Thursday, October 20, 2011

Internet Art is Deviant

The other day I uploaded a new picture to my deviantart account which is in of it's self is a rare enough occurrence and has a long enough of a rambling nonsensical description that it might be worth a blog post of it's own (you might be interested in the picture or description if your interested in my silly romhack). In fact I am not sure how many people even know or remember I have a deviantart account. It's certainly not something I pay a lot of attention too. In fact, I mostly only got it to be able to view mature images and decided to upload a few of the old things I had laying around there.

Part of the reason for my lack of attention is because I have long ago given up on ever being an artist, since the only art I seem to be capable of making is either simple pixel art or stuff about on par with the pictographs I use on this blog (minus the ones that are blatantly traced). Most of the work I have in my deviantart account is either collage work or pixel art (and the new picture I put up counts as both), and none of it is very engaging I think. But another big part is because I am very apathetic about sites like deviantart in general and the type of art usually hosted on them.

Now I make no secret of the fact that I like porn, mainly hentai, cartoon, and furry smut, all of which is drawn art rather then actual live action porn. But Outside of x-rated art though I find I very rarely take a interest in much art online. But there is another side to it too. I quite like art used in comics, videos, games, and such, x-rated or not (but it's still better as smut, of course). Really it's only static images that usually fail to hold my interests without smut.

I think the thing is, when a artist draws fanart, or even original art, of random characters who sit there and look pretty, it seems to lack any real context or point. It just becomes a image. It doesn't move me, it doesn't inspire me, it's just there. There are exceptions to this of course, especially for interesting landscapes or interesting character design, but mostly it seems to run a little flat. Smut of course gives me a reason to care for more then the image it's self, but it has to be real hardcore stuff. Simply having a pretty girl doesn't do much for me, and sexy pinup poses rarely work either. Sometimes nudity isn't even enough. I guess I have just been exposed to so much really smutty stuff that it takes more to really wind me up.

Having a story or a game to go along with the art does the same for the mind as smut does for the body. It gives me a reason to really care more then just pretty pictures. And it works in reverse too, in that the art that goes along with the story or game gives the story or game more style and helps craft the world with the art. In fact, music acts much the same way in this regard. I am not quite as interested in music when it's just music, but when the music is put in to enhance a story or a game, it becomes a lot more powerful (but music and sex results in too much bad techno). But I suppose a lot of the time, at least with art, there is usually a story there I don't know about. A lot of original characters made by online artists seem to have roots in roleplaying chats or in progress works of fiction (in fact so does Jiggles, on both counts), and a lot of fan works seem to focus on exploring different aspects or ideas not seen in the original work (homestuck fan works tend to do a great job at that sometimes).

But as I said, I am not an artist, I do not know the mediums and techniques, and I tend not to pay that much attention to style or ability aside from a vague sense of aesthetics and some basic skill. I probably just don't appreciate all of the details that people tend to obsess over in art. I like well done art better then sloppy and badly proportioned art, but I can't say that's something I look for so much as something I notice when done wrong.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Medication Misappropriation Mitigation

Note: Anyone here from smwcentral, or who doesn't care about it, can skip the first paragraph bellow if they want, it's mostly background info on this blog post.

There is a sub-forum on smwcentral that I often find myself drawn to for reasons that sometimes elude even me. It's basically a place for people to discuss real life issues which usually degenerates into emotional teens angsting over weather they should talk to a girl (hint: if your that torn up about it maybe your too emotionally immature to handle a relationship), although lots of people do bring up real issues. So, since I happen to have a real life problem (as opposed to the many nitpicks and gripes I have with various works of fiction, and political rants that no one cares about), I decided "Hey, why don't I post about my issue! It will give me an excuse to do more then bank my head on the desk at stupid teens and try to come up with meaningless advice for issues that don't have an easy solution!" So I started to write down my issue, and ended up with something much longer and less on topic then I intended. So I decided to post a short version and dump most of it here instead. This isn't the first time this has happened. And honestly if I keep making rants like this one it may be better off to do it more often or use PMs (I am sticking by my decision to post that there for now, even if I could have handled it better).

Anyway, I have been feeling sick lately. And when I mean feeling sick, I mean feeling dizzy and nauseous instead of just the headaches and sinus problems I have been having for years. I am pretty sure I know why I am sick too. About a month ago, I started taking Ritalin (or to be more exact a generic equivalent). Which I should add, was my idea. Yeah yeah, I know it was pushed on a bunch of kids that didn't need it, but it still has it's uses. I suggested it as a possible replacement to Adderall (again, a generic equivalent) that I dropped because I don't feel it was helping me.

