be just the latest in a series of entertainments designed to accustom the Japanese to the idea of women as warriors.

At least one Chinese writer sees “evil intent militarism” in Girls und Panzer, though it’s difficult to follow the argument as interpreted by Giggle Translate. ((Giggle Translate insisted that the original language of the linked page was Irish.))

Today’s cultural trivia

Spotted by The Rat:

For many years I used to see Kurt Vonnegut shambling around the streets of Turtle Bay, on the East Side of New York, always with a disconsolate expression on his face. I could never figure out why he looked so miserable; he was, after all, one of America’s most successful and admired novelists. Then one day, while reading Exposing Myself, I found out that Vonnegut had briefly been Geraldo [Rivera]’s father-in-law.

Quote of the day

The astounding thing about all the quackeries, fads, and movements of the past hundred years in America is that they were first accepted by superior people, by men and women of education, intelligence, breeding, wealth, and experience. Only after the upper classes had approved, the masses accepted each new thing.

—Gilbert Seldes, The Stammering Century (1928)

Perhaps it’s not that astounding; I long ago observed that high intelligence is not necessarily associated with common sense.

Pre-Rush Day link dump

J.K. Rowling has been recognized in Thog’s Masterclass:

Dept of Trickle-Down. ‘There, in his poky office, Simon Price gazed covetously on a vacancy among the ranks of insiders to a place where cash was now trickling down onto an empty chair with no lap waiting to catch it.’ (J.K. Rowling, The Casual Vacancy, 2012)

Daniel Barenboim also earns a mention in Ansible:

Pianist Daniel Barenboim is interviewed by Rosanna Greenstreet: Q. ‘What is your earliest memory?’ A. ‘In my mother’s belly, I remember not liking the tempi my father played the Beethoven Sonatas in.’ (Guardian, 2 November)

Christopher Tolkien doesn’t care for Peter Jackson’s movies:

Invited to meet Peter Jackson, the Tolkien family preferred not to. Why? “They eviscerated the book by making it an action movie for young people aged 15 to 25,” Christopher says regretfully. “And it seems that The Hobbit will be the same kind of film.”
This divorce has been systematically driven by the logic of Hollywood. “Tolkien has become a monster, devoured by his own popularity and absorbed into the absurdity of our time,” Christopher Tolkien observes sadly. “The chasm between the beauty and seriousness of the work, and what it has become, has overwhelmed me. The commercialization has reduced the aesthetic and philosophical impact of the creation to nothing. There is only one solution for me: to turn my head away.”

So is the world going to end tomorrow? Nah. I suppose you could marathon RahXephon if you’re feeling silly, but I suggest listening to Geddy, Alex and Neil instead.

These are the acceptable ways to end civilization:

… asteroid/comet, climate, massive volcanic eruption, zombie pandemic, Daleks, the Master, the Mayor turns into a giant snake monster, Gachnar (although that would be a very tiny apocalypse), gateway to Hell opens over Los Angeles, Anubis, Tripods, Triffids, Ragnarok and possibly a Farnsworth Doomsday Device.

Are you still using Windows 95?

You have two cows ….

Memo to …

… the lady in the seat in front of mine at Mass last Sunday: Please choose shirts that extend below the top of your jeans when you go to church, and find pants that rise all the way up to your waist. You have no idea how distracting it was to see that you were wearing thong underwear.

… the bicyclist trying to light a cigarette while riding no-hands in the middle of the street: Idiot.

… the Department of Health and Human Services: I have never had the slightest interest in tobacco. However, whenever you subject me to one of your recent gross-out anti-smoking ads, as happens every single time I watch an episode of Soul Eater on Funimation, I get a powerful urge to buy a carton of cigarettes so I can blow smoke in your faces, you damned hectoring nitwit nannies.

Dear Howie

Odds and ends:

I didn’t get very far into Haiyore! Nyaruko-san the first time I sampled it. Sticking a fork into a little girl is not amusing, even if the girl is actually Nyarlathotep. However, both Steven and Ken the Brickmuppet found the first two episodes not entirely worthless. So I gritted my teeth, put my feet firmly on the floor, gripped the armrests of my chair, and grimly stuck it out through the rest of the first episode. Well, it is an improvement over the wretched flash shorts of two years ago, and the forking is not quite as offensive. ((Kirika Yumera remains the only person in anime licensed to use the fork as an offensive weapon.)) Still, I found it more irritating than funny, and I doubt that I’ll watch more.

By the way, Howard Phillips Lovecraft for a brief period was a Miss Lonelyhearts, answering questions such as this:

I am Xah’gnui, who has long delved into the annals of subterranean lore, conducting forbidden researches into the unknown, with a view to resurrecting aeon-silent interplanetary necromancer-lizards. Why is it so hard for me to get a date?

(Via Lynn.)

