Tuesday, December 4, 2012


Alright.  Rest up tonight to make a huge dash for the finish starting tomorrow.  This organic chemistry exam will be incredibly difficult, and I have two chapters to read.  I haven't even started making the handy flashcards that got me through the last one.

So because I'm going to be so busy tomorrow, I want to take note of an idea that I had tonight.  I think I figured out how to make my secret society-changing, paradigm-shifting idea into a successful business model.  So, here's what I need to remember when my finals are over, hopefully to work on during this winter break:

Refine how advertisors reach their audience
Refine how audience receives advertisements
Commissions for contributors
Associate with research institutions
Focus on community
Put a higher premium on good site organization
Transparent to public (don't push membership)
Copyrights on content

And the tasks I think I can work on in the near future:

Search for interested personnel
Flesh out business model
Estimate relative costs and payoffs
Brainstorm potential pathways to starting up
Identify what motivates people to participate in communities
Identify what keeps people engaged with a particular interface

Things that I'll leave to the future, or may delegate to people who are better qualified:

Actual web design
Obtaining assets
Legal concerns
Making connections to the right people/institutions

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Hard on Everyone

There's one Bear In Heaven song that I really can't get enough of. It's even on my Defying God playlist - a playlist I'm quite proud of. In particular, there's one lyric of that song that I think has some significance to me.  (Yes, that is a weak statement...)

"Life is hard on everyone"

It's not.

But in a sense, if you don't find life hard, I am inclined to say, with plenty of prejudice, that you aren't living the right way. 

There's a distinction to be drawn between living a hard life and being miserable.  But to live an easy life is, according to me, most likely wrong.  For life to not be hard on you, you must have gotten to a position of comfort by either your own means or you had the good fortune to find yourself in privilege, and you must not have subsequently been put, by yourself or by powers beyond your control, into a position that's personally difficult for you.

It is inevitable that such a person with an 'easy' life is surrounded by people with baggage, people with difficult lives.  Trying to help those who are less fortunate is not an easy task, so...

Any easy-liver is, by definition, in one of two camps:

1. Oblivious - Their eyes are closed.  They are not aware of their surroundings, and they are incapable of understanding others.  Nothing has been demanded of them, so they have not exited the metaphorical cave to experience the greater world.  Ignorance, because they aren't curious enough to see the world for the compromised, chaotic, and painful place that it is.  To this camp, I offer my sympathy, and I hope that somebody opens your eyes.  Furthermore, I hope that once your eyes are opened, you take upon yourself some sort of responsibility and challenge yourself to change the world for the better, whereupon your life will become more vibrant and challenging.

2. Selfish - They are completely aware of the challenges facing others, but intentionally refrain from solving problems that are bigger than themselves.  To this camp, I profess my disdain.  You have doomed yourself to be morally and existentially useless.

Here's an ironic twist to this line of thinking:  if more people were to make their own lives difficult for the sake of improving the world, we may be able to think of living a hard life as entirely separate from being unhappy.  I mean, being able to see a positively healthy future requires that you be disappointed consistently.  Working towards Utopia is difficult, and the failure leads to disillusionment.  But then when people try to ameliorate the unhappiness, they give up.  There is a twisted entwining of earnestness and dissatisfaction.

Now imagine a world that has reached a point where people try their best to actually be good people.  Unhappiness would no longer be the result of disillusionment--it would be the consequence of contingencies, unintentional mistakes, and the simple realities of life.  It's still challenging to sustain that kind of thing, but at least it's rewarding when you know that other people care about you as much as you care about them. 

I care a lot.  I can't do the apathy thing.  Life is hard for me, mostly because I have chosen to take on a few challenges I deem vitally pertinent.  I've essentially decided to leave it to the Universe to decide whether I'll ever be satisfied.  Maybe that's the right thing to do.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Defying God

