Corny Oatmeal

August 17, 2017

We had corn on the cob last night. One cob each. They were pretty well gnawed but they still had some kernels on them, and I wondered if they’d make a good broth. Prep was nothing special: two leftover cobs with enough water to cover (just over a quart), along with a couple pinches of salt. Pressure cook on high for 45min.

The resulting broth was clear and straw colored, with a faint corn aroma and a mild corn flavor. One might even use the term delicate. The flavor would probably disappear if you threw the cobs in with a load of beef bones, but it would most likely add a new dimension to a plain chicken broth. Plus, I’m sure it would make the base for an interesting sauce. Meanwhile:

Setup: 1/3 cup of stone ground rolled oats, one cup of corn broth, two dinner teaspoons of potato flakes, salt. Cook for 10 minutes or so, depending on the exact style of oats. Add the potatoes at the end.

Results: Very good. The plain broth was surprisingly foamy when heated, but the mild flavor carried over, and blended well with the flavor of the oatmeal itself.

Rating: *****

MH370 and trash in the ocean 2

August 16, 2017

The search that just won’t die. Just over three years ago I talked about using satellite imagery to search for debris from the MH-370 crash site. Now, a reanalysis of all imagery available has shown more debris, including some items big enough to be from the aircraft.

Four spots, north of the search area, and well north of the previous debris field

The imagery was obtained two weeks after the crash, and so had been moving at the whim of the wind and the currents. Detailed drift analysis gives some idea of where the debris could have ended up.

Consistent with a crash in the center of the white line, at 35.6°S, 92.8°E

The map doesn’t show tracks, it shows calculated possible final locations, with error bars, from a starting point on the white line, just outside the search area. You will note a dense cluster of them in the vicinity of PH-04, the upper right square. The problem is, of course, that the imagery isn’t good enough to tell what the floating objects are.

Pleiades Area 4. Mostly clouds and shadows

Even with Principal Component Analysis image enhancement.

Pleiades Area 4 Item 3. Red box in center is the original image. Left is true color blowup. Right is false color enhancement

The imagery analysis report can be found here (pdf), and the full file of ATSB reports here.

This new evidence might not be enough to re-start an already expensive search, but it will certainly prompt an intense scrutiny of the sonar recordings from that edge of the search box.

Green Thumb Up My Nose

August 13, 2017

Garden Report for 170814

Summer continues. No rain for over a month. Highs in the upper 90’sF, lows in the lower 60’sF. Next week we’ll have highs around 80F with lows around 55F. Possible rain, but not enough to keep down the blowing dust.

The tomato harvest is starting. Thirty this week, totalling 4kg. Champion and Lemon Boy are producing some nice ~200g tomatoes, while First Lady and Arkansas Traveller have smaller ones. Cherokee Purple and Beefmaster still bothered by BER.

There’s more where that came from

In other news: Two more cucumbers. Two medium summer squash. One of the Buttercups will be ready to harvest soon.

Week
Ending
17/08/14
Vegetable Count Weight
g
Unit
Weight
g
Total Total
Weight
kg

tomato 31 4030 130  49 6.0
cabbage  2 0.25
cucumber  2 240  120 8 1.5
summer
squash
 3 1000 333 6 1.35
zucchini 1 0.15
winter
squash
Grand Total  9.25

Last year at this time we had 5.5kg of non-cabbage produce. This year, roughly 9kg.

Green Thumb Up My Nose

August 6, 2017

Garden Report for 170807

Summer continues. No rain for over a month. Highs in the upper 90’sF, lows in the lower 60’sF. They were forecasting 100F, but we didn’t make it, thanks to a smoke blanket that made our air worse than Beijing’s.

Big Boy gave a couple of 150g’s, and the Beefmaster gave a 100g tomato (the first that wasn’t et up with BER), and there’s more buckets of cherry tomatoes of various types. Meanwhile, the Pink Brandywine by the house isn’t doing anything. Maybe the shock of almost drowning made it reluctant to reproduce. I note, though, that the one in the main garden is only now producing flowers, so it might just be a (puts on sunglasses) late bloomer.

Unproductive Pink

In other news: Two cucumbers, one big, one small.  The Bush Buttercup is trying to produce something, but it really needs to be in a bigger pot. Harvested two of the purple cabbages. Trimmed, they are fist sized, and about 125g each — and were very tough, even when shredded and cooked with Spam, peas, and carrots . There’s three left, and we’ll see what the heat does to them.

Still Life, With Cabbages

 

Week
Ending
17/08/07
Vegetable Count Weight
g
Unit
Weight
g
Total Total
Weight
kg

tomato  5 600 120  18 1.9
cabbage  2 250  125  2 0.25
cucumber 2 420  210 6 1.3
summer
squash
3 0.34
zucchini 1 0.15
winter
squash
Grand Total  3.9

Last year at this time we had almost 4kg of non-cabbage produce. This year, just over 3kg.

 

Smoke gets in your eyes

August 4, 2017

I am always amazed at how far smoke can travel. Lots of fires up in British Columbia, lots of BC smoke in the Spokane area. Right now our AQI is 193. In Beijing, it’s 45.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Judging from the map, it will only get worse here. Out on our back deck, it takes the form of a light haze. You can smell the smoke, and your eyes water. I guess we keep the house closed up tonight.

UPDATE: Was still too smoky to open up, even at 11PM. 3/4 moon was a nice bright orange. I’d write a haiku, but I can’t think of a rhyme.

Jalapenoats

August 3, 2017

I’m not a big one for spicy. I can eat spicy food, but I don’t seek it out. Usually. This week, MJ bought some Colby-Pepper-Jack cheese snacks. Smallish sticks of cheese with chunks of jalapenos embedded in them. Mediocre snacks, because of the too much peppers. That didn’t keep me from eating them. And it didn’t keep me from trying them in oatmeal.

Setup: 1/3 cup of stone ground rolled oats, one cup of beef broth, two dinner teaspoons of potato flakes, salt. Grab handful of CPJ sticks, call it a quarter cup. Cook for 10 minutes or so, depending on the exact style of oats. Add the potatoes at the end, and the cheese right before that.

Results: Not quite as mediocre. The cheese melted nicely and the pepper bite got spread out, but the pepper smell/flavor remained.

Rating: ***

Memories of my youth: Technology progress

July 31, 2017

Times change. Technology changes. Most everybody looks at computing power as an example. If you want another example (albeit computer-related), look no further than our worldwide communications network, and how it’s changed in my adult lifetime.

1970: I am a young USAF lieutenant, based at RAF Mildenhall, in the UK. My mother, recently divorced and on her own, was going through a bad patch. How can I provide her some moral support? What about a phone call?

There was one phone in the BOQ that you could book international calls on. It was at the front desk, and normally behind the glass of the teller’s cage. To make a call, you first booked it with the international operator, who would call you back when the circuit was available. Then you stood next to the cashier’s cage, with the handset cord snaked out through the hole in the glass, and held your conversation while the rest of the world was cashing checks and paying for dinner. Cost was $1.00 a minute.

1980: I’m a USAF major at the Alert Center at DIA, in the Pentagon. There was an incident where a US carrier, enroute to a port visit in Yugoslavia, violated Yugoslav airspace on the way in to port. There was a discussion between the US ambassador, in Belgrade, and the National Military Command Center (NMCC) duty general on one phone line, and the NMCC duty general talking to the captain of the carrier on a different line. I stood by in case there was a need for Intelligence input. There wasn’t.

It was interesting, and exciting, to have real time communications halfway around the world, even if it had to be on two different phone lines. Based on recent reports, things haven’t changed in the cross-Department area.

1990: I’m a contractor, working on a then state of the art geographic information system, installed in the Alert Center at DIA. It’s the start of the Kuwait war Scud missile attacks and I’m helping chase them. A missile would launch from Iraq, and the plume would be detected by a satellite in geosynchronous orbit. The satellite would radio the detection to the ground site in Colorado, which would report it to the NMCC in the Pentagon. DIA was also on that circuit, and we’d input the launch coordinates to our database, pull up possible hiding places, like bridges and overpasses, and send that on to the Scud Cell in Saudi Arabia. They’d pass the data to the F-15E’s and the fighters would try to find the launchers.

What with intermediate hops, the signal had to travel a good 120,000 miles, from detection to target assignment.

1997: Meanwhile, Cordelia has her own wireless phone. All you have to do is pull the antenna out.

2016: I am a college professor enroute to a conference in Hokkaido, Japan. While travelling along at 90mph on the Shinkansen bullet train, I call my brother in Utah on my pocket phone. The next year he returns the favor by calling me from Graz, Austria, on his phone, using full motion video.

 

Green Thumb Up My Nose

July 30, 2017

Garden Report for 170731

Summer continues. No rain for over a month. Highs around 90F, lows around 60F, limited watering restrictions continue. Next week the same yet again, except highs near 100F. Glad I’ve got the drip water timer.

Sub-Arctic gave three small tomatoes, as did the Siletz. Better Boy and Big Boy gave one each. Or rather, a third of a one each. Blossom end rot. Late breaking news: At the last minute, Big Boy came through with a 150g non-BER. Yay!

Sub-Arctic Plenty is a “determinate that gives hundreds of small tomatoes”. Mine gave three, and I don’t mean three hundred, and then pooped out. The container is on the south wall. Have never had any luck on that side. Maybe it’s too hot. Well, let’s try planting some heirloom Rutgers tomatoes. The ones sold today are derivatives of the original. Some are determinate, some are not. Mine are indeterminate (it says here). The packet says 10-12 weeks, which means end of October/early November. We’ll see if we can beat the frost.

In other news: two small summer squash and one small zucchini. Four warty cucumbers. Half a kg of cherry tomatoes of various types. They come in clusters, and some are still green, so it’s not worth tracking them. Handful of shell peas, and handful of pea pod peas, harvested just ahead of death-by-powdery-mildew. Not enough to track. Barely enough for a salad.

