Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Update on this blog...

I have decided to discontinue my weekly updates of this blog. It has been good experience writing on a week to week basis, but I've come to realize that I have been avoiding creative writing due to the fact that I would not be able to produce anything satisfactory within a week. Since the reason I started this blog was to encourage my creative writing, I've decided that this is counter productive and that I should, instead, focus solely on my musings.

I may be posting here now and then when fancy strikes me, but it will no longer be a weekly thing, sorry. If you are a fan of my writing, be sure to subscribe to the RSS feed of this blog and, if you like, leave a comment here with your email if you'd like me to send you chapters of whatever I'm working on. I know that it helps to have people reading your work and I'm not going to stop that. But I will control the outflow of my stuff somewhat.

Thank you all for your continued support. Best wishes, enjoy the rest of summer!


Thursday, July 17, 2008

Deeper Motifs in Pixar's WALL-E

Life's complicated right now and I'm not really in the mood to do this but for the sake of keeping week to week updates I'll leave something of a placeholder here. Maybe next week I'll have a musing piece for you guys, since I've done a lot of rants recently.

Here's a list of things that I noticed in WALL-E that deserve some further discussion:
-Background storytelling, getting around a silent protagonist
-Problems of over consumption, pollution unchecked
-Problems of over reliance on machines and SEP (somebody elses problem) mindset
-Problems of over privatization, advertising is everywhere
-Definition of the soul, do robots dream (think EVE's coma security cam)
-Can individualism be misinterpreted? Is it what separates humans and machines or simply those with a "soul"?
-The Argos problem and WALL-E
-Balance of love and labour
-A new kind of dystopia, advancing so far that we severely regress as a society and culture
-What is main thematic message presented? Think: Pixar and Disney's audience and track record. Which are jokes and which carries serious overtones?

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Everything in Moderation

I've been making quite a few posts on self-improvement topics lately, but it's all good. People have time in the summer, why not use it to try new ways to improve themselves? Myself, I've been making my usual attempt at improving myself physically and mentally and, unfortunately, making my usual poor showing at the task. The topic of today's post might be the cause of it, but if it is, then I don't really want to change as I believe very strongly in this mantra.

"Everything in Moderation" is indeed my mantra and one that I've been saying and following to some success. While I may have had an inkling of this idea, it became very concrete after I read the introduction to Ursula LeGuin's The Left Hand of Darkness (I have an autographed copy of another one of her books, Wizard of the Earthsea). In the introduction, LeGuin talked about the role of the science fiction writer in how they can formulate a dystopia by taking any element of our current society and exaggerating it to cancerous levels. When I say cancerous, I do literally mean cancerous as a tumor is natural part of your body that is growing out of control.

We can easily see some examples here: warnings against a tightly controlled society, war, over-reliance of technology. In a recent film, WALL-E, we see what happens if consumption, pollution, and privatization goes on unchecked.

With that in mind, let's turn back to moderation and its application to everything. I don't really believe in denying yourself of any of life's pleasures. People may have strong beliefs or opinions about certain things and that's fine. However, completely ridding things like carbs or sweets from your diet for the sake of fitness, I feel, is just silly. There is no point in living to the age 100 if the last 20-40 years is drab, dull and full of regret. Live a little, indulge a little, but keep it all in check. Moderation.

This also applies to work. Be careful not to become a workaholic or fitness freak. To me, that is equally unnatural. For a person to have the best possible life, they must maintain a rough balance (nothing too strict) in all aspects of their lives. Essentially, no matter what it is, be sure to hold yourself back a little now and then, you'll find that the pleasures (or hardships) of an activity will last longer/be more bearable as you take it on gradually.

Here's an example of each spectrum of this idea. When I was a child, I loved to eat (still do!). McDonalds used to have very cheap McChicken burgers every Monday and my mother, being the wonderful understanding person she is, used to buy a whole bunch and I would have them for lunch at school practically everyday. Eventually it got to the point where I was simply sick of the damn things and refused to eat any McDonalds for years. I think they have a punishment like that in hell, where they give you too much of a good thing.

On the opposite end of the spectrum is something like studying. Research has shown that people retain information better from the first 20 minutes of study and the last 20 minutes of study. All that work in the middle? Usually fuzzy if not completely gone. Cramming rarely works to the best effect. If you take the same all-night 10 hour study period and break it down into 30/10 min study and break periods, you'll actually recall the information better than if you studied straight through the night.

Paradoxically, this mantra can be applied to itself. There will be times when people have no choice but to bog down and something for a prolonged period of time. It may be because of work, a need for training, or a plane crash leaving you marooned on a desert island. In either case, if you find yourself doing something too much, don't feel bad, just plan your schedule a bit better to allow some breaks.

What I'm getting at here is that moderation is good and that we are built for it. Humans like to explore and, more often than not, these trials help them to appreciate what they already have and enjoy it more. I suppose everyone is born with a level of ADD. Like they say in science fiction, the biggest problem with any utopian society is boredom.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

A few personal thoughts on the job market

Staffing is tight these days. I've been to a few restaurants recently that were quite understaffed, much to my chagrin (wait times are abnormal). Sure, yesterday was a holiday (happy belated Canada Day), but this has been going on for a bit now. There are literally tonnes of HELP WANTED signs everywhere. In fact, Pepsi has it sprayed right on their trucks, telling you to get a job with them online. One of my friend complained a few months ago about how Wendys was including a job application with his drive thru order.

We all know well and good that the labour pool is fairly tight. People have been telling this to my generation ever since we were in senior high. The baby boomers are retiring and spending their cash on recreational stuff now, creating huge demand that producers, suppliers, and services are pressed to keep up with. For those of us graduating in the next few years, that's great news. We'll be able to get a job and demand high wages for it. Many of us are looking forward to it and may even be feeling really easy because of it. However, there is another side to this job market equation that people haven't told us about.

The echo boomers, the kids of the baby boomers, are coming of age fairly soon. What this means is that within 5-10 years of us getting our jobs, there will be a suddenly influx in the labour pool and a lot of unemployment. Or, at least, crap employment. It'll be like the start of the baby boomer thing again, history going in circles, etc. etc.

So while we may have it easy for the next few years, we can't slack. We'll have to earn our wages appropriately and affix ourselves in the career of our choice. Else, corporations will be looking at the expensive employees to lay off first once cheap labour is readily available.

It's tough, but we must think rational and make good plans for the future in order to avoid being nipped in the arse by the same thing that is a blessing to us now.