Month: May 2015

Law of nature my ass

Sacrifices have been made over the course of millions of years. Our species has competitively extinguished life in order to get to where it is now. I would say it is time to afford ourselves some luxury of being more than just followers of survival-of-the-fittest.
Nature isn’t the end of all wisdom. Nature is a harsh mistress. Nature is boot camp. While it can be wise to learn from nature, nature works based on energy-conservation, and that is part of survival-of-the-fittest. It is base-materialism. Anything not following that pattern is of higher origin (one might say of divine origin). That is where the journey is going. Humankind has more and better means to move in either direction. We should not disgrace and dishonor all the efforts being made by our evolutionary ancestors and the lives having been traded for our own benefit by still acting as if all that hadn’t happened. Because otherwise all that passed time would be meaningless. Meaning enriches life. By giving meaning, we are using and nourishing our divine side, which has the power of not being purely reactionary and materialist and treating life like a zero-sum game, but creating something out of nothing; bringing new into this world.

Sadly, people of great influence who live lower modes of life can shape the world in a way that makes it harder for others to ascend to higher modes, and while responsibility rests with everybody, there are quantifiable differences. Just as with humankind’s evolutionary advantage over other species, those who attained great sustenance and means within our species should realize that and afford the luxury of acting more based on our divine gifts. Acting based on fear can either bring about a state where you don’t have to be afraid anymore, or it becomes a self-purpose, when you are weak and lose control, and become more and more afraid the more you try to bring about that state where you shouldn’t need to be afraid anymore.

Breaking Bad’s Walter White and life advice

It’s easy for people so say about that character of Walter White from Breaking Bad things like “Wow, what a psychopath!”. That’s typical lack of empathy and insight. Dramas like this carry much more food for thought if one is willing to ponder.
If you examine the path he took and where it all started, you might realize the true story of that character. Something that might apply to the situation many people are facing.
So let me give you my take on this:

There’s tons of widespread popular life advice about how to succeed, to find fulfillment, to overcome obstacles etc. But a lot of it is self-serving smartass talk, projecting own experiences onto other people.
The uncomfortable reality is that what Walter White did matches that life advice. His character in a way portrays what happens when you just do what needs to be done to empower yourself in a screwed up situation, to turn things around and act, to do something about your unhappiness.
No doubt that he tended to be an ass at times, or horrible to others, or talked bullshit, but who said it’s gonna be a clean path? Don’t get discouraged by adversity – ha-ha. Do what you feel you need to do to be yourself, to find balance. Ha-ha.

Do you now see the problem here?
It’s not that easy. Not when you still consider certain social norms to be valuable. Not when you cannot help but also consider the well-being of others while searching for your own well-being.

I imagine a typical life-advice self-help guru telling Walter his ‘wisdom’, and then a year later he tells Walter in distress: “This is not what I meant!” And Walter responds: “If you didn’t mean it, you shouldn’t have said it. I exactly followed your advice and acted in a goal-oriented way. Things might not be easy or all sunshine and rainbows, but nobody dares to mess with me anymore, and that’s a good start. I have found the confidence now that you talked about. Now I see why YOU were so confident. Now that I am reborn as Heisenberg, I feel like I could share my own success story with the world and tell people what they need to do to find personal fulfillment and self-confidence. … I am a self-made man now. Who I am, I accomplished by myself, through hard work and perseverence! Isn’t that great? So empowering! If only other people could follow the same advice instead of finding excuses!”

Reasons behind the WoW pandaren critique

People complained about the pandaran race introduced in World of Warcraft’s Mists of Pandaria expansion. They still occasionally do.
One might wonder why, since the pandaran race has been canon since the pre-MMO Warcraft times, and so have certain other strange animal-like races.
I will tell you what the problem is. It is becoming quite obvious when you listen to the ‘reasoning’ behind the critique.

It is about male insecurities. People who are bothered by pandaren demand more blood, gore, violence and ugliness. This active rejection of beauty sounds very much like fanaticism. Behavior based on fear and suppression of the truth behind it. (World of) Warcraft has always had silly and cheesy elements. But pandaren are, at least in some aspects, more inclined towards peace, beauty and wisdom; attributes of a healthier society. One might argue they’re traits associated with femininity. So when a guy says: “This isn’t ugly and horrible enough!” it’s pretty clear that this is what’s going on. Masculine-ego boost. It’s the same reason why fans of My Little Pony get flamed. It challenges traditional role models and mass psychology induced by marketing/popculture. The resistance is the reactionary act of people afraid of loss of identity. So, basically, as said before: insecurities acting up.
Being fine with pandas roaming Azeroth is the mature approach.

Especially when they’re dual-wielding katanas and giving out free beer, haha.

Lack of customer-orientation in web design / marketing

One more encounter in regards to that. Businesses not really trying to appeal.