Week
Ending
17/07/31
Vegetable Count Weight
g
Unit
Weight
g
Total Total
Weight
kg

tomato  7 550 78  13 1.3
cabbage
cucumber 4 870  217 4 0.87
summer
squash
2 240 120 3 0.34
zucchini  1  150  1 150 0.15
winter
squash
Grand Total  2.7

Last year at this time we had over 6kg of produce, but 4kg of that was cabbage, so the rest of our produce is on track. Our cabbages have not bolted, yet, but they look to be about tennis-ball sized. Since temps have been running 90F and up, I doubt we’ll get much out of them. We’ll see what they look like at the start of next week

 

Tanya: Someone is wrong on the Internet

July 25, 2017

It’s always painful when even the supporters of a show get it wrong. The latest misinterpretation of Tanya is by Nick Creamer, over on ANN, and it looks like none of the commenters has any concept of WW’s I and II beyond watching Thomas Kretschmann movies. Herewith, seven key points to keep in mind when reading any of it:

  1. The Empire isn’t imperialist. They never invaded anyone that didn’t invade them first. When the not-Scandanavians invaded the Empire, everybody’s reaction was WTF? Who would do such a stupid thing? The narration at the end of the series points out the irony that all the Empire’s actions were out of fear of their neighbors.
  2. The officers aren’t Nazis. The talk of serving the homeland appears on both sides in the anime, and is no different than what you would have heard in any military headquarters in our Europe in the early 1900’s. The counter-invasion of not-Scandanavia horrified the generals.
  3. Nobody’s a good guy. Soldiers on both sides did terrible things, because that’s what one does in a war. At the start of Episode 1, the not-French were killing not-Germans who were disorganized and fleeing, and doing it with a smile. In Episode 2, Anson Su, lead element of the invasion force, did his best to kill a young girl who was merely acting as an observer. Yes, she turned out to be a fierce fighter, but that was later. As far as he knew, she was like his daughter.
  4. Nobody’s a bad guy. These are military professionals, engaged in high-stakes, high adrenalin actions. They are excited in their work, and proud of their accomplishments. If they sit and mope and come all over angsty about their actions, they do it after the battle, when such thoughts won’t slow down their reactions. Tanya does it on the train. Su does it, a little bit, right before the fjord raid kicks off.
  5. Tanya isn’t a sadist. Throughout the series, none of Tanya’s actions were, as far as I can tell, violations of the rules of war, either in her world or in ours.  None of her acts involve inflicting pain without purpose, and at least twice she says she hates killing. The guy she fired in Episode 2 failed to show for work on time, and failed to respond to training. Tanya’s only “sin” was in not feeling any emotion about it. Her approach to training was similar to that used by the US Marines and the UK Commandos. She thought it would drive them away. Instead, it created an elite unit. On at least two occasions, Tanya changed her approach to a problem in order to minimize her casualties.
  6. Tanya isn’t power-hungry. Here in our world, and in the new one, her goal is to achieve a quiet life. All of her actions point in that direction. Play by the rules, and do your job well, and you will be on the escalator to a good position and a quiet life.
  7. Being X isn’t God. Maybe he’s A god (responsible only for reincarnation, in a Japanese division-of-divine-labor sort of way), but in Episode 2 he complains of being unable to handle so many billions of souls. To which Tanya replies that overwork is an indicator of a failed business model.

If you want to develop a less biased view of Tanya, when you watch it, imaging that it stars Sylvester Stallone, instead of a 10-year old girl.

Green Thumb Up My Nose

July 23, 2017

Garden Report for 170724

Hot and dry, with a forecast of dry and hot.

Stuff is growing. Nothing new is ripe. No change from last week.

Got to work on the burdock. That’s one tough plant. Deep roots. Thick base stalk with lots of branches. Thistles that cling, even when green.

I’ve cleared out about half of the infestation, but left lots of stumps. Click the pix to embiggen.

The garden in June. All that waist-high stuff to the left of the bird feeder is burdock. It was head high by the time I started work.
And here’s what I’ve been able to do so far. Looks like pictures of pioneer clearings in the NW forests. Notice that the plants next to the fence have grown quite a bit.

Coconoats 2

July 20, 2017

Just over four years ago, I tried coconut milk as the base fluid for the oatmeal. It didn’t go well, even with chocolate helper. This time I thought I’d try it with blueberries, since it’s blueberry season at Follow The Harvest. Keep in mind that this isn’t the coconut water from the immature nut, it’s the organic coconut flesh, ground and processed, with added organic sugar.

Setup: 1/3 cup of stone ground rolled oats, one cup of coconut milk, half a cup of blueberries, two dinner teaspoons of potato flakes, salt. Cook for 10 minutes or so, depending on the exact style of oats. Add the blueberries at the start, and the potatoes at the end.

Results: Keep in mind that the manufacturer is trying to create a milk substitute that doesn’t involve methane farts. They succeeded, and the oatmeal tastes like oatmeal made with regular milk, except that it didn’t want to scald. Additional sweetener was necessary, as was a couple tablespoons of organic non-dairy creamer (I prefer Italian Cream flavor). It was alright, if you’re a normal.

Rating: ***

Green Thumb Up My Nose

July 16, 2017

Garden Report for 170717

We are now in full summer mode. No rain for a month. Highs around 90F, lows around 60F, watering restrictions on due to city water pump casualty, fire alert for much of the weekend. Same for the coming week

First harvest of the season. Six tomatoes: Siletz and Sub-Arctic, ranging in size from 40 – 140g. One small summer squash. One puny purple pepper. Bag of about-to-bolt lettuce, bag of chard. The chard seems to be winning the fight against the leaf miners. The trick is immediate and unmerciful pruning. Your chard will thank you.

Week
Ending
07/17
Vegetable Count Weight
g
Unit
Weight
g
Total Total
Weight
kg

tomato  6 600 100  6 0.6
cabbage
peas
summer
squash
 1 100 100 1 0.1
zucchini
Spaghetti
squash
Grand Total  0.7

This time last year and in 2015 we had a grand total of 3kg. Fewer tomatoes, more cabbage and squash. In 2014 we had enough heat, and I hadn’t installed the automatic waterizer, that we had nothing but lettuce.

For some reason it only just now occurred to me that the shoulder-high jungle in the SE corner of the yard is actually burdock. On the one hand, that will give me some roots to try cooking. On the other hand, their thistles are nasty. I’m buying a machete.

 

TLDR: Anime I never finished, Summer 2017 – 3

July 16, 2017

I’m crying here. I was going to have just two TLDRs this season, but sometimes one has to reopen the books for new challengers.

Shining Tears X Wind: Pronounced crosswind. STxW (pronounced stew) is a Crunchyroll re-release of a 2007 anime based on a Sega mobile game. Parallel worlds. Multiple handsome heroes. Multiple ornamental girls to fill out the handsome heroes’ harems. The girls also act as …ah… receptacles … for …um… magic swords … that the heroes store in their oppai, bosoms, chests. King Arthur it ain’t.

They wanted to copy the tank chase scene from GaruPan, but didn’t have the budget

Graphics and animation appear to be done using the same 8-bit technology they used for the game. If you liked the game, then (A) you will like this, and (B) we can’t be friends anymore.

True Tears: Crunchyroll re-release of a 2008 anime. High school boy lives in the same house as a cute classmate who he thinks likes him but she really likes the brother of a girl who he also thinks likes him but all she wants him for is his bodily fluids.

Trust me, it will all end in tears before bedtime

None of them are very likeable. Well, there’s the girl standing on the beer crate.

Four Bean Oatmeal

July 13, 2017

Beanless.

MJ bought a jar of four-bean salad a while back. FBS consists of four different kinds of beans, plus chopped onions, in a sugar/vinegar sauce. Tastes very good, either on its own, or spooned over a standard green salad. In home-made versions, the sugar/vinegar ratio varies widely, but is generally about 1:1. Some home-made recipes call for a small amount of salad oil, as well. Our commercial FBS had no sign of oil.

As you serve it up, you generally leave a lot of the liquid behind. What better use for it than in oatmeal the next morning?

Experiment 1

Setup: 1/2 cup of stone ground rolled oats (to make up for the extra liquid), one cup of broth, two measuring tablespoons of sugar/vinegar mix, two dinner teaspoons of potato flakes, salt. Cook for 10 minutes or so, depending on the exact style of oats. Add the potatoes at the end.

I slipped up (it was early) and added everything except the potato flakes before the broth had boiled, so the oats had an additional couple of minutes in the pot.

Results: Very good. Very creamy. Very delicate flavor, that didn’t taste of vinegar at all. Was the creamyness due to the acid bath, or to the extra two minutes of cooking? I’ll find out next time.

Next Time: It was the acidity. And three tablespoons didn’t change the flavor.

Rating: ****

Experiment 2

If two or three tablespoons are good, why not a whole cup? Let’s try just dumping the oats into the four-bean-salad jar and let it sit in the fridge overnight.

Setup: 1/2 cup of stone ground rolled oats (to make up for the extra liquid), one cup of sugar/vinegar mix, two dinner teaspoons of potato flakes, salt. Cook for 10 minutes or so, depending on the exact style of oats. Add the potatoes at the end.

Results: This is what I was expecting the first time. Very sweet. Very vinegary. Too much so. And if you don’t absorb/boil off all the liquid, you end up coughing when you inhale over your breakfast. A knob of butter helped.

Rating: ***

TLDR: Anime I never finished, Summer 2017-2

July 11, 2017

And the losers keep straggling in.

Konbini Kareshi: Grand Hotel, the anime version. Six couples and how their lives are changed by their experiences at the local Lawsons. The boys are the type I spent my high school days avoiding. The girls are the type who spent their high school days avoiding me.

