Friday, May 26, 2017

Tidbits

In Socialism, the people who say, "I need all this power to do good" are inevitably followed by the people who say, "I need all this power to do whatever I want." If you welcome the former, you will eventually have the latter - and usually sooner than you'd like.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Finn and Poe

I will admit Finn is my favorite of the new humans in Star Wars: The Force Awakens. He had actual growth and development in the film. His subplot was the closest the movie came to having an actual coherent story. The actor did a fine job allowing Finn to be human and flawed without being pathetic - and also able to overcome those flaws. Had it focused more on his background as a trooper, the sort of life he'd had to lead, it could have setup contrast with the First Order leaders and Kylo Ren, one who intentionally indulges his flaws.

This is why Poe is such a great foil for Finn, since Poe represents the freedom Finn seeks, as well as the greater morality/satisfaction he didn't find with the First Order. As I've said before: if it'd been Poe and Finn only with no Rey (or Rey with a reduced presence, her back story saved for the sequel), TFA would have been greatly improved.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Bias and Evidence

"I need evidence of your view before I believe it."

"You're just claiming to be skeptical because you haven't been exposed to the evidence!"

"That argument does not constitute the evidence I requested. My point stands."

Recently had this argument. Apparently you don't need to counter with evidence anymore, just say the person is biased and that's why they haven't seen it yet.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Mood Music 8 - Feeling Silly

For this one I thought I'd be a little silly. A list to reflect my playful side.













Friday, May 19, 2017

Tidbits

Thanks to a word problem involving Deadpool, I taught my kids what chimichangas are. Most of them had never heard of them.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Smash Bros. Commentating

Back in early 2016 I had a chance to "commentate" on a Super Smash Bros. tournament. The commentary was streamed live to an online audience. I played the role of the "questioner" - I had the more knowledgeable partner explain things to me and, in turn, the audience.

Highlights of my time as commentator:

1. Audience wanted llamas. I gave then llamas.

2. One asked me to sing her Happy Birthday. I did. She told me it was the only birthday celebration she'd had all day.

3. When I first came on, one viewer exclaimed, "Who's the cutie?!" Took me a bit to realize she meant me.

4. Whenever someone asked, "What game is it?" (as in match of the tournament) I'd reply, "Smash Bros." Got an amusing reaction each time!

Overall, 10/10 would commentate again.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Justin Trudeau

Something about the way Canada's PM, Justin Trudeau, speaks is really creepy. I'm used to Canadian accents, but the way his words come out remind me of the "good veneer masking sinister evil" type villains. I seriously expect him to have ot be taken out by James Bond at some point because he's building a Canadian Ice Ray of Doom.

Friday, May 12, 2017

Tidbits

If a student asks what happened to a classmate who transferred to another class, I laugh evilly and talk about how lovely their blood looks on my wall at home. No one's caught the "I have to keep the wall wet!" JTHM reference yet, sadly.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Story Prompt: A Twist

Story prompt idea: take a question with an obvious answer and create an AU where the answer is a twist.

Examples:
Who's buried in Grant's tomb? An unknown soldier.
What color was Washington's white horse? It wasn't a horse.
What weighs more: a ton of feathers or bricks? Feathers have varying weight thanks to being anti-grav.


And so on.

Monday, May 8, 2017

DC Legends of Tomorrow

Legends of Tomorrow is about Rory stealing a TARDIS from the Time Lords and assembling a team of companions to stop the Master.

But with superheroes.

I like it.

--

"This isn't my first prison break." - Captain Cold, Legends of Tomorrow

It takes so many great characters and keeps what's great about them.

Friday, May 5, 2017

Tidbits

"Hey, America, if you could elect a president who didn't think bombing people was the go-to solution to national security, that'd be nice, okay?"

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Asian Immortality

"How old are you?"

"I'm in my 30's."

"Wow. I didn't think you were past 21."

"I'm Asian. We're practically immortal."

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Ra-PUN-zels

Which princess shines the best?

Ray-punzel.

Which princess is most proficient with boats?

Row-punzel.

Which princess do you want to go mountain climbing with?

Rappel-zel.

Which princess has the best singing voice?

Do-Rei-punzel.

Which princess drops the sickest rhymes?

Rap-unzel.

Which princess makes the best cowgirl?

Rope-unzel.

Monday, May 1, 2017

Once Upon a Time Reactions Part 8

Season 5 continues. By this point, I was watching the show in real time as it aired, so my reactions were more spaced out.

Season 5 Part 2:

I wonder when OUAT will give us their take on the 3 pigs? I don't remember them mentioned except in passing. And while Ruby is a werewolf, we haven't seen this wolf yet.

Does everyone in OUAT have daddy issues? It seems to be the go to trope for the writers. Maybe THEY all have daddy issues.

Belle and Rumple are back! Yay! What a sweet and touching reunion, just as I predicted. It's good to see Rumple's character moving forward and -

...OH COME ON WRITERS WHAT THE HELL.

About the only good thing about the OUAT Winter Finale: we'll get to meet Hades soon. The sass levels should be amazing.

Greg Germann will be OUAT Hades? Yes, I think he will have sufficient sass. Good casting. (Unlike Merlin, where they royally effed it up.)

Friday, April 28, 2017

Tidbits

I love working with coaches and military folks. They love hearing from a math teacher. If you do sports or ROTC, I OWN you.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Syllables in Love

The number of syllables in the words I use is inversely proportional to the size of the crush I have on who I'm talking to.

Normal: Let me wax loquaciously on the merits of romanticism in art and its uplifting effects on the human soul.

With an intelligent girl: Good. Yes. Like. Okay.

Monday, April 24, 2017

The Big Art Lie

Remember: anytime someone argues every color is from Red, Blue and Yellow, they're lying. It's Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, and Black. CMYK is much brighter and more vibrant. You use RBY and all you'll get are dull brown smears. This is probably the biggest lie art teachers will tell young kids.

(This applies to producing physical tones via mixing colors, not digital displays or wavelengths.)

Friday, April 21, 2017

Tidbits

Random WPI flashback: forgetting to account for gravity in calculations on a Physics lab paper - and only losing a single point (out of 12).

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Sesame Credit

I am both aghast and intrigued by this new Chinese national game system, known as Sesame Credit.

First, historical context: when Mao took over, he indoctrinated the populace into Communism using an easy to understand media for the masses - comic books. When Deng Xiaoping wanted to convert the nation to Capitalism, he used comics as well. Both instances were among the biggest examples of comics - normally a pop culture fixture - being used for something far larger scale than story telling. In this sense, China adopting game design to reinforce their national message is consistent with past mass education movements. They take what we treat as "fun" in the west and figure out how to use it in a more serious manner.

Second, personal reaction. Yeah, this is horrifying. It decentralizes oppression to the individual level. The centralization of the state's hold on people is always the greatest weakness - they simply can never be efficient enough to suppress everything. This eliminates that bottleneck and does so in a way consistent with Brave New World more than 1984. Instead of a single data stream being broadcast from the government, it turns individual citizens into mini-radio towers that broadcast and enforce the party line.

Third, and the scariest point: it could easily happen here. We have interconnected data mining on a mass scale, just like China, as well as at least two major online companies willing to work with the government on anything (Google and Facebook). We have a rising tide of people who want echo chamber hug boxes in their friend circles and a demand for exclusionary "safe spaces." It would be child's play for the government to sponsor a gamified site that ranked people based on adherence to being "environmentally friendly" or "socially just" or any of a dozen other dog whistle terms that all translate to "OBEY."

If they wanted to be more low key, have a private company do it, but receive under the table support from the government in choosing what constitutes "good" and "bad" points. They wouldn't have to pass a law saying it's mandatory: just shunt all the data in there whether you want it there or not and refuse to prosecute them. You will participate, even if you object.

