May 2016 news

topics: newsletter
source; created: 30 Apr 2016; modified: 20 Feb 2020; status: finished; confidence: log; importance: 0

This is the May 2016 edition of ; previous, . This is a summary of the revision-history RSS feed, overlapping with & ; brought to you by my donors on Patreon.







  • Significant Digits (Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality: sequel intended to conclude the story; more action-focused with a literary bent, and much less didactic/“author tract” and Harry-focused than MoR. Highly recommended for anyone who liked MoR.)



  • (peculiar Cary Grant WWII comedy-drama; it’s unusual to see Grant cast as a misanthropic drunkard and the movie can’t quite decide whether to be deadly serious or comedic, but most of the comedic beats are highly predictable)


  • (anthology of 4 short anime; the first is a curious folk-tale-esque story of a wandering peddler who is almost improbably skilled at repair and his overnight labors at a shrine devoted to & haunted by the animist spirits of old inanimate objects—“”. The 3D CGI is interesting but also somewhat offputting. The second takes a ukiyo-e inspired form of animation, in its initially tedious exploration of a doomed romance in Tokugawa-era Edo; this is merely the prologue to the unhappy bridge knocking over a lantern and starting a city-wide fire—one of many, historically, given that fireproofness was not one of the virtues of traditional Japanese architecture—at which point the animation kicks into high gear with some truly impressive animations of fire. Western viewers will probably be irritated by how the short assumes that one knows how city fires were fought in the pre-modern era: by empowering firefighters not with water pumps, which hardly existed, but construction equipment and large brigades of laborers given unlimited power to tear down large connected sections of buildings to form “fire-breaks”.

    The third story is the most bizarre and troubling: an enormous and grotesque ogre preys on the countryside, demanding tribute of young girls to rape and eat, and when he goes after nobility, a wild bear attacks it at its home, which is not a cave but a crashed flying saucer or rocket (‽). The scenario makes little sense, and the unmistakable saucer invites an allegorical reading—perhaps the bear as Russia, the ogre as America, and the raped & murdered girls as Japan? Odd. The final short film, the eponymous “Short Peace”, is the best: an engaging exploration of near-future warfare using networked soldier squads assisted by drones and robotic suits fighting an autonomous military robot, which extrapolates existing trends in the American military as being prototyped in Iraq & Afghanistan. After watching it twice, I still don’t quite get some aspects of the worldbuilding like why there is apparently an ICBM underneath Tokyo or why the protagonists would try to launch it, but the action itself is memorable and worth watching.)

  • (expansion of Death Billiards, as an episodic series; stories remain a bit heavily focused on suicide and murder, but while the dark background story arc ultimately ends in a whimper, the main story arc ends in an emotionally satisfying way)