Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Spring 2012 Anime and More


Just when I had given up on anything interesting showing up in the genre, the current crop of shows have been a welcome change. While it is too early to declare anything to be a classic, entertainment is to be found for all age groups. What follows is some short thoughts on the better shows, all of which are available on legal streaming services:

Space Brothers (found here)

A rarity in current anime, a story starring adults feauturing adult life, Space Brothers follows two brothers in their quests to become astronauts. Actually, it is only one brother’s quest, since his younger brother already has made it. Set in the near future of the 2020’s, the struggles and doubts of the main character, Mutta, are easily related to by adults dealing with hard economic times. Set to run 48 episodes, it has a breezy, laid back charm that is given additional warmth by flashbacks of the brothers growing up together.

Recommended to adults, those struggling in life, and lovers of serious science fiction/space exploration.

Monday, May 28, 2012

In Memoriam

Here in the United States, it is Memorial Day. This holiday was set aside to honor those who fell in service to their country, thereby making the ultimate sacrifice for the freedom of their fellow countrymen. So please stop to think about what you have and enjoy, then about the people who have died to make that possible.

I am grateful to the fallen understand that freedom is purchased at a very high cost. Sadly, too few appreciate this today, if the ceremonies locally are any indication. While a local auditorium was packed, the average age of the attendees had to be in their sixties or higher.

So if you are treating this as just an extra day to the weekend, I implore you to stop and think on why the holiday was established.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Finding Brett Kimberlin

Today is a day about defending freedom of speech and exposing a man who will go to any lengths to suppress information about what he has done, including threatening people. That man’s name is Brett Kimberlin and I do not expect you to take my word on it. Instead, I will give you links to search engines for you to explore for yourself:




Check them out and come to your own conclusions about who Brett Kimberlin is and why this is important.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Blogger Flees Home Due to Left Wing Activist’s Threats

That is a pretty sensational headline and sounds inflammatory, doesn’t it? It also happens to be true. Beyond the idea of having to go on the run for your own safety reflecting the decay of America, this is a fascinating story of how a convicted terrorist and conman became influential in the Democratic Party. His nonprofit (for whom, I ask) has been heavily funded by some big name leftists such as the Tides Foundation, the Heinz Family, and Barbara Streisand.

I suggest people read up on Brett Kimberlin and ponder just how dysfunctional our society has become when people like him are allowed out of jail and into positions of influence. There has been a call to blog about him on Friday, but I felt the need to jump the gun in this case.

And people wonder why firearms sales are up.


The story gets worse as another blogger reveals how he has been harassed by Kimberlin and his cronies, including having an armed SWAT team sent to his house by placing a fake murder call to 911.

Basically everyone who posts about this thug are risking their livelihoods, if not their lives. While I am not even a small fry and will not be noticed, it does not matter. Unlike others, I really have nothing to lose, so I really appreciate what the bigger bloggers are doing by tackling Kimberlin.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Kimi ni Todoke Ep. 3: After School

Sawako’s fledgling efforts at making friends begin to pay off, while Kazehaya attempts to get closer to her. It is an uphill battle, but he has a secret weapon in reserve. Everything seems to be going well in this beautiful episode…

Kimi ni Todoke Title 1Kimi ni Todoke 03 Title

I am not a lover (or even a liker) of chick flicks, but I find myself utterly smitten with this lovely story. Slow moving and heartfelt, there is  purity to it that has sadly gone missing from our modern world. It does not hurt that I went through most of school being the outsider and turned from an extrovert to an introvert for a good chunk of years. I can remember that slow coming out of the shell even decades later.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Health 5-21-2012

That was not a fun week to get through. Sinusitis, headaches, bouts of nausea, sneezing fits, and chills ebbed and flowed across the days. At first I thought it was allergies causing fits, but then remembered that they never make me nauseous. Multiple naps a day meant that I spent a lot of time in bed. It is hard to tell if it was a virus or if it was CFS reacting to my increased walking and other light exercise.

Since my life is one never ending cycle of frustration, you would think I would be used to this by now. At least I feel a little more energetic (relatively speaking) today and need to spray the gigantic weeds that have popped up over the past couple of weeks.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Area 88 Ep. 3: Viewfinder in the Blue Sky

A hunt for treasure inflames the greed of the mercenary pilots, yet that only serves as a backdrop  for the main story. With Makoto’s stalking of him getting to Shin, he decides to take action to find out why he is a target. But a close call rattles the young Japanese pilot as the mystery around him deepens.

