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Posts posted by Blambo

  1. I thought Toy Story 3 was "denying death is delusional", Toy Story 2 was "the dangers of rejecting life in the face of inevitable death", and Toy Story was "belonging is life affirming and always mutual, and uniqueness is overrated". The first movie serves as thematic bedrock for the two sequels in that the problems/villains of the sequels were caused by a lack of belonging, and they're both opposites on the what-do-we-do-about-dying spectrum.

    Or it's about toys that come to life and how wacky that is

  2. I'm having problems running for longer periods of time. It might be because of my posture or technique but I've only ever managed to do 1.5 miles per hour of rest/weight training, and my calves and joints feel a lot of pressure when I run. Anyone here experienced in endurance training or long distance running? I used to swim competitively, so I thought I'd at least have the cardiovascular ability to run for a while but I guess it's a totally different beast.

  3. Just completed Kids on the Slope, and rewatched From up on Poppy Hill. I really like the setting of postwar Japan because it's a slightly edgy, rejuvenative period of a country in transition after a major conflict, with people banding together and working towards some semblance of peace and community. The respective plots of both pieces are pretty generic and clichéd but the setting and tone really carry them, especially Poppy Hill which has this weird ability to invoke nostalgia even though I've never set foot in Japan. I really want more of this kind of stuff, but a quick google search doesn't net me much.

    Watching kids get together and achieve something positive in a realistic setting is cool cause it displays idealism without hiding reality.

  4. Upon further research (I don't know why I keep looking this shit up, please somebody stop me!) the lightwhip doesn't function as a single blade like a lightsaber does. Instead it appears to have a bunch of segmented projectors that create a bunch of mini blades, the result of which is a whip-like thing.


    God this is ushering in a new era of Star Wars S&M cosplay to rival "chained Leia"

  5. ewokskick, on 16 Feb 2015 - 12:14, said:

    I don't know how exactly to respond to this without giving a kind of a history/genealogy of the ideas in Diamond's book so bare with me if your interested in why environmental determinism isn't as subversive as you are making it out to be.

    The idea of of racial superirority in geography was never based on genetics, but on environmental determinism. If you go back to American Ellen Churchill Semple, she argued that harsh environments made for less civilized societies. A similar argument was made by Ratzel a German geographer whose ideas influenced the Nazis. Even McKinder, famous as the godfather of British geopolitics argued for an environmental determinism of sorts (he argued that central asia was the "geographic pivot of history" and that controling it would establish Britain as the global hegemon). In all three cases, the environmental dominance of Europe was taken as a given and need to control more land was implicit in their theories. While none of them believed in inherent genetic racial differences, they all believed in European superiority and their ideas were used to justify colonialism. If true civilization wasn't possible in the harsh environments of Africa and Asia then the only way to administer it would be through European control.

    Jared Diamond is also drawing on environmental determinism in his book. He argues that things like the shape of the continent or climate gives Europeans an inherent geopolitical advantage. I think the quinine example shows how that view is simplistic because it ignores how advantages and disadvantages are context dependent. That is, society and nature are co-produced through social and technological relationships. That is, with the quinine case colonialism is creating the conditions for itself to succeed by appropriating indigenous technologies. In other words, the advantage of disadvantage of any given environmental condition isn't set in stone, but produced between a combination of social relationships. In that sense, he leaves out that fact that European societies dominance was in large part due to the moral failure that was colonial politics.

    So why does it matter that Jared Diamond draws on environmental determinism? Well, I think that the main reason I care is that a part of conclusion is that stable and powerful societies are in wet-er cllimates. I have a problem with that and its implied political implications. Firstly, that has shades of the Euro-centrism of colonial era and we need to be critical of those stories. If we told the same story 700 years earlier the dry climates and pastoral lifestyle was the source of the mongolian dominance and and an advantage in setting up complex trade networks rather than a disadvantage. Secondly, something like 60% of the world's population currently lives in some form of dry-land climate (arid or semi-arid zones). In the Africa and Asia these civilizations have often been pastoral rather than settled. These livelihoods are especially attuned to the condition of those environments. They don't degrade land or require water in an environment that brings little in naturally. However, all accross the world today there is a great effort (largely driven by the West starting with colonialism) to settle pastoral populations and make them farm cereal grains. The major drive of this is the belief that modern societies have to rely on settled agriculture. Unfortunately, settled agriculture in dry climates requires either the mining of ground water or costly and destructive dam placement. Additionally, it degrades soils and requires signficant chemical inputs. The market implications are also severe, it causes former pastorialists to be more vulnerable to famine because their ability to eat is now tied to global market prices for the grains they are farming. If you look at the source of much of sub-saharan hunger it is ironically tied to the drive for agriculture. This is also politically difficult and in the background of many conflicts (e.g. Boko Haram in Nigeria). Long story short, Diamond's story implies things about the way we should live in our environment that I disagree with and think we can see failing all over the world.

