Archive for December 2007

Steven Den Beste’s prior works

December 29, 2007

I’ve mentioned Den Beste and his website concerning anime, anime reviews, and similar topics.

Some may have missed out on his socio-political analysis in 2002 on wards, though. You can get a start on that here.  This is only for those that are interested in human dynamics that intersect and react with tactics, strategy, and logistics. If you aren’t interested in learning about such things, then you probably will prefer the lighter entertainment topics.


Anime Recommendations

December 29, 2007

There’s a couple of philosophies available. Usually in America you see anime classified as a single genre along with animation. Doesn’t really work, you know, given the fact that there is no way you can search for what you want under that system. So you usually hear about anime productions from other people that like what you like or like what you don’t like even.

A classical method of searching for anime you might like is regular name recognition.

Miyazaki is the creator of Princess Mononoke and is acclaimed as a master story teller and character creator. In the link you will find a couple of story recommendations with a comparison to Disney animated movies, which are the closest comparison you can get to Japanese anime from US productions.

Disney’s recently production “Enchanted” is a big hit because, I believe, it has more character development than you would usually see anywhere else in American theaters and it is very musical, which is always a big part of Japanese anime popularity in and outside Japan. The musical score must be pleasant to hear, appropriate, and catching. It is there to evoke emotion, to make the audience connect with danger faced by the characters, or as a method to support humor. Used well, and you won’t even remember that it was there.

Enchanted, instead of putting their “theme” music in the beginning and ending credits, they put it on the tongues of the characters themselves. Which brings in the unique American standard of the Song of Music, also a big hit.

Personally I saw a couple of anime shows like Dragon Ball Z, Noir, Fullmetal Alchemist, but it wasn’t until Bleach and Naruto that I became hooked on anime as a specific genre I wanted to watch more of. Before, of course, I was really only able to watch anime on the CartoonNetwork, which was woefully restricted and limited given what the internet, including Netflix, can provide you now a days.

Anime has its own genres or specific themes just like American movies, and you can see some of those genres at netflix, which is sort of a like movie genome project similar to Pandora’s use of the Music Genome project. You have your war drama/love triangle types in anime. You have your fantasy or historically classified types such as Samurai X, Inuyasha, and various other fictional or recreated worlds. This is where Japanese anime delves into Japan’s past of sorcery and magic, sort of like how Americans watch Wild West or James Bond movies. Japanese anime is also fascinated with mecha, represented namely by Robotech and Macross. Then there is the futuristic movie types like Akira and Ghost in the Shell which create a Matrix like future society dealing with robots and other technology of that sort. Techno-punk in many ways. It has a different focus on character design and progression than the latest generation of Japanese tv show animes (which tend to be the most popular syndicated programs).One of the most amusing and charming settings is the “slice of life” settings in which regular Japanese life, usually school and family life, are shown interspersed with various types of supernatural, fantastic, or mystic additions.

A very nice futuristic/apocalyptic utopian movie is Appleseed. It has a nice synthesis of complex motivations for allies, enemies, and so forth in addition to very nice use of computer generated images melded with hand drawn depictions. The futuristic city of Olympia is also an excellent creation in theoretical brainstorming that you probably only see in American science fiction, and only sci fi novels at that. It is very different from Ghost in the Shell in terms of priority and focus. It is also very different from the Risident Evil movie, in that action and character development are split along more even plot spaces than Resident’s Evil 90% action scene and 10% character dev at the middle. Also check out Aeon Flux for the same things I’ve said about Appleseed. There is also an animated series of Aeon Flux that I didn’t get a chance to watch because I didn’t know about it. It was produced by Peter Chung via MTV, it seems. So it would be an interesting way to see how that class takes it.

