Oh my, I have recently checked my Wordpress blog statistics and… Umm… Quite a lot of people who came here were searching for things like “12yo girls” or “12yo illegal”, which lead them to my post on RIAA suing a 12yo girl. Umm… Don’t know what to say really… I had no idea that so many people went on the internet searching for “12yo girls”, well knowing that what they want is “illegal” (popular word to include in the search engine terms).

I’m just going to tag this post with “illegal” and “girls” as I did with the other post (I will remove the “girls” tag from that old post I think) just in the hope that at least one of these people may realise that what they are doing is not at all going unnoticed.

Usually I am not too affected by inspirational stories, and they seem to be repeated so many times that they lose all meaning. But this one has been stuck in my head for the past few days. Perhaps because it closely relates to a couple of things that have been happened to me over the past few months. Basically the story goes something like this:

Three snails decided to climb to the top of a flagpole. Once they were about half way up a crowd gathered underneath them screaming: “What are you doing! Come back down! You’ll fall!” So one snail heard their yells and realised that they were probably right, it slipped and fell to its death. The crowd started yelling louder and the second snail also fell and died. But the last snail kept climbing and despite the hysteric screams beneath it, it made it to the top. It later turned out the snail was deaf.

In short: aim for your goal and ignore the naysayers

Thinking back on all the things that I gave up on attempting just because of what others had said to me actually makes me panic a little. And yet there are also many wonderful things that I did accomplish while going against almost everyone around me screaming “you will fail, this is a mistake” at me.

Of course this is not entirely universal, I think a lot of the time that people would tell you things like these because they want to protect you – from being let down, from losing your time, from doing something you may regret. But it seems that humans often end up relying too much on others.

Apologies in advance for making this post so long, but this was an important part of my life that I did not just want to gloss over.

It looks to me like it has become a bigger issue over the past few years – there are TV campaigns asking depressed people to get help, psychiatrists around every corner, multi-billion dollar drug industries with hundreds of thousands of patients, etc. you know the story. Depression is not quite the same as “sadness” as sadness is a mood and depression is more of a prolonged state full of feelings of extreme sadness and hopelessness. A blogger by the name Violent Acres writes that most people are depressed because “their life sucks” – they want to get the meds, they want to be diagnosed because they just want to blame the physical function of their brain, but in reality their life is the problem. Well, while I understand that there are many people who have went through some traumatic experiences and are depressed as a result, I don’t believe it is very accurate to say that most people end up depressed because their life just “sucks”.

To tell you the truth, I’ve been there. I’ve been severely depressed for several very difficult months in my life – not enjoying a thing around me, not wanting to go on with life, even thinking of death. I came to a conclusion decided that I am depressed because my life just “sucks”. Nothing big happened, but everything was just… well bad – nothing was going for me in my life and I saw no way of fixing things.

So I stayed like that for a long time, eventually deciding that I probably have “clinical depression”, just as Violent Acres describes many people as falsely doing. Going through countless symptoms lists and online tests that told me to “GO SEE A DOCTOR IMMEDIATELY!!!”. I came to a conclusion that it was not my fault I was feeling that way, that it was just a mental illness. I have tried to talk to some friends about it – some did not want to hear it, most did not care (thinking I was exaggerating), others just didn’t really know what to do with that. This of course made my feeling of hopelessness only worse, but really it is not so obvious as how to react to someone who comes up to you and tells you that they have no hope in life. I was feeling too hopeless to go see a doctor, I did not think a doctor would help – I was picturing just lying in some weird chair and talking to an old man who keeps nodding his head, goes over painful memories of the past and maybe even gives you pills (I don’t like pills). (Please not that I am not at all saying that you should not see a doctor if you are depressed, I am just saying how I felt at that time about doctors).

Well. I am here today and I am perfectly alright. I was wrong – my life did not suck after all. I have met many other people who also are talking about being depressed – and you know what? Their lives don’t suck either! And no, I don’t agree that it is fair to say that these handful of cases are mental illness either. A mental illness is a disorder, it is something you need to have treatment for. I don’t believe it was a disorder (though of course there truly are people out there with actual mental disorders that cause their depression, but out of the many depressed people I have yet to meet a single one).

The problem was that I decided to play victim. “Oh things are so bad to me. I am a good person, I don’t deserve this. There is no hope, no one can help me.” Every day you say that to yourself you believe it more and more, and you start looking for evidence to support your claims – oh there is plenty around, no one’s life is perfect, and every single day things happen to you that are negative – so you just learn to focus on the negative. You get solid proof of how your life just “sucks”. And you just grow to accept that.

