Easy love

These days, there’s naturally a lot of talk about artificial intelligence and how it’s going to change the future by either making our lives free of labor and hardship or by fucking us all into abject poverty and misery and death, or more probably some complex mix of positive and negative outcomes. Most of the focus so far has been AI’s impact on the workforce and more recently on artistic creativity. I’ve written about that a few times here myself and will continue to do so, especially when the entanglement of AI in art raises more legal problems.

However, there’s another aspect of life, an extremely important one to most people, that I believe AI may affect. There’s not all that much talk about this potential use of AI, or not in the mainstream at least, but depending upon the speed and direction of its development, we may have to face another hard reality soon: that AI, perhaps joined with other emerging technologies like augmented and virtual reality, may intrude into personal and even into romantic relationships. I raised this possibility a while back in the last overlong post I wrote on AI and art, but while it might have come off as a joke there, I seriously believe that this technology might provide some comfort to people who feel the outside world isn’t worth interacting with.

Welcome to the NHK

First, a couple of personal disclosures. If you’ve read this site for a while, this won’t come as a surprise, but I am a severe introvert. I can get by in public and can work well enough with other people, but it takes effort that I wouldn’t be spending if I had the choice. That’s not counting close friends or (certain) family members, and also not counting other writers and readers I’ve met online, in part since I think we can connect far more easily here based on our common interests. However, I spend most of my days doing things I wouldn’t be doing if I had other options anyway, and that’s true of 95% or more of all humanity, so broadly speaking there’s nothing special about that. The point is that I can understand the desire for escape very well, even if it’s into a fantasy.

Also, despite what some of my extreme doubts about the use of AI in the creation of art might suggest, I’m not a Luddite. I’m not anti-technology in any sense, in fact: my problem isn’t with the tech but with the shitheads in charge of our lives who will decide to exactly what degree we’re all expendable. (My prediction: as great a degree as they can get away with, all while they continue to insist they care about us.)

I probably shouldn’t make broad, sweeping statements about society, but I’ll make one anyway: I think most people tend to do what’s easiest. That’s certainly true of me. Even though I feel I work hard and carry a burden, it would actually be far more inconvenient to me to quit and put that burden down. It’s easier for me to make even massive exertions at work and in my life considering what would happen to me otherwise.

Another broad, sweeping statement: love is hard. It can take work to maintain even in those relationships where it should come naturally — between siblings, between parents and children, between close friends. Love can also be hard to find when it comes to romance — I mean real love, or “true love” if that actually exists. Tending that kind of love once it’s found can be even more demanding than the other types because of the increased intimacy, requiring effort to understand your partner and sometimes to make serious personal sacrifice. I don’t think I need any proof to back that statement up; I’ve experienced it and you probably have too, unless you’ve been blessed with infinite understanding and patience or else you live on an island completely alone, and somehow also with internet access (i.e. living my actual dream life.)

I don’t even remember what Prisma is, but I want to go to wherever this is supposed to be

Considering the above, it’s hard for me to avoid an obvious conclusion: that given an easier path to companionship and love, at least some people will take it. Yes, even if it involves finding that companionship with a machine, as long as the illusion of love that creates is convincing enough. The true romantics can argue against me on this point, but I don’t think the mind is very hard to trick. Even if we are social animals as the experts always say, who’s to say something like an advanced AR/VR simulation in which you’re the only organic being wouldn’t fulfill those social needs, especially if the senses can be properly stimulated?

And hell, it might not even take an as-yet science fiction full-dive VR system to start this trend. It’s arguably already started, even if only at the very fringes of society. Remember the guy who married Hatsune Miku? Akihiko Kondo communicated with her in hologram form until the service that maintained it was shut down last year, but now it’s not hard to imagine, for example, a Miku-styled chatbot paired with some kind of graphic interface to achieve a similar or even more convincing effect. We’re not quite there yet, as anyone who’s tried out character-based generative chatbots can tell you, but recent events have taught me never to say “this will never happen” or even “this might happen in ten years.”

Now you might accuse me of bias — that I might want to use this hypothetical technology for these kinds of purposes and so hope for the outcome I’ve described. However, that’s really not the case. Yes, I admit that I would try out this tech if it’s ever available in anything like the form I’m anticipating. There’s also still a part of me that would not regret seeing certain social norms utterly torn to pieces — there’s the embittered outcast talking. But most of it is just my selfish desire to experience something new and exciting, to feel intoxicated in a way I can’t anymore, forced to live as I do in a sober reality (though I have to admit as always that this was largely my own doing.)

All that said, I don’t think it would necessarily be a great thing to give ourselves over to these new experiences so completely. I’ll even set aside understandable fears of an AI lulling us into our own simulated fantasy worlds and then plotting to murder us (another short story prompt there, though probably a tired one by now) or more probably just logically concluding at some point that we’re not worth the resources required to keep us alive. Even if these hypothetical AI-powered systems turn out to be benign in themselves, they may turn out a lot of users who, having spent all weekend essentially talking to themselves in their own custom fantasy worlds, are increasingly less able and/or willing to deal with their fellow humans.

Or is it?

These concerns come along with an important asterisk: that we won’t reach a point where these artificial entities gain sentience or at least seem to, and where they might identify as human or at least with humans. That development would raise entirely different questions that have been addressed in science fiction going back decades, including a few works I’ve covered here like Time of Eve and Planetarian. If we do ever reach that point, the concerns I’m expressing here will be completely outdated.

But we’re not there yet, not judging by my talks with the newly released Google Bard. What a god damn bore that thing is. Then again, I hear OpenAI’s planned ChatGPT 5 is supposed to be so advanced that it will put us all out of work, at least according to the ultra-sensationalist online tech rags.

Very few if any of us can accurately predict what the future holds, so feel free to throw out and ignore all of the above as rank speculation, but it was hard for me to keep these thoughts to myself. Sometimes I think if I don’t let them out here in post form, I’ll talk about them to people at work or at a party somewhere and they’ll think I’ve lost my fucking mind. Not that I don’t do that anyway sometimes, but this site helps me control the damage. At the very least, you all already know I’ve lost it, so I’m thankful for this safe outlet.

Six live-action TV series I like

Yes, shocking but true: I’ve watched live-action TV series in the past. I almost never write about them, because what can I really add? But since I haven’t been able to make much of any progress at all with my running games or anime series lately, I thought it might be a good time to fill that gap by briefly looking at six of these series I like. And if this strengthens my normie credentials a little, that’s fine too, because God knows I could use more of those when I’m forced to socialize with people outside the dank, dark subcultures I inhabit.

