The Three

April 24th, 2018 by harold

Shooting 3s is nice. When you swish one, it’s a good feeling. When you base an entire team’s offense on it like the Rockets do, it’s complicated.

Sure, during regular season it works well. Scoring is an easiest way to win: don’t move much, shoot a three. Compared to defending –raising arms, running awkwardly- or shooting contested 2s, 3-point shooting is the most efficient way to lead. And James Harden is the most insane contested 3 shooter we’ve ever seen.

Now, during the playoffs it’s way different. Teams expect those shooters beyond the arc and will make sure they don’t get the ball that often. The shooter has all the pressure and that’s where shooting 3s becomes a curse: you miss one. You miss two. Four. It’s the playoffs. Not scoring leads to stressed AF really fast. Then you doubt. Should you try again? Should you pass, drive? If you hesitate, you lose.

It becomes a curse. You try to focus on making those 3s and suddenly your defense sucks hard. The Rockets have showed that over and over. If they score, they’re defending pretty well. If they don’t, it’s like an open boulevard in the paint. My Spurs are doing the opposite: they focus on defense, which makes them shoot badly from 3 quite often.

But once they get it going, they win. They kept the NBA champions to 90 and their 3s went in on Sunday. 13 point lead. It’s easier to go for scoring 3s than to go for strong defense. But defense is crucial.

Pop is right. Defense first. Then your mundane bullshit like crazy threes and all that.

*Pauses*

April 21st, 2018 by harold

I have started to really forget what I own back in France. I know I have two guitars, that I miss a lot sometimes. A few pedals and gear. I remember a few t-shirts. My foster dad’s bike that I customized with a dope handlebar and a white tire on the front wheel.

I still remember where to jump inside the train so that I’m right next to the exit at multiple stops through Paris though. I don’t miss the train life at all.

I’m restless and exhausted at the same time. It used to be one feeling after the other, now it’s a combo with fries. I want to stretch out my body forever 24/7. My immune system goes wild sometimes. I need to get out of the city and recharge in the woods. In the desert. By the pool. In the pool.

It will be awesome.

Echo Off

April 19th, 2018 by harold

Escape the echo chamber.

What fuels echo chambers is as usual, the same nasty thing: greed. It’s power greed. Cult-like influence greed. Take health: we know how to be at the best health possible. It’s not that deep: don’t eat too much, eat a variety of things, move your body. 365 days a year. That’s about it and that’s how Asian and European populations age very well.

Enter influence junkies who absolutely need to create their echo chamber about something basic like nutrition. People here in Cali really think they need a gym card and a paleo/cross-fit/juice combo to stay in shape. It’s not a big deal –do what you want- and it’s for the good. Yet it’s absurd. Echo chamber, y’all.

Echo chambers arise because we trust others too much.

Trust is making us vulnerable but it’s also all we have. There’s no weakness to me: if it’s the only way (and it is) to get shit done, so be it. Trust is like an open and secure protocol. It sounds paradoxical because it is. Yes it’s not perfect, but we built some insane stuff based on that so, I’ll take it.

I think echo chambers arise when we stop verifying trust. that’s the “secure” part. We just stop trusting, we start believing because it’s easier. We’re lazy creatures.

Russia

April 16th, 2018 by harold

What is going there? It’s the largest country on earth. Once the USSR was dissolved in 1991, I’ve never really understood what happened or what’s happening over there. It’s the country of people good at maths and programming I guess? And unafraid youth jumping from skyscrapers to cranes.

And then we hear about them like they’re Machiavel. But they were allies at many points in history, they kind of are right now with Europe against Syria or maybe not? Nothing makes fucking sense. And we really don’t know much about what’s going on there. The largest country on earth.

It’s super weird isn’t it?

Post-Season

April 12th, 2018 by harold

Playoffs!

Them Wolves could upset the Rockets after winning their spot into the playoffs, Butler on Harden and shit could go wrong. Even though Houston leads the league, those games are so boring: iso/3s, a few lob passes for a dunk and that’s it. Their defense is still sometimes very bad so we’ll see.

The Spurs could upset the Warriors, they know them well and they’re missing Steph. I believe in them. Aldridge dropped 45 points on the strongest defense (Utah) a few weeks ago, when they click and that Patty shows up, they still are a difficult-to-decipher threat. They’ve been ass on the road this season though, it’s going to be ultra tough. If Kawhi comes back then Spurs in 6. Big if true amirite.

