Den of the Cyphered Wolf

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Southfield City Council Meeting February 21, 2012

City Council Meeting Held in Southfield, Michigan on February 21, 2012

Topics Include
  • A Tax Abatement Request from Computerized Facility Integration, LLC
  • Poverty Tax Exemption Program Revisions
  • Pool and Sports Arena Refurbishing
  • Update to FEMA SAFER Grant Issues
  • An upcoming Denso abatement hearing
  • Allegations of Police Time Card Fraud

An agenda and related documents can be found here.

I Love Animation

So the other day I'm sitting around watching an episode of Young Justice and my mom berates me for watching cartoons. This is mostly going to be a history, but let me say that especially when it comes to action animation allows for shots you just couldn't get in live action.

And yes, 5 years later The Matrix would rip off this scene.

So I am now going to defend myself in a quasi academic way. First off let me say I was incredibly lucky growing up. Some of the best animated stuff came out in the 90's. And I'm not saying that to be snarky.

The Dark Age of Animation

Animation especially good animation is incredibly labor intensive. Your average live action episode takes about a month to produce. Animation, try 9. See the way animation works is by presenting a bunch a images faster than the eye can process the difference.

Normally that's somewhere in the neighborhood of 30 per second. 20 minutes times 60 seconds times 30 frames, that's 36,000 frames. Now I know a lot of folks are going say, well what about computers. In 2-d animation they help in inking and editing, but a lot of the penciling is still done by hand, on paper or sometimes digital tablets, but still by hand.

After the fall of the Hollywood system and the decrease of shorts in theatres, animation had to move to TV. And schedules and budgets got tighter. As a result shortcuts such as limiting animation and reusing animation were taken and quality did go down.

People noticed and eventually the animation ghetto was born. The idea that cartoons are so bad that only kids could enjoy them.

Okay this post was supposed to be about TV and I'll get there but you need background so let's go to the movies.

A lot of animators hated the cartoons are for kids idea and tried to eschew it, but well folks you know who weird the definition of mature can get. Don't get me wrong, though. I love Ralph Bakshi.

Now Disney is a weird case. For a while they were the only animation movie studio in town. They were still making critically acclaimed stuff in the Dark Age, but a lot of the animators hated it.

Because animation is so labor intensive Disney had become an animation factory. And a lot of artists, wink wink, nudge nudge Don Bluth, had a problem with that.

Oh Don Bluth one of the greatest animators ever. You gave me both Iron Giant and Titan A.E. All hail Lord Bluth. Miles that was like 20 years later.

Right what was my point? A lot of the animators felt frustrated. There was a lot of a sense that Disney wasn't as good as it used to be, and that they were at the end of an age. It didn't help that the king had died. This all came to a head with the Secret of Nimh. Yeah, eventually Bluth left Disney and forged and a rivalry with them.

Disney had been offered the rights to the book but turned it down and a lot of the animators, Bluth included, really wanted to work on it. The word on the street is that Disney thought the story was too dark for kids. In total 11 animators left to work on it.

In the industry it was no secret that Disney and Don Bluth were competing. Eventually in 1986 Bluth's An American Tail out grossed Disney's The Great Mouse Detective. That caused Disney to rethink how it was doing things, leading to.

The Renaissance Age of Animation

The Renaissance age is so dubbed because it's mostly remembered for the Disney Renaissance, a period of time when Disney was making cash hand over fist. Now when most people think of the Disney Renaissance they think Aladdin, Beauty and the Beast, The Lion King etc. , but in my mind there are two movies that are even more responsible that get too little credit.

Narratively speaking Who Framed Roger Rabbit is one of the weirdest movies in the Disney lexicon. In all honesty it's one of the least kid friendly movies Disney ever made.

It works as a send up to everything Hollywood in the 1940's and 50's. Both golden age cartoons, and old school noirs.

Look I obviously love the movie, but that's only part of it's charm. It really was innovative and along with the The Rescuers Down Under paved the way for digital inking. All this led to richer crisper coloring. And it seemed that Disney wasn't as afraid of going dark.

Just like everyone else kids like a little bit of pathos. Sometimes a good story has to punch you in the gut.

