Monday, March 23, 2015

The Sound of Silence

This post is about something I've wanted to write about for a long time now. But it is only when I was riding on a bike as pillion did I finally know how to express it without the use of obtuse ideas and thoughts. 

Most people believe Silence is a vacuum that needs to be filled with words and noises. They go to extraordinary lengths to replace this lack of sound. It makes them awkward and nervous. A cacophony of clamor is better than the quietude of some peace. But why do we hate silence, why do we feel it's necessary to yak about bullshit in order to be comfortable? NO don't answer, that was rhetorical. See what I have to deal with?!

Deliberate and powerful use of silence can be intimidating. Here's one neat trick, next time you ask someone a question and they don't answer it completely, wait patiently. They are bound to finish the whole thing. Well, either that or you come off as the weirdo who stops talking to people midway during a conversation. Nevertheless, my point is, silence is not a tool to make others around you feel uncomfortable. Nobody wants to talk with someone who uses cheap parlor tricks to amp up an air of intimidation.

Ever wonder why Martin Scorsese movies have so many silent scenes? They highlight the loud ones. Because when everything is loud, nothing is. Here is something esoteric a friend of mine told me:
"It is often best to speak only if your words have the potential to
be more meaningful than the silence they displace."

Being the hapless contrarian that I am, at the time I didn't agree completely. But after giving it some thought, I've come to understand and realize how true what she said was. Extended periods of silence are not awkward, they're blissful if used sparingly and with mutual understanding. Not a lot is more powerful than two people enjoying the company of each other in complete silence. Silence is a state of mind.

There are friends I haven't spoken to for weeks and months. But that does not take away from the times I have. It is merely an unsaid acknowledgement that we can talk to each other when we want to, and by choice. Not an obligation or a sense of social duty.

When you derive silence from your frame of mind, you get something more than silence – an emotional response. We don't appreciate silence a lot, until we start noticing the lack of it. Silence is an emotion of its own, and depending on how you use it, a way to take a break from the chaotic sensory overload that follows us.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

The Cool Girl

A girl who plays down her apparent intelligence, eats the fattest slice of the pizza and wears an oversized hoodie after a big winning game. Everyone, look at her, because she's cool and hot. She's a cool girl. She starts randomly liking a sports team, a video game, or even a niche hobby. Not because she enjoys it, but because it's cool. She doesn't play with dolls. Instead, she loves beating guys at basketball. Because to hell with women being feminine and homely. She is not a cute cuddly ball of love and affection, but a fireball that will light your heart on fire.

Being the Cool Girl means I am a hot, brilliant, funny woman who adores football, poker, dirty jokes, and burping. Cool Girls never get angry; they only smile in a chagrined, loving manner and let their men do whatever they want. Go ahead, shit on me, I don’t mind, I’m the Cool Girl.

The cool girl never gets angry. Even in moments of distress, she clings to false bravado. In times of distress, she's the 'chill' person. Someone you can do anything with without considering her feelings. Because she has none. It's not a symbol of confidence and indifference. It is exactly the kind of thing she is trying to avoid - insecurity. Afraid of being assertive, she convinces herself passiveness leads to an air of mystery. She believes she controls men because she doesn't care enough to nag them. They in return desire her.

Being the Cool Girl has an expiration date.
She is not a person, she is a character out of a fantasy novel or a sitcom written by socially awkward men who have no idea about the fairer sex. Sooner or later, her self consciousness takes over. She is no longer the cool girl guys praise and wish to be with. She's a woman overgrown who has no idea who she really was. Not only does she have an expiry date, she is ephemeral.

She was witty, funny, progressive. But that image shatters and suddenly she is pretentious, lame, and regressive. A cool girl is like a slight wink from that beautiful woman sitting across you. It is over all too soon. A time comes when the cool girl goes rogue.

Everyone knows a cool girl. There's one in most cliques. Other girls view her with a look of resentment, guys of course are attracted to her like flies to shit. She is not a myth. Although she is transient.  

Saturday, March 14, 2015

How People Manipulate You

You are being manipulated when someone reduces, by any means, your ability to be your own judge of what you do. You know you're being manipulated when a gut feeling emerges from your pit and tells you 'something's not right'. But more often than not, we choose to ignore the feeling simply because we don't know its source.

