Philosopher Fridays: Pascal’s Ambiguous Wager


Here’s an well-written article on Pascal’s Wager–one of the best known arguments for belief in God.

Originally posted on Stories & Soliloquies:

Welcome to Philosopher Fridays, where I aim to expose the academic underpinnings of my thoughts on story-telling and writing. In this series I make no attempt to give a comprehensive view of any of the philosophers I tackle, but instead pick out and explain what draws me back to their works again and again. 

For the next few weeks I’ll be exploring the tenuous relationship between faith and reason in a sub-series I’m calling “Expecting Ambiguity“. My aim is to explain how philosophical arguments for the existence of God are not as concretely determinate (and thus as easy to dismiss) as they are often cast, but that they instead offer as much insight into the limits and powers of subjective human knowledge as they do into religion.

PASCAL: Born in 1623, Blaise Pascal was a French mathematician, inventor, theologian, and philosopher until his death in 1662, when he was just…

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Advent time coming early


Never too early to start thinking about Christmas. Be sure to listen to the excellent Croatian Christmas song in the post.

Originally posted on Croatia By Us:

Radio show inspired me to write a text on Christmas way. The question was is it to early for city decoration. It started in November, earlier than year before so host show wondered is this festive decoration coming sooner and sooner each year. Comments  could be grouped in two major categories: the ones who think it is to early and that consumerism is stronger and stronger and the other one inclined towards good spirit that comes with this Christmas time and that if that means that people will be better for longer lets celebrate Christmas all year around. So I decided to write about our customers here during this time.

So lets start with this advent period meaning “season before Christmas” (old English), ), from Latin adventus “a coming, approach, arrival,” in Church Latin “the coming of the Savior,” from past participle stem of advenire “arrive, come to,” from ad –…

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A Danger of Aniblogging: Turning Leisure into Work

This post of Annalyn’s highlighted an oddity about aniblogging: it adds a degree of stress to a formerly relaxing activity.  Anibloggers naturally need to have opinions in order to write, yet this leads to people approaching Excel’s Saga like it’s Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina or Hemingway’s The Man and the Sea.  (Yes, my dear readers, I’m guilty as charged.)  This approach to anime exhausts one after a while, and I often find myself turning off my critical mind.  I’m a fan before I am blogger!


Like eating, there are three distinct steps to creating an informed opinion: tasting, chewing, and digesting.  How many judgments can I make while still tasting the story?  Five really: I love it, like it, don’t dislike it, dislike it, or hate it.  Purely emotional judgments which do not elucidate anything about the show itself!  The next step lies in chewing on the show: What led me to the reaction I had?  What themes does the story seem to be pursuing?  How well does the animation compare to other shows?  Is the soundtrack anything special?  What are the characters’ motivations?  Does the show seem to be alluding to other works of anime or literature?

Don't think that I could say something intelligent about Excel Saga if I tried.

Don’t think that I could say something intelligent about Excel Saga if I tried.

The reason I cannot do episodic reviews is because I’d hate to have to ask the above questions every episode.  Instead, I watch episode after episode chewing on these ideas and waiting to see if something strikes me about the show–which mode of viewing leads to the kinds of articles you see written here most often.  It might take many episodes indeed before I can stop chewing on the show and it begins to settle in my mind.  Sometimes, I never get to that point.

There's a girl who eats so fast that she neither tastes nor chews!  I should revisit Slayers at some point.

There’s a girl who eats so fast that she neither tastes nor chews! I should revisit Slayers at some point.

It is in the digestive stage where good objective judgments are formed.  Certain stories even resist digestion until the second viewing!  (“To read a text once is not yet to begin to read a text,” as Professor Jackson used to tell us.)  In order to facilitate my digestion, I will read what other bloggers are saying about the show.  So that I do not merely echo, I compare their judgments to mine and consider what their reasoning behind that judgment might be.  You’ll find that bloggers will criticize a show based on the expectations they made for it or praise it merely for the visceral pleasure it gave them.  I will not claim to be immune from either fault!


And so, it takes me a coon’s age before I lay down a final judgment on a show.  (Otherwise, I write a negative article like this only to have the show grow very high in my estimation.)  Most bloggers have already given their opinions on a season long before I give mine.  I am certain that my judgments would be deficient if I wrote sooner: “…in an abundance of counselors there is safety” (Prov. 11:4).  

So, what do you think, my dear readers?  Does blogging take some of the fun out of watching anime?  Does it make you more prone to be cutthroat in your evaluations?

