Someone Thinks You’re Dumb

Remember that one time when you were driving down the road and you pointed at someone and said “look” to the person sitting next to you? Chances are, that has happened more than once, and your intent was to point out how silly/stupid/dumb that person looks doing/wearing/driving whatever they were at the moment. I have. I bet you have too.

No matter what you do, like, listen to, or wear; someone thinks you are an idiot for doing so. No matter what. Being one of peculiar tastes, I have been on the other end of this many times. I have also been surprised at how someone can laugh at me one moment and another someone else will compliment me for the same thing seconds later.

It is amazing how many different tastes there are. For instance, I cannot understand in the slightest people’s affinity for certain popular music. The same could be said for them regarding my favorite music I’m sure.

Something that I have realized is that most unique people who I see do not upset me in the slightest. I think that it is a human reflex to mock others to justify personal stance on whatever topic the mockery is based upon, but I have realized that if I suppress that urge, then it is okay to be “interested” by the person I am seeing. Let me give you an example.

Do you know what what Larping is? It is the word made up to describe those who enjoy “Live Action Role Play” (L.A.R.P.). This is a derivative of roleplaying games such as Dungeons and Dragons and the video game World of Warcraft. In these games, people take on roles of mystical creatures and animals with special powers and combat their friends who also play these roles. Somewhere along the way, some people decided that they were tired of sitting around a table rolling dice, and wanted to dress up as their respective creatures, and run around acting out the games. This includes giant foam swords and spears being carried and sometimes with people wearing makeup playing monsters for enemies. Do I hear you snickering? Hold on.

What makes their hobby any more strange than yours? Smearing oil paint around a canvas to create representations of scenic vistas sounds just as crazy as Larping when you think about it. There is no “normal.” Only majorities, conventions, and societal norms. This just means many people participate in these things, not that they are “right.” People laughed at Galileo Galilei for supporting the heliocentric model.

The other day I saw a group of Larpers gathered together. They were wearing scabbards over their tights, and carried more leather accessories than most people do on a normal day. Do you know what I thought? Rock on. Enjoy your life. Do what you want to do. It made me excited to see someone smiling.

I’m not saying I’m perfect. I still hold violent malice towards Smart Car drivers. But with a little work, maybe I can learn to appreciate their passion too.

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Big Band Theory

I have been thinking lately on why  I am annoyed when a band or group that I like gets big. Here are a couple reasons why I think the whole experience changes. This is regarding the listener/fan experience after the band is signed to a major label, gets played on the radio, etc.

They change

Yes, they are still the same band–in a way. When a band gets signed to a big label, they are required to do things that even they may object to. For instance, they may be required to allow their song to be featured on a blockbuster movie, or even write a song specifically for it (see Jack’s Mannequin, Dashboard Confessional, Taking Back Sunday). Such a song will usually include lame lyrics contrived to somehow vaguely mention the plot or theme of the movie. When you hear the voice of your memories advertising the latest blockbuster, you can’t help but feel like the memories you created while listening to that music are cheapened a little.

When given more cash, the bands change their act. This may include adding more unofficial members to play live (see Green Day), or large theatrical presentations during live shows. Adam Young, who is mainly a drummer, now holds a guitar (despite most of his songs being synth-based) during live shows now because it is more marketable and exciting than him standing (dancing) behind a keyboard like he used to do.

These amplified presentations are not the band, they are the people the band’s label hired to make a stage show. As much as I would like to imagine The Killers sitting down and talking about how the lighting will change during their hit song–it isn’t happening. It did at one time though, and that is why a show of theirs in the early days would’ve been so much neater than now. While their music is great, at a live show now you are seeing 5% Killers and 95% label fluff that has nothing to do with those 4 guys. They are just the monkeys, told to dance by their label.

Their music may change as well. The label will ask for hits, and so the artist (to survive) will write songs which feature pumping beats, repetitive chorus lines, and likely be compressed to high hell to play well on the radio (apparently some people still use this archaic device). Even the Beatles were subjected to performing on command, writing “I Want to Hold your Hand” at the command of their manager because it would appeal to American girls. It was no coincidence that they played this on the Ed Sullivan show in NY. They were even forced to record it in German! The Beatles still rock. But if I saw them in a tavern as the Quarrymen it would be sad to see them doing tricks for their label like singing “Komm, gib mir deine Hand.

