Where is Jason?
last modified: Saturday, November 20, 2010 (11:59:23 PM CST)
* So, I've been away for a while. Not by design and not because I've gotten tired of the site, but by sheer lack of brainpower left at the end of the day.

I've been trying to buy a house. That's a story for another day, but it has forced me to actually look at my work history in close detail. Many of you know that I'm a consultant/entrepreneur/clever internet guy by trade and more of my being away can be directly attributed to my workload literally doubling in each of the past two years.

I'm *hoping* (fingers crossed multiple times) that after a few projects I have on the board wind down, I can convince myself to bring RS back from the back burner and give it the refresh it's sorely needed since about 2005 or so.

It's most certainly not going anywhere and neither am I. Good things await. Will be "back" soon. It's a *very* unusual time for me and adjusting is a constant challenge. Thanks again for all the support.


ps - Also realized I still have a ton of toys and goodies I got in Japan during my last visit in 2006, even stuff from the Ghibli museum that I really have been meaning to turn into contest giveaways on the site. Hope to do that soon too.

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Rozendeath is a Fairy Princess!
last modified: Tuesday, March 25, 2008 (4:18:17 AM CST)
I did a little redecorating of a problem child gallery who apparently doesn't know when to quit harassing people.

And yes, Brian, I have your home address and phone number. Don't make me call your mother and tell her to disconnect your internet!

Back to work for me. Live well all.
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paprika, the non-review
last modified: Saturday, July 21, 2007 (3:48:09 PM CST)
I had to dig to find this quote. It's from a book on mime technique: (yep, no joke)


Technique is impressive. Artistry is interesting.

"Impressive" alone does not stand the test of time. The next guy comes along and is taller than you, more accomplished, quicker, wealthier, busier. "Impressive" is based on relatives: more or less, better or worse, etc.

"Interesting" stands alone. When something is interesting, time stops, comparisons are irrelevant.


I just saw Paprika, Satoshi Kon's latest film. Beyond good or bad, it's a challenging movie. There were parts I liked and parts I didn't like. There were enormous plot holes -- but the kinds that all great sci-fi movies dodge to remain internally consistent and not slow the pace to a exposition-laden crawl.

I couldn't help but think of the only other animated film I've seen recently: Ratatouille. Both are excellent movies. Both are somewhat predictable (not necessarily a bad thing). But the book excerpt I've quoted above popped into my head, and that's really what it is.

Americans -- by Americans, I mean Pixar, the only credible group of feature animation story-tellers still working with budgets over $1mil -- are miles ahead in terms of technology. Freehand artistry is up for grabs, but I'd bet that the folks toiling away on the next feature for Pixar are at least as skilled illustrators as the best studios anywhere else in the world. Computers don't give you a free pass.

That being said, Paprika isn't necessarily amazing because of the imagery, but it's amazing because of how that imagery moves and transitions. On the downside, the plot tends to sometimes read like an Outer Limits rerun.

You could even venture to say that holding the two movies up to each other as two distinct styles.... Paprika (or, say, Howl's Moving Castle) wraps an interesting concept around a genius art project. Ratatouille (or, for example, Finding Nemo) wraps great art around brilliant story-telling.

The tiebreaker here is that American animated features have to cater to the market that says, "animated features must throw some jokes to the kids, even if 80% of the movie appeals more to adults".

So, in the end, you have a product (American animation) that is impressive but not particularly thoughtful and another (Japanese/Korean/etc.) that is less technically impressive but definitely reaching for a more difficult plane of existence.

In the end, Paprika is the best kind of science-fiction -- it entertains while asking subtle, complicated questions and challenging audiences to look deeper.

Told you it was a non-review. Go watch.
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call me crazy
last modified: Friday, June 08, 2007 (1:20:42 AM CST)
This may amuse romantics of all stripes. Alternatively, you may feel free to simply make retching noises in my general direction. :)

A long time ago I met a girl in a chance encounter. To make a long story short, I liked her very much and she did not like me back. I'm glossing over this because the concept of the girl is more important than the girl herself.

Everyone worth knowing probably has one of these people who haunts them from time to time.

I have long held the belief that after height no longer determines your age, there's only a few milestones that really age you. There's the obvious ones: marriage, death of a parent, birth of a child, first real job, serious illness, military deployment, etc.

One of the non-obvious milestones is when the first person you really want in a way that transcends normal adolescent mischief gets married to someone else.

This happened to me today. I stumbled upon the fact that said girl got married a little while ago. It's like getting punched in the gut. I know, of course, that the latent daydream that I would someday run into this girl in the supermarket years later -- and that she would be single and irreversibly charmed -- is total idiocy.

But there was always that last sliver of hope, that maybe everything from the past was simply foreshadowing the pleasant surprise of the next act.

In the end, the lack of any real surprise at the end of this particular narrative thread sucks all the air out of the room. I did not need to be reminded that life is a series of increasingly more permanent disappointments.

I don't really mean to sound so negative. I am really fortunate in a lot of ways. I can't shake the feeling like I'm doing something horribly wrong, though.


In the event that said girl ever reads this, I'd like to say one thing:

"Gasp! Should we ever meet again in a coffee shop at the end of time, remember that I am up about 20 games to 3 and you have a lot of catching up to do. All the best. Go save the world."
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last modified: Sunday, April 08, 2007 (4:10:10 PM CST)
A short review:

First of all, the fake trailers are awesome. In order from best to worse, Machete (Robert Rodriguez), Don't (Edgar Wright), Thanksgiving (Eli Roth), and Werewolf Women of the SS (Rob Zombie).

Planet Terror, 4/5 stars. No significant improvements necessary.

Planet Terror is basically the first three minutes of Desperado made into an entire movie. It's fantastic and worth the ticket price alone. The best way to explain it is that it is a movie designed specifically for an audience that is into the premise of watching movies that are ridiculous. Add a few musical numbers and you have an experience very similar to the Rocky Horror Picture Show. It's a movie seemingly crafted by the loudest, most entertaining story-teller at your favorite pub.

Nothing else to say. Almost everything about the movie works. Double bill this with Sin City instead of Death Proof, and you have perhaps the best group-oriented movie night ever imagined.

Death Proof, 2/5 stars. Heavily flawed.

Where to start? Planet Terror is cool by its very nature, while Death Proof tries so very hard to be cool by association. Tarantino wants so badly to make it known that his movie was filmed in Austin. The only way this man seems to know how to write a movie is to name-drop at least once every ten lines of dialogue. He's the annoying guy from high school who liked bands you've never heard of specifcally because you've never heard of them.

This time, he picked the wrong place to go about this nonsense: Austin, Texas. See, I live in Austin and it's very clear that Tarantino only hangs out with the wealthy pseudo-hippies on South Congress.

- A restaurant called Guero's Taco Bar is featured prominently. Their tacos really aren't that good. There are much better choices within a few minutes in any direction. However, it's the place that trendy people who live in that part of town go because it's "hip".

- One scene features girls in a stupid conversation driving to Guero's Taco Bar. However, everytime the camera shifts, the view out the window is an entirely different part of downtown Austin in different directions. We were literally unable to control our laughter because we thought that was the joke. Sadly, we realized after a few minutes that no, the conversation was supposed to be interesting and you weren't supposed to realize that the car was going in crazy circles.

