March 03, 2018

Painting By Numbers With Pixels

Well, this review is almost two months late, but RWBY Season 5 has ended and it probably warrants some comment.

Perfunctory is the word that comes to mind.

Mid season, this show was looking to be really good. It was paced very differently from previous seasons, though the collection of quiet character studies was reminiscent of parts of season 4. 

This whole cour had been expertly developing tension that promised a solid payoff and by about episode 8 there were roughly 5 cliffhangers in the plot queue that promised to come together in an intensely satisfying manner. Notwithstanding those, the episodes generally kept a methodical pace as characters were further developed and the cards of the various players were put on the table for the audience to see.

The final battle, in which the heroes are trapped by the villains who have them completely overmatched in numbers, power, and experience is beautifully set up and the first few minutes of it are absolutely riveting.

This whole scene with the villain's entrance was just sublime. 

Annnnnd thennn the battle drug on for FOUR freaking episodes during which the pacing was set to glacial. This was particularly weird because the season ended up with 14 episodes, an odd peculiar number given that the previous seasons had been 12 without the short expository ones. There doesn't seem to have been any reason to pad it out and kill the pacing. It's almost like they were parodying a Shounen Jump show. (There's some irony here. Season three revolved around a sports tournament storyline, which is usually a kiss of death for plotting and pacing, yet that season transcended the trope and was superbly paced and moves the show's story ahead dramatically).

This?  The remainder of the show lacked the dynamism of the show's earlier fight scenes and was punctuated by tedious dialog which is all the more aggravating because there was some STELLAR voice acting delivering these uninspired lines. There were one or two neat moments, mainly due to the delivery rather than the direction, pacing or choreography, but they couldn't overcome the disjointed and padded out nature of the season's last four episodes. If they'd just gone with 12 and compressed this fight it would have probably been better. 

To say this was dissapointing does not do it justice. In addition to the excellent voice work, the technical aspects of the show were impressive and improved in many ways. The season had been quite good until it face planted. 

I do wonder if this season was intended to be much more tightly paced and this finale was supposed to be the halfway point. I engage in this unfounded speculation because RWBY had always been touted as a 5 season show, with a possibility for a spin-off or sequel, and it appears that that was indeed about how much plot they had, because it looks like Rooster Teeth going for six seasons. This is, in fairness not unreasonable since in the show's lackadaisical ambling through the four episode finale, there were several plot threads left dangling (an actual resolution to the main story being the most notable one).  

RWBY Season 5 was good enough until the very end that I do intend to watch it next season, but I look forward to it with a sense of apprehension.

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August 09, 2017

"HAH!" he thought to himself, before looking around, nervously hoping no one noticed his impolitic bemusement.

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December 02, 2015

Oops! I Joined a Cult!

It sounds like a pre-Jonestown 70s sitcom, but it is both scarier and stupider.Someone named Jared Burrell (via) reflects upon the recently arrived at realization that his game development networking group had become a cult.

Do read the whole thing.

Trigger Warning for those who have been involved in fandom to any great extent...this will bring back memories; annoying and perhaps creepy ones, but be aware that these pathologies are far more mainstream now and in some fields it is nigh impossible to just walk away. 

Certainly this still rings true...

 You know what’s really condescending? Anointing yourself the Tone Police for the betterment of mankind. Let’s call a spade a spade. There’s no metal detector and this is no "safe space.” It’s a bourgeois space, with bourgeois conventions, and bourgeois sensibilities. All this talk about protecting "marginalized groups” is cover for making sure upper middle class kids – who can always call themselves nonspecifically "queer” to gain victim status – receive the same physiological coddling as adults they received growing up. We’re looking at an entire generation of helicopter children entering chronological adulthood. They can’t handle the world as it is so they want to turn everyone around them into their own personal helicopter. And "social justice” is their vehicle for that. 

That certainly jives with my observations of some of the individuals I interact with at college. But there is more to it than intellectual indolence. These little exercises are an effete' and passive aggressive way of proclaiming and protecting one's social status...

The entire language of social justice – the up talking, the indirect phrasing, usage of words like "problematic” and "uncomfortable” – functions in such a way that rich kids can identify one another and enforce their sensibilities on everyone else. If you’re from a working class background and want to fit in, you had better learn to speak that language. So every gamedev networking situation is a contest to demonstrate that you belong to the correct tribe. That’s how you make friends. The only thing a Safe Space Policy does is formalize what’s already going on, and give an organizer explicit permission to bully and ostracize someone who fails to conform to a certain bourgeois sensibility.

