Cycle of Life

I was reading an article on how the population equilibrium on the planet will be maintained- a cycle of events that supposedly take place, that ensure a balance in human numbers on the planet.

Very roughly, they cycled as follows:
At first, there was a medium-ish population, and a small, hand sowed-and-reaped produce just enough to feed it.
If the population increased, the food supply was the limiting or checking factor, maintaining our population size.

Then came the mechanisation.
All of a sudden, with industrialisation, machines were reaping more crops than ever.

For once, an increasing population had enough, and even surplus food in store. (Cue: the Great Depression of the late ’20s, where the grain produce was so much, it had no more value in the markets.)

With this, and advances in technology and medicine, the so-far tight check on population growth loosened, and what began was the third phase of the cycle: something we call the population explosion.

In this stage, life conditions look relatively hunky dory, people live, live, and keep on living.

We’re accelerating too much, the problem of today.

Well, here’s what the cycle says.
This is where a fourth phase in the cycle kicks in.

There will then follow a stabilisation, wherein, with lower mortality rates and more longevity, humans will start reproducing less.
There simply won’t be a need for people to have as many kids anymore.
[Also, I may add, the lack of a libido, as seen in the Japanese, and the introduction of AI into the sex sphere, may play big roles in bringing down the very need/urge for human sex, and indirectly, reproduction.]

Now, I’m not economist or researcher. But I have another theory.

The human race will advance further in the intelligence sphere, and we’ll soon be delegating our intelligence to algorithms.

We’ll progress to the point where we’ve become far too comfortable.
(And trust me, we’re on our way there.)

The human body was designed for action. We were predators and prey once. Now we prey on the supermarket.
We use to be on the move.

Heaven knows we may adapt to inactivity. But mostly, I think that would fall apart.

Soon, non-movement-related illnesses would begin to take control of the human race, and human numbers will fall, because most likely, we won’t be able to reverse the damage.
Lifestyles mostly only progressively change, not regressively.

Now birth and death rates will balance out, and for all you know, despite improving technology, we may not have the problem of food surplus, because of the growing importance of (and money diverted to the production of) medicinal precautionary drugs, etc. in the human diet.
We come back to Step 1 of the cycle, i.e., balance. (Birth = death ≤ food supply).

There is another way, though.

Human beings’ strongest claim to the top of the hierarchy has always been their superior thinking ability. We’ve outsmarted and ousted almost every other dominant species on the planet. We call it civilisation.

But, of late, we’ve been handing over the reigns to the Golden Age bearers; with a machine to do everything a human can, the human needn’t work anymore. We have submitted to the idea of the Reigner Supreme: the now preferred machine.
Soon enough, the machine takes over the thinking aspect as well. Like a rusting machine, the now-useless human brain rots away in wastefulness.
No longer the well-oiled machine it once was, the evolution of the human brain stops.
With our front running claim to the top, our biggest weapon blunted, we will slide lower. Rationality and logical thinking will be lost, one bad decision will lead to another, till we’ve effectively dwindled down to the last human.
Ain’t that hard to kill the last dodo, is it now?

At last the cycle will end, and the winners, created by the ones they destroyed, the Reigning Machines, the victors, would stand tall, perfect and purposeless.

Hey, I’m only a science fiction writer, but who’s to say that dolphins won’t rule our planet one day?

 

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Slash and Patch

Oh, the irony of the wonderful place I live in.

So much that’s right is really wrong, and so much more that shouldn’t be wrong, is.

Just something weird I’ve noticed.

When it comes to sex, we are mum. (Not in my school, though.)
No one talks about it.
It’s the giggly-hushy thing. No one knows any better, though.

In sixth grade, we had to fill in some form, and our class teacher was giving us the instructions.

“Write your full name, in capitals, where it says ‘Name’, and only write ‘M’ or ‘F’ where they’ve asked you to write your sex, you don’t need to write the whole thing.”

Oooooooooooo, goes the class. I turned. What happened? Ooooo, did you hear her? Snicker snicker snicker. She said the word.
Class teacher frowns.

