My Weird Tastes

I don’t know why I feel the need to articulate what I like or don’t like. Perhaps it’s so I can spend some time thinking about why I like the things I do.

In general, my tastes are pretty different from those of other people. I’ll see if I can explain why.

I’m also fully aware that it’ll be difficult for me to explain my weird tastes without sounding snobby, but that’s just the risk I’ll have to take.

Games

A few key criteria for me here:

  • The game must not be changing drastically all the time.
  • The game must not have too much randomness.

League of Legends breaks the first criterion, and games like PUBG break the second. So does Catan.

These other factors aren’t game-breakers, but are highly desired:

  • The game rewards good technical skill.
  • The game has a learning curve somewhere, either at the bottom or the top.

A pet peeve of mine is when a game seems like it will have transferable skills but doesn’t. I want my skillful aiming to count for something significant. I’m looking at you, Borderlands.

And generally, if a game’s too easy all around, I won’t have much fun with it, though those games don’t tend to exist. Most games have a learning curve somewhere, even if they’re easy to pick up from the start. Super Smash Bros. is a good example of that.

Movies

I’ve had too many instances when I’ve gone into a theater to expect greatness and have had an awful time. Therefore, I have created but two simple steps that will determine whether I watch a movie.

  • Don’t watch anything in theaters (save for special occasions).
  • If people are still talking about the movie a year after its release, I will go and watch it.

People are still talking about Interstellar (2014) and James Cameron’s Avatar (2009). I will watch them.

I’ve also just got a bias against movies that have more action than story, and will not enjoy them. If I want to spend an hour and a half witnessing explosions and killing, I’d rather play a video game, where at least I’ll be able to control where and when the explosions are happening.

Side note: I fell asleep during the first fifteen minutes of Wonder Woman (2017) and couldn’t figure out why she was being unrealistically stubborn the entire rest of the movie. Is that on me? There was no character development for the remaining two hours.

Shows

If it’s a sitcom, it has to be witty. Bonus points if it makes references to things in real life, but I understand that’s difficult because of timing / aging.

If I can predict the joke, it’s not funny to me, no matter how good the delivery.

Otherwise, I like shows with dark tones. Thrillers, horror (somewhat), complex relationships between people. Same thing as with movies: I like more story than action. This rules out most anime, though I believe anime is moving on a more mature trend.

Music

Hoo boy. I think this requires a post in itself.

tl;dr

I don’t know how to summarize this. The best one-sentence summary I can come up with is:

  • I prefer to consume media that require me to pay active attention to what I am consuming.

But that’s leaving out a lot. I like being surprised, I don’t like a ton of repetition, and I’m always wary of what’s popular at the time.

Stay tuned for the post about my music tastes. It’s the one I’ve thought the most about, and the one I’m finding hardest to articulate.

If you haven’t thought about why you like what you do, I’d highly recommend it. This entire month has been a wild ride.


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The Crime of the Century

October 17th, 1590. 1:24am. Naples, Italy.

“Bardotto. Wake up.”

I awoke to my shoulder being shaken and my master standing over me.

“Bardotto,” he repeated. “Fetch me some water, will you?”

Groggily, I arose from my bed. It was not unusual for master Gesualdo to wake me at this hour, but as I went to find his goblet, I noticed something amiss. There was a palpable tension in the air, and the front door was wide open, swinging gently with the wind. 

I shut the door before I returned to master Gesualdo and found him getting dressed. I set down the water and helped him don his jacket. “Where are you going, sir?”

He addressed me matter-of-factly. “I’m going hunting, Bardotto.”

“Hunting? What do you mean, sir? Isn’t it a bit early to leave for a hunt?”

He peered at me with a slight grin. “You’ll see what kind of hunting I mean.”

Still confused, I lit two torches and handed one to him. He reached down below his bed and withdrew a freshly-sharpened sword and arquebus, stowing each as he retrieved it. Standing upright and straightening his suit, master Gesualdo headed through the door and not to the entrance, but to the stairs leading upward. He beckoned for me to follow.

