Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Country of Brotherly Love

I caught a picture of a couple buses in Japan advertising an anime called 'Sister Princess'. "Well", I thought "If it's good enough to advertise on a bus it must be at least watchable". A little overnight bittoerrenting later and I started watching the first episode, and the first frame gave away the whole game:

In the states, a normal person would probably think this was some sort of 'Seventh Heaven' type show; but anyone remotely familiar with pop Japanese culture will realize they're in for some display of implied incestuous relations, as the following screenshot of a dream sequence demonstrates:

By the way, that's the groom (her brother) saying that.

I had trouble pinpointing the target audience for this show. My first guess was that the show was being geared towards 40 year old, sisterless perverts*. However, upon later inspection, it appears that the show is geared towards teen or 'preen' girls, though the sisters are the typical one dimensional cutouts from other anime (I could only sit through the show long enough to see "bashful-obsessive" and "clumsy", but from the photo mockup I'll go out on a limb and guess the rest consist of 'tomboy girl', 'nerd girl', 'cute girl', 'young and wired girl', etc.). The last episode in particular troweled on the cutsie schmaltz way too thick to appeal to anyone with one drop of testosterone in their blood (and before you get any funny ideas I watched the first episode and then the last one to see if I gauged the series correctly).

But is this a storyline that appeals to that (or any other) demographic? Later that night while watching (U.S.) television, I had visions of Lucy getting the hots for Charlie Brown, or Princess Lea opting to stay with Luke instead of taking off with Han. Would anyone doubt that for viewers the hands would go for the armrests and eyes for the nearest exit?

The concept itself is....interesting enough**. But the obsessive behavior of at least the sisters I saw made me wonder if the older brother practiced some form of home brewed 'juche' - brainwashing his siblings to see him as some sort of man-god:

Sisters that are hot for their brother, or brainwashed zombies?

Interestingly, the show might work if it was reformatted on some dark level where obsessed, brain washed zombie girls mindlessly try to manipulate each other to improve their own chances with their dark, evil overlord of a brother who is too manipulative to ever have anything to do with any of them (I still wouldn't like it though).

I got tripped up on some inconsistencies as well. Not that one expects cartoons to be ultra-realistic, but these were too big to overcome. The first is the 13 kids. I didn't watch enough to figure their origin, but the last woman to have 13 kids in Japan probably didn't live long enough to see Admiral Perry pull up. The second has to do with how families work. Someone once told me he knew of some guy who grew up with six sisters. My first question was obvious: "Does he coregraph Broadway musicals?" "He's a homosexual, right?" The story teller replied that "he wasn't, though you wouldn't have thought that if you met him". It's quite obvious to me that if the guy in the show grew up with 12 girls, he'd be the 13th 'sister'***.

One more note on the show apart from it's story line, I snagged the screen shot below from the first episode:

The fansubber is explaining to me what Indian Summer is? Why not explaining why she would be using a phrase like that. I figured the Japanese picked it up in spite of (or because of) it's political incorrectness, but repeated viewings of this scene didn't turn up any 'nihonglish' ('eendeenu soomar') so I'll guess the subber made a rough translation of a known Japanese phrase and put the definition up to explain himself. It's cultural subtilties like that which make even hookum like this interesting at times.

*Mr. Kendall meets at least two of those criteria, but I know the idea still disturbs him.
**A weak defense might be mounted along the lines that such behavior is not all that unusual throughout human history as tribes and royalty used inbreeding to ensure clan ties and the maintenance of possessions. Even then though, where possible, such marriages would be deferred to cousins. The resulting genetic disorders and general ickiness factor are more than enough to overcome this argument though.

***The Sandmich has two sisters and to the best of his knowledge neither has fantisized about marrying him. Of course the same can be said for the other 99.99999999999999999999999% of the other women on the planet as well.

