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

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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.

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    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 )

    This entry was originally posted at Comment here or there (using OpenID) as you please.
    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.

    This entry was originally posted at Comment here or there (using OpenID) as you please.
    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 )

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    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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    Friday, September 12th, 2014
    7:51 pm
    Secret of the Passage
    I didn't listen to the radio news on the way back from work on Tuesday; I suppose I was wondering if there would be not just a piece on the product announcements from Apple that day but a piece filtered in a light I might overreact to the point of thinking "shaped around a pre-formed negative conclusion." That meant I might have missed a different piece of news announced that day until I saw it in my RSS reader program, but in seeing it I could recognise it as not just of "national" but of "international" interest. Every summer for the past few years, so it's seemed, an expedition has been sent into the Canadian Arctic to seek the sunken wreckage of the two ships of Sir John Franklin's last expedition; after years of inconclusive human-interest stories, and a day after the scene-setting news of yet more bits of wreckage spotted on a shore, one of those ships has been found.

    The history of the Northwest Passage might have been almost "inherited" by Canada, but it's something I began picking up in bits and pieces at an early age. As it came together, the central tragedy of a major expedition sent in among the Arctic islands in the middle of the 19th century only to vanish and the drawn-out search that looked at last in the only place left to find only two terse notes on one surviving form, voiceless remains, and Inuit testimony, pretty much stood out. It does, of course, mark a shining example of that now-popular idea of the British polar explorers being incompetent "amateurs" unwilling to learn from the people who were actually surviving year-round there, even if the search filled in the southern blanks on the map.

    Having heard recent speculation in this year's articles on the search that drifting ice would have smashed the sunken ships to fragments long ago, I was surprised by how defined the sonar image looked. (However, I did notice a suggestion the other ship of the expedition, said in the testimony to have sunken further north, might well have been crushed.) The false colours used in it gave an impression of the ship being down in the "stygian depths," like a ship sunken on the search (that people survived from to say just where it was) I'd seen pictures of a rigid diving-suit descent to years ago, but it turned out the ship was in water shallow enough for some diving-camera pictures to be well-lit. Whether the speculation that some records might even have been sealed up or preserved by the cold water is "exceedingly hopeful" is something we don't know yet, but that (along with whether this ship is Terror or Erebus) may have to wait for the next short Arctic summer. I do know this search could be contemplated as having been financed so that the chance of success would result in a surge of patriotic feeling of the current officially correct type, but more than that it's proving something said a long time ago true, just as the expedition was meant to travel through places just a few people lived in more than a century and a half back.

    This entry was originally posted at Comment here or there (using OpenID) as you please.
    Tuesday, September 9th, 2014
    8:26 pm
    From the Bookshelf: The Children of the Sky
    I've led off a number of posts here about science fiction books by talking about how I'm not keeping up with the written SF scene the way I used to; there are a whole bunch of reasons folded into that, from the large-scale and perhaps troubling (although recently noticing a piece of news about an anthology of "optimistic science fiction" does seem to have some positive bearing there) to the more personal and perhaps just reproachful. It just seems to add to all of that to admit that while I'd heard a while before how Vernor Vinge was working on another book connected to his A Fire Upon the Deep, I didn't actually know it had been finished until I happened on it being mentioned in a "TV Tropes" page. (It seems to tie up to at least the more personal reasons for not being as well-connected to written science fiction any more to say I don't delve into that site as deeply as everyone else seems to talk about, because I'm nervous about running into casual criticism of certain things I like...) The next time I did take a look at the science fiction shelf in a bookstore, I saw The Children of the Sky was already in mass-market paperback, and somehow that didn't compel me to buy it. When I was in the corner used book store and saw a hardcover of it high on the shelf for cheaper than the paperback would have been, though, I went straight ahead and bought it.
    Zones of thoughtCollapse )

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    Friday, September 5th, 2014
    8:34 pm
    Now Over the Dog
    I noticed the announcement of a Kickstarter intent on raising almost six hundred thousand dollars to make a "pilot episode" for a science fiction anime series and wondered how close it would get to its goal, then perhaps didn't dwell too much on it until, in an aside to a related discussion, I noticed someone talking about how the rate of donations had picked up in the final days and the project was getting pretty close to being funded. All of a sudden, the thought of contributing and getting to see just how this latest experiment in "crowd-funding" would turn out got to me despite the reproachful awareness of "only pitching in now," and I went and added a pledge. Later that day, "Under the Dog" reached its funding goal with time to spare.