# Name Artist Album Comments
1 The Pulse Of This Skyline With Lightning Like Nerves Slow Six Nor'easter [Prelude]
2 Chained The xx Coexist I was raised with love by my parents on the bank of a large river.
3 Inside a Boy My Brightest Diamond
Every nightfall, I stay awake to explore, past curfew and past my bedtime.
4 Settle Down Kimbra Vows One night, my parents find out and admonish me for being too rambunctious
5 The Queen's Rebuke/The Crossing The Decemberists The Hazards Of Love but I refuse to sacrifice my freedom, so I run away from home.
6 The Universe is Going to Catch You The Antlers In The Attic of the Universe Once at my safest hiding spot, I hear them coming for me,
7 I Follow Rivers Lykke Li Wounded Rhymes So I take off my clothes and jump into the river.
8 Bubbles Shining Over the Sea Arata Iiyoshi Hideki Sakamoto I see lights I see across the water, and I swim to them
9 These Rivers Between Us Slow Six Tomorrow Becomes You But the river is wide
10 The Rip Tide Beirut The Rip Tide and the rip tide pulls me back,
11 Eon Trap Kelly Bailey Half-Life 2: Episode Two too strong to let me leave;
12 What's Wrong? Grizzly Bear Shields I continue to paddle with all of my might, but with undying suspicion...
13 Truth Behind the Project Takeharu Ishimoto Crisis Core -Final Fantasy VII- OST Yes, their warnings were more than proverbs.
14 Tau-9 Kelly Bailey Half-Life 2 I understand the nature of the undertow. I feel God's presence, as the waves relax until they are completely still.
15 Oh Maker
I acknowledge Him and recite a prayer of worship I learned when younger.
16 Mutual Core Björk Biophilia God says to me, “Hush, my Son. I will always be with you. You are still a small piece of Me, and I promise to always watch after you. Yet, I can only keep you safe if you remain with your family in the world I prepared for you. As a child, you must respect your parents. Only through the wisdom of the ages can you understand the world. After I send you back home, keep with you this memory, and live with dignity and reverence.”
17 Disappeared Yoko Shimomura Kingdom Hearts -FINAL MIX- Additional Tracks God has been pulling me closer during this lull in time. He pulls me deep under the water.
18 What The Water Gave Me Florence + The Machine Ceremonials I wake under a bright morning sun, at home, with the memory of unmatched grandeur.
19 Where We Belong Passion Pit Gossamer I am where I was told to be, having been prevented from throwing myself into unknown danger
20 Cool Light Bear In Heaven I Love You I shiver with the knowledge that He will always be with me.
21 Red Lost In The Trees A Church That Fits Our Needs Home is bright, a beach touching trees. I absorb the details until every single one is a little piece of me.
22 Lewis Takes Action Owen Pallett Heartland Restless, defensive, and agitated, I know I must move.
23 You're Not Supposed To Be Here Kelly Bailey Half-Life 2 I grab clothes, a bag, a bow, a quiver of arrows, and water. Departure.
24 Mnemonic In Motion Wires Under Tension
Daylight moves forward, and with it my numbed feet.
25 Thirsty The National Sad Songs for Dirty Lovers Becoming thirsty, I retreat into the woods. I will continue after twilight.
26 Seven Devils Florence + The Machine Ceremonials I see a serpentine beast, and I freeze. God's voice resounds in my ears, filling the words of every important lesson I have ever learned.
27 Tryst With Mephistopheles Owen Pallett Heartland The creature speaks to me: “As you have listened to the words of your own kind, please listen to mine. I am no beast, just as you are no pawn of a deity. I see that you need shelter, and I promise to show you hospitality. Your family and friends fear and kill us, but we refuse to sink to their level. At the very least, we will protect the little peace that we have.”
28 You Could Be Happy Snow Patrol Eyes Open New life in a place like this could fill up the many holes in my heart. Revelation!
29 Black Rainbow St. Vincent Actor The walk back to his village takes my mind off of the past. He takes me to his home, puts some padding on the floor that he can sleep on, then generously gives me his bed. So much about this foreign town excites me, and I can't fall asleep.
30 Stargaze Xavier Rudd White Moth The serpent sees me, and decides to show me around. Together, we stargaze.
31 Guard Down Kelly Bailey Half-Life 2: Episode One I tell him about the ways I have been disappointed and hurt. He listens. He tells me about his world. I listen. We both feel the world become smaller and larger, all at once. Slowly, we surrender to the feeling of peace and just exist.
32 Battle in the Forgotten City Nobuo Uematsu Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children At the same place I entered the village, five of my most imposing cousins arrive with heralding cries of bringing me back. Denizens of this forested sanctuary exit their houses with a defensive air. My cousins shout, and the natives shout back. There is debate, argument, and all that fear will catalyze.
33 War Hypnotic Brass Ensemble The Hunger Games Score When there are threats of war, I whisper to my new friend that I should leave. He offers to take me somewhere safe. We run away with so much excitement we can't help but laugh.
34 Fanfare for the Brave Senju Akira Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood OST 1 Although I'm lost in the woods, I follow him. I can only muster courage up to the point that we reach the river.
35 Hidden Highland Arata Iiyoshi Hideki Sakamoto I hadn't told him about being submerged by God Himself in the River...
36 The Abduction Of Margaret The Decemberists The Hazards Of Love We undress, stuffing our clothes hastily into his bag.
37 The Darkness Arata Iiyoshi Hideki Sakamoto The river is far colder than I remember it being the night previous. We swim tirelessly with the knowledge that, were we to hesitate, I would be lost to a lifetime of submission. But for the waves and our own splashing, silence envelops us.
38 Beginning of Breeding Yoko Shimomura The 3rd Birthday OST Around the middle of the river, I see a light on the opposite shore. I become frantic. I shout to hurry.
39 Disrupted Original Kelly Bailey Half-Life 2: Episode One Behind me, the trees fall below the waterline, giving the illusion that the world behind us is sinking. I warn my friend, and he agrees we must swim faster. The same mysterious fate befalls the boulders dotting the river.
40 White Land Arata Iiyoshi Naoto Ishida The stars, the moon, and the ethereal pinprick all grow brighter as we approach land. Rain begins to fall, scattering the many lights, dazzling me more than ever before.
41 Wanderlust Björk Wanderlust As my first encounter with my world's deity, time comes to a standstill and again God appears. The water around Him inexplicably recedes, and He is standing before us. He declares with timbre, “Audacious Man. You have sacrificed all that you have ever held dear. The life that awaits you is outside of my control. I had faith in you, but you destroyed my hopes for your future. Relent in your selfish quest for vanity. I will take you back and continue to provide for you.”
42 Little Faith The National High Violet (Expanded Edition) “Never. I deign to create a world much larger than the one you so graciously lent me. Take back from me that miserly existence. My dreams far exceed what you could ever hope. I am leaving."
43 Face On Yoko Kanno Wolf's Rain OST 2 By now the ground is completely exposed, and we are standing in heavy mud. I demand from the Serpent my quiver and bow. I aim at God.
44 Time Control or Controlled By Time
He insists “You know nothing. This Universe is as easily afforded to my will as if it were a figment of my imagination. Anything you do is destined to fail if I will it to. You would be unwise to defy me.” I refuse to flinch, despite the palpable rise in temperature.
45 J-E-N-O-V-A
Distant Worlds II The Serpent is equally stoic. He draws with a dagger a circle on the ground, which has completely desiccated. Drawing the knife to his hand, he draws a streak of blood and adds it to the circle. He then folds his hands, and appears to pray.
46 Born Anew Masashi Hamauzu Final Fantasy XIII Original Soundtrack As God walks towards me, one of the stars grows brighter at an alarming rate, until it erupts into light and strikes the Serpent. I am stunned, a fiery pain in my throat.
47 You Do You Bear In Heaven Beast Rest Forth Mouth I stare at the prismatic steam as it clears to reveal a glowing lance in the hands of my companion.
48 Triumph of a Heart Björk Medúlla While God looks on without surprise, The Serpent hurls at Him his lance with ferocity. Almost simultaneously, my arrow lands in His left eye.
49 I Am the Antichrist to You Kishi Bashi 151A Silence. The ground opens up below God. He is static above an obsidian void.
50 Chaotic End Masashi Hamauzu Dirge of Cerberus -Final Fantasy VII- Original Soundtrack (Disc-2) He covers his wound and, without a word, leaves our world.
51 Dusknoir Arata Iiyoshi Hideki Sakamoto Once He has vanished, I hear in my head the echo of a message that He must have intended for me: “You will never find the kind of love that I could have given you. You have relinquished a life of solace and ease. Everything yours for the taking.” To this, I feel obligated to shout back to his quickly fading presence: “You gave me everything I never asked for! Forget my family. I know exactly what I want now and I don't need it handed to me by my ancestors.”
52 Idle Heart Bear In Heaven I Love You The immediate response is a flood of water rushing in from both upstream and downstream of what used to be our great river.
53 Ready To Start Arcade Fire The Suburbs The lights in the sky grow brighter still, until the blistering night sky is too much to look at.
54 Period Chemistry Unknown Album Slowly, our eyes adjust to the light and it still hasn't darkened—but we soon realize that the sun has taken the place of the moon, and the starlight expanded to a sheet of white
55 Sleeping Ute Grizzly Bear Shields Finally, our escape is complete. Liberty is now true. My serpentine friend and I look at each other and smile in relief. We decide to travel together for the time being. I mention to him the light that I saw when running away from home for the first time, and he agrees to help me search for its source. We traverse the side of the river until we find it. Silence suits us, having shared so much already in the past few hours. We soon come across the charred remains of a small village. In the middle of all of the thoroughly destroyed buildings, one flimsy structure seems to have defied all odds and survived the fire without a single scorch mark. Though hard to make out in the daylight, there's a lantern above the door with a hearty fire encapsulated by the glass.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Hurricane Sandy

This hurricane has granted me a much more tangible understanding of how unprepared people generally are for natural disasters.

I'm really quite disturbed by the lack of foresight.  Luckily, I didn't have to emotionally deal with the brunt of that ignorance because my suitemates are bright individuals who worked together quite well on the cusp of evacuation.  Nonetheless, even some of my friends were doing some things that I simply can't comprehend alongside the knowledge that they must, to some extent, care for their own well-being.

Nobody stockpiled any food.  The people that did stockpile food grabbed meat in tupperware, which would obviously stay fresh when the power went out.

No consideration for who to actually listen to in a disaster situation.  When people wanted to know if the dining hall would be open, they asked the cafeteria workers on Sunday, before the sky even began to drizzle.  Then they stick to their guns that the dining hall would remain open throughout the hurricane.

After power went out, people were watching movies on their laptops, rather than saving that energy to charge their phones.  They believed that they'd be able to go into work the day after, drawing their conclusions on the word of their bosses.

When people wanted to know whether they'd have classes, what information did they use?  The notice posted on Sunday night, which can possibly take into account the devastation of the aftermath.

