A Little Story That's Getting Little Coverage That's About Little Things
This is a little troubling as the little things are nuclear warheads.
Russia has likely been secretly carrying out nuclear tests with very low explosive power to help it upgrade its nuclear arsenal, according to a new U.S. intelligence assessment that challenges Moscowâ€™s claims that it is faithfully adhering to an international treaty banning nuclear tests.
A Fish Out of Water Has Not so Much Escaped His Problems as Found New and More Challenging Ones Rising of the Shield Hero is approaching its 21st episode and frankly deserves more than the laconic mentions this blog has given it thus far. It is a show that has generated quite a bit of "talk" because its story tends to go down the less traveled paths of its genre.
As opposed to the above path, which they all go down.
This is a isekai show, a genre that generally involves a social
outcast getting yanked/summoned/reincarnated/teleported/excreted into
another world which just happens to have remarkable similarities to a
video game, role playing game, or light novel series that the introverted,
maladroit audience insert had obsessed with to the detriment of their
standing in polite society. With a few exceptions, these shows generally have the protagonist come to an insight along the lines of , "All those years of
playing D&D have prepared me for this very moment!". This epiphany is usually followed by 13 to
26 episodes of geek wish fulfillment as all the important people (and
especially the attractive members of the opposite sex) in the new world
learn to respect, adore or fear (but NEVERignore) this now most
consequential of human beings who has been groomed by years of geekery
and avoidance of obligations to be the hero the world needs and wants to
have children with.
Aaaand then there is Iwatani Naofumi, a reasonably well adjusted graduate student who has some geeky habits among his
hobbies. However, he's not a hard core gamer, and most significantly for his well being hasn't
played a particular multiplayer game about 4 legendary heroes.
When he notices an anomalous leather-bound parchment-paged antique-looking book among the light novels in the library, he opens it and gets
bamfed into a summoning circle with 3 other Japanese men of about his age Each of them has attached to them a weapon, Spear, Sword, Bow....and OK Naofumi has not a weapon but a shield.
"Cool! we're a sentai team!"
They are surrounded by a bunch of wizards and priest types who provide exposition.
I'll bet there is.
They are told that they are the 4 legendary heroes who have been summoned from other worlds to deal with "The Wave", a demonic incursion into this high fantasy D&D type world.
Some years prior, (I think about a decade, its not entirely clear) the four legendary heroes of that age were summoned and successfully kept this monster spewing phenomenon at bay, though over half the population of the world is believed to have died. Once these things start, they come about once a month and each one is exponentially stronger than the last. The first wave, was barely defeated (with heavy losses) by the kingdom's regular forces and some adventurers a few days prior to this summoning.
Now the other three fellows are all expert players in an online video-game that is essentially identical to this world. Nayofumi has no idea what he's doing, furthermore in a brief cram session with the other three, he learns that while shield characters are marginally harder to kill in the game, they are basically useless as they can't use weapons and can't easily level up. The shield is almost never played except by children.
Still our hero understands the basics of video game RPGs, is reasonably genre savvy, and, after all, has been summoned to a magical realm to do hero stuff, so he's handling this reasonably well.
The four are granted an audience before the king, who asks something along the lines of "Why did you waste spell points on summoning a shield guy?"
Well, that bodes ill.
It's then explained to our heroes that they must go on adventures to level up and hone their skills. They are all basically level 0 and the next wave is arriving in a month. Also, it is noted they need to train separately from one another because...
They are expected to have retinues and all the local adventurers are allowed to join up with the 'Legendary Herotm' of their choice. This is especially important for the shield hero as he can't wield weapons, and the shield has no offensive capabilities until the wielder is at a much higher level.
The heartbreak of cooties.
No one picks Naofumi, because shield heroes are like the nerds of Middle Earth and well no one wants to be associated with him.
However, one comely redhead named Malty has a change of heart at the last minute and the two of them set off to have a glorious and fun adventure!
As clever readers will have guessed from the presence of the spoiler tag, things go sideways quickly, but not in any way I expected. After helping him amass a respectable amount of loot and equipment, Malty, falsely accuses him of rape, steals all of his kit that is not magically bound to him, (save his pants and tunic) and...in a completely bizarre twist, when he's brought to the castle she turns out to be the princess*.