- The Texas Chili Parlor has no parking lot or porch. It's just a little building wedged between some other run down buildings. I know the Chili Parlor probably got a ton of money from the filming, but the one funny thought I had was that people are going to come in from out of town now and think it's a place you go to get trashed, smoke out, and pick up chicks. Wrong. It's a place you go for chili. It's a restaurant, not a shot bar.

The stuntwoman in the second half of Death Proof is cool, but by then it's too late to save the movie. With perhaps half the footage cut out, this might have made a decent short film.
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my japanese fortune
last modified: Monday, March 19, 2007 (4:45:16 AM CST)
Via a Japanese website, translated with a bad automatic translator.


A lot of birth passes at this inn, and being born in home older than a person, a prestigious family and an old family, midstream by nature
I am self-respecting with pride. The star who holds a heart of justice and a high ideal in a chest.
It is a pleasure-seeker, but it is kind of I am well-conducted, and to be dirty to another person whom I do not work as and likes an act of kindness.


So, there you have it. Apparently, according to the "real" translation being provided to me over IM by a girl who is calculating my fortune, "I will be making money by myself." I suppose that means I could have a future in counterfeiting. My counterfeiting operation will shine with the fury of monetary justice. I'm excited.

Also, my "love type" is someone who grew up with hardship. Hopefully this implies that she is flexible and compassionate, and not something like, "she was born a very misunderstood... man".
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strange korean customs
last modified: Monday, February 19, 2007 (8:42:31 PM CST)
On some random web browsing while looking for a review of a particular Korean movie, I ran across this picture.

What's amusing about this picture is that this cute little girl can destroy you at Starcraft. She plays Starcraft professionally in Korea. I don't mean that in any sexist way, because I really do think that the lack of high-level female participation in things like Chess and other mental exercises is just a matter of not having the requisite gender input at the top of the sieve.

It is, however, a little surreal clicking for a trailer on YouTube and getting some weird Korean television show where people play Starcraft in front of a live studio audience of swooning fans. And those kids playing, while being disturbingly good at something as trivial* as Starcraft, really do seem to be popular -- one step shy of, say, TV character actors from what I can tell.

In an interview with the player in the pic above, she credits her speed and talent at Starcraft to having played the piano. She then explains how all she thinks about these days is Starcraft.

My instant question was, "Would I rather my child be fantastic and world-famous at something so trivial or simply be normal -- or even mediocre -- at something (music) which ultimately builds more character?"

And then I thought, "Wait, she's not *that* much younger than me. She's kinda cute, too."

"My mom says I'm a catch/
I'm popular"

* There was a time when I was alarmingly good at some video games, so I don't use the description "trivial" without merit. But seriously, being that good at a video game isn't even like being good at Checkers much less being good with arts or literature. Checkers will still be popular the day you die. I guarantee you that Starcraft or Counterstrike or World of Warcraft (or heaven forbid, craptacular FPS Halo) will be mere footnotes in history.
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oh noes! it's the aqua teen hunger force!
last modified: Thursday, February 01, 2007 (3:50:51 AM CST)
Naturally, this would not blow over. When someone is embarrassed for mistaking a mooninite for a deadly terrorist plot, *someone* is going to have to pay -- and certainly not the idiot(s) who called the alarm.

Yes, they're pressing charges.

Let's step back and look at this for a second... it's a light-up mooninite flicking people off. What kind of terrorist outside of Adam West's Batman goes through the effort of making such a deadly device so playful and colorful? This is more retarded than even the terrorist plots in the TV show "24".

The article includes a blustery moron deriding hoaxes as taxing the law enforcement infrastructure and the half-mil cost of getting said circus troupe to perform. To this I simply say, "lol."

The idea that your average American would know what makes a device suspicious is a dubious one at best. But law enforcement didn't see through this?

Hint! A bomb will not have a mooninite on it! It will not be ticking! It will not feature a intricate Rube Goldberg device attached to a crate marked "TNT" in block type. It WILL look like a trash can, a backpack, or a Nissan Sentra.

Hint! Terrorists are not interested in your Fort Knox, your Statue of Liberty, or your Grand Canyon. They probably cannot locate any of these on a map, much like most Americans have trouble finding the UK on a map. (No, that's Denmark. Try again.)

Hint! A terrorist will not look like a cartoon snake charmer! A terrorist will not look like a man who hasn't shaved or slept for days! A terrorist WILL look like a friendly, courteous, educated, and charming individual. The next deadly terrorist attack JUST MIGHT come from a single, white female beatnik undergrad from Oklahoma.

And I ask, do you know why? Because no one is expecting it. Because it's the path of least resistance. Because law enforcement -- particularly the gumshoe Boston PD -- is too busy looking for mooninites and arresting other people for their own incompetence.

I would also like to add that I am not a terrorist and have no desire to blow anything up. Please don't arrest me. You should be out looking for the real criminals, like Master Shake and Meatwad.
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single question personality test
last modified: Sunday, January 07, 2007 (3:37:20 AM CST)
As you walk out of a mostly empty karaoke club at the end of the night, you see a young man and woman arguing loudly in a dark adjacent alley. The street is empty and there is no other open business for a mile in every direction. The man's body language is threatening and the woman is crying and seems to want to exit the situation. It appears to be a personal argument. You are with many friends and there is minimal threat of personal injury if you intervene.

Do you intervene in this argument? How?
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i just got the dopest thing in the mail
last modified: Friday, December 22, 2006 (12:19:10 PM CST)
I just got the most awesomest Christmas present from James a.k.a. celhunterj.

It's... it's.... a tiny claw machine game. With minuture sea creatures like lobsters and walruses. Pictures to come later. Was it possible to put this much awesomeness in a single box?

Until now, unlikely.
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influential anime, 21st century?
last modified: Monday, December 18, 2006 (12:51:02 AM CST)
I got this cool Eva figurine from a friend this weekend at a Christmas party this weekend. He knew I liked anime but didn't know that much about it, so I wrote a quick synopsis of the show and implored him to watch it because it was largely responsible for the shape of anime in the late 90s.

Specifically, I mentioned that Evangelion added a lot to the "visual and narrative culture". The sense of self-loathing was relatively new at the time. Unlike all the giant robot shows before, they didn't avoid fighting because of honor and/or thiny veiled pacifist tendencies, they refused to fight because they were really scared of pain and death. The pervasive realist bent to all the technology was also fairly new. Even the sound that the fifth angel's laser weapon makes (you know, the flying cube that drills down to NERV) is now the universal sound of anime-themed destruction (see: Azumanga Daioh and others).

The legacy is obvious: a plethora of mysterious, confusing plots pockmarked with pseudo-religious psychobabble. Evangelion wasn't exactly the first to do this, but it certainly was the loudest.

I think there were better shows/movies from that era, but none with more lasting impact.

That raises the question of this entry. What are the most influential works so far in the 21st century? This is a separate question from "what is your favorite anime?" In twenty years, what will be anime's Radiohead and Saving Private Ryan (read: not necessarily best-ever, but still inspiring to the next wave of creators)?