I wonder if I’ll find the girl of my dreams in there. They carry everything else.

Fox Spirit Matchmaker: Fox maiden vows to excel at matchmaking despite the urgings (threats) of the sexy head of her powerful fox clan, all the while avoiding marriage to a jerk who is also a powerful priest who is attempting to avoid marriage despite the urgings (threats) of a bunch of gunsels from his powerful human clan, all the while fending off attacks from a different fox clan, along with some nefarious plots by a fat underhanded plotting priest. Got that? Feels like the producer just threw everything he could think of into a pot and called it stew.

This picture sums it up: One third sexy fox ladies, one third chibi fox follies, one third assholes

Aho Girl: Aho is the word for idiot. It’s for when you’ve already said baka. Our protagonette is an aho. Bright, cheery, infinite mood swings, no short term memory, banana fanatic, zero common sense. Her neighbor (one can’t say ‘boyfriend’, he tells her mother she’s a monkey — her mother agrees) keeps her in line through force and violence. All the girls love him.

The carrot banana and the stick

Katsugeki TOUKEN RANBU: Bunch of guys with swords, who are swords, fight demons, who are time travellers, with the aid of a fox with a computer. Running with swords. Fighting demons. Bantering with the guys. Running…

With a thousand years of experience, you’d think they’d find a better way to run with a sword

Trump in Poland — That Speech

July 9, 2017

Early last week a photo taken in 1937 on Jaluit Island turned up on the media. It showed a bunch of distinctly unoffical-looking officials, along with a man displaying a good example of male pattern baldness, and a genderless person in pants and a shaggy haircut, seated and facing away from the camera. People looked at the picture and immediately said Noonan and Earhart!

On the one hand, this is a good example of people seeing in a photo what they wanted to see. PI’s do this all the time and are well aware of the trap. If you are out looking for tanks, any roughly square assemblage of rocks can look like a tank. If you are looking for Noonan and Earhart, you will see Noonan and Earhart.

On the other hand, you have to consider context — where was the image taken. If you are looking at a photo of a tank park, it’s more likely to be a tank than if you are looking at a city park. If you are looking at a photo taken in 1937 on an island that’s the administrative center of a Japanese mandate, and only 1,000 miles from a possible Earhart crash site within that mandate, you can perhaps be forgiven for thinking of her.

Photos, thank goodness, have ground truth. It’s a tank, or it’s not. It’s Noonan and Earhart, or it’s not. You may never know the truth, but it’s out there. This is not true when talking of human perceptions and emotions.

Three days ago, Trump made a speech in Krasiński Square, Warsaw, thanking his Polish hosts. Depending on how you define the context, the speech can be seen as anodyne, Presidential, racist, Riefenstahlian, or power mad.

The full text of the speech was released by the White House. Admittedly, it might not be accurate. It could be the prepared text, and he might not have followed it. It includes applause and shouts from the crowd, which could have been poorly translated. For example, they could have been crying czarna dzum, which is Polish for Black Plague. But let’s assume that these words are the words he, or his staff, thought worthy of saying.

It’s not a long speech, less than 150 lines containing less than 3500 words — maybe 70 short paragraphs — of content.

The first twenty paragraphs are the usual thanks to the host country and callback to our long history together, totally in line with Fallows’ description of how Presidents talk overseas.

The next eight or ten recount the Poles valiant stands against the Nazi (i.e. German) and Soviet (i.e. Russian) invaders and oppressors, and end by celebrating Poland’s place in NATO as one of the pillars of a strong Europe and a strong West. So far, so … coherent … even if it did spend more time zinging Germany than Russia (Angela will not be pleased).

The next six paragraphs define the three dimensions of the new existentialist threat to The West: The ongoing attacks by radical Islamic terrorism, the destabilizing activities of Russia, and the steady creep of government paperwork. These threats come from South and East, from inside and out. One might reasonably assume that the Inside threat is paperwork, the Southern threat is radical Islam, and the Eastern threat is Russia.

Then, eight paragraphs extolling the achievements of Western Civilization, and five boasting about how we got other NATO members to spend more.

These are followed by the two controversial paragraphs, paragraphs that set the will to prevail at the center of our defense of the West.

We have to remember that our defense is not just a commitment of money, it is a commitment of will

the will of its people to prevail and be successful and get what you have to have.

the confidence in our values to defend them at any cost

enough respect for our citizens to protect our borders

the courage to preserve our civilization in the face of those who would subvert and destroy it

Seven wrap-up paragraphs about Polish will during WWII (another shot at the Germans), a couple of dance-off lines and it’s done.

So, let’s get one thing out of the way at the start. Trump is not suddenly “Presidential” because of this speech. He’s a lightweight, and people from Oz, and things at the bottom of ponds know it. As with his first “Presidential” speech, he has workmanlike speech writers, and he managed to stay on script.

Now, what’s the context of those two paragraphs? First, within the speech, they were preceded by some battle of civilizations imagery that sets the West against Islam, Russian attacks on our institutions, and, of course, bureaucrats. Outside the speech is a modern Europe that feels itself under stress more from refugees than radical Islamists, that feels threatened by the Russian pushback against NATO expansion, that … well … isn’t really bothered by a bureaucracy that makes it hard to build golf courses wherever one wants. Behind the words of the speech is the world-view of its creator, Stephen Miller, and that of his staff colleague, Steve Bannon.

Depending on where you live, different parts of that speech speak to different parts of your brain. Are there people who will see it as a call to defend the best elements of the Judaeo-Christian West? Certainly. Are there those who will read the same words and find in them a call to drive out those who are not demonstrably White and Christian? Of course. Are there those who see the first, and cannot understand how people could claim the second? Here he is.

There is a saying in Washington, DC: Perception is reality. How people see an event or a policy is, effectively, how that event or policy is. I think the takeaway is that everyone’s perceptions about the speech have elements of the ground truth. A Bannon can see those paragraphs as a call to throw back the non-White and non-Christian elements that contaminate our nation state. A Fallow can comment on that without being a person who hates Western Civilization. A Dreher can gain extra clicks by stirring the pot.

And if you want to go beyond the immediate situation, a Brin can detect an element of the manic phase of the Republican worldview.

Happy Tanabata

July 7, 2017

The seventh day of the seventh month is yet another chance for the weaver princess Orihime to be with her lover Hikoboshi, otherwise known as Vega and Altair. Tourist spots like the Tokyo Tower put on special light displays

Orihime, Hikoboshi, and a friend, celebrate their one night together this year.

And even monks on a Journey to the West will stop and celebrate the holiday.

What does the monkey wish for?

TLDR: Anime I never finished, Summer 2017 – 1

July 6, 2017

Two days into the Summer Season and already the rejects are piling up.

Saiyuki Reload Blast: AKA Saiyuki Version V. Latest in a long line of anime adaptations of a long line of manga. Based on the Japanese version of the Chinese compilation of the Buddhist folktale collection called Journey to the West. Bad art, ugly characters, poor acting, static fight scenes, and a stupid AI jeep (Kino should sue).

Which one is the monkey?

Netsuzou Trap: Girl sexually molests another girl. Other girl not sure she objects. Does that make it right? Did they limit the length to 9 minutes because they ran out of body parts to fondle?

French kissing while hanging off an apartment balcony three stories up and she’s afraid her mother will walk in and see them

Knight’s & Magic: Programmer dies and is resurrected in a magical fantasy world with knights in shining mechas. Develops new magical apps by applying good coding practices to existing magic. The weak spot, of course, being the lack of code comments and documentation. Unless maybe the extraneous comma in the title means that everything that follows is a comment.

Patlabor it ain’t

 

Anime Postview: Spring 2017

July 4, 2017

 

The usual disclaimer: this is a look at how well I did in my Spring 2017 Preview, which you might want to look at first.

It was a marginal season. At least five of the more interesting titles were sequestered behind the Amazon Anime Strike double paywall.

Shows I said I Will Watch, because the the cover art was properly enticing, or I liked the first season:

Saekano 2: Didn’t get to watch, because it’s behind the AASDPW. I’ll buy the Blue Ray.

Uchouten Kazoku 2: Haven’t finished it yet, because I decided to watch Season 1 again. Yes, I’ll buy this Blue Ray, as well.

Shuumatsu Nani: Wasn’t great. Wasn’t bad. I liked the world-building, thought the backstory was contrived, and the ending was rushed.

Shows I said I Might Watch, because the the cover art wasn’t too bad, or the blurb sounded enticing:

Nanatsu no Taizai: Dropped after two episodes. Don’t get me wrong, I like fan service, but I like it to be fan-servicey, not cute censorshippy. I’d have to buy the Blue Ray, and I probably won’t.

Kado, Sekaisuru: First half was an interesting first contact story. Second half went downhill. Ending was too contrived.

Tsuki ga Kire: Too, too fumbly teen romance. Very sweet. Couldn’t stand it. Dropped.

Shows I said I Won’t Watch, because of the cover art / title / blurb. Sometimes I watch these anyway.

Tsugumomo: Which, I find out, doesn’t mean extraordinary peach. Very 90’s in style, and most of the females are pre-teens. Well, thousand year old spirits trapped in pre-teen bodies, and try telling that to the Customs Agent. Dropped.

Sakura Quest: I started, but haven’t finished. Country girl goes to the city and gets reassigned to the country. I plan to finish it this Summer.

So, eleven shows, of which, two were good, and three were OK. Three were tried and dropped. Three were not even tried. I’ve made better predictions. If that’s the case, what was I watching? Well, mostly I tried various programs and then dropped them. Sometimes it took me a while to get to the Why am I watching this? point.

Alice & Zoroku: Superpower girl finds a home with supergrumpy old man. First half came to a satisfactory conclusion. I understand the second half is different. I plan to finish, someday.

