Sunday, November 23, 2008

Anime — RD Sennou Chosashitsu

RD Sennou Chosashitsu aka Real Drive aka Healthy Drive is this year's Shirow/Production IG title, a return to the more familiar territory of a near future (2061 CE) cyber-enhanced future. Masamichi Haru, a diver working on an artificial island (the precursor to Appleseed's Olympus, perhaps?) in the very near future falls into a coma for 50 years as the result of some strange phenomenon caused by the construction work. Awakening an old man, he is assigned a highschool girl, Minamo Aoi, as a go-fer. And for the first two episodes, it looks like the recurrence of this phenomenon will be the plot.

The next two-thirds of the series is then simple episodes as Haru returns to diving in the virtual world of the MetaReal, he and Minamo stop striking sparks off one another, and generally the series becomes more like Aria than a typical Shirow cyber-future.

And then in the last half-dozen or so episodes, the plot resumes, bursts into eco-wibble (admittedly not a surprise for Shirow, being there even from the days of Dominion Tank Police), and then resolves the story with not one but two happy couples.

Overall : mostly harmless, the girls are easy on the eyes (no anime noodles or overdone superstructure), and the setting is definitely one of the few anime settings where I'd like to go and live.

Anime Film — Appleseed : Ex Machina

Shirow's Ghost in the Shell is one of the few cases where the animation is superior to the manga (along with Utena, Princess Tutu, Evangelion and Mushishi). And his Appleseed was not only my first real manga, but far better than the original GitS -- so why has there never been a decent animated adaptation?

Appleseed : Ex Machina gets the equipment right, but it stops there. The use of machinima tempts to the dark side of video-game action, and away from the philosophical underpinnings so well brought out in the GitS anime. And then they have to make the plot shallow and add some romantic rivalry out of thing air too…

Possibly not helped by the fact that the bargain DVD I got only had American and German dub tracks, so it meant listening to bored voice actors drawling their lines (not something I noticed at the time of purchase -- what lame-ass production leaves the Japanese audio track off an anime DVD, after all?), but this is the third fail in a row for Appleseed movies/OVAs.

There's an anime series in the works for next year. Dare I still hope for a GitS moment?

You said there'd be Global Warming... why is it snowing in November? And the snow is settling?

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Anime — Chi's Sweet Home

A kitten who gets separated from her mother and littermates while distracted by a bird; a young family in an apartment with a "No Pets" clause…

Told in three minute episodes, four times a week through the middle of this year, Chi's Sweet Home contains all those little incidents that anyone who has shared their lives with a cat will recognise, as well as other dramas inherent in the set-up.

Although the end resolves the last major arc within the series, the human level story is left hanging; this suggests that there'll be a season 2. Next year, perhaps?

Erlang queues — a worked example

Mainly to put down where I can find it again (Google not having turned up any reassuring examples, particularly for queue:split()) that they do act as you think they would:

So queue:in() puts new entries into the queue, queue:split() counts from the output end, breaking the output as {Old, New}, queue:head() peeks and queue:out() pops.

In particular {_, NewQ} = queue:split(Discard, Q). will drop the indicated number of expired entries from the queue.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Good news, bad news

First the good news:

Houses are 15% cheaper to buy than a year ago -- you'd think they were consumer electronics with that sort of drop in price.

Now the bad:

The return on your savings will be slashed by at least 1/3.

Funny how the news media play them the other way around.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

America's New Labour Moment

“Democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want, and deserve to get it good and hard.” — H. L. Mencken

and other sentiments he expressed in the same vein.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Book — Incandescence by Greg Egan

Another hard-SF story in the vein of his earlier Schild's Ladder — which is to say, hard as in technically stretching.

Two strands of story interleave; one being a lightly disguised primer in general relativity being bootstrapped in the plot by a pre-industrial society exposed to extreme conditions, the other being a more conventional (for Egan) post-human polein-style setting, tracing an unexpected trace of DNA life deep into the core of the galaxy, while musing on the theme of what does intelligence do when it's been there (for all interesting values of there), done that (ditto) and got the T-shirt.

While it's the best SF book I've read all year, that's not setting a very high bar, and it's pretty run-of-the-mill Egan. Still, it occupied a wet autumn afternoon in a better way than chatting on 4chan…

A week of winter

So back into the gloom.

And a week ago, the weather forecast was for snow -- which turned out to mainly being heavy rain, with a bit of slush on the road as I was driving home through Bourn.

The forecase for sub-zero nights and days of single digit temperatures to follow did come true though -- but thanks to the new cavity wall insulation, turning the central heating on (3 weeks later than usual) for just an hour or so morning and evening was sufficient.

And having changed from summer to winter duvet at the weekend, it's back to the summer one and heating off by default, now that temperatures are in high single figures outside.

All it can't fix is the shortening of the hours of daylight.