Flippy’s Five Stages to Enlightenment (Which Are Really Six)

EnlightenmentWhat does people think while eating tacos? The obvious answer is “what type of taco I’m going to order next.” Taco eating is not exactly the best time to think of enlightenment, but here’s my mind wandering around at the taqueria, trying to understand the world and why people react the way they react, so that I understand why I react they way I react.

I know that people who completely disagree with me are rarely evil. It’s just a difference of how the world is viewed and while there are many things that establish difference in world views (universe views?), an important one is in what stage of the path to enlightenment each person is.

Analyzing what people think they know and how they came to know what they know, and how they react differently to events and news depending on what they think they know, I found out that there were several well-defined groups. This is how I discovered and understand the five stages to enlightenment (which are actually six).

Ok, I didn’t actually discovered them. I made them up, but still, it’s an interesting way to look at the way we function. Anyway, these are the stages.

1.- Gullibility

This is the stage where you believe what you’re told without question. You believe in Santa Claus and behave on the last days of December so that you get the presents you want. You believe in your political party and always vote and defend their policies and politicians, probably belonging to the locked vote. You believe in dogmatic religions, never questioning your priest/imam/rabbi/etc or the teachings of the holy writings of your religion. You believe in a certain socio-economical system, thinking that if you play by the rules, you’ll make it big. You believe that relationships work in a certain way, and so you assume a pattern of obligations and rights for each person and you play your part, thinking that it will result in a fulfilling relationship.

This is the first stage we all go through, and if you live in a society that’s relatively closed, it can be a pleasant place to be.

2.- Questioning

I wish I could give a definite answer to why some people question a lot what they were taught, why some do it a little, and why some never do it, but I can’t. My guess it that it has to do with learning and contact with other cultures, although I suspect that there’s a genetic aspect of it as well. Both learning and coming with contact with other cultures let you see a different way of being, and when that experience happens a lot, you start to realize that your way of being is not the only one, and maybe not even the best one.

This is the stage where you ask the most important question of your life “what do I know and how do I know I know it?”

3.- Disappointment

Everybody gets disappointments in life. But I’m talking about those kind of disappointments that hurt not only because of the specific incident, but because they topple down things that you strongly believe in and cherish in an irreversible and undeniable way. It’s not when someone tells you that Santa Claus doesn’t exist. It’s the time when you realize that there is just no way that Santa Claus can exist. It’s when you realize that all the other “Santa Claus” things in your life don’t exist or are a lie. It’s when your girlfriend or wife cheats on you or is with you just to get some benefit. It’s when your father gets fired after giving the company 30 years of his life. It’s when you see that the politician and party you support are not that different from their opponents. This is the hardest stage of them all and when not handled well, it can have serious negative consequences.

4.- Cynicism

So, everything you were told, that you believed in was a lie, a scam, a trap. But now you know better, and you laugh at the gullible, the sheep, the blind, the faithful. You’re above that, you’re above them. You see no point in pursing anything other than your own benefit. After all, why shouldn’t you? Aren’t the smart people doing the same? And when you do, you feel smug, you feel smart, you feel like they can’t fool you. You’re the one that discovered the secret and nobody can’t touch you.

However, it’s just a reflection of bitterness. I was in that stage once (and I still fall back on it sometimes) and realize I was just a pathetic human being. And you see it all the time in people who feel righteous and proud of not being fooled. While many people never go beyond the first stage, almost everyone who does, gets stuck in this one. It’s the one that allows them to be right and judgmental, just like they were when they were in the first stage.

5.- Realization

I wish I had a better name for this stage, but since it’s not a school paper and it’s my article and I can call it whatever I want it, I’ll stick with it.

This is when you slowly realize that just because you know how the system is a sham, it doesn’t mean that it’s bad. You also start to realize, somehow, that being a cynical bitter being is not very satisfying, that there’s so much more in life than just sitting back and laughing at idiots. Mostly, you realize how sad and pathetic you’re being, but that you can be so much more.

