Language as a Virus

A quick, yet rare thought with great potential: can language be compared to a viral infection?

I had this flashing thought this morning during breakfast by which I visualised language as a viral system evolving through contagion and repetition.

I have been researching viruses for another ebook I’m hoping to Kindle publish before I die and, I tell you… EVERYTHING on Earth that has some evolving to do behaves as if following the basic survival system viruses “use” (viruses being inert “beings”).

Language, through it’s DNA components (words) seems to behave like a virus: expressions are received by the host and modified through the host’s cognitive system at that particular time; the resulting mutation spreads via oral or written means and either maintains its meaning or changes it.

Adaptability is a key factor for rating word strenght (commonality). The longer an expression “survives” under the same meaning, the most likely it is to remain there for ever under the same semantic conditions. Also, the more meaning an expression or word can be attributed, the more it will be used and thus spread.

I have a few examples if you care for me to elaborate but I would also love to read your thoughts on this.

By the way… how has my thought evolved in your brain? Will this thought spread and perdure or evolve into something else or be completely erradicated…?

Luck

When anyone in developed economies talks about “luck”, you know they’re about to tell you what you want to hear. Either as “you will receive what you want” or “Luck is what you get when you change your mindset”… both are as exploitative as they are deluded.

There’s no such thing as “luck” as there are “circumstances”. The more we broaden our horizon, the better we’ll understand what is, naturally, a good situation to be in, and its range of associated risks. That range is what gives us an idea of what we could expect (at various likelyhood degrees) and, only an idea, of how ready we might be to deal with it.

The concept of First World “luck” is a narrow-minded generalisation that middle to upper class, comfortably self-sufficient and indulgent (let’s call them) greeks, like to charge ticket or book money to discuss.

I hoped never to write this but this isn’t the time to look “closer to home” to make life decisions. “Luck” is an obsolete word when Employment and Quality of Life indicators are shifting and varying so drastically, internationally.

Anyone that tries to SELL us the concept of luck is simply looking out for himself.

This is a thought nugget post that tells you the harsh reality that “feeling lucky” and “alternative perspectives on life” will never be antidotes to random, uncontrollable events. Teaching how to be materialy ready to face these extreme eventualities would be a much kinder approach.

Entertainment

Thought of the day: 10 Nov 2013

Today I’m picking up the topic of entertainment.

“It is such a modern contradiction to be in the business of providing unrealistic illusions to the tune of very real, and discriminating, remuneration targets.”

Long gone are the days of the bard that lived off his freedom and chose his content and lifestyle. Today, they either fall in line or out of the limelight.

Retirement savings: Guideline targets to aspire to for a comfortable retirement.

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In their early 30s, most First-World citizens should have at least the amount of a full year’s income saved towards retirement. If not, then it’s time to start saving… at a suggested rate of circa 30% of annual income, no less.

The goal is to have the equivalent of circa 11 times the average annual income in a pension fund, or similar, by the time retirement kicks in. Only under 15s won’t panic at the thought – if the thought crosses their minds at all – but they are the age group best placed to start acting on it.

Under 15s can more easily secure comfortable retirement lifestyles if they save about 8% of their annual income throughout their lives. Beginning with circa 6%-8% of their normal living expenses in their teens (excluding savings towards education). After that, the later anyone begins saving, the higher the required amount per year will be.

As retirement grows closer, the contribution a bank pays all clients for keeping their savings with them (i.e.: the account’s interest) contributes less (i.e.: does not compound over many years); risk of financial loss is higher and sudden healthcare costs are at their most likely. Hence, the longer the wait to begin saving, the more a person will have to make an effort to offset risks and meet the lifestyle requirements they are accustomed to.

The Graph
The graph is an indication of what anyone should ideally save per year if they have yet to start a pension or retirement savings account. Find an age group and marvel at the recommended annual savings percentage…

100% of income means “as much of what is earned as can be spared should go into a retirement fund”.

The Opinion
Most of today’s Higher Education students are drowning in debt, many will have children under their care as well. Some will be marrying only to divorce too soon and see their purchasing power dissolve… I realise many of them believe life is for living it without care. I couldn’t disagree more.

There is no feasible way of enjoying life at any age without planning ahead. There will always be a difficult effort to make, or something to let go of, to meet a desired lifestyle. For the mayority of us anyway and because resources are scarce. More so as competition increases with population growth and global demand.

The economy changes, as does an individual’s life yet, considering this is only a guide, I found it to be fairly accurate. Estimate you annual living expenses and soon you’ll see why these percentages do work for First-World lifestyles.

