Style

One of the many areas I’m lacking.
I’m a pretty skinny fella and always have been. Some people might be tempted to attribute this to genes or some mystical metabolism, but I’m just an active son of a gun.
The problem is trying to dress this awkward body. I have come to the realization that t-shirts have formed some sort of alliance against me. I wore them my whole life and apparently this was viewed as an affront somehow because their rebellion is strong. Finding a t-shirt that fits me has become nearly impossible over the past few years. Mediums almost fit. The length is good the sleeve length is good, but(!) the chest is too tight. So much so that I sometimes freak out and feel like I can’t breathe.  Going up a size to a large is a roll of the dice. Sometimes, it’s good. Chest is nice. Length is okay. But most of the time it’s too big everywhere except the chest and it looks like I’m wearing some sort of blanket. Maybe I’ve been doing some sort of extensive chest/shoulder exercises that I’m not aware of. Otherwise, I have no idea what this chest issue is about. What’s been made perfectly clear is I need to get particular about what shirts I buy (online is a no-no) or I need to switch it up.
My youthful casualness has run it’s course and I’m being forced to grow up in attire, though in few other ways. Here are my options. Topless all the time. Ideal for any male or female who loves looking at weird bodies in poor self esteem postures. Not as ideal for me. (Though maybe a helpful exercise just one I’m not ready for.)
Option 2: Dress like a grown person. Throw on a solid button up. I like the idea of having a sort of unofficial uniform. Some of you might know Jason Mantzoukas (Rafi from The League and frequently on Comedy Bang Bang). He’s known for wearing a white oxford and jeans http://mantzoukaswhiteshirtjeans.tumblr.com/
Einstein did something similar but with a suit and I’m not that classy (yet!).

I don’t know. I used to just throw on any t-shirt and shorts, or jeans, and head out. Now I have to think about which shirt fits well enough to get me through the day without making me want to tear it off and throw it in a fire. I’d just wear large’s but half the time they make me look like an elementary school kid wearing his older brothers clothes. I’m an adult for goodness sake, I shouldn’t look like a preteen skateboarder. nyjah skate Works for this kid though.

 

I’m just a loser in a t-shirt, jeans, I don’t fucking care.

 

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Style

Help, I’m Alive?

I’ll never have this thing figured out. Are there any smart people out there who can explain something to me? Can you explain how to believe we have free will? Although, I’m not sure I need to actively believe in it. Whether I can intellectually wrap my head around the idea or not, I will probably still live as if I’m in control. I will live as though I have the ability to choose without external and unconscious influences taking the lead. I know how false this belief is. Look up cognitive biases and marvel at how many there are. Framing. Priming. Heuristic. Frequency. Letter. Anchoring. Etcetera.
All these little factors worm their way into my brain and point me in a direction. I’m debating the choices and think I’m reasoning. I think it’s my decision. BUT I’m actually not helping someone pick up pencils because the computer had a money screensaver. Yep. People who walked into a room with a computer with a money screensaver, located in the back of the room, were less likely to help someone who walked in the room and dropped a box of pencils. That’s your behavior that they’re fucking with.
And we all know about these biases. How companies or politicians can write surveys to get the data they want. Switch the order of questions and you’re more likely to not support gay marriage. Remind a female that she is female before a math test and lower her score (and you don’t even have to tell her. Just have her fill in a box next to male or female. Or if you don’t want to go through the work of writing that out, have a female take a math test in a room of mostly men to lower her score.)
Yes. All these things are well known. So, what? So… where do “I” come in?
I happen not to eat dogs or rats or any number of things because of where I was born.
Name almost anything. Monogamy? Hmmm, suspect. Romantic love in general? Again, not quite my choice.
It’s impressive if none of this is upsetting to you. I can’t seem to reconcile this information with the concept of “me.” I’m not able to separate “me” from my behavior and my choices, but it looks like there are many times when I must. And if this is just what we have found so far, who is to say what motivates the rest of our behavior? It almost certainly appears to be primarily unconscious.

The response I’ve come across in defense of free will is that we already knew the brain is responsible for all our behavior and thoughts, we scientists were never dualists, so these studies tell us nothing about free will. But I’m just not buying that. There could be a definition of free will that allows for this but that’s not the sort of free will I think about. I think about rational and purposeful deliberation. Subtle and unconscious external influences should not be guiding my decisions. If I’m not thinking about the screensaver in the back of the room, then it shouldn’t have any influence on my behavior. If it does (and it does), then I can’t claim that my behavior is my doing.
Maybe they mean something different but it appears to me that they are trying to suggest that since our brain must be active for any behavior to be possible (i.e. – the brain must the origin of behavior), that we still have free will. I’m not sure I understand that reasoning. It’s one thing for stimuli to be processed (e.g. – neurons firing when processing visual information) before we can make a decision. Not many people feel challenged when they learn how much their brain is doing without them being aware. Sight is an easy demonstration of this. You are distinguishing between a wall and a door, a window and a can of coke. You can tell a tree from a cell phone. All this sounds easy, it’s basically automatic from your point of view, but it takes so much processing to work all these differences out. You see each object without thinking about it. Yet, none of that bothers most people. “Fine, my brain is working without me to figure out who my mom is and isn’t. Who cares?”  But it’s another thing when those neurons firing, wherever they may be, are influencing our decisions without us being in the slightest way aware of these influences. As is dramatically shown in blindsight patients who respond to stimuli they cannot consciously see.

