Tuesday, September 18, 2012

6 Quotes from an Anime I Like Called Hyouka

I rarely watch TV as I like books much better.

Even so, if a show is in Japanese or Vietnamese, I'll sometimes try it out--as it allows me to be productive (in learning a language) while also having fun (and providing a break from more intense mental effort).

With that said as background, one of the shows I recently finished watching is Hyouka (or, in English, Ice Cream).

The show has four main characters, each of which I'll try to introduce via the 6 short quotes below. 

There is Oreki Houtarou, a young boy interested at the show's start in conserving his own energy above all. Here, for your first quote, is something interesting he says early on in the series:
The more inexperienced you are, the more you want to show off.
And here, for another, is Oreki's motto:
I don't do anything I don't have to. Whatever I have to do, I do quickly.
Then there is Chitanda Eru (pictured), whose intense curiosity pushes the plot of each show forward (and ultimately, because of his regard for her, causes Oreki to question the above motto, or at least his application of it). Here is my favorite quote from Chitanda:
We can't be productive if we have no purpose.
Aside from these two, there is Fukube Satoshi--Oreki's colorful friend who serves as a foil to him in the show. Their relationship can somewhat be summed up by this exchange:
Oreki: "I can live without your love." 
Fukube: "I'm sure you can."
Mayaka, who likes Fukube, is the other character rounding out the four-person gang (who are all members of the Classics Club). Here, starring Chitanda, is another extended conversation involving them all:
Chitanda: "I don't think that people should never get angry. That applies to the other deadly sins as well." 
Everyone: "..." 
Chitanda: "For example, I think that pride and greed are also important." 
Satoshi: "What do you mean?" 
Chitanda: "If someone didn't have any pride, wouldn't they also be lacking in self-confidence? If someone was free of greed, wouldn't they have trouble supporting their family? And if people didn't envy one another, wouldn't they stop inventing new things? Um, you don't have to pay so close attention."
Satoshi: "I see. That's interesting." 
Oreki: "Moderation in all things, right?" 
Chitanda: "I don't think the concept of 'deadly sins' can be applied to our lives that simply." 
Mayaka: "So you think that getting angry isn't a bad thing?" 
Chitanda: "Yes. Wouldn't you say that if you can't get angry about anything, you can't really love anything either?"
Other characters take part in the show aside from these main ones. Here, then, for your final quote, is something that another character says (to Oreki) and which I especially liked:
People should take pride in their own abilities.
And that's all.

Sounds interesting, right?

I can only think of one recent animated show I like better.

And that is one I'll be writing more about soon, perhaps an essay for publication somewhere.

Want to guess what that is?

I'll give you some clues: the title of the show is three words long, one of the character's names in it starts with a "Ph" and the other starts with a "F"--oh, and it's probably the best cartoon ever.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

You'll Never Guess Who Ayn Rand Supposedly Writes Like

So, there's a website called I Write Like.

Recently, on Reddit, there have been a few posts showing how the algorithm being used is, to put it nicely, bunk.

But I don't take things on faith.

I test 'em out.

And so I went to the site and copied in this Ayn Rand quote:
Through centuries of scourges and disasters, brought about by your code of morality, you have cried that your code had been broken, that the scourges were punishment for breaking it, that men were too weak and too selfish to spill all the blood it required. You damned men, you damned existence, you damned this earth, but never dared to question your code. Your victims took the blame and struggled on, with your curses as reward for their martyrdom - while you went on crying that your code was noble, but human nature was not good enough to practice it. And no one rose to ask the question: Good? - by what standard?
Who does that sound like to you?

(Please don't say Ayn Rand.)

Any guesses? No?

I'll give you a hint.

It's an author that Ayn Rand detested, one who was pretty much the exact opposite of her in subject, theme, style, you name it.

You probably won't even believe me if I tell you so here's what you should do: just copy the above quote, go to the site, paste it in, and click "analyze."

Oh, and be sure you're sitting down.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Oh No She Didn't! What Happens When Grandma Tries to Restore Art

I recently shared three important takeaways of a book by Lee Sandstead on the art world's dirties secret, but one thing I didn't share about it was some of the fascinating material it includes on the difficult job of art restoration.