I guess it is not so far fetched to compare this state I was in to a trance that I just had to snap out of – to start taking action in my life, to start doing things again, and looking for solutions to my problems (and I really did have problems) rather than wallowing in self-pity all day every day. It is one of those things that sounds so simple when you say it but much harder to actually do when you are there. What personally snapped me out of it was meditation – when you learn to do it properly (and it does take some practise). Part of meditation is stopping your thoughts, you end up going into a quiet peaceful state, and when you come back to the real world it is hard to start feeling bad again so fast – these moments after meditation made me realise that I could indeed feel good still! That there was still hope and happiness in my life! My life did not suck, it was my perception and passive defeatist attitude to it that sucked! (Meditation is just what helped me personally snap out of it – this is not meant to act as therapy advice here.)

I cannot say that I have completely revolutionalised my life, but the little changes can go a long way. I cannot say that I have completely eliminated all sadness from my life, that I nothing bad ever happens to me, and that I have no bad weeks where I just feel very down and hopeless. Like Violent Acres says – sadness is natural, it is a part of life, you are inhuman if you do not feel it. There is nothing wrong with you if something bad is happening and you feel like there is no way out. But I do not let these things overwhelm me for eternity, I manage to find this hope and I do not let sadness turn into self-pity.

Everything I say about myself seems to be repeated by every single “depressed” person I meet, and I was later very excited to hear a psychiatrist saying the exact same thing! So what I am saying is: Violent Acres is wrong, while some people have had their life ruined through nasty events and there are people who really do have mental disorders, most depressed people are depressed because they just gave up and turned themselves into victims, deciding to declare that their lives suck instead of working to fix their issues.

I am struggling to understand why our media here in New Zealand has to be so heavily American-centric.  We are fed the minor details of the build up to their presidential races, some astronaut woman attempting murder (or something like that), a car plowing through a petrol station, and other minor nonsense like that happening in USA.

Virginia Tech is understandably a very big and tragic story😦 There was a New Zealander at the university (survived) and it does make sense to cover stories like these in detail. However even for such a story the time allocated is just ridiculous. Day after day after day it dominates everything. On the radio, on TV, in the papers. Every minute detail. At the same the largest bomb blast in Iraq since the invasion kills almost 200 people, it barely gets a 1 minute coverage on the evening news. Is it that we are coming to believe that American lives are for some reason more important and are more newsworthy?

I understand USA is a strong influence on the world in both the economic and (unfortunately) the military sense. But enough is enough! This is just not fair. Why do we get nothing from Europe at the very least❓

Joshua Bell, who is one of America’s top classical musicians – with people paying him $US100+ to see him perform, went to a Washington Metro station with his priceless Stradivarius violin and… busked! Most people did not take notice, a couple dropped him some pennies as they would to a young talented kid, or a beggar, only a couple stopped to listen.

Joshua Bell

I often walk by buskers and think: “hey, (s)he’s good! I bet (s)he could sell ablums!” – well, I think this guy has showed that perhaps some of them could!

Full story with videos at Washington Post

No need to go as far back as a week or a month, in the past 2 days alone I have had the following problems😡

  • a power surge partially frying my computer (I had a surge protector – it did nothing!)
  • got a new monitor which did not fully work with my Linux (I primarily use Windows XP, but sometimes boot into Linux) – a long painful manual setup followed
  • the state of the university computers is “bloody useless”, and the technicians are either non-existent or just too damn lazy to respond to emails or fix anything. I have had to redo hours of work due to software/hardware/god-knows-what failures!
  • Even my cellphone is crashing on me and refusing to send text messages!

And these are all just mild typical problems that occur regularly. No hard disk failure or anything. I hate computers. I truly do… I dream of doing this:
Hammer computer

A pity that I’m working on a postgraduate degree in comptuer science…😥

I have stumbled upon quite a… bizare … site. An American student (?) puts himself live on the internet 24-7. Quote “even in the bathroom” 😮. You can find it at Justin.tv.

This reminds me of the Truman Show – where Jim Carrey unwittingly lives inside a fake world created around him just so that he could be filmed and broadcast live to millions of TV viewers.

Truman Show

Well… not quite, this guy knows about it and carries the camera itself. I have no idea how, or why, anyone would do this and why people would flock to see him… live his ordinary-Joe life!!!

Honestly I think this won’t last very long. How long can someone carry on being filmed for so long without having some sort of a break down? If not him personally, I can’t understand how the people around him would cope even just talking to him knowing that there are 30 or so strangers watching and listening to them at the same time! I certainly would not be too comfortable talking to someone like that for too long.

Justin will wear the camera until the day he dies. By which we mean if he takes it off, we’ll kill him.

