October 26th, 2009

#1781: Star Blazers Series 1

I finished it Saturday night, in one blaze of glory--six eps in a row--and was pleased.

...not exactly.

At issue here are two problems: first, I had never seen the series in its entirety before, in order; two, I have no idea how much of the story was changed for the Americanized version.

Episodes 1-24 dealt with their trip from Earth to Iscandar.

Ep 25 dealt with their arrival on and (brief) exploration of Iscandar, after which they left. Ep 26 dealt with the trip home, which was naturally almost entirely unhindered by the Gammilons and Leader Desslock/Dessler--but not completely unhindered.

I was disappointed that there was no denouement: we see them arrive at Earth; and the series ends right there. During the end credits the Earth turns into a big blue marble again as the "Cosmo Cleaner D" is apparently switched on.

It would have been nice to see the restored Earth and the characters' actions thereon. They also left open the question of Captain Okita's disposition: did he in fact die at the end of the series, or did he live? And if he did live, couldn't they have had his funeral on the restored Earth as part of some kind of denouement?

Anyway...

I then watched ep 1 of the second series, "Comet Empire". (SB:CE)

I am realizing how much influence this story has had on my own science fiction. Then again, when I was 12 and starting junior high school, that was about the time I chose to begin writing fiction for fun; and as I liked SF I chose to write SF...and 1979 was when SB was being broadcast here in the Chicago area, early in the morning on one of the UHF channels. (44, I think, but don't quote me.) Many was the school day that I woke up to SB on the TV, let me tell you.

Fortunately, the influences I got from SB:CE are not incompatible with what I have subsequently learned and/or formulated about the operation of deep space combat vessels. SB as a series suffers from some serious issues with what can be crammed into the volume of the Yamato as built by Japan in WW2--and as we see in the earliest eps of SB, the space battleship Yamato has exactly the same dimensions as the wet navy battleship--but though the series plays fast and loose with the science at times, it gets a lot of the military bits right, particularly when it comes to large ships carrying fightercraft. IMHO the plots of the battle sequences would not be out of place in more modern SF.

I'm looking forward to watching more of SB:CE.

#1782: Great Depression II is a-comin'

Get ready! Vox Day has a new book coming out and it's all about what we're looking at.

So Fed chairman Bernanke has to decide when to pull $1,000 billion out of the federal reserve system.

Too much money is inflationary; but pulling that $1,000 billion too soon might/will stifle whatever recovery we can reasonably expect.

Speaking of that recovery thing, apparently you can have an economic recovery even while hemohorraging jobs. This new form of economic recovery is an amazing thing to behold!
Third-quarter estimates this week are expected to show that the economy grew for the first time since the quarter ending in June 2008. Despite the estimated 3 percent expansion and a stock market that has been on a tear since March, hundreds of thousands of people are still being laid off each month.

Eight million jobs have been lost nationwide since the recession began two years ago, and by some measures workers face the worst job market since the Depression. The average laid-off worker has been without a job for 61/2 months, a post-World War II record. Many of those workers will never recover financially.
Take a look at the bit I emphasized, above.

In Atomic Fungus #1722 there are a few paragraphs about a Vox Day column which predicted that GDP would appear to rise:
Due to the way GDP is measured, there are a variety of ways that GDP can increase and perceived economic growth can show up in the statistics without an improvement in the labor market. As I explained in a previous column, imports count against GDP, so if Americans stopped buying imported Mercedes and Nintendos for some reason, this would be reported as incredible economic growth and a vast increase in societal wealth. The reality, of course, is that a complete cessation of import buying would indicate that something has gone seriously wrong with the American economy and the American consumer's ability to purchase goods and services. Another way is for the government to borrow and spend money, a third way is for the Federal Reserve to increase the money supply, and a fourth way is for the government to provide incentives for Americans to make purchases with consumer loans.

All four of these methods are presently being utilized, which makes the situation appear to be much better than it actually is. Imports are down, government spending is up, the Fed is desperately trying to increase the money supply and Congress created around $20 billion in new loans by handing out $2.75 billion to 611,400 car buyers. All of these results will show up in the macroeconomic statistics, and none of them are going to create new jobs or create legitimate economic growth.
In the post I linked to, I bolded the last line of the quote because it was the salient bit. The point is, here is our "recovery": GDP looks like it is increasing because the metrics used to figure it went up, but it's not a real increase so much as it is a gaming of the system.

