Notes from the Surf

First Child Undergoes Windpipe Transplant with Organ Crafted from Own Stem Cells
"doctors took a donor trachea, stripped it down to the collagen scaffolding, and then injected stem cells taken from his bone marrow."

People with Power Better at Getting Away with Lying
"The researchers found that subjects assigned leadership roles were buffered from the negative effects of lying. Across all measures, the high-power liars — the leaders —resembled truthtellers, showing no evidence of cortisol reactivity (which signals stress), cognitive impairment or feeling bad."

U.S. Intelligence planned to destroy WikiLeaks
report recommends “The identification, exposure, termination of employment, criminal prosecution, legal action against current or former insiders, leakers, or whistlblowers could potentially damage or destroy this center of gravity and deter others considering similar actions from using the Web site”.

Over half your news is spin
"nearly 55% of stories analysed were driven by some form of public relations... Many journalists and editors were defensive when the phone call came... Most refused to respond, others who initially granted an interview then asked for their comments to be withdrawn out of fear"

Subtle Ways The News Disguises Bullshit As Fact
Weasel words. Implying without saying. Burying inconvenient facts. Biased photos. The active voice. Guessing the motives.

The Stock Market As Propaganda
"The equity market is all about concentrating wealth and managing perception: if the top 10% is doing well, then the bottom 90% are supposed to feel better about the whole thing, too, even if they are poorer by every financial metric."

Why Counting on Apathy May Not Be Enough
"A newly leaked CIA report prepared earlier this month (.pdf) analyzes how the U.S. Government can best manipulate public opinion in Germany and France -- in order to ensure that those countries continue to fight in Afghanistan... celebrates the fact that the governments of those two nations continue to fight the war in defiance of overwhelming public opinion"

Invade a Hospital
"For every person who dies in a terrorist attack..."

Online - Capitalism: A Love Story
Not currently hosted on the most convenient server, unfortunately.

Is John Lewis the best company in Britain to work for?
"It’s a good company to work for,” says Pedro. “I didn’t realise how good until I joined.” ...employee-owned businesses also create jobs faster; are significantly more resilient in an economic downturn; deliver far better customer satisfaction; boast substantially higher value added per employee

I spent my whole day sleeping and reading a couple of pages from Enduring Love by Ian McEwan, but I mostly gave my limbs some well-deserved rest.
The chaotic life I've been leading these couple of months has made its point:
sleep deprivation is slow poison for mind&body. The whole jib-jab about lack of sleep offering best conditions for depression to's true, ya' know!
Plus, you get this weird lackadaisical state, not really giving a damn about anything that's going on around yourself. Just like you've been split in two: one you is on the inside, an auto-pilot of your carcass; and the other you is the narrator! Somewhere on the outside, watching from a distant upper point a movie of your own actions.
Not the best of experiences, I must say...

Happy Mother's Day.

I'm feeling good right now. Instant gratification, you know? I just won a particularly satisfying game of Kongai. Mechanics in that game really interest me. I was explaining to someone a while back how your character uses energy to do all their moves. They can have a maximum of 100 energy. At the end of each turn they gain 20 energy. When you rest (do nothing) you gain an additional 20 energy. So you can gain 40 energy a turn. Switching the range of the fight takes 50 energy. This ends up being super important since the vast majority of the time one of the two characters facing off wants the range to be different than it is.

You can also spend that 50 energy to counter your opponent switching range. Of course the moves are simultaneous, so you don't know if your opponent is going to try to switch. Spending 50 energy is a huge deal.

There is another aspect to changing ranges. If 5 moves pass with the same 2 people facing each other (no one switches out) and no one takes damage you can CHANGE ranges for free until someone takes damage or switches out.

So I have Helene. Helene is a beast at close range. She will hit you hard. Helene has no long range moves at all. (unless you want to count enchanting her blade for 0 energy, which is actually important since a lot of people will assume she will do it at long range if she already has 80 or more energy, so sometimes you want to intercept instead of enchanting).

My opponent has Anex. Anex has a 60 energy (long range only) move that will kick your butt. You just don't want to take this on the chin.