I think I just envisioned Facebook 2.0.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Fake Rights

"You don't have the right to do that."

"Sure I do! It's the right to public safety."

"That doesn't exist."

"Oh. Then, the right to protecting my community!"

"That's basically the same, but nope, not a thing."

"The right to stop people who look scary and act weird?"

"That's called 'profiling.' And it's definitely not a right."

"Look, just shut up and do what I say!"

"You know what is a right? My ability to tell you to go to hell."

Friday, April 14, 2017

Tidbits

Why are math teachers naturally Sith?

Because they deal in absolute values.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Once Upon a Time Reactions Part 7

Season 5 begins! And, boy, does it kind of sting.

Season 5:

Well, hello season 5. Time to catch up.

I'm so glad Belle picked Rumple in the end. That SHOULD end well, now. I look forward to seeing his recovery arc. Maybe he can become a proper hero now.

So the dagger is just the tip. Ha.
Head Voice Rumple? Or Clippystiltskin? Trying to come up with a good nickname for the voice in her head.

What's with Hook and Regina suddenly hating each other? Their antagonism feels forced.

Ha. Rumple has a rose-based health bar. And Belle is going with them on the adventure this time! ABOUT BLOODY TIME. Maybe she and Mulan will get another team-up.

MERIDA! Yay! Makes sense she'd be in Anglo-Saxon territory. She should get Excalibur and become king. Then she could be Saber-class! Alternatively, she leads the Scottish in revolt against Arthur and kicks his butt.

"You need a hobby. How about knitting?" Loving this version of Rumple.

I just realized that the sanitarium nurse is Ratchet from One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. I wonder if she's from a realm filled with Jack Nicholson movies?

Zelena's actress is having WAY more fun in the role than in season 3. The Wicked Witch as a gleeful yandere type works so well.

"And now we ride to...Camelot!" I am disappointed the Monty Python theme didn't come out of those horns. Someone needs to do a mash-up.

OH COME ON. ANOTHER TIME SKIP AND MIND WIPE?!

Jeebus writers. Learn another plot device already. It was fine the first two times (once because it was new, the second as a callback to the start). But this is RIDICULOUS.

Dark One Emma is pretty awesome, though. Liking the leather look.

Still getting used to an Arthur that isn't Graham Chapman.

The way it jumps between 3 times - founding of Camelot, 6 weeks ago, and today - is confusing. Not helping is the use of Granny's Diner in both the 6 weeks and modern.

HA. It really is only a model! Also, nice "comfy chair" reference drop. There's hope for more Monty Python still.

Ooo. Does Merida get to go Mel Gibson on King Arthur? I really hope so. She needs the blue war paint!

"I need you to make him brave."

AUGH. The writers must have been giggling hard when they wrote that line.

I really like the actress they chose for Merida in OUAT. Good accent, great hair, everything.

Dark One Emma continues to be far more interesting than her other versions (except season 1 Emma, who's snarkiness I liked).

The Belle and Rumple content of season 5 continues to please me. Makes up for the heart ripping moment of season 4. So glad that Will is gone. Also glad to see Belle FINALLY get more of a main character status.

I also love the Belle and Merida team-up. Belle is like the ultimate team-up companion.

Get Merida, Mulan, and Belle together. Rumple dispatches them to fight evil. RUMPLE'S ANGELS.

Maybe Rumple's time as the Light One will be made real when he overcomes his cowardice? I'm glad they're finally really digging into that character aspect. Before it's been his use of power to hide his fear (his fear of fear, basically). Now he has to face the underlying problem head on without a net.

One thing I like with both the Frozen and Brave integration: they feel like sequels to the originals, in a good way. It's a shame Tangled won't get the same treatment, since they already had Rapunzel. I could see Tiana coming in - she could easily be from a part of Cruella's 1920's world.

OUAT Merlin sucks. Hard. There are so many great actors who could've been Merlin. The guy they picked is just...terrible. Bad delivery, bad body language. He doesn't convey wisdom or skill at all. The Apprentice was a better Merlin than this guy.

Easily the worst part of season 5.

Emma's reason for going dark were kind of predictable. I was hoping for something more shocking. It at least makes sense in character and explains the mystery. It is also nicely ironic.

Arthur needs to get his limbs chopped off while screaming that he's invincible. I really want that to happen.

YAY FOR FRANKENSTEIN RETURNING. About time. He didn't fit in thematically with season 4, so I understand why they left him out, but he is pretty great. Love his one-liners: "I hope you don't throw me across the room like last time." WELP. Running gag established.

Looking back, they should have cast Neil Patrick Harris in this role. He'd have been perfect.

"My name is Merida Dunbroch. You killed my father. Prepare to die."

I wanted Mulan and I got Mulan! OUAT Season 5 is pretty good about pleasing me. It has Belle x Rumple, Frankenstein back, Merida and Mulan team-up, Zelena being a grinning evil lunatic, etc. That the thematic backbone combines two of my favorite properties - Brave and King Arthur - also helps.

Oh, so that's where Ruby's been. I was wondering.

Didn't Philip and Aurora get stuck as Flying Monkeys since Zelena's not dead?

So far season 5a is a big step up in quality. As much as I enjoyed Season 4a, this one feels better. The only reason it's not as amazing as it could be was the absolutely horrible actor they picked for Merlin. A better Merlin would've made this darn near perfect.

Oh, come on, OUAT. Now you're just screwing with Rumple x Belle fans for no reason. Seriously. There is no good narrative cause other than "Belle is an indecisive idiot" (and she isn't) that would keep them apart at this stage. They're probably setting up their reunion as part of the winter finale.

(Or they'll do something really horrible and have Rumple absorb all the other Dark Ones into himself, thus ruining this whole "Hey, look, he's a hero now" subplot.)

The Hook x Emma drama is just fluff for me. I'm not very invested in that couple.

I also think the writers have forgotten what made the Dark One interesting. He's a shadowy deal maker, manipulating from the shadows. Turning the Dark Ones into an army of magical mooks triggers the Inverse Ninja Law - none of them will be as particularly as powerful as a Dark One ought to be.
--

One of the reasons seasons 4a and 5a of OUAT have been better than season 3a is the thematic unity and contrast.

Season 3a was just a "we need to do the thing by chasing the thing." It was a chase sequence with no chasing. Blah. It's only good episodes were where it explored Peter Pan's motivations and drew parallels to Rumple's relationship with his son.

Season 4a focused on Frozen's theme of sisterly love and added a new dimension with the Snow Queen. Frozen was about two sisters mending ways. OUAT Season 4a followed it up by exploring what could happen when that desire for a bond went too far.

Season 5a seems to be exploring bravery and leadership. We have Merida contrasted with Arthur. Merida is the just and true queen figure, come into her own and able to lead. Arthur was a fearful person, who wanted the appearance of unity without doing the work.

In both 4a and 5a, they've found story cues from the original and pushed them to a next step for OUAT. It's very clever and is probably why I'm enjoying it so much.

--

Things I wish I could see in OUAT future seasons:

1. Chinese myths. They have Mulan, so this is possible. Sun Wukong and others would be a natural fit for OUAT. Since we know season 5b is Hercules themed, having them butt heads with the Chinese deities would be interesting.

2. Tiana. They've established another unnamed realm that is always the 1920's with Cruella. Tiana could easily be from there.

3. Atlantis. You not only have great potential of Milo interacting with Frankenstein (OUAT science bros!), but there are tons of Atlantean legends to mine. Since this would be a sci-fi theme, you can push it even further by mixing in John Carter (which Disney still has the rights to) and Treasure Planet. OUAT...IN SPAAAAACE.

