the observer serie

Top 10 Anime Of The Week: Winter 2017 (Not mine, didn’t make this)

Imagine Loki has been banished to live alone in a forest for five hundred years for crimes committed on Asgard. This isn’t just any forest he’s been banished to, however, it’s yours. One you claimed long ago and he’s come ‘uninvited.’ You try to make him leave with a series of misfortunes as he tries to set up residence, but he doesn’t get the hint. Angered by his endless persistence, you begin observing him, managing the mysterious ability to do so without him being aware. Or so you thought….

None of us really see things as they are. We see things as we are.
—  Bonnie Carlson (Big Little Lies Season 1, Episode 1: Somebody’s Dead)

Okay, to (hopefully) end the discussion once and for all, I asked Nathan Greno directly about where Corona is supposed to be.

Now, granted, he said the very interesting thing about not thinking about it as Corona, since they chose not to call it that in the movie, but… it’s the only name the kingdom’s ever had, and since they call it that in the series, what else are we going to call it?

But, even so, my point is that it is not Germany. It’s just a unique but generic fairytale kingdom that draws inspiration from several sources.

Top 10 Anime Of The Week: Winter 2017 (Not mine, didn’t make this)


Twinkling, stationary stars,
hanging high; where the clouds float –
stark white, not grey or bland,
the night sky not as black but blend
blue and purple. The night itself
soothe in silence; Nairobi sleeps
sound at 2am – no hooting cars,
no ambulance sirens, no yelling
neighbours– just a cough
reverberating up to the roof
where I lie precariously on an eave.
It continues, as dry coughs do,
an irritant against my picturesque serenity,
my tranquil second of stolen sanity.
I slink back to the uncomfortably warm flat
cursing the cough that shattered
my poetic moment. Cursing it to the sky.

Measuring the shadow of the black hole

Goethe University is participating in international Event Horizon Telescope (EHT) Collaboration via the ERC-project Black Hole Cam

The international Event Horizon Telescope (EHT) Collaboration, which is imaging for the first time the black-hole candidate at the center of our Milky Way, has a major research focus in Germany. A significant contribution to this experiment is part of “BlackHoleCam”, a German-Dutch experiment founded in 2014. The research group of Prof. Rezzolla at the Institute for Theoretical Physics at the Goethe University Frankfurt is part of the collaboration. BlackHoleCam is supported by the European Research Council via an ERC Synergy Grant of 14 Million Euros.

Due to the strong pull of gravity, not even light can escape from black holes, whose surface, i.e., the event horizon, cannot be observed directly. However, the boundary which separates photons that are trapped from those that can escape from the incredible gravitational pull is called the black-hole “shadow”, because it would appear as a shadow against a bright lit background. It is such a shadow that is the target of series of observations presently ongoing of Sgr A*, the name of the black-hole candidate in our Milky Way. During the observations, the researchers will analyze the radio emission emitted by Sgr A*, whose mass is 4.5 million times that of our Sun and whose shadow is about half of the size of the distance between the Sun and the Earth.

Despite being so massive, Sgr A* is also very far from us, at a 26,000 light years, making the angular size of the shadow extremely small. Measuring the emission from this surface is therefore equivalent to imaging an apple on the surface of the Moon. To accomplish this ambitious project several radio telescopes across the globe are connected and thus form a virtual telescope with a diameter comparable to the Earth. This technique is called Long Baseline Interferometry (VLBI).

The work of BlackHoleCam is lead by Prof. Luciano Rezzolla (ITP, Frankfurt), Prof. Michael Kramer (Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy, Bonn), and by Prof. Heino Falcke (Radboud-University Nijmegen, Netherlands); all of them are important contributors of the EHT collaboration. In the current observations of Sgr A*, network of radiotelescopes from Europe, the United States of America, Middle- and South America, and the South Pole telescope are participating at the same time. During the observations, each telescope records the data on hard disks which are shipped after the end of the campaign to one of the high-performance computer centers in the US or to Bonn. In these centers the individual data of the telescopes are combined by supercomputers and an image can be reconstructed.

