Friday, March 30, 2012

The Expectancy Factor

In the united states the necessity for a college education of any kind is become more and more prudent. Back 30-50 years ago, it was never an issue, requiring a college degree. Higher learning was only required for professions that directly affected other people in the near future. For instance if you were a Doctor, you'd need a college education. If you were an educator, you'd need a college degree. Aside from those and a few others, there really weren't too many professions that demanded a college degree.

This may stem from the fact that certain fields that require degrees now were not developed enough or even understood enough to demand college degrees. These professions would be anything to do with the internet, computers or electronics. Back in the day we didn't fully understand what we call the fundamentals of electronic engineering today. I digress though. Regardless of what the past held, in today's society, it is almost expected that a person gets a college degree or look forward to flipping patties for the rest of their adult careers. This is in a sense upsetting but at the same time it's necessary.

On one side of the coin, it promotes being trained professionally at what you do to guarantee that you're at least decent at it walking in. However, on the other side of the coin, it says that there is no such thing as learning by experience. Modern society has become so dependent and "handout mentality" oriented that it's very seldom that it is expected that everything you need to know about everything is spoon-fed to you. If it's not spoon fed to you, there is just simply no way on earth that you could have learned it.

I understand this stance on society, but i do not agree in forcing it and promoting it. Making videos and submitting them on youtube or simply talking to younger people about general knowledge things, it's incredible how difficult it is to encourage them to look anything up for themselves. It's always "well you know it, why don't you just tell me?" or "but i don't want to read right now." Comments are constantly posted on my youtube videos asking questions about content that is covered in the videos. I had a guy message me on youtube once asking me to explain three concepts to him when it would have been easier for him just to read the videos. Why? because instead of researching it on his own, he'd rather go to the source and have it spoon fed to him.

I digress again. I was the first generation in my family linage to actually desire a higher education after high school. So much so that by the time i was finishing freshman year i had already began looking into options casually for my future education past the free stuff. I was easily dissuaded by the prices of college. For those of you who don't know, there is no cheap way around a bachelors degree. regardless of where you go. how shitty of quality the university is, you're guaranteed at least $10,000 a semester for full time education. So i had settled within myself that an Associates would do just fine until i was able to support myself with a job in the industry and could continue on from where i left off.

My parents did not agree with this at all. When i had gone into high school, they said they would do their absolute best to support me in my choice of higher education and promised to contribute whatever money they could to the cause. However as soon as i hit my senior year of high school, everything changed. To cut the long sob stories and tear jerking moments, the essentially told me that i was on my own. So much that i had to twist their arm to sign off on the consent form to have my name added to the pamphlet for grad night. So when i walked away with my degree i told myself that i was pretty much on my own for the rest of my college career. And it's amazing how right i was.

As such i have managed to pay for my college tuition for the Community college out of pocket, by myself, with no assistance what so ever from anyone else up until now, but with the last year and a half of my associates degree speeding headlong into the fray, my parents and grandparents are constantly on my case regarding their desire for me to get a bachelors degree in the future. When i explain to them why i can't afford to get a bachelors degree straight away they look at me with that confused dog look on their face and ask why not. as if they are implying that they are willing to help me now. But i have a hard time believing that since they refused to provide any help with my minimal $1,000/semester tuition fees right now; and when i say minimal, i mean compared to the grand scheme of higher education.

Still they're constantly arguing with me that i need to get my bachelors degree before i move out of the house and that i need to take advantage of my free housing while i can. All i can say is: "As much as i love the fact that i have a place to live that is free of charge, i still have to buy my own groceries, i have to put $75.00 of gas in my car every week because of distance from the school, and i have to pay the thousand in tuition every three months without assistance, and while working for minimum wage." I do intend on getting my bachelors degree. However, i intend on getting it after i have a good paying job in the professional market and can support myself much better than i can right now.

If you were in my position, would you do anything differently? How would you respond to all of the expectations placed upon me that are simply too far out of my reach at this time?

