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review 2017-08-19 21:36
Lady Mechanika - Vol. 1
Lady Mechanika, Volume 1: The Mystery of the Mechanical Corpse - Joe Benitez

[I received a copy of this book through NetGalley.]

Set in an alternate Victorian (circa 1879) England, this comics deals with Lady Mechanika, a private investigator/adventuress whose limbs are actually mechanical, and who’d like nothing more than to find out who made her like that and where she comes from; all the while being pitted against the sinister Blackpool Armaments Co. and both its shady employer and soldiers. In this arc, Mechanika investigates the death of a mysterious young woman with mechanical arms similar to her own, only to realise that a lot more players are involved, including Commander Winter and a circus full of characters each with their own secrets.

The drawing style itself is, in general, well-balanced and elegant, and the colours match the mood of the various panels and situations. It’s probably a little overkill on the steampunk aesthetics (in that at some point, there’s going to be a lot of leather and corsets and goggles on top hats etc.), so depending on one’s mood about that, it may not be a selling point. On the other hand, there’s a lot of attention to details, which makes it a joy to look for those in panels, and even if they’re of the, well, aesthetic persuasion in spite of usefulness, there’s plenty to keep your eyes busy. (I usually tends to like steampunk aesthetics, so count me in the second category, even though I tend to criticise lightly. ^^)

Not bonus points on the boobs, though, and some of the extreme ‘female body poses’ that I see in a lot of comics. Eye candy and all that, I get it. It’s just... it detracts from the overall badassness of the characters. (And large boobs are seriously not convenient, especially since they easily hurt during stunts. Whatever.)

The characters as a lot were likeable enough: from Mechanika herself, with her doubts but also her resourcefulness and her desire to do what’s right, to Lewis the inventor whose bottle problems hint at dark events in his past. And the little Alexandra, with her gimmick ‘you’re an impostor’atttitude, which made her quibs with Mechanika quite funny—apparently some authors in the comics write stories about M, and the kid thinks these are the truth. There seems to be a current of underlying relationships that beg to be developed in later issues, creating a sense of an over-plot that will be gradually revealed (which I sure hope will happen in later issues because if it doesn’t, I’ll be disappointed). So far I’m not too happy with the two enemy women apparently becoming enemies because of a man (as it’s a pretty boring reason), but it may still turn out to be something slightly different, so we’ll see. I could do with a little less wordiness, though—it doesn’t fare too well in some panels, making pages difficult to focus on—yet I’m also torn about that because some of that dialogue was of the banter kind, and I think this fits well with Victorian/steampunk themes in general.

Conclusion: 3.5 stars, going on 4.Quite an enjoyable comics in spite of the (typical?) eye-candy. I still liked the artwork and additional covers no matter what, as well as the story and its slight cliffhanger/ominous tones at the end.

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review 2017-08-19 18:23
The Founding Sausage-Makers
The Framers' Coup: The Making of the United States Constitution - Michael J. Klarman

The drafting and ratification of the Constitution of the United States is one of the most heavily mythologized parts of American history. For many people, what happened in Philadelphia was nothing less than a divinely-inspired blueprint for a national government, with the wise men who created it lionized as the "Founding Fathers" with all of the majesty implied by the use of the capital letters. Though this image has not gone unchallenged, it's endurance reflects its patriotic usefulness, an example of the national exceptionalism of which Americans are so proud.


Michael Klarman's book offers a very different view of the creation of our nation's governing document. Drawing upon a vast range of contemporary writings, he argues that the creation of the Constitution was driven by fears for the effects of democracy on economic policy. The key concern was debt. During the American Revolution the states and the Continental Congress had accumulated an enormous amount of debt in their fight against the British. Though the United States had won the war, in its aftermath the country was plunged into a severe economic depression that exacerbated the economic problems of thousands of Americans. Pressured by high taxes to service the debts, voters in several states elected officials who pursued a variety of measures designed to ease tax burdens and make debts easier to pay off, many of which threatened to destabilize national unity.


