- “The Most ‘Abandoned’ Books on GoodReads”, Branwen 2019
- “MLP: Immanetizing The Equestrian”, Branwen 2018
- “Race in My Little Pony”, Branwen 2018
- “Genetics and Eugenics in Frank Herbert’s Dune-verse”, Branwen 2018
- “The Second Apocalypse: Freedom In An Unfree Universe”, Branwen 2017
- “Movie Reviews”, Branwen 2014
- “Book Reviews”, Branwen 2013
- “‘Scanners Live in Vain’ As Realistic SF”, Branwen 2013
- “Cultural Drift: Cleaning Methods”, Branwen 2013
- “‘Story Of Your Life’ Is Not A Time-Travel Story”, Branwen 2012
- “Earth in My Window”, Murakami & Hoaglund 2012
- “Death Note: L, Anonymity & Eluding Entropy”, Branwen 2011
- “Why Anime?”, Branwen 2011
- “Anime Reviews”, Branwen 2010
- “Dune Notes”, Branwen 2010
- “Neon Genesis Evangelion Source Anthology”, Branwen 2009
- “Miscellaneous”, Branwen 2009
- “The Melancholy of Kyon”, Branwen 2009
Which books on GoodReads are most difficult to finish? Estimating proportions in December 2019 gives an entirely different result than absolute counts.
What books are hardest for a reader who starts them to finish, and most likely to be abandoned? I scrape a crowdsourced tag,
abandoned, from the GoodReads book social network on 2019-12-09 to estimate conditional probability of being abandoned.
The default GoodReads tag interface presents only raw counts of tags, not counts divided by total ratings ( = reads). This conflates popularity with probability of being abandoned: a popular but rarely-abandoned book may have more
abandonedtags than a less popular but often-abandoned book. There is also residual error from the winner’s curse where books with fewer ratings are more mis-estimated than popular books. I fix that to see what more correct rankings look like.
Correcting for both changes the top-5 ranking completely, from (raw counts):
- The Casual Vacancy, J. K. Rowling
- Catch-22, Joseph Heller
- American Gods, Neil Gaiman
- A Game of Thrones, George R. R. Martin
- The Book Thief, Markus Zusak
- Black Leopard, Red Wolf, Marlon James
- Space Opera, Catherynne M. Valente
- Little, Big, John Crowley
- The Witches: Salem, 1692, Stacy Schiff
- Tender Morsels, Margo Lanagan
I also consider a model adjusting for covariates (author/average-rating/year), to see what books are most surprisingly often-abandoned given their pedigrees & rating etc. Abandon rates increase the newer a book is, and the lower the average rating.
Adjusting for those, the top-5 are:
- The Casual Vacancy, J. K. Rowling
- The Chemist, Stephenie Meyer
- Infinite Jest, David Foster Wallace
- The Glass Bead Game, Hermann Hesse
- Theft by Finding: Diaries (1977–2002), David Sedaris
Books at the top of the adjusted list appear to reflect a mix of highly-popular authors changing genres, and ‘prestige’ books which are highly-rated but a slog to read.
These results are interesting for how they highlight how people read books for many reasons (such as marketing campaigns, literary prestige, or following a popular author), and this is reflected in their decision whether to continue reading or to abandon a book.
- Problems in Ranking by Raw Count
- See Also
- External Links
MLP: “MLP: Immanetizing The Equestrian”, (2018-10-24; ; ):
A meditation on subcultures & review of the cartoon series My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic, focusing on fandom, plot, development, and meaning of bronydom.
I watch the 2010 Western animated series My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic (seasons 1–9), delving deep into it and the MLP fandom, and reflect on it. What makes it good and powers its fandom subculture, producing a wide array of fanfictions, music, and art? Focusing on fandom, plot, development, and meaning of bronydom, I conclude that, among other things, it has surprisingly high-quality production & aesthetics which are easily adapted to fandom and which power a Westernized shonen anime—which depicts an underappreciated plausibly-contemporary capitalist utopian perspective on self-actualization, reminiscent of other more explicitly self-help-oriented pop culture movements such as the recent Jordan B. Peterson movement. Included are my personal rankings of characters, seasons, episodes, and official & fan music.
In MLP:FiM, the 3 pony races sometimes bear offspring of other pony races; I review 4 complicated Mendelian models attempting to explain this, and note that a standard polygenic liability-threshold model can fit it parsimoniously.