So here are the two girls, Helene wanting to be close, and Anex being stand-offish. There is a lot of resting and switching ranges. Sometimes I get close but I don't have enough energy to even attack. The thing is, I was counting this whole time. I knew I was set up to get free range changes when we were at long range. I knew my opponent would not like this, but couldn't stop it. My opponent had one character on the bench, also good at long range and terrible against Helene at close range, so I never cared if they switched out at close. But I'm getting free range changes. So for the first time I intercept and sure enough Anex had tried to run. It's important to note that even if my opponent had just rested, I wouldn't have minded, because the free range change coming would have let Helene get close and have plenty of energy for her mighty sword attacks. Basically I could intercept and gain only 20 energy without fear.

I also destroyed Mr. Positive today at Dominion. I still haven't gotten anyone I know to play Kongai though.

And yes, I called my mother, and yes, she's always happy to hear from me. It was a bit depressing to have to go over my failed audition yet another time. I didn't really say much, but they know my job is really slow right now and I'd like to get another job.

I need to get ready for work in a half hour or so. It will be my 2nd day working for the week. Friday night I got to meet The New Guy. He'll be the new Crew Leader. I miss the old one so much. I heard a fast foog burger joint is paying her pretty good money now though.

So the other Crew Leader is telling me this guy is going to follow me around that night to see how I wait tables. He's also learning Crew Leader stuff from her as the night goes on, so I don't have a perfect shadow all night.

Then we get 3 tables sat at once. The Crew Leader tells me she's going to take one of the tables, I've got another table set up with drinks and I look at the third table and The New Guy is taking them.

Long story short this guy says these two girls wanted him to wait on them. This is bullshit. I know this is bullshit because the table happens to be two girls that used to work there...hostesses. I went over to talk to them and the girl who wasn't in the bathroom says, "Do you remember me?" and proceeds to be super friendly with me.

I asked her if they requested The New Guy. Nope.

Later he takes another table. Again, two women, this time Cougars. I am not even sure what he said, possibly something about they requesting him, and I interrupted, "Oh, go ahead, I thought it was just standard that you were going to steal all female two-tops."

We didn't really say much to each other the rest of the night. After a while it must have been obvious to him that those girls had worked here. He's probably smart enough to figure out his bullshit was detected. I didn't directly confront him about it. If I ever do enough time has passed it won't surprise me if he changes his story. Even though I'm not a liar, I know how they work.

So yeah, I really need another job. I really have no clue what all I should be looking for though. I'm hoping I can somehow manage to break into a poker room somewhere without knowing the right people or whatever it is I don't usually know.

My parents had mentioned they saw City Center was hiring a year or so ago.

Yeah, games though, it's been a good day for games.

I'm unoriginal as fuck and I can't come up with a half-decent node title so I'm shoving this rant here.

Bah, If I Can't Have the Grapes, Then Screw Them
30 March - 2 April 2010

I've been told on some occasions that I'm smart. I'm guessing it has something to do with my facial hair.

After all, an astounding number of old-timey composers, artists, authors, and other creative people are known for lovingly cultivating their imposing facial shrubbery (if not at all for what they, er, did). Truly, beards are a sure mark of cerebral prowess.

Now, the problem lies in my repeated attempts to wrap my beard head around these men's work—and many, many, many, many other people's. Try as I might, I simply will not...understand. Some illustrations are in order, it seems, before I can go on further with this vague talk about understanding.

Art in any form is said to evoke emotion in the listener. Many have spoken volumes about its power to express joy, sadness, anger, beauty, ugliness, this, that, he, she, me, wumbo. People burst into tears hearing Chopin, close a book sighing at its sheer "beauty", take one look at a CD booklet and deduce the meanings of the lyrics it contains faster than they can listen to one song, and will gladly shell out thousands—if not millions—for splotches of paint on a canvas to which the artist arbitrarily attaches stories and meanings that somehow aren't lost on the buyer...

I simply do not comprehend how or from where people manage to pull this stuff. Show me a lyric, and more often than not I'll say: "Okay. What the hell does it mean?" Show it to anybody else and they'll say: "Oh, that's easy. It's an allegory about pain and suffering. The repeated references to the colour red symbolise the blood the lyricist is 'spilling', so to speak...."