This, as Joe Biden might say, can be a big freaking deal--because when somebody who is not an expert tries to restore art bad things can easily happen.

Say, for example, that you're an 80-year-old woman. And suppose, just for example, that you're fond of a prized fresco of Jesus Christ that has been in the Sanctuary of Mercy Church near Zaragosa for more than 100 years.

So there you are: old, with shaky hands, and eyesight that's been better, and you start to think. Perhaps, for example, you think that the Jesus Christ fresco could use some touchin' up and that you are just the person to do it.

I'm not going to stretch this out any further because I'm guessing you get what happened already. An 80-year-old woman actually did try to restore an old fresco of Jesus Christ. And it...well, it didn't turn out so well.

In fact, in a report by BBC, one commentator said, "The once-dignified portrait now resembles a crayon sketch of a very hairy monkey in an ill-fitting tunic." So sad. You can check out the photo for yourself here but be warned: it is not pretty.

Friday, August 17, 2012

4 Amazing Posts You May Have Missed and 1 (Almost) Funny Remark about Jonah Lehrer

So, I don't know if you know this already, but someone's got to say it.

You might be missing out.

In fact, you probably are missing out.

No, not (as you might be thinking) on Facebook posts. Like everyone else you're likely to have that one covered and then some.

But did you know this isn't the primary place I write?

It's not.

I create memes for you on what it means to be a successful kid here. I share stories with you here about Richard Feynman's childhood. And I condense the entire biography of Steve Jobs into 3 short quotes for you here.

But you know where my brainpower is focused most of the time?

Not here.

It's focused elsewhere, on creating the kind of posts that apply the sage words of Inigo Montoya to the concept of "overnight success," share quote after quote from the life-changing novels of Nevil Shute, pass along a few words for Hugh Jackman from Richard Feynman, and introduce you to one of the best books I ever read via this post of 8 quotes from Mind Over Mood on changing how you feel.

I don't want to brag about these posts.

I mean, yes, they're useful.

And, yes, if Jonah Lehrer were to quote somebody praising a couple of them for their creativity he would probably never get called on it.

But honestly I just want to make you aware of these posts.

Because you might be and probably are missing out if you haven't read them yet.

And that would not be cool.

So check them out already!

Monday, August 13, 2012

An Open Letter to Auntie about Uncle Sam

We need to talk, Auntie.

It’s about you and Uncle Sam.

I know this may not be any of my business, and you may be angry with me for sending you this letter, but because I value you so much, I feel as though I must send it. 

I also know that you’re busy, busier than ever, so I’ll get straight to the point.

I think Uncle Sam’s abusing you.

I think you are battered.

And I think it’s important for you to realize this.

Consider some of the things he does to you. For example, he. . .

  • denies your right to work anywhere without his permission
  • takes your earnings before you even see them—leaving you less and less to spend each year
  • limits what you can buy with what little of your money is left
  • treats you as incompetent to perform even the smallest tasks, such as ordering contacts for yourself without a note from someone else saying they approve of your decision, and so on.
Of course, maybe sometimes he’s “nice” to you. I will grant that. Maybe, for example, he. . .
  • tells you that he “feels your pain” when you’re going through a rough patch (caused by him)
  • returns some of the money (he formerly took from you) to help you cope
  • offers gifts now and then (so long as you remember your place and his—in other words that you should be grateful and that you show your gratitude by confirming that he is the one who gets to call the shots of your life)
But these are not actually good things when you stop and think about them, are they?

More to my point, to the reason I’m writing this letter, things are getting much worse now aren’t they?

I mean, it’s getting to the point where he. . .
  • goes through all of your mail without asking
  • tells you what you can or cannot eat
  • tells you what you can or cannot drink
  • tells you who your doctor will or will not be, and so on.

Auntie, I don’t want to get too personal, but the other day I saw Uncle Sam frisk you before leaving the house—touching you . . . places . . . that are not proper in that context.

This is completely uncalled for.

You are not a criminal and don’t deserved to be treated as one, by anyone, without cause.

Your right to your own person is sacred, and you should not submit to being violated in that way. It’s a shameful position to be in once and a degrading position to be in continually.

