Emi's enthusiasm went a long way in helping me write not only my early visual novels, but my traditional novels as well. Even with her issues, she's a good kid. (too bad I had Aris kill her father in a fanfic)
More to the point: thank you, BM, for all your posts this past year; we've all seen high and low points, but - paraphrasing a character of mine - "I'd like to see them with my friends." And, thanks to you, we did, friend.
Let's all meet at a maid café in Akihabara in 2016!
Even Those On The Side Of The Angels
who take too many shortcuts in pursuit of their goals often end up in a different place than they intended serving different ends than they hoped and may find that they have merely replaced the monsters they sought to vanquish.
First, the thing about the hard left is that while they will form a circle and defend themselves from outside attacks no matter the truth of them, they will form a circular firing squad if they see dissent within the ranks. If you can prod them in the right direction, the fireworks can be spectacular.
That's why they haven't ever managed to completely take over; they are all too ready to eat their own.
Second, those dates for the rise and fall of empires are, basically, garbage. The Roman Entity lasted from 509 BC (the founding of the Republic) to 1453 AD (the last days of the Byzantine Empire). That's nearly two thousand years. Things were rather a mess after the Fourth Crusade in 1204, but even if we discount the Byzantine successor states and the re-establishment (and entirely ignoring the Holy Roman Empire and modern Italy) that's still 1700 years, not ~200.
For Greece he's only chosen the Hellenistic period, ignoring both the Classical and Roman periods (which three periods were culturally a single continuous civilization) and the whole Byzantine period, as well as the earlier Mycenaean and Minoan cultures (fair enough in that case; they essentially disappeared in the Bronze Age Collapse), and also the Archaic period, which presaged Classical Greece, and was a not inconsiderable, if rather loosely-organised, state. The Archaic period ended with the Persian invasion - but the Greeks won that war, so that's hardly a reason to ignore it.
For Britain, he chooses the dates of 1700 to 1950. But while the Acts of Union were passed in 1707, the kingdoms were united under a common monarch since 1603, and a unified England goes back to 1042 - albeit with one or two (or three) hiccups over the centuries. Picking the dates for the rise and fall of Britain and ignoring both Elizabeths seems problematic.
I'm no expert on the Ottoman Empire, but given that it was one of the Central Powers in WWI, while it was certainly in decline by then (and had been for quite some time) I think an expiration date of 1570 is stretching the truth a little.
I think the predictive power of his model is limited at best.
Posted by: Pixy Misa at Sun Jan 3 09:49:09 2016 (PiXy!)
I've been arguing with a Bernie Sanders supporter for four days. It really brings home how a person with no grounding in civics, physics, or logic would vote. Not that I'm saying all Bernie supporters are like that. I'm sure some of him actually like his record, or maybe just look at the rest of the field and say "what the hell." But this is a kool-aid drinker. This guy is one of the ones who thought Obama was Jesus, and now thinks it may actually be Bernie.
It's an incredibly superficial discussion compared to the content of this blog post, which was fascinating and thoughtful.
Oh, and I was going to post something similar to what Pixy did, although I think the discussion of when one would say Britain became truly representative in nature is debatable. Interesting and worth the discussion, of course.
Pixy, you are in Australia. You're looking at the chart upside down.
The chart and some made from it has been cropping up lately (usually unattributed) and has been referenced occasionally with the chants of "DOOM!" and "Lets cast aside the rules and go down fighting".
I think the possibility of a general collapse is greater than many suppose and more worrisome since the sort of enlightenment we grew out of is rare. However I specifically wanted to use the pre-and post Rubicon Rome (and the omission of Venice) to debunk the notion that the 200-250 year lifespan is inevitable.
On the other hand, all your points are valid Pixy. These are all specific political arraignments more akin to nation states than civilization itself. I swear I had one or two sentences in there quibbling with Spain (which was bankrupt and virtually a spent force after the Armada but did not loose meaningful territory until the 1800s) and the UK, for which we probably should start the clock after the Fall of Cromwell though I've heard other places refer to "About 1700" for the start of the Empire...and I'd really draw the curtain just a bit later (at the Suez Crisis) for the point where keeping it up truly became impossible.