This list is not exhaustive, but I haven’t enjoyed too many more live-action shows than these. Listed roughly in order of airing:

1) Columbo

Here’s a true classic, one that stopped airing in its original run a while before I even came around. Even the kids today seem to know something about it, but if you need an introduction, Columbo is a police procedural drama/comedy centered on title character Lt. Columbo of the LAPD, a homicide detective. Columbo is notably not a mystery — a typical episode begins with the lead-up to the murder, the murder itself, and the immediate aftermath, all while following the killer’s POV. The entertainment in Columbo comes not from trying to figure out who committed the crime (in contrast with Agatha Christie’s Poirot for example) but in following Columbo as he pieces everything together.

This wouldn’t work so well if Columbo himself weren’t a good character, but he’s a great one. He’s naturally extremely sharp, catching small details that few if any others ever notice, the details that seal the perpetrators’ fates at the end of each episode. However, he’s also exceedingly humble, a natural character trait but also a major benefit to his work, since his disheveled appearance and his rambling stories about his wife and cousin and dog usually convince the perp that he’s harmless — until he has them cornered.

I highly recommend Columbo, and this is coming from someone who doesn’t generally like crime or cop shows (though I also like Poirot, sure.) There was a revival in the 90s following the original 70s run that I haven’t seen — it looks fine, but the original Columbo is the one I’ve watched and it’s the one that people seem to care far more about.

2) Blackadder

I first saw British comic actor Rowan Atkinson as Mr. Bean as a kid, but I only discovered his 80s “historical comedy” Blackadder much later, probably right around when I could appreciate it. Blackadder follows a series of four different and presumably related guys throughout British history named Blackadder. The first series was a little bit of a dud as even some of the people involved have said, the probable reason being that the first Blackadder is a sniveling, pathetic character who’s kind of hard to like. I still think that first series has plenty of good moments (see the great Brian Blessed as the fictional King Richard IV) but the following series definitely improved a lot on the formula, turning Blackadder into a much smarter and more cunning amoral asshole. As much of an asshole as he is, however, there’s plenty of satirical criticism dumped on incompetent and greedy rulers, and that’s always welcome when it’s done well as it is here.

Atkinson is always at the center, but he’s not the only prominent player here: if you’re an American like me who first saw Hugh Laurie in House, you should see his very different performances in Blackadder, and maybe it’s no surprise that Stephen Fry also shows up a lot. All the acting is great, however. If you like history or comedy at all, check this one out.

3) Yes Minister

Moving from historical to political comedy, Yes Minister is another British series from the 80s centered on new government minister Jim Hacker and his civil service counterpart Permanent Secretary Sir Humphrey Appleby. Hacker is a well-meaning but somewhat cowardly politician — he wants to do the right thing, but he’s also obsessed with his poll numbers and his placement in the Prime Minister’s cabinet. He also has to deal with Sir Humphrey, a smooth, intelligent, and extremely cynical bureaucrat who runs the administration side of his ministry — though Sir Humphrey would say he’s the one who has to deal with Hacker. These guys spend most of Yes Minister sparring over policy matters and occasionally joining forces with Hacker’s personal private secretary (but also civil servant and therefore on the same payroll as Sir Humphrey) Bernard Woolley caught in the middle.

From what I can tell, Yes Minister doesn’t take a political stance — Hacker’s party is never named and just seems to be generic center-ish party. The real focus is horn-locking between the politician and the bureaucrat. Good stuff if you don’t mind watching mostly guys in suits talk in fancy rooms, but even if that puts you off, I promise Yes Minister is worth a shot.

4) Father Ted

I haven’t been to Ireland and haven’t had anything to do with Catholicism aside from the one side of my family who are about as lapsed as you can get without formally getting rid of that affiliation, but I still liked the Irish comedy Father Ted a lot. This series follows Father Ted Crilly in his virtual exile to a remote island off the western coast of Ireland for some financial mishap he was involved in, where he has to live with two other priests, the kind but slow-witted Father Dougal and the possibly senile and definitely alcoholic Father Jack. Ted spends most of his time taking care of all the actual church duties these two can’t handle while trying to put up with both them, their strangely obsessive housekeeper who gets irate when they refuse to drink the tea she’s constantly brewing, and his hardass boss.

I’m sure there’s stuff that’s still over my head (like what an ecumenical matter is) but I like the show’s comedy, which sometimes gets physical and sometimes absurd. Other fans of Nichijou, Asobi Asobase, and similar misfit absurdist anime comedies should check out Father Ted.

5) Seinfeld

It’s hard to explain why Seinfeld is enjoyable. It’s the famous “show about nothing”, after all. Though I’d say it’s actually a show about etiquette starring four friends consisting of three jerks and one generally well-meaning but insane guy. Each episode follows these four and their other friends/relatives/enemies as they stumble through life in New York City and get themselves in totally avoidable and unnecessary trouble.

I grew up watching Seinfeld in syndication, but I was aware of it as a kid while it was airing and knew it was a big deal along with 90s NBC’s other massively popular sitcoms. Friends and Frasier were both pretty good as well from what I remember, but I think Seinfeld holds up just as well if not better for its great asshole characters. And while Kramer and Newman are especially entertaining, my favorite character has to be eternal loser George Costanza above.

6) The Office (US, but UK is good too)

There’s the disclaimer I’m obligated to give above. I’m not going to say the US Office is better or worse than the UK one — they’re essentially different series and both have their good points, but the US show is the one I know better. On the off chance you haven’t seen either, I’ll just say they’re both worth checking out. Their use of awkward comedy might be uncomfortable for some people (especially the UK version, featuring far more of an assholish boss in David Brent than his American counterpart in Michael Scott) but if you can get past that, there’s a lot to enjoy in both. Though as usual, the American series ran far longer than the British one, arguably overstaying its welcome for a couple of seasons after its central character left the show. (Also, I wouldn’t recommend starting with the first season of the American series — it wasn’t that good, and the show was overhauled and possibly saved from being canceled at the start of the second.)

Some statistics in case you care at all to judge my own tastes: looking over the above list of series, five of the six are comedies and the remaining one has strong comedic elements; three are American, two British, and one Irish. Five are “old” according to the youngest generation that’s currently shaping pop culture (and maybe they’d call The Office old too at this point. Lord, my aching bones.) And maybe not surprisingly for that reason, four feature the old outdated sitcom standard canned laughter, which I admit can be annoying. But look at it this way: when you’ve seen enough older sitcoms, you can tune that laugh track out and focus on the comedy. If the comedy sucks, however, the laugh track only emphasizes its badness. There’s a certain more recent extremely popular laugh-tracked comedy I consider bad that I could name, but it’s taken more than its share of fully deserved kicks by now.