None of the ones I thought of are the kinds that I think will have any sweeping influence, only little pockets of influence:

Hoshi no Koe
Why: Is this the beginning of serious independant "anime-style" creative animation?
Why not: Makoto Shinkai's followup, Beyond the Clouds, was a garbled mess. Was Hoshi no Koe (Voice of a Distant Star) an accident?

Ghost in the Shell: SAC
Why: Could this be the a step towards mature political/espionage thriller anime with killer CG production?
Why not: Very, very talky when the money isn't on screen. Only half as clever as it seems to think it is.

Kimi ga Nozomu Eien
Why: High school drama anime gets a nasty mean streak.
Why not: Treads dangerously into disposable melodrama.

Honey and Clover/Nana... and Genshiken, to some extent
Why: Angsty realist coming of age dramas weasel their way onto the small screen. Eat your heart out Zach Braff.
Why not: What is animation doing that live action can't, if given a proper budget (see Hana Yori Dango)?

But obviously, none of these (off the top of my head) have any sort of universal power to change anime. Can you think of any?
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the internet gets stupid
last modified: Monday, December 11, 2006 (10:48:48 AM CST)
It was merely ignorant before, but it's about to get stupid:

Senator -- and possibly your next president -- John McCain (R-AZ) is proposing a new law that would require web site operators to report users who violate local/federal child pornography statutes (and possibly other laws restricting expression video image/video). Records must be kept. Profiles must be deleted. Fines go up to 300 grand.

I cannot stress how incredibly bad this is for the internet at large. The internet simply does not operate in the way which Senator McCain believes it does.

McCain seems to believe that everyone uses their real name on the internet. I'm not sure if this is how things work in Arizona, but I am most certain that in other states where senators do their research, it does not.

Sites like this one make a fair effort to do what they can because regardless of whether short-sighted legislators like McCain believe it or not, we're actually against child pornography. However, if this new law passes, it would open websites up to the obvious attack of simply creating an unlimited number of fake profiles and dropping porn everywhere on a target website.

Does this sound familiar? Yes, it already exists. It's called spam. Plain, old, run-of-the-mill spam. What this bill would do is hold a knife to the throat of any website who does not go on every single wild goose chase to isolate, identify, and eliminate every single piece of spam posted in their web forums and on their websites. This is hard enough without specifically becoming a target for this type of nonsense. Should a website become a target of a Motivated Third Party Determined to Get Someone Prosecuted, this attack becomes trivial.

In effect, the internet would be controlled by Russian and Chinese spammers and we either a) restrict all user feedback and user-generated content (which is what political allies the MPAA and the RIAA would *love*), b) restrict the internet to only people we "know", having a series of incorrigible closed networks that harken back to the 1980s, or c) hand over control of the internet to China, South Korea, and the EU since we seem to have trouble grasping basic realities of life and technology.

If this bill were to pass, it could be potentially very bad. No more Rubberslug. No more MySpace. No more anything. Only MTV and CNN, just the way your corporate overlords like it.
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The Information Technology Myth
last modified: Monday, December 11, 2006 (10:46:47 AM CST)

Note: This has nothing to do with cel collecting.

The article above is a link to an Apple software vulnerability that allows an attacker to take control of a machine.

Someone released some code that demonstrates the flaw. Okay, no big deal. But in the article comments, Apple enthusiasts on the whole simply refuse to believe that their acrylic toteboxes could be anything less than a digital Fort Knox.

Security is *the* dirtiest "legitimate" business in information technology. Why? Because it encourages bottom-feeding. It encourages gross ethical misconduct with regards to splashy press releases and getting your name recognized by breaking some random code widget that happens to be signed by Microsoft or Apple or whoever.

If nuclear physicists behaved in the way that your average computer security "professionals" behaved, we'd be seeing explicit instructions in newspapers around the country on how to build a radioactive "dirty bomb" using things found in an average Home Depot. (No, I'm not making that up, it's quite possible.)

But what drives this idiotic behavior? The Myth.

The Myth leads one to believe that a certain type or lineage of software is better than another. The truth is that -- you might want to sit down -- all software is broken.

Take that article above. Look at the comments. People simply refuse to believe that Macs are just as broken as everything else in the world. Not only is that assumption patently false, it's dangerous. Those stupid commercials don't help. The idea that "it's safe to use the Internet" on a Mac is just wrong, wrong, wrong.

The side observation here is that among actual non-stupid programmers, the code that those groups generate is remarkably similar in terms of quality and security. Are there smarter programmers and dumber programmers? Sure. But they generate the same code. Smarter programmers simply iterate through the same mistakes faster.

So where does that leave you?

Never trust a computer programmer or marketer that says their product inherantly more secure by virtue of better design. Might be true to a point, but it's never the whole story. Unless they mean mathmatical proof (hello, symmetric key encryption) or an ton of people banging on it night and day, day in and day out (hello, tcp/ip) then it's probably no better than anything else.

The only rule of thumb that has ever made any sense is this: "The only good code is old code."

Aren't you glad your long distance calls, stop lights, and ATMs all behave generally as they are supposed to?
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oh noes! it's polonium-210!
last modified: Monday, December 04, 2006 (2:38:34 AM CST)
Found on

"Find out if it ever can be used against YOU!"

In today's lesson, we correct a few very glaring and misleading assumptions.

a) Yes, many things can be used against you. Including guns. Including bombs. Including snakes on a plane. Including a certain rare, radioactive, Russian-spy-destroying element. But you know what? Your life isn't as valuable as a lethal dose of polonium-210. Mine isn't. Unless you have ever sat in a chair more expensive than an average house, you are certainly not important enough to be killed by anything more than a five-dollar handgun or an impatient carjacker.

b) This "scare tactic" is scary only to a complete idiot. I sort of understand -- but disapprove -- of the angle take by this an other fluff pieces. "Child molesters! Could they be hiding in YOUR attic?!" "Are roaches getting SMARTER?" "Why do hot dogs come in packages of TWELVE and buns come in packages of EIGHT?!?" What can I say? It's stupid but it works. But Polonum-210? Should I be investing in a handheld Geiger counter to test my sushi for superspy assassination activity? Perhaps my interest in Japanese actress Satomi Ishihara has attracted, shall we say, Concern from Powers Unknown?

In any case, this brings to mind an inspiring quote from the legendary adventure epic from the late 20th century, namely, Back to the Future.

"I'm sure in 1985 plutonium is available at every corner drugstore, but in 1955 it's a little hard to come by." -- Christopher Lloyd (as Doc Brown)

An insightful prediction; off by only a few places in the periodic table. Impressive.
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a riddle for math/science undergrads
last modified: Tuesday, November 28, 2006 (8:43:26 PM CST)
Not to blog twice in one day, but I couldn't pass this up:

Someone who apparently managed to get a masters in creative computeering from a university in India declared recently that he found a way to store 450GB of information on a sheet of paper by using a system of shapes and colors instead of numbers. The paper is printed with a special printer that is roughly the size of a laptop and does not cost a billion dollars.

(The URL code is screwed up... remove the ; from the URL.)

Your question of the day is -- without reading the articles debunking this claim -- what is wrong with this picture (no pun intended)? I'd give a prize for this, but it's too easy to cheat, unfortunately.

(I say "undergrads" because anyone who has finished a math, engineering, or comp sci degree yet does not instantly see the fallacy here should check the batteries on their BS detector. It's not an easy question without knowledge of the basic underlying math, but it's dead simple with it.)