    I read that book a while ago so I'm...probably really really misinformed about a lot of things (I'm also not an anthropology or history person in any right so feel free to shred my post up). Also this is all coming from scattered readings and faded memories of AP World History so please take it all with an industrial pinch of salt.

    I seem to recall that the argument was that environmental factors that led to the specific western colonial motivation were only advantageous in that the results gave European powers a predilection to adapt and evolve. One of the arguments I remember was that the close proximity and diversity of consolidated nation-units (which form because of the political structure enabled by surplus farming) made competing and adapting against neighboring, often hostile nation-units fairly frequent.

    This was the result of fertile but limited agrarian resources and non-contiguous spaces, and acts against monolithic dogma of technology and military. Western political culture and military around the age of discovery is not monolithic, and its only internal similarity is its agility. If the only advantage that nation-states in the west had was this abstract notion of abundance and technological superiority, the Roman empire might've lasted a couple hundred years or more. It didn't partly because it overextended, couldn't mutate its once adaptive military culture to new conditions, and held onto an antiquated and disadvantageous political system.

    The specific economic and geographical conditions that enabled organized nation-states were only instrumental to the development of a flexible, competitive, and atomized economic and political culture. It is context dependent in that this is but one way in which this is possible (your example of Mongolian dominance is a really cool instance of an adaptable and powerful society not based on bureaucracy or surplus farming), and I seem to remember that Jared Diamond hit upon that in the book but maybe didn't emphasize enough, probably because the first few chapters were admittedly really really focused on the differences in natural abundance and agrarian superiority between the West and the rest of the world.

    The organization of competing nation-states also likely gave way to the morally abhorrent justification of expansion. If you try to expand an economy that's based on limited domestic diversity and relies on out-competing your neighbors, gaining trade superiority via colonizing areas with abundant non-european resources is essential. The western styled sedentary specialization/bureaucracy economy that Diamond outlines in the book and that Peter Stearns writes about in his textbooks is not actually sustainable as population increases, and so requires expansion to support itself, which I see as a huge disadvantage rather than an advantage. The way of life itself is not what fueled western "dominance" but the mindset it created. It doesn't exempt western powers from moral scrutiny or say that domination of non-Western civilizations was "meant to happen" (which is an interpretation I see a lot of this kind of thing), but it provides background on the specific twisted warmongering brainwaves that allowed it to happen.

    Anyway I might be giving Diamond too much credit, but I seem to remember his book depicting the trend of western dominance to be a colossal, devastating, and almost coincidental fallout of a broken Western dogma trying to support itself, producing the worst human behavior possible.

    I really hope I don't come off as way too confident with potentially wrong facts, because I'm super dubious about my own understanding and I'm looking forward to hearing from someone who actually studies this and knows what they're talking about.

  6. On being traumatized in childhood by a movie, apparently my father-in-law was terrified by the Wizard of Oz when he was a little kid, particularly the flying monkeys, and hates the movie to this day. It doesn't help that he's only ever lived in Kansas.

    The Wizard of Oz triggered a lifelong fear of weird colored skin in movies. Something about a completely realistic human being with one off but very obvious thing wrong with it gives me horrible chills. There's no damn reason for that witch to be fucking green.

    I can't watch the Mask or Big Fat Liar for this reason. It's given me the seed of alien prejudice.

  7. Man I guess I'm well in the minority because I hated that Mickey Mouse 3d cartoon. I thought the whole thing was mean-spirited and not very clever and the 3d characters looked incredibly generic and ugly compared to their black and white 2d counterparts. Plus the entire thing felt like a goodbye to 2d animation in general, which doesn't sit well at all when the 2d animation in it is so much more interesting and full of life. Ugh.


    I dunno, a lot of the stuff I like about 2d animation versus the current style of 3d animation is its willingness to be incredibly dynamic and wild with shapes and silhouettes, which working with 3d stuff seems to be less catered toward. The short that tegan posted shows 2d style animation sense using 3d art, and I think it looks pretty great and keeps with the spirit.