The TV Arena

Disney was making so much cash they decided to throw their hat into the TV arena. For a time it seemed like all the time and effort good animation takes can pay off financially.

Now a lot of Disney's TV fair were adaptations of their movies.

The WB eventually had the same idea and it lead to what is considered by many to be the best animated television show ever. The writing was exquisite, the music was great, animation great.

If you haven't, watch it. Watch it now! Stop reading this and go! It holds up and again many consider this to be the best adaptation of Batman. People think we nerds like Mark Hamill because of Star Wars, and we do, but to us he is not Luke Skywalker. He is the Joker. It's never been a competition between Jack and Heath it's always been Mark and Heath.

Anyway, in a lot of ways Batman The Animated Series set the bar. Saturday morning cartoons could be dark again they could be well written. They could be good.

Now I can go into what both Batman and Gargoyles got right but the Nostalgia Critic already did it for both. But I will say compare how animation improved over the years

Now mostly I've about Disney, but I can't overstate the importance of Toonami either.

A lot of kids were getting their first taste of Anime.

Again a lot of those shows weren't afraid to punch you in the gut.

(Rainmaker just make a season 5 already. Stop toying with us.)

My point I guess is that Cartoon Network in general was doing some really interesting and impressive stuff.

Then Toonami was canceled, and for a while I thought things had fallen.

And don't get me wrong they got bad.

But then Generator Rex, Ben 10 Alien Force/Ultimate Alien, Young Justice, and ThunderCats came. Heck if they wanted to they could rebuild Toonami with those shows as a core.

Note: I was wrong. Don Bluth didn't do Iron Giant. That would be Brad Bird.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Along the Road (Forever Forward)

The road is long and cold and dark
It is not my place to know where it leads or when it ends
But it is my duty to travel along it

It twists and forks and circles
Yet my feet continue to walk along it
And though I am without map or lantern
My duty is clear
Forward Forever Forward
Until it abruptly and suddenly stops

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Unemployment of Young People In the U.S.and Europe

Today I was reading a New York Times Article about young people being out of work ... in Europe. It's a good article. I just wanted to compare the stats so here they are.

And here are comparative numbers for the U.S.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Southfield Public School District Board Meeting February 14, 2012

Southfield Public School Board Meeting Held February 14, 2012

Topics Include

  • Black History Month
  • Issues with the Latchkey Program
  • Winners of an 8th Grade Essay Contest

An agenda and related documents can be found here.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Southfield City Council Special Meeting February 13, 2012

Topics Include
  • The planning of a prescribed burn for the Valley Woods restoration project
  • The Detroit Inside/Out exhibit coming to Southfield
  • A potential moratorium on pawnshops and alternative financial institutions such as payday loan shops
An agenda and related documents can be found here.

Southfield Regular City Council Meeting February 13, 2012

Regular City Council Meeting Held in Southfield, Michigan on February 13, 2012

Topics Include
  • Approval of New Thermal Imaging Camera's for the Fire Department
  • The upcoming Denso abatement hearing
  • A special use request for Kronk Gym
  • Allegations that police police officers have been receiving favors such as free towing
  • A 180 day moratorium on pawnshops and alternative financial institutions such as but not limited to payday loan shops.
You can find an agenda and related documents here.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Why U of M Should Hire or Should Have Hired Lindsay Blackwell

Yeah. Right now I'm having my own crisis of confidence on my job/money issues. I'm surfing the web and come across the story of Lindsay Blackwell. Some time in October she created a fairly well designed website in hopes of landing a social media position at the University of Michigan. Now I had heard about this story before, but what stuck me was the tone of some of the comments, in these stories.

A lot of them going into reasons why she shouldn't be hired. In an attempt to vent some of my own anger at the current job market. I'm going to discuss why she should. Now don't get me wrong this isn't really about Lindsay Blackwell. This is about what I consider backwards marketing strategy.

1. Relationships with the media.
Here is the thing. This stunt of her's has already put her on the media watchlist, which means that she could bring all sorts of positive attention to University of Michigan. She probably already has the cards of a lot of newspaper and television reporters in her Rolodex. That is an incredible asset for a position like that. It's developing and maintaining those types of relationships is arguably one of the hardest aspects of any PR department.

