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Below are the 20 most recent journal entries recorded in Keith Palmer's LiveJournal:

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    Tuesday, November 25th, 2014
    8:44 pm
    Star Wars Personal Theory III
    As I prepared to close out this year's trip through the Star Wars movies, I was thinking about the best way to not just set down one final "personal theory" but also to explain it. Right at the start of Revenge of the Sith, though, I happened to think of something I might have conceived of but not put too much thought into before, the idea that "the kidnapping of Palpatine was a small commando operation; all the other Separatist forces stayed in space."

    This thought springs from the old "drawn animation" Clone Wars series shown just before the movie premiered. It had a big "Jedi powers" battle down on Coruscant, but threw in the realization by Yoda and Mace Windu that with no attempt being made to attack the Senate or the Jedi Temple there had to be another target. I suppose this ought to have been reasonable, and yet the commentaries included with the DVD made the point that the planet "should" have been more messed up in the movie itself. Perhaps I'm reacting to an impression of "we'll just fix this problem that never occurred to them."

    In any case, I'm done for this year, but I'm wondering about the next. Regardless of when or how I manage to see the first promised trailer for The Force Awakens, by the fall of next year I'm sure we'll be pretty far into the runup for the first of "the new new Star Wars movies," and at the moment I'm still holding myself capable of accepting it as "a continuation" or not. I can also still engage in the luxury of saying "time will tell."

    This entry was originally posted at Comment here or there (using OpenID) as you please.
    Sunday, November 23rd, 2014
    6:24 pm
    A Narrow, Unfortunate Escape
    The news some months ago that Viz had licensed the long officially-unavailable-over-here Sailor Moon caught even my attention; long years of history came to mind. I have a recollection of having first seen a bit of it on TV just before first leaving for university, where I saw some posters not that long after arriving and joined the anime club to at last see more of the stuff I'd seen watching Robotech ten years before, and in connection to that I sorted out (much quicker than with Robotech) that Sailor Moon had also come from Japan. Those first glimpses of it pretty much convinced me I wasn't in the target demographic, though (the line from the song "One Week," "the boom anime babe that makes me think the wrong thing," can seem to cut a little close), and the unimpressed opinions the anime club had about it didn't quite seem to just dwell on the "localization." Within a year or so, though, I was getting the sense that whatever disdain those who held themselves in the know had had to start with, the show really was managing to broaden the anime-watching audience over here. Before I'd left university, the club had just happened to show a "fansubbed" short subject attached to one of the Sailor Moon movies when I was there to see it. Beyond that, though, I still didn't count myself as very familiar with something "everyone else" seemed more so, although when a certain memorable MSTing gaped at Sailor Moon and Daria getting crossed over into a "technothriller" I realised I knew more about the Japanese animated series than the American.
    Not that long afterwards, all things considered...Collapse )

    This entry was originally posted at Comment here or there (using OpenID) as you please.
    Wednesday, November 19th, 2014
    8:38 pm
    Star Wars Personal Theory II
    Before I made it to Attack of the Clones in my trip through the Star Wars movies for this year, most of my thoughts about what "personal theory" I might set down about it had to do with ideas of just when, how, and why Count Dooku had turned to the Dark Side and become Darth Tyrannus. As I got to thinking about ways to present the three new movies as something other than "Palpatine's precisely premeditated plan," though, I got to remembering the idea he'd only suggested Obi-Wan, and his apprentice, guard Padme because he wanted to get Anakin frustrated at the Jedi over "things he couldn't have." That's not a "personal" theory, though, as I recall first seeing it suggested in a classic look at the movie, "The Shroud of the Dark Side." With that in mind, though, I did remember an idea that does seem to be all mine: "the 'attachment is forbidden' rule, for the ordinary Jedi, doesn't require uncomfortable repression, washing hands afterwards, or even quick cheap flings; the Force can be used to switch off certain biological urges."

