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Sun, Oct. 6th, 2013, 11:27 am
Power is intoxicating.

"Of course, I had always had the ability to do these things — even as a person — but I didn't know that. I'd just assumed that I was unable. As a dinosaur, I didn't have any of those assumptions. It felt like I could do whatever I wanted without fear of repercussions."

http://hyperboleandahalf.blogspot.com/2013/10/menace.html

Fri, Sep. 27th, 2013, 08:35 am
My opinion on internet privacy.



http://xkcd.com/1269/

Tbh, though, I'm more of an exhibitionist when it comes to the TSA people. Since I'm a frequent flyer to countries like Japan and France and Israel, my checked luggage always gets searched, always, even on domestic flights. I therefore make a point of leaving lacy underwear and colorful and interesting vibrators at the top of the suitcase. I don't wear lacy underwear, of course, and it's not as if the vibrators even have batteries, but still.

This is not to say that I don't respect TSA servicewomen and men, because I do. I think they're awesome, and also generally very friendly and good-natured. I'm just not a fan of strangers getting all up in my business; they always re-fold my clothes in exactly the wrong way and leave strange creases in my slacks.

Tue, Sep. 24th, 2013, 03:34 pm
In which I make embarassing mistakes and don't deserve my degree.

In my dissertation, I quoted somebody who quoted somebody who quoted somebody who said that Alexandre Kojève talks about "the animalization of society" in a book called The Roots of Postmodern Politics. Now that I finally have the time to track down all of my sources, I have realized that someone named Shadia B. Drury wrote a book titled Alexandre Kojève: The Roots of Postmodern Politics, and that Kojève himself supposedly talks about animalization in one of the essays in a collected volume titled Introduction to the Reading of Hegel. Oh man.

I AM THE GHOST OF CRITICAL THINKING AND TONIGHT YOU WILL BE VISITED BY THREE SPIRITS WHO WILL TEACH YOU TO CHECK FACTS BEFORE REBLOGGING THEM.

Mon, Sep. 23rd, 2013, 09:59 am
I have found yet another thing I suck at.

For better or worse, I have an account on Twitter, but I never use it.

This morning I was thinking of updating it with something to the effect of "Why is it so difficult to convert from MLA to Chicago?! #AcademicProblems," but really the hashtag should have been "first world problems" or "why is my head stuck so far up my butt" or "look at me, I'm a special snowflake."

It really is a pain in the ass to convert from one style of bibliographic documentation to another, and converting from MLA to Chicago is especially tricky, but there's no need to whine about it on the internet. There's nothing of consequence that I can say with such a limited word count, and everything I have posted to Twitter seems precious and ridiculous, as when I complain about something entirely inconsequential and/or blithely demonstrate how my privilege makes me unique - which is why I've already deleted one account on Twitter.

I'm not saying that Twitter itself is stupid, but rather that I personally suck at using it.

Sat, Sep. 14th, 2013, 10:14 am
Anime is not dead.

I was thinking about why Attack on Titan has gotten so popular.

Obviously the gorgeous animation has something to do with it: The way the humans zip through the air, and the way that the titans run and lunge and pop up suddenly. There's the element of mystery: What are the Titans? There's the element of suspense: Are all of the main human characters going to make it to the end of the series alive? There's also the intense "shock" moment in every episode that makes the experience of watching the show almost like watching a really good horror movie.

Underneath all of that, though, I think there are two issues at play. First, there is no sexualized fanservice, and all of the characters are individuals instead of caricatures of gender roles. Second, the threat of losing territory, resources, and genetic diversity to natural forces exacerbated by political squabbling resonates strongly with our own situation of being humans on a planet that's becoming increasingly hostile due to climate change. In other words, the show feels less escapist and more relevant, which of course only heightens its dramatic power.

Last year I was excited about Shinsekai Yori, which beautifully expresses the potential of what anime can do if it takes itself seriously as an artistic medium. I feel that way about Attack on Titan as well. I don't have anything against cute shows about moé girls (and boys) in uniforms, but I love shows like Shinsekai Yori and Attack on Titan. After Hayao Miyazaki announced his retirement, the Japanese press responded with alarm and anxiety concerning the future of Japanese animation. Without the influence of such a brilliant and iconic industry leader, is it doomed? I suppose it's the nature of the news media in any country to blow everything out of proportion, but I want the journalists who think anime is dead to watch Attack on Titan.

Wed, Sep. 11th, 2013, 08:39 am
Sometimes when I get down about things.

