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I would really like to sign up for this. It's in my area, at a price I could afford, and it seems like one of the better ways to spend my time due to the combination of instruction and expected networking. However, due to family matters I would not be able to show up until around noon. Would it be too disruptive to show up late? How many of the twelve positions have been filled? I wouldn't want to take one from someone who could be there the whole time.

If the aforementioned problems aren't issues, I plan to sign up and attend.

Edit: Never mind. I have removed the obstacle and am signing up right now.

Plausible mechanism which would allow both immortality and lead to gold: The Philosopher's stone is a device which makes lasting transmutations. Thus, it would be necessary to re-use it every once in a while to stay young, but a single usage would suffice to turn materials into other materials.

"The Emperor of Scent" was a very entertaining and well written book about Alan Turin and his vibrational theory of scent. It really highlighted some of the problems with the scientific community's model for publishing and how theories are accepted, and it's a great read as well.

"Legend of the Galactic Heroes" is the kind of show I would like people to imagine I was watching when I say I've been watching anime.

To start with the things I don't like about it, or that are in any way suboptimal: The animation is an example of a lot of what's wrong with old school anime productions; choppy movements and stock footage abound. There are plenty of strawmen who seem to exist purely to be taken down a notch by the better, more reasonable characters, the idiot ball bounces its merry way through the ranks of secondary characters like a children's sing along movie. There is a whole lot of improbable and just plain stupid pseudoscience, and little attempt is made at making it make logical sense. This is space opera, not science fiction. Occasionally the Japanese writers fanboy on German-style culture too hard, which combined with themes of military rule and strong blond and blue eyed characters receiving salutes from crowds of uniformed soldiers may make casual viewers wonder if the show promotes fascism (It doesn't. Sort of. It's complicated).

With all of that said, I highly recommend this show. It doesn't take the easy way out of having a clear good vs. evil conflict. On one side there is the Free Planet's Alliance, a corrupt and bloated democracy, and on the other is the Galactic Empire, a military aristocracy which has given in to decadence and forsaken noblesse oblige. The actions of the characters within each faction highlight the issues of authoritarian and democratic government, but neither side is explicitly right or wrong. Individual characters have different conceptions of morality, many of which conflict, and many of which are sympathetic. Oberstein, a grey-eyed spy-master and bureaucrat of the Empire, is hated by his own compatriots for his ruthlessness, but does everything out of a sense of utilitarian calculation. If a thousand civilian lives lost to an attack could save hundreds of thousands in the long term, he will push the fat man into the path of the trolley. Yang Wenli, persecuted by his own country over whims of public opinion, refuses to betray the principles of democracy even as its worst elements are brought forth by political maneuvering and populism. This is a satisfying story told on a grand scope, it's about passion and consequence, war and intrigue. I wholeheartedly recommend it on the strength of its characters and the majesty of its narrative style.

Be aware: The early episodes drag a bit, but get better drastically as things continue. This is a BIG series, with one hundred and ten episodes (OVAs), two movies, and two prequel mini-series released from 1988 to 2000. It has never been released in America and probably never will be.

I felt somewhat phygish when I went into that little chain and started down-voting with a passion after following your link. I guess I would have done the same if I had found such blatant deathism on my own, but it feels weird. Eh, it's an emotional problem, not a logical one.

I purchased the Humble Indie Bundle in its latest incarnation, and was most impressed with the action RPG "Bastion." The game-play is very satisfying on a visceral level, they did an excellent job making the control scheme intuitive. This game excels in creating atmosphere, it uses a narrator for significant portions of the in-game experience who responds to all of your actions, and it works very well. The superb soundtrack and art only add to the joy of just playing. One thing I really liked was how the game gives you plenty of tools to accomplish your tasks and optimize your character, this is a game you can genuinely play differently depending on your own style. The way they handle difficulty levels reflects the ability to personalize as well, instead of having set levels, you activate Gods at a shrine to increase certain game play-relevant difficulties (monster speed, no free potions, etc.). The only real annoyances were that a couple of the weapons were clearly inferior to other options, or at least I haven't found a use for them yet (the flamethrower is somewhat underwhelming), and that the secret skills didn't have a whole lot of relevance to character success.

I agree with you about Fate/Zero, quite good (I've watched all but the last episode, saving it for a rainy day), but there is something I just have to say. The Fate/Stay Night ANIME is a horrendous piece of steaming dung, but the Visual Novel is a masterpiece. The anime is one of the worst adaptions that has ever been done, it takes a wonderfully written and executed story and ruins it. If you like the Fate series at all, read the VN. (I don't think that Rider is gay. I think that you could interpret it that way, but the entire relationship dynamic with Waver seems more like manly platonic camaraderie.

Everyone goes into those threads primed to be friendly to the other people, because they are all members of the same fan-fiction reading in-group. There is also a shift from "on a rationality site" mode to "talking about media" mode, where rigor in voting rationale tends to become somewhat more lax. I don't mind, but I'm part of the in-group so that's to be expected.

Another question I realized is probably more relevant: What has been the median age for attendees of these events? Are they demographically young college age students, or what?

I understand that you are expected to have read at least part of the sequences, but what sort of general education is necessary, if any? What kind of math should a participant be able to do in order to get optimal utility out of the event? I am seriously considering flying out to attend, and would like to know if I need to review anything :)

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