In seventh grade, we were studying reproduction in plants. Winks all around.
I believe our science teacher took it really well; she said to us, “Wait till next year, you have human reproduction in store!”

Eighth grade. Biology. Second term.
The chapter everyone had been, uh, waiting for.
Suppressed smiles, lit up eyes, looks thrown around, snickers and meaningful glances.
I remember some of my friends saying before we began the chapter, you rankers should watch it this time. We’re gonna ace this test. Full marks.
(It was at least mildly amusing when I somehow did score a full on that bio test, and waved my paper, complete with badly proportioned, crooked diagrams, under their nose.)
This was the build up to the chapter, anyway.

Our biology teacher had it lucky: she was the teacher of the two official, branded worst classes of eighth grade.
You guessed it, one was mine, and we were only second worst.

She had a tough time with The worst. She decided she didn’t want to go through the snickering again.

So we got a pre- Human reproduction lecture from a very peeved biology teacher.

You are eighth graders, you are big children, and hopefully a lot better than <whichever one it was, The Worst Class>. I hope I can expect you not to act like small kids, if I hear a single laugh, whisper, or a giggle, your class has had it from me.

Hardly fair, this was the first time we were to have any chapter remotely about us. Whatever that meant.

 

(Extra info for those who’d like to know how the class went: there were muffled grins. It was building, really.
Somehow, the class ended with our frustrated teacher telling us something about HIV and prostitutes. Weird.
The next day on, it was like a normal lecture. Just a lesson again.

One of my buddies was telling me about her experience with the initiation of The Chapter (or, as it used to be referred to around that time, that chapter *wiggle eyebrows*). She said, again, the urge to giggle or smile was building up strong, and at one point, someone in her class cracked a really lame and pointless joke.
The class roared with laughter.)
(Buddy and I were in different schools, back then.)

I suppose you can call it weird behaviour on our part, but I do think we got a really negative response from our teachers too.
Imagine how normal the first class would’ve been if the teachers had first talked us through our side of things. (Later, they seemed to escape into the technical biological aspects of things.) If they had just told us that it’s a very normal thing, and eventually it will happen with everyone, or almost everyone, at least. If they hadn’t made it seem like being remotely interested in how your own body works, and apart from the digestive, circulatory and respiratory systems too, somehow made you a bad kid. In sixth grade, something had blown up, and a teacher of ours had spent fifty minutes talking to us about how there’s nothing special or different about having a best friend from the opposite gender (which I agree with) and that ‘love’ was only for the silver screen. She said love only happens in movies.
That was something, though, that even as a sixth grader I doubted.
(She was even one of those teachers everyone wanted to please, because being good in her class was worth points to your class ‘team’, and the ‘team’ with the most points got a surprise at the end of a term.
Yep, it’s come from not wanting to think a bad thought against your favourite teacher to writing about these very things that are embarrassing in hindsight. There’s been some stuff on this very post that I’ve found my fingers drifting over the backspace for: no, this is too embarrassing, I can hardly believe now that we went through this as a class! But then I think to myself, if it was, it was. I can’t delude myself to believe it wasn’t. I don’t think I questioned most of the things going in and out of my life till rock music found me, and pretty late too. (More on that another day.) But I suppose there is still something good to consider: that today, I am awake. I’m putting out what I think and feel. I am not going mad, because I can talk here. In a way, my puking zone, but there’s always food for thought.
Embarrassing as it may seem, it’s perhaps helped me turn out the way I have today. I’ll never know.)

We’ve come from there to the boys in my class pushing to wear skirts in October when it will get very hot. (Nope, no comments. They say, we’ll borrow skirts from the girls.)

[UPDATE FROM A MONTH LATER: THEY DID IT. I’M SO PROUD.]
(Details another day, perhaps.)

We’ve come to a point where we almost had a class discussion on masturbation. (I said almost. Not yet, though.)

We talk openly about sexuality, about the idea of love, and feeling and identity. And there’s a comfort in looking to the people around you and knowing that you can talk about anything that comes mind, no one’s going to harshly judge.
(And if they do, like I always tell my shyer surveyees, you can totally judge back. There’s no hard feelings.)
My friends and I recently had a big talk about crossdressing and not dressing, and prom clothing.
(About turning up at a prom in boxers, and about coming in the opposite gender’s dress code. And asexuality (mine, to be specific.))

