Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Since this past weekend's weekend-long blizzard, the drive to work has become something like a battlefield. Great ramparts of snow line most of the roads, blocking most sorts of visibility at intersections, yet offering the comfort of a somewhat padded crash when you lose control on a patch of black ice and slide sideways into the curb. Meanwhile, the road surfaces themselves are pockmared by shell-hole size craters known in the local parlance as "pot-holes", left behind by the glacier like movements of the snow plows. Oh yes, the drive to work today looks to be very fun.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Biased Dining Reviews - Season 1, Number 2:

[This feature has been away for a while, and it makes its triumphal return today as Paltry Puissance reviews The Old Fashioned. -- Ed.]

Paltry Puissance: It was -- hands down -- the best meal I've ever eaten.

[Errr... that review seems strangely familiar. Hold on, we'll see what we can do about that. -- Ed.]
Oh yes, did I mention I went to a lecture earlier this week down on campus. It was a talk given by Claudia Koonz, and dealt with her current research which is focused on the history and imagery surround hijab in Britain, France and Germany.

Perhaps due to cramming a longer presentation into a 45 minute (+ half hour for questions) time slot, her talk seemed less organized than one might expect. She drifted from an introduction about the ambiguous signification of covering headress, to a brief history of European images of Islamic women, and finally arrived at a discussion of post-war to the present political reactions to headscarves (particularly in France).

I had hoped that she might talk more about the history of hijab among both immigrant and 'old-country' Muslims, and about what hijab actually signified for those in Muslim communities (as opposed to the 'native' European images she spoke on). Unfortunately, she glossed over both of these subjects, seemingly ignoring for instance the use of coverings during the Algerian war, and outright dismissing the notion of even asking what hijab might signify of those who actually wore it as being "[not] proper[ly] feminist".

Even so, despite not really getting the type of historical information that I was hoping for, I was still glad to have attended (and not merely because of my co-attendee). I'm afraid however that the talk did little to disuade me of my notions about the political leanings of academics in the humanities. Oh well, there's always next time to get properly re-educated.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Important advice for my descendants (should this post be unearthed by them) -- #1:

Should you find yourself unable to get off without eating filth, I advise abstinence... and fleeing to a nearby mountain.


Monday, February 19, 2007

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Alright! Episode 1 was killer! Now that we've got an actual plot line (and from the looks of it, several simultaneous plotlines) to go with, I'm once again actually excited and looking forward to next week's episode. In light of that, I propose opening up the forum for discussion like we did in the old days.

Shippuden 1-2 Discussion

Friday, February 16, 2007

What to do...

Naruto: Shippuden Ep. 1-2 Torrent Estimated Time to Completion: 2:20.

But it's nearly 1:30AM.

Go to sleep and wake up early is the answer...

Assuming I can sleep.

***Imagine dancing monkey animated gif here***

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Excerpts from Scripts for Success, Volume 12, "Discouraging Repeat Customers in the Optometric Business":

Receptionist: Welcome to our office, you must be the doctor's eleven o'clock. Please fill out this information along with this form saying why you hate blind starving children in Africa. I'll just be over here, failing to verify your insurance coverage if you need anything.


Doctor's Assistant: We suggest that you pay us thirty-five dollars to help finance our new computer system that does an exam that the doctor will later do himself. No, you'd rather not? Alright, in that case, now it's time to test your corneal thickness by jamming a stick into your cornea until it pierces the other side. Then we'll measure the stick. Hold still.


Doctor (O.D.): You want new glasses and not contacts? Fine, I won't give you a new contacts presciption.


Glasses Salesman: Not only should you upgrade to the poly lenses, but make sure to get undercoating and the extended warrenty.


Secretary: Alright, the exam was eighty-seven dollars and the insurance covers all but a ten dollar co-pay, so you owe us forty five dollars.
Reason #31 For Regretting the Workplace "No Photo" Policy:

"No, no, you've got it all wrong. The fact that we're all standing around gaping means that fire is an unusual occurence."