The other heroes have no reason to believe him, and due process is hard to come by in totalitarian societies, absolute monarchies, or when you're accused by a redhead associated with an anime.
The only reason he isn't executed on the spot is because its absolutely forbidden for the state to kill a legendary hero... he is, however rendered a pariah, and if he dies of starvation or at the hands of brigands no sin will have been committed.
There are a few things that Nayofumi's shield will do that allow him to slowly level up, mostly involving crafting healing potions. However, he is physically unable to even touch a weapon. In order to level up he must quest and gather ingredients, and if attacked, he can only bash things with the shield. Furthermore, crafting and deflecting blows give very little in the way of "experience points". Even slaying a relatively harmless beast like a carnivorous pumpkin (don't ask) grants a vast improvement in the speed he can level up. So he's in the pumpkin bashing business.
No one will help openly help him, few will even do business with him. The only exceptions to this are people who pose as being interested in joining his party, only to attempt to murder and rob him.
After a series of reversals that would try the sanity of anyone, Nayofumi, on his last legs and desperate, bumps into a very sketchy and incongruously dressed merchant.
And that is the point at which things get problematic.
"And that is the point at which things get problematic." -- Did you mean to write "awesome"? For me, the ability to commit the thoughtcrime is anime's greatest strength.
In the Spear Hero,
Motoyasu is rebooted, but retains somewhat partial memories of the original Shield Hero setup. At some point Naofumi asks if he had someone close to him (e.g. a lover). Motoyasu thinks a little and recalls an image of Raphtalia, but says that although she was Naofumi's trusted companion, they weren't known to be an item.
No. I meant to write problematic, because this is the correct usage of the term as opposed to an SJW dropping it as a way to just intimidate people and make them shut up.
I agree that the show is awesome and this completely out of the box plot element would never happened in an American work. Heck, some of the reviews of the show are apparently based on as thumbnail reading of the cliffs notes and Crunchyroll is getting grief for publishing it.
Amusingly, if these people actually watched the show they could point to all sorts of PC tropes and affirmations. The three weapon heroes can be said to represent "toxic masculinity" as they treat the entire world as a chessboard for their amusement, the only leaders we've seen thus far that might be sane and noble are the 2 queens (of the Llamabirds and the local Kingdom respectively) and the loli Princess. The King trying to usurp the Queen in this MATRIARCHAL Kingdom is the source of much of the political intrigue. Raphtalia is incredible and has an amazing heroes journey. It's girls rule boys drool all the way except for Nayofumi rising to the occasion, and being a protective, brave and generally thoughtful sort of man rather than the chest thumping machismo of the weapon guys.
And yet because of the fact that there is a false accusation of rape, the princess is a psychopath, and the show explores the dark nightmare that is slavery, it must be struggled against. Hell, the female protagonist, suffers, overcomes and EARNS her position, in the way a true hero does and is not simply some entitled Mary Sue, and yet that very perk contributes to the whole thing becoming double-plus-ungood. This despite the show having a lot of the tropes that they enjoy/demand/threaten for.
This is why we can't have nice things.
One bit in the series that did bother me
is the bit where Raphtalia is freed of the curse and in a panic immediately runs to the slaver to have the curse re-applied AND HE GOES ALONG WITH THIS!? He does protest, and asks her not to do it, but he ponies up the money. WTF?
They both have self confidence issues but that was hard to get my head around.
I didn't mind the second slave so much as it was an accident (they thought they were being gifted a beast of burden, they only found out days later that she was were-ostrich.)
I dislike isekai as a genre, but this show is one of a handful that has taken the concept and made something really good and thought provoking.
The others are: Log Horizon, Re:Zero and the comedies Kono-Suba and Tanya the Evil (Its a black comedy to be sure, but it's a comedy...right? Or am I just a bad person?)
I'm not sure if Raphtalia's back story makes any sense still. The Queen of the Llamabirds is hundreds of years old, going back several incarnations of the heroes. It looks like everything that happened to Raphtalia really did take place between two waves of sky goblins.
