Who’s Screwing Who in Bleach (And Who Wants To)

Bleach is the anime series that I’ve been watching obsessively- I started on the 24th of May, right after I got back, and (although I’ve skipped between 30 and 40 episodes) I am now at episode 253. Considering that these are 20 minute episodes, that means I’ve been watching for roughly 5 hours a day. Because sometimes that’s just what you do.

I get the feeling that there’s a lot of romantic/sexual tension in this storyline, but at the same time, literally none of the characters have formal relationships with one another. There are, however, several implied relationships. I can’t find a place online where these are described on one page, and I’m sufficiently bored that I care about filling that void.

This list is clearly not exhaustive. Quite a few of these are not very obvious, and some people will just about ship anyone.

Anyway! All that was by way of saying that most of you probably don’t want to read this if you don’t already like (or watch despite not liking) Bleach, which I’m willing to bet is a very small percentage of my current readership. On to the list!

1) Yoruichi Shihōin

Is screwing: Urahara Kisuke.

Now, this is never even mentioned in the series so far, but it’s pretty damn likely, isn’t it? Not just screwing, but probably in some sort of long-standing arrangement with. I’m predicating this on my Non-exclusivity of Other-Gender Friends theory, which essentially states that if your bestest friend in the whole wide world is a girl (and you’re not), sooner or later you’re going to have to either add a romantic dimension to your relationship or pull back, at least a little bit. This does not, I hasten to add, mean that you can’t have really close friends of the opposite gender. It just means that if your closest friend by a wide margin is someone who you might conceivably be sexually attracted to, then, well, you will be. This is also really only applicable considering traditional concepts of “gender” and sexual attractiveness, but I think that’s wide enough for now.

2) Urahara Kisuke

See above.

3) Ichigo Kurosaki

Wants to screw: er, Rukia Kuchiki, I guess? But the theory doesn’t actually call for this, considering that he has a lot of other female friends, who are probably closer, too. Inoue Orihime would be the other candidate, of course. You do get a certain sense that there’s some sort of tension within him, but nothing even remotely definite.
Is Desired By: Inoue Orihime.

4) Inoue Orihime

Wants to Screw: Ichigo Kurosaki, of course, and this is made about as clear as it could be, given the constraints of their relationship. (Citation: the episode where Ulquiorra allows her to bid farewell to one person.)
Is Desired By: Every red-blooded male in her class and the sole aggressive lesbian. (Aggressive but harmless, which I thought was a somewhat new stereotype.)

See What I Mean?

5) Rukia Kuchiki

Wants to Screw: Very unclear. Either Renji Abarai or Ichigo.
Is Desired By: Defintely Renji, maybe Ichigo.

6) Renji Abarai

Wants To Screw: Rukia Kuchiki, who he finally almost asks out before all the fighting takes over.
Is Desired By: I want to be kind here and say maybe Rukia?

7) Uryu Ishida

Wants to Screw: I’d say Yoshino Soma, but I have no idea if that’s supposed to be sexual or if she’s some sort of mother figure, which is hinted at rather strongly. It’s quite clearly one of those two. I really hope it isn’t both.
Is Desired By: Several of the girls in his class, apparently.

Sui-Feng (Soi-Fon)

Wants to screw: Shihouin Yoruichi. Again not implied strongly in the text but definitely there in some of the omake bits…  and well, it’s always possible that I just have a dirty mind.

9) Momo Hinamori

Wants to screw/was screwing: Captain Sosuke Aizen. Maybe?

