Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Let's Get Real - Episode 5 preview: Black Holes

My 5th conversation is with a newly made friend, interestingly she's inexplicably connected to 2 of my previous guests who are otherwise unrelated. We're all connected maaaaan! She has recently embarked on a return trip to South America after spending a memorable year there in 2010. She had feelings of malaise settling back home so I wanted to capture her impressions of the trip before and after.

One of the things I enjoy about traveling is being consumed into different realities, I referred to this as 'Ego Tripping'. In these cases they're by design, just like a curious Alice entering into rabbit holes to see how deep they go. Then there are experiences that are more like "Black Holes", predicaments we get sucked into and only realise have happened with the benefit of hindsight. Former relationships, previous career paths and abandoned trajectories that ultimately inform our evolution or pad the story of our life.

Enjoy as we discuss some absurd experiences and marvel at how we got there.

VIDEO: The Sopranos - AJ "absurdity of life"

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Does it matter that the dramatic ending to ARGO wasn't "real"

Bob motivating the only holdout to actioning the daring escape plan
JOE STAFFORD: It's suicide.
TONY MENDEZ: I'm asking you to trust me.
STAFFORD: I don't trust you.
BOB ANDERS: This is the game, Joe. What world are you living in?
STAFFORD: What world am I...? The one where they're hanging people from construction cranes, Bob! It's too dangerous, I don't want to bring my wife into this.
Argo (2012)
'Argo' (2012) "The movie was fake. The mission was real."
Ben Affleck's latest directorial effort 'Argo' is gaining Oscar buzz but some are tempering their praise as the dramatic 3rd act was heavily exaggerated to ratchet up the drama for moviegoers. Its only fitting as the movie is about the intoxicating nature of cinema, an antidote to the tragedy and absurdity of real life.
Travers: 'Argo' Is Terrific Despite Hollywood Exaggerations 
Ben Affleck political thriller twists history
Though he stays loyal to history for much of the film, Affleck takes some liberties and spices up the ending. "There's no doubt that Argo is a terrific movie. You sit there and you're entertained, you're crazy... you're on the edge of your seat," says Travers. "But is it right that in order to make a movie that would entertain us, you would fake the truth of something that stayed historically accurate through the whole beginning, right up to the 80 percent mark?" If Affleck gets an Oscar nod, does he deserve to lose because he "faked the truth at the end"?
Futurist Jason Silva offers his perspective which leans towards cutting Director Ben Affleck some slack for using his creative license for 'Argo'.

VIDEO: Jason Silva on ecstasy and how "real" it needs to be
JASON SILVA: The cinema, the art breaks through the screen, it literally breaks through the screen and becomes real. In me, in the audience, in the viewer and its this idea that its ALL real. William Gibson says "We'll look back at the past and laugh at the so called distinction between the real and virtual worlds"...

Monday, November 26, 2012

Young revellers (Schoolies) are corruptible: "Guys don't grow a brain until they're 30"

Girls corrupting guys: Schoolies Week 
Schoolie evicted after high-rise nap 
"Guys don't grow a brain until they're 30, so don't egg them on, particularly when they've got the happy juice in them. They make dumb decisions to show off," Mr Gourley told AAP.

"For the girls, don't yell off the balcony encouraging the boys to do dumb things ... there's an artificial hype around schoolies that you get caught up in ... don't sacrifice your future for a week."

He said it was up to schoolies to look after their mates. "We really put the onus back on the mates that aren't drunk to be looking after friends in case they do something silly like that."

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Glengarry Glen Ross: Ricky Roma morality monologue

VIDEO: Glengarry Glen Ross - Romas' monologue (Al Pacino)  
Glengarry Glen Ross (1992)
RICKY ROMA: All train compartments smell vaguely of shit. It gets so you don't mind it. That's the worst thing that I can confess. You know how long it took me to get there? A long time. When you die you're gonna regret the things you don't do. You think you're queer? I'm gonna tell you something. We're all queer. You think you're a thief? So what? You get befuddled by a middle-class morality? Get shut of it. Shut it out. You cheat on your wife, you did it. Live with it. You fuck little girls, so be it. There's an absolute morality? Maybe. And then what? If you think there is, go ahead, be that thing. Bad people go to hell? I don't think so. You think that, act that way. A hell exists on earth? Yes. I won't live in it. That's me.

