Pantsgoblin, a member of the Encyclopedia staff at Anime News Network, has posted the following at the AnimeSuki Forums (a place dreaded by most of the executive staff at ANN):

(…) In a sense though, you can consider us not even staff. Frankly, the encyclopedia staff is treated like crap, we don’t get payed, and we do a shit load of work. We do it just out of our free time. I can see the encyclopedia falling apart without us staff (particularly, dormcat does way more than he should). With the encyclopedia falling apart, I can also see the whole site falling apart. In fact, some of our staff have just left because of how poorly we are treated. Why am I still doing it? I actually love the encyclopedia and genuinely enjoy submitting information. Still, I’m rather annoyed by how little appreciation we are given.

Zac doesn’t seem to give a shit about the encyclopedia either. He’s submitted a total of 40 pieces of information to the encyclopedia (9 of which have proven to be false information). And he’s only posted once in the encyclopedia forum (and that was just to lock a thread). He mostly only cares about his column and reviews.

Original post here.

For the record, my official stance regarding ANN.

In all seriousness, I can’t believe the only reason why I still visit ANN is treated like shit by the official staff. I already knew Zac was a prick, but to hear it from a very close and active member at the ANN community is something really surprising. I’d love to see the Encyclopedia getting forked out of ANN and getting set up in a website of its own, but I suppose that’s just a far-fetched dream.

I hereby wish Pantsgoblin and the rest of the Encyclopedia staff the best, and a hopeful reminder that their work is acknowledged by tons of people around the net like myself.

Many thanks to Toua from the AnimeSuki Forums for pointing out this short movie by Paul Grignon:

As for my commentary on the movie, it was like one of those ideas that you know deep inside, but that for whatever reason you can never finish to give shape to until someone finally gives you the final push. It’s one of those things you have a vague idea of, one of those things that no one taught you and that you were, little by little, figuring out. Of course, I could have never imagine the magnitude of what this movie is pointing out.

Anyways, the movie does have its “conspiracy-theory” side, but ignoring that part, it is a very worthwile watch. At least, it gave me the assurance that I wasn’t the only one worried about the constant exponential growth capitalism these days is an advocate of, and it also presented my ever-lasting idea that a perfect society is a society that stays in balance, a society that does not require progress in order to sustain itself. Of course, this is like grinding chalk for the ears of the anachronistic laissez faire advocates and those who believe that “it already works”, who can’t even bear to open their minds to another way of understanding the functioning of a society and the possibility of changing how things work–which also shows a poor understanding of history.

There are rough times ahead. The downfalling peak of the money-as-debt vicious circle is beginning to show itself once more, and it promises to be even more damaging than the crash of ’29–nowadays, things are much more interconnected, and countries are even more interdependent than ever. Even more, the planet itself is beginning to show signs of exhaustion. Will the spiraling loop of madness finally close itself in a sane manner, or will it loudly crash against the roof? Only time will tell.

I have a lot of qualities that define me as what people call a ‘geek’: I love anime, I love talking and pondering over stuff most people would consider strange at best and outright bizarre at worst, I showcase a general disdain for that which is “popular”, I take an active interest in computers, I do seemingly worthless things like trying to learn the Dvorak keyboard layout… But the most notable characteristic that makes me a ‘geek’ in the minds of the general public is the fact that I’ve made a choice:

I chose Free Software.

Now, in the common person’s mind, this means I’ve made the choice of running GNU/Linux as the operating system for my computers. Which is something simple enough to understand, and that many people have no problem to do; but the problem is that my choice entails much more than simply running a different operating system. The fact that I went through the whole deal of finding out about it, of reading about it and finally installing it on my PC means a lot more than just using another operating system. People often mistake that Linux is merely a passtime of sorts and that the only ‘cool’ characteristic about it is the fact that it’s free of charge–but that, of course, being it free of charge, it’s a piece of crap that requires you to do severe adjustments in order to get it working. And this was partially true during the first years of GNU/Linux: Software for it was scarce and fragmented, drivers weren’t plentiful, things had to be compiled manually most of times and such comforts as today’s extremely efficient package management system were nothing but a distant dream during the early nineties.

