Yes, we are rural

August 18, 2019

Middle of the residential area of Cheney

A quiet Sunday evening

Green Thumb Up My Nose

August 18, 2019

Garden Report for 190819

We were gone all week, on our second cruise to Alaska (coming soon to a sidebar near you). That soaker hose I rigged across all the containers seemed to work OK.

The containers along the east side of the house continue to produce. The Early Girl House Bag generated 20 tomatoes, and the two EG Containers generated 18. Also got 10 Champion VFNT (900g). The hanging tomato survived the trip from deck to planter, but might not have survived the trip back. In any event, all of its tomatoes are still greenies.

There were lots of tomatoes from the garden as well.  Garden EG produced only 17 tomatoes, but with a total weight of 1.6kg. Rutgers gave up 10 (1280g), and Big Beef had a kilogramsworth of meat in 4 tomatoes (finally, a tomato worthy of the name — we cooked hamburger tonight just to celebrate), and one lonely Bush Beefsteak at 140g.

All in all, we got something over 80 tomatoes at something over 7kg — this week. Too bad the lettuce has petered out.

Lots of salad in our future

Squash stayed reasonably sane. Two summer squash, one Cocozelle Zucchini, and two Genovese Zucchini, one of which was a two pound monster. I suspect it hid behind a leaf when I did my pre-trip purge. In any event, it was given to a friend before I could photograph it.

 

Here’s the scoreboard.

Week
Ending
08/19
Vegetable

(bold = final)

Count Total

Weight
g

Unit

Weight
g

Grand

Total

Total
Weight
kg
  EG Garden 17 1580 93 26 2.51
EG Container (2) 18 1380 77 40 3.72
EG Bag 20 1180 59 39 2.25
EG Deck 30 1.77
Other tomato 25 3325 30 3.96
Summer Squash 2 490 245 11 2.29
Zucchini 3 2330 1870 19 5.8
Spaghetti
squash
Winter Squash
Cucumber
Kohlrabi 2 0.90
Grand Total 23.2

This puts us in the top three years for midsommer yields, and the others had things like pumpkins to plump them up.

Watching Maria

August 14, 2019

Encouraged by recent favorable commentary for Maria Watches Over Us, I decided to give it another look. I’d watched much of it a decade ago, but the memory had faded into amnesia, as so often happens in anime. So I took it up again, and boy was it different from how I remembered it. What hit me about halfway through the first episode was how alien the senior characters looked.

The sharp features, the sharp hair, the wide, wide, staring eyes, as if they’d evolved in the dark — in some views the members of the Yamayuri Council looked hardly human.

…we are the scouts for a race of people long hidden underground.

 

I realize that manga and anime drawing conventions were different in 2004 (and 1998!) but these women look like inhuman interlopers. That, combined with their stilted way of speaking, as if having to carefully parse each sentence to make sure it made sense to humans (perhaps coordinating the output of a hive mind), makes one think that Episode 1 of Maria could equally end up leading into an anime where everyone ends up dead, the school is on fire, and the JSDF is helpless.

Nontheless, I shall persevere, waiting to see what eldritch horrors await me, and writing down such of these journal entries as I can force myself to remember.

 

Green Thumb Up My Nose

August 12, 2019

Garden Report for 190812

The weather had the hots this week, with highs topping out at 97, with lots of haze and smoke from the WA wildfires.

The Early Girls in containers along the east side of the house continue to produce. Starting to get some non-EG tomatoes — five Champions from the House Bag.

Squash seems to be taking a breather; fine with me.

Only the top right corner are not Early Girls

We were to be away for the weekend, and the EG Deck Container cannot survive unless it’s watered at least once a day, so I harvested everything (including greenies), and I’ll let them ripen in the house. Total for that plant for the season was 25@1.8kg.

While I was at it, I decided that I’d try harvesting all the tomatoes with any color at all and bring them into the house as well. We’re in the high heat of summer, and they will ripen more slowly indoors. The goal is to have less of a crimson tide at the end of the month. That’s why the totals have jumped up so high.

 

Here’s the scoreboard.

Week
Ending
08/12
Vegetable

(bold = final)

Count Total

Weight
g

Unit

Weight
g

Grand

Total

Total
Weight
kg
  EG Garden 5 430 86 9 0.93
EG Container (2) 16 740 46 22 2.34
EG Bag 13 600 46 19 1.07
EG Deck 25 1500 60 30 1.77
Other tomato 5 640 120 5 0.64
Summer Squash 7 1.80
Zucchini 1 240 16 3.50
Spaghetti
squash
Winter Squash
Cucumber
Kohlrabi 2 0.90
Grand Total 12.5

We’re ahead of where we were last year (12.0kg) and 2017 (9.5kg), so this may end up being the best harvest since I started keeping records, in 2011.

Guns ‘R US

August 6, 2019

I don’t have much to say about our current spate of mass shootings. Others, many others, have said it better. Perhaps it would be best to point to some articles on the topic from the past.

First, Jason Kottke has pre-empted me by listing a handful of insightful articles on guns and gun control. Chief among them is an essay on how they do things in Japan, a country where they have fewer guns, and fewer gun deaths of all kinds than we do accidental gun deaths — or deaths from being struck by a train (pdf) while trespassing on RR property in Montana, for that matter. Meanwhile, a Scientific American article shows that, three percent of the gun owners own 50% of the guns, and they do it because they are afraid of the other.

As I said last week, fear sells, and one of the things it sells is power to politicians. Everyone now wants us to do something, but we can’t agree on what. Well, the Republicans don’t actually want to do anything that would upset their white supremacist base. That’s why they blame mental illness and video games.

The actual problem, of course, is complex, and common understanding is mostly wrong. You know what doesn’t cause it? Video games. Mental illness.

Perhaps a start would be do do as Jim Wright suggest a few years ago and make the public gun-handling policies of the NRA the law of the land.

So, this essay doesn’t present any useful insights. Instead, it presents links to what I think are useful insights. If you have read this essay and not clicked on any of the links, you’re doing it wrong.

Green Thumb Up My Nose

August 5, 2019

Garden Report for 190805

The weather continued warm, with highs mostly in the mid to upper 80s.

The Early Girls in containers along the east side of the house are just producing their little hearts out. Plus, we’re getting some Early Girl tomatoes that aren’t from the House Containers. Six so far from the House Bag. It’s about 50% bigger than the hard plastic containers, and so are the tomatoes. One was 100g and another was 140. Main garden actually produced some tomatoes this week — four Early Girls. Squash continues to squash.

Here’s the scoreboard.

Week
Ending
08/05
Vegetable Count Total

Weight
g

Unit

Weight
g

Grand

Total

Total
Weight
kg
  EG Garden 4 500 125 4 0.50
EG Container 24 1050 44 36 1.60
EG Bag 6 470 78 6 0.47
EG Deck 5 269 54 5 0.27
Other tomato
Summer Squash 2 400 200 7 1.80
Zucchini 6 1270 212 16 3.50
Spaghetti
squash
Winter Squash
Cucumber
Kohlrabi 2 0.90
Grand Total 9.0

You know that railing container of radishes I talked about earlier? Well, they’re actually lettuce. Boy is my face as red as a … as a red thing. But at least we’ll have lettuce until the next batch in the main garden shows up. Meanwhile, I have no idea where the radishes are.

Planted a railing container of spinach. All the garden spinach I’ve ever planted has been ravaged by leaf miners, so we’ll see.

Lettuce on the left, Spinach on the right.
I think.

Out front, the pepper-inna-tub has given us four banana peppers.

We’re well ahead of where we were this time last year (1.7kg), except that last year we were already getting big red tomatoes. Also ahead of 2017 (2.7kg). This doesn’t count the half-kilogram of greenies what have fallen off of various plants. They are off by themselves, quietly thinking about ripening.

Gorgonzola Curry Oatmeal

August 1, 2019

As I mentioned earlier, MJ recently bought a bunch of Gorgonzola-based steak butter patties. As I also mentioned, Gorgonzola is an intrusive cheese, that wants to dominate the flavor of whatever its associated with. If you are going to use it for breakfast, you need something that will stand up to it. Enter Japanese curry.

Setup: 1/3 cup of stone ground rolled oats, one cup beefy broth, one pat (roughly 30g) of Gorgonzola flavored butter, a 1 cm slice of Golden Curry roux, broken up, two dinner teaspoons of potato flakes. No salt. Cook for 10 minutes or so, depending on the exact style of oats. Add the potatoes at the end. Add the Gorgonzola and the curry to the broth at the start and give them time to dissolve.

Results: Very good. Finally, the Gorgonzola flavor wasn’t overpowering, but was nicely offset by the curry. You still have to like Gorgonzola.

Rating: ***

TLDR: Anime I never finished, Summer 2019 Part 2

July 31, 2019

It’s time for the midseason culling, for a suitably vague concept of midseason. I went ahead and reactivated my subscription to Funimation, giving myself three dedicated anime streamers — Crunchyroll, HiDive (via VRV), and Funi. This opened up new vistas in viewing, and meant that I needed to do some trimming if I wanted to have any personal time available. Fortunately, there were a number of shows that helped out by finally revealing their true nature.

Isekai Cheat Magician was at best a B-list show, and Episode 4 showed it wasn’t really even B-list material. With lame animation of overpowered cardboard villains mouthing overwrought lines, Isekai Cheat is more like a kid’s afternoon anime. I didn’t make it halfway through the episode.

Wasteful Days of High School Girls tries very hard to be a slice of zany life centering on three high school girls — the standard jokester, straight man, and observer — in the mode of Yuyushiki or Aiura. After a fun start, they tried to bring in more side-characters and develop something like a plot, but it didn’t work. Finally, it looks to me like Nozomu “Baka” Tanaka is a direct rip of Kanaka Amaya.

Astra Lost in Space was another B-list show that didn’t live up to its billing. The animation was full of cutout figures moving against painted backdrops, when it wasn’t just static pictures. The plot was contrived (Someone is trying to kill us!) and the problem solutions equally so (Look! I just found a backup generator in this closet, with eight minutes to go to impact). Agatha Christie did it better. To top it off, Funimation makes it really hard to get uncluttered screenshots.