An easy way to manipulate someone, or get manipulated is to set up arbitrary rules in a functional relationship. That is, form rules that have to be followed by both of you, but only understood by one. Rules can be helpful as they allow for clear understanding of the relationship. Something like one person handling certain duties. It spirals into the realm of manipulation when one person, despite being unsure of the rigid rules cannot challenge or change them. Usually because of insecurity and indecisiveness. Something like "You're not supposed to do that" or even "You cannot talk to me about that"

Another way people manipulate is by using their logic. Yes, logic. They use self serving justifications to make their point. The brilliance of this is that they don't have to explain their own logic to you. To them, it is absolute and unquestionable.
We've all been there where someone tells us "That doesn't make sense" or "That's simply ridiculous", trying to gain the upper hand. The important thing is that their logic doesn't need to be sound, and even if it is, as an individual human you bear the sole responsibility for your decisions and actions. By having to make your decision based on their logic you’re no longer the judge of your own actions.
Parents often use this way to change the mind of their kids. A father wants his son to become an engineer whereas he is more inclined towards arts and music. The father may seemingly rationally explain to his son how arts is a doomed career choice while being an engineer provides the best financial opportunities.

Morality is the bread and butter of most professional manipulators. There is no better way to silence dissent and subtly convince other than to simply point up at the sky or at the heart. But morality is completely subjective. There is no clear right and wrong with a moral judgement.
Yes, choosing to be a doctor and work at a private clinic might be less beneficial to the society than working voluntarily at public hospitals. But that in no way should be used as a way to manipulate what is, at the end solely your own decision. We make our own decisions and we bear the consequences.

The easiest way, and most overused is guilt. At this point, most people call out the guilt-tripping of people around them. Even then, it remains to be a driving force for some people who are easily manipulated or are too sensitive to the plight of the world.
A friend might ask you to go to a store and pick up something for him because 'you live closer'. Using guilt as fuel, subverting their goal. You might then say 'I am busy with my exams these days, and feeling a bit under the blue' in an attempt to counter-guilt them. A simple 'No, sorry maybe next time' is precise and assertive. No one can force you on a guilt-trip unless you aren't completely preordained about not getting driven by guilt.
Similarly, in the longer run, petty feelings are often misunderstood. Direct answers may seem brutal but are better in the way that they leave no room for confused feelings.

If you liked reading this, maybe you'll enjoy Reasoning Vs. Justification.

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Concise stories - Part 2: 6 words

This is part 2 of the small story challenge I'm doing. Click here to see the first part.

Pyromaniac. Kleptomaniac. I Stole the fire.

Lost children found. Innocence not intact.

Her lips tasted weird. Ah, 

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Shots fired. Non-violent protest subdued.

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Apocalypse rationing. One bullet per person.

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Shot innocent man. Accident, classifies officer.

Got her Flowers. Keys didn't fit.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Concise Stories - Part 3: 5 Words

'I stopped pretending, Hobbes.' - Calvin

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Jaden Smith. Mannequin rights activist

Ultimate character death: George Martin

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Let's try Heroin once,

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'I am pregnant' - Cancer patient

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Final words: It's not loaded.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Concise stories - Part 1: 7 words

I decided to write a few stories spanning only a few words. The concept is not old, here's my take on it. 
Beginning with 7 words, with each subsequent post, I hope to reduce the word count.

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He buried his mistakes, six feet under.
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Knock Knock. Who's there? POLICE. OPEN UP!

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'You may kiss the bride'. She did.

"YOLO!" said the immortal, slitting his wrists.

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A homeless alcoholic's best friend. The pavement.

'I'm unique', read the mass produced tees.

