Saturday, February 7, 2015

Mailbag: More About The Authors of HtPYP

Lex: It's been a while since we've done a mailbag post: in fact, the last time I answered your questions, there was no "we." I was the only author on this blog at the time. Now there are three! Seeing as how Octavian is more recent, there haven't been any questions submitted to me for him. A few of you have asked about Nick, though, so we'll both be answering your questions for this mailbag post.

Nick: Don't know why any of you give a shit about me, but okay. Let's get the questions rolling.

Lex: As always, the questions will be slightly reorganized to exclude any irrelevant comments. These messages are thus not in their original form. (Standard disclosure.)

"How did you guys come up with the name How to Paint Your Panda for your website? I ask because I'm thinking about starting my own blog soon, and so I need some help on how to come up with a name. Was that the only idea you considered? If not, what else? Thanks in advance!"

Lex: I was the one to come up with the name "How to Paint Your Panda" (since I was the only one writing for this blog at the time). I used to have details about this on the about page, but have since removed it in order to make room for the other authors' voices. I'll probably add it again once I redesign the website, make a banner, add pictures to the about page, etc.

So the shortened explanation is this: the panda is meant to represent black-and-white thinking -- a type of thinking which cannot explain or observe most of this world. There is always nuance, exceptions to rules, and so on. The goal of this blog was to help change people's views, or at least show them that not everything is so clear and obvious as they might think. There is complexity to everything, and so they should examine even the little things with a bit more scrutiny. In doing so, the black-and-white thinking will become more colourful, thus you will be "painting your panda."

Who will win? I'll give you a hint...
As a matter of fact, however, this was a very spontaneous idea for the blog name that I came up with over the course of maybe 2 minutes. I had spent days on another idea which was originally going to be the name of this blog: "When Tesla Met the Storm." The rationale behind this was that there are certain things about the world that we either don't comprehend, can't explain, or simply cannot control. There are evident truths about the world that do not go away even when we choose to ignore them, or try to overcome them. In that sense, we (as the general people of Earth) are Tesla -- we are creative, constructive, and we have great power and capabilities, esp. dealing with power and energy. However, Tesla is humbled when he meets nature's generator of electricity, the storm. It's something that is still fairly unpredictable, powerful, and causes destruction even against our best attempts to protect ourselves from it. The storm, then, represents the inescapable truth.

Why I didn't stick with that idea, I don't really know. Maybe I thought it wasn't inclusive enough, or sounded too technical or bland. I wanted to attract a diversity of readers, and the moment I say "Tesla," many of them will cringe and walk away. Painting pandas, however, is much more fun, and sounds more creative.

Nick: I remember seeing that as your first title when you started your blog, and honestly I liked it better. I think the takeaway for the reader is that the title should speak to the contents of your blog, but not in a straightforward no-nonsense manner. It should leave you asking questions and wanting to find out more, especially what the title actually means. But the most important thing to keep in mind is that it's your blog. The title will come from you, either by planning or by a spontaneous thought.

"As far as I know, there isn't a lot of information available about Nick on the blog. Would he be willing to talk more about himself? Where is he from? What are his interests? He seems like an interesting person, no doubt, so I bet a lot of people would like to know more about him."

Nick: I can deliver on that. Most of the information I would share with people is on the about page, but I'll let you all in on a little more.

First and foremost, my passion is in video games, specifically the Legend of Zelda. I'm a nerd when it comes to that series, and if you've seen my dorm, you know exactly what I mean. I collect as much Zelda-related shit as I can with my limited income, and I learn as much as I can find on the lore. Lex and I have that in common, but I just choose not to write about it. It's something I like to keep as a part of me, not something that I argue with people about. Games are supposed to be fun and enjoyable, not part of life's bigger problems.

This was her first clutch. Gave her Mother of the Year 2014.
Back at home, I own a pet diamond dove. It's this small little thing on the right: it shits tiny cinnamon rolls and doesn't shut up. Her name is Sydney, paying homage to Australia, where they're native to. When I first got her, I didn't really know what to think. She was fidgety, she didn't like me much, and at night she would violently flap her wings against the bars of her cage, waking me up incessantly. This actually didn't end for several months, but now she's calmed down and rarely does that at all. Occasionally she'll perch on my finger, but she mostly flies away from me. But I like that about a pet: while I'd like her to feel comfortable with me, I like her independence. She has a personality of her own, and isn't just there for my own self-gratification. She's no dog.

I also didn't know she was a girl until I went home for Christmas, finding that she laid two eggs for me only hours before I arrived. "Merry fucking Christmas dad," she cooed at me in her choo-choo voice.