    A bit of this might well come from the carefully quantified and qualified rules of the role-playing game that got adopted into the early novels as "hibernation trances" and the like, but I suppose more of it comes from my own peculiar habit of not being really interested in "pairing off" fictional characters not undeniably defined as such in their stories. Where some people seem to not want characters to go through life without a defined helpmate, I seem to be content with giving them a bit of privacy. When the romance is undeniable, though, I do seem ready to get gushy over that, and I suppose that leads into the obvious objection of "so what about Anakin?" I try to answer that by thinking that while "biological urges can be switched off," emotional attraction is harder to deal with.

    This entry was originally posted at Comment here or there (using OpenID) as you please.
    Sunday, November 16th, 2014
    6:27 pm
    Anime Thoughts: Girls und Panzer
    This may be a new era in which anime series are rapidly available through online streaming, but if the first descriptions don't grab me, even if I then happen to notice how excited other people seem to get over a particular show, it still has to take its chances before I get around to it myself. Such was the case with a show named Girls und Panzer. It did seem to be kind of "high concept," the idea over which we're invited to suspend our disbelief being "suppose that for Japanese high school girls, a hallowed method of developing femininity in authorized school settings is to become a member of a World War II tank crew and go into live-fire tournaments." (The official translation of this is "tankery.") Having decided over the past few years that a good number of the series I've found considerable enjoyment in have been ones where I can feel a sense of healthy, straightforward absurdity about them, this series certainly did seem to qualify. With one thing and another, though, I didn't get around to watching it until now, when I already had two volumes of its manga to move on to afterwards, and if I actually liked the anime itself.

    In the first episode or so, I did wonder if I'd heard comments to the effect of "it gets better later." I also wondered if going in expecting absurdity wasn't quite the same thing as sort of discovering it. Too, having heard the series was similar in structure to "sports anime," I did find myself thinking of one of the first proper sports anime I've seen, the baseball series Touch, and the sense I got halfway through it that its protagonists didn't really want to be in the sports they were in, but were in them anyway for the good of their community. The similar feeling that the protagonist Miho Nishizuni was being strong-armed into restarting her school's "tankery" program did get to me. Just an episode or two later, though, as the tanks started rolling, I did start feeling like the absurdity was appealing to me after all. I also happened to notice how often Miho's radio operator Saori was talking about boyfriends; not that any of those controversial entities actually appeared, but I did get to thinking that with the tanks being operated by crews ranging in size from three to six (the school scraped together several to start with, although the other teams tend towards having "similar themes" even if there's some actual variety in the basic character designs), there might not be quite so much of an opportunity to wink and nudge at the thought of pairing the girls off romantically. (Then, as it turned out, there was a scene later on that just might be jumped on to an even wilder conclusion...)

    As the tournament was set up and the scratch force of lightweight and obscure armour took on cultured and tea-drinking schoolgirls in British tanks, brash and casual schoolgirls in American tanks, crude yet hearty schoolgirls in Russian tanks, and finally chilly yet efficient schoolgirls in German tanks, I was able to enjoy the whole thing. The "mechanical" animation of the tanks was done with computer animation, but it looked as good as some of the detail work in the character animation. Having heard the manga focuses more on Miho's loader Yukari, who starts out sort of tentative but immediately opens up once she can start talking about tanks, I am sort of interested in getting to it too when I can.

    This entry was originally posted at Comment here or there (using OpenID) as you please.
    Friday, November 14th, 2014
    6:34 pm
    Star Wars Personal Theory I
    As I watched my way through the Star Wars movies this year into the new ones (although in just over another year, I might have to find a different way of saying that), I continued to contemplate the "personal theories" I've hit on over time. The thought has come to me at different times that the new movies just might invite thoughtful engagement with them and even the formation of "personal theories," although some people seem to have missed that (or at least refused it) to complain about things not being explained to them.

    I did find myself, however, trying to find ways to not have one "personal theory" seem the "most obvious one." Knowing how things turn out, the thought begins to scratch at me that the movies can be interpreted as "Palpatine has everything planned out from the start," and things only stop going the way he's foreseen in the final reel of Return of the Jedi itself... the problem then becomes "why then?" That one person alone in all the galaxy possesses a diabolical free will (or, perhaps, just sees himself as the "puppet who can see the strings," to quote "Watchmen") somehow seems to interfere with comments from George Lucas that he thought of the saga as a modern attempt to suggest ancient truths about right living. I suppose, too, that I eventually became a little dissatisfied with Grand Admiral Thrawn in the novels knowing, though the study of art, the precise psychological button for each alien species that gets every member of them to freeze up.