It’s too bad, really. I had 14 shows I was following, which made for a tidy two shows per day. Fortunately, Funi now lets me watch old classics, like Omamore Himare, and Girls Bravo.

The only thing we have to fear is ….

July 30, 2019

…us.

As any insurance salesman will tell you, fear sells. Also guttering salesmen, Google doorbell ads, newspapers, and, of course, politicians. We have become a fearful nation of fear-mongers.

Ordinary people, fat old Euros like you and me, live in constant fear of being murdered in our beds by drug-addled dark-skinned criminals who come into our country illegally, seeking bedridden victims to murder. We are afraid to go into the crime-ridden cities. Afraid that our children will be kidnapped if we let them out of our sight for a minute. Afraid that our neighbor’s children will be kidnapped if they are allowed any greater freedom than we allow our own. As with other fears, like fear of flying, telling the fearful one that they are wrong, showing them the facts of the matter, doesn’t help. They still get white knuckles every time the plane takes off, every time they walk past a person of color. How did we become such spineless wimps?

Part of the reason is the Internet. Wait! Before you close the tab and click over to XKCD, hear me out. I am of Internet Generation 0. I didn’t grow up with it, but I’m part of the generation that created it (no, I wasn’t involved) and was an early adopter. I spend six or seven hours per day online, and that doesn’t count anime. At last count, I owned twelve PCs, laptops, and tablets, many of which still work. I think the Internet is the greatest technical achievement of mankind, surpassing even Apollo. And yet, and yet.

By essentially abolishing the informational distance between any two points, the Internet has made us all neighbors. Not in a global village sort of way, but as a global city. In a village, you have a good chance of knowing, or at least interacting with, everyone in the population, however sporadically. In a city, you don’t know and can’t know everyone. You can’t even know about anyone without a special effort. In a city, there are neighborhoods you don’t go into, either because they have little to offer you, or because they are dangerous, in one way or another, and so you know little about them.

A village, if you will, is like Facebook. A city is like Twitter. In the one you are likely to  have a relatively small number of like-minded people that you interact with on a regular basis. In the other, it’s not unusual to have thousands of @’s that you follow, so many that you can’t say why you even followed any given one. And those have re-tweets and replies such that your stream becomes a river of strangers, no longer Main Street, but Shibuya Crossing.

In a village, you can know, or find out, the truth behind rumors and allegations. In the city, you are at the mercy of the information intermediaries like newspapers and TV, and the Internet. In the city, all crime is local, all disasters are personal. Some child gets abducted by his divorced father in Montana, and we get Amber Alerts on our phones in Washington state. Torrential rains 300 miles away in Seattle cause a landslide in the mountains, and we get emails from our in-laws on the East Coast, asking if we are alright. A German high school exchange student told me his family were worried that he’d be involved in a school shooting, when the nearest one at the time was a thousand miles away. Terrorist attacks in Somalia and India trigger calls for increased local security by Americans who couldn’t find either country on a map.

Feeding on this are the politicians, and those who aspire to power. When I was a lad, we had real existential threats to the country. The USSR could wipe us from the face of the earth in half an hour’s time, and we knew it. But nobody cowered behind border walls, and nobody suggested giving up our Constitutional rights just to get a little supposed safety. And few tried to weaponize that fear in order to gain power.

Today there are no real existential threats to the U.S. Yes, Russia could still wipe us out, and China could tear off an arm, but they are now simply global competitors rather than rabid ideologues who take our very existence as an affront. Al Qaeda and their ilk are not much more than simple gangsters. Yes, nearly 4,000 Americans died on 9/11. And over 4,000 Americans died in useless wars that we started after that. But those numbers pale before deaths due to drugs, medical errors, and guns. *

Similarly, there’s this fear that we are being overrun by foreign immigrants. It’s true that our latest figures show that 13.4% of our population is foreign born. That’s higher than it’s ever been…except for the forty year period between 1870 and 1910. We weren’t overwhelmed then, and we’re not going to be overwhelmed now.

But despite that, we still allow ourselves to be oppressed by the DHS and their subordinates in ICE and CBP. We see nothing wrong with x-ray searches at airports, and having everything within 100 miles of the border be a Constitution-free zone.

At home, we have school shootings. Between 1999 and 2018, over 200,000 students at over 200 schools “experienced gun violence”, with almost 500 of them being killed or injured. That sounds like a lot, but it covers a ten year period, and in any given year there are 7.6 million students, at 137,000 schools. Compare that with the fact that 12,000 children die annually due to accidents in cars and in their homes. And yet we have fences, metal detectors, and armed guards in many of our schools. Why is that?

Well, fear.

Newspapers survive by collecting eyeballs to sell to advertisers, and fear collects eyeballs. Politicians survive by collecting voters. Voters want their politicians to do something about critical problems of the day.  Unfortunately, the real problems — poverty, inequality, health care, climate change — are tough, intractable ones, with solutions that irritate some part of the voting population. Far better to create false crises — illegals, terrorists, drug wars, school shootings, even video games — ones with no great constituency, and take action against them. And how do you create a false crisis? Fear. Politicians can hold hearings, and newspapers can cover them and laws can be passed, and it’s all so much security theater, but it gets eyeballs and voters, and if anyone objects you can always ask Why do you hate America?  And as a side effect, these laws give you more control over the populace and let those with power (and money) act as they please.

The trouble is, the structure of the system is such that it will continue to promote the use of fear to keep the populace under control. It’s what a Systems Scientist would call a basin of attraction. You can’t predict what the system will do, but you can say that it will stay within this same general area.I don’t see a way out, and that makes me afraid.


*In any given recent year more than 70,000 Americans die due to drug overdoses, 40,000 from preventable medical accidents, and 30,000 to gunshot wounds. Islamic terrorism is responsible for four, or maybe eight, individuals per year, but AQ doesn’t have Big Pharma, Big Med, or the NRA to front for them.

 

Green Thumb Up My Nose

July 29, 2019

Garden Report for 190729

The weather continued warm, with highs mostly in the mid to upper 80s, but just touching 94F on Tuesday. Breezy Really windy at the end of the week. Forecast for pretty much the same for next week, only without the wind.

Finally got some tomatoes. Over the course of the week there were 12 small (~45g each) Early Girls, all from the house east side containers. Three afflicted with blossom end rot. They all were good, but had thick skins. I suspect this is the result of our exceedingly dry air. On the other hand, I note that it says here that Early Girls should run up to 250g. Not even a smidgen of red elsewhere. Picked the second kohlrabi, and about 24″ of yard long beans. Squash are churning out squash.

It’s a start

Here’s the scoreboard.

Week
Ending
07/29
Vegetable Count Total

Weight
g

Unit

Weight
g

Grand

Total

Total
Weight
kg
  EG Garden
EG Container 12 540 45 12 0.54
EG Bag
EG Deck
Other tomato
Summer Squash 1 200 200 5 1.4
Zucchini 4 930 230 10 2.2
Spaghetti
squash
Winter Squash
Cucumber
Kohlrabi 1 320 320 2 0.9
Grand Total 5.0

I am trying something new on the watering front. I threaded a soaker hose around the house containers — it’s long enough to go both ways — and I’m hooking it up to the timer. We’ll see if and how much watering will take the place of me standing there with a hose. Not that there’s anything wrong with standing.

The hose is there, it’s just hard to see.
Click to embiggen.

We’re ahead of where we were this time last year (1.7kg), except that last year we were already getting big red tomatoes. Also ahead of 2017 (2.7kg)

Green Thumb Up My Nose

July 21, 2019

Garden Report for 190722

The weather was surprisingly pleasant, with highs in the upper 70’s, not warming to the 80’s until the weekend. The whole NW is having an unseasonable extension of June Gloom, becoming subject to JAWS — July Abnormally Wet Systems. On Monday, Spokane had the second highest rainfall for that date since record keeping started in 1881.  True, it was only 0.29in, but still. In the past 138 years, it’s rained on the 16th only 21 times. Forecast for next week is more normal — upper 80s/low 90s, no rain except in occasional T-storms. This forecast expected to hold through … August.

Not really seeing much production yet, other than the squash (one Summer, one Genovese, one Cocozelle). Some remaining lettuce. A couple of tomatoes are turning red, but nothing harvestable. Meanwhile, the Bok Choy all bolted.

Here’s the scoreboard. This week’s take includes harvests from previous weeks.

Week
Ending
07/22
Vegetable  

Count

 

Total

Weight
g

Unit

Weight
g

Grand

Total

Total
Weight
kg
  EG Garden
EG Container
EG Bag
EG Deck
Other tomato
Summer Squash 4 1210 302 4 1.2
Zucchini 6 1948 325 6 1.9
Spaghetti
squash
Winter Squash
Cucumber
Kohlrabi 1 580 580 1 0.6
Grand Total 3.7

I tried using a no-till approach to the garden this year, but it’s not working. Sometimes I have trouble finding the garden plants.

Peas and Carrots and Weeds, Oh My.

There’s actually some radishes in there, also.

We’re ahead of where we were this time last year, except that last year we were already getting big red tomatoes.

Fire Season 2019

July 19, 2019

We’re seeing an interesting pattern develop in wildfires in Washington State.

The first biggish fire of the season was the 243 Command Fire (who names these things, anyway?) in Grant County, just east of Beverly, on the north slope of the Saddle Mountains.

243 Command Fire

Six weeks later and five miles to the south, we had the Powerline Fire, just over the Saddle Mountains, and northeast of Mattawa.

Powerline fire

Now, we have the Cold Creek fire, fifteen miles south of Powerline, and over the border into Benton County. Burning along historic Rattlesnake Mountain, towards my in-laws old home in  Richland.

Beverly, Mattawa, and Cold Creek

If I lived in Prosser, I might be a little worried.

It’s heading south!

UPDATE: Guess what?

Gorgonzola Oatmeal

July 18, 2019

So, a few weeks ago in a fit of impulsion MJ bought a bunch of steak butter patties, suitable for everything from burgers on up. Or so we thought.

Trouble is, their main non-butter component was Gorgonzola cheese, or at least, FDA Gorgonzola flavorant #12. And the trouble with that is, Gorgonzola is a, shall we say, intrusive cheese, that wants to dominate the flavor of whatever its associated with. Tasted like we were eating Gorgonzola patties with beef bits.

