What people are getting wrong about the Shrey “Ah Boys to Men” incident

What people are getting wrong about the Shrey “Ah Boys to Men” incident

Consensus SG

shreyxiaxue

It has been over three days since Mr Shrey Bhargava made a post on Facebook describing his experiences during his audition for the Jack Neo film “Ah Boys to Men” (ABTM).His post sparked many angry responses andpersonal attacks, including one by Xiaxue.

xiaxue-shrey2

Based on these responses, it appears thatpeople are getting distracted from what is really at stake.

1. This issue is not about Shrey or about ABTM

Many people have personally attacked Shrey,and some have cast doubts on his credibility and sincerity after a video of him putting on an Indian accent emerged online.

These sort of personal attacks miss the point – they convert what could have been a constructive dialogue about race issues into a mudslinging contest that goes nowhere. I find it ironic that many who accuse him of jumping to conclusions with regard to the racism behind his audition experience also themselves jump to…

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Skin In The Game I

Skin In The Game I

Sadnanth: Eh in that Joe Rogan interview, Peterson basically equates religion to aesthetics in a broader sense of the word, which i’m still not sure is reconcilable with the rest of religion itself.

Sadnanth: Ok nvm he answers it later.

Depressshiva: I think he makes a very strong case for the aesthetic and religious connection. For example the reason comic books have not taken off as strongly in India is because of the local folklore or stories that we have on Ramayan or Mahabharat. It maybe even be argued that we need flights of fancy rather than being purely factual.

Sadnanth: But the issue I have with that is again that all religions make certain truth claims without providing evidence for those claims. And while viewing it all as aesthetics is nice, aesthetics by definition is subjective, it’s an appreciation of beauty, not a factual statement about the world. Not saying it doesn’t have its place, just saying that it doesn’t really address any of the issues i have with religion satisfactorily, haha.

Depresshiva: Tell me one non subjective truth claim that Eastern religions make Sadnanth?

Sadnanth: Reincarnation, that enlightenment is a thing, karma.

Depresshiva: Six schools of thought all disagree on the three concepts above. And all of those issues have to be experiential hence subjectively experienced before you accept it. You haven’t experience karma or being in the flow then reject lah. Reincarnation is predicated on those ideas what pretty much

Sadnanth: Predicated on what ideas?

Depresshiva: Karma reincarnation and enlightenment. They are all intertwined. If you reject karma and enlightenment because you don’t have any subjective notion of it, then there isn’t a need to hold onto reincarnation either… Obviously I don’t. Because I have experienced karma and enlightenment very strongly in my life. The truth claim is a nominal one and not a prescriptive one. But you can’t do it any of these truth claims without any experience of it. Its very easy to reject it otherwise. Basically cavemen, tribal or christian ideology suffices.

Sadnanth: Or no ideology… But fair enough ah I never teased apart that relation this finely.

Depresshiva: There is no such thing as no ideology. Nature hates vacuums. Try as you might, you, your kids, your family, your community will end up accepting something. Think about Communist China and Christianity. 10k new converts a month with a membership larger than the communist party that single handedly brought the masses out of poverty. Which is why i like Jordan Peterson and Nietzsche. You see the abyss, you gotta overcome it. Somehow. It’s never nothing, if you look at it, its a fullness of sort.

Sadnanth: I disagree that people will end up accepting something by default. Perhaps I’m in the minority and due to confirmation bias have only really interacted with people without much of a religious inclination, but I disagree that people need to have an overarching framework to follow. Not everyone subscribes to an all encompassing worldview like religion. Most people have simpler motivations. You work a job you hate for your wife and kids. You see other kids suffering, your empathetic connection for your own kids extends to color that observation, and you decide to contribute to a children’s hospital. But it’s small, little actions that provide meaning rather than an overarching framework of metaphysics and morality. Definitely my own experience, btw. In my view anyone who tells you that X is how it is in totality is wrong, because things are complicated and morality is confusing, for the most part. I subscribe to no religious worldview, but definitely have aesthetic preferences, which is why reducing religion to aesthetics seems odd and incorrect.

Sadnanth: Tldr; you don’t need religion or an ideology to overcome nihilism, only a collection of small actions and impulses that you later band together. In fact I would argue that ideologies are often the imperfect attempt at synthesizing this collection of actions into something ‘whole’. Life has no meaning save the one you give it.

Depresshiva: No way to resolve it because we disagree about data-sets⁠⁠⁠⁠.

