Day of Silence 2014

Friday, April 11 was the Day of Silence. If this is your first time hearing about it, here’s the official description from the website:

The Day of Silence is a student-led national event that brings attention to anti-LGBT name-calling, bullying and harassment in schools. Students from middle school to college take a vow of silence in an effort to encourage schools and classmates to address the problem of anti-LGBT behavior by illustrating the silencing effect of bullying and harassment on LGBT students and those perceived to be LGBT.

This is my first year participating in Day of Silence. I actually first heard about it in my freshman year. Regrettably, although I attended the info meeting and wanted to participate, I was too afraid of drawing attention to myself. I had never met anyone who was out at school and I didn’t know how the school as a whole or my friends would react; since I had heard about people elsewhere being bullied to the extent of committing suicide, I imagined that it would happen to me, too, if people drew their own conclusions about me after seeing me participating in Day of Silence. It wasn’t until last year that I was finally ready to participate, but yearbook and journalism’s trip to a conference in San Francisco overlapped with Day of Silence, so I wasn’t able to be a part of it at my school. But I finally got to do it.

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Things definitely went out with a bang. When I first started out this anime I didn’t expect it to be quite so violent; I thought it would be a more lighthearted show, perhaps due to the bright color scheme. But there definitely ended up being quite a bit of blood of gore, especially in the last two episodes. I do find it interesting that the violence is condemned if it is initiated by “bad guys” like Moral, while it’s viewed as heroic when committed by “good guys” like Nice or Takahiro. It’s true that Moral’s acts of violence are unannounced and are directed against innocent people, but even the protagonists are more violent than they would need to be in the name of self defense or stopping a thug. Seems that all the punching people around was put in just because violence is supposed to be cool. (I know right now I sound like the guy who wrote that website ranting about the glorification of violence in The Matrix and how that’s going to corrupt society…I adore the cinematography and choreography of The Matrix’s fights, though) Murasaki looked a bit like Shizuo (Durarara 2nd season is on its way!!) when he fought against those hordes of Minimum holders in the park.

Even though I suspected that Nice wasn’t really dead – in a previous episode, I think I saw a glimpse of a white-haired head on a bed – I was still taken by surprise when he suddenly showed up at the end and quickly disposed of Moral. After all that buildup to Nice’s showdown with Moral, he got taken down so easily…then again, I know the producers must’ve wanted to throw in some plot twists so that the anime would be more memorable. The final scene reminds me a bit of Code Geass since here in Hamatora we have two (former) best friends who are now seemingly enemies now, trying to shoot each other at the very end of the anime’s first season. I’m rather curious how they’re planning to continue Hamatora from here on out. (I’m really glad Murasaki didn’t die, at least.)

I was recently hit by a pang of nostalgia for the summer program I attended two years ago. It’s called EXPLO at Yale. There, students could choose two classes and two workshops to participate in while getting to live on Yale’s campus. (Yale itself did not host the program, it just provided the location.) There were also weekend trips, mostly to New York, and activities held on campus for entertainment and socialization throughout the week. One of the events was a talent show.

It was mostly the talents you would expect to see – singing and dancing. I suppose if you were watching something like America’s Got Talent (of which I’ve only watched part of an episode) you might see more variety of talents, though of course there would still be a lot of singers and dancers.

Of course, the word talent does also get applied to to activities that aren’t really performing in nature, like drawing. And considering that we have things like the Guinness World Records, I’m sure some would argue that plenty of activities which have no apparent practical use are talents as well. Burping the alphabet, for instance, or beating Pokemon Red en masse, as has recently happened with Twitch Plays Pokemon.

In any case, talented is a word commonly used to describe skill in some activity or other. But what sometimes bothers me about this usage is its resemblance to the way “smart” is often used. Although usually people will call others talented or smart with the positive intent of admiring their prowess, it’s also sometimes used an excuse for not making a serious attempt to improve at an activity. A person might praise others’ talent for art but they themself will insist that they just “suck at art”. Or they might enviously comment about others being smart and good at math while attributing their own difficulties with the subject to their stupidity/dumbness.

