The Home of Steven Barnes
Author, Teacher, Screenwriter

Monday, August 31, 2009

Dry Drowning

Dry Drowning?

Jason had a little accident at a friend's swimming pool--hit his elbow on the diving board, panicked, and sank to the bottom for a few seconds before surfacing. He swallowed some water, and Tananarive had heard about a kid who swallowed water and died hours after leaving the pool. Lethargic and irritable when he went to bed, his mother found him hours later with "white spongy stuff" all over his face...and he wasn't breathing. It's called "Dry Drowning", a rare condition where water in the lungs goes undiagnosed, presumably in children. Does anyone know about this condition? What in the heck is the "spongy stuff"? Lung tissue? Mucous? Oh...Jason was fine, running around like a banshee, and in a great mood last night. We still checked on him closely, though.


"The Final Destination" is just a terrible movie, with no characterization, shoddy logic, and CGI bloodshed. I'm ALMOST ashamed I went to see it, but hey, we already know I'm sick. An "F" unless you are a fan of fine horror, in which case it's an "F-"


On the other hand, I saw "Ponyo", Miyazaki's latest animated film. Borrow a child and go see it NOW. It is simply magical, wonderful, the best traditional animated film I've seen in years. While not "Howl's Moving Castle" it is probably on par with "Castle Cagliostro" (I love Lupin), maybe better. The story of a magical fish-child of a magician and the spirit of the ocean, "Ponyo" is a testament to the power of imagination and simple child-like faith in the human heart. I was delighted, absolutely delighted, and so was Jason, and so was Nicki (who had seen it a week or so ago.) An "A", unless you are a fan of animation, in which case it is an "A+", another gift from a master.

One question, though--what is it with Japanese animation that clearly presents Japanese characters as Caucasian? That is just the wierdest thing. In "Ponyo" this is really noticeable, because there is a baby, and several old ladies, who very obviously are Japanese. What the heck? My theory: this is part of the same "Stockholm Syndrome" that leads black people to straighten their hair, or Asians to have plastic surgery to Caucasian-ize themselves. An attempt to blend in with the dominating culture, in other words. I'd bet anything that if we'd LOST WW2, their animation wouldn't look that way at all. Strange.


ᅠᅠI love diddling around with my exercise program, and I've come up with a variation on Ryan Hurst's 6DOF program (which is a modification of Scott Sonnon's incredible FlowFit) that is interesting. Only done it twice so far, so it's too soon to comment. But remember I was commenting about the lack of pulling movement? Well, I got a portable Jungle Gym, one of those things you hook to a hotel door, or throw over a branch or pole. Then I added some specific abdominal engagement without violating the "6 exercise, 6 degrees of freedom" protocol. The preliminary results were very impressive, but I'll wait until I've done it at least five times to lay it out.


Does anyone think we can "win" in Afghanistan? I suppose we can come up with a definition of "winning" that makes it possible, but I thought it was received wisdom that Afghanistan is where empires go to die. Whatever we're trying to do there, we'd better do it and get the hell out, and not let our egos get our asses in trouble.


Bought a collection of the first Black and White season of "The Saint" television series, and have had great fun watching it: it holds up great on re-watching. Loved this show, and that character, when I was a kid, and in fact corresponded with Leslie Charteris, the creator, back in the day. Roger Moore, who was only passable as James Bond, was stellar as Simon Templar. What a shame that no one, anywhere, has ever really put the REAL Saint on the screen--murdering, thieving, seducing, and charming as hell. That would be remarkable. One episode was a lovely, warm translation of the "Pearls of Peace" story where Templar steals worthless pearls to save a blind man's marriage. You gotta read it, it really is fine work (similar to Charteris' "The Spanish Cow"). Anyway, even watered down for television, I loved it. I hear Roger Moore is in poor health, and that saddens me. But it's great to see him here--young, beautiful, and with that wonderful arched eyebrow when someone accuses him of being "the notorious Simon Templar" just before that glowing halo appears over his head.


Kami said...

Miyazaki's choice to portray caucasian characters may have other or multiple explanations.

I went through a "Japanese phase" in my teens. The characters I wrote about were Japanese, I studied Japanese martial arts, went to Obon festivals, bought clothes with Japanese prints on them, longed to have straight, black hair and Japanese eyes and to be shorter with darker skin. I devoured books on Japan, it's people, history, culture, food, etc. and I couldn't get enough.

