Saturday, September 26, 2020

The Best of Anime cd review


There was anime music before we you were born. Yes, really and from the start it was surprisingly good. This CD, released in the US is a selection from various anime ranging from the very most ancient to just beyond the mid-90s. Looking at the show titles, I find that I did not watch any of them (except for Sailor Moon), but that wasn't a barrier for me to enjoy the goodies collected here, even more because the general style we all know and love is carried backwards in time so to speak. 

The first three titles come from the 60s and are presented with their English vocals. They show their age, but their quaintness is all the more lovable. Then comes the first transition with with the quirky theme to Urusei Yatsura switching to all Japanese. Then comes the main course, a jaw-dropping series of themes, all extended and all jewels in their own right.  These people from Rhino, the ones who released the CD, were not kidding when they offered the best of anime up to the time. I'll say it: I've watched anime for decades now, and the opening to Oh My Goddess! is the best I've listened to followed by that of Devil Hunter Yohko. Both of these can be found here. Including the rest, I sincerely cannot come with any changes that would make the CD better.  All the vocals are lovely to boot.

The accompanying booklet gives a good synopsis for each show and includes a cel on the front cover (mine was Cutey Honey).

I bought my copy back when it was new and had not listened to it in maybe the last 10 years. When I dusted it off just a couple of weeks ago, I was struck by how fresh the songs still sound when compared to the present offerings. 

Nowadays, vaporwave, future funk and related subgenres are trending. Some of it is good, some not. It amazes me why these have become a thing when the original works are out there in full glory; no need to resort to washed-out bastardizations. Go back to the sample sources, I'm sure you'll love them.

The anime songs from the CD are probably ones that you have not heard before, but they richly deserve to be brought back from obscurity. This is a really late review, but not late enough for you to avail yourself to the music. You can still find copies on Discogs for a few bucks and probably also on eBay.

5 stars

Anime covered:

  1. Astro Boy
  2. Gigantor
  3. Speed Racer
  4. Urusei Yatsura
  5. Megazone 23
  6. Windaria
  7. Gunbuster
  8. Record of Lodoss War
  9. Devil Hunter Yohko
  10. Silent Möbius
  11. Cat Girl Nuku Nuku
  12. New Dominion Tank Police
  13. Oh My Goddess
  14. New Cutey Honey
  15. Macross Plus
  16. Sailor Moon

 

Friday, August 28, 2020

Wizardry Cds Review

After the captured trophy of We Love Wizardry there remained a palpable gap in my musical experience which was the music from the rest of the series. Since those were Japan-only releases there was an important hurdle from not having any contacts over there. In fact, the only place I could find them, other than the odd-eBay publication, was Amazon.jp. With the lockdown crisis and the fact that I had already waited, literally, decades, I felt that this year was the time to get hold of them. The thing is that I actually picked up very bad time and the exchange rate hit me hard. I managed to get the three titles I was looking for from a single seller but those amounted to close to $200. If it was not now, when?

Some general observations covering all three discs. These came in great shape with no scratches on their surfaces or jewel cases. The accompanying booklets had some foxing marks and provided the score for some of the tracks. Unexpectedly, two of the three came in with their official stickers (I'm not peeling those off anytime soon) and the other with its obi strip tucked between the pages. All of them played flawlessly and everything is still performed mostly on synths. The composer is still Kentaro Haneda. There are no LP releases for these titles. There is no release at all for Wizardry IV.

Wizardry II and III

Legacy carries some steam from Proving Grounds in its music but with less punch. The highlights for this one are the Title Screen and the Temple tracks. Unlike the rest, this one has a bonus playthrough with the original sound and samples for the traps and some other effects. The part that I liked best from the playthrough is the total party kill and their resurrection.

 

Knight of Diamonds is a hodgepodge of styles assigned to the familiar locations. There's classical, Caribbean, samba and metal. It is also unusual in its having an actual guitarist for a few sections in the fighting in victory themes. I'm at a loss to explain what the composer was going for, but while the result is the least Wizardry-like, it is enjoyable.

When it comes to comparing these two to the gold standard, which is the first installment, these two fall moderately strong in terms of engagement. If I were to compare them to contemporary dungeon synth, some of the current artists surpass what is found in these two offerings. While reservedly good, they should probably not rank high in someone's wish list. The prices they're going for make them even less appealing. I had the urge, and had to go for them, but the experience didn't match the outlay.