Well… good luck Justin… I guess😯

A few things that I’ve been thinking about is – is blogging going to stay relevant for long? I mean internet access has been becoming cheaper and faster across the developed world which makes things like video blogging (such as on YouTube) and podcasting more readily available. Yet those are still lagging far behind and text blogging is much more predominant. My own reason for text blogging is that I can write what I want at a slower pace, having more time to think and re-edit everything, which is something you don’t get with video or voice blogging – you have to just… talk. I talk to people every day, with perfect quality video and audio that the internet cannot achieve, and there is no point for me to do so on the internet😀

So yes, I haven’t blogged in a loooong while. In fact this blog has been sort of abandoned – I think I will get back into blogging and change that😀 I’ve had a more active blog a few months before this one, but I closed it down due to some privacy concerns (which are no longer relevant, but oh well). There I was writing more on my own life with the hope of keeping up with some friends. But it turns out that most of them are technologically retarded (as I call it😉 ) and do not understand words such as “RSS”.  One friend who even had his own blog was shocked in horror when the day after he made a post I mentioned it to him in person – he could not understand how after weeks of inactivity I could know about him making a blog post.  So even my friends who are bloggers don’t know about the wonders of RSS!!!  The horror!

But blogging is a very strange phenomenon.  While I was writing blogs for the limited target audience that was not reading them, I was getting hundreds of hits per blog from total strangers!!! That’s amazing and I don’t quite understand why.

Anyway, so I’ve given up on picking an audience and I will just rant about what I feel like:mrgreen:

I have spotted something interesting happening on YouTube – there is a sort of an activist movement to get out of Iraq, and 5 days on it is becoming quite big in the world of YouTube.  It was started by a single video blog requesting viewers to post video responses saying “get out of Iraq”.  And so they did, currently there are 168 video responses to the original video, almost all supporting his message, and if you watch some of the responses there are responses to responses also  (not to mention the tens of thousands of supporting text comments).  And a lot of these videos are getting quite a lot of views (16,735 on the original post at the time of writing)😯

I personally don’t agree with a withdrawal from Iraq at this stage – as wrong as the initial invasion was, leaving it now could just plunge the country into civil war. If you make a mess you better at least try cleaning it up, though they have not done a good job so far😦 it looks to me like withdrawal will only make things worse. But nonetheless, this is quite interesting – in just 5 days, by doing nothing more but posting one short 3 minute video of himself talking, this 26yo Briton has reached tens of thousands of viewers, and has attracted over a hundred of supporters to post a video with the same message as him! This could not have been done so easily, and in so little time, with a traditional march-down-the-streets-with-billboards-saying-Get-out-of-Iraq sort of protest.

Here is one of the videos below:

In general, I think that as internet becomes faster, cheaper, and more widely available, more and more people would turn to video blogging rather than text (what I am doing now…) Rather than the more detached and impersonal text you can see people live delivering their message, with a live face to the message, with a voice, accent and emotion. This is already catching on at sites like YouTube.

Saddam Hussein, Slobodan Milošević, Augusto Pinochet, Shamil Basayev, al-Zarqawi – these are some of the worst mass murderers ever witnessed by mankind, and all died in the past year.  2006 is a Year of the Dog in the Chinese calendar, but I think it is an insult to the poor canines to be compared to these despicable beings I have listed above, I rename it to a Year of the Monsters.  Sting, a famous British musician (to whom I used to listen a lot), had a song about Pinochet and his government – he sung:

One day we’ll dance on their graves
One day we’ll sing our freedom
One day we’ll laugh in our joy

Well, these people are dead now, and while for some this is a cause for celebration, it does not change the harsh reality.  Personally I am indifferent.  Their deaths do not bring freedom, nor restore peace and prosperity.  If they have been deposed, their deaths have no effect, and in the case of the ones who were still in power, their organisations have new leaders.  The people they’ve murdered are gone, the lives that they have destroyed are not repaired, and not a single one of them had been brought through a complete fair trial. And the followers of Hussein, Basayev and al-Zarqawi keep killing. Many more mass murderers will never go to trial, will never be hunted down and continue to kill right this instant.

Hundreds of thousands of people dead in Iraq alone and the death toll only keeps climbing – the deadly mess of the “liberation”.

Chechnya is still in ruins, and there are regular armed clashes – though this does not make the news any more. Israel, Palestine and Lebanon is still as tense as ever.

North Korea and Iran playing with nukes. There is war in Somalia (not that it’s new) and a major crisis in Sudan.

Will 2007 be a Happy New Year for our planet? I hope so, but I think not.