Secure 'Technology'

This drew a chuckle, from here:

Monday, November 28, 2005

Bento Watch #30

After packing on some pounds I decided to get back in the bento swing...and then the holiday treat platters from the vendors began appearing today. Anyway, this is sliced tangerines, rice with sesame seeds, miso with celery and seaweed and broiled rubber fish tube that's been teriyaki's up with some julienne carrots.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

More Sony Rootkit

From Sony rootkit: The untold story:
Forgetting for a minute why, it is absolutely an outrage that corporate greed is what's standing in the way of letting music and video buyers freely move the content they've purchased from one of their devices to another.

I'll mention briefly if it hasn't been covered sufficiently, a root kit is a very nefarious piece of software which isn't so much as slapped onto the system like a virus, but part of it - it's the difference between the junkie who is insane because of some narcotic and someone who is just insane. However, the above article touches upon, but never clearly states something more disturbing - the difference between the insane and The Borg.

Microsoft made some noise about Sony's rootkit, but it's doubtful they would have done anything if they uncovered it themselves because Apple and Microsoft are in cahoots with intellectual property publishers to give them back door keys onto 'their' systems; it's just that Microsoft would rather you pay them for their backdoor solution rather than implementing your own. Of course we don't like to think of it like that, they're 'our' systems, not 'theirs'...

Since this situation is only going to get worse, this presents a bit of a dilemma for companies that depend on having complete control of their systems. If you run a bank, are you going to be comfortable with running an operating system to which a variety of unknown parties have all the backdoor keys? This would mean that any company that had the cash to pay Microsoft or Apple enough to get some back door info could do it. It's tough enough verifying that either of those OSes are secure in and of itself, but how secure are they really when their core operation is up for sale to the highest bidder. In the future, the only way a company may be completely sure is if they build their own Linux platform and develop apps around it - a hybrid of the old Mainframe days.

Back on the point about how Apple iTunes won't play on other players and MS's DRM stuff only works on Microsoft's platforms. There are some rigged work arounds for consumers (burn proprietary, rip mp3) so there hasn't been much of an uproar, but of course that's not how the entertainment industry wants it:

As long as this situation persists, the entertainment industry might as well come right out and tell consumers that it is now their policy to make consumers pay for the same content again and again for each device they want to play it on.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Flight of the Intellectually Lazy

This was mildly amusing, The Wall Street Journal Weekend Edition (11/19/05) has a story titled "The New White Flight" - certainly an attention grabber. Anyway, here's the tag line:
In Silicon Valley, two high schools with outstanding academic reputations are losing white students as Asian students move in. Why?
Interesting, and I figured it might have something to do with the fact that 'Asian' communities aren't created equal (Filipino communities, for example, tend to more closely resemble Hispanic communities than Chinese communities; but both are shoveled into 'Asian'), or maybe it had to do with demographic trends in the communities. However, in the back of my mind I knew the real answer, but figured they would NEVER put the THE TRUTH in an article like this, much like you'd never get a truthful answer concerning white flight from increasingly black schools. Much to my surprise, the white parents come right out and say it - "We want to be stooopid!":
Whites aren't quitting the schools because the schools are failing academically. Quite the contrary: Many white parents say they're leaving because the schools are too academically driven and too narrowly invested in subjects such as math and science at the expense of extracurriculars like sports and other personal interests.
I was mulling my bit earlier with the college that had students taking BS courses like 'cultural diversity' and whatnot. I mused "Do you think they waste time with crap like that with engineering students in China or India?” Now though, it becomes clearer; those crap classes weren't foisted upon an unwilling public, but demanded by lazy whities!
As [her son] played Soccer, Ms. Doherty watched a line of cars across the street deposit Asian kids for after-school study. She also came away... worrying about the school's focus on test scores and the big-name colleges its graduates attend.
God forbid people worry about education at a school of all places! What's the world coming to?!?!

