Short review – Cyber City Oedo 808

Details about the anime here.

Blurb, from the above link:

It is the year 2808. Three convicts are recruited as members of the Cyber Police to keep major criminal activity in Oedo (formerly Tokyo) in check. In return, their life sentences will be reduced by a few years for every mission accomplished. However, to ensure that these convicts are doing their job, the police have secured special collars around their necks. If they attempt to remove their collars or fail to meet the time limit of their mission, the collars will self-destruct.

The anime is broken up into three discrete parts, each focused on a different main character. I’d rank the first episode as the strongest, but they’re all pretty good. Each episode takes a distinctly different tone, which reflects the personality of the main character for the episode. It works well.

It’s hard to get into the nits I want to pick without spoilers, so before I move on to that, I’ll just say if you like old school action-heavy anime, check it out. It’s a fun ride, and over the top in a good way, but not to excess. I just wish there was a bit more to it. It felt like the creator wanted to tell a larger story but couldn’t afford to, so we just got a taste of the world.

That really is what it felt like, actually. It felt like a sampler. Still, it’s a sampler worth watching.


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Reviving this site for a bit

I’ve been wanting to post on a blog lately, but the state of my normal site is such that it needs a fair bit of work before I’m happy using it full time. I briefly revived one of my wordpress.com blogs—I wrote exactly one post there—but the limitations of the free plan are intolerable. It used to be a much nicer platform, but they’ve really fucked it up.

So, since I don’t want to spend the next several days fixing up my other site, I just switched DNS back to this one and here we are. Back on ye olde self-hosted wordpress.

For the immediate future I’ll be focusing on three things: short reviews of the media I’m consuming in bulk lately (late 80s to early 00s anime); discussion of practical action on the culture war front; and some posts about my actual writing efforts. I’m still casting about for a way of making myself accountable in a way that will actually motivate me to write, and so far, what I’ve tried has not worked. I’ll experiment with that for a bit.

Of course the side benefit of this blog is it gets me used to writing and publishing again. It’s amazing how quickly that habit disappears.

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Finally copped a shadowban on Twitter

I’ve been using the shadowbanned account (@roughcoat13) for about seven months, and never got so much as a 12 hour warning before, but a few days ago I was shadowbanned out of the blue. I don’t violate the terms of service on Twitter, I avoid mixing it up with the butthurt blue check brigade, and I don’t use any of the Magical Naughty Words that are said to earn suspensions on the spot (e.g. faggot and retard). So, what happened?

I seriously doubt it was some kind of automatic filter. I’ve been doing the same thing for all seven months. I mostly reply to other people, I RT a few tweets a day, and occasionally post something of my own. I’m more interested in engaging in discussion with interesting people than playing online journalist or pundit. There’s nothing bot-like about my behavior.

Since I was shadowbanned within minutes of JimFear138—it happened in the middle of a discussion with him, even—I believe our little group of writing wrongthinkers was targeted on purpose. By whom, I can’t say. Possibly I was just collateral damage because Jim definitely seems to be on the radar. He’s on at least his fourth account in the last month. Or possibly I’m now deemed worth shadowbanning because in the last few weeks I actually started to get traction building a small following.

What surprised me is just how frustrating it is to be shadowbanned. It’s immediately obvious that something is wrong when it happens, because discussion becomes impossible. Followers (all or some, I’m not certain) can see directly-made tweets, but they can’t see your replies, and won’t receive notifications. I made several tweets stating that I was shadowbanned and promptly got people saying “I can see you!”, but my replies to them were unseen. Engagement halted completely. It was quite annoying not being able to explain in an actual discussion what I was experiencing.

Leaving the direct tweets visible is not accidental. It occurred to me today why Twitter shadowbans instead of just banning people: it’s a wedge tactic, designed to dishearten and split up networks. Making direct tweets visible while hiding the banned user’s replies—and even the notifications that the user liked other people’s replies—is calculated to effect maximum frustration. It allows conversations to start, but go nowhere in such a way that makes the participants believe the other party is not engaging or possibly even reading the replies. The ban, if impermanent, lasts long enough to cause normally minor but permanent damage on two fronts: some followers will feel snubbed and stop bothering to comment, and some banned users will feel frustrated enough to shift their efforts elsewhere. If the shadowban lasts long enough or is permanent, affected users who desire engagement will simply quit.