I believe that the Japanese, although they lean into Westernization in some areas, are very proud of who they are, how they look, etc. I could ask my friend in Japan to confirm this, but I'm pretty sure he'd agree so I won't unless people tell me I'm all wrong.

Anyway, perhaps Miyazaki chooses caucasian characters for some roles because to him they are interesting, possibly bordering into the exotic. I suspect he has an interest in certain historical periods as well.

I remember the first time I had someone call me exotic for being Czech. I thought no way, I'm boring, you're from Laos so you're the awesome, exotic one. Anyway, his choices may reflect the fact that there are things he considers exotic/fascinating and he wants to explore them as an artist, rather than lingering in the beauty of the local/familiar.

It may be that it was a marketing decision too. If caucasian sells ... If the character's race, gender, age, etc. really didn't matter to him at the time of story creation, maybe he decided to choose someone that would most likely connect with the audience he wanted to reach.

He may have also been told what look to give the characters, but considering his artistic status, even if this was true I doubt he would do it unless he believed he could make it work while staying true to his artistic vision.

Michelle said...

I'm glad your son is okay. The white stuff may have been mucus or chlorine residue. But I'd ask a doctor.

As for Anime...well Anime itself came out of an attempt to understand the western mindset in relation to the atomic bomb (see Astro Boy). But it pulled from Manga (Japanese comic books) which as black and white look much more Asian.

The story goes: When first being translated into color, colorists had no direction in color choices. So when they say a character whose hair was not inked in, they colored it anyway they wanted. Hence the wild hair colors.

However now? I'm pretty sure they get direction. Early Anime looked much more Asian than the majority does now. Though some it depends on where it's set. The Japanese fascination with the west has taken huge leaps and bounds, especially with the Fruits culture (eqiv of gen xers in Japan) who dress to cute and push themselves into cosplay on a daily basis.

That was long winded I agree with you. What's funny about this though is the huge culture of western teens to 30 somethings that imitate the Japanese imitation. They dress, act and learn the part because Anime/Manga is something they've grow up with. I know quite a few people who dress Japanese, eat Japanese food, have learned Japanese and studied the culture simply because of their love of Anime/Manga.

Mike Ralls said...

Part of it, but just part, is projection on our part. Westerners are used to having the color white* depict their skin color in visual art. Japanese are _also_ used to using the color white to depict their skin color;

and that was true long before Admiral Perry sailed into Japan. But when westerners see Japanese depicted with white skin they just assume that they are being made "white". And that is not always the case.

* OK, white's not a color. Don't be pendent.

Anonymous said...

Hope Jason's okay. I'm not a doctor but I know a bit about Wilderness Medicine stuff. People can get delayed pulmonary edema from water in the lungs. It's not 'swallowed' water that's the problem it's 'breathed' water that is. In the context of Wilderness First Aid we tell people that following a near drowing they should always go to the hospital/Dr. precisly because of this. It sounds like Jason had some level of this. Infection can also be an issue though probably not so soon. Probably worth a trip, or at least a call, to the Dr.

This is sometimes referrred to as 'parking lot drowing'. 'Dry drowning' usually refers to whether or not the person actually aspirated water. Some people laryngospasm and, while running out of air and dying, don't actual take water into their lungs, or at least not until after death.

Dan Moran said...

Glad to hear Jason's OK. Connor cracked his skull Friday night, needed actual staples to close it up. Not much scarier, as a parent.

Of course after he got stapled he went home and wanted to have pillow fights.

Marty S said...

Nobody wins in Afghanistan is pretty good summary of history and I doubt we can either.

Anonymous said...

"Nobody wins in Afghanistan is pretty good summary of history and I doubt we can either."

The best the Coalition can aspire towards is establishing permanent representation in Afghanistan through corporate presence (oil pipeline) or a suitable client regime. Or maybe we simply have to settle with annihilating what we can of the Taliban and their overt supporters. Conquering and occupying Afghanistan has never been viable historically.


Anonymous said...

Man, I was tired this morning. I reread and realized that in my sleep deprived morning state I had misread. I thought Jason had had some of the white spongy stuff. The white spongy stuff would be fluid from edema.