It makes me wonder why it’s such a problem to talk about things, that ultimately matter.

(Yes, I suppose your last-year-of-school-prom-cum-first-prom-ever-if-happens dressing ideas can matter? I don’t know. I’d go if I can rig the DJ’s system. Or blast out AC/DC myself there. My guitar and I, here we come!)

 

On a different note, I passed by a newspaper stall that had twenty copies of a local paper with the headline, Living the Shitty Life.
I can guess they probably meant it literally, but wasn’t shit a swear? I remember it being censored in the music video of Longview by Green Day (a song which is pretty much a good listen if you’ve been interested in the last bit I’ve written. It’s a very open, honest piece where singer-guitarist Billie Joe Armstrong talks about getting so bored that masturbation becomes boring; the song was a breakthrough then, because no one would talk about such stuff in the ’90’s. Similar to what I’d talked about, listeners of that time found it liberating. It’s also got a pretty good bassline.)
The irony (and this is something a lot of my friends have pointed out to me before, and I will hand the observation down to y’all) is that shit, censored all over, is pretty much the first swearword a kid here learns, and they don’t even know it, it’s so normal. Most kids will tell you that the first rude word they used was stupid, or idiot, or in some cases, even shut up.
(You must remember that I see kid cases every week, I play basketball.)
Yet SO much other stuff, including stuff that happens within your body and your head, has been silenced all this while.

We developed as human beings, the smarter species, the thinking feeling beings, the difference between us and them being “humanity, “compassion” and “civility”.
But so-called civility has taken such control, we’ve reduced us to parodies of ourselves. Emotions aren’t weaknesses, thoughts are not a waste of time (I have a maths test tomorrow), being different is not being defective, and being the same as another person is not lame (neo-aggressive unique individual thought that shames you for thinking like another person) (not pro-plagiarism). When all this is the only stuff left to distinguish us from the robots that we always vilify, (besides the organic nature of our skins versus their lasting stainless steel surfaces, and the fact that the average human is slowly falling behind the robot) why would we try our hardest to discard those elements?
When we have only one life to do everything possible, it wouldn’t make sense trying to hide behind a blueprint forever. At least for the moment, humans are born, not cultivated, created, or designed.
Thoughts are the things that shape what we become, and hiding them means not only suppressing something that could potentially change your world, but maybe someone else’s too, which I find to be the most beautiful thing about an artist. The ability to express a thought, and to have it reach someone else, far away, with whom it may resonate, or on whom it may leave an impact. The ability to spread an influence.

The way to live, at least if you feel you have something to say to the world, is practically to live by the lyrics of the most meaningful song in my life, Butterflies and Hurricanes.

It says:
Change everything you are
And everything you were
Your number has been called
Fights and battles have begun
Revenge will surely come
Your hard times are ahead
Best, you’ve got to be the best
You’ve got to change the world
And use this chance to be heard
Your time is now


Change everything you are
And everything you were
Your number has been called
Fights and battles have begun
Revenge will surely come
Your hard times are ahead
Best, you’ve got to be the best
You’ve got to change the world
And use this chance to be heard
Your time is now


Don’t let your self down
And don’t let yourself go
Your last chance has arrived
Best, you’ve got to be the best
You’ve got to change the world
And use this chance to be heard
Your time is now

And a beautiful piano solo.

 

The clock is laughing in my face.

– Brain Stew, Green Day.

Wish me luck for that maths test.

Fair Game

There’s a construction going on behind my place. It’s got two whole levels of parking and an open space above that before it leads up to the first residential floor, which is narrower than these first three.
I’d observe it from my window sometimes, and for some odd reason, I’d assumed the open space would be a play area for the kids. But pretty soon, it turned out to just be a third level of parking.

I think back, how naïve of me. That was never going to happen.
A play area? What play area; it don’t exist, you wanna play, I’ll give you a tablet, go play.

