Sunday, December 30, 2012

Home Reading: 'Lost at Sea' by Jon Ronson

I've talked about my fascination with the lives and experiences of others. Its the premise of the podcast and is highlighted by the way I like to travel - "Ego-Tripping", the exchange of stories and CouchSurfing.

Jon Ronson is a British writer that is a inspiration of mine. The back of his latest book 'Lost at Sea' aptly describes him as being "fascinated by madness, strange behaviour and the human mind, and he has spent his life exploring mysterious events and meeting extraordinary people". A man after my own heart.
'Lost at Sea" The Jon Ronson Mysteries' by Jon Ronson
Jon Ronson on the power of the mind, spending time with NLP Co-founder Richard Bandler and TV Hypnotist Paul McKenna
Don't worry, get therapy by Jon Ronson (The Guardian. May 2006)
... The NLP training manual we delegates have been handed is a confusing mix of psychobabble and diagrams marked "submodalities" and "kinesthetics", etc. But from what I can gather, NLP is a way of "re-patterning" the human brain to turn us into super-beings - confident, non-phobic, thin super-beings who could sell coals to Newcastle and know what people are thinking just by their eye movements. It is the theory that we are computers and can be reprogrammed as easily as computers can. You were abused as a child? Forget therapy: just turn off the bit of the brain that remembers the abuse. You want to become a great salesperson? NLP will reprogram you. Our winks, our ticks, our seemingly insignificant choice of words - they all make up a map of our innermost desires and doubts: read the customer and make the sale.
Jon Ronson on Hyperreality, spending time with Real life Superheroes
It's a Bird! It's a Plane! It's...Some Dude?! by Jon Ronson (GQ. August 2011)
... It's the next afternoon. There's a comic convention in town, at the Washington State Convention Center in the business district. There are something like 30,000 people here, families and costumed comic fans, packing the modern glass building. I spot Knight Owl and another Seattle superhero named Skyman.
He is only semicostumed. He's unmasked and goateed, and he's wearing a white T-shirt with a Skyman logo of his own design. "Ooh, look, the Rocketeer!" he says at a passing costumed attendee. "You never see Rocketeer costumes! That is priceless! I gotta get me a photo of that! Ooh! Lady Riddler! Nice!" Skyman approaches a Batman. "Is that a real bulletproof outfit?" he asks him. "No," Batman replies a little apologetically.
"This place," I tell Knight Owl, "is full of costumed people who would never confront drug dealers in the middle of the night. You and Phoenix and Skyman exist in some shadow world between fantasy and reality." "Yeah," Knight Owl replies. "What we do is hyperreality!"

Ego Tripping: (A vacation from yourself)
- Louis Theroux, Couchsurfing and Holland
- Other people's stories - Tales of: Adventure
- Trigger: Ego Tripping in Portugal - Sintra, Obidos, Ericeria, Coimbra
- Trigger: Egotripping II - England, on the road again
- Albert Camus on the Writer, the Actor and the Traveller

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Scams in Istanbul: The reality of trusting (3 of 3)

<< crossposted on 'The 30 Home Games' blog
Are your Spidey Senses tingling?
My mood definitely shifted, I became suspicious of everybody. I even began questioning the authenticity of my hostel roommate, a down-on-his-luck Canadian traveler borrowing money from newly made running mates. I knew I had to find a way to get out of this mental funk. Attention is a double-edged sword. Being a traveler, a lot of possibilities were opened because people were curious and drawn to me as an outsider. I was welcomed into homes and friend circles, now this attention was being used against me. I was afraid to go out, the simplest chores would be interrupted by the constant initiation of conversation. I imagine this is the reality celebrities and hotties live in every day.

My running mate who escaped the scam unscathed was someone I befriended on the trip from Goreme to Istanbul. We bonded over our love of basketball, he was a diehard Laker fan and former intern for the team. We played a game with locals at the courts in the Nike Beyoğlu store the morning after his ordeal as he briefed me on what happened. I had my epiphany, I would convert scammer invitations into a game of hoops. It dovetailed with my 30 Home Games mission, my quest for a Basketball experience in each Country. He was skeptical, it was asking for trouble.

The genius of these scams are that they're only asking for your time. Its essentially rapport building through good conversation, a few shared drinks which sets the table for the manipulation to take place. Its only when the betrayal happens at the Clip-joint that one begins to question everything. A fellow traveler equated it to a relationship break up, especially one dissolved through infidelity. We start tracing its history, which parts were real? Was any of it genuine? Then we start looking inward, was it my fault for believing? I figured I could entice them to a game of basketball during what they thought was the "real" part.

The following few days I was upbeat, returning to my old self. Instead of shooing people away grumpily, I was looking forward to interactions but surprisingly the attention had waned. I can't pinpoint whether it was my change in energy, my familiarity or random chance. Interestingly I had begun to mutually greet one of the scammers like Ralph Wolf and Sam Sheepdog would in the cartoons. He was a fellow in a blue/green puffer jacket I would regularly cross paths with, usually alongside a new Asian tourist. Our original encounter he tried to open me at Sultanahmet with the line "Hey you look like Michael Jackson".

In the closing days of my fortnight in Istanbul I did manage to find a genuine connection, befriending young artists at a Jazz bar. Over several days we hit the town, was welcomed into homes for dinner and tea and got to crash at a few places. The locals were understandably removed from this reality, they explained that some Current affair shows had shed some light on the scams in Istanbul. As it was a crime of opportunity, Turks from the east unfamiliar with the big city were also being scammed. Most attention was paid to non-Turks because they were ideal targets, distinct, lucrative and crucially - naive.

The charming person I spent most of the time with mindblowingly did her major thesis on 'Hyperreality' - a pet topic of mine. On my final day I was welcomed into her friend's apartment, we discussed scamming and reality as we smoked and drank in their attic. Their roommate, a Syrian revolutionary taking refuge in Turkey arrived late into the evening. He began in the front lines for the cause but decided his powers were best served in media relations. He weighed in on the conversation by showing videos he'd filmed that day presenting two versions of reality for the same event, one for dissemination now and the other truth to be released after the revolution was won. 