But here’s a funny tidbit: Even if the general public had asserted that the only cool characteristic about Linux during that time was the fact that it was free of charge, they still would’ve been wrong. Even in the nineties, Linux represented much more that that. It was, and still is probably the single most amazing display of uninterested collaborative effort of our time. And here is where the public fails and those who make the choice (in either way) prevail: they, at least, are aware of what such choices truly entail–they made a conscious effort to learn about it.

Free Software does not mean free of charge (that’s called freeware), it also means that the source code should be open and freely reproduceable. In this openness is where the strength of the Open Source model as a production environment triumphs: Everyone can collaborate if they wish to do so, and most do it free of charge, either for their own amusement or because they feel like it. You don’t have such a benefit with proprietary software: If the original developer isn’t up to the task, then the improvement will never happen unless said developer decides to share the source code with someone else (which, by the way, never happens). In some form, it’s akin to scientific development. International laboratories love to keep their recipes a secret, but science improves not based on secrecy, but on freedom of information. Did you ever stop to think about what would have happened if Einstein kept the inner workings of his theory a secret and merely presented the end results to the whole world? Apart from it being implausible in the scientific world (I mean, would you trust a mathematical result without knowing its development first?), it’s clear that no true progress would’ve been made.

That’s why I chose Free Software. The sheer amount of freedom that the software gives me, even if I can’t code shit, ends up benefiting me in the end. Cool stuff, functionality and performance aside, Free Software gives me the assurance that anyone who has a good idea and wishes to improve on the software is able to do so.

And that’s what they should be teaching in comp class at school. They’ve taught me how to make an MS Word document and an MS Excel spreadsheet, ignoring the fact that maybe I won’t be using those programs in the future and that computers are much more complex and entail much more deeper decisions than that. I took an interest in computers since I was a kid, and that’s why I actually didn’t have much problems with Linux, but to people who don’t take an active interest in computers, Linux is a foreign word. Heck, they don’t even know what an operating system is for the most part. They just buy “the computer” at the retail shop and that’s it. And that’s not wrong per se–people have the freedom to be interested in whatever they like. The problem comes when a company like Microsoft comes in and makes a huge profit out of such ignorance and lack of interest.

So, in the end, I will keep repeating this: I don’t hate Microsoft because their operating system sucks and still sells (though it certainly does, but that’s another story), I hate Microsoft because they make a profit out of the general public not choosing. Until that changes and retail OEMs begin shipping both Linux and Windows machines in equal standing, I will keep on hating them. I won’t hate you for analyzing your choices and coming to the decision that you wish to run a proprietary OS instead of a free one–though I do hate the fact that a lot of people don’t do that at all (and happen to throw in a few lies about Linux users at the same time).

If you’re reading this and have never considered Linux as a viable operating system, by all means do so. Learn about it, read, inform yourself. Information is still free, at least for now, and we have to take advantage of it while we can. And, if you have the time, you can always download an Ubuntu CD and give it a try–hey, it’s free.

What!? An update? Does this mean the world is ending? Am I quitting anime? Am I converting back to Windows?

Meh, I don’t know, I just felt like it. Hold on and wait for a writeup piece on why I chose Free Software soon enough.

Surfing through the AnimeSuki Forums (my favorite online community by far) today, I found this which I had missed yesterday. It seems that Comcast, a monopolistic ISP in the US, has been sending C&D (Cease & Desist) letters to random individuals for downloading episodes of certain unlicensed series. The list of series affected goes as follow:

Suteki Tantei Labyrinth (Studio Deen)
Gundam 00 (Sunrise / Mainichi Broadcasting)
Seto no Hanayome (AIC / avex / Gonzo)
Nagasarete Airantou (feel / Starchild)
Shugo Chara! (Satelight)
Higurashi no Naku Koro ni Kai (Studio Deen)

Out of these series, only Higurashi no Naku Koro ni Kai and Gundam 00 strike me as R1 licensing candidates. Of the remaining, there are very very dubious licensing candidates such as Shugo Chara! and Suteki Tantei Labyrinth. Besides, as you can probably see, many different animation studios are involved in the series.