Pels and Sixers are exciting and scary. They’re hungry, have everything rolling in their favors. I wouldn’t like to be the opponents. Nobody can’t stop AD, Mirotic has been insane, playoff Rondo is so ready and Jrue has been amazing. Good luck with that shit. Sixers are a bit different, younger but packing great depth and talent.

OKC could do it too but I’d go for the Pels over them, too irregular. Raptors shaking again, even though they really have everything for them with a great bench now. They need DeRozan and Lowry to show up and lead. Come on the North, bring it on.

FB Power

April 8th, 2018 by harold

January 2008. My friends are asking me every day "when do you join FB?". The pressure is unbelievable: I had never been pushed to do anything in my digital life like signing up for Facebook. Before or after I joined (Instagram comes close though).

January 2018. We’re all on FB but we can’t stand it. We use it but not really. We’re learning about them doing a lot of bad shit that we kind of knew but became lazy about. We tried to force FB to change their UI so that it’s easier to share to whoever you want. They didn’t do shit and kept abusing their power.

In my mind once FB was connecting 1B people online, it was over. I wasn’t wrong. We’re over 2B+ now and it’s impossible to visualize a world where FB doesn’t exist. No one wants to start all over this networking stuff. And FB’s biggest power –it pretty much never went down, which is a spectacular feature at that scale- convinced people that there’s nothing better than FB, which is not wrong either.

I still dream of blazing-fast FB network, apps and programs, a tab-based interface, no algorithm, no ads, a small monthly fee. No circle icons, no dark patterns and deceptive UI/UX design, mute/block buttons that work.

I’m still fascinated though. I often (okay, everyday) fantasize about having a slider in my taskbar to view/hide people’s comments based on their actual age. How awesome would that be that on conversations you care about, you could immediately dial down the noise by hiding everything from people under 30 for example? Or only listen to 15-20 to get a sense of what’s going on with the kids. Well, at Facebook, they do. They probably do that daily. At least some high-profile engineers and VIPs probably can, to this day. I want that power too.

It’s so frustrating that something that useful and great has only been about treating us like recycled garbage. Come one, Zuck. Snort some empathy or some shit.

On virtual guns

April 1st, 2018 by harold

It’s a good post. I’ve never been a gun fan but I’m still trying to headshot in Counter-Strike.

Sometimes I feel like I’m the only one on earth who can disconnect gameplay/what’s on screen. I know, tons of players can discuss games’ weapons for pages and pages, how they compare to real life ones etc. I am completely uninterested in that.

It’s an age thing to me. Of course, when I was in the single digits of my life I was kind of fascinated by Rambo and all those weapons in American movies that we didn’t have in Europe and France. Like, not at all. Besides shotguns for hunting, that’s all the real weapons I ever saw in my life there. I could go shoot some targets here in LA but I’ve never cared a second for that.

What’s fun in game to me is not “shooting a gun” it’s the “quick action to take down your opponent”. The fact that in Counter-Strike any weapon used by anyone can, with some luck, take down anyone. It’s exciting as hell. That’s excellent gameplay. I’m into the dance, how to be careful and how to take advantage of the environment (hiding in a difficult angle for the opponent to land his shot) or the cons of a weapon (the sniper has to reload, it takes time, he’s vulnerable).

Gameplay is not about guns.

The fact that so many ultra-realistic looking games are compared to real life is weird to me. It’s still a game y’all! Computer games are faking everything on screen. Nothing exists. Physics are tweaked so that it’s fun. Visual realism has people confused.

Guns are also supposed to be a part of masculinity, like loving cars. At least for us GenX and early Mills, that was definitely the case. You needed to know about those and sure enough, I know the difference between an AK47 and an AR-15 or a 4WD and a muscle car. Dudes’ shit, right? Culture and assimilation through time, are interesting processes.

Chris Remo, a game designer talks about bullet fatigue: “I remember a particularly potent experience playing one of the many Call of Duty games, and being totally overcome with ‘bullet fatigue.’ Particularly the audio. I suddenly found the constant sound of gunfire totally draining.

I think that’s very true. The sound violence is what makes me quit a Counter-Strike game too. We expose ourselves to hundreds, thousands of hours of gunfire and explosions, for fun. Our ears are not supposed to deal with that. He continues:

“The older I get,” he said, “the more profoundly uncomfortable I become with the almost overwhelming obsession with guns in entertainment culture broadly (…)”

It goes back to that pre-teen/teenager target, which always will be impressed by the punch, sound violence and quick action going on with guns and gun fights. I don’t think that will ever change. At that age you want to explore and see the limits of everything. And that’s a lucrative business.

