“Why should your right to freedom of speech trump a trans person’s right not to be offended?”

“Because in order to be able to think, you have to risk being offensive. I mean, look at the conversation we’re having right now. You’re certainly willing to risk offending me in the pursuit of truth. Why should you have the right to do that? It’s been rather uncomfortable.”

“Well, I’m very glad I’ve put you on the spot.”

“Well you get my point. You’re doing what you should do, which is digging a bit to see what the hell is going on. And that is what you should do. But you’re exercising your freedom of speech to certainly risk offending me, and that’s fine.”

— Jordan B. Peterson reminds reporter that it goes both ways

Anime Endings: Happy Lesson


First, an annoyance. The main character’s first name is Chitose, chi-toe-say. In the dub (and the previews that appear on other DVDs), this becomes Cheetos. Everyone calls him this, even the shy class president who has a crush on him and wouldn’t dream of calling him by his first name. Other than that, the dub isn’t wretched, but it’s not very good, either, and as usual you should leave the dialog in Japanese with subtitles.

Second, a clarification. The Happy Lesson manga is proceeding more slowly than the anime, and in a slightly different direction (even the main character’s name is different, but it’s still not Cheetos), but it was the first thing to come out in English. They released the TV series next, and just recently the first three OVA episodes, but I think the latter should be watched first, since they introduce two characters who aren’t in the manga and just show up out of the blue in the TV series. The first episode of the TV series is an alternate edit of the OVA opener, but the rest is different, and develops the cast a lot more.

Third, it doesn’t really end, because they made a second season (as yet not officially licensed for US release).

With all that out of the way, what’s it like? Well, imagine a typical harem comedy where beautiful women move into a house with a hapless teenage boy and compete for his affections. Got that in your head? Okay, now throw out the romance angle, and replace it with motherly affection. And make the five sexy roommate-mothers his schoolteachers. Add in a shy-but-stacked classmate as the real love interest, two old friends from the orphanage Our Hero lived in until recently, and (eventually) a socially-phobic mad scientist, and, as they say, “wackiness ensues”.

Yes, that’s nine females fussing over poor Chitose, but their looks and personalities are distinct and interesting, and all of them get at least a little bit of character development. Another sharp departure from the harem anime tradition is the relative lack of fan-service; the women are lushly drawn, but outside of the bath, their clothes stay on, their skirts stay down, their breasts remain ungroped, and the boys aren’t popping nosebleeds all over the place in response to a quick flash.

The plot, such as it is, that ties things together is the lovestruck classmate’s attempts to both discover what Chitose is hiding about his home life and to reveal her feelings to him. It builds up nicely as the series progresses, and ends with major achievements toward both goals, which, unfortunately, are abruptly reversed in the final scene. I had that “Bobby Ewing steps out of the shower” feeling as the writers hit reset and prepared for the next season.

It’s light and fluffy, but well done, and a refreshing take on the harem clichés. I’ll definitely pick up any additional releases in this series. But I’m kinda pissed about that last scene.

Great ways to end a phone call…


I received an unwanted call this morning that fell into that gray area of “maybe I’m a telemarketer, maybe I’m someone who’s exempt from the do-not-call list,” and I hung up on them with the following statement:

"Sorry, gotta run, my ham's exploding."

It was, too. Little cubes of ham were flying out of the skillet onto the counter and floor. Guess they weren’t kidding about that “water added” on the label.

Where have all the FoundViews gone?


Someone forwarded the story of the “lone Chernobyl motorcyclist” to Steven Den Beste, which naturally resulted in a lengthy and interesting article that has very little to do with Chernobyl, motorcycles, or the common Internet tendency to share wonderful, unlikely things with everyone you know.

I’m going to go in a different direction.

more...