The point you make regarding Eastern Rome is well taken and a lot of people agree with it. Although Byzantium was a distinct entity it was arguably only a bit more so than the Republic/Empire divide for Rome. On the other hand, as I point out, Rome reinvented itself and was certainly Rome before and after the Rubicon.
With the exception of the Western Roman Empire none of those ended with the sort of calamitous dark age we associate with civilizational collapse (and even the chaos of the post Roman period is overblown) so civilizational collapse does not mean to him what it does to most people.
The Mamelukes he mentions (as opposed to three other Mamelukes) were a sort of predecessor to the Ottomans trying to rebuild the Caliphate and based in Cairo...they were succeeded by what we call the Ottomans, though that is a western term and it refers to several dynasties. They were kind of like Spain in that they pretty much were a zombie empire after a debt crisis and military reversal, though I'd put the date at or around the siege of Vienna for their decline.
Persia should not be on the list at all.
Sir Glub makes some good points, but that chart, while probably intended to be a conversation starter is counterproductive. Using the criteria he does you could (with a few exceptions like the Yuan) be talking about Chinese dynasties but that wouldn't fit neatly into the time span Glub has chosen. On the other hand, using numbers that are not very close to the current age of the U.S.A. ie: 100-300 years would involve a TL;DR of a list.
No nation lasts forever but predestination is not a meaningful influence upon history unless a citizenry chooses to believe in it and give up.
China is a good counter-example - dynasties changed, but there's been a recognisable Chinese political entity for 4000 years. Egypt is another counter example - 2800 years of self-rule across 31 dynasties (with a couple of Persian incursions and a mild case of Sea Peoples), and nearly 1000 years of Greco-Roman rule.
France in the late 18th and 19th centuries is an example in the other direction - the government was overthrown from without or within 9 to 12 times (depending on what you count) but at the end of it all, it was still France.
The Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, though.... 226 years.
Posted by: Pixy Misa at Sun Jan 3 18:28:47 2016 (PiXy!)
Anyway, I'd argue that Western civilisation is a single entity; and it's been continuously flourishing at least since 1543 despite the best efforts of various categories of barbarian along the way.
Posted by: Pixy Misa at Sun Jan 3 18:39:19 2016 (PiXy!)
Although Russia cannot hold a handle to China in this regard, it existed as a nation since 988 A.D. or so, and continues to exist today. Although the Romanov dynasty only lasted for 234 years, the preceding dynasty, Ryuriks, lasted for 736 years (through the Mongol occupation, natch), and the Communist rule lasted for 74 years. So there is quite a range of numbers to pick.
That's only really true if you're taking the Duchy of Moscow to be "Russia". Russia in that era was like Germany, a lot of independent city-states who spoke the same language.
A lot of those city-states were annihilated by the Mongols and that left a power vacuum which the Duchy of Moscow capitalized (heh) on, but modern Russia as we know it doesn't go back that far AFAIK. I'd put the start at Peter the Great, myself.
Yep, which goes back to how arbitrary it becomes. Except in cases like the fall of Rome or the Bronze Age Collapse, you have a lot of leeway about where you draw your lines, and your conclusions are only as good as your justifications for those lines.
Posted by: Pixy Misa at Wed Jan 6 05:52:21 2016 (PiXy!)
Jaques Barzun explicitly argued in From Dawn to Decadence that European or "Western" culture terminated with the long world war, and that we're in the early stages of a post-Western cultural moment. That's a very Eurocentric point of view - he clearly didn't consider Americans to be part of "Western civilization" - but that list of "civilizations" or even "nations" is pretty dubious. There was a Persia of some sort intermittently for two thousand years, a Rome of some sort for about as long, and Russia existed before the Romanovs and continued under communist bastards after the Romanovs were exterminated. Culture is upstream from politics and all that.
