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Below are the 20 most recent journal entries recorded in Eric Stokien's LiveJournal:

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    Monday, March 4th, 2013
    4:17 pm
    Darwin's Radio
    So long time, no write, LiveJournal.

    A quick mini-review of a book I just read. Darwin's Radio by Greg Bear. It's not always clear what is a spoiler and what isn't in a book like this, but I think I can safely say that this is a near future Science Fiction story, involving genetic scientists, anthropologists and the CDC. It is hard SF, going pretty heavy on technical jargon (there's a mini-glossary in the back of the book), but one of things it does well is portray the politics and business of science, and the human frailties and strengths of those working within.

    From here on it is a bit more spoilerish. Read more...Collapse )

    All in all, this is a book with fascinating ideas, and speaks to both evolutionary theory, and the confluence of politics, science and human nature.

    Current Mood: thoughtful
    Friday, September 21st, 2012
    10:04 pm
    Essay Link
    An essay on why we do repetitive things that we don't enjoy, how commercial banality insulates us from thought provocation, and the most recent Batman movie.

    http://daleberan.tumblr.com/post/31966231768/occupy-batman

    Current Mood: thoughtful
    Thursday, October 20th, 2011
    3:11 pm
    New Album
    Since I've promoted it on every other Social Network I belong to now, let me complete the trifecta, My musical group, Cliar Cu Buidhe, has put out a new album, Cliar Cu Buidhe Period, of all songs that either date to the Medieval and Renaissance period, or setting poetry from that period to original music. We have a promotional video you can check out at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MI2_PHAj1pw and you can find out about our group and purchase our albums at http://www.cliarcubuidhe.org/troupe.html

    I now return you to your regularly schedule LiveJournal system.

    Current Mood: accomplished
    Friday, November 26th, 2010
    2:22 pm
    The True Meaning of Christmas Cat Toys
    So, a couple of years ago, I wandered into PetCo to pick up the usual pet supplies, and they had a big clearance on holiday themed cat toys. It was a lot of cat toys for the dollar, and so I picked up a package of red mice with green ears and red and green jingly balls, figuring that the cats didn't know the difference.

    Present day, my mom put up the Christmas tree early expecting that she was going to be on a trip late November and early December and not wanting to leave things until then. The cats were thrilled by this and I started to find ornaments on the ground every morning. I thought about it, and then realized it was time to bring out the remaining holiday cat toys. I scattered them around the room where the tree was, and they do seem to have served their purpose of distracting the cats when they are feeling playful in that room, and fitting in with the general holiday color scheme. Between that, the fact that one broken ornament bulb may have freaked one of the cats out, and the fact that by putting ornaments that the cats have knocked down up higher in the tree there may be fewer temptations at eye level, there have been no ornament findings lately. (And lots of cat toy sightings in new places) So, I'm declaring this incident solved for the moment.

    Current Mood: accomplished
    Friday, October 22nd, 2010
    3:01 am
    Anime out now
    So most of the time if I talk about anime in this journal or elsewhere it is about some subtitled anime that I've downloaded off of the web, and which most people lacking the desire to go looking for bittorrents can't really check out on their own. This is a bit of a grey area with regards to anime companies, as on the one hand it is anime they aren't being paid for, on the other hand, it often generates buzz which can help out the anime sales when they actually come out in the USA and elsewhere. So having recently noticed some ads for anime that I watched back when it was on the sub circuit, I figured I'd do what part I can for buzz, and give my impressions on these series. So without further ado and in no particular order.

    Bamboo Blade - As might be guessed from the title, this is an anime about a Kendo club. Kendo is the sport based on Japanese sword fighting techniques, so this is mostly a sports anime, but with elements of fighting anime. I'm generally not a sports anime type, but this is a fun, quirky anime in the best tradition of Japanese quirkiness. Essentially, the Kendo club at a school, is down to one regular attendee, the enthusiastic female captain, being half-heartedly coached by a broke teacher. The teacher gets invited out to dinner and drinking with an old colleague of his from his kendo days who is coaching at a couple schools. He winds up leaving the meeting with a bet, that his female squad would beat the female squad of his friend in a practice match in a month or so. At stake is a year's supply of sushi from the restaurant belonging to his friend's family. Suddenly he needs to recruit enough girls to make a squad. He finds a ringer in the diminuitive Tama-chan, whose father owns a kendo dojo, and has been practicing there for years. The problem is that she thinks of kendo as a chore, and would rather spend her free time watching anime. How can he and the captain, who is thrilled with the idea of having a real team get her to participate in the club? The anime winds up being about this kendo club, but also about Tama-chan growing as a person (if not in stature) as she learns to make new friends, and new rivals. The characters in this are quirky, fun and generally pretty well rounded, (at least among the club members) and you don't need to know anything about Kendo to enjoy the anime, though you may learn something about it. The whole thing is out on DVD and free episodes can be watched here.