Monday, November 21, 2005

Multi Culti Amen

The French riots should affirm once and for all that multiculturalism is a really, really bad idea. It should be shelved right up there with communism and the true believer ostracized for being complete imbeciles. Of course, VDH puts it better than I:
So we should consider the French disaster a wake-up call. A nation cannot exist without shared values and a sense of common mission. We forgot about that in the 1960s when we encouraged racial separatism as a means of rectifying past discrimination. That kind of identity politics has proven a near-disaster. A salad bowl in place of the melting pot will, at the worst, turn America into something like the Balkans, and at best ensure separatism along the lines of Quebec - or France.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Sleazy CD Creator

Let me be quite clear on this: the DVD creation on Easy Media Creator 8 by Roxio may be the worst be piece of software I've ever used. Like fat in a fine piece of beef, the bugs in this crapware are marbled throughout:
  1. The interface is VERY sluggish due to an ambitious though failed attempt to semi-render the DVD in real time. This also sponges up any resources you might have, so don't even think about playing solitaire while the thing takes a minute adding a video to the menu.
  2. You cannot modify the menu tree of the DVD. A great example was when I tried to add a 'play all' button to the menu which either by design or poor software (or both) didn't work. I removed the button, rendered the DVD (which takes 3 hours, probably through no fault of the package), burned it (the software does a crap job of predicting free DVD space, so I have to use a different package to actually burn the disk), and discovered that the menu was screwed up because it didn't compensate for the button that was there and then deleted; thus my root menu was all cheezed up. Solution? I had to recreate the disk from scratch, again, because the first time I made a disk, I foolishly thought that when I reordered the menu and/or the buttons on the screen, the software would know to modify the menu tree, HA!
  3. Oh yeah sure, there's a preview for the DVD in which you can theoretically test the buttons, but it's so dog slow and prone to locking up that it's worthless.
  4. The software package also has interface issues. Click on one of the menu objects to add video, and the program will sometimes take it upon itself to choose a completely different section of the object tree to which to send you. It also uses a quirky, laggy substitute for the Windows file browser for some unknown reason.
  5. While you're doing all that, you of course have to put up with many, many crashes. I'm to the point now that I re-save the project after every tiny change. This doesn't make it much less stressful since the program has brought in bad saves as well.

The following screen shots sum up the package. The crashes say they're caused by 'video wave 7', though all I have on my PC is videowave8.exe. They wouldn't have just renamed the file to dupe you into the fact that it's an upgrade would they?

Not only is it an old version, but there's a patch for the old version that's newer than the version included in the newer package, but there's no working patch for the new version!

I will say that the version 6 of this package seemed to work better, but it won't run on the system I'm using since the C: drive is not a hard drive (long story). As well, whenever I have trouble with the Roxio packages, they harken back to the old Adaptec EZ-SCSI days of the early nineties, the Adaptec products being the great granddaddies of the Roxio stuff. Much like now, that software was crap, and didn't improve with subsequent versions. I'd love to think that in fifteen years the developers at Roxio would've been given a chance to write a decent product (the new one stinks of a corporate rush job), but I guess not.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Live 3D

Justin links to a live concert put on by a virtual rock group. This was semi-big news in tech circles, but it brought to mind some of the technical highlights I've noticed with professional football games on TV.

By now, many have seen the virtual first down line. Of course after working on that for a couple years, we now have the red fourth down line and the area marker for field goal range. Less noticed are the bumper highlights. I seem to recall back in the early eighties, if they even had bumper highlights, they would be put together from the previous season's games. It's progressed leaps and bounds to the point that I'm now seeing fully scored bumper highlight reels put together from the drive that just completed before the game was sent off to commercial land, necessitating the said bumper.

This past Sunday Fox (I think it was Fox) had something even more impressive when they put in a virtual scoreboard, complete with video, above a stadium in a LIVE video shot. That was almost scary, allow me to reiterate my shock - they were modifying a live video signal by putting in a 3D object into the scene in a very believable way. It was so crisp that the non-tech savvy may not have even caught it since it looked like an additional giant scoreboard on the stadium (if I recall correctly, they had replaced a bank of lights so that it looked like the light supports were holding up the scoreboard).