Finally, the singular factoid that bothers me most:

There was no plan in place for a disaster like this.  Zero planning.  The RAs were totally touch and go, despite the fact that this type of situation was completely foreseeable:  when we originally lost power, we were told that evacuation was a possibility.  A considerable amount of time later, we were told to go to the first floor lounge with a bag of evac necessities.  Turns out that another dorm needed to evacuate and use that same space, so after 5 minutes, backup power went on and we were turned back upstairs.  After a few minutes, emergency power went off again and we were told to go to the second floor to be with an RA.  Then, after half an hour of conversation, we went back up to our own floors and were given notice that we might be waken up at any time in the night and given 30 seconds to leave our room.

The only unsafe action that I wholeheartedly support is a surge of people going into the hurricane for fun.  I completely support the decision to fully experience the hurricane for its full natural value.  It's the only course of action that was actually reasonable, because it is the only one made under the assumption that the hurricane is actually a force to be reckoned with.

On a more personal note, I don't believe I'll be forgetting this hurricane any time soon.  It just so happens that this was the year in which my yellow lab, Sandy, passed away.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

The Lexicon

Over the last month, there's been significant overlap between my psychology and linguistics courses.  Or, at least I've been considering the material as connected, trying to draw parallels between the different sources of reading for psychology of language and a few of the concepts I'm learning in semantics and cognition.

The manners in which we learn and access words is the most prominent subject of my recent studies.  In my current exhausted state, I don't think I'll be able to go into detail, but the gist of what I've been learning is that words are the representations of semantic concepts.  Hearing a word primes associated words, a process that does NOT replace understanding of the concepts behind words.  Essentially, the words you hear activate frequently associated words because it makes it easier to process information quickly.  It does not mean, contrary to what many AI programmers believe, that we define words by the way they relate to other words.

More importantly, this is a fundamental mechanism of how many neural process work.  There is association between related concepts and functions, but there is a highly specific form in which information is given meaning--in which information is processed for a purpose.

More of The NationalMetals (Feist), and The Haunted Man (Bat For Lashes).

Leaving Facebook

I decided to sign off facebook for a while... part of the reason is that I'm busy, but more than that I'm just disillusioned with the whole concept.  Using a social networking site to the extent that it dominates how you spend your time is a blatantly trivial waste of time.

Actually, a more precise statement would be that I can't stand the way I spend my time.  I don't believe that the human brain can be lauded as anything special unless it puts itself to use and finds a mission that exceeds the daily drudgery, the expectations of your environment, and the normative force of contemporary thought.

I have goals.  I have ambitions.  I am unhappy with the way that the world works, and I'm dissatisfied with the state of the Universe.

I want to eliminate what I perceive to be inadequacies.  I want to propagate the values I hold dear to me.

Listening to the ideas of people who don't think about the same things I do is a waste of my energy.  More and more, I realize that the few interactions I can get with worthwhile thinkers are not best done through facebook.  Getting on the level of Da Vinci, Tesla, or the other polymaths is not a feat that can be accomplished while trying to get along with the apathetic masses.

Even having understood this, I have for a long time felt the urge to use facebook to express my thoughts and experiences.  These are two important motivations of mine, and I don't think I can really eliminate the need to satisfy these drives.  But to do it in a way that depends on my ability to provide instant gratification and sardonic verve is unhealthy.  I'd far rather put my thoughts together in a cogent fashion that requires me to fully develop my train of thought and organize the necessary components of the larger ideas and feelings.

So I will transfer the time I have spent on facebook to a more meaningful endeavor, and use it here, recording my thoughts for myself and the one or two people who ever perchance come across it.  Since I've had lots of those kind of thoughts recently, especially with the overlap between my different classes, I'll be able to keep that information in a permanent and unlimited store so I don't overwrite or forget any of it accidentally.

Listening to The National, especially Exile/Vilify

Thursday, October 11, 2012


Here's a litmus test for how much I hate you:

With what percentage of the Romney-Ryan platform do you agree?

Sunday, September 9, 2012

A Hate Letter

Dear Humanity,

Get over yourselves.  You are insignificant in the grand scheme of things.  Appreciate, revere, and be in awe.  Take responsibility for your decisions and see the effects of your decisions.  Stop being douchebags.  I hate you, yet I can't escape feeling morally obligated to you.  You are a disgusting and filthy race that does more damage to the world than any other entity.  I resent the fact that some of your constituents are astoundingly beautiful, because it means I can't justify an unsophisticated blanket statement about your gross stupidity.  You force my thoughts and emotions to be complicated and difficult.  You collectively take credit for those few outliers who strive to surpass their miserable condition, whereas most of you bask in mediocrity and apathy.

****, ****, ****, ****, you ****ing ****-****ed **********s.

Love those around you.  Propose and sustain peace.  Alleviate suffering.  Change the world in ways that most refuse to acknowledge as advancement.  Create legends that surpass those you used to worship.  Open your mind and experience the ineffable miracles of the Universe.  Put those ineffable experiences to words in an intrinsically flawed process of recreation.

Figure out what matters in life.  Relinquish the possessions, responsibilities, and relationships that don't matter to you.  You can only destroy negativity by conceiving beauty.

While you struggle with your absurd existence, I'm going to educate myself in as many ways as possible to develop the skills and knowledge that will allow me to grant some different species the power of language.  Since our one sample is completely lost in a labyrinth of meaningless inventions, society needs to find constituents with the capacity to start fresh.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Half-Life 2

Half. Life. Half. Life. Half. Life.


It's just so good.

Maybe I'll finish writing this when I recover.  But this 3-day marathon of playing HL2 and its two episodes - on difficult, of course - really wore me out.  I'm physically, emotionally, and mentally drained.  But in such an incredibly good way.


Good night.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

There Are No Liberals

People are not liberal.

People believe what they are raised to believe.

Some of those people are raised to appreciate tradition.  They are fortunate enough to fall into a lifestyle that suits them both as an individual and as the archetypal person of their demographic in their given culture.

Others are raised in a way that exposes to them the flaws of the world.  These people learn of the many reasons to resolve those blights, and are galvanized to the point that they grapple with those issues until all of the battles have been won.

But no statistically meaningful quantity of people actually invents lifestyles for themselves.

People do not create ideas, they scour the Earth for the best, the ones that resonate best with them.

I don't know why.  I don't know if it's because of stupidity, or fear, or ignorance, or of a satisfaction that I have never known.  Regardless of cause, this vacuous stagnation of thought may have never been caused, for maybe there never was a substantial amount of people who invented thoughts of their own.

But change has always happened in a linear fashion.  A few changes here, a few there, as technology improved and people were able to hop on the increasingly ubiquitous coattails of genius.

There's a reason that each path exists.  Paths that do not yet exist are simply missing because of circumstance.

Picture a long gravel path that runs through a forest.  A pedestrian walks along without fully knowing their destination.  Eventually, the path veers 90 degrees to the right and effectively forms a large L.  When people are close to the corner, they may look to their right and piece together that they could hasten their journey by cutting through the woods.

Maybe they'll shave off a minute from their travel, if they're particularly hawk-eyed.

Even philosophers are following paths that have been laid out by their ancestors.  They just happen to be tuned into forks in the road and hidden getaways only known by the locals.

But, what happens if somebody is traversing this path and decides to, just for the jolly fuck of it, to ignore that branch to the right and just continue on straight?  Or, what if they decide to turn left?

One would wonder, if nobody who ever walked down this path, the one that so obviously corners off to the right, was ever seen to come back, then mustn't there be some cause?  Shouldn't they go the other direction to escape whatever perils there may be in following suit?

