The Internet: An Learning Device; The Make Good Teachings Superhighway

February 7, 2009 at 4:20 am (Dan) (, , , , , , , , , , )

Or: Things I have learned from the Internet today; a short and incomplete list:

1) Superman will save the day

Actually I didn’t learn this from the internets. Except, uh, I guess, as a delivery mechanism. We won’t talk about that. How I, uh, “ordered” some comics. On the Internet. Then I read them. And they taught me all about how Superman will save the day.

So really, Superman, usually I don’t care about Superman, you know? I think this might be a smartgeek default position, as Superman occupies a kind of jock-resonant position in the, the, fuck I am going to say ideosphere again, the ideosphere. You know. He’s big and tough and punches things to solve his problems.

I’m not really down with that. I am more of a Batman guy, despite the fact that in the final analysis, Batman is big and tough and punches things to solve his problems. The difference, of course, is that Batman punches things with his brain, and that makes it ok.

Plus, he’s not superpowered, and so everyone gets to think “If I dedicated my life to this, went and lived in a monastery for a while, learned some mad skills, got my science on, I could be Batman”.

Except, no, you can’t. Batman has two superpowers, neither of which you have:

1) Money, motherfucker.
I will illustrate this point with another timely interjection from Most Excellent Superbat, probably the coolest character who has only ever been drawn like six times ever, uh, ever:money-unleashed
Haha, you tell ’em, Superbat.

2) Guy, like, never, and for reals I mean never gives up.
This is not a character trait. This is a superpower. No-one doesn’t give up when a maniacal doctor, pretending to be your dead father, wearing the costume which inspired everything you do, everything you live for, tells you you’re a bad boy, doses you up with meth and heroin and dumps you on the street to hallucinate magical negroes who may or may not give you superpowered radios from beyond space and time. No fucker doesn’t give up, then. Especially when, before the dosing, the doctor rocks a hypnotic command he implanted in a learned helplessness test many years ago which entirely erases your personality. No, you give up. Oh, and later the lady you love is all like ‘sorry, guy, it was a ploy!’ and then they hit you really hard, in the face, with the Joker, and also bury you, at a crossroads, at midnight. You give up.

You’ve given up, here, several times. You have died at least twice. The Batman didn’t die because the Batman didn’t give up. The Batman didn’t need his personality, he had a spare one, in his Utility Belt, motherfucker, and he’s not gonna give up, not even when the world is ending and a black hole is forming at the centre of existence and the personification of decay and death and futility has turned most of the planet into zombies that only want you to give up, just a little bit, whereupon it becomes easy to do, whatever, anti-life justifies my lack of expository dialog. And this guy, this personification of death and fail, he’s got you strapped to a machine where the god of torture (I have spoken about this before! bear with me. I have a point, a point about Batman) is fucking with you, like, so hard and this is maybe two days after all the shit with the doctor and the madness went down, so it’s not like you’re in top condition, or anything? Anyway. The Batman doesn’t give up in this circumstance where the cosmic embodiment of Seriously, dude, just pack it in is there, whinging at him. You would. But the Batman pulls a God-bullet out of his Utility Belt and he fucking shoots him, right? In the shoulder. And then he saves the fucking day. Then Superman, like, super-saves it, but that’s the paragraph after the next one.

You would give up.

Like me. Like every other person who isn’t the Batman, which is everyone. Because you can’t be the Batman and it is absurd to base your overweening love of the character on the slim glimmerings of the idea that maybe you could be him. You gots to base your love on the fact that he is impossibly bad-ass, and just deal with it. Did I tell you I might get a Batman tattoo? I might get a Batman tattoo.

Oh, ignore the thing about the paragraph after the next one, up there, I am going to import a paragraph in, right here, and call it item 3 on this two-item list:
3) He’s got a Utility Belt, and you don’t.
You are not prepared, at any point, to be transported back through time to the dawning of humanity. Batman is. Impossibly bad-ass.

Superman! So, yeah, by default I don’t really like Superman for a host of poorly-examined reasons about how basically it is boring to be invincible. This is true. Superman is invincible and this is boring. So, the things you do with Superman which do not depend on him being impervious to damage for their interest, those are good times. I recently gave to Heather a copy of the first All-Star Superman trade paperback, because that was the thing that began to teach me about how awesome Superman is. I mean, the fact that he’s pretty hellaciously stoned on the front cover is pretty good, too. Heh. But I strongly recommend that anyone who might even think sideways that maybe they might enjoy to read comic, reads All-Star Superman. You will learn some things about mythic resonance and how important it is to have people to look up to, even if they are only imaginary, and how even if Superman wasn’t real, we’d have to make him up, and how he’s actually, probably, the King of the Universe by virtue of being the Nicest Dude Ever, but that is a weaksauce way to put it and I expect you to ignore it. Don’t pay any attention to what I am writing, here, except the part where you maintain a strange urge to read All-Star Superman.