And thus, you realize how the great masters contributed to the world. You see how they acquired wisdom and used it for the benefit of millions of others, not of themselves. And you want to emulate them and live a more satisfying and productive life.

6.- Enlightenment

Ok, first of all, I realize that enlightenment is perhaps not the best word to use for this stage. A friend of mine suggested self-realization, but I thought having stage five being called “realization” and stage 5 being called “self-realization” wasn’t very nice-sounding. Plus, by using the world “enlightenment” I get to make it seem like I’m enlightened.

In any case, this is the stage where you take what you know, with realistic views about how the world and humans really work, and use it to make the world better, and in the way, you make yourself a better person. And you do it both because it’s so much more satisfying and because of a genuine desire to improve the life of others. If done well, you will leave a mark in the people around you and maybe even in your society or the world. Something that’s way more positive and fulfilling than spending your days drinking beer and writing ramblings on a blog.

That’s it. Those are Flippy’s five stages to enlightenment (which are actually six). I appreciate any comments or feedback you may have.

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The best of 2012 according to Flippy’s totally biased opinion.



Read it, you know you want to

This is the first fanfic I’ve ever read and I found out through an article that Julia Galef wrote. I had heard about fanfics for a while now and I thought it was time for me to lose my fanfic virginity and this was a good one to do so. Since I thought some of the reactions and decisions of the characters in the original were not that rational, it didn’t take much for me to convince myself to read this fanfic.

I am going to include spoilers in this post, so if you don’t want me to spoil the fanfic for you, just know that if you’re a fan of Harry Potter, science, rationality and moral discussion, this is the best read you’ll ever find. There, I’ll even put a pic of Didi’s Epic Boobs to distract you so that you don’t read any further.


Most common super power.

Ok, so where was I? Oh yes, Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality.

Here’s how it goes: Petunia Evans, hated her Sister Lily for being pretty. Then, it turned out that Lily was a witch. Petunia then begged her sister to make her pretty, which Lily resisted. Until one day, after finishing university, Petunia wrote to her sister that the only boy that ever paid attention to her was some guy named Vernon Dursley who wanted to have a male baby and name him Dudley (who the hell names his child Dudley Dursley?). And if she didn’t help her, well…

That made Lily change her mind and help Petunia become pretty. She ditched Vernon and met and married a college professor: Michael Verres. They eventually adopted baby Harry Potter when his parents were killed. They didn’t have any children as they raised Harry James Potter-Evans-Verres as their own in a loving and educated environment.

Whether by genetic luck or by a result of his upbringing, Harry became a child prodigy. He would devour books and obtain deep knowledge of physics, chemistry, biology, psychology, history and many other subjects.

Then the letter came and Harry was sent to a the magical school of Hogwarts, where his view of the world was turned upside down, although the magical world was even less ready for Harry’s science and logic.

The fanfic is the best response you’ll get to the question “What if Harry had acted like a regular, normal student?” Many of the original situations from the original story are changed by this, most notably, Harry’s refusing of accepting undeserving abuse at the hands of Snape in his role as a teacher.

An interesting part of the fanfic is how Harry tries to use rationality and the scientific method to understand how magic works. How does the Sorting Hat sorts students? How is a magician turned into a cat able to think like a human with a cat’s brain? If the flight of a broom governed by Newtonian physics? (spoilers, it is not, it’s governed by Aristotelian physics)

Another part that I liked is how wizards are not terribly interesting or successful people. Harry calls them out on their inconsistencies. For example, why is catching the snitch worth so much to the point that all the other players are pretty much pointless in Quidditch? And why do Quidditch points translate to House points? What backs the value of Galleons? Why aren’t Time Turners and Healing Kits used in an actual useful manner? The answer is dissapointly true: because the vast majority wizards don’t care about learning how things work or how to improve them, they just know how to use them.

