Archive for April, 2012

Akumetsu (TheByteScene Review)

Akumetsu

3.5 Gore-Filled-Clone-Experiment-Driven-Anti-Evil-Explosions out of 4

Japan’s economy is in dire straits. Thanks to a combination of parliamentary negligence, bureaucratic nepotism, and a lack of economic reform, Japan’s economy has hit rock bottom. Inflation is at an all time high, the Yen is almost worthless, and the citizens are crying out for change with their voices landing on deaf ears; their corrupt leaders choosing to wildly focus on themselves and their own hedonism, instead of those who chose to elect them. Lavish parties are hosted by the CEO’s and leaders of national corporations, banks release almost illegible reports, and once again, citizens are left flabbergasted as to the fate of their country, their future, and their lives wondering who, if anyone, will save them.

The introduction seems to have been lifted from a 1930’s newsreel, placing Japan in a seemingly neverending crisis. In a way, the introduction serves as the perfect catalyst for the plot and narrative.

The same minds behind Wolf Guy: Okami no Monshou, Yoshiaki Tabata and Yuki Yugo, Akumetsu tells the story of Shou and Akumetsu, a citizen behind the thinly veiled mask of a vigilante attempting to instill long term political, economic, and social reform by eliminating the members of the elite who caused the mess in the first place. Reading the series sometime after its publication ended in 2006, I noticed a lot of parallels to the Occupy movement and the aptly named 99% which, when placed in context, really says something about either the mind of Tabata, the writer, or the minds of the hedonistic and accountable. The sole difference being, whereas Occupy protestors had no manifesto or creed, in addition to no major plan, Akumetsu targets, humiliates, and eliminates all those he feels are guilty of sending Japan into abject ruin.

He begins with a perverted official, then targets the three CEO’s of Japan’s leading banks, and continues down the accountability ladder.

The one man designated as good, Japan’s current Prime Minister Shintarou Murase, is told that political reforms must be in place within a one month period, leaving execution as his only penalty. Putting things into perspective, Akumetsu effectively eliminates any, and all opposition to the Prime Minister’s plans, and Murase is expected to convince the National Diet Assembly to fulfil the outlined changes. As Akumetsu puts it, they’re both in this together. Reading on, I wondered which would be more difficult, going on a vigilante killing spree, or instilling political reform in an assembly that knows that not instilling the reforms will lead to eventual death at the hands of the aforementioned vigilante. I still think Murase had the more difficult job of the two.

Akumetsu is a curious character; he’s certainly a terrorist, and though no citizen is ever afraid of his approach, it’s evident that to Japan’s upper class, he is a terrorist hell bent on a twisted view of justice. He isn’t wrong, however. I can’t deny that his accusations, given the context, seem appropriate; the people he targets are absolutely at fault, and their actions manage to bring a booming and prosperous nation to ruin. At the same time, he never once preaches fulfilling the commands of a higher order; his words hide behind them a deep sorrow. Akumetsu is a character who has personal reasons for wanting the reforms, and under no circumstance is he acting for purely political reasons.

He’s lost friends and family to the dealings of the upper class, and the only way he can think of getting back at the people who hurt him is by doing the same to them. In a hilarious way, the sociopathic terrorist main character is quite sympathetic, and what Yoshiaki Tabata does well is having him portrayed as a man in stark understanding of his hypocrisy. At no point does Akumetsu ever claim to be any better or worse than those he executes, he simply claims to be working as an agent of justice, a destroyer of evil, for the people of Japan. Again, for a violent vigilante terrorist, he’s terrifyingly sympathetic.

At the same time, his targets provide a great deal of interest; they’re all based on famous politicians, activists, professors, actors, and media personalities, and while the real people are never referenced, the names are often close enough that it’s fairly obvious who they are. I say obvious, but I had no idea who they were, a quick Google search, though, and more than a few editor’s notes helped clear up my confusion.

Looking at Akumetsu from a literary perspective, it’s difficult to come up with very many criticisms. Behind the overarching One-Month-Reforms plot is the story of the Akumetsu, a fascinating plot interwoven with bits about the Italian and Russian Mafias, and the Yakuza and it’s all done fairly well. By now, I’ve come to understand that Tabata likes working with juxtaposition, portraying an evil character from every possible angle, choosing to ask the audience what they think. It’s not like we can’t think about it either; I see a fascinatingly violent Batman in Akumetsu, without the parental issues. Perhaps that’s not a fair analogy, since any vigilante preaching their own form of justice in an unjust setting will remind me of Batman, but Akumetsu seems to me the Japanese equivalent of Batman; more nationalistic, more efficient, more goal-oriented, and more effective.