I felt sick then, and didn't feel it was having the intended effect and wasn't exactly sure the sickness wouldn't go away as I got used to it. So this month, I doubled the dose and planed to drop it at the end of the month if I didn't have better results. I may stop it earlier then that now actually, but I think I can hold out till then.

It should be worth noting that I was long ago diagnosed with Asperger's syndrome (insert hugbox joke here). But really, I long ago decided Asperger's syndrome is just too broad and vague a label to treat, so I have mostly been just focusing on seeing if there is a drug to help me overcome my crippling inability to get shit done.

Said inability I contribute to the following factors:
  • Lack of focus.
  • Lack of satisfaction in completing tasks.
  • Pessimistic thinking.
  • Getting obsessive about minor details.
  • Dissociative thinking.
  • General inability to emotionally invest in things

So I am wondering if there is I haven't tried (Prozac, Wellbutrin, Adderall, Ritalin) that has helps with these problems. Because if not, I think I will just give up on drugs for now until some magical drug comes along and fixes all my problems. And maybe also a drug to transform by body into that of a little girl. Because heck, while we are on the subject of unrealistic wish fulfillment, why think small?

You know what the thing is though? I don't think I am actually "depressed" as such. Maybe I am medically depressed, as in my brain chemistry is out of whack, but I am not suicidal, I am pessimistic about the outcome of tasks but not about much else, and despite having to put up with a host of daily annoyances I think at the end of the day life is worth it. I contribute all this to a generally affirming philosophical outlook on life.

So it just goes to show, bullshit philosophical nonsense has more to do with your outlook on life then you might think.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Social Noise Reduction

There is a particularly common criticism of today's society I hear a lot. I am not sure what the term for it is, but I think it is a core part of the larger ideas of Postmodernism and Cyberpunk. The criticism is that nowadays, thanks mostly to the internet and mass media, people are bombarded with so many opinions, alleged facts, works of fiction, ideas, and memes, that people have become either terminally unable to separate the "signal" from the "noise" in the information we process, and/or are incressingly distracted by the trivial.

And yeah, I can see that. But before we go around claiming Ludd was right and throwing out all our communication technology, maybe we should consider that maybe PEOPLE are the problem, not the information. First of all, I think the problem with people being unable to tell the difference between fact and fiction is simply that most people don't have the critical thinking skills needed to parse information in an optimal way. What's more, most people don't have a broad enough perspective to realize that sometimes it doesn't even matter. People are often more interested in picking a side and being right then anything else. Sometimes, especially with controversial or heavily contested subjects, you just have to admit that some things may or may not be true. This doesn't mean you can't draw conclusions, you just need to think about logic in a different way.

As for people being distracted by the trivial, I actually take it as a sign that what a lot of people say is important, isn't really that important to a lot of people. That doesn't mean it isn't important in the grand scheme of things, but people so rarely look or care about the the grand scheme of things. I think, for example, kids getting distracted from school by video games is not a problem with the games. It's a problem with the school or maybe the parents. People shutting themselves in and playing MMORPGs all day is not a problem with the MMORPG. It's a problem with our society. As for the people who get distracted themselves, it's hard for me to make an argument that they are at fault if they honestly don't care. I mean, yeah, they are doing it to themselves but that is a choice. They pay the consequences for that choice. Though I may be bias because that is more or less what I am doing, allowing myself to get distracted fully understanding that there is a price to pay. Some times it's worth it, sometimes it's not.

I feel personally, like I have spent the last ten or so years of my life mostly just gathering information and working it out in my head. Trying to build a sort of cathedral of images and thoughts in a manner similar to how Carl Jung worked out his issues by writing his Red Book. I have been interested in that sort of thing for a while, probably ever since I was a kid and saw parts of The Wall, and perhaps even before that with my childhood games of imagination.

But, Carl Jung stressed the need to write these things down, so that they become contained and objectified, and I have done very little in the way of actual writing and art. I have a powerful urge to do so, which is part of what my hack was intended to do actually. To give my ideas and outlet and to make them more 'real' so to speak. I suppose in the back of my mind, there is a third criticism of today's society that saps me of the motivation to do much work on it. And that criticism is that there is so much of that kind of stuff out there. Stuff that both intentionally and unintentionally explores these themes I want to explore. And while they might not do it in the same way, they cover a lot of the same ground.

Lately I have been reading a lot of random webcomics and watching videos of a lot of random games. And it gets to the point where there are just so many works of fiction with so many themes and ideas, that even if a few of them still make me take notice of something or reevaluate my ideas slightly, I don't really think there is much room for me. Which is a stupid way of looking at it really. I talk all the time about being the butterfly that starts the storm, of how I would be happy if my ideas were remembered even if I were not. After all, I am sitting here writing this in a blog that I am not sure anyone actually takes the time to read. And maybe this blog is like my red book. Maybe blogging in general will help people deal with there problems just knowing, even if it is never read, that it is out there somewhere for people to randomly find.

