409 comments posted · 153 followers · following 9

12 years ago @ Big Government - Based on Where the Top... · 0 replies · +1 points

As someone who lives in this region, let me tell you a few little secrets (Prince William County, specifically).

Much of the "wealth" is ephemeral, purely numerical. When you account for cost of living, while things are still better than much of the country, it's no where near as good as it seems.

To own a modest house, with a modest yard and raise kids... you basically have to make $70k+, and you'll be consider lower middle class at that. To be solidly middle class, you basically have to make $100k. Home prices, even with the bubble bursting, are still much higher than other areas of the country. Maryland is especially bad, as its taxes are ridiculous, yet even with all that wealth, they still constantly run deficits.

The Virginia side is much better off than the Maryland side, though (due to Virginia being more Conservative, and actually managing this thing called a budget). That said, Northern Virginia pays a disproportionate amount of the Commonwealth's taxes, but receives proportionally little in return, leaving the localities to bear much of the burden. Road especially are in terrible condition throughout the region, and traffic is some of the worst in the country.

Northern Virginia especially did not make it's money purely from the Government, despite what this article claims. While there is much of that, Virginia also benefited greatly from the tech boom of the 90s, and is one of the major hubs of internet traffic for the world. You could call this a secondary benefit of being near the capitol, due to the history of the internet (much of the early infrastructure goes back to DARPA, which was built for the military in the region), which made setting up new internet companies much cheaper in Northern Virginia than elsewhere in the country. AOL, for instance, started and was based in Virginia for years until it merged with Time Warner. To this day, much of the Northern Virginia wealth traces back to those technology companies.

12 years ago @ Big Hollywood - 'The Secret World of A... · 0 replies · +1 points

Wow, I never expected the Subs vs Dubs debate to come here.

My opinion is that it depends on the Dub. Some dubs (not speaking of the Disney ones specifically) do lose a lot in translation. Sometimes the English voice acting is horrendous.

But other times the VAs can do excellent and make the characters their own, making the venue more approachable to those who don't like to have to read while they watch a show.

I've followed anime for over a decade now, watched it both ways, and found that sometimes the dub is preferable for some reasons. When a anime is set explicitly in England or the US, for instance, I typically find the English VAs more convincing than the Japanese ones (this is due in part to English and Japanese having a very different register that they are spoken in, English using a much lower tone of voice than Japanese). On the flip side, I much prefer the Japanese dub for anything set in Japan, especially period pieces.

To give examples of what I mean, the English dub of Hellsing I find superior to the Japanese due to the setting.

On the flip side, do not get me started on how bad the English dubs for Rurouni Kenshin are, that one should only be watched in Japanese. (de gouzaru)

When it comes to fictional settings (fantasy, science fiction), I am of the opinion that the quality matters most. Sometimes subtleties are lost in translation, sometimes not. While some may crucify me for this, the English dub of Slayers and the Japanese dub are of equal quality for me, and, due to first exposure, if I think of Lina Inverse I think of Lisa Ortez' English voice.

Anyway my two cents on the matter.

12 years ago @ Big Hollywood - 'The Secret World of A... · 0 replies · +2 points

I actually have to admit I never finished watching Gankutsuou. I began watching back before it was released State-side on the funsub circuit, but it got licensed before the fansubs were done and so I ceased watching, and then forgot about it when it came out since it took so long to get here.

I picked it as an example since it is so visually striking and unmistakable and really puts to rest the idea of "all anime has the same look".

12 years ago @ Big Hollywood - 'The Secret World of A... · 0 replies · +2 points


I watch the same clip and catch a lot of different expressions and emotions from the characters.

The disconnect has to do with understanding the visual "language" of anime or not. Think of it like comic book sound effects. Everyone knows, for instance, that a bunch doesn't make a "ka-pow" sound, but within a comic. we know what it means. Likewise, there are subtle changes on a character in anime that express things, from slight modifications to the eyes and mouth to the position of the hair to the angle of the head that all convey different information, but that you may miss at first glance.