Well, the path is quite long indeed.  There are many branches of the aforementioned variety, where the trailblazers have popularly turned rightwards to find sustenance, to build a home--whatever.  It leaves to wonder what they would reach if they continued until they had gone as far from their origin as possible.

It seems the logical thing to do, if you take a moment to ponder the curious existence I've painted.  Nevertheless, I can't give you a complete account of the lifestyle of these wilderness pioneers because their complete account is frankly pretty damn complicated.

At least you'll be happy to know that these people don't travel alone.  They have caravans with banjos and weavers and doll makers.  These kinds of caravans can't travel forever, as any bunch of people is going to have its weakest links, its lovebirds that need to settle down, and resources to gather.  What's more reasonable for these people is to travel just enough to spread out, get some distance in laying down a path for their themselves

and hang a right.

So when will people finally reach the clearing up ahead?  Who can even say it's a clearing?  What even is up ahead?  Does anybody care?

Sunday, July 29, 2012

The Music of Animals

By surfing from a yahoo news article about how pop music has become more homogeneous than ever (surprise), I stumbled on a priceless gem about animal music.

Yes, animals do enjoy music.  But not OUR music.

The implications:
  1. One has to wonder, if nonhuman animals could talk, would they be as naturally uninterested in our voices as they are our music?  Even if the rate of their heartbeat is too fast or slow for the pace of conversation, the pitch of vocalizations is still vastly different between us and them.

  2. They have no relative pitch.  Interpretation of pitch relationships is associated with language.  My guess is that regularly paying attention to linguistic pitch patterning in every day speech is the reason that humans have relative pitch.  Any musician knows that relative pitch is developed as you progress in your studies.  So, do other species have the capacity for relative pitch latent until they start up with conversation?  Or is it something they can't have?

  3. I generally lean towards any species-based differentiation that keeps the fundamental differences to a lower number.  Occam's razor.  I'm inclined to believe that relative pitch develops from discrimination of pitches and the ability to discern patterns and individually recreate crystallized paradigms - the same ability that we use to learn language as toddlers.

  4. Furthermore, some other species have better absolute pitch than us, which is something that many musicians would give their nose for.  Perhaps this means that, when animals learn to talk, they'll be better musicians than us?  Of course, we'll probably hate everything they make until it's played down two octaves and far slower than 'a tempo Canis'.  But, my goodness, this image just gives me the collywobbles:  a bunch of dogs in tails playing violins at the Met.

  5. Without language, we probably wouldn't have relative pitch, and therefore probably wouldn't have come up with music.

Listening to: St. Vincent, The National

Saturday, July 28, 2012

James Holmes is Compared to Barack Obama

Memespeak has made the billboards

It seems that Internet culture is finally mainstream enough to have a place on billboards like this.  It's finally becoming a real presence in society.

These kinds of comparisons are more food for thought than assaults on an individual.  Any young person realizes that any Internet meme, which is what this billboard is, is just an aggressively creative look at irony.  It's hasty and abrupt, which means it shouldn't be taken as a serious statement of belief, but rather should be analyzed with a grain of salt and a mind open to looking at things in a more complete way.  When all of the generations who don't understand today's Internet culture die out, there's going to be a revolution of human thought - for the better or for the worse.

For now, there's outrage over this kind of comparison.  It "crosses the line", according to many.

I agree.  It's vastly irresponsible and vulgar to attribute thousands of deaths to this man.

The comparison would be far more apt if it was a picture of the United States or an American flag next to the serial killer's face.  It's our culture and economic system that make foreign conflict happen, not the context-dependent decisions of a political leader.  But nonetheless, US citizens don't take into account the consequences of their own actions.  They're quick to judge others and slow to consider the gravity of their own decisions.

I don't think that will be ameliorated once the Internet guinea pigs are ruling the world.

Friday, July 27, 2012

The Weight of Wit

In most social interactions, the wittiest contribution is usually assumed to be the one with the most truth and is respected the most.  This is especially true for Internet interactions.  If your viewpoint can be summed up in one clever remark, then either it's self-evident (say, civil rights or some other fundamental values that can't be debunked with a logical counterargument) or your judgment is clouded by rhetoric and groupthink.

This bothers me on many levels.

For something to be witty, it needs to be dense.  Making a terse statement is easiest when more is known about the subject.  It's also easiest when somebody already understands what the statement implies.  Basically, the less explicit the communication, the sharper it is.  This is why poetry is fantastic, but when you're talking about expository discussions of serious matters, it's hugely counterproductive to defer to the least explicit, and thereby least informative, argument.

Then there's the fact that the picketing slogans that capture people's hearts ("God Hates Fags" on one side, "We Are the 99%" on the other) are passed on so smoothly and so easily that it's frightening how little critical thinking happens between transitions of the phrase.  It's ridiculously easy to get somebody to join a chant.  It's far more difficult to convince them of what it means.  So there you have a mass of people, all with an idea of what it means that they formed gradually while chanting their slogan.  They thought about what they believed in after they believed it.  This is an unhealthy habit for society.  If we do it too much, our crystallized intelligence is utterly arbitrary.

This phenomenon has no regard for social, political, or economic views.  People try to put as much punch as they can into their social media by sharing one sentence that apparently encapsulates everything they believe.

Some people try to use substance to move forward in discussion.  But even those who are patient enough to decry public opinion as undeveloped are ultimately reduced to a thesis statement and suffer having the rest of their exposition ignored.

Too long.

Didn't read.

I'm not giving you one.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Catching Up

Snobs.  I hate them when I'm not in their ranks.  Like with video games... I've long been an adamant proposal of their potential for artistic expression and potential worth to the human experience.  Only thing: that argument doesn't really hold much weight when I can't point to to more than, like, five games that I've played for every discussion.  I just sound like a broken record.  ew.  Nobody wants to listen to a broken record.

I guess I'm lucky.  Although I missed the creation of the video game industry and I didn't get to experience life without it, I didn't miss it by all that much.  If I want to look into the history of the medium, I only have, like, a couple decades to look through.  I'm also lucky by merit of being a PC gamer.  PC games, when outdated or otherwise devalued, are über cheap.  

So, in an effort to catch up to everyone who's inb4 and knew how to read by the time Mario came out, I've compiled a very, very long list of games that have in some way left an imprint on their successors, and I'll start with the oldest and least fancy of them all.  Eventually, I'll end up a Spec Ops: The Line, and hopefully by then I'll have a better perspective on it all.  My main focus will be on games that rely heavily on creativity and storytelling, as opposed to those that focus on superior gameplay and traditionally proven methods.  Furthermore, much of my adventure in adventure games will be devoted to small indie games.  They're short, plentiful, and even cheaper than other games.

Thank you, Steam, for your summer sale... I'm sure you appreciate my mission, too, considering how much I just gave you to download what's on my list. D:

Of course, all of this is to be done alongside an intensive study of programming and designing websites with MySQL, Javascript, PHP, and eventually C++.  If my efforts in this and my are particularly fruitful, then I might even be in a position to develop my own game in some small superteam of folk with similar taste.  Speculation only.

Monday, July 16, 2012


Bodies of knowledge that I like to learn more about:

Video Games
Food & Drink
Nature Survival
Foreign Languages

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Emulating PS2 games on PC

I just found heaven on Earth. Those hundreds of hours I played on PS2 games may be a thing of the past, what with the slowing down of my big, faithful, black box, but I now have renewed hope in the beauty of the PC. Up to date with Windows 7, programmers have released emulators for PS1/PS2/Xbox games for the PC. HOLY YES

It works beautifully. If you had a longstanding relationship with your Playstation 2 like I did, then you should definitely try this strategy out, because--with some troubleshooting--it will absolutely work on a PC with ideal specs.

