Commentary 5

Random thoughts.
  • The manga-reader sites I use have been claiming a lot of series they used to host are now licensed, necessitating the removal of the series. Only, I keep checking, and none of those series are licensed. So one of two things is going on. Either some company is going around licensing a bunch of manga without definite plans to actually sell them—which is stupid, doing that with anime is how ADV went out of business—or they're using "it's licensed, sorry" to mean "someone made us take it down", even if the someone isn't actually the licensee.

    For the last few years, a lot of scanlation groups have been bitching about manga-reader sites. Now, on the one hand, they do need traffic to sell ads and keep their sites going (although Gabe and Tycho among others eliminated the stigma on begging for donations), but it's ridiculous to expect people to go and look through every scanlator's site when they want to read a series. Even more ridiculous to expect people to download scans—I share a computer with my 15-year-old brother, I ain't leaving scans of some of the more horrifying (or filthy) seinen series I follow lying around. (Or, for that matter, some of the girlier shojo series.)

    But I can't shake the suspicion some of those scanlation groups got together to bully the manga-reader sites to stop hosting the series they scanlate. Is it amusing to anyone else that a blatantly gray-market enterprise should have such a well-developed sense of "ownership"?
  • What's with people not understanding jack about fiction? I mean, someone at TV Tropes thinks Special A is about how women should never try to compete with men—rather than (as is rather blatantly obvious) simply being about one hyper-competitive psycho girl, and the one dude she can never beat. Competition doesn't even exist between any of the other characters; if "girls shouldn't try to compete with boys" were a theme, you would expect there to be more than one competition between a girl and a boy.

    On a right-wing site, similarly, someone said MLP:FIM is trying to erode gender distinctions. I hope to God they were being sarcastic, because if Friendship Is Magic is trying to erode gender distinctions, it's doing a piss-poor job of it. Aside from how all six mains are almost wastefully girly, the two major male presences (not counting Spike) are the chief of their god-queen's guards, and a burly farmhand whose only lines are either homespun wisdom or the single word "Ee-yup." Are the gender-roles maybe different on that writer's home planet?
  • An idea I thought I'd use in my D&D setting, since I haven't seen it in any fantasy ever, is Emergence. That is, the concept found in Hopi and Navajo mythology, and in a modified form in Aztec mythology, wherein everything once lived in a previous world, but (for various reasons) was driven out, and into this one. For one thing, it gives an interesting alternative to the standard D&D cosmology if, e.g., "Outsiders" are inhabitants of previous worlds, rather than of other "planes" (remember that returning back through the Emergence Hole is the same thing as death, and the souls of dead D&D characters go to the Outer Planes).

    Another idea, since I tend to like Eldritch Abominations in my fantasy (though more in a Robert Howard/Fritz Leiber manner than a Lovecraft one), is to have all the nonhuman races be themselves somewhat eldritch abomination-y. I admit I'm not the first to do that; the elves in Übel Blatt, for instance, are reminiscent of the Plants from Trigun, with bunches of stunted wings growing from their bodies. My elves get like that (Plant-y, I mean) whenever they use certain spells and powers, except with leaves growing out of them rather than wings and feathers—elf druids also shapechange into treants, not elementals. Dwarves get stony and/or burst into flames, and their druids (yes, my dwarves have druids) can become earth or fire elementals, but not air or water.
  • On the "people are idiots" front, one of those "oh hurray let's privatize space, never mind that means we'll never get to use grownup rockets" idiots claimed the Russians never could understand why we bothered with Space Shuttles.

    Really? Then why did they build one, the Buran? They also built the world's biggest cargo plane to move the thing around with. They were at the unmanned test-flights stage when the Soviet Union collapsed, and took their funding with it.
  • And speaking of, how many people chanting their blind fetishism about privatizing space would want Virgin CEO Richard Branson to have the bomb? The only currently feasible method of getting fusion for a rocket is, well, the same place we get all our fusion—hydrogen bombs. Project Orion, remember?

    Virgin Galactic is a branch of a company best known for its involvement in the RIAA, and, well, stuff like this, where they sued a band on their label for 30 million despite gypping them on royalties. Ironically, the band's name is 30 Seconds to Mars.
  • People—generally libertarians and anarchists, which are different because of the spelling—claim that the state has a monopoly on force. Only, there is no defensible theory of the state that has ever claimed that. At least not in the West; Confucianism does claim something close, although even they consider the state's use of force to be a macrocosm of the individual's use thereof. No, what all Christian theories of the state, and all Social Contract theorists, and...then I come to the end of the list of "defensible theories of the state"...say, rather, is that the individual has a right to self-defense, and the state's use of force only even exists because having the state do at least part of the protecting frees your hands to do your day-job.

    Now, the defensible theories of the state do claim the state has a monopoly on vengeance—that is, the use of force in a punitive rather than a defensive context. Mainly so society doesn't devolve into a never-ending storm of blood-feuds, we actually have tried the alternative, thank you. It may not always be wrong to take justice into your own hands, but if you do, you're pretty much denying there's any actual "state" in play—hence why vigilantism is also called "frontier justice". Hence also why the state cracks down pretty harshly on vigilantes; institutions don't like people to go around claiming they don't exist or aren't legitimate, try it on your boss RE: the company you both work for if you don't believe me.
  • Speaking of how paying the state to protect you frees up your hands, Heinlein was, to a degree, right, that specialization is for insects, but division of labor is for anatomically modern humans. People who won't divide their labor are Neanderthals. Like, literally, dividing labor between the sexes is a major difference between them and anatomically modern humans. Also you will note that Neanderthals are a matter of prehistory, and "anatomically modern humans" are, well, around now, hence the name.

    Remember, people who dislike there being distinct sex-roles are the ones acting like Neanderthals. As are people who think we should change our bodies rather than just our tools. They tend to think of themselves as progressive, but the nomenclature is no more valid than "People's Democratic Republic".
  • I recently read the single best Zombie Apocalypse story ever written. Namely, Green Lantern: Blackest Night. Did you know there's a doomsday prophecy contained in the Green Lantern Oath?

    I'm a bit disappointed in the GL animated series, incidentally. Atrocitus has a lot more to say for himself than that series lets him—he's just as concerned with justice as the Guardians are, he just tends to think "death by acid-lava" is a perfectly good sentence for any crime more severe than jaywalking. Also? He let a cat into his Corps. An angry, angry kitty.

    Nevertheless, rather than letting hacks like Nolan or whoever wrote the GL movie do it, why doesn't DC have Paul Dini do a movie for them? Are they that afraid of giant piles of money?
  • You know how people always say English has such a huge vocabulary? I've harped on this before, since Latin has a single word for "big toe" and a prefix for "one and a half of anything". But I recently noticed another example.

    Japanese. You like monster movies? Yeah, well, which kind? Japanese can distinguish three types. An o-bake is a monster from their legends (in folklore, it's restricted to those monsters that originated as animals or objects in which spiritual power accumulated, e.g. tsukkumogami or bakeneko). A kaibutsu is a Universal/Hammer Films type monster. And a kaijû is something like Godzilla.

    Incidentally, the jû in kaijû and the butsu in kaibutsu both mean animal (a raijû is the pet of the lightning god that Pikachu evolves into, a dôbutsuen is a zoo), but with different connotations.

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