At the same time, you realize that for all the glamor and magic that wizards have, the muggles are actually a much more advanced and intelligent “civilization.” Ravenclaws, who are supposed to be the smartest of the students, can’t even do third degree equations. Wizards don’t know the basic periodic elements or have the simplest notion of genetics (in fact, Harry uses Gendel’s system to finally figure out if there’s such a thing as pureblood and mudblood wizards). Draco doesn’t even belive that muggles have made it to the moon.

In fact, there are many ways in which muggles could bring the magical wizard down without a fight. Right off my memory, I can name a plague and hyperinflation. If it comes to fighting, there’s obviously nuclear weapons, and in one-to-one battles, martial arts. Wizards are so open and vulnerable on many fronts.

Not all wizards are backwards, but the few ones who aren’t serve to confirm the rule. Snape understands what an atom is and Quirinus Quirrell knows martial arts, for example. On the other hand, Professor MacGonagall, while smart, is completely scientifically illiterate.

Speaking of characters, the difference between “good guys” and “bad guys” is completely thrown out the window. In fact, the only true evil character, Voldermort, hasn’t shown himself so far (I’m in the last 5 chapters or so). Arguably, every character tries to achieve good, but it is their ethical differences that create the main conflict of the story. In fact, I feel that the main theme is not magic vs science, but what is good and what is acceptable or not when trying to achieve good.

Case in point, was Lily’s choice of staying and protecting her son at the cost of her life a good choice? At the moment, Voldermort gave her the option to go away, so the choice wasn’t between her life and Harry’s, it was between her life and her death. You might say that by staying, her love protected Harry and defeated Voldermort, but she didn’t know that at the time.

Many difficult questions like this appear during the course of the story. Is a person who becomes a hero and then quits a bad person? Is he better or worse than the people who didn’t even try to become a hero? What makes a hero? When defending the people you love, should you defend them all equally, at the cost of thinning your defense and resources making them less effective? Or should you assign relative values to individuals? Is it ok to save someone just because you love him or her, even at the cost of your allies asking you to risk everything for a person they love? Are there limits on what you can or can’t do in the name of good, even if it limits you in the fight against evil? Or is it better to accept “everything goes” at the risk of becoming that which you are fighting against or making others think you’re the real evil? No character in this story makes a decision that doesn’t have a moral cost for him or herself, which is how life works in my humble opinion.

Anyway, this is why Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality is my fanfic of the year. I would like to know what is your fanfic of the year. Let me know in the comments.

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The best of 2012 according to Flippy’s totally biased opinion.



History was never so much fun

Crash Course World History is what I wished history was like when I was a child.

Here’s what I learned from world history from my school days : Egypt -> Greecerome ->Blurry mediavalrenaissance -> Columbus -> Discovery of the Americas -> Spanish Conquest -> Independence -> Mexican Revolution -> World War 2. That’s about it. Nothing about what happened in Asia or Africa or the rest of Latin America that wasn’t Mexico or Europe that wasn’t a major player in World War 2. I felt like it was so incomplete.

Crash Course World History fills in the gaps and also sets the record straight on something that I had suspected long ago: that the history we know is biased and not terribly objective, mostly because we want simple explanations to complex situations, but also because we cling to symbols and ideas that are far from objective.

John Green, the host of Crash Course World History takes us from the dawn of civilization and the earliest civilization known, the Hindu Valley civilization, and from that point, it slowly expands to all the important groups, events and structures that formed the subsequent civilizations. You finally get to understand why Mesopotamia and Egypt were so important and what the difference between Greece and Rome is.

The approach to history is also quite unique in the sense that while great political and important leaders are taken into account, history is taught as driven by diverse factors such as technology, commerce, religion, ideas, structures, diseases (not everything was nice) as well as the collective actions of millions of individuals. For example, you get to understand that the Silk Route was way, way more important and influential than the Crusades.