But don’t they still make awesome music?

Likely, but there are other problems. I don’t know about you, but when I listen to an album, I latch on to it for about a month. During that time, my memories are fused to that time period. I can listen to any song and tell you exactly what month and year I digested the album. So when I hear a song which is linked with some time period being looped over a UPS commercial (Such Great Heights, Postal Service), I feel like part of my past is being cheapened. With that particular example, yes, I listened to them long before they hit it big. So you imagine my surprise when they exploded in 2004, taking all of those good times with them. It isn’t that it erased my memories, it is that instead of hearing “Such Great Heights” and thinking about driving to band practice  at Tanner’s house during the winter, I think about a bloody UPS commercial and a guy drawing with dry erase markers.

It isn’t about “coolness”

Any band you listen to has many other listeners. Unless your favorite band is a personal artist who comes over to your house and plays music on your couch, you aren’t the only one. It isn’t the amount of listeners but the kind of listeners. If you developed a kinship with a song, album or artist when they were small, you have a special place for them. You went to their shows when they needed your support. You bought a T-shirt at their merch booth because you knew they needed to eat. If you hear about a band after they’ve hit it big, you don’t give duck’s beak about them because they drive around in a giant luxury tour bus, never talking to their fans because they are just faceless money dispensers to them. They become jaded, it isn’t their fault. Their listeners don’t care either. By this point their music is likely written for popular appeal anyways, so it is unlikely that you would latch on to them personally at this point.

Conclusion

These are my reasons for being so protective of artists I love. I’m not trying to be cool. I don’t think I’m the only one listening to them. I am just remembering when I was close enough to the stage to be given the mic by the lead singer to sing a part of the song (with my $8 ticket), or the many times I have talked to bands after their show to tell them how their music has changed my life. If you disagree, I would imagine that it is likely that you have never had an experience like this.

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Filed under Music, Rant

Why Ye Need Not Wait

“The time for living is now” -Someone, I’m sure.

This post is aimed at the 2nd generation buyer. Oh ye of little faith, ye do not buy the first revolution of any product for fear of better things. Today I was at work answering questions about Apple junk (as always) when one kid said to his friend smugly, “I’m gonna get next year’s iPad, it will be way better.”

Being rude and belligerent, I interrupted, “Actually you should wait for the one that is coming out in 2013. My money is on it being thinner and faster. But why stop there? If you wait 5 years I’m sure you could get this one for $25, you might as well wait till then.”

What does this illustrate? The bad logic that is prevalent within consumer-culture. While it is true that something better is likely around the corner–something better is ALWAYS around the corner. Due to the scourge of trendy flow charts being all around the web these days, I have compiled this small chart for anyone not understanding my logic. For better use of charts, go here.

This does not only happen with electronics. I used to work at BMW of Murray selling Mini Coopers. Last summer, the government was dishing out cash to anyone who bought a new car while trading in a piece of crap. What a deal right? I had people coming in, ready to buy a new car and take advantage of the beautiful deal. Quite a few asked about the rumors of a 4-wheel drive Mini. I said that while likely, nothing had been formally announced. Here we are almost a year later and guess what? We are still about a year away from the launch of that vehicle. Those people could have enjoyed a Mini for 2 years and then upgraded to the new one when it came out. Instead, they were so afraid of something better, they didn’t do anything at all. Do you know where they are now? Dead. Hit by a bus. Every one of them. They should have taken their last chance to do what they wanted.

Although this post may be primarily gadget themed, I would like to add that this can apply to most anything in life. I’m not going to get all mushy talking about living life to its fullest etc, because I am mainly just talking about stuff. The kind you can hold in your hand. Though you can apply it however you want. After all, the author is dead. This isn’t supposed to be about how you should seize the day (though you should click this link) or any new-age bologna. I am continuing my quest against bad logic because it drives me crazy.