Some reading:
http://business.time.com/2012/09/28/what-savings-rate-you-need-when-starting-at-age-15-25-35-and-50/
http://business.time.com/2012/09/21/what-you-should-save-by-35-45-and-55-to-be-on-target/
http://www.forbes.com/sites/davidmarotta/2012/09/24/how-much-should-i-save-toward-retirement-if-im-starting-late/2/

Some retirement calculators:
http://www.getrichslowly.org/blog/2009/03/26/how-much-do-you-need-to-save-for-retirement/

Costs of raising kids? Plan ahead:
http://www.theguardian.com/news/datablog/2012/may/21/child-care-costs-compared-britain
http://www.theguardian.com/money/2012/oct/26/maximise-returns-childrens-savings-account

Russell Brand & the “Memini Meminisse” Stone

He is brash and unkept but recently made up for the postponed grooming by using his fame to give people a voice.

What’s more encouraging is that we picked up on it and welcomed the opportunity to be heard, for a change.

A welcome change given the Assads, Cyruses, Biebers, investment financiers and philosophy fanatics shoving their intoxicating voices down our ears.

Other than the slightly misguided “Don’t vote” message that is easily replaced with a #VOTE #Smart one, the content of what he said was a welcome breath of fresh air.

[Here is a link with a list of all UK political parties to vote for.]

We learn not to expect too much from celebs and I am sure Brand will eventually remind us of this. nonetheless, he steered the conversation along the left direction for us to pick up the pace. After all, change (or revolution) is in the hands of the many, not his… (thank ****).

The New Statesman
I would have liked to memorise their “About us” as it was before they enlisted Brand to lead-edit this week’s issue.

The magazine this week reads phenomenal but I do hope that it’ll be getting back to its “objective left wing focus”, tuning down the “entertaining” factor in favour of its well established “observational wit”.

Russell Brand & the “Memini Meminisse” Stone
There was something in the interview with Jeremy Paxman that was worth much more than the topic of revolution and the magazine’s marketing campaign.

First, there was Brand’s unplanned and dramatic “turn to face the camera” expression at the very beginning of the interview. There was a resolute intensity there that was remarkable and set an “I mean business” tone he quickly moderated with his trademark humour.

Far from antagonising, Paxman was grounded and as supportive as the situation allowed him to be.
Despite that, Brand did a “1,000,000 birds with one stone” visit to Paxman’s memory lane and personal experience that nailed the presenter _and all listeners_ to the floor.

The message  of “personal involvement” that is necessary if we want to change and evolve came through loud and clear. Do observe this here, it was a priceless interaction overshadowed by the hype over the “revolution” bit.

Until I learn of what Brand does next that will make me want to eat my words, I plan on enjoying the much welcome respect he has shown his audience and everyone searching for empathy and help in a “first” world of indifference and gross economic disparity.

Thanks Russell, for now.

“Homecoming Horrors”

1

The article “Homecoming Horrors” appeared in the 24 October 2013 edition of the free street magazine for men, Shortlist.

The cover art was striking: banking on a photographic mixture of meaningful reality and “Call Of Duty*” type imagery, it brought attention to an article doing justice to the psychological and physical damages that returning war veterans endure.

It successfully raised the problematic lack of awareness _and funding_ towards resolving the plight of the irreparably wounded.

Shamefully, I have sometimes branded charities as hypocritical and self-serving endeavours until this smacked me squarely in the face: charities at least keep us aware of the unresolved problems festering under the surface of economic stability. More so when there’s no money.

It seems Syria, Tibet and other world conflicts are indeed biting us all in the arse. As government lacks (or diverts) the funding meant for humanitarian causes, the “plagues” slowly filter back into our stupidly cosy first world in a variety of forms. Each one harder to remedy as time goes by. The antiseptic portion of our taxes isn’t there to assist all abuse or war victims. So, charities, regardless of how efficient, are a necessary and humane relief.

Parallel to plotting to do something charitable myself, there was the immediate and plainly observable irony: war isn’t like in the books, 3D games or movies. Ridiculous make-believe…

There must be something to “the Duty” that breaks hard-core men and women from the inside out.

Now, to bring this post to the extreme:
Don’t answer that call… and parallel to that, paying to be scar(r)ed while cosily eating pop-corn is disrespectful and ultimately, detrimental. Do yourself a favour, invest that “reality TV” or scary movie money to help those living in buried horrors.

* “Call Of Duty” is a 3D game even I know about… due to be released in the UK on the 5 November.
* Despite working in the charity higher education sector, and thereby having a healthy conscience, this post was difficult to write… almost as tough as reading the article.
[Image Source.]