    The best way out does seem to be to wonder how he might have triumphed much sooner over the course of The Phantom Menace had a team of heroes not (half-unwittingly) interfered. Remembering a comment in the DVD commentary track about the battle droids being "found ineffective" against the Jedi, I do wonder if Qui-Gon's premonitions about Queen Amidala being assassinated had been part of a scheme to provoke a conflict that would swarm the limited numbers of Jedi (it did work in Attack of the Clones), and then create the vacuum in the galaxy to be filled with a new imperial government that eventually opened through a redrafted plan two movies later. If that's a little too hopeful, I suppose I've also contemplated that "Nemoidians find the 'standard human accent' somehow offensive; they hide that because it'll hurt trade." That, of course, may be a little too obvious.

    This entry was originally posted at Comment here or there (using OpenID) as you please.
    Monday, November 10th, 2014
    6:25 pm
    An Adventurous Get-Together
    Keeping up with the Planet IF aggregator, I managed a while ago to pick up on some announcements of a get-together about "interactive fiction" at a thoroughly convenient day-trip distance from me, and resolved that even though I don't play anywhere near as many "text-based" games as I could, it would still be interesting to go to. Last Saturday, I got on the train and headed into the big city, where I then headed north to the reference library and the get-together.

    More chairs had to be set up at the back as things got under way, which I suppose is a reasonable sign. The ice-breaker was an "group play-through" of a famous "one-move" game, and then I stayed for a speech by Andrew Plotkin, one of the notable figures of the modern "non-commercial" era. He had, however, made things a bit more "commercial" by raising funds through Kickstarter to develop a text adventure for iPhones. Since he took four years to finish the game, though, some people in the audience did seem inclined to point out further avenues that had opened up in those four years to promote "indie games" through (which may have been more philosophically acceptable to them, anyway). I checked out some game rooms with iPad and "keyboard" games on display, realising I'd even managed to play "Thomas Was Alone" (although that game did seem to me to be more of an "ironically minimalist arcade game," it does have a fair bit of "story" to it), and then returned for three special presentations on how to create your own "writerly games."

    When I'd started looking up information about this get-together, I saw something about a workshop teaching Twine, which develops "hypertext" games that might be classed with "Choose Your Own Adventure" books at first glance. (Quite a few years ago, I was experimenting with Hypercard and created something in it that might conceivably be recreated in Twine, only to discover the "combinatorial explosion" in trying to reference my impressions of the adventure games I'd only heard about then; I do wonder if this might have been called "cargo cult programming.") I prepared myself for that by installing Twine on my "travelling" portable and starting to learn a few basic things about it, and then realised I'd managed to see information about a presentation from last year. In any case, though, I did get to see a bit of information about "ChoiceScript" (which was what made "Mecha Ace"), Inform 7, which develops full-scale text adventures in the grand tradition, and a new tool called Texture which tries to strike a fresh balance between the links of hypertext and the "verb-noun" interface. As much as I can suppose I ought to play more games to get ideas of how to make them, what I did see was invigorating and different.

    This entry was originally posted at Comment here or there (using OpenID) as you please.
    Thursday, November 6th, 2014
    7:59 pm
    Star Wars Personal Theory VI
    As I got to the halfway point in watching through the Star Wars movies this year, I was wondering just what I could share as a "personal theory" this time. At last, some ideas seemed to come together, linking not just a theory or two but even a preference; they seem to have to do with planning.