Ok! And then, after I read All-Star Superman, I read all of Final Crisis. It’s this whole thing. It’s pretty epic, actually, and I had a good time. We rocked out, me and these comics. There was laughing, and sometimes nearly tears, but don’t tell anyone that, I cannot be seen as weak or my position will become vulnerable. But yeah, it’s also not everyone’s cup of tea. By which I mean that it actually seems to actively offend people who read comics. Not, like, everyone who enjoys to make comics reading time, but the guys, who, what they do, see, is Read. Comics. Those guys got a bit of a hate-on for this fucker because it is Different and Other? Also a bit complicated, kind of, in that not all of the things which make up the story are there? Some of them are implied. What is a much more effective way to build, oh man, words, a mythopoetic space, innit, than, say, an conventional narrative.

But fuck ’em if they can’t take a joke. Any two year old can read stories with holes in them[1] now. It’s the modern condition and if you can’t hack it, the internet is gonna chew your head up in a couple years. It’s all the post-modernism the kids get injected with in the womb these days, parents playing the Ramones at their soon-to-be-baby, but not out of love, but like, ironically. Baby trucker caps with “Love it or Don’t. Whatever.” written on them (shit, I would buy that). I have no idea what I am talking about! I like to make words. Also the Faint are constantly saying ‘erection’ right now, it is kind of weird, and there’s a big, swelling (no, it’s ok) bass-swirl-thing, and it’s ok, really, what they’re doing here.

Anyway the point is that Final Crisis is pretty good but it’s not the easiest thing to read if you’re not prepared to engage with your media. Also, half of the story happens outside Final Crisis, in Superman Beyond 3D!

This isn’t, like you might think, “Superman Beyond” in 3D. It is Superman, being Beyond the Third Dimension.

Also, it’s in 3D some of the time.

It is hot as fuck, guys, you should read this. So, Superman Beyond 3D, All-Star Superman, and then the end of Final Crisis. Not only does it make Superman the cornerstone of all the universes in the multiverse, in a way which does not make me irritated that an overgrown moralist has been promoted to a position of power, he wins the (first) big fight like this:You'll Believe A Man Can Sing
Things that this is:
1) Not punching your problems away;
2) awesome;
3) other.

So, that’s good. That makes me feel good about thinking that Superman is awesome. Additionally, the magic of the Prismatic Age makes me feel good about thinking Superman is awesome. I am not going to spoil this, just open the link, ok?

Thank you, Internet Jesus.

Ok, that is way more than enough about comics. I will not talk about comics anymore. Nor will I post any more pictures which may or may not have been sourced from the Internets Pira-sea.

You know, this week.

2) How to do an FFT

This is important for me, because it is important for my job. It is also important for my brain, to find and figure on some things which previously have not figured, in my brainings. There are exciting properties of signals which defy common sense! And make analysis difficult! There are times when adding noise to something makes it easier to understand! That’s all good times.

I, actually, you don’t want me to talk about how it is that an FFT is important to my job. There are dry mathematical details. And there are things I can’t talk about on the internet in case later it is a problem if someone wants to write a paper and that someone is me. And also there is incomprehensible reasons for doing things, anyway. And, I dunno, I can’t think of a way to talk about it engagingly without spilling all my beans. I need those beans, them shits is magical and if I hoard them right, later, there will be a shining ladder to a land of golden opportunity? I am unclear on the specifics, really, but I think that’s pretty much how it goes. That or a giant tries to… chase me? with a goose? I have to stop taking the special hypno-induction-sessions, I think, even though they are much more interesting! … I think.

Anyway the point is that I can implement an FFT now, and I can port that implementation, maybe, into a microprocessor, and then gold will fall from the skies and mum won’t be mad at me for trading the cow.

But I will probably have to learn weird ways to fake floating-point maths using bit-level operators on things that look like integers. This is a bit sad, but will probably, in the future, contribute to my awesome levels, but only in ways that pure compsci nerds will appreciate. Also, probably, I will learn it enough to use it in this project then forget everything about it, which is pretty much how I roll whenever there’s something hard but interesting around.