    Eden of the East - This series is only 11 episodes, and falls into the category of thriller, I think. A young woman on the last day of a post graduation trip to Washington, DC does something silly (I think she throws a rock at the White House) and draws the attention of the police she runs and gets aided by a young man who happens to be naked, has lost his memory, and has only a strange cell phone. The cell phone it turns out has a very large sum of money on it (in yen, but I believe it is the equivalent of tens of billions of dollars). It connects with a woman who can make pretty much anything happen , but each service has a cost that drains from that sum. As it turns out if you spend all of that money, or fail to spend any of it for a period of time, you will be considered out of the "game" and you will be terminated. The man finds a safe house of his, with clothing and multiple passports, and the two of them return to Japan. Over the course of the anime, there seem to be indications that somewhere in that erased memory, the man had something to do with a missile attack on Tokyo, that may or may not have killed a lot of people.

    This anime has an interesting premise, and deals with it pretty well. There is a sub story going on about the fate of Japan's NEETs, the graduates of their colleges with no jobs awaiting them in the real world, but a strong connection to technology. The characters have a good range from grounded to eccentric, and if some might be considered over-the-top, it at least seems to be in a different way than in most anime. A solid mini-series. Find episodes here.

    Sengoku Basara: Samurai Kings- OK, I haven't watched all of this series yet, it got licensed not too long into it and stopped being subbed after that. However, I watched enough to get a pretty strong picture of it. We've had our sport's anime and our thriller anime, but this one is our over-the-top action anime. The leaders of the Sengoku period of Japan, when many states warred for the Shogunate are imagined as over-the-top warriors, with over-the-top personalities. Throw in some ninja assistants, along with some anachronistic designs, and turn things up to eleven, and you've got Sengoku Basara. One could guess that it is based on a video game, but it tackles things with such gusto, it is hard to be critical of it. It may also contain the most impractical outfit ever worn by a female ninja, and that's saying something given the outfits that have appeared in anime and games over the years. Find it here.

    I'd like to mention Okamisan, which has the most original take on fairy tales that I've seen in a long time, but I'm not sure it is officially out yet, though episodes are available on the same Funimation site that the links point to. So I'll let this go with these 3 very different animes that each offer something outside of the usual anime mold.
    Tuesday, July 20th, 2010
    3:53 pm
    Projects
    Spending lots of time in waiting rooms while Bill is in appointments has put a high premium on finding things to read or do, and I wound up pulling out Galileo's Daughter by Dava Sobel once again since it was both conveniently in an open box, and something I had only read once and that several years ago. Shortly after starting into it I realized that Galileo had built his famous telescope, 1) on the resources and talents of a cash strapped mathematics professor and 2) in 1611, well before 1650. This made me wonder about the feasibility of creating a replica and so I did some quick research into it. There were in fact multiple links on building your own galilean telescope in the Wikipedia footnotes, which I took as a helpful sign, but soon reminded me of the differences between historical recreation and science class projects and the vast spectrum in between. On one hand there is the website science project which involves cardboard tubes and mail order lenses. On the other side we have Galileo himself, hand grinding and polishing his lenses, and using metal tubing, probably ordered to specification from craftspeople, but not really discussed in any online sources I've found so far (though some of their article citations look promising). And personally, I'm pondering somewhere in the middle. Nesting copper tubing should be something findable via hardware stores. Might even be able to find something for an eyepiece there. Which leaves me with the lenses. Ordering the lenses is much more practical, but means I'm not really recreating the process. It is probably possible to order blanks for the lenses to try and tackle myself, but I will need to figure out equipment for grinding and polishing lenses, dramatically increasing effort and likely cost. It is interesting to note that this would probably give a much inferior product, but would probably score much higher by the standards of SCA judging.

