Wednesday, 29 July 2009

great questions of the universe

__________________a long time ago_____________________
_________________in a galaxy far, far____________________
lived a sage who was________________
_____________adamant about finding the answers____________
____________to the many irresolvable questions of____________
__________the universe. amongst them, he could answer________
________few, and among those few, are the great questions_______
______of which none can mortally come to an answer - questions____
__so metaphysical, that they are said to transcend the knowledge__
of even the great, sweet genetically-manipulated einstein jesus during his prime years. these questions are the ones which we shall attempt to solve today by entering the middle ground between light and shadow, between science and superstition, and it lies between the pit of man's fears and the summit of his knowledge . This is the dimension of imagination. It is an area which we call the Twilight Zone...

(cue The Outer Limits's theme song)

i've always been a fan of the x-files (also know as an x-phile). at least up to season 5 where it got a bit out of hand with mulder's alien obsessions. heck, as soon as season 6 rolled in it was basically the all-about-aliens-and-them-kidnapping-my-sister files. i liked the earlier seasons where you could watch the episodes independent of each other, each was a stand alone 30 minute story which was on random paranormal activity. towards the end, it progressively became more and more like a segmented movie on an alien, one with a very complex but dull storyline, and the only reason you kept watching was to
1. see the ending, and get this crap over with
2. because you were a fan to begin with
3. scully was pretty hot at the time?
4. mulder was pretty hot at the time (???)
5. cigarette smoking man. his name. now. NOW.
6. ???
7. profit

but really, it was still an awesome series. the theme song freaked my nephew out, and i think at some point it did the same to me as well. now i could go into a whole post about how awesome x-files was, and have the bashers hate, and the philes un-hate, but that's not the purpose of me writing today.

instead, i'd like to address a great question of the universe. one which ranks high up with the following questions:

1. cake > pie? (as discussed briefly in an earlier post)
2. which variant of sweet ______ jesus is the most powerful?
3. is life really like a box of chocolates? compare and contrast.
4. where's wally?
etc etc etc.

which, if i had the time and opportunity, i would like to cover in due time, but we'll address what we can at random: the topic for today is, pirates vs. ninjas.

it's obvious that pirates never met ninjas in the same temporal or spatial existence, else there might be a battle of such magnitude that the earth would tremble. volcanoes would bleed lava and the sky would be set ablaze with the fiery spirit of the dying warriors engaged in eternal battle for their pirate- or ninja-race. the earth would run damp with the blood of innocents collateral to the bloody onslaught lasting dawn to dusk. the echoing sound of nocturnal creatures feasting on the carcasses of the fallen dankly filter the screams of torture in the night, and the day would be greeted by death, anew. or the pirates would just join up with ninjas and the world would be a better place.

it's complex to think about ninja and pirates as a whole - the number and demography of each has not been documented - the pirates probably slew any who would attempt to census them:

'good day, sir, i am bartholomew christopher hills. if it would not inconvenience you and your merry crew, i would like to ask you a few questions... OH GOD THE PAIN. MY SPLEEN. IS THAT MY SPLEEN? WHY ARE YOU FEEDING ME MY SPLEEN BWALKJEAKJWEAJKALJ'

and the ninjas would probably just be untraceable.

so let's approach this in a scientific way, with as much controlled parameters as possible such that we can exclude all external factors and have the only manipulated variable be 'being a ninja' or 'being a pirate'. in fact, we'll do it in a humane way, such that we violate no human rights laws or create unethical code of conduct. with such limitations, there's only one sane way of pitting the two against each other. MANO E MANO FIGHT TO THE DEATH. somewhat like celebrity deathmatch, without the drama and wwf (wwe?) faked and staged fights.

think mortal kombat meets street fighter. except that's kind of like ninja vs. ninja. we need more pirate video games so i can make better analogies. anyhow. one on one. pirate vs ninja. doesn't get any more hard core than that. each has their own strengths and weaknesses. pirates being the most ruthless, powerful, dirty and dastardly scallywags with or without scurvy (depending on their lime consumption) to walk the earth. by definition, though, REAL pirates are the ones that never walk on land. born, live and die on a ship. REAL pirates. they're as hard to come across as rainbow unicorns with chocolate filling. and ninjas - masters of disguise and deception, who attack from the shadows and leave no trace. they'd kill so quickly you didn't know you were dead. your body would go around doing it's normal routine for months or years thinking it's alive, but it was actually dead. like a walking zombie. in fact, some theologians postulate that this is how sweet zombie jesus came into being: sweet living jesus got assassinated by a ninja and, well, the shit just hit the fan.

so really, with such strong competitors, how is it possible to determine a winner? especially for someone so far below them as ourselves? see, there's a reason this is called a great question of the universe. so i did a bit of research. there's not many pirates to be found on the interwebs, but i did find a ninja who gave us the answer on how to kill a ninja. that's some hard core information leak right there. now all i need to do is find out how to kill a pirate, and compare the methods - the harder one belonging to the winner, being the obvious conclusion. but then nothing is obvious as it seems, and i will strive evermore to find a REAL pirate and an authentic ninja (preferrably azn, instead of white like demonstrated in my link) and have them slug it out. random things do happen and will affect the outcome (as elaborated in my 'basic' probability post).

p/s: i'm a big fan of ask a ninja, and if you haven't watched it yet, feel free to start watching from question 1.

p/p/s: feel free to comment on which you think would win. pirate? ninja? radioactive hamsters from alpha centauri?