Ideal specs would be 4GB RAM, 2-core 3 GHz CPU, a good graphics card (I don't know if I'll ever understand the metrics for graphics cards).  I don't think that it even requires too much hard drive space.

Apparently you have to own a PS2 to copy the BIOS files (the basic framework of how the PS2 operates) legally. I do, so thumbs up for me.

Download the emulator.

I used a PS3 controller without a bluetooth dongle.  To use a Playstation/Xbox controller that you've connected, download motionjoy and follow their instructions. Make sure to put a shortcut (to DS3 Utility) on the desktop, because you'll probably need to get back to it many times.

SO, this is pretty much what I did that I don't think is in the instructions:

In MotionJoy, for a ps3 controller, I had to wait for Windows to say it successfully installed the driver (I needed to switch the USB port I used), I went to Driver Manager, selected the only controller option that showed up, I reset my computer, and before I wanted to play something, I opened the "DS3 Utility" shortcut, select PS3 Dualshock 3, and hit the pink button "enable" right in the botton left corner. If you don't "enable", windows might forgets the setup sometimes, and the analog buttons don't work when you play.

To get memory cards working, go to CDVD and select "no disc", so you can load to the PS2's main menu. Configure it and everything, go to the browser, and select each memory card and configure them. After that, you want to

To run a game disc, I went to the CDVD menu of the PCSX2 window and selected "plugin", then "plugin menu">"plugin settings">the drive I put my disc into. (I haven't looked into how to use PowerISO or the like to copy the files to my computer and load off of .iso [basically a snapshot of the DVD's image], but I assume it's easy).

EE represents your CPU usage (100% means it's the limiting factor to your speed), GS is graphics card usage. Now, your games will most likely run in slow motion, and the sound will be strange. The sound sucks because it's being held back by the graphics. It seemed to me that all of the configuration options available wouldn't do anything to help my running speed, so I went to "speed hacks" and moved each of the sliders to the right a bit. Play around wiht the other configuration options if you understand what they're saying (I couldn't get most of them, so I left them alone, or guessed at an optimal setting and ended up changing nothing). When I altered those settings to somewhere in the middle, I got Kingdom Hearts and Shadow of the Colossus running beautifully. If your games start to strangely run incredibly fast, then make sure you have the "disable framelimiting" option in the GS tab UNchecked, so that the emulator DOES frame limit. (this means the speed at which your graphics card creates images, measured in frames per second, will not exceed the intended running speed)

If you have any questions, drop a comment.  I had to do a lot of troubleshooting, so I got pretty familiar with the interface.  I'm not as good as google, but I am at least better than a first-level computer maintenance person you might call for troubleshooting at 3am; then again, aren't we all?

Friday, June 29, 2012

I'm Becoming a Programmer?

I've started learning programming languages.  For now, I'm starting with the major languages for websites:  HTML, CSS, PHP, MySQL, and JavaScript.  I'll move onto C++ later on.

Now, you may say that this has nothing to do with my career path.  FALSE.  Neuroscientists use C++ to design programs very frequently, apparently, and knowing how to program is a huge asset in job/grad school applications, according to the people I asked.  Moreover, what I'm planning on doing with this programming knowledge of programming will definitely help me in my future endeavors.  I can't tell you what those plans are, because I'm hoping to keep them under wraps [along with my secret organization].

In any case, computer coding is really quite a fascinating thing.  Not only is it openly accessible and all the necessary materials open source/built into browsers, you can think about programming languages the same way you'd think about any other language, with its own morphology and syntax.  You can also think about it like molecular biology, exporting machine code that's virtually meaningless into a full virtual event.  In a way, it's the magic of our world, the computer being another reality in which writing code is changing that dimension's framework, controlling what's extant, and inventing forms that have never existed.

Computers are becoming as much a part of our lifestyle as our own biological functions.  For the same reason I love the life sciences, I've always been intrigued by programming.  Only now, I finally realized that there's nothing stopping me from learning the languages and catching up with this incredibly vibrant world of invention and expressive logic.

That's not to say it isn't a lot to take in.  Like, for real, there is a hell of a lot to learn.  But it's totally worth it in my book.I'll be spending many hours a day for many days futilely trying to catch up to my programming buddies.


I just hope I can get done a lot of learning done before school starts up, because I assuredly will be busy as hell for at least the latter half of the semester.

A couple side notes: music lessons make people more intelligent and I'm eating lunch with my grandma tomorrow.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Mass Effect 3 Anti-Rant

[This post is about the Mass Effect 3 ending.  A hearty rant supporting a minority opinion that will delve into many spoilers.  Disclaimer:  I'm right and everybody who disagrees is wrong.  I take no responsibility for your opinions being completely rewritten... actually, that's a lie; I'd love to be responsible for changing your mind]

In regards to every person who has a problem with the ending of the series, lord explain to me why they continued playing after Feros in Mass Effect 1.  Seriously, you're frustrated with a holographic AI in the form of something Shepard can relate to... but you can dig the whole "Let's take a plant who shares the "memories" of an entire civilization, make it eat an asari commando, clone her a bunch of times, and have her command legions of zombies!  On top of that, let's turn her green, because, I don't know, PLANTS.  Oh, yeah, and did we forget to mention that the plant controls the minds of an entire human colony."

There is no point in arguing about plot holes, because the biggest damn ones were not in the ending.  Seriously,  the only possible impetus for making an ending that closed all of the stories would be utter destruction of the galaxy - but even this can't happen, because that's not the goal of the reapers, and the only options for the future are the cycle and a new life.

What Casey Hudson meant (or at least what is true) when he said 'it's not just endings A, B, and C,' is that  your experience in coming away from the Mass Effect series is not defined by the final pre-rendered scene you get after making your catalyst choice.  After it's all over, you know how the universe turns out, whether they tell you or not.  Unless you spontaneously forget everything you've done, you can put the pieces of your own post-crucible galaxy together and use your imagination.

Most of the inconsequential plot holes are filled up by e-mails to your terminal.  The consequential plot lines are all completely fleshed out, and although they may not end concretely, the overall experience was complete.

When I beat the game before EC, on both of my 2 playthroughs (1 was synth, 2 was destroy) I felt upset that I was sacrificing way too much to win this battle on top of everything I gave up on the way, and I didn't feel like I was really making an informed decision.  If you've successfully engaged yourself to the story (and the other way around), then you should feel the burden of the decision as pretty hefty.  Before EC, I had no problem with the endings - I had a problem with my interaction with the decision.  I felt like it was hasty (first time, I literally didn't know how to decide and walked forward into synth, expecting to get a wheel of choices) and I didn't know what to base my decision on.  I hadn't enough time to think about the consequences.  Consequently, it didn't really sink in like it should have.

Post-EC, that issue was fixed.  I understood that the fighting really was worth it when I realized the greatest dilemma facing me was not necessarily what to sacrifice, but what kind of galaxy I wanted to exist in the future.  +, instead of being a pithy gesture of grandeur, the dialogue felt more real.  It felt like I was an agent; once I had the ability to ask questions that I needed to, I felt like I was really weighing all of the factors adequately.  Then I could act on the beliefs of the Shepard I crafted through three games.