This shadow image can be regarded as the starting point for the theoretical research of Prof. Rezzolla’s group. Besides predicting theoretically what type of image scientists is expected to observe, the group in Frankfurt is also working on determining whether it will be possible to establish if Einstein’s theory of general relativity is the correct theory of gravity. There are several other theories of gravity besides the well-known one by Einstein and the observations of the black-hole shadow may help to identify the true one. Because of this, scientists in Frankfurt analyze the size and the geometry of the shadow and compare them to synthetic images generated on supercomputers which model accretion flows onto black holes..

These images are computed by solving the equations of relativistic magneto-hydrodynamics and tracing the orbit of photons around black holes in different theories of gravity using state-of-the art numerical tools developed in the group of Prof. Rezzolla. Comparing the synthetic shadow to the observed one may shed light on the existence of one of the most extreme predictions of Einstein’s theory of gravity: the existence of black holes. However, as Prof. Rezzolla remarks, “These observations represent a major step forward in the international attempt of understanding the nature of the dark and compact object at the centre of our Galaxy. However, they are just the first step and it is likely that many more observations of increasing precision will be necessary for finally settling this fundamental issue”.

anonymous asked:

Shipping neutral here. I don't mind either IR or IH, but what I'm trying to wrap my head around is why does Ichihime get so much hate? I don't see why people think Orihime is a stalker or obsessed when she does have a life outside of her love for Ichigo and shows concern for others, or that Ichigo 'doesn't notice her' when he clearly does and even comes to rely on her. I don't see how it's unhealthy or 'wrong'.

Its because for a long time people have been watching/reading bleach with a certain amount of tightly constrained shipping goggles.

A lot of people have been observing the series as nothing more than a weird coming of age romance between Ichigo and Rukia. Orihime to them is a third wheel that needed to learn her place (bow her head like a good girl and hop on her consolation prize which was either Ulquiorra or Uryuu depending on the era of Bleach fandom) and for that reason was hated when Kubo was showing signs he would go elsewhere with the character.

The soul society arc was huge which produced a lot of IR shippers. By the end of the arrancar arc they were still there even though IH began to form a much smaller but loyal following.

This inadvertently caused/influenced two things: a rise in the number of Orihime hate and the increase of toxicity within the fandom.

A lot of people seemed to project a lot of hate of her character based on their own insecurities or lived vicariously through Rukia and made Orihime the enemy for some reason. To them, Rukia was unbelievably strong, smart, funny, beautiful, snarky and tough who all the cool characters loved while Orihime was an awful big boobed whore who got in the way and people barely tolerated (including Ichigo). People would write essays about how unworthy Orihime was of Rukia’s friendship all the while writing headcanons of how much Orihime envied and secretly hated her and other female characters close to Ichigo. You can see this false dynamic play out in the way people write about the characters after the Bleach ending.

Anyway, Orihime has always been a perceived threat to certain pairing fans even when people tried (badly) to insist they didn’t see her as a threat. Any time Ichigo and Orihime had an interaction, there were several essays claiming they where unimportant. Anytime Orihime was shown to think of a nakama apart from Ichigo, people would praise her for ‘character growth’ but would go back to bashing her when Kubo stressed she still loved Ichigo.

They’d take any moment of Orihime feeling terrible as proof of Rukia being a goddess or the truth of IR. Take the notorious Orihime jealousy thing at the beginning of the arrancar arc. It was something that happened in one particular moment where Orihime couldn’t cheer Ichigo up because she herself had been injured alongside Tatsuki and Sado, which proceeded to reveal her own feelings of inadequacy that would be explored in the HM arc. Yet certain fans have twisted this scenario to make out Orihime is constantly jealous of Rukia (or knows the 'truth’ about IR) throughout the series.

Tl:dr Shipping goggles made people read what they wanted to in Bleach and blatantly misunderstood characters and their character arcs to justify their headcanons that were increasingly shown to bear little semblance to reality.

Take the last arcs of Bleach. People had noted dropped plot lines and the likelihood IchiHime was endgame but people still insisted Kubo ruined the manga for pairings that came out of nowhere (nevermind the dropped plotlines and character arcs which didn’t get resolution) instead of forcing Ichigo live in Soul Society with his 'twu luv’ Rukia.

Not to say others didn’t hate Orihime. She was a non-action person in a very action heavy manga.

But a huge amount of derision came from shippers who ignored where things were going after the SS arc.