It brings me no small amount of joy to know that this photographer has spent the past several years documenting the cats of Tashirojima, even though the people are getting older, the economy is getting weaker, and earthquakes sometimes cause nuclear waste to spill into the sea:

http://d.hatena.ne.jp/fubirai/

Fri, Sep. 6th, 2013, 09:46 am
Sympathy for the bad guys.

Final Fantasy XII is essentially about how godlike beings called the Occuria guide a woman named Ashe to become a Dynast-Queen, a politically powerful figure who has the ability to unite humankind in times of war and usher in an age of peace and cultural flourishing. The Occuria intend for Ashe to use a powerful magical weapon called the atomic bomb nethicite to either defeat or destroy two great empires, leaving ruin and bloodshed in her wake, thereby leveling the political playing field for a new order. Considering her experience with the total destruction of her husband's home country of Nabradia, Ashe is understandably conflicted over using nethicite to attack the empire against which she has formed a resistance movement, especially since the fall of this empire will undoubtedly lead to the rise of the continent's other empire, which she will have to fight in turn. At the end of the game, Ashe decides that she will not allow herself to become a harbinger of war, as the human costs of military conflict outweigh the historical benefits. She therefore destroys an energy source called nuclear fission the Sun-Cryst, which is the source of nethicite and one of the primary means by which the Occuria shape human destiny, thus freeing the Ivalice continent from the influence of these beings.

I'm currently replaying Final Fantasy Tactics, and I'm getting really into the history of Ivalice suggested by the game. Apparently, everything went to shit a few generations after the events of FFXII. Several religious movements began to gain land and capital, and shortly thereafter there was a nasty series of battles between secular and religious powers that resulted in something FFT refers to as "the Cataclysm," which wiped out most of the human population of Ivalice and sent the land back to a literal stone age in terms of culture and technology. All of the gorgeous cities and architecture and human diversity and environmental splendor that the player experiences in FFXII, gone forever, and only so that there could be even bloodier wars in the distant future.

Which makes me think, Wow, maybe Ashe should have listened to the Occuria after all.

Tue, Sep. 3rd, 2013, 08:17 am
Books and ebooks.

This is an interesting discussion (for certain values of "interesting"):

http://x-cetra.tumblr.com/post/60116192814/lifeofkj-edwardspoonhands-berniesu

Like the poster at the end who links to Seanan McGuire's essay on ebooks and poverty says, though, it's complicated.

Something that nobody mentions is that people don't just read books on e-readers like the iPad and the Kindle Fire. I personally read everything. Newspapers, graphic novels, PDF copies of academic essays, and fanfiction. Also blogs and stuff like medieval codexes that people have digitized and posted online with translations. I don't "read" dictionaries and style manuals, of course, but the ones I use are digital. An iPad is like someone took the largest library on earth and combined it with the internet and then turned it into a book that glows in the dark.

I wish I knew the environmental impact of having an iPad, though. Am I actually saving trees by buying fewer physical books, even though the materials used to make an iPad are rare and easily damaged? Does the energy saved by less shipping on the part of Amazon and ILL compensate for the energy used to power server farms? Also, if buying books from Amazon hurts publishers, does buying ebooks for the Kindle or Kindle app have the same effect?

Sun, Sep. 1st, 2013, 11:29 am
Talk less draw more.

My hobby used to be sitting in bars and writing; but, since there are no bars to speak of where I live, my new hobby is sitting in my apartment and drawing while listening to documentaries streaming on Netflix. I tend to enjoy nature documentaries, but most of the ones I've been watching recently are of an alarmist bent. The bees are vanishing, our water is being poisoned, and plastic is killing us all. Global warming is real, animals are dying, and human beings are becoming increasingly impoverished. The genetic experimentation we're doing sounds cool but is actually fucked up beyond belief, agricultural monocultures have a much more severe impact on the environment than we could have ever imagined, and natural disasters and rising water levels are going to destroy every city I have ever enjoyed living in or visiting. I read a lot of books about ecological and social issues, and books generally take a more balanced perspective, so I'm not completely insane, but watching these movies makes me feel like OH GOD WE'RE ALL DOOMED.

My summer project this year was to re-read all of the Dark Tower books. I failed because the last two books in the series are very long and very poorly written, but I am still limping slowly through the final book, and scattered throughout this book are bits and pieces of information regarding the Great Old Ones and how they fucked up their world. I don't have a great deal to say about the parallels between the Dark Tower world and our world, because Stephen King is no Margaret Atwood, but it's still chilling to watch nature documentaries and pick up echoes of post-apocalyptic dystopia fantasies.

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