neat quote: on the children of the future, from the first Bulgarian cosmonaut

In conversations we are often asked, cosmonauts and astronauts alike, what kind of planet will we leave to our children. That is an extremely important and responsible issue. However, I often think to myself – what kind of children will we leave our home planet Earth to?

Georgi Ivanov

You may have noticed my page of interesting quotes on this site. I usually update it whenever I encounter a thought provoking quotation. The personage could be world famous, or obscure, dead or alive, of any profession, station, etc… I’ve found that there’s always something worthy of attention if you dig deep enough.

Though now there is quite a substantial collection I’ve previously updated the page without comment so I fear that some real gems sink unnoticed. So I’ll be posting any updates on my main page as well.

Natural language programming, the holy grail? OpenAI’s Codex

Recently the folks at OpenAI demonstrated their latest product that looks almost like natural language programming as envisioned by futurists, academics, and philosophers of computer science. See video below:

Amazing boulder programming

Especially notable is the demonstration of a mini-game being developed on the fly with a movable boulder and controllable character simply by some clever thinking and writing a few normal sounding sentences into the API (application programming interface) input of the Codex. For those unfamiliar with Python and Javascript, which are the languages in use here, this is pretty extraordinary.

Their trajectory of development so far and the room for future advancements portend pretty extraordinary improvements.

For more in-depth analysis I will defer to those more experienced in the field and will edit links here as they become available. (Unless nobody tackles it, then I may try writing above my paygrade!)

Media Review: Battle Fairy Yukikaze (2002) – profound animated show with the best depiction of modern aerial combat still!

Promo image from Bandai

Rating: 5 out of 5.

5 stars means it’s truly exceptional, worth special consideration.

Although certain genres of media are more predisposed to profoundness, usually the very sober, certain obscure animated shows from Japan (‘anime’) are as well. In fact there’s a correlation between absurdity and refreshing departure from the stereotype of anime, and they merit a nuanced appraisal.

However, esoteric foreign language shows are more difficult to assess and one might be tempted to pick an easier exemplar for their first review. Not me! My personal preferences have always leaned towards more challenging content and so here I embark.

Battle Fairy Yukikaze (戦闘妖精雪風, Sentō Yōsei Yukikaze) is one of the greatest ‘diamonds in the rough’ that I’ve ever seen.

Originally released as an ‘Original Animated Video’ (OAV) in 2002 by Bandai Visual as a lavish showpiece for an anniversary celebration, and given an excellent english dub somewhat later by Bandai’s North American subsidiary, Yukikaze suprisingly remains the foremost reference work for animated modern aerial combat. It quite literally has the best rendered depiction of any publicly available animation. Yes even as of 2021. It was based on a novel that was briefly popular in Japan and sunk into obscurity after.

I could write several essays on the technical merits of the show, both in style and in conetent, though I will leave that to the real experts. Of course as there hasn’t been a real high intensity conflict involving modern jets the idea of what is ‘most realistic’ is somewhat vague. But a good rule of thumb for judging any on screen depiction of combat is whether the motion and inertia of every actor is correctly portrayed. For aerial combat especially, G-forces and their attendant effects are rarely done right.

To be clear the premise is quite absurd, the main opponents are shapeshifting creatures on another planet. But somehow the animators managed to give the scenes a more realistic weight than even the latest blockbusters.

Below is one of the more memorable combat scenes in the japanese original. An english language release is also available, but not on youtube.

As of writing the series is available for free in certain regions on Tubi. The usual retailers carry physical copies for a reasonable price.