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More Stats from okcupid

These people are awesome…I don’t think I’ve linked to their previous few posts on the blog before, although I have shared their results before on Google Reader and/or Twitter. This is the latest, the real stuff white people like, on Gizmodo. Obviously even though this is for a bunch of races this is all (or almost all) Americans of those races. The writers have commented on the results for white, black, Latinos and Asians (which does not include Indians), so I’ll leave that alone, but here are some random points I thought were interesting:

  • Indian women, for some reason, refer to their passports and couches a lot more often than anyone else.
  • Asians, Middle Eastern people and Indians all seem to think “I’m a simple guy/girl” is a major selling point. This I will confess to being mystified by. The statement is basically signaling that they’re low maintenance, right? Or have low expectations? Are none of these groups “in demand” or at least “at par” on the dating market? Crap. Thankfully, it comes up a lot less for Indian men than for Asian/Middle Eastern men, and it’s not even on the list for Indian/Middle Eastern women.
  • Indian men like cricket and Indian women like bhangra. Also most of the men are software engineers or traders. I guess that’s not really surprising, but it’s always interesting to see stereotypes borne out.
  • Middle Eastern women have “different cultures” as their single most favourite thing. I feel there’s a joke to be made somewhere here, but… 🙂 . They are also far more likely to describe themselves as petite. They also like Darjeeling I guess they’re referring to the tea – which doesn’t come up for any other group, not even the Indians.
  • Pacific Islanders seem like pretty cool people 🙂 .

But of course, the real reason I’m linking is just so I have some excuse to share this:

Sidenote: reading level

Since we were parsing all this text anyway, we thought it would be cool to do some basic reading-level analysis on what people had written about themselves. We used the Coleman-Liau Index, and when we partitioned the essays by the race of the writers, we found this:

The Real 'Stuff White People Like’

Before anyone gets too charged-up about this, we also ran reading level by religion and found this:

The Real 'Stuff White People Like’

Is there a Comic Sans version of the Bible? There really should be. We subdivided this chart further, by how serious each person was about their beliefs:

The Real 'Stuff White People Like’

It’s interesting to note that for each of the faith-based belief systems I’ve listed, the people who are the least serious about them write at the highest level. On the other hand, the people who are most serious about not having faith (i.e. the “very serious” agnostics and atheists) score higher than any religious groups.

Interesting, right? Although it must be said that a higher grade level is not necessarily a good thing. It isn’t on most blogs, for instance. However, assuming you want to signal intelligence, a higher grade level for your profile is probably desirable. So if nothing else this at least signifies that more religious people don’t want to signal intelligence as much, which is also interesting

Hollywood and “Creative Professionals”

I want to think aloud for a bit, and maybe by the time I’m done I will have said something coherent and even something illuminating. Blogs are meant for experiments like this, after all.

So. Fact 1: people who make movies are pretty much by definition creative professionals*. This implies but does not necessitate that a good number of characters in movies are the sort of people who wish to pursue some sort of creative career. In any case, their proportion is considerably exaggerated.

Fact 2: one almost universal lesson/moral in many of these movies is that one should always ” follow your dreams”, even if they seem impractical.

Fact 3: most creative professions are, if anything, over-served (I think there’s a more precise term for this). From a basic econ101 point of view, this should depress wages automatically. Adding to this the fact that many of these professions are just intrinsically less valued by society, at least in terms of how much it is willing to support the average professional, leads to people being paid much less than they would get for a similar amount of work in an alternate, more “conventional” profession.

Fact 4: also consider that many of these professions have very unequal payouts. Charlie Stross had a great post where he showed that the median salary of a writer was a ridiculously low figure by western standards, even though the average is a fair bit (still not that much, though) higher, because a very, very small minority of writers make oodles of money. The same applies to actors, artists, etc. Naturally, the media in general tends to greatly play up the successes and play down the vast hordes who never make it- and no, the starving artist trope is hardly proof against this.

Fact 5: while fact 3 should ordinarily deter those without an “unstoppable” drive from making a career out of these fields, facts 1,2 and 4 considerably alter the situation, mostly by distorting reality- 1 by subtly implying that to be a real character in your own life, you must be some sort of creative person, 2 by suggesting that your life is incomplete if you do not go on to “make the most of your talent”, and 3 by strongly misrepresenting your chances of ever being successful in a material sense by making a career out of what should really stay a hobby. This leads to what is basically mis-informed consent and manufactured preferences, and you know how the rest of this goes.

