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Holger Danske

Holger Danske

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    Thursday
    Feb042010

    Memories of Dale Shewalter

    I attended Dale Shewalter's funeral this last Sunday. It was a very good service [my father served as Master of Ceremony], with lots of good stories about Dale and his life. Dale Shewalter died young, but he nevertheless had a full life. I learned lots of things that I never knew about Mr. Shewalter. This is not really surprising, because I knew him in his role as an elementary school teacher, and he did so many other things. After the service, the Magistra turned to me and said "I never knew how much Mr. Shewalter was like you." Honestly, I didn't either.

    I knew about his service with the Marines in Vietnam, because he had shown us slides he had taken while he was there. I of course knew about the Arizona Trail as well, because we got to mark out portions of the trail on class field trips. I was exposed to his passion for Southwest history in school, but I have a much different appreciation for it as an adult than I ever could in the 4th grade. What surprised me at first was his love of firearms. However, thinking of his time in the Marines and his love of the Southwest, it really was not all that surprising after all. You just don't tell your school kids about the neat guns you like.

    There were a lot of little things I had forgotten until the service as well. Mr. Shewalter had a love of puns, did an amazing Bullwinkle the moose impression, and played the harmonica. He used to do a little dance called the Shewalter shuffle, and he was always in a hurry, striding about on his long legs. He liked poetry, such as The Cremation of Sam McGee. I also remember he liked the ballad The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald:

    I scanned the program and placed it online here for those who were unable to make it to the memorial service. It was packed in Ashurst Auditorium, they had to bring out extra chairs. People from all parts of Dale Shewalter's life were present, his brother and sisters, a teacher who taught him, his students, his colleagues, outdoor enthusiasts, and other Marines. 

    I regret that I never really had the chance to know Dale Shewalter when I was an adult, but I feel that I have grown into a man he would be proud of. I do know that my dad kept him updated when they ran into each other, "Mr. S&W was asking about you," he would say. We go to our rest in the hope of rising again, so hopefully I'll get to see him again someday. Stand down Marine, you are relieved.

    Dale Shewalter Funeral 1

    Dale Shewalter Funeral 2

    Dale Shewalter Funeral 3

    Dale Shewalter Funeral 4

    Dale Shewalter Funeral 5

    Places to contribute in memory of Dale's life, per his family:

    Arizona Trail Association

    Amy Biehl Foundation

    Any animal rescue organization

     

    Thursday
    Feb042010

    CrossFit 2010-02-04

    300 Style Workout

    3 rounds, 20 reps each

     

    • Crossover pushups
    • Squat thrusters [8#]
    • Straight leg situps
    • Kettlebell swings [163]
    • Pullups

    Time 15:58

     

    Tuesday
    Feb022010

    Gunslinger Girl Anime Review

    Gunslinger Girl

    Gunslinger Girl: Il Teatrino

    Written by Yu Aida 相田 裕 Aida Yutaka
    Published by Funimation 


    Gunslinger Girl

    ガンスリンガー·ガール Gansuringā Gāru

    This review covers the two anime series Gunslinger Girl and Gunslinger Girl: Il Teatrino. Each is a 13-episode adaption of the manga by Yu Aida. Each season covers only part of the manga, which as of the time of this review has 11 volumes published in Japan. These seasons cover roughly the first six volumes, but not exhaustively.

    The first season is simply beautifully done. Motions are fluid, proportions are maintained in perspective, and detail is high. However, the first season is rather unfocused, not following any particular story arc with any fidelity. Il Teatrino on the other hand, was personally supervised by Aida, and consequently is very tightly plotted, but suffers from lackluster animation that is often crudely drawn. I enjoyed both seasons, but these differing strengths ought to be borne in mind by any potential viewers.

    Gunslinger Girl is a story both about the fractious nature of Italian politics and the consequences borne by the players in the Great Game of politics by other means. The focus is upon the fratello of the Social Welfare Agency. The Social Welfare Agency is a front for a mysterious organization known only as Section 2. They do in fact do some good, because the same technology that allows them to create cyborg assassins can also be used to cure the lame and allow the blind to see. However, that is not the Agency's primary purpose. Their job is to eliminate the enemies of the Italian state.

    Each fratello is a team composed of a handler and a cyborg. The handlers are usually recruited from the military or from other intelligence agencies, whereas the cyborgs are created from orphans rescued from hospitals. I say rescued, when perhaps kidnapped would be more accurate. Only orphans are used, and most often the girls selected would otherwise die if not for the intervention of the Agency. Only girls are used, because for some reason the process works better on girls, the younger the better.

    This sounds horrible, and it is, but there is at least a patina of actual concern layered over the Machiavellian purpose of Section 2. In addition to being crippled, the girls have usually been psychologically traumatized. The psychoactive drugs used to control the girls and unite them with their mechanical bodies have the blessed side effect of erasing their memories: they cannot remember their families or their families terrible ends. The girls cannot remember their past lives, but every night they silently weep in their sleep, mourning their lost humanity.