The administration is talking about "painfully weak" job growth, but negative numbers means "losing jobs" not "weak growth", painful or otherwise.
Economists are puzzled as to why job growth has slowed, citing everything from higher health care costs, to higher productivity, to Chinese currency manipulation.

"The answer is, we don't know," said Tim Bartik, a liberal economist with the Upjohn Institute for Employment Research in Michigan who is proposing a tax credit for employers who hire new workers.
I'll tell you guys why job growth is negative (not "slowing")--it's because the economy is still in the shitter; there is no economic growth.

* * *

Meanwhile, with inflation running near zero--recall that there's no COLA for Social Security recipients this year!--Democrats are increasing funding for just about everything by 12%.

Standard operating procedure for budgeting in Washington, D.C. is just to take last year's budget and increase everything by 10-12% regardless of economic circumstances. If you then decide to reduce the increase, you call that a "cut".

All else being equal, then, I guess that means next year's deficit will be $1,670 billion.

* * *

Obama golfs while everything heads towards the shitter and no one cares. Bush was routinely excoriated for golfing; Obama has already gone golfing as much in nine months as Bush did in 2.8 years, and no one cares.

* * *

This Michelle Malkin post begins with this headline: "The Chicago way: 'Why are we having a fire sale on everything in the city?'"

The answer is pretty simple if you're not a Democrat: here in the Chicago area--particularly Cook County, for which I routinely thank God that I live in Will County--we are already taxed out the freaking wazoo. Chicago boasts the highest sales tax in the country. The Dems know they can't raise property taxes any higher. The state government is seriously considering doubling the income tax rate.

Thanks to decades of tax-and-spend politics, Illinois is broke; Chicago is broke. Government spends every penny it takes in and never saves anything; so when the economy tanks and revenue drops, government's only option is to raise taxes.

But overall government already consumes more than 20% of the GDP of the United States. Americans have never been taxed at as high a rate as they're currently being taxed; and Congress is contemplating several schemes to raise federal taxes on top of that.

Chicago is caught in a bind: they can't raise taxes, but the last thing they're going to do is even consider cutting spending on anything...and the money has to come from somewhere.

* * *

This piece by Lew Rockwell starts with an excellent analysis of the economy. Then it goes on to talk a lot about Ludwig von Mises, who was arguably among the greatest economists of all time; and this is the meat of the article, the most important reason to read it.

* * *

Just remember that protesting is a crime in China. China is incredibly polluted: there are no pollution control laws, no EPA; and the people themselves don't have the right to assemble and protest.

The communists obviously couldn't care less about the health and welfare of "the workers". I'm reminded of that friend of mine who admired China because his Chinese girlfriend didn't have to worry about having a home to live in or food to eat, nor her medical care nor her clothing.

No; she just has to worry about what's in the air she's breathing and the water she's drinking while literal millions of her countrymen live in toxic filth. Attaboy, China!

* * *

Anime stuff:

Hayate no Gotoku 2 is damned funny. Every ep has made me laugh out loud.

Sora no Manimani is good.

Ai Yori Aoshi finished, so I started with Ai Yori Aoshi Enishi, and already I have been rewarded for my perserverance: in the first episode was a nice image of Taeko in lacy underwear. I would post the screencap here if I had a good way of doing it; but since all my images disappeared today along with my FTP account, I'm going to have to find a new way to post images. Argh etc.

AT&T wants to charge me an extra $5 per month for FTP space, something which (until now) was free. What's worse, they want to charge me $5 per month for 15 MB.

Come on. Get hep to the 21st century, will you? The smallest hard drive you can find new at retail is around 320 gigabytes, and that will run in the area of $90. That works out to $0.00000000028125 per megabyte; even assuming that my FTP server account is routinely hammered to its daily limit of 100 megabytes--it never is--my monthly user fee ought to cover that with plenty of margin left for a hefty profit.

Anyway, so I need to find a good free FTP account, sooner or later.

Back to the anime: Saki is winding down, so pretty soon I'm going to have to find something to fill the void.

Oh well.