Kanokon: Various canid spirit beings have the hots for a middle schooler. Dropped.

Eromanga Sensei: Oreimo with the objectionable parts bowdlerized. Dropped.

Love Tyrant: Cupid falls in love, gets involved in a foursome. I finished it, because minimums must be acceptable, etc…

And to tell the truth, I even found myself going back and resurrecting things like School Live and Demon King Daimao.

 

 

 

Cultural Appropriation

June 29, 2017

Lauren Orsini, the always-interesting Otaku Journalist, recently raised the issue of cultural appropriation, and pointed to an article by Jarune Uwujaren at Everyday Feminist. I’ve read both articles multiple times, and still have trouble wrapping my head around some applications of the definition, and not just because I’m a fat old Euro male. I think they are overlooking a fundamental difference between what goes on inside a country, and what goes on outside of it.

Uwujaren makes a strong case for cultural appropriation as part of an ongoing power imbalance within a country/society, specifically, the US. The dominant white culture (mine), demands conformance to its ideas of dress and behavior, on pain of not being thought serious, or worthy, of dealing with. This, by the way is true within the culture, as well as without. Bill Gates famously went out and bought a business suit so he could convince IBM he was a serious businessman when he met to sell them DOS. It rejects the elements of the other cultures (African-American, Native American, Hispanic, etc) as having no place in a white-dominated world.

Cultural Appropriation, as I understand their discussion, is when that dominant culture then turns around and adopts elements of the rejected subcultures in ways that are not respectful of their origins. The frat-boy type wearing the Native American head-dress in the Uwujaren article. Portrayals of traditional Hispanic dress (sombreros, decorated jackets) in commercials. The majority culture appropriates elements of a subculture for humor or commercial gain. This is all understandable when you are talking about the actions of the majority culture inside a country. It is a blatant flaunting of the unequal power relationship.

Between countries is a totally different thing.

My position is that there can be no Uwujaren-style appropriation between countries because there is no cultural coercion. The dominant culture in a country is dominant, and it doesn’t care what you think. If you go into a bank in the US wearing Arab robes, you will be stared at, if not strip searched. That goes double for an airport. If, on the other hand, you are in Riyadh, then everyone of importance wears robes, and you are the semi-despised foreigner, sweating in your business suit. Your cultural dominance in the US doesn’t matter. If you then change to robes, you are seen as a still-despised foreigner, aping your betters.

As a way of thinking about this, let’s turn our concerns about cultural appropriation 180 degrees, and look at other countries’ appropriation of American culture.

Consider Japan, which worries Orsini so. If you live in Japan, and have Japanese friends, and own a dark suit, then you might be called upon to officiate at a faux-Christian wedding ceremony in a building like the one below.

Not really a church

That’s not a church. It’s a commercial establishment that is rented out for couples who want to be “married” in a “church”. Is that cultural appropriation, or simple adoption? In America, there are several dominant religions that would be insulted. In Japan, with a Christian population of less than 3%, it’s looked on as kindof trendy.

Then there’s anime, the wellspring of all things otaku. Neon Genesis Evangelion is considered a seminal anime from twenty years ago, which totally rewrote the rules on how one portrays giant robots and parenting. The title can be translated from the Classical Greek as Gospel of a New Century.  In it, the robots battle Angels, using weapons like the Spear of Longinus (now suffering from additional exploitation), to prevent the destruction of New Tokyo, as foretold in the Prophecies of the Dead Sea Scrolls. This is far more than appropriation — it borders on looting and pillaging.  Actually, it’s director Anno grabbing whatever sounded good to him and sticking it in.

Or consider the Spring 2017 anime season just ending. There’s an anime titled The Seven Mortal Sins, that trivializes Christian and Jewish concepts of sin by re-casting them in the bodies of buxom babes. Exploitation? Certainly. Cultural appropriation in the Uwujaren definition? I’m not so sure.

Yet another example is Christmas, that most sacred of Western holy days (even though the commercial aspects sometimes overshadow the sacred). The Japanese have appropriated it and turned it into a totally commercial holiday. Unlike New Year’s, probably Japan’s most culturally significant holiday, Christmas in Japan is more like Valentine’s day in the US. Decorations may go up early, but they come down the day after.

So, I think what’s going on here is the application of one phrase to describe two different things: cultural appropriation inside a country as opposed to appropriation across country borders. Part of this may be the confusion of the word exchange as a business deal, as opposed to exchange as an intellectual process. The labelling of a cultural exchange as a material transaction. A cultural exchange is an exchange of ideas, not of material things. “This is how we fry flour and eggs and cabbage, and we call it Okonomiyaki“.  Which might or might not be followed by “Oh, that’s interesting. This is how we fry flour and eggs, but no cabbage, and we call it “Hot cakes“. It’s an exchange of ideas, not a material transaction. As Thomas Jefferson said, “He who receives an idea from me, receives instruction himself without lessening mine; as he who lights his taper at mine, receives light without darkening me.” There’s really no way to pay another culture for the use of their ideas, even if we didn’t explain to them about hot cakes. All we can do is expose them to our way of doing things, and let them pick and choose and adapt as they see fit. And if the way they see fit to adopt and adapt something of ours is totally outside of our vision, well, that’s not something we can control. That’s not something we can do anything about.

In fact, that’s not something that’s any of our business.

And since the reverse is true, you can go on practicing yoga, or eating Salisbury Steak on Baps with Red Sauce without feeling guilty.

 

Curried Marrow….Oats

June 29, 2017

Using up the last of the marrowbone marrow, I decided to try it with curry. I mean, everything goes better with Golden Curry (well, except beanbroth, but that’s another recipe).

Setup: 1/3 cup of stone ground rolled oats, 40g of marrow, sliced and fried down, one chunk of Golden Curry roux, one cup of broth, two dinner teaspoons of potato flakes, salt. Cook for 10 minutes or so, depending on the exact style of oats. Add the broth and curry to the fried marrow (watch for spatters), potatoes at the end.

Results: OK, everything doesn’t go great with curry, but it still goes pretty good. Unfortunately, the curry overwhelmed the essential beefyness of this dish, and came up one dimension short in the flavor profile itself. A fat pinch of shred cheese helped.

Rating: ***

Gun Control

June 25, 2017

I am not a gun enthusiast. In the AF I qualified on both the M-16 and the .38, but was never called upon to fire them for real (In VietNam, I did come close a couple of times). At home, I’ve never owned a gun, and only once ever had guns stored in the house – a friend was waiting to move into his new house and asked me to keep his shotguns. I have not thought through all the policy implications, but here’s a couple thoughts on the arguments over gun control and America’s right to bear arms.

A Well Regulated Militia
My interpretation of the Second Amendment (not that the Supremes ever asked me), is that it should be read in its entirety:

A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

Tortured arguments about 18th Century punctuation apart, to me that implies that every person who owns a gun is also subject to being part of a well-regulated Militia. And that means they should be subject to some minimal level of formal training (and who could be against training for gun owners?), and registered with the Militia, subject to callup if the State requires it. They wouldn’t be in the Reserves, nor even in the Guard. They’d be the Militia, available if the Guard and Reserve both fail (or, say, are over fighting in Pakistan). Their Constitutional right to own the weapon should not be infringed, but they should be subject to swingeing fines if they fail to uphold their Constitutional responsibilities. David Brown, over at The Week, has a much-better thought-out version of this idea.

In Switzerland, they actually do something like this. They have universal military service, most of which is spent in the reserves, and soldiers are required to keep their weapons at home. When they finish their period of service, they can elect to keep the weapon.

Defending the Castle
Second, according to the gun lobby, one reason to own a gun is home defense. If you have a gun in your home, and are properly trained, you are in a position to defend yourself and your family and your belongings. In other words, a weaponized house is a safe house. OK, let us, as they say, look at the numbers. Let’s follow the money.

A. The numbers are pretty straightforward. Guns kill Americans. Guns kill women at higher rates. If you are awakened by a prowler in your darkened house at 2AM and you exercise your right of property defense, you are far more likely, when you turn on the lights, to find your prodigal son, back from a late night karaoke party than you are some sort of evildoer. If a woman is found shot dead in her home, the first and most logical suspect is her estranged boyfriend. So, the numbers are pretty bleak. But what about the money?

B. From a monetary standpoint, if a weaponized house is safer, then weaponized homes should qualify for lower insurance rates, both homeowners insurance (say, get a gun credit just like you do a burgler alarm credit), and medical insurance (like non-smoker’s rebate, due to less chance of being beaten by thugs). Yet even the Affordable Care Act contains prohibitions against doctors or insurance companies collecting information on gun ownership. There’s a number of possible reasons why this is so.

  1.  One is that the weapons=safety argument is false, and the people making it know it’s false and they are using a legislative trick to prevent being penalized for their lies.
  2.  On the other hand, this could even be seen as part of a widespread conspiracy to undermine the ability of the insurance companies to make money by offering lower rates to gun owners.
  3.  Or, finally, this could be part of a conspiracy by the insurance companies to require them to offer the same rates to everyone, and thereby make additional profits by gouging the responsible gun owners.

I’m in favor of Reason 1, lying liars. Why? Because the NRA has essentially admitted this: “NRA officials say they requested the provision out of concern that insurance companies could use such data to raise premiums on gun owners.

Opposing Tyranny
America is proud of its heroic, Revolutionary past, where the Patriots rose up to overthrow a tyrannical government, and thus established armed opposition to tyranny as part of our national culture. Thomas Jefferson said that a little rebellion was good for a Democracy, and that we should experience one every generation or so. This justified two hundred and fifty years of distrust of “the government”, and led a certain segment of the population to decide that it was their duty to arm themselves against the day they would be called up to once again oppose tyranny. Of course, any illusion that a group of fanatics, armed with deer rifles, are a match for a modern military force is just that, an illusion, or maybe a delusion.

