Saturday, May 30, 2009

On why my anime watching can get frustrating

Most mecha anime is equal parts male wish-fulfillment and a boys coming of age story. There's nothing inherently wrong with writing shows like that and a lot of my favourites are just this type of story. There is a universal quality in the stories of Amuro or Kamille being trust into war, essentially adulthood, and realizing that their actions and inaction affect others, or Simon learning to believe in himself, or -- Well you get my point. I like these stories, but sometimes the focus on men gets annoying.

The problem with a lot of mecha anime is what they do to the female characters. Since they are written about boys/men for boys/men, the women often end up being entirely defined by their relationships with men. For example, Lalah Sune isn't important as a person because all that matters is her impact on Char and Amuro. Even worse is the tendency to make a female character's entire inner life about romance or supporting her man (See: Ranka Lee. Everything I do or don't do depends on how things are going with Alto).

The can sometimes become very frustrating to me as a woman watching these shows. Which is why I tend to fall in love with the few shows that do it right. One of these shows is Bubblegum Crisis. I can't remember what made me love the show as a 14-year-old, it could have been the gritty cyberpunk setting or simply because rampaging robots are awesome, but I know that I keep coming back to the show years after because I get to see women who are as fully human as any cartoon character can be kicking ass. Priss, Linna, Sylvia, and Nene aren't the cute girls sitting on the sidelines cheering their men. In fact, there is no romance for the lead characters. They kick ass. They have their own life, interests, and day jobs. They aren't just there because the guys need a romantic interest or attention and I love them for it.

Oh, who am I kidding. The really important part of Bubblegum Crisis is the cheestastic 80s music:


P.S. If you are remotely interested in anime, check out We Remember Love. I've spend a good part of my day reading the archives of this blog and at this point I gotta say it's my favourite animeblog.

Click Here to Read More..

Friday, May 29, 2009

A warning

I've mention before that I'm an anime fan, right? I spend way to much time and money, by normal people's standards, on Japanese cartoon that for the most part are aimed at teenagers. Despite this, I like it. However, sometimes I get bored of and generally feel indifferent about anime. And whether it's that product of being busy with school (Why do I take summer courses, again?) and work or a prolonged post-exam funk, I haven't been very interested in anime lately. I haven't really kept up with the shows currently airing and I've neglected my half-built Acguy gunpla.

Last weekend, I went to a convention and, let me tell you, there is nothing like a large group of overly enthusiastic fans to get you excited about something again. So over the past week, I've caught up on some of the decent shows airing (Sora Kake Girl, Eden of the East, Shangri-La, and Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood). I've also made a list of older shows that I want to see again or that I really ought to have seen by now.

As you can imagine, this eats up my time. Mostly it chomps into the time I would spend on another activity I enjoy: playing on the blagosphere. As a compromise, I've decided that I'm probably going to start blogging the anime I watch. This doesn't mean I'm turning into an animeblog mostly because I could never manage to stick to just one topic.

Right now I'm watching the first episode of my favouritest anime ever and I'll probably post something on it Saturday afternoon. Until then you can enjoy this:

Click Here to Read More..

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

More Photos

I won't have much time to post anything of substance for the next couple of days (including the weekend) because I'll be either preping for or attending AnimeNorth. However, over the long weekend, I went to the Royal Botanical Gardens so I have A LOT of photos of tulips, lilac, and other flora which I'll be uploading to my flickr page in small batches and then posting here.

Tulip - Red Macro

Prunus serrulata 'Kanzan'

Tulip - Unfurl

Tulip - Purple

Flowering Tree

Click Here to Read More..

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Speech is Action

The recent conversations about d00ds and feminism at Zuska's and Dr. Isis' have been interesting yet full of FAIL because some d00ds just refuse to get it. One of the things these d00ds often refuse to get is why we're just talking about it instead of DoingSomething™. And this isn't just used by d00ds who don't get feminism, the phrase has been repeated over and over and over again by people of privileged groups in discussions of social justice.

As awesome a writer as I am (not), I have friends who are much more eloquent and coincidentally one of them is Learn Hexadecimal who posted a comment in another discussion about just this topic, so I asked him if I could repost it.

Speech is action.

Let me be more specific: every word that is on this page right now is a contribution to the social and cultural gestalt of humanity. Every person who has read these words, or read some of them, or skimmed them, or heard somebody talk about them once, has been affected by them. Maybe a little, maybe a lot. But to dismiss a conversation like this, to unroll a banner emblazoned "Talk Is Cheap" and prance away towards far-off charity websites, is to elide a very important aspect of what it is to be human: that we can communicate, and that our communication can affect others and allow us to be affected by them in turn when they communicate back to us.

I don't think anyone here actually forgot that fact. It would be kind of difficult. But I never want to hear "virtual virtue" derided as meaningless. It isn't. It can't be. Virtual virtue, Internet virtue, is the exercise of virtue in communication. Such exercise is crucial to all other aspects of what it means to be human and humane and good. How can we be virtuous if we never learn what virtue means? How can we be virtuous if we never teach that meaning to others-- never discuss it-- never remark on its presence or absence in the stories that shape our minds?

Lois Bujold/110, you tell us talk is cheap, and then you demonstrate that it isn't. You tell us that we tipped you over from intention to action; you tell us that this conversation, this dialogue we're having right here, had a material effect on your material contributions to one or more causes.

You're right: holding admirable opinions and doing nothing is indistinguishable from holding execrable opinions and doing nothing. Because if we hold admirable opinions and keep them locked inside our skulls, nobody will ever know about them. But if we hold admirable opinions and talk about them, and defend them in the court of public discourse whose standards of due process you so diligently uphold, we can change other people's minds. Such a powerful phrase, when you think about it: to change someone's mind. That is action. That is admirable.