    I remember some people arguing pretty much past each other in the days of the Star Wars Usenet newsgroup about whether the rescue of Han Solo was all according to an elaborate plan. I also recall a line in the novelization, which ties into some discussion in the recent "The Making of Return of the Jedi" book, that Han had to be brought outside Jabba's palace to increase the chances of escape. The hindsight we look back at the events in the movie with could be converted into foresight on the parts of the main characters, with just Threepio unfortunately left out because everyone else knew he couldn't keep a secret. For some reason, though, I do want to believe that "Luke didn't know Jabba could drop people he was angry with into the Rancor pit beneath his throne room before he cast them into the Sarlacc in the desert." Certainly, characters who think ahead are a change that may well be welcome in the face of "they who grit their teeth harder win," and yet when one side has all the plans and everything plays into it that sometimes doesn't seem that exciting than at least a bit of fast thinking being necessary. That, perhaps, may tie in to how I want to interpret the new movies as well.

    So far as "plans" go, I'm also inclined to think that "after Luke's discussion with his father on the forest moon of Endor didn't turn Darth Vader away from the Dark Side, he despaired and supposed all he could do now was distract the Emperor until all three of them were caught in the attack on the second Death Star." This, again, may just be a stronger statement of something actually said in the dialogue, but I'm also inclined to think that "Darth Vader, after Luke rejected him in the previous movie, was at an equal loss for ideas of how to turn his son to the Dark Side, and saved the Emperor in the moment of crisis because of concerns on some hidden level Luke might even be able to walk away after that." The Emperor may well have suspected this, but I do wonder if he even would have got a dark kick out of the instant of his death in that moment, sure that "Vader taking a gamble" wouldn't have paid off anyway, and everything could go to pieces so far as he cared because he wouldn't be around for it. Perhaps by that point thoughts about "the Sith are supposed to be entirely selfish" are indeed a "personal theory."

    This entry was originally posted at Comment here or there (using OpenID) as you please.
    Saturday, November 1st, 2014
    4:56 pm
    Star Wars Personal Theory V
    Continuing my once-a-year visit to the Star Wars movies, I'm also continuing to think through a few "personal theories" I've been forming for a while now. I admit most of them seem pretty much the type that "dwells on the characters" and doesn't get into anything that might be seen as "deeper" analysis, but "everything in moderation" might even apply there too. One of the theories is "when Darth Vader proposed that Luke could be a powerful ally, he was really issuing an open challenge to the Emperor; both of them understood this so well they didn't need to comment on it."
    Ramifications of a 'Rule of Two'Collapse )

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    Friday, October 31st, 2014
    7:12 pm
    The Hard Road Uphill
    Noticing a reference in a comic strip to the anniversary of a Mars probe, I thought of Mariner 4 and decided, one evening early in the week, to look at the official NASA site to see if there would be a feature there. Instead, I saw a news item about investigations beginning about an anomaly of some kind with a supply rocket to the space station. A bit more looking revealed something had exploded in the Antares rocket just moments after lift-off, and the whole thing had dropped back down on the launch pad in flames.

    Having paid close attention to the first few "commercial" supply launches to the space station, this news of something not running smoothly did jolt me a bit. I told myself that this wasn't one of the rockets that would be lifting the space capsules announced to carry astronauts; the question was whether this would somehow get associated with them. There seemed some reassurance anyway in bits of news I noticed suggesting the people on the space station weren't living hand-to-mouth and could deal with something like this going wrong as I set my thoughts in order.

    Today, though, I heard the breaking news in the afternoon that the suborbital rocket plane Spaceship Two had crashed in the desert on a test flight, and as the story developed I saw that one of the pilots had been killed. I'd been thinking a bit of how it had been ten years already since Spaceship One had rocketed above the arbitrary line that marks "space" and then turned around soon enough to win the prize for doing that, and then, after a great deal of back-slapping about this accomplishment of private endeavour at a time when the surviving space shuttles were still grounded, it went straight to the National Air and Space Museum, apparently having had a few flight problems that made flights with actual passengers on them risky. For this new thing to happen not that long before the promise of passenger rocket flights is, of course, a hard blow, and one I'm sure will have a lot of people watching and worrying about what might happen next for a while to come.