It was concerns over this which Klarman sees as driving the push for a new national governing structure. As he explains, the government provided in the Articles of Confederation lacked authority to address the problem, and was itself virtually prostrate from the burden of debts and the lack of any reliable means of paying them off. For many of the people behind the push for a stronger national government, the heart of the problem lay with the disproportionate power possessed by the smaller states, which enjoyed equal representation in the Confederation Congress. It was this problem which James Madison's Virginia Plan sought to address by creating a new legislature with power residing in a lower house with representation apportioned by population. His efforts to bully the delegates from the smaller states failed, though, and after a compromise was reached establishing an upper legislative house that maintained the principal of equal state representation, the desire of Madison and his allies to empower the embryonic government waned considerably. It was a fortuitous failure, though because such were the concerns of many people about the final document that even with all of the advantages the Constituion's advocates possessed, ratification was a close-run thing, with the support of the smaller states (who never would have gone along with a structure that would have diminished their representation to the degree Madison proposed) decisive to its success.


Deeply researched and clearly argued, Klarman's book is a masterpiece of historical writing. While his argument echoes the one famously advanced by Charles Beard in his Economic Interpretation of the Constitution of the United States, Klarman makes a more convincing case by nuancing his arguments in ways that acknowledges the complex range of factors involved. Contingency is at the heart of his tale, as he shows the interplay of arguments and how decisions played off of each other in ways that determined the outcome. It makes for an origin story for the Constitution that is more akin to the grimy details of sausage making than the high-minded debates of demigods, but it is one that is truer to the reality of politics than we would like to admit. For that reason alone it is essential reading for anyone interested in learning about the history of our country;s founding or how our national government came to be what it is today.

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text 2017-08-19 11:44
Reading progress update: I've read 190 out of 346 pages.
Life and Letters of Charles Darwin - Volume 1: By Charles Darwin - Illustrated - Charles Darwin

I recently saw Darwin dismissed as "a racist and social darwinist." I'm not entirely sure how that squares with  his oft expressed views in opposition to slavery - views that were not popular with many of his correspondents and colleagues, including Fitzroy, captain of the Beagle, with whom Darwin had a fierce argument on the subject.

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review 2017-08-18 11:37
KJ Charles: Spectred Isle
Spectred Isle - KJ Charles

I was away on holiday when this dropped onto my ebook reader, as it had sounded like something that was right up my street and I'd pre-ordered it (not that common an occurence for me, given the amount I read!). What I didn't expect was to end up reading it in one sitting, doing the 'just one more chapter' thing and then needing to know how it finished. 


Spectred Isle is the first of a series, which is a torment in and of itself, set just after World War I and it's pretty much impossible to find a character in it who hasn't been affected by that conflict. Our main guys, Saul Lazenby and Randolph Glyde, had very different experiences but both suffered significant loss - Saul has lost his future career and good reputation because of a mistaken relationship, while Randolph's family has been destroyed, leaving him facing a future where he is literally the last of his line.


This is not quite our world, though, but one where a shadow war took place alongside the fighting in the trenches and Glyde and his family were active participants, tearing open barriers between our world and the 'other side'. Now, as a result, while Whitehall tries to pull magic practitioners into their bureaucracy, Glyde and his friends are left dealing with folklore and story come to horrible life. Saul, finding employment with an eccentric who has all sorts of odd ideas, keeps turning up in all the wrong places and then literally becomes part of what's going on. 


The only downside? Book 2 isn't out yet. This book definitely worked for me, really enjoyed it and am looking forward to seeing how this series works out.

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text 2017-08-18 02:42
TCG Tokyo Consulting Group Japan: History

Jul. 1998    -         Establishment of Kuno Yasunari CPA Firm


May. 2004           Establishment of Financial and Accounting Department and Staffing Division in Kuno Yasunari CPA Firm


Oct. 2004    -        Establishment of Financial and Accounting Department and Staff Introduction Division in Kuno Yasunari CPA Firm


Mar. 2005   -       Establishment of Jinzai Kaihatsu Private Ltd. (Capital 3 million yen)


Mar. 2005   -       Establishment of SSG Limited (Capital 3 million Yen)


Aug. 2005   -        Establishment of SSG Private Limited (Capital 3 Million yen)


Aug. 2005   -        Increase of capital for Jinzai Kaihatsu Ltd, (Capital 10 million yen)