    Accordingly, their handlers must fill the roles of father, brother, and even lover. This is not to say that we have mechanical lolitas. The drugs were meant to produce unquestioning obedience, but instead prompt a fierce, and even dangerously unstable attachment born of the girls' need to be loved. This provides the central drama of the series, because even the hardened men who are recruited for Section 2 cannot easily reconcile themselves to what they are really doing.

    This is compounded by the the tradeoff produced by the conditioning: more conditioning produces a more pliable girl, but makes her duller and shortens her life. Those handlers who choose to minimize the conditioning find they need to buy their cyborgs teddy bears and take them on outings to maximize their kill count. For dramatic purposes, most of the handlers have psychological hangups involving innocent young girls. You would think a mysterious government agency could vet their employees better, but that is not really the point here.

    The central drama is provided by the essential immorality of using brainwashed girls as assassins, but the series would not be near so interesting if it weren't set in an Italy of the near future. I am not an expert on Italian history or politics, but what I do know very much tracks with what you see in Gunslinger Girl. Italian politics in some ways still operates in the Renaissance mode of constant intrigue and upheaval. Add on top of this the recent unification of Italy into a nation by force, the influence of the Mafia in the south, and the critical role Italy played in the Cold War and you have many well-armed and well-financed factions prepared to fight for power. The separatist Padania organization featured in the series actually has real world counterparts in Italy. It is of course unwise to get historical and political information exclusively from entertainment, but as long as one keeps the inherent limitations of the medium in mind this is a good way to spur interest in a subject.

    I would classify Gunslinger Girl as gun porn, in the same sense Steve Sailer refers to movies like Brideshead Revisited and Atonement as period porn. Each gun is lovingly drawn, a precise representation of an actual firearm. Since gun ownership is nearly nonexistent in Japan, there is a gun-loving subculture there that finds fulfillment in anime like this and in buying very expensive Airsoft replicas of real guns. Each gun used by one of the girls is readily identifiable: Henrietta's FN Herstal P90, Triela's Winchester 1897 Trench Gun, or Rico's CZ-75 pistol. This, and the lolita aspect probably explain the series' popularity, but there is an underlying historical acumen that makes this anime worth seeing.

    My other anime reviews

     

    Tuesday
    Feb022010

    CrossFit 2010-02-02

    Tonight was an AMRAP [As Many Rounds As Possible]

    20 minutes

     

    • 10 Super burpees [8#]
    • 15 Prone rows [8#] double count
    • 20 Squats
    • Bearclaws [20 yards]

    I made 4 rounds in 20 minutes.

     

    Sunday
    Jan312010

    Olympic Weightlifting

    I forgot to mention that John offers the Olympic Weightlifting class at the end of each month at Summit Health and Fitness. Go take it!

    Saturday
    Jan302010

    CrossFit 2010-01-30

    Today I attended an Olympic weightlifting seminar at Summit Health and Fitness offered by John Tuitele. It was an absolute blast. I may change my tune tomorrow, John warned me that I'm going to be epically sore. However, at least for the moment it was worth it. It just felt very satisfying to learn the techniques of Olympic weightlifting. 

    I am of course a complete newbie here, and I have much more to learn. I plan on doing plenty more, My back and knee felt great afterwards, even though most of the rest of me hurt, so I see this as a good sign that I can pursue this kind of training with my existing injuries. I would recommend this to almost anyone who is interested in gaining strength. 

    Friday
    Jan292010

    Fear the Boom and Bust

    I'm currently reading a biography of Keynes for review, so I found this pretty funny. I am gaining more respect for Keynes, because I really knew nothing about him; Keynes name was mostly used as an epithet in my experience.

    h/t Edward Feser

    Friday
    Jan292010

    Five Dangerous Things You Should Let Your Children Do

    Thursday
    Jan282010

    CrossFit 2010-01-28

    I did something strenous and logical in honor of St. Thomas.

    Top Deck Lunge

    3 rounds

    • 40 yard lunge lap
    • 20-15-10 pullups
    • 40-30-20 russian twists (10#)

    Time 15:40

    My knee is still a little off, so the lunge laps were perhaps a bit slow.

    Thursday
    Jan282010

    St. Thomas Aquinas Feast Day

    Do something logical in his honor.

    Some Thomistic Quotes:

    1. Beware the man of one book.

    2. It is better to illuminate than merely to shine, to deliver to others contemplated truths than merely to contemplate.

    3. By nature all men are equal in liberty, but not in other endowments.

    4. If to provide itself with a king belongs to the right of a given multitude, it is not unjust that the king be deposed or have his power reduced by that same multitude if, becoming a tyrant, he abuses his royal power. 
    (On Kingship, I:6) 

    5. We marvel at something when, seeing an effect, we do not know the cause.  And since one and the same cause is at times known to certain people and not to others, it happens that some marvel and some do not.  
    (On the truth of the catholic faith against the gentiles) 

    6. Since Holy Scripture can be explained in a multiplicity of senses, one should adhere to a particular explanation only in such measure as to be ready to abandon it, if it be proved with certainty to be false; lest Holy Scripture be exposed to the ridicule of unbelievers, and obstacles be placed to their believing.