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Koshervision Studios

A subsidiary of The Whole Damn House Productions

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October 17th, 2011

State of fear.

The wheel that was stopped begins to turn. The time that was frozen starts to thaw.


My family moved from California in 1986, the year of the Challenger disaster. I don't remember much about the time we spent in California, but I do remember that. What I didn't know is how that event affected Vandenberg AFB and the surrounding area. Prior to Challenger, Vandenberg was to be the west coast site for shuttle launches. That was scuttled in the wake of the disaster, and the area went into recession. 25 years later, I've returned to California and am working for the Air Force on space stuff. I can't imagine what this place would look like had the O-rings not been so substandard.

It's very difficult to express how nervous I am about moving out here to the Central Coast. I know next to no one. It's America, but it seems so foreign. I've yet to move into an apartment, but I am staying with a kind couple that retired here. My family knew theirs 17 years ago; the mother worked for mine.

Everything is so spread out here. Driving from town to town is like driving from Fairfax to Manassas, but without any of the suburban sprawl that is local to Northern Virginia. Just mountains, or fields, or desert. It's breathtaking.


All of my belongings are in a container, waiting for a call from me. It's surreal to look at a shipping container and see one's life contained therein. Objects collected over time, memories of years gone by. There's a story behind everything.

What's really important in the katamaris we roll? Is it the mailboxes from different addresses, the tv sets, our houses and cars? I think the insubstantial katamari of our memories and experiences is far more important. But our material possessions can help us remember; we need to consciously make that connection, however.


California's state motto is "Eureka!" I have found it! But it seems to me a more apt motto would be "Deimos kai Phobos": Horror and Fear. California is in a constant state of fear. Fear of guns, of outside flora and fauna, of unhealthy food, of a host of things. It's remarkable that the state is able to even get out of bed in the morning, there's so much to be afraid of.

Fear is paralyzing. Fear holds us in place, makes us stagnant. Change can be positive or negative, but it is inevitable. Fear only keeps one at the mercy of change. One must go forward, take control, direct the change. Don't be afraid. Be proactive. Make it work for you.


The wheel that was stopped begins to turn. The time that was frozen starts to thaw.

June 2nd, 2011

Sphere break.

So, let's say that you, like Kaiji, had an opportunity to gamble on a pachinko machine. You fire small metal balls into a pinball-like machine, hoping that one of them falls into the jackpot hole, which wins you...more balls. Sounds stupid, but when you consider that these pachinko balls are convertible to cash, it might not seem so. And at 4000 yen a ball (~$50), it could add up quickly.

Let's say that you win the jackpot, estimated to be 500,000,000 (5 hundred million) yen. Would you be able to carry all those pachinko balls? Get a friend or two to help?

Pachinko balls weigh about 5.5 grams (about 1/5 of an ounce). 500,000,000 yen divided by 4000 yen/ball is 125,000 pachinko balls. 125,000 balls times 5.5 grams/ball = 687500 grams = 687.5 kilograms (~1500 lbs). That's about the weight of a dromedary camel. That's more weight than any human has ever lifted, using any technique.

How much volume do 125,000 pachinko balls take up? A pachinko ball has a diameter of 11 mm, which is a radius of 5.5 mm or 0.55 cm. Volume of a sphere is (4/3)*PI*r^3, so a pachinko ball's volume is (4/3)*PI*(.55^3) = .6969 cm^3; 125,000 pachinko balls have a volume of approximately 87113 cm^3, or about 23 gallons.

I'm sure if you won $6.25 million worth of pachinko balls, you'd find some way to move them.

[Edit: Screencapped. -MDH]

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April 22nd, 2011

The point of it all.

