Rambling

Being “Offended” Makes no Sense at All

Here’s something that has bothered me for some time: The ever-increasing concern people seem to have about things being “offensive”.

WARNINGMeh.

I could write a very long post about freedom of speech and its limitations, but I don’t feel like doing that — at least not right now. Instead, I’m going to focus on why the concept of people feeling “offended” bothers me: because simply put I cannot wrap my head around it.

Let’s assume someone made a statement. Not any type of statement: Specifically, a statement that puts you — or a person you love, or a organization you’re part of, or something you care deeply about — under a bad light. As with any other statement, whatever the person said is bound to be either true or false:

  • If what they said is false, then there’s no point at all in feeling bad about it. Sure, you might feel disappointed with the person who made the statement for holding such a mistaken opinion about X, but there’s no reason to feel offended.
  • Conversely, if what they said is true, no matter how much it makes you feel sad, how much you regret it, how much you’d like for things to be different, there’s no point in feeling offended with reality. After all, it’s reality. Nothing can be done about it. (In the rare cases where something can be done to change reality, feeling offended is actually counter-productive.)

Corollary: People who feel offended about things are either:

  • Irrational — They’re unable to reason about what they hear or read;
  • Delusional — They’re not willing to accept unfortunate realities they cannot control or change. They are instead determined to remain undisturbed in their own fantasy world;
  • Lazy — They’re not willing to change unfortunate realities they can control and change.

 

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Anime Review

KILL la KILL — Episode 2 Review

So this week Studio Trigger has taken everything that was good — and bad — about the previous episode of KILL la KILL, and stepped it up a notch. (Except for story pacing. They thankfully stepped that down a notch.)

I’m having a hard time writing this because I’m no longer sure about my feelings on this show. On one side we have Pugs with Sweatshirts, amazing action scenes, excellent and varied character designs, hilarious visual jokes, an overall shading and outline style that feels very reminiscent of cell-based animation from the 80s and 90s, pretty solid background art, and great use of limited animation. On the other side, we have… this. (NSFW-ish, I guess?)

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KILL la KILL’s greatest strength so far is on its character designs: I could go on for hours on how each and every character design is so different: The characters are so varied it almost feels like they’re from completely different shows. Take Mako above, for example: she’s based on round shapes — even her joints are drawn rounded. Every character has their own subtleties, and they’re so well chosen it feels like their personality is transcending from the script into their outlines. I mean look at this:

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When it comes to the story and setting, KILL la KILL is also pretty good. The concept of a vampiric outfit powered by the blood of the wearer is very interesting. There’s social critique, 1984 references, throwbacks at Neon Genesis Evangelion, and so. much. more.

“The school uniforms on this country are based on military uniforms. The shoulder pieces worn by males are a reference to the army, while the female uniforms are designed after the navy.”

Yet the over-sexualized way they portray the protagonist — mind you, even against her will — makes me feel super uncomfortable. I expected this to be somehow toned down as the series progressed, but it looks like it’s only getting worse. I’m not even able to determine if the series is being misogynistic or not — if this episode showed anything, is that they’re equally as happy to undress their male cast as they are to undress their female one. (NSFW-ish too, I guess?)

I’m trying really hard, but I can’t really determine if KILL la KILL is a profound criticism on the state of fan service, or if it’s just another series trying to step up everyone else at it. I feel compelled to both like the show and feel really uncomfortable with it.

Final Veredict: Pug with Sweatshirt/10

Oh yeah, we also got opening and ending themes.

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Rambling

Traffic lights, Web browsers and the “feeling of safety”

The other day I stumbled upon an interesting concept while watching an episode of a series I’m really fond of. The protagonist was talking to Ougi — this mysterious, Yūrei-looking girl that we, as an audience, had just been introduced to.

Ougi

Her following question, with its counterintuitive answer, helped set the overall tone of the story arc:

“Which is safer: A green traffic light or a red traffic light?”

Traffic lights are social contracts. You agree to comply with the instructions provided by the traffic light. (“Go”. Or “Don’t Go”.) In exchange, you expect your safety to be guaranteed.

Now think about it: Barring some extremely unlikely accident where someone takes a wrong turn and hits you while you’re sitting there waiting, the odds of getting involved on a car crash while your car is already stopped on a red traffic light are pretty much zero.

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Conversely, all it takes for you to be involved on a car crash while complying to a green traffic light is someone on the other side not complying with their traffic light.

