Thursday, September 30, 2010

A presidential order to stop whining has apparently been taken as an invitation to snivel instead. If only all opportunities for schadenfreude were so harmless...

You know, at this point, just assume any smartass link-based comment is due to an Instapundit h/t unless otherwise noted.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Huh. You learn something new every day. Apparently Germany's been paying off its Treaty of Versailles war debt for the last twenty years, or more accurately, paying off the bonds that the Weimar Republic issued in the early 30s to settle their war reparations obligations. The bonds were repudiated by the Third Reich, sat around until the West German government agreed in principle to resume payment after reunification in the early 50s, and the reunited Germany started actually paying the debt in 1991.

That's... very German.

Noticed via Red State, of all places.
Meh. In this situation, I think I believe inter arma enim silent leges - "In times of war, the law falls silent." Anwar Awlaki might be an American citizen, but he is self-exiled, in rebellion against constituted authority, and actively plotting to murder his fellow citizens. He can either surrender himself to said duly constituted authority, or die screaming in some Yemeni shithole.

Really, it's his choice.

Monday, September 27, 2010

I like this:
If you’re not willing to have somebody hauled off at gunpoint over the project, then it’s probably not a legitimate concern of the state.

Via Instapundit, although I'd probably have come across it myself later in the day.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

During the weekend, I walk around Bellefonte while reading. I see most of the streets in town once or twice a month during the sunny season. I've yet to see a single political sign in town since they pulled down the primary signs, and only a single new political bumpersticker, an ant-Jim "raging anti-Semite" Moran sticker on a car with Virginia plates. But it does look like somebody from the Sestak campaign did a pamphlet drop in Rainbow's End this morning. Not a very efficient one - I saw a couple stuffed under windshield wiper blades here and there.

I'm reading a book on the Lindsay years in New York City, called the Ungovernable City. A little slow going, and intermittently *very* irritating. For those of you who aren't New Yorkers of a certain age, John Lindsay was the first "the next JFK", a tall and stylish liberal congressman from Manhattan's only Republican district, who successfully rolled into the Mayor's office at the head of one of those typical Gotham "fusion" tickets which regularly leverages left-ish Republican politicians into office at the head of coalitions of irate "reform" democrats. (See La Guardia, Mitchel and, I suppose, Bloomsberg in a sense.) He was the Fair-Haired Boy for about a year, mooted for the Republican presidential nomination for '68, all that. Very moddish, liked to walk the streets of New York's ghetto districts, surrounded by a swarm of Ivy League grads, liked to talk a good libertarian game.

Unfortunately, Lindsay's "libertarianism" was the sort that assumes a bloated government & believes that the way to control inequitable distribution of power is to enlarge the problem with bigger and bigger organizations & centralized, patriarchal authority. Not, in point of fact, actually any sort of libertarianism at all, but rather a recognizably liberal brand of fascism. His people were very fond of labeling all of their many enemies as "racist". Of course, back then, a number of those enemies actually *were* racist - look up what the acronym "SPONGE" abbreviates, if you care for a sample. But the Lindsay crowd was fond of stunts like trying to tie William F. Buckley to the Birchers... anyways, I think I would have gone batty dealing with that time. Liberalism was in the saddle, and beside it rode Riots, Rent Control, Youth Rebellion and Family Dissolution.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Is it pretentious to read xkvd even though you need wikipedia to get the math jokes? (Especially if you still don't get it after a quarter-hour reading & not understanding how Ackermann functions work?)

Oh, btw: another explanation I didn't get. (Having read through it three times now... nope, still not getting it.)

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Hah! Such confidence in the campaign prowess of their bosses! I suppose it pays to think ahead, and prepare parachutes while you can.

I've been watching the Delaware disaster with a mixture amusement and horror. Prior to the primary election I didn't think much of O'Donnell, but the event has made me think even less of Castle and the NRSC in particular. This sort of feckless, squalid ineptitude is exactly why I've refused to give a dollar to that collection of grasping, sordid hacks, no matter how many times they hire out a call-bank to sweet-talk me into donating. Still and all, it's hard to take Delaware seriously; as far as I'm concerned, it's just three wayward counties of the Commonwealth that fast-talked themselves into a separate seats at the Continental Congress. Nowadays, it's the conglomerate capital of the country, more corporate lawyers per square meter than any place on earth, and proof positive that the modern corporation isn't synonymous with conservatism, Republicanism, or free-market ideology in general.