The narrative follows the traditional Tabata-Yuki style, having pure narration take up several panels at a time. Again, I must point out how effectively they carry out this style; words seem to have far more emphasis placed in single panels, then when emphatic characters scream them at each other. This brings up a minor point about characterization; every evil character thinks that their actions are good, and that only their existence can lead to a better Japan, so at what point are they expecting their single-minded approach to work. It’s interesting what Tabata seemed to have been trying to say about human morality; even faced with the potential for death, the immoral continue forward, always choosing to ignore the fact that they’ll be next.

Thinking about it, I wonder what Tabata was trying to say about Japan then, and what he’d love to say now about the 99%, the Occupy movement, and everything else that’s happened since 2008. He seems to be making rather straight forward observations; people are bad, so get rid of them, put in people who are good, and everything will work out. Of course, this couldn’t possibly be true, especially in a word as immoral as ours.

Right?

As always, this has been your Admin, the Avid Blogger; comment, subscribe, and criticize, and DO remember! Always look on the BYTE side of life!

-EK

Wolf Guy: Okami No Monshou (TheByteScene Review)

Wolf Guy: Okami No Monshou

3.5 Lunar-Controlled-Transformations out of 4

The series begins with a drunk teacher stumbling about trying to make her way back to her small one bedroom apartment. She walks into a park and sees a young boy, brimming with confidence to the point of arrogance, surrounded by a gang threatening his life. He’s clearly done something to upset them but, unbeknownst to the reader, and the teacher, the boy’s only offence is looking like he’s picking a fight. The gang members attack him, each blow doing nothing to harm the apparently immortal child; as the assault grows to the point of threatening his obviously lacking mortality, the boy retaliates and leaves the gang members injured and paralyze, but not dead. The shock of the event proves to strenuous for the teacher and she faints before she sees the boy’s retaliation; she awakens in the park surrounded by the injured bodies of the gang members, wondering about the details of the boy’s body.

The opening scene of Yoshiaki Tabata and Yuuki Yugo’s 2007 re-imagining of Kazumasa Hirai’s Wolf Guy is a brutal reminder of the arrogance, callousness, and vulgarity that humanity holds for those it deems inferior, and marks the beginning of the story of Akira Inugami, a teenage werewolf plagued with the knowledge that the humans around him are violent, destructive, and absolutely evil. Due to his inhuman lineage, and his natural arrogance, Inugami makes himself a target for every tough-guy wannabe itching for a fight. He becomes their prey, carries the weight of their abuse, does nothing in terms of retaliation, and repeats this cycles indefinitely, regardless of where he resides. The series opens with him moving to Tokyo to escape the wrath of a gang of delinquents, and has him crossing paths with a human with an equally sordid past, Akiko Aoshika, the aforementioned drunk teacher.

It isn’t revealed until later in the series, but Aoshika’s history with men has left her emotionally scarred and in dire straits; her role as a teacher seems a superficial way to fill an increasingly widening gap in her psyche, and Inugami’s presence fills her with an odd hope. Inugami and Aoshika develop a deeply platonic romance, and while they very rarely do anything more than hold each other in moments of abject despair, the series convinces its readers that they truly do love each other, despite, or perhaps in spite, of Inugami’s curse.

Inugami’s ability to instill an almost impossible amount of hatred in delinquents sparks the progression of the novel, as the school’s native gang assaults him on his first day. Surviving the attack, and returning the next day, unscathed and as arrogant as ever, the gang’s leader, Dou Haguro is alerted and called in. The leader is monstrous, sociopathic, vicious, and an amalgamation of every negative trait possessed by humans. In every sense of the term, Haguro is Inugami’s antithesis; while the latter chooses to live a quiet and sedentary life, always trying to avoid violence, the former revels in the horror. The latter is the son of a prestigious, and incredibly wealthy family, while the former is the son of a powerful Yakuza faction leader. The only real similarity they possess is their inhuman, and often inhumane, natures. The death of Haguro’s father has the human monster take his place and gain the use of both an almost endless amount of subordinates and weaponry; Inugami is forced to endure every aspect of Haguro’s fears and insecurities.