Sadnanth: I don’t think it’s that simple man. People tend to be lazy, and figuring out a cohesive worldview to guide your actions is hard work. Think about all the people who nominally identify with a religious group. Fake Christians, fake Hindus, what have you. They say they subscribe to it but really don’t, instead going by the heuristic approach (i.e. the collection of actions). Definitely got a lot more nominally religious people than deeply religious people. Ergo more people follow the heuristic than otherwise. Feel free to tell me I’m wrong.

Depresshiva: Your small set of impulses and actions have to come from somewhere. If you are lucky enough to have an upbringing where your parents don’t screw you over you might be able to be a productive member of society. But in the trenches or when shit goes horribly wrong that pastor will walk by your death bed to offer a quick fix. And most people will take it since it’s an easy way out. Which is why I agree with Jordan Peterson when we don’t have that sense of transcendence or divinity things start to go wrong in a sense. If you aren’t educated or don’t have many prospects in life, all this is wishful thinking. I am not saying that your phenomenon doesn’t exist. What we are arguing whether its in the majority or minority. So like I said; data-set disagreements.

Sadnanth: Again, you’re not talking about religion, you’re talking about community. If you’ve had a messed up childhood and you get taken under the church’s wing, you get positively rewarded for following behaviors at first, which you then later synthesize to construct the worldview. No two interpretations of Christianity are the same, but when you ask most people why they follow what they follow, it’s because it makes them feel good and gives their actions meaning. But that’s the important thing, their actions are given meaning, and that is doable without religion. The collection of impulses (which i’m just gonna refer to as a morality heuristic) might come from religion (which, again, is not necessarily true), but that doesn’t exactly refute my point

Depresshiva: You are making conflicting statements Sadnanth. 1. People are lazy 2. Coming up with a metaphysical framework is hard work 3. Their actions need some sort of meaning. But somehow you make the leap that people come up with meaning at the end of the day. Which you will and also you will be sian and lonely, therefore is isn’t tenable. Religion is basically spirituality in community what, so is morality which is individual ethics in society. If you didn’t have society you wouldn’t need either. All this is secondary to the aesthetic experience of religion which pretty much lights up the same parts of your brain as a good concert. Why do I care whether you are atheist or not. Because the eastern or atheism is not a self propagating ideology. At the end of the day, you will have a society or empire that believes in one god and you are fucked. Has happened before, will happen again.

Depresshiva: http://www.cam.ac.uk/research/news/disbelieve-it-or-not-ancient-history-suggests-that-atheism-is-as-natural-to-humans-as-religion

Depresshiva: So the fairy tale that humans are naive and the unnecessary religious doctrines will wither out is misplaced. It happens sporadically. Which is why to draw a full circle. Jordan Peterson is awesome even though he needs to reference Hindu archetypes more. Especially since he is obsessed about mythology.

Sadnanth: Don’t really see how any of those statements are conflicting, to be honest. All I’m saying is that there exists a significant subset of the population who do not derive meaning from religious life or worldviews, but instead give their actions meaning by using useful proxies at a much smaller scale, i.e. the notion of acting according to a grand unified theory of reality is appealing to some, but not to all.

Depresshiva: I agree but it’s not the mainstream nor is it viable. Only the educated and successful do that. To paraphrase Taleb: YOU ARE THE ABERRATION RATHER THAN THE NORM.

Audio Log I

Modern music is mixed and mastered too loudly.

The old process of making music:

  1. Instruments are recorded separately, with a mic placed a small distance away. The distance and any echo effect captured is called natural reverb. Jazz bands and some older rock bands recorded together, live. This was done on the older Black Sabbath records.
  2. Instruments are mixed on a 24 bit format, with frequencies ranging from 96kHz to as much as 192kHz. Of course the human hearing range is 20-20kHz, so a lot of what was recorded was just noise. 24 bits was like the word length, basically the more bits you had the more information you can mix in. The same way your PCs work today. CDs and mp3s are 16 bit.
  3. Since the vinyl was a physical, analog medium, an engineer would be hired to ensure that the songs were literally of the right size to fit on to the vinyl pressing. Making the songs louder would take more information on an analog medium, so they would take up more space on the vinyl. To save money, music was engineered to be soft.

The vinyl has a lot of flaws. Any scratch on its surface would come out in the music. Having a frequency range of 192kHz was pointless since most of the frequencies recorded were ambient noise. Frequencies below 40hz were hard to capture on the format (hence why most older songs barely have bass).