Did you ever take a dump, made you feel like you slept for 12 hours? Great meals fade in reflection. Everything else gains. Do you know why? 'Cause it's only food. This shit we put in us, keeps us going - it's only food. The great fucks you may have had, what do you remember about them? I don't know. For me, I'm saying what it is, it's probably not the orgasm. Some broad's forearm on your neck, something her eyes did. There was this sound she made. Or it's me in the - I'm telling you - I'm in bed the next day, she brought me café au lait, gives me a cigarette, my balls feel like concrete.

What I'm saying, what is our life? Our life is looking forward or it's looking back. That's it. That's our life. Where's the moment? And what is it we're so afraid of? Loss. What else? The bank closes, we get sick, my wife died on a plane? The stock market collapsed? What of these things happen? None of them. We worry anyway. Why?
Courtesy of Chepry

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Comedian Noel Fielding at the Sydney Opera House: Stand up, Punk Rock and ideas

Ideas are great, they transform the world but they often take time to spread and get realised. With the internet, memes are now able to spread like wildfire as Jason Silva illustrates. Back in the day it would have been spread via traveling storytellers, the forebears to todays' standups - Comedian Noel Fielding, Just for Laughs 2012
Just For Laughs 2012 - Noel Fielding
NOEL FIELDING: (1m 37s) What I love about standup is you can paint an image in a second and they're with you. Its their own version of your image. I like the way you can paint an image really quickly and quite fantastical or horrific images. There's something beautiful about the punk nature of standup cuz you can have an idea in the day and perform it that night and get an instant reaction. You know whether its good or not immediately...

Let's Get Real - Episode 4 preview: Surrender to an idea

My 4th conversation is with an Artist and Graphic designer, we talked about the power of ideas and the journey in realising them. Interestingly his artistic process is freeform, he allows inspiration to guide his markmaking without preempting the outcome. This perspective informed our conversation and the stories he shared. We talked about art, love and travel.

I've realised my fascination with artists, comedians and filmmakers is their commitment to an idea. It takes a level of devotion, gumption and stubbornness to craft a fleeting thought for an audience of strangers or plunge millions of dollars and thousands of man-hours to share a story. There is nothing more inspiring than realising that everything man has made originally started as a thought in one's head.

Quote bookending Viral Video 'Kony 2012' by Invisible Children
Other Loz in Transit posts on "Ideas"
- Comedian Russell Brand, Futurist Jason Silva: The Power of Ideas
- Mixtape: 'Loz in Translation' Sampler II (Turkey)
- Jumping into other people's lives: Ego Tripping

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

'Wreck-It Ralph' and Simulation Theory: Are we characters in a Video Game?

'Wreck-It Ralph' (2012): The two-dimensional Game and Real Life in 3D
'Wreck-It Ralph' (2012): Reality outside the game and inside it
Wreck-it Ralph is a 3D animated movie about a Video Game Villain traversing different Game universes in order to save the "Arcade" and find his true calling as a hero. It proposes numerous layers of reality that are meta in nature not unlike 'Inception' (2010) did with dreams and 'The Matrix' (1999) offered with computer simulations.

Theoretical physicist Dr Sylvester James Gates Jr presents the notion that we may already be living in our own "Matrix". His research has led to finding "computer code" embedded into the equations of superstring theory:

VIDEO: Dr. Sylvester James Gates Jr. presents Evidence for Intelligent Design

NEIL DEGRASSE TYSON: Are you saying that we're all just - that there's some entity that programmed the universe and we're just expressions of their code...
Dr. SYLVESTER JAMES GATES: Well I didn't say that
TYSON: ... like 'The Matrix'? Some of what you said!
GATES: Some of those codes are showing on the screen behind you right now. They don't look like code but these pictures which are called "Adinkras" are graphical interpretations of sets of equations based on codes.
To answer your question more directly, I have in my life come to a very strange place cuz I never expected that the movie 'The Matrix' might be an accurate representation of a place in which I live.
Ultimately what's "real" may be the connections made with others and the meaning we find in that. Does it really matter that we are living in a Video Game? That life is a dream or that we're simply simulating our past selves. Comedian Joe Rogan offers this optimistic view:
Joe Rogan and The Simulation Theory
JOE ROGAN: Life is just not just whatever you can knock on and make noise, life is not just solid things. Life is also intention, its energy... your car, your house, your boat, your f*cking private jet. Anything that you can hit with a hammer is an illusion. That's the illusion. The reality is the feel, the love, the life, the soul, the interaction with human beings...