It’s unsurprising that the author/artist duo has chosen, yet again, to produce a series based on the evils of human nature. Their earlier collaborations featured similar themes and, yet again, the definition of monstrosity is their muse. Inugami is a werewolf, though it seems that he is the only moral character in the series. The human characters are a menagerie of the perverse, weak, apathetic, vulgar, violent, vicious, sociopathic, psychopathic, and demented, and any character that can’t be immediately described as evil has a sordid past and a damaged history.

Another werewolf is introduced later in the series, and it’s evident that the nobility of the wolf serves as the antithesis to the monstrosity of the human. The series seems to go out of its way to make this point clear, even outright asking the audience “What makes the human Haguro any less monstrous than the werewolf Inugami?”

In an interesting turn for a manga, the omniscient narrator helps give the series pace and focus; while other manga are based on plot arcs determined to maintain continuity and reader interest, Okami No Monshou‘s narrator acts as a narrator should, providing minor characterization, and inference into the minds of those involved. I say interesting because most weekly published manga have very little in terms of narration, whereas Wolf Guy dedicates entire panels to nothing but text, often single words on a black background. The narrator gives the series a rather cinematic feel, almost as if the authors intended their work to serve as the preliminaries for a screen play.

Regardless, the plot is fascinating and interesting, the characters well developed and well written, and the conflict very real. The latter half of the series has Inugami attempting to rescue Aoshika from a completely turned Haguro. In a way, Haguro is one of the more interesting characters, though good villains are always more intriguing than their just counterparts. Within the context of Wolf Guy: Okami No Monshou Dou Haguro is, without a doubt, the true monster. As the authors repeatedly query, however, aren’t humans the worst monsters of all?

As always, this has been your Admin, the Avid Blogger; comment, subscribe, and criticize, and DO remember! Always look on the BYTE side of life!

-EK

The Genius and The Hard Worker; How to Gauge Intelligence and Why One Isn’t as “Smart” as They Think They are, With Help From the Good Will Hunting

Starring Matt Damon in the titular role, Good Will Hunting tells the story of a Bostonian mathematical genius working as a full time janitor at the prestigious Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The premise is quite fascinating, and though it was originally penned as a thriller by Matt Damon and Ben Affleck (who also co-stars as Hunting’s best friend Chuckie), the studio financing the film managed to convince the two budding writers/actors/directors/Hollywood megastars to accept the changes to their original script, and create a story about a genius who, due to a brutal childhood spent between homes, decides to ignore his intellect and pursue a life of mental nihilism.

A poignant scene has Damon reveal that his life’s goal is to stay in the neighbourhood he shares with his intellectually-lacking friend, grow up and most likely have kids, whom he plans on taking to baseball games, effectively spending his future eroding himself of any purpose for both himself, and his brain. The details of the scene are trivial, since the main point of it all is to have Chuckie threaten Hunting’s life to insure that the latter makes the right choice, and pursue a meaningful application to his intellect, and a romance that had recently failed. Chuckie puts the situation into perspective by revealing that each morning he drives up to Will’s home, he hopes that Hunting will have left the neighbourhood. Strong emphasis is put on Chuckie’s hope that Hunting won’t even announce his departure.

The film spends a lot of time exploring the psychological scars parenting, or a lack thereof, can leave on an individual, and the majority of the film’s run time is spent exploring the family Will forms with a fellow genius (but unequally gifted) mathematics professor (played by Stellan Skarsgard) and a community college psychology professor, played by Robin Williams, who grew up in the same neighbourhood as Hunting, and experienced almost identical emotional trauma in order to protect his mother and sister. Interestingly, I noticed that not very much time is spent on the fact that given the similar circumstances, Williams’ character had the possibility of becoming like Hunting, though this is a minor detail that does little to take away from the entire plot.

The two father figures are juxtaposed, with the mathematics professor pushing the boy into making the right decision to further his education and revolutionize almost all fields of mathematics, and the psychology professor aiming to neutralize the pain Hunting feels. Both parties are aware of Hunting’s intellect, and both feel the importance of having it expanded and utilized, because both are aware of the importance of having such a natural gift.