It was a memorable way to close my experience in Turkey and it gave me a sobering take on the scamming experience. I've always been fascinated by the power of charisma and the bending of reality but this underlined for me that its ultimately playing with fire. My running mate who escaped the scam had himself conceded, "As bad as it could have turned out, it'll likely go down as the most interesting that happens on this trip".

During this time creating genuine experiences with amazing new friends, the basketball mouse trap was the furthest thing from my mind. I never did get to hoop it up with a scammer, I didn't even come close to as invitations had dried up. I'm still intrigued by the prospect of holding court with a scammer but the idea served its purpose as it shifted my mood and I found the genuine experience I was searching for. I'll file it as 'Incomplete' and still hope to achieve it if I ever return to Istanbul. If someone is able to execute it on my behalf I would love to hear your story.

After a great evening capping off my time and saying my goodbyes the morning after, I had one final rude awakening. As I checked in at Atatürk International Airport the teller informed I wasn't in the system for any flights that day. I scanned my ticket, checked my phone everything seemed fine. It was then I realised that my Calendar settings were set to 2011. My Turkish friend had borrowed my phone 5 days earlier to use her SIM, I must've mistakenly applied the wrong settings when I turned it back on so the dates corresponded to the wrong days. I had been operating a day in advance this whole time, my flight was actually for tomorrow.
Everything is real until the moment it isn't.

- Scams in Istanbul: Why I trust people (1 of 3)
- Scams in Istanbul: Why people trust others (2 of 3)
- Scams in Istanbul: The reality of trusting (3 of 3)

-----------------------------------------------------------
The folks at IndieTravelPodcast have a comprehensive discussion on several possible scams travelers might encounter - Indie Travel Podcast Ep 212: Travel Scams, cons and Travel safety

Have you ever been scammed whilst traveling? Has your sense of reality ever been shaken?

Monday, December 17, 2012

'Loz in Transit' on the radio: Talking 'Waking Life' and existentialism

<< crossposted on the 'Loz in Translation' blog

I had the pleasure of being on community radio to discuss the Richard Linklater film 'Waking Life'. I was given the opportunity to curate the song playlist and touch on themes covered on this blog (travel, reality).

Find the radio chat here:
Bernie Burke radio interviews (WOW FM 100.7)
- Download the file directly here, Music & Movie Madness: Dec 11, 2012 (51m 13s, no music)

PODCAST: 'Music & Movie Madness' WOW FM 100.7

VIDEO: 'Waking Life' (2001) trailer

Posts referenced in the radio interview
- Home Reading: 'Myth of Sisyphus' by Albert Camus - On the Writer, Actor and Traveler
- 'A Memento Year' exhibition
- Let's Get Real - Episode 5 preview: Black Holes
- Road Music: Friends, Laura and Monica

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Albert Camus on the Writer, the Actor and the Traveller

<< crossposted on the 'Loz in Translation' blog
'The Myth of Sisyphus' by Albert Camus
For as long as I can remember I've always been curious about other people's lives and being a fly on the wall. Its where my passion for documentaries, DVD commentaries and podcasts stem from. Its also what I've found most fascinating about travel, the dynamic experience and exchange of stories which I've explored through Couchsurfing and 'Ego-Tripping'.

Though I have a good friend who is a big proponent of French philosopher Albert Camus, I've only recently become familiar with his work. A passage on Drama in his book 'Myth of Sisyphus' sheds some light on the root of my fascination.

Myth of Sisyphus
Hence the actor has chosen multiple fame, the fame that is hallowed and tested. From the fact the everything is to die some day he draws the best conclusion, An actor succeeds or does not succeed. A writer has some hope even if he is not appreciated. He assumes that his works will bear witness to what he was...

What more revelatory epitome can be imagined than those marvellous lives, those exceptional and total destinies unfolding for a few hours within a stage set? Off the stage, Sigismundo ceases to count. Two hours later he is seen dining out. Then it is, perhaps, that life is a dream... By thus sweeping over centuries and minds, by miming man as he can be and as he is, the actor has much in common with that other absurd individual, the traveller...

To what the degree the actor benefits from the characters is hard to say. But that is not the important thing. It is merely a matter of knowing how far he identifies himself with those irreplaceable lives. It often happens that he carries them with him, that they somewhat overflow the time and place in which they were born. They accompany the actor, who cannot very readily separate himself from what he has been... He abundantly illustrates every month or everyday that so suggestive truth that there is no frontier between what a man wants to be and what he is. Always concerned with better representing, he demonstrates to what a degree appearing creates being. For that is his art- to simulate absolutely, to project himself as deeply as possible into lives that are not his own. At the end of his effort his vocation becomes clear: to apply himself wholeheartedly to being nothing or to being several. The narrower the limits allotted him for creating his character the more necessary his talent. He will die in three hours under the mask he has assumed to-day. That is called losing oneself to find oneself.
'The Hero with a Thousand Faces' - Joseph Campbell
- Ego Tripping: (A vacation from yourself)
- Louis Theroux, Couchsurfing and Holland
- Other people's stories - Tales of: Adventure
- Trigger: Ego Tripping in Portugal - Sintra, Obidos, Ericeria, Coimbra
- Trigger: Egotripping II - England, on the road again

Update: I appeared on Community Radio discussing 'Myth of Sisyphus'

Sam Harris on Free will and preferences

'Free Will' by Sam Harris
Free Will  by Sam Harris
He played poker not by by accident or while in the grip of delusion but because he wanted to, intended to, and decided to, moment after moment. For most purposes, it makes sense to ignore the deep causes of desires and intentions - genes, synaptic potentials, etc. - and focus instead on the conventional outlines of the person. We do this when thinking about our choices and behaviours - because its the easiest way to organize our thoughts and actions. Why did I order beer instead of wine? Because I prefer beer.

Why do I prefer it? I don't know, but I generally have no need to ask. Knowing that I like beer more than wine is all I need to know to function in a restaurant. Whatever the reason, I prefer one taste to the other. Is there freedom in this? None whatsoever. Would I magically reclaim my freedom if I decided to spite my preference and order wine instead? No, because the roots of this intention would be as obscure as the preference itself.
- Watch Sam Harris' talk at Festival of Dangerous Ideas 2012: The Delusion of Free Will

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Let's Get Real - Episode 5 preview: Black Holes

My 5th conversation is with a newly made friend, interestingly she's inexplicably connected to 2 of my previous guests who are otherwise unrelated. We're all connected maaaaan! She has recently embarked on a return trip to South America after spending a memorable year there in 2010. She had feelings of malaise settling back home so I wanted to capture her impressions of the trip before and after.