Ask me about statistics, go on.

I’ve done courses, and everything.

3) that I cannot keep my shit together, Georgiiiiee Giiiiirl.

That, right there, is a classical reference, and that makes me cooler than most of the hipsters on the internet.

It is not really a classical reference, it is a lyric from a song.

A Beastie Boys song.

And, I mean, it’s not really even a lyric from a song, it’s more a half-arsed pass at a reference, you know?

Shut up, it’s seminal, you guys.

Look, I’ma drop some knowledge on you brother[2]:

aww, forgit it. You wouldn’t understand.

4) seriously man I cannot even keep my focus on one thing for like, 100 words.

I was going to talk, above, in point three, about how there is a post in my head, and a little bit in my hard drive, about … questioning the working class through the medium of Pulp songs, I guess, maybe, and why is it like that and why does it keep happening like that and will it maybe change. But I can’t keep my focus on so I can’t write it, plus I get all conflicted talking about the working class (like, I took out a thing about The Faint that was my original point 1, about the guy and his reflections on, I dunno, hookers and why are they doing that and why don’t they stop, also institutionalised gang violence in areas where the only institutions are gangs. I took it out because I was uncomfortable talking about this guy, who I assumed to be a middle-class white guy like me, talking about those kind of things. Plus I looked him up on Wikipedia and he never went to uni [or at least it is not part of his official bio[3]] so I felt like I was unfairly characterising him as a middle-class wanna-be guy, and, oh, what? Why am I even talking about this? That’s why it’s gone), because self-exposure by examining the Other is hard and dangerous.

The song that started it was called Sex is Personal[4]. Instead, I have learned that class is personal. Oho! An revelation.

But, actually, I am working class, or was, certainly. So surely I can talk about it. Now that I have improved my lot. But why is my life improved? My dudes from highschool are, generally, having a pretty good time. You know. This sort of thing is hard, and waa waa waa. So that post is probably never going to happen, but I will take one line of it out and put it here, and that will be the end of things:

Holy shit, Help the Aged Jarvis is the same as Black Books Dylan Moran.

Why is this not already a thing, eh? We’ve got people constructing narratives out of any fucking thing they please, these days, and calling it art, basing it on all sorts of esoteric shit. We have comics which are supposed to be widescreen, and movie-esque, cinematic games and literature, we have taken the language of the movies and applied it to everything in our lives! Why has no-one ever tried to write a zoetrope story? Or, I mean, probably they have, I will explain what it is in a second, but why has no-one appropriated the term zoetrope for their narrative art? I think I might do it. I am inventing a discipline right now: zoetrope narrative. It is a story composed entirely of descriptions of things which are not moving, static scenes. Let me beta test it right here:
He is standing at the door.
She is sitting in the bedroom.
He is standing at the stairs.
She is sitting in the bedroom.
He is at the top of the stairs.
She is sitting in the bedroom.
He is at the door.
She is standing up.
They are standing together.
She is lying on the floor.
He is standing at the door.
She is lying on the floor.

It seems like it could be a thing that could work, but I am envisaging long and detailed descriptions of these static scenes, maybe that would be tedious. But describing the people with equal importance to the contents of the room could be cool. Whatever!

This is also a classical reference, but I’m not gonna explain this one.

In my words I had been meanly predicting he was a rich white boy who dropped out of uni in his final year of business, or maybe fine arts, to pursue his artistic side. I don’t know why. Don’t judge me.

But actually while I was not really listening and was writing a post, I was thinking about Worked Up So Sexual (note this video is terrifying and hilarious), which is a whole other song, but is actually guy going ‘how you gonna play me that way, strippers?’ as far as I can see. A little bit, anyway. Don’t judge me.



  1. Bots'wana Beast said,

    Oh but now I think you must talk of comics forever – that was great.

  2. juliadactyl said,

    Man, I have a freaking crazy story to tell you about class identity.

    This girl said to me, “My family were working class when I was growing up. I mean, come on, my parents were public servants. What’s more working class than that?”

    And then my head exploded, because traditionally, the middle class was DEFINED by being public servants. Anyway! I thought you could brain on that for a bit more, and listen to Common People by Pulp. I have also been pondering on class and indentity, etc.

  3. Danoot said,

    Thanks, BB. That is a pretty good thing to hear, coming from one of you guys!

    Julia: yes, what? What.