These are the people who believe in the theory of the Deep State, and who periodically (every time a Democrat gets in office) buy more arms so they may fight it. They are the ones who oppose all record-keeping on guns, ammunition, and gun violence because they believe such records could be used by the government when it comes to take their guns. Of course, such a list already exists. It’s called the membership roll of the NRA. And if NRA has the list on a computer, you can bet that NSA also has that list.

Discussion
The problem is, we are a violent society. It’s rooted deep in our DNA. In other words, we, as a society, are mentally ill. An insurance company would call it a pre-existing condition.

So, what is to be done? Ban all pistols, and strictly control all rifles and shotguns like they do in England, the Mother Country from whence our society came? (Full disclosure: I lived in England for four years, wandered major cities after dark, and never felt unsafe one day in my life there.) Can’t be done, you say. Remember our roots as a rebellious collection of lawbreakers? OK, suppose we ban all pistols, and strictly control all rifles and shotguns like they do in Australia, that dumping ground for as rebellious a collection of lawbreakers as you’ll see in the whole Anglo-Saxon world? We’re far too sick for that, you say? OK, why don’t we take the lying liars at their word, embrace the NRA, and make the NRA’s own gun safety rules a federal law? Here’s Stonekettle Station’s proposal. The formal part starts about seven screens down, at the poster picture. Basically, it says the NRA guidelines should become the law of the land, particularly the part about personal responsibility for any weapon you hold or handle. This won’t even begin to halt all gun crime in the US, but it will put a dent in it. It’s a start.

Heinlein said that an armed society is a polite society. To which I add — eventually. And it requires that you value politeness above all other things. And that you don’t mind having a high mortality rate.

Green Thumb Up My Nose

June 25, 2017

Garden Report for 170626

Hot and dry, with highs in the lower 90’s and lows in the higher 60’s. More of the same in the coming week, perhaps broken by a thunderstorm.

Continuing the fight against leaf miners in the chard. Continuing intermittent weeding, despite the mosquitoes. I think I’ve managed to kill my Pink Brandywine by overwatering. Turns out the container I have it in (a large Rubbermaid storage box) was one I hadn’t cut drain holes in. My everyday watering, coupled with roof runoff from the last shower of the season, left standing water in the box, and a plant that was drooping, nay draped, over the cage support. I poked holes as best I could, dug out as much of the soil as I could without digging up the plant, and when that didn’t help, trimmed off the worst of the droopy part, roughly the top foot or so. We shall see.

The non-garden part of the yard is looking fairly bosky. I decided to let the ground cover grow as it may — no cutting it back down to mineral soil at the end of winter — and it really took off. I’m not sure what they are, but they are growing chest high.

I wanted to stitch this into a panorama, but the geometry and the foliage was too much for my stitcher — it kept wanting to move the center frame to the left.

Tanyastuff — 2

June 24, 2017

This is Part 2 of an on-going analysis of The Saga of Tanya the Evil. Subsequent entries will look at the story as laid out in the light novels.

A major factor in the rollout of Tanya’s War, and one I hadn’t considered earlier, is the structure of the Empire itself. In Tanya’s world we have a unitary Germanic empire. In our world, Central Europe was occupied by the German Hohenzollern Empire, and the Austro-Hungarian Hapsburg Empire. It was the interactions between these two empires (plus the interlocking treaty obligations on both sides) that allowed what should have been a relatively minor Balkan skirmish to spiral out of control.

In our world, for a number of reasons, Austria wanted to expand its influence in the Balkans. They were afraid that Russia would actively oppose them, and asked Germany for support in preventing this. Germany gave them the famous blank check approval for any of their actions.

The first problem is, given the technology of the day, whoever mobilizes first can destroy their opponents, even if the opponents are part way through their own mobilization. So mobilization is essentially a declaration of war. The second problem is, once a country has mobilized, essentially all their neighbors are at risk. So Austria sent an ultimatum to Serbia. Two days later, Austria, Serbia, and Russia all issued mobilization orders. Three days after that, Austria declared war on Serbia, and a week later, Germany (rejecting Russian protests that they were mobilizing against Serbia, not Germany) both started mobilizing and declared war on Russian. Roughly two weeks from assassination incident to WWI.

In Tanya’s world, the Empire isn’t dragged into a war by treaty obligations. They were engaged in an on-going border dispute with Legendia, part of the Scandinavian Entente. The Legendistas invade and are stopped by the the Imperials, including the newly-arrived reinforcements. So we have at least a partial mobilization aimed at the North. In order to permanently suppress the threat, the Empire goes to full mobilization and conducts a counter-invasion of the Entente. We could think of this as similar to Austria invading Serbia, except that the ‘pretext’ was a much more serious incident. In essence, the Empire gave itself a blank check.

At this point, of course, not-France also mobilizes, and invades the Empire. We are not told if this is a treaty requirement, or mere opportunism. The result is a slow-rolling development of a border skirmish into a world war.

The rest, as they say, is isekai.

 

Oatmeal Chili — 3

June 22, 2017

Two and a half years ago, I made oatmeal with some ground beef chili that MJ had made. Half a year ago, I made oatmeal with the liquid from a beef strip chili that MJ had made. Half an hour ago, I made oatmeal with a quarter cup of commercial canned chili.

MJ was off doing all the busy things she does, and we were flat out of dinner fixings. I mean fresh, meat-and-veg style fixings. Fortunately, we have a fairly extensive pantry, so when I got hungry I just opened the pantry drawer and had a look around. First thing in front was a can of Hormel Turkey Chili with Beans. I can tell you that it tastes just like … canned chili. Overcooked, with unbalanced seasoning that tastes like it’s based not so much on flavor as it is on what the linear programming algorithm cranks out as the most profitable mixture of spices. However, if you dump it on top of enough lettuce, and then dump enough cheese on top of that, it will keep body and soul together — and as for your taste buds, two out of three isn’t bad. I mean, it’s 98% fat free, and where’s the fun in that? Needless to say there were leftovers, or as I call them, dregs.

Setup: 1/2 cup of stone ground rolled oats, one cup of clove-heavy broth*, quarter cup of HTCB, two dinner teaspoons of potato flakes, salt. Cook for 10 minutes or so, depending on the exact style of oats. Add the potatoes at the end.

Results: Meh. The ground turkey was detectable only in a granular change to the mouthfeel. Every now and then there was a bean. The overwhelming impression was … the seasonings were unbalanced, and not because of the cloves. Cheese helped a lot, but then, it always does.

Rating: **

*Every now and then I think to add cloves to the pressure cooker when making broth. Unfortunately, those times are far enough apart that I forget how much cloves can dominate. By clove-heavy, I mean six cloves in a quart. You don’t have to follow my recipes slavishly. Two cloves will do, and they won’t turn your broth an evil swamp-water black.

TLDR — Gantz

June 19, 2017

Here’s how to watch Gantz: watch Episode 1 to convince yourself I’m right, then fast-forward through the rest, stopping only if the screen turns red, or black, or pink, depending on your interests.

Gantz is a two-cour anime from 2004. An alien-in-a-sphere makes copies of people as they die, and forces the copy-people to fight and kill things. That’s it. Collect people, put on fighting suits, go kill aliens and each other. If the screen is mostly black, that’s the fax-folk running around in their combat suits, looking for aliens. If it’s mostly red, they’ve found the aliens, or undeserving humans, and are eviscerating them, or maybe being eviscerated, it varies. If the screen is mostly pink, then it’s naked scenes, which don’t happen nearly often enough to make up for the red and the black. The rest of the time, the characters are shouting at each other about the morality of killing monsters and why aren’t the others doing more to help. Not enough pink to make up for that, either.

Red and Black
(At this point there’s about five minutes of yelling)

Gantz is available on Crunchyroll. In fast-forward mode, it’s about six minutes of play time between thumbnails, and about two and a half minutes of real time per episode. That means you can get through all 24 episodes in about an hour. Not counting pauses for pink, of course.

…and Pink
(Some more yelling here, as well)

At least Trump didn’t make him head of VA

June 18, 2017

In June of 2014, then Senator Sessions commented on wounded veterans and “entitlements”. I thought it might be worthwhile linking to my response.

The baseball shootings

June 17, 2017

In the wake of the shootings at the GOP practice baseball game, the Dems are reportedly worried that their rhetoric has gone too far. Have they forgotten what it was like in the early days of the uppity Obama administration, when armed and angry white men prowled around the periphery of Democratic rallies? Yes, one late night commenter recently held up a severed Trump head. And was chastised for it, and apologized. Do you remember what talk radio was like after Obama was elected? Do you  remember the Gabby Gifford shooting, and Sarah Palin’s PAC blog with cross-hairs? Do you remember any GOP leadership saying that maybe the right wing rhetoric has gone too far, or any talk radio host apologizing? No, because they didn’t.

Both sides don’t do it.

I’ll have a little bit more to say on gun control tomorrow. I wrote a very nice, well researched, piece on gun control, which has since vanished from WordPress. No idea. I’ll have to reconstruct it, but not today.

Green Thumb Up My Nose

June 17, 2017

Garden Report for 170619

Mid-month found us still in the grasp of June Gloom. Rainy, windy, and cold. Well, cool. Highs mostly in the 50’s, lows in the mid 40’s. The coming week we’ll have a proper June, with summer heat and everything. The nice part is, we’ll be in the dry, and that should kill off the skeeters.

MJ found a proper wire cloche, down in the basement. Planted some Grey Zucchini under it in Section 4. We’ll see how they do. Since the packet said they were a small, bush variety, I also planted one in a container on the deck. ProTip: you don’t need anti-squirrel cloches when planting in a mid-sized circular container, because an old Weber BBQ grill will fit nicely on top.