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

The Infinite Puzzle

Programming is a unique world of it's own. A lot of the programmers out there, that includes myself before i knew better, will happily tell you that the number one thing you need to know to succeed at programming is a very broad math knowledge. This is somewhat true due to the fact that the most basic form of programming, binary, is all ones and zeros and the programmer needs to know how to interpret every one and zero mathematically to create a program that actually works.

However what is even more important as a programmer or a software engineer is the ability to think logically. If you can thing logically, programming will come very easy to you. For those of you who aren't programmers or have no prior experience in programming, allow me to elaborate. Almost ever modern programming language is what we call a high-level programming language. This means that it very closely resembles a spoken language of some sort and it does all of the conversion and mathematics for you. The lower the level of the programming language the more work you have to do to make it compile. However in every high level programming language there are a few basic elements that are always outline as the foundation for good programming knowledge. The foundation which everything else in that programming language is built upon later on.

The core components are: variables and logical comparisons. This extremely short list will, without a doubt, send the heads of seasoned programmers spinning endlessly, however, if you break a language down into it's core elements, those are the only two. Variables are place holders for information. A string variable is nothing more than a place holder for a line of characters, an integer is a place holder for numbers without decimals. Doubles and floats are place holders for numbers with decimals, etc.

For the logical comparisons, if statements logically compare two variables and return a logical answer (boolean[which is another placeholder]). For loops, logically compare two variables and depending on the returned boolean value, compare them again. While loops repeat comparisons until something is changed. Without beating a horse to death, you get the general idea. Everything encompassed in a programming language can be torn down into these two fundamental categories. So be it as it may, logic is 50% of programming.

When you traverse the gap into Object Oriented Programming which is a more specific type of programming (think class hierarchy programmers) we add another core component that does not apply to all programming language types, but only to OOP. That is methods. Methods are simply placeholders for logical comparisons. A wise teacher once told me that a class is the blueprint for an object and an object is an instance of a class. If a class is a blueprint, then the methods are the rooms on that blueprint. they don't serve any ulterior purpose other than to house contents more specifically.

I digress though. Logic is a huge part of programming and one that must be emphasized more in schools. I have taken 4 years of programming classes so far and not a single one has ever outlined the importance of using logic to solve. They've all gone through the motions of teaching the content but never stopping to explain why it's significant, how to understand it's logic. Maybe that is why there are so many internet horror stories of applicants to Microsoft and other big-wig software firms getting turned down because they can't write an iterative statement that goes from 1 to 10.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Hollywood Abuse

I went to see John Carter a second time about a week ago, being one of the few people who didn't think it was a terrible movie i guess. I wasn't intending to see it again but I got the movie times mixed up with another local theater and ended up missing the movie I had originally intended to see. I hadn't originally seen the movie in 3D and quite frankly didn't intend on watching it in 3D because i find the whole concept a scam.

It didn't come as a shock to me when i realized that the movie, with the exception of one scene, wasn't filmed for 3D. However it did get me thinking on the concept of the different constructs that Hollywood uses like they're going out of style. 3D being the shining piece of fecal matter atop the pile.

It's a well known and well satired fact that Hollywood loves to make cliches. They catch a line in a certain movie that works really well, or a certain story point and it becomes an industry standard for the ages. One of the most recent one's i've seen was the cliche of a man who shows a picture of his sweetheart back home to anyone during war will most certainly die before the end of the film. I'm almost positive that this Cliche originated in the long stream of World War 2 movies that came out during and after the fact. It added drama back in, but now it almost becomes comical.

My friends and I went to see Red Tails a month ago and not only did it scream cliches from the start, it delivered on them. By the time we were 10 minutes into the movie we were placing bets on which cliches were going to happen and when. There is a man in the movie who falls in love with an Italian girl who is apparently oblivious to the war going on around them, and he begins bragging about her to all of his squad mates. Sure enough *spoiler alert* he dies by the end of the movie. He's one of the half dozen or so people to die from the allied fighter squadron.