Here's something that I think I should talk about since it caused me issues with my more recent posts: I'm not actually that much of an asshole. If you meet me in person, I think you'll be unwittingly shocked at how far I'll go out of my way to not say anything offensive, controversial, or rude, as well as how shy I really am. I care about the way other people feel, but I am very defensive, both of myself and of the people I care about. The vibe I give in my writing is a persona, a gimmick, to make things more interesting and enjoyable for the readers. If you know me well, you'll hear that kind of talk in person (since I can joke around without having to worry about offending). If you don't know me, I'll be more courteous. That in itself has caused problems for me and given people the wrong impression, but if there's one thing I can say about my behavior, it's that it's not ostensible. My approaches are genuine.

That's really all I can come up with. If I think of any other stuff, I'll edit this post and add it in.

"Are you two dating?"

Lex & Nick: No.

Lex: We're best friends. We've known each other for quite a few years now, and shared many of the better years of our childhood/adolescence together. Now we live in separate parts of the world, so something of the sort would be unlikely to begin with.

Nick: And besides that, I thought the answer was already obvious, considering I mention my girlfriend in my posts a lot (but don't mention her name) while I refer to Lex in others. That distinction is there for a reason. I have a girlfriend, and it's not Lex. We've been together for over 3 years now.

Lex: Although, Nick's girlfriend and I are very close.

"How come neither of you do video/show your faces a lot online? Lex's profile used to have a picture of her but now it's gone, and all of Nick's photos on G+ leave him out of the shot."

Lex: I do it for three reasons: (1) privacy, (2) lack of vanity; and, (3) inconvenience. For the first, it should be self-explanatory: I don't like putting my picture online. As I explained to someone else, more people recognize my face than my name on account of the fact that I'm very shy and not good at introductions. I'm not vain, so I don't take a lot of pictures of myself, which creates a shortage to put online. Lastly, it's inconvenient for me, since I don't own a phone or a camera, my laptop doesn't have one built in, and the place where I live frowns upon photos or videos being taken.

It's much easier to accept an argument from this.
I should also mention, I suppose, that I was getting tired of a lot of people (both on my side of an argument or the opposing side) commenting on my appearance. Sure, it's nice to receive compliments, but that was taking up a substantial portion of comments directed at me, even going so far as "how can someone so pretty be so smart?" As if having good looks means you can't be educated. I want my arguments to be judged by their validity, not by the person articulating them.

Nick: I do it for mostly privacy reasons, but there's no reason to believe I'll always keep my identity hidden. I was originally going to take a photo of myself for the about page, but never got around to it. If I do a Zelda cosplay that doesn't require a mask you can expect for sure that I'll be posting a picture of it on Google+, thus showing my face (that'll be around summer time for TooManyGames 2015).

I also agree with Lex that it forces people to judge the merits of my arguments instead of paying attention to who is making them.

Lex: Last question.

"How do you two know so much? Both of you talk about a wide range of topics and write so eloquently about them, but you're not much older than I am, and I could never do the same. Do you do a lot of research beforehand?"

Lex: Yes, yes, yes.

Nick: It's not often that I'll write about a scholarly subject without doing copious amounts of research. It's very rare that all, or even most of it will be off the top of my head. I read into things first.

Lex: It takes about 10 minutes for me to read through most of the posts I write (the ones of substantial length), and yet it takes me hours, most of the time days to actually write them. I do a lot of research and fact check everything. It should be noted that that's where Nick and I usually get our stances on issues to begin with: we do the research so we know what stance to take. It's rarely ever predetermined.

Nick: I'm not going to sell myself short though, and neither should Lex. We're both smart; very smart. Why we turned out this way is probably for different reasons. I grew up in an environment where all the information was fed to me, and it wasn't until I started noticing that a lot of people were getting things wrong that I decided to do my own research.

Lex: Pretty much everyone knows my story, so it's well known that my inquiry started when I started questioning my faith; however, I've been a regular visitor of the library since I was very little. That's very important: reading is important.

Nick: I'd suggest reading, yeah, and also broadening your perspectives. Go outside your comfort zone, challenge your ideas. I usually visit a lot of science reporting websites every day just to see what's going on. That'll familiarize you with the latest, most popular research, at the very least. The most important thing to remember, though, is that we're not special. Anyone can do this. We're just the ones who do.

"Just do it."
Lex: Thanks for your questions everyone. I hope this was interesting enough for all of you

Nick: Thanks guys, later!

1 comment:

  1. I agree with Nick. I like the old name better, but both are good. You two are an interesting lot. I'm glad to have stumbled across you.


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