One of the things I enjoy about traveling is being consumed into different realities, I referred to this as 'Ego Tripping'. In these cases they're by design, just like a curious Alice entering into rabbit holes to see how deep they go. Then there are experiences that are more like "Black Holes", predicaments we get sucked into and only realise have happened with the benefit of hindsight. Former relationships, previous career paths and abandoned trajectories that ultimately inform our evolution or pad the story of our life.

Enjoy as we discuss some absurd experiences and marvel at how we got there.

VIDEO: The Sopranos - AJ "absurdity of life"

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Does it matter that the dramatic ending to ARGO wasn't "real"

Bob motivating the only holdout to actioning the daring escape plan
JOE STAFFORD: It's suicide.
TONY MENDEZ: I'm asking you to trust me.
STAFFORD: I don't trust you.
BOB ANDERS: This is the game, Joe. What world are you living in?
STAFFORD: What world am I...? The one where they're hanging people from construction cranes, Bob! It's too dangerous, I don't want to bring my wife into this.
Argo (2012)
'Argo' (2012) "The movie was fake. The mission was real."
Ben Affleck's latest directorial effort 'Argo' is gaining Oscar buzz but some are tempering their praise as the dramatic 3rd act was heavily exaggerated to ratchet up the drama for moviegoers. Its only fitting as the movie is about the intoxicating nature of cinema, an antidote to the tragedy and absurdity of real life.
Travers: 'Argo' Is Terrific Despite Hollywood Exaggerations 
Ben Affleck political thriller twists history
Though he stays loyal to history for much of the film, Affleck takes some liberties and spices up the ending. "There's no doubt that Argo is a terrific movie. You sit there and you're entertained, you're crazy... you're on the edge of your seat," says Travers. "But is it right that in order to make a movie that would entertain us, you would fake the truth of something that stayed historically accurate through the whole beginning, right up to the 80 percent mark?" If Affleck gets an Oscar nod, does he deserve to lose because he "faked the truth at the end"?
Futurist Jason Silva offers his perspective which leans towards cutting Director Ben Affleck some slack for using his creative license for 'Argo'.

VIDEO: Jason Silva on ecstasy and how "real" it needs to be
JASON SILVA: The cinema, the art breaks through the screen, it literally breaks through the screen and becomes real. In me, in the audience, in the viewer and its this idea that its ALL real. William Gibson says "We'll look back at the past and laugh at the so called distinction between the real and virtual worlds"...

Monday, November 26, 2012

Young revellers (Schoolies) are corruptible: "Guys don't grow a brain until they're 30"

Girls corrupting guys: Schoolies Week 
Schoolie evicted after high-rise nap 
"Guys don't grow a brain until they're 30, so don't egg them on, particularly when they've got the happy juice in them. They make dumb decisions to show off," Mr Gourley told AAP.

"For the girls, don't yell off the balcony encouraging the boys to do dumb things ... there's an artificial hype around schoolies that you get caught up in ... don't sacrifice your future for a week."

He said it was up to schoolies to look after their mates. "We really put the onus back on the mates that aren't drunk to be looking after friends in case they do something silly like that."

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Glengarry Glen Ross: Ricky Roma morality monologue

VIDEO: Glengarry Glen Ross - Romas' monologue (Al Pacino)  
Glengarry Glen Ross (1992)
RICKY ROMA: All train compartments smell vaguely of shit. It gets so you don't mind it. That's the worst thing that I can confess. You know how long it took me to get there? A long time. When you die you're gonna regret the things you don't do. You think you're queer? I'm gonna tell you something. We're all queer. You think you're a thief? So what? You get befuddled by a middle-class morality? Get shut of it. Shut it out. You cheat on your wife, you did it. Live with it. You fuck little girls, so be it. There's an absolute morality? Maybe. And then what? If you think there is, go ahead, be that thing. Bad people go to hell? I don't think so. You think that, act that way. A hell exists on earth? Yes. I won't live in it. That's me.

Did you ever take a dump, made you feel like you slept for 12 hours? Great meals fade in reflection. Everything else gains. Do you know why? 'Cause it's only food. This shit we put in us, keeps us going - it's only food. The great fucks you may have had, what do you remember about them? I don't know. For me, I'm saying what it is, it's probably not the orgasm. Some broad's forearm on your neck, something her eyes did. There was this sound she made. Or it's me in the - I'm telling you - I'm in bed the next day, she brought me café au lait, gives me a cigarette, my balls feel like concrete.

What I'm saying, what is our life? Our life is looking forward or it's looking back. That's it. That's our life. Where's the moment? And what is it we're so afraid of? Loss. What else? The bank closes, we get sick, my wife died on a plane? The stock market collapsed? What of these things happen? None of them. We worry anyway. Why?
Courtesy of Chepry

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Comedian Noel Fielding at the Sydney Opera House: Stand up, Punk Rock and ideas

Ideas are great, they transform the world but they often take time to spread and get realised. With the internet, memes are now able to spread like wildfire as Jason Silva illustrates. Back in the day it would have been spread via traveling storytellers, the forebears to todays' standups
play.sydneyoperahouse.com - Comedian Noel Fielding, Just for Laughs 2012
Just For Laughs 2012 - Noel Fielding
NOEL FIELDING: (1m 37s) What I love about standup is you can paint an image in a second and they're with you. Its their own version of your image. I like the way you can paint an image really quickly and quite fantastical or horrific images. There's something beautiful about the punk nature of standup cuz you can have an idea in the day and perform it that night and get an instant reaction. You know whether its good or not immediately...

Let's Get Real - Episode 4 preview: Surrender to an idea



My 4th conversation is with an Artist and Graphic designer, we talked about the power of ideas and the journey in realising them. Interestingly his artistic process is freeform, he allows inspiration to guide his markmaking without preempting the outcome. This perspective informed our conversation and the stories he shared. We talked about art, love and travel.