古川本舗 – Envy feat.星野菜名子 Karaoke

2For Japanese students, some karaoke.
Artwork by Yuumei.

古川本舗 [Fullkawa Honpo] – Envy ★★★★★
〇 Listen Youtube: http://bit.ly/1gMRuz7
〇 Lyrics: http://bit.ly/5SeXQF
〇 Artwork: Yuumei http://bit.ly/2CA7Vg

Karaoke – Kana/Kanji lyrics
枯れた日々が また揺れていた
言えば、そう。それまでの日々も終わる。

君が遠くなって、
このまま消えてしまって
「いつかは忘れてしまう日が来る」と。

風に身を委ね、そのまま大人になって
僕らは忘れようとする。

今日は次第に夜になりそうだ
涙が洗い流すはず、と 思ってたんだろ?

君は振り返って 小さく手を振った。
昨日に、後悔に、別れを告げるように

痛みを握って、そのまま目を伏せて
忘れよう、忘れようとする。

君が遠くなって、
そのまま消えてしまって
「いつかはこの日を思い出せるよ」と。

うつむいた靴の先の、
夕日が染めた赤を 僕らは忘れようとする

——————–

Karaoke – Romanised lyrics
kareta hibi ga mata yurete ita
ieba sō sore made no hibi mo owaru

kimi ga tōku natte
kono mama kiete shimatte
“itsuka wa wasurete shimau hi ga kuru” to

kaze ni mi o yudane sono mama otona ni natte
bokura wa wasure yōto suru

kyō wa shidai ni yoru ni nari sōda
namida ga arai nagasu hazu to omotte tan daro?

kimi wa furi kaette chīsaku te o futta
kinō ni kōkai ni wakare o tsugeru yōni

itami o nigitte sono mama me o fusete
wasure yō wasure yō to suru

kimi ga tōku natte
sono mama kiete shimatte

“itsuka wa kono hi o omoi daseru yo” to

utsumuita kutsu no saki no
yūhi ga someta aka wo bokura wa wasure yō to suru

Alain De Botton, Derren Brown on Magic & Happiness London, 4 Dec 2013.

mms
My admiration to those putting together this event with two famous names to facilitate it. Tickets go from £25 to £35 if not already sold out: Alain De Botton – Derren Brown on magic and happiness [London 4 December 2013].

Now, please don’t read on if you hope for more “sales pitch” because what follows is a very critical view of similar talks (not so much this one).

Are you sure you want to read on?
You may find this “infuriating” if you don’t like other people having opinions of their own.
OK, you’ve been warned. You took the red M&M…

1st critique: replacing religion and cults. For a first world society _moving away from blind cult following towards ownership of actions and beliefs_ we sure like to hang-on to the “Life truths” of idols or self-made thinkers. Particularly on “leading happy and fulfilling lives”. We do need guides but, are these celebrities enriching our independence or just taking the place of existing cults in favour of their own wallets?

2nd critique: generalisations that block life experiences. Most speakers generalise and devalue the infinite possibilities of human experience by using generic wording. Often on matters that individuals are seeking advice on, and at times at which an opinion from an authority figure could completely shape their outlook on life.
Speakers over-simplify happiness _naturaly found through personal journeys_ because the simpler and “positiver” the message the more attention they’ll get. Some self-help speakers constrain the journey even more by referring listeners to their own books instead of encouraging self-reflection and individual research.

3rd critique: hundreds treated as one, “simply sharing my opinion” and misleading titles. Gullible, “searching” people like yours-truly, need to be even more careful than most about the 1st and 2nd critiques above. There’s nothing worse than to be searching for meaning while having a predisposition to believe everything we’re told, or we initially think we’re told, word for word. Untangling this brings an amount of pain and effort that delays progress. The title, the wording, the artifacts in these self-help talks approach the audience as a “one”. Sadly, very few speakers are skilled enough to respect the audience’s granularity.

It is now nearly impossible to meet humble and moderate approaches to philosophy and opinion, because there’s a huge market for it and authors need to sell theirs. I’m glad that my current economy (of thought) keeps my focus away from such “services” and more reliant on my life’s random occurrences (free so far) and established beliefs (from which I can choose, also for free).

That’s the end of that M&M.
[Image source]

Santé!

We say written communication lacks strenght and that 75% of the intended meaning gets lost in the exchange. Some however, of which me, believe the wording, grammar, format, tone can tell us so much about the author. About their childhood, their character, their social class (inherited or earned), their desires, even their prospects.