 

Yeesh, what did I just talk about?

Someone want to show me how stupid I am? It’s the only way to learn!

I should just write another terrible poem.

Help, I’m Alive?

Random Junk

The time it takes to craft something creative is more time than I’m capable of dedicating. I’ll leave it up to you.
Subtleties rule everything. But out brains prefer certainty. What can we do when we don’t know the answer? Make one up and stick by it. We do it well. Why don’t we accept it when we don’t know? It’s okay!
I’m hitting every tangent.
I want to know every road, but there’s not enough time to travel down every single one. I need you to tell me about the ones I’ll never make it to. I also need you to stop this from becoming too academic for me. What’s be best, in my mind, would be to break it down and consume it piece by piece. Systematic. Methodical. No! Human.
No one loves me because they smile at me. (No matter how badly I want to feel a connection with everyone I see.) If you don’t terrify me, I probably love you. And if you do terrify me, I want to love you. Unfortunately, people who fall into either of these categories tend to want nothing to do with me. I don’t blame them. I say weird shit like “I want to love strangers.”
I wish studying language was more fun. I find words and grammar fascinating until I learn all the words and rules you need to learn to talk about it. Talk about jargon. I enjoy latin much more. Reductio ad absurdum!
Tangent. I said “that’s latin” to someone a few weeks ago and she said, “really? I don’t know what it means and I speak Spanish.” Reserve judgment!? I don’t know. How far is too far (and how soon is now)?

Let’s try. It might be fun to try. It might hurt a lot, too. But that’s alright. So Fat Wreck Chords and Asian Man Records never signed me. Those hours in the garage with my best friends are still some of the greatest times of my life.

It hurt to fail, but it was so much fun to try.

Random Junk

Old People

Is the way I perceive age changing as I get older, or is the way the world sees age changing? (Or maybe other ideas that I haven’t thought of but you have because you’re smarter than I am and I spend more time worrying about what people will think of me than I should.)
When I was a little child human person, I remember my uncle turning 40 (then my dad, two years later). On both of these occasions, primarily my uncles bday celebration, his advancing years was a frequent topic of conversations. There were numerous bad jokes about being over the hill (and they were obviously bad to a baby human version of me, imagine how I would cringe now with my developed elitist assholiness). If I recall correctly, and I never assume I do, he even got a hat that had the over the hill phrase written on it. Good one, gift giver.
Now, it was all in good fun and no one was implying that his death was imminent, however there was a certain heaviness to it all. As if, unequivocally, he was an adult now. The uncertainty and manic adventuring nature of youth was behind him. Perhaps it was simply my inability to consider such an advanced age that caused me to read all these misguided meanings, convincing me his life was set and would continue on a boring path to death, when all that was happening was a happy get together. A likely conclusion based on my lack of life experience and understanding of what old actually meant. Who can really say, but 15-20 years ago, in my estimation, 40 seemed older than it does today.
My terribly uninformed guess is that more and more people are spending their twenties on either being idiots or courageous explorers of life. Some search for fun in parties, drugs and early alcoholic tendencies, while others search for meaning in an expanding world of possibilities but shrinking world of hope and personal identity.
After wasting a good portion of our twenties on more or less meaningless activities, our thirties become the time for settling down, but much more slowly, as we still need to find our niche. A lot of times that means grad school now. So many career students around, which is rad, to me. Learn it up. But in my dad’s time a degree of any sort usually guaranteed work. Even in ways that made little sense.
Examples: My dad got two degrees. One in mathematics and one in geology. What job did he get out of college? Computer programmer! My mother, also with a math degree, worked some management job at a bank. At least there are numbers there! (Although, any mathematician worth their dag nab salt knows that REAL math is done when there aren’t any numbers!)
Got a little sidetracked, but worry not, I return to my thesis.
We have a lot of grad students in their thirties and people still fucking around, since this is the age of fuck aroundness, with pop music centered on demonstrating how little of a fuck one can give. (Hint: The least is the best.)
Now us lost little idiots are jogging into our late thirties and early forties finally looking to figure out the long con (aka a career). Where my dad had two kids, one in the double digits already, and a career job type dealy (I’ll learn what a career is someday, I promise), today’s thirty-something’s are focused on doing things to make themselves happy (good plan in my book, although it’s easy to construe that to mean not doing anything and not caring about anything). My uncle did a relatively trendy thing by today’s standards; he decided not to have children. But even without the little kiddies, he was married for a long time (met his wife in college) and had a career straight out of Compton… I mean Berkeley.
Alright, so my sample size is around four and most of my other points are taken from loose and judgmental observations. But hey, this is wordpress. I’ll save the research for my thesis (which definitely won’t be about this).
I’ll also note that much of this slow to grow up phenomenon is probably due to entitled kids thinking that eventually the world will give them what they think they deserve without requiring any effort on their end. But I think all that is boring and would rather talk about interesting people concerned with finding meaning and less concerned over things that were once the norm, like a career and a family.

