Did you know 495 is 99×5? It's really obvious with a moment's thought. I recently chose not to put in that moment's thought, and then I felt silly. (Its prime factorization is 32×11×5.)
- I just discovered that the thing Mugai in "Joujuu Senjin!! Mushibugyo" says several times in both the anime and the manga—太秦は神とも神と聞こえくる 常世の神を 打ち懲ますも/Uzumasa wa kamitomo kami to kikoekuru, tokoyo no kami wo uchikitamasumo/Uzumasa is famed as a god among gods, for he slew an eternal god—is from the Nihon Shoki.
The "eternal god" in question is the Eternal Worm (常世虫), a strange worm-cult that seems to have been put down by Hata Uzumasa-no-kimi Sukune, first head of the Hata clan (Chinese immigrants who brought silk-worms to Japan). The Eternal Worm is the main villain at least of the Mushibugyo anime (the manga isn't translated that far).
Imagine if America had TV shows with huge swaths of the plot based on the Venerable Bede, with characters quoting passages from his writing during fights. Japan...is there a definition of "Crazy Awesome" you haven't made it your goal in life to act out?
- Ironically, in a Cracked article about things being attributed to the wrong countries, the crackbabies—four of them!—said the Maya worshiped Huitzilopochtli. Not only is that true of exactly zero Mayan peoples ("Huitzilopochtli" is Nahuatl, not a Mayan language, for either "Left Hand to the South" or "Hummingbird on the Left Side"), not even all Aztecs (or rather, Mexica) worshiped him. He was specifically the tribal tutelary of the Tenochca, who elevated their patron god to the spot in the pantheon originally belonging to Nanahuatzin.
The Tenochca are the people you think of when we say "Aztec", the ones with the terror-state and the mass-scale human sacrifice. The other major Mexica alliance, the Tlaxcaltecah, had human sacrifice, but on a much smaller scale. Where the Tenochca had a "triple alliance" whose "three" power-centers were actually one capital (Tenochtitlan) and its de facto vassals (Texcoco and Tlacopan), Tlaxcala's four centers (Ocotelolco, Quiahuiztlan, Tepeticpac, and Tizatlan) all actually did share power in their confederacy.
- Apparently some Buddhists, or Westerners who self-identify as Buddhists, object to characterizing Buddhist non-duality as a form of Monism. But...nothing Buddhists say about non-duality is notably different from what Neoplatonists say about the Source (which is, of course, the One, Τὸ Ἕν, the Monad). Indeed, the same things are pretty much said about God by some Christians. Essentially, those Buddhists' objection is like those very simple, sheltered Christians one sometimes gets, who absolutely lose it when they discover parallels between Christianity and pagan thought (Christianity is a heathen religion, from the Buddhist point of view).
The fact of the matter is that everybody inhabits the same cosmos, and there are only a limited number of ways to think about it. Especially when your ideas share a pedigree with the other ideas in question. Buddhism, an Indian school of thought, has a hell of a lot of background in common with Greek thought even if we assume Alexander the Great and Hellenism had no influence on it, and they did. Buddhism is the idea that the Problem of Universals is resolved by positing that the Universals are an illusion born of transitory epiphenomena—some of which are "awareness" of various kinds—attempting to impose order on the the underlying formlessness of πάντα ῥεῖ ("everything flows").
It's different from Neoplatonism in its Heraclitean nominalist-atomism, and in that atomism being closely bound up with metempsychosis (which Indian philosophy tends to assume as a given)...and in pretty much nothing else.
- If you needed yet another reason to loathe and despise Mass Effect, how about that its FTL communicators are called "quantum entanglement communicators"? And the number of idiots, e.g. at Cracked and Kotaku, who think that you actually could get that? They all got it from Mass Effect, demonstrably, since if (like Xenosaga) they'd come by the error honestly, they would probably have said something about the EPR paradox and "spooky action at a distance", but no, only "quantum entanglement". Because they mistook Mass Effect for a science text.
I realize that a major component of my being more forgiving in Xenosaga's case is that I simply like Xenosaga better, but a part of why I like Xenosaga more is that it doesn't posture as other than what it is (which is a JRPG where the collective unconscious is used as a warp drive). Mass Effect is basically Dragon Age in space, with all that that implies, only it gets treated as something more than "space opera bordering on science-fantasy" (which is what Xenosaga is, too).