Another fictional universe with genetic mechanisms is My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic, where there are 3 pony races which are heritable. One outlier family which has all 3 races represented challenges simple Mendelian interpretations of MLP races. I review 4 attempts to reconcile the outlier with Mendelian mechanisms, and propose another interpretation, drawing on polygenic mechanisms, treating race as a polytomous liability threshold trait, which is flexible enough to explain all observations in-universe (at least for the first few seasons of MLP).
Dune-genetics: “Genetics and Eugenics in Frank Herbert’s Dune-verse”, (2018-05-05; ; ; similar):
Discussion of fictional eugenics program in the SF Dune-verse and how it contradicts contemporary known human genetics but suggests heavy agricultural science and Mendelian inspiration to Frank Herbert’s worldview.
Frank Herbert’s SF Dune series features as a central mechanic a multi-millennium human eugenics breeding program by the Bene Gesserit, which produces the main character, Paul Atreides, with precognitive powers. The breeding program is described as oddly slow and ineffective and requiring roles for incest and inbreeding at some points, which contradict most proposed human eugenics methods. I describe the two main historical paradigms of complex trait genetics, the Fisherian infinitesimal model and the Mendelian monogenic model, the former of which is heavily used in human behavioral genetics and the latter of which is heavily used in agricultural breeding for novel traits, and argue that Herbert (incorrectly but understandably) believed the latter applied to most human traits, perhaps related to his lifelong autodidactic interest in plants & insects & farming, and this unstated but implicit intellectual background shaped Dune and resolves the anomalies.
Bakker: “The Second Apocalypse: Freedom In An Unfree Universe”, (2017-08-01; ; ; similar):
Bakker’s Second Apocalypse vs Frank Herbert’s Dune: time loops and finding freedom in an unfree universe. In Dune, humanity is liberated by growth and development and escaping the predeterminism of prescience; in Bakker, they are destroyed by it, and liberation is achieved only by death and reunification with a deeper underlying block-universe/monistic reality.
Review of SF/F author R. Scott Bakker‘s long-running Second Apocalypse series, which finished in 2017. The series, a loose retelling of the Crusades, set in a fallen-SF fantasy environment, has drawn attention for its ambitious scope and obscure philosophical message centering around determinism, free will, moral nihilism, eliminativism of cognitive states, and the interaction of technology and ethics (which Bakker terms the ’Semantic Apocalypse’). In this series, the protagonist attempts to stop the apocalypse and ultimately accidentally causes it.
I highlight that Frank Herbert’s Dune universe is far more influential on Bakker than reviewers of Bakker have appreciated: countless elements are reflected in Bakker, and the very name of the primary antagonist, the ‘No-God’, uses a naming pattern from Dune and operates similarly. Further, both Dune and the Second Apocalypse are deeply concerned with the nature of time and temporal loops controlling ‘free’ behavior.
Where they diverge is in what is to be done about the human lack of freedom and manipulability by external environments, and have radically different views about what is desirable: in Dune, humanity gradually grows up and achieves freedom from the time loops by the creation of a large time loop whose stable fixed point is the destruction of all time loops, ensuring that humanity will go on existing in some form forever; in the Second Apocalypse, liberation is achieved only through death.
A compilation of movie, television, and opera reviews since 2014.
This is a compilation of my film/television/theater reviews; it is compiled from my newsletter. Reviews are sorted by rating in descending order.
- The Thing
- All About Eve
- Blade Runner 2049
- Singin’ In The Rain
- The Bridge over the River Kwai
- Cool Hand Luke
- The Shining
- Invasion of the Body Snatchers
- American Psycho
- The Haunting
- A Quiet Place
- Conan the Barbarian
- Pirates of Silicon Valley
- This Is Spinal Tap
- Tokyo Drifter
- Gone With The Wind
- They Live
- The Great Gatsby
- Ready Player One
- Doctor Strange
- Bridge of Spies
- The Theory of Everything
- The Black Cat
- Star Wars: The Force Awakens
- It Follows
- Lady Jane
- Woman in Gold
A compilation of books reviews of books I have read since ~1997.
This is a compilation of my book reviews. Book reviews are sorted by star, and sorted by length of review within each star level, under the assumption that longer reviews are of more interest to readers.
- 5 Stars
- Like Engend’ring Like, Russell 1986
- Cat Sense, Bradshaw 2013: Are We Good Owners?
