In which I fully embrace humanism
August 6, 2008

by pegleghippie
Today I realized, while looking at my uncontrolled, messy hair, that I really am an uncontrolled, messy person, in a good way. I’ve been viewing myself the same way since high school, that is, as simple, serious, reserved, and seeking respect. But that’s not me. I love my life now, and I love enjoying things for their own sake.
No longer do i desire to be respected, for people to meet me and say, “he seemed so serious about such-and-such.” I want people to meet me and go, “he exudes happiness and warmth.” I’m leaving that serious stuff behind, the reason being that I’ve found the serious to be incompatible with any positive emotions.
My serious nature from high school led me to study critical thinking. I still think critical thinking is incredibly important, but it’s a tool-all the logic in the world serves to make us happier. That’s the axiom:happiness. Or pleasure, or love, or whatever you want to call it; a word does not exist to encompass the scale of positive emotions as opposed to negative ones.

Why the focus on happiness? At a basic level, I’ve completely accepted that existence is absurd, and dammit, I find absurdity very funny. Even the statement, “life is absurd” is absurd as well.         

That leaves us free to do whatever we want with that absurdity; as for me, I have chosen to enjoy it. All morality, all social norms and laws, every taboo, even my beloved logic, these all only exist to help us deal with how meaningless existence is. I think we’ve over-regulated existence: our current norms often keep us from getting a good laugh at life. Instead, these norms should function as tools that empower us to do more with existence than we could on our own, and to explore new and different types of pleasure. 
fuck religion
Morality, for instance, is great as a guideline for how to get along with people without making them into enemies. That “getting along atmosphere” that morality provides has allowed for macro improvements like civilizations, as well as micro improvements like friendship. But when Morality is more than pleasure’s tool, you get things like christians hating gay people, or Orthodox Jews refusing to flip a light switch on the sabbath, or basically any negative aspect of organized religion.

So In conclusion, life is meaningless, your existence is absurd, and as far as I can tell, that’s the best news any of us could hope for.

To Cheat or Not To Cheat: There is no question.
May 5, 2008

Stress compounds stress. The motto of advanced education, the motto of undergraduate life. The motto of the workplace and the motto of relationships. Stress, stress, stress. It’s all we’ve got these days, holding tightly to it like the cold side of the pillow. And, from the college student standpoint, stress is the biggest factor in my unhealthiness, my general bitterness, you know the drill.

What attributes to this stress the most? For me, I’d say classload. I’m a music major as you probably guessed, and that means Music Theory. It’s like learning a universal language, it’s insane. Music theory is a big ol’ class load. But on top of that is the infamous music literature, where we’re required to learn about all the composers in all the genres and all the periods of time ranging from Gregorian chant to bluegrass and the British Invasion. And to be honest, I can’t memorize all those names and dates. It’s impossible, especially on top of Music Theory.

What’s the solution? I cheat. I cheat efficiently and very well. I can’t tell you damnit about the classical period. But I guarantee one thing; if you ask me a question, I can find the answer.

I think that’s the problem with our education system in general today. They want us to memorize, regurgitate, and, inevitably, forget. It’s about as useful as eating, come to think of it. (Wait, this might be counter-intuitive…)

Knowing full well you can’t accomplish anything from outside the system, I keep my cheating to a minimum. I don’t want to get caught and thrown out and disregarded for life. I want to change the system. Because I believe it’s inherently better to teach this way;

  • Teach students to use other students. We emphasize the competitive testing and entrance portion of secondary education, and that sets students against each other. We stop realizing that the biggest resource people have are people.
  • Teach students not to memorize and regurgitate, but be able to FIND information on a spontaneous basis. Instead of vocab lists and multiple choice, I think tests should include resource databases such as the internet, and scores dependent on how well a student could find the necessary information to solve a problem.
  • Teach students to think critically. Remove the entire concept of cheating from our minds. Replace it with ingenuity. A student emails a copy of the material on a PDF file to his PDA/Phone for easy viewing. Student then hides the phone while utilizing it on test day. Student aces the test through superior use of resources.

I think it’s a the system has forced a wedge between students. A wedge of competitiveness, a wedge of masochistic integrity. It’s not really a Dog-eat-Dog world out there. When’s the last time you saw a Dog actually eating another dog? It’s a dog-eat-food world. Whatever food’s out there. And sometimes, wild dogs hunt in packs to get more food. Does the prey call that cheating? No, it’s efficiency and teamwork.

I took that test today with photographs of the test on my iPhone, and with a text-message system set-up for the ‘Listening’ portion of the test. (Where we listen to a song, and name the composer and title. Songs are picked from a list that we’re handed to study, a week before, ish.) We all got the answers together, and we aced the test. I can’t think of a better way to learn.

I think a study would actually show that students who worked this way would have better retention of data. I mean it’s already proven that over-studying causes a massive retention drop. Lack of sleep, and over-focus, both of these also hinder the learning process. I wish someone could do a study like this, to prove once and for all that… memorization and regurgitation is not learning.

That’s all… cheat on, noble cheaters.