Logic’s Last Stand

July 15, 2010

Some Things Change

Filed under: Computers, Gaming, Life, Movies, Music, Philosophy — Zurahn @ 7:31 pm

For a long time now I’ve felt like a living contradiction. Everything I used to think about myself has been inverted, and everything I currently think about myself include both ends of the spectrum. Brilliance and idiocy, joyful and sorrowful, sincere and flippant, superior and inferior. There have been some constants, but those appear to be dying.

The latest to fall is probably for the best. I’ve played up my own negativity on things, as I do tend to focus on what the problems are. I think it plays into programming, as handling exceptions is necessary, so picking apart the little things is part of the job. But in a general sense, I’m so sick of the negativity.

It’s one of the best things we had going for us for a long time at The VG Press — the criticisms may have been legitimate when we had them, but they were in good humour. Yet, nowhere’s perfect; here and moreso the Internet at large is creating a great big bastion of hate. I’ll mention up-front that I’m not referring to factual matters; those who, for example, rally against vaccination are doing enormous harm and deserve to be vehemently shot down. It’s the realm of significant subjectivity. It doesn’t have to be videogames and it doesn’t have to be personal; any area where there’s room for reasonable disagreement, there are plenty to take it as an absolutist position.

If there’s a criticism, it’s not enough to just bring it up in the appropriate context, or if as a reaction, to expand on it. With anything and everything, there are some to try to ruin it for everyone else. It also gets worse, as it does spread to personal attacks by relation. Those who support X are amateurish, or any number of other insults for no other reason than a difference of opinion.

So I’m done. Keep it to yourselves, I don’t want it destroying me from the inside out. If you want to berate people for playing “casual” games, or PHP developers as not real programmers, or country music fans as hicks or any other selfish, outwardly hateful, spiteful and utterly immature positions, that’s your prerogative, but you’re not going to ruin it for the rest of us. You’re not going to ruin it for me.


May 30, 2010

You’re Only Fooling Yourself

Filed under: Life — Zurahn @ 9:40 pm

I rarely relate to characters in movies, books or TV shows. They’ll have the typical character constructs that I, for better or worse, tend not to fall in to. Recently, though, I’ve found a bit of common-ground with the characters in His and Her Circumstances.

His and Her Circumstances is an anime that focuses on the relationship between Yukino Miyazawa and Soichiro Arima. The two come together based on their mutual character flaw of putting up appearances. Each of them, for his and her own reason, had been trying to appear to their peers as perfect; they were model students.

I’ve been doing this for years. It’s not exactly the same situation — Miyazawa would practice all night and day, and lie about interests; I avoided the topic altogether. My most recent blog post focused on the idea of not saying things you aren’t sure about, as it’s become a defining characteristic of my outward appearance; if I don’t know, I don’t speak, lest I be perceived as intellectually inferior.

It’s gotten to the point where I deceive myself. I’ll get praise where I don’t deserve it, and have no idea why others get a positive impression. I’m unable to make decisions because I’m unsure what I actually want. It’s nice to be thought highly of, but it’s not worth it if it’s not real.

If someone asks a question, I search for an answer to appear knowledgeable.
If someone needs help, I find out how to appear useful.
If someone is better than I am, I avoid comparisons as to not appear inferior.
If someone is lesser than I am, I’ll accept challenges to appear superior.
If I’m likely to fail, I’m likely not to try.

Even writing this, my concern is significantly on whether or not I come across as narcissistic for writing about myself too often. You’ve also seen it yourselves; my posts will address objective points where I can provide an explanation, as opposed to posting personal opinion and my daily life. I do get caught up, from time to time, on argumentative points. I’ll talk about technical issues because that’s what I know, and additionally, around a non-technical audience, I don’t have to fear reprisal if I happen to be mistaken.

I fear I may getting lost in my own mind, but I also fear what else may be in there. As of now I’m benign as I drift by unnoticed in the background. False grace is better than genuine malice.

May 20, 2010

Passion is Overrated

Filed under: Computers, Gaming, Life, Philosophy — Tags: , , — Zurahn @ 8:30 pm

Lately I’ve been thinking more about myself in terms of how I approach my interests. For varying reasons, my gaming has become more and more sporadic, and have been finding myself in a consistent mood for JRPGs. I may not find them the most well executed games most often, but they’ve been the most enjoyable for what I’ve been looking for.

On the daily life side of things, programming has been something I do because I like the way I’m able to create with it, and how I’m able to solve problems. There’s a sense of satisfaction that comes from, say, adding a new feature to The VG Press, or cutting a two hour job down to a two minute one with a clever script.

SteelAttack sparked the thoughts with this post,

SteelAttack said:

What pains me to an extent is watching people like you guys, who I have grown to care about and appreciate, get somewhat worked up because of statements like these, giving them credence when they don’t deserve it, and generally considering them journalists just because they happen to write about games.

