Monday, January 31, 2005

Weird Associations

So, it's winter and a sign of the season is the perennial sale of Girl Scout Cookies. Every year I buy a lot of boxes of Samoas, because they're awesome. And every year when I bring them home, I say something along of the lines of "I've got Girl Scout Cookies. Made with real Girl Scouts!"
This particular line had its origins in the Vampire LARP we used to play. Donna played a sociopathic looney and had the ingenious idea of selling Girl Scout cookies made with real Girl Scouts and feeding them to all the characters in the game. Besides vampires, this included humans and werewolves and other assorted supernatural creatures, most of whom tried to not harm humans. And wackiness ensued. As Jerry Blank says wistfully, "Good times." (Though, admittedly, this really only makes sense if you've played the game, but trust me, it's funny in a very, very wrong way.)
So that's my weird association, whenever someone says "Girl Scout Cookies" I'll always think "Made with real Girl Scouts."

Whew Part II

So, it's been kinda crazy the last bunch of days. We've been shorthanded at work for various reasons and I've been pulling up the slack, doing double duty as tech and my other managerial duties. This week is shaping up to be not as intensive, so I might be able to update a little more this week. So stay tuned.

Monday, January 24, 2005

Brave New World

That great whoosh you heard around 6pm yesterday was the collective sigh of relief from the entire Philadelphia Region as the Philadelphia Eagles defeated the Atlanta Falcons and the electric Michael Vick 27-10 to advance to their first Super Bowl in 24 years. When the Eagles last went to a Super Bowl, Ronald Reagan was barely into his first 100 days and I was 8 years old. I really don't remember a lot about that season, just the build up to the Super Bowl, because it was all over the local news. I also don't remember a lot of the game itself either. Just that we had spend Super Bowl Sunday at my grandmother's, we seemed to be visiting every weekend. It was an event back then, but not at the level it is today. We left for home while the game was on, and I remember pleading with my Dad to put it on the radio so I could hear up to the bitter end.
But that was my Super Bowl memory, one year removed from a World Series win and two years before an NBA championship, it seemed like Philly was on a roll, and the Eagles would get back to the big dance soon.
Finally, 24 years later, we have another chance. Finally, the monkey is off our back, the critics have been silenced, for now, and the city can enjoy the victory and the vindication and the anticipation and the circus that surrounds the Super Bowl.
There's still one more game to be played, one more opponent to best, and this opponent will their greatest test. The New England Patriots. Defending SuperBowl Champions, a team whose winning record over the last 4 years is second to none, winners of 2 Super Bowls in 3 years, and aiming for a 3rd.
On paper and in the early line New England is clearly the favorite, and their dismantling of Pittsburgh showed why, but as I mentioned before. That's why these games are played, because on any given day any team can best any other team, regardless of any other factors.
But, that's in less than two weeks. Right now Philadelphia is feeling good about itself, people were smiling and partying civilly. For several hours after the game this was truly a City of Brotherly Love. And that kind of civic spirit is why cities and states will continue to fund professional sport franchises and lure them to their cities.
For myself, I look forward to the big game with cautious optimism. New England is a formidable opponent, but not unbeatable. The Eagles will have to play their best game to date and they will beat the Patriots. And then this city will shut down and party harder than it has at any point that I can recall.
I can't wait.

Friday, January 21, 2005

The Hockey Lockout Claims It's First Victim.

Surely this should be a wake up call. After something like this, I find the two sides positions assuming that the fans will return, increasingly hard to believe.

Cyber Spite

The Donna sends this unintentionally hilarious article about online RPGs, people's weaknesses and the new ways to exploit them.

Thursday, January 20, 2005

Deathknell continues

I was going to mention that talks were starting up again, but I figured I'd wait until there some progress. Good thing I waited. As this article says, absolutely nothing has changed. Hopefully, one day we'll have professional hockey again.

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

LInk Of The Day

You know Jibjab's hit the big time when KYW1060 considers their new release worthy enough to merit a mention every 22 minutes. Like their previous two films skewering the election process, this one skewers Bush's victory and the Inauguration. Worth checking out.

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Another Balmy Day in Paradise

While I highly suspect that I would thorougly enjoy life in Southern California. like my friend Dave, all things considered, at least I don't live in Embarrass, Minnesota.
While it's a testament to the durability and adaptability of humanity to its environment, I just don't see the appeal.