I've realised my fascination with artists, comedians and filmmakers is their commitment to an idea. It takes a level of devotion, gumption and stubbornness to craft a fleeting thought for an audience of strangers or plunge millions of dollars and thousands of man-hours to share a story. There is nothing more inspiring than realising that everything man has made originally started as a thought in one's head.

Quote bookending Viral Video 'Kony 2012' by Invisible Children
Other Loz in Transit posts on "Ideas"
- Comedian Russell Brand, Futurist Jason Silva: The Power of Ideas
- Mixtape: 'Loz in Translation' Sampler II (Turkey)
- Jumping into other people's lives: Ego Tripping

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

'Wreck-It Ralph' and Simulation Theory: Are we characters in a Video Game?

'Wreck-It Ralph' (2012): The two-dimensional Game and Real Life in 3D
'Wreck-It Ralph' (2012): Reality outside the game and inside it
Wreck-it Ralph is a 3D animated movie about a Video Game Villain traversing different Game universes in order to save the "Arcade" and find his true calling as a hero. It proposes numerous layers of reality that are meta in nature not unlike 'Inception' (2010) did with dreams and 'The Matrix' (1999) offered with computer simulations.

Theoretical physicist Dr Sylvester James Gates Jr presents the notion that we may already be living in our own "Matrix". His research has led to finding "computer code" embedded into the equations of superstring theory:

VIDEO: Dr. Sylvester James Gates Jr. presents Evidence for Intelligent Design

NEIL DEGRASSE TYSON: Are you saying that we're all just - that there's some entity that programmed the universe and we're just expressions of their code...
Dr. SYLVESTER JAMES GATES: Well I didn't say that
TYSON: ... like 'The Matrix'? Some of what you said!
GATES: Some of those codes are showing on the screen behind you right now. They don't look like code but these pictures which are called "Adinkras" are graphical interpretations of sets of equations based on codes.
To answer your question more directly, I have in my life come to a very strange place cuz I never expected that the movie 'The Matrix' might be an accurate representation of a place in which I live.
Ultimately what's "real" may be the connections made with others and the meaning we find in that. Does it really matter that we are living in a Video Game? That life is a dream or that we're simply simulating our past selves. Comedian Joe Rogan offers this optimistic view:
Joe Rogan and The Simulation Theory
JOE ROGAN: Life is just not just whatever you can knock on and make noise, life is not just solid things. Life is also intention, its energy... your car, your house, your boat, your f*cking private jet. Anything that you can hit with a hammer is an illusion. That's the illusion. The reality is the feel, the love, the life, the soul, the interaction with human beings...

Find other Dan Harmon and Duncan Trussell conversations here:
- Ousted 'Community' creator, Dan Harmon speaks to Duncan Trussell about "permanence"
- Dan Harmon and Duncan Trussell: We are in a simulation echo. God was originally a mortal programmer who "sacrificed himself as a player"
- 'Wreck-It Ralph' and Simulation Theory: Are we characters in a Video Game?

Jake the Snake on getting what you want and still not being satisfied

Wrestling legend Jake "The Snake" Roberts talks about temptation on the road and manages to make the coolest thing ever sound like the most depressing thing ever. Be careful what you wish for.

VIDEO: Beyond the Mat (5 of 10)
Beyond the Mat (1999)
JAKE ROBERTS: (8m 24s) The road really screwed up my sex life at home man. You go on the road, you get some type of fame or whatever. All of a sudden you can have it everyday, then all of a sudden you wanna get selective. Then all of a sudden one a day's not enough so you do two a day, then three a day. Then two at a time, then two at a time with toys, then two at a time but just watch. Then it gets more bizarre and more bizarre and it finally gets to the point that when you go home and try to make love to your wife - Ain't no way. Ain't no way because the mental stimulation is not there and that's bad. That's bad.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Scams in Istanbul: Why people trust others (2 of 3)

<< crossposted on The '30 Home Games' and 'LozinTranslation' blog
VIDEO: Aladdin - Do You Trust Me?


During my weakest point in Istanbul, I would think of this famous Disney clip and amuse myself by humming 'A Whole New World'. My intent shifted from sarcasm to optimism.

--------------------------------------------

This is a cautionary tale. I myself have never been scammed in the following way. My brother was scammed in similar fashion in China (Tea Ceremony scam) and my good German friend experienced another variation in Malaysia (blackjack scam). My American running mate in Istanbul ran through the complete course taking 5hrs total. Fortunately he escaped unscathed, no Standover men forcing him to the ATM. I joke that his scammer was in a 'Jules Winnfield-like 'transitional period' and just let him go. The "Clip-joint" scam is explained below
The Single Male Scam
One of these is the "Let's Have a Drink" Scam which results in your paying a drinks bill of hundreds or even thousands of dollars or euros... While you wander around on your own in the evening, you're approached by a well-dressed man who speaks good English. He chats with you, then he suggests you have a drink together, and leads you to a bar or nightclub that's in on the scam.
VIDEO: Scam City Istanbul (National Geographic)


Below are a sample of the dozen interactions I experienced, these examples on their own shouldn't raise any red flags but do illustrate the variety of scripts. Most of these stories happen from 4pm onwards, as it approaches dark. I am dressed casually (hoodie, trackpants, no bags/camera) and all my interactions began with approaches in English, inexplicably they would say “Sorry, I thought you were Turkish“.

Just like making a sale or attracting a partner - the routine is about triggering certain human behaviours
Appearance: Young, Mobile phone in ear
Location: Sultanahmet Square, walking alongside
Story: Kurdish man on holidays from Antalya
Approach: (Phone in ear) "Excuse me which one is Haghia Sophia and which one is the Blue Mosque?"

Appearance: Older, Very well dressed
Location: Galata köprüsü (main walkbridge with Fishermen), In my path then stops suddenly to enjoy the view with me
Approach: "How far down do you think it is?"

Appearance: Young, dressed for going out
Location: Taksim Beyoğlu
Story: Visiting Istanbul from Izmir, staying at a hostel
Approach: "We are staying at x Hostel... they suggested this bar worth checking out"
Scams are a subversion of the ordinary interactions we have in daily life. Preying on our better nature, they are most effective when they address a want or a need. Scammers see these as 'vulnerabilities'. When our house is on fire, its reasonable to trust the first person we see with a uniform and hose.