I'm sure most of us have met this guy...

For a thoroughly self-hating, emasculated man like MyCult, this his only opportunity to feel like a tough guy. He’s not physically imposing or rich, and these days one can expect women to be financially independent, so the traditional role of protector and provider is closed to him. Grasping for some remnant of masculine identity, he’s taken the mantle of Chief of Tone Policing, which he can do without guilt because it’s easy for him to believe that other men are as misogynistic as he is. 

I urge you again to read the whole thing. It does a very good job of conveying what a chilling effect this sort of thing can have and what a perniciously effective gatekeeping tool this is. 

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March 24, 2013

Remembering a Legendary Asshat

John Nestor was a man who followed the rules to the letter. Jonah Goldberg remembered this paragon of propriety in the opening of a recent column.

In the early 1980s, transit officials in Washington couldn’t figure out why traffic on the Beltway would grind to a near halt every day around the exact same time. The usual explanations didn’t fit.

Then it was discovered that a single driver was to blame. Every day on his drive to work, this commuter would plant himself in the left lane and set his cruise control to 55 mph, the posted speed limit, forcing those behind him to merge right. You can imagine the effects.

It gets better...

To his credit, this driver came forward in a letter to the editor of the Washington Post. The man’s name was John O. Nestor. He explained that the left lane was great; less traffic, less merging — why not ride it into work every day? Besides, he wrote, "Why should I inconvenience myself for someone who wants to speed?”

With that bit of daily narcissistic malice, this jackass was able to destroy the traffic in the DC area. The term "Nestoring" was coined by readers of the Washington Post to describe his antics.

It gets better worse still...

Fittingly, Nestor was a regulator at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Virtually no drug was worth the risk, according to Nestor. The FDA transferred him out of the cardio-renal-pulmonary unit to some bureaucratic backwater because he "had approved no new chemical entities ... from 1968 to 1972...

So this officious prick caused untold deaths because he stopped ANY approvals of heart medicine for 4 years. This does not count the deaths from any accidents he likely caused on the beltway or the people who got stuck in traffic in an ambulance and died on the way to the ER.

Mr. Nestor wrought all this misery by simply following the rules and exercising his lawful power over others. His comment about speeders belied the fact that Nestor was actually a bully. Devoid of empathy, he derived glee from hurting others with his passive aggressive mischief. His refusal to approve a single drug for the stated reason of fearing there might be harm speaks to either profound moral cowardice or fearful malice.

Jackasses are all around us. But few have had been able to make such a profound difference by themselves as Mr. Nestor. So today we remember a truly legendary asshat.

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January 04, 2011

Mr Parsons is helping print other peoples books now and he's making them all better.

"Parsons was Winston's fellow employee at the Ministry of Truth. He was a fattish but active man of paralyzing stupidity, a mass of imbecile enthusiasms—one of those completely unquestioning, devoted drudges on whom, more even than on the thought police, the stability of the Party depended." George Orwell 1984

Well the  oh-so-open minded types tried to do this over a decade ago and failed. Now it seems they have succeeded in getting rewrites on classic literature in order to ensure that students are not exposed to ideas not vetted for political correctness or the notion that the way we look at the world has progressed in many ways over the centuries.

Yes they are censoring Huck Finn

Twain himself defined a "classic" as "a book which people praise and don't read." Rather than see Twain's most important work succumb to that fate, Twain scholar Alan Gribben and NewSouth Books plan to release a version of Huckleberry Finn, in a single volume with The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, that does away with the "n" word (as well as the "in" word, "Injun") by replacing it with the word "slave."

Even ignoring the fact that this is just plain wrong in principal, this person is a lit teacher who should understand this particular evil is wrong from a literary sense.

One of the points of the novel is the injustice of bigotry, not specifically, slavery but bigotry. Slavery was banned, except in certain prison situations, by the 14th amendment, yet bigotry based on race, and ethnicity is still with us. Jim's problem was far deeper than just being a slave. It was that even posing as a freeman he was of African extraction. That societal problem could not be escaped, even after 1865. I would be with him where ever he went.
Slave, therefore, is not synonymous with N*##&r in the context of this novel.

I'm sure they'll get references to "Easterlings" out of LOTR eventually.