To his credit, the author of this claim is either insane, a complete idiot, or a comic genius. I can't figure out which...
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someone please explain architecture
last modified: Tuesday, November 28, 2006 (3:14:44 AM CST)
I'm not an architect.

That being said, BS smells like BS anywhere you go in every discipline. Modern architecture, to a uncultured outsider such as myself, appears to be populated by three kinds of people:

1) Those who understand architecture as a study of carving out a space to suit a particular function in deference to the surroundings and whatever peculiar (and possibly misguided) taste the client has.

2) Those who view architecture as self-expression with complete disregard to, well, everything and everyone else.

3) Those who pretend to be one of the above but can't draw, create, or even imagine to save their own worthless lives.

The people who are Type 1 seem to be a dying breed, from what I can tell of flipping through catalogs of award-winning architecture from the past decade or so.

Type 2s seem to have all the fun. It seems the things that really create a lot of news are things which look like an angry Decepticon trying to hold very still or a futuristic alien bathtub. Type 3s, the hangers-on, seem to be more drawn to these designs because they look different and liking that crap makes them feel smart.

But would you really want to live/work there? What if you have to maintain one of those buildings? Would you really want to try washing windows that are upside down with sharp, pointy edges? In 20 years, won't the majority of these buildings look like the 1950s vision of flying cars?

For example, find a picture of the modern London skyline. Architects have a field day there all creating different styles for different clients. The city looks like crap. Each individual building might be interesting, but it's almost as if the Brits collectively assembled their city using five different Lego kits, a set of Duplo blocks, and some paper mache just to make sure there's no common thread amongst the lot. When Type 2s express their egos all at the same time, it's absolute mayhem.

To paraphrase the axiom that applies to all creative endeavor: Expressing simplicity in a complex way is idiocy. Expressing complexity in a simple way is genius.

So, what I want to know is, am I missing something? Are there any architects out there who can explain what I am missing or books I should read? Or is it all one big game of ignoring the needs of actual people, as I had feared?
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don't bother with new playstation
last modified: Friday, November 17, 2006 (9:26:20 AM CST)
Some of you know this already, but I'm a pretty big fan of gaming of all kinds. This includes video games. This goes back about twenty years or so.

I would like to take this opportunity to speak to parents out there and curious onlookers as to why the new Sony Playstation 3 launch has people all excited.

It's insidious. You see, they are built entirely on hype. This is worse hype than the Xbox 360 launch of last year, which actually had a few good games to back up the launch. The PS3 is not launching with games of any merit. (Disclaimer: I own neither of these systems, and don't intend to because the games aren't very good on either yet.) Supply is limited due to some idiotic hardware decisions made by Sony because they want to push a new, overpriced, incompatible DVD format into the market (think Betamax).

So, they float these machines with no games at around $600. When it was time to preorder these, I was under the assumption that no one in their right mind would pay more than $300-400 over retail (~$1000) for a system so I didn't bother trying to preorder one -- even to sell it on ebay.

It was obvious that consoles would be scarce, but I had no idea how stupid your average American consumer is. There's people hawking these things for $2000+ on auction sites -- for a box of electronics with few playable games. Let's imagine you get a console and two (subpar) games out of the handful of really bad launch titles for $2000. You've just spent $1000 per game.

A very decent used car is $2000. This is complete stupidity.

There is no other word for it, and I don't call large market trends stupid without careful thought. The Spice Girls were a product of misguided media oversaturation. Reality game shows are products of people wanting to be closer to stories and players they hope they can relate to.

This is just stupid.

Sony wants to see you wait in line and be that sucker that ponies up $1000-2000+ for a console because the AP will write shallow human interest pieces about how you waited all night for your useless home entertainment device. It's all about getting Sony good press at your expense.

Sony, right now, is a company scared of two things: Apple, who is cannibalizing their consumer music device market with the iPod + iTunes integration, and Microsoft, who has made an excellent online service with Xbox Live. As a software architect/designer/developer by day, I can tell you that Japan is historically really bad at creating quality software, so I can assure you that Sony is crapping rocks because of these two companies and their respective products because they know that Japan as a *nation* can't outdo them. They are scared for their future right now moreso than anytime in their past. If the Playstation brand tanks, Sony has nothing left to stand on.

*This* is what the media hype is all about: a corporation full of people past their prime in ideas, products, and innovation trying desperately to stay above water.

Get informed. The Playstation 3 will undoubtedly get better games and a lower price tag sometime in the next six months. Quality is worth paying for, but this simply isn't it. If it's your kid asking for one, tell them these things suck. I'm basically an overgrown kid, so I'll talk to them if you want. Just send me an e-mail and phone number with a good time to talk to them.

Every single person who got a console today to play is a sucker. A big, PT Barnum, born-yesterday sucker.

Don't be a sucker. Don't be an average American consumer with more money than sense.
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live-action asian dramas, anyone?
last modified: Monday, October 30, 2006 (10:59:44 PM CST)
My comments on Death Note created quite a stir. I should probably grab another episode or 3 to be fair since I made a big fuss about it. What are they on now, 5?

In other news... *significant* work has been made on some site improvements. Test version available soon, hopefully by the end of the week. (I'm not being quiet for nothing.)

Anyone out there watch Asian television dramas? If you're curious, here's a good place to start:

Torrents, Pan-Asia:
Japanese specific:

E sorta got me on this last year by suggesting Densha Otoko, which I thought was somewhat meh but opened the door to lots of other things I thought were less meh.

I've seen maybe 10-15 shows in part or in total over the last year or so and I find them generally more amusing than most anime these days. That mix is about 3-4 Korean shows, 1 or 2 Chinese shows, and the rest Japanese.

Things I like specifically:

1) They're short, maybe 12-16 episodes long, about an hour a piece.
2) They're finite, which is absolutely huge. Western series are made until people stop watching and die a slow death. Asian series have a beginning, middle, and end.
3) Like BBC shows, they have the same pool of actors over and over again, which some might dislike but I personally like because you can hunt down your favorites in different roles.
3b) It's very, very easy to have favorite actors in Asian dramas, because they're hardly ever known for one particular role.
4) The variety is huge. The execution isn't as expensive as a Western show, which becomes painfully obvious when you watch a crime, action, or serious drama serial. No Jack Bauer triggering massive pyrotechnics. But, on the other hand, the low-production values put more stress on the actors being generally competent if not outstanding. (And "24" blows bigtime. Way stupider than Death Note, if you need a point of reference.)
5) As shallow as it is, you can find pictures of attractive actors of the opposite sex and hunt for dramas featuring them. Yep, I'm guilty.

* Note: Above list uses "actors" to refer to both male and female variety, which I mention specifically because I strongly believe that unless there is some specific need to denote an actor as male or female (i.e. a pregnant actress) then it's unnecessary.

So, that's my pitch. When anime starts getting stale, try mixing some fun, disposable dramas into your downloading diet.

Recent dramas to start chewing on if you like anime:

- Densha Otoko, about a blubbering otaku who makes hypercute Misaki Itoh fall in love with him by saving her from a drunk on a train. Total geek fantasy, but fun nevertheless.