So yeah, we'll just have to agree to disagree, as unless I sit you down through hours of anime and point out the subtleties (which is no fun at all), you'll likely not see them, and it ain't something that should be forced.

12 years ago @ Big Peace - Islam's Establishment ... · 0 replies · +1 points

This is an proposal that would effectively end true Freedom of Religion in the US, it would be the tool of the anti-religious to finally and completely silence the religious in the public square.

Allow me to break it down:

"Coerce belief in individuals of any age;" - What defines coercion in this case? As this is a proposed amendment, that would be the Courts. Do you really trust a court to interpret this as narrowly as it would need to? Coercion, could be defined as almost anything, from threats to simple peer pressure. Suddenly it can be made illegal to simply proselytize, hand out track, etc. You think it would not be, look into the case law surrounding Abortion, simply approaching a woman entering an abortion clinic to try and convince her to not have one is seen as threatening and coercive within that case law .

"indoctrinate minors using public funds in the tenets of a religion for the purposes of conversion;" - Where does this leave school vouchers and other such programs that end up putting money into religious groups? Would a food kitchen that serves minors that is run by a local Christian charity and then has a sermon during dinner suddenly be threatened? Look at the track taken by opponents of religious freedom in the US. The attempt to prevent funding from even marginally helping a religious school is where everything started with the "Wall of Separation", this would only add fuel to that fire.

"Physically, mentally or monetarily harm an individual of any age." - Mental harm is exceedingly broad and open to interpretation. It can be used to justify just about anything due to the fuzziness of it all. It would taken nothing for an militant atheist to twist this around and claim mental harm from someone wearing a religious symbol. It sounds crazy, and it may be tossed out a few times at first, but eventually some judge would agree somewhere, and that would start the ball rolling...

"serve as the basis for local, state and federal laws, and how it is adjudicated in courts of any jurisdiction" - I really shouldn't have to explain this, but this phrase would make the US cease to exist as the US is based on the legal philosophies of Common Law which have their roots in Christianity. Technically speaking, all Law in the world seems to spring from religion in many ways if you go back far enough. That aside, let's take Abortion, for instance, it is a very common issue with religious voters, and people often push the issue using religious terms and language. Because of that level of language, is proposing anti-abortion laws suddenly a criminal act? Further, what of religious holidays? Based on the very definition given here Christmas would no longer be a holiday, as it imposes a belief of a religious group. You could also argue that the government would then have to remain open on Sunday and Saturday for business, as resting on those days is the practice of Christianity and Judaism.

Finally, I should note that the Constitution does not deal with criminal law, and should not deal with it. Most Constitutional violations are not even criminal, and putting in such language breaks with a long tradition and sets up bad precedence for future amendments.

You might think I am taking things to an extreme, but keep in mind that in Constitutional Law you have to think things out to an extreme. Remember, the "Right" to an Abortion "comes from" the 4th Amendment, which reads:

"The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized."

Abortion? Privacy? I see none of that there, but the logic that has been extrapolated from the 4th Amendment gives us that.

Be careful what you propose as an Amendment, you will get more than you bargained for.

12 years ago @ Big Hollywood - 'The Secret World of A... · 4 replies · +3 points

Either what you've been exposed to is limited, or perhaps you simply do not have an eye for it.

As examples, here's screen captures from the two series I mentioned before:
Now and Then:

To throw something else our too here's a screen from the anime "The Daughter of Twenty Faces":

Yes, there is some similarity in facial design, which are designed to allow for maximum expressiveness, though the level of detail varies wildly. The real quality differences in animation come from what would be termed costume design in a real life medium, and you can see dramatic differences between those three. Interesting, put most anime character designs up against Disney animation and you'll see some striking similarities, especially with the early Disney fair (this, obviously, has to do with Disney's influence on animation being worldwide).

For reference, screens from Sleeping Beauty and Snow White:

I also have to say that many people's exceptions of the quality of animation is rather skewed. Of course most anime is going to lower quality than what Americans are generally used to, because, outside of childrens shows, what we're used to is feature length films. The vast majority of anime is for television, with budgets for a 13 or 26 episode series, 390 to 780 minutes of animation being only a fraction of what it is for a movie feature (120 minutes on the outside). More short cuts will be taken, less time can be taken with matte paintings, etc.