4. The Incredibles. A long shot, but with a sequel in the works and Henry's established love of superheroes, this could work. It'd have to be yet another realm. For even more fun, mix in Big Hero 6 - a Disney Marvel property that isn't tied up with the MCU.

5. Tarzan and Jungle Book. An obvious pairing here. Mowgli and Tarzan together? This could have some good moments. For even more fun, insert Emperor's New Groove. "WRONG LEVER!"

The main ones I struggle to think of are the animal ones, like Rescuers and Great Mouse Detective. I grew up on those and would love to see them integrated, but turning them into people risks losing something. Still, I'd love to see them try.

Monday, April 10, 2017

Once Upn a Time Reactions Part 6

And now we wrap up season 4.

Season 4 Part 2:

Camelot! Another reference to Camelot! I wonder what unlucky knight lost their hand...I hope it's not just a model.

I'm also hoping the Sorcerer they keep referencing is Merlin. Too bad they killed Lancelot already. Hopefully we'll get a flashback to fill that in.

Ursula and Maleficent I get. They've appeared before. But...Cruella? How the heck does an old 1920's flapper type fit into the Enchanted Forest? Is she an eccentric sorceress who uses animal skin as magic components? I was expecting her to be modified, not appear straight-up in her movie outfit.

At least the dalmatian motifs are finally paying off, four seasons later.

Rumple: I'm assembling a team.
Ursula: For what?
Rumple: We're going to find the writers of this show and kill them.

Sadly, if you kill the Author, the Great Will of the Macrocosm will just reset everything.

"I don't know what those tentacles are for." - Maleficent

Okay, THAT was a good one-liner.

Bald Mountain! I knew Chernabog would get in here eventually. Only a matter of time with the other Fantasia reference.

The writers seem to be giving all the best snarky lines to Regina now. She has Emma's season 1 sarcasm.

Maleficent's costume in season 4 got a serious upgrade over season 1. Nice.

Season 4a was fun and good. Since I like Frozen, there was minimal annoyance and I really liked a lot of dialogue and costumes. Much better than all of season 3.

We'll see if this half can keep it going. Giving Snow and Charming a hidden dark secret that's only just coming to light and has never been mentioned before ever is kind of dumb. I'm worried I'm about to be very disappointed.

And Rumple and Belle. RUMPLE AND BELLE. That had better pay off in a good way or I'll be pissed.

Wouldn't it be funny if the donut shop in Storybrook was on Drury Lane and staffed by the Muffin Man and Gingerbread Man?

Belle...Your taste in men sucks. I hope Rumple rips his heart out.

I'd be fine with Belle's dark side (seen in her cursed life) coming back and going on to be the wife of the Dark One.

Honestly, I really want them to follow along the lines of Integra and Alucard from Hellsing. Him as the servant monster and her as the increasingly tough leader. That's the kind of dynamic I was hoping they were building toward.

Ernie Hudson is Poseidon? Long way from busting ghosts.

I like the back story for Regina and Maleficent. Now we finally have an idea of what happened to Philip and Aurora in the timeline.

That scene where Rumple is disguised as Hook. UNG. Feels. I really want him to get Belle back. I hope the actual Hook gets to punch Will a few more times.

Still wondering who is the father of Maleficent's baby.

Did they combine Ursula and Tiana? That's actually interesting.

I was wondering when they were going to use the voice stealing bit. Nice execution there.

So, Elsa can put ships in bottles now? That's a far cry from ice powers. Or was it the Snow Queen?

I'm still struggling to figure out how Cruella's back story fits the aesthetic of the Enchanted Forest. Unless she's from another realm?

Damn Regina. That was cold. I kind of hate you for that.

I like how their using the red under Emma's eyes to show her descent to evil. Though the "heroes don't kill" thing is stupid. Prince Philip killed Maleficent in the original. Snow White killed the Queen in the original tale. Fairy tales had plenty of cases of the heroes killing the villains as punishment for their crimes.

I loved the reference to Disney when they mention that Walt was one of the authors for the OUAT universe. Wonderful.

I want Emma's car to end up as Bumblebee at some point. I just do.

I like Zelena in season 4b a lot more than season 3b. She's much more competent in how she approaches things.

Season 4b is picking up. A bit of a meh start, but good progress.
Is it wrong I always think of Robin Hood as a fox because of the Disney film? I keep expecting the Sheriff to turn into a wolf.

I feel like the Sheriff got mashed up with Gaston. Belle's Gaston was actually a halfway decent fellow.

The author's origin story is set in the 1960's. Just after Walt Disney passed away. THAT IS SO COOL.

I like the guy they picked as the Sorcerer's Apprentice. I hope they get him out of the hat eventually.

...Oh, there we go.

I guess the writers realized the time travel of season 3 was well done, so they decided to do yet another "two part AU" story for the season finale again. I'm not complaining too much.

...They made HENRY the lead on this? This is going to hurt.
Belle and Rumple are married with kids? YAY. I feel happy now. This AU isn't all bad.

I love how they poke fun at the OUAT fanbase with the "Heroes and Villains" fan scene. They also lampshade our society's tendency to worship villains over heroes.

I though this would be bad, but Henry's actor is actually not bad anymore. I guess he recovered after the whole puberty thing.

"Who could ever love me?"
"I don't love Will."

Right in the emotions.

DAMN IT WRITERS.

MERLIN NAME DROP.

Whoo! (Called it.)

"Now we must ride...to Camelot!" If they don't put folks banging coconuts together or swallows somewhere in there I'll be very disappointed.

--

Assessment: season 4 was much better than season 3. Not quite as great as season 2, but better than season 1. It had some pacing issues here and there, but the tension was better.

The Frozen tie-in was a lot of fun. If the writers of Frozen 2 have a clue they'll borrow some of that material. I hope we get to see Elsa and company return!

The second half started with an absolutely gut wrenching scene. Seriously. That was the worst emotional distress I've felt from a TV show in a while. Good job, OUAT writers. And screw you. At least the resolution was okay, if mostly deferred to season 5.

Second half had more pacing issues than the first. A bit of the Peter Pan "We need to wander around and find the x before anything happens" syndrome. The flash backs were better. The concluding two episodes did not feel as punchy as the two-part finale for season 3, probably because you knew Henry would win in the end. With season 3, you had no idea what might trickle down into the future via butterfly effect.

I did like both Rumple's story arc and Emma's choice. Lily's father search should be fun. Maybe the daddy will be Mushu? Or Smaug? Or voiced by Sean Connery? Who knows?

And MERLIN. FINALLY. We get to go to Camelot after 3 seasons of teasing! If he's not the crazy one from Sword in the Stone I'll be unhappy. I'll be fine if he's a Connecticut Yankee, though.

So...yeah. Season 3 was disappointing. Season 4 has convinced me to keep watching. I just hope season 5 keeps being okay.

Friday, April 7, 2017

Tidbits

According to my students, Death Note is the Naruto of Mexico.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Once Upon a Time Reactions Part 5

Season 4! Lots of heartache here. I wrote the last bit in real time as I watched it happen.

Season 4 Part 1:

I'm really curious how they fit Arendelle into the EF universe and timeline. Elsa was locked away by Rumple (maybe?), so it took place in the ~200 year time span he was Dark One.

They gave Rumple Beast's suit! And Belle in her dress! And the Beauty and the Beast song in piano! Squee!

Good job, episode 1 Season 4. You're already better than most of season 3.

Man. They're just copying the Frozen aesthetic straight up here. The other ones they re-imagined. This one is like live action of the film. I'm not complaining too much - it feels like it fits in with the film rather seamlessly. Maybe this is because the writers went, "Hey, we need this in our show now! Because ratings!"

(I want musical numbers, though. Curse the lack of musical numbers.)