Things I like about my motorcycle


  • Heated grips.
  • 60+ miles per gallon (they claim 55mpg at 75mph and vice versa, I've measured it at 62), 4 gallon tank.
  • Terrific headlight, brighter and with better coverage than many of the cars I'm out on the road with. The high-beam is rarely necessary, but still fun to use.
  • ABS brakes.
  • Smooth throttle response across the usable rev range (apparently a big improvement over the pre-2004 CS bikes (which some owners have found a cheap fix for)). The service loaner I rode yesterday had the problems described in these links, and it was not a fun ride.
  • Stuff bay. I'll have to put up some pictures of this, but basically, the place where most bikes have their gas tank is a storage area on the CS, sized to fit a large helmet, tank bag, locking hard case, or powered speaker system. I've got the helmet spider installed on mine (as shown in my first baby picture), which hides under the tank bag when riding, and provides reasonable security for a helmet when parked. I'm not planning to buy the speakers.
  • Nimble. Hard to quantify, but compared to most of the other bikes I rode while shopping, it feels "sportier". The low-mounted gas tank definitely contributes to this.
  • Comfortable riding position. My ride to work is about seventy miles of highway, with a strong crosswind most afternoons and evenings. The upright body position creates a stronger sail effect than a sportbike crouch (especially with the boxy Samsonite Moab backpack that's holding my laptop and other accessories), but I don't get blown around too much, and my back approves.
  • Ergonomic controls. All the buttons and switches are well-placed and sized, and easily operated with a gloved hand.
  • Accessory socket. The BMW battery charger plugs right into this, as does a heated vest. Yes, it sounds a little odd to make a fuss about electric heating in California in June, but the wind coming in off the Pacific is cool and damp, and when you're zooming around on a motorcycle at 3am, you want heat.
  • Comfy seat. It could use a bit more padding for long trips, but the aftermarket has that covered.
  • Looks. Okay, it's... "non-traditional," but I think it's rather attractive. The mirrors took some getting used to, but combined with the dual headlights they contribute to a bug-eyed monster effect from the front, and that's a good thing. And I love the color.
  • Logo on side panel just the right size to replace with laminated printout of anime character. The leading candidate for this small customization is still Steel Angel Saki, but I'm exploring the options. Phil Foglio's Buck Godot: Zap Gun For Hire series includes a small goofy-looking alien race that would look good on a round portrait. It's not a sexy anime chick, but it seems appropriate: it's called a Beemah.

What don’t I like? The current lack of support for hard luggage. BMW’s top case has been delayed due to mounting problems (and now that I’ve seen pictures, I understand why; the added “support brace” bolts onto the plastics, not the frame!), and is pretty small. The Happy Trails mounts for a full set of Givi cases look quite sturdy, but even if you just buy their side-case mounts, you have to take off the stock luggage-rack mount, which changes the lines of the bike. The Krauser side cases still look ugly to me, and Riderhaus seems to be in the middle of switching their online sales to Twisted Throttle. Hepco & Becker have mounts for side and top cases that look nice, but not only do you have to relocate your turn signals for the side mounts, there’s also just enough of a design change in the ’05 bikes that only one of their side-case styles will fit.

So, if I give up on the side cases for now, there are two basic options: Hepco & Becker and Givi. Unlike the current mount for the BMW case, both of these have supports that bolt onto the frame, and the cases you can mount are a lot larger (up to a 45 liter Givi scooter case or a 48 liter H&B). The price is about the same. I’m leaning slightly toward the Givi.

What’s the problem with side cases and bags? The gas cap. It’s located on the right side, below the passenger seat (where the logo is on the left side). All the standard products cover this space; many soft saddlebags would also extend through the space occupied by the luggage rack. The Happy Trails and Krauser side mounts partially obscure the rear turn signals; the H&B relocates them. Of course, the F650GS has the same design, but everyone’s worked around it; the CS seems to be the redheaded stepchild in the current BMW lineup.

Update: Still looking for a good Saki or Beemah graphic to use, but for now, I think I’ll go with this image from the free Girl Genius Holiday Gift Tag collection:

Mimmoth

Of course, if someone else pops a mimmoth, he’d add mine to his collection, but that joke will only make sense to people who’ve played the Girl Genius card game.

Fish. Barrel. Smoking gun.


In the latest research into the obvious, the University of Minnesota reports that “organic” produce grown in manure is more likely to test positive for fecal contamination than conventional produce.

Remember, you are what you eat. Personally, I’m a synthetic pesticide.

Music quiz


In the service of Sheila A-Stray’s Redheaded Ramblings, I once again assert my Internet Lemminghood.

1. Your favorite song with the name of a city in the title or text.

New York, New York, Sinatra. In my college days, I’d occasionally mock my fellow students by strutting across campus with my Big-Eighties Boombox mounted on my shoulder, blasting out this tune with the volume set to “stun”. These days I do much the same with Mel Tormé’s Too close for comfort when I find myself at a stop light or in a gas station with someone who feels the need to share his gangsta rap with everyone in a two-block radius.

2. A song you’ve listened to repeatedly when you were depressed at some point in your life.

At seventeen. It felt so good to not be Janis Ian. Also The other end of the telescope, ’Til Tuesday with Elvis Costello. Hmm, and Sheena Easton’s cover of In the winter, a real wrist-slasher.