And Japan's been in cultural existence forever and aye - the Tokugawa were a regime, not the nation.
Posted by: Mitch H. at Thu Jan 7 16:01:36 2016 (jwKxK)
Excessive perhaps, but this seems like a more reasonable response than that of Akinobu Kimura, a local dive shop owner (and apparently an epic badass) who jumped into the water and took the best pictures ever of a Giant Squid.
Someday, I will ruefully look back on this post and realize that this is the day I became "The Other".
This was a serviceable summer blockbuster and was a decent, if uneven J.J.Abrams flick. I say uneven in part because while the first hour or so was sublimely paced and and at times as tight as a Swiss watch, the last seven and a half hours seemed to drag a bit.
To be fair, this was a vastly better film than any of the prequels and I suspect that this alone accounts for some of the gushing over this movie. The film has some wonderful moments and introduced a genuinely interesting character,
Finn, who takes a terrifying leap when he abandons the only life he has ever known over a matter of conscience, and becomes a marked man in a world he is completely unfamiliar with. This fascinating character is all the more interesting because he is understandably fearful of the organization he is fleeing. His goal is not revenge so much as to hide, yet at every point he has a chance to escape Finn finds himself faced with some ethical dilemma that involves abandoning an innocent or escaping scott free...he always chooses the former. This eminently sympathetic individuals purpose in the film is to play inept sidekick to a Mary Sue.
Mary Sue starts out as a really neat character. A scavenger who has spent her life taking apart crashed star destroyers she is a brilliant mechanic and unknowingly strong in the force, which she believes to be a myth...until she's told that all the old legends are true, after which she is doing advanced Jedi mind tricks that have been established to require decades of training...or at least a week on Dagobah. I have no problem with the female lead bing super competent, but popping out god-like powers left and right with zero explanation is annoying. Most of her accomplishments could have been explained with a line or two (how she knew how to fly...and had not left her hell hole existence) but some were just laziness. For instance, the creators wanted her to free herself rather than be rescued. Fair enough. The solution they chose...(she develops mind control powers on the fly) was intensely unsatisfying. This was all the more annoying since a perfectly workable solution was hard wired into her origin story: THIS WOMAN HAD SPENT THE BULK OF HER LIFE TAKING APART STAR DESTROYERS it would have been an easy peasy line or two to reference that she knows about a maintenance panel accessing the door wiring in Imperial brigs that she can disassemble with a hairpin. But no...she gets mind control powers above and beyond her pouty eyes and lithe figure....
On top of all that the pacing fell apart towards the end as the film began to amble badly. They probably should have wrapped it up after the obligatory 'splody and if they REALLY wanted to throw Mark Hammil's character into it, it would have been better to have his wordless cameo in a stinger. Remember, the best film in the franchise (Empire) had several threads unresolved at the end since a sequel was a sure thing
Also: Han dies stupidly, though it did effectively convey the notion that Darth Emo is an irredeemable sort to those who were unmoved by his massacre of nameless women and children. after all he shived a celebrity.
There are numerous refrigerator moments in the film, like why on earth is the Republic military called "The Resistance" when it is the First Order that are the insurgents. Also...How did a group of dead enders build a space station the size of....Neptune(?) What IS the actual political situation here?
There is much to like in the early part of the film but it still fell short.
All in all, it was better than the prequels (but so was Battle Beyond the Stars) and in the same league as Return of the Jedi...which I confess I did not care for, and frankly despite some awesome early moments and glorious effects, this film ultimately ended up disappointing due to the draggy inchoate ending and what came off as the writer's laziness towards the end.
I said it.
Now flame away.
UPDATE:Ubu Roi has a particularly good disquisition on the film including a focus on a speciffic characterization problem that I strongly suggest you read in full. I also note that I'm not the only person that the name "Darth Emo" occurred to...which probably means something.
I read a spoiler about the film and have one comment:
Unless we actually see Han's dead body, I won't believe it. Someone shot him and then he fell off a cliff, right? So it's assumed he's dead, but we can't be sure.