Monday, September 13, 2010

So, I've been quiet for too long. For the most part, I've just been walking and reading (mostly nonfiction - spent like three weeks on Caro's behemoth biography of Robert Moses) and working through my backlog of DVDs. I've been buying more than I have time to watch, and frankly, I've not the most active of social calendars to begin with. I had some old friends in from out of town on Labor Day weekend.


I suppose I could talk about my recent Kyoto Animation binge. I had a fairly positive reaction to their galge (visual novel? I don't know, I sometimes have difficulty telling the two genres apart) adaptations Clannad and Clannad After Story. So, the next time I spotted them on sale, I bought their earlier Key adaptations, Kanon and Air.

Apparently some folks group them together as Key's "Seasons", Clannad being "spring", Kanon "winter" and Air "summer" - I don't know if one of Key's other visual novels is the missing "autumn" or if it's just the three. The seasonal themes of Air and Kanon are much more obvious and intuitive than Clannad's, which is more notational, and frankly, I think that somebody, somewhere just forced the "fit" by grabbing for the cherry blossom scene at the beginning of that later series.

Kanon turned out to be definitely worth the purchase, and was full of "scenery porn" and sharp writing. There's a lot of excellent animation in that show, and very little in the way of "kwality". Like Clannad, it starts out cheery and light-minded, with a lot of easy, cynical Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya-style humor, but it's all sandbagging in preparation for the mother of all tear-jerkers. The Kyoto Animation Kanon is like a fiendish, diabolical machine for the harvest of the tears of otaku, and it was wrought *very* cleverly indeed.

The strange thing is, is that the Kyoto Animation two-cour Kanon of 2006 was a remake of the original one-cour TV series from Toei in 2002. I made the mistake of tryng to watch Big Dave's archival copy of the fansubs of the Toei Kanon sometime last decade, and came across so utterly, completely repulsed and bored that I only got through the second episode by inventing monstrous serial-killer backstories for all the characters, effectively turning it into a filler-episode version of When They Cry. Even then, it was deadly boring, mutt-ugly, and pointless. The relation between the Kyoto and Toei versions is as that between the lightning and the lightning bug. Still and all, the story in Clannad is sharper, smarter, and more focused. Where Kanon is a exercise in magical realism, full of illogic and set in a town where winter is eternal and spring never comes, Clannad borders on science fiction, has a rigorous and logical underpinning below its leaps of fantasy, and occurs in an actual place, rather than the magical dying marchenland of Kanon.

So much for Kanon; Air is a different story, one of narrational failure and promising apprentice-work. If Kyoto's Kanon is the product of solid, accomplished, even inspired journeymen, and Clannad is a true masterwork, Air is the beautiful trainwreck which justified the resources the latter series were offered. And it is, intermittently, beautiful. You can see flashes of the trademark Kyoto "flushed" character animation, of gorgeous gem-like background art, of the occasional seamless, fluid action scene. But more often, the characters are flat over unincorporated backgrounds, floating, and erratically placed. The early episodes often feature the head-on square-in-the-frame staring-out-at-the-audience one-shots which are so stereotypical of visual novels and dating sim games.

Worse, the writing, which felt like a "rough draft" of Kanon 2006 in the first half of Air, went absolutely to hell in the last third, until at the end, I honestly couldn't tell what the hell had *supposed* to have happened, the emotional dissonance and apparent narration having so utterly derailed the presentation that I'm still not sure what I was supposed to take away from the experience. Happily, the US release doesn't end on the TV series' maddening note, but continues with the two OAVs Kyoto released, set in the middle of the narrative with the Heian-era characters on their fugitive journey through the mountains. A central part of the narrative failure of the TV series, which dropped the modern-day characters for two-three episodes for the adventures and tragedy of their ancient ancestors, was thus somewhat redeemed by the OAVs.

Anyways, Air will probably enrage you if you have any felt need for coherent narrative, but it still is pretty to look at & stops in some entertaining places prior to going smash in a truly spectacular trainwreck in the final episodes.