And Filo, after all, just hatched from an egg five minutes ago and is already level 40 and the size of a Greyhound bus. Chronology in this world does whatever is needed to serve the plot.
Posted by: Pixy Misa at Tue May 28 22:22:45 2019 (PiXy!)
Hmmm...I'd missed the hundreds of years part, but the point is that its quite possible that she was captured in a previous cycle.
Filo is, despite her size, still a child.
The other th...Wait: They have Greyhound buses in Australia?
Posted by: Pixy Misa at Tue May 28 23:54:40 2019 (PiXy!)
Awesome and thoughtful write-up. You just might shame me into putting in more effort on mine like I used to.
Yeah, it's a great show. Before I started on it I heard the SJW whining about false rape accusations being insulting to their believe all women sensibilities. But that being based on merely the first episode or less. Some of the strongest critics have never seen what they criticize.
BTW, did you miss that it turned out that all four heroes are from Alternate Japans from each other?
Posted by: Mauser at Sat Jun 1 01:25:14 2019 (Ix1l6)
Dis-topia or Dat-topia?
A very brief video from Bloomberg on the most disturbing aspect of the current Chinese payment system.
Now, being Bloomberg reporting on a tech issue, they are completely and utterly wrong. However, in an unusual twist, their facts seem to be correct. It's their analysis that's 180 degrees off course.
The most terrifying thing about the basically cashless society in China is (contra Bloomberg) not that the banks are being cut out of their lucrative middle-man fees. It's that every transaction shows up in your social credit score and if Tencent is told by the government that you don't need your money, well, then you starve.
Of course, being Bloomberg, they miss the schadenfreude of companies that have behaved like like Mastercard loosing their middleman privileges.
Also, I don't think there's any reason for this to be of terrible concern for the Big Banks in the U.S.. I think they're going to loose some market share to companies processing their own payments, but the banks already have e-payment infrastructure in place and many of their ricebowls are protected by S.E.C. regulation.
I do wonder if even a very decentralized system would really help bypass the worst of this social credit system. I'm skeptical. Even today in the U.S. there are scary stories. The attempted defenestration of Subscribe Star late last year has already been noted here, and the system is fairly decentralized now in theory. In practice, the payment processors go to the same parties and hate the same people (us).
Perhaps the best near term solution is the opposite of the bitcoin utopians propose. Make it illegal to refuse actual cash that is a countries legal tender if offered in lieu of a card or ap. This wouldn't work for online payments, but it would at least allow people a chance to eat.
I just don't know.
Does anyone actual IT knowledge have any suggestions?
I don't know what the ultimate solution is, but I do know that the phone vendors tried this several years ago. It failed, at least in large part, because people hated their mobile phone company more than their bank. I think it's also telling that the only third-party payment processor who isn't a bank to get a foothold has been PayPal. I don't think banks are quaking in their boots right now.
Posted by: StargazerA5 at Thu May 23 10:33:51 2019 (jl9eJ)
Manga was really good, although I burned out after the first major arc ended with almost a deux ex machina intruding and setting things right in a hopeless situation. It very much became a power inflation story, not dissimilar to DBZ after the Cell arc, IMHO. Not going to spoil it for you, but temper your expectations.
I am much enjoying the Raising of Spear Hero now. It's a spin-off, where the main characters are the Shield and Spear heroes, only somewhat patched up. You might have already noticed that Naofumi is a bit of a douchebag, and Motoyasu is worse. The result of their improvement is much better than the Shield Hero, I think. Unfortunately, it's more comedic too, and I am afraid that if Spear Hero ever gets animated, it's going to end in a gag series of 3-minute episodes with chibis.
I picked up the first book quite a while back, read it, and bounced hard off the series. Naofumi's a jerk, everyone else is a jerk (except for Raph, who is Best Raccoon), and it felt like there weren't enough non-jerks to care about.
A friend got into it and was having a good time, so I tried some more, and it pulls its head out before too long. Non-jerks start turning up and it becomes much more fun as a whole. At the end of the first book I didn't think I would want to visit again, but by the end of the second it felt like I could have some fun with it, and it improved from there.
