Tuesday, October 31, 2006

X_X Ugh. X_X

Halloween company picnic, with silly hats & "Pumpkin slice" contest. Ate *way* too much.

Afternoon productivity? Hah!

After School Nightmare and Night of the Beasts were both very much worth the purchase, BTW. Although After School Nightmare dances on just this side of my bishounen ai comfort-line, so you have been warned - not sure whether to classify the protagonist as a heroine or hero, but either way, likable person. Herm? Eh, whatever. The protagonist is one of these effeminate, hairless hermaphrodites which only exist in manga, trying "his" best to pass as male, and deeply conflicted about the whole thing. There's some sort of strange shared-dream-experience class/afterschool club thing which "he"'s being compelled to attend to "graduate" from "his" school. Lots of dream logic, conflict. Fun, although I'm not sure whether this will develop well, or just go in shoujo circles.

Night of the Beasts's heroine is thuggish and violent, which suits my personal tastes nicely. She's being semi-stalked by a superficially amiable Type A romance-novel love interest pretending to be a Type B. Since he's possessed of a beast-like demon, and there are demonic complications, things get bloody and violent quickly, but the book still has a light touch which sort of reminds me of a cross between one of the darker Yuu Watase plots and a Hojo character dynamic, like City Hunter crossbred with Ayashi no Ceres.

I've never heard of Night of the Beasts's Chika Shiomi, and it seems like this is her first translated manga. After School Nightmare's Setona Mizushiro apparently wrote X-Day, which I took a disliking to after the first volume, and never bought the second, so eh.
I decided to stop walking to work based on the new lack of light on the evening walk back to town. Last night, the gloaming fell as I was halfway down lower Valentine Hill road, which is not exactly safe unless I get myself a hat with reflectors or something likewise unspeakably dorky. So I drove in to work. And discovered that with the construction on Benner Pike, that it would have been faster to walk.

Argh! I want my hour of daylight back!

Monday, October 30, 2006

Oh, bollocks. The Iron Dream is unreadable except as an Eye of Argon exercise in Sturgeon's Law stamina. The prose is intensely, and intentionally, obnoxious. I certainly didn't get all the way through it, dropping out somewhere through the middle of a political streetfight-bordering-on-outbreak-of-civil-war in which the heavy-handed "truncheon" imagery just overwhelmed what was left of my good sense and better taste.

And I'm tired of having the right wing blamed for Hitler. Fascism wasn't rightwing. Need I point out, once again, the "socialist" in "National Socialism"?
"'infinite' doesn't necessarily mean 'contains all possibilities'. The sequence of all even numbers (246810121416182022...) is infinite, but the number '17' doesn't appear in it anywhere."

From the discussion following the posting of a color image generated from pi. That's about as succinct a refutation of the "monkeys typing Shakespeare" conundrum as I've ever come across.

Via a semi-random Ann Althouse link.

[But this follow-up, of the same pi derivation except in a radial arrangement, is a far cooler display.]

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Ugh. Miserable weather - can't decide if it's raining or not, which leaves me wetter than if it just rained, flat-out.

And darkness is falling. Less and less time for walking & reading, as we creep towards the dark of the year. Meh.

Monday, October 23, 2006

So here's a question for you. I was talking to Bill Johnston while working ops at MangaNEXT, and he wanted to know why manga are shelved in American stores by title instead of author/artist. Bill, when he reads manga at all, reads 'em in the original Japanese, so he shops in the used bookstores and import places, where they shelve 'em the way the Japanese do - first by publisher, then by author, and then finally by title. I couldn't explain or justify why comics are filed by title, even in the real bookstores.

Of course, comics as comics have always been displayed in that fashion - it's a relic of the Big-Two-and-a-Half days, when the titles were forever - Batman, Superman, Fantastic Four, Spiderman - and the artists and writers came and went like the hirelings which they were. That explains the comics shops and the rest of the direct market. But bookstores - real bookstores - file their normal print offerings the way God intended 'em - by author. The only stuff that used to get displayed by title was their periodicals. Is it because they initially thought of manga and other graphic novels as periodicals, and thus deserving of the periodical treatment? Maybe it's the way that the publishing companies advertise the books. Title up front, artist/writer as an afterthought. Lord knows, I don't necessarily know the name of the artists responsible for the manga I read, not up front & foremost, the way I would with a paperback novel or nonfiction history or whatever.