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Reason #4,511 For Regretting the Workplace "No Photo" Policy:

"You'll excuse me for asking madam, and please believe that I don't mean this in a critical manner at all -- since I well and truly enjoy the, if you will, cyber-punk look of it -- but, well, it's just that I must know whether it's a hat or it's your head."

Saturday, February 10, 2007

I shall likely never be a full-time contact lense wearer for one reason:
taking off contacts is one of the most demoralizing actions I can think of.

For some reason it's disconcerting in a way that simply taking off one's glasses is not .

Friday, February 09, 2007

Well, that didn't take long... the vultures are already circling. I'm wondering which the phone company sold first: my number to me, or my number to telemarketers.

Time to go visit the state government... about time they did something useful.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

You might think that after such a long absence, I would get right back to work entertaining my ever-intent readership.

You would be wrong.

Continuing Paltry Puissance's proud tradition of writing about whatever we feel like heedless of the fickle whims of the readership, let me offer up this exciting piece of news...

Naruto: Shipuuden premiers on the 15th! After nearly 100 episodes of so-called "filler", the animated series will return to the plotline of the original manga. This is joyous news for all fans of the series.

In honor of this auspicious event, I got impatient and used my new internet connection to read the most recent manga chapter (very serious spoiler warning if you click)...

This was a somewhat dicey proposition from a spoilers standpoint... on the one hand, of course anything I read would definitionally speaking be a spoiler, but on the othe r hand, it would likely be so tenuously related to the current anime plotline as to render anything seen meaningless.

My reaction to the chapter --

Who the &$^%*&$#*^% are these people???!!!

No seriously... I know a fair number of chapters have passed since I last read the manga, but... how did they have time to introduce so many new characters? It looks like there will be no shortage of interesting developments over the next few seasons of the anime if it follows the manga storyline from now on...

(Oh yes... and I wonder... is it a habit with him now, or just something done for dramatic and sentimental effect? Either way, very surprising!)

Update: I just watched episode 220, technically the last of the Naruto anime series (since from now on it will be Shipuuden). Interesting episode, but unfortunately I don't think it had quite as much pathos or emotional power as the manga version of the material right before Naruto leaves town... still interesting what they did with it after a year+ of filler material. I just hope that the preview of next week either is innacurate or incomplete, because if not they are skipping over a very important bit of plot and character development.

And let me take the end of the fillers and the example of this most recent arc to discourse on what was wrong (and what was right) with the fillers.

As far as right... well, usually they had Konoha ninja doing new and interesting things, if only because of their ad-hoc group associations in most episodes. In this arc for instance, the use of the Hyuugas plus Shino as a sort of ninja AWACS for C3I purposes was ingenious and interesting to view. Comedy was also a strong point of the fillers, and some of the best episodes were the comic one-off episodes, but even this arc had some of it, with the "breaking the fourth wall" style exclamations from Lee and Naruto upon not arriving in a timely manner. Also, I think that generally speaking the "allied" characters introduced in the filler were well characterized and interesting in their own right, as was Gaara's student in this arc.

Now to the bad and the ugly. Ugly -- well, they obviously didn't use the best animation studios for some of the filler work, but that's ok. The bad though... it centers around the villains and plots of the filler episodes. They suck. Arguably villans were needed in the fillers as foils for the main characters, but... theses villains have been exceedinly lame. Gimmicky abilities, combined with the knowledge that they're only going to be around for a handful of episodes, and an ability to magnetically attract Rasengans to the chest makes all of the villains in the fillers just... boring. And pathetic.

Contrast this to the villains of the original series... they're mysterious, they're powerful, and those two traits play of each other... the audience doesn't even know how powerful they are since they have yet to fight to their full potential (Itachi particularly remains a cypher). They have complex and perhaps unknown motivations (again, Itachi) Compared to the manga villans, the filler villains are weak tea.

Alright, enough ranting about television... it's just tv after all right?
Reason #238 For Regretting the Workplace "No Photo" Policy:

A legion (alright, perhaps just a cohort, but maybe the first cohort) of Aunt Jemima's and Mrs. Butterworths, arrayed as if for battle.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

I'm BA-ACK...