Psycho-Pass

Pyscho-Pass is the best anime I have seen.

Its greatest strength is that all characters are reasonable. Characters that are shown have their reasoning and personality fleshed out at least to the degree that their screentime and plot importance would warrant. All characters, even the ones which are not part of the previous set, exhibit behaviors and use argumentation that would fit their position and desires. There are zero exceptions to this rule. No one, due to a new piece of evidence or turn of events, suddenly changes character. If anything, Psycho-Pass uses these crises as opportunities to illustrate more on who exactly each person is.

Generally speaking, a cast of multiple strong characters does not appear, and when they do, they are not so numerous, and not in a plot-driven story. In Psycho-Pass, characters are defined by their goals. Neither character nor plot are simply decoration. Even if one views it as simply plot or character-driven, the anime still operates just fine. It was constructed both to satisfy casual consumption and to withstand intellectual scrutiny – though if you attempt the former it will push you towards the latter.

If we ignore a few scenes with poor animation, it is my opinion that Psycho-Pass has no weak points. The anime has at least a reasonably strong showing in every area.

There are only two things that do not make sense: The holo’s source and function limitations, and the Dominator’s power source and output. Neither of these pose a problem in the end because the story isn’t about the technology, it’s about the people who use the technology. This is admittedly a fairly common goal in science fiction, but most stories in my experience do end up getting lost in the baubles. Psycho-Pass gives constant reminders about how the world, with all its changes, doesn’t really change. Perhaps the best example is the office’s cooling system. These days we expect a central HVAC basically everywhere we go, but the office shown in Psycho-Pass is clearly only using three wall-mounted fans. They aren’t built into the wall, they don’t have fancy blades, and they don’t even have a filter or grill for safety. This simpler, rougher aesthetic pervades the entire series, and when it doesn’t appear visually, it reminds you that the environment is only a holo depiction.

Even then it does not attempt to simply beat you over the head with it. In every conflict, the audience is always presented with a choice: which side do you believe, which do you support? It does not attempt to pass judgement with the results. Instead it accepts things as they are, and in every situation draws out actions from the set of most reasonable possibilities at that point in time. Most stories either shoehorn morals afterwards, or do it so poorly that it looks like an invocation of chance / deus ex machina. Neither of these are descriptions of the events in Psycho-Pass.

I should also note my appreciation for the production’s attention to detail. There are many things they did to alleviate inconsistencies and concerns that would regularly be considered as irrelevant. In one of the early opening CGs flying over the city, I thought it was weird that the tallest tower was at the edge of the city, and at the time I passed it off as lack of resources to complete the rest of the city “behind it” – this stemmmed from the common depiction of skylines in anime and elsewhere; the tallest building is always in “the center”. In later ED sequences, Psycho-Pass assured me that the emptiness was not a mistake – it depicted a shoreline of the city, with that very tower right next to it. Another instance is when a character practices quickly reloading a revolver. The character had no training with it beforehand and was going to rely on it, and I like that the project team behind this spent the minute or two of screentime to show the character just drilling something that was important in their thought process.

Of all the dystopian futures written across multiple mediums, I think Psycho-Pass is the closest to the path that we will take. This is largely because it depicts events similar to the ones we have already had in our world, and shows how it is also part of the story’s “Sibyl System”. In America the most common comparisons for dystopias are Orwell’s “1984″ and Huxley’s “Brave New World”, but neither of these draw too many comparisons to how the world existed at the time. “This could happen”, the books proclaimed, and readers everywhere responded “Well something else could happen too!”, and so most people just enjoyed them as stories. Psycho-Pass however takes events that have already happened / have been happening and incorporates them. This is the way most change occurs (i.e. not wholly revolutionary). The changes to society in Psycho-Pass, while based on a very specific kind of computer system that operates in a very specific way, do not really change people. There are still people happy with the way things are and in a believable way, not like Orwell where everyone uses words like “doubleplusgood”. In bad situations people are also still relatable. The events in episode 14 have played out in real life multiple times in multiple places; the only difference is that there are no robots with happy mascot costumes, which really doesn’t change anything. The events with the helmets are also believable: people ran when the situation was not favorable, and retailiated when it was. As mentioned earlier, Psycho-Pass does not get lost in its technology.

