Tuesday, December 31, 2013

2013 In Review: Love

Summary: Progress in social skills does not yet show up as progress in love.

I've said "Hi!" to girls in the kitchen of the new employer when warming microway lunch, and I have naturally come into contact with new girls in the capoeira and language course, but haven't made any effort to seduce them.

At work, I had one longer 20-minute chat with a new girl at the nearby food court where we went for lunch. She seemed somewhat enthusiastic about the chat, but we haven't met after that.

I still haven't visited a prostitute as planned in 2012.

This year I had my first drunken hugging experience at a bar. I went there with 4 acquintances after an event. When the others had left, I started conversation with 2 women slightly older than me in the table 50cm away. One of them spontaneously hugged me and I reciprocated, which made it repeat after some minutes. Being too drunk to think straight and having gotten fired under a week ago, instead of trying to exploit the opportunity to get laid I asked "why are you hugging me when you have a ring in your hand?"

That experience (and others) convinced that my social skills have markedly improved and I could find love if I went to bars with the same frequency as in my twenties, but have little motivation to do that. Overall, lack of focus and motivation are the main things holding me back. I wouldn't know what to do with a girlfriend even if I got one, and imagining long-term dealings with bar drunks is downright scary.

2013 In Review: Hobbies

Exercise

In the spring I went actively to gym. In autumn I joined a capoeira course based on recommendation from an acquintance. During this year I've lost weight from ~64kg to ~58kg. The New Year's goal for 2011 of 55kg is still out of reach.

Clearly my subconsciousness is telling me that pole dancing is not for me (I don't even have a pole installed, based on ridiculous excuse that I had to take it away temporarily for a renovation) but I don't have other sports goals either. It would be nice to have some goal to daydream about, but it would have to be a honest goal that gives self-discipline to take action beacuse the goal is worth reaching for one reason or another, not just any "you optimize what you measure, that's why it's important to have a goal" goal.

Capoeira classes are a nice form of bodyweight exercise. Capoeira is a kind of bodyweight exercise game, where the movement sequences start like go josekis with standard moves, but the better player can twist them in his favor. The martial art background is visible in narrative justifications ("You can't do that since it gives the other player too easy opportunity to punch or kick") but they have little or no bearing to actually protecting yourself. Frankly I still don't understand what the capoeira game played in roda circle is all about. The downside of capoeira is that musical playing resembles musical pre-school, making it downright embarrassing, and with the same effort, I could be learning an actual martial art. The upside is that it trains the kinds of handstand tricks, bodyweight fitness and quick agility which would be useful in pole dancing floorwork (if that wasn't a thing of the past.)

I'll continue it in the spring because I don't have honest exercise goals and because it gives me motivation to actually exercise instead of finding excuses why not to.

And I want to learn those advanced handstand positions.

Russian Language

Ten years ago I self-studied some Russian and went to 3rd year Russian course horribly underskilled, only to drop from it. So I had not completed a single Russian course before.

This autumn I went to a 2nd-year course, again badly underskilled, did plenty of effort to learn and ended up mid-skilled. It was nice to see progress - having trouble with basic discussions in the beginning, and in the end doing them as well as anyone. Loking at the first chapters and thinking "Was THIS really difficult for me just 4 months ago?" Going to wrong class worked as intended.

The background for this is a doldrum in Chinese self-study - I haven't made progress for a year and wondered if taking distance and seeing effective study would change it. When I return to Chinese study some day, I'll put much more effort to writing, which is important for long-term memory.

World of Warcraft offers Russian language pack for European customers. I made a character, тосивахва pandaren mage ("tosi vahva karhu"), and immersed myself into Russian-language world. It has been very effective in putting in the hours and learning new words, but the vocabulary is somewhat silly.

2013 In Review: Work

A lot happened to me at work in 2013. The company I worked for (6 employees) was sold to a bigger one (~150 employees) and I got fired.

I jumped from joy thanks to getting fired, since it made me eligible for unemployment benefit, and since I didn't get on with a strong personality running the 6-person company and his unprofessional behaviour, which included among other things alcohol use during working hours, until I complained about it, after which I got very cold treatment.

I had already sent applications for new jobs, and went to a job interview in January. However, I didn't go 'all in' with job search since many jobs look like they could be just as silly (job ads that look for a 'coder' to work for a never-heard-of company, rife with grammar errors, asking for 10 years of experience in technologies which have existed only 5 years are unfortunately quite common. When reading these job ads, my first idea is "if you can't write a grammatical job ad, why should I trust that you pay salaries in time and treat employees professionally?") and frankly the time on unemployment benefit after getting kicked out from Nokia's subcontracting chain was the best time of my life for 5 years.

After getting fired, my masterplan was to spend 6 months implementing an economically unpromising piece of software, hoping to earn a living from it in daydream, unicorns-and-rose-petals scenario. However, the mid-sized company firing me hired me back after 2 weeks. Maybe I made a mistake accepting this "boring and safe" options but I have a mortgage to pay - after I have a net debt free house (which is not ten years away if I refrain from foreign travel and car) I have much more margin to make financial risks.