By focusing on the conviction of our responses, it highlighted how little conviction I really had. Videogames, more than ever, have become a source of relaxation. I’ve come to have more passion about the community than the games, because that’s where the energy is.

In programming, there is a consistent theme of how programmers have to be passionate about their trade. If you’re not passionate about programming, you need to get out of the field! It’s no an uncommon train of thought, that it has to be your world to succeed.

Simply put, though, I don’t want passion. I’ve had problems with stress for a long time. Pressure situations, though I don’t think it translates to outward appearance, are too much. I burned out on chess in the same way, and simply put, it doesn’t make you any better. You can have all the passion in the world for programming and still be a lousy employee; you can love games more than anyone and still be miserable to be around; you can dedicate your life to one cause and get absolutely no where.

Giving an honest effort, certainly. But I find I’m doing just fine with laid back old me. I don’t think I have many detractors at The VG Press, I can still be as happy as ever playing Sakura Wars, and I seem to be getting pretty consistent praise at work for doing what I considered par the course. Passion? I passionately deny it.

May 19, 2010

We Made It

Filed under: Life — Zurahn @ 10:36 pm

It’s been the most up and down, soul-searching, soul-crushing, exhilarating, exhausting, dramatic and dizzying four month span of my life. We started the year with an implosion at The VG Press and the rollercoaster had just started. The details are a story for another time, but now it’s time to take a look back just two months ago to An Open Letter to The VG Press.

The purpose of the post was to iterate the point that I was at a turning point, for better or worse. So, how have things gone? Well, I can’t say it’s all been perfect — things just never are — but I’m at a point where I can say I’ve made it, we’ve made it, and I’m good. I’m not perfect, and I never will be, and that’s okay.

So what does it all mean? I don’t know, but let’s find out.

May 15, 2010

Children Aren’t Your Props

Filed under: Life, Philosophy, Politics — Tags: , , , , , — Zurahn @ 10:28 pm

In an e-mail exchange with Ryan Tate of Valleywag, Steve Jobs repeatedly referred to Apple’s platforms as providing freedom. “Freedom from programs that steal your private data,” he says, “Freedom from programs that trash your battery. Freedom from porn. Yup, freedom.”

Freedom is not from it is of. Freedom of expression, not from it. But that’s not what I’m writing about. Tate’s response included the line, “Porn is just fine! And I think my wife would agree.” Jobs added in a later e-mail,

“And you might care more about porn when you have kids…”

I have simply had enough of the world’s Helen Lovejoy complex. In school, teachers loved to use the word respect. How we should all have respect. I never could quite get a handle on what they meant exactly, but I can tell you this: it’s about time the world’s children were treated with some.

Children aren’t so frail as to be driven to delinquency by seeing a breast. They aren’t so mindless as to be turned into serial killers by playing a videogame. They aren’t so ignorant not to deserve the truth. And they aren’t so worthless as to be used for the sake of pushing a political agenda.

They aren’t your pets and they aren’t your props. Argue all you want about what causes harm, but include yourselves. We’re all people, and quit trying to pretend otherwise.

May 6, 2010

What is it, America?

Filed under: Life, Politics — Zurahn @ 10:28 pm

Okay, so it’s been more than a year now with Barack Obama as president of the United States. There have been some good things, such as making adjustments to the insane Bush-era corporate tax-breaks, some broken promises, such as a complete avoidance of the topic of Don’t-Ask-Don’t-Tell, and you can decide either way what you think. That said, the right has lost their minds.

There are always those on the far end of either side, yes, but brushing this off as equivalent fringe groups is an act of desperate equivocation. It is becoming increasingly evident that there is about 25% of the population that is so crushingly uneducated and simply put, dangerously stupid. Take for example, this video,

It has affected politics. It has affected media. It has affected education. It has affected diplomacy. When you have a quarter of the population who are completely controllable yet utterly insane, you’re going to have problems.

So, for those who want to know. Obama is not a socialist, he’s not even liberal. The only thing killing America is the systematic undermining of the American science curriculum. And if you don’t want your tax dollars to go toward public health care because you trust the government less than corporations running it for a profit? You’re merely stupid. If you don’t want your tax dollars to go toward public health care because you don’t want to “pay for someone else’s problem” you’re a sociopath.

It’s the job of the still mentally competent to disparage those whose political opinion can be summarized into the words socialist, freedom, Jesus and guns for the harm they cause. It’s not a valid opinion to state talking points which are factually wrong. It’s not a valid position to state unsupported nonsense without backing. And it’s not a valid position that when the other side wins an election, it’s tyranny.

March 4, 2010

A Rare Change

Filed under: Life — Tags: — Zurahn @ 10:09 pm

To say I am consistent is a bit of an understatement. In a personal sense, I am not at all apt to change. Perhaps I’ve just been content with who I am, but I haven’t felt great changes in personality or preference, but I daresay I feel a change recently.

