Saturday, June 26, 2010

10 entirely pointless questions

This post has no real purpose and I don't really expect replies but I felt like making it anyways. I recently did a few surveys on a site (while simultaneously reading a different site) and thought what the hell why not make a little pointless survey of my own. I would not really recommend doing online surveys unless you happen to be very bored, they generally do not pay well (not worth the time) but occasionally you get other items - I've gotten some items such as Pringles potato chips 100 stack before the stores did, a dozen cans of dog food, and amazon gift cards. I also generally am not what they are looking for in survey takers since I buy generic, shop stores not on their lists of stores (often shop local stores not national), don't frequent restaurants often (again when I do usually not chain restaurants), my largest expense is books, don't drink pop or alcohol, not planning a big purchase, infrequently shop for things like clothing and electronics, etc.

1. How many physical books are in arm reach of where you happen to be sitting (no counting e-books)?
- 164

2. What is the last beverage you drank before reading this (or currently are drinking)?
- Iced Tea

3. What website did you go to immediately before (or concurrently are on in another tab/window)?
- How Much Inside more specifically How much inside a million dollars

4. What is the last movie you watched?
Alice in Wonderland

5. Last video game played?
- Slayers RPG for the SNES

6. In general do you buy generic or name brand?

7. What type of food does your favorite restaurant serve?
No favorite. Lebanese, Japanese, Mexican, American, Chinese, Indian, Italian, etc. is all alright by me.

8. Do you prefer action stories or cerebral ones?
I prefer reading stories that make me think rather than stories that appeal to emotion but I generally put too much thought even into stories that are not supposed to be thought provoking at all.

九 (kyū). Error missing question.

10. Why did I write this post?

ДЕВЯТЬ, devet, θʹ, IX, nueve.

Did you see that movie?
I did. While an alright movie I didn't think that it was that good.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

5 comments inspired by Batman Comics

1. I read comic books and see superheroes wasting their time too often. For example, Batman or Superman going after nonviolent jewel or car thieves or basically any petty crime. Those are the types of things that people without the resources or abilities of those superheroes (like the police or less gifted superheroes) should be able to handle. It could be much better spent going after bigger game such as drug cartels and the banks that fund them. Here in the real world a lot of the crooks make the laws. I really would like to see Batman go after a major bank to get them for the money laundering that they do/allow or a crooked politician. A lot of banks do it here in the real world such as Wachovia who was found to have a few months ago laundered drug cartel money (the banks punishment was a fine for 160 million dollars).

2. It is stated in a few of the Batman comics that Bruce Wayne decided to take the form of Batman to cause fear in criminals who are supposedly superstitious and cowardly. Fear is a fairly good tactic to use which can give you a pretty good advantage but it has some pretty big negatives as well. Fear can cause madness, recklessness, and cruelty. People who are afraid are far more likely and be willing to go to irrational lengths to get rid of that which they fear or cause pain and terror in others to feel powerful so as to compensate for the fear. Abused people tend to abuse people. People who fear a monster all too often become monsters themselves.

3. While I usually can make sense of comic book logic sometimes no matter how I think about it it makes no sense to me.

4. Batman's cape length is very variable. Sometimes it is reasonably sized other times it is multiple times longer than he is. Sometimes it can do things besides hang there and look cool. I really want to see him trip over his cape of completely impracticable length sometime. By happenstance I happen to have just finished reading a book (The Best American Comics 2008) that had a comic by Matt Groening (best known as the creator of the Simpsons) that mentioned that superheroes should be tripping over their capes. It is strange how often serendipity works like that. I happen to just read something or write something and then encounter it in other works after not having seen it mentioned before or recently. I realize that this is in part because having recently encountered it I'm more likely to notice it when I encounter it again but I still find it amazing how often this type of thing happens.

5. How many times has Batman/Bruce Wayne fallen in love and then lost it for one reason or another? Batman finding love only to lose it or they can't be together for some reason happens quite often (because she is a cat burglar -Catwoman, because her father is a few century old international terrorist and assassin - Talia al Ghul, because she is a vigilante that rips criminals hearts out of their chest - Midnight, etc.). People must really like the drama added by romance. While I generally don't dislike it I occasionally find it distracting and often find it unnecessary believing that the story on its own without the added romance is sufficient. I wonder if anyone has made a list of all the people he fell in love with throughout the comic books?