On second thoughts, I’d rather you didn’t waste your time, go study. Look at the time, it’s nearly two, time for your tuition coaxing coaching classes [thank you autocorrect. I wasn’t looking for that word, but it does fit.], you’ll be back only by eight; when will you get the time to study?

And then we blame the lifestyles of the “kids these days”?

.gif and matches

Kia ora! Only just a few days to go for the Women’s World Cup!

The warm ups are already underway, one that’s going on right now is the India wn vs the White Ferns (or the New Zealand wn).

India called right, batted first, and put up 130 in 45 overs, Poonam Raut high scoring with a 33, Mona Meshram the next highest with 30, eventually running out of partners at the other end.

Clinical bowling from New Zealand, they kept picking wickets at regular intervals, never really letting India accelerate. Hannah Rowe, Bermingham and Peterson picking 2 apiece. With a required Run Rate of 2.89 RPO, the kiwis look to chase this down.

I’m not going to talk about the Champions Trophy. I went in supporting 2 teams, and watched them both crash out embarrassingly.

image
When your campaign goes shit, eyeball it.

Now, the unrelated stuff.

Everyone loves a good GIF. The lovely spams, the trash that fills your phone memory and 25 SD cards, that’s all over the goddamned Internet, that my friend can’t send me enough of, that now there’s a whole page of on my Whatsapp keyboard.

Lovely things.

So I asked my sister if she remembers a time when GIFs used to be Nokia wallpapers.

Well, she blanked out. No was her answer. But let me hear from y’all, do you remember the moving Nokia wallpapers? The ones with the blue and purple planets, and the red streaks (not a Flash reference) and a really annoying bright green one called Juniper? (No, wait, I can swear Juniper was a .png…)

What else do you remember about the non-touch screen phone times? Tell me about it!

(NO, at seventeen, I am not old or nostalgic, just curious!)

PS: In reply, so far (12 overs) New Zealand are 56-0, and going strong.

 

PSS: New Zealand chased the target down, Sophie Devine finishing with a six as New Zealand won by 7 wickets and with 23 overs to spare.

The Art of the Heart

Music is not about how you look, it’s about how you feel.

It’s not so much about the five senses out there, not even hearing.

It’s about the sense in here, in your heart and soul, how the music makes you feel, how you perceive it.

It’s an art of the heart.

So as a musician, or even as a keen listener, it’s not quite as important to, as they say, have an ear for music, as it is to have a heart for music.

Musician Dave Grohl had once talked about how he’d written the Foo Fighters’ Everlong, on the “stone cold alt rock classic” album The Color and the Shape.

He said he didn’t even know what the opening chords of Everlong were. He just treated his guitar like the drums.

dave-grohl-sweating-1024x712
Grohl in action on the drums.

The low open D was the bass drum, and from there, he was lead to go onto the cymbals- the higher 10th fret minor chord- and then dynamically alternate between the two. (I here find my fretting hand fingers subconsciously going out to play the first 5 seconds of the song… Whoops!)

It was because he probably closed his eyes, saw a drum, and then let his emotions, through his fingers, do the talking on his guitar.

So no one can teach you how to ‘make’ music. Exactly how no one can breathe for you, and no one can think for you, this is your own let-loose time.

It is also why, no matter how beautifully and articulately someone describes a piece of music to you, it can never do justice. I’ve read pretty ordinary reviews of albums that have added a fourth special dimension inside my head, (and some thrashing ones. In a savage mood? Pitchfork’s review of Jet’s debut, Get Born, is scathing.) and some delightful reviews and recommendations, tempting me to go listen to some music or other, have lead to disappointment.

I’ll point out, some, not because they were necessarily pathetic but only because they fell flat on my taste. And that’s subjective.

I want to point out that I have a highly charged immune system when it comes to music.

An anecdote: musically, for a few years, I was at odds with my immediate world. They liked trending artists, I listened to stuff they’d never heard of. (But no, it never affected our friendship.)

‘At odds’ is a mild phrase: we were diametrically opposed, North Pole and South Pole, plus and minus, butterflies and hurricanes.