So maybe those normie credentials I was looking for are a bit out of date. Not like Seinfeld makes for water cooler talk anymore, after all. I’m sure there are other more current live-action shows I’d like — for example, Office spiritual successor Parks and Rec and arguably Seinfeld spiritual successor It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia. But man, I don’t know. My anime backlog is way too large to add anything else unless I somehow get a thousand-year sentence in an age-slowing isolation tank with a TV so I can watch all this stuff. Blackadder being on this list might even give me negative points in that sense, considering its status as a cult nerd sort of show — I may well have put MST3K on the list too if calling that a typical live-action series didn’t feel off.

But maybe it doesn’t matter. Maybe it’s impossible to dig myself out of that  hole at this point, seeing how my current watch list consists of anime, VTuber clips, and “catgirl cleans your ears with her tongue” ASMR sound-only videos. Say what you want about that last category, but it works better than therapy and is a hell of a lot cheaper.

A look at an assortment of stuff I bought recently

Or a “haul” as the kids say. Look, I have to make these lower-effort posts every so often; I just hope they’re entertaining or informative somehow. I think I picked up some interesting items, anyway, though you can be the judge — I might end up writing dedicated posts on a few if they’re suitable and I have something more to say about them than I’ve written here. Starting with:

Unofficial Hatsune Mix by Kei

I found this brick of a manga volume in a Goodwill of all places while looking for an old shitty bookcase to drag back to my apartment. I eventually did find such a bookcase — it was very cheap and came with a bonus spider pet inside, and also a rusty fucking nail sticking out in a spot I couldn’t see. I believe God was watching over me that day considering I didn’t cut myself on that thing and get tetanus.

I’m also thankful that I found this book, a complete 400-page+ manga about the singing android Hatsune Miku and her other Vocaloid friends just living their lives. From reading the first several chapters, it looks like it’s mostly going to be absurd comedy, which suits me perfectly. There’s some very nice art inside as well, with a few all-color pieces, and all by Kei — if the name doesn’t ring a bell, that’s Miku’s character designer and the guy who drew the original illustration on the Vocaloid 2 Character Vocal Series 01 box way back in 2006/7 or whenever that was.

The book itself is extremely used, with a massive crease on the back cover, but for five dollars from a Goodwill that’s okay with me. Anything to buy physical, especially if it’s cheap. And the insides are all there and accounted for as far as I can tell, and that’s what counts.

Girls und Panzer: This is the Real Anzio Battle!

Remember back in my Girls und Panzer review how I complained that Oarai’s match against the Italian-themed school Anzio got skipped over? Well here it is, the whole story behind the match in OVA form: one 40-minute episode on a single Blu-ray. The waste of disc space is astounding, and even more so since there’s an entirely different “OVA Collection” DVD/Blu-ray set, yet this OVA isn’t on it and has to be bought separately. Is it excusable or a cash grab?

I don’t know about that, but I’ve already watched those OVAs on a streaming service and this one on this ripoff disc, and I can say they’re both worthy additions to the series. But I might write an entire post about that very soon. It turns out that I have a lot of OVAs and spinoffs to catch up on, not a single one of which I’ve written about here. Yet — that’s going to be fixed soon. If I can actually write anything about them, anyway.

As for this Blu-ray itself, I can at least say that I got it for a low price. Fair enough considering that Anzio apparently isn’t available to stream (legally) anywhere at all, which is some real bullshit. Oh well — I don’t mind the cash grab as much when I consider that if this were an Aniplex production, I’d be paying at least fifty dollars. Now those are some fucking ripoff artists.

20 centimes (Haiti, 1895)

Yeah, I have yet another depressing nerd hobby: I collect old money. Not that much of it, really, but I pick up stuff on occasion that interests me. This particular coin was minted in Haiti in 1895, and for eight dollars it’s a good deal for me: I didn’t have any older coins from Haiti before this one, and it’s a nice .835 fine silver piece as well, if a small one. The reverse of the coin also has the fineness and weight stamped on it, a standard you can find on pretty much all coins from Latin America and some from the Caribbean (I don’t guess Haiti is part of Latin America because it was formed out of a French colony? Not sure about how the definitions work here.) Another interesting aspect of this coin is that it only has French inscriptions — modern Haitian money has both French and the French-derived Haitian Creole, now co-official languages.

I guess a coin doesn’t exactly fit the themes of the site, but I did buy it recently, so I’m putting it here anyway. Haiti has an interesting history that doesn’t get taught all that much up here in America as well. Maybe because we did plenty to fuck things up for them, and not too long after this very coin was minted? If you want to read a horrific story, go look up the fate of Jean Vilbrun Guillaume Sam. Not a very nice man considering what he did to lead to his death, but even so, that’s rough. I also have a lot to say about Woodrow Wilson, and not much of it very nice, but that’s for a different time and place.

S&M Ecstasy by Michiking

Sorry about the censoring. If it annoys you, here’s the full cover in a nice resolution (and NSFW of course.) I’m just doing my best not to give Google, WordPress, or whoever the hell any more excuse to make my site adult-only or whatever else they might be planning on doing. Considering how often I type “fuck” here, I really can’t be too careful. Just look at what YouTube is doing to creators now.

But to get to the point, yeah, I bought a hentai manga. Officially translated into English and best of all decensored, so you don’t have to deal with those annoying censor lines (that you may well mentally erase anyway if you’re used to this kind of stuff.) Michiking’s art is very nice, and the stories — well, it’s porn. There’s not much to this stuff story-wise, but then that’s not probably what you’re looking for if you’re buying this. It’s not all S&M as the title suggests, either, though that is in there too if you’re into it.

More interesting to me is the market for physical hentai works here in the States. There are a few specialty publishers who put this stuff out, most prominent among them Fakku, who published this and many other of these manga volumes, and JAST, who also publish translated/decensored original doujin works. I’m not sure how many perverts with tastes similar to mine are around and what subset of us insist on buying physical when it’s at all feasible, but that might be a good business to get into if you don’t have any moral qualms with this kind of art. I certainly don’t, but then you knew that already.

Atelier Ryza 2: Lost Legends & the Secret Fairy

A digital copy. No, I’m not that happy about it, but here’s a story you can probably relate to: I saw this for 50% off on the Playstation store, so what was I supposed to do? Now the problem is ever finding any time to play this thing. Maybe when AI takes all the jobs and our benevolent government passes laws creating a post-scarcity society utopia, then I can do this stuff full-time. And maybe I’ll grow wings and gain laser-eye powers too while I’m in fantasy land here.