Proffered conclusion: Hollywood may be ruining your emo teenager’s life.

*As you may have noted, I’m using this phrase in a slightly skewed sense here, not just the literal meaning of the two words strung together. It is not an original usage, so I think I’m safe with it. I think programming is a creative profession, for instance, like much of engineering, but this analysis is far more relevant to the miniature furniture builder or paper sculptor who quits his accounting job than to an engineer.

Crowdsourcing my Film Studies paper:Film Editing in The Matrix

Well, not really- I’ve already written it, and expect to not make all that many major (content) changes, except perhaps to add a more proper introduction/conclusion. But I am actively soliciting comments here. The length is a little more than it really needs to be, so be brutal in telling me what to cut. Also need to know if I’m being too flippant- some parts really seem to read like a blog post- in some areas, since this is supposed to be something I’m graded on for 25% of the marks of a 3 credit course.

Principles of Editing with reference to “The Matrix”

Principles of Editing

Editing is a crucial part of the filmmaking process; the editor exerts almost as much influence on the final look and feel of the film as the director. He has the responsibility of putting the film together. The director gives the editor the raw material to use and the editor uses it to piece together the scenes into a film. The director and the editor must work hand in hand and have the same vision in order for the editing process to work. The editing of a film consists, among other things, of managing the transitions, control of time (pacing), and putting together the shots or rushes.

There are several different styles/methods of editing such as continuity, synthetic, associative, intellectual etc. Continuity editing is the predominant style of editing in narrative cinema and television, where the priority is on making the viewer unaware of the inherent discontinuities in the production of the film and in establishing a logical coherence between shots. However, it is hardly the only style that is used. Cross-cutting (cutting back and forth between shots of spatially unrelated places) conveys a sense of spatial discontinuity to show the viewer events that are happening in separate, parallel locations, perhaps to juxtapose something in an interesting way. Usually this is done in such a way as to minimize viewer disorientation. The jump cut (a cut between two shots that are so similar that a noticeable jump in the image occurs), however, is a deliberate device of disorientation. Other types of cuts are Axial cut, Cross-cutting, Fast cutting, Jump cut, Long take, Match out and Slow cutting. Some of the types of Film transitions are Dissolve, L- cut and Wipe.

A transition is anything that moves the film from one scene to another. There are a number of types of transitions that are used, wipe, flip frame, fade-out/fade-in, and dissolve. A wipe uses a vertical or horizontal line to wipe away the old scene and bring in the new one, the flip frame simply flips the screen from one scene to the next, the fade occurs when a scene fades to black before the new scene begins, and the dissolve is when a scene gradually dissolves into another scene­. These transitions provide smooth ways to move from one scene to another and are used to make a film appear fluid.  Editing is also used to modify or shape the timing and rhythm of the film. An editor can edit a scene or shot in a way that can alter our sense of how much time is passing. For instance, when shooting a man walking an editor can show each step, cutting to a close up of the man’s face and hands, thus slowing down the pacing and making us pay attention to the man: it serves as a cue to the audience that he is an important character. By using short quick shots sandwiched together the editor can compress time. Another way a film uses time is with the use of slow motion, which we will be covering in grater detail below, since The Matrix makes extensive use of a variant of this technique. Slow motion can be used to intensify emotional quality, to exaggerate fatigue, suggest superhuman strength, or emphasize grace of physical action. This ensures that the film keeps the rhythm of the scene and the film.

I know this is a little dry, the good(or at least, better) parts are after the jump Continue reading

Random Announcements

So exams are over, although my work at the institute is not, and I’m finally doing something interesting with Google Wave: Playing RPGs. Specifically, Eclipse Phase, which is a CC-licensed RPG that deals with transhumanist themes:

Eclipse Phase is a pen & paper roleplaying game of post-apocalyptic transhuman conspiracy and horror.

An “eclipse phase” is the period between when a cell is infected by a virus and when the virus appears within the cell and transforms it. During this period, the cell does not appear to be infected, but it is.