Technology is just a tool. Having and not having the tool may change the user, and the user may change their strategy and tactics based on what tool they have and what situation they’re in. It does explicitly say multiple times that “in the end it’s just about the users”, but what it finally expresses is not that either, because it’s not as if everything other than ideology and willpower are negligible either. They are important to be sure. But when it comes time to the real thing,

“Isn’t using the net just like using knives for cooking or using paper to write things down? It has nothing to do with good or bad. It’s like, it’s there, so we accept and use it.”

It’s about doing what you can with what you have, and more importantly, that before you can do that, you have to know what you can do and are willing to do.

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Number Justifications:

Story(10): There are some things that probably could’ve been done better. I’m told that basically everything was foreshadowed, but I couldn’t see it at the time so I don’t find them to be relevant arguments. That being said everything that it posited it executed well, so any complaints about how it got there are pretty irrelevant.

My favorite episode was the pilot. I think it did its job well in accurately reflecting the entire series.

Art(9): Akane could’ve been cuter? All around it’s definitely up to Production IG standards, no complaints.

My favorite piece of art… would have to be the Dominator. It too ends up taking its place in the story, theme, and message though, which only makes me appreciate it even more.

Sound(9): I didn’t like the first OP/ED set, the second set was enjoyable – but these are hard to control the outcome of, at least as far as I can tell. The sound effects otherwise though show the same attention to detail as in the story and in the art. When Kogami is speaking to Akane in the elevator, his voice echos a little – these things are rare to see. One would think that an anime with people talking half the time and in suits almost all the time can’t really do much to do in the sound department, but the people on sound behind Psycho-Pass definitely caught my attention and earned their pay.

I will definitely remember the second ED.

Character(10): Largely talked about this in the main review. I see amazing characters here and there all the time, but they’re always surrounded by only one, maximum two, other full characters – and when it is three characters, it’s usually a love triangle story and everything revolves around that. Infinite Ryvius succeeded at having a lot of characters you could remember, but didn’t really make them full characters – it seemed that they were just representatives of ideas or archetypes. Psycho-Pass did basically everything I could hope to see. Every time a new situation came up, I wondered if this time the writers would get lazy? They never did. It always felt like it would be possible, maybe, someday, to meet the agents of the MWPSB. In this, the scenes of Akane in her home and meeting up with her friends were definitely not wasted in building both her character and the Psycho-Pass world.

I like all of the characters by the simple fact that they’re all developed. I think I like Masaoki, Akane, Kogami, and Mika the most though, in that order.

Enjoyment(10): I did marathon it, but I didn’t feel that I had to watch the next episode right then. For most of the series I could simply pause and attend to important matters – but not so much that I could simply forget about it. I can see how both of those have their strengths, and they lend themselves to particular kinds of anime – Steins;Gate needs the marathon feel, and Aria needs the any-time-you-please feel. For the pacing, style, and purpose of Psycho-Pass, this sort of middle ground, or third ground, was where it needed to be. This was where GITSSAC tried to be, I think. Production IG definitely learned from their experience.

Overall(10): I believe Psycho-Pass has a clarity and depth of message and a skillfullness and care of its execution that is unparalleled in this medium.

Cyberpunk Slums

The world didn’t make sense to me, but I accepted this was because I didn’t have access to a car. Eventually the world didn’t make sense again, but then I accepted this was due to the existence of oil. Then the world didn’t make sense again, this time the explanation was electricity. The most recent requestion was concluded with coal. It seems to more or less conclude the physical side of things.

With this it is finally clear why slums in cyberpunk dystopias don’t strike anyone as particularly odd. The slums arise not due to lack of internet connectivity or to any other new technologies.

The problem there is lack of energy.

The known known with increased technology is human loss of identity. The unknown known is that physical energy will run out first.

Corollary: “Power” is control over 1) design, 2) minds, and 3) energy. Control over mass is largely irrelevant. Mass may determines if you execute tesuji, but energy determines if you have sente.

Corollary: It would not be surprising if America’s image of being oil “grubbing” was designed for its benefit.