It is essential to understand that an intellect like Will Hunting’s does not merely exist in popular culture. While the “Genius-level intellect” trope is repeatedly played, with varying degrees of effectiveness, in movies and television (in addition to being featured in almost every manga, or comic book), it’s existence is not restrained to these mediums. It must be understood that, yes, geniuses exist, and, yes, their potential to expand the recesses of human understanding is awe-inspiring. That being said, determining true genius in the real world is entirely dependent on their subject of interest. An artistic genius might not have the same abilities with mathematics, and their understanding of string theory could be nonexistent. The same can be said for any scientific genius; just because one is capable of rationalizing super string theory, there is no rule stating that they must also be capable to constructing a sculpture, or composing a beautiful piece of music, or even putting ink to paper without completely eviscerating the brush.

Therefore, despite the truth that geniuses exist, the question always becomes, how does one gauge and determine intelligence? Disregarding subjective genius entirely, how does one gauge the intelligence of another person? To what degree can a person safely state that a person is dumb, or intellectually lacking?

I must immediately remove grades from the equation because, based on the current educational model that is used in most Canadian elementary, middles, and secondary schools, grades are not an efficient indication of intelligence, but merely an indication of work ethic. University is an almost different matter entirely, and grades can be used to gauge a person’s intelligence there; so it would seem until one realizes that even in university, work ethic carves the way to good grades. Certainly, in both cases, there will be exceptions – students who work incredibly hard to achieve nothing, and students who barely work and achieve everything.

Exceptions will always apply, though it can be said with a strong value of certainty that work ethic determines good grades and, therefore, grades do not determine how smart a person is.

Next, I must eliminate vocabulary indefinitely. Being verbose and eloquent, while intellectually sub-par certainly doesn’t guarantee an intelligent association. Merely being able to string together words and phrases is a sign of lingual capability, and though one might believe that acquiring a large verbal pallet is a sign of an almost higher echelon of thought, the truth is not always so. In summation, a big vocabulary does not mean a big intellect. I must also mention that speaking multiple languages can be considered a sign of intellect, with the only restriction being that a person must be able to speak these multiple languages fluently. They are allowed some mistakes here and there, as we are all allowed, but they must be capable of maintaining a conversation in these other languages that graduate to anything more than supplementary pleasantries.

I’m more than capable of enquiring into the details of a person’s day in Japanese, though I certainly wouldn’t be able to understand their response.

Grades and large vocabularies must be eliminated, in addition to supplementary lingual skills, though it can be said that being able to speak multiple languages fluently is a sign (but not a guarantee) of intelligence. Grades are actually meaningless outside of academia, so they definitely can’t be used as intellectual placeholders.

Quite frankly, I have no idea what makes a person smart or dumb, and when it comes to judging and gauging a person’s intelligence, I’m left flustered. As far as I can tell, there is only one real measure of a person’s intelligence; disregarding the schools they have attended, the honours they have been bestowed, the money they make, the car they drive, the house they own, the significant others they are associated with, and their parents, there is really only one real way to gauge a person’s intelligence, and it’s through the things they say.

Even then, the results are subjective, but, regardless of how “Smart,” a person might really be, if they’re incapable of maintaining a coherent conversation, that’s as smart as they will appear to you, their judge and jury.

Of course, there is one more, fairly reasonable, measure, and it’s what a person does. Good Will Hunting plays with this repeatedly, through the characters of Skylar (played relatively well by Minnie Driver), Professor Lambeau (Skarsgard’s character), and Will Hunting.

When compared to each other, they are wildly different; Professor Lambeau and Skylar both openly admit to being intellectually inferior to Will, though the audience is left to wonder who the smarter character is – the mathematical genius working as a janitor, the future med student who has difficulty grasping organic chemistry, or the mathematics professor who is repeatedly bested by a 20-year old, who has also won the mathematical equivalent to the Nobel Prize. The answer is obvious, because, when intellect is gauged, and compared to achievement, future achievement, and quality of life, Will Hunting is not the smartest character. In fact, he is one of the least intelligent characters in the film; he is repeatedly given opportunities to produce a positive outcome in his life, and he refuses them continuously. Certainly, I believe that this is the best gauge of a person’s intelligence – the outcomes they produce given their limitations.

The real gauge for intelligence is broken, and horribly skewed towards those with genuinely large intellects and, if used to gauge the majority of the world, would reveal that not everyone is as smart as they would hope. The real gauge for intelligence isn’t how “Smart” a person is, or how “Smart” other people think they are; the real gauge for intelligence is how far a person goes based on the limitations they have been “Burdened” with.