- The Media Lab: Inventing the Future at M.I.T., Brand 1988
- Radiance, Scholz 2003
- Stories of Your Life and Others, Chiang 2010
- Worm, Wildbow 2013
- Urne Burial, Browne 2005
- The Discovery of France, Robb 2007
- Selected Non-fictions, Borges 1999
- The Wages of Destruction, Tooze 2007
- Lords of Finance, Ahamed 2009
- Bias in Mental Testing, Jensen 1980
- The Notenki Memoirs, Takeda 2005
- The Remains of the Day, Ishiguro 2005
- The Book of Lord Shang—A Classic of the Chinese School of Law, Yang 2011
- The Origins of Political Order, Fukuyama 2011
- The Histories, Herodotus 2003
- Genius, Gleick 1993
- The Better Angels of Our Nature, Pinker 2011
- The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet, Mitchell 2010
- Collapse of Complex Societies, Tainter 1990
- Star Maker, Stapledon 1999
- 4 Stars
- ARPA and SCI: Surfing AI, Roland and Shiman 2002
- Past, Present, and Future of Statistical Science, Lin 2014
- The Cultural Revolution, Dikötter 2016
- The Genius Factory, Plotz 2006
- Don’t Sleep, There Are Snakes, Everett 2008
- McNamara’s Folly, Gregory 2015
- The Iron Dragon’s Daughter, Swanwick 2012
- Bad Blood, Carreyrou 2018
- A History of Life-Extensionism in the Twentieth Century, Stambler 2014
- Moondust, Smith 2006
- The Many Worlds of Hugh Everett III, Byrne 2010
- Unsong, Alexander 2017
- Fortune’s Formula, Poundstone 2006
- Digital Gold, Popper 2015
- Playboy Interview II, Golson 1983
- Spec Ops, McRaven 1996
- Excuse Me Sir, Would You Like to Buy a Kilo of Isopropyl Bromide?, Gergel 1979
- Titan, Chernow 2004
- A Perfect Vacuum, Lem 1999
- Fujiwara Teika’s Hundred-Poem Sequence of the Shōji Era, 1200, Brower 1978
- Chronicle of a Death Foretold, Márquez 2003
- The Battle Between the Frogs and the Mice, Stallings 2019
- Existence, Brin 2012
- Singularity Rising, Miller 2012
- The Corpse Exhibition and Other Stories of Iraq, Blasim 2014
- Savage Continent, Lowe 2012
- Quantum Computing Since Democritus, Aaronson 2013
- A Life of Sir Francis Galton, Gillham 2001
- The Grand Strategy of the Roman Empire, Luttwak 2016
- The Machiavellians, Burnham 1988
- The Vaccinators, Jannetta 2007
- The Black Company, Cook 1992
- Life in Our Phage World, Rohwer 2014
- Tombstone, Jisheng 2012
- Pact, Wildbow 2014
- Drugs 2.0, Power 2013
- The Hall of Uselessness, Leys 2011
- Packing for Mars, Roach 2010
- The Windup Girl, Bacigalupi 2009
- Haikai Poet Yosa Buson And The Bashō Revival, Crowley 2006
- Turing’s Cathedral, Dyson 2012
- Web Typography, Rutter 2017
- Echopraxia, Watts 2014
- Ketamine, Jansen 2004
- Clear and Simple as the Truth, Thomas 1996
- In the Plex, Levy 2011
- Ready Player One, Cline 2011
- Cool Tools, Kelly 2013
- Proving History, Carrier 2012
- Wired Love, Thayer 1879
- The Psychology of Invention in the Mathematical Field, Hadamard 1954
- The Devil in the White City, Larson 2003
- The Mask of Sanity, Cleckley 2003
- The End of History and the Last Man, Fukuyama 2006
- Hyperbole and a Half, Brosh 2013
- Declare, Powers 2002
- A Shropshire Lad, Housman 1990
- Chased by the Light, Brandenburg 2001
- The Great Gatsby, Fitzgerald 2004
- The Signal and the Noise, Silver 2012
- The Theory That Would Not Die, McGrayne 2011
- The Man Who Knew Infinity, Kanigel 1992
- Debt, Graeber 2011
- Red Plenty, Spufford 2010
- The Metropolitan Man, Wales 2014
- The True Believer, Hoffer 2010
- Dreams of Steel, Cook 1990
- On China, Kissinger 2011
- The Master Switch, Wu 2010
- The Circus of Dr. Lao, Finney 2002
- The Kindly Ones, Littell 2009
- The Ideological Origins of the American Revolution, Bailyn 1992
- Friendship is Optimal, iceman 2012
- 3 Stars
- Pioneers of Soviet Computing, Malinovsky 2010
- The Operations Evaluation Group, Tidman 1984
- Confessions of an English Opium Eater, Quincey 2003
- The Unholy Consult, Bakker 2017
- A Troublesome Inheritance, Wade 2014