Find other Dan Harmon and Duncan Trussell conversations here:
- Ousted 'Community' creator, Dan Harmon speaks to Duncan Trussell about "permanence"
- Dan Harmon and Duncan Trussell: We are in a simulation echo. God was originally a mortal programmer who "sacrificed himself as a player"
- 'Wreck-It Ralph' and Simulation Theory: Are we characters in a Video Game?

Jake the Snake on getting what you want and still not being satisfied

Wrestling legend Jake "The Snake" Roberts talks about temptation on the road and manages to make the coolest thing ever sound like the most depressing thing ever. Be careful what you wish for.

VIDEO: Beyond the Mat (5 of 10)
Beyond the Mat (1999)
JAKE ROBERTS: (8m 24s) The road really screwed up my sex life at home man. You go on the road, you get some type of fame or whatever. All of a sudden you can have it everyday, then all of a sudden you wanna get selective. Then all of a sudden one a day's not enough so you do two a day, then three a day. Then two at a time, then two at a time with toys, then two at a time but just watch. Then it gets more bizarre and more bizarre and it finally gets to the point that when you go home and try to make love to your wife - Ain't no way. Ain't no way because the mental stimulation is not there and that's bad. That's bad.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Scams in Istanbul: Why people trust others (2 of 3)

<< crossposted on The '30 Home Games' and 'LozinTranslation' blog
VIDEO: Aladdin - Do You Trust Me?

During my weakest point in Istanbul, I would think of this famous Disney clip and amuse myself by humming 'A Whole New World'. My intent shifted from sarcasm to optimism.


This is a cautionary tale. I myself have never been scammed in the following way. My brother was scammed in similar fashion in China (Tea Ceremony scam) and my good German friend experienced another variation in Malaysia (blackjack scam). My American running mate in Istanbul ran through the complete course taking 5hrs total. Fortunately he escaped unscathed, no Standover men forcing him to the ATM. I joke that his scammer was in a 'Jules Winnfield-like 'transitional period' and just let him go. The "Clip-joint" scam is explained below
The Single Male Scam
One of these is the "Let's Have a Drink" Scam which results in your paying a drinks bill of hundreds or even thousands of dollars or euros... While you wander around on your own in the evening, you're approached by a well-dressed man who speaks good English. He chats with you, then he suggests you have a drink together, and leads you to a bar or nightclub that's in on the scam.
VIDEO: Scam City Istanbul (National Geographic)

Below are a sample of the dozen interactions I experienced, these examples on their own shouldn't raise any red flags but do illustrate the variety of scripts. Most of these stories happen from 4pm onwards, as it approaches dark. I am dressed casually (hoodie, trackpants, no bags/camera) and all my interactions began with approaches in English, inexplicably they would say “Sorry, I thought you were Turkish“.

Just like making a sale or attracting a partner - the routine is about triggering certain human behaviours
Appearance: Young, Mobile phone in ear
Location: Sultanahmet Square, walking alongside
Story: Kurdish man on holidays from Antalya
Approach: (Phone in ear) "Excuse me which one is Haghia Sophia and which one is the Blue Mosque?"

Appearance: Older, Very well dressed
Location: Galata köprüsü (main walkbridge with Fishermen), In my path then stops suddenly to enjoy the view with me
Approach: "How far down do you think it is?"

Appearance: Young, dressed for going out
Location: Taksim Beyoğlu
Story: Visiting Istanbul from Izmir, staying at a hostel
Approach: "We are staying at x Hostel... they suggested this bar worth checking out"
Scams are a subversion of the ordinary interactions we have in daily life. Preying on our better nature, they are most effective when they address a want or a need. Scammers see these as 'vulnerabilities'. When our house is on fire, its reasonable to trust the first person we see with a uniform and hose.