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Friday, January 30, 2015

The Story of Damon D. Reddington

My name is Damon. Damon D. Reddington. This is my story. The year is 2077. I am the single most influential force in the world. Nice people herald me as the second coming of Christ. Evil men and women live in constant fear of my existence. Whatever the other mortals might believe, I am not like them. My world is filled with despicable scum of the world. The lowest common denominator in this cesspool we live in.
I am a New World Order executive. No, my job is not making sissy presentations or going to pointless meetings. I eradicate the plague of humans that haunt humanity. I am a just man. And despite what many may believe, a nice man too. But what I am not is kind. I am justice. Mercy to the guilty is punishment to the innocent. I am the guy demons dread.
My beginning, like most heroes, if you choose to believe they exist, was humble. I grew up in the wastelands with barely a rock in my name. So when martial began rounding up volunteers for the now called 'Hero Project', I was among the first to sign up. They were trying to administer a fatal truth serum. One that would literally kill you for lying. This was advertised as the endgame in law and order. 143 kids died before the second week. All but me. I believe a part of my soul is buried there, in mass grave no.12 
But then it did something it was not supposed to. I started sensing people who were lying. It enhanced my intuition to the extent that I could then deduce correctly if a person had been hiding something evil inside him. My chest would tighten and my head would explode in clusters. Cluster headaches, if you're not aware, don't kill you, but you almost certainly wish that they did. When I realized what had happened, the first to a long chain of dominoes fell.
I slayed all 7 cruel scientists with a knife I stole from the cafeteria. For the first time in a long time, my chest relaxed.  My rise was quick. It didn't take long for the justice system to see my merits and grant me full impunity from my 'crimes'. A jealous single mother who would go on a rampage at the mall, a man who would strap bricks of RDX and wander into a theater, or a a kid who was planning to kill his bullies at the school. I made no judgments, I just acted. I did not falter from my path.
Over a span of 44 years, I have rid this shithole of the strongest of evil. But when I felt my chest crumple up and my head explode like a 2 ton nuclear bomb, I knew my biggest feat was coming. I was in Berlin at the time, visiting a long forgotten bunker when I saw a lone man all dressed up in white. We were alone in the underground bunker, with not a soul within 500 yards. My head was in seering pain. I reached for my glock and shot thrice. Head, chest, and torso. He was dead before he could make his move.
Imagine my horror when the pain did not subside. On the contrary, it amplified. That's when the full effect of my actions hit me. The physical pain felt nothing to my inner turmoil. We are the product of our actions. 
In the end, this is not just my story. It is my note as well. Maybe true unbiased justice is evil in its purest form.
"I am become death;destroyer of worlds."
Goodbye world.
-Damon D. Redd

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Take A Look

Take a look at yourself.

You don’t need to find a mirror, just closing your eyes for a moment will suffice.

This is the person you’ll be spending the next 50-60 years with. You can say that this is the person you’ll spend all your life with. All your experience and achievements, you will perceive through the eyes of this being. When you’re dead, you’ll just be a human shaped piece of meat. Regardless of what you believe in – a higher being judging us, damning us, or an eternal void, the things you do right now are who you are. This might just be a simple look at the convoluted person you are, or a complex look at the simple being as the case might be, which is not the case.

happen to think that perception is the sole root of knowledge. What you feel, is what is. If there is indeed an afterlife, that does not factor in. This might be the gravest folly, but it does liberate you. At least to me, the thought of knowing all that counts, is what you actually do is freeing. Now this life might be a complex reward based system where the elite people with sufficient fly-miles go to the Promised Land and the defaulters into the fiery pits. But that’s only a way to justify the existence. Finding Prometheus is not likely. That’s not just the skeptic in me talking, although he is screaming. When you suppress the voice there really isn’t a reason why this timeline needs to be an illusion or an entrance test.

There is not much you cannot do with money. But the things you can, outweigh the quantity with sheer quality. But money is an arbitrary restriction posed on us by ourselves. It is also not the topic of this post. Time is like looking at the landscape from a fast moving car on a highway. The things closest to us move the fastest, and the farther away they are, the less likely it looks we’ll ever reach them. Until we do, and then everything we passed by seems like a distant dream.

If you know just how to look, the Universe bleeds secrets. Knowing that what you experience is your only way of measuring this life in some quantifying terms is no reason to be self-absorbed. There will always be things you haven’t done and never will. The road not taken. But sometimes that road hasn’t been taken because there’s a reason not to. Life is a game and there are not a lot of cheats. You cannot randomly buff up your skills by typing a hash of keywords. But it is not altogether unfair either. Rewards exist for sacrifices made. Sometimes the risk is higher, and sometimes almost non-existent.

The grand scale of events. Oh the people love to say that ‘in the grand scale of events..’. But that does not make our existence insignificant, it just gives us more leeway to do things our way. You are not a drop in the Universe. You’re the Universe contained in a drop because what is an ocean but a multitude of droplets.

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.