Afternoon Browsing Story: From Mr.Thiel to BioShock’s Andrew Ryan

It was a hectic afternoon at work and I was quite burnt out. So I took a voluntary activity which might not impact my productivity in a positive way directly or benefiting the company in the short-term but I believe would preserve my sanity for that day; I took a break. I filled my break time with clandestine internet browsing operation; browsing activity with high level of effort in ensuring that everyone around are unaware of the activity.

I stumbled upon an interesting article by Economist headlined “The Evolution of Mr Thiel“. I never heard of him before, but the subtitle of that article -“the tech billionaire has morphed from a libertarian into a corporate Nietzschean”- piqued my interest. Mr.Thiel was one of the earliest investor of Facebook and he is currently a tech tycoon of Silicon Valley. The article discussed an interesting method of private war which are legal and frighteningly effective, if you can afford the price tag.

Done is the day when you can duel or send your mercenary to hurt someone, but do not think the possibility of achieving similar goal is nonexistent. At least in modern USA, another means has emerged at the court of law in the form of legal battle proxy. The concept is quite simple; anonymously (or openly) finance your soldiers, people who are having or potentially will have litigation against your target, to increase your soldiers prospect in winning the battle and ensuring that your target will have to pay an impoverishing amount of fund in settlement. So far, no law is broken in the utilization of this method. That is exactly what Mr.Thiel has been doing. Mr.Thiel “philanthropically”funded Hulk Hogan (a famous wrestling celebrity) and many other parties in their litigation against Gawker, an infotainment website focused on Silicon Valley and technopreneur gossips. In the case of Mr.Hogan, the court has ordered Gawker to pay $140M, and that is just one of many battles Mr.Thiel expect. Judging from the current development, it appears that Gawker, which thoughtlessly publicized Mr.Thiel’s sexual orientation in the past without his consent and sparking this war, will have to admit defeat before eventually dragged to a complete annihilation. Mr.Thiel is patient and ready for a long war to drain Gawker until its last drip of blood.

The article then further discussed the evolution of Mr.Thiel (hence the title); from a sharp minded libertarian businessman into a delegate for Donald Trump. And evolution that went in an odd direction. It also mentioned a book written by Ayn Rand titled “Atlas Shrugged” in relation to Mr.Thiel’s current perspective. The title suggests that Atlas, who holds the world in his shoulder, may “shrug” and let the world, which keeps weighing him down, fall helplessly, and it serves as a metaphor to the story of a world where all the bright people voluntarily left the society to its collapse since the society keeps pressing them.

Stop there! Ayn Rand? Sound familiar? Yes, it sounds similar to Andrew Ryan, a central character in the first Bioshock game. Moreover, the new society pined by the bright minds in the novel sounds similar to Rapture. Atlas is present in the game, though I am not sure he resembles anyone in the novel. I found out that the game took a lot of reference from the novel. What a precious knowledge!

And that, my friend, is my afternoon browsing story before I went back to serve my capitalist master.

Easy Task?

front side of my bike showing the brake

front side of my bike showing the brake

The brake of the front wheel of my bicycle had lost its usual ability to grip and since I considered it unsafe, I decided to find a place to repair it. There is a nearby shack that looks like a bicycle workshop which I frequently passed by on my travel to work. Never visited it, but I guessed why not. I prepared some fund in expectation that I might have to replace some parts. I went there, talked to the shopkeeper, he looked at my bicycle, unscrewed a bolt, pulled a metal string, screwed it back, and it was done.

I think it was an interesting occasion. I paid a minuscule amount in comparison to the fund I have prepared, but looking at how easy he fixed the brake, I wondered why I had to pay at all. It did not even take five minutes. Had I known how to fix it, I could have done it myself. But I suppose this is what we call skilled work. I paid him for his expertise and knowledge, more than his sweat or time. Similar like graphic design, it might look easy, but the designer spent years and investment to master it, and we pay for such expertise. I hope I can have that kind of expertise too which make my work more valuable.

It might look easy, but it takes an effort to master the skill and knowledge!

A Career Counseling for a Bird in a Cage

It is another rambling post. “Career Counseling for a Bird in a Cage” is an episode title of “Search for a Lost Future” anime and it induced me to imagine such event with me as the counselor.

I am walking into the room to find a yellowish small bird waiting for me in front of my desk. I greet it.

The bird chirps.

I know I do not have to look for the bird’s file since I know very well it has no file; at least not in my possession. “It will be a great singer”, I think. It is the only career I can think of for the bird. But I can not force my thought about its future. A counseling is supposed to involve a two-way conversation. So I start the conversation. I start asking about its outlook for its own future, what kind of job it loves, what school subject it is good at, and what its family prefers it to have as profession.