Kill La Kill Episode 7: Breaking the Chain


I rather liked this article of animecommentary’s on Kill la Kill. It presents the idea of Honnouji Academy attempting to chain people into the system though offering prestige and money to those who follow their rules. The article also views these attempts to enslave the students to the desire for money and power through the lens of Buddhism.

Originally posted on Anime Commentary on the March:


For all its out-and-out kinetic energy and sexually tantalizing body imagery (Satsuki and Ryūko, after all, both fight in very revealing battle-specific uniforms), Kill la Kill has plenty of deeper motifs and themes it examines; episode seven reinforces the Academy as an oppressive, hierarchical establishment where “might makes right” and the most powerful, highest-ranking members of the council dictate and enforce the academy’s rules over the “lesser” student (who do not have legal access to the strength-augmenting Goku Uniforms enjoyed by the Elite Four and Satsuki). This suffocating social environment inevitably led to class conflict and the apparent destruction of the family unit as the social center; the fragmentation of the student body into numerous (and increasingly absurdly-themed) clubs exposes the power struggle that forms the core ethos of the students who fight against the highers-up who wield more-or-less complete authoritative control over the campus. Even though students have a nominal “family”…

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Takayama Ukon to Be Beatified Next Year?


Here’s a cool story. It’s not often that a Japanese Daimyo is up to be beatified by the Catholic Church!

Originally posted on Aliens in This World:

The story is in the English language version of Asahi Shimbun, and was praised by Get Religion.

Currently, he’s Venerable Justo (or Justus) Takayama Ukon.

His Christian name was Justo, and Western Christian sources called him “Dom” (Portuguese for lord). Takayama is his family name, and Ukon was his office name that he went by as an adult. Other names are Hikogoro (his baby name, which Japanese back then usually changed upon becoming boys or adults) and Shigetomo (his young man name).

He was a great general, but also waged peace. He loved Japan but died in exile. His life story is full of twists and turns, but he seems to have lived it all with honor and good sense.

The man has his own “Dom Justo Takayama Ukon” TV Tropes page. It’s a good explanation page. Just don’t follow the links if you want to do…

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Gunslinger Girl Ends with a Bang!

What a great ending to a rather original series!  The last volume of Gunslinger Girl finally found its way to my shelves.  For the past couple of years, it’s been the only manga I’ve purchased translated.  On returning home, however, I discovered that I had never read the penultimate omnibus!  But, unwilling to wait for that book to arrive through Amazon (I don’t recall ever seeing that volume in a bookstore), I read those chapters in an online reader before turning to the last volume.

GSG opening

Despite how boring most people find the anime version of this work, the manga never bored me, and the anime hooked me until the end–even when it got slow.  The last three volumes of the manga, which have yet to have an anime version (But, I can still hope), blew me away by their non-stop action.  The last three volumes include more gun fights and agonizingly suspenseful situations than the other twelve volumes combined!  This even includes the fight between Triela–my favorite character–and Pinocchio, whose arc still stands as my favorite and features in Gunslinger Girl: Il Teatrino.

A picture of Triela.  The modifications to her body prevent shots to the arms from being disabling.

A picture of Triela. The modifications to her body prevent shots to the arms from being disabling.

Part of the fun of Gunslinger Girl is how the cybernetically modified young girls in the service of the Italian government contrast the vision of human beings with cybernetic parts found in Ghost in the Shell.  (Nota bene, I have not seen more than a few episodes Ghost in the Shell, but draw the following ideas from two essays in Anime and Philosophy: Wide Eyed Wonder edited by Josef Steiff and Tristan D. Tamplin: “The Making of Killer Cuties” by Christie Barber et al. and “Just a Ghost in the Shell?” by Angus McBlane.  That’s a book well worth owning!)  Basically, where Ghost in the Shell offers a future where cybernetics allow mankind to overcome human weakness, the heroines of Gunslinger Girl are still weighed down by their humanity as the machines inside them drain away their lifespan.  Henrietta, Triela, and the rest still retain the hopes and dreams of girls their age, but are forced to suppress them as they are mere tools of the Social Welfare Agency.  The author of this manga, Yu Aida, leaves one with the impression that the bad consequences of modifying human nature might outweigh the benefits.

Alfa Romeo

The struggles of the heroines to make the most of their limited lives create some very deep characters and engross the reader in their fates.  Few mangaka do characterization so well!  This, along with the great action of the final volumes, almost caused me finish the remaining chapters in a single sitting.  Indeed, they would have had not something important torn me away from them!  I might also add that Yu Aida is incredibly literate and well-versed in Western culture.  Gunslinger Girl contains allusions to the Bible, Thomas Macaulay, Beethoven, and others.  Few manga combine action with learning so well!