In case memories are short, Remember that the PC-left tried to pull this off on a rather grander scale (with this same book) back in the '90s. In fact, one newly elected small town mayor called in the town librarian about the time of that controversy and asked point blank if the librarian would remove certain offensive books if asked. The librarian said she would not, and would resign if necessary. The mayor told her that was not necessary and in fact she had passed a test and could stay on as librarian.

The media takeaway was the mayor, (later Governor Palin) tried to ban books.

Remember this sort of thing is only acceptable if it's double plus good.

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November 28, 2008


n: a single edged bladed weapon used by leftists to kill or torture the objects of their foetid bigotry as well as ritual extortion.

The Carleton University Students' Association has voted to drop a cystic fibrosis charity as the beneficiary of its annual Shinearama fundraiser, supporting a motion that argued the disease is not "inclusive" enough.

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April 10, 2008

Godwins' Law Should Not Apply Here....

 Eugene Volokh has a gobsmackingly horrific quote from a member of the Canadian Human Rights Commission.

"Freedom of Speech Is an American Concept, So I Don't Give It Any Value"

Check out the link for really doesn't help, as she goes on to say that freedom of speech is not a Canadian value.....ummmm....

For those not up to speed on this pernicious panel of pompous pinheads, click here.  


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October 20, 2007


Colleen Doran posts on the Hollywood writers strike.

I'm of two minds about this. On the one hand unions have been injuring US industries for years. I'm very much a right to work kind of guy.

On the other hand incidents like Matawan are NOT propaganda, they really happened. Plane old unions are INHERENTLY corrupt, but for all their inherent corruption they do (in theory) act as an important legal recourse for workers.  If organized as guilds rather than straight unions they can be forces for considerable good beyond the narrow interests of the union hall.  Additionally, if the Hollywood writers have been hosed to the same extent as some people I've known in comics and animation then I'm certainly sympathetic to their plight.

On the gripping noted in the update to Colleen's post there seems to be a wee bit of overreach in the demands of the Writers "Guild". Via her addendum is an excerpt from a longer communication by Warren Ellis:

The strike rules declare that writers may not write animation or “new media” content. This is interesting because WGA has no jurisdiction over animation or new media. Further, they state that any non-union person found writing animation or new media during the course of a strike will be barred from ever joining the Guild.


It sounds a bit arrogant to say the least.

 My sympathies are shall we say...strained. 

First off, at least according to Ellis, they don't seem to have any real jurisdiction over animators or "New Media". Despite the apparent truth of this, being a private entity, it seems they can refuse membership to anyone. If one of their membership requirements is that animators starved while they struck then no animators who worked while they were on strike need be allowed in. They can certainly put a glass ceiling on peoples carrers.

And "new media"? Mmmmmkaaay....

So people getting started online or creating new mediums who don't bow down to the whims of a union they never belonged to (and might not even be aware of the edicts of)...does this mean they can never join? I'm blogging....right now.

Does this mean I can't ever join the WG?

Hell, Miss Doran (who has categorically stated that she will NOT do healthy healing growth on the wound work) is blogging about this...right now...and has advertisements on her site. Is she new media?

The difference between a Union and a Guild (in theory) is that the Guild (in theory) sets up standards and training for its tradespersons to ensure that everyone who is a member is a solid and competent expert at whatever trade they represent. They also collectively bargain just like a union to ensure that their members are treated equitably, but in maintaining standards they expel unqualified or unethical members. Like any human endeavor, they are fallible, but "Guild" carries with it an expectation of both work ethic and competence that union does not. Of course the names of organizations may have little bearing on how they operate. Some organizations called unions (pipefitters for instance)certainly work like a guild. And some organizations with the name "guild" care nothing for the quality of the work their members do and will grow in power and arrogance until they kill their respective geese and create a rust belt of one sort or another.

Which brings us to a fine place in this rant to remind people why so many of the voice actors who dub anime are Canadian. They took work from small marginal companies that couldn't pay union scale, and after a couple of times were shut out from the industry.

LOTS of productions are moving to Canada. The Canadians bend over backwards to bring them in and the expenses are far cheaper because the unions they have aren't nearly as odious.

A lot of writers well versed in the innovative and growth oriented applications  of whatever the hell "new media" is might soon be driven there too.

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May 13, 2007

Malignant Evil That Rates A New Category: Parsons Wannabees...

"Parsons was Winston's fellow employee at the Ministry of Truth. He was a fattish but active man of paralyzing stupidity, a mass of imbecile enthusiasms—one of those completely unquestioning, devoted drudges on whom, more even than on the thought police, the stability of the Party depended."

 1984 George Orwell

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