- The Recollections Of Eugene P. Wigner, Wigner 2003
- Donald Michie, Michie 2009
- Average Is Over, Cowen 2013
- New Legends, Bear 1996
- Perseverance island, Frazar 2009
- Berkshire Hathaway Letters to Shareholders, Buffett 2013
- A Memory of Light, Jordan 2013
- Tokyo, Tsuzuki 1999
- 1000 Poems from the Manyōshū, Yakamochi 2005
- Double Entry, Gleeson-White 2012
- Renaming of the Birds, Troupes 2013
- Drop Dead Healthy, Jacobs 2012
- Spam Nation, Krebs 2014
- On the Historicity of Jesus, Carrier 2014
- Mathematical People, Albers 2008
- The Riddle of the Labyrinth, Fox 2013
- Pirate Freedom, Wolfe 2007
- Japanese Love Hotels, Chaplin 2007
- The Life of Samuel Johnson, Boswell 1993
- Selected Poems, Celan 1972
- Moby-Dick or, the Whale, Melville 2003
- Japan as Number One Lessons for America, Vogel 1999
- Private Wealth in Renaissance Florence, Goldthwaite 1968
- Before the Storm, Kube-McDowell 1996
- Uncontrolled, Manzi 2012
- Research Fraud in the Behavioral and Biomedical Sciences, Miller 1992
- 空ろの箱と零のマリア 1, Mikage 2009
- Game Programming Patterns, Nystrom 2011
- The Dark Side of the Enlightenment, Fleming 2013
- Drift into Failure, Dekker 2011
- The Poems of Gerard Manley Hopkins, Hopkins 1976
- Possible Worlds, Haldane 2001
- Hanging Out with the Dream King, McCabe 2005
- Theological Incorrectness, Slone 2004
- String of Beads: Complete Poems of Princess Shikishi, Shikishi 1993
- On the Road, Kerouac 1976
- Handbook of Intelligence, Goldstein 2015
- The Secret History of the Mongols, Rachewiltz 2006
- The Ocean at the End of the Lane, Gaiman 2013
- A Confederacy of Dunces, Toole 1994
- Bitter Seeds, Tregillis 2010
- Modern Japanese Diaries, Keene 1999
- Voyage of the Beagle, Darwin 1989
- Indiscrete Thoughts, Rota 1998
- Inside WikiLeaks, Domscheit-Berg 2011
- The Bridge to Lucy Dunne, Exurb1a 2016
- The Japanese Family Storehouse, Ihara 1959
- The Pillow Book, Shōnagon 2006
- Robert Bakewell and the Longhorn Breed of Cattle, Stanley 1998
- Hive Mind, Jones 2015
- The City of Falling Angels, Berendt 2006
- Structural Equation Modeling, Lee 2007
- The Autobiography Of Benvenuto Cellini, Cellini 1999
- Newton and the Counterfeiter, Levenson 2009
- Drug Interdiction, Steffan 2010
- Daemon, Suarez 2009
- The Midas Paradox, Sumner 2015
- Clever Hans, Pfungst 2011
- The Hye Ch’O Diary: Memoir of the Pilgrimage to the Five Regions of India, Hyecho 1984
- Un Lun Dun, Miéville 2007
- Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, Thompson 1998
- Curves and Angles: Poems, Leithauser 2006
- An Introduction to Japanese Court Poetry, Miner 1968
- More Poems, Housman 1936
- Tau Zero, Anderson 2006
- The Buried Giant, Ishiguro 2015
- Matter, Banks 2008
- 50 in 50, Harrison 2002
- Shadow Games, Cook 1989
- Silicon Snake Oil, Stoll 1996
- Memoirs Found in a Bathtub, Lem 1986
- iWoz, Wozniak 2006
- House of Leaves, Danielewski 2000
- Mastering the Core Teachings of the Buddha, Ingram 2008
- The Judging Eye, Bakker 2009
- No Country for Old Men, McCarthy 2006
- Although of Course You End Up Becoming Yourself, Lipsky 2010
- The Rapture of the Nerds, Doctorow 2012
- Chinese History in Economic Perspective, Rawski 1992
- The Wallet of Kai Lung, Bramah 2002
- Portfolios of the Poor, Collins 2009
- A Random Walk Down Wall Street, Malkiel 2004
- Kim, Kipling 1981
- Cognitive Surplus, Shirky 2010
- Genius Revisited, Kassan 1993
- Everything Bad is Good for You, Johnson 2006
- Spice and Wolf, Vol. 01, Hasekura 2009
- The Art of UNIX Programming, Raymond 2003
- Psychiatry And The Human Condition, Charlton 2000
- The Chicago World’s Fair of 1893, Appelbaum 1980
- Being Wrong, Schulz 2010
- Silently and Very Fast, Valente 2011
- The Cinema of George Lucas, Hearn 2005
- Practical Criticism, Richards 1930
- Shame: Confessions of the Father of the Neutron Bomb, Cohen 2000