That one scene from the Arnold movie 'The Running Man' sprang to mind, but even in that futuristic look, the artists were modifying a taped copy.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

More Sony DRM Fun

Not much play on this in the Mainstream Media, but, understandably, it's being covered extensively in the tech press. So what's up with that Sony rootkit? From here:
Like a virus, there is no meaningful uninstaller available. Now, some of the DRM protected CDs will indeed add an entry for SunnComm to the Add/Remove control panel.

When activated, it removes most of the files in the shared folder, but leaves the core copy protection module (sbcphid.sys) active and resident.

That means other programs (like iTunes) can't access other SunnComm protected CDs.But wait, there's more. MediaMax "phones home" without your consent every time you play the CD. When a CD is played, a request is sent to a SunnComm server that includes an ID along with the request that identifies the CD.
Oh geez, more (emphasis mine)...
Of course, the request by itself identifies the OS you are running as well as your IP address.

The request seems to be for SunnComm's "Perfect Placement" feature, which can insert ad content while viewing the CD.

So, Windows users have to deal with a triple threat. Without user consent, the DRM installs software on the target computer, provides no way to uninstall its core, and lets SunnComm know every time the CD is played.
Ahh, but here's the icing on the cake (again, my emphasis)...
Someone in the Netherlands did a decompile on the XCP rootkit that has gotten most of the attention lately. It seems that parts of the rootkit use the LAME mp3 encoder, which is licensed under the Lesser GPL. That means by delivering only an executable (the rootkit) without source or crediting, XCP violates the GPL Violating the GPL puts Sony at massive legal risk for—wait for it—copyright infringement.

Sony BMG will have a big job ahead of it as it tries to replace all copies of controversial copy protection software, according to a computer security expert, who says that he has evidence there are more than 500,000 versions of the program installed worldwide.

Found On My Desktop

I guess it'd help to actually put this stuff on the net if I'm going to go through the trouble of slapping it together. First, I modified this question from the Mac.com sign-up sheet which seeks to find how familiar you are with Apple computers:

And secondly, I came by this web site for Baker College in Michigan. They offer online degrees, and of course they aren't able to port a full curriculum, but they were sure to convert only their most valued classes to the online form:

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Chicken Ladies

Ahh, when East meets West...

Just goes to affirm Mark Steyn's quip that globalism means that bad ideas can cross borders just as easily (if not easier) than good ones.

I also love how the PETA people don't mind showing flesh to push their point (their lettuce ladies also spring to mind). I'm sure these types would abhor sexism in any other context, but for some reason it's not a dip to low for them to go. It makes the whole thing reek of desperation.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Bento Watch #29

I made the standard bento mix and made some tsukune (grilled chicken meatballs in this case) with yakitori sauce and a dusting of sansho (s spice that's much like lemon zest)...

Here they are cookin' on the grill...

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Morning Musume vs. Lizard

Good lord this is funny.

I guess American reality TV is humiliating in its own way (...glorified Gong Shows if you ask me), but the fact that they pretend it's not makes it grating.

(Hat tip to Dvorak's blog)

'Yes' to Issue 1

Thanks Pain Dealer:
But others, on the lunatic fringe, are making accusations about the Third Frontier being more about rewarding campaign contributors than about Ohio's economic future. If Issue 1 were really about Republicans rewarding their friends, then John Glenn would not be the campaign chairman, and the National Academy of Sciences wouldn't be determining how grants are awarded.
Oh yeah, this money, unlike ALL THE OTHER FRIGGIN' MONEY THAT GOES TO THE GOVERNMENT, will be completely disconnected from any political favors. Who's the looney now?

Monday, November 07, 2005

Trek Mania

Caught this on Slashdot, but it bears repeating since only tech nerds read Slashdot. The Ultimate Star Trek DVD collection, all for a scant $2500...