Both of them just good

 Wizardry V

Heart is the one that returns best to the Proving Grounds roots and in a way can serve as a junior partner to the flagship We Love Wizardry. In fact, with a couple listens in my previous gaming experience, I would say this one comes real close to the first suite, maybe some 7/8 of the way. The selection is very consistent and doesn't sag anywhere. The music for both the upper and lower levels of the dungeon work quite well and the information gathering theme is a fun one. It also has the best ending starting with a good fanfare followed by a medleys of the above-ground locations in a Final Fantasy fashion, closing the chapter with the best aftertaste from all the titles of the series I have listened to.

Now, in terms of dungeon synth, the ingenuity of the composer clearly outshines most of the field. This one is one to get hold of. If you can get the duo of We Love Wizardry and Heart, do so. Their scarcity and prices are still obstacles, but if surmounted, these are sure pay off in enjoyment over the years. Ditto, for any of these two singly.

4 stars

If I'm reading it right, I have still one suite to go from the same composer which is Wizardry VI Cosmic Forge. After the experience with Knight & Legacy, if I ever go for it, I'll check it out before hand on Youtube or somewhere. According to the vgmdb, there are still many other episodes and offshoots which are a total blank for me. Who knows? Maybe I'll be talking to you sometime in the future about the series again.

Saturday, August 15, 2020

Outline of Malthus

I'm about to start rereading Malthus' First Essay as a preamble to reading Darwin's Origin of Species in its entirety. I had last year a more limited project in the context of better reading, and thought well to go back to my original notes which I intend to expand. In the meantime, I thought to post them here. As with the last post, Pavlov, this is more of an outline than anything else. The following questions are the ones that I had in mind at the outset. My proposed indents are busted once again, so it is less useful than I wished.

 

  1. Does it really match my own conception?
  2. What is to be done about charity, if true?
  3. What relationship does it have to Japan's current population woes?
  4. What's its influence on Darwin?
  5. How is it organized & how does it help and reading in general?
  6. Can some of the perfectibility still be achieved?

 

 

I

 

The problem:

Either the future holds

Unlimited human improvement or

Swings between happiness & misery

 

Those holding opposing views do not have a frank exchange of ideas

Malthus' ideas have not been adequately explained by others (Smith, Condorcet, Godwin) and he's aware of the burden of proof. Hence he postulates:

 

  1. Food is necessary to the existence of man
  2. The passion between the sexes is necessary and will remain nearly in its present state

It, being extinguished (Godwin)-not happening

 

"Unphilosophical to infer, merely from the existence of an exception, that the exception would become the rule and the rule the exception"

 

Hence:

There’s a strong operating check on population from the difficulty of subsistence or

The power population is greater than the power of Earth to sustain it

Arithmetical vs geometrical

 

This results in:

  • Misery (necessarily) and vice (probably+) [however, XVIII & XIX offer a way out]
  • That these will fall on some part of society (II, IV)

 

Hence:

Perfectibility is not possible

 

 II- Reason

 

The difference in rates of increase

  • No state has hitherto existed that has had
    • Pure and simple manners
    • Abundant means of subsistence
    • No check to early marriages
    • Or to higher classes out of fear of loss of status

 

The US, however, is close

 

  • The rate of growth of cultivation (England) can scarcely be imagined to keep up a fast rate (with known techniques)

 

  • The urge for population increase

(The nature of checks on animals and plants and humans)

Causes distress in the lower classes &

Prevents any permanent amelioration of their condition

  • Disparity of population versus subsistence
    1. Initial scarcity

Makes poor much worse

Some with severe distress

  1. More laborers results in lower wages

Labor is their only possession (V)

  1. More inflation

 

  1. Checks the rise of population, yet sows improvement in cultivation repeating the cycle

A reason why this hasn't been evident before is that we only have the history of the higher classes

There is an imperfect labor market through rich conspiracies

 

III-States of mankind

 

Savage/hunter state

The struggle for existence

Thin population through scarcity. Increments result in misery (check). The American Indian

 

Shepherds

Large population due to mobility and food resources

Expansion up to a point the misery and vice. The Scythians.

 

IV-Progress of population in civilized nations

 

Increase as compared to former times: industry of the people

 

The case of China

 

The case of Europe: Check to population #1: Preventive foresight (higher classes) (II)

 

"Can a man consent to place the object of his affection in a situation so discordant, probably, to her tastes and inclinations?" Cf. Walden II

 

The case of England

 

V- Check #2: Distress of the lower classes. Poor laws (welfare)

 

These spread the misery even when they benefit the odd individual

 

The sums and length of time have been to no avail

 

The increase of payouts results in

  • Scarcity and inflation

(primary goods, substitutes and basic inputs such as corn)

  • A reduction of productivity

Through leisure

The means of production are another matter though

If the wealth of resources are not directed to productivity

Some benefit, but the rest are harmed as their share of produce is diminished (II)