The genius drop-out will always be intellectually superior to the hard worker who needs to spend hours understanding their coursework but, despite what the former might say, the latter will be the “Smarter” of the two. The fact of the matter is that we are never as “Smart” as we believe, but we certainly aren’t as “Dumb” either.

As always, this has been your Admin, the Avid Blogger; comment, subscribe, and criticize, and DO remember! Always look on the BYTE side of life!

-EK

Understanding Morality; Existing Above the Law and Why Justice Is A Fluid Concept

Before I begin typing an article, or anything that I write and publish, I force myself to reproduce my ideas through pen and paper so I’m capable of determining how an idea can and will work out. I set this restriction in place so that I, when I do begin typing, have an idea of what to type, and what point-of-view I’m going to take to insure that an article doesn’t sound like nonsensical rambling. At the same time, this restriction exists because I have a notorious problem with procrastination that, if not restricted and controlled, would lead to me accomplishing absolutely nothing and would end with me spending hours on various websites doing absolutely nothing.

In this way, the restriction I’ve set out for myself has a clear precedent and, if my procrastination is not regulated, the results disappoint me. In short, I created this rule because I understood exactly what happens when it isn’t in place, something that’s becoming less and less common within the society and culture we exist in.

Certainly, there seems to be an abundance of rules, restrictions, and regulations, but a stunning lack of understanding as to why these rules exist. Worse yet, there appears to be something of a consensus that, thanks to the rules that are in place, common sense is neither necessary nor beneficial thanks to a fascinating hypothesis that one doesn’t need common sense when there are rules to fill that void. Obviously, there are reasons that laws exist; at the turn of human sentience, it became clear that morality was fluid and, to avoid the loss of an individual’s possessions, laws came into effect to protect one human from the immorality of another.

Laws exist to regulate human immorality and though the origin of law is frequently debated (much like every other aspect of human existence), there can be no doubt that common sense cannot fill the void that lawlessness would leave. After all, the question isn’t what’s right or wrong, so much as how does one go about punishing the wrong? Does a society resort to mindless brutality for stealing bread to feed a hungry family? Are the hands of a thief chopped off? How does one treat justifiable crime? What is justifiable, really? If it’s carried out for the greater good? What qualifies as the greater good? No, certainly, laws exist because common sense is a fluid concept and my sense of what is common will differ greatly from that of my Somali counterpart, or my Japanese one for that matter.

The common sense issue is great enough to warrant notice, as the law changes from country to country, and it’s why organizations like the ICC exist. To make sure that universal crimes like theft, and murder are judged equally on a global level, universal organizations exist to make sure a person doesn’t lose their hand for embezzling billions, or their tongue for sanctioning the deaths of millions. It’s a matter of accountability, though I do digress because my issue is not with the upholding of the law, but with the existence of the law; specifically, why rules and regulations are created and, on a more detailed level, the understanding of why rules and regulations exist.

I suppose, on the most basic level, rules and regulations (laws, warrants, orders, edicts) exist to combat the basic concept of immorality. Rules and regulations exist to insure that the immoral are reprimanded for their lack of conscience, and they exist to insure that the moral are not subject to the various dealings, transactions, and interchanges of the immoral. The law exists so the good are protected from the bad and, therefore, so the bad act good. Obviously, this is where the tension escalates, and where the subject is broached (it also happens to be the point where the fluidity of the concept comes into play) because good and bad, morality, right and wrong, and justice are all fluid concepts. What one individual calls good, another calls bad; freedom becomes oppression, tyranny becomes just rule, an absolute monarchy becomes the dissolution of a citizen’s rights, and opinions become skewed to suit the best or worst possible outcome. Effectively, rules becomes skewed because two or more individuals cannot agree on what is right or wrong; it’s why people end up saying things like “We don’t need common sense when we have the law.” On one hand, it’s completely giving up free thought and, on the other, it’s choosing to live with the law because that’s the easiest, safest, and simplest option.

Between arguing on end over what’s right and wrong, or simply choosing to believe that the law is the only possible right, arguing is the more difficult choice. Applying this principle to a smaller example yields the truth that it’s far easier to tell a child that stealing is wrong, then explaining to them each case where stealing would be acceptable and each subsequent case that speaks to the contrary. It’s far easier to say that something is, simply because it is, instead of explaining why it can be believed that something is. As such, the understanding of rules and principles becomes diluted to nothing more than “This is true because it’s always been true” or “This is true because it is true.” Certainly, these outcomes can and will be true, but the process to which these truths have been determined will often be completely ignored.