- The Man Who Would Be Queen, Bailey 2003
- 2 Stars
- Solid Fool’s Gold, James 2011
- The Master Algorithm, Domingos 2015
- Intellectuals and Society, Sowell 2010
- The Simple Men, Troupes 2012
- The Fountain, Troupes 2014
- Fascinating Mathematical People, Albers 2011
- Soldiers Live, Cook 2001
- The Legend of Sigurd and Gudrún, Tolkien 2009
- Tales of Ise, Anonymous 1968
- The Mature Optimization Handbook, Bueno 2013
- Light, Harrison 2004
- Puzzles of the Black Widowers, Asimov 1991
- The Thousandfold Thought, Bakker 2007
- Good Thinking, Good 2009
- The Lady Tasting Tea, Salsburg 2002
- 1 Stars
- Visual novels
Discussion of Cordwainer Smith SF story, arguing that the pain-of-space is based on forgotten psychological issues in air travel, and concerns about worse ones in space travel, which were partially vindicated by the existence of interesting psychological changes in astronauts.
Cordwainer Smith’s classic SF short story “Scanners Live in Vain” is remembered in part for its use of the space-madness trope, “the Great Pain of Space”, usually interpreted symbolically/psychologically by critics. I discuss the state of aerospace medicine in 1945 and subsequent research on “the breakaway effect”, “the overview effect”, and other unusual psychological states induced by air & space travel, and suggest Smith’s “the pain of space” is more founded on SF-style speculation & extrapolation of contemporary science/technology and anxieties than is appreciated due to the obscurity of the effects and the relative benignity of the subsequent best documented effects.
Forgotten chores and their use by Romanticism
Some old books mention sandy floors and sprinkling water on the ground; these asides seem to go unnoticed by most/all readers. I highlight them, explain and discuss their use as now-obsolete cleaning practices, poll Internet users to see how forgotten they are, and ponder implications. In an appendix, I discuss a similar issue I encountered in pre-Space-Race American science fiction.
Famous Ted Chiang SF short story ‘Story Of Your Life’ is usually misinterpreted as, like the movie version Arrival, being about time-travel/precognition; I explain it is instead an exploration of xenopsychology and a psychology of timeless physics.
One of Ted Chiang’s most noted philosophical SF short stories, “Story of Your Life”, was made into a successful time-travel movie, Arrival, sparking interest in the original. However, movie viewers often misread the short story: “Story” is not a time-travel movie. At no point does the protagonist travel in time or enjoy precognitive powers, interpreting the story this way leads to many serious plot holes, it renders most of the exposition-heavy dialogue (which is a large fraction of the wordcount) completely irrelevant, and genuine precognition undercuts the themes of tragedy & acceptance.
Instead, what appears to be precognition in Chiang’s story is actually far more interesting, and a novel twist on psychology and physics: classical physics allows usefully interpreting the laws of physics in both a ‘forward’ way in which events happen step by step, but also a teleological way in which events are simply the unique optimal solution to a set of constraints including the outcome and allows reasoning ‘backwards’. The alien race exemplifies this other, equally valid, possible way of thinking and viewing the universe, and the protagonist learns their way of thinking by studying their language, which requires seeing written characters as a unified gestalt. This holistic view of the universe as an immutable ‘block-universe’, in which events unfold as they must, changes the protagonist’s attitude towards life and the tragic death of her daughter, teaching her in a somewhat Buddhist or Stoic fashion to embrace life in both its ups and downs.