How the fuck do people pull all these meanings out of thin air? Is it merely a language I haven't been taught? An ability to which left-brained robots like me are barred access? In any case, when it comes to interpretation and appreciation and understand-tion, I face roughly the same situation as a five-year-old with an IQ of 50 in a college calculus course.

I also refuse to believe in the notion that interpretation is an entirely subjective art and that therefore it's entirely up to the viewer to decide for themselves what an artistic work means to them. When somebody is creating a work, there is something specific running through their mind, and thus there are right or wrong answers as to what that work means. If this wasn't the case, I could easily publish an analysis of The Divine Comedy declaring that it is an allegory about the dangers of fuelling your pick-up truck with goat urine.

On occasion, my attitude towards art and my inability to access it becomes sour grapes. Take, for example, what I'm positive will remain my least-favourite book of all time: Toni Morrison's Beloved, which I always call Bedeviled out of sheer spite. It is two hundred pages of indecipherable nonsense. And yet, my former AP English teacher and many of her students praise it for its beauty and well-writtenness. How is that fucking drivel beautiful? Ask anybody, and instantly they launch into a grand spiel about slavery and themes and symbols and allusions and illusions and ellusions and ollusions and ullusions. Clearly they see something in it I don't.

The same goes for visual art. I judge images on how cool they look to me. Others judge them on texture, colour, and...I need not go on. I'll simply recount my prior experience with the subject.

During my Drawing 1 class, I was required in essence to crank out still life after still life. First, of a fake bird thingy. Then, of a flower pot. Then, of a guitar. Then, of a chessboard (with this one, I reserved a fair degree of artistic licence). Never mind that, except in the last case, I had zero interest in any of my subjects and therefore couldn't be fucked to put even my usual amount of effort into them; my problem lied mostly in that I was producing all this "art" without any clue as to what I was supposed to be doing to make it "good art". The most-used phrase by the teacher was "draw what you see"—and to a great extent I did. But then I'd be getting dents in my grade for those infernal design elements—composition, texture, you know the whole deal.

Music is no different. I see people look for songwriting finesse, musical symbols, or atmosphere in every bloody measure of every song. Even within metal, I see listeners on the lookout for good riffs. (What the hell separates a good riff from a bad or derivative riff?) Damn, people, why not just enjoy the music for what it is? One guy told me once that he didn't like On the Virg because he found their music mechanical and sterile. Now, it's no skin off my nose if OTV aren't his thing, but what the hell makes them sterile?

I will never understand. Nor will I ever know what's so great about The Great Gatsby, nor will I ever be able to wrap my head around visual art of any sort, nor will I ever decipher a great majority of the lyrics to my music collection unaided, nor will I take a liking to any painting in any gallery in any nation. I simply will never understand.

It was at some point during this year that I suddenly came upon several important realisations.

To me, many of the people who are always trying to derive meaning from or attach arbitrary meaning to creative work are almost no different than the Swedish parents who once tried to name their kid Brfxxccxxmnpcccclllmmnprxvclmnckssqlbb11116; they create meaningless gibberish and expect it to be understood by others. At the same time, though, they are no worse than those who complicated everything by introducing all this bullshit by which all creative work is now judged. It is because of the latter group of people that we now judge music by dynamics, technique, emotional appeal, and interpretation; visual art by composition, texture, (bold) use of colour, and lights and darks; and books by imagery, lyricism, use of themes and symbols, and poetic tools. And for all of the above we have hidden meanings, multi-layeredness (whatever the hell that means), and just general pointless expressions of beauty and whatnot.

It's all completely stupid. So now instead of considering myself inferior because my peers can derive meaning from a work I cannot understand, I express my annoyance with the work and return to my comfort zone of modern fiction novels, death metal, regular English classes, "unusual" photography, and Spengbab Squorpants.

I'm not deficient because artistic beauty = ERR_DOES_NOT_COMPUTE. I just can't be fucked to bother with that nonsense.

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