When the want or a need is a "free lunch" or something sexual, its understandable why others would be unsympathetic but more often than not the wants are innocent. In the case of the Istanbul clip-joint scams, it could be a yearning for good company, seeking a local connection or just an interesting night out. A scammer is a 'Man with a plan', they target wayward travelers offering direction and directions.

I like to travel with an open mind and have found that all my best experiences in life involve me trusting in others. Most new relationships and experiences are founded on this principle, we use our value systems to balance Risk VS Reward then we make instinctual decisions. On-the-street interactions is how I arrived at many of my best experiences traveling. I didn't want to lose this aspect of my journey. This episode certainly made me more mindful and more grateful of the good fortune I'd had up to this point.

Everyday people are being scammed. Tourists are soft targets because they often stick out and are often more trusting. Looking through forums discussing Travel scams I've found people tend to break down into these types:
1) Victims - ranging from philosophical to vengeful
2) Cautious know-it-alls
3) Defensive locals

Instead of depriving myself of a great Turkish experience (which I did find) because I was afraid of unwanted attention, I instead calibrated my state of mind. The more I reflect on this time, the more I realise how human the experience was. As an adventurous person by nature, I would have been perfect fodder for this scam thankfully things transpired differently. I found myself fascinated and obsessed with this stomach-turning game, it was when I read this that everything changed:
CAREFUL: SCAM in Istanbul...
... My guy was very well dressed and well spoken, when I told him I was just going to check my email and then return to my hotel because I was tired, he said he also needed to find a net-cafe and skype his family (he told me he was a business man from out of town !) and he even paid for my net use. I even got to say hello to his wife and child, so how could I suspect a lovely family guy ? Anyway, much the same as everyone else...
- BP007
Enter Basketball...

- Scams in Istanbul: Why I trust people (1 of 3)
- Scams in Istanbul: Why people trust others (2 of 3)
- Scams in Istanbul: The reality of trusting (3 of 3)

Friday, November 9, 2012

Towelie and Kevin Smith: Talking pot and the reward of epiphany

Rolling Stone (May 2011) - Kevin Smith's Happy Ending
Kevin Smith's Happy Ending by Josh Eells
"It's kind of like The Matrix" he says, with the zeal of a convert. "That moment when Neo sees all the zeros and ones. Suddenly, you see everything clearly: The negativity goes away. The doubt goes away. You get a little burner Tony Robbins in your head, going 'Come on, Kev, you can do it!' I hate to sound like a stoner- but there's a reason, like, it grows everywhere." 
When he first started getting high, Smith vowed that he'd always tie it to something creative, so as not to become a TV-watching slug. "You gotta be writing," he told himself. "You gotta be recording, you gotta be tweeting."
I'm not much of a smoker. When I had the epiphany of seeing the 1s and 0s of reality after being enlightened by a National Geographic doco after a few puffs, I got a glimpse of the appeal. When I mentioned my revelation to regular smoker, he was pleased to know I had seen the light.

There's definitely a nexus between creativity and stimulants like pot, some people try to control their usage by linking it to reward systems or artistic inspiration but I don't know maaaaaaan...
South Park (Season 10, Episode 5): A Million Little Fibers
South Park Ep 1005: A Million Little Fibers
TOWELIE: All right, I'm gonna get a little high. [sets up to light the joint, but stops himself again] No! No I'm NOT gonna get high! Every time I get high, I come up with ideas that get me in more trouble. I'm not gettin' high this time!
...
Aw, that's okay. This whole thing was my fault. I learned that I shouldn't get high to come up with ideas. I should come up with ideas and then get high, to reward myself. [whips out his joint and lighter]

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Scams in Istanbul: Why I trust people (1 of 3)

<< crossposted on The '30 Home Games' and 'LozinTranslation' blog

up in the air, clooney, connection, travel
"The best adventures are when you trust somebody"
- paraphrased quote entered into a running mate's phone
The third week into my Turkey experience and I was in snow-covered Göreme. It was a foggy day. I was eavesdropping on an exchange between a Tour operator and a representative for a busload of tourists. The owner of the nearby horseranch came out and we chatted about the unreasonable expectations people have. "If you come to Turkey in Winter be prepared for snow" he began. "It doesn't matter that it was sunny last week in Dubai. Today you're in Turkey". We connected, he invited me inside where it was warmer.

I hung around for about 5 hours. He commanded a staff of 6 or so of varying ages and experience. They came in and out and we talked about the usual - girls, dreams and life. One associate had been living in Japan for 2 years, it was his second day back in Turkey. He confided that he had a miserable time there but he loves his newborn son and his Japanese wife (they met when she was a tourist). He had a lot of thinking to do. We drank Raki and Efes beer, had kebab eats and smoked.

I mentioned my time in Turkey has been more scenic than social. These are the types of interactions I value and what I've enjoyed most about how I travel. Having had difficulty finding it in Turkey, I cherished this experience all the more.

Its ultimately what connects me to a place - being accepted or feeling like I belong in some way. The ranchowner described the feeling like a mirror, "we tend to like things when we can see ourselves in it" . The ranchowner commended me on my openness, the feeling was mutual. I explained that all my best experiences and adventures have come with an exchange of trust. Strangers off the street, Couchsurfers have welcomed me into their lives and homes. As a stranger I've been welcomed into classrooms and house parties and been handed house keys from people I've just met.

Times I've trusted in others and vice versa:
- CouchSurfing: I've accompanied Latvians as they've delivered flowers to beloved former teachers and been escorted to a wrestling show by scooter in Germany.
- Strangers met on Lithuanian streets have invited me to parasail and pick mushrooms
- Gone on road trips and slept in unfurnished apartments with new friends
- I was an honorary Student at the SpoHo in Köln. I ate at the Mensa, went on their socials and participated in classes
- Had amazing meals in Portugal through the kindness of strangers
- I surrender myself each time I Ego Trip

We tried to figure out why two strangers could be so trusting so quickly. The Ranchowner offered "When your soul is naked, people can recognise". Its just my nature, I have faith in people and my 'Spidey Sense' has served me well.