Another clearly abused item is a writing style. The world famous author Homer, who wrote the Illiad, The Odyssey, and Perseus: The Hero of Ithaca, created a story structure called the hero's call. It begins as the hero minding his own business, going about his daily life, then he gets a call to action of some form, the story builds up to the climax, then settles back down into the ending. Recognizing this story arc is crucial for my next point: IT IS THE STORY ARC STRUCTURE FOR EVERY MOVIE EVER PRODUCED BY HOLLYWOOD. with the exception of a handful of films who dared to be different and failed, that's how movies play out. If you don't believe me, watch your top 5 favorite movies, then your top 10 if you need more convincing. You'll be enamored by how consistent it is.

Let's take some random movies i can think of off the top of my head for example.

  1. Dumb and Dumber: two friends who are rooming together can't hold a job to save their lives. Call to action is to leave the state and go somewhere else for a job. Climax: They end up thwarting a drug syndicate.
  2. Lord of the Rings: Hobbit child is born to the bearer of the 1 ring to rule them all. Call to action: the ring must be destroyed and task is placed upon Hobbit, his fat hobbit friend, his two idiot hobbit friends, and an entourage of professional killers. Climax: book 1: Frodo gets stabbed by the nazghoul. Book 2: helms deep. Book 3: the return of Aragorn.
  3. Unbreakable: average joe goes to work day in day out has a family to go home to every day. For some reason he can lift super-human amounts of weight and never gets sick. Call to action: get's harassed and eventually forced into his call to action by his arch nemesis. Climax: average joe finally buckles when his son tries to shoot him (vat a twist!)
Without beating the horse to death, i think i've made my point clear. Hollywood hashes, bashes and rehashes the same story arc dozens of times every year and it never phases anyone.

Finally there's the topic of 3D movies. Does anyone else remember when the only good quality 3d was IMAX? or when the only thing IMAX showed were educational videos about sperm whales that costed hundreds of thousands of dollars? I sure do. I also remember when Real3D was first released and the movies for it were actually recorded in 3D. But now companies record movies traditionally because it's cheaper, then adapt them to 3D to milk more money out of the gravy train.

I know the most immediate opposition would be that it's not true, the extra money that goes into every ticket is to counter the cost of the glasses. I'll play the devils advocate for a minute and give you that point. Even so, with the mass production of those standardized, ABS Plastic, polarized 3D glasses, each pair probably only costs companies about buck in total. They tack on 2-3 bucks to RENT the glasses which you're expected to return after the movie so they can sterilize them, and repackage them for a quarter then hand them out again. Tell me those figures add up and i'll show you to someone with a 4th grade math education.

No matter how you slice the pie, there's still a wad of cash that doesn't go towards recycling these glasses. With the pathetic wages movie theater employees get paid, it certainly isn't going towards them. Besides, their wages are covered in standard ticket fees. It's not like they get bonuses for selling 3D tickets, or i promise you they'd be strong arming you into the 3d showings as much as possible. So where does the extra $1.80 per recycled pair of glasses go? You tell me because i've already got my ideas of where but i'm always open to suggestions.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Perspective on Reality

Much like my disposition to with hold from purchasing new video games until the hype surrounding them has diminished and the true reviews begin to surface, i am extremely skeptical about new campaigns that surface every so often. The most recent and most controversial of them all is the Kony 2012 campaign.

There's been a lot of negativity and sheep herding going on when it comes to this specific campaign, but not a whole lot of unbiased retrospect in my humble opinion. Within 12 hours of the time the video was released to the public, a group of people was already hunting for proverbial closet full of skeletons for IC. What they found was a long list of minor flaws that they twisted and mutilated to suit their own agenda, which was to discourage people from donate to the cause of invisible children.

Without pulling out financial records for the company and trying to take sides, i would like to underline a few of the arguments from both sides and see if i can't throw my two cents into the bar brawl that Kony 2012 has turned into.

The biggest argument i would like to bring up was one that i had seen on multiple youtube videos, forums and blogs just like mine which stated that only 31% of the company's earnings were being passed along to Uganda. Even though that's well over 2.5 million dollars, people are throwing massive fits saying that these guys aren't a proper NPO because they're not sending every cent over to uganda.