- Plot summary
- Author notes
- See Also
- External Links
2005-murakami: “Earth in My Window”, (2012-03-04; ; ):
Essay by Pop Art artist Takashi Murakami on Japanese society and on WWII infantilizing Japanese culture as revealed by media, anime, and otaku.
“Earth In My Window” is a long essay by Superflat pop artist Takashi Murakami meditating on post-WWII consumerist Japanese society and on WWII infantilizing Japanese pop culture as revealed by its influences on media, anime, and the otaku subculture.
This transcript has been prepared from a PDF scan of pg 98–149 of Little Boy: The Arts of Japan’s Exploding Subculture, ed. Murakami, published 2005-05-15, ISBN 0300102852. (See also the transcript of a discussion moderated by Murakami, “Otaku Talk”.)
Note: to hide apparatus like the links, you can use reader-mode ().
- “Earth in My Window”
- Little Boy
- Japanese Film in the 60 Years After the War
- Death and Narrative Merge
- DAICON IV
- The Adult Empire Strikes Back
- Memories of the Atomic Bomb
- An Endless Summer Vacation
- The Beast that Shouted Love at the Heart of the World
- Yuru Chara
- Phantoms in the Brain
- New Type
- Earth in My Window
- Further reading
Applied Computer Science: On Murder Considered As STEM Field—using information theory to quantify the magnitude of Light Yagami’s mistakes in Death Note and considering fixes
In the manga Death Note, the protagonist Light Yagami is given the supernatural weapon “Death Note” which can kill anyone on demand, and begins using it to reshape the world. The genius detective L attempts to track him down with analysis and trickery, and ultimately succeeds. Death Note is almost a thought-experiment-given the perfect murder weapon, how can you screw up anyway? I consider the various steps of L’s process from the perspective of computer security, cryptography, and information theory, to quantify Light’s initial anonymity and how L gradually de-anonymizes him, and consider which mistake was the largest as follows:
Light’s fundamental mistake is to kill in ways unrelated to his goal.
Killing through heart attacks does not just make him visible early on, but the deaths reveals that his assassination method is impossibly precise and something profoundly anomalous is going on. L has been tipped off that Kira exists. Whatever the bogus justification may be, this is a major victory for his opponents. (To deter criminals and villains, it is not necessary for there to be a globally-known single anomalous or supernatural killer, when it would be equally effective to arrange for all the killings to be done naturalistically by ordinary mechanisms such as third parties/police/judiciary or used indirectly as parallel construction to crack cases.)
Worse, the deaths are non-random in other ways—they tend to occur at particular times!
Just the scheduling of deaths cost Light 6 bits of anonymity
Light’s third mistake was reacting to the blatant provocation of Lind L. Tailor.
Taking the bait let L narrow his target down to 1⁄3 the original Japanese population, for a gain of ~1.6 bits.
Light’s fourth mistake was to use confidential police information stolen using his policeman father’s credentials.
This mistake was the largest in bits lost. This mistake cost him 11 bits of anonymity; in other words, this mistake cost him twice what his scheduling cost him and almost 8 times the murder of Tailor!
Killing Ray Penbar and the FBI team.
If we assume Penbar was tasked 200 leads out of the 10,000, then murdering him and the fiancee dropped Light just 6 bits or a little over half the fourth mistake and comparable to the original scheduling mistake. 6. Endgame: At this point in the plot, L resorts to direct measures and enters Light’s life directly, enrolling at the university, with Light unable to perfectly play the role of innocent under intense in-person surveillance.
From that point on, Light is screwed as he is now playing a deadly game of “Mafia” with L & the investigative team. He frittered away >25 bits of anonymity and then L intuited the rest and suspected him all along.
Finally, I suggest how Light could have most effectively employed the Death Note and limited his loss of anonymity. In an appendix, I discuss the maximum amount of information leakage possible from using a Death Note as a communication device.
Objectively, anime/manga better than American alternatives. So why the need to justify?