- Hana Yori Dango, modernized manga adaptation, featuring arguably some of the most currently popular actors of the 18-24 generation. Makes way more sense as a live-action show, very over the top.

List your favorites with summaries or links to summaries below!
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death note = hilariously awful
last modified: Wednesday, October 18, 2006 (2:08:23 AM CST)
Apparently, this manga is super-duper popular, so I decided to try the anime adaptation out today. For those of you who are not aware, the plot consists of a high school kid who stumbles upon a notebook that can kill people if you write their names in it. There's some Ghostbusters Don't-Cross-The-Streams rules to it, but that's the gist of it.

I don't think whoever wrote the manga thought about the obvious plot holes very much:

1) Bad target selection. Protagonist seems to be the equivalent of a National Merit Finalist type of high-school kid. Yet he wants to fix the world by focusing on criminals? You don't get to be intelligent by being a human calculator, you focus quite a bit on literature and humanities as well. If you really had the opportunity to remove someone from the world, there's far better philosophical questions you could pose other than the knee-jerk "kill all criminals" one. Killing a half dozen rapists or murderers won't fix anything. Rearranging the political structure of select rogue states, however, might. Someone of the protagonists' background would certainly be able to come up with something better than simple vigilante justice.

2) 100 dead "armed robbery suspects" isn't going to raise the attention of Interpol, much less their version of maniacal supersleuth Jean Valjean. It just won't. They have bigger problems.

3) Even the slowest author in the world could fill up a notebook that size in about 5-10 hours, writing nonstop.

4) What if you request a method of death that defies laws of the natural world or by imaginary causes? Spontaneous combustion? Getting beat down by the tooth fairy? If the tooth fairy thing works, the next thing I'd suggest is "death by being caught in crossfire between tooth fairy, Easter bunny, and Santa Claus all armed with laser guns ... pew pew".

All in all, I *might* get another episode or two, or just find the translated manga and blitz through it over a box of cookies. If this is what passes for high-concept these days, anime is in much bigger trouble than I thought.
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the student becomes the master
last modified: Friday, September 29, 2006 (7:09:59 AM CST)
Related somewhat to my previous post.

Linked above is a story of how tutors in China and India are providing better bang for the buck teaching American schoolchildren things like math and .... English. Yes, that's right. Their command of a second (or third? or more?) language is better than your average child's first. Granted, the article goes on to mention that many of the tutors have masters degrees in the subjects they teach, but this raises an important point.

When we are failing to provide our kids training in their native language that can be obtained -- at apparent profit -- for $2.50/hr overseas, something is very wrong. Say what you want about gross miscalculations of economic inequity and attacking easy targets, but the fact remains that the quick double blind test in the article (tutoring vs. no tutoring) seems indicative of a larger cancer stunting our intellectual capital growth.

You lose, American public education system.
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???? (The Secret Garden)
last modified: Wednesday, September 27, 2006 (5:23:36 AM CST)
Reprinted from my Mixi blog, since hey, no one outside my exchange student friends on a Japanese blog site can read it anyway.

Edit: If you want to see the ???s go to view comments. It displays right on that page but not on the others. Stupid website.

? The Secret Garden ???????

??????????????????????????????????????? ??????????????????????????

"Let us go down, and there confound their language, that they may not understand one another's speech."

-- Genesis 11:7

I haven't written anything here in a few weeks, but I notice that people keep looking at this -- probably because my user name is written in Western characters and it is mere curiosity.

I'll assume, for the sake of argument, that at least one person out there can read this. (????????????? ^_^;)

A common thing you will hear in every language is that "this word doesn't translate well". For instance, English slang translates horribly into other languages.

I've always been pretty good with language. I'm a reasonably adept writer despite having put nearly zero effort into the craft. But being around friends for whom English is a second or third language inverts the status quo. All the English wordcraft in the world will not communicate complex concepts like aspiration, betrayal, foreboding, subjugation, etc. to someone who has yet to grasp the finer points of the language.

My lack of ability to communicate complex concepts is an impenetrable wall of understanding. Behind that wall is the secret garden, one which contains all the souls who speak their own language but not mine. I may be able to ask how that person feels today, and what time it is, and what the weather is like, but I will never truly know who that person truly *is*. I won't know their deepest regrets, desires, and beliefs because they can't explain them to me in words I can understand. I'm too stupid.

To those on the other side of this wall, do I exist in a secret garden containing the English-speaking world? I suspect that I might. If I didn't speak English, I would imagine that the English-speaking world seems pretty cool just from the pictures.

How do we reduce the walls between gardens to a manageable size? In doing so, would it then -- again -- exist as one garden?

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silent spring?
last modified: Tuesday, September 12, 2006 (5:04:44 PM CST)

I'm all for scientific breakthroughs that allow people who have psychological illnesses to live healthy and productive lives, but this is quite unsettling. To put it bluntly, how screwed up is your country/healthcare system/consumer culture if there's so much Prozac in the water that it's killing wildlife?

Incidentally, the title of this blog references the Rachael Carson cautionary environmentalist tale about DDT... but modern science has shown to some extent that DDT isn't nearly as dangerous as first thought.

Side note, these blogs are a pain to edit. I'll try to look at improving this somewhat tonight.
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why must anime drama suck?
last modified: Tuesday, August 22, 2006 (1:50:04 AM CST)
It pains me that narratives in "grown-up" drama anime remains dredged in the land of Sweet Valley High and Encyclopedia Brown levels of maturity. It is getting better, but here's some suggestions for starters.

- Gun-on-the-mantle-rule: If there's a gun in the first act, it should most definitely be fired before the end of the third. Or something like that. Unfulfilled expectations kill dramas. For a good example, please watch Haibane Renmei as I believe it is probably the biggest waste of a fantasy world exposition in modern anime history. Why be mysterious for the sake of being mysterious? Stop trying to be David Lynch.

- Stop beating us over the head with your "Introduction to Philosophy" textbook. I know that maybe having your characters espouse on the meaning of "being" sounds like you're being deep, but it simply doesn't work that way. Try writing a novel if you feel so inclined.

- If you're going to kill someone, kill them dead. Do you know why Final Fantasy VII is so enduring? Because they made people like a character and then they axed her. Simply taking that leap and not worrying about if you're going to be able to merchandise more model kits with new outfits was enough to make the narrative at least somewhat useful. The rest of the game was painfully convoluted, but that one little bit helps it endure. Characters die because they are more useful to the narrative dead than alive. Teasing about killing someone is a lame sucker play. I'd rather watch Adam West as Batman do it.

- Characters should be responsible for what happens to them, not random world events. When something bad happens to someone, it is a valuable chance to make it someone else's fault. Even better if it's a protagonist's fault. The characters -- and their inherent qualities -- should lead to a resolution that is simultaneously unavoidable but unpredictable.

- The-Perfectly-Timed-Phone-Call Rule: Coincidences, with certain special exceptions like Tokyo Godfathers or Magnolia (entire movie based the concept of coincidence), are stupid. No, a girl that has a crush on you is probably not listening in while you confess to a different girl in some remote location. No, your childhood friend is not going to be your sister separated at birth.

- 31-flavors Rule: I know these guy-surrounded-by-girls shows is built for teenage boys, but can we please have some characters that aren't paper thin caricatures of people that the writer had a crush on at some point? I'd pay good money to see one of those shows about a guy living with a bunch of girls where the girls all already have boyfriends.