Aside from that, the romance lines were drastically improved by the simple gestures added.   With my femshep/Garrus, I broke in half in the scene before the beam.  Later, I cried when he held up my plaque, because regardless of the fact that I was going to get the breathing scene and he could hypothetically come find me or vice versa, I could really connect to the moment.  The pre-EC goodbye you say before the final battle was great, but he wasn't the last person I spoke to - which is dumb, considering that's what most would do if they were actually going into a final battle.  The structure was much better for the romance, and the scene they added with Joker was also very poignantly placed.

And in the end, the differences in people's endings WAS and IS, irrespective of EC, quite large:  in the sense that you're role playing, making decisions along the way that define your Shepard, you internally develop a mentality--a system of beliefs and a paradigm of thought with which you have likely been consciously consistent as you played the series.  I think that once people get that, they'll understand how profound the games really were.  They required you to understand the saga from a perspective that may or may not have been your own, but nonetheless a good player would have been cognizant of that perspective throughout the series, and experienced many profound feelings and concepts from that synthesized mentality.  If the point of art is to communicate an experience beneath the story, then Mass Effect does so like no other game has done, and probably will do for a while--because everybody's moaning about how they didn't like it.  Good art requires you to see things from a new perspective, which was absolutely done in this game. More so than people wanted, probably because this is a grey area that makes some people instinctively lean towards what they're familiar with in video games, or they clamor for the developers to read their mind and allow them the option that they would choose if they were photoshopped up onto the Crucible after eating a Hotpocket.

Here's my angle:  Stop crying for fan service, because if you do it long enough, that's what you'll get.  BioWare games will go down the drain instead of culminating in the most profound artistic medium ever to exist.  Other companies will follow suit, and nobody will be happy.  And civilization will be hopeless.  And crap games will ruin our brains.  And we'll all die.  The end.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Utopia Experiments

Why don't we have more Utopian societies?

It strikes me as strange that rich people aren't chartering up countries in islands or otherwise empty geographically isolated locales, running social experiments by having idealist constitutions. Here's the process I propose for doing this type of anthropological research:

1. Write a constitution.

2. Obtain funding and willing colonists.

3. Find a location that isn't currently occupied by anybody.

4. Have constitution ratified by the United Nations to make sure it doesn't violate human rights. Get permission from the country to which the territory belongs to run their Utopian experiment there.

5. Run colony with documentation of all economic and social data. This would be done without an invasion of privacy, but with enough oversight by the UN that they can step in at any time. Defense of the region would be the responsibility of the country that owns

6. Participants are free to leave at any time at no cost to themselves.

7. After a century, if that style of social governance has proven to be stable and reliable, then it can be granted status as it's own nation-state.

There would need to be systems of protection against ethics violations for each of these steps, especially regarding "willing colonists" and defending these territories, but this is a viable system. It would allow humanity to find out what economic structures and social organizations work and which will simply never cater to human participants (*cough* laissez-faire economies). Isolation from society would be a very strict no-go, though, for reasons demonstrated by Andrew Ryan.

Honestly, we need more Oneidas in this world. And more, ethical social experiments. Bring on the science! Otherwise, we'll never get over worshiping modern day deities like "capitalism", or conversely "communism", and "The American Constitution".

Some similar kinds of microcosms already exist today, albeit without the aforementioned purpose.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Video Discrimination

There are two kinds of people.  Those who play video games, and those who don't.
OK, yeah, right.

Just like any group of people, people who play video games are often lumped together as a demographic with just as many stereotypes as any of the more prominent.  This frustrates me very much, for two reasons:

One, I am a member of that group and face subtle discrimination from people who forego video games for "higher" forms of entertainment or more "wholesome" ways of spending time.  I'm not exaggerating, it's discrimination that has the same implications as any other nonviolent and watered down discrimination you see in progressive places all the time.

Two, video games are evolving in a way that is intensely ambitious, following a path that will ultimately branch into video literature, video poetry, and video art.  There is massive potential for there to be created, anon, computer program-based simulations of fantasy and the world as we know it, each of which could provide an incredible medium for the communication of the valuable experiences that are contemporaneously the domain of codex literature, poetry, film, and academia.

Can you see the literary merit of a medium that incorporates visual art, soundtrack, narrative, character development, and [reader] engagement in a developed product that has an enormous amount of space to develop?

Contemporary video games are not literature, and they are not art.  Almost unanimously, they are still games that have yet to develop past the threshold into what academics would study and analyze with theory.  What reason do we have to believe they will change?  Well, we have no reason to believe they will ever be any better, unless the people who delve into the complexities of literature expand their pool of media and work with the "game" producers and software design teams who create these epics. Video games actually have a ton of potential, only to be realized if people are willing to look beyond the negative media image that the "shocking" and "vulgar" games have wrought for the medium as a whole.

I play video games because I am completely drawn to that intersection of intensely engaging style and emotional, philosophical depth.  And yet, when I tell people that among my other, ostensibly more respectable hobbies, I play video games like Mass EffectDead Space, and Final Fantasy, the interest drains from their face, regardless of what me may have been talking about.  It's almost as bad as bringing up philosophy in a conversation with any normal person.  I don't know what assumptions they have about video games they have, but the effect is always the same to non-gamers.  Immediate dissatisfaction.  Sure, they may claim their opinion of me hasn't changed, but it is definitely a subject to steer away from.  Change the topic, immediately, PLEASE.  It's also often the end of other, more worthwhile conversations.  'Oh, you've been playing video games?  Well, I'll let you get back to that,' as if I can't have multiple interests, or else the other interests I do have must be inherently limited to those that are inane and unrefined.

Frankly, I spend a lot of time on the gaming PC I built with a chunk of my scholarship money, so when somebody asks what I've been doing for the past couple weeks of my summer, I really have no other answer than that I was playing through my favorite blockbuster video game trilogy.  'Really,' they may ask, 'is there no better way for you to spend your time?  Aren't video games just bloodbaths that encourage delinquency and short attention spans?'  I try to elucidate the mystical experience in a way that would appeal to them, connecting the game to something they find a valuable use of their time.  And these aren't exaggerations or lies; as with good artwork, many video games provide material that facilitates a variety of experiences, depending on whether you want to watch a person adapt as they face a series of tribulations, or analyze the coalescence of many social and religious and political factors into a greater conflict, or even just an amalgam of aesthetically innovative art and music.

It seems impossible to communicate about this subject to a wide variety of people.  I think what I'm trying to say is that people are never going to be receptive to new thought, and will always be conservative.  Being open-minded to changes in cultural paradigms is not the same as being politically liberal, evidenced by its distinctly greater rarity.

To drive this point home, I'll address specific reasons you may believe you should refrain from video games.

"They require too much time and energy."  Really, this an incredibly weak argument to refuse doing something that is rewarding both emotionally and intellectually, AND that offers you entertainment.  You most likely partake in less rewarding/challenging activities with just as large of an investment of time.  Take reading a book, for example.

"They're expensive." I'm betting you have a friend who's fanatically offered to share their games with you as any other friend would share a good book.  Granted, this is harder with PC games, but this is a problem that leads to a specific advantage of video games:  if you frequent your friend's residence to play a game on their HDTV or their handmade monster computer, you're building a friendship in a unique way, such as you would in a pickup game of basketball.

"I don't have the attention span." That's because you watched too much TV, and is a problem you should amend if you hope to sustain long-term, fulfilling relationships or any other living conditions.

"I'm too old." It's terribly sad when people give up on life by relinquishing contact with the newer generations.  Are you dead?  If not, then you're not too old.