So I drove down to Shaler last weekend. Lots of Santorum signs. Some Casey signs - not all that many, and most of them on semi-public land rather than on somebody's yard. More Rendell signs, and some of them on people's lawns.

Fairly few Swann signs, south of New Bethlehem. Fewer as you get closer to Pittsburgh. Since Southwestern PA is supposed to be Swann territory, I'm thinking that Swann is pretty much a dead letter, which kind of sucks.

But a lot of Santorum signs. More than I expected, given the CW that he's dead, dead, dead in the water, dead as a duck, dead as a doornail.

BTW, I must have passed through Murtha territory, in Armstrong County. I saw two signs, one for Murtha, one labeled "Boot Murtha". No Ihrey signs. Damn if I know what that means.

Milesburg is kind of strange. Not a single political sign, although it was getting kind of dark when I drove through late Sunday, so I may have missed one or two. Wonder if they're having vandalism problems down there?

The hunters were out in force in the Sheetz outside of Brookville. One pair of chowderheads in a white H2 Hummer took up way, way too much space at the pump. I had to tie myself into knots in order to get the Korean import putt-putt in beside 'em to gas that sucker up. H2s are just too big for civilian use. Specifically, they're too blasted wide.

Listened to the Steelers game on the way back. Haven't done that since... well, ever. Interesting game. Shame they didn't win, but it was amusing listening to the announcers describe a half-bare-foot touchdown sprint by a Pittsburgh receiver. And that quarterback... he's pretty much cursed, isn't he?

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

I may be forced to migrate over to Windows XP in the next week or so. Why?

Internet Explorer 7.0.

Windows will squirt out the finished version to their XP slaves in tomorrow's updates, and they've crippled 7.0 to not support Windows 2000. I've used 2000 since forever, and have never seen any reason to change over to the latest Windows crippleware until now. But, since a significant proportion of my customers are stuck with XP, they will be migrating to the new version, and I will be at a loss in supporting their issues and complaints if I'm still running 6.0 on Win2000.

Supporting my primary website-and-database is the only use I make of IE, BTW. I shifted over to Firefox years and years ago, after it became painfully apparent that my using IE for day-to-day interweb trawling was a gaping, ineffectual, dangerous hole in our security.

But I've got piles and piles of applications implemented on Win2000, all of which still work, and show no signs of giving me any kind of problems. God only knows how many of them will get absolutely rogered by a shift over to Windows-for-Bill-Gate's-sins-sodding-XP.


You know, for all the talk of the auto industry and planned obsolescence, at least they didn't go out into parking lots in the dead of night & smash in the headlamps of last year's model when the new lines were announced, or refuse to manufacture replacement parts for old models.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

I came back from my long weekend working MangaNEXT to discover the usual mountain of work urgently needing done. It never urgently needs done when I'm actually *here*. As I finished digging out from under the pile, a customer came by my cubicle, twice, to lie to customers of *his* he was escorting through the building, claiming to one that I was the world's foremost expert on [x] and to the other that I was the greatest processor of same [x], quoting a figure at least four times what I actually process, by the most generous of computations. I hate it when people do that.

MangaNEXT was a qualified success, in that the hotel didn't burn down, and the con covered its budget. On the other hand, it just barely covered its budget, and the break-down was a bit of a scramble.

The only programming I was involved in - besides sitting in the one video room now and again to spell our sole video staffer while he did things like get dinner - was the "Manga Swap", which was four hours set aside, two on Friday, two on Saturday, in the workshop room for people to bring in their unwanted manga & see if they could trade it for something else. No cash, no trading adult material to children, but at some point the definition got stretched past just manga to include DVDs, toys, and tchotkes. This expansion occurred when I wasn't paying attention, or I'd have brought in about a dozen unwanted DVDs I haven't gotten around to getting rid of in some other fashion. Managed to unload all the manga I brought with me - yes, including Ravenskull - and mostly traded for DVDs, one of which I actually was kind of interested in.

I don't know if the event is scalable - it worked with the two dozen or so people who showed up over the four hours, and no real problems arose at that level of participation. But would it work if two hundred traders showed up, at, say, the Big Con in Baltimore? Not with only one staffer hanging out. I'd guess one staffer to thirty participants would be the necessary ratio, but that's assuming that it can actually scale. It is possible that beyond a certain point, the potential number of connections would become untenable, and thus utter chaos, no matter how many staffers were in attendance.