This isn’t to say that one shouldn’t buy smart, oh no. It is when people try to be extra smart that gets on my nerves–acting like they know something others don’t. There is a legitimate value of usage time. In other words. the fact that your product (X) does (Y) and mine doesn’t does not matter, as I have been using mine for (TIME) while you have been using (NOTHING).

I am not encouraging blind consumerism either. Let me refer you back to my handy chart. We all need less than we want. So spend wisely. If you don’t need it, don’t buy it. But if you are going to buy it eventually, and you have the money now, just do it. Don’t tell us how smart you are because you are going to wait.

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My Prediction

I have had a vision. In around 5 years time (the time it will take for everyone’s computer to slow to a crawl) everyone will have an iPad(like) device. This is my reasoning:

First of all, everyone knows that there are many complaints with the device. I am not going to rehash those here. They have been covered ad nauseam, and if you really would like to find them, search any gadget blog for a list of gripes.

The epiphany that I had was this: the iPad is for content consumption, while traditional computers are for content creation. You have heard the first part before. It is no secret that the iPad has a great form factor (like that of a magazine) for reading, browsing the web and watching movies/videos. The latter just occured to me. The things that I will not be able to use the iPad for that I use regularly: Photoshop, and Lightroom 2. To a lesser degree: Garageband, iMovie, Logic, Final Cut etc. Most people have no idea how to use these programs.

Within the tech community, photoshop skills are essential like a sidearm in the old West. Most people, however, use the jpegs straight from their camera, and think editing video requires godlike powers (just try showing an edited video to your mom, she will think you belong in Hollywood).

As I work in my computer dealer, people often tell me about how they have 250GB of RAM on their computer back home. They don’t know the difference between an iPhone and an iPod Touch. As soon as people start seeing them around, and watch people browse the web, read magazines and books, and use whatever apps are made specifically for it, it will become an object of desire. It already is. I have been walking around the school with a Barnes & Noble Nook e-reader for the past month, and have been asked literally 3 times a day if it is the iPad.

When people go to buy a computer, they will ask the prices (as they always do) and when they find out that the sexy slab-of-glass one is $500, they will buy it. Kids will sync it with their parent’s computers, even if they are away at college (yes, this is risky, but people do this. They don’t backup, they sync their iPods with friends they met in South America on study abroad, etc). There will be one computer in the home that can be used for content creation like Word docs (primarily, with some using the attachable keyboard with the iPad), photos, etc.

What about those people who do program, edit movies and music, blog heavily, design? They will have one too. Instead of heaving their MacBook Pros around on trips, to school, the plane, they will use their ____ (not necessarily an iPad) except for when they need to produce content.

Picture a Dell laptop. Why, are we so stuck on the idea that this is what a computer looks like? Browsers, applications and interfaces have all been molding and changing to become more ergonomic, why not explore a little? I absolutely love the way an iPhone is used. Why am a still using a computer that operates like a big Blackberry?

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Filed under Geek Stuff, Products, Rant, Tech

6 MARINES KILLED BY FRIENDLY HARRIER AIRSTRIKE

Afghan Map– 6 United States Marines were killed today in what officials are calling a “small oversight” in reading radar. Apparently the soldier who called in the airstrike mistakenly placed the cursor above the green dots indicating his teammates’ location rather than away from them.

One of the Marines fighting with the fallen soldiers speculates: “We wouldn’t have had a problem if this was a Team Deathmatch or even Domination, but this is Hardcore Team Deathmatch, and here, well, friendly-fire counts.”

Reports from those familiar with the incident say that the harrier airstrike was actually not a direct result of a 7-kill spree, but was apparently acquired through a care package received by virtue of only a 4-kill streak. This was likely the reason that the mistake occurred. The young Marine, known only as MaDSKillZ500, was called a “noob” by his teammates in response to the mistake. In his defense, he promptly replied in a high-pitched voice, muffled due to improper microphone placement, “Ya’ll are a bunch of f***ing f**s. My ratio is positive and I don’t give a f*** what you say.

Although the men promptly respawned, some had to wait more than 10 seconds; valuable time which could have been spent setting up a sentry gun near the entrance of one of the various bunkers in the area. Level 70 fighter, Zanderbot, of the [(.)(.)] clan thought the event “small in comparison” to the other things he has seen in the past.