Naofumi being a Jerk, well, kind of justified considering he got shanghaied into being the goat of the heroes, and then fucked over left and right, from being accused to Rape and basically excommunicated. But he's actually very principled too, and in his way he's a better hero than all of those who have gotten royalty's favor. But he can be a bit too uncompromising.
Posted by: Mauser at Wed May 22 22:06:56 2019 (Ix1l6)
While We're On the Subject of Bullying
Sourcing is sparse, but appears that a couple of Vice reporters broke into the home of the owner of 8-chan in the Philippines, and were surprised to find him in his bedroom, whereapon he drove them out with a baseball bat. Charges are reportedly being filed but info is sparse. This is disturbing but also odd. I was under the impression that the owner of infinity-chan is a quadrapalegic. ****
In related news is this disturbing story (via ACE's sidebar). It appears that there are several reporters who are soliciting the personal information of various people from antifa who antifa defines as fascist. (Note that the people involved apparently define Dave Rubin and Tim Pool as fascists). Anyway they are using the information to dox people into oblivion. These people can't get jobs, one fellow in particular seems to have been an EMT, was suspended, found to have done nothing wrong but couldn't get rehired because he was inviting drama from the SPLC and others.
They're stalking people and hounding them across state lines, giving dirt to their new employers and getting them fired. This is taking people who may (or more likely do not) have genuinely assholish views they express online and perhaps delusions of persicution, and teaching them two things: that they are not delusional and they have nothing to loose because they cannot ever get a job or be allowed in society.
I would not want a 14 year old of mine to make herself a target to the crazies like she does here...er....here
Trigger Warning!! Language, Burkas, anti-anti-semitism, insightful armchair psychoanalysis, and actual citations in the write-up.
...but that is between her and her parents, and NOBODY else. It is certainly not the business of Buzzfeed and not a matter that should involve the police in any way. Yes Buzzfeed called the police on her.
Parents beware, there is foul language, but rather less than I was led
to believe, this is far from the tourettes
cascade that was described to me. There's actually some nuance in it. She mentions that 'call-out-culture' is a subset of the left, pointing out that there are still lefties who are for free speech.
Of course it wasn't the language that pissed Buzzfeed off. It was the fact that she nails the big domestic issue of our age.
Now, the fact that she's in Marin county is causing her troubles with her school. There have been walk outs by students protesting her existence and I suspect that she's now the target of every Heather and soy-boy that wants to virtue signal. (Thanks Buzzfeed).
There is, of course a lot to be offended by here.
What pissed me off the most about her is that this 14 year old is a better writer than me.
Some Suggestions For Game Devs Dealing With The New Chinese Rules
China has passed legislation that bans video game content that are an affront to the nations socialist values. Among other travesties, this legislates removing the word "kill" from video games. More difficult to deal with, all blood must be removed.
Chinese Tech giant Tencent Games have already adapted to this new law in at least one title. While they handle distribution of Player Unknownâ€™s BattleGround: Mobile in China, the game has now been renamed Game for Peace.
American game developers, who have, for some time, been grovelling before the whims of CCP Censorship in pursuit of Yuan like a Crack Whore begging her pimp for a fix are falling over each other to oblige. (I'm particularly amused by the way Gamasutra seems to be presenting this as 'Super easy. Barely an inconvenience.')
One of our Crack team of 2-D tech babes has thoughts...
"First: Apologies to Crack Whores. Second: Here are some helpful suggestions for substitutions for 'kill' or 'killed' in your revised style guides..."
"Another piece has been removed from the board."
Smite, Smote, Smitten, Smitificatifitatemitized
Merely Stunned! Outcompeted*
"Running dog has been brought to heel!"
Denied the mandate of Heaven
"His social credit score is zero!"
Interestingly, commie specific examples aside, this is remarkably similar list to a hell we in the U.S. have already lived.