I don’t quite know how it came about to be, but I managed to get one direction listeners to try some punk. Through the ages; proto punk, with the Godfather, and the Stooges, to the Pistols and Clash in England, and the Ramones and the New York Dolls in America, thinking the Saints and the like in Australia, to the underground 80’s punk, (Black Flag, Circle Jerks, Public Enemy, the like) to it’s reemergence in the 90’s- the punk revival movement, with the Bay Area scene, the Riot Grrl movement and bands like Mega City Four and Senseless Things in the UK, (sorry, but if there’s one drawback with rock music, it’s that it’s 90% British or American) but we never got that far. It got too loud for my pals. Reverse karma: I was now stuck staring at the prospect of having to listen to five unbroken MINUTES of Taylor Swift. (Wheeze, wow, I can hardly believe grade 10 was that long ago!)

I joked to them, I can’t do this alone at home, I need paramedics around me! But heck, such is life, and I stood out, staring at calming green trees as I got to begin, just in case I suffer my first panic attack. I clicked it. I grimaced. As salvation, my friend had told me, “At least she’s using a guitar there,”. It began. One…  Two.   Three.    Four…  Oh, god! Five.    I paused and gasped. Even today, I can’t explain it. Screw the trees, I got up and ran to the dunny and so very nearly puked.

In five minutes hence, I had rung up my friend, who, in all astonishment at my story, could do nothing but laugh. I swore to her, I am genuinely allergic to Taylor Swift; medically proven today. Told you we might need those paramedics.

She laughed and said, okay.

I have never attempted harakiri again.

So it’s true, as much as I try, I am admittedly not equally receptive to all sorts of music. (There’s some, that I snort, ‘can’t even be called music.’ But hey, that’s my private ale.) That’s everyone’s complain against me, and I am guilty. When it comes to sifting through music, I am sort of like the Cure song says,

‘I don’t care if Monday’s blue

Tuesday’s grey and Wednesday too

Thursday, I don’t care about you

It’s Friday, I’m in love.’

Very picky, I guess!

But perhaps it’s because I can hardly force myself to like a song. If I feel a connect from within, I’ll hear a mental click!; we’re locked in.

And I don’t mean connecting, just lyrically.  I’ve fallen in love with Kashmir’s riff, I’ve fallen for Plug In Baby’s riff; I’ve fallen for the sound of the mellotron in one ear and the guitar’s in the other, on Night Flight; my sister’s a sucker for good drums; one can go gaga over a wah pedal or a pitch shifter, that opening vibrato on Foxy Lady, get mesmerised by the voices, the shrieks of a Mick Jagger, the Plants and the Mercurys, the look of pure happiness on Hank Marvin’s face as he plays his beloved guitar, a quiet lyrical gimmick, a wicked synth arpeggio… it’s easy to go on all day! But something in the song will speak to you, you’ll feel a thrill  and contraction in your heart muscles and you’ll momentarily forget the universe, that’s what music means, and that’s exactly why, over three millennia, music hasn’t died. Because it comes from the heart. It’s what makes music the thing it is.

What does this mean to people as artists today?

It means that every part of your song makes sense to you, and means something, that adds meaning overall to what you want to convey. So your lyrics may be ones where you have wrung the sincerity of your heart and hung it on a peg to dry, but the rest of the song is just you randomly picking and placing notes, the meaning, significance and relevance of the song may just dim. Because music was never meant to be an “industry” but always an outlet.

(David Bowie talks a bit about it here. (keep in mind he’s being sarcastic since he’s talking about a parody, but the man speaks true words.))

To some people, it may be a balm and therapy, to some, relaxation, it may make some want to get up and, uh, scream! pick up a guitar and jump (… or is the jump part just me?) But it will never fail to push that thrill right down your spine.

(I’ve included some of the songs’ links above, in case anyone wishes to go exploring.)

And the Roller Coaster Continues.

Why the last year for England seems fit for the silver screen.

It’s been a rough year for England, and it seems to be getting rougher. One setback comes when it’s least expected, and then just as things seem to be getting better, there comes, ‘the next wave’. Boom. Another unsettlement.