Deadlines (Intermissions 6)

Again, I don’t feel like writing.

But I will write, because I have something slightly new to say.

Also because I haven’t really said much in a while. And because I will be interested in what I was thinking at the time.

The last substantial entry I wrote here was probably the New Years one. I have had a handful since then but they were all fairly self-contained and detached from the experiences that led to them. Which is fine, they serve their own purpose, but not of the “substantial” sort. The self-contained / concise entries probably are easier to read, but harder to understand due to expansion errors. They’re also only in the form of “This is what I learned”, without also the “This is how I learned it”. Again, it serves a purpose, but I’ve recently been manually archiving threads and pages simply because presenting the essence extract is often not enough. This is one of the things I learned while supplying my quotes blog with what I thought were interesting things I had read that day. First it was single lines, then it was discussions because they were required to give the core lines power, and then I found out some things actually couldn’t be taken out, and they had structures of exorbitant sizes.

Guaranteed that I’m going to be making mistakes in deciding whether something should be told in a story, in a lesson, or not at all. Guaranteed also that I’m not going to tell the story for everything. But I’ll tell some stories. Brevity soul of wit or something, but wit doesn’t get you through everything. Alongside axioms and fables, drills and practice are also a time-tested way of learning things.

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One of the most important things I’ve learned recently is to set scope.

My method of working at something was always to just pour resources into it until I felt that it was pretty good – this held even when I didn’t really care about something and only poured when prompted. I never looked for opportunity because my world was small and limited every time I attempted to expand it, and I never set a failure condition either. I expected the final result to be good no matter when I started or how much I had to work with. In an RPG I’d be pure STR. Not sure how I ever got to be grouped in with the nerds, but there you go.

This quarter I was forced to set several failure conditions – called deadlines. Sounds familiar, but deadlines for homework assignments and projects never really had this sort of effect on the past. This time the subject matter was entirely the team’s responsibility, the Prof/TAs were only there to grade our reports. I was able to recite how scope worked, and this is why I chose projects which seemed to be simpler so that more time could be dedicated to refinement, rather than to basic research or manufacturing difficulties. A very good case of not understanding how true the statement was, because as project manager it is my responsibility if things go in pointless directions for too long.

Deadlines can be used for more than just encouraging laziness. This is how I saw people work in high school; people would simply not do anything until the deadline was imminent, at which point they would do something, and then stop at the deadline, claim that they did their best with what they had, and go back to doing whatever it was they were doing. Stripped from those users and their habits, this method actually works quite well. The senior design project I am managing is the axial fan for a wind tunnel. This is for mechanical engineers who have never taken anything to do with aerodynamics. We did spend time educating ourselves, but due to the report deadlines and the total budget, it was/should’ve been fairly clear that research and theory should’ve stopped at some point. It did, but probably much later than it should have.

This is because the deadlines weren’t very dead.

After the first round of research I started setting deadlines but because things kept on going anyways, from the project’s point of view I might as well not have bothered. Granted we did actually find new stuff that ostensibly improves the design by a lot, but this was chance, as opposed to the guaranteed deadlines and the actual fact that the CAD had to be finished. That we were able to find this new method of analysis was not guaranteed as a function of time; to say “because we spent more time on it now we have an accurate design” is equivalent to “because I bought more tickets I won the lottery” – sometimes. This criticism only applies if time is spent after the initial scope-setting and interrupting the other tasks. If the model and report were already complete and research was resumed, then there is no problem: all new and improved methodology can be used in creating the next “product”. There is a difference between being late for this deadline and starting early for the next deadline, namely the huge rush to redo everything for the new development, which because it was rushed would mean it’s not as polished anyways. Again the five months/five years problem.

There were several other scope-setters, such as our manufacturing capability (i.e. none of the fancy curved stuff). But there were more unclear ones than not.

Lack of clarity is the more general concept which kills projects off – projects being a very general term. Between this blog and my previous constant blog was a hole of about four years. I started a few here and there, but I didn’t really have an idea of what I wanted to do, until I did, at which point I started this blog. Granted this blog has changed a couple of times, and I could’ve started new blogs, but in any case I continued writing. Same thing happened again; I started two or three blogs between this blog and my quotes blog because I didn’t consider what scope it would require. A videogame commentary blog would’ve required me to spend a lot of time regularly playing videogames, and a blog collecting really dumb advertisements would require me to watch a lot of dumb advertisements, neither of which I really care for.