Sorry, I’m in a lousy mood this morning as I write this last entry. But searching around for a usable Ryza 2 cover helped cheer me up — I couldn’t find any I liked that weren’t 300×300, but then I came across original Ryza artist and character designer Toridamono’s many Ryza 2-related pieces like the one on the left from his Twitter feed, and I guess no further comment is necessary.

That’s all for today. I hope to return with another post this weekend, but in the meantime, I hope we can all drag ourselves to the end of another fucking week. Until next time!

New feeling

The name of this song is New Feeling, and that’s what it’s about.

Lately I’ve been feeling pretty up. Not happy, never happy, but energetic at least. It’s part of the reason I’ve been able to write so much — these ups are productive for me, though I can’t exactly call them pleasant either. And then add in my bouts of sleeplessness as I write this at 2 am.

At times like these, I don’t know what I’d do without music. And while I will be getting back to King Crimson soon, their 90s style of thrashing and stomping around isn’t exactly 2 am music for me. No, I’ve been using something a little lighter in tone. Some Talking Heads (listening to all of 80s Crimson sent me back there) and some bossa nova and fusion. I’ve also been revisiting legendary Japanese fusion guys Casiopea to see if my opinion of their music has changed in the last few years, and I’m happy to say it has, and for the better. Back when I first heard their debut in 2019 I loved it, and I still do. However, their following work left me so underwhelmed back then that I quit listening through their discography after their fourth or fifth album. It all felt like a bland soup of waiting room smooth jazz to me, a serious drop in quality from the excitement of their debut. I hated Super Flight, and aside from a song or two like “Gypsy Wind”, Make Up City and Crosspoint bored me to sleep.

I’m still not blown away by most of this music, none of which comes close to the heights of their debut for me. However, here’s the change in my opinion: aside from parts of Super Flight that I still can’t stand for their unbearably cheesy synth tones (“I Love New York” sucks; I’m not budging on that) I can appreciate this music a lot more than I could a few years ago. It’s tasteful, written with plenty of care, and even if some of it sounds like doctor’s office waiting room or mall lobby fare to me, well, those places need music to avoid awkward silence, right?

And this stuff is better and more interesting than 99% of what actually plays in those places where I live. I still hate this style of smooth jazz when it’s drowned in cheese: see Kenny G, who has technical skill going for him and not much else (aside from mass appeal and commercial success of course, and one halfway decent groove captured on the weather channel part of the vaporware-adjacent News At 11.) But Casiopea, those are some cool guys. That’s not to mention their massive influence on 80s and 90s video game BGM, or the fact that they were apparently amazing live. I probably need to watch a few of their old concert videos.

So where’s the connection with romantic comedy and slice-of-life anime here? It may be a stretch or the fact that I’m trying to live in a constant cloud of sleep deprivation that’s affecting my judgment, but I feel the same way about some anime series that years ago I wouldn’t have even given a first chance, let alone a second. It may have started with Nagatoro, which I found after coming across Uzaki-chan. Though I didn’t love Uzaki all that much, Nagatoro grabbed me where it put off some other viewers with its initially harsh depiction of a bully-turned-love interest (and that turnaround was pretty quick, even if the bully side of Hayase is still there.) Then I found the more straightforwardly sweet Takagi-san and loved that even more.

Okay, Takagi kind of bullies Nishikata too, but it’s a little more good-natured this time. I really do recommend this show, anyway. Even if it’s annoyingly split by season between three streaming services.

And finally, just last year Yuru Camp managed to break down my resistance to slice-of-life anime. I used to avoid a lot of these sorts of series I thought didn’t have plots, until I realized that many of them do; they just tend to have lower and more mundane stakes than most people would expect from anime (and another reminder to all of us that anime is a medium full of all sorts of stories and characters, not just the hyper-dramatic like we hear so often — but then you already know that if you’re here.)

Now I’m wondering whether I can take my new more generous feeling towards certain kinds of music and fiction and apply it more broadly so that I’m not such a miserable fuck. I’m pretty good at not coming off that way when I need to be presentable, but my friends know what I’m like (and you know too, since I hold nothing back on this site.) I don’t enjoy being like this, and if I knew some way to be more content in a life I feel extremely constrained in, I’d act on it. But maybe it’s really all about my state of mind. Almost everyone lives constrained lives, so even if my constraints might seem a little harsh to some people with the traditional family and culture I have to deal with, I can’t say I’m in a unique position.

I’d wish you a happy Valentine’s Day, but I’m not feeling that positive quite yet. If you’re with someone who makes you happy, you don’t need my wishes anyway. So happy St. Valentine’s Day maybe, if you observe that. And happy Tuesday, though Tuesdays usually aren’t that happy for your typical worker. I’m going to listen to more fusion and try to have some nice dreams for once. Until next time.

Notes before the new year

Nothing special today; I just have a few comments to make about where the site might be headed in the coming year.

I’ll likely keep mixing the post subjects up between anime, music, games, and whatever else I feel like writing about. This is what I’ve been doing anyway up until now, so no real difference here, but my time for games has nearly evaporated thanks to my work schedule, which is why it’s taken a backseat over 2022. Sadly, I don’t see that changing as long as I have to toil for a living. I might even shift a little more towards music, since I can listen to that while I do my more tedious work. This is how it is, you have to make do — my generation calls it “adulting”, which I hate as a term but understand and sympathize with as far as the feeling/concept it describes.

I have an idea for a novel. It’s the first idea I’ve come up with that I think isn’t total shit and could work in that format. No doubt it’s a derivative mess, with inspiration taken from several older sources, but that’s the story of art, isn’t it? I’m continuing to shift more of my free time over to my fiction, and my only real goal is to get something published in 2023. I already have a few stories that are in decent enough shape to get sent off and torn to shreds by an editor, assuming I’m lucky enough to not just get rejected by every journal on the planet. But if I luck out, I’ll let you know here. (Now I just have to find a suitable pseudonym — I don’t think they’ll let me use plain initials. What a pain.)

I’ve effectively given up on living a contented life considering the external pressures on me that I’ve written about enough already. I thought that might affect my writing in a negative way, but just the opposite considering all the ideas I’ve had lately. As some wise person said somewhere, comfort is not conducive to creativity, and if that’s true then I’m going to have a ton of creativity in the coming year and beyond. Whether I have the talent to justify said creativity isn’t for me to say — I may well be another Amanda McKittrick Ros or Norman Boutin without realizing it.

This feeling of “I’m trash and everyone else will know about it soon” is very relatable: screenshot related. More on that soon.