In addition, there’s the benefit of understanding concepts and civilizations from several different perspectives, and not only the oversimplified explanations and stereotypes we’re used to, which gives us a much more complete image of our past as humans.

Another great aspect of World History Crash Course is that you get to know a non European-centered version of history. I finally found out about the Chinese Empire, the West African kingdoms, the Eastern African City States, the Islamic World and why it was so influential, the Byzantine and Persian empires and their “sandwich status,” the Indian Ocean Trade Network, which was as important as the Silk Road, etc.

Religion is also covered and the series does a great job at explaining their origins and main ideas without falling into the trap of controversy. Most importantly, it explains why and how each main religion expanded and was adopted by the countries that profess them to this day.

While not the focus of the show, great figures still play an important role. You learn the important facts about Julius Cesar, Alexander the Great, Richard the Lion-Heart, Saladin, Buddha, Jesus, Mohammed, Constantine, etc. You also get to learn about some very important figures that were left out of your history books, like Mansa Musa, mostly because they weren’t European.

Now, here’s the best thing about Crash Course World History: it’s freakin’ easy and freakin’ fun! Each chapter lasts about 12 minutes and they really feed you only the important things that you need to know to understand the material, so you never feel overwhelmed by the amount of information (if anything, it makes me feel wanting to know more!).

Also, the style of the show is filled with jokes, modern references, and other types of humor that make the viewing an upbeat experience. The video is well done and the graphics that they use during certain parts of the video are simple, funny and attention grabbing.

After each chapter, I go to Wikipedia to learn more about a name, a war, an event, or a concept that they mentioned in the video but didn’t dwell on. That’s how good the series is.

So, that’s why Crash Course World History is my YouTube series of the year. I would like to know what is your YouTube series of the year as well.

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The best of 2012 according to Flippy’s totally biased opinion.



Good articles, low price.

This was a very close call. Ultimately, Cracked won because it was more influential whereas others were just fun.

One thing I like about cracked is that it’s very informative. There’s a bit for everyone. If you’re a history fan, there are plenty of interesting articles about war and famous historical figures. Is technology your thing? Read about gadgets and gizmos and trends. Most major hobbies are covered, including movies and video games.

Of course, new media is also covered, and it’s one of my favorite parts. While it’s no specialist, cracked gives you the current trends on all the new memes, youtube videos, fanfics, webcomics and other types of online entertainment. And while it’s stuff mostly aimed at the English speaking market, it contains some non-English jewels that we, citizens of the world, like. For example, it was through cracked that I found my current favorite musical group: JRabbit, a couple of very talented girls from Korea.

A surprising facet of Cracked is that there are some articles about life, personal development, relationships, life from the point of view of a woman (which gives us, ignorant males the perspective that we lack to understand how a woman lives life), etc. There are even a few motivational ones that really get you fired up.

But even if you’re just a troll, the comment sections let you troll to your hearth contents with little repercussions. Of course, if you decide to dish it, prepare to take it as well.

Not all articles are great, and not all the subjects are to your interest, but then again, with such a great variety of subjects that’s to be expected. Also, the site offers other things, like videos and photoshop contests, which are also amusing.

Finally, Cracked was influential for me because I actually got advice from it that benefited my life. Probably the best one was “quit whining like a small bitch and do something with your life.” I’m paraphrasing but it worked.

So, that’s why cracked.com is my website of the year. I would like to hear about YOUR website of the year. In the comments below, tell me what your website of the year is and why.




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THE BEST OF 2012: YouTube Clip

The best of 2012 according to Flippy’s totally biased opinion.

Gangnam Style (featuring Hyuna)

I feel a bit silly saying what Gangnam Style is, with over a billion hits on Youtube, there’s no one without Internet that doesn’t know what Gangnam Style is.

So why is it my Youtube Clip of the year? Well, it has one billion hits on Youtube, and it’s the most watched video in the whole history. Although to be honest, I am selecting the version that features Hyuna, which “only” has recevied 200 million hits.