Well, if its flavor you got, then I’ve got a place for you, and it’s right on top of my oatmeal.

Setup: 1/3 cup of stone ground rolled oats, one cup beefy broth, one pat (roughly 30g) of Gorgonzola flavored butter, two dinner teaspoons of potato flakes. Cook for 10 minutes or so, depending on the exact style of oats. Add the potatoes at the end. Add the Gorgonzola to the broth at the start, or break it up and stir it in after the potatoes. Wait until aprè-Gorgon to add salt, ’cause it’s salty.

Results: OK, if you like Gorgonzola. The flavor wasn’t overpowering. After all, it was fighting a whole cup of bland. But when you come right down to it, when something is Gorgonzola-flavored, that means it tastes of Gorgonzola, and I find I’m not a big fan of that flavor. But try it. You might like it.

Rating: ***

Anime I’m Watching, Summer 2019

July 16, 2019

So, you’ve seen what I’ve dropped. What’s holding my attention? Here’s the current list, by the numbers:

The Demon Girl Next Door
One inept high school girl finds out she’s the new incarnation of evil, only to be totally outclassed by the magical girl she’s supposed to defeat. Magical girl takes pity on her and works to help her level up.

Pokes fun at both the magical girl and the demon heiress genres. I particularly like how everybody just goes along with the new situation (“You’re a demon? Cool horns“), and how her mother tries to cope (“You’ll be arrested if you carry a weapon, so here’s a dinner fork“). Bonus points for the background classroom games.

Dr. Stone
Two high school boys survive petrification of the entire human race, plus all the birds, or maybe only swallows, without food, water, oxygen, or sensory stimulation, for three thousand years. Decide to reconstruct civilization, starting with a bunch of grapes and some bat guano.

Interesting, but still excessively shonen. Starting to address the question of who to awaken (and the associated, who to awaken next). Still hasn’t thought about how all their inventions will scale, how many to awaken, and on what sort of schedule.

Wasteful Days of High School Girls
Three high school girls continue their friendship from middle school [see Yuyushiki], maintain their standard-character interactions [see Aiura].

So far, the banter is cute and the jokes are funny. We’ll see if they can keep it up.

Are you lost?
Four high school girls survive an airplane ditching, without life preservers, burns, broken bones, or jet fuel contamination. Everybody else perished without a trace. Said girls wash up on a deserted island (presumably deserted, they haven’t looked on the other side yet, there could be a Royal Caribbean Line party beach) and try out their survival skills.

Short, but interesting. Much of what people are calling gross-out material is actual survival lore. OK, maybe not the moose balls.

Caution: I don’t care what they said in Episode 1, don’t drink urine. Your kidneys did a lot of work to get rid of toxins in your body and concentrate them in your urine for disposal. Don’t add them back. US Army includes it with seawater and blood as fluids that are harmful to drink in a survival situation.

O Maidens in your Savage Season
Five high school girls from the literature club discover sex. Poke at it with a stick. Find out why it’s vitally important to lock your doors.

I am so not the target demographic for this. In addition, I’m having trouble remembering what my male equivalent travails were like, particularly because they took place during the Eisenhower administration. Despite that, I found it interesting and well done. An example of why anime isn’t just, or not even, kiddie material.

Fire Force
Seven firemen extinguish men of fire, while seeing to their spiritual needs. None of them are in high school.

A shonen anime, but without spiky hair or shouting, unlike Dr. Stone. So far, the action is good and the characters interesting. Interesting side note: the fire fighting suits are realistically bulky.

So that’s it for now. Six shows, out of the 45 or so on offer on Crunchyroll/HiDive. I’m seriously considering adding Funimation as a source, which will give me another three or four.

Green Thumb Up My Nose

July 14, 2019

Garden Report for 190715

Hot and dry all week, with temperatures averaging in the mid 80’s F.

Harvested the first kholrabi. Softball sized and 520g. The second one is more hardball sized, and I’ll wait a bit on that one. Also harvested a 400g summer squash. There’s one Delicata and about four more summer squash (hey, the name says Early Prolific) coming along, so next week I’ll start the scoreboard. Later this summer, I’ll harvest the spaghetti squash.

Planted one row each of my seeds-on-tape lettuce: Butterchrunch, EZ Harvest, Krucha, Lento. Harvest time 45-75 days (early to late September). This will give us a chance to see which variety we like more.

Tomatoes are coming along. Time for a first look at my Early Girl experiment. Each of the four have produced ~20 tomatoes of a size worth mentioning (say, plum or larger), but the small container on the deck is producing smaller fruits. (click to embiggen)

Note that the various containers were watered about 20hrs prior to the photos, and we’ve had some warm, windy conditions. That (and the container size) may be why the deck container is looking so puny. On the other hand, the east-facing house tomatoes get more sun (including reflection) than does the garden plant.

TLDR: Anime I never finished, Summer 2019

July 9, 2019

Maybe it’s just me. Advancing age, combined with more time to watch anime, has made me more critical. Or maybe it’s just that the crop of anime this summer is weaker than one would expect, even for summer. The full summer schedule hasn’t been announced yet, and already I’m dropping shows.

Dropping:

To The Abandoned Sacred Beasts: Frankenstein monsters join the army. Things don’t end well. Interesting concept marred by low grade animation, names that are almost as bad as those in Gate, and a low grade villain — nobody laughs like that.

It’s the writers. They made me do this!

Is It Wrong To Try To Pick Up Girls In A Dungeon, Side Quest: My season preview said I wasn’t going to watch this, but I felt I should just check in to see how it was going. Well, I didn’t like the original, and this one isn’t any better. Cardboard characters. Cardboard monsters. Cardboard scenery. And those characters that go beyond cardboard, do it by being irritating.

We hauled all those boxes all this way so you could have a throne. Don’t let it go to your head.

Magical Sempai: I think it’s supposed to be せんぱい. See that second character that looks like an ‘n’? It’s an ‘n’, not an ‘m’. Senpai. Whatever it’s called, this 12 minute short depends too much on embarrassment humor for me.

Girl of my dreams

On the cusp:

Dr Stone: Yes, I know it’s a fantastically popular manga. Yes, I know it’s the most hyped anime of the season. Yes, I also know it’s a classic shonen, with lots of spiky hair and guys shouting, an anime of the type that that one of my Japanese students called “too loudy”. Will that overwhelm the joys of learning how to make nitric acid out of bat guano? I’ll give it one more episode.

Don’t chew with your mouth open. There might be kids watching.

Granbelm: Cleverly disguised magical girl show. On the one hand, I am definitely the wrong demographic for that. On the other hand, the mechas are chibi, the interactions are cute, and the action in general is good. Is that enough to make up for the squeaky-voiced teenlet mahou shoujo aspect? We’ll have to wait for the next episode.

I don’t think I could stand a Magical Girl/Mecha/Isekai mashup

Finally, it looks like it’s not just a thin season this summer, but a poorly distributed one as well, with four out of the five Summer Season shows that I am watching being released on Friday. This leaves a big hole after the weekend. Right now I’m desperate enough that I’m marathoning Daphne in the Brilliant Blue. It was that or Hanaukyo Maid Team.

Green Thumb Up My Nose

July 8, 2019

Garden Report for 190708

Warm and dry all week, with temperatures averaging around 80F.

Harvested the first Genovese (yet another type of Zucchini) squash on the 4th, only about 300g. MJ took it to her Girls Night Out party, where they watched 1776, the musical and ate Pasta Salad a la Genovese. Also harvested a 160g Summer Squash. It was small, but there’s four more coming right behind it.

First Genovese

Tomatoes are coming along. Latest count shows 60-70 plum size or larger. Nothing really large, nothing to see but green. Meanwhile, back in Ohio.

Happy Tanabata

July 6, 2019

Can you see me now?

I’ve already written pretty much all I know about the holiday. Here’s a nice article on today’s celebration in Tokyo. Unfortunately, the lovers probably won’t get a chance to see each other, since the Tokyo forecast is for rain.

I am publishing this a day early, because it’s already 7/7 in Japan.

 

What we have become

July 4, 2019

Another year, another self-congratulatory July 4th. So, how are we doing after 243 self evident years? How are those uninalienable rights working out for all of us?

Apparently, not so well. I have already complained about the Department of Homeland Security, and their subordinate parts, like the CBP, and how they seem to be taking most of their professional standards from the Stasi, but now we find that the philosophical roots of the organization go back further than that.

The thing is, Homeland is a word that raises the hackles of anyone over a certain age. My father and my uncle fought against people who glorified their Heimat, and used it as an excuse to perpetrate unimaginable horrors. But those horrors didn’t just magically appear. As Lucian Truscott says, they were allowed to happen because for the general population:

What happened in Nazi Germany didn’t affect their own lives, it happened away from them, it happened to “others,” to people who were not like them, whom they had been conditioned to hate, and it happened at the direction of a leader they admired and revered.

And now, we see DHS building concentration camps, abusing children, and using the same kapo-based prisoner control techniques the Nazis did (near the bottom of the article).

We have become the people our parents fought against, and we are doing it at the behest of a man who is doing his best to condition us to hate the other. I suspect that the original signers would not recognize us.

But that’s not the worst of it. The worst of it is that over 40% of adults in the US approve of what he’s doing, who admire, if not revere, him. Forty percent, a number that has remained more or less constant for a year and a half. If you look at the latest four months worth of numbers, including a number of reputable polls taken after the photo of Oscar Ramirez and his daughter floating face down in the Rio Grande appeared in the New York Times, that number is 42%.

That, is what we have become on this sunny, climate-warmed 4th. And even McSweeney’s knows how that 42% will react when we call them on it.

 

Anime Postview: Spring 2019

July 2, 2019

This is not a real review of the anime season just ending. Instead, it’s a look at how well I did in my Spring 2019 Preview, which you might want to look at first.