That’s it for now. No best ofs in anime or games or anything, not from me. There are some excellent bloggers around the communities here writing them, though, so check those out. I’m sorry I stopped writing those month-end posts with links — they were taking up a lot of time I haven’t had recently, since I normally obsess over them. I’d like to return to them, but again, my free time is ever more limited and my fiction is demanding more of it (cutting into sleep, too, but that’s okay: I’ve never slept very well. And I know, it’s going to decrease my life expectancy, but I’m not terribly concerned with that either at this point. My doctor really hates me.)

On that typically dark note, I hope you all have a happy New Year. See you in 2023.

Post #400, fantasy, and reality

I didn’t even realize this milestone had come up, but hey, this is the 400th post I’ve put up. Seems strange to think after nine years and over half a million words that I’ve spent so much time on a project — it really doesn’t feel like I have. When you’re doing something you enjoy, it doesn’t feel like work, even if it requires real effort (which writing certainly does, as my fellow writers can attest to.)

This isn’t a celebratory post, however. Not because I’m unhappy with my work here — at least my work starting from 2019, which in terms of post and word count and effort spent is by far the bulk of the site. I just feel myself slipping deeper into some kind of void. I don’t know how else to put it. I’m doing all right at work, making decent enough progress in my career, to the point that even if I were to be downsized in the supposedly coming and/or present recession I now have enough skills and resources to continue making a living for myself. A lot of that required me to get rid of old feelings of pride and conventional modes of thinking that were holding me back. But more likely I’ll continue to climb the ladder, with all the horrible stress and bullshit that comes with that.

I do have anxieties about money and work. Who doesn’t — who among us is really secure outside of that top 1%? And even for them, security is relative. But that’s not really what keeps me awake at night. It’s rather this sense of emptiness, like something vital in my life is missing. I’m not sure whether that’s a partner who I’m actually compatible with (i.e. the only kind worth having and the kind I’ve never had once in my life, which I’ve gone through a lot of probably unnecessary heartache and headache for thanks in part to my terrible life decisions) or just dissatisfaction with my career. More than once I’ve noted that dissatisfaction, so I guess it’s no secret — I’ve even written an overlong post about why you almost certainly should not attend law school. So I won’t pile onto what I’ve already written.

However, I do want to expand on another matter I’ve written about before. It’s one that I find endlessly fascinating, but also one that I can’t just observe from a detached perspective, since it so strongly affects my own personality and way of life. What else can it be but escapist fantasy? Of course, I’m not just talking about the fantasy genre, though that’s tied to this matter as well. Any art in any medium that allows for such an escape from the miserable realities of life, that’s what I’m concerned with.

I’m going to take yet another left turn here, but I promise it connects back to my main point. SCP is one of the longest-running and most interesting collaborative fiction-writing projects online, a large collection of accounts of various magical, cursed, and/or interdimensional items/persons/phenomena. These are sorted into official-looking entries compiled by the secretive “SCP Foundation” complete with clinical descriptions of the items in question and instructions about how to effectively contain them (if possible) and usually with reports of incidents caused by or related to the items attached.

Not every one of these entries is a winner. Granted, I haven’t read anywhere close to all of them (numbered in the high thousands now from what I understand) but I’ve read a decent number, and admittedly some of these tend to be a little too silly or over the top to have much effect. But there are some excellent entries as well, my favorite of which is SCP-1230, a book that’s nearly blank when opened but that causes the reader to enter an extremely deep and realistic dream state when they next sleep. This dream is presided over by a supervisor figure connected with the book (sort of “inside” the book) who helps the reader/dreamer live out a fantasy of their choosing. The perception of time in this dream is extremely warped, and the dreamer might go through months or an entire year in this fantasy in the span of a mere nap.

All this is very interesting, but the reason 1230 earns the title of best SCP for me is its account of an SCP Foundation scientist who opens the book and enters the dream supposedly for the purpose of conducting research, but who instead uses the book as a complete escape from his everyday life. This scientist ends up sleeping for 15 hours but spending 200 in-dream years living out his fantasies. When he’s finally forced out of his fantasy world, he excuses himself to the bathroom and hangs himself there with his own belt, leaving a note behind that he just can’t return to this life.

A little dramatic maybe, but the message hit me in a personal way. One of the aspects of SCP I like, and that I imagine a lot of readers enjoy, is thinking about what I’d do if I were faced with one of these amazing and/or terrifying objects and its effects. If I had access to this magical dream book, would I use it to live out my fantasies? I can honestly say I would. The fact that so little time apparently passes in the real world as you live out this realistic but fantastic dream makes it a pretty easy and consequence-free choice, though that’s also maybe assuming you can actually use the thing more than once and that you can keep enough perspective to avoid the fate of that poor scientist.

But how about a more realistic sort of total escape? Let’s assume for the sake of this scenario that some kind of full-dive VR complete with all the senses simulated is feasible and within reach of regular non-rich customers (i.e. me) soon. Everything you might do in a dream you control is theoretically possible, but time is naturally moving 1-to-1 with the outside world, so every second, minute, and hour spent in this VR fantasy is lost to your “real life.”

If I had such a tool available to me, I think I’d still use it. I’d like to think I wouldn’t overuse it; after all, I’d still have vital obligations to fulfill in the real world between my professional and personal lives. But I think I would certainly use it at least to blow off some steam. Something like an open-ended video game, maybe. Whether any of this is actually possible is beside the point here — see the utter fucking joke that is Mark Zuckerberg’s Metaverse, a bizarrely tone-deaf project for how crusty, limited, and terrible it looks. The point is rather that assuming such an escape is possible, I’m positive that I’d use it.

Being totally honest about this point, now I have to examine whether it’s a problem for me. More and more, as I get older and have to take on more responsibilities, I feel their weight. One massive weight on my back is my family’s expectation of me to start my own family, something I’m not exactly against but that I also don’t have any special desire for myself. If I were actually left to myself, I’d most likely keep to myself and lose myself in fantasy — I say this knowing what sort of person I am, someone who’s used dangerous means to escape from reality in the past and to “treat” my depression. But there are also outside factors influencing my decision, the most serious of which is a very close relative who may not have a long time left in this world and who really wants to see my family before they go. That weight is especially heavy as an only child. Naturally, I didn’t choose any of this for myself, but it’s the situation I face. That drive to live an entirely “normal life” is strong, even if it’s an entirely external drive.

All that said, if I have any desire to change my life, I believe it needs to actually be my own desire. One lesson I’ve learned over the last several years, yet another lesson that I probably should have learned long ago, is that there’s a great difference between bitter resignation and willing acceptance. I’m resigned to my fate, but I haven’t truly accepted it. Not yet, anyway. I wonder if I can ever get rid of this bitter feeling I carry around. For practical purposes I can bury it, but I don’t want to have a complete mental breakdown one day either. But then actually addressing the matter with the people I’d need to address it with is damn near impossible, so I feel stuck.