Gangnam Style featuring Hyuna is a much more polished version of the original video, without a lot of the goofiness and randomness that was included in the first video. This is a good or a bad thing, depending on your taste.

Personally, I like the dancing better in this version, the choreography is much more catchy and I found myself imitating or just feeling the movements. The song was a proven thing, so there’s that as well. In addition, it contains both a female and male voice to the lyrics.

But mostly, it’s Hyuna. She’s amazing. And I don’t think it’s just the great looks, although that is certainly a part of it. When I watched the original video, the moment she appeared on it, it caught my total and unconditional attention. It was just that kind of WOW moment. And I must not have been the only one since they made the video again just to give her a much more prominent role in it.

Another thing that I got from the video is how we are deep down still wired like primates and attracted to the worship of the alpha males and females that PSY and Hyuna clearly are.

Also, this version still carries the satire of the glorification of wealth that the original was so loved for. The nouveau rich are a perfectly acceptable target. The low classes see them as pretentious and the higher classes see them as petty. The middle classes, which would be the ones who would sympathize with them the most, see them as unsuccessful, since they managed to achieve financial success, while completely failing at acquiring the good taste needed to move up the social ladder.

Lastly, Gangnam Style, with or without Hyuna, is the first K-pop song that is successful in the western world. There are people who say that J-pop is becoming too mainstream and that it will be soon be eclipsed by K-pop. I can’t predict what happened but it is through Gangnam Style that I ventured into K-pop and fell in love with the frienznet proyect and specially with J Rabbit, which is my current favorite musical group.

So that’s why Gangnam Style featuring Hyuna is my YouTube clip of the year. I would like to hear about YOUR YouTube clip of the year. In the comments below, tell me what your YouTube clip of the year was and why.

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The best of 2012 according to Flippy’s totally biased opinion.


8d1Overly attached girlfriend is a meme that appeared in the middle of 2012 and it’s still very popular six months later. Considering the average lifespan of a meme on the Internet, 6 months is an eternity.

Overly attached girlfriend is the perfect combination of funny, creepy and cute. It all started when 21 year old, Laina Morris (despite common misconception, her last name is not Walker), decided to participate in a contest where she had to take a video of herself singing a Justin Bieber song, but with different lyrics. The lyrics she wrote talked about how possessive she was about her boyfriend, whom she addressed in the song. While she’s far from being a good singer, the lyrics are actually funny and clever. My favorite part is when she informs her boyfriend the number AND names of the children they’re going to have.

However, the real treat is watching this girl’s expressions. She can give Jim Carrey a run for his money. Whether she pretends she’s angry or excited, she’s a joy to watch. Most of all, those eyes. It is mostly for her deep, creepy and intense eyes that she became famous. When she opens them really big and smiles at the camera, you can’t help but feel creeped out. At the same time, she’s really pretty, which creates a love-hate bittersweet look that the Internet fell in love with. Somebody took a shot of that frame and a meme was born.

The meme took a life of its own, featuring her intense face and open eyes and phrases that, typical of memes, start with a so-so, regular situation but end up with an extreme and radical punchline about the lengths her possessiveness and jealousy will take her. My favorite one, ironically, it’s one of the few that doesn’t talk about her obsessive clinging to her boyfriend, but one that uses the “I don’t usually…, but when I do…” meme: “I don’t usually make Youtube videos, but when I do, I creep out the whole Internet.”

The meme touched a fiber in Latin America for some reason, and it became even more popular there. Facebook pages dedicated to her popped all over the place. The most interesting part of these pages is that girls submit their true stories about how possessive they are and the trials they make their boyfriends go through. These stories are even scarier than the memes because they allegedly happened.

