Eugene Woodbury

Selected essays

The accidental standard
I'm a big fan of documentaries about the early years of the personal computer industry. That's where the real action was. Also see:

Something Ventured
Pirates of Silicon Valley

Analogical modeling
The pedagogical motto of Watabe Sensei, my old Japanese professor, was: "Examples, examples, examples!"

All in the anime harem family
The "harem" genre is sociologically the strangest anime has to offer, and the most frustratingly resilient.

Apocalypse not now
The world is always about to end and never will (until it actually does).

The Reverse Roe effect
Silver linings
The world ends (and I feel fine)

The atonement of Pacifica Casull
Scrapped Princess symbolizes the tenants of Christian theology better than (the movie version of) The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. Also see:

The catechism of Angel Beats!
The Passion of the Magical Girl
Set Apart

Baseball according to Drucker
My translation of the introduction to Japan's 2010 bestseller about high school baseball and business management.

The better mousetrap
What happened when field mice invaded the Electronics Lab at General Electric's Research and Development Center.

The Big Bad
LOTR, the Star Wars sequels, Harry Potter, The Dark Knight, and even the Narnia movie have the same problem: I don't care about the bad guy.

The brave old world of Star Trek
Star Trek is more compelling because of what it does consistently wrong than for its brilliant successes. Also see:

Star Trek in the dock
Star Trek on the lecture circuit
Stupid on Star Trek stilts

Carnivorous vegetarians
Long story short: the best way to be a vegetarian in Japan is to not ask about the ingredients.

Hungry for entertainment
The toast of Japan
Eat, drink, and be merry

Cleanliness is next to Japaneseness
Cleanliness is deeply embedded in the culture and religions of Japan. After all if "baptism" can wash away your sins, then rinse and repeat!

The conservative hero
Even in the most fantastic of fantasy lands, a hero must be a stubborn conservative when grappling with human nature.

The magic of the mundane
Superbad is superboring
The problem of the omniscient enemy

Frozen Feminism
Feminists are busily manning the Maginot Line while old school chauvinists have been sneaking through Belgium the whole time. See also:

Dirty sexy money
Abstinence porn
Girls kick butt

Feeling what you hear
Most modern movie soundtracks don't outlast the final credit roll. But the right melody can raise the experience to a state of transcendence.

Gang rule
One of the most peaceful countries in the world really likes television shows about people beating the tar out of each other.

Ghostbusting in Japan (1)
A popular fantasy genre about spirit warriors combatting humans and gods alike arose from the theological fusion of Buddhism and Shinto. See also:

Pop culture Buddhism
Pop culture Shinto
Pop culture Catholicism

I watched the whole thing
Anime series I recommend (an incomplete list). Also see:

Miyazaki's European flying arc
Play ball!
Ghostbusting in Japan (2)

Japan's "Protestant Reformation"
Different religions on opposite sides of the world followed remarkably similar patterns of convergent social evolution. See also:

Christianity is cool
Japan's (ir)religious wars

Land of the paranoid
When I was growing up, my parents' two rules were: "Go outside and play!" and "Be home in time for dinner!" The rest was up to us.

I'm Old Enough
Free-range kids
L.M. Montgomery's free-range kids

The last picture tube show
For the time being, Moore's law still rules the roost. Smaller, cheaper, faster keeps getting smaller, cheaper and faster. See also:

TV Wars
Too big to succeed
Moore's Law illustrated

Lost on location
There's nothing much to recommend about Into the Sun, except that it was made in Japan by somebody who actually knows something about Japan.

Japan's Bond legacy
Japan made in Hollywood
Dances with Wolves Samurai

Makoto Shinkai
Along with Mamoru Hosoda, Makoto Shinkai comes closest to capturing the cinematic "look and feel" of Studio Ghibli.

MS-DOS at 30
I don't get nostagic about high school or college. For a stroll down memory lane, I browse though old issues of PC Magazine from the 1980s. Also see:

The cover
Nanami Madobe
The grandfathers of DOS

Occupy the past
If we can't learn from the past, at least we can refrain from trying to live there.

The Pacific War on screen
Attempts to make the war movie politically "relevant" more often that not results in absurd historical revisionism and glaring anachronisms.

No way to wage a war
The known unknowns
Twilight of the Zero

"Pathological" and real science
The rational scientist is no less susceptible to self-delusion than the witch doctor or faith healer. People believe what they want to believe.

Pelagius and the fools
A paper about Mormon theology and narrative structure I gave with Stephen Carter at the 2007 Sunstone Symposium. See also:

The "truth" is worse
The weirdest two years
The Mormon "koseki" problem

Perseverance makes perfect
Perseverance has been at the core of Japanese education for a century. If you fail, it's because you didn't ganbaru enough.

Reefer madness
With infrequent but merciless prosecutions, the justice system in Japan creates strong incentives for the citizens to police themselves.

Lawyering up
Justice for all (Japanese)
(Less) crime and (less) punishment

Reframing the mainframe plot
The mainframe-as-antagonist (commanding an army of dumb terminal minions) is so overdone by now you can't stick a fork in it: it's mush.

The Medicator (they'll be back!)
But they don't act that way in real life

The Shirow franchises
Manga artist Masamune Shirow was the first to capture the true scope of cyberpunk in the late 1980 and early 1990s.

The Showa drama
Japanese look back at the 1950s with pretty much the same nostalgia and sentimentalism that Americans do.

Showa nostalgia
August 15
The rebirth of Japan's mass media

A slice of Japanese life
The slice-of-life story doesn't weigh down the audience with heavy attitudes or ponderous plots and goes easy on the "meaning of it all."

Three visions of a distant shore
What Philip Pullman, C.S. Lewis, and Joseph Smith all have in common (more than you might think).

Up with introverts
Understanding America's most misunderstood and misrepresented minority.

Understanding Japanese women (and introverts)
Life is a sim
Church of the extrovert

In Japan, a "birth record" is derived from the centuries-old koseki system, a genealogical account attached to the individual's household.

What I believe
Neil Gaiman pretty much sums it up and says it all.

Why Americans like sports
A popular American sport has to appeal to all the armchair quarterbacks and wannabee coaches, and pay off their expectations quickly.

Whisper of the Heart
My translation of the manga that became the basis for the Ghibli anime (released in the U.S. by Disney).

Copyright Eugene Woodbury. All rights reserved.