When the want or a need is a "free lunch" or something sexual, its understandable why others would be unsympathetic but more often than not the wants are innocent. In the case of the Istanbul clip-joint scams, it could be a yearning for good company, seeking a local connection or just an interesting night out. A scammer is a 'Man with a plan', they target wayward travelers offering direction and directions.

I like to travel with an open mind and have found that all my best experiences in life involve me trusting in others. Most new relationships and experiences are founded on this principle, we use our value systems to balance Risk VS Reward then we make instinctual decisions. On-the-street interactions is how I arrived at many of my best experiences traveling. I didn't want to lose this aspect of my journey. This episode certainly made me more mindful and more grateful of the good fortune I'd had up to this point.

Everyday people are being scammed. Tourists are soft targets because they often stick out and are often more trusting. Looking through forums discussing Travel scams I've found people tend to break down into these types:
1) Victims - ranging from philosophical to vengeful
2) Cautious know-it-alls
3) Defensive locals

Instead of depriving myself of a great Turkish experience (which I did find) because I was afraid of unwanted attention, I instead calibrated my state of mind. The more I reflect on this time, the more I realise how human the experience was. As an adventurous person by nature, I would have been perfect fodder for this scam thankfully things transpired differently. I found myself fascinated and obsessed with this stomach-turning game, it was when I read this that everything changed:
CAREFUL: SCAM in Istanbul...
... My guy was very well dressed and well spoken, when I told him I was just going to check my email and then return to my hotel because I was tired, he said he also needed to find a net-cafe and skype his family (he told me he was a business man from out of town !) and he even paid for my net use. I even got to say hello to his wife and child, so how could I suspect a lovely family guy ? Anyway, much the same as everyone else...
- BP007
Enter Basketball...

- Scams in Istanbul: Why I trust people (1 of 3)
- Scams in Istanbul: Why people trust others (2 of 3)
- Scams in Istanbul: The reality of trusting (3 of 3)

Friday, November 9, 2012

Towelie and Kevin Smith: Talking pot and the reward of epiphany

Rolling Stone (May 2011) - Kevin Smith's Happy Ending
Kevin Smith's Happy Ending by Josh Eells
"It's kind of like The Matrix" he says, with the zeal of a convert. "That moment when Neo sees all the zeros and ones. Suddenly, you see everything clearly: The negativity goes away. The doubt goes away. You get a little burner Tony Robbins in your head, going 'Come on, Kev, you can do it!' I hate to sound like a stoner- but there's a reason, like, it grows everywhere." 
When he first started getting high, Smith vowed that he'd always tie it to something creative, so as not to become a TV-watching slug. "You gotta be writing," he told himself. "You gotta be recording, you gotta be tweeting."
I'm not much of a smoker. When I had the epiphany of seeing the 1s and 0s of reality after being enlightened by a National Geographic doco after a few puffs, I got a glimpse of the appeal. When I mentioned my revelation to regular smoker, he was pleased to know I had seen the light.

There's definitely a nexus between creativity and stimulants like pot, some people try to control their usage by linking it to reward systems or artistic inspiration but I don't know maaaaaaan...
South Park (Season 10, Episode 5): A Million Little Fibers
South Park Ep 1005: A Million Little Fibers
TOWELIE: All right, I'm gonna get a little high. [sets up to light the joint, but stops himself again] No! No I'm NOT gonna get high! Every time I get high, I come up with ideas that get me in more trouble. I'm not gettin' high this time!
Aw, that's okay. This whole thing was my fault. I learned that I shouldn't get high to come up with ideas. I should come up with ideas and then get high, to reward myself. [whips out his joint and lighter]

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Scams in Istanbul: Why I trust people (1 of 3)

<< crossposted on The '30 Home Games' and 'LozinTranslation' blog

up in the air, clooney, connection, travel
"The best adventures are when you trust somebody"
- paraphrased quote entered into a running mate's phone
The third week into my Turkey experience and I was in snow-covered Göreme. It was a foggy day. I was eavesdropping on an exchange between a Tour operator and a representative for a busload of tourists. The owner of the nearby horseranch came out and we chatted about the unreasonable expectations people have. "If you come to Turkey in Winter be prepared for snow" he began. "It doesn't matter that it was sunny last week in Dubai. Today you're in Turkey". We connected, he invited me inside where it was warmer.