    This entry was originally posted at Comment here or there (using OpenID) as you please.
    Tuesday, October 28th, 2014
    6:56 pm
    Anime Thoughts: Attack on Titan
    A while ago now, as Kodansha Comics was just getting really started selling manga over here, they began promoting a new title called "Attack on Titan," as I recall pushing it pretty hard so far as manga goes in this market. It was easy enough to pick up on the general storyline of "people trapped inside walls by monstrous giants start fighting back." However, it also happened that at that time they were attracting a lot of negative attention for "getting off to a cheap start," and in particular I remember seeing one picky fan proclaim he wouldn't buy the manga because he'd been offended by the bonus pages being left out of the back of a late volume of Negima. (He since seems to have vanished into that ether that claims anime and manga fans consumed by disdainfulness of the "localization industry.") I can't say that was the sole factor in my not buying that manga either, but stay away from it I did even as I recall happening to overhear a major "spoiler" about the cliffhanger ending of the first volume.
    After a few more volumes, though...Collapse )

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    Friday, October 24th, 2014
    5:42 pm
    Star Wars Personal Theory IV
    One viewing of all the Star Wars movies a year seems to me clear of whatever risk there may be in "overexposure" (although I can find myself wishing I could find or make the time to watch other old movies, too). By this point, however, I suppose I'm conscious I might not be hitting on too many "unexpected insights" in these screenings. Remembering the "headcanon" some people have shared before, though, I was thinking a bit about whether I've developed a few "one-person beliefs" of my own. As I got started for this year (it always seems to be around this time), I was mulling over the possibility that "the Millennium Falcon is a particularly disreputable-looking starship."

    Everyone loves the Falcon, of course, or at least a great deal is made of that; a good number of the recent backstage leaks amount to sightings of the latest external mockup put together. At the same time, though, just as I've grown to suspect too big a deal can be made of Han Solo as "the Star Wars character for grown-up tastes" (I can get to imagining that not only does he, as others have said, represent what the galaxy has been reduced to by the Empire, but in Star Wars itself his opinions are in fact counter to what's actually needed and most of his actions are motivated by simple greed), I've become a bit annoyed with the demands from certain people that everything has to look as worn and battered as it, or else it's a sign of George Lucas's disdain for the work of his old designers (I've seen the chrome Naboo starships used as targets for that in the past.) To me, when Luke's first reaction to the Falcon is disbelieving, I can imagine it must look more "used" than just about anything else in its "future." (Leia, too, reacts on first sight with disbelief, although she may not be quite as familiar with the style some make a very big deal of.) To try to identify "things that should be copied" may seem more positive to some than just finding clever ways to condemn everything they see, but at the same time I do wonder how much actual analysis is going into it.

    This entry was originally posted at Comment here or there (using OpenID) as you please.
    Monday, October 20th, 2014
    5:48 pm
    Better Than Underwhelming
    A lot of "popular" references to the work of H.P. Lovecraft do seem "joking" (as opposed to the introductions written by academics who proofread errors in the pulp magazines of the 1920s and 1930s and sniff that trying to fit his cosmic horrors into a "mythos" misses the real point of his stories as postmodern commentaries on materialist malaise), and his elaborate prose and the way his horrors wound up more "strange stuff piled together" than variants on physical dissolution might make those cosmic horrors more comic from a skewed perspective. I can't seem to shake the feeling, though, that not taking the mythos seriously is taking it seriously, that the humour winds up very much the "gallows" variety. As much as I can imagine a "self-aware" take on the mythos making those who prefer to take a more positive, perhaps even "science-fictional" take on cosmic depths and that which might follow different patterns within it just the first to get eaten, I guess I'm not quite inclined to grin at "The indifferent immensity of the universe will drive us mad before it drives us from existence? Now that's funny!"

    When I saw a link to a webcomic series by Patrick Dean getting under way that pushed beyond mere "underwhelming" depictions of the Lovecraft anti-pantheon to six-panel adaptations of his early short stories (where some of Lovecraft's personal hangups about "the other," knowing about which may help me think he's not necessarily revealing some hard "universal truth," weren't quite so coded), though, I started thinking there might be something I could enjoy about it. I suppose it does help that I've read the original stories and can contrast them against their lightweight compressions, but the comics are fun in their own way. That the series has just completed a six-part adaptation of "Herbert West--Reanimator" (which I've seen described, in academic notes no less, as Lovecraft getting to the point of parodying himself) may have helped produce a positive impression too. I am wondering how much further the adaptations will go and whether they'll get to the more famous yet longer later stories.

