Monday, December 1, 2014

Discovering New Music

With the end of the year approaching, music websites and click-spam Buzzfeed articles have started listing their musical finds of this year.
Discovering new music has got to be one of the most enjoyable things of life. Good Music often gives a sense of ASMR. A physical sensation characterized by a pleasurable tingling that begins in the head, and often moves down the spine. It is not just mentally rewarding either. New music is known to release endorphin in the body.

Once music leaves the labels and the artists, it changes its ownership to the hands of listeners. Well, I am no lawyer and I am pretty sure that defense won't hold up when you're charged with piracy. But in a more deep and philosophical sense once a new song is out, its covers, remixes and crappy lipsyncs to the tune of blown out speakers pop up pretty quickly. Sometimes change is all the ears need.

Music is abstract, no two tracks are the same(Yes, even Nickleback's). With each new track comes the possibility of an auditory masterpiece. Music is getting better. The more it is produced, the more refined it becomes, sort of like the musical evolution. Music has not been withering, rock did not peak in 1971, disco may or may not suck and punk is not dead and now is a better time to discover songs than it was five years ago.

Those moments when you sit at the front of a screen, clicking at random titles and artists hoping to come to that music which will redefine your taste. Maybe even expand them. Eclectic tastes are complimented almost everywhere. Hipsters and top 40 listeners can simultaneously survive in the current music scene. And while I refuse to ever recognize 'indie' as a valid genre, there are now more branches of music than a 'Diary of a Wimpy kid' rehash novella.

Everyone has a process, some people use Youtube. No matter how buggy and messed up the place is, it is still the hub of choice for people hoping to expand their tastes. Each song comes up with ~10 recommendations. Another way is listening to random songs on the radio, whether online or the good old fashioned heavy sets. Random mixes are bouncing back from obscurity on sites like Soundcloud and 8tracks. Recommendations from friends is another hit-or-miss way.

Music is still one of those topics new friendships are forged over and old ones are renewed. I have some friends whom I talk to few and far between. But when we do, it's always the prospect of a new
album that gets us going. With that in mind, here's a good way to discover new artists that might end up staying with you till you're old and cranky and believe all the new age music is shit that kids with authority issues listen to:

Sunday, November 30, 2014

The Problem of TL;DR

I was reading a post today, which had a succinct summary at the end explaining what I had just read. It was not a scientific paper or even an economy journal. It was a simple anecdotal story from a person who used way too many words for a way too boring story. Yet there it was, a Tl;dr at the end, mocking the reader, simplifying the 6 sentence post and abridging it to 2 lines. Tl;dr, for the unacquainted is an acronym for Too long;didn't read. It serves the function of cutting down time of the reader to let them absorb the required information instead of actually reading the information.

The problem right now is not reading too little, but writing too much. Tl;dr tries to give a solution to
the problem that does not exist. To me, these textual bombardments of posts are no better than Tumblr GIFs in a Buzzfeed article. More words does not necessarily equal more knowledge or a better story, sometimes it is just a pile of overwrought ideas haphazardly scratched on the screen.

To get the redundancy of TL;DR, we have to first understand the concept of words. The English language has 26 alphabets. A dictionary roughly has 250000 words. It used to be, writing too little was our fear, but writing too much is just as bad. When things can be explained in 10 words we use a hundred. Like someone trying to organize his workload by creating unneeded files, successfully complicating the process. This is a direct result of what schools try to force on us.

It is counterintuitive to first write something going into tautologial and redundant details and then backtracking to a vague summary redifining what was already written. After reading a plethora of teenage angst and woe paragraphs, it's transparent that cutting down words to the core that both explain the post concisely and maintain the essence of the written piece is harder than it looks. Much harder than going on about an easily understood topic like the leaking wound of an HIV infected person.

One good story, written well and edited with brevity is worth a lot more than hundred stretched posts written by a bored guy trying to procrastinate on the Internet.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Taking Timeless Transient Pictures

It is terrifying how strong our urge to take a pic of the next sun bathed beach with golden sand we see is, a haphazardly graffiti-ed wall with pamphlets stuck to it half-heartedly, an absurdly zoomed in shot of an open book with words strewn all over. To flip out the camera and slap filters on it like a Californian water source or edit it in Retrica with a bright jaundiced light, probably a faded matte look. Something to cover up the dullness of reality, anything.