The popularity of anime in the 1990s and among nerds reflects in part a historical contingency: the failure of American and Western media to deliver long-form narratives dealing in fantasy, science fiction, and non-realism of every type, and which can cater to a niche or reflect a unique artistic vision (enabled by the cheapness of manga/LN production and the 1980s–1990s OVA economic model) while benefiting from the flexibility of animation in depicting anything without enormously costly SFX, while instead Western media focused on syndicated mass market lowest-common-denominator live-action series. The post-90s TV renaissance and extraordinary rise of ‘prestige series’, science fiction and superhero franchise, and continuous exponential increase in SFX capabilities/decrease in cost, sucked much of the wind out of anime’s sails. While still hugely popular both in America & overseas, and an accepted part of the culture, it no longer is as exciting as it used to be, or a growing juggernaut.
So if anime can no longer boast unique access to diversity and long-form SF/F narrative, what does anime still uniquely offer us? Why not just go geek out over the latest MCU or Star Wars movie ad nauseam? I suggest it is simply that it is one of the most-developed foreign media sources, which gains value simply because it is different–foreign, and not so American. Haven’t you seen enough of that? Even a mediocre foreign work gains interest from the novelty and differences.
A compilation of anime/manga reviews since 2010.
- The Tale of the Princess Kaguya
- Neon Genesis Evangelion Concurrency Project
- Made in Abyss
- Mushishi Zoku Shou
- Ringing Bell
- Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood
- Hellsing Ultimate
- Shin Sekai Yori
- Basilisk: Kouga Ninpou Chou
- Wolf Children
- Golden Kamuy
- The Dragon Dentist
- The Garden of Words
- Youjo Senki
- Expelled From Paradise
- Fate / stay night: Unlimited Blade Works
- Genshiken Nidaime
- Ayakashi / Mononoke
- Tonari no Seki-kun
- Gekkan Shoujo Nozaki-kun
- Space Dandy
- Little Witch Academia
- Children Who Chase Lost Voices
- The Wind Rises
- Monogatari Second Season
- Belladonna of Sadness
- Tamala 2010: A Punk Cat in Space
- Short Peace
- Arakawa Under The Bridge
- Mawaru Penguindrum
- Yurikuma Arashi
- Space Battleship Yamato
- Gyakkyou Burai Kaiji: Ultimate Survivor
- Fuse: Teppou Musume no Torimonochou
- Flip Flappers
- Mobile Suit Gundam
- Futakoi Alternative
- Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid
- From Up On Poppy Hill
- Mobile Suit Gundam: Char’s Counterattack
- Soul Eater
- Speed Grapher
- Blood Blockade Battlefront
- Hataraku Maou-sama!
- A Letter to Momo
- Chuunibyou demo Koi ga Shitai!
- Seto no Hanayome
- One-Punch Man
- Michiko to Hatchin
- Cat Shit One
- The SoulTaker
- Evangelion 3.0
- Majin Tantei Nougami Neuro
Observations on Frank Herbert’s Dune series—the notes are probably overstated, the Butlerian Jihad was not a robot uprising seeking to exterminate humanity, and precognition/prescience in the Dune universe appears to work backwards allowing for retro-causality and stable time-loops as exemplified by Leto II’s Golden Path creating Paul Atreides and the events of Dune.
Frank Herbert’s SF Dune series features as a central mechanic a multi-millennium human eugenics breeding program by the Bene Gesserit, which produces the main character, Paul Atreides, with precognitive powers. The breeding program is described as oddly slow and ineffective and requiring roles for incest and inbreeding at some points, which contradict most proposed human eugenics methods. I describe the two main historical paradigms of complex trait genetics, the Fisherian infinitesimal model and the Mendelian monogenic model, the former of which is heavily used in human behavioral genetics and the latter of which is heavily used in agricultural breeding for novel traits, and argue that Herbert (incorrectly but understandably) believed the latter applied to most human traits, perhaps related to his longstanding autodidactic interest in plants & insects & farming, and this unstated but implicit intellectual background shaped Dune and resolves the anomalies.
Extensive anthology of Gainax/Anno/Evangelion quotes, excerpts, sources, references, and analyses, organized by reliability and year.
This page is an extensive anthology of Gainax/Hideaki Anno/Evangelion-related quotes, excerpts, sources, references, & analyses, organized by reliability & year.