    This entry was originally posted at Comment here or there (using OpenID) as you please.
    Tuesday, October 14th, 2014
    8:41 pm
    An Anime Fan (at last) Watches Avatar: The Last Airbender
    When I decided I'd rewatched as far into The Simpsons as I wanted to, I was aware of just how sharply my viewing habits had come to focus on anime, and thought I could do well to keep up just a little variety by taking in another "designed in North America" animated series. A few shows I already had a fair bit of familiarity with came to mind, but so did Avatar: The Last Airbender, which I hadn't seen any of but which some other people seemed to have taken a good bit of interest in, including even a comment or two that this was a show "influenced by anime" that could nevertheless be enjoyed by anime fans themselves (even if they might not see it as so much of a singular without dwelling on thoughts of it only appropriating surface details like "sweat drops" and "SD mode."

    I wound up returning to Batman: The Animated Series, though, and with one thing and another it took me a while to get through that show. In that time, I did manage to buy all three "books" of Avatar: The Last Airbender and conclude it would be the next thing I got to when I could, but I'd wound up sort of conscious that in the years since it had premiered the first part of its title had been appropriated by a big special-effects movie, the other half had been applied to a much less critically successful film, and while a sequel animated series had begun Avatar: The Legend of Korra just didn't seem to have won the same approval from fans. (There seems to have been just a bit of pushback against that general dismissal of late, though.) The North American animated series that anime fans took the most interest in now seemed to be My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic (although as I write this, even it now seems to not quite be "the big new thing" any more). Even so, there can be something to watching a series without the pressure of other immediately available and evolving opinions, so I started into it.
    Into the elementsCollapse )

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    Wednesday, October 8th, 2014
    6:32 pm
    One Last MSTing Anniversary
    A while ago, I commemorated the tenth anniversary of a notable MSTing and then took the opportunity not that much later to mark the same anniversary for the first "solo MSTing" I'd written. I did write a few more MSTings after "Undocumented Features," but marking each of their tenth anniversaries did seem a bit grandiose. Now, though, it's been ten years since the last MSTing I completed going by the date stamp on my personal file of it, which does feel a bit more significant in its own if somewhat dowmbeat way. In accepting the opportunity, though, I did get to thinking I could say something brief about each of my solo MSTings preceding it anyway.
    'When military schedules meet the MTV generation, something's got to give.'Collapse )
    'The miracle acrylic bubble locks his hysterical sobs away.'Collapse )
    'He's not even going to dignify that with a putdown, I see.'Collapse )
    'Something of a war poodle cut, then.'Collapse )
    'Abstract is this season's post-minimalist.'Collapse )

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    Friday, October 3rd, 2014
    6:36 pm
    2014: My Third Quarter in Anime
    At the start of this year, I looked at the big "season preview" images and the announcements of what anime series would be streamed and where, and wound up not watching any new shows. I didn't worry too much about that; I was carrying some series forward from the previous season anyway. Three months later, though, I looked at the preview images and the announcements again and only started watching one new show, and that a series I was just hoping the opinions of others wouldn't be too relentlessly negative towards. That did get me thinking ahead to when these latest series would eventually be for sale on disc, and whether extending the trend forward would make me far too much like those people who seem to be complaining all the time about how "they didn't abandon anime" (as much as a few other people perhaps wish they would), "anime abandoned them."

    Certain straight-line projections into the future end up looking foolish in the face of unexpected changes, however, and three months ago I looked at the preview images and the announcements for the third time this year and surprised myself by filling a respectable slate of new series to watch through weekly streaming and thinking a few more shows would've been interesting to watch too if only I'd had the time. That might, though, have replaced one worry with another. As much as I hope I'll "hit the jackpot" with another show like Puella Magi Madoka Magica or Kill la Kill, where the excited reactions and speculation builds in a virtuous cycle week by week, the risk seems greater that less positive reactions will reinforce each other and drag down my own feelings before I quite seem to reach that point myself.