Ones I said I WILL WATCH:

Time travel not done well. Wants to be Stein’s Gate, but doesn’t quite make it

 

  • Konoyo no Hate: Watched five eps. Interesting take on time loops and the difficulty of changing the past, but just couldn’t hold my interest.
  • Shoumetsu Toshi: Not Available
  • Carole & Tuesday: Not Available

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ones I said I MIGHT WATCH:

It’s not Big Windup. It’s not even Moshidora.

 

  • Cinderella Nine: Watched two eps. Too much cute girls doing and not enough baseball
  • Mix: Didn’t watch. Previews were too much team building and not enough baseball. Doesn’t anyone watch Big Windup any more? That’s how you do it.
  • Kono Oto Tomare: Didn’t watch. Amazon pay to play.

 

 

 

 

 

Ones I said I WON’T WATCH:

I don’t understand. I liked YuriKuma.

 

  • Jimoto na Japan: Didn’t watch
  • Aikatsu Friends: Didn’t watch
  • Sarazanmai:  Watched two eps.  Everybody who isn’t me liked it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So, there we are. Started watching four of the nine, but none of them stayed the course. Checked out three others that others said were good, but they didn’t make it, either: Bakumatsu, Demon Slayer, Fruits Basket (wasn’t impressed with the original, for that matter). Fortunately, there were a few that kept me from complete boredom: Ao-Chan Can’t Study, FLCL (work in progress), Isekai Quartet, We never learn. Now, why did I like Ao-Chan and We never learn and get bored by Demon Slayer and Fruits Basket? For that matter, why did I like YuriKuma enough to buy the DVD but Sarazanmai just didn’t really click with me? I don’t know. Maybe it’s just me. I should note that I didn’t watch more than two episodes of any show on Conflagrate’s top ten list. Yeah, it’s me.

In a nutshell: Even the good ones weren’t great. I ended up rewatching Kotobuki, and towards the end, I found myself marathoning High School DxD.

Magnificent

 

Green Thumb Up My Nose

July 1, 2019

Garden Report for 190701

Cool and rainy at the start, then steadily increasing temperatures, topping out at 81F on Sunday, with warmer in the forecast.

Harvested the first summer squash on Thursday, and of course I didn’t weigh it or photo it. That’s because it went from happy garden plant to dinner salad in about fifteen minutes. Main body was softball sized, so probably half a kilo or so.

The plants are so dense in Section 1 that it was hard to see if there’s any more of them, so it took me another day to find our second harvest, a 477g Cocozelle squash. A what? Italian striped Zucchini.

Fancy Italian Zucchini

Tomatoes are coming along. Lots of small greenies visible. Nothing large or ripe yet.

Harvested all the lettuce in the hanging container. That should give the tomato a chance to grow. Right now it has zero fruit or flowers. Also harvested most of the main garden lettuce a week or ten days earlier than my prediction, because it was really big, and when it gets really hot, it might really bolt. I figure it’s a tossup: we lose it to heat or it rots in the fridge.

Squirrels dug over the Section 3 area I’d just planted peas in. They’ve ignored the garden so far, but I guess the fresh soil was too much for them. Put one of the wire shelf racks over that spot, and planted Amaranth in the freshly exposed soil in Section 4. Should be harvestable in mid-August, assuming the squirrels don’t trash them all.

 

Anime trails manga

June 25, 2019

My Japanese students always said that manga was more important than anime in Japan. On my first visit to Japan, seven years ago, I found that was true. Now, I have some data to back that up. In 2017, home video and streaming anime sales totaled about $1.2 Billion. That same year, manga sales totaled just under $3.9 Billion. Given that a manga costs $5 or $6, while anime prices seem to average about $40 or $50 per title (with a very wide variance), that means a lot more manga items are being sold.

In both cases, sales of physical media dropped from the previous year. Call me old fashioned, but I’d rather have something that can’t be take away from me at a publisher’s whim.

Accounting for Trump

June 24, 2019

In accounting, goodwill is the value of a company over and above the value of its tangible assets. In 2015, for example, Amazon was valued at $67B. When you subtract its cash and inventories and debts and property, etc., you end up with $3.7B not accounted for. That’s the value of the brand, if you will, an expression of the trust that investors have that Amazon will remain a high-value on-going business.

Businesses can lose goodwill because of accidents or lawsuits or industry changes. Sometimes they feel they have to use up their goodwill to stay in business. In the late 1950’s, Martin Greenberg, of Gnome Press, was infamous for not paying authors, and for using paper and ink of such low quality that it jammed the printers. He was trading the initial social goodwill of early SF fans and authors, which translated into the accounting concept, in order to run his business. In essence, Greenberg used the company’s goodwill as just another pot of money. Ultimately, Gnome Press went out of business, in part because so few wanted to do business with it. In the end, they had little in the way of tangible assets and no goodwill.

What does this have to do with politics? The US has spent the 70 years since the end of WWII building up its goodwill. Not the social term, whereby Iraqis who are building bombs to attack US troops will still ask about a resident visa (because they love us for our freedoms), but the accounting concept, the value of the brand, if you will.

For over half a century, the US has been known as a staunch ally, as a preserver of the status quo, as a country that, when it counts, keeps the promises it makes and stands by the agreements it signs. We may be the big gorilla in the room during negotiations, but we are predictable, and stable. This slow, patient, buildup has resulted in an enormous fund of (accounting) goodwill. It’s not that people like us, it’s that they trust us to be predictable. Yes, Kissenger sold Nixon to the Vietnamese as an unpredictable madman, but that was a wartime tactic.

President Trump is throwing that all away, burning through our international standing like Gnome Press through author’s royalties. He has reneged on agreement after agreement, destroying trust in our word. He has threatened draconian reprisals on countries that don’t acquiesce to our demands to alter existing agreements (Pray I don’t alter them further).

The problem is, the actions he has taken are irrevocable. Not that a future President couldn’t attempt to go back to the status quo ante, but that there will be no longer be any trust that the status quo, any status quo, will hold. If I can’t be sure that a future  American President, or her successor, will act in good faith on an agreement, I’ll have every incentive to make an agreement with someone else, or demand a higher payment for agreement from my side.

That’s what we’ve lost, and what we stand to lose.

Green Thumb Up My Nose

June 23, 2019

Garden Report for 190624

Weather continues its roller-coaster ride. Hot at the beginning of the period, and now forecasting highs in the middle 70s with lows around 50. Typical NENW springtime. We’ve been known to have frost in early July.

Nothing of import happened last week, but this week was Litha and the Midsummer festivities. Here’s what the gardens look like right now. The tomatoes are doing well all over, as are the weeds ground cover plants. Click to embiggen.

Things continued to grow. This week we got our first pea harvest and planted a new batch. Due out the end of August. The Bok Choy in Section 3 has finally raised its head above the …surroundings.

The lettuce in the hanging planter is doing well. The tomato plant is big enough I moved the underchard over to the south railing. Planted a container of radishes for MJ, and another container of lettuce.

Tanker War

June 21, 2019

One reason I’m reluctant to comment on breaking news is that in this day and age it’s likely to be incomplete, twisted, and wrong.

Area of the action

Here’s a timeline of what we know, so far. Last week, two tankers (neither one with any links to the US) were attacked while transiting the Sea of Oman after having departed Saudi ports en route to ports in Asia. Given the deservedly low regard that the US government and its Intelligence Community is held in these days, the first reactions were extreme suspicion, some of it coming from conservative elements that one would expect might support it.

Later pictures and video showed what was identified as an Iranian Revolutionary Guard patrol boat removing what was reported as an unexploded limpet mine from the side of one of them. On Monday, additional imagery and analysis were released.

The consensus of the US media is that Iranian forces really were involved, but questions remain as to who in Iran really did it, and what their objectives were.

First of all, we note that all of the damage to the ships was well above the waterline. Like earlier attacks on tankers in port in Saudi, these attacks were not intended to sink the ships, in fact, unlike the earlier attacks, these were evidently not even intended to cripple them — the holes were nowhere near the propellers or rudders (and the fire on board the Altair seems to have broken out some hours after the attack, possibly due to poor damage control). The US claims that the mines used on the Japanese-owned Kokuka Courageous were of Iranian manufacture, but in fact, we don’t have enough material from the mines to be sure — one was blown up, and one was removed.

Limpet Mine

Second, one of the ships is Japanese-owned, and Japanese Prime Minister Abe was in Tehran at the time. Japan has refused to take sides on who was responsible for the attack, primarily because they don’t want to damage relations with Iran.

I see three possible actors in this situation.

  • First, obviously, the government of Iran.The question then becomes, what was the objective? If the sanctions are starting to bite, I am easily convinced that the hard-liners in the central government are pushing for a demonstration that the US and its allies are vulnerable to their own form of pain. The attack on the Japanese ship was just an error.
  • Second, rogue elements of the Iranian government and the Rev Guard in Hormozgān province. Iran is not as unified as some would have you believe, and it’s possible that some local commander, protected by hard-liners in the capital, is making known the position of a minority element of the government. The attack on the Japanese ship was to put Tokyo on notice that everyone was vulnerable.
  • Finally, there’s the (increasingly less likely) possibility of a false flag attack by the US or (more likely) one of its associates, like Saudi Arabia. I suspect the US could mount an attack like that, complete with Iranian mines, Rev Guard boats, and uniforms, within 48 hours of being ordered to. I suspect that the Saudis could mount such an attack with a week or so of warning.

Then, yesterday, a US drone was shot down by an Iranian missile while over …. international/Iranian waters (take your pick).

Khordad mobile SAM

The US promptly decided to retaliate. A strike was mounted. Planes were in the air. Suddenly, President Trump decided that the level of ‘provocation’ wasn’t high enough to warrant killing 150 or so Iranian troops. Also, the NYT notes, buried below the fold, that we might not have been so sure that the drone actually was outside of Iranian airspace.

This might all have been as told. For all his faults, I suspect that Trump really does object to killing people in large quantities. On the other hand, it could have been a feint — launch the attack, call it back, and say see, I’m a nice guy.

So, what we have here is a long-standing US feud with Iran, because they object to our meddling in their affairs for the last 60 years, and because we object to how they phrased their objection. Trump is intent of forcing some sort of treaty concessions from Tehran, oblivious to the fact that to give in under pressure would be fatal to the regime and would only strengthen hard liners power. Meanwhile, in the US, hardliners want nothing less than regime change, perhaps to restore the Peacock Throne and put Reza Pahlavi in power.