I can always hope, and I guess hope is enough to live on.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

It Just Dosn't Ad Up

I was reading an old article criticizing Google's advertisement service, and while I think a lot of the criticism is somewhat valid, it strikes me as sort of like a business man getting money out of an idiot because the idiot was to spaced out to actually pay attention to what they were doing. I mean yes, it might be sort of exploitive, but I often feel like smacking the idiot almost as hard as I do the business man. But really, it's not surprising to me in the least, because as far as I am concerned, advertisement in general is more or less a scam. Especially on the Internet.

I mean, yeah, I can understand the basic idea (even if I don't like it), street vendors calling out in a crowded marketplace, shops putting up some posters on some walls, events being posted on a bulletin board for people to see, but any more then that gets sort of iffy. The problem sort of started with television and radio advertisements, which interrupts the programing every now and then to have some ad play. Despite it being a bit disruptive, I can understand why it happens. For television and radio, there is no real "product" to sell to customers, so they make money by letting advertisers run ads from time to time. But this sets up a strange triangle of relations between the broadcasters, the advertisers, and the customers which can end up doing more harm then good at times.

In general, the problem often becomes a mutual animosity or lack of respect because each of the players in the game have very different and mutually exclusive aims. Customers want content, and are generally not interested in sitting through advertisements to get it. Advertisers of course, want to convince customers to go out and buy stuff and are not interested in the content or the customer's wants beyond what it takes to get them to buy stuff. Broadcasters generally want to sell advertisement time, and often are only are interested in the content as a way to get customers to watch the ads, and don't care if the advertisers actually sell anything.

What all this leads too, I think, is an environment where the kind of more disruptive and exploitive advertisement practices thrive. If a vendor is being too disruptive or a business is putting posters or notices in the wrong place, customers are free to confront them in person or call the authorities. But in an environment where the very medium is owned by someone who uses it to sell advertisement time, advertisers are free to do almost whatever they want to get people's attention. They can funnel more and more money into something and make bigger, longer and more disruptive advertisements without regard for the customer's wishes.

But also, advertisers themselves are also a victim in a lot of cases. Street vendors can see face to face the kind of reaction they are getting, and a poster or notice can be placed in a position most likely to be looked at by someone who is already interested in finding the business it's advertising (though billboards and such are much more like tv/radio ads in this regard). But an advertisement that is just put out there randomly even if it's in a time slot most likely to be seen by it's target audience, has little guarantee that anyone who sees it will pay any attention or be interested. Often times it can just waste money.

But all of this is nothing compared to the sometimes downright abusive tactics in internet advertisements. Really for all that article above disses on Google, it might be one of the more honest and safe ad providers (I also think Project Wonderful is fairly honest and safe, or at least seems so, but I would rather they do everything via server-side scripts and not javascript). Part of this is because it's just so unregulated and doesn't have any sort of barrier to anyone doing what they want with it, and part of it is that there is too much information being gathered about people who browse it, but I think it's mostly just a lack of responsibility on everyone's side.

But it's more complex then that. With tv and radio, broadcasters and content providers are usually more or less identical. The broadcasters don't necessarily create the content, but they fund it's creation or buy the rights to show it (though I am not a fan of copyright, but that's a discussion for another day). Sure, often there can be a lot of strife between broadcasters and content providers on TV and radio, but for the most part they act as the same group. On the internet, almost anyone can create content, but not everyone can host it (or at least, host it reliably, quickly, or easily enough to be worth it for most people), and the people who can sell content creators space for hosting. So now, you have four groups of people and not three, each also with often mutually exclusive goals. The rift between web hosts and content providers is much deeper. They are no longer generally in the same group and this can come with all sorts of complications.

Not only are there more groups, the role of the groups is much less solid. Content providers often are also advertisers, and sometimes web hosts are as well, the people who browse the web can become content providers easily even if it's just in the forms of comments or forum posts. One particular absurdity I have noticed is that often content providers will advertise to get more hits to make more money with their advertisements to pay for hosting that charges for the extra bandwidth they use for the extra hits, and a number of the ads they use are for other content providers who are doing the same thing. It makes me wonder how such a system could ever work, but most of the sites that do that are just making enough anyway, even if they have to resort to donation as well.