Monday, June 14, 2010

Ranma's Slave

I recently read a fan fic in which Ranma enslaved Akane against her will. While not what I consider a good fic it did inspire some thoughts. The first thing I thought was that Ranma would not enslave anyone. Upon further reflection that is a personal bias of my own. Ranma is shown to be willing to trick, manipulate, bribe, blackmail, and even use mind altering substances/magic to get people to do what he wants in the manga. It really is not that far fetched to believe he'd enslave someone. I can't really think of a reason as to why Ranma would do so though. I can't see him up and deciding to enslave someone without a reason and if he did he's extremely likely to feel guilty and let them free after a short time (Lima Syndrome). I can think of quite a few reasons as to why Ranma would kidnap someone though and I suppose that could count as enslavement, though I generally do not associate them as being the same (just like prison is enslavement). The most likely reason he'd kidnap someone is probably to get a tactical advantage (while Ranma hadn't actually kidnapped anyone in the manga, unless you count things like tying P-chan to the Charlotte cup, it does happen a number of times in the manga and Ranma is pretty pragmatic when it comes to combat).

I started to think about Ranma having a slave. The first idea that came to me is that someone that is very submissive gives themselves to Ranma; voluntarily becomes a slave to him. None of the cast members are submissive they pretty much all are fairly aggressive except for possibly Kasumi. I have no idea as to how Ranma would react if this happened, besides finding the situation to be extremely weird. How he reacts is likely to be majorly influenced by the person who wants to be enslaved and their reasons for wanting it. On his own I figure he'd view it as being a Daimyo/Samurai type relationship since that is probably the most familiar to him.

After thinking about it some more I thought why would someone enslave themselves. I can think of a lot. In most of the world for most of known history slavery existed and it was often enough better than the alternative. It was sometimes easier, better, and occasionally you had more rights/privileges than the alternative. I don't want to defend slavery since I find it to be immoral but given a choice I would rather have been a slave than an extremely poor free person depending on place and time in history. Slaves were property so they were often taken care of and had more protections than expendable poorly paid laborers. Depending on the time and place there were more laws protecting slaves than free persons (you could get away with killing a free not land owning person a lot easier than an owned slave for example).

I'm getting off topic the fic was about Ranma enslaving someone against their will. I can think of a number of ways to do this most of which I can not see Ranma doing unless the situation was extremely dire. The most likely ways I see him doing so is via accident using a magic item he doesn't really understand following that having kidnapped someone and letting Stockholm syndrome sink in. One thing from the fic I can't see happening at all is Ranma physically taking advantage of someone sexually (even in the form of kissing). Ranma places an extreme amount of importance on kissing (not at all uncommon in Japanese society where kissing is considered an extraordinarily intimate act) and has some intimacy issues (it requires more trust and openness than he's willing to give).

It is not unreasonable to think that if Ranma did not consider the being to be human he'd enslave it. After all the majority of people do not view our enslavement of animals as being morally wrong or even view it as slavery (cows, dogs, horses, etc.). What if Ranma enslaved a Kami via kotodama (also written kototama; a Japanese belief that mystical powers dwell in words and names)? Ranma somehow finds out a kami's true name and uses that to enslave the kami (this is a pretty common belief throughout the world; the ancient Egyptians for example had similar beliefs). Ranma knowing about kotodama is extremely easy to explain first he is shown to go to Shinto shrines multiple times and second in many Japanese martial arts, such as aikido which the founder of the style (Morihei Ueshiba) used kotodama as a spiritual basis for his teachings, it is considered a fundamental part of the art (using a kiai to gather inner energy or spirit is a form of kotodama). Seeing this written could be pretty interesting if for no other reason than almost every fan fic I can remember reading focuses on the physical aspects of martial arts neglecting the spiritual and religious aspects that many martial arts, particularly Japanese styles, have entirely (other than using ki blasts). I don't think I could write it though too many moral issues and a fic like this, at least if I tried to write it, would likely be too philosophical.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Thoughts on fanon

I was recently thinking about fanon, canon, and authorial intent (author's intention that may or may not match what is shown in the material). A thing that really annoys me is the large amounts of fanon being mistaken as canon and even more so the fanon which outright contradicts canon.