Triela with shotgun


Pale Moon / Paper Moon, As the Gods Will, Crimson Pledge, Black Butler: Book of Murder, Expelled from Paradise, Peeping Life WE ARE THE HERO, Tanikawa-san, Please Create One Poem and Other Japanese Film Trailers

Originally posted on Genkinahito's Blog:

Hello dear audience!

I hope you’re all in good health.
This has been a pretty movie filled week for me and I feel somewhat The World of Kanako Tsumabukienergised because of it. I started the week with What Time is it Over There? and Rampo Noir and that was quickly followed by Nightcrawler and at the end of the week I watched a selection of Koji Shiraishi films like Occult and Cult. By the time this post goes live I’ll be in work and after that I am heading to my favourite cinema with an acquaintance from Japan to watch the British film, Mr Turner.

I mentioned my need to crank up the speed with which I review things and I can confirm that I have two film reviews completed with one more almost finished and they all come in at less than one thousand words. You’ll have to be the judge as…

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From Princess Kaguya to… Sailor Moon?


I’m a fan of allusions to folktales, mythology, and literature in anime. John Samuel notices an interesting connection between Sailor Moon and Kaguya-hime. Hmm….Now I’m wondering if Kurage-hime (Princess Jellyfish) also played with that folktale? At least, the names almost sound similar, don’t they?

Originally posted on Pirates of the Burley Griffin:

Faery tales are funny things that never quite die in the collective consciousness. The same applies to folk tales and classic mythologies.

They may get reimagined, reworked, rebadged, but the common core remains in the foundations of a culture.

You can see this in Lord of the Rings with acknowledged influences from Nordic, Germanic, and Finnish mythology[1] (among others)[2].

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Here’s a post which takes a look how the animation of Shingeki no Bahamut augments the action and epic adventure of the show.

Originally posted on Quizoxy クイズ 新: rage of Rage of Bahamut

Rage of Bahamut Genesis is partially based on the idea of the popular mobile phone card game Rage of Bahamut, with one or two characters being mapped over to the series. The setting of the series goes back into the past with supernatural elements infused in within the characters with the existence of legendary beings and several unexplainable phenomenon occurring one after another.

The series features main protagonists’s quest in searching for Amira’s mother and they meet countless obstacles along their way which brought them tears and laughter, getting closer to each other and making new friends that they have never thought of meeting.

The series animated by MAPPA has been continuously surprised us with all sorts of visual tricks with their animation and 3D scenes, giving the setting more realistic dimensioning which pulling our perception into this box they created. This is probably one of the areas where the series…

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A Post of TWWK’s You Should Read and Some Rambling

Though I dropped Your Lie in April, what people are writing about it intrigues me.  TWWK of Beneath the Tangles wrote an excellent reflective post on episode six, and I recommend Your Lie in April Episode 6: Changing Seasons to all my dear readers.


Until I reblogged that post incorrectly, I was going to leave it at that; but since I have already written at length, why not continue to ramble?  I had mentioned previously that I’ve entered the next round of the Athanatos Christian Ministries Writing Contest.  They provide a helping hand to any author who writes a good novel.  At this point, the judges become editors and help one to polish one’s novel so that it can become as well-written as possible by the time the final judging occurs.  And, the editor–at least so far–kindly and helpfully criticizes the novel.  So, here’s my encouragement to the Christian fiction writers among you to try your hand at next year’s contest.


Looking at Amira, I cannot help but be reminded of what Charles II said to his two friends who accompanied his betrothed, a princess of Portugal, back to England: “Gentlemen, you have brought me a bat.”


One of my dear readers was curious about how Shingeki no Bahamut pulled of its combination of Christian and pagan mythos.  As of episode five, the combination intrigues rather than offends me.  I think that it describes pagan gods and devils pretty well, though I imagine angels a little differently.  When it comes to St. Joan of Arc, iblessall says that its the most accurate anime representation of the saint she has ever seen.  I’ll take her word for it as I also imagine St. Joan of Arc to have been a courageous and rather serious individual from what I’ve heard about her.  The show has made me more interested in that person and reminds me that I must read Mark Twain’s biography of her–by all accounts, the greatest biography of the saint ever penned.  All in all, the combination of pagan and Christian lends an epic and fantastic feel to the anime which has worked out well.


I have no idea where Inou Battle Within Everyday Life is going, but the show is still great for a few laughs.  The characters are particularly endearing.  I am happy that Hitsugi no Chaika seems to have more focus this season.  You already know my opinion of Akatsuki no Yona and I Can’t Understand What My Husband is Saying.  Now, I ought to spend the rest of the night getting caught up with the rest.  Cheers!