Another effect of shadowbanning is accounts are rendered undiscoverable. If you search for tweets from a shadowbanned account you don’t follow, you’ll find zero results. To non-followers, it’s as if the shadowbanned account doesn’t exist. Given the impermanent nature of shadowbans—they seem to last about a week now, jacked up from 3 days, which was an increase from 24 hours a few years ago—I believe hiding the account from searches is either a vestigial feature or incidental to the way the bans are implemented in the code.

And all of this can be done with plausible deniability. Oh, it’s just a filter! It’s an error! What a bunch of bullshit. Silicon Valley and all its cancerous children can not burn to the ground fast enough.

Anyway, I’d love to leave Twitter for greener pastures, but there’s little point if all of the interesting discussion is going to stay on Twitter. I don’t give a fuck about becoming a social media star, but I do want to be able to talk to interesting people, and that means I have to stay on Twitter.

I don’t think we need a Twitter replacement. I think we need a higher level social media platform that can roll Twitter, Gab, etc into one feed and control panel. Preferably, such a thing would be open source and user-controlled. I’ll have to think about how that could work, if at all, but it’s obvious that people stay on Twitter for the same reason I do: that’s where the interesting goings-on are. And unless we can make those goings-on accessible elsewhere, nobody is leaving, even if it does mean putting up with making new accounts every few months and getting shadowbanned occasionally by douchebag SJWs.

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We, the Two, by Dominika Lein

Unusual, but enjoyable. Lein does a good job handling frankly mind-bending concepts in the story—the cast moves through multiple different dimensions with different, disconnected fundamental rules of reality—without making the mistake of trying to explain the how or why behind them.

This story expands on its predecessor, I, the One, and explains a fair bit more about what’s going on in the world. It’s really a prequel since it is chronologically earlier than the events in I, the One. It stands alone well enough, I think, but for the best experience read the stories in the published order.

This story is nothing like what I normally read, but I enjoyed it, and I hope to see more of this strange universe and its inhabitants revealed in future stories.

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NaNoWriMo – day 27

I just wrapped up one of the stories I wrote for NaNoWriMo. It’s a bit over 13,000 words. I do intend to continue the plot, but I’m considering this the end of that particular section of the story because I’m going to branch the story in two directions. One will follow the characters in the story I just wrote, while the other will deal with the fallout from what happened in the first story as experienced by other characters. I’m not sure if I want to write it up as a novel, with this part as Book 1, or a series of novelettes and novellas. I have at least four stories planned for the main character I’ll introduce in the fallout-from-this-story branch, and they all feel like about 15-25,000 word stories.

I’m at 34,200 words for the month, including the 450 words I wrote this morning. There are only four days left including today, so I need to pull four ~4000 word days in a row to make it. I think what I need to do to hit 50k is, instead of bouncing around writing different stories, try to write one complete story start to finish. Or at least pick up one of the stories I started this month and focus solely on that, working through the uncertain bits that are making me stop, so that I’m not diffusing my efforts and losing focus as a result. I like working on several stories at once, but there’s no doubt in my mind it’s dinging my productivity.

I’m pretty good at working in a crunch, since that is kind of my natural state. I procrastinate, but make sure I have enough time to get the job done, then bang it out just in time. I’ve always been this way, and it’s possible I’ll never change (even though I want to). So I think I’ll make 50k, one way or another, even if it means writing 10,000 words on Nov 30.

Thanksgiving turned out to be very disruptive. Things were a bit weird this year and I ended up essentially spending four days on family-related Thanksgiving things. Family came up from Tennessee and I had to see them Friday, and our “official” gathering didn’t happen until yesterday, while requiring some prep Saturday since it was at my place. The only reasons I got any words done at all the last couple days were because I’ve successfully made a habit of writing, and because writing is coming much, much easier to me than it was a month ago. The last couple days I banged out ~1500 words each day even though I barely had any time to write. It’s now pretty easy to get started and my productivity is determined by how little I alt-tab out of FocusWriter to look something up, as long as I know where the story is going.