-The same anonymous poster from before

Travis said...

"Does anyone think we can "win" in Afghanistan?"

Arguably we already have. The more relevant question ought is, can we win in PAKISTAN?

Anonymous said...

"The more relevant question ought is, can we win in PAKISTAN?"

Pakistan is arguably the most dangerous nation. Imagine a country mired in endemic poverty, its scarce non-military infrastructure and rickety representative institutions on the brink of collapse, coups accepted as the standard means of office change, and its desperate population embracing radical Islam as their only hope for betterment. And this same catastrophe of a nation bristles with nuclear weapons! It's hard to believe The Powers That Be don't have in place emergency contingencies to neutralize the Pakistan Threat by any and all means necessary, conventional or otherwise.


Mike Ralls said...

>It's hard to believe The Powers That Be don't have in place emergency contingencies to neutralize the Pakistan Threat by any and all means necessary, conventional or otherwise.<

I've heard from some sources that I usually trust that the Indians have a rather good plan and arsenal for a a nuclear first-strike, but that it probably wouldn't be enough and that Pakistan would still be able to let enough nukes fly to ruin India's 21st century.

But who really knows? Pakistan is deeply third world, and things don't go smoothly in the third world in the best of days. With nukes flying left and right, EMP's shutting down electronics, and possible shoddy weapons and faulty missiles to begin with, it's possible that the Indian's might be able to damage enough of Pakistan's arsenal that they don't suffer any significant hits. But that's a lot of "ifs" and therefore not a bet I'd be willing to take unless pushed to the wall.

Anonymous said...

"it's possible that the Indian's might be able to damage enough of Pakistan's arsenal that they don't suffer any significant hits. But that's a lot of "ifs""

Should this horrific scenario come to pass, the USA may have to take the preventive action itself, rather than entrusting it to an unreliable Third World quasi-ally. Hopefully all this will remain dystropian speculation.


Steven Barnes said...

I wanted to say quickly that Jason wasn't the one with the white gunk on his face: we read about that in a magazine, happening to a boy who died. Jason is fine, and bless you guys for being scared. My bad.

Anonymous said...

You were cleaar the first time, I was just tired.

Mike Ralls said...

>Should this horrific scenario come to pass, the USA may have to take the preventive action itself, <

It would depended on the scenario. The US could be pretty confident of destroying all of Pakistan's nuclear arsenal in a first strike, but this would also result in the deaths' of more people than WWI & WWII combined, the effective extermination of the Pakistani people, and quite a lot of fallout drifting over India and possibly as far as Thailand. I could see some scenario's where that would be judged as necessary, say there is a radical revolution in Pakistan and the new regime threatens to nuke the US unless the US does X (leaves Afghanistan/ ends it's quasi-alliance with India / etc) (Official US policy is that threatening to use nuclear weapons against us is to be treated as a use of nuclear weapons against us) but even with 0 US casualties, I doubt we would be willing to do a nuclear first strike to, say, help out the Indians. It would have to be some situation that directly threatened us. And by and large Pakistan just doesn't care about us much. They care about India.

Shady_Grady said...

Does anyone know how many (if any) nuclear exchanges India and Pakistan could have before there would be worldwide environmental impact? Nuclear winter? Ozone holes? Or is that all unknown?

Travis said...

And all these points are precisly what makes the question about Pakistan a zinger. For about 5 years now Afganistan has been relatively stable aside from the border area where Al-Qaueda/Taliban can cross back and forth with relative impunity. Thing is Pakistan has been an ally, just not necessarily an effective one. When you look at the Waziristan region Pakistan was never very effective at policing the area. It's barely part of the country at all.
And then the political situation in Pakistan comes in to play - it's not hugely stable and could change rapidly.
And then India...
So when I say 'win' I'm not speaking of an invasion, I'm speaking of the defeat of Al-Queada and the security of the border region. "winning in" should not be confused with "winning against".

Anonymous said...

It's not that the anime characters are Caucasian. They are drawn in an unmarked state. In the West, we default unmarked cartoons to being Caucasian, while characters of other races would have their non-Caucasian features exaggerated. In anime on the other hand, the unmarked state is intended to be Asian, while Caucasian characters are marked.

It's explained much better than I can in this essay:

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