    In any case, all these new series to watch might have been the push needed to do something I'd been toying with for a while. Finding my cheap home office desk chair uncomfortable to just sit back on and watch, I bought not a more expensive chair but an economical wireless router and the cheapest streaming video TV add-on on the store shelves nearby to watch from the improved comfort of my downstairs armchair. The setup has worked pretty well. In reducing the old distinction between "watching anime streaming on my computer upstairs" and "watching anime off discs on my TV downstairs," though, I may have increased my distance from the old thought that streaming is just a waypoint to owning discs with the series on them to eventually watch again. Always aware of how I buy anime faster than I can watch it, though, I'm not too troubled by that. There are also those intimations and worries the Japanese companies of the "anime industry," convinced there's more money in these later days in concentrating on an irreducible core of "cost is no object" collectors, will cut out the middlemen and "harmonize" prices over here, just happening to protect their home market in the process; with that in mind, becoming content with watching series streaming doesn't seem bad at all. (After that thought, though, there's another thought that the streaming back catalogue will be pared back much faster than it is now in the same "because they can" spirit...)
    Starting off: Captain Harlock and Super Robot WarsCollapse )
    First up, first off: Glasslip and Sailor Moon CrystalCollapse )
    Mecha mayhem: Captain Earth, Argevollen, Aldnoah Zero, and Knights of SidoniaCollapse )
    Also streaming: Akame ga Kill and Ace of the DiamondCollapse )
    The last addition: Sasameki KotoCollapse )
    Shifting gears: The Woman Called Fujiko Mine and Hidamari Sketch x HoshimittsuCollapse )
    The late replacement: Monthly Girls' Nozaki-kunCollapse )
    Finishing off: Eden of the East and Mach GoGoGoCollapse )

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    Thursday, October 2nd, 2014
    7:14 pm
    Now It's Been Named
    With the news that one of the ships of the lost Franklin expedition had been found sunken in the Arctic, I started wondering how long it would be before we knew just which of the two ships the wreck was. On the radio news yesterday, though, I heard the name HMS Erebus given. I admit my first reaction was to think of a post I'd seen just after the first announcement which sorted through the Inuit testimony and concluded the ship was likely HMS Terror. That then made me think of a novel I'd read a few years ago by Dan Simmons, The Terror, in which that ship winds up drifting south in its last pages if to then meet a fate suiting the fantastic, Grand Guignol mood of the book. Perhaps inspired by thoughts of that book, I bought an e-book after the announcement titled On the Proper Use of Stars, a novel by Dominique Fortier translated from French (and more "realistic"), which also managed to make Sir John Franklin the epitome of self-satisfied British polar incompetence and presented Francis Crozier as the apparently necessary more aware protagonist. With Franklin having died before the last record was signed, though, I suppose he's harder to develop as a fictional central character. If life hasn't imitated art, the Inuit testimony may yet be accurate enough for Terror to be crushed debris in deeper water further north. I did also happen to find a piece where some people had their own particular reasons to hope the ship to be Erebus, which goes to show everyone has their own opinions.

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    Sunday, September 28th, 2014
    6:03 pm
    Sympathy-Based Purchases
    Solicitations for anime discs that'll be on sale next year usually catch my attention right about now, provoking a few mixed feelings about time's endless rush. Beyond that, though, one of Sentai Filmworks's "we'll surprise you by only saying we've licensed this title right when you can start ordering it" announcements did get my attention. I only watched a few episodes of the mecha anime series Muv-Luv Alternative Total Eclipse when it was streaming; everyone else seemed to get annoyed pretty fast with it (some even for the specific reason that it didn't measure up the "visual novel" computer games it was based on), and that seemed to sap my desire to keep watching it until, when I went on vacation for several weeks, I came up with what seemed a clever explanation for why I was about to drop it and didn't return to it after getting back. That should have been the end of it with stacks and stacks of other stuff to watch, but I suppose I got to feeling sorry for the series for not being what other people wanted to see (even as that might have added to a persecution complex built on the thought of "modern mecha" series getting squeezed between people who aren't interested in the genre to begin with and people whose tastes were set with series made two to three decades ago and can't accept more "modern" touches folded in), and now that a second, altogether unexpected chance stands open I'm toying with the thought of taking it.

