Month: October 2006 Page 1 of 4

Manga du Jour

Check out Monster, by Naoki Urasawa.*

What can I say without giving away the plot? It’s, uh, about a serial killer. And a doctor, accused of murder, who dedicates himself to tracking down the real murderer and killing the killer himself. About two mysterious kids. Neo-Nazis. Hospital politcs. Psychology. It goes on.

For those who aren’t into manga, this really doesn’t come across as manga. For one thing, the art reminds me more of Terry Moore, the creator of Strangers in Paradise, than anything else. The doctor’s ex, it’s like looking at a ghost. For another thing, there aren’t seven million references you won’t get, since the story’s set in Germany rather than Japan. There are even a couple of western references that crack me up: the head of the investigation looks remarkably like a twisted version of Sherlock Holmes.

What makes it stand out? Great plot, very nearly four-dimensional characters, lots of tension. And moral quandries. Lots of moral quandires.

*(This means Dave.)

Smut & Politics

Hm…be upset about the fiction of James Webb, the Democratic challenger to Virginia Republican Senator George Allen’s seat, which supposedly demeans women, or be upset that Webb’s fiction is being taken for his personal treatment of women? Wait! Wait! I need to know whether Webb’s books support gay marriage before I can decide!

Here’s my overgeneralization of the politics of the moment:

Republican: Lots of conviction. Unable to grasp the principal that the ends don’t justify the means. Unable to cope with the fact that a lot of the problems we’re dealing with now come from the bed Regan made. How is it that trickle-down economics isn’t supposed to lead to immegration problems, overseas outsourcing of US jobs, and corporate corruption now?

Democrats: No conviction. All self-righteousness and no chutzpa to back it up. Impeach the bastard for or I won’t vote for you guys either. Get it? The Republicans tried to get Clinton out for lying about S-E-X. You can’t get your act together to even try to push Bush out of office for all the crap he’s pulled. Or even to stop a torture bill. O woe is me my butt!

Or maybe I’ll just quote John Grisham:

“This is a clear sign of a desperate campaign. … I seriously doubt George Allen is much of a reader, but if he would read more, maybe he would understand the difference between fiction and nonfiction.”

Battlestar Galactica

I watched a little bit of the first season with Lee the other day. I don’t think I can watch too much more of it…good stuff, but too dang painful. I just wondered, does this remind anybody else of the Phil K. Dick story, “The Second Variety“?

More Snow Day…?

The base was still closed until 10 a.m. and remains closed to non-Mission-Essential personnel. My boss is still trying to determine whether we’re essential or not. You hate me now, don’t you?

The utility co. reports about 15,000-20,000 customers in Colorado Springs were without power yesterday.




Coincedence. This arrived in my mailbox this morning:

Word of the day:………..’nevar’ [neh-BAR]
English translation:…….to snow

Other meanings: ‘poner blanca una cosa’ – to whiten


Las nubes cubren el cielo y empieza a nevar.
The clouds cover the sky and it begins to snow.

(via Spanish Word-A-Day.)


Lee took pity on me and finished Terry Pratchett’s Wintersmith this morning. I swear I read more books in a month than he does in an entire year…

Wintersmith is part of the Tiffany Aching JV series. Tiffany is a young witch, living on the Chalk Hills (nowhere near Lancre). The first book, Hat Full of Sky, shows Tiffany at age 9; Wee Free Men shows her at 11. She’s 13 now…not a lucky number. She inadvertantly got herself mixed up with the Wintersmith, the spirit of winter, who thinks she’s an avatar of the Lady of Summer that he can finally get his elemental hands on, well, once he figures out how to make hands.

The book is great up to the ending, which doesn’t have the same power as Pratchett’s best books (the end of Thud!* was awesome). It isn’t a big failing, just not up to what I’d been hoping for. It’s almost like he ran out of wordcount…not badly plotted, just…rushed.

The thing that gets to me, though, is that this series (as with Pratchett’s other JV series) is a kind of anti-stupid instruction manual for kids. That is, anti-stupid up to the point where sometimes things flip around and you have to do something stupid, because that’s what has to be done. In this book, Tiffany is watching the Other Morris Dance (the one that welcomes in the winter), when her feet get the best of her and drag her into the dance…after she’s been told not to do it. Tiffany says she didn’t mean it, but the other witches laugh at her for not taking responsibility for herself. The rest of the book is Tiffany learning how to take responsibility for what happens, even if “it isn’t her fault” or “it isn’t her job.” And how to say no to unwanted advances, also a useful thing to know.

Entertainment for girls has changed from “support other people” to “take leadership; be powerful.” Wintersmith‘s message is “be yourself, but take responsibility for yourself, too.” Much more useful, I think.

* How Not to Be Stupid about War for Adults

Power Innage!

The power went out…nine-ish, came back on about…three-ish? We watched tree branches fall down at the house across the backyard. Crunch! I lay down in front of the fireplace for a nap, woke up with the sunshine in my face…woke up again when the fishtank started splashing…

A day off just isn’t the same when your spouse can’t play World of Warcraft. (Ray went outside and pelted us with snowballs.) One of our neighbors spend a while this morning knocking snow off his birdhouses and the lower branches of his trees…I think his wife chased him outside. On the plus side, Lee shoveled the sidewalk, and you know that wouldn’t have happened without a remote-control robot otherwise.


New Jersey court recognizes right to same-sex unions

Fair’s fair.

Holiday for interracial couples–“Loving Day” Interracial marriages were made legal across the U.S. in 1967. I remember arguing with a guy during college about it, though. He said it was wrong to have interracial kids, because they’d be treated like freaks. I got treated like a freak at times, growing up white next to a reservation. I got treated like a freak for being smart! What, were my parent supposed to break up and date stupid people to balance each other out? Was I supposed to grow up somewhere else, so I’d never get a taste of what it was like to be pushed around because of my race?

Kids that come from same-sex marriages will be treated badly. They already are. But, like the rest of us who have survived freakdom, they’ll be all the more interesting for it.


If death holds no fear for the true Buddhist, why be vegetarian?

(Be vegetarian if you like: I often eat that way myself. It’s lighter on resources, cheaper, healthier if managed well, and delicious. But eating vegetarian doesn’t guarantee that you’re not harming animals (encroached habitat, pesticides) or saving the environment (pollution caused by shipping, processing, packaging). Not eating meat is not equivalent to righteousness.)

Snow day! Snow day!

The base is closed! The base is closed!

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