I am not a lawyer nor do I live in the US, but as far as I understand it, there’s no reason to enforce the DMCA if the copyright infringement doesn’t involve distribution rights of a US company. It also seems pretty unlikely that all of those studios contacted a single American ISP at the same time.

So why did this happen, then? Well, Comcast has suffered legal threats due to their use of underhanded tactics to throttle BitTorrent traffic. However, these tactics weren’t probably applied to comply with the DMCA or to stop illegal file-sharing, but rather to grab a hold of their bandwith issues. From what I gather, Comcast is insanely popular in the US. With so large a userbase, it’s natural for bandwith issues to arise. P2P sharing (especially BitTorrent) is the worst offender, since it’s an easy way for any Average Joe to make use of the whole of their bandwith.

Since their past practices have been publicly condemned, they seem to have changed the scope of their approach: to scare unknowing users into cutting the traffic short themselves. And that’s what bothers me the most. Humanity’s greatest obstacle is not greed, it’s ignorance. Monopolistic companies (Microsoft comes as the best example in this regard) exploit the general consumers’ ignorance to retain control of their anti-competitive dominance. It’s important to inform the affected users, and to let them know what their rights are (for example, the right of being provided with the identity of the holder of the copyright they’ve violated, something Comcast hasn’t disclosed in any of their letters). Knowledge is the best weapon against FUD (Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt) tactics.

A submission to the Slashdot Firehose has been made. It’s red-colored, indicating that it’s been voted up and is now probably awaiting editorial approval in order to appear in the front page. Once this happens, I’ll update with whatever news I gather from the Slashdot comments.

As you could have guessed by the introductory post, I’m a self-declared anime fanboy. I have a myriad of subjective reasons to justify my love towards that particular field of human endeavor, and I could go on for days talking about them. However, when I look back, these reasons are nothing but senseless self-gratification. To really explain why I love anime, I’d have to go back in time and observe my own self some years ago.

Like many kids around these parts, I grew up watching anime series like Saint Seiya and Dragonball Z. Of course, by the time I watched them, I had little knowledge on the origin of such pieces of audiovisual art, probably because I didn’t care. I just liked watching that shiny, moving stuff that, for some reason, seemed different from the regular cartoons I could catch on the TV. It wasn’t until years later (I think I was 11 or something) that I found out the truth about those strange drawings from the faraway land of Japan. I even got past my mom’s attempt to call Satan on anime (mostly after she casually watched some scenes from Ranma ½), and started to harvest an increasing interest on it. One fateful day, my dad brought me home a VHS with the first episode of Neon Genesis Evangelion, which, for some strange reason, caught my interest in ways I can’t quite describe. Was it the giant robots? The depiction of a post-apocalyptic Earth? That the hero was the epitome of anti-heroism? The fact that it seemed more serious than any piece of animation I had seen before? I don’t really know. But for some reason, that single episode had managed to fascinate that young and immature me like nothing else in the small world my limited experience had managed to perceive.

For reasons I can’t quite recall right now, I couldn’t get around watching the whole series until several years later. I was 14 when I finally managed to do so, and was beginning to undergo the shades of that teenager depression which, some time or the other, strikes us all. I remember waiting faithfully through every single hot summer day for those episodes that aired at 7:30 PM every afternoon. And those were thirty golden minutes of pure joy. Neon Genesis Evangelion has the honor of having been the first serious work of art, animated or otherwise, to reach and affect my feelings and my way of thinking. I remember standing there, dumbfounded, with my mouth wide open, while the credits for episode 26 rolled on the screen. For a kid my age, that final scene (for everyone who’s watched it, you know what I’m talking about) was as mysterious and ambiguous as it could get, but nevertheless, it managed to make me think in ways I had never ever felt like doing before. Of course, looking back, I’m sure my appreciation of it was quite naïve at the time, but it was an appreciation, a small world that I had created in an attempt to explain those feelings such a piece of art had provoked on me, and it was as valid as any other.