A more simple example everyone can probably relate to is attempting to try to do something cool together with friends as kids (“kids” as a general term). The deadline of when to show up isn’t clear, the amount of time they’re supposed to spend over at your place is unclear, the amount of time they’ll spend in total over the course of how long is unclear, and the amount of free food they can expect at the first meeting is also unclear. As a result, they don’t show up. Contrast this to a birthday/party, where it’s fairly clear even if unstated explicitly simply due to experience or social standards.

Making deadlines dead (“deadline” now as a general term) might not be very pleasant, which is probably why there’s no standard social way of doing it, but anyone who accepts dead deadlines has a much nicer experience with long-term actions into the unknown. Deadlines allow for the setting of scope, and generalized, the setting of scope is “creating knowns”. This is the point of a project. It is not “to make something cool”, it is “to make something“. The first task and the only task is to create knowns out of unknowns. Do you have nothing but unknowns? Get some knowns. How do you get knowns? Set a really strict deadline and then start from there. Okay now you have something, how do you make it “cool”? That’s an unknown too. Start somewhere with that too. Okay now you have something that’s somewhat cool. Won’t blow anyone away or win any awards, but it’s pretty good and better than before for sure. How do you make it cooler?

Same idea.

I believe this is what “Perfect is the enemy of good” means.

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RE: Who do you want to tell to “Just Stop”?

/blog

This one piece of living garbage team member in my engineering senior design team. This guy is the most worthless shitstain I’ve ever had the displeasure of encountering. I thought I’d seen some bad things before, but this guy got my jimmies rustled, and my housemate who’s known me for sixteen years says it’s the first time he’s seen me so mad for so long.

I used to think that the worst possible thing in a group project was that somebody was not productive and thus making everyone else’s workload larger. Though this is technically not incorrect, it does not describe well or accurately the worst horrors.

The worst thing in a group project is somebody being assigned/responsible for something and then not doing it.

In high school and before I never noticed this because the size and scope of the project were so menial really anybody could do it in one night. Also because people were simpler back then; if they were lazy then you knew it off the bat and the information was basically always available to you. But now in engineering senior design, a class that spans six months, it’s basically impossible to do everything yourself, much less do it in one night, so division of labor is necessary. And now people are more complicated.

I gave this guy a week to work on a report, saying that he’d be responsible for it, though if he needed help or anything he could tell the other two of us on the team what we’d need to do. This was on a Tuesday afternoon, the report due the following Wednesday night. Thursday he gives us two some small tasks, saying he’d handle the rest of it. We’re supposed to meet up online in google docs to help write the report on Saturday, he says he can’t get it working. After I ask twice, he finally gets half the report to me Monday night, saying that he accidentally uploaded it to his own private. Tuesday afternoon we meet up and look it over, and about half of it was done. He leaves very quickly, and me and the other guy actually look in depth what was there, and 80% of it was either wrong or repetition of wrong, so we fixed that 80%. Wednesday at 1PM he sends an email saying he’ll have everything done by 7PM. At 5:40PM he emails us saying that he noticed some major changes had been made without his knowledge or consent, and would ask for an extension. This was after the report deadline was already extended from Monday to Wednesday.

He also spent a whole month researching some wild goose topic. Zero results. Not a single equation reported, not a single professor’s response forwarded. Says we need to test our system for it. Me and the second guy are super busy covering a bunch of other bases so we tell him to do it. He doesn’t. Or actually that’d be better but no, he says he did do it, he just left his notebook at home. Always he’s busy, has a job, needs to go to the doctor or something else I’m apparently supposed to sympathize with because he’s a Valuable Team Member ™. Complained once about a design choice I made, I say if he can come up with one that is better then that’s fine we can compare pros and cons, he doesn’t go and do it. Does no work inbetween meetings, all work has to be us watching over his shoulder. Can’t remember an expression of five terms (only multiplication and division) that was on a midterm which the class spent half the quarter on.