- Sex, or implied sex, doesn't make a show more mature or hard core. Can you say Gundam Seed? Look, any advantages you gain by having your bio-engineered teenagers screw like rabbits is cancelled out by the fact that you have a Japanese pop idol helming a presumably multi-billion dollar warship. If the fate of nations is being determined by Ayumi Hamasaki, then the Earth Federation, the colonies, and everyone in between deserve mutual anihilation.

If *I* were designing an anime drama, I'd totally sucker punch people. First few episodes would be about cute high school life. Then, at around episode four, you'd find out that the main female character steals pain killers from pharmacies and sells them back to kids at school. The main male character sleeps with rich, old women for money and drugs. His little sister is hospitalized for trying to cut herself. Et ceterea. Et cetera.

Not that this would be any better dramatically, but if it's going to suck, better to make it suck in a sensational, cataclysmic way.
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eastwood's iwo jima project
last modified: Tuesday, August 15, 2006 (10:53:17 PM CST)
The most exciting film project I have read about in recent memory is actually inching closer to a release this fall/winter.

Clint Eastwood is directing and producing two movies simultaneously about the Battle of Iwo Jima. The big catch here is that one of the movies tells the story from the American perspective, while the other tells the story from the Japanese perspective. And yes, unlike some cheeseball western male fantasies (I'm looking at you, Memoirs), the screenplay for the Japanese side was written by a Japanese author and all the primary stars are Japanese.

This is fantastic because:

1) well, the concept is just amazing.
2) the Pacific front seems to have missed the tide of war movie modernizations until now
3) it looks as if the people involved are really passionate about playing fair to both sides and pointing out the real winners in war (political deal-makers and media culture) and the losers (basically anyone holding a gun, alive or dead).

Flags of our Fathers, the American half of the project, is an adaptation of a book by the same name. The movie will release on Oct 20th in the US and a week later in Japan.

Red Sun, Black Sand, the Japanese half, will release Dec 9th in Japan -- the first world premiere of a big budget American film in Japan, ever -- and a week later in the US.

This is most definitely one to keep an eye on.


On a lighter note, Misaki Ito will be Kyoko Otonashi in the Maison Ikkoku adaptation. Did anyone *not* see this coming?
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last dance
last modified: Monday, February 20, 2006 (5:27:18 AM CST)
"You're in one of the two best clubs in Tokyo on the best night of the month," says Dan, a Japanese-American working in Tokyo. "The other is in the sticks. Good choice." The rest of his intro was drowned out by the brain-numbing sound system and the opaque, laser-partitioned air on the dance floor.

It's 3 AM at Womb, a hotspot in Shibuya, and the party is just starting to pick up. Dan navigates effortlessly through a crowd of regulars, alternating between greetings in Japanese and English while introducing me as a visitor from Texas in the US on his last night in Tokyo. Among the folks I met were Kevin, another American expat who works biz dev for a paint company; Aya, a girl who I could only recognize by her slim profile and sound of her voice in my ear; Takashi, a friendly Japanese kid who dreams of someday visiting Texas; and Hitomi, an alluring doe-eyed girl who pulled me across the floor while barely being able to comprehend anything I was saying.

Language barrier aside, there's one stark difference between that club and most of the ones I've been to in the US: If you can project your voice farther than the required six inches to overcome the pulsing beat from the dance floor, you can talk to just about anyone in the room.

The kids don't want to flaunt their status, their looks, or their cash -- qualities that are in no short supply here. They just want to dance. I could get used to this.

I'm back in the states today though, and will be dealing with various issues in order. As you can imagine, I'm pretty beat. Thanks for sticking with us.
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all summer in a day
last modified: Thursday, February 16, 2006 (9:44:20 AM CST)
Someone on television has just confessed their love to a girl named Taeko. There's lot of crying and shouting. I'm not sure what drama I'm watching, but my comprehension level of Japanese has increased probably 10-20% in the last two weeks.

Everyone else is hiking to a coin laundry. I've already done laundry. So I'm taking a few minutes to make sure nothing imploded while I was away.

Oh, one anime-related thing. The short film at Ghibli about the runaway boy from the future who grows his own planets in a small flower pot is probably *the best* anime short film and maybe one of the best short films I've ever seen. I nearly cried like a little girl. It was that good. It's everything I love about the form, with the added bonus of stunning originality and technical ability.

I *highly* recommend that any visit to Japan include the Ghibli museum. The most heartbreaking thing is that they only let you watch one of the three short films per visit. I picked the one about planets on anime instinct alone. One was about an undersea world. The other had a somewhat off-putting art style.

I also realized there's a difference not only between cultures, but a difference in value sets. Any cursory glance at the cleanliness of the floor of your average rush hour train should be enough to guess that something weird is going on here.

More later. Maybe some contests, too, Since I got lots of extra toys from the Ghibli museum.

edit: Found the title (since I can't read) and apparently it's only showing for two and a half months from December to February.

Scroll down to "Hoshi wo Katta Hi". Worth the ticket price alone. Worth double the ticket price. In fact, just about every room is in the museum is worth the ticket price. The whole museum is about the animation process, not really Ghibli films specifically -- which means many of you can basically give a tour of the place without even seeing it first.
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mmrpgs + dating sites = ^_^ ?
last modified: Wednesday, January 18, 2006 (3:08:23 AM CST)

So here's my question: Who's going to be the first to adapt this concept to the English-speaking world as a dating site? First one to do it will be worth low seven figures within two years. Oh, but wait, I forgot: innovation in this country is limited to finding new and inventive ways to spam you with advertising (or scam Google advertisers out of their advertising dollars) instead of actually providing services that users actually find valuable.

I've been saying for a few years that the *real* revolution in web tech isn't going to be scrolly maps or coming up with a new marketing friendly name for something that's been around for years.

It's going to be turning the web into a gigantic MUD. Although I don't have an Xbox 360 , I hear MS and the Xbox Live team have figured this out to great effect.
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places in japanese dramas
last modified: Saturday, November 12, 2005 (6:27:58 AM CST)
So, in episode 4 of the live action adaptation of Hana Yori Dango, Tsukasa and Tsukushi have an extended argument in the rain in front of a big mansion-looking restaurant in Tokyo. For those of you unfamiliar with the basic plot of HYD, Tsukasa one of four rich high school kids and Makino is a poor common girl at their private high school.

The background area in the shots seemed very familiar. I realized that I actually ATE at this French restaurant when I visited in 2003. It was DIRTY EXPENSIVE. I don't remember a whole lot about the food, but I do remember that there were lots of greasy old men with stunningly attractive female dates my age. Golddigger central.

I had a picture taken from nearly the same spot they plopped their cameras down. Welp, that's my weird observation of the day.
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the omega device
last modified: Monday, November 07, 2005 (10:11:32 PM CST)
This is sorta important, so I was wondering if I could get ideas from you all. Thanks for reading and commenting.
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the next big thing
last modified: Thursday, November 03, 2005 (10:41:50 PM CST)
Hit refresh a few times and you'll realize that 99.95% of the people in the world who do "technology consulting" or, more crassly, "web design" are total freaking idiots.

Don't laugh. Some of those combinations have swindled many millions of dollars from people equally undeserving of their buying power.