Many of the Japanese popular anime are produced from manga, comics that is, and translated directly to animated series. And I mean directly. You will actually see exact scenes drawn out in black and white on a manga, on your tv screen in color at times. While this idea is implemented for Spiderman and Superman in America, it is never exactly the same process. The entire “look” of anime starts on paper with still scenes. That is how they communicate suspense, emotions, action, and things of that nature. Whereas in American movies, such things are usually portrayed by “acting” and “special effects”. The manga authors usually start very early by drawing and getting so good at drawing, character sketches, and storyline creation that they just become the single author of an entire manga series, which takes just as much work as any full length science fiction novel published by Baen. It is very different from America’s focus on the director, such as Steven Spielberg, instead of the author of the works themselves, the writers. Both Lucas Arts and Spielberg have written their own plots and scripts, yes, but they are known for their directing, not their writing. While in manga authors, writing and directing at the same thing. There is no split between the two.

Personally, it is very hard for me to see people’s body language, facial expressions, voice tones, when they are fighting full out in some kind of fast paced action scene, you know. Anime slows it down so you have plenty of time to grasp what is going on. Of course, sometimes they slow it down way too much and take 10 episodes to tell a story arc that might have taken nothing but 8 chapters in a manga. A chapter consisting of say 8 pages in a normal comic sized book.

Netflix has a fast and easy method of finding anime that is highly rated in comparison to what you already like. Of course, if you don’t know any that you like, it becomes hard to start without a larger pool to benefit from. For example Dragon BallZ,, Naruto, and Bleach probably belongs to the “character progression through conflict and personal challenge”theme. This is inspired by the martial arts system in which once you master a certain level, there are always greater challenges in store for you to seek or master.

Romantic story arcs in anime tend to be used for character development or love triangle dynamics or harem themes (one man, multiple women seeking his attention), which turns things into half way comedy often.

I started up reading Steven Den Beste in 2002, so I’m one of those that also read his anime blog posts as well. The trick was finding something I liked and recognizing why. I don’t like anime because of the fan service or because of the cute women and girls, which is a far more important rule of thumb for Den Beste than me. He hates watching sad anime endings or anime with dead girls, I like watching anime with lots of killing, tactics, conflict, and what not. I don’t mind nice looking anime characters, of course, but they aren’t really the main show unless the entire anime series revolves around girls, like Sailor Moon.

Don’t know what you would characterize Sailor Moon as. Could be romance, drama, action, modern fantasy, although Japan tends to mix modern fantasy with modern science fiction many times. Godzilla anyone?

I’ve been recently watching Air TV and Mahoromatic via netflix for the former and fansubs for the latter.

Predictions and Emotions from 2003

December 27, 2007

South Vietnamese tanks soon ran out of fuel and stopped. Soldiers dug in and fought where they stood. Then ammunition ran short. They retreated. Then, without hope, broke and ran. It became a rout as desperate soldiers, no longer able to fight, ran home to save their families.

And in America, land of the free and home of the brave, the journalists and politicians who had done this to our former comrades-in-arms — who had first abandoned them and then effectively disarmed them — scoffed. Pointed at the horrible spectacle and chortled. “Look at those worthless people run away! They can’t even defend themselves! They deserve to lose! They were never worthy of our help!”

I was ashamed.

I recalled something I had seen six years earlier while fighting in that war. My ship was stationed off North Vietnam. We did shore bombardment and dueled with enemy shore batteries. One night we saw tracers quite close to the coastline — evidence of a pitched battle there. We went in to suppress the enemy fire. In the morning a boat approached us. Our Captain ordered all hands below decks and all portholes closed. This was top secret.

I peeked. The occupants of the boat were South Vietnamese commandos. They had tried to land up North, but were spotted and taken under fire by the shore batteries. The boat was now sinking. The rising water was pink with the blood of the dead and wounded. We offered to take them all aboard. No, they answered. Could we just lend them a pump and some medical supplies? The last I saw them they were heading back in. I never learned what happened to them.

Now, as I watched all unravel, it no longer mattered. I hated with a savage, abiding fury the cackling fools and Leftist quislings who had deprived me of the America I loved. The love was tarnished now; she had been unfaithful. And they had made her so.