Stabbed through the chest with a light-saber, thrown off a cliff, had the whole room he was in blown up, then the planet imploded. Burned, fell over, then sank into the swamp. I just finished John C. Wright's piece on this, and he has some pretty good insights as well.
Posted by: Mauser at Tue Dec 29 12:58:35 2015 (5Ktpu)
My review isn't quite as harsh, but I certainly did feel that the first two-thirds or so of the movie was amazing, and then last segment was thrown together to add some meat beyond "the lead characters meet, escape danger, and travel to meet the brave resistance." This is one way in which the original was superior, it had the pacing to do all that, all the stuff on the death star, and then get in the final space fight, without it seeming rushed. This one didn't manage that. I was also kind of upset by the battle planning session that might as well have been: "Oh look, another superweapon. This could be serious, but hey, we all know how this works. We send in the heroes to do daring things, then a couple squadrons of X-Wings to finish it off, and everyone is home in time for beer. Any questions? No? Ok, lets go."
Regarding "We can't be sure":
Besides the obvious bits mentioned above, that he took an obvious fatal wound, died convincingly enough for his force wielding son to be sure he was dead, and then was thrown into the abyss on a planet that blew up shortly thereafter, we also had the cut to Leia sensing his death.
Posted by: David at Tue Dec 29 16:40:58 2015 (+TPAa)
Beyond all that, we have the meta: Ford has been trying to get Han killed off since the first movie. It was in the script for Star Wars for a while, and then was in the script for Empire until Lucas talked him into returning for the final movie.
Posted by: Ben at Tue Dec 29 17:56:39 2015 (S4UJw)
I kept thinking "Darth Snape." But although the physical resemblance is uncanny, Snape at his most emo was a lot more formidable person.
For all you people griping about
Kylo Ren--and I'm thinking especially of Ubu Roi's review here--the New Jedi Order did basically the same thing: Han and Leia had three kids: a mixed-sex pair of fraternal twins, and a second son named Anakin, who died in the opening of the NJO series. Along with Chewie, btw. Later, the older son became a Sith Lord and actually for a while was Emperor, although he used a different title, because it wasn't technically an empire.
Well, I say basically, but that's a bit of a stretch. But eventually one of Han and Leia's kids became evil, IIRC before that they had also semi-split up (but after Chewie died, she left politics and became Han's copilot), and again IIRC at the end of the NJO, their daughter killed her brother. I saw Han's death coming just before he walked out onto the bridge, but it didn't feel overly cheap to me; instead it reminded me, for example, of the Wheel of Time books, where early on, Rand lets himself get skewered for a reason I no longer remember. In this case, I think they were aiming for...I'm not quite sure how to explain it, but a destiny thing, a reverse of Luke's returning Anakin to the Light side, but didn't do a very good job of it. I objected more to the execution than the concept. That aside I agree with what seems to be a popular sentiment that the last third or so fell apart a bit.
Posted by: RickC at Tue Dec 29 23:15:23 2015 (FvJAK)
RickC - One of my problems with the expanded universe, and one of the main reasons I gave up on it early on, is because Jedi turned to the Dark Side if they had a bad day. I know a lot of the stories were constantly retconned and overwritten, but I think Luke went evil 3 or 5 times before he was 60 in the expanded universe.
Posted by: Ben at Tue Dec 29 23:24:23 2015 (DRaH+)
Ben--that's not unreasonable. I just wanted to point out, though, that some things that shocked people, well, it's not as if they were made up from whole cloth, and there are EU parallels.
I apparently missed most of the crappy EU books.
Posted by: RickC at Wed Dec 30 00:00:52 2015 (FvJAK)
I liked the film quite a lot, but I do not see how it's better than prequels. I never had a visceral reaction to Jar-Jar. So he's handed the
Galaxy to Palpatine by calling for
vote on emergency powers. What's the big deal? Marco Rubio did the same, as did John McCain. Acting of Adam Driver was better than Hayden Christinsen's, perhaps, but the difference was marginal. It's in the same vein, IMHO.