Thursday, November 03, 2005

More Hamfisted Regulation

From Democrats defeat election-law aid for bloggers Tech News on ZDNet:
Democrats on Wednesday managed to defeat a bill aimed at amending U.S. election laws to immunize bloggers from hundreds of pages of federal regulations.
Why....I thought the Democrats were the party of the people! What was I thinking! This regulation will undoubtedly be another quasi-Eurapeon law where in it is only enforced when the powers that be (Which in this case, would just mean the Democrats since Republicans rarely feel like putting in work to bring someone down) feel like enforcing it. Will you be charged with a crime for posting stuff about elections? Who knows? You're at the tender mercies of some bureaucrat who will probably only act when some rabel rousing left wing kook starts busting his nuts about how he's not cracking down on 'right wing hate pages'.

I've brought this up before, but I'll bring it up again: how do they plan to enforce this? If my content is hosted in a foreign country, is it still privy to the regulations? Suppose I just write up a piece every now and then for an Australian blog, I don't even administer it, does that count? What if I'm a foreigner hosting on an American server? Do these idiots in Washington even think about this stuff?

In a related story, the FBI and DEA want backdoors put into VOIP products:

An attorney, Kurt Opsahl, from the Electronic Frontier Foundation, one of the litigants in the suit against the FCC, wrote in his blog recently that the FCC's rules will require Internet broadband providers and VOIP providers to build "backdoors" into their networks to make it easier for law enforcement to "listen in on" private communications.
Now how do they plan to enforce this? Skype is a foreign entity owned by an American company, does it need a backdoor, even if you never connect to regular phone lines, even though the software is capable of it? How long do you think ANYONE will use this product, particularly foreigners, when they learn that Uncle Sam has all the hacks for that package?

That's why those control freaks love the idea of the U.N. controlling the net. Only those corrupt despots might have a shot at putting all the technology on the planet under their iron boot.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

True Faith, cont'd

What a great, great article. From Science-vs-Scientism on TNC:
I would be remiss if I failed to enlarge on the failures of our universities. No institution has contributed so extensively to the deracination and diminishment of our humanity as university faculties.
I think he might be upset about something!

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

More of 'That'

I was sure to catch Drudge's recent headline about the increasing out of wedlock births in the U.S. Illegitimacy is known to increase the likelihood of a wide variety of social ills in the communities which are afflicted by it. As well, married, stable families are known to be better wealth creation engines than broken families (i.e., they're more successful).

These are generalizations to be sure, and that fact is often used as an excuse to dismiss findings which are unfavorable to illegitimacy. Part of this has to do with the fact that moral relativists hate reality intruding on to their dream state, but another facet of the apparent acceptance of illegitimacy by elites is the fact that it largely affects groups which have achieved victim status and are therefore, above (below?) criticism. The AP article Drudge cited made no mention of race, but after a little digging on the CDC's site, I extrapolated the following chart of interest:

Seems like this should be something that should be brought to the fore to help address issues within these communities, but don't hold you breath.

Why such a disparate impact? In a semi-related post, Mr. Kendall cites an article with the following interesting tidbit:

But in that inner city, marriage had been destroyed [by welfare]. It had literally ceased to exist in any meaningful way. Possibly one of the most moving moments in Jason de Parle's absolutely wonderful book, American Dream, which follows three welfare mothers through welfare reform, is when he reveals that none of these three women, all in their late thirties, had ever been to a wedding [original emphasis].
What's interesting here is that this issue is not brought up within the American black community, even though this problem is in no small part related to the governmental decisions of white policy makers (in the sixties specifically). Continuing in this vein, government welfare is like a disease with some individuals being more susceptible to it than others. It's worth pointing out that similar policies in the U.K. led to many of the same bad results for the British working class.

In order to keep on my whacked out conspiracy theories, I was recently listening to a black radio talk show where the hosts were discussing this issue, and one of the hosts began discussing 'that'. He said that if he didn't know any better, he'd think that welfare was a scheme cooked up by whitie to keep the black man down. I've talked to enough white, hard soft bigoted liberals myself to think that this might be one of the few racial conspiracy theories that has some meat on it.

Hey, it's a start!