    Current Mood: contemplative
    Tuesday, June 22nd, 2010
    1:38 pm
    Decent discussion on To the Point
    So I caught a bit of the radio show To the Point when running an errand today, and it surprised me by being interesting (I've rarely found the debates on the show interesting since it was just Which Way LA, and it was a full hour long). They were discussing the future of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, which currently own something like 90% of the mortgages in the US or some such. The economist on the show had a conservative bent, and was remarking that primarily they work to keep interest rates down for mortgages, but that that drives up prices, and in the long run you pay the same with higher interest and cheaper houses. (Perhaps you actually pay more since property taxes and such are based on price valuations) He believed that they should be split up and sold to the private sector with government guarantees on loans having a time limit. The other guest was an economic journalist (the author of The Big Short and other books) and he made a few points. First, that the private sector has not shown itself to be very good at pricing long term risks, and that privatization of risk is fine until the point where you get systemic risk such as the recent crisis where government feels compelled to step in, and consequences of bad bets get nullified. Second, that government has been involved in the housing sector since the great depression, and for much of that time, it has functioned well. Third, that other countries without the stabilizing forces of these institutions have no such thing as the 30 year fixed mortgage which has played such a big role in our country's home real estate market, and what most Americans would say was a positive role.

    On the one hand, I would say that there certainly is a great deal of unreality in our housing market, and places like LA have wound up with highly skewed real estate markets. And where things are highly skewed it is usually the result of some incentives doing the skewing. On the other hand a true real estate free for all would be truly scary out here, and even gradual scaling back of incentives can have huge ripple effects as speculators jump to get ahead of the trends. And the balance between commercial and residential markets is particularly difficult in California where Prop 13 makes governments far more reliant on commercial sales tax revenues over residential property tax revenues. (Of course, you never see the conservatives who lobby for decreases in business taxes for competitiveness calling for repealing Prop 13)

    Current Mood: contemplative
    Friday, February 19th, 2010
    6:48 pm
    Most unusual current anime
    While the truth is that there is plenty of strangeness in all sorts of anime, this happens to the extent that strangeness is no longer all that unusual. Cut for discussion of adolescents and underwearCollapse )
    Thursday, December 31st, 2009
    3:05 pm
    Best New Anime Series of 2009
    I had an urge to do a top 5 list for 2009, but in most categories I barely have anything that came out in 2009, and my perspective would be rather pointless. There is however one thing I have seen a pretty fair percentage of for this year, and that would be Anime fansubs. Everything I will list has not made it to DVDs in America yet, to my knowledge, but may in the future. Hopefully I am doing my part here to increase word of mouth for when they do come out. Overall, I watched 20 or so new series, 1 sequel and one prequel with significant enough differences to their originals to be considered separately from them, and an undefined number of continued series, special features to watched series, series that were unappealing enough for me to dump them, and series that got pulled before I could watch enough to form a reasoned opinion. Series such as Hayate no Gotoku 2, Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya 2, and Spice and Wolf 2 are removed from consideration as 2009 series, as they are continuations with the same main cast.

    I don't know if it is really a top 5 list if I don't rank them, so I have using some fairly arbitrary numbers and gut feelings. All of these are recommended, but your personal rankings will probably vary from mine.