Now, I probably know what you’re going to say in response to all this. Battered women, for example, often think and say these three things:

     1. “It wasn’t always like this”—or “He used to be so charming and so respectful!”

This may may be entirely true. In fact, I agree that back in ’76, Uncle Sam was very respectful of your rights.

However, shouldn’t you judge a person, just as a company or a government, based not on how they once treated you but on how they treat you now?

No matter how respectful he once was, if he is now abusing you, he is now abusing you, and that is that. There’s simply no way around it.

And it should stop.

     2. “I deserve to be treated like this.”

Auntie, I hope with all my heart that you don’t think this, because nothing could be further from the truth.

You do not deserve to be treated as inhuman.

And how is it that you are being treated?

As a friend of mine says, “A human life is a life guided by the judgment of one’s own mind.”

Is this what you are allowed to do?

Is it the life you are living now?

Or are you denied the right to work or shop, even eat or drink, according to your own judgment?

We both know the answer to that.

But Auntie, please do not say that you have made bad choices and thus have relinquished your right to decide what to do in certain areas of your life.

Even if you have made bad choices, so what? It’s your life, isn’t it? No matter what anybody says, nobody owns you. And so long as your choices don’t violate anyone else’s rights, again, so what?

They, the choices, are yours, yours alone to make, and Uncle Sam should know this. He’s been told so quite clearly in the past.

     3. “There’s nowhere to go”—or “Everybody’s the same!”

There’s always somewhere to go—even within the house there are other rooms, rooms that afford you a little more protection than otherwise.

But even if this were true, this is no cause to submit. I repeat it is no cause to take any abuse whatsoever.

If there truly is nowhere to go, well then all that means is that your options are more limited.

You can fight for your right to act on your own judgment. That means your right to not be molested, to not have your earnings taken, to not be reduced to asking permission to what is yours by right.

It means the right to do what you want, anything you want, so long as you do not violate another’s right to do the same.

Or, to state your other option, you can give up, accepting the present state of things.

I sincerely hope you don’t choose this last option, Auntie. More specifically, I hope you do not continue to do nothing while being tread on—while being treated inhumanely.

You are a human being.

You deserve to be treated as one.

And if you choose to stand up to Uncle Sam—to tell him quite clearly that your money is yours, you earned it; to tell him your life is yours, you own it—well, I and many other people will back you up to the greatest extent we can.

It will not be easy.

But a life guided by the judgment of your own mind is worth it.

It is a human life.

And, again Auntie, you emphatically deserve nothing less.

Monday, August 6, 2012

A Tribute to a Tribute

Ari Armstrong just posted at The Objective Standard's blog a short and fitting tribute to Kirani James, Oscar Pistorius, and Össur Kristinsson.

It's a good post and you may enjoy it.

One of the things I enjoyed about is the unabashedly positive view of human achievement it expresses. Another is the justice Ari gives to the two runners in earning their respective achievements by their own mental and physical effort.

But the thing I enjoyed most about it is the praise of Össur Kristinsson, the man who built the company that built the prosthetic legs (which Pistorius uses to run).

Our culture seems to relish taking down heroes. This is true in the business world especially, where countless heroes go unrecognized--despite the challenges they've overcome, the benefits they've provided, and so on.

That The Objective Standard provides businessmen praise, at least to the extent that they deserve it, is thus particularly refreshing to me. And it is just one of the broader reasons I'm happy to write for and read this quarterly journal.

Have you read TOS lately? If not, but you want to see what you're missing, start with Ari's latest post here, and then check out some of the articles in the Summer 2012 issue.

Refreshing, objective journalism awaits.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

This Book (by Greg Gutfeld) is Almost Unspeakably Profane

 As host of Red Eye, Greg Gutfeld shares "some honest crap about the world" without pulling any punches and for free. But in The Bible ofUnspeakable Truths, he wants you to pay for the pleasure. "[I]t’s almost the same thing," says Gutfeld, "give or take the suggested retail price."

The book covers everything from "political crap" and "obligatory sex junk" to "things that are stupid" and "stuff you put in your face." Gutfeld’s style, as you can see, is less than academic. In fact, it is crude, over-the-top, and full of profanity. Consider each of these, starting with the last.