In some ways, one could have awoken last morning and said, “the blockbuster continues.” In some ways, it would be quite like something straight out of Hollywood (or television, which just can’t be discounted, since I realised I probably watch more TV than movies… and it’s obviously not only me!)

In terms of emotions, over the last year, Britain has gone from shock to embarrassment, denial to pain to resistance, then to consolidation and reemerging confidence, to yet another shock.

The days after the referendum, for many, were like a daze. Everyone wanted it, or so they’d made out. But when it happened, no one expected it. Despite all the bitter resentment they were portrayed to have had, Britons, at the very end, had the faith in their people that the outcome at the end would only serve as another opinion poll, something to say that, look, a lot of us may not be the happiest about all the shit that’s supposed to be happening around here, but we’ll pull through. Majorly.

But turns out, more damage had been done than pre-referendum polls could have detected.

Then came the divide: some want to stay, all of a sudden, in fact, more people than before want to Remain, while those who really wanted to leave, those who were really convinced that, in the style of a certain someone, the EU was a ‘bad deal’, were now emboldened by their win, and rose up with cries of their assertion as the majority.

The generation divide followed highlighted, with many disappointed to see their chance to see the bold, free world disappearing over the horizon of the past. The life they would never have, now to become something to adorn history texts. Their life ahead, robbed.

They tried to fight back, separately, London and Scotland tried to break away, to hold on to that fleeting dream. But a strong hand pulled the kittens back in by the tail, and got them firmly to stay put.

To many, it seemed that this Strong Hand would bring them stability, (to quote a Chvrches song, ‘Will I be the strong hand keeping you safe/ Or will I break you in half?’ (Yes, the self-declared staunch rock and roller likes a majority of the synthpop band’s debut album. Sue me already.))

But there were signs, right from the start, that this lyric may come true in full.

The kittens, though, weren’t going to sit quietly. There was fighting, fighting the decision, fighting the disappointment they felt, trying to find their places and relevance in a soon-to-be post-Brexit world.

I remember reading about a major walk taking place in London, held by Remainers. One of them said (not verbatim) that they pretty much knew that they couldn’t change the outcome, but they wanted to have their voices heard, to make the 52% know that they were disappointed.

It was all they could do to remain relevant, couldn’t they?

(Look, I’m not British, so if you are, and feel I’m wrong, feel free to tell me. It’s my opinion, and it’s mostly shaped by reading.)

But there was rising uncertainty, May was strong, maybe even too much, when it came to her decisions. Criticism came in from different corners, even from insiders, and the Rejected and the youth were starting to eye a new option, somewhere they could be heard again… yet, just like Brexit, no one thought it would be enough. Wrong again, eh?

The shock hits again, a frown sits back on the brow again, and will one mistake lead to another, or will we finally have struck back? When will we ever be sure? and other questions revolve. Only time will tell, in the mean time, well-meaning observers would only wish that the Blockbuster, as in a hero-centric thriller, lead a bruised but more experienced, resilient Britain rising from the rubble, in perfect control of its senses and with a sense of balance, reemerging.

Take the risk

You should know that every time you breathe, you take a risk.
Oxygen oxidises the cells in your body, literally causing a burning to release energy, it’s this oxidising that causes ageing and death at all.
To put it in short, every breath you take contributes to your death.
Yet do you dare stop?
Take a risk in life, learn the lessons that nature has to offer you. You know that breathing at the very end equals dying, but you’ve decided to burn those cells and LIVE first, at least, instead of worrying about how you’re killing yourself a little, every second. If you mourn and worry every minute you’re alive, when will you live? You can’t live when you’re dead, and that’s something pretty important to learn from your own body!
You’re your own best teacher, seems this applies in every way, even in the little things we don’t realise. So go out and live already. Like I said, you can’t live when you’re dead, and you can’t mourn either, which is probably better for you and for the world. Don’t leave behind any regrets!

[I promise you I am not preaching. I am sitting here, putting out this post, when I have to sit for a chemistry paper in just over 48 hours.]