I spent over a year after the fall of Saigon resettling Vietnamese refugees. I resettled soldiers who fled to save their families, having no bullets left to shoot. Some had found their families. Some came out alone. We spent hours, days calling refugee camps and other resettlement agencies trying to locate the missing. The bad news trickled in over the grapevine. A daughter left behind, here. A wife and children, there. A State Department bus had never arrived to collect somebody’s brother.

I met huge, extended families of fishermen and farmers at the bus station in Jersey City, New Jersey. They came directly from the nearest refugee camp, still dressed as when they fled their villages in South Vietnam. These were the men, women and children who abandoned their livelihoods and risked their lives in small boats to escape the Communists — only to be labeled “the wrong Vietnamese” by that great American patriot, Senator Edward Kennedy.

I met a Vietnamese merchant sea captain who — trapped by the advancing NVA in Danang with his family (except for a daughter accidentally left behind) — boarded another captain’s old freighter with hundreds of other sudden refugees and made a break for the sea. NVA artillery fired on them from both sides of the river. Many were killed; blood flowed in the gunwales. The ship — riddled below the water line — began to sink. The freighter captain wanted to abandon ship, but the passengers insisted they proceed. My new friend took command and after three precarious weeks — the ship’s deck flush with the South China Sea, survivors bailing desperately night and day — they made the Philippines.

They eventually came to America, these “wrong Vietnamese.” Senator Kennedy told us that they had just panicked. They would all, he assured us, soon go home. Few did, even after that cold welcome. Instead, hundreds of thousands more joined them in risking thirst, hunger, pirates and drowning on the South China Sea.

The South Vietnamese Embassy in Washington closed forever shortly after the fall of Saigon.  I was the only American there that final night. The staff (including General Thieu’s influential nephew) sat around the conference room talking quietly and, occasionally, crying. In deference to me they spoke English. But, overcome by emotion, they occasionally slipped into Vietnamese; my Vietnamese colleague in the resettlement effort translated for me.

Sometimes these stranded diplomats managed a laugh. “Use our phone,” they said. “Call anywhere in the world. After tomorrow our enemy will be paying the bill.”

Whenever the conversation veered towards their betrayal by America, they would stop guiltily and apologize to me. America, they acknowledged, had suffered greatly in their defense. More than they had any right to expect. It was just too bad….  More tears.

Seventeen years later, when American troops liberated Kuwait City, I wept at the waving flags and cheering crowds. This was the victory my generation and I had been deprived of. But the depression, the anger, the hatred had not been about my deprivation. The betrayal of my country’s honor by the Left — that was the unhealing wound.

Powerful testament, as you can see. Courtesy of Cannoneer.

Logic: The Assumptions and Applications

December 26, 2007

Here’s something I got by googling a book James P Hogan wrote.


The next logical question is how one decides whether a given conspiracy hypothesis is valid. It’s pretty easy to dismiss those involving all members of a given occupation/ethnicity/party etc, as well as those postulating unlimited power held by a hereditary cabal, or persecution of a small group which still exists…But what about those less implausible conspiracies, such as, oh, those wherein a powerful nation is manipulated to invade a lesser and unthreatening land to install a puppet government? It would seem those arguing against such a position would be the denialists, if the term is to be taken literally.

Posted by: Pierce R. Butler | April 30, 2007 11:44 PM


This is interesting and important stuff. I’m glad you’re inquiring into it on a more global level. I was raised by conspiracy theorists of the Illuminati/Council on Foreign relations/International Communism bent, and I noticed the same thing about them that Booker mentioned above: they believed, ultimately, in just about all of it. (An important caveat to this: They would generally hold out one or two conspiracy theories as ridiculous just to prove to themselves and their listeners that they weren’t just enamored with conspiracies as such. But they would inevitably bring that around to their pet theories anyway, such as the case of the Illuminati guy who had no use for the Area 51 types, because they were being manipulated by the Freemason plotters to focus their energies on something that took their sights off the real conspiracies.)