The three key things for an NPO to function is to have a base of operations, have a means of spreading their word, and have people to spread that word with those means. People have cried out stating that the two founders of the IC are making $90,000/year salaries. If we were to put this up in comparison to say, the CEO and COO of any for profit corporation in the world, that's really actually quite minescule. Combine that with the fact that average salaries for the four major California cities are all over $40,000 a year, which includes San Diego where their base of operations is located, that seems like a relatively modest pay for the CEO and COO of a global initiative.

Moving forward from that i do not believe that the plan to take down Kony in 2012 is either effective or smart. They even state in their videos that Kony has been aware of the US Military's attempt to catch him and has changed his tactics accordingly. However their suggestion is to train the corrupt Ugandan military with our soldiers to hunt Kony down themselves.

I would like to deviate for the present and go into a little side topic which remains valid to my point. Say you print out a document off your computer. That print out looks pristine, just the way you wanted it to look. Now let's go to kinko's and make a copy of that document. you might not notice it at first but there is a very small loss of quality in the copy. If you were to make another copy of that copy, there would be twice as much loss of quality. The loss of quality would continue exponentially everytime you made a copy of the latest generation's copy. The same applies to the Ugandan army.

You can have our soldiers train the Ugandan army in our tactics but they will never be as good as our troops back home, trained by people who have trained for years and know what they're doing without a doubt. Ground Zero so to speak. So this begs the question of "If we can't find Kony, how in gods name is the Ugandan army going to find them?" Aside from all of this there have been several professionals who have stated that Military action is not the correct course of action for this situation, and might only cause more backlash.

Of course i'm saying that Kony needs to be stopped, he is one of the most corrupt individuals in the world right now. But he's been doing this for 20+ years, he's got roots that go deeper than we could imagine. Besides that, killing kony or even so much as ex-filtrating him from Africa for trial would do no good. His brainwashed second in command would take his place and the terror and onslaught of Africa would continue as if nothing ever happened.

So, make an example out of Kony? Yes. Do it through military action? Maybe, but certainly not the way the Kony 2012 campaign proposes. If we're going to take military action it's going to require highly trained special forces to go in clandestine and wipe out Kony's top 5 officials then exfil him and release the children. Unfortunately though, some of these children may already be too far gone. Too brainwashed into loyalty to Kony to be safe to release. This is without a doubt, one of the most incredibly touchy subjects of the year. What are your thoughts?

Friday, March 23, 2012

The Money-Hungry Games

So i just got back from watching the midnight release of the movie adaptation to the New York Times Best Seller "The Hunger Games". I read the trilogy immediately after the third book was released as i don't really like the prospect of twiddling my thumbs for a year before i can pick up the series again. And i certainly don't like paying full price for anything at all (call me frugal).

Basically i'm going to break this down as plainly and unbiased as possible for anyone who is just picking this up without having read the books or watched the movie. So bear with me as i wade through gory details. And if you're not a fan of spoiler alerts, now would be a good time to go elsewhere because i can't be held accountable for what i say from here out.

Let me start off by saying that the movie was mediocre. Approaching it from the standpoint of someone who hadn't read the books, you wouldn't have the slightest clue of what things were happening and why they were happening and how they came to be. The reason for this is because Suzanne Collins, the author of the hunger games, went into great detail surrounding the universe and what happened leading up to where the book really starts as well as putting a definite bold, underline surrounding the hardships of the districts.

I went to see the movie with my two siblings, both who had only read the first book and i bring this up because i want to outline the extreme differences between my understanding of the events in the movie (having read all 3 books) and their understanding. Both of my younger siblings were constantly leaning over and inquiring as to what was going on, why things were happening during the early events of the first book i had to explain things to them vaguely using my knowledge of the second and third books to get them to understand without ruining the excitement for them to read the last two books themselves.

