[personal profile] jtniehof
Beating the Workplace Bully, Failure is not an Option, The Cluetrain Manifesto, 20th Century Boys/21st Century Boys, Oh My Goddess! 36-48, Undefeated Bahamut Chronicle, Norn 9, Ooya-san wa Shishunki, Tabimachi Late Show, Rocket Girls.

Beating the Workplace Bully (Lynne Curry): Fortunately not directly relevant for me; I thought it might be interesting in learning how to be productive in a group with strong personalities. However, it's directly focused on dealing with people who are deliberately undermining. The case studies are good, but the direct advice is a mixture of the actionable and the frustratingly vague. I came away knowing the first thing to say but with no idea what to do next if that went wrong.

Failure is not an Option (Gene Kranz): Many books feel like they need one more editing pass; this is one. Maybe the occasional awkwardness is due to the cutting that Kranz noted in the acknowledgements. It's also a little hard to read because there are so many people involved; it's amazing to think how he kept them all straight. I would have a liked a cast of characters but the index serves as an adequate substitute. Writing quality aside, this is an amazing piece of work, stuffed with details on the missions I hadn't heard before. It drives home that every mission was a test flight: these were not commodity craft, but experimental, with glitches and foibles with every use. This is very much the story of Kranz's time in Mission Control, not a broader biography, and well worth the read for any fan of the manned program.

The Cluetrain Manifesto: Meh. It's depressing to read this, like all the cypherpunk manifestoes claiming that governments and big business can't take over the 'net. In the end, the conversation has been co-opted, shoved into walled gardens, and mined for targeted advertising dollars; open tools are happily adopted and exploited but with zero contribution back (case in point: OpenSSL). Extolling the virtue of email as an easy, sloppy medium, in an era when most of us are interrupted by hundreds of poorly-written emails daily and the well-written ones aren't read closely enough to be understood....

20th Century Boys/21st Century Boys: Strongest in the middle, where it's a gripping, what-will-they-do-next, cheer-for-the-underdog story. It took a couple of volumes to get going (which had its own excitement, because I knew nothing going in), and by the end it fizzled (not sure why the title change, as it's one continuous story with no resolution at the name change.) The jumping around in time mostly works, but the sheer load of red herrings and slippery character identifications gets exhausting by the end, undermining what's otherwise a pretty satisfying resolution.

Oh My Goddess! 36-48: Ending with a major plot arc just reinforces that I like Goddess better without a plot. At least it addressed something that people have been wondering for decades. All in all, the characters are endearing but not enough to carry it when the plots are almost laughable. It's sweet and a bit charming, and I'm glad I read it as a bit of cultural history, but I'm finished now.

Undefeated Bahamut Chronicle (3 eps.): I liked the setup; they seem to be hinting at some forces from the old empire of ten years ago trying to take power in the new kingdom. But most of the time is on completely generic high school harem.

Norn 9 (3 eps.): Again, borderline interesting, there's maybe something there, but it's all bland (and/or moody) characters bouncing off each other.

Ooya-san wa Shishunki (3 eps.): As the lady pointed out, the episodes are so short they can't even fit a joke in there; completely forgettable.

Tabimachi Late Show: Mixed bag; the first episode was very cute and the third devastating; two and four were relatively forgettable. It's an interesting project in both short-form and short-run anime; I'm tempted to go back through and see if the stories connect in ways other than thematically (Trois couleurs style). Oh, and animation the likes of which you haven't seen since Violinist of Hameln.

Rocket Girls: Wow, that was bad. It started out almost credible...not in the sense of "that's a good idea" but "I can see where someone a bit unhinged could think that was a good idea".It also had an over-the-top quality that was inherently funny and kept from taking itself too seriously. As the show progressed, it got more and more preposterous and less and less self-aware, leading to permanent facepalm. Yes, this is a show about high school girls as astronauts, but at least give me something to work with.
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March 2017

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