In a nutshell, this is what our fragile world is based on.

And people wonder why I don't like computers.
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GTO, a complaint
last modified: Sunday, October 16, 2005 (6:12:43 AM CST)
This is about GTO (live action).

I'm hoping this is about as accurate a description of Japanese schools as the description of American high schools provided by "Saved by the Bell". It's a charming show in the way that Nick at Nite is/should be charming, but I have serious issues with most of the cheesy setups.

Spoilers below. Stop if you intend to watch GTO at some point.


Okay, so at a point in the show, two members of the class get in some trouble with a group of about 10 boys. One gets beaten to a pulp by a group of kids and another is almost raped. The teacher gets stabbed trying to save them. The perpetrators are, predictably, from a rich, elite private high school.

Somehow, the writers expect us to believe that an extremely incompetent police forensics unit combined with political pressure combined is enough to clear the rich kids.

I'm didn't attend a Japanese high school, but to an American who attended a school featured on a CNN special on gang violence back in the mid-90s, this seems odd.

If we knew someone who was about to go down for saving two of our friends from a beating and a rape, we wouldn't assemble quietly. Apologizing for using violence as a method? A bunch of private school kids that stabbed a single guy? We wouldn't send two kids to the private school for a stern word with the offender. There would just be two cars of kids with frequently used handguns exterminating everything within a 50 meter radius of the guy. The only thing that would stop them is either a massive wall of tear gas or a hail of return fire.

It's not like that happens frequently by any means, but seriously. I do occasionally meet people who are familiar with the area do a double take when I tell them where I'm from. It's like they don't believe that I haven't killed anyone. Never been arrested either... but most of my cousins have and a few of my friends. I did evade the 5-0 once, but it was an unusual situation. I will elaborate someday as a party anecdote.

However, the writers of GTO are asking for an extreme suspension of disbelief to ask for a land where everyone's cool with attempted murder and rape. I'm sure that qualified as "really not cool" in most parts of the world. In my (former) part of the world, that's literally signing your death certificate.
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zilker's revenge and other things
last modified: Sunday, October 02, 2005 (1:06:17 PM CST)
i'm sick, and not like the skater kids

I've been coughing up the remains of 65,000 smelly, dirty hippies from the Austin City Limits music festival. The temperature was 105+ for three days, dust clouds created an impenetrable fog, and Liam Gallagher was barely sober enough to stand. I don't know what I got, but it's nasty. I'm slowly healing, but I don't seriously expect to live past 35 or so at this rate.

test pattern

There is literally nothing that I'm watching on a schedule. Honey and Clover got all weird and non-funny, in the same way that Karekano started taking itself too seriously.

I find myself particularly attracted to unusual and poignant set-piece sequences. Honey and Clover has a few of these, most of which involve either Mayama or Yamada. Clearly, the writer has a real affection for both Maison Ikkoku -- which is a default influence for just about any anime relationship drama -- and American slacker cinema (or HK 20-something flicks).

I found this book of anime posters in a used book store. One of the posters advertised Totoro and Grave of the Fireflies playing first-run on consecutive weeks. Imagine being one of the first audiences in the world to ever see both of those finished products in a span of two weeks. How unfair is that?

on mute

I've realized that some of the best anime art in the past 10 years is probably from Utena. I don't really like the show, but if you just look at some of the production stills and marketing assets for it... I mean, holy shit, that's some really wild visual design.

a question for doctors

If I keep slamming my fingers, forearms, fists, and such on my piano in the style of a pro wrestler, will I be at a greater risk for arthritis later in life? What about small bone fractures? How bad are those?

a memory from childhood

I need some ideas about a project I'm working on. What's your favorite childhood memory of something simple and tangible? Catch #1 is it has to be something that could be "reproduced" today, given enough effort -- effort best described as moving a mountain with a teaspoon. Catch #2 is that the reproduction can't be one-for-one. An example would be something like, oh, painting a mural that looks like the view from a childhood bedroom window.

computer no crashy

I finally found out that the MS Certified drivers for my onboard Marvell NIC have been crashing my compy. It wasn't the power supply, floppy drives, RAM, or anything else like that. I'm blaming this one on Xel. I hereby blame all future problems with any Wintel system on her. Finally, I get on with work without random lockups.

a loser by process of elimination

If you were dating someone and broke up, and a few months later you met their new significant other by chance and found out he/she was a total spaz, does this indicate the light in which this ex-person of yours saw you? You laugh, but it's true.

A side question: at what point does the average person give up on what they really wanted and just settle for what's in front of them? I don't know a single person who ended up with what they really wanted. Isn't there something inherantly sad about settling for a suitable alternative?

contacts take too damn long

Aside from the brilliant light show I get at night when I stick pieces of plastic in my eye, these just take too much effort. I can grab my glasses in about 5 seconds on my way out the door. I would have gotten the thick plastic frames, but I don't think I can pull of the indie pop thing without going on a shopping spree in an antique clothing store and being generally fake and full of myself.

I can handle being full of myself, but I can't really deal with pretending to be cool by wearing someone else's Goodwill shit.

i'll be the one to listen to your radio

I have some problems. If you've got the answers we could solve them.

Brain dump complete!
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My Generation of Asian-Americans Sucks.
last modified: Monday, June 06, 2005 (1:17:13 AM CST)
(Like my mini-essay on anime going into the toilet, this will likely become an actual polished piece someday.)

I don't know when this happened or who started it. Maybe it was the Joy Luck Club. Maybe we started noticing the token Asian girl included along with the other minorities in the Gap catalogs. All I know is that my generation of Asian-Americans are totally lame.

There is no science yet behind this opinion, only anecdote and personal experience.

The personal experience boils down into one simple observation. When I go out with my friends, the running gag is that were basically the only Asians at anything we try to do around town. Austin is a predominantly white and Hispanic town, but there is a sizable Asian population on the college campus. Austin City Limits? Were the only ones at the taping with 200+ people. Asian-American Film Festival? Were among the only Asians, especially from our age group, in the theater. Drinking at a place that serves something other than Bud Light and Lone Star. Yup, just us. It was funny for the first few years. Now Im just mad.

Where are all the Asians? Somwehere along the line, Asian-Americans held a secret meeting where they decided to embrace that most annoying aspects of the American Dream. The documentary for this would be horrifying. My entire generation is front-loaded with shallow, inane, and uninteresting individuals. Cheers, you became a doctor. Cheers, youre a consultant with some corporate ship of fools. So may I ask, what do you do in your spare time? You... watch TV? Anything else? You.... surf the Internet? When was the last time you created something interesting? Tell me, all this time paying for more education and more status and more furniture, did you ever stop and think about what you really wanted to do in life?

Some of us are pretty cool. You and I may never meet them due to the sheer amount of talentless, trained monkies standing in the way.

Take music for example. Middle-class Asian-American children are probably saddled with music lessons in anything from one to several instruments at a much higher percentage that the our counterparts from other cultures. But how many of those go on to careers in music that dont involve Chopin, Bach, or other people who have been dead for a century or more? Yeah, Im sure you can name a few. So can I. If you even bothered to bring that up as a counterargument, Im probably talking about you, so sit down.