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I see there is an “aniblog” tournament underway. The candidates were drawn primarily from AnimeNano, if I’m interpreting the rules correctly. Unfortunately, this leaves out some of the most interesting weblogs that deal with anime. For instance:

Aliens in This World

Brickmuppet Blog

Chizumatic

Fun Blog

Mahou Meido Meganekko

Wonderduck’s Pond

All of these are worth a visit.

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Allegedly, the more subtle your mind, the more difficult you’ll find this puzzle. I got it in about 30 seconds.

(Via AoSHQ.)

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Mahou shoujo anime is pornographic. So is anime set in high schools. In fact, probably every anime produced this century is pure pornography.

(Via Dustbury.)

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Quote of the week, sobering thought division:

The greatest legacy of the internet may wind up being Cute Overload.

(God and the Machine.)

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Quote of the week, anime division:

If I had a daughter, I’d want her to watch this.

(The Brickmuppet on Mouretsu Pirates.)

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Memo to Trek Bicycle Corporation: I see that your factory is in Waterloo, Wisconsin. There is a good chance that you can find literate native speakers of English there. Please hire one, and have him write directions for mounting your luggage rack on a bicycle, so customers don’t have to puzzle over the cryptic diagrams that come with the rack. By the way, it would be thoughful to note on the outside of the packaging that installing the rack requires a hacksaw and file, where customers can see it before buying the rack.

While at the bike shop earlier this week, I discovered that Trek bicycles include a line called “Neko.” Surprisingly, there is no suggestion of anything feline on the bike or on the Trek website. The Neko does feature “Women’s disc brakes.”

The triumph of dullness

Here’s a list.

Who’s missing? Here’s a name: Yes. Here are some other names: King Crimson, John Mayall, the Pogues, Deep Purple, Fairport Convention, ELP, Joe Satriani and Weird Al. I can add many more, and so can you. The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame claims that “… musical excellence shall be the essential qualification of induction,” but are the Sex Pistols really better musicians than the band that recorded Fragile? In my lexicon, “critic” is a synonym for “idiot.” It’s nice that someone remembers the Small Faces, but induction into the R&RHoF is as meaningless an honor as the Nobel Peace Prize.

Not entirely unrelated: Twelve extremely disappointing facts about popular music.

(Via Professor Mondo.)

Bonus stupidity: Pearl Harbor? It was all America’s fault.

Paging James Vogh

This is just too perfect. From today’s newspaper:

Astrologers warn against pop astrology that dooms chatty Gemini and hardworking Capricorn or decrees that dependable Taurus and sensitive Pisces are an ideal match. A person’s sun sign (the sign you check for your horoscope) is a small fraction of what determines cosmic compatibility, and it’s important to take into account the rising sign, the moon and the planetary angles to capture the full spectrum of a person’s being, said Hilary Young, a California hair salon owner who founded AstrologyDating.com.

I think I’ve mentioned before that that my sign is “No parking; violators will be towed at owner expense.”

Nightmares, mostly academic

From the aptly-named “Overthinking It,” an analysis of the political economy of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic:

But the strong feminist themes of the series are built on a foundation of political contradictions. The most fantastic element of the show is not that ponies can talk or that dragons exist; it is the illusion that an egalitarian society can be maintained among groups with massive biologically inherent gaps in ability and economic utility. By even the most cursory of sociological and economic analyses, the society in MLP: FiM should be highly stratified along class and racial lines. And there are clear signs of that stratification, except they are obscured by a propagandistic focus on the power of “friendship”.

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“Unoriginal,” yes; “genius,” no:

… Goldsmith describes a course he teaches entitled “Uncreative Writing.” In this course, “students are penalized for showing any shred of originality and creativity,” and rewarded for “plagiarism, identity theft, repurposing papers, patchwriting, sampling, plundering, and stealing.” The course also involves such misadventures as modifying Wikipedia pages by inserting additional spaces between words and holding classes within the online game Second Life. The final exam consists of purchasing a paper from a paper mill and presenting it to the class as one’s own, on the basis of answering the question, “Is it possible to defend something you didn’t write?”

See also Professor Mondo’s note on Pierre Menard.

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I ain’t no damn academic and never will be, thank God.

“Gene, your writing style is very clear and concise. Very muscular. But it is not academic writing. It is popular writing. If you persist in writing clear prose, you will never get far in academic writing. Academic writing must be turgid and convoluted. You must force your reader to read your sentences four and five times before she can understand what you are trying to say. You must obscure the concepts that just anyone can understand. You must, as literally as possible, grab your reader by the throat and pull her face into the text, holding her captive until she can escape by understanding the essay in full after struggling and wrestling with your words.”

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Announcing the Société des Bozars:

We grant that television is a tragic addiction, and we yield to no one in our sympathy for its unfortunate victims. But why must the rest of us be prisoners of other people’s filthy habits?
Join the Société des Bozars today and raise your standard against aesthetic pollution. Make a pledge to patronize only establishments with no visible television sets.