3. Ever bought an entire album just for one song and wound up disliking everything but that song? Gimme that song.

Jerry Jeff Walker’s Flowers in the snow, from Navajo Rug. Actually, I already had the song on a sampler, and made the mistake of thinking it was representative of the album. I couldn’t have been more wrong.

4. A great song in a language other than English.

Coisich, a rùin, Capercaillie, from Delirium.

5. Your least favorite song on one of your favorite albums of all time.

Lover’s day, ’Til Tuesday, from Welcome Home

6. A song you like by someone you find physically unattractive or otherwise repellent.

Soldier of love, Donny Osmond. I suppose he’s a good-looking guy if you’re into that sort of thing, but I just can’t get past that whole “little bit country, little bit rock and roll” thing that scarred my youth.

7. Your favorite song that has expletives in it that’s not by Liz Phair.

The Queer Song, Two Nice Girls.

8. A song that sounds as if it’s by someone British but isn’t.

Coming up blank on this one.

9. A song you like (possibly from your past) that took you forever to finally locate a copy of.

I got it from Agnes, Tom Lehrer. I had the sheet music for nearly twenty years before he released a CD that included it.

10. A song that reminds you of spring but doesn’t mention spring at all.

Full moon full of love, k.d. lang.

11. A song that sounds to you like being happy feels.

Waterloo, ABBA, in Swedish.

12. Your favorite song from a non-soundtrack compilation album.

Hotel California, Gipsy Kings, from Rubaiyat.

13. A song that reminds you of high school.

Heh. Centerfold, J. Geils Band.

14. A song that reminds you of college.

Laura, Billy Joel.

15. A song you actually like by an artist you otherwise dislike.

You oughta know, by, y’know, her.

16. A song by a band that features three or more female members.

I spent my last $10 on birth control and beer, Two Nice Girls.

17. One of the earliest songs that you can remember listening to.

My sweet Lord, George Harrison.

18. A song you’ve been mocked by friends for liking.

I want your love, Transvision Vamp. Also my complete collection of Debbie/Deborah Gibson albums.

19. A really good cover version you think no one else has heard.

Cruella deVille, The Replacements.

20. A song that has helped cheer you up (or empowered you somehow) after a breakup or otherwise difficult situation.

Tranent Muir, The Tannahill Weavers. There are days I just need to play this song REALLY REALLY LOUD.

Okay, I can respect that


Richard Simmons never struck me as the sort of person who’d respond to criticism with physical violence, but when a burly 6-foot biker and cage fighter started making fun of his exercise videos at an autograph signing, he did.

Burly. 6-foot. Biker. Cage fighter. Richard Simmons. Smackdown.

The world is stranger than we imagine.

Tort reform


[ah, the joys of arguing with friends; this little anecdote was originally composed for a mailing list of the friends I play card and board games with on weekends, one of whom described tort reform as “crippling the justice system”]

A few years back, I was foreman on a jury in the civil suit that came out of a car accident. A commercial driver ran a red light and hit some woman’s car, causing damage and injury. The insurance companies had already settled the car damage, the company and their driver openly took full responsibility, and the woman wasn’t seriously injured.

We nitpicked every line-item of her medical bills, knocking out some of the physical therapy and correcting their arithmetic. And then we gave her $20,000 for pain and suffering.

Personally, I thought that the number should have been $0, because they never disputed their responsibility or tried to evade paying for her legitimate medical bills. Maybe I’d have given her money for legal fees and other expenses if they’d tried to avoid paying, but they didn’t; their driver made a mistake, and they handled it properly.

I know I tend to have a somewhat… forceful personality, so I carefully hid my feelings on the subject and asked the rest of the jury if they thought she deserved any money for pain and suffering. Everyone said yes, and I asked if $1,000 was the right amount. By the time I got up to $5,000, I think three people agreed, but it wasn’t until I hit $20,000 that everyone was convinced it was enough.

I then asked if anyone thought $20,000 was excessive. No one spoke up. The immigrant-owned small business didn’t have great insurance, or they wouldn’t have been the defendants. They didn’t have much cash, or they’d probably have settled out of court. But we didn’t talk about the impact our decision would have on them; we talked about our own experiences with injuries and accidents, and how it feels to recover from them.

And that’s what I think about when someone mentions tort reform. There’s a good chance we crippled that small business, and no one even thought about it.

How many times does this happen every day, and how many times is it worse? By an order of magnitude or more? If we’d been dealing with the representative of a deep-pockets insurance company, would we have given her even more? How much more?

“Need a clue, take a clue,
 got a clue, leave a clue”