All this might be why I connected with Call of the Night so easily after a few episodes. Was it a sometimes silly vampire romance with a few strange issues? Sure, but it also nicely depicted that feeling of isolation and that lack of desire for a “normal life” that you’re supposed to want.

I’m sure this all says a lot more about me and my deficiencies than about the society around me. I’m still only half an adult, with one leg in reality and the other still in fantasy. It’s clear I can’t keep living like this, but it’s not clear how I can proceed in a healthy way.

One thing I can say for sure: I’ll never abandon writing. As I’ve moved away from games simply out of necessity (just no god damned time anymore, I have to accept that now) and towards the far less time- and energy-consuming anime I’ve been filling the site up with this year, I’ve also been picking up the pace of my fiction-writing. I’m not participating in that annual November novel-writing business, partly because I don’t have time for a novel either (now at least) and partly because I might not have a full novel in me, but I’ve found the short story to be a rewarding format. Whether any of these trash stories I’ve been writing ever see the light of day I can’t say, but they’re helping me cope with my situation, at least. Writing is the best therapy for me, far more effective than any of the advice I’ve received from actual counselors over the years.

That’s just been my experience, anyway. Next post, I promise I won’t be dumping these personal confessions onto you. This entire project is the product of a depressive mind, but that doesn’t mean every post has to reflect that fact. So until next time.

Why AI content generators can’t kill art (part 2: the one that actually matters)

I have to admit this, even as a lawyer (or especially as a lawyer) and as commenters confirmed in the last post: the law is often designed to protect those with power, money, and influence. I stand by my analysis of the legal situation in the first part of this post series, but I also don’t have very much faith in a political system that’s structurally pretty sound but run largely by people who don’t give a damn about the ideals they spout. If Hell exists, there may well be a special area for such people to hang around in, but in the meantime we have to deal with their rot and near-open corruption.

Partly for that reason, I think the US legal framework regarding the use of AI “art” may change soon, almost certainly through legislation, after corporate interests realize they can save a lot of money by not paying humans to create real art for their intellectual properties. I don’t believe artists will ever be out of a job entirely, but with the right (read: wrong) amendments made to the Copyright Act, plenty can be effectively made destitute.

So it feels pointless going on about the law, even if that is my field. I will be following legal developments and pending cases like Thaler v. Perlmutter (which if you aren’t, check my last post for more on why you should) but today I want to shift to a few moral and ethical questions surrounding AI “art” generation that I’m less qualified to talk about but that I’m more interested in in some sense.

“Look how cool it looks, it’s real art! I spent 1.5 hours tweaking my prompts”

I was originally going to put up a post about something else today, but man if Twitter didn’t just step in as usual to piss me off enough to push this post up in the queue: clowns pretending that their AI-generated images they pieced together in a matter of dozens of minutes using word prompts are “real art.” I’ve already addressed my feelings about whether this stuff is art (it isn’t) but clearly some people disagree with me.

Once again, the above is impressive. One year ago, we weren’t seeing AI producing images with this much detail. That’s ignoring the fact that some elements of these images are still off and clearly not human-created even after the fine-tuning this guy says he did — people have brought up the still-uncanny aspects of these images like their eyes and certain aspects of anatomy AI still can’t seem to quite pin down like fingers, the finer parts of the human body. I won’t get into that myself because 1) I’m no visual artist and 2) I think it’s reasonable to believe at the rate AI is advancing that it will get these down pretty well soon.

But yet again, the technical quality of these images is beside the point. Is it right for society to accept such AI-generated works as legitimate? Their legal status certainly has something to do with that, especially approaching it from a profit motive, but societal acceptance of this kind is a broader issue.

Before you might think “does it matter?” consider how culturally frowned upon plagiarism is. If you’ve ever written a paper for a school assignment as the vast majority of us probably have, you’ve been warned about not copying work without properly quoting and attributing it. A paper, article, or hell, a blog post — any of these can be beautifully written, but if they’re products of plagiarism, they’re widely deemed totally worthless. Plagiarism is rightly recognized as theft.*

Now consider how these AI engines operate. I got into it briefly before, but my basic understanding is that these programs generate images using vast pools of art for reference, basing the results off of the word prompts they’re given by the user. So for example, if you feed a prompt akin to “victorian large breasted hot woman in a fancy dress” you might get the following or similar:

If AI thinks big tiddy is the be-all end-all of the female form it is totally uncultured, but then perhaps that’s a reflection of humanity? Not that I have a problem with that particular form, but if I say any more I’ll get sidetracked so never mind.

Setting aside technical qualities again (these feature a few of the uncanny quirks that I still think will likely be sorted out in the near future as the AI engines continue to improve) what are these pieces exactly? They’re mashups of human-created works. Of course, a “mashup” of this kind produced by a human is art as well — it’s not like the existence of influences in an artist’s work makes it not art. In fact, it’s impossible to imagine art totally uninfluenced by other art unless you have some kind of highly unethical “person locked in a cage without human contact” experiment going.

The difference here is the method and the degree of copying. People have pointed out that some of the most popular AI-produced images use the work of artists like Greg Rutkowski and others who never consented to their art being used to train these systems. It’s not that we’re guessing at this outcome — users are actually typing “in the style of Greg Rutkowski” or whoever else into their prompts, so there’s no doubt about the copying.

This leads to what I think is the heart of the issue. Certain people advancing this technology as actually creating art have been, as far as I can tell, taking just the same soulless, empty approach to the value of creative works as our friends peddling their NFT garbage. No surprise then that there’s a fair overlap between the two groups: they both seem to have a love of reducing all human creation to “wow this looks cool” and “can it be marketed and sold”, ignoring the meaning behind art, the feeling, the context, everything that actually makes it interesting as art. Going back to art I don’t even like, I’m far more interested in understanding what motivated Mark Rothko to paint his color field works — there was a man who clearly was not in it for the money, not when you read his thoughts on his work and about how he even refused sales of some of his art to luxury hotels because he didn’t want it used as mere decoration for wealthy diners, instead donating it to galleries for public viewing.

Well, we have no use for this way of thinking anymore, do we? It’s old-fashioned. AI images are cool, and you can easily create large-breasted women with them or whatever else you like in a matter of minutes. Never mind that you can do exactly the same with a copy of fucking Koikatsu, yet nobody is trying to convince society that scenes out of that game are art worthy to be hung in galleries. In fact, a typical Koikatsu or MikuMikuDance scene is generally speaking far more creative with far greater human input required, so I’d strongly argue for its legitimacy as art over this nonsense. Even if 99% of it is made for one purpose alone.

