Jokes for Friday

I half-read a headline this morning, and it inspired the following joke:

A Historian, a Philosopher and an Writer walk into a bar and find the bartender dead.

 

The Historian asks, “What happened?”

 

The Philosopher says, “Who can know for sure?”

 

The Artist answers, “I can make a guess.”

or, an alternate version…

A Historian, a Philosopher and an Writer walk into a bar and find the bartender dead.

 

The Historian asks, “What happened?”

 

The Philosopher says, “Who can know for sure?”

The Writer says, “Will you two be quiet? I’m taking notes!”

The Population vs. Productivity Paradox

This is one of the most fascinating discussions I’ve listened to in a while, and also one of the most sobering. Take the time to listen to this episode of the Cracked podcast, it’s 100% worth it, although a little unsettling in its conclusions. You don’t expect to get something this deep and thoughtful from a “comedy” podcast, but here it is…

Listened to it? (Really, go listen to it, it’s worth the time.)

Okay, now my own thoughts.

I think Jason’s pretty much 100% right, and while I wouldn’t quite call it a “hive mind”, I do think that societies function as organisms on a greater level than the individual which have their own goals and responses. The idea that societies produce the kinds of people they “need” makes sense if you look at it from this perspective and the children of each generation are shaped to suit the needs of that society by social forces.

Of course, his conclusions are pretty uncomfortable. When I first heard what he said, all I could think of was Mega-City One from the old Judge Dredd comics. Despite how the city is often portrayed post-1980’s in the comics, the original idea behind the city was that it was a city where everyone’s basic needs were taken care of by the state, and so the whole population existed in this everlasting condition of slight boredom. The city was essentially a warehouse of people who existed to exist, and this produced bizarre social trends and cultural movements which the comic played for darkly humourous social commentary.

However, looking at it with a more logical eye, I think the society he proposes might not be the worst option. Heck, as he says we pretty much do this already, we just call it something else. Those with ambition work, while those without ambition would just spend their time doing whatever it was they enjoyed and keeping out of trouble. Here in Canada we almost do this already with our extensive Welfare system, which many Conservatives harp on all the time and say we need to be rid of to “force them to work”. But the truth is we already have an “official”  unemployment rate hovering around 7%, and the true rate is probably much much higher (the government manipulates the numbers so they don’t look bad), so if we were to force all those “welfare bums” out onto the street what work would there be for them? Do you want hundreds of thousands (or possibly millions) of unemployed, starving and desperate people dumped out into our society? How’s that going to benefit social stability?

Meanwhile, as he says, all those “welfare bums” put 100% of what the government gives them back into society and keep our economy going, so why should we begrudge giving them what they need to survive? If anything, it’s the rich people who hoard their money that actually take money from the system and work against the economy by not putting most of what they make back into circulation.

What’s the alternative anyways? We either give people what they need to live, and let them choose what to do with their lives, or we have a large excess population that is poor, increasingly desperate, and progressively on the verge of social unrest until revolution finally does happen. And when it does, everyone will lose- rich and poor.

Then again, it would solve some of the overpopulation problem. As Jason says, society has a way of correcting these things on its own.

Rob

 

 

This 6-Foot, 330-Pound Robot May One Day Save Your Life

WOW! The future is here. Scary and cool at the same time!

This 6-Foot, 330-Pound Robot May One Day Save Your Life | Danger Room | Wired.com.

GUNDAM BUILD FIGHTERS

Y’no, I have to say I’m surprised by how much I’m enjoying Gundam Build Fighters. It’s not a great show by any means, but it does manage to be cute and kind’ve charming in a very geeky and toy-riffic sort of way. Of course, it also helps I know where all these Gundam suits come from already, having watched the shows, so I can appreciate what the show’s creators are doing. Damn, do I wish that I had that setup when I was a kid! (I mean, I kinda did, and it was called Battletech, but this would have been even more awesome!)

Also of note is that the Youtube channel this is on is Bandai’s official channel, meaning these aren’t pirated but actual official English subbed releases. They’ve also put up Gundam Seed, Gundam Seed Destiny, Gundam OO and Gundam AGE all up English subtitled for free! I might even go back and try watching OO or AGE later at some point. 🙂

Gundam, ikimasu!

Rob

Phoning It In

I often think that we are merely becoming mobile data terminals, sub-cells of a greater internet brain that exist more in the virtual world more than we do the actual real and physical world. Perhaps this is irreverable and our destiny as a species, but it’s still sad to watch sometimes.

I’m as big a technology nerd as anyone, and I love my iPhone too, but there are times when I wonder if I’m not spending too much time interacting with media instead of people. What am I losing by putting my phone away and actually enjoying the company of those around me? Why do I always have to be entertained or occupied? Is it so hard to exist in the moment?

I grew up half of my life without the internet, but now it’s almost unfathomable for me to think about living without it. I can only imagine what it’s like for those who have grown up with it their whole lives, and in a personable and portable form that lets it be with them constantly in an everpresent way.

Some people in the comments on that video say that Google Glass will solve the problem, but I suspect its upcoming release will make things so much worse. Right now our phones are at least something that we physically have to take out and manipulate, but Google Glass will be always there, handsfree, and omnipresent.

http://www.imaging-resource.com/ee_uploads/news/811/google-glass-borg.jpg

For now, I do what I can. I try to do things in the real world when possible, and not always be listening or interacting with my phone. I try to enjoy the peace and quiet, and I try to be with the people I’m with. I don’t always succeed, but I feel I have to try. My technology should be something that I use as a tool, something that services me, not something I’m a slave to.

Balance in all things.

Rob

On the Hunt for Surivival Horror

After talking about Fatal Frame with some students earlier this week, I decided this weekend to go check out some Survival Horror games- games where the focus is on the psychological/mystery side of things instead of just shooting at monsters.

Unfortunately, Fatal Frame isn’t available for PC, and I didn’t want to spend much money, so I decided to see what was out there for free. There are a number of free indie horror games, and so I thought I’d check those out. Unfortunately, it may be a case of getting what you pay for.

The first game I tried out was Slender: The 8 Pages.

This was a “short”, experimental horror game someone did based on the made-up urban legend of the Slenderman. Basically, you’re in an abandoned forest/military base looking for 8 documents while being stalked by the Slenderman monster. The horror element comes from the fact that if you look at the Slenderman too long, you’ll die, so you’re being stalked by something you can’t look at even to see where he is. It does make the game a bit unsettling.

Unfortunately, I found it pretty tedious as well. There’s nothing but trees and buildings in the game, and after an hour of wandering around without finding a single page I got frustrated and turned it off. Yes, it was creepy, but there needed to be something a little more to it to keep my interest.

The next game I tried was DreadOut, which is basically an Indonesian clone of Fatal Frame.

The actual game isn’t finished, I think, but the demo is a full demo and it’s free so I gave it a shot. For an Indie game the production values aren’t bad, and it has nice atmosphere, but my god are the controls for the game annoying and frustrating. The 360 degree camera around the character is hell to control, and the character moves in relation to the camera, not the world. After dying and then maybe chasing away a ghost on my second time, I just gave up because I couldn’t take those controls any more.

Then I found the trailer for a new upcoming horror game by the creator of Resident Evil, called The Evil Within. Damn….Now THAT is survival horror! Hell, it’s terrifying just to watch, much less play!

The quest continues!

Rob