If we go back in history, we can find another example of the US using sanctions to force our policies on others. Where, instead of destroying an economy by preventing a country from selling its oil, we threatened destruction of an economy by cutting off their access to oil. Where we totally misunderstood the stance of a proud country, unwilling to to bend its knee to a foreign hegemon. Were we totally miscalculated their willingness to engage in a hopeless war.

Anime Preview: Summer 2019

June 19, 2019

Unlike 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 pretty much just the title and the cover art.

First, let’s say what’s not in here. Sequels and continuations of stuff I didn’t like before (Is it wrong to pull on a blue ribbon in a dungeon?, Bothering Takagi-san), shorts and kids stuff (Sounan desu ka, Pirikarako-chan ), movies and OVA’s, and anything with a Certain or a Melloi in the title. Second, I should say that this was a hard season to capture. Not only are the offerings thin, with some exceptions, the art work is uninspired. Third, I’m trying something new: inserting the pictures using the WordPress Gallery feature, rather than spending an hour or so fighting the interface while trying to format a table. I’d be interested to hear any comments my reader might have.

WILL WATCH: The title or the cover art is properly enticing, so I definitely will watch at least the first three eps (you can click on the pix to embiggen).

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

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

MH370 Final Report, and this time I mean it.

June 17, 2019

Atlantic magazine has a wrap-up article on the Malaysian Airways jet that disappeared over the Indian Ocean five years ago. It comes to the same conclusion that I did, but does it with more evidentiary support. My conclusion was that it had to have been one of the flight crew. William Langewiesche presents convincing evidence that it was the Captain, Zaharie Ahmad Shah.

The article states that Zaharie wasn’t the stable professional that we were given to believe. He was a lonely man who was separated from his wife, who spent his time wandering through an empty house, waiting for the next flight. That information was never released by the Malaysian government because it might reflect badly on a corrupt administration. This is all laid out in Section 6 of the article, after a long discussion of various recoveries of the aircraft debris.

I’ve been following the MH370 story since the beginning, summarizing the evidence and evaluating the various theories.  My original conclusion was somewhat Sherlockian — once you have removed the impossible, what remains, however implausible, is the cause. The Atlantic article puts an evidentiary cap on it, and is likely the last original essay we’ll see on the topic until someone invents a nuclear powered deep ocean search drone.

If you want to read all my articles on the topic, click the MH370 tag, below.

 

Sous Vide Oatmeal

June 14, 2019

OK, so that’s kindof a click-baity title. But SV was involved, I swear.

You see, we tried our first sous-vide steak the other night. Now, most SV steak recipes don’t call for an included liquid/broth/brine or whatever. I had forgotten that, so I dropped the steak (small t-bone — I get the rib, she gets the tenderloin) into the bag, and then added a half cup of beef broth, remaining from an earlier oatmeal project, topped up with a cup of commercial chicken broth, plus salt. Two hours later we had almost three cups of liquid in the bag, along with a perfectly done, medium-rare, but surprisingly dry, steak — most of the juice had leaked out of the meat and into the bag. There’s obviously a lot more work to be done on the SV side, but that’s a different recipe.

Setup: 1/3 cup of stone ground rolled oats, one cup SV 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: Excellent, as you might expect for a dish that included a cup of beef juice. I’ll finish off the other two cups, but I hope not to try this again. I want all my juice in the steak.

Rating: *****

Aniblog Churn

June 12, 2019

I have been watching anime for almost 15 years, according to this analysis. Since I’m an on-line-reading kind of guy, I suspect I’ve been following various anime blogs for almost as long. In general, I follow blogs by putting them in my RSS feed, and what started this article was the fact that at the beginning of the week, the Anime folder in my RSS feed had exactly 100 sites listed. That’s enough to convince me that it needed some pruning.

What I found was, a surprising number of blogs had stopped publishing, or at least hadn’t published anything in a year. Some were still there (Altair & Vega, last active in Jan 2016; Deneb, last active in Oct 2015). Some had just disappeared — the Internet couldn’t find Denpa Waves or Oishii Anime. One, Anime Fascination, had gone private at some unknown date since I’d added it to my list. The earliest dropout was Anime Backgrounds, in July, 2014. The most active year for site inactivations, was 2017, with four sites.

I can’t be sure how far back the earliest listing in my current RSS feed goes. Presumably at least to July, 2014, so call it five years. I have been collecting feeds for far longer, but multiple computer/browser/reader changes have lost many of the links.

Bottom line: Over roughly five years, 17 out of 100 RSS feeds have gone inactive or disappeared. Some easy math says that’s 17%. Some slightly less easy math says that at that rate, in about 25 years my anime feed will be empty. That, of course won’t happen, because I regularly add interesting feeds. On the other hand, in 25 years I’ll be 100, so my aniblog tracking might have dropped off a little.

Green Thumb Up My Nose

June 9, 2019

Garden Report for 190610

Well, that was fast. Temps plunged into the 50’s, with rain at the end of the week, and now we are forecast to be 89F by the end of this coming week. Typical NENW springtime.

Things continue to grow. Garden lettuce is finally distinguishable from the weeds. Bought a new railing planter and put in another tranche of lettuce. As soon as the wind dies down (tomorrow?) I’ll dig up a small section of the main garden and put in some radishes-on-tape for MJ.

The hanging planter is doing well. This time last week the lettuce was barely up to the edge of the container. Meanwhile, the Underchard is also doing well.

What a difference a week makes

Probably should start thinning soon.

Fire Season 2019

June 4, 2019

Washington state’s first biggish fire of the season is in progress on the north slope of the Saddle Mountains, near Beverly. Five thousand acres so far.

MODIS fire hotspots

It’s about a hundred miles from there to Spokane

First and only fire so far

The smoke trail is visible on satellite.

An otherwise clear view

The skies are already hazy, the AQI is up to 100, and the smell of smoke makes it uncomfortable to sit out on the back deck.

Fires to the West

Last year it was British Columbia. This year it is all home grown, and it will only get worse as summer progresses.

UPDATE 19/06/05/17:20: 19,000 acres, 25% contained.

Ship Girls

June 4, 2019

Since 2013 there have been three anime that featured cute girls doing cute things, with ships: Arpeggio of Blue Steel, Kantai Collection, and High School Fleet. Well, cute things is probably a misnomer. They are all more concerned with drama than with moe.

What’s interesting about them is the differences in the way they portray the girls, and the ships. To start with, Arpeggio and KanColle are both concerned with girls who are part of their ships, while HSF is a more conventional girls on ships anime.

High School Fleet is just what the name says. High school girls from the Yokosuka Girls’ Marine High School go to sea on the destroyer Harekaze (Clear Wind) as part of their education. BTW, there’s an alternate reading of hare as meaning cleared of suspicion. This is symbolically important since the ship and crew are almost immediately charged with mutiny, and every ship they see attacks them. After many trials and tribulations, they demonstrate that the erratic actions of many of the ships is due to a virus, rescue their friends on the battleship Musashi, and win the day.

Harekaze sorties!

The training ships are based on WWII designs (although there are more modern designs in the real fleet), and the girls serve as normal watch-standers and ship-handlers.

Arpeggio of Blue Steel Earth is invaded by the Fleet of Fog, alien naval forces with extremely advanced weapons mounted on ships with the outward forms of WWII combatants. A rogue FoF submarine, the I-401, captained by a rogue human, is charged with sneaking a new superweapon across the Pacific to the US. It succeeds, with the help of other FoF defectors, including (finally) the battleship Yamato. Crow’s World has a good series on it.

Fleet destroyer takes a hit

In Arpeggio, the FoF ships are embodiments of the concept of each class of ship. They are controlled either by low level AI’s (minor combatants) or by high-level mental models — AI’s that have taken human form, the better to understand human reasoning. This leaves them open to over-empathizing with humans.

Kantai Collection In an alternate timeline, girls (who are embodiments of WWII ships) fight a grotesque enemy in the form of the ships of the Abyssal Fleet. The battles parallel those of WWII (W island, MI base) and the girls are vaguely aware of the outcomes on our timeline — will the battle of MI be a disaster?. In the end they avoid the Abyssal’s attempt at an ambush, and everyone returns safely, with the help of the battleship Yamato.

Combat-ready Hagikaze

The ships in KanColle are not really ships. They are girls who embody the soul of the WWII ship. The girls carry strap-on versions of the weapons suites their spirit ships mounted.

One way to understand the different approaches is to create a table. I like tables.

Real Girls Imaginary Girls
Real Ships HS Fleet Arpeggio
Imaginary Ships KanColle

So, KanColle is about imaginary girls, who can roller-blade across the water, and Arpeggio is about imaginary girls, created from computer core processors and nanomaterial sand. But Arpeggio has real ships, that take real damage, while KanColle has imaginary ship attributes attached to the imaginary girls.

High School Fleet, meanwhile, has real girls on real ships, worried about real things like showers and shopping.

The one cell that’s empty is Real Girls on Imaginary Ships. A show that filled that cell wouldn’t have to be as ship-free as KanColle. It could be a standard anime young girls are the only ones who can call these ships into existence. Think of it as a mecha show, but with ships.

Green Thumb Up My Nose

June 2, 2019

Garden Report for 190603

Warming trend continues. End of the week was in the mid 80’s. Only rain is in the T-storms. It is supposed to cool off by the end of the week.

Things continue to grow. I should be weeding more, but the mosquitoes are a problem. The deck lettuce is coming along nicely, but it seems to have had an attack of leaf miners or something. Merciless pruning seems to have worked. We had our first full salad from garden greens only.

The local hardware store has stopped carrying hanging planters, so I had to order one from the ‘Zon. I have a Patio tomato hanging out the bottom, and a circle of seeds-on-tape lettuce on the top. Underneath is one of the small railing containers, with some up-and-coming chard.

A whole salad in one container
(click to embiggen)

Natsu no Arashi Season 2

May 31, 2019

In the interests of completeness, I watched Season 2 of Natsu no Arashi. It was good, but it could have been so much more.