There is an “averaged” writing style that is designed to softly hit all the right notes with a high percentange of readers. I know this perfected style exists because I have read it. And the style happened to be a direct reflection of the author. An unassuming, peaceful and empathic vessel that could make angry lions lie down with a smile.

Good writing, the kind that benefits its readers, depends a lot on the strenght and gentle mental balance of the author I think.

My goal, my wish, is to reach that harmonious me that can mix robust grammar and kind words with clear wit to make fulfilling reads.

To our goals,
Santé!

Hollywoodian Fame

We are strongly encouraged to perceive modern idols as perfect human beings so, when their actions are contrary to what we expect them to be, we become disappointed.
We are oblivious to the fact that they carry rubbery personae around with them to fit the latest fashionable mold, to increase their popularity and pay-cheques. We forget that under all that plastic, there are intricate human beings, very different from whom we imagine them to be.

If we were to meet their closest friends, they’d tell us about their mood swings, bad-hair days, idiosyncrasies, unspoken tastes. Their natural way of approaching strangers… if at all natural to them.

Maybe “hollywoodian fame” as we have known it for decades, is really a dehumanising insult designed to force the famous to write cryptic autobiographies that conceal their real selves between Photoshoped lines.

Maybe we should give fabricated fame a little rest.

The social media paradigm: Twitter

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Contrary to form, I believe a schism with identity is a positive, affirming and enriching social media option. Mostly, because Twitter does not force or manipulate its users into behaving one way or the other. What each user does is of his/her own accord. Twitter remains at all times an impartial, seamless platform.

Most people think negatively of this “lack of identification” option but I think they are conditioned to think that way. We are constantly told of the eeeeviiiiils of deindividuation yet we’re never encouraged to examine the platforms, or situations, in which said evils commonly occur.

Twitter’s interactive platform _unlike radio, TV or oftentimes YouTube_ does not manipulate in any way (intentionally or otherwise), the behaviours or choices of its users. For instance, by posting content that awakes primal reactions or by using peer-pressure within a carefully selected audience. [#1]

I believe bullying on Twitter is minimal compared to its number of users and generally limited to the “compulsory bullying few”.

Twitter is a growth and affirmation platform in which users can express and “normalise” themselves (their feelings, creative side or share their photos) in an environment they can manipulate at will (delete an account, change Id, mute/block the very few bad apples).

Just a thought, @AMAVergara.

[#1]: Which begs the question: is deindividuation a bad thing? Or simply a misunderstood, demonised state of being?

Gen-Z Observations

Generations-Healthcare
Gen-Z was born in a cultural environment that doesn’t offset risk.
An environment that is wiser to risk than ever before but which, paradoxically, seeks it.

The “since 1995” generation have grown along with an array of lifestyle changes naturally desensitizing them to risk. For instance, news and constant debate around the gradual privatization of large governmental services preps this generation to expect unregulated basic services provision. They also learn to expect fewer options for permanent employment contracts with lifestyle and health benefits.

The increasing costs of living, energy and education prep them for a life where debt is deemed to be more common-place than affluence. They are also used to witnessing large numbers of people openly selling common-sense and self-preservation (along with their dignity) to TV and Media producers in exchange for the proverbial quick buck. Not to mention the relentless exposure to shocking and negative media or news content. That is, doomsday type film plots, negative news, politicians and “idols” behaving badly to get money and attention.

Similarly, this generation is used to the concept that wealth doesn’t have to be a realised asset. The money needs not be in a safe under the bed or in the bank, they accept that it can be in the shape of investments or a successful YouTube channel constantly growing. They comprehend investment banking terms and mechanisms better than previous generations, yet, are too quick to ignore the great risks these carry.

Considering the above, Gen-Z might be the most likely to perceive the below sentence as a rule more than as an antisocial statement:

“You may not get what you want even if you try very hard so, do anything you can get away with to secure as much as possible.”

They are also the most likely to forget to use punctuation and plague it with typos.

Whereas scarcity has been a concern for decades, the Baby Boomers generation (from 1946), had a more positive outlook to life than Gen-Z does. Their cultural environment encouraged stable work contracts, collaboration, reliable unions, property purchase, education for all to meet economic growth demands and a health service that would take reasonable care of them. The latter, in strong contrast with the devastating death toll of WWII.

The above is one of a few observations I will be gradually posting to explore the differences between [first and developing world] generations and the apparent major impact that fast-tracked information has on those changes.

Please feel free to comment!
Thanks for reading.

[Image source.]

Afghanistan, Somalia, Colombia, Mexico, Syria, Pakistan, Iraq, Sudan, Yemen, Egypt.