Players take part in a cross-faction secret network dubbed Firewall that is dedicated to counteracting “existential risks” — threats to the existence of transhumanity, whether they be biowar plagues, self-replicating nanoswarms, nuclear proliferation, terrorists with WMDs, net-breaking computer attacks, rogue AIs, alien encounters, or anything else that could drive an already decimated transhumanity to extinction.

I’m just getting started playing a one shot scenario, but if I like it, I’m definitely hoping I could continue playing with someone that I already know. (Or not, random commenter, if you are interested!) Do comment if interested. 

Second- and I’ve been wondering about this one for a while, and I’m not really sure how to go about it- I was thinking of writing a post on preference modification and “preference choice”, which is a rather oxymoronic term that I quickly need to find a substitute for. Essentially, it was sparked off my my rather religious friend telling me that I would be much happier if I picked things other than my current preferences to be happy about. This struck me as both obviously true and completely pointless, but I am coming to realize that I may have been wrong about the latter. Of course, this is hardly a revolutionary idea: it’s already preached by any number of religious and spiritual groups, and any number of best-selling self-help authors as well. I am interested in:

a) seeing how far this is actually possible, with what is currently known about human psychology and perhaps any technological assistance. This post seems to imply that it is not.(“One of my Secrets of Adulthood is “You can choose what you do, but you can’t choose what you like to do.” “)

b) Postulating that at some point of time, any amount of self-modification is possible, how far would one want to take it? This is an ontological issue, obviously, relating to how far your preferences dictate your identity- there’s a wonderful quote from High Fidelity* that fits in well here- and you can expect some amount of philosophy to be thrown about. The whole “so why don’t you wire up implants to pleasure centres in your brain and just stick yourself into a socket” issue will also hopefully be discussed here.

The problem is, I can’t seem to get very far on this alone, so I was wondering if anyone had some sort of pointers/links/ comments.

*”I agreed that what really matters is what you like, not what you are like… Books, records, films – these things matter. Call me shallow but it’s the fuckin’ truth, and by this measure I was having one of the best dates of my life.”
–Rob Gordon, High Fidelity. 

My Geek Code

GE/L/P d(+) s:+ a– C+(++) UL P L+(++) E(-) W+++ N++ o? K w(+) !O !M !VMS PS+(+++) PE++(-) Y+ PGP t 5? X R tv+ b+++ DI+ D+ G e++>+++ h- r z?

Man, that was LONG!I’m not supposed to be this jobless!

Explanation:

()
for indicating “cross-overs” or ranges. Geeks who go from C+ to C— depending on the situation (i.e. mostly “C+”)                could use C+(—).

!
Placed BEFORE the category. Unless stated otherwise, indicates that the person refuses to participate in this category. This is unlike the ? variable as the ? indicates lack of knowledge, while the ! indicates stubborn refusal to participate. For example, !E would be a person that just plain refuses to have anything to do with Emacs, while E? would be a person that doesn’t even know what Emacs is.

>

for ‘wannabe’ ratings. Indicating that while the geek is currently at one rating, they are striving to reach another.
Continued below.
Continue reading

Snow Crash

Snow Crash is a novel about hackers. This is fairly obvious, although like in many dramatizations these hackers are not particularly realistic-one is a champion swordsman, which is hard enough to take, and another is a hot chick, which we all know is utterly ridiculous. It is, in fact, a book where they are the elite, or close to it; most of the rich and famous spend a considerable amount of their time plugged into a virtual reality “Metaverse”, and since hackers built it, they exert more influence there. It is also a book about (as the wikipedia page suggests) history, linguistics, anthropology, archaeology, religion, computer science, politics, cryptography and philosophy. But while all of these concepts have been dissected and discussed at length in various intellectual circles after the book was published, none of these are the themes of Snow Crash. This is because the true theme of the book is one of those things that are anathema to serious literary critics everywhere.

The theme of Snow Crash is badassery.

