Monday, March 23, 2015

Update 24

Progress Report

There have been times in my life when I was busy and found it frustrating, and others when I've had time on my hands and found that frustrating too. I'm happy to say that, at the moment, I'm pretty happy with how busy I am. But, it still means I'm busy, and finding time for more my personal writing projects can be tough.
That's a pretty eye catching picture, yeah? It has to do with
the article I wrote for Pixel Dynamo. I didn't want another picture
of Nirvana this week...

I'm still in the process of writing the chapter on Smells Like Teen Spirit, and I'd say it's going well so far. There's another excerpt below. Also, here's a link to one of the articles I wrote for Pixel Dynamo today. I'm pretty pleased with it, and I encourage you to make comments on it over there. It's a conversation starter in need of a conversation!

Monday, March 16, 2015

Update 23

Progress Report

The current structural plan of the book is to alternate between a more generally philosophical chapter (such as the chapter on human nature, or the chapter on art) and a chapter that comments on some particular piece of pop-culture which is relevant to the surrounding philosophical discussions.

I've started work on one of these more focused, critical chapters. The subject is Smells Like Teen Spirit by Nirvana. What it's led to so far is some general conversation about the nature of music, and how the modern "band" fits into that.

Here's a link to a previous discussion of mine about music. I'm sure I'll be revisiting that article as this chapter develops. And, below is an excerpt from the newly begun chapter. Go ahead and tell me what you think.

A Teaser

"Making music requires careful thought and planning, and repeated practice. But, when we listen to music, if that preparation and care has come to fruition, the music itself will not seem like the result of a long, laborious process of production, but like a spontaneous and living thing. And, when the piece of music is great (if not necessarily good) that living thing is filled with mysterious and dynamic purpose; intense intention; a commanding presence that invisibly dominates the place in which it is heard.

A great piece of music draws the listener into a world of its own; a world of mental sensations and glimpses of thoughts, a world of emotions.

Smells Like Teen Spirit is such a piece of music.

And, this contrast between the experience of listening to music, and the nature of making music, might even cause you to think of Nirvana as disingenuous. This is because of the nature of being “a band”, which we’ll have to take a little detour here and discuss, I guess..."

© 2015 John Hiner III

Monday, March 9, 2015

Update 22 and Phil Fish

Hello there. The last several days have been quite an adventure. My uncle died, my son went into the hospital (he should recover just fine), and my car was totaled (by a blown head gasket). One of the best things about writing about pop-culture is that is requires a combination of seriousness and levity. Unfortunately, seriousness and levity are difficult to attain along side exhaustion and stress.

Monday, March 2, 2015

Robocop (the reboot)

I saw advertisements for the Robocop “reboot” before it was released and rolled my eyes, thinking what I think whenever the amorphous “they” decides to fill the minds of the younger generation with a slick, grim, shaky-cam butchering of some classic of my childhood. I rolled my eyes, and paid it no mind.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Update 21 and the Monty Hall Problem

Some Thoughts

Have you ever heard of what they call the Monty Hall Problem? It's sort of a riddle. It's relationship to pop-culture may be a little indirect, but I had quite a lengthy and intense conversation about it recently, so I thought I'd talk about it.

The problem goes like this: You are on a game show (hosted by Monty Hall, that's why the problem's called that) and you've been presented with three doors. Behind one door is a brand new car, behind the other two doors are goats. After you select a door, Monty opens another of the doors and reveals a goat. He then asks you if you want to change your choice to the other door, or stick with the one you picked in the first place.

Now, here's the question: assuming you want the car, does it help your chances to switch doors?

You might think not, as Monty opening a door doesn't change whether you picked the door with the car behind it or not. However, they (whoever they are) say that you're more likely to get the car if you switch. How can this be?

Well, over the course of my intense conversation I was able to come up with an explanation I'm pretty happy with. First of all, realize that Monty never opens the door you picked, and he never opens the door with the car behind it. Now, suppose you had a spy back stage who, before he got caught by the security guards, was able to see a goat behind one of the doors and get that information to you. In this case, how do you make sure you get the car?

The answer is that you pick the door you know has a goat behind it, then switch doors when Monty offers. This is because Monty will always open a door and reveal a goat, but he won't open your door, so the only door left after he's revealed a goat must have the car behind it.

Now, back to the original situation. You don't have a spy, but you do know that 2 out of 3 doors have goats behind them. This means that two of the three choices you could make will result in the same situation as when you had the spy, whereas only one choice won't. So, as they say, you're more likely to get the car by picking any door, and then switching.

One of the main, and more deeply important, points of the intense conversation was whether probability is real or a fiction. Because, you know, if you picked the car first, then the likelihood that switching doors would get you the car is zero, and you're only going to do it once. Chance has been given a lot of credit in the past two hundred years or so, and it's probably time to reevaluate that.

Progress Report

I am moving now at a break-neck pace, at least it feels that way when I leave an argument in its barest form and move on to write the next argument. I am doing this in an attempt to finish a first draft of part 1, after which I intend to distribute it to some friends and see what they think.

Part 1 has 3 sections, and I've just finished the first draft of section 2 and begun the first draft of section 3. I also read section 2 aloud to a few people, and it was amazing how much sense it seemed to make when I was reading it to someone besides myself. My audience tended to agree. Looks like I might actually end up with a book here.

© 2015 John Hiner III

Monday, February 16, 2015

Update 20 and a Thought on News

Some Thoughts

So, I've recently begun writing for an online publication called Pixel Dynamo. What I've been writing is news, so I thought I should say a little something about "news" itself because, at least what I'm writing, is certainly a pop-cultural phenomenon.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Update 19 and Thoughts on Assassin's Creed

Some Thoughts

Recently, a friend who does not follow my blog essentially said to me: “Didn't you change your blog? Didn't you stop writing stuff and start saying you were writing something people would read later?”

While this is not entirely true, his point is taken. So, today begins a more concerted effort to say at least something interesting and thought provoking about pop-cultural subjects every week. I warn you though, it will be largely extempore, as I really am working on the book (don't look at me like that!) and I've got other things in the works. So, it's gonna be off the top of my head more often than not.
See that tiny haystack in the bottom middle of the frame?
Yep, he's gonna make this jump just fine.