I was about to rip him a new one after that report and he interrupts me after two words and says “Don’t EVER raise your voice at me again.

I’m just sitting there like
[Image: Sx1afTl.jpg]

This week for our final report of the quarter he did zero work and declined to show up to both of the regular time meetings because he supposedly had to work on stuff for other classes. Second guy offers to help knock the work out real quick, he declines that offer too. And today he sends a text complaining about how he’s “feeling left out of the loop“.

Literally cannot make this shit up.

It’s not like I didn’t try to empathize with this guy either, or didn’t give him a chance. I’m vaguely new to this project management stuff and i knew that this was basically his first large scale project so I let him do a whole month on that dumb topic. I didn’t know what it was about, but hey who knows, maybe it’d improve something. And he seemed really into it, so he’s doing what he’s interested in. Then just to make sure he actually did some work I assigned him that report. He said he’d get outline done by thursday, it didn’t happen, okay whatever. He said he’d work on the main body of the report by saturday, didn’t happen, okay whatever. Showed us the goods on tuesday boy were they rotten so me and the second guy fixed it. Email at 1PM saying it’s gonna be done by 7, ok good. email at 5:40 saying he’ll do what he can, okay fine, so long as it’s done.

He made no changes between 7:27PM and 8:00PM. The only work he had done was add four one-line captions that Wednesday.

I can’t fathom the reason why he still bothers showing his face. Actually I could, if he showed up and was actively asking questions about what needs to be done or what he can do to help or some idea he came up with that he had done some initial calcluations on. But no, he just shows up, “tired”, waiting to be spoon fed.

If I could tell him to just get the fuck out of my sight for the entirety of this course and me and the second guy will handle everything, that’d be less energy than having to deal with this feces, and that in turn is significantly less energy than finding out shit didn’t get done and dropping absolutely everything so that I could write a week’s worth of effort basically from scratch within four hours.

But he’s not fucking off. So I’m going to find a way to make it fun making him feel like the aborted bucket of half-developed flesh he should’ve been, cause I’m doing 50~75% of this supposedly 3 man project, and I need to keep myself sane.

another dream

As dreams go, I don’t really remember how it started.

I was on a bus, I think it was supposed to be a public transit bus at first but somewhere along the way it turned into a school bus, with the narrow aisle in the middle and two columns of benches with high backs. Same with the amount of people, I am fairly sure this guy boarded the bus after me and sat in front of me by several seats but he ended up on the inside of my bench, the bus was fairly empty, now it was fairly full.

Everyone also changed into a kid except the bus driver. Or at least they appeared to. I didn’t feel as if my control was suddenly different. Maybe middle school is a good enough interpolation.

This guy was harassing me because he knew that I had money. Money as in a significant wad of cash on me, not electronics or watches or something detached. I forget why I had money on me, but I did, and it wasn’t entirely surprising he knew, I believe I was putting it in my backpack or something as he got on. I was ignoring him until he started threatening me, at which point I laid out all the possible responses I would have to a threat, namely 1) I give up the money, 2) I don’t give up the money and I win, and 3) I don’t give up the money and I lose. He said something which I didn’t particularly like or cared for, at which point I grabbed his head and rammed it against the wall of the bus.

Up to this point the couple of rows up and down our bench were watching because it’s not like anything interesting ever happens on a school bus. I unfortunately was not able to knock him out or some equivalent because something was weighing his head or body more than I thought, and all I gave him was a bruise. Here the bus driver decided to do something, namely come back and tell us she’d just reported both of us to ~The Office~.

He complained about how I was the violent one and he hadn’t actually done anything, and the bus driver made fun of him or something with a combination of mocking tone and some arguments, indicating that she had been paying attention. It was definitely a she, I remember that she looked relatively young and had some sort of declaration of style on her. Maybe she had a date after? Why care about what you look like if you’re a bus driver for kids?

Mostly everyone on the bus had paid attention by now, and laughed at the guy. I didn’t pay attention to his reaction in particular. Didn’t feel cramped or threatened even though I was still sitting right next to him.