Monday, January 17, 2005

It All Comes Down To This

So, here we are a year later, a little older, a little wiser, and the Eagles are hosting yet another NFC Championship game. All the criticisms about resting players and whatever were answered yesterday in a neat 27-14 victory over the Minnesota Vikings.
But, as many questions as they've answered, the Eagles still have more left to prove. The Atlanta Falcons seem, to me at least, to be exactly the kind of team that has flummoxed the Eagles in the NFC Championship game the past two years. Great Defense and a good offense. Add in the unpredictability of Michael Vick and you can probably imagine a lot of Philadelphians sleeping uneasily this week.
Still, as everybody says this Eagles team is fundamentally more balanced and a decidedly better team than any previous year. Like with any sport, it's ultimately the players who decide the outcome, not stats, not history, not expert analysis. That's why these games are played after all.
For myself, I'll try not to think about the game, get some good sleep, and then when Sunday rolls around I'll be a nervous wreck all 3 hours of game time. And we'll see what happens from there.

Friday, January 14, 2005

Activism or Jurisprudence II

From the "I can't believe that this is still an issue" department comes this recent ruling against an Georgia School Board's decision to preface Biology textbooks with a sticker saying that evolution is only a theory.
I suppose that, semantics-wise, that's true, but considering there exists a preponderance of evidence, to use the civil court standard, collected by thousands of scientists for over 100 years to support this theory, I'm thinking that evolution is not some unsubstantiated or ludicrous claim. But, then again, I'm a heretic, so what do I know.

One Step Forward, Two Steps Back

A lot of people will probably complain that Sharon is playing
again, and that he should give Abbas a chance to assert his power. But, I can see why Sharon would want to play hardball sooner rather than later, to find out if Abbas will be like Arafat or will really push for peace

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Anybody Remember Hockey?

You remember that in the days between Eagles and Sixers games there used to be a fast paced sport with equal parts skill and brutality? No? Me either. This is probably why. As I've stated before, their near sightedness will only succeed in ruining professional hockey at the highest level, as this report seems to indicate. When 50% of the fans don't care if there's a season, that doesn't seem indicative of a healthy sport, at least not here in the U.S. Canada is a different matter, Hockey is king there. So, Naturally they're more upset about it.

Activism or Jurisprudence?

So the Supreme Court rules against mandatory sentencing for Federal Courts and decides not to hear a Florida Gay Adoption case. One sounds like a liberal victory, the other sounds like a conservative victory. And again the Rehnquist court continues to baffle any and all who attempt to predict how they will rule. Since the SCOTUS can decline a case without comment, we don't know why they didn't hear the gay adoption case, but I agree that they should have.
But, overall, it sounds like the system is working just fine to me.

Monday, January 10, 2005

Of Course Democracy Works

Though as the Ukrainians prove, it ain't always pretty. Kudos to the people of Ukraine, Victor Yuschenko, and all the organizations,watchdogs, and volunteers who perservered and survived the attempt to highjack the democratic process. Definitely one of the feel good stories of the year.

***EDIT: Fixed typo in title.***

I'm Shocked. Shocked, I Say!

Another follow up to the UN Oil for Food scandal. An independent inquiry has posted the results of of the Iraq Oil for Food program and finds several areas to criticize the UN and its oversight bodies for. It sounds like incompetence and understaffing enabled a lot of collusion. But, I'm sure more details will come to light shortly, and maybe some indictments.

I didn't say anything about the dust up last week over the "stingy" comments and the level of US aid, because I thought it was asisine, and other people covered it. But, honestly, it looks like the UN is pretty much useless in this thing. This guy agrees. (Linked from Instapundit.)

A New Beginning

This and not Randy Moss' fake mooning is probably one, though not the only one, of the biggest stories to come out of the weekend. Everybody is saying all the right things as the world congratulates him, but it remains to be seen if he will actually be an effective President. Hamas and Arafat's militants still remain a problem, especially since they celebrated Abbas' election by calling for more glorious martyrs.
As a side note, I am so confident that Abbas will be an effective leader that I only put him as an alternate on the Dead Pool that I'm in.