2. Technical Acumen
Though the building of the website she has already proven that she knows or knows someone who knows how to build interesting digital products. Part of what makes me a "sad panda" is looking at companies and institutions who's digital communications could easily be improved who think that they're doing a good job. Here is the deal people. The internet is one of the greatest tools around when it comes to getting people interested in and talking about your brand. And I don't just mean in a gimmicky way. I mean providing basic information about the products and services you provide. Having an interesting and informative website can go a long way in customer satisfaction. And make no mistake every alumnus, professor, student, and sports fan is a customer. University of Michigan should want all of them to like U of M enough to be willing to pump their time,money, and effort into making the University an overall great institution.

And this should be obvious. A lot of the comments were along the lines of "She doesn't know how to keep her mouth shut." Keeping your mouth shut in this day and age is pardon the french backasswards. People in the age of the internet are used to having information at their fingertips. Branding is more important than ever. And talk like that frustrates me because I know companies do think like that and it is going to bite them in 5 years when nobody has a clue what their brand is or why they should like it.

3. She makes a good face
Here is another thing. Most of the best brands, they have a person or character represents them. From this stunt it's clear she's a person, not just amorphous lump on the other end of a telephone. People love people. I can not tell you how much people love interacting with a personification of a product or service. There are all sorts of reasons for it and I'm not sure I can explain it myself. But it's not new. Social media is just a new medium for it. Why do you think we have Disney World?

Marketing genius I tell you. Kids love having Tony, the Tiger at their parties. Michigan State loves Sparty. And Steve Jobs, will remain a demigod in the eyes of the cult of apple, even after his death.

Especially with larger companies, people hate it just being an institution. And when it is gets harder for them accept why decisions are being made. It's always the company raised prices, not President Bill had to raise prices to keep the company afloat.

4. You can get her while she's young
Here is the rub. I get that company turn over is high right now. But that really does hurt branding. If you get her when she's young she'll be more loyal and you won't have to worry about someone else who was becoming the face jumping ship in 2 years, twitter style. All of the above takes time to develop and she's got a great start but, if they get can her, and they get her to stick around she can continue to develop relationships with the press, and relationships with clientele in interesting and innovative ways that will genuinely benefit the brand of the University of Michigan.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Movie Review: Superman/Batman Apocalypse

The plot is basically an origin story for Supergirl. Superman and Batman find her and try to acclimate her to both her powers and earth's culture. Eventually Darkseid decides he wants to recruit her into the Female Furies and kidnaps her and that folks is our plot.

Originally I was going to do a point by point comparison between this movie and the Superman: The Animated Series episodes "Little Girl Lost" and "Legacy", but in re-watching the episodes I realize that both the writing and animation here are better. A lot of what happens makes more narrative sense here than what happened in those episodes making this movie a lot more satisfying.

That said this movie does feel a lot like a tv show, more so than most of the other new DC animated stuff. There are a lot of conflicts that are hinted at but don't really get resolved. Part of my dissatisfaction comes from the fact that the main plot is so simple. Go to Apokolips, find Kara Zor-El, and bring her back. It really does feel like the pilot to a Supergirl TV show. When you compare it to fair like Batman: Under the Red Hood it just doesn't seem as epic.

It doesn't seem as much worth a movie, but more along the lines of an arc in Young Justice.

So I guess I will make some comparisons. First off this is a Supergirl, but not the Timmverse's Supergirl. While I liked her as a character she always felt like Superman's kid cousin. She got much needed character development in Justice League Unlimited, but up until that point she was just a plucky girl. Likable, but still somewhat 2-dimentional.

Here she's got a lot more going on in her head. She's not a character in Superman's story. Superman is a character in her's. Also it makes an interesting sort of elesworlds story. In the Timmverse she shows up before the development of the Justice League so it's almost completely up to Kent how the Supergirl issue will be handled and he handles it as you would expect in both stories, as an overprotective parent. But here Batman and Wonderwoman make it clear that it's not just what's best for Kara that matters. They have to do what's best for the people of earth and letting loose an untrained teenager who can punch a 10 foot crater into the street if she loses her temper might not be it. In short they tell him no you can't keep the puppy, no matter how big her eyes are.

