Universality of Empathy

HazyIt is easy to assume that, because everyone’s life is different, everyone’s motivations and goals are different. But that is just not the case, we all want the same things out of life, and we all do what we think is reasonable to get there. We react to our environments as best we can given our perspective in the moment.

Imagine that you are with your significant other you have had a long day, you are hungry and tired and would like to decompress a bit. your significant other is likewise stressed because they just found out that they are making budget cuts is their department and might not have a job for much longer. so when they get home and you have not made dinner, even though is was your turn to do so and now you will have to order something, your spouse or girlfriend makes a slightly sarcastic remark like “And I suppose I’ll be paying for that?” not especially mean but you don’t appreciate her tone and it sets you off a bit, enough for you to want to retaliate. You respond by saying, “at least I have enough money to cover it” which is in part a reference to last time you order out and she couldn’t cover it, which was actually funny in that moment, but now it’s fighting words, and you just declared war. The conversation quickly escalates and while neither of you much cares if you order out for dinner, you are both now thoroughly invested in winning the argument. As the food arrives you are both still very heated and you being the one you has to pay for the food, go to the door and grab the food away from the delivery guy, slap a twenty in his hand which barely covers the cost and slam the door in his face. You don’t have time to figure in tip and your mind is still formulating the next blow you will strike in an effort to win the fight. As the delivery guys walks away he does the mental calculations and decides you are a prick and a cheapskate. As you both started to eat your mood improves and you begin to see how stupid the argument really was. Your spouse explains the situation at work and you realize that your comment about money might have struck a nerve. You both apologize make up and settling for a nice night eating delicious food and watching your favorite shows.

None of the behavior that I have described was unreasonable of hard to imagine, but take any thirty seconds of the situation and make it the core of someone impression of you and they might think you are, a bitch, an asshole, a cheapskate, a shallow person, an inconsiderate douche, an over sensitive jack ass, or any of a dozen alternatives you might think of. But the truth of the matter was you were having a moment and in the moment you were behaving just like anyone else would, you are not a monster, or some unfeeling jerk, you are a person with a life story and a reason for acting like you do. Just like everyone else.

There are no monsters in the world, just people, people trying to make their way through life as best they can. We are all the protagonist in our own life story. None of us are out to make the world suffer because we are heartless. But some of us are in a tough spot and feel like they are out of options, some of us have been taught that violence is an acceptable solution. Some people do believe that there are evil people in the world, and that peace comes at the sacrifice of those people. Even the worst of humanity acts in accordance with their own moral compass, their own ideas about what is right and wrong. The closest thing to an evil person we know of is a psychopath who has no or a lowered sense of empathy. And in most cases psychopaths don’t go on killing sprees that just go through life faking empathy, and the worst most of them do is manipulate the emotions of others, which is nothing that a normal person wouldn’t do given the opportunity. So in the end the best thing that you can do is use a different mental shorthand, instead of thinking that this person is just an asshole and going about your day, maybe you should assume that this person is just having a bad day and go about your day. The different in a specific instead is practically non-existent, you still get through the day and don’t waste an excess about of energy worried about some stranger being rude, but the net effect is much greater, you will being to see everyone in a better light and feel a greater sense of optimism about you fellow man, and in the end you will all the happier for it.

And that’s my take on the universality of empathy.

Here today painting. Sorry about missing yesterdays post.

Apologies and Recent Events

TurtleSorry about my stark lack of post for the last ten or so days, I have been sick and am finally feeling myself again, so in addition to getting back on my diet, I will be getting back on schedule for the project and hopefully even cranking up the production schedule a bit to make up for the lost time.

I have recently started writing some longer form fiction, I’m not sure where they are going but I hesitate to post any of it until it finished and I have had a chance to do some editing, something I don’t always do when a ton of for my daily posts. I hesitate because I was given the advice that when writing anything you should keep the process private so that you don’t get in your own head about whether or not it is good. The idea is that in the first and even second drafts the most important part is whether or not it is even done, not so much whether or not it’s good. Get it done it the sentiment, if you want to show people the thing then go crazy.