It does create some incongruities, though - why are the trolls here not the trolls who menaced Snow and Charming? Are they a different tribe? Are they like flat head Klingons and ridged brow Klingons? I want to know more about the different troll races!

So far, I like the Anna. The Elsa isn't quite as good - she lacks the outward maturity of her movie version. The dress also feels a little flat on her. Anna's dress was better designed. She has the hair, though.

Well, episode 2 just answered the timeline question. Kristoff and Charming as buddies? That's awesome. Good integration into the lore.

Bo Peep? The hell? That costume is ghastly. I hope one of her guards is named Woody.

And with the parent's deaths when it is, Ariel finding their ship under the sea and that prompting her to take an interest in humans totally works! HEAD CANON DETERMINED.

Oh, god, Henry. Stop opening your mouth. Your dialogue delivery has reached a new low.

"Anna was right. Reason and logic do work on you." Thank you, Kristoff, for succinctly stating why Elsa is one of the best Disney princesses.

"No one checked if it was empty first?" Kristoff is getting a lot of good lines.

Snow Queen's first act? Killing Hans. Okay, so you're definitely a hero. I guess we'll see which of the 32 flavors you are.

"I just push the Emma button and she usually answers." Another good one liner!

Grumpy took the stupid pills this time. Sigh.

Pretty sure the writers are dropping "let it/him/her go" as a meme to deliberately annoy the song haters. Ha ha. Keep it up, guys.

Season 4 is doing very good so far at combining tension - Marian's fate, mystery of Anna and Elsa, Regina's feelings - with lighthearted moments like this. It's already better than season 3. We'll see if it can keep it up.

"You're not the sorcerer."
"No, I'm his apprentice."

LIES. You're not a mouse! And NOW I recognize that hat. Oh, nice reference. Will Nicholas Cage appear?

Okay, now the Sorcerer's Apprentice is a mouse. Nice.

Walking broomstick! Hints of the music! Oh, I'm really enjoying this episode.

Loved the scene with Elsa building the staircase.

Snow Queen puts Elsa in chains? Ties into those Slave Princess Elsa variants.

"I'm going to build a snowman." I am thankful Olaf is not in OUAT.

Emma's learned the Kamehameha! I wonder when she'll get the Spirit Bomb.
The shop owner from Frozen! Wow, they nailed it. The voice and look.

Belle and Anna in the sauna together? Oh, my. (Now, Belle and Elsa in the sauna together? I'd need to go to my bunk for that one.)

I'm sad they couldn't get the original VA for Grand Pabbie. John Rhys-Davies is a good choice, though.

Oof. Nice twist with Belle and Anna. It explains why she was willing to throw herself at Rumple to save the others. And her own insecurities mirrors Rumple's, further explaining the attraction.

Oh! They even use that older guy with the nose from Weaseltown in a flashback! He's just as prone to yell, "Burn the witch!" too.

Robin Hood's "I'm confused!" is getting repetitive. You could just do the royalty thing and have a harem, you know.

Ooo, the origin of the gloves.

Episode 10 is pretty good. Honestly, this entire Frozen arc has been quite good. The mystery of what happened to Anna is interesting. The Snow Queen's twisted desire for family is a nice variant of corrupting obsession. The "Emma's power goes haywire" bit is meh, though, especially when she grabs the idiot ball over it.

"And I sang with you!" Wait. So Disney songs happen in real time? Now I really want OUAT to have a musical number at some point! Maybe get Neil Patrick Harris involved.

Damn it, Hans. Stay dead. But the back and forth between him and Anna is very entertaining.

I love the actress for Anna so much. She's written spot on. I also like how they did Sven. Elsa is warming up to me (ha, pun). I think I've been spoiled by knowing amazing Elsa cosplayers.

Gold becoming more evil is kind of weird this season. I could see it as a way of him reacting to Neil's death. He's lost his son, so now he'll get free no matter what. And screw the people he blames for his death. However, it seems a bit too diabolical at this stage - his marriage to Belle should have softened him a bit. The writers cranked up the evil a bit too much.

I like Regina and Robin more than Snow and Charming, even though they're basically recycling the season 1 subplot. At least they're watchably interesting.

Did they forget the elevator takes 2 people to operate?
That's no snowflake. It's a star! Did not see that one coming.

How many times does the Blue Fairy die in this series? That's two so far.

They keep putting in dalmatians as a visual motif in OUAT. But why only 1 of them? Where are the 100 others?

"Shattered Sight" (ep 11) has just the right mix of humorous reactions and serious moments. The number of one-liners making me chuckle has increased sharply these last few eps, in fact.

Elsa: We need to be careful and take our time.
Anna: Arendel was conquered by Hans.
Elsa: We need to go. NOW.
--

Uh oh.

Oh no.

Don't do it Belle...

No, Belle...

He just wanted to take over the world, Belle! Nothing wrong with that!

Oh, god. What have you done? WHAT HAVE YOU DONE?

I'm actually tearing up over this.

AUGH. That was HORRIBLE.

It's been a long time since a TV show has managed to impact my emotions. I suppose that says that just how well written Rumple and Belle were.

Monday, April 3, 2017

One Punch Man vs. DBZ

Saitama would defeat Goku in a fight, serious or sparring. Why? Because the whole POINT of Saitama is that he is physically stronger than any regular shounen hero. And Goku is the archetypal shounen hero.

It's more interesting to think of other ways Saitama could be defeated. He's not particularly smart, so he can be out maneuvered and probably manipulated. Light, Lelouch, Yugi, and Gendo could all either defeat him or use him to their own ends. A powerful non-physical foe would do well, such as ghosts. The list goes on.

But, no, most of the DBZ cast loses hard to Saitama. Maybe Buu, but his regeneration has limits and he'd eventually get splattered to the point of disintegration.

Friday, March 31, 2017

Tidbits

The attitude some teachers have to cell phones reminds me of nuns bashing ball-point pens in favor of cartridge pens.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Once Upon a Time Reactions Part 4

With the Peter Pan arc done, the second half of season 3 begins. I was disappointed we didn't get Elphaba.

Season 3 Part 2:

Emma's love life is the weirdest thing. First Rumplestiltskin's kid, then a pirate, and then a flying monkey. The writers love to jerk her around.

Hook's warming up to me now. He's the character who had the best time in the Pan arc and has gone from really annoying to a proper lovable ruffian figure. (I like the lovable ruffian archetype - that the writers weren't doing it right with him at first is what annoyed me. His early dialogue and actions were all too emo.) Now I want to see him and Jack Sparrow vie for control of the Jolly Roger.

I'm seeing Henry's actor hit puberty. Yeah, his expressiveness has hit a nadir.

Yay! Elphaba! The Wicked Witch is a fun villain. I wonder what twist they'll put to her. I'm hoping there's a Quidditch style mid-air battle between her and Regina.

"We were cell mates."
"What were you in for?"
"...Banditry."

It's little dialogue touches like this that make me like this show. I realize now the Pan arc was sorely missing that. That's why it didn't feel as fun.

Yay for Robin Hood being a regular part. I wonder if Mulan, Aurora, and Philip will join in.

Silver slippers! Points to OUAT for getting it right.

"Not my Miata!" Doc is the Cabbage Cart guy of OUAT.

Courage. Heart. So who's brain? I hope it's Frankenstein's. That'd be hilarious. (Of course it's Rumple's.)

Robin Hood's kid is adorable. Seeing him carrying sticks was cute.

I think one reason the 2nd half of OUAT's season 3 is somewhat more enjoyable is Belle gets a bigger role. There's still the lack of comedy, though. Charming teaching Henry how to drive was fun, as is the flirting between Robin and Regina, but there's not enough.