Otherwise, I’ve been itching to do some blog posts but I haven’t wanted to distract myself from my fiction writing. And starting Friday I’m going to be out of town to hunt for several days. Maybe if I get a solid 4000+ words this afternoon and still have some energy I’ll write up at least one of those posts.

Anyway. I’m off to write, as soon as I decide which story to work on. The horror story, or the more fun adventure story? Or something new entirely? Decisions, decisions.

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Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving to anyone who might wander by before midnight. I hope you had a good holiday.

I spent most of mine playing Dungeon Keeper 2. For various reasons—but mostly because my sister is working at the hospital—my family isn’t having our official celebration and fancy meal until Sunday.

And now, to write for a bit. Even though I screwed off most of the day, I did manage to get some inspiration out of mining gold, building dungeons and vanquishing heroes with my demonic hordes.

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Things that annoyed me today

Seems like everything is annoying me today, and I’m generally in a really bad mood that’s negatively affecting my ability to work, so maybe writing this post will let me vent a bit and settle back down.

Item one: Gamers are overreacting to EA’s ‘Star Wars’ controversy; publishers should raise prices: Analyst

Here’s the quote that makes me want to reach through my screen and slap this guy:

The analyst estimated cost per hour for a typical “Star Wars Battlefront II” player. He said if a gamer spent $60 for the game, an additional $20 per month for loot micro-transaction boxes and played around 2.5 hours a day for one year, it comes out to roughly 40 cents per hour of entertainment. This compares to an estimated 60 cents to 65 cents per hour for pay television, 80 cents per hour for a movie rental and more than $3 per hour for a movie watched in a theater, according to the firm’s analysis.

“If you take a step back and look at the data, an hour of video game content is still one of the cheapest forms of entertainment,” he wrote. “Quantitative analysis shows that video game publishers are actually charging gamers at a relatively inexpensive rate, and should probably raise prices.”

You, sir, are an impressively stupid fuck. For one thing, forms of entertainment are not fungible, and nobody but retard analysts think they are. Nobody sits down, figures out a “price per hour” value of entertainment from a selection of choices, then picks the cheapest one. It’s an irrelevant metric.

Also, look closely at this assumption:

if a gamer spent $60 for the game, an additional $20 per month for loot micro-transaction boxes and played around 2.5 hours a day for one year

He thinks gamers get 912.5 hours of play out of individual games. 2.5 hours a day, for one year. 2.5 * 365 = 912.5. Do I even need to explain how fucking retarded that assumption is? I don’t think so. And since a new game that costs $60 nearly always requires a decent rig to run well in the year after release, you can’t just ignore the cost of the gaming computer. That alone will be $600+, so he didn’t even get his dumbass assumption right. He’s off by a factor of two even if the gamer upgrades every 2 years and only plays the one game, ever.

And this guy claims he’s a gamer. So he’s a lying sack of shit, too, playing the “Hello fellow gamers!” card.

These are the “elites”, people. Total idiots who make decisions that affect millions of people with no more understanding of the decision they’re making than my dog has of calculus.

Item two: Thanks to EA’s greed making international news with the Battlefront 2 lootbox debacle, the governments of several countries are now planning to stick their noses in and regulate gaming. For the children.

The gaming community is pretty divided. I see strong support for government intervention from some people, and some people warning it’s a slippery slope and it’s going to ruin the hobby. The reality is, the government already regulates gambling. There’s no new power grab here, it’s just waking up to the fact that shady microtransaction bullshit often is exactly that: gambling.

Want to be pissed at someone? Be pissed at the douchebag studios who couldn’t just make decent games and sell them. Be pissed at the developers who purposely emulated slot machines in mobile games to suck money from children (via their parents) and people with poor impulse control. They did this. Sow the wind, reap the whirlwind. Welcome to real life, kids.

Item three: Electric semi tractors and the snake oil salesman Elon Musk

Electric cars are not ready for prime time, and odds are they never will be. There are a pile of reasons why, from cost of purchase and ownership, to infrastructure, to the issues they will cause with the electric grid if even a small percentage of the population starts plugging in a high amp charger at night.

Electric semis are even worse.