  8. Oh man, I really should, I'm sure a lot of old pals will be there, and it's 10 minutes from home.


    Just grabbed a Saturday pass.


    One of the talks is " We Are Drugs: on New Indie Game Dev Tools for Psychedelic Hologram Futures". Anyone not in NY this Saturday is missing out.

  9. I'm working in college admissions right now (the person who admitted you to forge might have been an underpaid temp, fyi), and some of the recommendations I'm reading are really, really infuriating. This morning, there was a letter of recommendation where the counselor at an expensive boarding school gushed that this applicant was just inhumanly kind because his brother, 5 years older than him, is gay. That's it. Because someone 5 years older than him is gay, this kid is really brave and strong and it's so good of him to have dealt with the hardship of having a gay older sibling in moneyed circles in New York.

    On its own, that would just make me roll my eyes, but the applicant's statement on a hardship he faced in life is entirely about his gay older sibling. 750 words about how his brother was generally well accepted by everyone around him, but it was really hard that he was gay.

    I obviously can't go into specific details, but it's pretty terrible. These kinds of statements and letters aren't all that rare, and it's going to give me an aneurysm. Is it wrong of me to get so frustrated by this or am I being unreasonable by underestimating how difficult it can be to have a gay sibling/friend/uncle/neighbor?

    Ohh someone inside the college admissions thinger. I have a question: when you give recommendations for rejection, do you experience pushback if your main point is that the applicant displays a form of prejudice that could contribute to a negative social environment in the university? Is that kind of thing ever considered in earnest?

  10. Don't most girls get aborted in China? Isn't that the main cause for the huge gender inbalance, along with the 1 child* law?

    *not including girls


    From what I've read, it's a bigger problem in cities because the law is more loosely enforced in rural areas, but the preference for males stays about the same. The dynamic where it's predominantly male is that despite a scarcity of females, cultural factors make them only valued in a position of little power. Explains why despite the population weirdness in the most extreme cases, Chinese people still remain monogamous.

  11. My Kindle says I'm 60% of the way through it so take this with a grain of salt, but I'd say the book focuses more on the author's philosophy rather than the practicality of her method. As someone who is generally pretty logical and unemotional, it's an odd book to read because the author frequently talks about spirituality hand in hand with practicality.

    Example - she suggests folding socks and shirts instead of rolling them up or some such thing, half because if you fold something like socks you're not going to be stretching the elastic as you would if you rolled them up. The other half of this practice is so that you touch the clothes for longer so you're pouring positive energy into them rather than just treating them roughly or hanging things up unnecessarily. I don't fully buy the energy and spirit stuff, but she does tend to refer back to utility often because I imagine that some of the Japanese spiritualism might wear after a while.

    Whenever I see something like the word "spirit" in this kind of context I sort of just silently insert "as a shorthand for overall pathos of a thing". I keep feeling like there's always some kind of less fantastical or new age intent in using it if it's obviously part of some complex or formed idea.

    Like maybe it's talking about the "spirit" of this kind of organization being a reflection of a certain mindset in doing things, ie. being thorough for mundane tasks even if it's not the bare minimum you have to do, which forces you to focus on your actions in the present. Or some such thing; I haven't read any of the book (though it looks interesting) so the author might be completely weird and new age, I dunno. Mundane aesthetic and living habit as enforcing or reflecting an abstract idea or philosophy I think is pretty Japanese, at least.

    Anyway I think words that have other, nebulous superstitious connotations often make the reader kind of just dismiss stuff without a thought because of (understandable) skepticism around weird spiritual stuff, but I also think that this isn't giving the author enough credit and kind of betrays a kind of prejudice. I'm not into "spirituality" either in that stereotypical or popular sense but maybe the opaque and weird language masks actual, practical, grounded ideas?

  12. Anybody have examples of stories in games, books, films, TV shows etc that effectively use coincidences to drive a plot forward in a way that doesn't feel contrived? I see them in Coen films a lot and they usually seem to be done for the purpose of comedy or to show some theme about fate or chaos. Cowboy Bebop does it a lot too, but in that instance it constantly feels artificial and convenient.

  13. So continuing the JoJo OP debacle, was it me, or did the OP sound different this week? Like it was less muted, with more guitar and what have you? I still maintain that the 'ora's at the end of the song is the worst, as it feels really tacky. Whist the previous OP's had clever references to their JoJo arc (Coda's bloody stream is fucking incredible), the ORA just felt too forced and obvious?

    I personally find redline to be one of my favourite anime movies. I don't think it's meta at all. twmac, watch redline gosh darn it!