Now I have accidentally ended up in the best job I've ever had. The purpose of the job is still frivolous ("the best minds of our generation are figuring out how to make users click on ads") but I have more freedom and responsibility than ever before, my salary is paid in time and people around me behave professionally. Many of my coworkers are quite sharp and unlike five years ago in the mid-sized subcontractor, are able to talk about topics more abstract than cars or sports.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Hetero Pride!

To counter the gayification of popular culture and media, right-wing activists arranged a Hetero Pride parade in Helsinki 21.9.2013. At first I thought it was hilarious trolling, but media reaction proved that the parade was sorely needed.

  • Firstly, it proved that anti-gay forces really are repulsive. The core of the parade consisted of a neo-nazi group, which posed together in Sieg Heil greeting.
  • Secondly, it proved that homoization really has gone too far as the joint forces of police and protesters against the parade outnumbered parade participants.

The paraders claimed that it was about defending traditional family values. Now, I'm all for children being raised by two parents; loveless couples with children staying together using various mature, conflict-avoiding, distance and formality increasing social skills; and reminding that the children raised by single parents statistically face worse life outcomes; and step-fathers are ten times as likely to commit sexual abuse than biological fathers; and emphasizing that marriage is an institution which is primarily about raising children, so only female homosexuals with biological or adopted children should be allowed to marry.

However, the demands of the Hetero Pride parade, like not showing male kissing in prime time TV, had nothing to do with defense of family values.

A coworker of mine went to Berlin to a Jamaican fusion kitchen restaurant, and to his surprise saw homosexual paintings on the walls. That kind of gayification does not pose any problem whatsoever. In a free country, restaurant owners can decorate their place as they wish, and consenting adults can do in their private bedrooms what they want. Gayification is a problem if government uses MY TAX MONEY to advocate pro-gay or anti-gay agenda - by channeling tax money through art funds to fund pro-gay propaganda as in Espoo or in Helsinki at Helsinki Pride or by wasting tax money on frivilous lawsuits as in Russia. Instead, they should send the money back to taxpayers.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Espoo Ciné

This film festival showcased more politically correct SWPL themes than any film festival I've seen. Many films dealed with LGBT, immigrant and disability themes. The most vocal advertiser hyped an organic cider, and the movie ticket was pink. Maybe it got a lot of state subsidies and the man who paid the piper called the tune? I went to see two historical movies.

VIRU - stories from a hotel (2013)

This documentary by Taru Mäkelä centered around Hotel Viru, an Estonian hotel built by a Finnish subcontractor in early 1970s. First, the construction of the hotel was filmed so that footage from advanced Western tools and ways of working could be used as education material. In the eighties Viru symbolized good life for Soviet elites, and travellers brought Western goods and influences to the Soviet union. After Estonia regained independence, the hotel was privatized and lost majority of the staff and cultural speciality. I enjoyed the film since it shows how the movements of historical tectonic plates play out in people's personal lives.

Ende der Schönzeit (2012)

This German historical triangle drama starts when an escaping Jew ends up as a farmhand to a farm where a married couple lives. As a drama film it is perfect: Humans behave according to human psychology. The people who have lived in the same village for tens of years can read each others just right, and are confused and foolish in credible way. The plot could use any number of war-related plot twists - like surprise inspections from Nazis - but instead stays consistent and watertight: the main characters know that an inspection would be possible and take effective measures to successfully prevent them using their long experience of local conditions! That's what humans do.

Unfortunately the film suffers a little from politically correct "preachitis" as immigrants are needed make more vibrant an environment where the patriarchy of white, German, heterosexual males (the root of all evil) beat their wives when drunk.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Facebook Like Ads And Cialdini's Six Principles of Influence

Multi-level marketing companies like Tupperware and Herbalife have used small-group cohesion to gain a marketing edge for ages. Now Facebook "like" ads are tapping into the same social dynamics, and doing it on massive scale to advertise any brands. This post analyzes Facebook "like" ads using Cialdini's theory to show the puppet strings which Facebook pulls to control its users.

Cialdini's Six Principles of Influence

Robert Cialdini is a professor of psychology and the author of the popular science book Influence, which is structured around Six Principles of Influence:

  1. Reciprocity: We generally aim to return favors, pay back debts, and treat others as they treat us. For example, if a colleague helps you when you're busy with a project, you might feel obliged to support her ideas.
  2. Commitment and consistency: Once we are committed to something, we're more inclined to go through with it because we have a deep desire to be consistent. For example, various foot-in-the-door tactics aim to get you committed to a small deal and then accept bigger concessions.
  3. Social proof: People find "safety in numbers" and are more likely to do what they see others doing.
  4. Liking: We are more influenced by people which are familiar or similar to us and whom we like.
  5. Authority: We are more likely to comply to requests made by people in position of power or who are respected experts like doctors.
  6. Scarcity: We are more likely to accept a deal, which is limited or which we temporarily get on favorable terms.