Looking for profanity in Unspeakable Truths is like looking for hay in a hastack; if Gutfeld is making an important point chances are extremely high that it is included. 

Speaking of the absurd notion that violence is an infection, Gutfeld says: "If only there was a word that describes this idea. Oh yeah. Batshit crazy." He describes language as "the only thing we have to communicate our needs and other important crap to each other," adding that "it’s bullshit to muddle or subvert [language] in order to placate a special-interest group’s sensitive little feelings." Finally, just to give another data point, in responding to statements that America is not popular, Gutfeld asks:

What the hell is wrong with being unpopular? And when did it matter how assholes felt about us anyway? That’s right assholes. Most of the world is made up of them, and the fact that they hate us means we are doing something right. America is unpopular with countries like Iran and Venezuela because their leaders are exactly like Saddam Hussein. So when they see one of their own yanked out of the catbird seat . . . you can bet they’re going to be pissed as hell. And scared, too. The idea that we should give a fuck about these feelings is absurd and, sadly, pathetic.

Over-the-top claims are as frequent. A Big Mac, according to Gutfeld, has "everything you need to stay alive" and is "truly God’s supplement for a starving world." Meanwhile, Gutfeld goes from observing that murder victims nearly always know those who killed them to saying that "the fewer people you know, the less likely you’ll be killed" to concluding that "no friends equals no crime." "This is why Keith Olbermann could live forever," he says.

Sometimes Gutfeld is both over-the-top and crude. For example, at one point he promises to solve the two big issues for both political parties: immigration and terrorism. Gutfeld points out that the "folks behind terror reproduce like crazy." He says that while our population shrinks they "tend to pump out killers like they’re Doritos." Why is this a problem? Because, Gutfeld says, "Numbers dictate success." But according to Gutfeld we have a secret weapon: Mexicans—"the one hope against an enemy whose aim is our extinction."

While Mexicans bus your table, they’re defending Western civilization. While they blow the leaves off your lawn, they’re striking a blow against terror. Mexicans are the Mace against madmen, because they outscrew the creeps who kill for Allah. As we embrace cats over kids, Mexicans multiply, preventing us from becoming Europe—a continent flooded by people who hate Europeans. Mexican families love this country. I don’t like Mexico (diarrhea, people), but I love Mexicans. If you are Mexican, and you aren’t here yet . . . then come . . . in every sense of the word. We welcome you with open arms and legs. We’re powerless to prevent you from coming here anyway, thank God. You’re too determined, and we’re too disorganized and distracted.

This sort of style, however funny to some, may disqualify the book for many—and understandably so. But for those that can bear it, Gutfeld certainly has more to say. A lot more.

For example, he slams environmentalism and the current global warming madness a number of times. Regarding the latter, he points out that "most of the earth’s lush vegetation arose due to warmer temperatures" and thus even if global warming were true "it might save more people than it kills." But "[Al] Gore could never agree with this," says Gutfeld—"because it would turn his whole life upside down and all the stupidity would pour out his nose."

Gutfeld also tackles numerous subjects having nothing to do with politics. He says S&M lovers are cowards who "live in a world of pretend pain"—advising them that if they want to let someone else "be in charge" they should "try an actual relationship with a female." He slams schools for abolishing grades "because objective truth hurts dumb students"; says that hot women are never stalkers, just "avid fans"; and points out that "weapons work wonders as long as the good people have them . . . because when you point a gun at a bad guy, it makes him reconsider being bad."

At one point in the book, Gutfeld says he respects and admires anyone "who works hard for a living, knowing that self-esteem has no place in this world, until of course they’ve done something to deserve it." That is a surprising moment because for much of the book up to that point—and nearly all of it following—Gutfeld is relentlessly negative and self-effacing. In fact, while he can be especially cruel to many who deserve it, he bashes himself more than anything or anyone else. I personally found this excruciating—much more so than the constant use of profanity.

Is Gutfeld’s book worth reading? There is definitely some value in The Bible of Unspeakable Truths, and fans of Red Eye may enjoy it. But it is not for everyone. Those who do not like an aggressively hostile, crude, and over-the-top, self-effacing style should probably read something else.