The bird chirps.

I comprehend not what its chirp means but I am sure it responds enthusiastically. I put forward my idea about singer career for it and some alternative options;pilot, fruit farmer, and insect exterminator. I elaborate those jobs’ responsibilities and prospects.

The bird chirps.

I comprehend not what its chirp means but I am sure it responds enthusiastically. I thank it for coming to see me and I express my utmost confidence for its bright future. I show it the way out.

The bird chirps.

I comprehend not what its chirp means but I guess it asks my help to exit my room. So I take its cage and put it outside my room. I get back and I sit down with a big smile. Another satisfying day helping people.

Look at My Steam Summer Sale Loot

I cannot avoid myself from repeating myself on how people will willingly trade their money for things of value (here, here, and here). I understand that many people take a very cynical view that people will not pay for what they can get for free. Well, the empirical evidence suggests otherwise. I am one of the example. On this Steam Summer Sale event, I decided to buy some games from Steam, which I could have obtained freely through many free download sites, in appreciation of the game developers’ effort.

My Steam Library

My library of games on steam

 

It is interesting to see the approach deployed by services like Steam. They brought games into the market with reasonable price, discriminating buyers according to their purchase power based on country (hence, citizen in Indonesia might pay lower price than citizen in US), and providing so many extra values (community, developer diary, easy update, multiplayer support, etc) which can entice people to legally pay and support the developers. Personally, I favor this kind of approach in answering the issue of piracy, in comparison to tougher anti-piracy law, which potentially hurt the consumers and developers more (sometimes only benefiting the multimillionaire publishing corporation).

A brilliant approach that might be unthinkable ten years ago.

I guess a new era has dawned upon us. Let’s see what the future holds!

Dumbfounded

What happened today?

I got stuck between two moving buses. I remember not how frightened I was, whether my memories came flashing in my mind, or whether I prayed for my life. But I remember how I felt the pain and how one of the bus kept pressing me mercilessly. I remember that I screamed a lot, loudly. I did not decide to scream. I did not think. It was done… instinctively. There was no comprehensible word coming out from my mouth. Not a “no”, “stop”, or “help”. It was a long vowel of “a” and my mind went blank, but remain conscious. I was far from being intelligent in that moment. I was dumbfounded.

But the bus driver eventually realized that someone was stuck. I lived to tell the tale. My right hand still hurts but nothing seems serious.
I wonder, will love results in similar dumbfoundedness?

 

I did not take photo regarding the accident, so this is a random photo I have in my phone. Staying alive in Jakarta for 24 years is definitely an awesome feat.

I did not take photo regarding the accident, so this is a random photo I have in my phone. Staying alive in Jakarta for 24 years is definitely an awesome feat.

 

Your beloved El Presidente

Signing off

Deto SP – Natsu Hito (2015) Aftertaste

I finally managed to watch special episode of Dating: What’s It Like To Be In Love? (Deto – Koi to wa Donna Mono Kashira), one of my most favorite J-drama. The special episode, titled Natsu Hito, or roughly translated as “summer man” (maybe XD), shown the life of NEET hero Takumi Taniguchi, and the stern heroine Yoriko Yabushita after the final episode of the season in which they decided that they are meant for each other. I do not think I will share the full synopsis of the episode here, but I will share the main theme; jealousy. What will happen if there is a suspected third person in a relationship? What if that third person captured the heart of your loved one, but no sexual intercourse involved? Is it still categorized as an affair? How will you react?

not your normal love triangle, or is it?

not your normal love triangle, or is it?

The most memorable moment in this episode for me is the part when Takumi and Yoriko were lost in the forest and decided to rest in an abandoned hut. After coming clean about their feelings, Takumi talked about the translation of “I love you” into Japanese: “the moon is beautiful, isn’t it? (tsuki ga kirei desune)”. He elaborated how the translation was made by Natsume Soseki when someone asked him about the translation of “I love you” in Japanese. Natsume explained to that person that expressing feeling of love directly to the object of affection is not compatible with Japanese culture and so it is better to express it indirectly by admiring the beauty of the moon, which might be figurative, but still understandable and eloquent. Takumi then repeatedly told Yoriko that “the moon is beautiful”.

What a romantic scene! Totally in different level with most romantic scenes is contemporary dramas.

Next time you tried to confess your love, try “the moon in beautiful”, look at the face of your partner who is likely to be ignorant of the gravity of your words, and breathe in that glorious atmosphere in the air: your partner is dumber than you, at least about Natsume Soseki and J-Drama.

Check out the official trailer at fujitv.

P.S. Ashina Sei is really lovely as Ms.Hikono in this episode ^^.