This advice seems pretty sound but I’m not sure. My problem is that I have found that the only way I can manage to keep myself motivated in this, as of yet, profitless endeavor, that’s not to say fruitless only profitless, is to stick to a strict schedule. I mean even giving myself a sick day or two snow balled into almost two weeks with me making almost nothing. So this is the dilemma I am faced with, I need to stick with my schedule or the whole project will be lost to the endless list of distractions and chores, but I feel a real desire to write this fiction.

I’m not even sure how long it will end up being, it may just be a few pages, in which case I feel perfectly fine posting as I go since I probably won’t get too much interfering advice and feedback before the story is finished, but if I get on a role and the thing ends up being a full novel then not only will it be awkwardly long for the blog post format but it will mean that I will start questioning the direction of the work before its even whole. Perhaps the best solution is a sort of hybrid of the two. I think that maybe for this story what I will do is keep writing my short form daily posts I can talk about the research I am doing and what the process is like and then I will post the chapters as I finish them on a separate page.

Okay well I think that will do for now, I can always adjust the plan later. Alright, that’s all for today.

Here is a link for today’s Painting, previewed in the banner above.

Empathy And Google

FalconSorry about not posting yesterday, I’m still sick, and just wasn’t up to posting. I am feeling much better today so I’m going to try and get some extra stuff up to day to make up for it. Now for today’s written post.

If you are here for today’s Painting follow the link.

When Google was first hitting it big my dad became very annoyed. He was annoyed because he had read up on how the search algorithm worked. See, he knew that the algorithm looked at what everyone else was clicking and moved those links to the top, a bit of knowledge which has since lead to untold amounts of abuse. What he would say was “just because it more popular doesn’t make it better.” No as a logical statement this is perfectly sound. just because a thing is popular, does not make it better. But there are two things that my father had failed to realize. The first is that all of those people you had started to use Google back then had access to all of the other search engines that he has access to, including his favorite, Dogpile. Dogpile is actually  a meta search engine, which is to say that it searches other search engines. This is actually a great idea in principle, but in practice leaves something to be desired, since in the results are mostly not what you want, and since it searches Google anyways you usually end up clicking on its link, not always but still.

The second thing, and this is the one that made me want to talk about the subject this morning, is that in many cases something being popular does mean it’s better. Let me elaborate. There are two scientific principles that are essential to this line of thinking, the first is the regression to the mean, which states that the more test samples you have the less extreme the average will be over the course of time. the second principle is the law of large numbers which says that the larger the sample pool is the more precise the average will become. These two closely related principles combined with a fairly new theory called Crowd Wisdom, reveal the true power of Google.

Crowd Wisdom works like this, if you have a large number of level headed individuals, from a diverse set of backgrounds and have them all just guess, their average will be incredibly accurate. The Ideas is the all of the outliers, the high guesses and low guesses will nullify each other leaving only the most accurate guesses. The same principle is in action with the Google search algorithm, they bank on the majority of inquiries will be satisfied by the best available link. It also makes an assumption that is more and more at the heart social values today, that we are all essentially the same. It assumes that if I am interested in a certain website when I make my specific search, that you will be interested in it too.

This level of assumed empathy is incredible, and I think that it is an indication of this to come. I think that the world is really finally coming around the idea that in essence we are all equal, that are values, as far as what really important are the same. People are being to see that there are no bad guys, there are no good guys we are all just people trying to do what we think is right.

And that’s my take on Google and empathy.

And for

Groundhog Day

NightWindsI just watched Groundhog Day, which led to the inevitable theorizing about how I would spend my eternal day. I have seen this movie dozens of times, and while it would be a lie to say that I think about it all the time it is no exaggeration to say that I have thought about this a lot. the most interesting aspect to about the Groundhog Day proposition, is not the freedom from consequence, which I would have fun with. No, the most interest prospect of being able to repeat the same day over and over is the time it affords you.

This is a fact that it takes Phil Connors rather a long time to figure out, of course he did have the benefit of seeing a movie like Groundhog Day. Once he figures it out of course he sees the possibilities. He learns to play the piano, he learns several languages, he seems to have picked up a number of medically related skills. He also, learns to sculpt and read all of the classics. Once the movie hits this point, even if it is the first time you are seeing it, you begin to think about what it is you would do with unlimited time.