How Facebook Like Ads Differ From Regular Ads

While regular ads show only the sponsor's message, Facebook "like" ads also add a tagline "John Smith liked ConsumerBrand", where John Smith is one of your friends. Out of Six Principles of Influence, "like" ads automatically include Social Proof - at least one of your friends already likes ConsumerBrand - and Liking - someone familiar you like and perhaps even respect and admire, is using ConsumerBrand.

Regular ads have to fall down to milder forms of Social Proof and Liking, for example "million nobodies have purchased this book" or "a household name celebrity is using this product.", while "like" ads can tap directly into product recommenders whom Facebook knows to be familiar to you, tapping straight into the imitational instincts which keep small groups functional.

Hint for Facebook: Show More Credit Card Images

Cialdini's Influence contains one more tip which Facebook could use to move more money out of users' pockets to their own pockets, sending the subliminal message "Buy! Buy! Consume! Consume! Obey! Obey!" and implementing the Boydian satanist principle "the strong rule the weak and the clever rule the strong" even more effectively.

Within modern life, credit cards are a device with a psychologically noteworthy characteristic. They allow us to get the immediate benefits of goods and services while deferring the costs weeks into the future. Consequently, we are more likely to associate credit cards ... with the positive rather than negative aspects of spending.

Consumer researcher Richard Feinberg wondered what effects the presence of such credit card materials had on our tendencies to spend. ... First, restaurant patrons gave larger tips when paying with a credit card instead of cash. In a second study, college students were willing to spend an average of 29 percent more money for mail-order catalog items when they examined the items in a room that contained some MasterCard insignias; moreover, they had no awareness that the credit card insignias were part of the experiment. A final study showed that when asked to contirbute to charity, college students were markedly more likely to give money if the room they were in contained MasterCard insignias than if it did not (87 percent versus 33 percent.)

Friday, August 02, 2013

Freedom Lite

Today, I was fired from my job. The reason was the usual: The company could use my work input but couldn't afford to pay my salary.

Because of the Finnish system of income-based unemployment, in the end, nothing happened. I can still repay the monthly interest and mortgage repayment with the unemployment benefit. Since I don't have any expensive hobbies or a family to feed, the income is quite enough for all practical purposes.

If FREEDOM ORGINAL(tm) means financial independence or alternatively earning an income from your own business that is not dependent on any single customer, then what I have now is FREEDOM LITE(tm): indistinguishable from FREEDOM ORIGINAL(tm) in the short term, but in the long term I will have to earn my income somehow.

Until that, I'm FREE.

If I use the newfound FREEDOM responsibly, I just may find a way to earn an income without working for salary, although that's realistically speaking improbable, because I don't have a proven track record of earning income without working for salary. But a guy can always dream.

And make a concerted, planned effort to implement that dream.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Top 5 Finnish Citizen Initiatives Aim To Deregulate

Finnish state recently launched a system for Citizen Initiatives. If 50000 Finnish citizens - about 1% of the electoriate - sign a Citizen Initiative, then the legislative parliament is obliged to process the initiative.

What kind of initiatives gather most support? Below are the top 6 initiatives. In general, citizens want the state to do less - only the sixth initiative asks the state to do more.

  • 1. Equal Marriage - Allow gay marriage by deregulating the sex of the marriage partners.
  • 2. More Sensible Copyright Law - Most items in the proposal deregulate or decrease punishments.
  • 3. Allow Possession And Use Of Cannabis - Deregulate cannabis
  • 4. Limit Large Animal Population - Lighter regulation for shooting wolves, bears etc. which walk near human population
  • 5. Vote about EU exit - Lighter regulation from EU
  • 6. Guaranteed Basic Income

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

All films I've seen this year

Hollywood films:

Batman: The Dark Knigh Rises (1/5): Plot didn't make sense. Glorifies violence and cruelty.

Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows (2.5/5): Plot haphazard, but entertaining.

The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn (3/5): An entertaining and illuminating peek inside teenage girls' fantasies and fears about love, marriage and pregnancy.

This Must Be The Place (3.5/5): A strange road movie with peculiar "everything-worth-doing-has-been-achieved" atmosphere.

Sinister (4.5/5): This horror movie had very simple plot hashed together from classic horror movies and books. It puts all shots to creating thick atmosphere, suspense and scares with extremely skillful visual tricks and music. In the end all loose ends are tied together. Don't watch the trailer, it spoils too much.

Film festival films:

Alois Nebel (4/5): A Czech animation about the fall of Berlin wall. Captures well the confusion and dislocation of people during a historical transition period.

Shopping Tour (3.5/5): A Russian zombie film. Events take place during a shopping tour to Finland. Starts as a drama about loss of father and single parenthood, then turns into zombie slapstick.

Crazy Horse (3/5): Didn't expect to see a softcore porn in the film festival, but that's what this film is. Couldn't watch to the end as two girls were sitting next to me.

Indie Game (score not relevant): A peek inside the world of very small game programming teams. Well-made document for those interested in the subject.


Film Of The Year award is divided between Alois Nebel (a film with strong real-world historical zeitgeist) and Sinister (a pure-bred genre film), because it's not meaningful to compare genre films to films about real-world phenomena.