The result is a subtly different Supergirl from that of the Timmverse, one who views herself as more of an equal to Kent. The major arcs of the Timmverse Supergirl revolved around her keeping the big blue boyscout as a role model, but growing into her own superhero. There is a similar arc here but by the second act she is already her own person, which is the first step.

Now once we get to Apokolips is where the animation really starts to shine, with very well choreographed fight scenes. Apokolips isn't just scary because of the fire and brimstone, but, because there is real chance, well real enough, that our heroes aren't coming back from this one.

The last 10 minutes are really satisfying. By the end of the movie it's clear that if she really wanted to she could eventually become the successor to Superman in just about every way, not just trying to live up to him but at least being his number two, his lancer when Batman's not around. And maybe eventually becoming the go to super. You know she'll do the name of super proud, but again it leaves you wanting more. It really was like it was a first episode.

Note: I didn't read the comics.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

My Arm

Words heard long ago.
This arm is my arm.
No one else's
I make what I will with it.
What I make I make with it
It is my arm alone
It's strength my own
And through it I will create my way

Monday, February 6, 2012

Movie Review: Daybreakers

Okay. You know how I've been on a vampires are monsters because by definition they have to eat us kick. Well now I'm going to review Daybreakers. First off I like it. It's a smart vampire movie. It deals with just that dilemma. They have to drink blood. And if they don't bad bad things happen.

In this movie vampires start off as your Lastat looking vampires and without blood slowly start degrading into your Orlok looking vampires. That is the plot. Figure out a way to get them off blood before a second vampire apocalypse happens. Get them off blood before the vampires the other vampires are afraid of take over, cause those are some scary mother -shut yo' mouth. I'm only talking about homo draculas.

And it works. The movie understands completely the underlying reason why vampires are bad, and plays with it. It's not that they're sociopathic, though they are. It's not because they're immortal and hard to kill, though they are. It's not because they're conniving bastards, though they are. It's because they have to eat us, and that just ain't right. If the vampire apocalypse happens I don't want to feed and I don't want to be fed on. Both seem like pretty lousy ways to live. Thus my general KOS approach to blood suckers.

Okay so apart from the premise, how does it stack up? First off they choose which vampire rules they were going to work with well. The only "weird" twist I can think of is that the vampires developed tech to help them overcome they're weaknesses, and well that makes sense. When let's call it 90 %of the population becomes night walkers you adjust. The vampire rules aren't annoying. Carlyle from said it best, playing around with the lore is one thing but if you push it too far you make vampires not vampires, and these guys are definitely vampires. There is even a self awareness about it that I think humanity would shy away from in reality.

These guys are vampires and are embracing it... so much so that there's a blood crisis.

Okay how about gore factor. It's not a vampire movie without the aforementioned blood. Let's just say when almost all of humanity has turned vamp and the blood starts running out you do not want to be the one guy in the room with a heartbeat. You're chum man. You are chum!

I described the general plot but how about how it's executed. It is executed damn well. Again the movie is smart with its vampires exploring the ramifications of it. It explains itself well and has few lose ends or plot holes. It is an intelligent vampire movie.

Anime Talk: Black Blood Brothers

Okay so time to review Black Blood Brothers. Well it's entertaining. But it has quite a few caveats. The dialogue and the story at times can be rather cheesy, the animation is limited, and I disagree strongly with it's portrayal of vampires.

Alright as mentioned in a previous post you can't make an entirely innocent vampire. By definition they are all monsters to some degree or another. And in trying the protagonist and his brother for the first few episodes are really bland, cheesy, annoying or some combination of the three. In fact for about the first 5 episodes you wish the series didn't focus on the black blood brothers so much. Take Zelman Clock. He looks like a guy with a back story. He's an obviously important player and yet takes life so nonchalantly. What he'd do to get in charge? That seems like an interesting tale. I want to see more of him. Or what about that Kelly Wong woman. She looks like she belongs in a different show. I want to see that show. The one about smuggling vampires across the border. A vampire resistance fighting against human tyranny.