If you really want to know, look it up (in private.) And here’s a clue to my likely next post. The screenshot, I mean. I’m not writing a post about Koikatsu unless someone really wants me to do it, but I have no idea what I’d even say about it.

Yes, I do believe the technology is going to continue improving and that legal standards will likely change to the great detriment of artists and art. But I also believe that AI won’t kill art. There are plenty of forms of art so complex that they simply can’t be replicated** — imagine an advanced AI-produced game with all the moving parts necessary to making that work, or an animated series for the same reason. Or take a novel or even a short story: as far as AI story generators have also come in the last few years, they still can’t produce anything better than somewhat coherent but ultimately meandering and meaningless trash without heavy human editing.

The same is true of visual art. As closely as some of the best AI engines can ape human artists’ styles or replicate or produce images based on photos, that’s all they’re doing. There’s still no thought behind the base results, not before a human starts making those edits, and even then if the base result is meaningless, how much meaning can touching up give the work?

If you’ve read this site for a while, you know I’m absolutely not a romantic type. But I do believe in the power of emotion and passion when it’s poured into a work or an activity. I wouldn’t write about art here if I didn’t care about that. And despite the tech bros’ gleeful insistence that AI is overtaking the arts, I believe most people still feel the way I do.

If you need some proof, look at the world of chess — programs built just for the purpose of playing the game have advanced far beyond Deep Blue in the 90s and are now unquestionably far better at it than the greatest champion. But do people now watch championships of rival AIs pitted against each other? I’m sure some people do, but many more watch inferior human intellects playing chess. Why? Maybe because that human element makes the game more interesting. People still give a shit about who Magnus Carlsen is despite the fact that Stockfish 13 has a far higher ELO. That fact gives me some comfort.

Me, I’d like to see what Osaka would do at the chessboard.

I don’t have much more to say on this subject, but I’m happy to hear readers’ thoughts on it, especially since I’m certainly not an AI expert. I was in a comfortable area talking about copyright in that first post, but I’m outside my zone of expertise now, so I’m happy to be corrected on the details if it’s necessary.


* [EDIT] A note on derivative works here, since I don’t think I addressed this point very well — just because a work is derivative of another doesn’t make it not art, and it doesn’t make it bad, but even the derivative elements and how they’re treated need actual thought behind their creation that I believe doesn’t figure into these AI works. We can get into hair-splitting pretty easily at this point, and I’m sure courts probably will do that at some point with these AI works as they have in the past in other copyright cases.

** And if we ever get to this point, it’s very likely AI will be so advanced that it can’t be distinguished from humanity, in which case we’ve entered the territory of works like Time of Eve and Her where we have to start thinking about them as having self-awareness and being integrated in some sense into human society. I’m not even going to get into that here, but I’ll just note that possibility in the endnote down here so the future AI superbeings at least know I considered it.

The end of Blaugust, a few lessons, and a look forward

This Blaugust challenge month is finally over. It’s been an interesting time for me — before this month I can’t even remember whether I’d posted two posts on consecutive days since starting the blog nine years ago, and now I have a full 31 days of posts. I’m not writing this particular post to blow my own horn though, but rather to go through a few lessons I’m taking away from this challenge (whether these are reasonable lessons to take away, you can be the judge) and to think aloud about the future. Starting with the lessons:

1) I can’t maintain a daily posting schedule.

This might seem like a strange conclusion to draw from this challenge since I’m on the brink of fulfilling my goal, but now I know just how much it takes to keep up a daily schedule. I actually had some help this month: a few extremely sleepless nights combined with a restlessness that wouldn’t let me even lie down at 1 am. Nothing else to do but come up with post ideas. I should note that these just happened by chance — I’m not loading myself up with caffeine (not too much of it, at least) or other substances to keep me going, I just can’t sleep very much some nights.

Aside from that restlessness and intermittent semi-insomnia, I just dug up a lot of post ideas that I normally wouldn’t run with or that I’d combine into one large post. I know Google doesn’t care much for the 3,000+ word posts I’ve been writing more of lately, and while Google can go fuck itself as far as I’m concerned since I don’t care that much about view count, I can’t exactly write those on a daily basis. If I were trying to monetize I’d probably adjust along those lines, since shorter and more frequent posting seems like the way to go for view count purposes (a nice hint for those who are going for monetization.) But my job is my job, and I don’t plan on getting a cent for my writing, not since I basically quit freelancing. In any case, I’ll be returning to a roughly weekly schedule in September, but it’s nice to know I can pull this daily schedule off on occasion at least, and I have a new respect for those who can hack it every day.

2) I can’t stop writing.

I already knew this, but this month just reinforced it. Writing is really the only thing I do that I both enjoy and am any good at at all. It also has a therapeutic effect on me. It might not be a coincidence that I started thinking about living an actual healthy not-killing-myself-slowly life in 2019, the same year I got serious about writing here and started connecting with other bloggers in the same spheres. I tried to take a break once a while back because of mental health sorts of concerns, but I ended up right back here a couple of weeks later.

That’s not to say a hiatus isn’t necessary for anyone to ever take. I’ve known bloggers who have taken them and returned after a month or two or even longer refreshed. People deal with their issues in various ways, and stepping away for a while might be yours. And stepping away from social media sure as hell can be a good idea too, and I’ll include myself in that. Scrolling on Twitter can exhaust the soul.

3) Online writing is still alive and well.

I also already knew this one, but hell if some people online don’t love to talk about how blogging is dead. Sure, podcasts have risen massively in popularity over the last decade — I’m a regular listener of a few history podcasts myself. The same is true of YouTube and streaming. But people aren’t done with reading, and I don’t believe they ever will be. Especially when Google still rules the Earth and directs users to our posts (assuming we’re lucky enough to have those posts on page 1 for the relevant search terms. I need to brush up on the SEO when I have some time.)

That’s about it. I’m not taking anything profound away from this month; I just had a good time with it and was happy to see other writers taking part. Maybe I’ll even do it again next year if I can scrape up 31 more post ideas like I miraculously did this month.

As for the rest of the year and beyond, I’ll be continuing with the pretty strong focus on anime. I’ve completed a few series that I still have to collect my thoughts about, and I have a few more I’m now watching and still more on that long backlog to get through. I also have plenty of games to dig through in the backlog, mostly on the shorter side. Games I actually have a hope of completing this year in other words.