People forget about one crucial thing in terms of game development: it’s “very easy” to debug a game about shooting targets. If bullet hits target then this, if not then that. It is way more complicated to debug something like The Sims because so many variables are flying around. That’s why a game series like Creatures didn’t go very far because raising, teaching, breeding virtual creatures is an insanely more complex thing to build and debug than Shooting Simulator 847. Even when said simulator looks like 4K pictures taken by a professional photographer somewhere in a war conflict in the real world.

Devonte

March 31st, 2018 by harold

They say we might never know what happened.

Two white women adopt six black kids. One of them pleaded guilty in 2011 to a domestic assault charge on her then six year old daughter.

Next-door neighbors call state child protective services on Friday because the kids come to them to ask for food and protection multiple times. The next day, the car and the entire family is gone.

They drive south for over 10 hours. The car goes over the cliff, inexplicably: the weather is good, there’s a big spot of dirt –75 feet, 22m- before the cliff, no skid marks nor break marks. Eight people in the SUV, five dead, three bodies missing, probably dead too. The kids didn’t wear seatbelts.

But they say it wasn’t intentional. They say we probably will never know what happened.

The few videos of Devonte are disheartening. He looks like his soul is in prison. Those women were using him and his siblings as props. Maybe worse.

What happened is that those two adults were hit with some God syndrome, thought they were so much better than anyone else and couldn’t face the fact that they were abusive crazy ass mofos. They give life and take it away. The state, which allowed those adoptions, is guilty too. What the fuck. When you see how hard America goes on black moms…

It’s a mess and it makes me so sad. Six black kids died.

LGBT

March 28th, 2018 by harold

There is a homeless transwoman living around in the neighborhood. I see her regularly. At first we would just both frown our eyebrows at each other, not sure what to think. Then we just started to wave at each other.

One time on a Saturday as I was slowly biking through a big baseball game crowd, I saw her making her way through too. Families everywhere. People judging, staring hard. She’s walking and she’s trying hard, but she’s afraid.

She sees me, I have my headphones on, I simply say “hey” to her, smiling. People turning their head toward me wondering who I am talking to. She smiles and says “hi” back. Her whole attitude changes. She raises her head and walks stronger. The Glow. She just needed to be recognized as a person in this sea of eyes and closed mouths.

It’s weird how scared we are of other people. We all need and want the same things. In different forms and shapes, but that doesn’t matter.

That blogging void is alright

March 25th, 2018 by harold

It is psychological gravity, not technical inertia, however, that is the greater force against the open web. Human beings are social animals and centralized social media like Twitter and Facebook provide a powerful sense of ambient humanity—the feeling that “others are here”—that is often missing when one writes on one’s own site. Facebook has a whole team of Ph.D.s in social psychology finding ways to increase that feeling of ambient humanity and thus increase your usage of their service.

Fantastic blog post circulating these days.

The feeling that “others are here”. It’s true, when I write on here I don’t really feel that others are here, even though my blog is completely public and available to anyone on earth with an internet connection. I mention it but never push people to it.

I love this. It’s discrete. Discretion is a beautiful paradox. It’s here, but only if you pay attention, look for it. That’s the opposite of how social media works, where anything that’s not amplified times 10,000, doesn’t exist. Discretion is way more human than it looks like. Appreciating something or someone comes with YOU looking for something in the first place. You then find it and enjoy it.

I know. The younger you are, the less this feels natural but trust me, it’s the best. Like discovering some music on your own. We all lived that. It’s more rewarding than being force-fed some bullshit.

It also gets better with time. I have some blogs in my RSS reader that I’ve been following for over ten years. Understanding and reading about someone’s life over a long period of time is a strong positive feeling. It becomes a real lens, with an angle that social media doesn’t give you because we stunt on social media. We brag, we exaggerate. When you’re discrete it’s just you, your reality, your thoughts. It’s clean. It’s a bit scary from time to time to be vulnerable like that but we value authenticity, don’t we? I do.

In this age of insane misinformation, fake news, fake butts, fake everything, reading people’s actual thoughts is refreshing and satisfying. Get on the train, embrace discretion. Plant those seeds and watch growth.