Coming at the movie from the perspective of a person who read all three books, there were several minor subtleties inside the film that made me smile inside. Subtle foreshadowing during Katniss's trackerjacker trip which she envisions District 12's ultimate destruction, the emphasis of Haymitch's reactions to what Katniss is experiencing and showing brief snip-its of his hard work behind the scenes to get her the items, the scenes inside the control center for the arena and showing how the workers alter the atmosphere, time of day, and employ the traps to liven things up. Also, with the scenes from inside the control room there is brief foreshadowing as to the fact that there is an outer rim to the arenas. This comes too early in the movies if you ask me. It sets up dramatic irony, which is often far too over-used in hollywood, in exchange for the feeling of endlessness that Katniss feels when entering the arena and trying to find water.

Moving on from there, unfortunately the rest is all downhill. With the artistic liberties taken with the movie, came the chop shop. chopping the original text so that it's pheasable within a 3 hour time span is understandable but they cut it into an irreparable mess that will make the last 3 movies very difficult to sell. The cuts include but are not limited to:
  1. All information regarding Tesserae which would have sufficiently explained why gales name was placed in the drawing 42 times.
  2. Madge does not exist at all. The largest point to wrap my head around as Madge and her family play a crucial role later in the series.
  3. Almost all of the violence was avoided to make it acceptable for a younger crowd.
  4. All of the heartless kissing was removed (i could care less about this one really. It added no motion to the plot at all)
  5. they abbreviated everything inside the games to a whopping 4 or 5 days whereas in the books it was a matter of weeks.
Wrapping this up so i don't bore people to death. There were a few artistic liberties taken which enhanced the story, however they just were not enough to offset all of the plot moving points and story critical characters that they've removed completely from the story.

No mention of the Avox even though she becomes Katniss's silent counselor in some ways, No mention of the head peacekeeper which plays a crucial role in the second book. No mention of Madge or Peeta's Father, the tension between Katniss and her mother is non-existent, and as far as i can tell the Seneca Crane gets killed? That pretty much stops the other 3 movies dead in the water as his role is sitting very close to the core of the story.

 Either way, don't waste your time with the movie. Waste of my money even though it will probably break the bank, it's really not worth it's 2 cents.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Confidence is Key

We all have a passion in life. Whether we realize what that is or not, we all do. It's what drives us. When we're feeling down, it's what keeps us going. Mine, as strange as it is, is programming. I have a deep seated passion for programming, i think partly because I love to be thinking. Music gets me thinking but it's not applicable to the job market. As much as i could preach that money is not important in life, it's difficult to life comfortably on $20,000 a year average.

Same thing with art. I love art, i love doing it even though i'm terrible at it because it stimulates my mind, but I also know I do not have the assertiveness to be successful in the art industry. Programming is all that's left for me and it's applicable to the job market but at the same time it's an extremely precarious market at best.

The way I look at the grand scheme of things, i was either born a few years too late or right on time. Being that i will be walking away with my first degree in a year in a half, i can only hope that our ugly job market will rear it's ugly head in time for me to easily find a job once i have my degree in hand. Until then i have spent the majority of my time recording programming video tutorials for the layman which i post on youtube weekly and practicing my hand at larger and more complex programs all the time.

I find this constant activity in my future job market almost a necessity since the competition is so tough. I don't have the money to go to an extremely reputable school like MIT, with their $100,000/semester rates or UC: Berkeley with their $50,000/semester rates. My resume won't exactly be lined with gold foil and so the necessity for being genuinely exceptional at what i do becomes very prominent.

The entire concept of constantly bettering my skills through trial by fire came to me not too long ago. I was working through a semester of programming classes and my final general education class for my degree when one day, out of the blue, it hit me that i may not be good enough to even compete with anyone in the field i'm aiming for. For whatever reason, i had lost all confidence in my abilities to perform as a programmer.

So i wallowed in my grief like a pathetic SOB for a little while then one day i decided i was going to leave my house for a change after class and go somewhere, anywhere just to escape the feeling of confinement that was overwhelming me. I made it to a local Starbucks and spent the entire day there doing nothing but writing code hat was on the very rim of my knowledge in C# (the language of choice for right now). By the time i was finished i had a fully debugged and functional program that i didn't think i could actually code earlier that day.

