DIARY 2005















Sat, Sep 24

<02:32 EEST> As befits the passing days, I find myself once again contemplating old age and my long lost youth :) Specifically, I'm pondering how advanced a musical career I might have, had I been consistent with that interest. Recently it has gotten a little more serious with the Fandango! play, with hopefully similar productions following. With a little extrapolation I could be a serious musician in a few years, but I'd just be an old shit in the scene.

This of course ties in with a more general human longing for youth, and the way it seems to be overrated in our society. Nothing new here, is there? The flip side is a change I've been seeing in the past decade or so that I've been observing student life: people are graduating at older ages, effectively extending the time of youth, or student life.

To me this seems quite natural, considering two factors: increases in life expectancy and overall wealth. A smaller percentage of a lifetime needs to be spent actively working, and even a fixed percentage of a longer life is more time.

Another interesting effect, which I see at least in a scientific career, is that increased specialization leads to higher requirements of education. An academic research scientist needs not only a master's degree and a PhD, but usually also a postdoc qualification. While PhD and higher levels are genuine research work per se, it's still a rather mindboggling amount of qualifications.

So, back to the starting points, I'm not sure if youth (as measured in absolute years of age) is really such a big deal after all. This reminds me of an interesting point in the popstar handbook I recently read: the reason why many star-level musicians are self-taught is that it helps them maintain a childlike fascination with their work. I had not thought of this before, but in retrospect I agree when I think of the way I use different instruments. I can more readily improvise on those that I haven't been formally trained with.

Anyway, I guess this all means that a youthful attitude is more important than absolute age. It's hard to consider seriously since we've all heard it too many times, but probably also because it's a genuinely hard thing to do. And while I don't really aspire to be a professional musician, at least music is something that helps me work on that attitude.

Fri, Sep 23

<23:42 EEST> There's a ton of ideas I've been meaning to write about. I'll start with inflation, which is a topic I often use when describing a number of things, not usually the value of money. One of the things that have undergone inflation is sexual liberty, something that was illustrated in the movie Cabaret. The main character was far from promiscuous by our current standards, but as the story was set in 1930s Europe, it was unacceptable. In a way the kind of behaviour has undergone inflation, because it's no longer striking.

However, the result is not that everyone is screwing around with everyone today. People are in many ways more reserved than they were back in the Nazi Germany. In the same way, nobody really notices inflation when it affects everyone equally. The striking effect is when the value of something changes abruptly and locally. Which brings us to the origins of monetary inflation.

I had a chat about these issues with a friend some days ago. We wondered what the economy would look like if the amount of money in the world were constant; since new goods are being produced increasingly, the value of money (value of stuff in the world / number of euros in the world) should in fact be increasing! So even to maintain zero inflation, "empty" money must be printed all the time.

Banks do it all the time. The strange and perhaps unfair thing is that the money they lend, which comes out of thin air, is paid back with real hard-earned money. Another fun thing is that, if everyone were getting equal loans all the time, nobody would get richer -- it would just mean steady inflation. You can get temporarily and locally richer, relative to those who don't take loans. Over time, the inhomogeneity will be spread out and seen as inflation, as opposed to wealth.

Tue, Sep 20

<00:20 EEST> Caught and read the Finnish book "Sinä olet tähti -- matkaopas poptähteyteen". My short review is at Bookcrossing.

Sun, Sep 18

<16:28 EEST> Reading Robert Holdstock's short story collection In the Valley of the Statues takes me back to the experiences of reading his novel Mythago Wood a couple of years back. The anthology has a stark contrast between other stories and the original Mythago Wood, which was later expanded into the novel. I was again awestruck by the story, and the effect was now compounded with my explorations into Jungian metaphysics and the collective subconscious. The sequels to the novel are seeming increasingly more intriguing.

Thu, Sep 15

<01:47 EEST> I'm starting to feel like a student once again, like I should in my current position. Lectures and dance lessons have begun, and I feel significantly energized, despite having to wake up inhumanly early in the morning ;)

For yet another reviewlet, I've started to watch the new Battlestar Galactica series, and I have rather mixed opinions on it. It's interesting enough that I keep watching, but there are many stylistic factors I don't like. There are many of the usual space opera cliches, but I find the American patriotic aspects more annoying. For example the glorification of warfare, what does it have to do in the big shiny SF future? Though technically this is not real SF by the virtue of being space opera ;)

Warfare against foreign species is always a dumb starting point in SF, IMHO. The assumption of hostility in others seems like an allegory of today's world that is used to further the idea of glorified war. Thus I find man-made enemies (e.g. machines in The Matrix) slightly more palatable, but that is also annoying because it so obviously represents mankind's own self-destructive qualities. Then again, it's hard to write a story without a conflict. I only wish there weren't so much SF based on the current stupidity and greed in the world.

Fri, Sep 9

<00:33 EEST> Whoa, it's been an entire week without posting, and I have a thing or three to mention. Last Thursday my blues-rock band threw a little gig at Voionmaa high school, as a part of the 'night school' event. As evident from the pictures, I played the keyboards since our current lineup has plenty of talented guitarists already. I'll probably focus more on the keyboards from now on, and maybe even some lead vocals.

This Thursday, after a nice rehearsal with the band, I watched Star Wreck: ITP again, as the DVD arrived. I must say it continued to be a positive surprise; the film stood on its own merits without the premiere night fever. The beginning seemed a little too slow or rambling at times, but otherwise it's a perfect SF comedy. In fact I feel I cannot appreciate all of the detail, as there are wreckloads of space opera references. On the other hand the film relies very much on its own original ideas, and it's only a part parody.

Risto A. Paju