I hung around for about 5 hours. He commanded a staff of 6 or so of varying ages and experience. They came in and out and we talked about the usual - girls, dreams and life. One associate had been living in Japan for 2 years, it was his second day back in Turkey. He confided that he had a miserable time there but he loves his newborn son and his Japanese wife (they met when she was a tourist). He had a lot of thinking to do. We drank Raki and Efes beer, had kebab eats and smoked.

I mentioned my time in Turkey has been more scenic than social. These are the types of interactions I value and what I've enjoyed most about how I travel. Having had difficulty finding it in Turkey, I cherished this experience all the more.

Its ultimately what connects me to a place - being accepted or feeling like I belong in some way. The ranchowner described the feeling like a mirror, "we tend to like things when we can see ourselves in it" . The ranchowner commended me on my openness, the feeling was mutual. I explained that all my best experiences and adventures have come with an exchange of trust. Strangers off the street, Couchsurfers have welcomed me into their lives and homes. As a stranger I've been welcomed into classrooms and house parties and been handed house keys from people I've just met.

Times I've trusted in others and vice versa:
- CouchSurfing: I've accompanied Latvians as they've delivered flowers to beloved former teachers and been escorted to a wrestling show by scooter in Germany.
- Strangers met on Lithuanian streets have invited me to parasail and pick mushrooms
- Gone on road trips and slept in unfurnished apartments with new friends
- I was an honorary Student at the SpoHo in Köln. I ate at the Mensa, went on their socials and participated in classes
- Had amazing meals in Portugal through the kindness of strangers
- I surrender myself each time I Ego Trip

We tried to figure out why two strangers could be so trusting so quickly. The Ranchowner offered "When your soul is naked, people can recognise". Its just my nature, I have faith in people and my 'Spidey Sense' has served me well.

Enter Istanbul...
- Scams in Istanbul: Why I trust people (1 of 3)
- Scams in Istanbul: Why people trust others (2 of 3)
- Scams in Istanbul: The reality of trusting (3 of 3)

Monday, November 5, 2012

Comedian Russell Brand, Futurist Jason Silva: The Power of Ideas

(Drug Dealer imparting philosophy to a young Russell Brand) "See all these buildings, Russell? All these buildings were once a drawing on a piece of paper, and before that they were an idea in someone’s head. Any idea that you have, you can make manifest."
― Russell Brand, My Booky Wook
Man has the incredible ability to shape the world it lives in. All our art, objects and buildings originally began as an idea. Our imagination creates reality. What happens when we become so advanced that we no longer have a buffer time between our ideas and reality? Imagine that.

VIDEO: Jason Silva - 'Imagination'
JASON SILVA: The Imaginary Foundation which I adore and I quote them all the time, they say that the whole goal of human imagination is to conjure up all these delightful future possibilities. These delightful futures scenarios, pick the most amazing and ecstatic one and guess what, pull the present to meet that exciting possibility...

Friday, November 2, 2012

Onnit Blog: Self Improvement in Video Games VS the "Real World"

Still from 'Scott Pilgrim vs. the World' (2010)
Onnit have compiled a list of reasons why people choose to dedicate their time "Leveling up" their Video Game avatars rather than their real selves:
Level up your Life
The appeal derives partly from the fact that these RPG (Role Playing Games) cut to the core of a basic human desire; To improve, and to conquer. But why is it so much more appealing to improve a virtual character, than to improve your real-life self? Countless teens and adults sit in their bedrooms or basements and work on their avatar so they can crush monsters and get new weapons. They could be hitting the gym so they could crush their rivals and get more dates! Somehow there is resistance in life that isn’t found in games. Besides just simply being entertaining and fun, here are a few reasons why games are more appealing: 
1. Games have concrete goals and a measuring stick. I have always said that the genius of traditional martial arts is the belt system. You always know where you stand and what it will take to reach the next goal. And much like a video game, once you achieve a certain level, no one can take that from you. For a casual kickboxer or MMA enthusiast, unless you are actively sparring, you really have no idea where you are at, or what your next goal is. You just do it with the faith that you will be better than you were before you started.