Anyway, you should see more anime before judging it as you have. Provided, what you say is true about many of the anime that is broadcast on TV, though that is as much due to genre (most broadcast anime is in the Shounen (action oriented anime for boys) genre). That's like saying you could take a character from Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes and drop them in Justice League Unlimited and nobody would bat an eye. Well, of course not, they're both super hero shows using super hero tropes and traditional super hero designs.

12 years ago @ Big Hollywood - 'The Secret World of A... · 6 replies · +2 points

Then you clearly have limited exposure to the venue of anime if you believe anything you wrote. The degree of detail and character designs vary wildly from studio to studio, which may explain some of your assumption of uniformity as Studio Ghibli has a very distinctive art style that is rather uniform.

However, when you wander outside the ranch of broadcast and Ghibli anime, you find things as wildly varied as humans are, with things ranging from the eclectic and utterly unique art in the series Gankutsuou to the simplistic and disarming art of Now and Then, Here and There.

And finally, something anime generally does better than many American shows: tell an actual story. American TV is to concerned with syndication and multiple seasons, to the detriment of storytelling. This commitment to storytelling allows anime to do more thematically, including writing an actual ending to a story. Anime as a medium also allows more types of stories to be told on a smaller budget. You could never make many of the epic space operas that anime tells due to simple budgetary concerns, while animation opens of entire new genres and directions that would otherwise cost to much.

Then again, I'm pretty close to an American otaku, so I might be slightly biased.

12 years ago @ Big Peace - China Declares Quasi-T... · 1 reply · +2 points

On the reverse side of that though, prices are artificially low due to significantly lower costs in outside countries, and this is not due to purely government over regulation. In China, even the most basic workers rights and environmental concerns are not even on the radar, and the treatment of workers there and the environment would simply never be accepted in the US. Minimally they would result in Class-action, if not massive State and Federal prosecution.

What has happened is we consider these artificially low prices "normal". The vast bulk of what's made in China aren't essentials to everyday life (with the exception of textiles), but rather many things we would have considered luxuries in the past. Ipads, smart phones, etc, all these are luxuries.

Finally, most other countries practice tariffs to protect their domestic industries. Since the US adopted a free trade position we've seen our manufacturing sector shink dramatically, and while it superficially appears that prosperity has increased, in reality, as has been demonstrated by this Great Recession, the US economy has no real depth to it. We play games with currency and property, and make very few things of value. Further, the one thing the US still actually produces: entertainment and ideas (which, make no mistake, as something of value) are easy to steal, duplicate and deny their creators the fruits of their labor (as China does extensively).

While I don't mind jobs and trading with countries that are friends and respect our laws, patents and copyrights, China does none of those things. Yes, it may increase the costs in the short term and long term, but I would rather have American industries making products than Chinese ones that then turn around and steal our ideas and never pay us back.

12 years ago @ Big Hollywood - Hollywood Sells Its So... · 0 replies · +1 points

Headache prevention, either that or sanity preservation. I've yet to encounter many time travel stories that manage to avoid one or the other all other Trials and Tribbleations aside...

In all seriousness, it almost makes sense from a philosophical view. In most Time Travel stories the question of Free Will and Fate come up, with the concepts being explored extensively. The last thing a government like China wants to the people thinking about the concepts of Free Agency and questioning their role in life (which is what time travel stories are really about, at the end of the day). Even if the story ends with an affirmation of Fate, the questions were still raised, and those questions, once raised, get people thinking and talking...

... and soon someone travels back and time and shoots Mao, Hitler and Stalin and the world becomes a better place.

12 years ago @ Big Peace - India Building Up Mili... · 0 replies · +1 points

They know it.

Turnabout is fair play to them.

I truly fear for the Japanese with an ascendant China. They have not forgiven them for the humiliations and terrors of WW2, nor have they forgotten the humiliation and terrors heaped upon them by the European colonial powers. The only good news here is that the US actually hasn't really done anything to wrong China in all our history of interaction.