    One just-earlier Kickstarter with a similar intention but different results was sticking in my mind, though; it might have played a small role in my wondering about just what would happen and holding back. Of the two large anime discussion communities I delve some depth into, I did notice some people on The Fandom Post's message board being quicker than anyone in the Anime News Network talkback thread to gloat about how the "Robotech Academy" Kickstarter had ground to a halt and was shut down well before its actual deadline. There were, however, also people on the official Robotech site forum dwelling on how Under the Dog showed more, and more interesting, preliminary work. I do just wonder a bit about whether for some people Under the Dog was more appealing because its creative team didn't bring as much of a "track record" to mind.

    How the episode's worth of animation now crowd-funded will turn out is something I'll have to wait to see. How much further crowd-funding can be stretched is a question I continue to wonder about; at some point, the compromises of seeking funding from deeper pockets may have to be made. As much as promises of the show being "old-fashioned" in a good way appealed to people, I can think that if they want to see three anime movies that feel that way to me right now, they might try Mardock Scramble. Nevertheless, the accomplishment does seem something.

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    Monday, September 1st, 2014
    6:17 pm
    Completed Collection Thoughts: MST3K XXX
    Having finished another official Mystery Science Theater 3000 DVD collection, I can once again take a look at the juxtaposition between episodes I've seen before and the new bonus features included. "The Black Scorpion" was the last episode of the first season to be released on an official DVD, but watching it did prompt the uncertain feeling of wondering just when I would return to any of its episodes without the prompt of them being included in a new collection. Watching all of them in "production order" does seem to be both the "necessary" "new way to try it" and threateningly slow. However, there was a mini-documentary on the making of the actual movie included, as much as its "this was a reasonably budgeted production and contributed to the evolution of 1950s science fiction movies" tone might have left me wondering about an impression while watching the episode itself of the movie skating on the upper slopes of the necessary "cheesiness" that makes for a memorable episode. Still, I did get to wondering if I'd really considered before how the movie had a little Mexican boy constantly stowing away with the heroes into ever-escalating danger; looking back at my "episode thoughts," I did see I'd at least mentioned it.
    Outlaw projections by nightCollapse )

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    Saturday, August 30th, 2014
    10:04 am
    The Unexpected Bonus
    Now that I've managed to see just about all of Creative Computing, the old computer magazine most intriguing to me for being out of reach at the moment seems Softalk. It showed up in the early days of "system-specific magazines," devoted to the Apple II with part of its startup funds coming from game show winnings. Unlike some other early magazines (including Creative Computing itself), it stayed independent even as it spun off magazines devoted to computer gaming, the IBM PC, and the Macintosh, but that independence did seem to doom it exactly four years after its first issue as deeper-pocketed competitors pressed into its market and advertising dollars stretched thin. (Of course, this far from the early days, the magazines that sold out to big companies all wound up closed down by corporate penny-pinching sooner or later...) The Apple II users who read it still seem to remember it with fondness all the same. This, though, hasn't yet translated into all of it being scanned and put online as with Commodore and Atari magazines, but when I saw someone had at least done that with the slim first issue I didn't hesitate.

    Beyond the obvious novelty of a "first issue," I could also take definite interest in its cover story, "Apple Helps The Empire Strikes Back." I'd already seen the Apple II system the article talked about (which not only catalogued the pieces of special-effects film being produced by ILM but also calculated "start frames" to speed putting them together) pictured in "The Making of The Empire Strikes Back"; the picture in the magazine was just as recognizable with its fairly small monitor and the single disk drive right on top of that monitor. What I hadn't expected was for the references to the second sequel to follow the success of the first (and there was a sense of "things aren't what they used to be" when the article led off by talking about how "the conventional wisdom in Hollywood" was that "sequels are almost surely doomed to failure--financially if not artistically") to say "Return of the Jedi."

    "Empire of Dreams," the documentary now ten years old included in the DVD box set of the "Imperial Trilogy," had at least mentioned how George Lucas had put "Return of the Jedi" on his very first draft only to be told he needed something a bit punchier, whereupon he changed it to the "Revenge of the Jedi" everyone seemed to know about in 1981 and 1982; that title was mentioned in "Once Upon A Galaxy," the period "making of The Empire Strikes Back" book presumably wrapped up in time for the movie's opening. I suppose that while I can dwell on implications overheard of "Revenge of the Jedi" representing something unspecified yet appealing to to those who've schooled themselves through long practice to be dissatisfied with, or to altogether miss the point of, Star Wars as it is, this hint at last of the actual title being mentioned in public much sooner than everyone supposes these days was both interesting and intriguing.