Summer Girl

NNA is the story of four Japanese ghost girls who died in an air raid in 1945 and who can travel through time. In Season 1, two of the girls had reasons to go back to war-time Japan, and we had some interesting episodes centered on their goals. Several other episodes worked out their relationships with the other two ghost girls, and with the girls school they all went to in 1945. The rest of the episodes were slice-of-“life” comedy filler centered on the present day cafe where they worked during the summers.

Season 2 was more of the same …. slice-of-“life” comedy filler. The only recurrent theme was cross-dresser Kamigamo Jun and her efforts to keep protagonist Yasaka Hajime from finding out she was a girl. Meanwhile, there’s the obligatory beach/onsen episodes, a couple of transformation episodes, and the recurring short trips back in time to find lost tea bowls, A/C remote controls, and such. The relationship between Hajime and lead ghost girl Arashiyama Sayoko (Arashi) fills out a little bit (he goes back to ~1935 and saves her from some bullies, earning a kiss and a promise of a future kiss) but her destined departure at the end of summer is not fully explained.

Showa 10

The ending sees Arashi giving Hajime the promised kiss, and saying (to herself) my summer has not yet ended. This is a standard anime ending (our struggle continues) for when the source material has not yet concluded and they don’t want to write an anime original ending.

Heisei 21

The second season of the anime was released in October of 2009, while the seventh manga volume wasn’t released until March of 2010, with the eight volume following in September.

Unfortunately, those of us who don’t speak Japanese are not likely to find out the true ending. The manga ran through eight volumes/49 chapters in Japan (you can Kindle the whole set from Amazon Japan) and was never released in the US. Unfortunately, clicking on “Look Inside” on the Japanese versions didn’t help, and the available  scanlations only go up through Volume 6/Chapter 32.

Natsu no Arashi is a fun anime. Wah, over at Analog Housou first clued me into it. It is filled with zany time travel fun, and plots as convoluted as a Marx Brothers movie. Two things were disappointing. The first I’ve already alluded to — lack of closure. What happens to Arashi in the winter? Why doesn’t she think Hajime will remember her? What about Jun’s changing feelings toward Hajime, and toward outing herself as a girl? Answers cometh not.

Second was a failure to take advantage of the opportunity to exploit their time-travel-to-old-Japan hook. In Season 1, Arashi was introduced to us as someone who was interested in saving victims of the March 29th 1945 air raid, but she only went back once. Kaya wanted to speak to her loved one, but she only made one attempt. As an SF story once said, with time travel, you’re never too late.

What Natsu no Arashi really needs, and will probably never get, is a third season.

Meanwhile, the 箱舟 カフェ abides on the outskirts of Yokohama. It’s been around for untold years, and is likely to continue to be around even longer.

You’d almost expect the next owner to be an android named Alpha.

In Vain

May 27, 2019

Just over seven years ago I detailed how the 4,500 American deaths in Iraq fit the definition of in vain. If we include Afghanistan, the total climbs to almost 7,000. Nothing of worth was achieved. Afghanistan is still a semi-failed state, and the Taliban still (or again) controls much of the country. Iraq is an Iranian ally, and the capital still doesn’t have reliable electricity — 16 years after our disastrously inept intervention.

And aside from the useless deaths, the damage to Americans who made it back is enough to make you weep.

The history is bad enough that The American Conservative, not known for liberal hand-wringing, this week published an article wherein an Iraq veteran confirms my assessment — it was in vain. All of it.

Ponder that, this Memorial Day.

Natsu No Arashi

May 24, 2019

I started watching 2009’s Natsu No Arashi (Summer Storm) after seeing it listed as one of the more interesting anime of the last ten years. It wasn’t until I hit Episode 8 that I realized that I’d touched on it before, meaning that specific episode, as part of my research on the body-swapping anime Kokoro Connect, back in 2012. And that lead to the discovery that the 10th anniversary of Episode 8 was today, May 24th. What better excuse to do a writeup on the first, 13-episode season?

If spoilers for a 10 year old out of stock anime upset you, then stop here and go read my review of Citizen Kane.

What makes NNA interesting isn’t the body-swap half-episode. It’s interesting because it’s one of the few anime to directly address the home-front tribulations of Japan in WWII. The two female leads, and two later characters, were 16 year-old schoolgirls killed in a bombing raid on Yokohama on May 29th, 1945. They return as ghosts, but for some unexplained reason, only in the summer.

The main female lead is Arashiyama Sayoko, whose family name translates as Storm Mountain and who is called Arashi, for short. This plays nicely off the series name, which could also be translated as Summer’s Arashi. Her goal in the apre-vie is to go back to 1945 and rescue as many people as possible. But to travel in time, she needs to form a connection with someone from the present.

Early Shaft head tilt

Enter Yasaka Hajime, thirteen year-old typical shonen boy — high energy, high self-opinion, exaggerated concern with being seen as manly. Did I mention he is short, with square, dark-framed glasses? He develops an instant infatuation for Arashi, and becomes her connection for their many trips to the past.

Spoken like a true shonen

The rest of the cast is equally paired up:

  • Kaja Bergmann (Kaya) and Kamigamo Jun, ghost of a German schoolgirl and her contemp connection. Jun is a crossdressing girl because of anime reasons.
  • Fushimi Yayoi and Yamazaki Kanako, another pair of ghosts from Arashi’s school. Fushimi can connect with Hajime, and Yamazaki, it turns out, can connect with Murata.
  • Finally, there’s Sayaka (AKA Master), the cafe owner, and Murata Hideo, a private investigator.

The city they are on the outskirts of is Yokohama. Unlike other major cities in Japan, it had not been heavily bombed early in the war, and in the spring of 1945 it was protected by being on the short list of possible targets for the atomic bomb. When Hiroshima and Nagasaki were chosen, it was released to the general bombing list, and was heavily bombed on the 29th of May.

This isn’t a regular review, so I won’t go into details on the episodes. The first episode features some time-travel shenanigans involving a strawberry that’s been stuffed with hot spice powder, which serves to introduce all the characters. After that there are separate arcs in which Arashi/Hajime and Kaya/Jun go back to 1945, Kaya to see the man she was in love with, and Arashi to try to save people. Another arc deals with Yayoi and Kanako, and Kanako’s attempt to keep Yayoi corporeal by draining Arashi’s life force. The 13th episode looks like something you’d find as a DVD special — it’s a reprise of the first episode, but with a cherry instead of a strawberry, and everyone is in goofy costumes.

There are two aspects of NNA that are interesting beyond the actual story. First, is the look at wartime Japan. The anime shows the raids, and the B-29’s and the falling bombs. Houses burn and people die.

Not something you normally see in a shonen program. In the Yayoi/Kanako arc, you see high school girls drafted to work in an aircraft factory — one of the thousands of small scale installations that the Japanese used instead of following the German and American pattern of large production plants. This, by the way, was one of the justifications of the widespread fire-bombing campaign, because there were few concentrated high value targets. The girls work full time and are from all over. Yayoi is from a rich family (I think that’s her family mansion they end up haunting), while Kanako is a work-hardened girl from a poor family. In one sequence, Yayoi plays a concert for the girls during the weekly power blackout when the factory can’t operate.

Second, NNA has some interesting ideas about the effects of time travel. Two of Hajime’s strawberries disappear, one because his grandfather ate it, and the other because he came back in time and stole it from himself. Kaya was mad at Arashi because she never read the note she left in her diary at the school, that she was waiting at The Ark cafe, one of the few places to survive the war unbombed. They go back in time and bring the diary forward to the present, which means it wasn’t there when Arashi stopped to look for it. More significantly, Arashi goes back to 1945 and shelters a crying child during the air raid, telling him to be a hero. Later, in a trip to 1985, they meet a brash young child who informs them that his father keeps telling him that it’s important to be a hero. His father was the child that Arashi saved. Back in the present, it turns out that the private investigator is that child, all grown up and still brash — he carries a sword (practice or real, depending on the job) and drives a souped-up Vespa (another example of the goofy humor embedded in the anime).

On the tragic side, when Kaya/Jun go back, they project from the current day cafe to the cafe in 1945. Their arrival wakes up the owner (who Kaya is in love with), and he proceeds to go home, where he’s killed in the bombing. If he had stayed in the cafe, he’d have survived.

So, that’s the first season. It’s different enough that it should be on everyone’s watchlist. Crunchyroll has both seasons, but one never knows for how long.

 

 

Green Thumb Up My Nose

May 19, 2019

Garden Report for 190520

Looks like summer only lasted a few days. Then we had a couple days of torrential rain. How torrential? Inch and a half in 24hrs. Not much for Kalaloch, but way more than this semi-arid steppeland usually sees. Now we are back to highs in the 60’s and lows around 50, with winds gusting to 25kts.

The rain filled up my two deck railing planters so that the seedlings were floating like they were water hyacinths or something. Had to drill a hole near the bottom.

No planting this week. Nothing much to plant anyway. The hardware store has one partial rack of squash. I’ll see how my squash field does this week, and buy some if necessary next weekend.

The weeds are doing well.

Real men going to Tehran

May 17, 2019

You can do everything with bayonets, except sit on them — Tallyrand

Everybody is talking about Trump’s new adventurism in the Middle East. Juan Cole shows how recent US actions are right in line with a propaganda campaign leading up to a war.

Many of our actions are blustering. For example, Bolton wants the US to send 120,000 troops to the Middle East to threaten Iran. One wonders where he plans to station them, and what exactly they’d be used for. Maybe they’d be stationed in Saudi, in which case their continued presence on sacred Saudi soil might well trigger domestic extremism.

Maybe these forces would be used to respond to the recent attacks on tankers in the Gulf. Or maybe those attacks were false flag operations, seeking a Gulf of Tonkin response. Given the minimal damage to the ships, one might be forgiven for thinking the attackers were told to not do too much. Meanwhile, there’s no sign of Iranian activity elsewhere.

As with the Gulf of Tonkin incident, and the non-existent Iraqi WMDs, if we want to do something, it doesn’t take much of an excuse. Sixteen years ago, people were saying “Everybody wants to go to Baghdad. Real men want to go to Tehran.” So, maybe those troops are on their way to Tehran.