I have one surefire prediction though (no need for spoiler, right?): considering how PC this movie is, you may bet on someone turning up transgendered in Episode IX. They already have
a token Black and a feminist bait. Next step, obviously
for Darth Emo to come out as a woman and turn to Light Side in the process. Remember, you heard it here first.
The stage will be reused and that will go a long way towards reducing launch costs moving forward. This is a big step towards the fully reusable multistage rockets that have been dreamed of since Von Braun's time.
Space-X did a lot of similar operations earlier. Jeff Bezos's company which has a much lower performance rocket for suborbital space tourism achieved a similar feat a few weeks ago and several similar landings were done by the DC-X in the early 90s. However, this is the first time this has been successfully done as part of an actual satellite launch.
It's not just the performance that's different. The landing stage of Falcon 9 performed a hypersonic retroburn, which many smart people said could not be done. The New Sheppard booster simply fell down using aerodynamic stabilization.
First up, we have what is actually a tad more than week old news from the Main Belt. It seems that scientists going over the data from the Dawn Probe have reached a consensus for their cover story regarding the glowy bits on Ceres. They claim is that it not an alien city nor a steadily charging space laser preparing to wreak havoc upon the Earth, but rather a really big salt lick.
The effect is enhanced by thin clouds of water vapor outgassing in the salty areas that give a refractory effect that one would not normally get on a nigh airless body. It could be that Ceres has cometary properties and is orbiting right on the cusp of its critical distance from the sun.
Farther afield (quite a bit farther actually) another of our proficient and pulchritudinous planetologists brings us these spectacular videos from the New Horizons flyby of Pluto. These were only recently processed due to the combination of a necessarily slow data transmission rate and the vast amounts of information that New Horizons gathered on its brief pass.
Full Disclosure: I don't...strictly speaking...know what she's actually saying, but I can make some problematic assumptions based on her background and the fact that she obviously suffers from turrets syndrome.
I introduced a co-worker to Raisin' Canes (a... unique chain that serves only chicken fingers). A week later I asked him how he liked it. "Man, it's great! I hate eating there so much because it's so stereotypical, but I've been there eight times this week!"
In his defense, it's quite good AND was right on his commute.
Well, based on your description of what they did to the Banh Mi, I would say, yeah... it's not really Banh Mi, so don't try to call it that.
Banh Mi's entire reason for existence is the bread and the unique pickled veggies. If you don't get *that* right... well, just don't try. Go see Jared's.
Posted by: kurt duncan at Mon Dec 21 12:28:39 2015 (c/F3T)
College food promises only that it will be edible and not kill you. If cole slaw is your only problem with the food, you are unbelievably lucky.
With all the capability MMD has of figuring mass and velocity and acceleration of the characters, I wish they could apply some of that to the camera movements.
Posted by: Mauser at Thu Dec 17 22:33:44 2015 (5Ktpu)
Okay, it's been long enough and nobody else has done it...
Posted by: Wonderduck at Sun Dec 20 03:05:37 2015 (zAcee)
Numerous pet stores and sporting goods shops carry feeder crickets, either as food for pets or live bait. U.P.S. ships these. Over time, these containers fill up with dander consisting of shed exoskeletons and biological waste. This is of minor concern to people in the shipping industry due to the fact that the containers have screen covered air holes which allow venting of excess dander. When an employee is sorting over one hundred of these boxes to a belt above and behind oneself large amounts of this unpleasant animal husbandry byproduct tend to accumulate on said employee. This becomes a slightly greater concern if the box, for some reason, pops open along a seam and dumps its entire contents...including the crickets....onto the employee in question. This additionally results in a mad and largely vain effort to collect the contents of the parcel.
From episode 3-6 of RWBY which is entitledFall...a title that can be taken a number of different ways.
This answered several important questions and put a couple of characters in really bad situations for utterly different reasons.