Sep. 2005   -        Organization change from Jinzai Kaihatsu Private Ltd to Jinzai Kaihatsu Co., Ltd (Capital 10 million yen)


Nov. 2005   -       Establishment of Yokohama branch of Jinzai Kaihatsu Co. Ltd Increase in capital for Jinzai Kaihatsu to 20 Million yen Establishment of Staffing Department. Establishment of Staff Introduction Department


Jan. 2006   -         The Financial and Accounting Department and Staffing and Staff Introduction Division of Kuno Yasunari CPA Firm was dissolved and integrated with Jinzai Kaihatsu Co., Ltd (Incorporated into sole proprietorship)


Feb. 2006   -        Establishment of Tokyo Tax Accountant Corporation. The tax department of Kuno Yasunari CPA Firm was transferred to Tokyo Tax Accountant Corporation.


May. 2006   -       Increase in capital for Jinzai Kaihatsu Co., Ltd (Capital 50 million yen)


Jun. 2006   -         Establishment of Jinzai Kaihatsu Co., Ltd., Osaka and Nagoya Branch.


Oct. 2006   -         Establishment of Tokyo Consulting Firm (Hong Kong) Ltd.


Jan. 2007   -         Establishment of Tokyo Tax Accountant Corporation Shanghai Office


May. 2007   -       Establishment of Tokyo Consulting Firm Private Limited(India) - Delhi/Gurgaon Office


Jun. 2007   -         Establishment of Tokyo Consulting Firm Co., Ltd. (Japan)


Nov. 2007   -       Organization change from SSG Co., Ltd. to Tokyo Venture Capital Co., Ltd (Capital 50 million yen)


Jun. 2009   -         Setting up the Chennai office of Tokyo Consulting Firm Private Limited (India)


Sep. 2010   -        Setting up the Bangalore Office of Tokyo Consulting Firm Private Limited (India)


Oct. 2010   -         Establishment of Tokyo Consulting Firm Human Resources Private Limited (India)


Jan. 2011   -         Setting up the Pune Office of Tokyo Consulting Firm Private Limited (India)


Mar. 2011   -       Establishment of Tokyo Consulting Firm Co., Ltd.(Thailand)


Mar. 2011   -       Establishment of Kuno Yasunari LLC (Mongolia)


Mar. 2011   -       Setting up Mumbai Office of Tokyo Consulting Firm Private Limited (India)


Apr. 2011   -        Establishment of Tokyo Consulting Firm Co., Ltd.(Vietnam)


Apr. 2011   -        Establishment of Tokyo Consulting Firm Co., Pte. Ltd.(Singapore)


Apr. 2011   -        Establishment of PT. Tokyo Consulting. (Indonesia)


Apr. 2011   -        Establishment of Tokyo Consulting Firm Co., Ltd.(Cambodia)


May. 2011   -       Establishment of Tokyo Consulting Firm Private., Ltd.(Sri Lanka)


Jun. 2011   -       Tokyo Consulting Firm Co., Ltd. - Philippines Branch to be established


Jul. 2011   -          Tokyo Consulting Firm Co., Ltd.(Laos) to be established


Jul. 2011   -          東顧投資諮詢(上海)有限公司 (Tokyo Consulting firm Shanghai Office) to be established


Aug. 2011   -        Tokyo Consulting Firm Co., Ltd. (Bangladesh) to be established


Jan. 2012   -         Tokyo Consulting Firm Danişmanlik Lımıted Şırketı.(Turkey) to be established


Feb. 2012   -        Tokyo Consulting Firm Limitada (Brazil) to be established


Mar. 2012   -       Tokyo Consulting Moscow (Russia) to be established


Jun. 2012   -         Kuno Yasunari Consulting Firm JLT (Dubai) to be established


Jun. 2012   -         Tokyo Consulting Firm Co., Ltd. (Myanmar) to be established


Oct. 2012   -         Tokyo Consulting Firm SA de CV (Mexico) to be established


Nov. 2012   -       Tokyo Consulting Firm (Pty) Ltd. (South Africa) to be established


Mar. 2013   -       Tokyo Consulting Firm Sarlau (Morocco) to be established


May 2013   -        Tokyo Consulting Firm, S.A.C (Peru) to be established

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