Pink Floyd – Wish You Were Here (Feat. Stéphane Grappelli)

Video

Wish You Were Here is one of my all-time favorite songs, so I was immensely pleased to come across a rare recording featuring Stéphane Grappelli. It sounds amazing. Thank you for the link, Open Culture.

Ryu Teaches More Than The Hadoken

Hey, folks. Today’s Daily Prompt is about learning. Specifically, what kind of learning style works best for you. It reminds me of something Ryu once said:

“Every moment gives us a chance to become more than what we are.”

I know it’s geeky taking inspiration from a video game, but still. I try to put it into practice whenever possible. It usually involves reading. I have a fiery, unbridled passion for books. I always bring something with me to read, and not just because I’m an introverted loner. If I stumble across something interesting on Wikipedia, I’ll spend hours learning everything I can about it. If I took my entire library out of storage and stacked every book in my room, it’d probably cover at least a couple of walls from floor to ceiling. I don’t have Angry Birds on my iPod; I have encyclopedias, translation guides, and access to pretty much every public domain text out there. Open Culture and Stanza (before it went defunct, at least) have been instrumental in turning my device into a portable learning tool and reference desk.

However, not everything can be learned from just reading. Take languages, for example. I’m sure I’m not the only one here who had to learn a foreign language at some point. It was a requirement for my bachelor’s degree. I chose Spanish because hey, I’m in California. People were speaking Spanish here before the state even existed. It’s going to be even more important in the country’s future. Learning accents and verb conjugations has always been easy for me, but it wasn’t just because of reading and memorizing text. It was because I practiced. Language is like a sword; when it’s not used or properly maintained, it gets rusty. The same goes with any skill. I incorporated the vocabulary into my normal routine, and I challenged myself to go through the day without speaking English. More importantly, I spoke to other people – and not just my professor – in Spanish. You’d be surprised how effective it can be.

My preferred style is a combination of distanced observation and hands-on interaction. I’m no super-detective like Sherlock Holmes, but sit me in a room and I can make detailed descriptions and conjecture about pretty much everything. For years, I worked in the customer service industry when things were still done the old-fashioned way: face-to-face with an actual, physical person. Yeah, remember that? So quaint. It taught me how to read people’s faces, vocal tones, and other little nuances in a conversation’s subtext. Whenever I review a video game or a book, I always approach it from an analytical standpoint, so much so that I need to remind myself to have fun. You can get a whole new level of enjoyment out of something if apply what you’ve learned; anyone well-versed in Jungian psychology will get a kick out of how Persona 4 plays out. If I can’t figure something out by just observing it, I’ll try to handle it myself. Yeah, I was the kid taking clocks apart and mixing paints together. It may have been messy, but it was worth it.

It still is. Thanks, Ryu.

Daily Prompt: A Bird, a Plane, You!, Or: This Is Heavy, Doc!

Hey, folks. Today’s Daily Prompt is about power. Specifically, choosing one of three superpowers provided:

  • The ability to speak and understand any language
  • The ability to travel through time
  • The ability to make any two people agree with each other

Now, I’ve established that I’m pretty geeky, so of course questions like this are nothing new. The concept of superpowers is ancient; a cursory glance of any major battle in Homer’s epics will reveal quite a bit. When I was a kid, it always came down to Achilles’ Nigh Invulnerability versus Odysseus’ cunning. Cunning isn’t technically a superpower, but being able to outsmart gods is undeniably awesome. But since wisdom and strategy are part of Athena’s domain, she’s probably my first favorite superhero…

Going on a tangent. Sorry.

Anyway, so this debate focuses on the three aforementioned powers. I can dismiss the third one outright, because making two people agree doesn’t exactly solve the inherent issues of a disagreement. The implication of this power is that you use some kind of psychic ability to mess with people’s brains, essentially forcing them to do something. It really boils down to individual morality versus necessity; if you need to mentally force people to agree, then what does that portend for the future of civilization? Look what happened to Rohan in Lord of the Rings. I don’t know about you, but I like having free will and memories. Hey, remember when Zatanna mind-wiped the villainous Dr. Light? Remember when she mind-wiped Batman in an attempt to cover it up? Yeah, that didn’t have any negative consequences whatsoever…oh wait.

I’m sorely tempted to go with the first one, simply because I really enjoy learning languages. I spend a lot of time using free online resources like DuoLingo and Open Culture. If The King of All Cosmos can speak Esperanto, then so can I! What’s cool about speaking any language is that it’s not limited to verbal communication. Taken a step further, universal translation also applies to technology. You ever take a course in C++? BASIC? Congratulations, you know a programming language. How about body language? Music? Symbols? R’lyehian? You might want to save that last one for a special occasion. There’s a lot of opportunities to be had, and being able to communicate is a more civil method of diplomacy than, you know, mind-wiping naysayers.

However, I have to go with time travel. If you have all the time in the world, you can develop universal translation on your own! Yeah, it’s a lot of studying, but at least you won’t have to sacrifice the ability to bend the fabric of reality. You have enough time to do, learn, and create anything you want. The sky isn’t even the limit; develop technology over the centuries and discover interstellar flight! It’s all there for the taking. That doesn’t mean it’s perfect, though. There are a lot of problems associated with time travel, usually due to individual choices and hubris. Remember what happened in Back to the Future? Marty McFly nearly erased himself from existence, and accidentally re-wrote a bunch of other stuff! Or how about The Girl Who Leapt Through Time, who used her powers to avoid problems and drastically altered the fates of everyone around her? Doctor Who is all about why time travel is so ridiculously awesome and dangerous at the same time. Then there are all the questions brought up with multiverse theory, which is even messier. Time travel is the best of these three powers, but it requires unparalleled responsibility and foresight. I don’t think I – or anyone else, for that matter – could use it perfectly.

But I’d sure like to try.