    I really enjoyed this show too. Also what's great is that Yatterman originally aired in 1977, so the audience who originally watched it when it was aired must be like 30 now, so it fits the target audience too? I didn't get the impression that the yattermans were evil, just very protective about making sure the villians who destroyed their city doesn't get allowed back in. It's fairly obvious I think that this is going to be a major plot point. I'd be surprised if they are actually evil.

    Uh you'll probably be disappointed. All the episodes are completely different from each other, and whilst I loved it, it certainly has no overarching plot until the last few episodes. If that doesn't bother you, it's great, and is like South Park in how every episode is completely inconsequential from the next. There are also some episodes that are better than others, and I felt that season 2 was generally better than 1? Idk, I think you might not like it.

    The episodic thing isn't really what bothered me, it was the lack of direction of the story in the episode itself. I really really enjoyed Cowboy Bebop which I think has very self contained episodes, but each plot had elements that felt purposeful rather than decorative. It kind of just had a weird, listless feeling to it despite being extremely wacky and over the top in its characters. I haven't actually continued watching it.

    Speaking of Cowboy Bebop, I super like it so far. Every creative decision and juxtaposition seems to serve some overarching aesthetic or narrative goal rather than being checkboxes for certain character tropes and demographics, in a way that feels really wholesome and organic to take in. I'm probably making undue assumptions about a medium that I've had limited exposure to but from my experience of anime, the particular anime series I've seen have things that I like that are encapsulated from each other and develop in silos. They seem like they were developed to hit very specific notes for the audience and lumped together in a way that doesn't really care about the overall feeling of the show. These are slice of life rather than action but Princess Jellyfish and Welcome to the NHK both felt like this to me. "Unique" (or "overdesigned") character design, one dimensional but distinct personalities, gratuitous manzai routines, the use of generic background art and extremely diluted or purposeless music made it feel disjointed in plots that seem to be obvious attempts at conveying specific themes and feelings. It constantly feela like I'm being shown a world as a set piece rather than specific stories that take place in the world, like all the energy was spent in making cool characters and settings and none went into presenting them in an artful way. It might have to do with the business being focused on creating franchises and characters with continuous presence (thanks for the business info guys) rather than creating stories and cohesive peices of art. I dunno. I still like them but it's just a specific feeling I have.

  14. I'm watching Space Dandy. I'm only on episode 1, but so far the animation and music is amazing, and the voice acting is great, but the direction, dialogue, and pacing feel somewhat bland and monotonous, as if I was just watching lights flashing on and off for 30 minutes. I like its wacky theme and such but the way that the story is presented so far feels really straightforward and uninteresting. I hope it gets better cause I love the animation and art style to death.

  15. Does anyone have an insight into what the anime business is like nowadays? It just seems like an incredible risk to create something that costs so much for essentially the same audience that reads manga (which seems way cheaper and more sustainable). I see that a lot of shortcuts and techniques used to cut costs, but creating animation at the industry nowadays still seems prohibitively expensive, with the preference for traditional animation not really scaling with new tech developments. Not only that but I see a lot of anime that's actually very risky and diverse in subject matter because it's based on manga. I guess there's the guarantee of an audience?

  16. I met a cosplayer at my local mall recently. I recognized the costume so we talked for a bit, and he seemed like a nice guy. I don't know if this makes me a bad person or not, but there was something about the way he talked about things that made me really really not want to associate with him. As far as I could gather, he and a couple friends were at the mall doing some kind of stunt to show off their costumes like in some kind of public inside joke, and that really ticked me off for some reason. I don't know anything about this person's life or background, but I immediately assumed that he got some kind of sense of exclusivity and superiority for following a relatively esoteric subculture. We talked about hobbies and games, each topic of which he seemed a little too serious and a little too uppity about, like regulations in trading card games and western treatment of eastern culture and how it's viewed as nerdy. The latter topic felt rather uncomfortable as I was there as an east asian person eventually talking about cultural appropriation with a white person dressed in a half kimono. I have nothing against anime and manga specifically, but this was a particularly negative interaction I had with someone who seemed to enjoy these things as an integral part of his identity, pushed away from superiority in conventional society creating his own sense of competency in a made up arena. I dunno. It's just a vague sense I get from otaku culture, that this kind of obsessive interest is simultaneously a convenient distraction from and exacerbation of pressures from society, and an identity made in bad faith. Am I a bad person for assuming all of these things just from an uncomfortable 20 minute conversation?