I do not hate fanon, in fact I like it quite a bit and have my own pet theories for events not fully described in the source material. I realize that they are not strictly speaking canon but they all at least do not contradict canon. I also acknowledge that they are just my theories and interpretations rather than what is strictly in the source. Good fanon expands upon canon, fills out parts not needed for the original story, and occasionally explains inconsistencies in the source material.

Below are seven things all of which are fanon, the reason that these aren't on my other list is because while fanon they do not entirely contradict the manga.

1. The engagement is to unite the Tendo and Saotome schools of martial arts.
- The reason this is fanon is because it is commonly assumed that the reason for the engagement is to unite the two schools of martial arts but the source material never says that. This particular bit of fanon rather annoys me because I never interpreted it that way. The way I always viewed it was that it was a joining of the families and that both families had a practitioner of martial arts was coincidental. Had it been about joining the schools no marriage is needed, they could just train each other in their respective styles and Akane would be the only viable choice. That is not the case, Ranma was given a choice by Soun at first and later they were okay with the engagement being switched to Nabiki (until Kasumi pointed out that Nabiki plans on selling the dojo, house, and land to have fun). That doesn't mean that martial arts has nothing to do with the engagement though since Soun and Genma's training together probably is what made them decide to unite their families and the Tendos need a male heir to run the dojo (the Japanese are more sexist than many other countries and a dojo run by a woman would not attract many students).

2. Ranma was 15 at the start of the manga.
-This is one of my favorite theories. In Ranma's grade level (first year; USA equivalent to 10th grade) it is not unusual to be 15 (it depends on what day your birthday falls on) and Ranma's age is not given in the manga until the mushrooms of aging arc where he states he would lose a year were he to eat the 17cm mushroom rather than a few months implying that he only recently turned 16.

3. Nabiki's characterization.
-While many of the characters in fan fiction are fairly different from how they are portrayed to be in the manga, Nabiki's characterization in particular rarely resembles anything like how she is portrayed to be in the manga. She is almost universally made to be a much nicer and less self centered person in fan fiction even though the way Nabiki is in the manga is how some teenage girls in Japan really are (what with enjo kōsai and such). One example, of the many possible, of how her fan fiction characterization differs from her manga incarnation is in fan fiction she will keep her word particularly in business deals. That bit of fanon is straight out contradicted by the manga for example Principal Kuno hires Nabiki for one of his schemes she does not keep her word instead she takes his money and then runs.

4. Characters having knowledge of things that they should have no way of knowing at all.
- This is not a case of fanon so much as an error in keeping track of who knows what. The reason I'm listing it as fanon is because I occasionally see the same errors made in multiple fics. For example I recently read a fic in which Kasumi had first hand knowledge of what happened during the battle with Saffron even though she was a few thousand miles away at the time or Nabiki having knowledge about the Senkens, particularly the Yamasenken, even though she never even met Ryu Kumon and didn't see the battle (only Akane, Genma, and Soun did). Nabiki in particular has this error apply to her in fan fiction sometimes explained by her having minions (which she does not in the manga - though it can be argued that some characters do for example Kodachi in the form of her Gymnastics team who she even had help her in battle) and manga Nabiki does not search for things to blackmail people (Ranma is much more likely to do that since he has searched multiple peoples places) and is often out of the loop (she did not know Happosai weakened Ranma until she looked over Tatewaki's shoulder and read it).

5. Shampoo's people, the Joketsuzoku, are matriarchal and treat males as second class citizens.
- This bit of fanon probably comes from the fact that VIZ calls her people Amazons and that term is associated with certain things. Pretty much everything about how her people are governed and most of their culture is fanon since almost nothing is shown or told to us in the manga. Though Cologne is not called matriarch ever and a society that was extremely matriarchal would not allow Mousse to be as strong as he is or get away with doing what he does.

6. Ukyo hires other people to work at her restaurant when she isn't there.
- Again a bit of fanon I like in that it explains how she can go to school, take trips (like the one with Ryoga to a spring), and go on trips with Ranma and still keep her shop open.

7. Ranma considers Nabiki's clothing to be better than Akane's.
- I've only saw this in one fic but it was strange enough that it caused me to pause and is probably the thing I remember best about the fic. I can see Ranma saying so to purposely anger Akane but other than that I find it very unlikely since Akane cares a lot more about clothing than Nabiki is shown to and half the stuff Nabiki wears is shown to be Akane's.