Social convention is the most straightforward example. Much of what one considers social convention is often completely misunderstood, and only exists for the purpose of remaining politically correct. Yes, it’s absolutely rude to completely undress in public, but not simply because it’s rude, but because it’s a matter of shame; human society has evolved to the point where certain actions are considered shameful, like completely undressing in public. One might ask, why is it shameful? To which another could respond, “It’s a matter of embarrassment. I feel embarrassed when someone undresses in front of me in public, and therefore I think it’s shameful to undress in public, and therefore it goes against my interpretation of social convention for someone to undress in front of me.”

The reasoning is straightforward and unambiguous and, as such, undressing in public can be considered rude (it simply depends on the venue; beaches are perfect, playgrounds are not). It’s an extreme example, absolutely, but it illustrates the point of social convention entirely; it exists so people feel comfortable around others so they can function as a society and a culture. Social convention doesn’t just exist because “Certain things are wrong,” social convention exists because “Certain people feel certain things at certain times are unacceptable.” Much like undressing in public, there’s a time and place for everything, and social convention exists to insure these times and places aren’t confused.

However, this understanding is becoming less and less commonplace, and being slightly less apropos or more forthcoming than “Normal” is considered wrong only because it is wrong. There is no understanding behind why it’s wrong, or why it should be wrong, or why it’s wrong given the situation; it is wrong, because it is not right, and therefore it is wrong.

This, ultimately, begs the question, who decides what is right and wrong? On the most basic level, who decides what is socially acceptable, what is unacceptable, what is just, what is immoral, what is rude, and what is appropriate?

In short, I do. In long, we all do. Even longer, it is our responsibility as a sentient species to determine what is right and wrong, depending on those involved, depending on the location, depending on the situation, and depending on the circumstances. The ultimate critic of morality is myself, and while laws exist to insure I don’t act immorally towards others, and to insure I don’t harm others, ultimately, the only people I must answer to are myself, and my conscience. Some will misunderstand my point and argue that I’m advocating a selfish sense of being above the law, to which I will say yes, I am advocating a selfish sense of being above the law.

We must all be above the law, because the law is designed to restrict and regulate members of society who would otherwise act out selfishly. We must be above the law in the purest sense of the term; not so we can act immorally, but to act in such a way that universal harmony and coalescence can be achieved without the need to set up restrictions for otherwise obviously immoral behaviour.

We do not exist above the law to break it, or to take consequential matters into our own hands; we exist above the law to insure that our actions are carried out with logic, common sense, and more than just a little bit of thought. We exist above the law to insure that upholding the law is unnecessary, and this can only begin by understanding why something is right, and why something isn’t.

As always, this has been your Admin, the Avid Blogger; comment, subscribe, and criticize, and DO remember! Always look on the BYTE side of life!

-EK

One Year Anniversary; A Discussion of Lessons, Opinions, Columns, and Blogs, With Help From TheByteDaily

Date: April 11th, 2012

TheByteDaily

One Year Anniversary; A Discussion of Lessons, Opinions, Columns, and a Blog With Help From TheByteDaily

It began when I listened to Taylor Swift’s You Belong With Me, and decided that I had had enough; enough of her terrible music, enough of a lack of voiced opinion, and a lack means to voice such an opinion. After consulting with a few friends over the next few days, I registered a blog name with WordPress, opened a Twitter account to promote the blog, and began writing for TheByteDaily. The first article I ever wrote was, by all conceivable means, a literary mess that ended all too abruptly because I had run out of things to say. Ironically, by having had my fill of Swift’s music, I had found my appetite for discussing why I didn’t like her music all too satisfied. For one of the few times in my lifetime I was unable to say anything more about a given topic; for one of the first times ever, I had run out of an opinion to provide, and I relished every single minute of it (irony, no doubt, at its finest).

The first two months of writing had me publishing an article almost every single day, for no other reason than me having so much to say, and a forum that would actually respond when I said anything. The first few articles continued the pattern of ranting, and it wasn’t until I got my first bit of feedback, from a writer friend (who I’ve referenced a few times before) that I realized I actually needed to work on what I wanted to say before I said it. In every sense of the term, I realized I needed to plan and prioritize my opinion, so it would be read like an opinion piece, and less like a rant. It was also around this time that I learned that my opinions were often nothing more than trivial annoyances and that, if I wanted to have anyone continue reading my articles, they would need to be better written and, most importantly, better edited.

