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 ├╝ber 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

Knowledge

Bodies of knowledge that I like to learn more about:

Biology
Linguistics
Psychology
Programming
Literature
Philosophy
Music
Video Games
Civics
Culture
Technology
Space
Art
Math
Clothes
Anthropology
Sociology
Food & Drink
Chemistry
Physics
Nature Survival
Foreign Languages