Zawa zawa, y'all. I'm here to talk about Kaiji some more. We have our first gamble of the second season, Chinchirorin. It's a dice game where the object is to beat other players by rolling better hands. The variant in Kaiji has some different rules. Here are the rolls in order of priority from highest to lowest:

1-1-1 (pays out 5x wager)
Any other triple (pays out 3x wager)
4-5-6 (pays out 2x wager)
Pair Plus Singleton (singleton becomes the point that players must attempt to beat)
No matching numbers (except for 1-2-3)
1-2-3 (bettor pays 2x wager)

A player gets three chances to make a qualifying roll, but once a player makes one, that's his roll. So a successful roll on the second attempt precludes a third attempt. Players roll to attempt to each individually beat the dealer, who rolls first. Players can beat the dealer by rolling a higher point or higher hand in general. If the dealer rolls 3-3-4, his point is 4 and players must roll to beat it. 2-2-5 would beat it, since the point in that hand is 5. 6-6-1 would not, since the point is 1. 4-5-6, and any triple would beat a hand that had a point.

So, some things to keep in mind. There are 216 ways the dice can come up (3-4-5 is not the same, technically, as 3-5-4): 6 choices on the first die, 6 on the second, and 6 on the third yields 6x6x6 = 216. The narrator says that there are 108 qualifying bets. That means that exactly 50% of the possible rolls qualify and 50% don't. Let's count them, shall we?

The qualifying hands are the triples, 4-5-6, Pair Plus Singleton...and 1-2-3. You might say that 1-2-3 is a losing hand, and that's true. But it also qualifies and disallows future rolls. So, how many hands are there? Well, there's 6 triples. For 4-5-6 and 1-2-3, it's 3x2x1 = 6 each, so we're up to 18 in total. As for Pair Plus, it's 6x1x5 (any number will do at first, but then you must match it and select any other number as the third) = 30. But that's not all. In Pair Plus, the first die could match the second, or first could match third, or second could match third. So multiply by 3 and we get 90. 90+18 = 108. Sounds good to me.

Are there 108 non-qualifying rolls? A non-qualifying roll is defined as a set of three numbers where no two numbers match: 6x5x4 = 120. But 4-5-6 and 1-2-3 are qualifying rolls, so subtract out those 12 sequences: 120-12 = 108. 108+108 = 216. Seems like it works.

What are the odds of not getting a qualifying roll? Up to three chances, so failure on all three rolls is (.5)(.5)(.5) = .125. There's a 12.5% chance of not making a qualifying roll, so there's a 87.5% chance of succeeding before the first roll of the dice.

Look forward to next time.
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April 16th, 2011

Compounding Interest.

I haven't written a blog post in a very long time. So, let's talk about Kaiji. Specifically, the first episode of the new, second season. More specifically, how Kaiji deals with money, interest, and payments.

Kaiji, the eponymous character, has gotten into debt. He attempted a series of gambles to rid himself of it, and possibly even come out ahead, but he just put himself further behind. As of the beginning of S2E1, Kaiji had a debt of 6.68 million Yen. He also had medical bills to re-attach his left ear and four of his fingers (don't ask); this cost him 2 million Yen. Total obligation is approximately 8.68 million Yen. We are told by the narrator that it's been a few months, and the obligation now stands at around 9.5 million Yen. We're not given any information about how many months it's actually been or what the interest rate is. So we have to go back to the previous season for some information.

We learned in the very first episode that Kaiji cosigned for a loan at an insane interest rate of 20% per month. We also learned that the syndicate was willing to work with Kaiji at a more reasonable interest rate, 15% per year, to pay off the loan. The former is most definitely not the interest rate on the 8.68 million, since after one month the debt would rocket over 10 million. So let's assume that the 15%/year is the valid rate.

After 1 month: 8,680,000 x 1 + (15/100/12) [monthly rate is 1/12] = 8,788,500
2 months: 8,898,356
3 months: 9,009,585
4 months: 9,122,204
5 months: 9,236,231
6 months: 9,351,683
7 months: 9,468,579

So, after 7 months, we're just under 9.5 million and will definitely be over that by the 8th month. So we can assume that Kaiji's been going back to being worthless for 7 to 8 months.