The need to preserve a timeless moment is staggering, and there's no reason for it to be bad. Everyone is free to post whatever they want, wherever they want. Doesn't matter if it's vapid like a half empty Breezer bottle or a pose up with an expensive car that is not your own. There is a lingering fear that just living the moment isn't enough, and it isn't. Experiencing new things contains a disguised pain, we forget the old ones, they become duller, fading into oblivion, a much simpler version of what we're experiencing right now. Do we do it so somebody looks, an odd feeling of instant gratification maybe. It feels satisfying to know there is someone clicking on the pictures staring at a screen, squinting, and quite possibly jealous.

It is not about posting these pictures online either, it is just taking them, collecting them, organizing them into little folders separated by different names, and looking pretty. Picture connoisseur, picture hoarder. 20 80. There is a sense of urgency in taking a shot before the moment is lost, evaporating from our memories like invisible ink. The fear of not remembering its presence after all. So we document it before the star dwindles, even if it has been there for longer than all our lives joined together. Because if the star blinks into darkness for a moment, it might as well have been destroyed.

Taking pictures is feeling those emotions and cataloging them simultaneously. Not unlike a butterfly pinned to a hard board, framed by a suffocating display glass. The pleasure derived from looking at the beauty cannot possibly be dwarfed by their death. Or can it? A picture is worth a thousand words. It doesn't matter if those words are in jumbled order with confusing interpretations and misleading context.

Pictures of everyday object make it seem like we're having a profound experience. A cup of tea with a good book screams rejuvenation. Overlooking the fact that it took 5 minutes to meticulously set the two objects, 2 more to get the best angles, another 3 to sort through them isn't all that hard. Especially since We're trying to ignore it. You don't have a limitation of time or stuff to do either- like reading the patiently waiting book or drink the hot coffee. That is the exactness of the moment you want to remember, for an eternity, until a better shot comes along.

A camera only does so much though, sometimes we just have to put it down and look. Some moments cannot be captured by the convex  lenses. You cannot photograph the brilliance of life by trying to capture it in one somber moment. You can try, and sometimes succeed, but a camera can only capture the outside, what makes them special is inside your head, a world full of experiences.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

A Tragic Life

She sat near the glass paned window on an oak wood stool which was heavily stained from years of careless use. Sipping coffee she had made herself after some careful forethought, from a mug, she thought about her existence. The rim of the mug felt on her lips slenderly but the touch of the ceramic felt weird to her hoarse rosy flesh. It was one of those days, even the bright sun and chirping birds seemed like blinding epileptic flashes and blaring noises. Why had fate brought her to this strange and helpless point, was her survival merely a chance of cruel fate?, the dreary life was making it harder and harder by the day.

"I'm not fucking sad."

Uh, what?

"You heard me narrator guy, I am not fucking sad. Stop describing me like a melodramatic sissy. I am not one of those teenagers with who're well adjusted, but still feel the need to go on about their extraordinarily tough lives."

Overcome with emotions, she felt her grip on reality deteriorating, escaping from her harsh life by trying to justify her life to a voiceless entity.

"Really, man? Fuck you! This is not another one of those pitiful and pathetic trite pieces guilty of extravagant dramatization is it?"

To find some solace in the void of ennui that was slowly but unmistakably enveloping her, she lashed out on the fictional voice describing her condition. Like trying to fight with someone who was not even there, was this what she had expected to become after all these years of never ending work?

"You're worse than high school girls writing pseudo tragic  banal paragraphs with zero content and no originality. Writing sad pieces takes virtually no talent whatsoever but still disgorges sympathy from hapless readers. Not everything has to be sad to be deep."

Everyone had a process, this was hers. What good did it do to scold a stream of bare consciousness merely describing her, only she knew. As coffee from her mug reached her throat, she stared out of the window looking at all those people having fun. Couples out for walks, little kids running aimlessly under the azure sky. Everything in the world had meaning, but it eluded her heart.

"Okay, I get what your problem is. You're a sadistic piece of scum who takes pleasure in watching little girls like me suffer your boring, not to forget absolutely false  descriptions. Is this a weird fetish I don't know about?"

Once again, she found herself in a conflicting predicament. She could face her severe problems to relieve her duress or blame it on a faceless personification. But her life had crippled and made her incapable of making challenging decisions.