Some history: There’s long been a bit of a discrepancy in my own verbal skills; in terms of presentations, speeches and anything prepared, I often did very well. Personally I didn’t really even notice the difference myself, but particularly in high school and college, presentations got a great response. That said, interpersonally, apparently there was something to be desired.

If you want to get a sense of this, you can take a quick look back at episode zero of The Press Room — it’s not pretty, but it was a start. One little ace-in-the-hole so to speak was that I’ve for some odd reason been eloquent also when I’m angry (don’t ask why). I’ve been able to more recently distinguish the difference, and take advantage of it. Between this, the podcast, and other things, something has clicked in my mind–a certain confidence.

It’s curious timing as well. Over the past month, I have gone from miserable to glowing. I’ve still got the same problems, more or less, so it’s not all perfect, but to quote Buffy,

“I just realized something, something that really never occurred to me before. We’re gonna win.”

February 15, 2010

Perhaps I Was Wrong

Filed under: Life, Philosophy — Tags: , , , , — Zurahn @ 12:18 am

Just this once.

Back in grade school, I had a teacher who listed out human needs. Water, air, food, shelter, and companionship. That last one struck me; his demonstration was to stick an obnoxious student who thrives on attention in the hall to see if he tries to get noticed; needless to say I wasn’t convinced.

I’ll need to give you some backstory on myself. You could say I never was particularly normal — the high-point of my social life was before my family moved cities…when I was six. Since then, it’s been a rather linear progression as I further and further drifted from relating to others. I’ve tried to see where I fit, and frankly I don’t. Not to say that’s good or bad or anyone’s fault, it just is. So long ago, earlier than you would expect, I’ve had the understanding that I would live my life primarily alone, and have been mentally preparing myself as such.

It was never perfect; I had always wanted, at the least, just one person to completely relate to and for it to be mutual. That said, after spending a year working in a call centre, when I finally left, it was gone. Dead. I whole-heartedly enjoyed being alone following that, and it scared me. It was like living in a shell. Over time, I’ve been able to revive some feeling inside, yet it manages to confuse things all the more. A curious little curse that is, feel nothing or feel pain.

At any rate, that leads me to today. Essentially the only time I have human interaction face-to-face is once a week when I have lab work at University with a partner. As stupid as it is, and despite my failed efforts to understand it, I walk out of the class feeling better than I have in years. A short-lived high, but it’s helps for a day.

And that brings us back around to those needs. Water, air, food, shelter. Companionship. I thought I could do this alone, and I’ve been trying for years, but something’s got to give. I’m not healthy right now, at least, not by any fair definition — a healthy person does not feel like this — and it only progresses. Problem is, that doesn’t change who I am or anyone else is. Society around here relates drinking with fun, and the only people who don’t drink are either recovering alcoholics or deeply religious. Kinda puts the atheist non-drinker out. Of course, it’s entirely possible to get along with people very different than myself, I tend to get along with a majority of people, but I’ve found that’s limiting, for lack of a better term.

I am who I am, and I put my integrity first and foremost, so certain things will never change. I also don’t particularly think my evaluation of a life alone is wrong, either. I’m just not so sure that list of needs was off-base.

February 8, 2010

The Coward’s Dilemma

Filed under: Life, Writing — Tags: , , — Zurahn @ 6:41 pm

Life’s passing by

Whether to try

Dare to fly

Or Wilt
And wait to die

January 30, 2010

My Dream

Filed under: Life — Zurahn @ 11:34 pm

I’ve essentially spent about 6 years failing to find work. During this time, I have managed to hold two actual jobs. The first lasted a span of 2 months: I didn’t apply there (must have been forwarded through a student job board), started literally within half an hour of the call, got no training, and then got placed on call and never called again.

The second was in a call centre where I’m fairly sure they would have hired a spambot if the application were done online.

During this time, starting from mid-highschool, I obviously graduated high school (83% average, Principle’s Award for honours every year), then graduated college in web application development (GPA 3.4) in April of 2008. I’ve gone through half a dozen resume formats, gone through a job search course in college, gone through a government job search program. I’ve gotten nowhere.

From that time, I haven’t had a single interview in the field. I am presently at University for Computer Science, not really out of any specific aspiration, but with the sense of having nowhere else to go.

My whole life I’ve managed to be a realist. I can’t say I’ve ever really believed in anything ridiculous along the lines of Santa, Tooth Fairy, God. Despite loving baseball, I never had the aspiration to be professional as many children allegedly do, as there was no way that was a reasonable expectation or practical career path.

The same can be said for pretty much all the favourites. I’ve been preparing myself for one, rather specific dream: To live alone in a small city apartment, with a lower-middle class position and wage pertaining to the field of computers. There’s no concern to be rich or even just relatively highly salaried; no expectations or drive to fame; no delusions of ever finding love.

I’ve set the bar as low as I can, and I’ve failed miserably.

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