You see, back in the late 1960s the U.S. started having an explosion of action oriented children's shows that mostly aired on Saturday mornings. These ranged from re-runs and knock-offs of Johnny Quest to Super-Hero shows (both original and adapted from comic books). Animation allowed cheap stunts and FX and facilitated other things (one season, all the Hanna Barbara action shows crossed over). The medium began improving rapidly as skills were honed and the voice talent pool expanded. Johnny Quest in particular, which had been a flop a decade earlier in prime time, experienced a revival in the new time slot and inspired several imitators in the U.S. and even abroad. One of those, Japan's Tatsunoko Productions was actually selling its shows to ABC (Speed Racer, Marine Boy, Gigantor) The stage was set for a new art form to....
In 1968 after a spate of assassinations, a commission on youth violence put together by the Johnson administration STRONGLY suggested that the 3 Big U.S. TV networks seriously scale back on their violence. Animated action shows all but disappeared for a time. The 1970s were an insipid wasteland of drek for young boys.
Now we have a first amendment in the U.S. and the internet does not have a regulatory gate like the FCCs bandwidth licensing, so in theory this should not affect us.
"Remember. There is no difference between theory and practice in theory, but in practice there is. "
China's huge market has an outsized effect on all western entertainment industries and the CCP and PLA have there tentacles in western media companies via companies like Tencent. The temptation to water down, or otherwise censor and rewrite games to comply with "socialist values" is already very strong and is having insidious effects on our media.
There is, perhaps, a silver lining here. These new rules are SO restrictive that developers who design fighting games and such may just throw in the towel on the China market, which will only benefit us.
* No: suggests competition is legitimate and not a waste of energy and resources incompatible with socialist values.
The perils of raising kids in 38% gravity is not being given any study. We don't know how much gravity is needed for extended human habitation, but we know that zero gravity is bad, sometimes surprisingly so. Furthermore, the whole point of going into space is to get out of the gravity well. Being in a 38% gravity well is better than the 100% gravity well of Earth, but it's vastly inferior to orbiting Ceres, Pallas or Psyche. So I think we should certainly go with Stanford Torus's and such. With those we can make 1g habitats and we can go pretty darn big.
...but it's Bezos. He's banning books from his bookstore, spying on us and seems to be an authoritarian prick. "Seek a Brighter Future in the Outer Colonies...as an Employee of Vault Tech or Weyland Yutani" This is not frontier I'm looking for.
Elon Musk is striving like mad to travel....to the bottom of a gravity well.
OTOH Musk is working hard to make it accessible financially to middle class people willing to, say, sell their houses. Musk seems to me to be much less likely to set up a dystopian hellhole at the intersection of 1984 and Outland than Bezos, who seems to be a member of the authoritarian tech-weasel association in good standing (which is odd, given that his parents risked everything to escape Castro's Cuba in the 1960s.
On the other hand, Bezos is completely right about best to go about becoming a spacefaring civilization. Rather than Mars and a couple of moons, we can place rotating habitats in or next to any of the thousands of asteroids, and we can use solar power as far afield as Jupiter.
One other thing I will say about both Bezos and Musk. They are thinking big and they are thinking ahead. Despite all the crazy nonsense we see today that fills us with trepidation for the future of our society, this fact can give us hope: Both men are working towards starting something truly noble that will not come to fruition until long after they are gone.
"A society grows great when old men plant trees in whose shade they know they shall never sit."
Begun These Cheesecake Wars HaveJ. Greely decided to post a bunch of visually interesting not entirely canonical depictions of various characters from Girls Frontline a Chinese gacha game that is focused on anthropomorphizations of various modern and historical firearms.
Mr. Greely is to be commended on the quality of his cheesecake.
Nah, I can prevent autoplay for video; animated GIFs are much more stressful, especially when embedded without height/width tags, forcing the page layout to keep resizing until all 137 megabytes have loaded. I had to wait out the whole thing before I could get to the comment box.
Posted by: J Greely at Sat May 18 15:16:07 2019 (ZlYZd)
I scrolled down...
...and OMG THIS THING'S STILL LOADING!!!
The last one is why I don't drink hot tea. I mean, outside of being an American in the South. Ice, ice, baby.
Posted by: Ubu at Mon May 20 08:52:23 2019 (UlsdO)
Wow, they even have an FN49/SAFN. Also, what is that thing that drops the hair ornament? I think she occurs twice, actually. The bullpup does not look like any of the conventional ones like Tavor, and reminds me of Kel-Tec RDB, which wasn't accepted into inventory of any nation's military, AFAIK.