“I remember the days before the javelin glitch was patched. I’m just glad that we were able to get 7500 points before the enemy did. We had a great victory in the face of tragedy.”

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Filed under Fake News, Geek Stuff, Satire

Town

Howdy Partner

Click photo to view larger

Tucked away in Lehi is this little place I can only think to describe as a ‘town.’ What I believe it may have been was an attraction for kids which featured some kind of western motif with particular uses for each building. One may have been a jail, another a blacksmith, possibly with characters.

Most of them are filled with junk now, some equally antique, but it is clear that this place has been sitting vacant for awhile. I spoke with an old man who apparently watches over it and he said that it is frequented by vandals and the like, so I will not divulge its location.

I believe that many young children walked through the center of this place with legs bowed and hands at their sides ready to draw, imaging the tinkle of spurs on their heels.

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How Not to Argue – A Public Service

You’ve seen it before a thousand times. An argument breaks out next to the water cooler, in class, at home. If it is some kind of philosophical or moral dilemma being debated, there is one thing that is inevitable. Someone is going to pull the Hitler card.

No, the Hitler card (Reductio ad Hitlerum) is not some sort of Dungeons and Dragonesque playing card one keeps in a meticulously organized folder, but it might as well be. People throw it out like the “wild card” in UNO, believing that it will prove their point and end the discussion allowing them to ride off into the sunset of argumentative glory.

The Hitler card is the designation given to a fallacious method of persuasion. It is commonly used when the losing party in an argument runs out of points to their favor, and resorts to petty comparisons. I think that this is best described with an example.

“Hitler believed in gun control, so gun control is wrong.”

You could also replace “gun control” with abortion, capitol punishment, censorship, vegetarianism… etc. The idea is to discredit the opponent through revelation that their position on the issue is shared with Hitler. This is flawed for various reasons. If we were to believe that anything which Hitler believed in was wrong because of his various unrelated crimes against humanity, we would likely want to stop: cooking our food, cleaning our bedsheets, using combs, or countless other things. It seems silly, but people actually use this argument!

This is simplified and very clear cut, but I believe it illustrates the point. The Hitler card is used in vain to show that if Hitler or the Nazi party believed in something, it is wrong. It sounds absurd but in the heat of argument it is used very often. An issue should be considered based upon its own merits, and not upon those who have associated themselves with it.

In this spirit, I have created a list of other logical fallacies which people use in an effort to support their arguments, but only end up proving their foolishness.

Black or White Fallacy/False Dilemma

“It is either this way, or that way.” This is often used in religious arguments in order to provoke a hasty conclusion. Smoothing out large issues into two choices does not help solve problems. Why doesn’t this work? Because if you decide to say that abortion is either right or wrong, you are ignoring smaller issues such as whether it should be used in situations of incest or rape, or when an embryo should be considered “alive.” It is just much too complicated to fit into two categories.

Ad Hominem

“Obama smokes so his proposed health care system must be bogus.” This has ties to the Hitler card, but it needs to be stated. This is when you attack a person personally with an irrelevant issue in an attempt to weaken their argument. You will often see this in arguments between couples. One may recall irrelevant past discretions in an attempt to augment the current discussion. Although it sounds persuasive, it is not logical. The decision at hand should be considered, not ones in the past. For instance, just because your girlfriend may have forgotten to feed the dog, doesn’t mean she shouldn’t get to pick out which new fridge to buy. (Disclaimer: Luckily I don’t ever have to deal with this tactic being used in my home).

Circular Argument

Assuming what you set out to prove. This one is harder to spot. Lets look at an example. “We know God exists, because it says so in the bible. We know that the Bible is true because it is the word of God.” This is simplified of course, so hopefully you spotted it. If your argument proves itself, it is not a masterfully crafted rhetorical gem, it is a bad argument.

In conclusion, usage of any of these arguments by an opponent does not disprove their argument either. It only proves that they are using a bad argument. I would like to issue a challenge to everyone to be more rhetorically aware, and to not use bad argumentative tactics.

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Filed under Opinion, Politics, Random