Everything is growing, including the weeds. The chard is coming along, but is heavily infested with leaf miners. That’s because the rain and the mosquitoes have kept me from doing a proper job in the garden. On Friday, it was windy enough to spend some time out there, so I did a major pruning — the only thing that will stop them (the miners, not the skeeters). Some of the early tomatoes already have fruit, but most have been setting, then losing, blossoms.

The aluminium cloches seem to work, as long as one pulls them apart when lifting. Of course, with this weather, the plastic bottles are working out better.

Curried oatbeans

June 15, 2017

One of my favorite broths for oatmeal is beanwater broth. Doesn’t matter if it’s the stuff drained off of a can, or if it’s the top two inches of water in the pressure cooker, it makes for good oatmeal. You know what else makes for good oatmeal? Curry. Specifically the Japanese favorite, Golden Curry. I wonder how they taste when mixed?

Setup: 1/3 cup of stone ground rolled oats, one cup of beanwater broth, a chunk of curry roux, two dinner teaspoons of potato flakes, salt. Cook for 10 minutes or so, depending on the exact style of oats. Add the broken-up curry slab at the start, and the potatoes at the end.

Results: No better than average. Added cheese helped.

Rating: ***

What I like about Flying Witch

June 11, 2017

There are a number of reasons to like Flying Witch, beyond the clean art, the well-rounded characters, the mountain country music, and the true slice-of-life approach. Flying Witch seems to have made a deliberate choice to negate a number of standard anime tropes, and on the way, shows us how a great anime could be made.

non-Missing Parents: Unlike almost every modern life anime I’ve watched in the last ten years, both the parents are present. Even more rare, both parents have active roles in the series. Kuramoto Keiji, the father, is a farmer. He appears in most of the episodes, and is a strong supporting character, as opposed to being a walk-on extra. In Episode 3, he helps Makoto start a garden, and in Episode 10, he shows the girls how to thin apple blossoms.

Nana, the mother, is not only responsible for typical motherly things — she does the grocery shopping — but she also has her own career as a children’s book illustrator.

non-Loli Imouto: Kuramoto Chinatsu, the little sister, is a typical real-life little sister, not a nee-san besotted loli. It is difficult to express how refreshing that is. I think the only other anime I’ve seen with a realistic little sister is Haruhi. And, unlike Kyon’s un-named little sister, Chinatsu is a major member of the cast, and has her own half-episode, where she follows familiar Chito around the town.

non-Romantic Male Lead: I’m not even sure that Kuramoto Kei qualifies as a lead. He’s really just a strong supporting character (I think Chinatsu gets more screen time). In any event, he’s got zero romantic entanglements. The closest he comes is an offhand mention that the witch Inukai is kindof his type. In addition, he enjoys domestic activities, like cooking. He might be a great catch as a husband, but nobody’s chasing.

non-Romantic Childhood Friendship: Ishiwatari Nao is Kei’s childhood friend and high school classmate. There are zero romantic vibes between them, not even a subtle jealousy. In Episode 1, when Kei tells Nao that the new boarder is a girl their age, she simply says “lucky for you.” Later, when Makoto’s sister Akane tries to make them a couple, they both look at her like she was an idiot. She has her own life, and her part-time job is helping out at her parent’s store, which she does to help out, not because they’re poor and she has to be a provider.

no Fanservice: None. No beach episode. No walking in on someone taking a bath. No comparison of chest sizes. No nosebleeds.

Life-centric, not High School-centric: They are high school students. They go to high school. They might have club activities. But other than the opening ceremonies, in Episode 1, and the cooking class, in Episode 10, the school does not impact their activies at all.

Passing the Bechdel Test: Females are in the majority in Flying Witch (nine to two), they are all named, and they all talk to each other without mentioning the male characters. In the first episode, Makoto and Nao speak briefly about how self-centered Kei is, and that’s about the extent of it. The women are more interested in getting on with their lives than they are in worrying about what some man is doing.

The bottom line is, the Flying Witch flies in the face of traditional anime tropes, not by fighting them or parodying them, but by ignoring them. And that brings the story closer to real life. Of course parents play a big role in the lives of high school students. Of course people just out of childhood have childhood friends, and the fact is, much of high school life doesn’t involve romance. In real life, little sisters are little sisters, and as Araragi Koyomi has said, siscon is fantasy of those who don’t have little sisters.

Look at it this way: a live-action Flying Witch would make a great fantasy series, whereas a live action Toradora would be unbelievable, and a live action Oreimo would be just creepy. I’m hoping this marks the start of a new fad in anime.

I couldn’t think of what to do with all this stuff so I stuck it in my oatmeal

June 8, 2017

Sounds like the title of a Light Novel. The other day I made broth with just a slab of cube steak. Tasted OK, but a little thin. So I added an onion and carrot and cooked it again. Now it was mostly carrot and onion-flavored. For breakfast today I took about 40g of marrow (from the broth-before-last), sliced it and fried it down into a puddle. Then I added a quarter teaspoon of garlic. As a side experiment, I had chopped up the cube steak into little, well, cubes — they tasted like crumbly, overdone hamburger, with most of the flavor boiled out of them. I added two heaping dinner tablespoons of the cubicles. And since it was hamburgerlich, I tried a bit with ketchup.

Setup: 1/2 cup of stone ground rolled oats, one cup of broth, two dinner tablespoons of cubed cubed steak, 40g of beef bone marrow, garlic to flavor, salt. Fry the marrow, garlic, and cublics until brown. Add the oatmeal. Cook for 10 minutes or so, depending on the exact style of oats.

Results: Pretty good, but not as good as the plain marrow-oats. It had a distinct, beefy, hamburger flavor. Ketchup didn’t help, but Worcestershire might. I’m still playing with the cube steak idea, since it’s a lot cheaper than prime rib for making broth. Maybe next time I’ll make it a cheeseburger.

Rating: ***

Leaks and leakers

June 6, 2017

As you may know by now, The Intercept has published a file of highly classified material on Russia’s attempts to hack the US election system. It turns out the data was leaked by a NSA subcontractor, with the somewhat unusual name of Reality Winner. Evidently she was outed because she didn’t know that, by law, color printers print a set of invisible dots that show when and where the document was printed. Although some have questioned the veracity of the leaked report, Pat Lang is rightfully angered over the damage caused to US Intelligence collection by this leak.

The reports that she did this as part of her own program of resistance to the Trump administration only highlight that she must be incredibly naive, as well as ignorant of the Intelligence background to the information she was handling and the anti-copy features of today’s printers. This is what led her to expose information that it was her sworn duty to protect.

There are those who would say that she and Edward Snowden are in the same class — oath-breakers. There is a difference. She broke her oath of secrecy for momentary and fleeting political advantage. Snowden broke his oath of secrecy because of an oath to a higher power, the US Constitution. The two examples are not comparable.

Tanyastuff

June 6, 2017

One of the nice things about writing a blog by me for me is that I don’t have to go chasing after the Next Big Thing. I can sit and chew over a topic of interest. In this case, it’s continuing thoughts on The Saga of Tanya the Evil (Japanese title – Young Girl’s War Journal). Part of the reason for this is that even people who like the series get major parts of it wrong (Berry,over at Angry Anime Bitches is the only one who got Tanya mostly right). As I said the last time, Tanya isn’t really a female and “she” isn’t really evil. The body is that of a young girl, but the mind is a middle-aged Japanese salaryman. For that reason, I’ll refer to Tanya as he. And I’ll talk some more about the lack of evility.

Tanya is a good combat commander. At a personal level, he’s exceedingly brave. In Episode 7, he’s first out the door when they sky-dive into the fjord.


In Episode 9 he leads the V-1 strike,


and in Episode 10, he’s first into Facility A, a possible enemy headquarters bunker.

As a unit commander, Tanya exhibits a certain audacity. After taking out the Dakian command post (Episode 5), he decides, on his own initiative, to press on, strike the Dakian capital itself, and destroy a munitions factory there[1].

In Episode 11, he realizes that he’s the only one who knows what the Republican Fleet is up to (withdrawing the army to not-Algeria to continue the war). He decides to exploit a loophole in his status[2], ignore a Theater directive, and lead a V-1 strike on the embarkation port.

At a personal level, Tanya is not the sadistic killer that many make him out to be. Yes, there’s the incident at the training school, but the trainee involved had already said that ‘she’ reminded him of his little sister, and that he didn’t find her particularly scary.  Extraordinary situations require extraordinary measures.

In building his rapid response force, Tanya’s main goal was to avoid combat as long as possible. In this he is hampered by his lack of understanding of human nature. His recruiting poster was designed to discourage recruits[3], but instead attracted the most daring. His harsh training was designed to encourage them to drop out, but only succeeded in producing an elite, high esprit unit, a fact that leaves him somewhat befuddled.

Nothing that he did was hurtful simply for the sake of causing others pain. He is not, as some would have it, a Yoshikage Kira (from Jo Jo’s Bizarre Adventure) , because he’s not a natural killer.

From time to time, Tanya demonstrates deep personal concern for others. In Episode 7, he becomes positively insubordinate when he thinks the Northern Front is about to launch a major attack without proper supplies.

And even though it was his paper that exposed the loophole that allowed Imperial forces to destroy the city of Arene (Episode 8), he is not happy at being part of the operation, again to the point of insubordination. Nevertheless, he assuages his conscious with the Nuremberg Defense, and later, in a soliloquy on the train in Episode 9, he says that his hands are clean, ‘probably’.

The only things that make Tanya seem evil are the English title, the fact that it looks to be a nine-year-old girl doing these things, and that LtCol von Rerugen says ‘she’ is a monster in the form of a little girl, in both the first and the last episodes[4]. If the title were changed to Rambo Isekai[5], opinions would be totally different.