I have the feeling that the fairy tale book's author in OUAT is going to be a major player. Either in a good or bad way. Even worse? The EDITOR.

Guns work on flying monkeys! Finally, something Emma can shoot.

Charming's over handed sword throw looks stupid every time he does it, though.

Ha. Zelena is using a transmutation circle to get her mother back.

I think I know one of the issues with season 3 part 2: too much curb stomp on the part of the Wicked Witch. She just waves her hand and walks through them. It ruins any sense of tension and begs the question why she doesn't just permanently end the heroes in her way.

Rumplestiltskin doesn't give rings. He gives knives. Most squee worthy marriage proposal ever.

Oh boy! Time travel! So is it Doctor Who "fixed points in time" type or Back to the Future "my mom is in love with me" type? Hook speaking sense about time travel is hilarious. I guess Emma took her stupid pills on this one.

Rumple's ability to help Emma and Hook handle time travel reinforces my idea that he's the Anti-Doctor.

Princess Leia? LEIA? Really? Wow. That made me laugh. Better than a Princess Di reference, at least.

This time travel episode is much better than large swaths of season 3. Levity, tension, and good pacing. It looks like the good episodes come toward the end of their respective arcs now. It's getting there that's a pain.

OH. The URN. Geez, Hook, this is why you don't play with the shiny things when you're in the VAULT OF SCARY MAGIC.

Season 3 was definitely a drop in quality over season 1 and 2. The second half was better, but overall there were only 3-4 good episodes, really. At least it ended well.

Season 4 of OUAT, START! Yay for Elsa~

Monday, March 27, 2017

Once Upon a Time Reactions Part 3

Overall, season 3 is the worst season so far. My reactions reflect the drop in quality.

Season 3 Part 1:

So the Evil Queen and Rumplestiltskin go to Neverland, a place dripping with magic? I have the feeling they're going to get nerfed, otherwise they'd just curb stomp everything. I also have the bad feeling - based on how everyone has warned me of this arc - that the nerfing is done badly.

I'm annoyed Belle didn't go along. I wanted to see more of her adventure skills!

Emma: Ever since the plot started bad things have happened to us!

Snow: I have faith that eventually the plot will end with a happy ending.

Emma: Why do you want our show to go off air?!

I like that mermaids are vicious creatures in OUAT like in the original myths. (The fourth Pirates movie did that, too.) I totally want to see Ariel as someone who feasts on humans.

"They made a movie about you." Ah, Baelfire. You just broke the 4th wall. Now you're Deadpool.

"But this is Neverland." Second time I've heard it. This is the meme for this arc, isn't it?

One of my overarching issues with OUAT is that the magical villains are so powerful there are few plausible reasons why they didn't just wiggle their fingers and turn the main heroes into mice. There really is no reason Regina can't simply seal Charming's face shut and suffocate him in the flashbacks.

The protection spell and deal mechanics work, but those came later. Before they went into effect there wasn't much stopping magic users from rolling over someone with a shiny blade.

Rumple has Mjolnir in his inventory. Marvel crossover?

If Tinkerbell's other designation is Green, does that mean she's the one who absinthe drinkers see?

I am disappointed Robin Hood's son isn't named Westley. Roland's a good historical shout out, though.

"And you can have a life. Under the sea."

"You can be part of his world."

Really, OUAT? I'm disappointed we didn't see Ariel using a fork to comb her hair.

I did enjoy Regina's impersonation of animated Ursula, though. Nice touch.

I'm seeing the issue with the Peter Pan arc. The core of it is good. Nice twists, good conflict, interesting tie-ins. The problem is pacing. Most of this could have been done in half the episodes. Or, at least, there needed to be better splicing so the multiple plot threads are tackled in a more interesting way. The episodes lack the punch of season 1 or 2.

Episode 9 is the first one of season 3 I've really liked. The back story of Regina and Henry is nice. And I love Regina's moment of awesome with the tree:

"I should be full of regrets. But I'm not." *Yoink*

That's the kind of thing OUAT did regularly in season 2.

Phew. Peter Pan arc done. I do like how it ended - the last couple episodes were decent. Getting there was a slog, though. I'm glad I can watch it without ads and all together. I can imagine the grumbling when it was aired.

Did they ever explain why Rumple was fated to die when Pan did?

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Human Achievement Hour

Human Achievement Hour is tonight. Make sure to celebrate the strides mankind has done to push back the darkness and bring light, knowledge, and connection to billions. Resolve to help push that even further with more innovation, more enterprise, and more discovery.

We're a species that took worthless sand in the ground and from it crafted devices that see into other galaxies, allow near instant communication spanning the globe, and decode our very building blocks. We took the bounty of the earth and have amplified its utility a billion-fold - all thanks to the man's capacity for reason. Take pride in what our industrious natures have accomplished and look forward to the new horizons we may one day achieve.

Friday, March 24, 2017

Tidbits

The problem with eating at Freebirds is soon after I finish a Monster burrito I want a second one...but I'm not sure there's room for it.

Solution: the Super Monster.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Once Upon a Time Reactions Part 2

More reactions as I started season 2 of Once Upon a Time. Season 2 remains my favorite so far. I do regret asking for Merlin, after what happened with season 5. And it looks like I predicted season 6 back then.

Season 2:

Aurora is brunette and Maleficent is blonde? Huh? OUAT has my least favorite Maleficent by far. And, dang, Philip got owned fast.

Why is Harry Potter now in this? I guess it makes sense, but I'd like to see older works before they throw very obvious Death Eater clones at me.

"You really are the evil queen!" Good god Henry says that more times than Vegeta goes on about the super saiyin. WE GET IT KID.

Bella and Rumple are best couple. I felt more "aww" from them than the others.

Lancelot! Ooo. Yay for Arthurian legends in OUAT. Also digging Mulan so far. I wonder if we'll see more Eastern legends appear?

I wonder if he'll bust out Knight of Honor and start wielding other characters' Noble Phantasms. ...Wait, wrong show.

Also, darn it Emma you have 6 bullets in a land where guns haven't been invented yet. DON'T WASTE THEM FIRING INTO THE AIR.

Ooo. Tell me Belle becomes the town librarian for Storybrooke!

Oh, god. They made Belle the librarian. That is the best plot point OUAT has done so far. I literally squee'ed in happiness. (Belle is my favorite Disney princess, in case you didn't know.)

The multiverse aspect of the show is still one of its best things. The Forest (which seems to combine most Disney tales, including Arthur thanks to "The Sword and the Stone"), Wonderland, Neverland, our world. I'm hoping we get to see Narnia (wardrobes that penetrate the universe is a pretty obvious reference that they keep dropping), but the rights on that one may make it tricky. Oz and Barsoom would also be great.

Would it be too much for Merlin to pop in? Disney's Merlin (wizard who loved science) was one of my favorite versions as a kid.

Everytime they call Regina's mom by her name - Cora - I keep thinking she's a reference to Korra. Sigh.

Is the doctor who I think he is? Tell me he's who I think he is.

Eeeeee! Dr. Frankenstein! Oh, geez. Season 2 is hitting pretty much all my fandom buttons.

I want that coat. I want that Frankenstein coat. The glasses, too.

And, damn it, now I want Magic vs. Science in OUAT. I really hope that's not the last we see of that world. I could see it being all kinds of HG Wells, Jules Verne, and other amazing things. I know this is a fairy tale show, but classic SF were my fairy tales as a kid.

I wonder if the OUAT Netherworld is located under Bald Mountain and overseen by Chernobog. Certainly seems like his kind of thing.

I wonder if Emma Swan will end up in a tutu fighting evil with ballerina music.

Aurora: You can't trust me! You have to tie me up.

Mulan: Oo, fun. <3

Emma and Snow: o_o 

I can only imagine the quantity of slash fic based on that scene.