Area 88 Main TitleArea 88 03 Title

It is time to get back to writing reviews to sharpen my skills of observation and writing. At this point in the series, the base and the desert are almost becoming characters unto themselves, lurking constantly in the background and adding atmosphere to all the proceedings. That was my thought after watching the opening to this tense episode. Neither location is a comfortable one and if there is one word to describe the mood evoked by this installment it would have to be the word uneasy.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Mormon Patriotism and Washington D.C.

CNN’s Belief blog has a very well written article on Latter-day Saints in the nation’s capitol worth checking out. I can say from personal experience that the leadership principles taught in the Church were of great help in political organizing in many ways, but especially on running meetings where the delicate task of balancing focus and creativity is a priority.

This quote from the article addresses something I have been pondering about current politics with its “interesting only when winning” attitude I see in so many people:

Young Mormons also hone leadership skills by serving missions away from home. The missions last from one and half to two years and happen when Mormons are in their late teens and early 20s and often include intensive foreign language training.

Chaffetz, whose son is serving a mission in Ghana, says the experience is the perfect preparation for political careers.

“They learn rejection early on,” he says. “If you’re going to be in politics, that’s a pretty good attribute.”

I would say that also helps in a lot of situations in life, not merely the political. My older friends remark on how bad the younger coworkers are in dealing with people and it usually boils down to their being unable to handle opposing viewpoints. That is a pity, for having your beliefs challenged is the best way to find out what they actually are.

One thing I would like to note is that the Washington D.C. Temple was the closest one to members in this area until the Chicago Temple was built. It served the entire country east of the Mississippi when it opened, so it was very important in Church growth. Now we have one in St. Paul so the traveling is a lot easier, thankfully.

Anyway, read the article.

Friday, May 11, 2012

High and Low Technology

To start with, I do not have enough money to be a true gadget freak or enthusiast. That said, I love clever devices whether they be complicated or simple. So it was an interesting day when my latest box from Amazon arrived this afternoon. Contained within were two devices, one a sophisticated work of silicone and metal, the other harkening to simpler days despite being electrically powered.

Having succeeded in reviving my video card from failing this winter, it was with great disappointment (and financial pain) that I realized the fix was not going to work in the long run. For the past several weeks, the card has been running hotter and hotter with the occasional glitch. Time was clearly running out for the old beast, which had given very good service. Since I have a smallish case, a top of the line replacement was out of the question – and out of reach of my bank account.

After checking around for the best bang for the buck that would actually fit in my case, I settled on a Gigabyte AMD Radeon HD7750 that is factory overclocked. From my studies, it would be more of a horizontal upgrade (according to some benchmarks) with hopes that it would actually perform a bit better. Best of all is the fact that it consumes far less electricity and runs much cooler. Heat is the enemy of electronics and I liked the idea of having the entire PC run cooler.

So far the new video card is doing just that. Throwing my best games at it resulted in maximum temperatures that are twelve degrees Celsius less than what the old one idled at. The massive fan also is dramatically quieter for an added bonus. Fancier video decoding, deinterlacing, and scaling have impressed and eventually I will get a second one for the media center in the living room.

The other item in the box was a rice cooker that doubles as a vegetable steamer. Since I only used it to steam asparagus tonight, I will not go into detail on the little appliance other than to say it is highly reviewed. That and I cannot remember the name of the company that makes it at the moment.

It will be used heavily if things go according to plan, for making rice a regular staple is on my agenda of improving my diet. Steaming veggies is also part of the goal and it did a good job on the first experiment. So while writing more about the high tech item, it is this simple device that I am the most excited about.

I must be getting old.

Tuesday, May 08, 2012

The Avengers (2012) in Theater Review

After multiple solo films, Marvel’s heroes band together for a cinematic spectacle that may be the best superhero movie made so far and one of the best action films ever put on screen. UPDATED for 3D.

Yeah, that basically says it all. Go see it.