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

What I'm Watching Part 2: Gundam

Even, though a couple of series I've been watching have ended, I'll probably still be writing about them, if for no other reason than to sharpen my critical thinking skills, or lack thereof.
So here we go with Part 2 (For those that care: Part 1)

First off, is an entry in the Giant Robot genre, which is what people usually think when you say anime, after they think of tentacles and porn. Everything that is classic about anime will usually be found in a Giant Robot series: technology so ridiculously advanced as to be indistinguishable from magic, earnest, young heroes who ascend to the glories of manhood while realizing their great, untapped potential, and the young damsels in distress who love them and while they mean well, will never understand what it's really like to be a hero or a man.
Which is why I usually avoid most Giant Robot shows, they're cliché. So, unless there is something else about a show like this, I'll usually avoid it. Though, to be honest, one of my favorite anime of all time is a giant robot show, Neon Genesis Evangelion, specifically because it subverted the classic Giant Robot clichés and revolutionized them at the same time. That and it really gets fucked up toward the end.
But I digress.

Gundam Seed and Gundam Seed Destiny: For those of you unfamiliar with it, Gundam is anime's Star Trek, a franchise that constantly get reinvented or reimagined for new generations. Since 1979 there have been 23 series or compilation movies that have run as part of either a known continuity or as an alternate universe version or take. The original Mobile Suit Gundam series aired in 1979 and ran for nearly 2 full seasons (43 episodes). It was one of the first series to deal with the ramifications and consequences of war as well as the political and social causes and effects that surround it, in a dramatic, if not completely realistic, way. The Gundam series are one of those things that any student of the medium has to see at least something from, the series are so popular and so prolific that would be like getting into live action sci-fi movies and not seeing Star Wars. (Well, at least that's the best comparison I can think of the moment.)
My first exposure to Gundam was way back in the day, circa 1987, seeing the raw version of the final few episodes of the original Mobile Suit Gundam series and being awestruck by the violence. You just didn't see that kind of violence and its consequences in something animated here at all in those days, or still to some extent. (But that's a completely different topic altogether.) Still, you'd be hard pressed to find someone who is more than casually into anime and to have not seen at least parts of one of the Gundam series.
Anyway, this is a unique circumstance where I am actually watching both series simultaneously, the Gundam Seed edited dub on Cartoon Network and fansubs of Gundam Seed Destiny. (After the first couple of episodes aired on CN, I looked up episode synopses for the other episodes, so I know what happens, but even if I didn't, Seed Destiny isn't so complex that I wouldn't have been able to figure it out.)
Gundam Seed aired in Japan during the 2002-2003 season and is an amalgamation of several of the original Universal Century continuity series and storylines that MSG spawned.
I'll quote the basic story from ANN's Encyclopedia entry about it.
Heliopolis, a so-called neutral space colony was holding a top-secret weapons research facility, producing Gundams for the Earth Alliance. ZAFT, which is composed of Coordinators (genetically modified/upgraded humans), attacks Heliopolis, stealing 4 out of the Alliance's 5 Gundams. In the battlefield, civilian Kira Yamato stumbles upon the Strike, the last remaining Gundam of the alliance, and is forced to pilot it. In the midst of battle he encounters his best friend, Athrun Zala, as one of the hijackers of the 5 Gundams, who sides with ZAFT. Being a Coordinator, he is the only one who can pilot the Gundam. But Kira is not with ZAFT, even though they're his own kind, nor the Alliance. Since the Alliance is the only place he could turn to at the time, he sides with them. He pilots the Gundam to protect his friends, and to fight his best friend, which pains both of them. It's a war between individual beliefs.
What follows are 51 episodes of angst, drama, romance, and political intrigue in an entertaining package. Well, to a certain extent, the drama and the angst are overwrought as befits a series about teenagers, and the political intrigue is overly broad and simplistic, like the ease at which the great, unwashed masses whip themselves into a racial hatred or that in this glorious future representative democracy is as dead as the Dodo, but it could be worse, I suppose. LoGH does it much, much better, but no giant robots or bishonen, or bishoujo, Yet, I don't think LoGH suffers for a lack of them, as I said before in Part 1.
Gundam Seed Destiny, as I mentioned is the sequel currently airing in Japan. (Episode 13 will be airing this week). Again, quoting from ANN
Cosmic Era 73. Though the signing of a peace treaty brought the war between the Naturals and Coordinators to an apparent close, tensions continue to run high. With the Blue Cosmos organization poised to come back bigger than ever, and the Earth Alliance and ZAFT caught up in the midsts of an arms race, it was only inevitable that war would break out once again. During a conference between ZAFT and the Orb Union at ZAFT's Armory One facility, an Alliance special forces team launches a break-in operation and makes off with three new Gundam mobile suits. Forced to pursue them, Shinn Asuka of ZAFT and Athrun Zala of Orb take the remaining two Gundams and head out in the new assault battleship Minerva. With Shinn bearing a grudge against Orb for the loss of his family in the previous war, and Athrun questioning his own role in the coming conflict, the two leap headlong into a new chapter of the already blood-stained clash of ideals that was supposed to have ended two years ago.
So, there you have the plot basics, and imagine lots of overwrought pretty boys and pretty girls painfully learning that mankind can be violently unreasonable, and nobody will play nice with you unless you make them.
I can't really say that the series is great, because it's not, there's plenty in the story, and the politics in the story in particular, to find fault with. I know I mentioned above that I usually don't watch Giant Robot shows unless there's something different about them, and really GS and GSD don't have anything truly remarkable about them, per se. But, GS and GSD are entertaining and that's really what keeps me watching, so that in itself is remarkable, I guess. That, and all the pretty girls. ;)