The purpose of compiling a large page of quotes & references classified by date & source level is to make it easier to put NGE into a historical context by tracing the evolution of plot or characters, cross-reference statements made in interviews, jump forward and backwards to flesh out otherwise obscure allusions to events, and enable easy keyword-based search for various concepts (eg. the connection of Kaworu to cats, Gainax’s bafflement that viewers might think Misato killed Kaji, the influence of earthquakes on people, connections to Aum Shinrikyo, garbled information about suicide attempts, Anno’s conservative nationalist views or philosophy of “poison”, retcons like swapping the Adam and Lilith plot devices, panspermia & First Ancestral Race being slowly removed from production materials and then post-NGE slowly restored, the many conflicting pieces of information on the end of NGE TV and EoE, Yamaga’s questionable reliability etc).
As I compile more material, I become increasingly convinced that far from Evangelion being a baffling mystery, it is in fact one of the most understandable anime out there, with a wealth of information about almost every detail, from the earliest planning meetings to how long particular episode productions took to the source of minor details like the “A-10 nerve”, and that Hideaki Anno, far from being a reticent auteur of mystery, has collectively been forthcoming about anything one might ask—to the point where multiple interviews could justly be described as “book-length” (the books in question being June, Schizo, Prano, the 1.0 CRC, & the 2.0 CRC). There is so much material that half the difficulty is simply collating the existing materials, and some extensive sources seem to have been lost to both the Japanese and English fandoms (eg. there seem to be no mentions or quotations of the Anata to Watashi no Gainax interviews in the Japanese web).
- Tangential materials
- Uses of kimochi warui
Misc thoughts, memories, proto-essays, musings, etc.
We usually clean up after ourselves, but sometimes, we are expected to clean before (ie. after others) instead. Why?
Because in those cases, pre-cleanup is the same amount of work, but game-theoretically better whenever a failure of post-cleanup would cause the next person problems.
- Cleanup: Before Or After?
- Peak Human Speed
- Oldest Food
- Zuckerberg Futures
- Conscientiousness And Online Education
- American light novels’ absence
- Cultural growth through diversity
- TV & the Matrix
- Cherchez Le Chien: Dogs as Class Markers in Anime
- Tradeoffs and costly signaling in appearances: the case of long hair
- The Tragedy of Grand Admiral Thrawn
- On dropping Family Guy
- Pom Poko’s glorification of group suicide
- Full Metal Alchemist: pride and knowledge
- A secular humanist reads The Tale of Genji
- Long term investment
- Measuring social trust by offering free lunches
- Lip reading website
- Good governance & Girl Scouts
- Chinese Kremlinology
- Domain-squatting externalities
- Ordinary life improvements
- A Market For Fat: The Transfer Machine
- Urban Area Cost-of-Living as Big Tech Moats & Employee Golden Handcuffs
- Somatic genetic engineering
- The advantage of an uncommon name
- Backups: life and death
- Measuring multiple times in a sandglass
- Powerful natural languages
- A Bitcoin+BitTorrent-driven economy for creators (Artcoin)
- William Carlos Williams
- Simplicity is the Price of Reliability
- November 2016 data loss postmortem
- Cats and Computer Keyboards
- How Would You Prove You Are a Time-traveler From the Past?
- ARPA and SCI: Surfing AI (Review of Roland & Shiman 2002)
- Open Questions
- The Reverse Amara’s Law
- Worldbuilding: The Lights in the Sky are Sacs
- Remote monitoring
- Surprising Turing-complete languages
- North Paw
- Leaf burgers
- Night watch
- Two cows: philosophy
- Venusian Revolution
- Hard problems in utilitarianism
- Who lives longer, men or women?
- Politicians are not unethical
- Defining ‘but’
- On meta-ethical optimization
- Alternate Futures: The Second English Restoration
- No-poo self-experiment
- Newton’s System of the World and Comets
- Rationality Heuristic for Bias Detection: Updating Towards the Net Weight of Evidence
- Littlewood’s Law and the Global Media
- D&D Game #2 log
- Highly Potent Drugs As Psychological Warfare Weapons
- Who Buys Fonts?
- Advanced Chess obituary
Literary analysis of the light novel/anime series The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya: Haruhi is not God, Kyon is
The light novel series The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya, featuring a character named Haruhi who is a god unawares and her search for novelty, has a number of anomalies and unclear overarching plot.
I argue that these anomalies can be resolved, and greater literary depth achieved, by interpreting Haruhi as an ordinary “not special” girl whose wish made her extraordinary, because the first-person protagonist Kyon is the actual unaware god. Like the bluebird of happiness, Kyon found happiness only when he forgot about himself to care more about another (making it a positive twist on Mark Twain’s The Mysterious Stranger’s despairing demiurge).