  • Foments  marriages with no prospects of productive independence since the parish serves as a backup

 

The nonexistence of such gives rise to industry, sobriety, foresight, thriftiness, virtue, happiness

 

So, (the existence of such laws)

  • Weakens the individual morally in his resolve
  • Increases the population without an increase of the means of its support

 

Call for abolition

Stimulus for land productivity

Workhouses for those in distress

 

General checks: unwholesome food & habitation, hard labor,pestilence, war, others

 

VI- New colonies

 

Cases

Increases the population due to an existing reservoir

 

VII

 

Epidemics

Natural and necessary consequence of population growth

Crowding in living spaces

Unwholesome food

Insufficient food

 

The only criterion of real and permanent increase of population is the increase of the means of subsistence

 

Temporal shocks appear to be weathered by lower subsistence i.e. meaner food

 

Happiness is equated to the match between growth rates

 

VIII- Theses by others

 

Wallace

The problem is still far off

 

Condorcet

There is a march towards perfection

Endgame matches Malthus'

 

"When the increase the number of men surpassing their means of subsistence, the necessary result must be either a continual diminution of happiness and population… Or a kind of oscillation between good & evil"

 

Here too the problem is still far off

 

IX

 

Condorcet

The future extension of human life

Confusion between "indefinite" & "unlimited"

Ad continuum fallacy

 

Biological perfectibility

 

X

 

Godwin's (X-XV) view:

"Population perpetually kept down to the level of subsistence"

Counter

A set utopia fails to population growth (cf. Walden II)

Sustainability

Morally (q.v. I, II)

 

Which? – Misery

 

XI- Passion between the sexes

 

XII- Immortality, progress to

 

XIII- Intellectuality of men

 

XIV- Injustice of political institutions

Chain of deduction

 

XV

Poor man's only possession: his physical strength

 

Share among all equally

Idleness

Vice

Diminution of land produce

 

The miser/frugal as enemies

 

XVI

An increased stock benefits the many?

 

XVII- Unproductiveness of wealth and trade to the state

 
XVIII-XIX- Population as an evil to spur on greater good through mind and heart

 

XVIII- Formation of mind

 

Principle of population tells that

No substantial perfectibility can be attained in this earth

 

One must reason for an explanation from nature to God as the contrary is futile

What actually is (apparent?) in nature

 

There appears to be a process

A trial… it is not, but a formation of mind, out from and away from original sin, through general laws towards superior enjoyment

 

Awakeners of mind (problems to be solved; avoid evil & pursue good)

Wants of the body

Necessity

Were produce is abundant:

Few remarkable intellects

(as opposed to temperate zones)

 

Variety (cf. Darwin)

 

These result in intellect and action

 

Spurs mankind to avoid evil & pursue good

Mind is the result of the exertions towards that end

 

The increase of population is a further stimulus

While there is much partial evil, it is more counterbalanced by the good

Middle classes are best positioned to benefit

Call for their relative increase

Disparagement of leisurely

 

XIX- Mind and heart

 

Sorrows & distresses

Necessary for the most part to humanize the heart and bring out Christian virtues

Christian virtues

Misapplied talents

Good

Evil and death

The will of God

 

Moral evil appears to be necessary for the production of moral excellence and it is doled out in measure according to divine plan

 

Nudge into goodnesses

 

Life is a blessing

Constant exertion

Population is part of the means of the development of mind and heart

(Me: Does he think that God wills evil for the generation of good?)

 

 

 

 

 

Thursday, April 30, 2020

Outline of Pavlov's lectures on Conditioned Reflexes 1927

What follows is my outline for Pavlov's Lectures Conditioned Reflexes (1927). Bracketed numbers refer to page numbers according Anrep's translation as found in the Classics in the History of Psychology page. The rest are my sparce notes. Had this properly indented to highlight theme hierarchy, but Blogger apparently refuses to comply. I hope for someone, somewhere it shows. I'll add Lectures XVI & XVII in a few days.



Lecture I


Recent physiological investigations
Investigative options
Through (then actual) psychology
Brand-new path of physiology stemming by the reflex as described by Descartes
A necessary reaction to an external stimulus through a definite nervous path
Objective and experimental
Thorndike
Pavlov's own frustrations in subjective methods
25 years of investigations and systematization (at the time of the lectures) with collaborators
Description of reflexes in general
These are for the survival of the organism (through adaptability)
Inhibitory and excitatory
Instincts
Chains of reflexes
Identification of reflexes [12]
Example of freedom reflex
Investigatory reflex
Dynamic balance of reflexes in the organism
Signalization