Prayers for Steven DenBeste

via Ubu, SDB has been out of contact for over a week, since the big storm. An escalating investigation by the Otakusphere led to this by Brickmuppet:

A few minutes ago I was contacted by the Beaverton police. My information was quite limited and so there were three addresses that could have been Steven’s. As it happened, the second was Steven’s family. The officer had offered to escort them to Steven’s house, but they said they would handle things in the family and declined further assistance. That is all I know at this time, and, as I’m not family, it’s all I am likely to discover.
It does not sound at all good.

Follow here.

UPDATE: Steven has passed away. Indeed we belong to God and to Him indeed we return. Expressions of sorrow by Pete, Ubu, Brickmuppet, Ed Morrissey, Bill Quick, and others at the thread on Chizumatic. Please share links to other tributes in comments.

Like everyone else, I encountered Steven via his blog, USS Clueless, and appreciated the depth of his analyses even as I disagreed with nearly everything he wrote. He was an incredible writer with a gift for condensing complex ideas into teachable form. He forced me to be more rigorous and think through my positions, strengthening me and making me a better writer and blogger about politics. In a strange way he was akin to a mentor, despite our differences.

And then he retired and became an anime blogger, which opened up an entirely new vista, for myself and also my children. Steven’s recommendations of Bottle Fairy, Someday’s Dreamers, and Sugar Snow Fairy truly delighted my kids and enriched them. His recommendations of darker, sometimes offbeat fare such as Kino and Haibane Renmei resonated with me, to the extent that I named the blog after the latter, which is a honest example of something that truly blew my mind. And Steven plied me with his fair share of guilty pleasures, of which Ranma is easily the standard bearer 🙂

Steven was a kind soul whose opinions and passions were grounded in his essential humanism. I wish I’d had the chance to tell him at least once what he meant to me and how much I appreciated him.

Get well soon, Ubu

I can’t believe it took me a week to notice – apparently Ubu Roi had a (thankfully mild) stroke last week. He seems to be recovering well but it is still a terrifying thing to contemplate. He’s a lucky man and I am glad he is doing okay, and will pray for his continued and complete recovery.

It’s a good excuse to post Stroke Stick Guy as a public service – the first few hours of a stroke are the most critical. My PhD dissertation was in Diffusion MRI (one of the main tools to detect ischemia) so it’s a topic I’ve thought quite a bit about. My best wishes to Ubu and his family.

politics and the otakusphere

word cloud of the Constitution of the United StatesFour years ago I had a minor snit about the encroachment of politics into our realm, and while we are still relatively early in the next presidential election cycle, I already sense that the problem will recur. I’m guilty of some political musing here myself, but I do make a reasonable effort to avoid overt rah-rah cheering for one side or the other here (unlike my other haunts, where I let my partisan biases hang out). I really do see geekblogging as a refuge for myself, and while I certainly cannot and do not want to tell anyone how to run their blog or what they can or can’t post, I do find myself itching for the damn thing to be over already.

Wishful thinking, I know. It’s only April and we have 6 months left to go. It’s an eternity.

Fledge retires… enter Otakun

I have a little announcement of sorts, which is entirely meta and has no real significance whatsoever other than the purely semantic. I’ve decided to retire my “Fledgling Otaku” nickname and adopt a new pseudonymous persona, “Otaku Kun”. If you’re so inclined, you can abbreviate that as otakun instead of fledge – and my email contact is also updated accordingly to otakun at haibane dot info.

I started this blog almost four years ago almost entirely due to the influence of Steven den Beste, who I consider my anime blogfather and inspiration for embracing anime. It’s Steven who christened me “fledgling otaku” and I’ve been enormously proud of that. However, with 4 years and nearly 900 posts, I think it’s time to stop pretending I’m a newbie and admit that I’m an addict, not just of anime but of all things otaku/geek. The category list at right bears witness to the absurd breadth of my compulsions.

I’ve also resolved to blog more regularly here, because I’ve found that much of what I’ve written has been invaluable as a reference in sharing these works of art and fiction with my friends. I want to try and capture as much of it as I can, and maybe even share it with my kids as they get older. So i will be posting more often, at a minimum.

However, I also want to try and shake things up a little. That means for one thing a fresh look and redesign, which I’ll get around to soon. But also I’d like to build a cadre of peers here to encourage more discussion and participation, because in every case I’ve found that when you folks engage and leave comments, I learn so much more, and am able to derive that much more enjoyment and appreciation from all of this. It’s a value multiplier, and I’d like for it to become the focus. I have some ideas in that regard but I’ll save that for later.

So, at the risk of giving myself multiple personality disorder, this is Fledgling Otaku, signing out. Otakun, the floor is yours!

The @Otakusphere comes to Twitter

I have created a Twitter account, @Otakusphere which is an aggregate of all the blogs I link to in my sidebar and which are indexed by the Otakusphere Search Engine. The advantage of this over an RSS feed is that each link takes you to the original blog instead of viewing the post in the blog’s feed. It’s actually being aggregated via an Otakusphere Room at Friendfeed wich makes it very easy to manage the source feeds which pipe into twitter via Twitterfeed. If you’re on twitter, follow @otakusphere and if you aren’t, you can subscribe to the aggregate RSS feed.