Wanted to check out Final Fantasy 14. Went to their website. Before anything else, before knowing about the game, I was ‘greeted’ with an unwanted popup, wanting me to buy the game or download the trial version. I clicked that away and then got an empty page telling me – Error, cookies not activated – and that was a dead end. I had lost interest at that point. I simply wanted to watch some screenshots, maybe read some text, and the very first thing is them throwing several layers of unnecessary hassle in my face.

If a person does that, you simply walk away, shaking your head. And that’s what I do with businesses, too. I don’t need even more interaction with disturbed characters than the internet already unavoidably provides. I will wait for positive surprises instead and give those my full attention.

Repetetitive music for repetitititive tasks

This is an expansion on this tweet (chain – click to see the rest):

I wanted to provide a little background to what I meant.

You might have heard about the benefits of giving both left and right brain hemisphere something to do when performing tasks. Well, there’s that, and there’s also association. Mix something you don’t like with something you do and your brain will make a connection. And the factor I wanted to focus on is about the repetition:

I attended a psychedelic spiritual ritual (Santo Daime, ayahuasca) a couple of times where there would be singing of very similar melodies, over and over, for hours. (Some breaks from that for spoken parts, but relatively few.) Now what this does is that if there’s a part of your brain that simply resists the repetitive nature of the experience, e.g. finds it boring or dumb or annoying, that part, which prevents you from accomplishing the task, will eventually have to succumb and admit defeat. You are literally getting your mind out of the way. Not necessarily completely, but the part that resists.

So one of the best example for such situations that I can think of from my own experience is computer games and “farming”. I’m sure you know that. You want something rare or something in great quantity in an MMO, but it involves mind-numbing ( 😉 ) grind for hours, and the longer you do it, the more resistance your mind builds up.
Now if you can find a music that puts you in the right mood, that conveys a kind of vibe of being diligent, productive, to keep going; music that has flow and groove (D&B is usually good with flow), and you find yourself able to listen to that on repeat, over and over, then you can combine that with the repetitive task and you will have fused the best of both worlds. The core issue you took with the grind, the seemingly endless repetitiveness, has been connected to two things: Your wish to accomplish the task and your enjoyment of the music.

You know this really worked well when you eventually realize you’ve overshot the mark and kept going. ^^
You know the music is REALLY good when you KNOW you’ve overshot your mark but keep going anyway. 😀

The following are just some of my personal favorites, but they might give you an idea what I’m talking about. The music needs to speak to a deeper part than your rational mind. Some music can be awesome fun, but only for a while, because it adresses the mind too much. Other is less obtrusive. Generally, what works well is music that makes you want to move your body. As an added effect then, your manual actions towards accomplishing the task will be treated like dancing by your emotional mind.

Awkward Marina – Fairy Tail 2014 Theme (EXCEED The Limit Remix)

PsychGoth – The Derpinator (Fighting theme of Derpy Hooves)

RawGreen – Donut Steel 2: The Soundtrack

 
 
A bit less effective for me, but still in the category:

Whitetail – Rarity Theme (CommandSpry Remix)

DerpyCrash & Leafrunner – Mezza Luna (Hay Tea Remix)

And then there is a set of somewhat different tunes that used to help me a lot in World of Warcraft, in part during daily quests that are quite action-oriented. It might be a change of taste, or the fact that it’s a different game. You’ll have to figure out what fits you and the situation, but this essay might help you understand what to look for and how to find fitting music more easily.
(I also did my own cuts from the following tracks in order to make them ‘cut to the chase’ and work better when looped.)

EVE Online – Retribution

EVE Online – Seven Clans

EVE Online – Fight Like You Live

I am usually not into industrial or acid punk or whatever this is, but it’s about the context and I’m quite open to various music genres.
Even if, for example, you are not at all someone who enjoys listening to orchestral music, when it skillfully complements a movie scene, it’s literally a different story. Should I say…

Klendathu Drop from Starship Troopers

Being a musician is one thing, but being able to find just the right music for a specific occasion is a skillset in itself.

Of course, apart from repetitive music, any music that really gets you going can work, because no matter what you do of whether you do anything at all while listening, you’re already having a good time and thus perceive the world differently. And what I mean by that is beautifully depicted by this:

If you are into chiptunes, the following might do the trick (Not gonna link them, it slows down the article display):
Artist: Yerzmyey
Titles: Break Space, Fifteen Colours, Arcane Zone (Part 2), New Line, XL Dance

As a sidenote: I use to go to a TCM massage parlor and they were playing the same set of tunes every time, all the time. And the choice was perfect, because for reasons I cannot put into words, that music was another example (even if not repetitive and motivating, but calming and unobtrusive) of not getting bothersome even if you hear it again and again. And it was like that throughout the whole CD. A skillful choice … and for the therapist understandably a necessary choice.