    The obvious objection there does seem to be there was always a "second chance open" in that the streaming video was still available... but I suppose that in this, and in a few other cases, there's a difference between buying and watching. There are certainly some series I feel sorry for but haven't bothered to buy, in any case. For example, while I feel sorry for the unpopularity of Stella Women's Academy, High School Division Class C3 Club for ending up something different from what it started as but struggling to wrap everything up and I'm contemplating buying it (although there's a contrary opinion or two out there), I feel sorry for Fractale for starting with grand promises but not managing to deliver just about anything such that its director wound up a figure of derision, but never got around to buying it.

    All of this does mean discs piling up, though. Perhaps I'm beginning to grow more level-headed at the thought of more Japanese companies directly entering the North American market and "harmonizing" their disc prices with those in Japan to help protect their home market from "reverse importation" because I'm starting to think it won't be all bad to just save the money to buy an exceptional standout every year or so and otherwise make do with the streaming video that seems there to increase the pool of potential "cost is no object" purchasers as much as possible. If, on the other hand, streaming video also passes away for some unimaginable reason, I suppose I'll start watching old movies or reading more books.

    This entry was originally posted at Comment here or there (using OpenID) as you please.
    Wednesday, September 24th, 2014
    4:56 pm
    Arrivals Around Two Worlds
    When the American space probe MAVEN (with so many probes heading to Mars these days, I suppose the names are getting trickier to find) entered orbit around Mars, I took note of that even as I had to admit I'd managed to forget it was on its way. The news pieces I saw, though, also mentioned there was an Indian space probe right behind it, and aware that getting into orbit can be where problems happen I kept wondering just what would happen. However, it turned out the Mars Orbiter Mission (the acronym that can be formed from that is even odder, which may be why I only noticed it shortened that way in one piece) also got into orbit around Mars, which is an accomplishment for that country. (In looking up information on this, I managed to see that when Japan tried the same thing a few years ago it didn't work.)

    It also happened in the past few days, if much closer to Earth, that another Dragon cargo capsule has reached the space station. That things continue to be working well for SpaceX there now that they're getting money along with Boeing to put astronauts in a further development of that capsule seems a good thing to me.

    This entry was originally posted at Comment here or there (using OpenID) as you please.
    Tuesday, September 23rd, 2014
    6:05 pm
    From the (e)Bookshelf: Bending Adversity
    That I doubt I was even aware of them at the time may just add that much odd interest to finding relics of the 1980s warning how Japan had figured out an altogether different approach to the great game of international relations and would buy up the world in the end. Things changed there, but after a while I suppose the new seeming assumption the country was now just this strange place off to the side, irrelevant to everything else, began to seem sort of overdone in its own way. When I saw a review in my newspaper's Sunday supplement of a book arguing that perhaps Japan wasn't quite so sunk in "decline" as everyone thinks, that got my attention enough for me to buy "Bending Adversity: Japan and the Art of Survival" as an e-book.
    The art of survivalCollapse )

    This entry was originally posted at Comment here or there (using OpenID) as you please.
    Tuesday, September 16th, 2014
    5:45 pm
    Macworld Memories
    The news that Macworld magazine would no longer be printed (and that most of the people who'd also contributed to its web site would be losing their jobs) was one of those unfortunate announcements which all the same make a certain hard sense in hindsight. I had bought one issue earlier this year for its "thirtieth anniversary of the Macintosh" article and thought the whole thing awful thin; before that, the previous issue I'd bought had had a twenty-fifth anniversary cover story. For that matter too, I know PC Magazine and PC World had already stopped printing issues, so one can hardly suggest "the smaller platforms go first, even if at last." Even so, its continued existence might have served as a personal link back to the days when my family had left the "8-bit era" by buying a Macintosh LC II for our home and we'd started buying the magazine just months before the typeface of its cover logo changed (after which it didn't look as attractive to me). There's also the little complication that even in an age where the instant information of web sites may have obscured the value of a more permanent month-by-month record, I've managed to start going back to some of the earliest issues of Macworld...
    The saga of the early adoptersCollapse )

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