Season 2 of OUAT is so far much more interesting. I liked the fairy tale flashbacks of season 1 a bit more, but the main plot of S2 is more compelling.

I really wanted Rumple to set Hook on fire after what he did to Belle. He's gone from rascal to "kill him, please" in my book.

Yay for Belle's yellow dress.

The writers REALLY loved Kano's fatality.

It kind of sucks Cinderella has disappeared from the show. I'm also still waiting for Ariel, since they mentioned mermaids and squid ink before.

The scroll with Emma's name made me think how much more disturbing this would all be if they started using tales from Marquis de Sade. (He tucked many stories away as rolled up paper in his cell.)

Star Wars ring tone in OUAT? Ha.

Yeah, saw the plot twist of Henry's parentage coming a mile away.

Oh, hey! It's Mrs. Patmore from Downton Abbey! (OUAT S2 ep 15.) What if Downton is a mirror reflection of OUAT, like our world and the original Fullmetal Alchemist? Now there's a crossover.

Rose McGowan as young Cora! Nice pick. I like the twist to the Miller's Daughter story.

Oh, Snow. You went dark side. Oh, dear.

The dynamic of Regina and Cora isn't one I really get. I was honestly expecting a last minute back stab.

Prince Charming was in a coma with Snow White looking on. I just got it.

It would've been funny if the Dragon turned into Eddie Murphy.

Rumplestiltskin is like the anti-Doctor. When there's a good wizard, it tends to be the Doctor. When there's an evil monster or trickster, it tends to be Rumple.

Prince Charming giving dating tips to Gold? This is pretty hilarious.

Regina's character arc confuses me. They looked like they were going to redeem her. Then they had her go with Cora even though she knows Cora would imprison her with Dark One powers. And then she insists on killing everyone. I just don't get it.

The fact that Baelfire's nickname is "Bae" really annoys me.

Season 2 done! I half expect the anti-magic group to be Iscariot from Hellsing. That or Mulder and Scully. Or Ghostbusters. That'd be funny, too.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Milkshake Recipe

A milk shake recipe I tried out:

1. Vanilla ice cream
2. Milk
3. One 1/2-pound Reeses Peanut Butter Cup, from the "1 pound, 2 cup" holiday special.

Cut the cup into halves or quarters when adding so the blender can get it. The result is very rich and quite pleasant. It's a peanut butter, chocolate, and vanilla shake, basically. Let it sit and it'll separate, though.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Happy St. Patrick's

The 25% of me that's Irish is celebrating St. Patrick's Day. The other 75% is eying it warily from across the room.

Tidbits

People who go on about Morgan Freeman's voice need to listen to John Huston. Freeman has a great voice, no question, but Huston's is what I imagine any given deity employing.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Once Upon a Time Reactions Part 1

I've had a lot of friends try and get me to watch Once Upon a Time. So I finally did. All aboard the fandom train.

Season 1:

I'm digging the kid who's genre savvy and familiar with Campbell's Monomyth. I also like that quite a few actors I like from other shows (House, Breaking Bad, Stargate Universe, etc.) are in this series.

Wait a minute. A girl named Ruby who wears red and is an analogue for Red Riding Hood? Where have I seen this before?

It's starting to tick me off that no one knows how to negotiate with Rumpelstiltskin. He's using lawful evil contracts, people! Bargain for better terms! Or try to get clever with the clauses! Yeesh.

As expected I would, Robert Carlyle is becoming the reason to keep watching Once Upon a Time. I really liked his performance in Stargate Universe and Full Monty, as well as several other roles I've seen him in. So put him in the awesome column for the show.

I'm also very fond of the fairy tale world flashbacks. Non-linear time jumping with an interconnected world and fun twisty mythos? Yay!

In the less awesome column: the modern day Snow White subplot. Ugh. I kind of tune out when they're focusing on that.

How many different ways are they going to use wolves in this show? They just stacked Riding Hood with Peter and the Wolf, with a hint of Three Little Pigs to boot. I'm half expecting Rose Tyler or the Moment to pop in for a crossover.

"Once she starts down that path you'll never get her back!"

Someone was channeling Star Wars here. "Once you start down the dark path, forever will it dominate your destiny."

Ah, finally. We get some expansion beyond the Grimm Tales. Lewis Carroll is a personal fave, too. I wonder if they'll ever start integrating some of the newly documented old fairy tales the Grimm's didn't use?

Monday, March 13, 2017

Guitars are Cool

10 had his 3D glasses. 11 had his fez. And 12? He has a guitar.

I don't think River Song would argue with him if he said, "It's a guitar. I play guitar now. Guitars are cool."

Yes. Guitars are most definitely cool.

Friday, March 10, 2017

Tidbits

I like stories where someone who doesn't feel very much passion at all awakens when they find what excites them. It's very life affirming.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Lion-Eating Poet in the Stone Den

Think "Buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo" is impressive? Here's an entire poem all with the same root sound - "shi" - but varying only by inflection and actually making a complete poem.

« Shī Shì shí shī shǐ »

Shíshì shīshì Shī Shì, shì shī, shì shí shí shī.
Shì shíshí shì shì shì shī.
Shí shí, shì shí shī shì shì.
Shì shí, shì Shī Shì shì shì.
Shì shì shì shí shī, shì shǐ shì, shǐ shì shí shī shìshì.
Shì shí shì shí shī shī, shì shíshì.
Shíshì shī, Shì shǐ shì shì shíshì.
Shíshì shì, Shì shǐ shì shí shì shí shī.
Shí shí, shǐ shí shì shí shī shī, shí shí shí shī shī.
Shì shì shì shì.


« Lion-Eating Poet in the Stone Den »

In a stone den was a poet with the family name Shi, who was a lion addict, and had resolved to eat ten lions.
He often went to the market to look for lions.
At ten o'clock, ten lions had just arrived at the market.
At that time, Shi had just arrived at the market.
He saw those ten lions, and using his trusty arrows, caused the ten lions to die.
He brought the corpses of the ten lions to the stone den.
The stone den was damp. He asked his servants to wipe it.
After the stone den was wiped, he tried to eat those ten lions.
When he ate, he realized that these ten lions were in fact ten stone lion corpses.
Try to explain this matter.

Monday, March 6, 2017

What Matters

"Yay! Pizza on the road!"

"...Turn around! They screwed up the toppings!"

"What? But it's an hour behind us."

"They forgot the olives!"

"So?"

"We can't let this injustice stand! #BlackOlivesMatter!"

Friday, March 3, 2017

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Monopoly Multiverse


Take different themed Monopoly boards (original is Earth 0). Overlay them at either Free Parking, Go to Jail, or Jail/Just Visiting.

Players may choose to move onto a different board when they come to the intersection.

Players start at the GO of any board they want to use the pieces of.

You can go to any Jail. Instant warp.

Number of players: Number of boards times 8. Hit triple digits (13 or more boards) for amazing times.

Try to have players start at different boards so there aren't large dead zones.

Blind variant:

Sets of boards are distributed in different rooms. Players move rooms when they go to a different cluster. They can choose to survey or build. This creates a "fog of war" effect - you don't know how much players in other clusters have versus you unless you go looking.

This requires a GM to track what's connected to what, as well as to keep income from different property flowing to the right person from across dimensions.

Monday, February 27, 2017

Spock

So, who did Nimoy download his memories to before he died? Let's go terraform Mars and make a cloned body so he can come back.

Friday, February 24, 2017

Tidbits

Your argument is hogwash. You get a headbanging sky rat.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Berenstein Bears

It's Berenstein, guys. If you remember it with an "A," you are an alt-universe quantum figment intruding into reality and distorting it, not an actual human being. If you're allowed to remain, the universe will collapse. I'm so sorry.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Left Handed

"Ha! You're out of ammo!"