Enter Istanbul...
- Scams in Istanbul: Why I trust people (1 of 3)
- Scams in Istanbul: Why people trust others (2 of 3)
- Scams in Istanbul: The reality of trusting (3 of 3)

Monday, November 5, 2012

Comedian Russell Brand, Futurist Jason Silva: The Power of Ideas

(Drug Dealer imparting philosophy to a young Russell Brand) "See all these buildings, Russell? All these buildings were once a drawing on a piece of paper, and before that they were an idea in someone’s head. Any idea that you have, you can make manifest."
― Russell Brand, My Booky Wook
Man has the incredible ability to shape the world it lives in. All our art, objects and buildings originally began as an idea. Our imagination creates reality. What happens when we become so advanced that we no longer have a buffer time between our ideas and reality? Imagine that.

VIDEO: Jason Silva - 'Imagination'
JASON SILVA: The Imaginary Foundation which I adore and I quote them all the time, they say that the whole goal of human imagination is to conjure up all these delightful future possibilities. These delightful futures scenarios, pick the most amazing and ecstatic one and guess what, pull the present to meet that exciting possibility...

Friday, November 2, 2012

Onnit Blog: Self Improvement in Video Games VS the "Real World"

Still from 'Scott Pilgrim vs. the World' (2010)
Onnit have compiled a list of reasons why people choose to dedicate their time "Leveling up" their Video Game avatars rather than their real selves:
Level up your Life
The appeal derives partly from the fact that these RPG (Role Playing Games) cut to the core of a basic human desire; To improve, and to conquer. But why is it so much more appealing to improve a virtual character, than to improve your real-life self? Countless teens and adults sit in their bedrooms or basements and work on their avatar so they can crush monsters and get new weapons. They could be hitting the gym so they could crush their rivals and get more dates! Somehow there is resistance in life that isn’t found in games. Besides just simply being entertaining and fun, here are a few reasons why games are more appealing: 
1. Games have concrete goals and a measuring stick. I have always said that the genius of traditional martial arts is the belt system. You always know where you stand and what it will take to reach the next goal. And much like a video game, once you achieve a certain level, no one can take that from you. For a casual kickboxer or MMA enthusiast, unless you are actively sparring, you really have no idea where you are at, or what your next goal is. You just do it with the faith that you will be better than you were before you started.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Let's Get Real - Episode 3 preview: Love and discontent

lets get real
Here is the first of a set of excerpts from my 3rd podcast conversation. It was an interesting chat with a charming lass on the topic of love and discontent. The sound quality is an improvement on previous recordings as it was done in an enclosed space. You'll have to forgive the coughs though :)

For those wondering about the comedian I mentioned who went through the Rumspringa, its Kurt Braunohler. He has recounted the story on several podcasts including Marc Maron and Pete Holmes' programs and 'This American Life'.

VIDEO: CNN - A comic's sexual rumspringa

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Comedian Duncan Trussell and Community creator Dan Harmon on Hedonism and sex online

The Matrix. Hedonism open on all windows
Imagine you had an impulse to get a massage but didn't know where you could get them. You also don't have a smartphone so you call a good friend asking them to google directions. If only they could also upload life skills as well. *Downloading Stamina...*.

When you're playing VideoGames or watching movies, how much of that experience is living in that moment and how much of it is wishing you were doing it "for real". Is it escapism or replacement?
Duncan Trussell Family Hour - Episode 33: Dan Harmon
DAN HARMON: My belief is that if you gather 100 prostitutes and you polygraphed them so there was no lying and you could just read their thoughts and feelings, you would find that let's say 85 of the 100 would rather be doctors or airline pilots or carpenters. 85 out of 100 of them had fallen on hard times and were resorting to something they didn't want to do...
DUNCAN TRUSSELL: I think that's a pretty accurate hypothesis and I think if you brought in 100 guys who pay money to f*ck prostitutes, there's probably gonna be 85 of them who would rather have someone [that they're in love with]
I think there is an undocumented psychic plague that is afflicting humanity right now and that is internet porn...

Kumail Nanjiani and Pete Holmes talk about affecting the world today

You Made it Weird #93: Kumail Nanjiani returns
PETE HOLMES: (1h 32m) We are stuck in these personas that are nice people. Sometimes I worry that... my ID is at the helm going "Get rich and famous"... and then you can do whatever you want or use alcohol - a cheap rich and fame - and say I was drunk... its just like a write-off
KUMAIL NANJIANI: Its an irresponisibilty
HOLMES: How are you giving yourself green lights to act the way you really secretly wanna?
NANJIANI: I think for me that anger or meanness, its power or a way to affect the world. You can affect the world in many ways. You can play the slow game which is what we're doing, working hard, doing bits. Working on TV shows, affecting the world slowly and through a lot of hard work in a positive way. You can also affect the world in a negative way today. You couldn't affect the world positively today by something you decided to do today. It would be hard. Something negative, just yell at a guy on the street. Punch a guy walking down the street
HOLMES: Shoot at a guy at the ATM
NANJIANI: That's power!
HOLMES: That's the appeal of the dark side, immediate results
NANJIANI: We've talked about this before, that's why Videogames are good. They give you power in a world where there are no real consequences
As a supplement, The Indoor Kids #93: Why we play, with Pete Holmes

Life is a sandbox and we create our reality based on the actions we take. VideoGames are getting closer to creating exciting sandboxes for us to play in.

VIDEO: Dishonored Video Review - IGN Reviews

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Futurist Jason Silva speaks about "Transcension"

Futurist and "Epiphany addict" Jason Silva will be appearing at Sydney's 'Festival of Dangerous Ideas' presenting a talk titled 'We are the Gods Now'. Below he speaks about the possibility of an infinitesimally small Universe.

VIDEO: THINKR - Jason Silva's Top 5
JASON SILVA: Transcension is a theory, its a hypothesis that attempts to account for Fermi's Paradox. Now Fermi's Paradox is a question that asks that if the universe is so infinitely large... and it would have had so much time to develop intelligent life... then how come we don't see any evidence of those technologically advanced civilisations anywhere. Eventually our technology reaches a point where simultaneously with this expansion we're pioneering more and more stem compression, which is the compression of space, time, energy and matter. We have denser and denser spaces where more and more computation and complexity is occurring...
We won't need bodies, we'll just be consciousness living in virtual reality. We're practising already, look at all the movies about this stuff
Sci-Fi comedy Men in Black offers its interpretation of  'Transcension' below

VIDEO: Men In Black (1997) - Orion's Belt

Sunday, September 23, 2012

We all believe we're the one. Are we the Hero or just the Henchman?