    5. Basquash!
    Read more...Collapse )

    4. Kimi no Todoke
    Read more...Collapse )

    3. Bakemonogatari
    Read more...Collapse )

    2. Kemono no Souja Erin
    Read more...Collapse )

    1. Eden of the East
    Read more...Collapse )
    Saturday, November 21st, 2009
    7:18 pm
    Gratuitous Space Battles
    That is actually the name of a new game for PC. I think a brief description will tell whether you are likely to enjoy it or not. You take spaceship hulls in one of 3 sizes: Fighter, Frigate or Cruiser. Each hull has a number of module slots, either standard slots which will take modules like crew areas, engines, armor, power generators, shield generators, etc, and hardpoints which can take any of the previous, but which are the only place you can stick weapon systems. Every module has a cost, a weight, and usually a power consumption and a number of crew needed to operate it. You need to have enough power generation to power all your systems and enough crew to man all your systems. If you have a legal design you can name it and save it. There are then scenarios where you have opposing ships and you have a certain number of pilots and a certain cost. Cruisers have high cost but only use one pilot, Fighters are cheap but require a lot of trained pilots to fill out a squadron. There are also sometimes battle conditions that limit your deployment. You put your ships out in your deployment area, give them orders for the fight then click a button and watch the battle unfold. The last thing is that if you win the battle and didn't use all the budget you were allotted those credits get turned into honor points which you can use to unlock new modules, hulls and alien races.

    There is a demo with 3 scenarios, enough different modules and hulls to play around with but no ability to unlock new stuff. It's pretty small and fast to download. http://positech.co.uk/gratuitousspacebattles/index.html

    Anyways, if designing space fleets and pitting them against enemy fleets sounds like your idea of a good time, it is worth checking out.
    Saturday, September 12th, 2009
    12:24 pm
    Gardening
    So, when I proved unable to save my chive plants I had an empty pot and an empty windowsill. My friend that I'd originally gotten the plants from had lost hers as well, though she said she had some seeds. After a little reflection I realized that the only thing I knew how to do with chives anyways was put them on sour cream with a baked potato, so I decided I would grow something that I do use, mint. So when running errands I decided to make a stop by the Target Garden center which had one mint plant, a chocolate mint. While I thought this was pretty weird, I'm kind of a fan of weird and mint chocolate is one of my favorite flavor combinations so I decided to take it.

    Now my previous mint growing experience had demonstrated two things to me. One was that mint was loved by snails and other leaf eaters, and two that mint's strategy for such predators was apparently to grow at such a prodigious rate their appetites can't keep up. So planting it in a flowerbed would mean a flowerbed dominated by mint plants with half-eaten leaves. I thought this was however a perfect choice to put in my somewhat larger pot and put in the kitchen windowsill where it would be constrained and protected from snailkind. I was a little worried about the limited light there, but so far the mint has been growing like, well, mint, ie fast. It has sent it's tendrils along the window to soak up all the light it can, is sprouting new growth everywhere and I'm anticipating the day when it has enough mature leaves that I can start experimenting with them.

    Sadly, I'm guessing that this particular strain is not particularly period, but if I get a chocolate mint cordial out of it, I doubt there will be much complaining.
    Tuesday, September 1st, 2009
    2:43 am
    Back to Brewing
    Halved, pitted and peeled some peaches today and set them in a mason jar with some brandy. Hopefully on the road to being a peach cordial and some brandy-soaked peaches. Once I pick up some more vodka and some anise seeds I plan on making a licorice cordial as well. Once I have more vodka I also have at least one other idea for playing with peaches. Perhaps at some point I will also test out my idea for a Mojito cordial, and perhaps test out the repeatability of my Usquebath. Going to either need to find more of my Mason Jars or buy some more, though, if I want to do too much more experimenting. Still even if I only get the two firm planned one done, that at least gives me 4 different things for Taste of Caid at GWW, assuming I have something drinkable by then. Might actually be pinned down to a table this year instead of wandering around with a bottle in my hand. It would be nice to do some actual brewing with yeast, but despite being in a house now, I can't think of any place to put carboys except in the non-temperature stable garage.

    Current Mood: productive
    Thursday, August 20th, 2009
    3:58 pm
    Anime thoughts
    Sometimes I want to talk about anime things, but my mind gets paralyzed under the amount of things I might have to explain to tell it to a reader who isn't an anime fan.
    cut for long anime rantsCollapse )
    Friday, June 12th, 2009
    3:52 pm
    It's the final line that got me
    A Girl and Her Fed

    I'd want a T-shirt but I'm not sure where I'd want to wear it...

    Current Mood: amused
    Tuesday, June 2nd, 2009
    1:45 pm
    For those code monkeys out there
    From a message board discussion of great comments in source code

    // Replaces with spaces the braces in cases where braces in places cause stasis
    $str = str_replace(array("\{","\}")," ",$str);

    I am in awe!