He is finally captured by the debt collectors. The collector says that Kaiji is going to have to work in an underground quarry/prison for about 15 years to pay off the debt. There's a statement for you. How'd he come up with that?

We come to find out that debtors are paid for their work. Furthermore, while in the prison, the compounding interest rate is forgiven, so any money they earn goes straight toward the principal. (Any interest accrued prior to being retrieved must still be paid off.) They get 91,000 Perica every month (10 Perica = 1 Yen, so 9100 Yen). 9100 Yen for a month's work? That's insanely low. Well, wait. We find out that they're actually getting paid 3500 Yen (35000 Perica, so to speak) every day. 2000 goes toward debt payment, and 1150 goes toward room and board. That leaves 350 yen per day as money that a debtor can use in the underground economy as 3500 Perica, paid at the end of the month. 91000/3500 = 26. 26 days of work and 4 days of rest, to make up a full month? Sounds about right.

Some more math to find out how long until the debt is paid off. 2000 yen/day * 26 days = 52000 yen/month. 52000 * 12 = 624000 yen/year. 9,500,000 / 624000 = 15.22 years.

The creator of this work certainly did his homework.
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June 9th, 2010


I've been reading a lot of articles by Tim Rogers on Kotaku lately. The man is insane. He writes long, novella-like articles about video games, Japan and its culture, and a whole host of other things that somehow manage to tie back into video games. I have no idea how this man's mind works. Maybe it's because he up and moved to Japan to work in the game-design industry. It may have made him crazy. But it's all very fascinating. I would love to write like he does, just remarking on a bunch of stuff, making tenuous by interesting links between different topics, and possibly having it all come back to a central point (but not necessarily). But I think that in order to write like he does, I'd have to think like he does. And I don't. And I probably won't.

How does one change the way one thinks? I'm kind of reminded of a book I borrowed from a friend: Gödel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid. He said it was a book about thinking. I've gotten about two chapters in, and I've moved on to other books. I've also stopped reading other books I started reading after having put GEB down. I have finished a few. But I can't quite say for sure why I stopped in the first place. Maybe I wasn't making enough progress? Maybe I didn't find the book interesting? I don't think that's the case. I could have brought the book back at any point in the last, er, year that I've borrowed it. I feel like I'll get back to it in time.

I've also started and put down The Illuminatus Trilogy and Quicksilver, two books as hefty as GEB. It's not that I am unable to read books of such length. I hope. Does Harry Potter count? I think the font size in the Potter books was a bit larger. Maybe an easier read, too. But I've read other Neal Stephenson books. Hell, I've read Tad Williams books. Quicksilver shouldn't be a thing. But it is, and it pains me. I can turn around and look at Heinlein's I Will Fear No Evil, and the bookmark I've placed in it. I've gotten quite far into it. And it's compelling. I've been on a Heinlein kick for quite some time now, and the path that this is leading me down will end, unequivocally, with Isaac Asimov. Which I'm looking forward to. Both Asimov and Heinlein were authors that I rejected in my youth for reasons that I could not even make up at this point in time.

This entire post feels somewhat unfleshed out. It seems like there were some thoughts of greater import, swirling around in my head, hoping to find their way onto the screen. And it hasn't happened. Maybe I'm close to being able to write the way I want to write. But am I close to thinking the way I want to think? I don't think so.

August 1st, 2009

Henhouse Surprise.

I'm not sure when the X-Games died in my mind. I remember staying up until the early morning, watching events such as Street Luge and Sky Surfing on ESPN 2.

But the X-Games has turned into something terrible. No more of those two events. No Speed Climbing. No Inline Skating. No Wakeboarding. Surfing has managed to not be in the X-Games for two consecutive years, despite initial promises to bring it back this year.