In the movie of our own lives we have to believe that we're the lead Actor and that we don't die before the movie ends.
You made it Weird with Pete Holmes: #76 ZACH CREGGER
ZACH CREGGER: We all think we're the one. That's why there are soldiers that will run into -- face first into firing squads in the trenches cuz they think its gonna be my buddy that's gonna get shot. Somewhere deep in their soul I'm not gonna get shot
PETE HOLMES: Every movie we've ever seen we think we're the hero and he always shakes it. That's why we like 'War of the Worlds' where like a car flips over Tom Cruise and doesn't hit him. If you're seeing the movie that's how your life has been...
VIDEO: Austin Powers - The life of a Henchman

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Let's Get Real - Episode 2 preview: Pursuit of Happiness

lets get real
'Let's Get Real' podcast -  Episode 2: Pursuit of Happiness


This is the second preview of the LGR Podcast, it was an engaging conversation with a fellow CouchSurfer I had just met. I'm still feeling through the format of the show, its fun watching it organically take shape. The Video Game metaphor actually came about after both conversations were recorded, I realised I had unwittingly dropped game metaphors in each one. The premise for LGR crystalised after hearing 'Community' creator Dan Harmon pontificating with comedian Duncan Trussell on his podcast about how our reality was just an advanced Video Game.

I'm still figuring out how to label each episode as the subjects can choose to remain anonymous or use it as a platform to promote their projects and themselves. For now I've assigned Video Game characters that are representative of the conversation had. I will likely label each episode with the subject's job title or field of passion and then a general outline of the material covered. Definitely open to suggestion.

The Episode 2 preview is a conversation about happiness, anchored by some real hardship regarding the lost of a loved one. The 'Pursuit of Happiness' is a topic I feel most long term travelers or anyone who feels they've experienced "living the dream" has wrestled with.

View the trailer for the happiness documentary mentioned in the episode - 'Happy' (2011)

- Comedians Pete Holmes and Ben Schwartz discussing Happiness and the Haters
- Marc Maron with Doug Stanhope: "Happiness is For Stupid People"
- Marc Maron with Adam Carolla: On being sedentary

Monday, September 17, 2012

Make Ruby Real: 'Ruby Sparks' trailer quotes

VIDEO: Ruby Sparks - Official Trailer HD
 
Ruby Sparks (2012)
Dr. ROSENTHAL: Why do you think you're not writing
WEIR-FIELDS: I don't know. I get a good idea and then Bam! I start thinking its the stupidest thing ever
Dr. ROSENTHAL: Tell me about it?
....
Dr. ROSENTHAL: I'm glad you found something that inspires you
WEIR-FIELDS: Inspires me! Its like I'm falling in love with her
Dr. ROSENTHAL: That's wonderful
WEIR-FIELDS: I can't fall in love with the girl I write
Dr. ROSENTHAL: Why not?
WEIR-FIELDS: Cuz she's not real
...
HARRY: There's gotta be some logical explanation. People don't just appear out of thin air
WEIR-FIELDS: She did.
HARRY: How?
WEIR-FIELDS: I don't know how. Its love. Its magic
...
HARRY: You manifested a woman with your mind
...
WEIR-FIELDS: You may see this and think its magic but falling in love is an act of magic...
Half of my friends are getting married. The other half are emailing each other pictures of women enlisting them to help find their "Dream" girl. This movie seems to have the answer.

Go to the official 'Ruby Sparks' movie website - MakeRubyReal.com

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Introducing the latest 'Loz in Transit' project - Letsgetrealpod.com

I'm proud to unveil my latest project, the 'Let's get Real' podcast.
Its the third enterprise under the Loz in Transit banner. Whilst 'Loz in Translation' covered travel and '30 Home Games' delved into Sports, 'Let Get Real' will tackle reality.

The blog will be incorporating a Video Game metaphor largely for stylistic purposes. I was bigger into games growing up but stopped playing heavily many years ago. It still forms my understanding of the world and I had brushes with Gaming on my year abroad. I spent my birthday in Shoreditch, London retrogaming at Nintendisco and attended a Chip Music Festival in Edinburgh. The podcast will lightheartedly deal with big subjects like life and consciousness, the pop culture and VideoGame references serve to help digest things easier.

I'm often thinking existentially and have a round about way of talking. I see into things and view the world in metaphors. My travel blog was less about Tourist photos and Destination tips and more grappling with the awe and transformation that comes with adventure. My Basketball blog was less about highlights and player news and dealt more with the Sporting spirit and hero narratives.

Find examples here:
Loz in Translation (travel)
- Traveling, living the dream and remembering it: The nostalgia for Wonderland and Muscle memory
- Other people's stories: Tales of: Living in the moment

'Let's Get Real' is just my way of distilling my overthinking and assorted inspiration into one home without having to tether it to Travel or Basketball. Readers will know I'm a big fan of podcasts, I'll be drawing particular inspiration from comedians Marc Maron, Pete Holmes and Duncan Trussell.

I enjoy being social and have always used conversation to find my place in the world. This is best illustrated by the quote collection I amassed from the interactions I had around Europe. 'Let's Get Real' is essentially a podcast version of those interactions.

"Press Why?". Secret of Mana (1993)
Find the collection of quotables here:
- A question answered with a quote: German + Italian edition
- A question answered with a quote: Spain edition
- A question answered with a quote: Portugal edition
- A question answered with a quote: Holland Edition
- A question answered with a quote: UK Edition
- A question answered with a quote: Lithuania Edition
- A question answered with a quote: Latvia + Estonia edition
- A question answered with a quote: England edition
- A question answered with a quote: Germany Revisited edition
- A question answered with a quote: Turkey edition

Let's get Real. Let's talk about:
The choices we face and what it is we chase
The skin we're in and the suits we wear
The roads we take and the home we return to
Find the new site at www.letsgetrealpod.com
- Read the 'About' section
- Read the 'Talk' section
Tell your friends.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Tron Legacy (2010): "...The Universe up for grabs. Biodigital jazz, man"

Screenshot from www.FlynnLives.com
Tron: Legacy (2010)
KEVIN FLYNN: The Miracle...You remember. ISOs, isomorphic algorithms, a whole new life form.
SAM FLYNN: And you created them?