I do believe that everyone has innate strengths and weaknesses. But no one (or at least, almost no one) who is really, really good at something started out that way. It would still take a great deal of time and dedication in order to reach that level. It just means that if you don’t naturally have an aptitude for something, you’ll probably have to work harder than someone who does in order to become an expert at it. Even among athletes, for example, some people might be better suited to long-distance, endurance sports, while others will be better suited to doing things in a quick burst, due in part to the ratio of fast twitch to slow twitch muscle fibers that they have; however, you can convert some of the slow twitch fibers to fast oxidative fibers (which could be considered “intermediate” fibers since they are somewhere between slow oxidative and fast glycolytic fibers in their endurance). Also, one of my friends has an aptitude for math and it is her favorite subject, while math is one of the most frustrating subjects for me. It often takes me weeks after first “learning” something in math before I really begin to understand it, and math just doesn’t come naturally to me. However, back in elementary school, for about two years, my parents sent me to afterschool/summer math classes every weekday. The sheer amount of practice gave me a temporary boost in math and allowed me to pass the test which determined whether students would be put in advanced math (1 year ahead) or kept in the “regular” track for the following school year. So I ended up permanently (I would only be able to leave if I got failing grades or stopped taking math classes after fulfilling the graduation requirement) in the advanced track. I struggled more and more with math after that head start I received started to wear off. Math is still one of the subjects that requires a lot more studying on my part to do well on a test than for other subjects, and I often forget what I’ve learned in only a short period of time. Nevertheless, it is still possible to become good at math, if I were willing to devote the huge amount of time and energy required.

I suppose it just comes down to the intended meaning when someone uses the word talented/talent. Are they referring to natural gifts only, or are they including all the effort that was made in their definition of talent?

I recently finished reading Natsumi Ando’s manga Arisa. It’s the third one of her mangas that I’ve read – I’ve also gone through Zodiac P.I. and Kitchen Princess – and since I haven’t blogged in ages, I figured I’d discuss some things that I liked and didn’t like about Arisa. Please do note that this post contains some spoilers. Also, be advised that Arisa does depict suicide attempts, terrorist bombings, and bullying so you may not want to read the manga if it will be triggering for you.

Based on that alone, it’s already apparent that Arisa is darker than a lot of shoujo manga, or at least most of the ones I’ve read. My experience with shoujo in a school setting has usually been some romance between a rich and/or popular guy with an “average” girl, or occasionally a teacher and his student, with a love rival showing up at some point or another to complicate things. While Arisa does have some romance and a cutesy large-eyed art style, it was a refreshing read for me since it had a different vibe from what I’m used to in the shoujo genre.

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Chart from neregate. Click for full size.

It’s actually been a while since I’ve bothered to keep a written record of what anime I’m planning to watch for the upcoming season. I think it’s partially due to the fact that I’ll probably end up changing my mind later on depending on the feedback I see on MAL and elsewhere, and partially due to, well, laziness. But I figured I might as well take a peek at what’s coming up next because I’m currently bored. Not really sure why, considering I have plenty of anime that I plan to watch or that I’ve put on hold, but I guess nothing’s really been amazing to me lately.

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I actually hadn’t been keeping up with Root5 that much in the last couple of months, so it wasn’t until a friend mentioned them to me recently that I realized they’re about to release a new single on November 20. It’s called “Love Treasure”, which was composed by halyosy.  It comes with another song, “Hashire”, composed by KEI.

The official MV:

Version of the MV with anime-style art:

I used to have pretty mixed feelings about Root5. I love the individual singers, especially since I’ve actively listened to some of them for a year or more, but I had difficulty taking Root5’s songs seriously. I think it’s partly because I, for some reason or other, thought the PV of “Love Doctor” was hilarious (it was the first Root5 song I heard) and also because of the love theme that seems to prevail in their song titles. But I do like the beat of the songs and definitely the singers’ voices, so I try not to think about it that much and just enjoy Root5’s music.

Daily Deviation!

Today one of my photos on DeviantArt was selected for a Daily Deviation:

Click for the link to the deviation, where you can download the full size.

It’s a very simple picture I took back in 2012 (though I didn’t upload it until a month ago…and I still have a ton of old photos I haven’t sifted through yet) of glass that has been stained by lots of liquid staining. The blue and tan parts at the sides are objects that were on the other side of the glass. No post-processing because I’m lazy. I used to be a lot more active at photographing, meaning that I’d pretty much shoot anything interesting I saw, no matter how mundane the object itself was…I guess it finally paid off. xD

I’m actually somewhat surprised that it was this picture, which I’d uploaded as a resource, was the one that got a Daily Deviation. I have to admit I’ve daydreamed before about getting a DD, but I always thought that it would be one of the photos that I put more conscious thought into composing rather than something I regarded as a scrap…Nevertheless, I’m glad to have gotten it if that means someone out there will be able to find this texture useful (:


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