So, what about that? Can we do it?

First of all, if we do it, we do it alone. Europe wants nothing to do with it. Spain has already pulled her guided-missile frigate out of a planned joint Gulf deployment.

Second, the job is physically too much for us.

Yes, we might be able to destroy their main military forces, but we did that in Iraq, remember? The only thing that will effectively and reliably force a country to submit to our will is boots on the ground. And that won’t work here, for any price we’re willing to pay.

Iran is slightly larger than the combined area of California, Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Nevada, and Arizona, AKA the Far West, with vaguely similar terrain. Bolton wants to conquer it using 120,000 men (although Trump says we’d send more). That’s about the size of all active duty US military troops in California. You ever been to California? You remember the big military presence you saw there? Now consider deploying them over an area four times as large.

We had 100,000 troops in Afghanistan, and got our ass handed to us. We had 170,000 in Iraq, and got our ass handed to us. Is the third time the charm?

On the spectrum of civilizations, Afghanistan is nudging up against the “failed state” model, with most of the country run by local warlords, and they like it like that. Iraq was an example of an ethnic majority downtrodden by an ethnic minority. We freed the minority Shiites from the Sunni yoke, but for some reason were not treated as liberators. No flowers.

Iran is not a free and open democracy like the US, but it’s far from being a police state with a DHS-like stasi, like the former GDR. It’s more of a gerrymandered theocracy, like Alabama. But its people, all of them, are highly patriotic. Yes, there’s an opposition. No, it won’t come over to our side once we invade. Think of the fractured social/political situation in those six western states of the US. Political leanings run the gamut, from the latte-drinkers of Portlandia to the techies of Silicon Valley to those who support the gun-toting, anti-government stand of Cliven Bundy. Now, consider what would happen if Iranian troops landed in on the west coast, bombed our coastal cities, and occupied Las Vegas. You think 120,000 troops would be enough? You think Their Boys would be Home Before the Leaves Fall?

I say Las Vegas, because that’s roughly the equivalent of Tehran, in geographical terms. Support for the operation would have to come out of Seattle, because that’s roughly how far away our support bases in the Gulf are from Tehran. The Saudis are the only people who will let us fly combat and support operations out of their airbases. Iraq won’t. Turkey won’t. Syria sure won’t. Israel would be happy to help, but there’s a lot of sovereign airspace between Tel Aviv and Tehran.

Finally, what are we going to do once we get there? Forcible regime change? And we think we can make that stick? Remember the Soviet intervention in Afghanistan? That was an attempt to keep a friendly regime in power.

Green Thumb Up My Nose

May 13, 2019

Garden Report for 190513

This is my 200th Green Thumb report. Considering that they’re only once a week, and only during gardening season, that’s eight years worth. Who’da thought?

And so bang, and we’re into summer. Highs in the 80’s. Lows, right now, in the 50’s. Cliff Mass says this is only temporary, a false summer as it were, and indeed, the forecast now is for temps in the 60’s, with rain by the end of the week.

Fixed the hose in Section 04. Planted asparagus. Again.

Planted my last three tomatoes: Champion VNFT in the second planter bag, Cherokee Purple and Yellow Pear in Section 2. So far, we haven’t found an other-than-red variety that we like, but I keep trying.

I had intended to fill out Section 3 with various hardware store seedlings, but the hardware store has nothing but tomatoes. And citronella plants. Maybe I’ll put a bunch of citronellas in pots on the deck, and drive all the mosquitoes into the house.

Planted more plants-on-tape. Three five-foot runs of carrots, one run each of bok choy, leeks, and bunching onions. I had intended to plant the carrots all together, but confused the tapes and so what I ended up with was one group that was carrots/carrots/bok choy, and another that was leeks/onions/carrots.

Wire shelving covers the seeds-on-tape

The wire shelving that I bought at a going-out-of-business sale some years ago looks to be a really effective gardening tool. The spacing between the wires is big enough for lettuce and chard and carrots to grow up between them, but not so wide that squirrels can reach through to dig. The baked-on enamel paint has proven highly rust resistant.

Trump’s Trade War and Washington State

May 10, 2019

The impact of Trump’s tariffs and the Chinese counter-tariffs is mostly in the US, in the form of higher prices for people who buy Chinese manufactures (all of us), and lower prices for people who sell to China (mostly farmers in Red states).

On a local note, Eastern Washington is solidly red, and 1.4% of Washington state’s GDP has been impacted, yet I don’t hear anything from our local Representative, Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R). A search of her website shows that she expressed “deep concern” for the impact on our state — a year ago — and that her latest effort was signing a letter last June, along with most of the rest of the Washington delegation, decrying the impact of tariffs on WA. Since then, as they say, crickets.

One might almost conclude that she puts loyalty to President Trump ahead of loyalty to her constituents.

 

 

 

Green Thumb Up My Nose

May 6, 2019

Garden Report for 190506

Finally, the weather gets warm and the wind dies down. Forecast is for warm and dry, with temps low-50’s to mid-70’s.

This was my busy weekend. All of the seedlings got planted, and the greenhouse (outdoors) and the potting table (indoors) were cleared away. Right now, the new plantings look like this:

Room for three or four more tomatoes

 Section 02

Early Girl, Parks Whopper, Rutgers, Goliath, Bush Beefsteak

Room for one more something

House

Early Girl (2),

Yard Long Beans, Cucumber, Kholrabi

No more room

Deck

Early Girl, Grape, Patio (hanging)

Cucumber, Sugar Pea (2)

Plus lettuce and chard in small planters. You can see one on the railing. That’s an old belt what I have outgrown holding it on.

 

The Early Girls are part of an experiment. I put one each in the main garden, on the deck, and in one of the planting bags, plus two in front of the house — one with normal potting soil and the other a 50/50 mix of recycled soil. We’ll see which one produces the most.

Planted out the Snap Peas into Section 3. Plan calls for more carrots and lettuce and chard (oh my). I have some leeks-on-tape that I’ll probably put there also.

I haven’t properly repaired the hose for Section 4 yet, so nothing’s there. I plan Asparagus, Amaranth, and maybe more peas.

Wind finally died down enough to plant the tapes (they are as light and fragile as toilet paper and they don’t do well in a breeze). Section 1 got five feet each of carrots, Lento lettuce, and Krucha lettuce. They’re all from Poland, for some reason, but the pictures look buttercrunchlike. In Section 2 I put six feet of bunching onions and six feet of real buttercrunch. More stuff will go in Section 3 this week, but I’ma gonna hold off on any more lettuce so’s we don’t have to eat monster salads all through July.

Thank you for your service

May 4, 2019

Once again, Stonekettle nails it. As a 22-years-service Vietnam vet I can say that pretty much everything he says resonates. You want to thank us? Elect people who will support a decent education for all. Elect people who will support a sane health care system for all. Don’t elect people who get us into stupid wars. We served our country. Your job now is to make sure it’s a country worth serving.

The Long Then

May 4, 2019

Over on Edge is an interview with Alexander Rose (the Executive Director of the Long Now organization) on how to create an institution that lasts 10,000 years. Actually, it’s a bit of a cheat. The 10K.org discussion makes up only about 25% of the article, and much of that is repeats of the idea that most of today’s 500-1000 year old organizations are hotels or breweries or are large scale organizations, like universities or The Church. Then he wanders off into an interesting, but off point, discussion of the Long Now organization and the Big Clock they are building.

So let’s take our own look at what might be required of a long-lasting organization. Here are some on my thoughts:

First, it has to fill a continuing need. Think of it in terms of Maslow’s hierarchy. At large scale, governments, universities, and the church provide elements such as safety. Some modern governments have lasted for hundreds of years (Iceland being the best example), but most succumb to invasion or revolution. The country might remain, but the way the inhabitants organize themselves has changed. The oldest universities are going on for 1000 years old, while the Catholic Church is almost 2000. In Asia, religions such as Buddhism are older than Christianity, but they are religions, not religious governing organizations. Having said that, individual monasteries are organizations that have the potential to last for thousands of years.

At smaller scales, the oldest survivors are fulfilling a local need, close to the bottom of Maslow’s hierarchy — Hotels provide shelter and sleep, restaurants provide food and water. As an aside, the key here seems to be the continuing existence of family ownership, which then makes the business possible. Theoretically, a corporation is immortal, but recent experience shows that a corporation is at risk of being bought up by some other entity.

Second, the organization should be involved in an activity that is minimally impacted by technological change, and in the case of technology, whatever it uses has to be cheap to implement. The church, for example, hasn’t needed any technology more complex than jumbotrons (yes, telephones, yes, PCs, but those are part of the general advance of civilization; no-one would put jumbotrons in that list). On the other hand, automobile and aircraft manufacturers have had to go through multiple generations of new technology, and that new technology (catalytic converters, electric cars) has been expensive to implement.

At the lower level, hotels today are not that much different from hotels of the past — a place to sleep out of the rain. Two hundred years ago you might be in one bed with three strangers, but the concept is the same and the basic technology hasn’t changed. Restaurants provide food prepared on the premises. The preparation method has changed over time — wood fired brick ovens to coal fired stoves to gas stoves to wood fired brick ovens — but the amount of new, expensive technology used is minimal.  Similarly, sake brewers pride themselves on using the same equipment and techniques that were used by their founders.

By the way, what was the world’s oldest business was a 1400 year old construction firm, Kongo Gumi. It specialized in Buddhist temple construction and repair, using traditional materials and techniques. What took it down was a combination of declining Buddhist membership in a country that is losing population, accompanied by an attempt to move into other construction fields right before an economic turndown. It was acquired in 2006.

Having said all that, I’m not sure I can imagine anything that could last 10,000 years. 10,000 years ago we had just barely started the domestication of plants and food animals. Agriculture started about 11,000 years ago, with animal husbandry coming a thousand years later. Other than those two general concepts, there is nothing cultural that remains. There is no organization, no nation, no civilization that we can point to and say that we have an unbroken (or even fragmented) line of succession from then to the present day.

Now, try to imagine the world of 12,000AD. Even if the Singularity never happens and we remain stuck at our present rate of change of knowledge — doubling every two years — the world of 12K will be unrecognizable.