Do you know how big a battery in a typical Telsa S is? 90 to 100 kWh. Call it 100 kWh for the sake of this post. To charge a 100 kWh battery in 30 minutes, in ideal conditions, you need a 200 kW charger. 200 kW for 1/2 hour = 100 kWh of stored power, ignoring all losses and the fact that batteries don’t charge linearly from 0 to 100% charged.

A semi tractor will need a battery much larger than the Tesla S. The Tesla S weighs about 4000 pounds loaded, and gets ~250 miles of range in ideal conditions. A semi with a loaded trailer can weigh 80,000 pounds, and needs to go 500 miles at a shot. A diesel semi can get about 1/5-1/4 the fuel economy of a normal-size diesel car, so let’s say the semi needs a battery 8x larger than the Tesla S. Double it for the range, and multiply that times 4 to make up for the efficiency loss.

So the truck needs an 800 kWh battery, minimum. And Musk claims it will be chargeable in 30 minutes. That means you need on the order of a 1.6 megawatt charger available for each truck, for 30 minutes.

Do you begin to see the infrastructure problem here? A truck can fill its tanks with diesel in 10 minutes, so you need at least 3x the charging stations (because it takes 3x as long to fill up the battery as the tanks) as there are diesel pumps on the highway now to accommodate the semi trailor traffic that already exists if they all go electric. You actually need more than 3x the charging stations as pumps, because a semi can carry a lot more than 500 miles worth of range in diesel, and will have to fill up more often with a battery.

Then you need to improve the power grid commensurately because believe it or not, there isn’t just a bunch of spare generation capacity sitting around waiting to be used. We’re talking about raising the base demand permanently. For reference, you can power a large neighborhood with a 1.6 megawatt electrical supply. Call it 100 homes, easy, and I’m not talking about dinky little one bedroom huts. It is not a small amount of power. Regardless of the generation method you used, it would cost well over $1 million per charger to add the requisite capacity to the grid. Who’s going to pay for that?

And it gets more complicated than that. It’s not great for the electrical grid to experience big swings of demand, which is exactly what will happen when trucks are randomly plugging in to suck down 1.6 megawatts of juice at a time.

Then, Musk is claiming he can deliver electricity for $0.07 per kWh, flat rate. The national average rate is about $0.13 per kWh. So what the fuck? He’s going to jack the demand for electricity through the roof with millions of electric vehicles, then magically sell it at way below market rates? Give me a fucking break.

I could continue in this vein for awhile, but the point is, it irritates the shit out of me that people take these proposals seriously without doing the math. And that the treehuggers and other True Believers attack the people who do do the math and see there are major problems in the plan for electric vehicle expansion.


Okay, that actually did help. I had several more things that were irritating me today, but I’m not going to spend more time on them. It’s time for dinner, then I want to get some work done.

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NaNoWriMo update – day 20

It’s more like National [Pile of novelettes] Writing Month, the way I’m doing it. Only one of the stories I’ve worked on this month is a novel-length work and at about 6000 words in, I’m not sure I’m going to continue it.

I’m at about 22,000 words of fiction total for the month, which is about 10,000 behind where I should be. I want to hit 50k this month, and I will try to bust my ass to do so over the next few days, but on the whole I’m actually quite pleased with how much more productive I’ve become.

I took a long stretch of time off from writing this year. I don’t think I wrote a single word between about mid January 2017 and October 2017. I focused hard on programming instead, and didn’t even blog. When I started trying to get back into writing in September, it was a real struggle. I got a few words down in October, but not many. I was having a lot of trouble focusing.

October
Wrote on 11 days
Wrote 6034 words
549 words written per writing day
195 words written per day overall

This month has been much, much better. Ignoring today, since it’s not even 10 AM and I am going to get my writing done after this, I’ve written 21769 words in 19 days, with 5 days where I didn’t write at all.

November (through Nov 19)
Wrote on 14 days
Wrote 21769 words
1555 words written per writing day
1146 words written per day overall

So I’m almost three times as productive on my writing days compared to October, and I’m writing significantly more often. I can feel it getting easier and easier to focus and produce, too. Back in September I could plan stories but could not get started, and I had a hell of a time writing even a coherent blog post. In October, I could blog okay, but fiction was a real slog. Now, blog posts are very easy to bang out (as they should be) and my fiction productivity is okay. It’s not coming as easily as it used to, but it’s not bad.