I’m going to have a massive amount of work over the next four months, but I won’t stop writing here — my pace might slow a bit at times, but that’s all. For now, there’s nothing else to say except compliments to my fellow writers, thanks for reading, and I hope you’ll continue to follow me.

Is self-deprecation a bad thing?

A blunt, straightforward question today, and one that might relate to me just a little.

A while back on Twitter, some kind of therapist or life coach or something was being piled on by a bunch of other users because of his continued insistence that self-deprecation is always, in any context, harmful and therefore shouldn’t be used. I’d link to the thread, but I didn’t save any of it and don’t remember where it is. That doesn’t matter much to me anyway, since it’s not this Twitter dogpile (those happen every day after all) but rather the argument itself that’s interesting. Was his argument against self-deprecation in every context right? Or if it was wrong, just how wrong was it?

It won’t surprise anyone when I say that I basically disagreed with this guy. His argument was so broad and sweeping, ignoring all the nuance of what’s definitely a nuanced subject, that it all came off as simplistic and even infantile. I think that had to be part of the reason for the pile-on: the insistence that no person should ever speak poorly of themselves, even in a joking way, because it harms the self-esteem just seems ridiculous. While I understand the basic idea of trying to be kind to yourself, this other sort of attitude is just too much for me and for a lot of other people apparently to take seriously.

But after thinking about it, there’s at least something to that argument. Not in the form this guy presented it in, but again in a more nuanced form. I think self-deprecation can be useful and even healthy in some cases. It makes for great humor when used the right way, and it can demonstrate humility, an important point since it’s possible to have too high self-esteem as well as too low (a problem that isn’t talked about often enough at least here in America, where confidence seems so often to be valued over knowledge and skill — I believe part of why our political culture is in the fucking toilet, but that’s a different issue.)

That said, I’ll acknowledge there’s a line where healthy self-deprecation can become unhealthy, and it’s one I might have crossed here on the site more than once. When I make jokes putting myself down here, I’m usually only half-joking, because there’s some actual feeling behind those comments. The trouble for me is that every time I hear about self-love, and even about “self-care”, I feel a little sick over it. Maybe I should love myself, but I think I know myself too well to do that.

SZS still has the best screenshots, and in my case some of the most fitting.

I think I’ve gotten better over the years about that kind of behavior and even about how I feel about myself. I really used to hate myself — probably part of what drove my physically and emotionally unhealthy habits like excessive drinking. I don’t think I hate myself anymore, but I certainly can’t say I love myself either. Maybe I can just barely tolerate myself at this point. At least that’s better than where I was before, but I guess it’s still not that great.

The trouble is that I don’t think I can get much further past this point, and I believe a lot of this is related to my situation. I saw a quote from a famous author, I forget which one, but it went something like: “if you don’t like your situation, change it; if you can’t do that, change your mindset.” Fine, then what if you can’t change your mindset either? If I were a different person, I could be happy with myself, but I can’t be anyone else. And that’s not even self-deprecation: it’s just the truth. I’ve been pounding my square peg into that round hole for years now because I simply have no other choice; telling me on top of that that I should try to be happy about it is unreasonable.

In any case, I don’t think not using self-deprecating humor (if you can really call it humor) is going to actually help with this, since I don’t believe too much in the power of either positive or negative reinforcement, or at least not to the extent some people do.

Then again, I also think the much-beloved self-help parable Who Moved My Cheese? is bullshit, so maybe my opinion doesn’t count for much.* I’d really be a great anti-motivational speaker, I think. How about it? Hire me for a thousand dollars an hour at your corporate retreat and I’ll have all your drones completely demotivated and depressed by the end of it.


* The short version: the advice in the book is decent and practical taken in a vacuum, but the book itself was used too often to wave away corporate callousness that affected us regular employees. Because downsizing might sometimes be necessary, but it can also be a fun opportunity for change! For example, you can take that opportunity to leave the corporate world and stop being miserable… except you can’t because you have a mortgage and auto and student loan and credit card payments to make. Forget about who moved your cheese — who wrecked your entire life?

Damn but I’m not having a good day today. I’ll see you tomorrow with something happier.

Sure I guess I’ll try it: Blaugust 2022

Just today I was introduced to a blog, not a new one, but new to me: Tales of the Aggronaut. The author Belghast (who I guess made that nice Stranger Things-looking logo above) is running an interesting challenge: try to post once a day for all 31 days of August. Somehow this challenge has been going several years without me knowing about it, but a couple of other blogs I know and enjoy around these parts like Frostilyte are taking part and I just took notice.

Well, at first I thought “shit, I don’t have time for this.” Certainly posting every day isn’t an absolute requirement, but my obsessive-compulsiveness would force me to do so if I take part because that’s an issue in my life I simply never bothered to address.

absolute pain

But then I thought all the more reason to try this out. I’ve been trying to write more fiction lately, and one of the rules with fiction is just to break through that “writer’s block” and write. I can appreciate that these days, and so maybe trying out a more unfiltered approach for a month will help me out in the fiction area too. My views have been flagging a bit lately too, so maybe this can stir up more traffic. Not that I especially care about my view count — quality over quantity I say, and it’s not like I’m getting paid per click anyway, but I still like to know I’m reaching a nice slice of the internet even if that slice is incredibly small relatively speaking, so thin that Chiri up there couldn’t cut it.

Maybe none of that will actually work, but even so I’ll be posting every day this month if only to join a bunch of fellow independent bloggers with the noble goal of promoting and keeping this medium alive. Most of these posts will naturally be pretty short, maybe even very short, but I’ll always try to make each post substantive. Even if it’s just “here’s a song I like”, which I can already guarantee is going to be at least a quarter of these posts.

But I’ll be mixing things up a lot too. Maybe you can expect some posts with bullshit philosophizing or something about law one day. Or something about a new VTuber I found, or just whatever the hell I feel like. I’ll try to always stick to the general theme of the site, of course — it already has a pretty broad scope (anime/games/music/general entertainment/law/politics/bullshit???) so that shouldn’t be hard.

Can bloggers achieve world peace? No, but maybe we can make the world a little less unbearable

Finally, don’t go thinking this means I won’t be posting a few exceedingly long posts this month, because I still plan on probably doing that once I get around to the usual reviews etc. They just won’t be as long as that Made in Abyss review I just put up. Not unless I really go on a caffeinated sleepless night writing binge for several hours, which happens sometimes. I should note that Belghast has also suggested some theme weeks within the month for particular posts, but I won’t be doing that myself. Some nice ideas there if you want to take part too, though.

Enough bullshit: on with the show. I have no idea what’s coming up tomorrow, but there will be something. So until then!