Later, steadily approaching the rock bottom of my depression, came The End of Evangelion, the final piece of the mindblowing puzzle that NGE represented to me. But instead of solving the puzzle for me, the avid viewer, it rearranged the pieces in such a way that, in the end, there was no solution at all. The blank spaces were still there, and I stared at them with awe, almost with fear. What could I do? I had to get some sense out of it. Asking other people that had watched the series was of no use, the pieces they provided me didn’t really appeal me. Almost with desperation, I began to seek explanations anywhere I could find them, but none of them suited my perception of the series.

It’s funny how, sometimes, the way out of your life issues can be found in the strangest of mediums, and by the strangest of situations. By the time I was 16, I was beginning to pull out of my teenager depression, which was mainly linked to the lack of a proper identity, a way of telling others who I was and what I was doing there. Never forgetting the blank space NGE had left on my mind (and, at the same time, the deep mark it had carved), I became an avid anime watcher, and I managed to start using it as a way of identifying myself, of telling myself, “This is who I am, and no one else”. Nothing else managed to do that for me. My love of the Japanese language stemmed from anime, and with that, the kind of purpose or goal I needed to go on with my life in a more relaxed, optimistic manner finally arrived.

Why am I talking about this? Because last weekend, after a marathonic rewatching of NGE (finally in Japanese!), I found the last piece of the puzzle I was missing. And that final piece is the viewer’s own perception (something which, by the way, Hideaki Anno seems to agree with). The viewer has the duty of completing the picture, of finding a meaning in it, and such meaning is personal and unmovable, uncriticizable. And, in my opinion, the fact that NGE is both the most loved and hated anime series of all time makes it even more outstanding. Something capable of generating such strong, diametrically opposed reactions has to be onto something. It must have hit something in order to provoke such strong feelings on so many viewers. And that’s exactly the reason why it stands over every other piece of art I have seen in my entire life, and the reason why nothing else will ever stand above it in my mind.

But it’s my perception of it, and of course, you’re free to think whatever you want about it. Evangelion has left a mark in my way of perceiving art and the world, and it also helped, some way or the other, in pulling me out of my teenager depression. And that’s the main reason why I still am an anime fanboy today. I’m sure that no other anime will ever be what NGE was, and I’m sure many, if not most, people don’t consider it to be a particularly appealing field of human endeavor. But it’s my particularly appealing field of human endeavor, and that’s what matters to me, because it brings me something to identify myself with, some sort of purpose, just like studying Japanese in Japan itself is a purpose that brings meaning to my existence. And I wouldn’t have it any other way. It’s my own missing piece, and no one else’s.

Okay, so I think I’m supposed to introduce myself or something. This is a place for me (wanderingknight) and my ramblings on several topics, including anime, overall Japanophilia, politics, philosophy, the Linux world…

So I guess a short introduction is in order? I hail from Argentina, I’m eighteen years old and a male student on my first year of English Translation. Like all good geek should, I take interest in lots of things, be it music, anime, Linux, politics, philosophy, Japan, foreign languages, Monty Python, women, love, beer… If I were to be asked how do I define myself, I really wouldn’t know. Perhaps “myself and my circumstances” should suffice? Hard to say. Let’s leave it at that for now. If you find myself interesting for some remote reason out of my intellectual grasp, you can always come back. If you don’t, well then, that nice address bar you’ve got up there in your browser can lead you out at any time. I hope you enjoy your stay in the meantime 🙂