You want to know everyone else's deal. Fortunately the second half gets into it. Don't get me wrong they really don't do these guys justice, and the heroes we get don't have much personality. It's as if anybody who gets more than 20 minutes of screen time has to get turned into a lump.

Despite all that it does have it moments. When Clock finally does get off his ass in the second half we see one hell of a fire duel.

All of this leads me to the real problem I have with it. The show never goes whole hog with vampires. It tries do everything it can to make you forget the good guys are vamps. Hell even Clock who's suppose to register as a distinct shade of gray never does anything that would get him a what the hell hero, not really even a raised eyebrow. You're a vampire, man!

Not only that, but he is introduced as the wild maverick vampire the other good guy vampires hate dealing with. Why? I don't see it.

Okay okay. I'm beating up on the series a bit, but it is kind of entertaining. When you scrap away all the cheese, Kotaro's bullshit, and the will they or won't they plot with Katsuragi (the entirety of the series happens in about three days and I don't care who you are I ain't jumpin' in a vampire infested river for you if I've only known you for three days. Screw you.) there are some pretty interesting ideas.

I like the idea of one person being responsible for warding off evil. I also like some of the later fights. Well any fight Cain gets involved in really. Again nothing here is on Black Lagoon level.

But well the animation gets better as it goes on. It just seems like for every hand clap moment there is boo moment where the characters act in ways that are detrimental to their own survival. I'm looking at you Kotaro. Sure this kid is like ten but really, you know, there is a group of what basically amounts to terrorists and one of the dots on their agenda is to kill him and his brother and his first thought is let's run away and wander the streets aimlessly. Yes there is a twist regarding this kid, but it really doesn't stop me from face palming his stupidity.

And considering that more than half the cast are vampires a whole lot of stuff is sentimentalized to the point of being unbelievable. I mean what bills itself as a dark actiony vampire story is the last place I'd expect to get diabetes.

Why Vampires are Evil

Okay so I'd thought I'd go on an anime reviewing kick after Rin so right now I'm watching Black Blood Brothers. But I have to be honest vampires are evil and nothing you do is going to annoy me more than trying to portray them as anything other than that.

People play around with vampire lore. I get it, but by definition vampires have to have at least one constant trait. They have the urge to drink blood or at the very least some sort of human life force. Something or rather someone has to die in order for them to live. Or at least live comfortably. Thus they are by their very nature evil.

Some versions are more sociopathic than others, with the reveling in the murder of humanity. And others at least feel guilty about that aspect of their biology, but it doesn't change the fact that it makes them an anathema to humanity in the most basic of ways. They eat us! You can't have a conversation with them without them being tempted to nom on that vain in your neck man!

Sure being natural enemies, humanity can do some damn distasteful things to the vampire. But there is no overriding the fact that we are natural enemies. Again, THEY EAT US! And for all the vampire lovers out there, I'm looking at you Sookie Stackhouse, even if you aren't on the menu some other poor sap is. My patented policy towards the vampire is stake now, stake later, stake some more and when everyone is permanently dead, don't ask questions and just be glad you still have all your hemoglobin.

Hell even Angel the coolest vampire I can think of made damn sure his friends knew to kill him if he ever had a relapse.

And now that I am thinking about it that Kotoro kid is stupid and annoying. Not just as a vampire but as a character. I'm watching the third episode and still wondering what he adds to the mix other than being a Jar Jar. Sorry, had to get that out of my system.

Anyway back to my original point. Even the vampires that are aware of their nature are not going to exactly be clean heroes. The best you can hope for is gray. You are not going to make vampires nice and fuzzy. And if you do you are missing the point. Even when vampires aren't complete bastards they have to put effort into it. And that's' why I guess I like them. Being nice when it comes natural is one thing. Being half-decent when every bone in your body is screaming at you to be at best a murderer and at worse an asshat murderer is another.

And that is what interesting about the vampire searching for redemption, trying to do good when you're hardwired for evil. But here is the problem. It doesn't work when the vampire isn't hardwired for evil, because then you have something other than a vampire. And being good when you're at worse naturally neutral doesn't have the same pathos to it. It doesn't have the same room for character development. In fact it just makes the vampire feel like an angsty douche.