 

 

 

PS – do spiders like sugar? I’m worried there is pluot juice on my arm and I will be savagely murdered in my sleep by ravenous hoards of sugar craving spiders.

PPS – went a little hardcore on parenthesis. Apologies all around.

PPPS – I hope not to rely on post scripts in every post.

Damn it… one more thing. I usually write tags in a specific order to form stupid phrases and only just learned that wordpress reorganizes them in alphabetical order, destroying my stupid little hidden jokes that make only me laugh. Shucks.

Old People

How I Read. I’m Science?

image

I wasn’t this thorough in most of my classes. For no reason, besides my interest, I’m writing about decision making, free will, biases, and other related topics as explored by psychology and neuroscience studies. I don’t think it’ll turn into anything, but I’m okay with that. I’m doing it because I find it interesting which is something I can’t say about many of my classes, even though more than a few were about these very subjects.

The fact of the matter is, our education system is fucking stupid. I know I probably sound bitter when I say that, but I never cared about my grades. I liked learning and felt most classes failed in teaching anything. I had professors say the same thing. My favorite professor (and the smartest person I’ve ever met) thought tests of any kind were a waste of time but had to give them anyway. So he made them super simple and instead focused on teaching us how to think. He had us a read a few scientific articles every week, write briefly about them, and every other week do a short presentation on the ideas in the papers. Plus we had a discussion about the papers and he encouraged us to add our own comments on competing theories.

Other professors wiped out exams and focused on term papers. Term papers forced us to take an intense interest on a single topic and research the fuck out of it. I loved writing 10-20 page papers. You got the chance to become an expert on something. And you got to learn how to research, defend a position with facts and studies, and how to write. However much I end up remembering about the multiple theories surrounding the mass extinction of North American megafauna in the Pleistocene, I definitely got more out of the exercise than I did out of any class in which the goal was to memorize information long enough to bubble in a letter on a scantron.

Another one of my favorite professors said “Regurgitating material bores me and that’s all most classes do.” His exams were brutal because he presented novel situations that required us to utilize multiple ideas discussed in the class to solve. I ended up with a B- in that class, but loved it. I’m happier with that grade than I am of A’s I got in other classes.

Every grade I got in college, I deserved. Good or bad, poor professor or amazing, I knew what I had to do and if I failed to, I’m the one to blame. I’m happy to accept that. All I want is for the professor’s to take an interest in teaching. So many came in with power point presentations and scripts that are updated but seemingly never rewritten with much care. There’s little desire to spread passion to the students and the feeling is quickly adopted by everyone in the room. I know professors are busy. Teaching isn’t the most important part of their work. That seems wrong, but I can offer no solution. Professors have to publish to get money and schools want professors who will attract the most attention by publishing the most. I understand all that but it’s sad when it’s difficult to think of professors who inspired you. In all my time in college, I had three professors who truly made me want to continue to do things on my own in the future. A handful more were okay and the rest were nothing more than an automated computer mouse that clicked to display the next slide.

 

 

*note: this is primarily about science teachers. bio, chem, o-chem, biochem, psych, neuro, geology, etc. I don’t know if it’s similar in other majors.

Also, I didn’t start this post with any intentions to write about education. For this reason, and plenty of others, it might be a shitty post. I apologize for any poorly thought out sections and ranting.

Have a lovely day (or night).

How I Read. I’m Science?

Lecture

Where have I gone?

I’ve gone in reverse.
reverting.
melting.
forming a puddle on the ground.
I look.
Up and down.
I can’t see where I was.
I can’t tell why I’m not anything.

green and yellow.
it should be blue.
it’s always blue.
blue on
yellow surround.
eyes wide and stretched and fat
reflect and refract
fire fire fire
light or dark
it doesn’t matter
always active
always hyper.
fire fire fire
strain.
close and tear, tear.
weight
normal
perpendicular to progress
resist
fire fire fire
burn through molecules
fit each shape
selectivity.
special
then fire
constant.
always.
eventually.
burned.

 

Here’s another piece of writing that was buried in my lecture notes. It would appear that I take whatever my professor is talking about and make it stupid.

If you’re looking to learn the vague basics of vision in terrible poem form, then I’m developing just the class for you.

Lecture

Utilitarian Justifications

How do we avoid these from getting out of hand? Kantian ethics? Doesn’t seem much better. Should we all just be pluralists?

Any philosophers out there to shed some light on this? Every time I read something or hear a debate, I end up no closer to understanding. Every person seems to circle each other.

Is this simply the 2 systems that Kahneman and Greene talk about? Instinctive vs deliberative. Emotion vs reason.

I don’t know

Utilitarian Justifications