It’s an interesting question, and is different from the question “What would you do with unlimited resources?”. Unlimited resources and you begin to think about things, and maybe if you have time you start to think about what you would do. But with unlimited time, it’s all about what you would do, what you would learn. You think about the things that you always wish you knew how to do, all the things you want to understand.

When I think on these things I almost always land on languages, and I definitely want to pick on an instrument or two. I would like to learn about biology, and learn to paint like the masters. I want to learn how to Blow glass, and sculpt ice, and sand. I want to Learn advanced mathematics, and various coding languages. I wish I could learn martial arts, and train in various survival techniques. I want to learn how to carpent, and how to design building, and how to build building for that matter. As the list grows, it becomes apparent that the real problem is that in our daily lives there are only so many hours and so we are forced to prioritize.

Top of the list are things that must be done; eating, drinking, breathing, sleeping, and cleaning ourselves. There goes a third of the day, so what do we do with the other two thirds? Well, most of those other things require money to do successfully, so we work, and that another eight hours a day, gone. Now we have about eight hours a day to play with, but they’re not our best eight, they are the leftovers, we gave the best up for twelve dollars an hour, if you’re lucky, and now… Well it’s now small wonder we don’t have time to do any of the things that we all wish we could. Now it no secret that there’s still time enough to do something, but once you add time wasted on television and video games you don’t have much to play around with.

Now I have successfully cut video games from my time suck, but there is still television, but I am working on that too. So, maybe you don’t really need a Groundhog Day after all, but it certainly would be amazing to get the chance. Imagine, you get the chance to finally spend all the time you need, practicing and learning, and the next day everyone sees that you have become an instant expert, in all these fields, overnight.

Anyways just, some random thoughts from my sick day.

And that’s my take on Groundhog Day.

PS

I also did a quick painting, about 30-40 minutes, to make up for yesterdays lack of a written post. Find the painting here.

Underhill Kingdom

UnderhillKingdomI am feeling a bit under the weather today, I think I am coming down with something. I did not write a new post for to day but I will try to do a double post tomorrow. For now I did finish this painting albeit late.

This one is a painting of a fantasy style kingdom carved from a mountain. I think that it came out okay. I need to work on my edges for buildings, I find my self getting lost as I try to come up with a convincing geometry for a city. Maybe I will try to do a couple of studies of cityscapes.

Anyways here’s the link for the full version of the banner image.

Integrated Learning

IntegratedLearningIn my attempts to get myself up to snuff as far making concept art goes I have been brushing up on various painting techniques. In the past I have had some experience with watercolors and acrylics. I dabbled in oil painting but was never really trained in it, but as I have started reading about some of the theory behind oil painting techniques I find myself getting more out of the lessons due to my lack of experience with oil paints. Let me explain. When you get a tutorial in some technique of another you may learn a trick as you follow the instructions, but when you are forced to take the advice and insights for one discipline and apply it to another, I think that you get more from it. You have to find what is important about the lesson, find what is most useful about what they are saying and apply it to a foreign practice.

I think that there is something there. As I move forward in my self education I plan to do this with more purpose. I want to find texts talking about photography and film, music and dance, and extract what I feel is relevant. To draw parallels between disparate fields of creativity to find common traits. One of the best ways to learn is to explore the very edge of your experience. Your go out to the limits of what you know, and take one more step, simple but powerful. Its the same way we conduct scientific discovery. We find a field of study the has a knowledge base, go out to the edge of our understanding of it and take a look, when you do this you are guaranteed to discover something in short order.

For example, I have been reading a book about using color in oil paints. The book cover everything from the basic color theory like what I discussed last week, to the more advanced methods of manipulating color. One of these techniques is using a continuity color to create harmony in your color palette. The way it works is by adding a little bit of the color in question to every color you mix as you paint, this ensures that the whole painting is harmonious and that none of the color clash. This technique is essentially replaced in the color balance feature in Photoshop, which finds the average color and brings all of the colors closer to that, creating greater harmony in the picture.

And that’s my take on integrated learning.

PS

I will be trying a shorter format, and going back to posting every day. So from now on the posts will be about half as long, but accompanied by a new painting every other day.