Finally, a reminder that the Empire Tanya fights for is not Nazi Germany, nor even Wilhemine Germany. They did not start out to conquer Europa. Instead, they were an existing empire that suddenly began to modernize, and to expand its economy. They were surrounded by countries that were ahead of them economically, a situation that usually leads to war on its own. These natural forces, helped along by Being X[6], were enough to coalesce the peripheral countries against the Empire.


[1]In Austro-Hungarian terms, that’s like stopping an invading army near Belgrade at lunchtime, and attacking Bucharest that night.

[2] His mission is to support the Theater forces, but he’s still under the command of Strategic Headquarters, and their task was for him to ‘test’ the V-1s.

[3]It is, in fact, a paraphrase of Shackleton’s supposed advertisement in a London newspaper, seeking volunteers for his Antarctic expedition: “Men wanted for hazardous journey. Low wages, bitter cold, long hours of complete darkness. Safe return doubtful. Honour and recognition in event of success.”

[4] There are some elements of the Wiki article that run counter to this, but those are based on the light novel, which I have not yet read.

[5] Isekai, or ‘alternate world’, is a light novel/anime genre where the protagonist somehow ends up in an alien or fantasy world.

[6]It’s not that Tanya doesn’t believe in God (although he doesn’t). It’s that he doesn’t believe that Being X is God, because of how absurd his creation is. As he said in Episode 2, if X is anything, it’s the Devil.

Green Thumb Up My Nose

June 5, 2017

Garden Report for 170605

Touched 90F at the beginning of the week, then June Gloom came through and cooled things off, for a bit. Looks like the coming week will be more of the same — warm, then cool.

Bought my last two tomato seedlings for the year — Cherokee Purple for the south side of the house (I moved the Patio tomatoes back up onto the…deck), and Pink Accordion to round out Section 1. Planted them Tuesday evening. Mosquitoes were fierce. The garden is like one of those yellow fever labs in Panama. Should have waited an hour for when a gust front came through. Also planted a Bush Buttercup squash in a deck container. We’ll see how big a bush it is.

I have always had problems with squirrels digging up my seedlings. They’re not after the plants, just looking for some fresh-turned earth to bury peanuts in, the way squirrels have done for thousands of years. I’ve tried making anti-squirrel cloches by cutting the bottom off of plastic water bottles, but the interior gets too hot, and when I pull them up they want to bring the plant with them. So I got the idea of using those wire gadgets that go in your downspouts and help stack up the leaves so they impede the flow. Unfortunately, all our local hardware store has are some newfangled cut-and-stretch aluminium mesh things that look like they’ll be as bad as water bottles when the time comes to lift them. I’ll try them anyway.

What I wanted

What I got

Put two of the gutter-cloches on some just-sprouted peas in Section 3, and two on newly planted Delicata and Bush Buttercup squash in Section 4.

The Battle of Midway, 75 years ago

June 4, 2017

The Battle of Midway, 75 years ago today, marked the end of a remarkable six-month string of victories by the Japanese fast carrier fleet (Japanese name Kido Butai) across one third of the circumference of the globe, from Pearl Harbor, Hawaii to Colombo, Ceylon.

After striking at Pearl Harbor in December, 1941, the carrier force returned to Japan, before deploying to Truk and then to Palau, in support of the invasion of the northern Solomons. In February, they sortied for a raid on Darwin, Australia — the largest attack ever carried out against that country. Much of March was spent operating out of Staring Bay, Celebes, covering the Japanese Army operations across the Java Sea.

Early April, 1942, saw the fast carrier force in the Indian Ocean, where they conducted strikes on Colombo and Trincomalee, Ceylon, sinking the British carrier Hermes. By midmonth they were back in the South China Sea, bound for a replenishment stop in Taiwan.

The carriers redeployed to Truk in early May, to support the invasion of Port Moresby, New Guinea. On 7-8 May they participated in the Battle of the Coral Sea, suffering their first carrier loss (CL Shoho). It was a tactical victory but strategic defeat, because the Japanese had to call off the invasion.

Finally, in early June, the carriers assembled north of Midway Island, seeking to draw out US forces to protect the island. Unfortunately for them, the US had broken their codes and knew exactly what their plans were and where the carriers were located. This was not as easy as it sounds, by the way. For example, the carriers were operating under radio silence, but their support ships, including destroyers known to be used as their escorts, were not. We had to infer the location of the carriers.

The results of the battle are well known — four Kido Butai carriers sunk, with the loss of not just their decks, but their experienced crews and planes and pilots. Up until Midway, the average IJN pilot had about 700 flying hours under his belt. Midway started a decline to 70 flying hours by war’s end.

 

Anime Preview: Summer 2017

June 3, 2017

Unlike some others, who use knowledge of the source materials, close observation of the previews, and who actually read the press releases, I’m going to base mine on just the title and the cover art, and maybe a bit of the blurb. Consider yourself warned. If you want a real preview, pop on over to AniChart.

First, let’s say what’s normally not in here. Kids stuff, shorts, sequels to originals I didn’t like, anything with Isekai in the title; movies and OVA’s.

WILL WATCH: The the cover art is properly enticing, so I definitely will watch at least the first three eps.

Also includes second seasons.

Owarimonogatari

Hey, it’s ~monogatari! Of course I’m watching it.

Centaur no Nayami

Slice of life in a world where centaurs are real and hair stylists are imaginary beings

Youkai Apartment

Invaders of the Rokujyoma meets The Kawai Complex Guide to Hostel Behavior

MIGHT WATCH: The cover art is not too off-putting, so I might watch it.

Princess Principal

A band of busty girls spy in London

Tenshi no 3P

A typical hikki boy and his all girl vocaloid church band

Vatican kiseki Chousakan

A beautiful girl and her all boy cryptographic church band

 

 

WON’T WATCH. The cover art / title / blurb tells me more than I ever wanted to know on the topic.

Battle Girl Highschool
Like Ikki Tousen except their clothes stay on

Hitorijime My Hero

A history of Japanese transport

Koi to Uso

Fish and Otters

18if

A group of refugee animators from Hand Shakers ends up at Studio Gonzo

Netsuzou Trap

Remember how well Yuri on Ice did, with no girls? Why don’t we try a Trap with no boys?

…and 35 more that didn’t even make the “I won’t watch” cut.

Marroats

June 1, 2017

Marrow has a long and nutritious history. Some of the little we know about the behavior of our proto-hominid ancestors is based on how they cracked their mammoth bones to get the marrow out. Their knowledge has carried down through the ages: animal bone marrows are best. Vegetable marrows, not so much.

We were out of brothmeat, and almost out of broth, so MJ stopped by the store on her way home and bought a nice package of marrowbones. Although they were big and round and marrowsome, they didn’t have much meat on them — the assumption being that you will roast the marrow and have it on toast. I threw them unroasted into the pressure cooker, along with some carrots and an onion and two quarts of water — and a small slab of cube steak for additional flavor. The resulting broth was mild and inoffensive, and the marrow slid out of the bones in two big tubes. When cooled they had the color and consistency of tallow. A fork would mash them, but not smoothly.

After some experiments, I found that what worked best for breakfast was 30-40 grams of marrow, fried and mashed in the pot prior to adding the broth. After that cook it like any other oatmeal.

Setup: 1/2 cup of stone ground rolled oats, one cup of broth, 30-40g of fried and mashed marrow, two dinner teaspoons of potato flakes, salt. Cook for 10 minutes or so, depending on the exact style of oats. Add the potatoes at the end.

Results: Very beefy tasting. Very creamy. Very good. Makes me want to go out and slay things.

Rating: ****

Green Thumb Up My Nose

May 29, 2017

Garden Report for 170529

Warm, followed by hot. Highs in the mid-80s. Rain will bring us down into the mid 70s.

Not much garden action this week. Just for the heck of it I planted a pumpkin and a watermelon seedling. Bought a flat of mixed chard and lettuce and installed those. Green pepper in the container out front.

Cabbage hasn’t bolted yet. Mosquitoes are doing well. Another couple of weeks and we’ll be in the dry and they won’t be a problem.

Plan to plant some Delicata squash seeds and some carrots this week, if I can get my school work done.

Amazake Oats

May 25, 2017

Amazake (甘酒 , あまざけ) or “sweet sake” is a non-alcoholic drink made from the lees left over from production of sake. An instant variety (available from Amazon) has a small white slab, about the size of the miniature candy bars given out at Halloween, and which looks and feels like a chunk of styrofoam (it even floats). You dissolve this in a mere 100ml of hot water, less than half a cup. The resulting drink looks a little bit like overly scalded milk: a thin white fluid with a little foam and a few floating fragments. The taste is very sweet, at the Irish Cream level. Just the thing for a cold New Year’s morning. MJ says the flavor is a little like cream of wheat. I think it has a faint tinge of orange. I wonder what it tastes like in oatmeal?

Setup: 1/2 cup of stone ground rolled oats, one cup of broth, one slab of amazake, salt. Dissolve the amazake in the broth before you add the oatmeal. Cook for 10 minutes or so, depending on the exact style of oats.

Results: Very good. Very…Japanese. The amazake flavor comes through clearly, while the sweetness is just the thing for those who don’t like savoury oatmeal. Maybe a quarter teaspoon of maple syrup.

Rating: ****

Green Thumb Up My Nose

May 22, 2017

Garden Report for 170522

Cool and rainy during the week, warming to 75F over the weekend, with a couple days of 80’s in the forecast. Should have a good crop of mosquitos.

Planted some more stuff over the weekend. Two Juliet tomatoes on the deck, Lemon Boy and Siletz tomatoes in Section 1. Section 4 got two Acorn and three Zucchini squash, and one each of Yellowneck, and Butternut. The east side of the house got two cucumbers a Pink Brandywine and a Siberian tomato.