The ascent was hasty and the questions swimming in my mind were hushed by the deafening patter of our steps. My feet had never felt so heavy and my heart never so loud. Three armed men stood guarding the door to the room of Maria d’Avolos, Gesualdo’s wife, seemed to know exactly what was to come. They each looked at Gesualdo, and after a quick nod from him, turned and kicked down the door when we approached.

There were two shots. Screaming. The sound of blade penetrating flesh. Taunting. I don’t know how long it went on, but I couldn’t bear to watch; the servant Silvia and a nanny were outside the room with me, their wailing cries mixed in the din. An eternity passed before the three young men and Gesualdo emerged from the room, his hands covered with blood. The other three men departed, silent, blades sheathed, ostensibly to clean the blood off their uniforms. 

“Where is Laura, the matchmaker? I want to talk to her.” he addressed me, his voice calm and unquavering. I couldn’t take my eyes off the blood on his hands, and I couldn’t give him an answer. “I ask you again, where is Laura?” he asked again, his voice betraying his irritation. My mind was torn between giving him an answer and protecting Laura’s life.

“She’s not here, I don’t know–” I was interrupted by gargling from inside the room. One of them must still be alive. Gesualdo muttered angrily to himself and turned to re-enter. This time I followed.

It was Maria and her lover, Fabrizio Carafa, Duke of Andria. Carafa was moving very slightly, and I hoped Gesualdo didn’t notice, for my own sake. Brandishing his sword, Gesualdo continued to mutilate the bodies. Twenty-seven cuts on Carafa’s abdomen: one for each month that the affair had been going on. Maria was less lucky–most of her wounds were in areas that she might have wanted to keep covered, if she were still alive. 

Gesualdo ordered for the bodies to be set out into the streets for display, to show what might befall a couple who were unfaithful. I dragged the bodies down the hall, down the steps and out into the street. 

The clock struck two.

“Call a carriage for me, Bardotto.” Master Gesualdo addressed me as I returned. 

I was bewildered. “Aren’t you worried about repercussions, sir? Do you realize what you’ve done? You could be jailed, or put to death! What are you thi–”

“I don’t pay you to question what I do, Bardotto. I pay you to do as I say, and I’m ordering you now to order me a carriage.” He was calm and stern as we returned to his quarters. “Call the carriage before authorities arrive.” 

I sighed, defeated. “Where are you going, sir?”

“I’m going back to my family in Gesualdo to lay low. I’ll be back soon. You’ll see.” I called his carriage and he departed within the hour.

The bodies in the street raised some questions and the authorities were brought to question us the following day. By the time they arrived, master Gesualdo was long gone–to escape the retribution of friends and family that was to come. He was acquitted, his position as a noble protecting him from any legal punishment, and he later returned to continue his career as a composer.


Carlo Gesualdo is a classical composer from the 16th century, known mostly for this story. He is known as a violent and deeply-troubled man who cared for little more than music. After he returned from his self-imposed exile, he eventually remarried. 

His music was centuries ahead of its time, which may attribute to his lack of a mainstream following. He has virtually no other claims to fame.

Randomness doesn’t exist.

We live in a universe where law of cause and effect is king. But let’s start by taking a step back and looking at a few things we rely on a lot for our randomness.

Computers

In order for a computer to generate a random number, it:

1. Needs a range, or one will be set automatically

Most computers can’t generate between negative infinity and positive infinity. The size of number a computer can generate is limited by computation power and energy it receives.

If a range is not explicitly given, it’s still bound by the size of the data type holding it. For example, an integer (in a lot of modern programming languages) can only hold a number between -263+1 and 263+1, and can’t hold decimals.

But infinity is a concept and not a number, and that’s a topic for a different discussion.

2. Needs a seed

Now what’s a seed? It’s a number that the generator has to start with in order to generate a random number. In most cases, programmer who’s coding the app is the one who sets the seed.

This also means that the pseudo-random number generator is theoretically deterministic.

Dice / coins

Neither dice rolls nor coin flips are truly random, either. Any toss can be theoretically replicated using the same amount of force, angle, starting placement, barometric air pressure… the list goes on.

Your own actions

This ties back to a blog post I wrote earlier about the illusion of free will. Or… I thought I wrote. I don’t know where it went.