Its a weird cross between the Asian sterotypes of yesteryear and the Asian reality of today. Were supposed to be the good minority. We dont rock the boat. To be a success, ironically, were supposed to not worry about what we want and be the doctor that our parents wanted us to be. Why? So we can help people? No, so they can brag to their other Asian friends. Embracing the arts is generally a failure. Doing what you want to do is generally a failure. Making lots of money is generally a success. Most of the time, youre even encouraged to do it at the expense of your peers if necessary.
I challenge any Asian-American between the age of 18 and 34 reading this:

What inspires you? Do you even know? Have you even bothered to spend a few years figuring it out? Who did you really want to be?
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shiny objects
last modified: Saturday, March 19, 2005 (2:54:09 AM CST)
I don't know if I'm figuring this out too early in life or too late, but learning things is quite rewarding. There's a certain power in being able to create something anywhere you go.

This leads to the shiny object problem. I just bought a digital piano. It was... costly. But I don't regret it because there was no way I can play seriously with my crappy spring-loaded Casio. Maybe I'll start taking requests for tips to pay for this monster. Anyone want to hear an quick and dirty arrangement of their favorite opening or ending song?

I've got so many interests/hobbies now that I don't watch TV or play video games anymore. I spend at least two hours a week on each of the following activities):

- Piano: above-average, but below-average for someone who took private lessons for 12+ years.
- Illustration: not sure how well. Illustration is for patient, big-picture people... two qualities I do not posess. I brute force things, filling up hundreds of pages with badly drawn heads, hands, and other objects. Need book suggestions for a formal education in perspective.
- Writing... ask me how this is going next year. I'm considering a project that may take 3-4 years to complete. That scares me, but it incorporates every last one of these hobbies.
- Music compostion: Bad. I make ridiculous, wrong-headed assumptions about modern orchestral composition. I need a few books or a college class. If anyone out there has any book suggestions, please let me know.
- Programming: clever, not smart. I've accepted that I will never be brilliant but that I can be resourceful. There's something warm and fuzzy about knowing that I'm typing this out on something made from nothing. Rubberslug's come a long way, but the "real" long-term plan is just getting started.
- Anime: The only time I spend quality time with someone else's creative work. Nothing has bored a hole into my skull for the last year. It's all pretty dry lately. I fear for the future.
- Cel collecting: I quietly buy a few things every now and then when I finish a job to reward myself. I window shop weekly. I should upload the dozen or so things I've bought over the past two years.

So if you add that up, it's maybe 20-25 hours a week of just... education. Well, back to the activity known as "programming".
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swimsuit model survives!
last modified: Tuesday, December 28, 2004 (6:01:03 PM CST)

Never again will I not have a clever answer to the question, "Why don't you watch TV?" I can point to this horrendous article that in itself is a reflection of everything that is wrong with rich, oblivious Western countries. It's not that I don't fully enjoy living in a rich, oblivious Western country -- because I like my air-conditioning, personal land ownership, and college football -- it's just that I wish rich, oblivious idiots weren't in charge of the media infrastructure. It makes the rest of us look like idiots.

Next on CNN: "12 Americans, 16 Britons, 3 Italians, 6 Germans, and a Whole Pantload of Brown People Lost in Natural Disaster"

As the ranking brown person on this website, I hereby give CNN and every other media outlet that does human interest stories on pandering, mindless, "famous" meatsacks the bejeweled middle finger.

And still, no one cares. I'm taking the first flight to Mars.
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seriously. i'm paying attention
last modified: Tuesday, November 02, 2004 (1:54:59 AM CST)
New product launch on Tuesday afternoon (today), so I'm a little high strung right now. I'm spending about 30 minutes a day on this site reading through things and putting out the really large fires. I will get to stuff. Really. Not kidding around.

I might attempt to find a way to parse out HTML from weblogs and accept anything that isn't a script tag. It's really script tags and table tags that seal the whole deal on allowing HTML on weblogs. It would be far easier to just demand that everyone use forum scripting tags, but people don't tend to pick up new things very quickly.

Comments page on weblogs requires log in. It shouldn't. Only posting should require login. My bad. It's on the list.
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issues, in order
last modified: Thursday, October 28, 2004 (12:05:42 AM CST)
Mostly, turning everything into c#. Then, programming universal caching behavior into everything so the only time the db is ever hit is when you change your gallery. Everything will be permalinked static HTML pages, much easier for search engines as well.

1) Fix weblogs. Make them working really well.
2) Sales. I know I keep saying this. I will do it. It is super top primary lucky bonus priority.
3) Picture pages.
4) More style elements for galleries. (not just 4 colors and a font).
5) Any of a number of backburner community projects, including editorials and a moderator-run column.
6) After everyone is distracted by new stuff, spend a long time figuring out a good way to port old galleries to new galleries.
7) Sell the site for a million dollars to foreign investors, retire.

BTW, I'm aware that there's a bug showing your links graphic where a weblog graphics is supposed to be. I'll fix this when I finish the weblog page. Hee hee.
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community features
last modified: Tuesday, October 12, 2004 (8:13:13 PM CST)
Hopefully, the plan for the weblogs is starting to make sense. We're hoping to tie together a "personal" picture gallery with a limited number of pictures (as suggested by the community) with the weblogs to give people something to do with their site when they don't necessarily have anything to upload.

Incidentally, if I haven't mentioned this previously, one of the sources for the editorials we've discussed previously quite possibly will be the weblogs. We'll have to see how that works out.

And finally, I do realize that the links banner is showing up on the weblog page. Sorry about that. I'll get around to fixing that sometime soon.

Work continues. Feel free to leave comments in the forum until I get weblog comments working.
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how is your admin spending his time?
last modified: Wednesday, September 22, 2004 (1:01:48 AM CST)
In order, I will a) finish blog module (editorials will be lifted from the best blogs), b) update links module, c) maybe finish "rs favorites", d) picture page, e) sales, f) integrate picture page with blogs, g) finish stand-alone desktop background downloader (it's very, very cool, def. my current favorite project... I just don't have time to finish it atm), h) work on porting old site to new system. This doesn't count any small stuff I do in between. I should be busy for a while.

Remember to keep sending me those bug reports. I can't promise I'll fix things immediately, but if I have it on file and I happen to be working on that part of the site, there's a good chance I'll detour to fix something.
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last modified: Wednesday, September 22, 2004 (12:00:00 AM CST)
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last modified: Wednesday, September 22, 2004 (12:00:00 AM CST)
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something new
last modified: Wednesday, September 22, 2004 (12:08:47 AM CST)

This is a test of the new weblog feature on this site. It's not quite done yet, but feel free to play around with it. I probably won't have to do any database wipes. (meaning erasing the entire weblog system and starting over)

In the interest of safety, don't scribble anything you really, really want to keep until I'm actually done.

By the way, both HTML and forum code work here. If you choose to syndicate your blog (cross-post to forum) then HTML will be turned off but forum code will remain.

bold underline italic big

Things I'm missing:

* Option to cross-post to main forum
* Option to take comments for each blog entry, also cross-postable to main forum
* Better formatting options (that's for the galleries in general though).
* Permanent links for search engines (applies to whole gallery engine as well).

What did I miss? Let me know by clicking here -->

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Curator: noisywalrus
Gallery Created: 8/6/2001
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