KEVIN: [Laughs] No, no. They manifested, like a flame. They weren't really, really from anywhere. The conditions were right, and they came into being. For centuries we dreamed of gods, spirits, aliens, and intelligence beyond our own. I found them in here, like flowers in a wasteland. Profoundly naive; unimaginably wise.
They were spectacular. Everything I'd hope to find in the system; control, order, perfection. None of it meant a thing. Been living in a hall of mirrors. The ISOs shattered it, the possibilities of their root code, their digital DNA. Disease? History! Science, philosophy, every idea man has ever had about the Universe up for grabs. Biodigital jazz, man. The ISOs, they were going to be my gift to the world.
I finally watched Tron Legacy. It was directly after unlocking the secrets of the universe whilst away at the Gold coast so it was quite profound. Interestingly the movie was mentioned during my *trip*.

Let's Get Real - Episode 1 preview: Change the Game, Change your Life

lets get real
The Podcast is definitely a work in progress as far as form and process go. You'll notice the sound is quite patchy as there's a lot of ambient noise and movement. I'll be moving towards adding interstitial music, as well as intros and outros for the show. It won't be crisp for the few episodes but I'm trusting it will get exponentially better technically.
If you're handy with sound mixing, I'd appreciate some help.
Let me know what you think and how it sounds?

My 1st conversation is with a dear friend, a journalist embarking on a stint in China then Europe. I chose him as my first subject as he's a supportive running mate, an experienced interviewer and we're on the same wavelength. Ideally I'd like to access as many types of people as possible moving forward.

Update:
I've come to realise I unwittingly referenced Ernest Becker in my tag referencing Religion, Love & Art. I haven't had the chance to complete the book but was introduced to it during my travels and it has since been referenced in my two favorite podcasts.

VIDEO: Jason Silva - Dealing with Death

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Secrets of the Universe: Brain Games, Bill Hicks and Pete Holmes

VIDEO: National Geographic - Brain Games

Not to brag or anything but I discovered the Secrets of the Universe. It happened over a holiday weekend at the Gold Coast. It was my first travel experience since returning home from a year abroad. I also had the pleasure of reconnecting with an inspirational running mate I ego-tripped around Portugal and England with.

As this blog indicates I've been entertaining different perspectives on what makes reality. With the help of some organic substances and this National Geographic 'Brain Games' documentary which was showing at the time everything was unlocked. Thank You Universe!

Not unlike like an M. Night Shyamalan finale, my world view was turned on its head.  Everything that I thought I knew was pulled from under me. The question now is what does one do after unlocking the secrets of life. These comedic bits that interestingly reference hallucinogens and Bill Hicks offer some Call to Action

Friday, September 7, 2012

Home Reading: 'Out-of-body Experience' (Astral Travel) and 'What a Coincidence!' (Synchronicity)

<< crossposted on the 'Loz in Translation' blog

I can't recall how my fascination with "consciousness" began. I've always been intrigued by reality, more specifically 'hyperreality'. It has its roots in my love for wrestling and exposure to it in movies. I was formally educated on it in my Design Studies classes in University which was around the time seminal movies like Fight Club and The Matrix were being released.

My year abroad definitely awakened and accessed parts of my consciousness. A powerful sense of Déjà vu struck me at a particular sight on the Main Square in Riga, Latvia so much so that I was compelled to text my Couchsurfing host of it. I read books on mastering memory when I was in Den Haag. I've had my reality shaken by scammers in Istanbul. I've referenced Dreams and Synchronicity in previous posts as well.

Below are two books I've read recently on these themes, I've highlighted passages which resonated with my recent line of thinking:
'What a Coincidence' by Susan M. Watkins 
Ch 5. Random Thoughts, Media Feedback
Thus the vocabulary of your interest determines the symbols used by your inner senses, exactly the way dreams operate. Within the safety of that framework, chosen and adapted by you, coincidence will often seem to cycle around bits and pieces that suggest themes you should be paying attention to...

Again, this is exactly what your dreams are up to, or rather what you are up to in your dreams, even when you don't remember them consciously. In that way, coincidences are the awake world extensions of the dream state...

Or maybe just learning to acknowledge coincidence is enough to maintain a link to the inner, natural workings of consciousness. Maybe coincidences are always there, muttering in the background, forming the internet of our days, a media hullabaloo of their own. And when you do notice them, even peripherally, your intuitions spring to attention and force you to ask questions about your reality: What's going on here? What is it I have access to? Something? Nothing? Everything? And once you've asked these questions, you can never quite go back to thinking of your position in the world as meaningless or mechanical.
My fascination with Astral Travel only recently came about through the compelling conversations I heard between Comedians Duncan Trussell and Pete Holmes. As someone who places a premium on living in the moment and being "present", I later realised it was odd that I'd be fascinated by leaving one's body and going to far off places.
The Out-of-Body Experience by Anthony Peake 
Ch 10. The Physics
Recent suggestions by Professor Stephen Hawking and an associate, Thomas Hertog of CERN, make this an even more fascinating proposition. They have presented a complex mathematical model proposing something that they term the 'observer created universe'. They argue that all these universes do not branch off and exist in isolation, but they exist simultaneously in a state of 'superposition' You will recall that this is the state a particle is in before it is 'observed'. It exists in a superposition of all possible locations where it may statistically be found when the probability wave collapses.

Let us step back and take account  of exactly what one of the world's leading physicists is suggesting - you are creating your own universe as you go along, and so is every other consciousness. And this goes for all the other people you interact with in a lifetime. We are all existing in our own personal computer game in which each decision brings about a different version of reality, but (and this is very important to grasp) the potential outcome of each decision exists whether or not you choose it.
Find other books in the Home Reading and Road Reading collection here
Read my previous post on Synchronicity here - Travel coincidences and Counting the serendipities