I like to think that, after the original consultation, the articles got better and were focused. I like to think that, after the original consultation, the articles I wrote had an overlying theme, in addition to an underlying message. I like to think that, after the original consultation, I more or less found a relative groove when it came to writing and that my writing was more fluid and melodic than when I began. That being said, I was also more than aware that my stances and point-of-views on issues would need to change and, if not change, then adapt.

My opinions remained constant, but it was my voice that adapted the most. I learned that, not every thought in my head was a good one, and I also learned that not every sentence that came to mind could be written down to match the flow of an article; I learned that not every opinion I had needed to be expressed in a single article, and I also learned that a single change in emphasis could ruin the entire thesis of a piece of literature. Finally, I learned that there were multiple ways to insert my opinion on two or three different topics by writing a single article, and that few little couldn’t be correlated to make a point.

It reduced the consistency of my updates, certainly, and what was originally a daily blog began to adhere to a tri-weekly, bi-weekly, and, quite often, weekly schedule. I still haven’t really found the perfect schedule to follow, but I have come to the conclusion that the only schedule I really need to follow is my own. The blog, quite frankly, has helped me come to the conclusion that my opinion is my own, and though it is affected by certain outside factors, the way I choose to defend it and uphold it is a choice that is mine. Hilariously, this has helped me learn that not everyone agrees with my opinion, and even fewer people care; it simply doesn’t change the fact that I have one. Time may have passed since the publication of my first article, but that is a fact that has remained steadfast: not everyone agrees with an opinion and, more often than naught, fewer people care.

Interestingly, this revelation helped lead me to an even more obvious fact: I write, not for other people, but for my own enjoyment. Certainly, I write and blog so that other people may become aware of my thoughts, and discuss them with me, but my work isn’t so much for other people as it is for me. It’s difficult to come to terms with this, considering the whole point of the blog was to broadcast my opinion, but in a metaphorical sense, TheByteDaily is akin to a personal journal; I write every few days or so, produce my opinions, stop writing, and return to complete the cycle (and to read. The only difference between a journal and the blog is that, while a journal is intended to be private, the blog is intended to be very public.

I digress, however, as finding a central theme to certain articles led to the expansion of the blog, what was once a source of opinion on anything that sparked my interest, from a moral, psychological, social, and philosophical point-of-view, became a source for opinions on the arts, and the absurdities of daily life. Certainly, TheByteDaily always had TheBytePost, but soon enough, the individual column for analysis branched out into TheByteScene and TheByteWeek, and these extensions produced a more narrow thesis for each article, allowing for a better written piece of literature. Of course, this also meant shorter and more succinct articles that didn’t carry on for three pages, though, once again, fluidity and a central thesis are also to thank.

In every sense of the word, the two columns that I added to TheByteDaily were created specifically so I could identify and categorize my daily musings, and while it would be just as easy to segregate everything into a single group (despite the oxymoronic nature of such a statement), I find that having three columns has actually helped me write better. By separating events into distinct categories, I’m able to change my tone, and adapt to writing in a different style. TheByteWeek is far more laid back than TheBytePost could ever hope to be, and TheByteScene is an amalgamation of the two; part opinion, part everything, and anything, else that it needs to be.

Of course, at one point, there was TheWeeklyReview, a small weekly column that I released every Saturday to sum up the week’s articles, and to discuss anything I wanted to talk about that couldn’t be put into article form. I do regret not being able to continue TheWeeklyReview, though its end marked the beginning of TheByteWeek; whether I lost anything is a rather fluid concept, though I can say that I gained the peace of mind knowing that I wasn’t letting myself down by not writing a weekly review every Saturday.

The future of the blog is difficult to ascertain and, quite frankly, even I don’t when (if ever) this blog will cease to have a contributor and writer. As such, I can say with a fair amount of certainty that, until such a time as I am unable to contribute, or find a suitable replacement, and until such a time as I feel my opinions don’t matter (which, quite frankly, may never happen), I will continue writing, producing, vocalizing, challenging, defending, and upholding my own opinion.

As always, this has been your Admin, the Avid Blogger; comment, subscribe, and criticize, and DO remember! Always look on the BYTE side of life!

-EK