"I need to spend my time on academics." Please, I played over a hundred combined hours of Skyrim and the entire Mass Effect Trilogy in my last semester at college, and I got a 4.0 for all of my 20 credits.  I'm not better than any other hardworking student, and I'm not special.  I do, however, choose entertainment that's mentally stimulating and keeps me at peak intellectual capacity 24/7.  If you don't think about things creatively, you're not going to be a much better student.  If not video games, you should absolutely have a stimulating hobby to keep you happy and to alleviate stress.  Perhaps surprisingly, violent video games do a great job at releasing tension, as do massages.  If you're cognizant of the need to keep that behavior confined to games, you circumvent the proposed psychological damage over which the uninitiated invariably fret.

"They don't appeal to me."  No, the ones you've heard about don't appeal to you.  If you've ever enjoyed a good read, then you'd have an incredible time with a Final Fantasy game, Mass Effect, Assassin's Creed, etc.

"They're pointlessly violent."  Celebrity effect.  Many of the games that are becoming increasingly popular are those that stress other production elements, such as appealing graphics, stunning plot, and thorough character development.  Others only use violence as a device to further a point.

"Sure, you CAN think about it... but they don't MAKE you think."  Portal.  The subtlety is incredible, relying on ambiance, concise dialogue, and genius puzzles that demand you have the full experience that is their video game.

And now, the one that I'm sure you're weighing subconsciously, if not overtly and explicitly:

"I don't want to be lumped together with those other gamers." What you mean to say is that you're prejudiced against a demographic because of how you were raised and in part due to the celebrity effect of mainstream media.  Do some research, and you'll find that, besides being incredibly diverse, gamer culture, as one may call it, is largely comprised of very passionate people with very loud opinions, many of which are valid and interesting to consider, if not entirely developed.

Many of the people most opposed to video games are those most capable of forcing their evolution towards a more sophisticated domain of human experience.  Their extensive versatility, combined with their inherent multidisciplinary nature, make them the ideal spearhead for a richer communication of genuine, universal, and personal experience than any media before.  The consumer-producer relationship is one that must evolve positively, towards an enlightened culture, or else there will remain an unfortunate divide between people who devote their intellectual capacity to a beautiful but limited medium, and those who put stock into entertainment.  By looking at the recent history of the world's increasingly globalized cultures, it's easy to see how this divide will inevitably fall to a state with less dissonance.  Why not hasten that advancement today, rather than wait for generations down the road to do it on their terms?  It is in liminal epochs like these at which the lay person can have the greatest effect on the future.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Post-Full Circle

A year passed.  Being a freshman happened.  So many other things, too.  The experience was incredible.  But where am I now?  Being at home, I struggle to figure out what changed.  I must have grown.  I saw new things, reveled in independence, conceived heartwarming friendships, and found perspective.  As a student, I am better.  But... I didn't do anything.  The world is no different.  For everything that my life gave to me, what did I give back to my life?

Maybe life moves too slowly.  Maybe I move too slow.  Maybe I'm weird and the things I want are in short supply.

For now, I'll grow.  Pain will lose its meaning, and I'll learn to keep my head up and be courageous.  I'll build up relationships.  One of them will be come my somebody special.  I'll learn things, I'll get smarter, I'll figure out my plans for changing the world.  One day, I'll finally have had enough sleep and wake up, ready to get to work.  For now, I need to dream like my life depends on it.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Revised Academic Plans

So I think I finally have a plan for what I'm going to do:  Cell Biology and Neuroscience major, Linguistics major, and Psychology major.  For the genetics classes that I want to take, I'll audit them as necessary so that I'm not taking too many credits.  Of course, if I can get credit for those courses, I will, but the deans I've talked are systematically not confident in the abilities of their students, and don't trust them to take over 20.5 credits.  Seriously, 23 a semester is not so much to ask for, right?  It's not like it's hard or anything.  w/e.  Here comes the knowledge!

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Differences in Motivation

Animals play.  I was reading an article about how they play, and as intriguing as the material was, I couldn't help but shake my head a little.  Really, how long is it going to be before we start to recognize officially that animals think and feel?  That they behave in ways incredibly similar to humans for a reason?  Despite the fact that animals and humans have  many of the same behaviors and make similar choices in many everyday activities, when will humanity start to accept en masse that we're not that different from other species?

Yes, there are certain ways in which we are more advanced; I'm going to try to figure out how to replicate those types of advantages and see if it's feasible, so I definitely acknowledge that they're there.  But the physiological difference between us and other animals isn't that great.

Consider this:  most of the evolution of humanity has happened in the absence of strong natural selection.  The most severe selective forces are intraspecific.  What changed between the time that we were living in grassy plains and now is not biological - it is artificial, the development of society and the refinement of our memetic makeup.  This is evidenced by the fact that peoples from all around the world are capable of learning and doing essentially the same things, despite long times of separation between many of those different cultures.  (Saying otherwise is considered racist.)  It is unreasonable to assume that the subtle genetic differences between us and animals are anything more than a point beyond a threshold, to which we and they are both very close.

Sure, we can communicate how our consciousness works to other people and we have thus mapped out through literature, philosophy, religion, etc. a huge amount of human consciousness.  But imagine we hadn't had those opportunities to explore ourselves and share the discoveries with others.  Imagine we just didn't have language, and picture yourself as an outsider, documenting the behavior of humanity.  Humans would behave in exactly the same way that nonhuman animals do, which would still be remarkably complex and interesting, but we would not have nearly the same constructs that we do now.  There would not nearly be the same kind of intercommunication between different groups/tribes/villages, and life would be so much simpler.  We would be directly comparable to animals in that the information required to make more complex material and social structures would not exist.  But we would still have the intelligence necessary to do all of it - all we would need is to break the threshold of speech.  The motivations would be the same, but we wouldn't have the same systems of realizing those desires, and the same systems of regulation that restrains many of our natural urges.

Truly, language is the key to obtaining society.  Humans are not so unique by having it that one cannot imagine other species joining our elite club of personhood.  How to obtain language is the gaping hole in my argument.  What that capacity comprises in the brain and physiology of the throat, mouth, and nose is beyond me.  Hopefully we can learn more about these capacities by doing some research into birds that can allegedly speak, identifying the physiological and neurological features that allow them to do this, then comparing and contrasting them with humans' own speech tools.  Then, in combination with the genetic technologies that are already undoubtedly being developed for use in gene therapy, genetic engineering, and all the other great things that increase the human lifespan, we will be able to share the gift of language with our Earthly neighbors and make an incredibly cosmopolitan society.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Ode to my Universe

The sun never sets, the sun never rises.  Our world spins endlessly around as we all try to find our places, never to touch the immutable and still.  Not one person will ever find their true place, as the place they inhabit will never stay the same.  Among other things, truly living is having a place in the no-place of all places.  Being vigorously alive requires us to interact with our world as if it is brand new with every spin of the planet, with every flick of the light switch.

The Universe is my home and my deity.  The world is my bedroom, and all matter my pillow.  My nightstand is the black night sky, where I place my astral headphones.  I listen, I feel, and I sense what passes by me.  My inner voice communes with my environment, and my mind acts as diplomat between the world and the true me. I have few values; my values are my passions.  I befriend people from all walks of life.  I love and respect everybody and everything, even the people I aggressively hate.  I resonate with everything genuine and alive, especially those who are different from me.  I try to be like everybody in their best ways, which makes me unique.  Nobody knows who I know, or what I know about who I know, so nobody can become what is me.