Top 10 Anime Of The Week: Winter 2017 (Not mine, didn’t make this)

Under Observation: At the bakery

“I will wait,”

Steven takes in the folded arms and the unwavering expression and bites back a grumble about demanding customers. The guy’s not actually being very demanding if he’s honest with himself, Steven acknowledges, then turns away and still finds the time to feel pressured by his presence. He only wants a pie, for godsake, Steven tells himself again, bending and checking the oven to see if his estimate of another fifteen minutes is actually accurate.

It is, he decides, glancing back over his shoulder at the guy who’s bending and inspecting the counter with such intensity that Steven wonders for a second if he’s some kind of mystery shopper come to catch him out. But then he straightens up from the oven and rolls his eyes at himself, given that a, this is his bakery so he’d know if there was a mystery shopper due, and b, he’s not even signed up for having mystery shoppers coming in to inspect his goods and services and tell him he’s not upselling and that there’s a handprint smeared on his countertop.


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NieR: Automata - UBreview

Yoko Taro retains the tragic insanity of Nier with a Platinum touch
by Samuel Wiener - Mar. 26, 2017

By all means, NieR: Automata shouldn’t exist. It follows a legacy of unorthodox storytelling and design, a sandbox of misery explored through multiple playthroughs, insane to the point of masochistically enjoyable, yet it’s been given at least an AA budget and some of the best action game developers working today. Despite how much of an anomaly NieR: Automata is, it feels completely right.

NieR: Automata is the sequel to 2010’s Nier and another loosely-connected entry within the Drakengard franchise. In the year 11945, centuries after aliens spawn robots unto Earth, humanity builds Project YoRHa, a government project deploying combat androids to destroy the machine menace and salvage mankind’s future. The player controls YoRHa soldiers 2B and 9S as they delve deeper into their mission, questioning the boundaries between machine, android, and human.

For the uninitiated, Drakengard and its spinoff series Nier are games developed by Yoko Taro, a man who, while maintaining a goofy persona by making press appearances in masks and hand puppets, is determined to make you feel an empty pit of despair; but Taro doesn’t go out of his way to do this. Drakengard is a series of observations into why and how people justify murder. In one way or another, they are miserable games with miserable people that (until now) play miserably. The world of Drakengard reacts to the misdeeds of the characters, and the surrealism/melancholy of it all is why the series has developed such a dedicated, albeit small fanbase.

Each entry gives some explanation to the violence, whether it be “I’m just flat out insane,” “I know what I’m doing is right,” or “I need to save someone close to me.” In the case of Automata, the ends of saving mankind justify the means of killing machines on the verge of expressing humanity. Taro tests these scenarios and magnifies the consequences to a Shakespearean quality; it’s tragic only by nature. Despite this, Taro is very self-deprecating and insists that his stories aren’t good, often describing Automata’s as “a piece of shit” (which I heavily disagree with.) I digress and recommend watching his Drakengard 3 interview, “Philosophies of Violence,” and GDC talk, “Making Weird Games for Weird People.”

PlatinumGames’ partnership with Taro surprised me, even worried me a bit as fears of ludonarrative dissonance crept up, but this is, without a doubt, Platinum’s best work in years. That being said, don’t expect a mere reskin of Platinum’s past titles; this is a Nier game through and through.

Automata’s gameplay is a natural evolution of the first Nier; how the camera follows the character, how the character attacks, how enemies attack all seems familiar, but with much more polish and variety. The player can equip two sets of a light and heavy weapon and switch sets on the fly for more diverse combos, but the animations for each type of weapon set are already so detailed. Ending a small/large sword combo with a heavy attack swings the large sword like a baseball bat; a large sword/spear combo can end with the character jamming the spear into the ground, spinning around it with a tight grasp (let’s dance, boys!) and throwing the large sword.

On top of slick gameplay, NieR: Automata is an incredibly well designed RPG. It’s not open-world, but the map boasts an adventurous scale, separated into unique areas like theme parks and forest kingdoms, riddled with hidden items and enemy encounters. 2B also has plug-in chips that the player can fiddle with; these chips are upgrades and new abilities, each one taking up a certain amount of space in 2B’s hardware. Inserted by default are HUD chips, so the player can actually remove elements like a health bar or mini-map to make way for damage boosts and special movesets. I’m itching to know if Square Enix had an in-house team step in, or PlatinumGames has revealed their hidden gift of developing RPG systems.