Then again there is also the catharsis of seeing pay evil unto evil in full affect. And vampires as a general rule fully believe that paying evil unto evil is the best way to deal with it.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Anime Talk: Rin Daughters of Mnemosyne

So late last night I watched RIN: Daughters of Mnemosyne, and thought that I would review/analyze it. Before I got into this thing I should tell you two things. First off I liked it. Second off it has a lot of violence and a lot of sex. Yep so much so that after watching I spent a lot of time thinking about how the series uses sex and thought, " I could write a literary essay about that". And guess what that's what the second half of this bad boy is going to be.?

But first off a general review. Occult detective? Check. Attractive women both in terms of personality and uh, oh let's just be honest overt fan service? Check. Kickass action sequences? Check. Philosophical mind screw? Check.

Apart from her... other assets -I can't get around it the series has fan service up the wazoo, and fan disservice but I'll get to that- I like Rin's, the lead character's personality. Until the shit hits the fan she gets a lot of funny and fun dialogue. She's catty in a good way. She wants to do what she wants and isn't going to let anyone hold her back from it.

The action sequences are breath taking. When they need to be blazing fast they are but at the same time the series isn't afraid to just ratchet up the suspense. Even though the protagonist is immortal you still are on the seat of your chair because, well they put the woman's body through the ringer. Sure she can't die but all that kind of stuff has to hurt like hell. One antagonist knowing she can't kill her gets her jollies by just causing her pain. Then again that seems to be most of the antagonists' MO. Again I will get to this later but her body get destroyed, broken and violated in the worst and I do mean worst ways.

The major complaint people have about the Highlander series is that it doesn't seem like the immortals there realize that their bodies don't act normally. A large reason why people "don't" is because we intuitively know we only get one body and if you majorly mess it up you don't get a do-over.

Not the case here. I guess what I am saying is that for better or worse they do things to the body in this series that are just wrong.

Yeah. It's not exactly for the squeamish.

The first four episodes are really good and the last two are really weird. Not bad, just weird. I'm going to have to watch them again.

Remember when I said that this series does things to the body that are just wrong. Well I suppose that is part of the point. On a philosophical level I am intrigued by the body as is the series. But let us divorce ourselves from it a bit.

The only possessions we are born to by right are our minds and our bodies. Taking it even further we are aware of our bodies far sooner than we are of our minds. The body for this reason has a profound importance on our concept of self and of the development of that concept. While more often than not when describing myself I am describe my mind, without physical form that mind would not be able to interact with the world around it.

As such the body is one of the most precious things I possess. It is the translator of the mind's intent as well as the translator of the world's reality. When physically restrained our freedom is taken from us in the most basic ways. When the body is literally forced to do what we would not will we are violated in the most basic way. And yes there is a lot of rape imagery in the series.

At the same time when we are in full control of our bodies and able to use them to the fullest we are most free. I'll get to the sex later, but right now I want to focus on the concept of immortality. Through the process of aging a human being is unable to use their body to its fullest. It is a natural restriction and a frustrating loss of the freedom the body once afforded.

The series highlights this by spanning more than half a century. While several characters in the series do not age, several of them do. We see one character move from his 30's to his 60's and another go from his early 20's to probably his early 40's.

While at the time it seemed a throwaway line the protagonist does discuss that maybe one of them should take it easier.

The two female leads, when not in moral peril are eternally youthful, and as such are free to use their bodies to the fullest. There is no overt sex between the two but the series gets as close as it a can without having them do the horizontal tango. The second main character, Mimi, makes a point of saying that when you know you aren't going to die why the hell not do what you want. As stated earlier several of our inhibitions are tied to intuitive knowledge of the body's limitations. But when those limitations are removed, such as in the case of regenerative immortality, why not use the body to its fullest. In that circumstance would not our attitude towards the body change. It would no longer potentially be a prison but an open field a possibility.

