The Underground — Issue #28
Everything you need to know about in this weekly series: A Japanese anime masterpiece, how your brain works, what happens when you decriminalize drugs, kids and elders react to things, and a video game program that teaches Neuroevolution.
At Social Underground we go beyond the mainstream stuff and see what’s underneath the surface. What should we get into, listen to, read, eat or watch? If there is something in our culture that needs attention that’s our job: Show you the underground things that you need to know about: Books, music, television, movies, comedians, art, and whatever else we can find to get you into something you never knew about. That’s The Underground.
1. The Wind Rises is the final masterpiece from Japanese director Hayao Miyazaki. I’m quite the fan of Japanese anime. When I was younger, I enjoy watching Dragonball Z, but as I expanded my tastes, I realized that show was tiring. Watching a fight last 10 episodes as they talked trash to each other before doing anything took it’s toll. My friend opened me up to a film titled Princess Mononoke, and I was sold on Miyazaki being one of the best directors in the history of animation.
The Wind Rises is about the life of Jiro Horikoshi, the man who designed Japanese fighter planes during World War II. It displays how he dreamed of designing planes that soared through the skies, but never really had any ambition of them being used for war. It shows how faceless Gov’t war mongers take brilliant engineers and make them create machines of death.
The film is loaded with a beautiful love story, amazing visuals, a story that takes you through a mans life of achieving his dream during a time of transitioning war and aviation revolution. If you have the chance to watch this film, do so. You should also check out the great Hayao Miyazaki’s other films. They take you to a different world that you could never hope to imagine on your own.
2. Learn about how your brain works. Sure, you think you know everything about the brain, but you probably only know a little bit. This video gives you some quick information about how your brain processes information in your daily life. It gives you problems and associations to explain how your brain figures everything out.
While we can’t explain the most intricate things about the brain since psychology is still relatively new compared to other sciences, we are still making breakthroughs. Check out the video below to challenge your brain and understand why you look at some problems differently than others.
3. The War on Drugs is ridiculous, as Portugal’s decriminalization of drugs can attest. Prisons in America are overcrowded due to the fact that we throw people in prison for doing drugs. One of the biggest reasons people go to jail is for possession of Marijuana. The most damage a person could do to me on Marijuana is by eating the last slice of pizza when I leave the room to make a phone call.
We throw people in jail that are addicted to drugs instead of giving them treatment or safe ways to do them. What happened when we made alcohol illegal in the early 20th century? Oh, I don’t know, the major creation of the mob and organized crime? Some people get hooked on drugs, and getting off hard illegal drugs is difficult. Hell, getting off legal drugs is difficult. It took me dozens of times to quit smoking cigarettes before I finally quit. That meant having to relearn everything in my daily life.
Look at Colorado as an example of making Marijuana legal. Have you witnessed wide-spread zombie madness overtake cities because people smoked a joint? Are people running over children with their cars because they’re so stoned that they can barely function? Not really. Instead, there have been increased tax revenue and general happiness.
Portugal decriminalized drugs, and just have a look at this short documentary from The Economist to see the impact.
4. These kids and elders react to things that make us laugh and make us angry. The REACT YouTube channel is one of the most successful channels on the web. It features elderly people playing video games for the first time, kids playing video games from the 80’s and 90’s, and even more entertaining stuff.
My reactions have been mixed with laughter and anger. Watching kids talk trash about playing Contra for the first time and hearing them say it looks bad feels like them crapping all over my childhood. But, then again, watching them fail so badly at it when my brother and I would own that game at their age is very gratifying.
The elderly playing video games like Grant Theft Auto V and The Last of Us is something that has to be seen by everyone. Watching an old man punch a hooker in the face and laugh his ass off is amazing. I’ve chosen both reaction videos of the elderly and kids from The Last of Us. Their reactions to the game are so similar despite the age difference.
After you watch these videos, I urge you to binge-watch the rest of their videos. It’s all gold, and I couldn’t stop watching to the point that I missed part of the first half of the Women’s World Cup match between U.S.A. vs. Sweden.
5. Neuroevolution explained using a computer program that beats Super Mario incredibly fast. At first I thought this was going to be a random speed run on a game with some mod that a video game enthusiast wrote code for. It was, but what it explains is how the human brain evolved using a video game as an example.
The program, called MarI/O is a program made of neural networks and genetic algorithms that is used to learn the landscape of the game and safely navigate obstacles to beat each level. The video breaks down how it works and compares it to how the human brain evolves. If more videos were created to explain complicated things like this, I think more of us would do a lot better in grade school and college.
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