This accomplishment no matter how embarrassingly small gave me a renewed sense of hope. If i could successfully break the barriers that have presented themselves here, what was to stop me from breaking other barriers? Essentially i told myself that i would do my best to write a new program each week that would push the boundaries of my current knowledge in programming. No matter how small, or useless the program was. At this stage it's not about producing a marketable product, it's about getting comfortable with your current skills and getting to learn how you can manipulate them in ways you never thought possible before.

So here i am now, with a motley collection of two or three dozen useless programs, there are a few gems there, a few that i've placed on a website for people to download freely, but mainly, i consider the programs as hurdles that i've overcome, and every program brings a glorious sense of triumph when i publish it and zip up the installation files.

I would like to suggest that ability is 50% confidence, 50% knowledge. You can have the knowledge but be too timid to want to understand how to use it in out-of-the-box or off-the-wall ways. However, the flip is also true, you can have the confidence but none of the knowledge, and then you're just as easily useless. What do you or have you done to overcome your confidence issues? How much better off do you feel you are for doing so?

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

The Hype Complex

We've all been victims of the excitement and hype that surrounds something that is highly anticipated. Sometimes it's a good thing, sometimes it's a bad thing. I went and saw John Carter the other day, i was rather looking forward to it being a Edgar Rice Burroughs fan myself. I had spent a great deal of time reading the Barsoome Chronicles before the movies had come out so i was prepared for the movie when it did. I thought the writing style of Burroughs was fantastic, i deeply enjoyed his works and i'll undoubtedly be reading the rest of his works with the exception of the Tarzan series as i was never really a fan of Tarzan.

However i found that the movie was somewhat of a disappointment. I understand that they're trying to make a movie series to bring them steady income over the next couple years, however the issue with making a modern movie out of a hundred year old short story is that you need to take a lot of artistic liberties, and i do mean a lot. All of the hype surrounding the movie and it ended up being a surprising let down to critic.

Another shining instance of hype making a product so much more than it is, is the highly acclaimed Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. There is no doubt about the fact that it is indeed a fantastic game filled with hours upon hours of adventures for you to explore with it's two square kilometer world. However, is it really the god send that the public has made it out to be? Probably not. Underneath the sheen of new, shiney and over-hyped, there are the same old bugs and glitches that have been notorious in every Bethesda game since they opened their doors. Most of the bugs get passed of as over-beaten meme's (the much abused "arrow to the knee" jokes) however this oversight is a little disappointing. Bethesda is now on it's fifth iteration of the Elder Scrolls series and they've still yet to fix a few core problems with the video games.

However, all bugs aside all me to posit my theory as to why these bugs were easily overlooked by the majority of the community.

When Skyrim was announced the first people to find out about it was the press of course. The second people were the die-hard TES fans and then the time between discovery was proportionate to how much you knew about the series and how much you enjoyed it's previous installments. However, the community for his video game is so large and so passionate about the video game that the news spread like wildfire as soon as the core community found out. A combination of mystery surrounding the game and everyone screaming with excitement made the game catch a lot of attention. This attracted video gamers from ALL video gaming facets, not just your run of the mill RPG players.

This caused an influx of FPS players from various run-and-gun type FPS games such as COD and Halo. These players are used to massively buggy video games as the same issues hold true with their developers. COD's notorious quick scope bug was accidentally added in COD2 and people have been complaining about it since then. They still haven't fixed it after 6 or 7 iterations (lost the care to count after COD4). As these players are pretty much used to bugs to the extent where they have no issues with exploiting them or playing until they're red in the face from frustration, they tended to look over the bugs.

This combined with the fact that a hefty percentage of the Skyrim players have never even so much as looked at another installment of TES which means they're oblivious to the fact that these bugs have been around since installment one. Thus, their tolerance levels for these errors are significantly larger than the players from day one, installment one.

Never the less, Hype can be beneficial or deadly depending on how it's utilized and whether it's actually deserved. Frankly i would much rather do without the entire advertizing strategy, which is why i wait several months for video games after they're released so i can read reviews after the hype has worn off. What do you think about how developers of all medias use hype to their advantage? Whether it's deserved or not.