Secondarily in the series the biology of immortals makes them... randy as all hell. Some of the time it's in an "anything that moves sense" and the series has fun with it. But when a male of their species enters the picture they literally are unable to control themselves. They are literally like animals in heat. To complete the animal metaphor the physical general difference between male immortals and female immortals are less subtle than in the rest of humanity. While the females become immortal, males' lifespan are shortened as mayflies, they sprout wings, become flying ids that have sex and kill the opposite gender.

The series presents some interesting ideas about the dimorphism of male and female but later. Most of that was in the last two episodes and I am still trying to wrap my head around them.

Again, there is rape imagery. As such I am curious if the writers were attempting to make a "pleasure does not equal consent" statement. Even the males of the species, when themselves enough to be themselves, would rather take death than be in a state where they cannot control themselves. And make no mistake the series does, make it pleasurable for both genders, but again pleasure does not equal consent. Prior to and after these encounters are played as traumatizing. And it does not cease there. There are several sex scenes where the participants are reluctant.

All of this contributes to the dichotomy of the body as an instrument of freedom and the body as an instrument of enslavement. As stated in the general review the series is not shy about shooting up, binding up, blowing up, raping, stabbing and mutilating it. Half the time in the series the body seems like a liability. The other half, not so much. The body is a tool for communication, combat, general utility, and old fashioned pleasure. There is, "good sex" in it as well. (Again this series is really fanservicey)

The mind and body are a package deal in the living. A running motif in the series is the separation between the two, the separation between the physical body and the non-physical mind. The first is an origin of sorts for Maeno Kouki. He starts the series as a young college student, but against his will his mind is transplanted into a cloned body. Throughout the first episode he is trying to discover why his mind and body seem divorced. Again this was a violation in the most basic sense.

This idea is further explored in later episodes. The series starts in about the late 80's and moves towards a point in our future. As it does different forms of virtual reality are explored. The first is as a wholly different form of reality wherein the series establishes that reality 2.0 can not affect reality 1.0. The second is more of an augmented reality that is integrated into our own, which further blurs the line between the physical and non-physical world. In such an augmented reality would the physicality of things become less important, especially when by default we are part of that physicality? Furthermore things are partially defined by their physicality. A rock is a rock partially because it feels like a rock. This is only subtly mentioned when one character orders his daughter to put on real clothes rather than the holographic ones she can change at will.

Unlike other stories that deal with virtual reality, in which the mind is considered more important than the body such as Ghost in the Shell this series seems to place equal or greater importance on the body.

Because of its physicality it is portrayed as being truth while things that lack that physicality are considered illusion. In a scene in episode 4 the series presents 1.5ers, people who spend so much time in reality 2.0 that they seem to have left their bodies completely behind in reality 1.0. The idea that the body is nothing more than a shell is presented as troubling.

All in all I'm going to end this thing by taking the Sage route and suggest that maybe the reason why I'm doing all of this thinking is to allow myself to actually enjoy some of the fan service and the series as a whole while not be disgusted with myself while thinking about all graphic "Eghhahahh, flavin, that is just badong!"

Thursday, February 2, 2012

The Race for the 14th District

It's going to be an interesting race, made all the more interesting due to the fact that Mayor Brenda Lawrence is running. This puts me in a "weird position" because I'm sitting on an audio record of her time as Mayor for the past year and I'm thinking that I should do something with it. Don't know what. Just saying that it's there and I kind of feel that because I have it I should cover the race or something. I'm in a unique position. I don't want to do it, but damn it.

Miles, damn you get off your ass!

Alright. Where to begin? Other than the above what makes the race interesting? Redistricting.

Over the past year there has been a huge stink about the district maps in South Eastern Michigan, both for Oakland County commissioners and congress. Now the county stuff is a whole other ball of wax, but anyway due to the loss of population after the 2010 census we get fewer U.S. House representatives.

Because of the redistricting nobody really knows how the upcoming elections are going to play out. You have incumbents switching districts and running against one another, (Hansen Clarke, and Gary Peters) and a boat load of dark horse candidates, including Mayor Lawrence. Apart from them there is also former Michigan state representative Mary Waters.

Note: A previous version of this post mistakenly said Geoffrey Fieger was running.

Where you can find Governor Snyder's State of the State (Michigan) Speech

I just wanted to let everyone know that you can find Governor Snyder's State of the State Address here.

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