Until Automata’s reveal, many thought that the at-best-generic-at-worst-soul-numbing gameplay of the Drakengard games were just part of the misery motif, but Taro contextualizes the fun of the gameplay just as well. In the first Drakengard, developed by Cavia, the gameplay complemented the story; individual characters acted on their own beliefs, their own will, and the repetitive clunkiness instilled the same feeling of hopelessness and facing a larger truth that of the protagonist into the player. With Automata, 2B and 9S are soldiers, pawns in a grander scheme, built to perform perfectly. Their gameplay is so flashy and fluid because that’s how they’re created; only in moments where they learn darker truths and experience betrayal does the player experience those trademark Taro gimmicks: the UI glitches out, characters limp at a snail’s pace, forced to endure their imperfections.

I can’t spoil the final of five endings of the game, but I can say that it’s one of the best finales to a game I’ve seen in years, and it’s one of two times I’ve ever cried from pure joy. NieR: Automata is weird, crazy, sad, funny, and unmistakably a Yoko Taro game. Even when given a pile of money, top-notch developers, and marketing out the wazoo, Taro hasn’t toned down his style; if he had, we wouldn’t be playing one of the best games of the last decade.

Proba-2 partial eclipse, 26 February 2017

On 26 February, an annular solar eclipse took place over South America and Africa.

A solar eclipse occurs when the Moon passes between Earth and the Sun, totally or partially blocking the Sun from Earth’s point of view. In an annular eclipse, the apparent diameter of the Moon appears smaller than the Sun’s diameter, such that a ring of the solar disc remains visible.

ESA’s Proba-2 satellite observed a series of partial eclipses from space. In fact, the Moon crossed the satellite’s field of view four times, three times passing in front of the Sun.

This image is shows one of the partial eclipses, taken by Proba-2’s SWAP imager, which snaps the Sun in ultraviolet light to capture the turbulent surface of the Sun and its swirling corona.

Top 10 Anime Of The Week: Winter 2017 (Not mine, didn’t make this)

Things I have in common with Kyoko Mogami (aka, a brief summary of why she is probably the fictional character that I relate to the most):

  • small and angry
  • very, very angry
  • can hold a grudge for a long, long time
  • passionate
  • but also a bit ditzy
  • has a tendency to be very blunt, sometimes to the point of unintentional rudeness
  • might actually be physically incapable of half-assing something she’s put her mind to
  • has a penchant for occasionally being dramatic as hell
  • very consciously and very poorly represses her own obvious romantic attractions
  • is an extremely hard worker, sometimes to the detriment of her physical/mental health
  • Is focused on being independent/self-reliant to the point of it being probably not healthy
  • Very good at customer service despite aforementioned anger issues
  • painfully oblivious to others’ romantic/sexual intentions
  • Has a tendency to get caught up in her own little world/daydreams enough that she’ll talk to herself or ward off outsiders with bizarre expressions
  • good at sewing

In all honesty I didn’t realize it at the time but I think there’s probably good reason for me latching onto Kyoko/Skip Beat as much as I did when I was 11/12, and for me still loving it a decade later as an adult, even outside of the strong points in the writing. 

Today is TWO of my favorite nerd holidays combined: Towel Day (a celebration of A Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy and Douglas Adam’s life, observed by knowing where your towel is), and the Glorious 25th of May (the day of a revolution in Terry Pratchett’s Discworld series, observed by wearing a lilac). So here are towels with a lilac and words from Hitchhiker’s Guide. For me, today’s a day to reflect on the incredible reach of the human imagination and applaud the talent it takes to make people laugh and think simultaneously. RIP to two fantastic authors who never fail to inspire me.

The moment Saori started to change

Saori Kido is probably one of the most fascinating characters in development terms for me and the reason is she goes from being an infuriatingly aloof and sometimes even cruel character to being a literal ray of sunshine without the change being too abrupt or cliché, the downside to it being that most people seem to not even notice it.