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When it comes to the feeling of safety, a false-negative is harmless, while a false-positive is often catastrophic.

“The world becomes a safer place when there’s signs around telling you it’s not safe. It becomes way more dangerous when the signs tell it is safe.”

Which brings us to Web browsers. In the screenshot below, see if you can spot the “green traffic light”: (No, I’m not referring to the standard OS X window button for “zoom”.)

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The green padlock and “https” text, indicating that the connection to the website is secure, both act as green traffic lights. While other browsers — like Safari and Firefox — don’t actually use the color green to indicate the presence of a secure connection, both use the padlock imagery to inspire confidence and demonstrate that the data being sent to the server is encrypted.

I believe that this approach is not the right one. Websites using HTTPS should receive a bland, normal address bar while everything else should trigger an address bar that properly reflects the fact that everything is being transmitted in the open, and anyone can be eavesdropping. The benefits of this approach are twofold:

  1. Users might not be aware of the implications of visiting websites through unencrypted connections. They might have an intrinsic expectation of privacy. The “unsafe” address bar would wipe out any such incorrect expectations — and put some pressure into website owners and sysadmins everywhere to serve content via HTTPS.
  2. Recent reports on surveillance by governments worldwide actually bring the effectiveness of commercially available encryption into question. Web browsers should not guarantee or even state that their users are safe. There are multiple ways HTTPS connections could be compromised: installation of malicious root certificates, government intervention on the CA level, or even flaws in the protocol implementations, to name a few. In the past, worrying about these could be considered tinfoil hat, but now they sure don’t look so remote from the realm of possibility.

This change would also bring an end to the old problem of users having a hard time distinguishing between browser chrome and content — and websites exploiting that by showing padlock symbols on the page to pretend they’re “secure”.

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Tech Tip

Secret Wallpapers in OS X 10.9 Mavericks

If you’ve ever tried OS X’s photo screen savers you’ve probably noticed that OS X ships with a bunch of really cool sample photos that are not normally available for use as desktop backgrounds.

Previously, in OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion, these were located at /System/Library/Frameworks/ScreenSaver.Framework/Versions/A/Resources/Default Collections/. In OS X 10.9 Mavericks, they’re now located at /Library/Screen Savers/Default Collections/.

To get there, from Finder, use the menu Go > Go to Folder… (or hit ⌘⇧G) and paste in: /Library/Screen Savers/Default Collections/

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You should see 4 folders:

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Inside them you’ll find lots of really cool Wallpapers, that in my opinion look even better than the default ones from OS X.

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Anime Review

KILL la KILL — Episode 1 Review

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So, this week I was travelling abroad and couldn’t really watch the First Episode of KILL la KILL as soon as it came out. I just watched it though, and I can say it really lived up to the expectations I had from the PV released a couple weeks ago.

The overall style is very reminiscent of both Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann and Panty and Stocking, which is great. I really like the (nicely done) CG for the backgrounds in some of the scenes, the Western animation influences (like stretch and squash), the over the top action and badassery.

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The episode feels top notch, even though you can kinda notice Studio Trigger’s more limited budget when compared to GAINAX. I feel like they made the best possible compromises though.

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The plot progression seems to be super fast paced (at least on this first episode), and the show makes up for it by basically exaggerating the characters’ traits as much as they can. Seems to be working very well so far, since I already feel familiar with the main cast of 10 or so characters, even though they had only 23 minutes of combined screen time so far.

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One thing I really like is how the show constantly acknowledges it’s an animation with visual jokes: Mako being carried like a weightless board of styrofoam on the scene above; size on screen representing strength on the scene below.

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I still haven’t got used to Ryūko’s ridiculously sexualized outfit. I feel like it is the only thing that prevented me from immersing completely into an otherwise flawless first episode. It sticks out quite a bit, makes me feel uncomfortable to watch the show with other people around, and is too over-the-top even when we consider the state of fan-service these days.

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They managed to make the character look really uncomfortable wearing it, though, so maybe it has a plot point. People at reddit have speculated it will actually become less revealing as the character gets stronger, which could be seen as a subversion of the traditional revealing female armor trope (Warning: TV Tropes link).

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I’m trying so hard not to make a joke about the show not being appropriate for kids using the screenshot above…

Final Veredict: 8/10

You should totally watch this.

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