    Also, common people, and specifically common people as appropriated by a rich old white dude, is why I started thinking about this, like this. That and there’s this guy I used to know who valorises (? or glorifies) the working class in ways I can’t understand, to the point of adopting stereotypical class markers in a way that makes me extremely uncomfortable. And I was wondering why. And then I remembered about common people and thought maybe the answer was available, as always, in song.
    We’ll see.

  4. juliadactyl said,

    If that guy is that guy who is dead to both you and I, I can explain his class identity in detail. Also the class identity of the girl, up there.

    It boils down to: slightly uncomfortable upbringing, middleclass but possibly not the overprivileged middleclass, went to schools where they were not the majority in some way, attempt to forge new identity/sameness with people different to them. Maybe blame middleclass upbringing for all the ills in the world.

  5. Danoot said,

    Oh, sure. I know how it goes for that guy (we have talked about it before!). He is only an exemplar.

    There’s a generalised idealisation of the working class in Australia[1] which confuses me a little bit. My friends from highschool are repeating some of the patterns set forth in the stereotypes and not (necessarily) others, which I like to think of as a good thing, in the main. Because I got me a socioeconomic illusion of progress, maybe. And because the ones they aren’t doing[1] are the ones I think are generally harmful. Most of them, anyway.

    But I am not sure that a working class can keep existing, except as a deliberate appropriation, or maybe performance, for that long? Where working class is an incredibly vaguely defined grouping of concepts, conditions and behaviours. Because: social change, freer access to information and education, etc. And social networking and the ease of publishing information, too, makes some of the more abusive patterns of behaviour[1] less tenable[1], as more people will hear, and more people will disapprove[1], and someone goin’ call the cops[1], maybe.

    So yeah. But there is the deliberate performance thing which freaks me out and I hope it goes away.

    I am so middle class it hurts. aww yeah.

    unsubstantiated claim!

  6. juliadactyl said,

    There’s also this new weird “working-class” identity heavily tied up with Australian nationalism, which is tied up with being working-class, or at least fairly underprivileged so that you’re angry about your lot in life and decide that all you have that is good is the beach and barbeques and being pale and that furrners want to take all that from you, somehow they will make the beach disappear and you won’t be able to barbeque, so to fight that you drink nasty-tasting beer and clothe yourself in the Australian flag, which has only become a symbol of Australianness in the last 15 years, and I think it’s interesting that people who claim to be heavily Australian have appropriated their nationalism from America.

    However if I explained the irony they would bash me.

  7. misterfinn said,

    Man, Superman is not invincible, unless dying constitutes part of the definition of invincibility these days. He did that once, y’know.

    Also, Hawkman beat him this one time. By punching him. With the earth’s magnetic field. Shit was so cash.

    The Superman movies ruined everyone in this regard. Rather than putting Supes up against villains he’s challenged by (They should totally do one where he fights Lobo), they put him up against a bald megalomaniac. Or perhaps a mass of glowing green rock. Why.

  8. Danoot said,

    Superman is totally invincible! All that happened was that his batteries went flat. The lesson of the whole life and death of superman thing was, hey, if superman is down, put him in the sun for a few minutes. Maybe out in space, where he can solar it up more efficiently.

    But, yeah. Villans he is challenged by = more punching. Superman who solves his problems through song = more better.

    Also, to answer your why: how you gonna have a satisfying ‘superman might lose this fight’ when the only real way to do that is to level several cities, and you-all movie only gots a couple million dollars and not a spare copy of new york lying around.

  9. juliadactyl said,

    In this last season of Smallville (season 8), Lex Luthor is indisposed, so we’ve had a lovely escape from non-canon “meteor freaks” and Lex doing stupid shit, and have had a bunch of interesting villains, like Doomsday (who is currently becoming Doomsday, which is sort of rad).

    When it became evident that Clark and Lex weren’t going to do it, I was ready for Smallville to move on to new things.

  10. chromefist said,

    If they loved Australia, they’d embrace the great Australian cultural cringe?

    Even cultures we don’t like are allowed to evolve; and it’s probably fair to say that Australian hyper-nationalism is as much local as it is imported. There’s a lot of it that’s tied up with reacting not to foreign invaders, but against the progressive middle class. (I was torn about using apostrophes, but decided against it.)

    They don’t like multiculturalism because “they” don’t share our values; but mainly because they’ve been told to like it by the inner-city types who don’t want to share their values.

    It’s xenophobic and tribal, but the real heat is directed to other parts of white Australia as much as anyone else.

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