One bonus of joining is that you need never set foot in an airport concourse or a McDonald’s again.

Apocalyptic silliness

I gather that the world is supposed to end Saturday, or The Rapture is going to happen, or something similarly absurd. Professor Mondo suggests a suitable activity for the day.

Update:

Q: If my computer crashes and my printer breaks and there is no email on account of the rapture, will I be able to get an extension on the paper?
A: Everyone in tech and IT departments is of Satan’s party, so the internet, your computer, and your printer should continue to work the way they always have: sporadically.

Here’s some appropriate reading (or listening) for Saturday.

Update II: Further suggestions for Saturday activities. But note:

By the way, did you know that, merely by reading this article and perhaps smiling at some of the suggestions in it, you have demonstrated your lack of faith and completely torpedoed any chance you had of being raptured? Sorry about that.

Update III: Question for discussion: “Isn’t the transhumanist “Singularity”–in which technology will advance at such an accelerated state it can’t be controlled, leading to human immortality–merely a materialist version of the Rapture?”

Update IV (Saturday): It’s after 6 p.m. here, as I sit listening to David Lindley while my nice little steak broils. If the world ended, I didn’t notice. There is a substantial new volcanic eruption in Iceland, but the word is that it’s not linked to the end of the world.

Final update (Sunday): The Rapture did happen, after all. The august Dr. Boli has the details.

Yesterday was just a dry run for the main event, scheduled for December 21, 2012, of course. It’s a Friday, so you can spend the night partying or marathoning RahXephon ((Or perhaps not. RahXephon starts well enough, but it gradually ceases to make sense as it goes on. Ultimately, it’s noteworthy for only three things: one, the opening song “Hemispheres,” composed by Yoko Kanno and sung by Maaya Sakamoto; two, episode 15, written, directed and animated by Mitsuo Iso, who would later create Dennou Coil; and three, the “rosebud” moment at the end of the last episode.)) without worrying about getting up early the next day if you’re so inclined, and if there is a next day.

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Meanwhile, the Czar of Muscovy answers the important questions about the movie Thor:

Is this a good movie for cats?
Cats are into more artistic films, particularly foreign films with plenty of subtitles. Unfortunately, there will not be much here to challenge a cat, who will likely become bored by mere dialogue.

Is this a good movie for logical positivists?
Very little of the movie relies on a priori constructs, which will appeal to empiracists; however, the inability of science to explain or comprehend Thor’s powers will likely divide those who support Popper falsifiabiliy, fueling the metaphysical argument from scientific statements of fact.

He does not address the question of catgirls and Thor, though.

Miscellany

A “zombie brand” is “a dead or dormant brand that have been revived or trotted out for second or third chances.” Anime has its share. I recently watched a soporific new Ah! My Goddess OVA, and I’m sure we haven’t seen the last Tenchi Muyo spinoff. What are other zombie anime?

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Yet another volcano in Kyushu is acting up. The Nakadake crater in the Aso caldera has been producing small plumes of ash and steam, and incandescence is visible on some webcams at night. Aso is the third volcano on the island to erupt this year. Shinmoedake/Kirishima put on quite a show back in January, and Sakura-jima has been puffing away since 1955. There are webcams here and here. Aso is currently tenth from the bottom in the box at right at the latter link. (Starting at the bottom and counting up by twos will give you a tour of some of the more active volcanoes in the south of Japan: Suwanose-jima, Satsuma-iwo-jima, Sakura-jima, Kirishima, Aso.)

Today, by the way, is the 31st anniversary of the VEI 5 blast at the American Fujiyama.

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Here’s a different, practical approach to cosplay: superhero styles as everyday street wear. (Via Project Rooftop.)

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Hobbes and Bacon.

(Via Pixy.)

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Time travel is not merely impossible. In China, it’s illegal.

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Romance novel covers, improved.

I don’t smoke …

… but sometimes I’m tempted to light up to spite Those Who Know What’s Best For Us. The New York Times‘ brief rave review of Summer Wars ends with this note:

Summer Wars” is rated PG (Parental guidance suggested). It has action violence, some suggestive content, mild thematic material and incidental smoking.

By the way, what the hell is “mild thematic material” ?

Memo to Funimation

I had been planning to purchase at the the first few discs of Soul Eater when my budget permits. However, if you force me to endure the preview of the SE dub every time I watch an episode of Baccano!, I might change my mind. ((Yes, I know ways around this, but it’s still inexcusable. Also, every time I see the unskippable antipiracy notice, I feel a sudden strange urge to make illegal copies of every DVD I own.))

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I don’t know which is more depressing: the number I don’t recognize, or the number that I do.

(Via Anime Raku.)

Update: Raiga in the comments links to a spreadsheet with explanations.

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Naming your kids after anime characters is a dumb idea, but it’s no worse than calling them “Jimi Hendrix” and “Janis Joplin,” as did one erstwhile neighbor.