Tonight, I will sleep.  Tonight, I will wake up.  Tonight I will spend years, I will become wise, I will laugh, I will ingrain myself into the Universe until I can feel my roots spread across its entirety.  As I owe everything to the Universe, I will join it.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Phonemes, in General

(housekeeping) So, after a few weeks of classes, I've settled into my new semester.  I think I've also got a pretty good routine that will keep me going throughout the semester.  Actually, I'm almost bored with the amount of work that I have in my classes.  I may be in class or commuting the majority of the day, but I still feel really good most of the time - in health and in spirit.  That's probably a sign that I'm doing the right things.  Having so much going on in my life keeps me engaged, getting my gears turning in linguistics and neuropsychology.  I'm starting to put a few pieces together for my master plan:

In general, I'm trying to figure out how I can apply human linguistic analysis to a non-human model.  There is much variation in human languages, but they follow certain general principles in many cases.  All the same, those principles are not laws, and language can work in many fundamentally different ways.  Just two years ago, linguists discovered a completely new sound producible by the human vocal apparatus (can't find specifics).

"Some of the click-using languages of Africa had more than 100 phonemes, while Hawaii, New Zealand Maori and other Polynesian languages had only 13.

English had 45 phonemes." (Michael Field)

People can discriminate between multitudes of sounds unrelated to language, and gaining the ability to identify individual sounds is as simple as being a baby.  Most learning of language comes passively, as humans adapt to fit the sound structures they observe in their lives into their brain as a language.  Well, as a specific language.  Any baby can learn any language, so the ability to learn language is pretty nonspecific to which language is being learned.

The hypothesis that I have so far is this:  identifying and recreating the genetic structure of the brain that allows for language should equal to finding a general function of the brain as opposed to a hyper specific one.  That makes things more feasible.  It may also make things more difficult - if it is hard to isolate which genetic structures code for the language system, say because it's too interrelated to other complex pathways, then it will be a nightmare trying to elucidate the mechanisms responsible for language.

(this is almost a hypothesis about my undergraduate education as opposed to what research needs to be done.  I don't really know what is known by science, so I don't know how much of the above questions are redundant with textbooks about this stuff.)

One more important hypothesis I have is that, for whatever language a nonhuman animal used, it would most likely be comprehensible by humans if it could be divided into phonemes.  Likewise, if the same cognitive capacity for language that humans have were to be hardwired into the brain of a nonhuman animal, then they would be able to interpret any comprehensible, structured set of phonemes that humans could produce.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Stress Relief

[This entry is primarily therapeutic, so don't bother reading it.  BUT this Sunday, I'll share some interesting information - I have a few things I learned about linguistics that I want to document.]

Well, I've been busy.  I should get this boring stuff off my chest for one last time so I can stop telling people the same story over and over.  I have a bad habit of talking about the nitty-gritty details of my life in extensive detail, and it frankly resembles the kind of incessantness that irks me.  Still, there's no way I'm completely ridding myself of the need to tell stories, so I'll tell the story but keep it short.
In trying to exceed the credit limit, I corroborated with some old teachers, put together an argument, and e-mailed the dean of first-year students.  She refused to hear my argument on the assumptive grounds that freshmen are incapable of transitioning to college work in less than a year.  Well, I don't party, I don't really spend much time having fun when I have work to do, and I am good at reading and thinking on my own.  In other words, I'm already a college student.  I'm frankly -

(Okay, that's not short.  ~author set.rant=0)

- I sent an e-mail tonight to another dean to try to get more comprehensive advice and to get communication going between me and the other parties I've involved.  Now I wait.

(That's better.)

I bought my books today, too, which meant I spent almost no time at home.  I've done this all week, pretty much of my own volition.  I find it's quite fun to meander around the Rutgers campus, studying wherever I please, meeting up with friends all over the place.  Makes me feel like my home is bigger than ever.  Forget the provincial confines of my room, I have two cities to lounge about, including free transportation!

The greatest advantage to never going home is that I get to really spend time working.  Last semester, I swear, two ten minute bus rides to and from my dorm take up an hour in college time.  Significant drag.  As long as I find places in which I enjoy studying, I'll be good to hit the ground running.  I found one place in the Busch student center, and that'll probably be my number one study lounge.  Of course, there's always Alexander library before linguistics, and my double single whenever I'm home.  In my experience, it's best to have one desk for the computer and one desk for the work.  Or at least don't keep the computer where you work.  Or just get rid of the computer, which is half of my strategy.  No more Skyrim means I work (out - but not really).

Overall, I'm trying out stress management strategies that seem to be working.  Besides having great friends that I can hang out with, my favorite strategies so far are organizing my desk and planning out when I do all of my work for all of my classes, as well as when I get to do fun stuff like blog and mix.  It gives me less to worry about.  ...Well, at least it will once I have the ability to make that schedule.  Not knowing what my classes are like makes it a wee bit harder to do that.  Oh well :/

But really, I do have some interesting things to compile for an entry this weekend.  Note to self - don't forget it.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Speed Reading (in a sense)

A little tidbit about language processing.

There has been proposed a simple modular pathway between sensory input (shapes on a page, sound waves in the air).  That's the modular processing model, which I'm going to skip over here.  On to the more complete interactive processing model, which is informed by the actual architecture of the brain and specific studies:

When you read something, the shapes you see are translated from visual information into concepts.  In lexical decision (choosing a word that matches visual input), this is bottom-to-top processing.  Basically, when interpreting information, you have to choose a word from your mental dictionary, and the process begins with a prime (first letter & last letter, it would seem).

Simultaneously, there are synapses that send information from the conceptual level to narrow down what word you're perceiving.  This way, you don't have to see every letter, or even every word, when you read something.  

In other words, one way to save time when perceiving language is essentially to lessen the amount of information that you actually take in, and to increase the amount of higher level processing that contributes to lexical decision.  Cool, right?  More association cortex, less direct processing.

This could have implications.  Do people read faster because they read less?  Who learns better, the people who read slower and take in more information, or people who read faster and depend more on their association cortex?

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

The Lens of Existentialism

What is success?  What is happiness?  What makes a good person?

According to the existentialists, one man alone can answer these questions:  you.  You - who, because of masculine hegemony in the English language, are assumed to be a man - are the only one who can define good happy success.

For you.  Good happy success for me is something completely different.  I have a completely unique definition of good happy success that no other can replicate:  to have and ethically fulfill a life mission.

So I have a life goal. I aim to do whatever is in my power to enable non-human animals to communicate with humans through language, or vice versa.

Next comes the fulfillment.  There might be a few roadblocks.  But those roadblocks mean nothing more than that my life won't be boring.  As I begin my quest into linguistic neurogenetics, I think I should outline what I now believe to be all of the major roadblocks.  I kind of want to make a time capsule of my naïveté.

1.  Other species are physiologically incapable of using language.
2.  Animals are neurologically incapable of using language.
3.  Nobody wants talking animals around.
4.  It's unethical to change too much of the physiology or neurology of another species.

If I cannot knock down these four pillars, then I will be forced to give up and find a new career.  Or, find one in the first place, because I don't know what career I'm headed towards even with this mission.

Well, at least I know what I'm majoring in:  genetics, linguistics, and psychology.  That'll be super easy, doing three majors.  It'll be like taking one major, but instead it'll be three.  Same difference.

Now that that's taken care of...  time to sit down to read about language from the perspective of a cognitive neuroscience textbook, and thus formally begin.  With a cup of Sleepytime.