"But I know something you don't."

"What?"

"I'm not left handed!"

"Huh? That doesn't work with bullets."

"It does when that's where I'm holding my spare clip. And where I've been reloading since you let me start talking."

"OH CR - " *BANG*

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Friday, February 17, 2017

Tale of the Bladesmith

Years ago I used to make swords. I made swords with other bladesmiths. It was a close knit group - one had to prove their dedication to earn entry. The reward was mentoring and access to splendid materials for sword making. One day, those bladesmiths exiled me from their forge, fearing I'd bring them dishonor.

Then, years later, they announced a change. All would be welcome in their forge to learn and use their unique ornaments and embellishments and to craft fresh blades from iron that sat dormant. Encouraged, I found others and opened a new forge, next to theirs, one that used the items they'd graciously offered to all.

The goal of making the swords was not revenge. I sought not to stab those who'd banished me, but to demonstrate my worth. For I had long practiced bladesmithing on my own, in the wilds, and found new techniques they did not have. I would combine these techniques with the untapped potential of the resources they offered freely

But as the forge was opened, they came, anger clouding their mind. As they marched, they stumbled, and fell upon the swords I'd made. They ruined themselves for no reason other than anger and rage, perpetuating a grudge that was now one-sided. Their blood lay on the ground before their forge, frightening away all they'd hoped would join them. The fires of their furnaces went dark.

And now only the one they'd banished remained.

Hate is a sword that cuts its wielder worst of all.

Tidbits

That feeling when you tell everyone you brought your own lunch, so they go off on their own - but it turns out you forgot it at home in the fridge.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

What Kind of Dystopia?

"What kind of dystopia is it?"

"Think tumblr, but fascist."

"So...regular tumblr, basically."

Monday, February 13, 2017

Libraries in the Apocalypse

Video game idea: managing a library in a post apocalyptic setting. Determine what to trade for what books, based on community interest, so you can keep the library going and encourage patrons to help defend it.

There would be no money system, only bartering. You survive by allowing people access to knowledge in exchange for things. You can also trade those things to others who have books in order to get them. However, if you trade for a book that's so-so, you may not have enough for a real gem that comes to you later.

there are also raiders who want to steal what you have (not the books, your trading goods). If you're popular with your patrons and have been keeping up on fresh books they want to read, they'll help defend you. If you haven't been listening to them, they won't do as much.

Different segments of the population want different types of books and each segment will have different pluses and minuses when it comes to what they give for access and what they do for you when they're happy.

Minimal graphics - it's mostly text based. Easily doable on an 8-bit style. No real moving art or action sprites. Trickiest part would be balancing the different equations and play strategies. Identifying the minimum viable product would also be interesting.

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Fifty Shades of Webbing

An observation about the 50 Shades movie that will either ruin it for you or make it awesome:

Now and then, Jamie Dornan (Christian Grey) will do a half-smile expression. This makes him look remarkably like Tobey Maguire. So all through the movie, I am wondering when Grey is going to put on a Spider-Man costume.

Other jokes that ran through my mind:

Mr. Parker will see you now.

When they do the upside down kiss in this movie, it'll be Mary Jane who's suspended.

Spidey has a new use for his webbing.

 The safe word is "amazing."

And so on.

Friday, February 10, 2017

Tidbits

Austin ISD wanted names for their new Social Emotional Learning module. My recommendation?

SEL-fie.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Acceptable Beauty

There is nothing wrong with the creation and enjoyment of beauty. That is, the appreciation of what one considers beautiful. This can vary from person to person and there is a certain excitement when an artist or producer shares their vision of beauty with others. It both communicates their vision of the world and allows those who share that vision an outlet for what they might not have been able to express on their own.

For example, if I see an artist hold up something that is ugly and blighted and call it beautiful, I know that person has a very demented outlook on the world. Sometimes this can be fun - I was always a fan of JTHM, despite the deliberately ugly portrayals of humanity, because it was darkly humorous. But I know better than to declare it beautiful - it isn't (to me), and that's the point. There's also art I find unenjoyably ugly. Much of R. Crumb's work falls into that category along with large chunks of modern faire.

On the flip side, I enjoy stirring epic pieces and beautiful images and the artists capable of them. And there are people who regard that the same way I see Crumb. This is fine, since it's a matter of opinion - I just wouldn't trust them to create an art history field trip for me.

What there is too much of are people who want impose and enforce their vision of "acceptable" beauty on everyone. They want to limit what can and cannot be regarded as attractive and stirring. Some of them take the form of fashion police who want to mock women who wear glasses or who eschew greasy face paint. Others scream obscenity and oppression at artists who draw women with curved forms in provocative poses.

It's one thing to find that a piece of art doesn't stir you. It's quite another to determine that no one should ever have a chance to be impacted by that same piece. The former means you need to keep looking. The latter is the impulse of the tyrant - the mark of an ugly soul.

Monday, February 6, 2017

Adventures of Dr. Tomoe

Adventures of my Dr. Tomoe cosplay:

Ran into a Jesus cosplayer. Yelled, "You're not the Messiah!"

With Sailor Deadpool: "I'll see you in season 3!"

An encounter with Maes Hughes: "Your daughter may be cute, but mine can blow up the planet! Ha ha!"

Sunday, February 5, 2017

The Track of Intellectual Intolerance

The violent hate of ANTIFA is something we saw coming. It's the logical conclusion of the track that began years ago when college campuses began to normalize shouting down opposing viewpoints. After some thought, I've come up with a basic framework for the progression. A more expert social scientist can fill in the details.

First, you learn it's better mock and deride than argue. Opposing views don't have to be understood if they're "crazy" or "stupid."

Then, you move on to shouting them down and shutting them up. If they're not worth learning about, they're not worth allowing to be expressed.

Next, control the physical space, disallow the views you deem evil, and shove out anyone who dares trespass with foreign knowledge. This is where the physical violence begins, albeit cloaked as defense.

Finally, hunt down anyone who refuses to remain silent. Make them be silent. Punch them in the face to shut them up. Kill them if they persist.

Once all the thought criminals are dead, you've won. Fascism achieved.

We are sadly at that last stage. it remains to be seen how far hate groups like ANTIFA will go as they seek to beat down any they dislike (all of whom, so far, have not been actual Nazis).

Friday, February 3, 2017

Tidbits

What they say: "We need tax reform for corporations."

What they mean: "We want things to cost more because we hate poor people."

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Pursuit of Happiness Maximization

Here's a theoretical construct I very loosely have in my head. It starts with functions to define happiness, creates a mechanism, and then tackles the fundamental issue of individual decision making vs. central planning. This has very likely been done before, but I find it interesting to work it out myself.

Define a lifetime happiness function. It's the average of the satisfaction resulting from every choice you make in your life span. Higher overall satisfaction, higher happiness.

Function: H(h) = sigma(h(i))/n, i=0..n

h(i) is the satisfaction from a given choice, i, and n is the total number of choices you make in your lifetime.

Pursuit of happiness means as a general goal is pretty standard, so maximizing this utility function is a very safe bet. Note that this is more general than profit maximization, since satisfaction with a choice doesn't necessarily entail material gain. This accounts for things like self-sacrifice.

That's the top level. For scale, h(i) varies from 0 to 42, where 42 is maximum happiness and 0 is total misery. A neutral mood is 21. (42, being the meaning of life, is clearly the best choice for number here.)