Sunday, March 18, 2012


What causes us to put people on such high pedestals? I just finished comforting a very close friend of mine because her scumbag boyfriend did what every scumbag does, and dumped her for a new sex toy. I tried explaining to her that he was a scumbag before. Before she got involved with him and before the landslide of events that just happened to her were set in motion but she refused to believe me.

It's always the same typical stuff when these types of things happen. "You don't know him like i do." Yeah, I don't and it's because i see him for what he is and not the charade he puts on for you to make you believe he's some sort of helpless romantic with a bad boy side.

It's this idolization of the people we view as attractive (for any reason, not just for physical appearances) That ends up hurting us in the end. We end up putting, for lack of better terms, a shit sandwich on a lustrous pedestal. We then proceed to elevate that pedestal to where it becomes far out of our reach. But we're so enamored by this shit sandwich and think so highly of it that when we begin to truly question whether it's as good as we make it out to be, we end up gravely disappointed. The real kicker is that it's a never-ending cycle.

I'm nothing special to this and neither are you. I'll gleefully admit that my last serious relationship consisted of me not liking the person then growing to love them over 3 years and idolizing them to the point that i considered suicide when they cheated on me, told me to my face, continued to cheat and left me. I was pathetic. I was an absolute disgrace to myself and I'm embarrassed to admit it to the open public but there it is.

I'm not entirely sure why we have such a conviction to idolize people to such an extreme degree but at some point we all need to grow up and stop hiding who we really are. Looking back at my ex, i realize that there really was no true connection. She was no where near the person i had made her out to be in my mind. Going back to my friend, her scumbag of an ex is a blatant womanizer. Every girl he's ever gone out with, he was romantic long enough to get some action then walked away from the following explosion of emotions without even glancing back. My friend was convinced, sincerely convinced, that he would change for her.

When he didn't change for her, she talked to him about it, they got into arguments and he played mister nice guy and buttered her ass-cheeks until all the dust settled and went back to his old ways. Maybe I'm a fool for refusing to be blinded by charades and scapegoats, but i can't be the only one.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Resident Authority

Are we, as a species, the resident authority on anything outside of our own planet? or even our planet for that matter. The hitchhikers guide to the galaxy shows us that our planet could merely be the most powerful supercomputer in the galaxy, constructed by mice which are the smartest species known to man, and we would never know or believe unless we were shown the factory.

I remember distinctly a few years back that we had discovered a new single-celled organism that we had brought back from Mars or the moon or something along those lines. We were absolutely baffled at how the organism could survive in the harshness of space without the necessities for life. Mainly food, water and air. Scientists often fail to grasp the concept that our species is not the end-all see all of the universe. If there are other species out there (which i believe whole-heartedly there is) who gave us the knowledge to outright say that they require the same building blocks as we do to survive?

Last time i checked, there was no celestial blue print that demanded all forms of life be humanoid and survive off the same basic elements. Allow me to bring up a few arguments:
  1. Everything in the known universe is created of the same 4 or 5 basic elements, from the quarks in our cells to the stars that provide the dazzling show of pinhole light in the sky we see every night. However we have decided that the stars are not alive, they're essentially time bombs with a several billion year fuse.
  2. We were not the first things in the universe, and we will most certainly not be the last.
  3. All of our scientific theories, as time has progressed, have been proven wrong by a more accurate and complex scientific theory. However, the theories in themselves are just that, theories. Scientific hypothesis which can not be dis-proven due to some reason or another. Much like the speed of light. it is Theorized that we can not break the speed of light with any means of propulsion. What prevents it from being dis-proven? our ability to break the speed of light with any means of propulsion.
I find that people desperately hold onto these theories as if they were the law. And when someone suggest something way out in left field their response is "It would work of it didn't break *insert scientific theory*."