Having done all that, I moved the Sub-Arctic Plenty and Patio tomatoes from the deck to the south side of the house, next to the hops, and added a yellow cherry tomato to the deck.

Section 2 is reserved for greens and my ever-hopeful cabbage. Right now the weeds are doing well where the lettuces ought to be, and the cabbage will probably bolt by next weekend.

The local stores didn’t have anything in the way of peas or beans, so I’m going to have to plant them by seed, in Section 3.

Granola Dregs

May 19, 2017

MJ had a bag of Nature Valley Granola Crunch — animal cracker-sized granola tidbits. Thing about granola bars is, they crumble, and the tidbitty things crumble faster. So when she was done with the 21 bars equivalent, she still had a good cup of granola…dregs…in the bag. Of course, granola is mostly oats, the bits that aren’t soy or honey, so it should work well with oats.

Setup: 1/3 cup of stone ground rolled oats, one cup of beef broth, quarter cup of granola dregs, salt. Cook for 10 minutes or so, depending on the exact style of oats. Add the granola towards the end — early enough to heat, late enough that it doesn’t mush.

Results: Yay! New breakfast treat. Nutty-oaty flavor. Maybe I’ll go buy a whole bag, and a hammer.

Rating: ****

Be careful what you wish for

May 18, 2017

I’m not the first person to point this out (today!), and I suspect there will be a lot more in days to come, but impeaching Trump might not be the panacea the Democrats seem to think it is.

From the standpoint of lessening the threat to the planet, it’s probably a good idea, because, you know, football.

From the standpoint of protecting the hard-fought gains of previous Democratic administrations, maybe not so much.

The thing is, Trump takes a bull-in-the-china-shop approach to politics — thrashing around and disturbing the normal processes, and making it difficult to get things done. One reason that nothing significant has happened in the first 100 days is that the Rebpublicans are in just as much disarray as the Democrats when it comes to passing legeslation. There’s no ability of the White House to press its agenda, because the President doesn’t know how, and isn’t interested in learning.

So what happens if he gets impeached? Well, then we have President Pence, and do we really want one of those?

Pence is a born again Evangelical who dispises everyone who isn’t a white Christian, and dismisses those white Christians who aren’t male, and rich. He’s so doctrinaire that the first thing his (Republican) successors did was to start quite deliberately the process of unravelling his legacy.

Here’s a Rolling Stone article from earlier this year. I take issue with their poking fun at him for calling his wife “Mother”. That’s a Mid-West practice that merely identifies him as someone from a certain place and age group. My in-laws did the same thing. Having said that, the rest of the article is damning.

The other half of the problem is, unlike Trump, Pence is a politician who (sort of) knows how to get things done. Odious things. Things even Republicans want to walk back, but still. If Pence had been elected, we’d most likely have AHCA as the law of the land today, and Muslims and other foreigners would be blocked from entry.

There’s an old Aesop’s Fable about a pond that had a log for a king, and and the pond dwellers were upset the king never did anything. So they prayed for a new king, and the Gods sent them King Stork, who immediately started eating all the denizens of the pond. In our case, the choice isn’t between King Log and King Stork. It’s more between Mr. Toad and King Stork, and I’d rather see the Republicans thrashing around for the next four years.

Green Thumb Up My Nose

May 15, 2017

Garden Report for 170515

Cool, blustery, and showery. Highs in the upper 50’s, lows in the lower 30’s. Forecast is for, well, cool, blustery, and showery, with highs in the 60’s and lows in the 40’s.

Slowly getting things started. Planted some deck tomatoes: Sub-Arctic Plenty and Patio. Started on the house planters: one Burpee’s Big Boy and one Beefmaster. Also put one of each of those in Section one. The south end is essentially full now.

Our local hardware store has the same limited selection of tomatoes and other plants as always. I need to find another source of seedlings, but there’s nothing close by, and with all of I-90 through Spokane being dug up, it’s a pain. I didn’t get a chance to plant seeds this year, so it’s just what the locals have.

Comeygate isn’t going anywhere

May 14, 2017

Despite the current uproar over the timing and manner of the firing of the FBI director, I don’t think anything will come of it, directly or soon. It’s been compared to the Saturday Night Massacre of the Watergate Scandal, but I don’t think it will have the same impact. Here’s why:

First of all, there’s the popular reasons, the ones bandied about in recent days. Both houses of Congress are in GOP hands, unlike during Watergate. Both sides are strongly polarized and antagonistic, unlike the more bipartisan days of the Cold War. And in 1973 the GOP had leaders who were willing to put country before party. Our illusions about that possibility died the death during the AHCA voting.

Yet another reason, not yet mentioned (as far as I know), is that it’s too soon. The Watergate break-in happened in June of 1972, and the scandal had 16 months to fester before that infamous Saturday night earned Robert Bork the nickname “Cox-sacker”.  That was seen as the tipping point by all but the most rabid Nixon supporters. Today, we are still in the “oh, it’s just partisan infighting” stage. Trump’s base is still supportive, and there’s not yet a smoking gun to convince them there’s something there.

For that matter, I’m not yet convinced that this scandal has a truly treasonous core.  A lot of inappropriate things have been done, many of them likely illegal, in a real estate developer petty graft sort of way. Impeachable? Yes, if you use getting a blowjob in a White House coat closet as your baseline, but not yet “high crimes and misdemeanors”. Not yet.

Not yet.

L’Affaire de Comey

May 11, 2017

I’ve been following some discussions on why the Democrats are riled up now about Comey being fired, when they were all for him being fired back in November. There’s a number of intertwined issues here, and we need to be sure our conclusions on one don’t color our approach to a different one.

1. The Clinton emails investigation and the associated announcement. Comey mishandled the whole thing, whether or not you believe Clinton did something actionable. He violated FBI guidelines — the decision, and the announcement, should have been left up to the DoJ.

2. The second email announcement. What had Democrats in a twist was the second announcement, a week before the election, that the FBI was investigating a second set of emails. This was not only a violation of guidelines, it was in direct contravention to advice given by DoJ.

According to Nate Silver at 538.com, this influenced the outcome. As far as I can tell, Silver is pretty much a ‘by the numbers’ statistician, who analyzes polling statistics. He is a liberal, but doesn’t let that influence his analysis.

By the time Comey came out (48hrs before the election) with a third announcement, that said ‘my bad, nothing new’, the damage had been done.

From that standpoint, what Comey should have been fired for was having the FBI take a political action that influenced an American election.

3. The Russia connection. I’m not sure there’s anything there, other than normal graft, but I am not at all sure. To a certain extent, it’s a stick the Democrats can use to beat the GOP. Just like Whitewater and Benghazi and the emails. The biggest pointer to malfeasance in office is the attempt at a coverup via the Comey firing.

4. The firing. If Trump didn’t like Comey’s actions over the emails, he should have fired him in January. Instead, he waited until the Russia investigation was well advanced, and Comey was asking for more money for it. The story the White House is supporting won’t stand up to scrutiny.

So what Comey shouldn’t have been fired for is continuing an investigation on external influence on an American election. And the Democrats are right to be upset about it.

BTW, here’s one line of thought on Trump’s mindset. It’s extracts from a 40 section tweet-storm (and example of a misuse of Twitter. You don’t pump out a thousand word essay 140 characters at a time).

Universal Basic Income: Gilbreth and Socrates and the philosophy of work

May 9, 2017

I had forgotten about this, until it crossed my mind while I was thinking about the earlier article. Cheaper By the Dozen (1948), by Frank Gilbreth, Jr., and Ernestine Gilbreth Carey, was one of the books of my childhood. Gilbreth, Senior, was a time and motion specialist, always seeking a better way, one that would save time. Here’s how the book ends:

Someone once asked Dad: “But what do you want to save time for? What are you going to do with it?”
“For work, if you love that best,” said Dad. “For education, for beauty, for art, for pleasure.” He looked over the top of his pince-nez. “For mumblety-peg, if that’s where your heart lies.”

There are those who would look askance at such a life, but they are wrong. When Socrates said “The unexamined life is not worth living“, he should have gone on to say that this attitude was a social construct, designed to make the elite sons of the aristoi feel good about attending his classes, something unavailable to the bulk of the peasantry. Throughout history there have been untold millions of people who led happy, fulfilled lives despite the fact that none of their achievements ever had the word great attached to them.

In Life you set your own victory conditions, and a perfectly valid life can be had seeking to improve your skills at mumblety-peg, if that’s where your heart lies.

 

月の花見

May 8, 2017

Tsuki no hanami — moon flower viewing

Moon not quite full

Sakura past their peak

Overwhelming city lights

My bed calls

 

Green Thumb Up My Nose — The 2017 season really begins

May 8, 2017

To make sure we knew that winter was over, on Thursday we had a blast of moist 84F Hawaiian air. We were back to a more sane 60F on Saturday, and the soil temperature had climbed to 55F, with no indication of frost through mid-May. I made my first pass through the hardware store, and bought two each First Lady, Champion, and Arkansas Traveler — yes, only one ‘l’.  Plus a couple of basil seedlings. These all went into the South end of Section 1, digging up some of the greens (in two weeks they’d barely sprouted). Whitehouse o’ertop of them, soaker hose for half an hour, and we’ll see.

Still have greens and cabbage seeds in Section 2, without much action. Dug up Section 3 on the weekend. Plan to plant stuff there midweek.

Meanwhile, a couple of last year’s onions had stuck up stalks again, so I harvested them for use in my oatmeal. A nice Asia-poi touch.

Tanya the Evil: Sub Rosa

April 30, 2017

In Episode 9, Tanya meets an old classmate, Major Uger, on a train to Strategic Headquarters. He’s assigned to the Railway Division at HQ, working for General Zettour. In the dining car, he fills Tanya in on the Empire’s secret plans for the next offensive.

Sub Rosa

Their talk is secret, and the producers found the perfect way to depict this.