" I'm not even depressed, just unwinding after a long day moron,  and you're fucking it up. Someone like you belongs to the little leagues. Next time I'll go with another narrator. You haven't even described the room yet so stop talking about my non-existent depression, pussy. "

How dare you?! A soundless voice boomed. She was too far down the rabbit hole of insanity to make sense anymore. But all was not lost, the voice would be the cold splash of water, it needed to bring her back.  She had lost herself in grief and self pity. But she was stronger than this, better than this. She was not broken.

"What kind of a narrator writes about the sadness he has never experienced? 
I know, the most vapid kind. You are like Superman talking  about how it is to be a human, or Jeffrey Dahmer writing a book on parenting. Maybe if you tried harder to write about your own original ideas than to garner fake sympathy by projecting your insecurity on a random girl you're describing, you'd be a better writer."

Now, she was just grasping at straws. Trying to hold on to any semblance of reality that was crumbling beneath her very legs. She was distraught and had given away to the naysayers.

"Don't you know it is rude to refer to someone present in the room in third person? Did your mother not teach you anything? And will you please just refer to yourself in first person already?"

Okay, okay, I get it. I am a crappy narrator and you're the bigger person over here. Thank you for ruining my only shot at getting people to think of me as a profound and intelligent person who writes about deep stuff such as the soul's lament. I hope you're proud of yourself. Bitch.  

Thursday, May 22, 2014

An open letter to everyone: Humanity is Awesome

I don't know what it is about me that screams sarcasm to people. Maybe it's because I use irony to mock people. Regardless, I continue to remain clueless. Another thing that is attributed to me is the distaste for humanity. Nothing could be more wrong. Well, maybe something could be, but this is somewhere near the top of that list. This post has absolutely no reason to go on for longer than one paragraph, which means it almost certainly will be longer than one paragraph. Take it as an open letter of sorts addressed to everyone(~6 people who're reading this).

I love humanity, and it's not some constrained love either, I do not profess to like one aspect of it while completely disregarding most of it. Yes, I like some elements more than others and even dislike some, but that does not mean humanity isn't amazing. Of course, seeing as I belong to it may skew my perspective a bit. I however, stand unmoved, humanity is awesome.                                                         

No one can narrow the spectrums that humanity exists on, it is like a layered cake you're viewing sideways. Even so, I dislike quite a few people. Oh yes, disliking some people is not something I deny and there is
quite a lot of hate for people so few in number. Just because I like humans doesn't mean I like someone specifically. Flaws exist in everything and that is the basis for it to continue to better itself.

Let me tell you why I love humanity. The answer is not because humanity is 'beautiful' or how 'heartwarming' some people are. None of those bullshit vague answers that don't mean anything once you stop reading them. Humans are just as cruel as they are heartwarming. They're just as dark as they're beautiful.
 No, I find people to be the best thing ever. We are sentient, and therefore have the power to control and concentrate our thoughts. We are the only known species that can do this. That outright makes us special, but it is our minds that make us interesting.

Discovery, research, art and so many other fields, whenever there is something new to be found, we find it. And it never ends, one man's life span is merely a hindrance to humanity's quest. We have always been constantly in conflict with our own limitations. The only way to escape the humdrum is to keep evolving, and goddamnit! aren't we the best at that?

People look for Heaven and Hell when everything to find is over here. We just have to discover it, and that is one of humanity's major selling points. Wherever you look, there's something new to find, something more exciting than anything else found before. And don't even get me started on humans. Everyone's unique. Every. Single. One. This does not mean they're all the same. Their uniqueness is not
shared on a linear plane.
Whenever someone proclaims- 'we're all unique, so no one is', I secretly grind my teeth at the profound sounding load of crap. People are different to varying degrees in varying dimensions. Not all of these people are good. Not many of these are outwardly interesting. But those who are, make it worth your while to go discover people. We have undiscoverable boundaries and yet so many choose to revel in this gift like it's a curse. The ability to understand people and their motivations is something special to us. My faith in humanity is not restored because it never subsided.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Cynism is not Wisdom

Cynicism is the belief that people are generally solely motivated by self interest. In various areas of life a huge fraction of what goes on is governed by people who are very largely motivated by self interest, in particular their own money and power.

People are so cynical that they stop to think about things and just expect them to happen because of selfish reasons of other people. If you are so stubborn in being a cynic, then you believe you can do nothing and lock in the status quo. That is why permanent pessimism is not a very wise choice. Most young people that they're realists when in reality they are just people who mistake cynicism for wisdom. But just because someone is smart does not mean they have some sort of supernatural insight into the hidden motives of others. 