What, you want more than that? Fine…

The cast is terrific (even Scarlett Johansson does a great job), the effects are convincing, the writing excellent, character moments and development everywhere, and that final action sequence puts other blockbusters to shame. With Loki as the main villain, the drama and psychological battles equal any of the physical combat. This added much to the film and made me look forward to every scene he was in. Not since The Dark Knight has there been as fascinating a bad guy to watch.

If there was one awkward thing about the film, it would be the way it starts. The structure feels like the first act was skipped and we are dropped into the second act already in progress. In a sense the previous solo movies are collectively the first act, so it was slightly disorienting until I figured that out.

Every character gets good development and the interactions between the disparate personalities is played to entertaining effect. Stark and Banner’s “bromance”  is a highlight, with Stark and Loki’s back and forth a close second. Captain America gets some terrific lines as the elder of the group trying to adjust to the modern world, while Thor radiates guilt and frustration at not properly protecting the planet he has grown fond of. Meanwhile, the “normal” humans, Hawkeye and the Black Widow, have some very good moments dealing with personal loyalty and adjusting to the escalating weirdness around them.

The special effects deserve a comment or two. Not once did they pull me out of immersion in suspension of disbelief. Given how big and spectacular the set pieces were, this surprised me a great deal. WETA did a fantastic job.

Various themes are interwoven throughout the story, with freedom being the biggest one. Redemption, control, trust, narcissism, and self sacrifice are just some of them in this densely packed movie.

Expect to be highly entertained and left wanting more.

I need to see this film again and soon – this time in 3D.


Well, the 3D did not disappoint like it usually does for me. Instead, I was highly impressed by the organic feel of the effects and felt it leant a lot to the movie. In fact, the 3D version was better to my surprise. Check out any sequence involving the Tesseract (still the Cosmic Cube to me) to be very impressed. The Stark tech holograms looked fantastic and made me want to see a 3D redo of Iron Man.

Also, I now have to say this is the best super hero movie so far. The Dark Knight is a more brilliant movie and true art, but part of its success is that it was a better James Bond movie than any since Sean Connery’s era. Which is to say it was not a comic book come to life on the big screen in the way The Avengers is.

Health 5-8-2012

I thought I should record that after much careful stretching and alteration to sleeping positions, the new back problem has settled down to a dull ache. Of all things, it was watching my cats stretch that clued me in on how to do it properly.

Other than that, nothing much to report other than I will continue to tinker with my diet to improve things. A rice cooker has been ordered and I will be making that a mainstay in my eating. Also, I will start NADH (aka Enada) again next month after making enough room in my budget to afford it. It helped a great deal with CFS related cognition problems and I hated giving it up due to expense years ago.

Monday, May 07, 2012

Sears Roebuck and the Blues

Just a short post to link to a fascinating (but all too short) article on the birth of the Blues and its connection to the old Sears catalogs. Since my father worked at Sears as a repairman for twenty years, I tend to notice anything written about the company. I would like to see this expanded into something bigger, for the article only just scratches the surface of how cheap products from Sears mail order enabled some famous musicians to get started.

Friday, May 04, 2012

Let’s Twist Again

To all those who are so insulated by wealth and luck, it will come as a shock when things do fall completely apart economically. Part of being insulated from reality requires having limited and/or censored information to look at that reinforces willful ignorance. Watching how the media distorts and outright lie on many things has been rudely educational for me.

So when when the employment participation rate plummets to its lowest level since Reagan took over from Carter’s disastrous presidency, I was not surprised to see attempts to twist things into a rosier picture:

Still, the report was not all negative. The government revised upward its earlier estimates for payroll growth in February and March by a combined 53,000.

That was the best they could do, given the grim numbers, but hey, they tried. The emphasis on the unemployment rate has been deceptive because it is artificially lowered by not counting those who have given up on finding a job.

Sadly, I cannot exclusively blame a dishonest government and a dishonest media alone. With most people being intellectually lazy in the States, they do not bother with digging for information themselves. Heck, we are lucky if the masses even pay attention to superficial sound bites on serious issues. The excuse I always hear is that “nobody has time to.” Yet they have time to watch Dancing with the Stars or other things of little import. Entertainment is the priority now, which is another twisted thing in my opinion.

Facts and statistics are twisted in every possible way these days and I suspect the horror of fully realizing how bad it is may be too much for people to confront. But you cannot hide from reality forever for it will confront you eventually.

And people wonder why I put faith in God above that of the efforts of man…