We can’t take truly random actions, either. The universe binds our choices to what’s directly feasible. I can blurt out a word at random but it’s guided by the language I speak and all the words I’ve heard in my lifetime.

I can’t suddenly travel to the moon or become Genghis Khan.

Randomness only exists within the confines of your own observation

Perceived randomness exists because we can’t see the seed that was set, and we can’t see or exactly replicate the amount of force used to throw a die. We can’t measure barometric air pressure. True randomness doesn’t exist, but for our purposes, what we have is good enough.


I’m rusty at writing.

ok boomer

I hate this expression.

It’s sarcasm that’s supposed to make the older generation angry, but it just makes the speaker sound like an entitled child. It also reflects everything that millennials and younger people are supposed to hate about the older folk and shows that the speaker is no different.

I don’t expect the creator of this expression to have used it as satire, and I certainly think that the satire is lost on those who use it now. Let me try to explain:

What are the implications of this expression?
  1. I’m going to dismiss what you say because you are older than I am.
  2. You’re older than I am; therefore, you don’t understand my viewpoint. You don’t understand how the world works, and you’ve ruined things for us.
  3. I would rather dismiss this conversation than try to explain my viewpoint. You won’t listen to me anyway.
  4. I am going to generalize an entire group of people purely based on their age.
Let’s flip this around. What does the stereotypical “boomer” imply?
  1. I’m going to dismiss what you say because you are younger than I am.
  2. You’re younger than I am; therefore, you don’t understand my viewpoint. You don’t understand how the world works, and you are going to ruin things if you don’t listen to us.
  3. I am going to make decisions on your behalf because we know what’s better for you than you do. You won’t listen to me anyway.
  4. I am going to generalize an entire group of people purely based on their age.

Not very different, if you ask me.

Sometimes, in certain contexts, this expression holds merit. Sometimes it’s better to leave a conversation that’s going nowhere. But to use this expression is effectively to give up.

I see posts on Facebook of people trying to defend the use of “ok boomer,” but these people don’t actually understand that they’re weakening their arguments. It’s aggravating. If you’re really trying to defend the use of “ok boomer,” then you’re obviously not understanding what you’re really saying when you use it.

Disrespect upward is still disrespect. Learn to speak with people to get them to change their minds. You can’t simply dismiss a whole class of people for refusing to understand. Don’t forget they’re still the ones in power. As time goes on, we have to make sure not to make the same mistakes. How do we do that?

Talk to each other.

Money Lessons

From Anton Kreil, a retired professional stock trader. He’s the star of the Youtube channel, Institute of Trading, which has long videos of him sharing wisdom and wealth mentality tips. Here are some lessons he has shared.

1. Respect money.

In order to be successful, you have to understand the purpose of money. Money exists solely to eliminate the double coincidence of wants, i.e. two people agree to exchange goods or services. If you agree to do the dishes in exchange for a massage later, you’ve created a double coincidence of wants.

Money makes society work, and all the things we have in this world today exist because of money. The double coincidence of wants is incredibly rare in this age.

2. Money is not the root of all evil.

There are two types of greed: one that pushes you to strive for a better life for yourself and your family, and one that pushes you to exploit others for a few extra pennies. The line between the two is thin, yet distinct.

It’s this second type of greed that is the root of evil.

Kreil defines these as “positive” and “negative” greed, respectively, but I’m not sure if I agree with those terms.

3. Be indifferent towards money.

It’s important not to get emotionally attached to it, and to make sure you manage it well. More money does not equal more problems. More money plus a shift in mentality plus mismanagement equals more problems.

Tear down your emotional barriers to money. Be indifferent towards it, for money does not care about you.

How can you both respect money and be indifferent towards it?

Being aware of the function of money is the place to start.

4. Money is a commodity with a cost.

Its cost is time.

Learn to value your time properly and you will be able to make money.

Only going to work and saving money is just trading your time for money. It’s linear growth.

If you want to become wealthy, you should aim for exponential growth.


Here’s the source for these lessons. They’re not easy to think hear, and certainly not easy to implement.

Check out the Youtube channel for more money lessons and for specific trading tips.