Cynicism, in most cases, is just the mindset we've built around us to protect ourselves from even the slightest imbalances in our life. It is not wisdom or intelligence, not even being careful. It's paranoia that is everywhere around you, people are waiting to descend upon you soon as they get a chance. Cynicism is putting on self imposed blinders to save ourselves from the world we expect to hurt and betray usBut the same blinders also hide
the joyful things about life. If everyone is resigned to being fucked then it's pretty much guaranteed. That is why believing that things will never get better is just as bad as imagining without reason, that everything is to happen for the best.

This is what I see all around me in varying forms. One of the most common folly is political cynicism. While it is important to discuss problems and injustices, biased people start their stream of pseudo-analysis and finally
conclude that 'they'll not vote' when the actual decisions are made by people who show up.

I believe that while cynicism can be ideal, staunchly believing it to the point of radicalism is a mistake we all make from time to time, especially after something forbidding happens. It's a defense mechanism that mirrors experience and wisdom, but also leads to a stagnant life. Hope is not a farce, goals we achieve have meaning, our dreams are not going to be crushed. Believing isn't the same as being foolish just because hope emits an inexplicable happiness inside you. A realist and a cynic differ just as much as an activist and a slacktivist

"Cynicism isn't wisdom, it's a lazy way to say that you've been burned".

Note: Thanks to Sailesh for making this post readable, and wading through my incoherence to deliver sanity. 

Monday, April 7, 2014

Sharing the same taste

When was the last time you recommended an awesome series to a friend only to get the reply - "I didn't like it at all"? Accepting that other people don't share the same tastes as you is one of the hardest things imaginable. Why doesn't the person like what you love, why do they hate something you so firmly believe in? While you go on explaining to them how the good the thing is, how intense it is, the simple fact is, they just don't like it. You cannot do anything to change their preferences. And it feels that they have been denied something which is very harmonious and perfect. All the while they're oblivious to the fact that they're missing something so great and powerful.

Finding people who share almost the same tastes as you is very difficult and rare. It is so rare in fact, that many mistake it for love. Liking the same things is an icebreaker in conversations, it can make or break your case. But some tastes are just not meant to be forced. You cannot force that AMAZING band on your friend, they have to like it on their own. It's sort of like naming a pet. No matter how interesting the names you suggest, the person is going to choose his own favorite name, even if it sounds dull to you.

When you have someone that shares the same tastes, you have someone to talk to. Liking the same unique thing together is even more special. But what happens when anything you can talk about has to be something mutually liked? You're building up someone a lot mentally by projecting so many things onto this one person. 

There's a difference between liking the same things, and liking the person. So when someone doesn't like the same thing as you, it's their preference, and the point of preferences is that you don't have to explain them. 

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

The World is Coming to an End

A great philosopher said this for our generation:

Our youth now love luxury. They have bad manners, contempt for authority; they show disrespect for their elders and love chatter in place of exercise; they no longer rise when elders enter the room; they contradict their parents, chatter before company; gobble up their food and tyrannize their teachers.”

The philosopher was Socrates and this was in 500BC. My point being, people have been condemning the newer generation and predicting world apocalypse since the inception of humankind. With every new generation  reluctantly agreeing with the old one after the introduction of a newer one.

The world is changing constantly, our lives are dynamic.  Many mistake this change to be the destruction of the old order. The new way isn't how it was supposed to be' and modernity is 'corrupting the youth and destroying the old' Declaring that the world is coming to an end is a new trend, all around me I see people denouncing the world. It is cool to join in with the naysayers too, just look at the Youtube comments on classic rock videos - 'Im 13 and this is the music I listen to, all my friends listen to crappy new age pop music. Upvote my attention whoring attempt' 

Music nowadays is garbage.  I liked music back when it was real, just two stone age men clapping rocks together.

When people claim that we're going to kill the planet, I always remember this quote: 'The world is safe, humans are fucked". We're all just trying to save ourselves in the name of the planet. But not every minute change our species take is a deal-breaker and a harbinger of doom.