    Current Mood: silly
    Thursday, May 14th, 2009
    2:58 pm
    Michael Silverblatt cracks me up sometimes
    So Michael Silverblatt of Bookworm on KCRW was doing his show today. He had on a guy who wrote a book (or maybe it was several books) that was a reworking of the Fu Manchu character, and looking at the inherent racism of the books, and the movies inspired by that sort of book. The interview was fairly interesting so I left it on.

    Then Silverblatt goes into this long question about this certain point at which the freshness of the approach of William Burroughs and Thomas Pynchon when it has been so incorporated into media becomes a banality even in their future works (and believe me I'm leaving a lot of his description out here) and all attempts at originality seems futile, and I can't even paraphrase any more of this rambling disconnected sentence on post-irony or something. But he follows it up with. "Given that you know that, how can you write?" And there is a pause, in which I imagine the author is contemplating and rejecting the answer "What the hell kind of drugs are you on, Michael?", and then he says, "I can't really answer that question, Michael" and goes into some sort of explanation that I'm not sure had anything to do with the actual question, but would hopefully be long-winded enough that everyone will have forgotten the question actually asked. "Given that you know that" indeed...

    I also note that his rambling began with something like "There was a point, and I think you and I will know when that point is when I finish talking about it..." I'm tempted to try and get a transcript just for the comedy of this question.

    Current Mood: amused
    Sunday, April 26th, 2009
    5:01 pm
    Post-Pentathlon
    It's every kingdom artisans favorite time, the time when Pent is finally over!

    This year was the first time I entered individually, though having to drop an entry at the last minute put me under the 5 entry mark, so I was an Arts Fair participant or some such. Since I wasn't going to take the prize anyways, who the heck cares.
    Read more...Collapse )

    Current Mood: accomplished
    Thursday, April 9th, 2009
    2:03 pm
    What is it about first weekends of the month?!
    So this last weekend I was having a conflict between going to one friend's performance, some dances, and working on my projects. Insert some random personal factors into those as well.

    But May is shaping up to be even more heavy. On one hand, there is Regency and Victorian Dances, which I enjoy and may afford me the chance to figure out whether I want to ask a certain participant out. On the other hand, those are the exams for some of my friends in the Scottish Dance community who are taking dance teacher classes, and they could really use people to teach to dance. This would be helping friends and helping my dance skills there. On the other other hand, it is also an Alumni weekend on my college, and it might be worth attending this year in case there is someone who knows about job openings. So if I overgeneralize greatly, this means I have a choice between love, friendship and career that weekend! Of course, I could also pick a day for each (since Alumni weekend includes Friday), or even try and squeeze multiples on one day (though combining 2 dance events on the same day could be really tiring) but I have to wonder why I rarely seem to have this problem with the last weekend of the month!

    Current Mood: dizzy
    Friday, March 27th, 2009
    1:55 pm
    Wrong Number
    There is something sad, but fitting about the fact that the vast majority of calls I've gotten to my new cell phone have been wrong numbers.
    Wednesday, March 25th, 2009
    6:20 pm
    Moving Status Part 1
    As of 6PM on Wednesday, I have 3 6 gallon plastic containers and 3 book boxes ready to go. The book boxes were already packed, the Plastic containers were opened, sorted, some stuff was thrown out (filling up about half of the 12 gallon trash can), and labelled with a list of their primary contents. My wine rack was denuded of wines and mead which were packed in a wine case. It will be nice if I'll be able to devote this much attention to every box that I pack up, though at some point it will cease to be practical. This is mostly necessary because the last move was so hurried many of these bins were simply filled with whatever was around in an effort to clear them out of the house. I'm flagging a bit at the moment, so I'm warming up the oven for some dinner and dealing with other matters for a bit. I think I'm going to need a projects box, or some such as there are many things for Pentathlon and the like that can't get buried or I'm sunk. It is also amazing the number of things that can't actually get packed practically. Banner poles, and my bow and quiver, my hanging plant, ironing board and litter boxes, drums and vacuum cleaner. Then there are the other decisions. How much dishware is worth keeping? Where do I divide between memento and junk. (I suppose that may be part of the appeal of scrapbooking, what fits nice in the book stays, anything else goes in the trash.)

    Current Mood: listless
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