Not So Bright

The obligatory link: California may ban conventional lightbulbs by 2012

Sure, it's not federal, but its exactly the kind of meddling that catches on with lawmakers, so ridiculing it now isn't entirely unwarranted. I'm sure there is plenty good to be said for whatever type of bulbs they're intending to push in place of the old-fashioned kind, but y'know, if they're really that much better/brighter/more cost-effective/whatever else, they'll win out in the market without the government ever actually having to lay their hands on the issue. (The obligatory reference to government-mandated gallons-per-flush on toilets, which you can find on pretty much any blog covering this issue, would go here.)

Stepping back from the actual issue for a moment, I'd like to engage in a little invective, to the point of getting in a light-based joke or two. Just how dim is Lloyd Levine, exactly? I mean, it has to take a pretty low mental wattage rating to miss the fact that calling this the "How many legislators does it take to change a lightbulb act" is going to cause people to laugh at him, not with him.

Anyway, here's hoping that this idea disappears in a collective brownout of the California legislature.


Flash Gaming

The obligatory link: Dig Your Own Grave - Cubefield

Cubefield - A simple enough game, really. Guide your "ship", and I use that term loosely, with the left and right arrow keys through fields of blocks. If you crash, it's game over... and you keep playing until you crash. The early portion isn't terribly difficult.

High scores are available on the site, though if you want something to shoot for right off, I racked up 329k on my first play through.

Geoff Reviews (Whatever Crosses His Path)

I know I've talked about reviewing before. Anyway, the short version for this purpose is that I'm going into this as a fan. That means that a) I'm biased, naturally, and b) I'm looking for entertainment value before I ever look for art value. For the purposes of ranking, I'll use a six-part scale, as follows: (1. Don't recommend even trying to watch it; 2. Minimally watchable, give it a shot if it somehow piques your interest or falls into one of your preferred niches; 3. An average show, neither really good nor bad; 4. A good show, actually recommendable; 5. A great show, give it a try unless it falls in a genre that you actively dislike; 6. An excellent show, at least give it a shot whether you like the genre or not.) Remember, though, that all of these are biased through my belief in what constitutes good and bad in a show (or a book, or music, for that matter). I'll try to be as clear as possible as to what that bias is, though, so that the ratings will actually be useful to you.

Up today is the anime series Gungrave. This was recommended to me by a friend of mine as one of his favorites. I was almost willing after the first episode to write it off as an incredibly generic, over-cooked action/adventure show for boys (hereafter called a shounen action, meaning an action show for young boys), but, between the praise that my friend had given it, and the fact that I try to give series at least two or three episodes to develop before deciding whether or not to dump them, I plowed on.

I'm certainly glad that I did. In contrast to the first episode, where everything was displayed in a characteristic over-the-top, semi-futuristic, shounen action way, the series quickly settled into the past, concentrating on the lives of the two young men who would become the major players in what the first episode had established as the present. To put it simply, I came to a shounen action series, and a character drama broke out. The characters developed a level of depth that I certainly hadn't expected... always a good thing, in my estimation.

By my measure, the arc in the past was strong, concentrating primarily on how the two main characters, Harry MacDowel and Brandon Heat, came from being low-grade street punks to rise through the ranks of Millennion, the criminal organization which controlled their city.

Unfortunately, all good things must come to an end, and the past is not indefinitely long. Shortly after the halfway point of the 26-episode series, the show caught back up with the present, with all of the over-the-top-ness that implied from episode one... with bells on. Instead of the story of people we could accept as real, we have guys sprouting extra limbs, explosive bombs made of body fat, and helicopter blades coming out of their backs, amongst other things.

There should be no surprise that the best moments of the second half of the series were also the most human ones, and that extended even as far as the obligatory fights. The more human the opponent in question was (I hesitate to use the word villain, since where are you going to apply it? To the current members of the mob? Or the former hit man now out for revenge against the organization?), the more interesting the fight was.

Now, I'm given to understand that the "present" portion of Gungrave was actually based off of the first video game of the same name. That being the case, whoever wrote the "past" portion did an impressive job of storytelling. If only they would have allowed a rewrite of the game-based portion by that same person to cut down on the excesses, I could have classified this as a great show.

Title: Gungrave
Media: DVD
Audio: Japanese, with English subtitles (an English dub is included on the discs, but what little of it I listened to made me wish I hadn't)

Overall: A good show that bordered for a long time on greatness. I'd suggest giving it a shot, but understanding that if you're not really a fan of the first episode, there will be parts of the second half that you won't have any appreciation for. If you get that far, though, see it through to the end, as the ending lives up to the expectations placed upon it.

Tattooed Monks?

I actually saw this yesterday linked off of the Volkswagen Polo ad. It's the cute short story of a young boy who goes to a monastery to train. Anyway, with no further ado, here's your link.


Just Vicious

I'll be the first to admit, I have a wicked sense of humor. Well, apparently, so does whoever came up with this ad for the Volkswagen Polo. Note that I watched it without sound, so I can't say whether or not it contains non-worksafe language.

Found on Youtube, linked from Boortz under the title "German engineering versus Arab technology."

Japanese of the Week

未だ未だ (madamada) adv. - still some way to go before goal; still more to come; much more; not yet

An amusing alliteration, if nothing else. Of course, it's pretty easy to do such a thing, due to the structure of the "letters"... Still, it's certainly useful in many cases. The one that's likely to be taught first in a real Japanese class would be using "madamada" as part of a response to a compliment of your skills in some area. In an anime setting, it's more likely to be heard either from someone in a losing position who isn't giving up, or from someone refusing to let up.


The Offense of Working

"What is it about it (the minimum wage) that drives you Republicans crazy? What is it about working men and women that you find so offensive?" -- Ted Kennedy (D. - Massachusetts)

To the first question, a great many people brighter than I have taken stabs at it, but it boils down to this: The minimum wage reduces the number of available jobs at the low end of the pay scale, hurting the people that the raise in the wage is purported to help.

The really funny thing about it is, the people who call for raises in the minimum wage actually do understand the concept of people buying less of a thing if it costs more. This, of course, is where the calls for $X/gallon gasoline come from, to try to convince people to drive less. Now, maybe they can't bring themselves to accept that a person's labor is a product just as gasoline is, but it works out the same in the end.

It's the second question that really gets my goat, though. Setting aside the fact that, were I a good fiscal conservative, I'd probably sell the goat, there's something about this blatant attempt at class warfare that rubs me wrong. Probably something to do with the fact that I am one of those working class folk.

Now, I'll grant you, there are Republicans out there who think that way. At the same time, though, I have no doubt that such sentiment crosses party lines quite readily. And, just as undoubtedly, there are people out there of all persuasions who have no beef with working folk just for being working folk whatsoever.