The CD was introduced around the late 70s. The CD is at 16 bit and 44.1kHz, covering the main hearing range from as low as 20Hz all the way up to 20kHz. For some reason, the CD remains at 44.1kHz up to today, which means a choppy resampling of music from the older frequency ranges. Only the DVD is at 48kHz, which makes it easy to just half or quarter the older frequencies (96 or 192kHz). Also, since all CD players and playback devices were engineered at 16 bit then, nobody bothered to really make 24 bit players or CDs. It wasn’t just the medium that changed- recording changed too.

The new process of making music:

  1. Music is now recorded digitally. There is no mic unless you record acoustic and vocals. The processing, however, is all digital. Logically, there is barely any natural reverb either.
  2. A lot of effects and compression now available since music can be digitally altered. Individual instrumental tracks and vocals can now be processed on their own before being mixed together with the rest of the instruments. No coincidence that musicians started auto-tuning their mistakes digitally around this period.
  3.  The lower frequency range meant that bass was more audible. The new frequency and recording allowed for a cleaner, more polished sound without random noises or ambiance.
  4. The concept of digital space is very different from analog space. While there is a limit of 700mb, loudness was no longer an issue. The time limit was the bigger issue, so as long the album was less than 45 minutes, the engineer could do a lot more than he wanted.

Compression at the mastering stage isn’t necessarily bad. It adds warmth and richness to the music if applied properly.

The irony now is that the medium that allowed for a softer, more detailed sound is being abused to make louder, harsher sounding records. When music aired on the radio, they had to have the same assumed loudness, otherwise the listener would have to constantly turn down the volume for louder records and turn up the volume for softer records. The solution was crude; simply compress all music to sound relatively the same (at least in terms of volume).

Let’s look at the spectograms of two separate songs:

01. Fear Of A Blank Planet
Fear Of A Blank Planet by Porcupine Tree

The spectogram has multiple peaks. The range between the highest peak and the lowest peak is dynamic range. While not the best indicator of how good the music will sound, I have observed that the most pleasant sounding records, even in the metal genre, often have very dynamic masters. On top of that, the orange space is referred to as headspace. The more headspace a record has, the softer it will sound, giving you room to add in EQ choices that will not make it sound unbearable. Goes without saying that dynamic masters work well with complex sound system setups. For reference, this track was ripped from the 5.1 surround DVD-Audio and downmixed to stereo with the Channel Mixer plugin on foobar. The dynamic range for this track is DR12.

Here is the spectogram for Lamb Of God’s Desolation:

02. Desolation
Desolation by Lamb Of God

It’s truly a desolate sight. There is no headroom, no peaks and no variation in the loudness, meaning everything is squashed to your ears. This isn’t to say that there is a lot of detail- a lot of the mix is noise frequencies at the midrange and a bloated mid-bass. The dynamic range for this track is DR5, which is not even that squashed by today’s standards.

Of course I am using two different songs from two very different genres to exaggerate a point, but go on to the dynamic range database and look up music you like. Older Metallica records went up to DR12. Slayer’s Reign In Blood, which I would consider the gold standard for thrash metal production, is DR12 on CD. The older Cannibal Corpse albums clock in at DR10-DR12 and still sound heavy and visceral.

A mistake I used to make was thinking that vinyls had better sounding music because they registered a higher dynamic range. Not true. Since all vinyls contain noise, not just from the vinyl but from the needle playing it, the noise will be mistaken by the dynamic range meter as a super small peak. As such, the program will detect a high dynamic range, even if the same master for the CD was used for the vinyl.

The only way to know if the vinyl had an uncompressed master is to actually ask the vinyl pressing company itself. The guys at Metal-Fi have a forum thread on dedicated vinyl masters for metal records.

I am now embarking on ‘restoring’ badly mastered tracks, having seen some amazingly repaired songs floating about on the Russian internet. It’s been difficult, since wave peaks that are lost in the master are honestly lost forever, but audio technology has improved vastly today. I use iZotope RX 5, with the Neutron plugin. Primarily a mix and master software, it features a dynamic equalizer that has given some astonishing results, with the software using complex logarithms to ‘guess’ the lost frequencies. The results still aren’t perfect, but I have already achieved a lot.

Here’s the spectogram of a remastered Desolation:

02. Desolation declipped
The results of my messing about with the equalizer.

Reducing gain and increasing headspace is easy, its guessing the right frequency to increase or decrease that’s been proving to be difficult. From the picture, you can already see that the new peaks are way too high, but I have achieved the jagged peaks that are prominent on more dynamic records. I now know that most metal records have too much mid-bass (the irony that reducing bass increases the audibility of the bassline!), too little treble and an extremely pointless noise at around 800hz.

This is the first of my “audio-logs”. I don’t intend to be an actual producer, but I hope I can find a way to make my music sound like it did when it was recorded.