So....Let me see if I've got this straight. Those in the (hopefully) benevolent conspiracy to protect the populace from the eldritch truth think that Pyrrha might, conceivably be able to perhaps save the world (or at least prevent the power of a minor god from being bestowed upon a villain). However, this mere chance applies only if nothing goes wrong and she doesn't become a vegetable or die. It gets better. Even given the most optimistic outcome, (since it involves getting a demigod's SOUL stuffed into her body) it will probably result in her becoming a completely different person/being/entity. They've given her 'till the end of the tournament to decide.
Yang was caught on camera committing something of an atrocity. A serious cultural faux pas from the look of the reaction....she's innocent of course...if she's being gaslighted and criminally insane if she's not.
The camera is easily explainable given the fact that the villains have hacked ptetty much everything. But how did they gaslight the whole stadium audience?
The next 166 hours are going to be like forever.
RWBY's been uneven but on balance quite enjoyable. This season they have REALLY hit their stride though.
I don't thing they gaslighted the audience, I think they used some kind of illusion to make her think she was being attacked. The camera shows the reality.
Clearly there's some taboo about actual physical attacks that cause injury. there's probably something about the "Aura" energy that protects them during the fights, but after the fight, one is completely depleted, and thus vulnerable to serious injury.
Howver, I thought it was kinda cheap.
Posted by: Mauser at Sun Dec 13 19:34:23 2015 (5Ktpu)
After watching the scene a few times, I think think the illusion is on the audience, but a different illusion could also be on Yang. The camera shows an image inconsistent with either what actually happened or what Yang thought was happening. What Yang thought was happening was a flying kick; she punches down on his leg. His leg is injured. On the camera, he walks up behind her and she turns around and punches him in the torso. His leg is injured. Could be sloppiness, but the implication to me is that the attack was an illusion, as was Yang's punch actually hitting Mercury. The audience apparently saw Yang win, turn around, then turn and punch Mercury when he stood up and offered his hand. The audience may have even seen a different end to the fight, considering the combatants were in two different places. However, the voice change by Mercury would seem to indicate when the illusion starts. I have to go back to the idea that what could be clues might actually just be poor planning.
Posted by: Ben at Mon Dec 14 11:26:11 2015 (DRaH+)
A Non-Comprehensive List of Contemporary HappeningsMoe Lane brings our attention to an intriguing development. It seems that the head of the ruthless Sinola drug cartel in Mexico has sent a letter to the head of ISIS. Here's an excerpt.
Moe Lane takes the understandable "Pass the popcorn!" position on this development. We here at Brickmuppet Blog however, have seen the video in the previous post and thus are bitter old cranks. What jumps out at us is the fact that the band of bastards having trouble with ISIS is....in Mexico.
U.S. officials tell me they are seeing significant numbers of Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps troops retreat from the Syrian combat zone in recent weeks, following the deaths and wounding of some of top officers in a campaign to retake Idlib Province and other areas lost this year to opposition forces supported by the West and Gulf Arab States. As a result, the Russian-initiated offensive that was launched in September seems to be losing an important ally.
Russia, however, seems to be doubling down. If it means peeling Syria away from Iran, it would seem an acceptable trade-off to let Russia retain their base and make Syria a fully Russian client, rather than a Mediterranean staging area for Iran and Hezbollah. Russia, after all , is not trying to bring about the apocalypse.
The funniest thing about Kargil War of 1999 was that Pakistan started it to begin with and fought it on the Indian side of LoC entirely. But when they started losing, they almost nuked India. You'd think people resorted to this kind of thing when the enemy were about to take the capital or something.
There is a School of Thought
...that we, as a society, are on a cultural death-spiral, spinning faster and faster as we are swept by a maelstrom of decadence, ever closer to a civilizational event horizon that will deposit those it does not drown in the cesspit of a dark age.
There is another school of though that holds that the aforementioned premise is a load of bollocks and only believed by bitter old cranks. This other school's adherents consist mainly of people who have not seen this....