The optimistic view is that by 12,000AD, science will have answered all of the big questions of today’s science, and scientists working at old, prestigious universities will have come up with new questions to answer. Meanwhile, engineering will have turned the answers to the original questions into new products. We’re talking terraforming Mars, mining the Oort, interstellar travel (possibly at FTL-equivalent speeds), effective immortality, wireless earphones that actually produce high fidelity music.

The pessimistic view is that, between asteroid strikes, runaway global warming, and the release of synthetic plagues, there won’t be anyone left to operate an organization.

So there you are. If you want your legacy to last 10,000 years join a monastery, or build a hotel or restaurant next to one. Or get tenure.

 

Green Thumb Up My Nose

April 30, 2019

Garden Report for 190430

So, immediately after I planted out the seedlings and my newly-purchased Japanese Maple, we had two days of high winds, and two days of frost.

The winds were Friday and Saturday, and ran 30mph with gusts to 40mph. The frosts were Sunday and Monday nights, with lows of 30F.

Ten degrees warmer than outside in the daytime, maybe a degree at night

I did my best to prep. Bought a big wardrobe moving box for the maple, wrapped a car tarp around the base, and dropped in one of those back-warmer chemical packs.

I also ran the dripper overnight

In back, I laid a big tarp over the garden, and set the soaker hose to run for a couple of hours after midnight. The aluminum gutter guards I had put out earlier, to discourage the squirrels held it off the plants. Theoretically.

It seems to have worked (click to embiggen).

The plants that were still in the greenhouse (everything that wasn’t a squash or a melon) I pulled back into the house. Those will go back at the end of the week, when we finally enter a prolonged warming phase, and I’ve found time to prep Section 3. We won’t be totally out of the woods for a while (it has been known to snow during the first week of May), but I’m willing to chance it. Forecast for the rest of the week is lows near 40 and highs in the mid-60’s.

Hot Dog Oats

April 27, 2019

Lately, there’s been a totally silly question going around: Is a hot dog a sandwich? I realize that in the Middle Ages several wars were fought over religious questions of equal import, but this enlightened age should have better things to do with its memes. And now we have the logical extension to that question: Is hot dog water a broth or a stock? For the record, my opinion is that, since a stock is made with bones, and hot dogs don’t have any bones (unless they’re the low end versions that use machine processing to get every bit of pink goo off the bones, with said machines sometimes going a processing too far), hot dog water is obviously a broth. Well, if it’s a broth, one should be able to make oatmeal with it.

I heated up two all beef franks in one cup of water, simmering them for fifteen minutes.  The franks we ate, the water I saved for the next morning (you didn’t think I was going to have hot dogs for breakfast did you?).

Setup: 1/3 cup of stone ground rolled oats, one cup hot dog broth, salt. Cook for 10 minutes or so, depending on the exact style of oats. No potatoes this time.

Results: Oatmeal.  Bland. Cheese helped, but not a lot. Evidently, hot dog water isn’t all that different from regular water. Maybe if I used Evian.

Rating: **

Green Thumb Up My Nose

April 25, 2019

Garden Report for 190425

The weather is warm (lows in the mid-40’s, highs in the mid-60’s) and it’s time to (trans-) plant. Added a couple cuft of potting soil to Section 1. Moved all ten squash/melon seedlings there. Squirrels immediately made it look like a recreation of the Battle of the Somme. I have ordered some gutter guards to protect the plants. Once the wind dies down and the air warms up, I’ll put in some seeds-on-tape: lettuce and carrots.

Section 1. Grid is covering the area where I’ll put some taped seeds

I planned to put the beans and peas and cucumbers in Section 3 (Section 2 is for tomatoes), but the forecast suddenly turned to lows in the low 30’s this weekend, including frost on Sunday night. I’ll leave them in the greenhouse for now.

That’s not trash in the bottom. It’s old icepacks for thermal balance

Meanwhile, I got a new Japanese Maple for the hole out front what was left from taking out the weeping birch.

Only another six feet of growth and it will be useful

With any luck, the cold snap won’t kill the leaves.

The Mueller Report

April 19, 2019

There are two key questions we have to answer in the aftermath of the Mueller report: (1) Is Trump impeachable?, and (2) Should we do it?

First, read this. It’s a six page comic, won’t take you any time at all.

Now.

Is Trump impeachable?

That is, has he committed impeachable acts under the Constitution? Depending on how you interpret them, there are several sets of actions that might fit that definition. Meanwhile, most pro/con declarations at this point are made by people who haven’t read the report, and are mostly based on party affiliation.

To rephrase the question, since impeachment is essentially a political act, has Trump sufficiently irritated enough Representatives that they will use the actions listed above as an excuse to obtain a bill? I think we’d all agree that the answer is yes, and it might even include a few Republicans.

A followup question is, once the bill of impeachment has moved to the Senate, is it possible to get a two thirds majority in favor of removing Trump from office? Given the current structure of the Senate, and given GOP proclivities for supporting almost any policies that Trump wants to impose, my take is that there is zero chance of the Senate voting for removal.

So the answer is yes, he can be impeached, and no, it won’t make any difference to the government. All that will happen is that all other legislative actions will be placed on hold, and Trump might be politically embarrassed. Given that not a lot is getting done right now, and that Trump has proven to be immune to embarrassment, the direct impact is likely to be minimal.

Should we do it?

That is, should we go ahead with the political process set up in the Constitution? This is really a tactical decision. On the one side, there are those who say that we should do it, to place future Presidents on notice that they are not immune to oversight. That if we don’t, we have given up all possibility of holding Presidents responsible for their actions. Their position is that Congress should proceed with impeachment, even though the immediate result might be negligible.

On the other side, there are those who point out that we have an election coming up in 18 months, and that impeachment proceedings will be the one thing that can galvanize the GOP base into coming out in support of Trump (or at least in opposition to perceived Democratic bullying), despite the crimes and misdemeanors uncovered in the process.

On the other other side are those who fear that this would set a precedent for witch hunts after every turnover of power. I suspect this is why Obama didn’t sponsor war crimes trials against Bush staffers. The Republic works best when we all pretend that all members of the government are honorable people, working for the good of the country as they see it.

And here’s yet another view. Impeachment means overturning an election. Are the Presidential crimes serious enough for that?

TLDR — Anime I never finished, Spring 2019 Part 2

April 13, 2019

As we head into the second week of the season, the latecomers and early bloomers start to fade.

Senryu Girl: Socially inept high school girl can only communicate by high speed calligraphating of 17-character messages on short boards. Joins the literature club to improve her writing. Meets standard anime trope #54, bad boy with heart of gold who has trouble communicating. A little too contrived for my taste. In addition, Senryu was the name of a fighter plane in the game Sky Crawlers, so I keep waiting for her to suit up and take off.

Namu Amida Butsu! Utena:  Bishi gods come down to Tokyo. Clueless bishi gods. This has so been done before, with magical swords, and magical historic heroes, and magical drain covers (OK, I lied about that last one, but wait until Summer).

Yatogame-chan Kansatsu Nikki:  Boy from Brooklyn moves to Boston, where everybody talks funny. Sorry. Boy from Tokyo moves to Nagoya, where everybody talks funny. Like the short about Osaka of a few years back, this falls into the “You might be a redneck if…” category.

Nobunaga Sensei no Osanazuma: Is 2019 the year of the ethically challenged teacher? Time traveling 14-year old bride lands in the house of the descendant of the guy she’s supposed to marry, immediately strips off and suggests baby-making. Teacher/descendant has a hard time keeping his hands off the child. Next thing you know, the show will be talking about suppositories. Fortunately, even the uncensored version is censored.

Thoughts on Assange

April 12, 2019

So, they’ve finally dug him out of his hideaway in the Ecuadorean embassy. Actually, due to a change in government, Ecuador decided to hand him over to the UK government.

There has already been a lot of discussion of his case by a lot of people who are a lot better informed than I am. What follows are some thoughts that occurred to me over the years.

Over on Wikipedia (no relation) is a description of the history of the case.

2010 April:  Wikileaks publishes some thousands of State cables and low level military ops message traffic from Iraq, provided by (then) Bradley Manning. Obama administration starts an investigation.

2010 November: Assange accused of sexual assault in Sweden. Assange claims the US government put Stockholm up to it so they could get him out of the UK and into a more extradition-friendly country. The details of the case are murky, but could certainly be interpreted that way.

2012 August: Assange jumps bail, takes refuge in extradition-free Ecuadorian embassy.

2016 Summer: Assange, having been confined to the embassy for four years so far, starts publishing emails from the Clinton campaign. I suspect his primary motivation is revenge on Obama and Clinton. He’s striking back with the only weapon available.

2019 April: Assange is removed from Ecuadorean embassy, and that same day the US unseals an indictment against him. It’s a simple charge of attempting unauthorized computer access (“using special software, namely the Linux operating system”). Nothing political. Nothing about freedom of the press. No reason for the UK to not agree to extradite him.

So, what happens now? My guess is that, once he is in US hands, additional indictments will be issued, for things like treason and espionage and assisting a foreign power. This will raise serious issues of freedom of the press, immunity of foreign nationals to prosecution for breaking local US laws while not in the country, and so forth, but by then he’ll already be in jail and doing hard time for the duration of the trial and whatever sentence they can make stick.

Whatever you think of Assange personally, and what little I know is unfavorable, this looks like one more step in the process of restricting the press in this country.

 

Scallop Oats

April 11, 2019

We had scallops the other night — package of big, frozen sea scallops. We thawed them as per instructions, then baked them in a broiler pan in the toaster oven. When they were done, there was a couple of tablespoons of the liquid off them in the bottom of the broiler pan.

Meanwhile, I’d cooked some small shell pasta in chicken broth (about which more later). I mixed a cup of this broth with the scallop liquid and used it for my breakfast oatmeal.

Setup: 1/3 cup of stone ground rolled oats, one cup pasta-scallop 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. Add shred cheese if you like.

Results: Very good. A little salty. Most definite seafood flavor despite using only two tablespoonsworth. I had not planned ahead on this, otherwise I would have put some water in the bottom of the pan. As it was, a good portion of the scallop water browned itself to the bottom of the pan.

Rating: ***