And really, this would be all fine and good to the browsers to just have a banner or something, if it didn't end up attracting an even worse escalation of disruptive advertisements that used flash and javascript to be as disruptive as possible, and if it people with more ethical flexibility didn't decide to use well-meaning technical tricks to gather as much information as possible from the person browsing, or hackers using bugs and security holes on unwitting victims, or people taking advantage of stupid people by offering things through advertisements and directing them to malware or gathering their personal information, or any of the million other problems with internet advertisements.

Luckily, unlike TV where the best you can do usually is hit the mute button (or pay more for premium cable channels), there are programs to block ads, like this firefox plugin. The sad thing is, so many content providers only means of support is advertisements, although a good number of them do collect donations too. But it's kind of hard for me to feel bad for a lot of them to be honest, because again, I often feel like smacking the idiot almost as hard as I do the business man. I know most of these content providers have very little choice, but I can't help but feel that too many content providers don't think about what advertisements or advertising services they have. It's too often lately that sites just use advertisement servers they have no control over and that may do any number of underhanded things, or may allow the people who advertise to do underhanded things. I don't trust internet advertisements anymore. It used to be you could ignore them. Not anymore. Even Project Wonderful, which generally seems safe, uses javascript, and javascript and flash in ads is one of the main reason why they are allowed to abuse a lot of security holes (I also use the noscript plugin btw). So no. Of the sites I frequent, I made an exception for only one, and only because I am so heavily involved in the community.

And I feel bad, I really do, for all the owners of all the pages out there that I look at that rely on advertisements. But the fact is, it's an abusive relationship on all sides. I understand why it's necessary, but every once and a while, someone is going to walk away with a black eye, and it isn't going to be me. If you take that to mean I don't love you enough, I am sorry you feel that way.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Sex mess

I stumbled across this video presentation about a study about sexual attraction on the Internet which I found extremely interesting. If partly because it amused me that they found that she-male porn is outrageously popular with strait men. Men like dick apparently. IT'S SCIENCE!

Over all though I have some objections to some of the conclusions they reach. Not necessarily because I doubt the results, because it's pretty much mostly stuff I already knew just from poking around in the dark corners of the Internet, or most of the core theory. It just seems to me that they tend to segregate people, though I am sure that's not the intent.

It sort of reminds me of a forum discussion about gay tolerance that I got involved in arguing. primarily for the sake of my strong belief in free will, that the argument that people are born "gay" is wrong and ultimately just hurts the cause of gay rights activists.

I guess it's kind of a different topic, but I sort of generally feel the kind of clinical, detached, social or evolution based explanations for sexual attraction and relationships ultimately do nothing but encourage people to think of it only in narrow inflexible ways. It's like relationships as described by stand up comics and Ladder Theory are the only valid kinds, and it's impossible for men and woman to ever understand each other.

I once made a thread on the Homestuck fourms as a sort of rebuttal to the comic's own troll relationship system which every one says is much more confusing and complex then human relationships. And really I missed some stuff (like pet/human relationships) and it was probably not really very helpful, but my point was that you can't really divide relationships so evenly into strict categories, only mix and match descriptors to get a good approximation. I feel the same way about sexual attraction.

To say for example, guys like breasts, butt, dick, and feet, I think is misleading. Having a cue-based theory is a valid one, but I think it has to be a much more subjective set of cues for each person. Now I will admit, I like all four of those things, but I also like a lot of the more "female" cues, like confidence and competence, if not as much. And I am sure they are not saying everyone is the same, it just became a sort of self-enforcing idea when you say stuff like "this is what men like, this is what woman like". It's a standard that people live to because that's what people say is 'normal'.

And I suppose it again, for me, comes down to free will. I guess being free to be attracted to what you choose to be attracted to is a kind of an odd idea given that choice and attraction are on totally different levels, but I firmly believe people learn fetishes after being exposed to them, and people learn different ideas of attractiveness too. I guess that's the problem of doing a sexual study on Internet porn in the first place, because you can't tell if a fetish reflects an acquired taste or an intrinsic one.

I think with me most everything has been the former. I think my whole experience started with Ranma ½ which got me into anime, which got me into hentai, which got me into furry crap, which got me into all sorts of weird stuff. I mean if I had not heard of hentai, and not had this idea that that's what male porn was, I might be into fanfiction, and hear about shipping and do all sorts of that kind of crap. I donno. I just don't think my maleness really had as much to do with what I like as the cultural environment and expectations. I don't know.

I am a firm believer though, that men and woman are fundamentally the same, and the pressure of society as well as admiringly a few hormones decide their role more then anything else. Or at least I think people should look at it that way. The more you try to convince people men and women or straits and gays, or anyone and anyone are different, the more I think they will be different. And maybe that's not how life works, but I rather people choose to be who they are then just being born that way.