Who are we to demand that we know everything there is to know about how life is formed in the universe. For all we know, we may find out that the clouds in the sky are merely non-corporeal beings and we have not yet realized a form of communcation advanced enough to communicate with them while they observe us. I'm not saying it's true, but i'm not saying we should dismiss the thought either.

The fact remains that we do not know all there is to know about how life is formed. Up until just recently (in the grand scheme of things) we knew almost nothing compared to what we know now. I'm sure in another 80 years, we'll look back at where we are now and view ourselves as brutish and archaic. The universe is full of unknowns and before we discover them, we should venture to discover ourselves first, and get a little more humble about how lack-luster we really are compared to other potential species.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

What is the value of Life?

The ultimate question which begs careful consideration in it's answer is how does one place a value on life? We see it all the time. In movies, on TV and in conversations between people. Often times, the bad guys say that they're worth more than the good guy's life. A mother cries out that life if their child is more valuable than anything else. I was strolling through Facebook the other day and noticed that one of my friends had posted a comment on an image of a very attractive female stating that she missed her so much. This got me curious and after extensive research i had discovered that the female had killed herself the night before. This got me contemplating the value of a person's life. Not just her's but mine as well.

I have contemplated these things and the best possible conclusion i could arise at is that the answer has nothing to do with fiscal worth. The closest thing would be the destroyed mother, mourning the loss of her child. As the late United States president Abraham Lincoln once said "It is not the years in your life, but the life in your years.". I believe that ultimately the true value of a person's life is decided by how many people they have genuinely affected.

Ever too often do we see high school teenagers who have hundreds and sometimes even thousands of friends on Facebook, hang around the coolest cats on the block. One would instantly be able to leap up at what i believe the value of a person's life is and cry out "You mean to say their life is more valuable than mine? or my family's? simply because I'm not insanely popular?" The easy response would be: no, your life may very well be more valuable than theirs. The long winded response would be this.

Often times the popular people are extremely lonely. While they may hang around all the coolest people and have hundreds of friends on Facebook, they're almost always never really close with any of them. This shouldn't come as a surprise because true friendship, even so much as a genuine connection with someone takes time and trust. both of which need to be built up. With their time spread out between so many people, the popular person never really finds the time to truly get to know anyone. It goes without saying that there is a major difference between the people who would show up to your funeral to grieve, who show up to your funeral to make sure you're dead, and those who never even considered going.

The girl who had killed herself appeared nothing but happy in all of her messages. As far as i could gather from her Facebook account she was a very outgoing and cheerful character with no real justifiable reason for committing suicide. But just the concept of suicide brings out the true heart of the matter at hand. Even with her 200-some Facebook "friends" there were only 4 who were truly disheartened by her untimely death. The rest of her friends either didn't bother to comment or left comments that were somewhat detached. Comments starting with the lines "I didn't really know you well but..." Those types of comments aren't created out of sadness, they're comments of a person who probably verbally commented "well that's a shame." and didn't think any more of it.

Hypothetically speaking, if you were to commit suicide tomorrow, how many people would genuinely mourn your passing? Obviously your parents would; no matter how much you've pissed off your parents in your life time, they're still your parents and you're still their baby. Who else could you say would with complete confidence? As you're asking yourself this, if you're discovering that the list is a large one, your life is probably valuable. I know I have two close friends, an ex who secretly still feels for me and my immediate family and my step siblings who would mourn my loss. So by that logic, my life would be worth 9 units (whatever the quantifiable unit would be). I would consider myself pretty reserved and close out most of anyone unless i feel i can truly trust them.

If i were to commit suicide it would be considered selfish because my life is worth a lot to those who would grieve regardless of my reasoning. I'm sure the parents of the girl on Facebook are feeling the same. They won't admit it immediately but somewhere in the back of their conscious mind they're asking themselves why their daughter was so selfish. However, that layer is buried underneath layer upon layer of guilt and questions of "what did we do wrong?"

In the end, even Lincoln, the powerful man that he was, was wrong in his sayings. Part of the grand scheme is the life in your years, if you were okay with dieing tomorrow knowing that you lived life the way you wanted to, you're doing alright. But it's also about the life you put into others.