September 24, 2007
A great many moons ago (I can't even find the post now) Kim du Toit described himself as an "Angry Man." He didn't mean he just flew off the rails at any little thing. He was talking about a deep-seated anger and frustration at what he saw going on around him. (again, I'm paraphrasing from memory here, but if anybody can find the original essay/post, you'll receive a free web-cookie).
What angered him was the slow and seemingly unstoppable assault on and decay of Western Civilization from forces both foreign and domestic. Individual rights and rational thought giving way to collectivism and emotional thinking. While Bill Whittle represents the Western Optimist, Kim can come across as the Western Pessimist. They're both right in some ways, and both points of view are valuable additions to on-going public debate.
Zetsubou Sensei is a caricature of a home-grown Japanese "Angry Man." His over-the-top rants on the decay of society around him are always followed up by, "I'm in Despair!" and a melodramatic suicide attempt. He's an old fashioned man in a world changing so rapidly that nothing ever gets a foothold into the culture long enough to become anything like permanent.
It's hard not to wonder what message the manga author was trying to send with this character. Does he agree philosophically with Zetsubou? Minus the despair and suicidal tendencies of course. Or is he satirizing those in Japan who may think like Zetsubou?
The rest of the characters could be looked at as critiques on other developments/aspects in Japanese society: hikikomori, xenophobia, etc. There's meat here for a lot of heavy analysis, but the show's mission to deliver laughs means playing up the stereotypes and amping up the ridulousness.
It's an intriguing show, whether it's meant to be taken seriously or not.
September 16, 2007
I first read about it here.
I wasn't much of a recreational reader until a friend handed me The Eye of the World in college. Ever since then, I've probably read more books in the last six years than all the years previous.
It's sad to hear that he's passed. From what I understand, he'd had the ending of the Wheel of Time series planned out long before ever typing a word. He's supposedly been dictating much of the plot and outline to people, so it sounds like the last book in the series may yet happen. He also spoke of some potential short stories to be sprinkled throughout the chronology later, but those are not going to happen now.
I wonder if he felt regret at not finishing it himself? His books touched a great many people, more than any author could really hope to. I'm certain that that's what he'll be taking with him, not any regret over a few untyped words. Sometimes the best endings are those left to the imagination.
I've been in my current job for 5 1/2 years. Well, I can't exactly say that.
I started at this place in Jan. 2002 while I was still in school. At that time, I was only the part-time "intern." They liked to sound big by calling me that, but really I was just a part-timer. I held that position for three years while I chipped away at my engineering degree.
A little over a month before graduation in Dec. 05, in the middle of trying to finish up my senior design project, both of my bosses left the company. ( I was passed back and forth between two departments as need arose.) One was fired just a week after the other put in his two weeks. I was very quickly thrust into doing the work of three people at the worst possible time.
The replacement for the fired boss had been lined up and arrived the day after the firing, but it took a couple months before he was anything like up to speed. I was still checking his work 4 months later.
The other boss that quit caught the company completely off guard, and they had to scramble to find a replacement. Their first attempt at replacing him was a complete failure. The new guy would nip out for "smoke breaks" to the van he basically lived in after moving from Oklahoma, and he would come back smelling quite strongly of alcohol. It doesn't help that he royally screwed up a big project, and I had to step in and do it all over again from scratch. He didn't last a month.
That position was technically empty for the next 5 months while I held it provisionally. In about April of 06, the head-guy at our plant asked me if I wanted the job. I didn't really. I had applied for JET before graduating, and I was pretty confident I would be accepted. But the news came back negative in late February, and I had made the horrible mistake of not having a backup plan in place. Also, in all the chaos after the first two guys left, there was a months-long process of all the other experienced people I'd grown up working with leaving as well. I was basically drifting at the time I was asked, so I accepted the job.
Ever since then, it's been one miserable day after another. I spent most of 2006 helping new people get trained rather than doing my job, and the turnover has been abysmal.
Things seemed to calm down in early 2007, but in the last month, three more people were let go. Two I can't say I'm sad to see go, but they at least seemed to be able to do their jobs. The third was just ridiculous.
I'm done being ignored when I point out problems. I'm done being ignored when the answers I give aren't what they want to hear. And I'm done dealing with ownership dedicated to un-fettered growth by squeezing blood from stones.
I've been recruited by a better outfit, and I'm gone.
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