August 2017 news

August 2017 gwern.net newsletter with links on genetics, AI, measurement error, bioethics, catnip, formal schooling, 1 book review, 2 anime reviews (newsletter)
created: 17 July 2017; modified: 09 Oct 2017; status: finished; confidence: log; importance: 0

This is the August 2017 edition of the gwern.net newsletter; previous, July 2017 (archives). This is a summary of the revision-history RSS feed, overlapping with my Changelog & Google+; brought to you by my donors on Patreon.

Writings

  • Nothing completed

Media

Books

Fiction:

Film/TV

Animated:

  • School-Live! (see Hojoki; not terribly amusing or fun, with a mostly uninteresting premise, School-Live! exceeded my expectations by going beyond the one-note gag of moe blob dramatic-irony/horror; the ending, while somewhat pulling punches, is not a deus ex machina resolution because the resolution was repeatedly hinted at throughout the series and is satisfying both as a strategy and on the emotional level. The theme of nostalgia is moving and appropriate for the end of the world although… like Tonari no Seki-kun, doesn’t it ultimately ring false? If indeed one looked forward every morning to school, if one tended the garden and chased their cat or dog around, if one spent that time with friends in meaningful activities, even of life-and-death importance, if every day at school was to be treasured, if it taught critical lessons that one will treasure as one goes out into the world, if it was full of formative experiences, surely School-Live!’s nostalgia would be right and true. But the nostalgia is a lie. That sort of rose-colored vision is not how school is, and never has been. The reality of school, particularly in Japan, is one of grinding tedium and drudgery punctuated by occasional escapes and brief segments where one can actually do something fun. Such a false nostalgia, by highlighting how far from acceptable schools are. If we remember otherwise, by selective editing and being unable to remember the experience of boredom, or by the peak-end rule because the end of schooling wasn’t so bad, this is the lie of nostalgia we tell ourselves.)
  • Youjo Senki (amusing and fun with an interesting premise, but largely one-note aerial action anime which somewhat underperforms my expectations; the premise is largely wasted as there is no examination of the protagonist dealing with doubts, being turned into a little girl, contending with God, exploiting his quasi-knowledge of the future, job skills from being an economics expert & salaryman, etc, and the world-building is narrowly confined to a magical alt history of a sympathetically portrayed Imperial Germany merging WWI/WWII. Thus, it is mostly Tanya flying around, blowing things up, and close ups of her giant blue (or are they green sometimes?) eyes and Nazi-lolicon sociopath shtick. It’s somewhat like Death Note in having more normal characters dealt with the amorality of Tanya/Light, but DN had a good deal more depth to it than this anime adaptation shows - although as usual, the original light novels might have more depth & characterization than can fit in between a 1-cours anime’s action scenes.)