3Worldwide, there are currently 12 nations at war and 37 in armed conflicts*.

Some conflicts started as far back as 1918 (Iran) or as recently as July 2013 (Egypt’s political crisis).*

Nothing feels worse to me than to quantify human casualties so, apologies if I don’t quote numbers to add clarity. It suffices to say that the most life-threatening on-going war (if life-threat could possibly be “ranked” in the context of a war) is the one in Syria.

Because of the effect on the population, even biased sources cannot deny the seriousness of this conflict and even though they do discuss it a lot, I couldn’t make sense of what is happening.

I chose to ignore the popular “big picture” approaches that devalue life and focused on finding information from Syrians themselves.

From that perspective, I saw this conflict as being as hopeless a situation as any civilian can be plunged into by outside forces. I was deeply struck by tweets from Syrians saying how they felt “left out” (by the western world), “left for dead”, “not knowing what to do with themselves”, “incapable of rebuilding a life and a family again”. They are truly trapped by the ambitions of bigger forces than themselves.

The “bigger picture” approach to understanding a situation is oftentimes damaged by the interests of the powerful.

If the economic superpowers of today wanted this conflict ended, they would have ended it already. With minimal impact to the population. For some reason, that is not the case.

I raise awareness, encouraging direct support. I wish I could do more.

I don’t trust the media, charities or rioters anymore. I will only go by, and act on, what I know to be true.

Despite the “not 100% guaranteed identity” aspect of social networks, they still do have a lot of potential for TRUTH. Although requiring a fair bit of discernment.

* en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_ongoing_military_conflicts
Image Source: [ ].

Lucilius writes back…

seneca

They’re still buying it. Looking beyond today and into future generations, I am certain they still will. There is no greater pleasure for a virtuous man than to correspond with a fictitious one possessing but one virtue: patience. You make me look good. Nothing builds more credibility than a critical man of science that doesn’t write back with caustic or sceptic appraisal.

On the topic of lies. Lies have no real substance, they are transparent only to those with thick enough brains and large enough eyes to see. The type that are busy examining topics other than happiness, virtue and fulfilment. If I wasn’t in some measure a man of virtue, I would bet that posterity will forever treat us kindly. Also, like posterity, virtue rewards the man that doesn’t elevate himself. She has never had beef with those that authored their character and image by means of external agents. Pretence accomplishes nothing. One must get others to do the elevating. I’m certain neither virtue nor posterity will mind my little ploy too much.

I’m sorry I made you a dimmer light by my side, my little firefly. It had to be done. Men of virtue share, men of virtue teach. Men of virtue are never questioned.

Farewell. No remorse.
Lucius (Lucilius for short).

Image Source: “Seneca” by Albert Irvin, 1979 lyrical abstraction.

Words of Bliss

“Rumi – Words of Paradise” took me by surprise. It is a valued collection of poems written by Jalaluddin Rumi 700 years ago. Can I not spoil it for you, please, and let you read and comment on the two selected poems that follow?

DIVAN 2313

Now that your soul has entered my all-too-present flesh
And made with it a soul in kind,
Your each embarking thought,
The breathing swing and sway of your every movement
makes an impression on the wax of my surrendering will.
My mind is but a pillow
Indented by the flow of your passing thoughts.
My newly-moulded soul is alight with
Your pulsing grace, your secret deceptions
Have transformed dead stone to fire.
Each new day is a slow beginning,
New lamentations rise
From the reed of my longing for your lip;
Your loving candour strokes the mouth of the reed
With a sweet languishing refrain.
My soul imitates and installs
Your moon’s soft light in your chambers.
I mould myself to fit your form
Like a belt for the waist, even when
Your eye has tethered me angry scowls
Turning me this way and that until
My distracted heart jumps out of itself.

*”[…] my all-too-present flesh”… Hahaha!

DIVAN 1559

Again with burning lips I swore
An oath in last night’s heart,
I confess with a sigh again I swore
An oath on my ruby blood.
I swore that I would fix
My longing gaze in your kind smile.
I swore that I would not flinch
Even if you struck me with a blade,
My faith in you is green and strong
It would rise again unscathed. I suffer,
My heart is torn from your breast
Which none can cure but you.
You may wilfully cast me into fire
But I am an ingot glowing for you.
I swear I am dust, dry powder
Rising from your path, as hapless atom,
A circling world held by your gravity
I turn and turn in your wake.

HAWT isn’t it? Share, Google these and other Rumi poems with loved ones. Best poems I’ve read to date.