Tuesday, January 04, 2005

Uh, Maybe This Wasn't Such A Good Idea

So nearly 6 weeks after they initially proposed this rule change, which I wrote about here,the House Republicans have decided to reverse themselves and let the ethics rule stands. Though from reading the article, it seems their interest is not reforming the ethics rules of conduct, but protecting Tom Delay, in the the least controversial way possible.
I'm still amazed at this man's hubris, listen to this:
Jonathan Grella, a spokesman for DeLay, said the majority leader continued to believe that it was legitimate to allow a House leader to retain his post while under indictment. But Grella said that by reinstating the rule that could require him to step aside, DeLay was ''denying the Democrats their lone issue. Anything that could undermine our agenda needs to be nipped in the bud."
Clearly, DeLay is drunk on power, and doesn't seem to grasp how his spokesman has clearly demonstrated how unethical he is. If he can't fathom why, regardless of guilt or innocence, he should step down if he is indicted, then he really needs to learn the lesson in a harsh way.

Monday, January 03, 2005

SEPTA Sucks A Little Less

I missed this little piece of news on the SEPTA "Doomsday" front released on Friday. So, there's at least a one extra month reprieve, but hopefully I'll be driving by then.
Of course, it doesn't mean that anything will get resolved by then, as this quote indicates.
Steve Miskin, a spokesman for House Majority Leader Samuel H. Smith (R., Jefferson), said House Republicans still need to be convinced. "There still needs to be more information about why this money is needed and how we got to this point," Miskin said.
or this bold, if not surprising statement:
Many legislators, however, are balking at finding the extra money for transit systems they say don't benefit their rural districts.
I really don't know what to say to this, other than "Stop being so goddamn parochial, assholes." But, that's hardly persuasive.
Oh well, as always, we shall wait and see.

Saturday, January 01, 2005

Happy New Year!

So that's another year in the books. And looking back on it, it wasn't a bad year at all. If there was one real regret I had over the last year, it would have been not finishing up my comic for Yuri Monogatari 2, but that's something I'll correct for 2005.
2004 didn't start off too well, as Donna was horribly sick with the flu and we had to go the hospital so they could treat her, while I was more hungover than I can remember being in years. (Drinking a couple of bottles of champagne after drinking a lot of beer will do that to a person.) But, overall, I have nothing to complain about.
I've been trying to make up a list of ten things that stood out personally for me, but after thinking about it for a few days, I can't really recall anything more than the times I spent at Otakon and AnimeNEXT with Erica and Kun working for Yuricon. I'll see if I can think of anything else in the next week or so, but hopefully, this blog will serve as a reminder for me, since I tend to not let anything affect me too much and usually forget about it within a couple of days. So, my reflection on this year should be more comprehensive.
I'm very excited for 2005, as there are a couple of personal milestones that I'm looking forward to, like getting married. Yes, I'm excited about getting married, I didn't think I would be, but imagining all of our friends there, partying and carousing, makes me look forward to it, because it'll be a great time.
I'm also looking forward to Tokyo in April with the Yuricon crew. Again, the thought of spending time with good friends, even in a completely foreign country makes me excited. Especially, as we'll be in the country that has fascinated and captivated me since I was teenager. And hopefully will be the first of many visits.
Shortly, however, I shall be making perhaps the most significant change to my life, since puberty: licensed driving. I've written before about it, and I'm looking forward to mobility.
In anticipation of my debut in Yuri Monogatari 3 this year, I'll be looking to create a website to showcase my art, writings and music, so look forward to that. And I plan to keep using this blog for my amateur punditry, random observations, personal reflection and geek discourse.
And to all my friends, far and wide, new and old, I hope that this coming year finds you safe, prosperous and happy.