Posted by: Decline and Fall | May 1, 2007 4:36 AM


Pierce,I’d say the first line of defense is Occam’s Razor, but that of course says nothing about whether something is true, it merely points to the more likely conclusion. As for your example, one question you need to ask is this: to what extent have the people in charge of Conspiracy X shown themselves to be competent? This is my standard line against the “Bush plotted 9/11” charge: how could an Administration that can’t manage to plant WMDs in Iraq or get bottled water to one of its major cities possibly pull off 9/11?The other big question I always ask has to do with the Ben Franklin quote that began this post: how many people would it take to keep this conspiracy going? If the answer is more than 5, I begin to look for other explanations. In the Iraq example, we now know that bureaucratic inefficiency, mismanagement, ideology and intimidation by senior leaders led to an intelligence corps that was unwilling to look at other explanations and a military that was unwilling to stand up to the Administration on its faulty war plan. We know this because nobody has kept their mouth shut about it. So is it a conspiracy or is it a case of bad ideas executed poorly?

Posted by: Decline and Fall | May 1, 2007 4:49 AM


Decline and Fall: My “example” was a bit vague: actually, I was alluding to one of the clearest cases of conspiracy in history, namely, the creation of the state of Panama.That particular coup was not initiated at the head-of-state level, which on my pickier days I consider an essential criterion for conspiracy. Many historians seems to accept Nixon’s definition that what presidents do is ipso facto legal, and that plots implemented from the top are simply policy (at least, if they succeed: “bad ideas implemented poorly”, as you note, just don’t cut it).I agree that 9/11/01 seems well beyond the capabilities of the current US regime (though you have to give them credit for adapting and improvising brilliantly in Nov-Dec 2000).That said, I’ve often suspected that the “9/11 truth(y) movement” has roots in a deliberate effort to discredit calls for a better, deeper, less compromised investigation than what we’ve had so far: clearly the tactics of distraction and provocation are within the demonstrated skill set of you-know-who. Otoh, after watching the energy and detail with which people I know are pursuing implausible scenarios, I’m forced to conclude that this somehow taps into a major psychological vein. This implies it may be a legitimate grassroots phenomenon, regardless of the validity of its conclusions.Sorting out what’s what is even murkier than, say, the study of espionage (where at least you know smoke and mirrors are being carefully deployed). A 100% DSM-certified diagnosis of paranoia does not by itself prove that there’s nothing under the bed but dust bunnies.

Posted by: Pierce R. Butler | May 1, 2007 12:07 PM

Hell, I’m not saying conspiracies don’t happen. Julius Ceaser was, after all, killed as a result of a conspiracy. The Reichstag fire was a legitimate conspiracy etc. Criminal conspiracy is quite common, and the default charge for prosecutors who can’t prove something better.

The issue is when people allege conspiracies that simply don’t make sense to explain why they can’t prove their assertions. Like, all global warming scientists are conspiring together to bring down American capitalism, or evolution denialists claiming that the only reason we believe in “Darwinism” is a materialist conspiracy against religion. These are really absurd ideas.

As far as the 9/11 conspiracy theorists go, Bush and Co. can’t even fire prosecutors without being caught in a tangle of lies, they’ve demonstrated incompetence in every single endeavor they’ve put their hands to, even the voting tricks they pulled in 2000 are well documented and a matter of record. So how is it, that arguably the most incompetent person to hold office since Harding, and his various loyal (and equally incompetent) cronies pulled of the greatest and most complicated hoax in history? And that my pet goat thing? If you really were leading a conspiracy, why would you make your public response to an event you knew was going to be happen 7 minutes of embarrassing indecision. GWB is not that good an actor, that was pretty damn real.

Then you see the actual ideas they have about cruise missles hitting towers and “hologram projectors” projecting images of planes hitting the towers and it’s pretty much over. As each idea has successfully been mocked into submission they’ve retreated further and further until now all they do is harp about WTC7’s fall on Fark forums. I won’t really antagonize the 9/11 cranks that much with the exception of those with big soapboxes to scream from like Rosie O’Donnel who has apparently been linking the 9/11 conspiracy cranks from her blog.