Lois Bujold/121 , I see more of the same. Your stance on falsehood and the provability of motivations, while interesting, isn't my primary concern at the moment.

Consider this: you ask us to rule our statements in the court of public discourse by the measure of due process, and by that, you mean we ought to read a book before discussing why we don't like it. Why can't we ask Patricia Wrede to rule her statements in the public discourse of fiction-- and fiction is a discourse; vast, slow, indirect, but a discourse all the same-- by the measure of virtuous speech?

And by that, I mean that you are engaging in exactly the task which you imply is cheap and easy and not enough for you. Here we are, expressing our dislike for yet another erasure in yet another place of a people who are erased too often already; here you are, expressing your dislike for yet another case in yet another comment thread where people talk a book down without ever having picked up a copy. It must in some sense be a worthwhile task to you, or you wouldn't be doing it.

Yes, monetary donations to charitable organizations often have a more concrete, or at least more measurable, impact on issues than words on the Internet. But somebody still has to say those words. Somebody has to say "no, this is wrong, this story has problems", because if nobody ever does, then the people who write those stories will never realize that they could be doing it better.

You are, if I'm to believe the name attached to your comments, a writer of stories. Realize that you could be doing it better. Realize that everyone you know who also writes stories could be doing it better. In other words, what Stella Omega/133 said.

Fiction_Theory/131, you made a good point extremely well. I'm now in the middle of reading the blog post you linked in the course of introducing that point, and it is a work of further excellence. I encourage anyone whose eyes are passing over these words right now to go and read both of the above; you will be improved thereby.


The context to the post, in case you are wondering (and I hope you are), is a massive FAIL on the part of author Patricia Wrede. Last week, a review of Patricia Wrede's new book Thirteenth Child was posted and immediatedly is spawned a lot of discussion due to its premise. You see, she wanted to write an American settlement story with MAMMOTHS and other megafauna. That sounds kind of cool and may have made a good book if she had not decided that to do this she had to write Native Americans out of her book's history. Erasing a group that has been a victim of genocide and who has been marginizalized in US and Canadian history is wrong, unacceptable, and wrong. People rightfully got on her ass and on the asses of all the vapid jackasses defending her or attempting to derail the conversation. Naraht has complied a few links on the topic.

Click Here to Read More..

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Minor Venting

Dear Linguistics Prof,

I know you're teaching a joint course with psychology and therefore you need to touch upon the biology involved in language, but please don't repeat the lecture you gave this week EVER AGAIN. You were clearly clueless about neurobiology and your attempts to explain concepts you didn't get had me cringing and rolling my eyes.

That neuroscience student making faces at the back of your class

P.S. The part on the biology of the vocal apparatus and phonology was pretty cool and well done. Videos of flapping vocal folds are awesome.

Click Here to Read More..

Monday, May 11, 2009

Fucking Monday

If been in a less than stellar mood since the end of exams. It's probably some form of burnout and it sucks. If I didn't have work and social obligations, I would have spent Thursday through today lying in bed with my laptop and watching cute animals on youtube*.

As for Mondays, they will be the worst day ever for the next month or so. I can deal with having to wake up at 6 AM to get to work and I can deal with a 6 to 8 PM evening class, but I don't want to deal with both on the same day. Especially not when I have a 5 hour gap between the two. I am convinced that if previous experience hasn't convinced me that Mondays were invented by the devil, this schedule would.

Today was particularily bad because I'm been a massive ball of nervous energy and nausea. I also got attacked by wild books leaping from atop my bookshelf and they were fucking heavy and OUCHmotherfuckingOUCH. The only redeeming part of today was spending two hours with the bestest person on the planet.

P.S. If this sounds disjointed as fuck and pointless, that because my brain is not exactly coherent.

* Damn, I just watched that and i'm already feeling better.

Click Here to Read More..

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Almost there

I have one more exam to go. Hopefully, by this time tomorrow I will be happy and VERY drunk. I'll also try to forget that I'm taking a summer course which starts on Monday. *sigh*

Click Here to Read More..

Friday, May 1, 2009

More on me being fucked up

Pyth suggested in a comment to a previous post that it may not be a terrible idea to vent/talk about my personal experience with self-injury. I've been reluctant do do so for many reasons. One of then is that I so rarely (never) talk about it IRL or on the internet and I just don't know what to say or how to say it. A bigger obstacle is the fear of judgement.

I'm afraid of being seen as an "attention whore". It's hard to escape that insecurity when the most widespread image of a person who self-injures is the angsty teenager using mental illness cutting as a way of rebelling, getting their parent's attention, and/or garnering sympathy from their peers. While this image is dishonest and dismissive, it's not what really fucks me over and makes me insecure with how I'm judged when I talk about self-injury. What fucks me over is when it's used to create a distinction between "real" and "fake" self-injury.

You see, there are fake self-injurers (whatever that actually means) who use self-injury to manipulate people for sympathy points when there is really nothing wrong with them (lets ignore that that cutting/burning/hitting yourself for attention indicates that something is probably not right). These people flaunt it (by which we mean talk about it at all) and should be ignored or laughed at (see various jokes at self-injurer's expense). There are of course "real" self-injury. These are people with serious mental illness and serious problems because there's got to be something really, really wrong with you if you purposely injure yourself. More importantly, these "real" self-injurers don't ever talk about it because they are too ashamed and they should feel bad because they're doing a very bad thing. In conclusion, if you talk about deliberately injuring yourself you're just trying to get attention and you're not serious and should not be taken seriously.

I know this is all complete bullshit. I know that what other people, especially ignorant idiots, think shouldn't matter. But having that as a the main discussion and characterization of self-injury during those formative teenage years makes it hard not to develop anxiety about this judgement even when I know better.

Click Here to Read More..