Laina, the girl behind the meme, has also proven to be very unique. Most people who become memes either despair over it or try to use their 15 minutes of fame to land a role in a movie or TV show (I’ve yet to see one that succeeds). Laina on the other hand, has someone managed to stay sane and simple and the fame hasn’t gone to her head. She also does quite a bit of AdamWesting, making fun of herself and exploiting her famous expression and character. And instead of trying to become a TV star, you know what she uses her Internet fame for? Raising money for charity. It doesn’t hurt that she comes through as a genuinely charming and sweet girl.

So, that’s why Overly Attached Girlfriend is my meme of the year. I would like to hear about YOUR meme of the year. In the comments below, tell me what your meme of the year was and why.

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The best of 2012 according to Flippy’s totally biased opinion.



The smaller your domain, the bigger your ego.

Tropico 4 was NOT launched in 2012, but I discovered it in 2012 and for me, it was the most influential video game of the year.

There are many things that I like about this game. In fact, I liked it so much that I spent most time playing it than Dynasty Warriors. For those of you who know me, you know that’s really something.

Tropico 4 is a construction and management simulator, but it really stands out on its own and offers a completely different experience from SimCity and the likes.

The game is not easy, and it’s definitely not for people without patience who like action and quick results. It takes a couple of hours to get the basics down and really enjoy playing it. And then you’d only be scratching the surface. It can get as complex as you want it, allowing you to dive into a sea of information in order to make decisions such as what to invest in, who to please, what risks you’re willing to take etc.

In case you haven’t heard about it, Tropico is basically Cuba meets SimCity. You play a dictator of a small banana republic in the Caribbean during the Cold War Era, either choosing from a list of well-known individuals, such as Fidel Castro and Che Guevara, or creating your own. Oh, and even banana republic is a big term because your whole country consists of a very small island.

You decide what to invest in in order to make money. You can develop tourism, agriculture, or industry, or a mix of all three, each with its pros and cons. In addition to that, you select edicts that are basically laws for your island.

A very interesting part of the game is that there are both internal and external interests groups, and taking one course of action will usually please one and displease another. For example, allowing same-sex marriage will please the intellectuals but upset the religious. Get too cozy with the USA and soon you’ll have the USSR’s fleet blocking your port. Throw in a good amount of clever and satirical humor and parody and you get the idea of why I like this game.

But what makes it influential is how it made me realize the challenges of what actually ruling a country would be like. We have the idea that if El Presidente really wants something done, it will get done. It is not like that at all. Budgets are not limitless and there are other people who will want to get their way too. And I saw this confirmed in real life with this year’s presidential election. There’s no candidate that can please everybody because that’s impossible. In politics, for every friend you make, you make at least one enemy, so you have to make sure that friend really counts. And that’s on a video game, so I can barely imagine how it would be in real life where you get bribes and life threats.

Another thing that I realized is that, whatever the policies are, a country has to be able to feed itself. There are just too many random things that you can’t control that can wreck your plans and ruin your expected revenues. If you have no money and no food production, people die or get violent… and they stop working, greatly reducing your chances of getting money in the future. If you are able to feed your people, at least you won’t fall into the vicious circle when disaster strikes.

Also, you know what is the best thing to do to improve the quality of life of a country in the long term? Education. After covering the basic needs, education is by far the best thing to invest in. The drawback is that you won’t get the results of that investment until a decade or two. Since our governments don’t have that continuity and they are much more interested in showing results in the short term, i.e. during their administration, it’s not a surprise that such investments aren’t done in real life.

Lastly, Tropico 4 is a slow game, and it involves a lot of waiting. Unlike other games, where building construction is immediate, in Tropico constructing a building takes a long time, especially if your workers aren’t motivated because they will tend to miss work or leave early. In my case, this was actually a benefit, since I would make a few decisions at the beginning of the year (in game time), then switch to Word and work for a while, then switch back to the game to see the end of the year and start anew.

So, that’s why Tropico 4 is my video game of the year. I would like to hear about YOUR game of the year. In the comments below, tell me what your video game of the year was and why.

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