Archive for June, 2017

Cultural Appropriation

June 29, 2017

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

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

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

Between countries is a totally different thing.

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

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

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

Not really a church

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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Curried Marrow….Oats

June 29, 2017

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

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

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

Rating: ***

Gun Control

June 25, 2017

Update, October 2017: Before you read my essay, read this one to get a better feel for the background and history.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

BTW, here is a summary of the effect of strong gun control in Australia and Japan.

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

Green Thumb Up My Nose

June 25, 2017

Garden Report for 170626

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

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

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

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

Tanyastuff — 2

June 24, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

The rest, as they say, is isekai.

 

Oatmeal Chili — 3

June 22, 2017

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

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

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

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

Rating: **

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

TLDR — Gantz

June 19, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

At least Trump didn’t make him head of VA

June 18, 2017

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

The baseball shootings

June 17, 2017

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

Both sides don’t do it.

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

Green Thumb Up My Nose

June 17, 2017

Garden Report for 170619

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

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

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

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

Curried oatbeans

June 15, 2017

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

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

Results: No better than average. Added cheese helped.

Rating: ***

What I like about Flying Witch

June 11, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

June 8, 2017

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

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

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

Rating: ***

Leaks and leakers

June 6, 2017

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

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

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

Tanyastuff

June 6, 2017

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

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


In Episode 9 he leads the V-1 strike,


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

Green Thumb Up My Nose

June 5, 2017

Garden Report for 170605

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

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

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

What I wanted

What I got

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

The Battle of Midway, 75 years ago

June 4, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Anime Preview: Summer 2017

June 3, 2017

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

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

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

Also includes second seasons.

Owarimonogatari

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

Centaur no Nayami

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

Youkai Apartment

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

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

Princess Principal

A band of busty girls spy in London

Tenshi no 3P

A typical hikki boy and his all girl vocaloid church band

Vatican kiseki Chousakan

A beautiful girl and her all boy cryptographic church band

 

 

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

Battle Girl Highschool
Like Ikki Tousen except their clothes stay on

Hitorijime My Hero

A history of Japanese transport

Koi to Uso

Fish and Otters

18if

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

Netsuzou Trap

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

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

Marroats

June 1, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

Rating: ****