But of course, this is obvious, too. How else could it possibly contain [SPOILER ALERT] the aforementioned hacker/greatest swordsman in the world(where “the world” actually refers to the Metaverse: this feat is a lot more understandable given that he wrote the program that simulates sword-fighting in the Metaverse in the first place), 15 year old “air-skateboarding”(for lack of a better term) couriers, pleasantly “reasonable”( a word that will be understood in the intended sense by anyone who has seen/read The Godfather) and understatedly awesome mafia bosses, allusions to 6,000 year old Sumerian mind-hacker(another term that, really, you should just read the book to figure out) gods, induced glossolalia( i.e. being made to speak in tongues, like the early Pentecostals), Aleutian bikers in the mold of Chuck Norris(or Rajinikanth, if you prefer) and…oh, much, much more. The downside is that the plot requires that you either be completely technically ignorant, or read enough science fiction and fantasy to induce that willing suspension of disbelief.

To summarize: in the post-governmental future, the aforementioned unbelievably cool hacker-aptly named Hiro Protagonist- is slumming it by doing odd jobs because he’s too cool to work in “programmer factories”, and finds that his fellow hackers are being brainwashed by a new virus-yes, a computer virus- called “Snow Crash”. Which is also the name of a real world drug. He finds that this is all part of a conspiracy to take over the world:not one that has been going on for several thousand years, like in Foucalt’s Pendulum and the like, just one that USES “technology” from several thousand years ago, which is of course so much more believable. He then proceeds to be awesome and with the help of his equally awesome fellow rebels, takes on the Big Baddy(a larger-than-life Texan media baron with evangelical leanings) and emerges triumphant, rich and paired up with the hot hacker chick.
[/SPOILER ALERT]

Obviously, there is a lot more to the book besides the central plot-line. There are interesting illustrations of life in a world where technology renders governments redundant (hardly a libertarian paradise, but not exactly dystopic,either), the idea of viruses/memes/genes in several domains (among others, the concept of franchises as extended from our familiar abbreviations (McDs and KFCs and CCDs) to replace even what we today consider core functions of the state, and of course the kind of biological and informational/computer viruses that are at the core of the book), meta-viruses, panspermia, and many others. There are a whole collection of grotesquely but hilariously stereotyped characters-in fact, there are nothing BUT stereotyped characters, which ought to offend (especially since many of them are ethnic), but don’t.

This is not really a balanced review of the book, and it is very incomplete in some respects. That is because this is the kind of book that it’s very hard to write a “balanced” review about. Many of you will love it. Just as many are likely to hate it. But for those who have a “thing” for science fiction/fantasy/”badassery”, it is definitely worth a read.

A note on the author: Neal Stephenson is a rather famous speculative fiction author who looks like the Emperor Ming from Flash Gordon. What else do you need to know, really? But just in case:

  1. He comes from a family of engineers and hard scientists, who he calls “propellerheads”.
  2. Apart from speculative fiction, he writes articles on technology for Wired.
  3. His books “tend to have elaborate, inventive plots drawing on numerous technological and sociological ideas at the same time”, according to wikipedia.
  4. He writes baroque SF. No, seriously.  He wrote a whole trilogy of them, called, what else, “The Baroque Cycle”.
  5. One of his novels, Cryptonomicon, includes “a lengthy erotic story about antique furniture and stockings.”

Dangerous Dungeons and Dragons

So, I was reading these, which are truly, amazingly fantastic, and I got really excited about Dungeons and Dragons, and then I went and found I had a complete collection of the rulebooks for Advanced Dungeons and Dragons 2, and then I found that it’s really, really tedious. Which made me give it up.

And then I saw these, and I’m thinking, cool 😀 :

dd2

Hey, I sympathize. The D&D manual is a pain in the ass

Ok, I know Chick tracts are just “easy game” and everyone’s probably seen it already and I shouldn’t even link to one any more. But DUUUDE! Can you believe it? This guy was serious!

One of many such panels

One of many such panels

PS: OK, no more Iranian solidarity. I never intended it to be permanent anyway. This is better, right? Anyone out there wants to suggest ideas for a new blog header?