I'm a Subscribestar member, so I can theoretically sync both channels, but the whole affair seems to revolve around crypto currencies. Now I am assured by all the smartest people in the room that cryptocurrencies* are the only secure thing in this uncertain age and only statists and luddites show skepticism towards them. Sadly, I'm not particularly smart and I'm a history major which has left me with an irrational fear of tulips.
There is a Pay-Pal option, but Pay-Pal has been in the demonetization business of late.
Perhaps more troubling is the fact that at the bottom of the above linked page, SubscribeStar has an address that is not in Russia, but on Airstrip One. And...the fact that this is worrisome; the notion that Jolly Old England is not a step up from Russia regarding freedom of speech (and arguably the opposite) is a measure of how crazy the times we live in are.
But I digress...
Does anyone have any insights into the security and effectiveness of, say Bit-Backer, CoinPayments and/or similar services?
*My spell-check doesn't like either of those spellings.
I have spent the last few months trying to actively use bitcoin, and have yet to find a way to do it that doesn't make me want to run screaming from the service I'm contemplating and actively considering warning all my friends and family that the service is clearly a fraud.
Posted by: Ben at Fri May 17 20:40:35 2019 (4TRZx)
Imminent death of cryptocurrency predicted: the Coinstar machines installed in all the grocery stores I frequent now have big signs saying turn your spare change into bitcoin. Seriously, it's tulips all the way down.
Posted by: J Greely at Fri May 17 22:05:56 2019 (ZlYZd)
From what I have read (no first-hand experience), it would be best to use cryptocurrency only as a secure means of transferring funds, and to convert it to your local government-backed currency as soon as possible.
Posted by: Siergen at Fri May 17 23:05:28 2019 (jIT9h)
Tuesday I went to school to make arrangements for re-enrolling in my final class. I checked my Student E-mail to see if my advisor was available for consultation. It turns out that she has left the country and won't be back for over a month but she insisted that rather than signing up for the current session that I "DON'T DO ANYTHING!" She said that she's pretty sure that I'm good to graduate, but that the process of applying for another class involves removing my graduation application. I also noted that my graduation worksheet"Degree Works" says that my credits requirement has not been met; that I have 'only' 123 out of a needed 120 credits.
Well. That's odd.
So... I'm going to hold tight while the chocolate ration is adjusted.
Below the fold is the a copy/paste of what I typed in the two fields of the senior survey I was asked to complete last week.
Below this text is a good visual representation of how not to stagger ladders for safety.
I'd LIKE to transition my comics database to its SQL program from my ancient Mac and FileMaker, but the learning curve is really steep, and I don't know where to start.
Posted by: Mauser at Tue May 14 21:09:08 2019 (Ix1l6)
It's not so much that the learning curve is steep, as that OpenOffice and LibreOffice have cargo-cult documentation that's basically impenetrable. Also, FileMaker isn't really hip to the idea of exporting data to other DBs. :-)
Posted by: J Greely at Wed May 15 18:22:37 2019 (ZlYZd)
Well, the data I've got is basically a flat file. And that's actually fine, but I know the 1995 vintage PowerMac 8600 it's running on won't last forever. And eventually I'd like to add some data about box storage.
I may not need all the advanced query stuff that SQL is capable of, but making things relational by publisher and title would help organize stuff. But yeah, the documentation seems to be all about that SQL power query crap, and not so much about creating the underlying database.
Posted by: Mauser at Wed May 15 23:03:37 2019 (Ix1l6)
I Can SEE!
As there is likely little interest in the banality that lurks below the fold, we've decided to provide, as a service to you, gentle reader, a helpful demonstration of how to deal with some of those pesky manticore issues that may crop up from time to time.
I loved it.
It was even better than Cats!
I am going to see it again and again.
Note that this is NOT a stand-alone film as it is a direct sequel to Infinity War, which itself is a sequel to several different films, but if you've been following the long serial that is the Marvel Cinematic Universe, then this film is an absolute triumph and is as close to sublime as we are likely to ever see from Hollywood.