What determines the value of h(i)? Resolution of tension, which is defined here as the difference between the expected outcome, E, and the observed outcome, O (straight out of estimation theory). Assuming every choice is made with the intent of being satisfied with the outcome (assumption of rationality) at least nominally, you'd get:

0 = What was observed fell well short of what was expected
21 = What was observed matched expectations
42 = What was observed exceeded expectations

This works for tallying up someone's existing happiness based on the past. Most people strive for H=21, since we're smart enough to know that it won't be sunshine and lollipops everyday. We know that some choices will be 0, so we seek to maximize individual choices when possible to compensate and keep the average at 21 or higher as much as possible. So we have local maximization with a goal of influencing a moving average upwards.

What about predictions? If the goal is to make each choice so that it maximizes happiness, we need a way of predicting what will do so.

Choices, by their nature, are games of incomplete information. There will always be things the person making the choice does not know and which could, potentially, result in an h(i)=0 situation. The good news is that for every choice similar to ones made previously, the unknowns will tend to decrease (via experience). We also know that a person who strives for the best each time they play a game of incomplete information will trend toward the maximum value over time.

Let's take this construct and see how altering the decision structure influences it. Up to now, it's the person whose happiness is on the line making all choices that affect h(i). Let's turn that over to an external faction. Assume a 3rd party now controls the choices of another. We'll call the 3rd party's happiness G and their individual happiness measured by g(i). we'll refer to the person they make choices for as H with h(i) as the happiness result.

Note that G does not directly set the value of h(i) - what they do is make the choice and H's reaction determines h(i). The expectations, E, that determine the final happiness, h(i), are set by H, not G. G, however, controls its own g(i) expectation values.

Let's set G's goals simply: they want to make H happy. When when h(i) is 21 or higher, g(i) is 21 or higher. What happens? G will try to make choices that it predicts will result in a strong h(i) value. It will base this likely on communication with H about preferences and expectations. However, this process will be guaranteed inefficient: there will be latent variables G cannot anticipate that H could, since only H is completely aware of its own history and mind.

Still, over time, G will be able to approximate a good h(i) value, since it will learn H's preference through testing and become better capable at predicting. This will, however, take longer than H by itself. H only needs to deal with one set of unknowns - those of uncertainty involving the circumstances of the choice. G has to deal with those as well as unknowns about H's expectations.

Complicate things further: now G has to manage the choices of not one H, but 100 H's (H1...H100), all of them unique. G's happiness, g(i), is now based on the aggregate happiness of those G makes decisions for. Even assuming every H makes the same choices in the same order as the others (a simplification that does not hold in the real world), G now has to deal with not just the unknowns of the choice, but now 100 sets of unknown behavioral preference variables. Every single set has to be learned individually over time through testing, consuming more bandwidth.

Now increase this to a thousand H's. A million. More.

Economy of scale requires G to make approximations. Instead of trying to perfectly learn each H, it goes for averages. After all, its own g(i) is satisfied by the overall score. Hit a bell curve with an average at 21 and G is happy. Never mind that means 50% of the H's could very well end up with final happiness tallies of less than 21. Even if G is smart and mixes up who gets what payoffs so there isn't one subset that always gets less than 21, there will still be H's who get H<21 and some who are very near 0. This could, interestingly, lower G's own happiness to less than 21, as well.

Compare this to a model where every H makes their own calls. Without the extra layer of unknowns, each individual is able to trend toward 21 faster than with interference from G. This shorter time frame increases the likelihood of H=21 being the norm. At the very least, it should be sufficient (and there's hand waving here) to make it so the likelihood is greater than when G makes choices for H. This should also hold (more hand waving) when G only makes some choices for H.

Questions and additions for later:
1. What if G has more knowledge about choice outcomes than H? How much would they need to justify interference? And wouldn't communication be more ethical?
2. Ethical and moral constraints, such as disallowing harming or stealing from others to increase h(i).
3. Role of information sharing between H's and increasing the speed of optimizing h(i).
4. Could low levels of happiness within a subset indicate bad choice methods brought on by misinformation?
5. Tyranny. What happens when G's happiness is maximized for things other than H's well being.
6. Regrets. When h(i) is maximized locally in time, but drops in value outside of that time frame when satisfaction criteria changes with time.

There's obviously a lot more work needed to make this conclusive, but it's a start. A mathematical/game theory way to prove that central planning will always be more inefficient at making others satisfied with their lives than letting them make their own choices would be wonderful. I think this may already exist, but it's fun to create my own system.

Monday, January 30, 2017

Bakkwo

I listened to "Bakkwo," the Korean song that Sammi Cheng's "Mei Fei Se Wu" is based on. Good lord the Korean singer is terrible. She doesn't sing so much as shriek and squawk. One of the few times where a cover is vastly superior to the original.

Friday, January 27, 2017

Tidbits

What did the creole chef say when he felt an ominous premonition?

"This does not boudin well."

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Punching Their Face

"What if someone says something I don't like and I punch them?"

"You will be arrested."

"But what if they're advocating genocide?"

"Still illegal."

"That doesn't follow. I HATE them for what they're saying."

Paying homage to this bit of Guardians of the Galaxy seems appropriate.

The blood thirstiness of the Ctrl-Left is out of hand. Now's it okay to punch someone because they're a Nazi. How do you know they're a Nazi? Because you say they are.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Shepherding Game

Game concept: A mother shepherding her children across a wartorn nation.

Done in the style of original Oregon Trail.

When that kid dies of dysentery, you are going to cry SO MUCH.

Monday, January 23, 2017

Bechdel Test

DOA Extreme Beach Volleyball passes the Bechdel Test.

Shadow of the Colossus does not.

Something to consider whenever someone tries to seriously employ that as a measure of narrative quality.

Friday, January 20, 2017

Tidbits

Nature takes an interesting perspective when you remember that the bulk of human civilization is founded on our ancestors' fear of being eaten by most of it.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Venezuela's Hyperinflation

Venezuela is a reflection of the sad inevitable consequences of socialism, specifically the democratic socialist system. Hugo Chavez fomented hate - against LGBT, against the "top 1%," against his political enemies - for years. The anger among its citizens is what happens when politicians indulge in "have vs. have not" rhetoric. It's historically the most virulent form of bigotry: make the employee hate the employer, not the bureaucrat pressuring the industry to close. A classic Marxist distraction tactic used by the powerful to maintain their grip on authority until they've strangled the life out of a nation.

For example, Venezuela started having issues with food. So they blamed the bakers, seized their facilities, and having troops make bread. Result: there was soon no more bread. Then they blamed the farmers and seized the farms. Now? They've slaughtered zoo animals and have mass starvation, as there's no food. Baby formula has to be smuggled in like drugs. And still their leaders blame the producers, so that the people won't identify the true culprits: the government.

They're already entering the final stages, sadly. They've started printing larger denominations, ala Weimar, Argentina, and Zimbabwe. I spoke to a refugee from there a couple months back. She'd originally come to the US just as a college student, but now her parents were having her seek asylum so she wouldn't have to return.

It's a reminder to all of us that democratic socialism has never worked, will never work, and will always tear a nation apart every time it's implemented. Central planning fails - it's just a matter of how long a country can limp along with the mistakes before falling. It's heart breaking to see the innocent lives endangered and lost when economic laws assert themselves like gravity on a rotten tree.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Orders

"I want you to do everything I say."

"All right..."

"Call me 'Sir.'"

"Yes, sir."

"You know the safe words?"

"Yes, sir."

"Good. My first order is..."

"Yes, sir?"

"CUDDLING."

Monday, January 16, 2017

Madoka Movie 3

The transformation sequences in Madoka Magica movie 3 are pure nightmare fuel. They start out all light and happy like a typical magical girl sequence. Then you realize the imagery involves them tearing apart their own bodies, smashing themselves into mush, shattering their bodies like glass, and chest bursting.

I think the animators were just all, "Hey, how much MORE disturbing can we make this? Let's find out!"

Saturday, January 14, 2017