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”.


“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.


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.”


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.


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.


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.


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?


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.


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


Hobbes and Bacon.

(Via Pixy.)


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


Romance novel covers, improved.

Friday linkdump

The website for Satoshi Kon’s current project is active. Yume-Miru Kikai looks like a significant departure from Kon’s previous work, at least visually, and unlike Paranoia Agent and Paprika, this “future folklore story” might be suitable for all ages.

An appreciation of the background art of Oh! Edo Rocket.

For anyone who’s ever said “Huh?” at a renaissance faire.

If you’re in the Minneapolis area, you can catch a performance of “A Christmas Carol” in Klingon. (Via Maureen the Suburban Banshee.)

A three-dimensional Mandelbrot set? (also via Maureen.)

Bored with caricaturing Roman Catholicism, manga artists have discovered the Eastern Orthodox.

An old interview with the late John Sladek I came across recently. Sladek, discoverer of the thirteenth sign of the zodiac (Arachne, May 13 to June 9), ((For the morbidly curious, my own sign is “No parking — violators will be towed at owner expense.”)) was one of the last century’s best satirists and is of my favorite writers.


Thinking about large numbers.

Keep an eye on those ducks:

[audio: Thus Quacked Zarathustra.mp3]

Public service announcement: the complete Dirty Pair TV is out there, subtitled, if you know where to look.