Real conspiracies happen, people lie, usually for monetary gain, ask any prosecutor. But a conspiracy theory is different. It’s the weak linking of unrelated facts to explain something for which far better explanations exist that fit the data far better. Anyone with any common sense realizes that the conditions required for scientists to conspire are absurd, for incompetents to pull off the greatest trick in history is equally absurd. It’s a sign of defective thought. Widespread deception simply isn’t that easy to pull off.

Posted by: MarkH | May 1, 2007 12:27 PM



By now you may have realized from my bolded portions the fact that even though Mark and Pierce disagree somewhat on the “competency” of the Bush administration or their political leaders here in the US, their operating premises, meaning their assumptions of what is real or true, are the same exact foundation. They both believe that Bush or his people not only can have the motivation to do what they believe they did, but already have the motivation and already used that motivation to carry out deeds. What they disagree on is how successful Bush and his folks were, not whether Bush had the intent in the first place. (more…)

Merry Christmas to All

December 24, 2007

And to all a good night, since it is about 10 30 pm at this time.

Roman Civilization in Briton

December 23, 2007

Take a look at this video of letters from Britannia Rome.

Rome, in the Empire stage, used plenty of auxiliary troops with unique fighting styles and abilities. The men of the garrison in question came from the Netherlands, which is close to Germanic-Getai territory.

Used barbarians to kill barbarians, in a fashion.

It also addresses the fact that a combined tribes of Scottish highlanders, they weren’t Scottish back then, just Picts, went and fought Rome on the open field. They died, of course, which motivated them to learn guerrilla warfare. Exactly reminiscent of Arabia’s wars with Israel.

The armor you see in the video is a reproduction of Julius Caesar’s legions, which still used the cheek guard helmets of Thracian or Germanic origin. They also showed full chainmail armored auxiliary spearmen, which looked nothing like the armor Julius Caesar’s men wore. In fact, Rome used segmented steel for shoulder reinforcement. They adapted their linen-thorax armor (which is linen inserted with iron plates, what the hoplites of Greece used) to stiffen the shoulders due to the fact that the Germanic, Thracian, and numerous other tribes used the falx. It was a two handed sword heavy and long enough to cleave through arms and heads as well as heavy armor. It may have been heavy enough to push a legionaire’s shield down and then hit his shoulder with the falx. A reason to have shoulder reinforcement.

For a nice picture of what lorica segmentat looked like, see here.

The primary reason for the Roman’s javelin of choice, the pila, is due to the fact that the soft iron head bends after penetration of an opponent’s shield. It prevents the shaft from simply being cut off, thereby weighing down an enemy’s shield, thus making their shield wall non-effective. There would be at least 2 pilas per Roman soldier. So a legion of about 5,000 can send 5000 javelins at you. These tactics allowed Rome to take on barbarian hordes that were more lightly armored yet outnumbered the Roman legions by more than 5 to 1, and win.

Also, the reason why you see so few casualties amongst Romans as opposed to the thousands on top of thousands of dead barbarian enemies, is due to the fact that most of the dying occurs when one or the other side starts routing. Armor played a part, but most of the dying comes when you run. Then the Roman cavalry can just ride you down all the way until sundown. Hannibal Barca was able to kill most of the 80 thousand Roman army at Cannae because Hannibal encircled the Romans and beat/cut them to death. Course that was very hard on Hannibal’s own forces, given the fact that a surrounded foe will fight very hard when there is no avenue of retreat. On Death Ground, Sun Tzu called it, fight.

It is interesting to compare what went on in Brittania Rome before as opposed to Britain now. Both nations of both time lines had problems with barbarians. Both had problems fighting a central authority and foreigners. Things tend to get swapped around in history, of course, but the dynamics are fundamentally the same.

One faction fights another faction for dominance. That is the story of the human race. Not even the power of the Left or the Goracle’s Global Warming jets can undo that condition.

Ethical Dilemmas

December 21, 2007

An interesting analysis of what is ethically demanded when you know a crime is going to be committed.