While many human behaviors that we recognize are degrading the society like - Self entitlement, willful ignorance, narcissism, these behaviors have been around as long as the civilization. We can now just spot them more easily and on a global scale. Indeed, the world's coming to an end, or is it? We've been living in the most peaceful of time in history, the crime rates are going down. The only reason it seems worse is because all you have to do is open a laptop to see what horrors still remain

Despite this, the inferior trends that do exist should not be ignored, humanity is always one step away from extinction. While the world may not be waiting for an inevitable destruction that is long overdue, we're not immortal either. So any and all problems that are corrupting the world should be equally balanced and solved. 

"Everything right now is amazing and nobody appreciates it" -Louis CK

Friday, March 28, 2014

Sleeping Late, not a problem

Sleeping late has been a moral issue and a cultural dilemma for a while now. When it's well-established that the circadian rhythm shifts later during your teenage years, I don't understand why early-rising moralists try to shove their ideology down our throats. Many teens are wired to feel tired later than adults. You'll never hear someone being called lazy for going to bed early.

I believe it is a remnant of ancient society's subsistence farming, irrelevant in the modern urban life, but forced to be carried out because of the deep rooted history behind it. Before electric light bulbs came around, someone who slept during daytime hours probably would have been looked down upon as wasting productive time, but now there is no excuse to be willfully ignorant. Even worse is when you're asked to just get up early to get work done. That's the same as me telling you to wake up at 3am instead of 9 to 'get work done'.

As for night owls being lazy, many people can still not comprehend the idea of sleeping late, and thus waking up later. If you're up 6 hours later than someone, then waking up late is not that absurd an idea. People who sleep late are often considered lazy, no matter what they're able to achieve in their one 24 hour day cycle while early risers are lauded for their productivity even if they hardly do anything else. If you sleep late working on a project, people will tell you at 8-9am to get your lazy ass out of the bed. Everyone's a bio student with vast knowledge about the sleeping patterns and how harmful sleeping late is, when all they have is a minimal understanding of science.

Also, god  forbid you try to catch up on some sleep during the weekend, then you're literally the lowest scum of Earth. Yeah, well, I'm not burning daylight because I am not a farmer waiting to sow his crops. And it is not all hearsay, there's some science to back me up too! This has got to be the dream city - Overpopulation becomes such a huge problem in the world in the year 2051 that cities start switching over to this to help unclog the congestion caused by so many humans. Half the city is awake during the day, and half the city is awake during the night. Cities become more productive, and congestion on roads is cut in half.

What about sleeping late, waking up early and then taking a nap in the afternoon? Wikipedia explains it perfectly.
Segmented sleep

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Minimalism: The Rise of Less

Minimalism colloquially refers to anything that is spare or stripped to its essentials. It is simplicity in its purest form. The simplest elements are used to bring out the intensity of the subjectThese days, minimalism is everywhere. From Apple ads to movie posters, from product designs to food.

Minimalism has been often associated with art styles, especially abstract and modern art, but minimalism is also a way of life. Not a life filled with restrictions such as living with less than 'x' number of things, or not having a job, home or money. Minimalism as a lifestyle is one of freedom. Freedom from the world and the life trapped within the consumer culture. It is not just a way to please the eyes, but also an imperative to appreciate the quintessence of life. In your life, you can find minimalism in art styles, music, movies, architecture, food; in almost everything to be seen, heard or felt.

The most apparent minimalism is the advertising revolution where  companies are trying harder and harder to de-clutter their campaigns and introduce their products with fluidity and in simple terms. Minimalism is also directly linked with De stijli or Neoplasticism.
"New plastic idea will ignore the particulars of appearance, that is to say, natural form and colour. On the contrary, it should find its expression in the abstraction of form and colour, that is to say, in the straight line and the clearly defined primary colour"

Click on the image to visit the source
Minimalism is the practical symphony of geometry. The geometrical organization in life is as soothing as it is strong. It is balanced and sometimes supplemented by symmetry. We are more attracted to pieces of design that blend in together with harmony. The rise of
minimalism may be a direct result of the chaotic era. We were,
and are still bombarded with information. 90s websites and newspaper ads are perfect examples. They are fine examples of the chaos in our lives and ways of aesthetics.

We want to de-clutter our lives, which might explain why the Google homepage looks so analgesic to the eyes instead of say, the Yahoo! homepage. There is no arguing this, minimalism is efficient. It is a better way of doing things. There's a movement going on, one that began since the beginning of time. It is a concept that has been self evidently practical since centuries, but
only now being realized.

Some ways of incorporating the minimalist design in your life:
  Flaticons theme for iOS
  Zenpen writer
  Music finder