Instead, we have four disciplines. BMX (necessary), Skateboarding (ditto), Motocross (...yeah, okay), and Rally Car (wtf?!). That's it. Also terrible are the events within each of the disciplines. Both BMX and Skateboard have that awful Big Air event. How boring. I couldn't give a damn. Both have added an event called "Street" which seems to consist of launching from the top of a staircase, doing a trick, and not eating pavement. Pretty lame. Skateboarding needs two events, and two events alone: Vert (aka halfpipe) and Park (a freestyle run through an area with pipes, rails, walls, and the like). BMX needs four: Vert, Park, Flatland (doing tricks on a space of pavement), and Racing. You know, that thing that BMX used to be known for?

Rally Car just needs to die.

The X-Games has gone in a retarded direction since it was conceived in 1995. It's hemorrhaged events and athletes all in pursuit of "stadium events." Guess what, guys? Extreme things don't happen in a goddamn building. They happen outdoors, on the streets, in the air, on the water.

Maybe when you guys realize that again, I might start caring. Until then, I want no part of it.

July 6th, 2009

Return of the MAC.

It's been a few months since I touched this thing, but I figured that with a change of scenery, the time was right to begin again...again.

I will be spending the next 14 weeks in Hopewell, VA, just outside Fort Lee. I'm down here to take the Operations Research/Systems Analysis Military Applications Course (ORSAMAC). I've been with the Army as an analyst for almost 21 months. If this course doesn't give me a decent idea of what being an ORSA in the Army is all about, nothing will. I don't think I've not done ORSA stuff, but I don't feel like it's been a big part of my job. I want to do well here, get course credit for grad school, and improve my prospects for my next assignment, wherever it ends up being.


Today was administrivia (that should definitely be a word in Webster's, instead of "ginormous") and intro to Probability. Refresher for me, but a lot of the military guys in the class haven't dealt with it before. There's only three or four civilians, with the rest being military, and most of them seemed to have business degrees (I did hear one accounting and one industrial engineering). I don't mind helping the military guys with this stuff. I tutor on the side for Kaplan; I like to help math make sense to people.


I haven't really explored the area yet. Been a little busy setting my room up, buying food, yadda yadda. I might stick around this weekend, I might not.

March 28th, 2009


Monsters vs. Aliens is a singularly American movie.

MvA could not have been realized by any other country than the USA: not produced by, not set in, and not reflective of. The culmination of 50 or so years of culture has been distilled into an hour-and-a-half movie, with an option for 3-D.

What other culture on this, or any other planet, can relate to references to Beverly Hills Cop, Encounters of the Third Kind, An Inconvenient Truth (extremely ham-handed, by the way), Spaceballs, Dance Dance Revolution, Starbucks, and the pop group Aqua? Hell, the movie contains a line of dialogue that is more true of America than any I think I've heard: “Once again, a UFO has landed in America, the only country UFOs ever seem to land in.” Only in the USA can a bunch of people, each looking like a bunch of freaks to each other, bond together and accept each other despite differences in appearance and behavior yet still be drawn into conflict with an outside society.

And so MvA is self-referential. The USA is a bunch of monsters, and everyone else belongs to one alien race or another. And the message seems to be clear: you can have monsters or you can have aliens, but you can't have both. So, to all you aliens out there: if you want to be one of the freaks, one of the outsiders, there's a place for you here. But if you attempt to come in and recreate society in your own image, you might not have a very pleasant outcome.

I'd almost, almost think it to be a message sent to Osama and his ilk that a global Caliphate would be most unwelcome, but they are the most alien of all. The message would be lost in translation.

March 10th, 2009


Just a list of movies I'm thinking of going to in the coming months.

03/27/09 - Monsters vs. Aliens
05/01/09 - X-Men Origins: Wolverine
05/01/09 - Battle for Terra
05/08/09 - Star Trek
05/29/09 - Up
06/24/09 - Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen
07/17/09 - Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
08/07/09 - G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra

If you've got something to add, let me know!

March 2nd, 2009


I've only seen 81 movies on this list. I must be deprived.Collapse )
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