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    Monday, August 25th, 2014
    5:45 pm
    From the Bookshelf: Sophistication and Simplicity
    (subtitle: The Life and Times of the Apple II Computer)

    As new books about the computers of the 1980s get published, I've gone ahead and bought some of them, but it may not always be just out of the pure curiosity to know more about some specific subjects than can be found in different corners online. I ordered a book about the original TRS-80 because that was the first computer in my family's home and a book about the Color Computer that followed it because we'd used them for years, but I ordered a book about the Commodore Amiga in some part because it was by someone whose weblog I'd been reading, and this seemed a way to "support" his ongoing history of computer games. When I heard that someone with an online history of the Apple II was converting his web site into a book, I might not have had as much of a compulsion to go and order it as those previous cases. When I happened to walk by the computer bookshelves in the local bookstore and spotted a copy of "Sophistication & Simplicity: The Life and Times of the Apple II Computer," though, it might have been the sense of the book being "ready right to hand" that made me buy it then. I did think it would be interesting to have in permanent form a history of the Apple II computer itself as opposed to the company, as much as the downs and ups there have appealed to writers (but sometimes leave partisans of other computers complaining their favourite models were better, and cheaper anyway), and yet I did wonder about how that larger history might lend a darker tone to parts of the book.
    Further reflections on the book and some ramblings built on itCollapse )

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    Wednesday, August 20th, 2014
    4:51 pm
    Star Trek Thoughts: The Ultimate Computer
    As I got to the end of my Blu-Ray set of the second season of Star Trek, I stepped away from watching what episodes I wanted to watch as they were ordered on the discs (which was how they'd been broadcast in 1967 and 1968, not the order they'd been produced in) to save just one episode for last. "The Ultimate Computer," in which Starfleet installs a supercomputer to run an almost unmanned Enterprise and it goes just about as well as should be expected, doesn't seem high on many lists of most notable and quickly thought of episodes. That sense of it being available as a personal favourite, though, may just add a bit to the interest I've had in its themes and story since I first read James Blish's short-story adaptation of it.
    'Did you see the love light in Spock's eyes? The right computer finally came along.'Collapse )

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    Thursday, August 14th, 2014
    6:07 pm
    Anime Thoughts: Space Pirate Captain Harlock
    I managed to surprise myself when, after six months of worrying how most capsule descriptions of new anime series weren't grabbing me, I filled a fair slate of shows to watch weekly. There were more series yet that sounded interesting but wouldn't fit in, in part because I was also still intent on watching shows on DVD. Indulging in something apparently rare the way certain people dwell on it but quite possible for me, I started off these latest three months shifting back and forth from right now to the late 1970s.
    Saga of a space outlawCollapse )

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    Tuesday, August 12th, 2014
    8:44 pm
    On Getting Forty Volumes Into One Manga
    "This actually ends" is a comment I remember being made about manga, pointing to thoughts of superhero comics running for decades as their copyright holders hand them from one creative team to another. It may also apply to anime series and the old-fashioned type of unceremoniously cancelled TV shows. Just as there's been a rise in "plot arcs" on this side of the Pacific, though, I've also come to notice criticism about "you'll just have to go to the original source material now" last episodes, undemanding manga series that run on and on so long as they're selling, and dark mutterings about other series that go in creepy, awkward directions to definitely outstay their welcome. In the case of anime I suppose I just shrug that first point off, but when it comes to manga I've called arbitrary halts in some cases and avoided some other lengthy series altogether. On reading my way through the fortieth volume of one particular series, though, I happened to think back to how struck I'd been by the thought of reading through its thirtieth volume, and then back a bit further than that...
    A brief and specific historyCollapse )

    This entry was originally posted at Comment here or there (using OpenID) as you please.
    Saturday, August 9th, 2014
    1:44 pm
    Off on a Comet
    I have been paying attention to the news that the European space probe Rosetta has reached the comet it's spent ten years in space heading towards. (Matching velocities with a celestial object to go into orbit around it does take longer than just flying past it.) The pictures already returned have caught my interest as craggier-looking than the closeups of astroids I've seen, which of course aren't as likely to melt close to the Sun. However, I did happen to see a comparison picture of comets close up, and they do seem to have something of the same look to them. I suppose that in acknowledging this I'm getting to the point where looking for further updates will manage to slip my mind, but I do know an attempt will be made in several months' time to try and secure a lander package to the comet's surface itself. However, all the news reports about that I've seen do seem to amount to "it'll be nice if this actually works."

    This entry was originally posted at Comment here or there (using OpenID) as you please.
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