In Classic series (Pre-sanctuary, veeery early into the story) we still don’t know anything about the Sanctuary or Athena or even what the freaking Saints are for. All we have are these characters we don’t know yet and a girl seemingly moving the strings to make them fight for entertainment. Gallactic Tournament Saori, while nowhere near as awful as -we are later shown- she used to be when she was younger, was still pretty awful as a person:

  • She still somewhat expects people to obey her without a doubt just for her position. Ex. When Seiya arrives with the Pegasus Cloth, she automatically assumes he’ll take his place in the tournament, despite the fact that she surely must have remembered the agreement between Seiya and Mitsumasa was that he’ll only earn the cloth to be able to see Seika again. Seiya, being the little shit he is, refuses, it’s only offering him the deal to find his missing sister for him if he wins that she persuades him of staying and fighting. You can tell it’s the only one she’s needed to bribe like this, seeing how taken aback she intially was at his negative, andI think that speaks VOLUMES of how used she is to being obeyed.
  • She still thinks she’s entitled to Seiya and company’s lives. Ex. THE FRICKING GALLACTIC TOURNAMENT. I don’t care how much they justify it (They had to see who was worthy of the Sagitarius cloth, yadda, yadda) that was downright inhumane. Shiryu and Seiya almost clobbered each other to death and Hyoga almost got killed by poison, for Pete’s sake. Note: It’s a bit unclear whether she kept the tournament going for as long as possible just to fulfill Mitsumasa’s wishes or because she herself was only interested in keeping the strongest Saint and she believed it to be Seiya pretty much from the start it seems but the thing still reminisces of a scene shown later in a flashback, where a younger Saori forces the boys to play with her and the only one brave enough to defy her is Seiya (Although if she had tried to force Shun, I’m sure Ikki would have flipped too), ending up with Jabu being hurt by her games. Early series!Saori didn’t seem to care much whether what she was doing hurt the boys, her eyes always either set on the prize
  • She still uses somewhat questionable means to her end. Again, how she gets Seiya to participate in her tournament is all sorts of not cool, taking in account his original arrangement with Mitsumasa. AND AGAIN, the entire Tournament is rather questionable, all the more when, during Seiya and Shiryu’s fight, Tatsumi ‘I-whip-little-boys-for-speaking-up’ suggests they stop it for being too barbaric and she doesn’t. Either she had an insane amount of trust in Seiya’s willpower from the very start or she wants to see it play out. It ended up well, thankfully, but it could have easily ended up in tragedy

The reason for her to be shown as somewhat despotic back then (Specifically when it comes to Saints) isn’t really clear. It could be Tatsumi’s inflluence -again, what kind of guy hits a boy half to death for speaking up!?- or it could be an early nod to how Gods in the Saint Seiya Universe are towards humans. 

(Although I don’t think the latter’s likely, seeing how Athena is the only Olimpian who doesn’t see humanity as a plague upon the earth, that is a given, and Saori in particular seems to relate to humanity in a much more intimate manner later on, probably because she was brought up as a veeeery privileged but still normal human girl rather than Goddess in the Sanctuary)

Whatever the reason is, she grows out of her tyrant phase rather quickly, soon coming to care for the Saints deeply. If Tatsumi picks on them, she defends them, she tries to comfort them or encourage them when the morale is low, at one point, she’s so worried that they may be facing OP enemies that when she’s kindapped by a ridiculously large dude, she would rather not have them fight him, telling them to forget about her and protect the Golden armor.

I’m not clear on what was that triggered that change but my money goes to this:

Seiya saving Shiryu in the Tournament. Also the first time we see the Bronzies coming together, starting to care for one another and acting as brothers in arms rather than rivals. Even fricking Jabu, who hates Seiya’s guts since childhood, is cheering! Even Geki, who got beaten by him earlier, celebrates his victory! Seiya’s strength and kindess brings them all together and inspires them, it reminds them they’re not fighter machines, they’re human. And look at this

she smitten. png  

For most of the tournament Saori’s been shown as aloof and cold, always in control of the situation. It’s as infuriating for Seiya as it probably is for the watcher, and it makes liking her hard. But this…this is probably the first genuine smile we see of her in the series that is not directed to Mitsumasa’s portrait, and it’s probably the first hint we have that she’s not as terrible as she seems and her first step towards becoming the Goddess we all know and love: Being taught by Seiya that power can come hand in hand with kindness and courage, that caring for others is not weakness but quite the contrary and that these Saints are much more marvelous than she’s dared to think. It’s a very early reflection of what she says to Hades when he mocks her for crying for Seiya: Love makes humans capable of overcoming their own limits

Basically, Seiya, directly or indirectly, helps her become a better person.