- My younger sister had an interesting point about Ender's Game, namely that knowing "the point is to seize the objective, not kill all the enemy" does not make you a genius, it makes everyone else a moron. Ender is perpetually triumphing over pathetic strawmen, some of them ethnic stereotypes that were dead when the book was written, let alone when it's set ("Spanish honor", in a book written a decade after Franco died). Because, again, Ender's Game is just a Mary Sue self-insert fic vindication fantasy.
At the time of these remarks, though, I'd just been binging on the Baka Test novels. And it occurred to me, when Yuuji is described as a strategist, that's because he does things like deliberately tank his grades to lure another class into attacking, then ramp his score up just before the fight, and single-handedly wipes out their assault team. You know, actual strategies. I would say that Card was more concerned with other aspects of the story than coming up with real strategies to demonstrate Ender's genius (despite Ender's genius being what the book's about), but what other aspects? The aliens that behave exactly like Hymenoptera and even have DNA? The politics we're told next to nothing of?
The only thing that shows a lick of work being put into it is the elaborate moral rationalizations—like a computer programmer who put the most work into a piece of code that turned out to be a bug.
- I just saw the anime of Katanagatari. It is terrible, but you won't know that till ten episodes in—and it's a 12-episode show—so I will tell you how it's terrible so you don't waste your time. The cursed swords they're after are not cursed, they're all made with technology stolen from the future by Shikizaki Kiki's clan of fortune-tellers. Then nearly everybody dies very stupidly, pretty much just because coming up with satisfying endings is hard, and light novels are the absolute bottom of the barrel in terms of Japanese fiction. (Also because the kind of pseudo-intellectual Jakigan-kei who is the target audience of all too many fantasy light novels is, like his American cousin, still in a stage of "impacted adolescence" where plots that deliberately don't satisfy seem "honest" and "mature".)
I also really, really hate Shichika's sister, she's a Villain Sue. But she gave me a very interesting idea for a scene. First you set up a "I can copy your moves by seeing them once or twice" character like her, by having them kill a bunch of sympathetic Red Shirts. Then you bring in another person (the real antagonist of the plot), probably along the lines of Kuroudo Akabane from GetBackers—or Xelloss. The move-copier starts to basically say, "It's useless, I can copy any technique I see", etc....but falls silent halfway through, as their body falls one way and their head another—and then the real antagonist clicks his sword back into its sheath. "That sounded like a cool ability," he says cheerfully, and then nods to the corpse before stepping over it and continuing on his way.
- It seems to be especially prevalent in anime, but why does anyone treat "Tepes" as a surname for vampires? Leaving to one side the "no connection except an Irish guy naming one after him 400 years later" issue, "Tepes" (the first and last letters should have commas under them) is not a surname. It is an epithet; Vlad's surname was Basarab. Romanian history refers to noblemen by epithets; aside from "Vlad of the Stakes" you have "Mihai the Brave" (Mihai Viteazul) and "Radu the Great" (Radu cel Mare) and "Vlad the Monk" (Vlad Călugărul)...all of whom were surnamed "Basarab", it was a big clan, hence the epithets.
But since it shows up in anime so much, I kinda want to ask the people who do it, what if a Romanian thought Dokuganryû ("One-Eyed Dragon") or Dairokutenmaô ("Devil King of the Sixth Heaven") or Oni no Fukuchou("Ogre Vice-Head") was a heritable surname? (Of course, they might counter that Katakura Kagetsuna's nickname of "Kojûrô" was passed down in the Katakura family, but the point still stands.)
- The question, which I am sure has plagued your sleepless nights, "What Indo-European languages, other than Welsh, have the voiceless (alveolar) lateral fricative?", has an answer. That answer is, "One Tuscan dialect spoken in northern Sardinia—'Sassarese'—and three Scandinavian languages—Faroese, Icelandic, and the 'Trønder dialect' of Norwegian."
Another question that doubtless keeps you from deep healing sleep is "What are two uvular consonants in the last places I expected to find them (you expect to find them among Semitic languages, what with q and all)?" And it, too, has answers (actually it has a bunch, but past a certain point it's not actually "I didn't expect that" but "I expected nothing"). The R in most dialects of French and German is a uvular fricative (sometimes it's a trill), and the "syllable-final" (actually moraic) N in Japanese is actually a uvular nasal.