My goal is 4000 words a day, at least five days a week. One million words a year. I’m going to keep grinding until I get there, keep refining my technique and paring away at distractions. I know I can get 4000 words done in way less than 8 hours. I’ve done it. I’ve had my 8000+ words days. I just need to get back to that level, find that well of inspiration that lets me drive hard without having to stop every 500 words.

And I can feel it coming back, you know. I tap that vein sometimes, and just let the creativity flow. It feels good.

To win NaNoWriMo, I need to write a bit over 28,000 more words and I have 11 days to do it, counting today. That’s a mere ~2546 words per day. I will get it done.

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A nation of pussies, we’ve become

I used to follow this woman on Twitter, Carolyn Emerick. I originally followed her because I was working on a project that drew heavily on western folklore, and she was listed as a folklorist. Well, she didn’t say much about folklore and I disagreed with plenty of what she said, but it was interesting enough, so I didn’t unfollow her.

Then one day a couple weeks ago she made a statement that sounded to me like she thought women should be the head of the household. That is a recipe for disaster, so I asked for clarification. She attacked, and as soon as I replied that it was the first time I’d ever said anything to her so she could hardly claim I deserved to be attacked for some pattern of behavior, I was blocked.

Huh. That was the first time I’d ever spoken to her, and she immediately blocked me at a sign of dissent. And this was a woman who spent a lot of time talking about how men and women on the right need to get along and stop fighting.

…Whatever. Someone like that is too fragile for me to care about. She was hardly the first person to block me—I’ve been blocked for Wrong Following by most of the professionals in comics—though she was the first to block me over such a trivial slight.

Today, I woke up and was browsing my Twitter feed, when I saw a tweet by Razorfist that made me roll my eyes. “Punisher is a lame Death Wish ripoff,” he said. Plenty of people dissented, me included, with good reason. The Crusading Widower is a trope so simple, and so ancient, that it’s absurd to claim any story that follows that trope rips off another. This is what I meant when I discussed originality in an earlier post. You can’t look at very high level human concepts—fundamental motives—and pretend any story that uses them rips off earlier stories that also used them. That’s retarded. If that’s the case, I can point to a number of stories Death Wish ripped off in turn.

And again, I was blocked. First time I ever said anything to the guy. I didn’t attack him, I just expressed dissent in a fairly polite way. I’m sick of claims that everything is a ripoff by people who should know better, and I’m going to call it out when I see it if the claim is wrong. Plagiarism does exist, but it rarely applies to the claims I hear being made.

As an aside, it’s funny this should happen now. Two days ago I started a project assessing the claim that Geralt of Rivia is an outright ripoff of Elric of Melniboné, a claim popularized by Razorfist himself. So far, from what I’ve read in the books, the claim is bullshit. The characters have almost nothing in common where it actually matters, which is their character and actions. But I’ll be fair and do a thorough assessment.

I don’t mind being blocked people like the examples above, because if you can’t handle even simple, polite dissent without throwing a blocking tantrum—not even just muting the conversation!—you’re not worth my attention. But damn, if this hasn’t become a nation of complete pussies.

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Furman Simms and the Problem Princess (The Adventures of Furman Simms Book 0), by Justin Knight

From the synopsis on Amazon:

Furman Simms is an intergalactic bounty hunter. A man who lives his life one day at a time, taking which ever jobs he pleases, visiting various planets, and shooting various people, all for a pay day.

After one such job goes messy, Furman is offered a rescue mission. The planet Himal is hosting a free speech event, but it is invaded by masked hipster protestors who are intent on causing havoc, assault, and property damage. Furman must rescue two writers, guests of the event, as well as a pampered princess who is in the wrong place at the wrong time, or is she?

My Review – ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆

It’s just what it says on the tin, and I enjoyed it. I wasn’t bored or confused, so Mr. Knight got past those two major hurdles pretty well. It’s a shortish story and it moves quickly, without any fluff. I laughed out loud a number of times at the references Knight made to current events; not all readers will get those.

It loses a star because it also feels somewhat unpolished. Not in a way that makes it unreadable; there are no major problems. There were just some quirks that could’ve been ironed out.

Recommended.

Find it here.

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