Eventually the bus stopped and everyone got off. Bus driver reclined back in her seat, she apparently wasn’t going anywhere for the time being. Some people patted me on the back and gave words of suport as they passed by me. Can’t say in particular why I wasn’t geting off when it was my row’s turn. Guy didn’t tell me to move either. Must’ve been the dream screwing with me.

After everyone filed off, I got up and started toward the exit (if you forget what a school bus is like there is only one door and it’s at the very front) but stopped someway through to look at one of the benches, Somehow he walked past me while I was still standing in the aisle. He stopped too, but he took a random bench. On the bench I stopped for there was a binder and a textbook, and I bent down to see if there was a name on it somewhere.

Heard a sound. My dreams are usually mute. Looked up, dream magically zooms me in to the source: he was extending a box cutter. I yell to the bus driver this, but she waves me off, and my magic vision this time shows me the time schedue when she’s on the job. Implication apparently being that the current time was when she didn’t have to do anything.

He stood up without his backpack and faced me with the box cutter. At this point I think it’s important to note that this guy was a nigger. Important because it paints a vastly different picture than if he was not. Usually for dream records I mention things the first time I notice them because it does not force the interested reader to reread, but this one I refrained for reasons if you do not already understand, you will understand.

This guy was a nigger. If he was more like me, I would have no qualms about the situation. Anything that happened would happen and outside of gang world bribery money I’d be fairly confident that the case would be judged relatively fairly. However since he was a nigger I could not trust in such a future. If I lost, nothing would happen. If I won, it’d be a hate crime. If the dream occurred in another era it’d be as if I was up against nobility or royalty trying to assassinate me in some other equally restricted space. In this era, niggers are the protected class.

As this dream wasn’t themed on race, a short demonstration: note that most people would automatically accuse me, if had I described this guy when I noticed it in my dream, or even now, of being a “racist”. “He’s using a derogatory hate speech term against African-Americans!” An automated defense system. To be quite frank I’m not sure what race he was because my dreams are in lineart. No colors, not even greyscale crosshatches. I can tell you if something was there or not, but that’s it. Occasionally something is shown in full color and form. In this dream, it occurred once: the boxcutter sheath was turquoise.

When I use the word “nigger” I am referring to the dishonorable class of people, usually of low intelligence and finesse, whom I cannot respond to with equal force or power as I do to those whom society sees as my equals. This nigger who was about to run me through with a box cutter for instance could’ve been an illegal mexican immigrant, or the son of a white cop, or of african descent. Any one of them would’ve been the same, because my available responses to them aren’t derived from their race, it’s derived from their societal position relative to mine.

His strategy made immediate sense. Outside I could run or otherwise use the environment to my advantage, but here there was nowhere to go except up and down the aisle. Couldn’t even make a racket because the windows were closed and the bus driver didn’t give a shit. Or rather, would not yet give a shit, because nothing had happened. Perhaps not even then, because no one else was around to approve her style points if she actually did do something. She was filing or painting her nails or something.

He started running down the aisle. I had my hand ready to pick up either the binder or the textbook. The plan was to catch and break the blade, then smack him down with it before he could re-extend the cutter. Initially I wanted to stab him back with it, but I remembered how the bus driver treated the situation earlier and I vaguely remembered how America generally treats self-defense against niggers.

But there were no other options at my disposal. I wasn’t about to stand there and get stabbed to death. I wasn’t about to retreat into a bench and lose my tendons. Running backwards wouldn’t really change anything except that combat would begin with me on the ground under him, and running forwards would only increase risk and potential damage. Given that I was to stay put and attempt to catch the blade at the last moment, I first had to assume that I could actually catch the blade – any other situation would be game over. If I caught the blade and the metal was very strong or I caught it at some angle or dream physics was on my side, then i’d be able to twist the cutter out of his grip and then just fight evenly with fists. This would be the optimal scenario. If that didn’t happen and the blade broke, then my priority would be to prevent the box cutter from extending more blade. As attempting to wrestle a disarmament was out of the question and breaking the whole blade was impossible, the true immediate task would be to prevent him from extending the blade or having the ability to use it for as long as it took me to get out of the vicinity.

The dream stopped there. Probably because I cannot simulate both sides of combat.