Tuesday, 28 July 2009

on references and credibility

i never have taken university for granted. and i never took lecturers lightly either. some of them are just amazing, and i am humbled to be in their presence. so far i've met 2 or 3 nobel laureates, which is 2 or 3 more than most people can say. as a little tribute to them:

stephen hawking
- i don't understand most of what he postulates, i'm not an astrophycisit. before anyone points out the obvious 'he didn't win a nobel prize!', yes, i know this. he's still super smart, though, so he still counts. probably the only household scientist name since einstein. met him (more like saw him) once while walking down Trumpington Street.

tim hunt. nobel laureate in physiology 2001. met him at the award-giving ceremony, and i think he gave a lecture at his alma mater, cambridge university, which i may have attended (?) can't exactly remember if it was him i'm thinking about.

ryoji noyori
. another 2001 laureate, this time in chemistry, whom i met at the ceremony. i conversed with him at the dinner party the day before, but his english was a bit muddled. i seem to recall his speech and it was full of technical stuff which, at the time, i could not comprehend. upon asking another attendee, i was told that he was lecturing to a target audience way above our heads.

barry mashall
. saw him at the department, and hoping to speak with him at some point. the thing i remember most so far about him is we were having a talk about referencing our research and the lecturer said 'you have to have proper referencing for your work to be credible. unless you're barry (marshall); when he talks, all of us (fellow lecturers) know it's something credible'.

keep churning those wheels of discovery /salute.

Sunday, 26 July 2009

quoting a quoted quote

"Preventive detention, at what cost?

Warrantless domestic spying, detention without trial, torture, and excessive secrecy raised concerns across the political spectrum and fueled recent change in the White House. But these policies remain equally noxious under the new administration, which entertains proposals beyond even its predecessors' wildest plans.
By Shahid Buttar, July 22, 2009

Spy vs. I

A family vacation over Independence Day offered a poignant reminder of why, over 30 years ago, my parents sought refuge in the U.S. Fleeing the racial hostility they encountered in Britain after escaping the brutality of the Indian Subcontinent's Partition, they found in rural Missouri economic opportunity, political freedom, and small town Midwestern hospitality. Today, the specter of preventive detention calls into question whether my parents' grandchildren will enjoy the same freedom.

Warrantless domestic spying, detention without trial, torture, and excessive secrecy raised concerns across the political spectrum and fueled recent change in the White House. These policies, however, remain equally noxious under the new administration, which currently entertains proposals beyond even its predecessors' wildest plans.

We should begin by removing the beltway spin. Whether called "preventive," "indefinite," or simply "prolonged," prevention detention schemes are essentially lawless, unconstitutional, and un-American. And whether established through an executive order or an act of Congress, they would undermine -- not enhance -- our national security.

At root, detention without trial threatens democracy. According to NYU law professor David Golove, "The struggle for constitutional liberty," wherever people have sought it, includes "a struggle against preventive detention." Our Founders did not champion the rule of law in a vacuum. They confronted threats, including arbitrary detention, and intended the Bill of Rights to end and prevent them.

The rights to Due Process, legal representation, and to examine one's accusers, witnesses and evidence are fundamental. Beyond mere technicalities, these procedural protections are necessary to protect the innocent and lend legitimacy to judicial decisions.

Benjamin Wittes and others propose limiting these rights and detaining individuals accused of being "dangerous," based on hearsay evidence. But they overlook the central problem: accusations are unreliable.

Courts admit evidence of actual events, rather than predictions or hearsay, precisely to exclude irrelevant or unreliable information. Torture, for instance, is notorious for yielding inaccurate intelligence and forcing false confessions. Equally unreliable are individuals who identify suspects in exchange for payment, such as tribesmen who captured many Guantanamo detainees, or ex-convicts hired by the FBI to infiltrate mosques across the country.

Our intelligence agencies, whose hearsay evidence would be admissable under some detention proposals, have proven their unreliability. Time and again, attempts to identify dangerous individuals have instead swept up innocent people, including U.S. citizens of all colors.

Most of Guantanamo Bay's hundreds of detainees have been either released or declared harmless. We have abducted law-abiding people from allied countries and outsourced their torture (Canadian Maher Arar); detained and smeared law-abiding Caucasian and Asian American citizens (attorney Brandon Mayfield and Chaplain James Yee); and tortured a U.S. citizen of Latino descent (Jose Padilla). In addition, government "watch lists" continue to cast unjustified suspicion on over a million law-abiding Americans.

Given the unreliability of intelligence sources, indefinite detention based on evidence inadmissible in federal courts would hardly enhance security. It would, however, undermine freedom and -- by removing checks on executive avarice and arbitrariness -- leave no one safe: under an administration hostile to dissent, an unpopular bumper sticker or dispute with a neighbor could land you in prison.

Even if hearsay evidence were reliable, the security benefits of preventive detention would be trivial. Individuals can be imprisoned by federal courts under existing laws for even providing humanitarian support to regions governed by militants -- let alone actually planning terrorist attacks. The only potential "threats" addressed by preventive detention, then, are individuals accused without reliable evidence.

Whom, exactly, would these individuals be? In both the distant and recent past, America has criminalized law-abiding people for their politics (through the Alien and Sedition Acts, the Palmer raids, COINTELPRO, and the Red Scare, for example) or race, ethnicity or religion (through NSEERS, border interrogations, and Operation Frontline, for example). By expanding this shameful list -- and by further eroding our international claims to defend the rule of law -- preventive detention would only undermine the security of law-abiding Americans and help our enemies in their efforts to recruit foot soldiers.

Our Founders crafted the Constitution over 200 years ago to balance strong government against individual rights. Their vision has served us well through the World Wars, periods far more dangerous than ours, and is fundamentally incompatible with proposed detention schemes. For the Constitution to survive today's "war on terror," we Americans who value freedom must once again raise our voices to defend it.

Shahid Buttar is a civil rights lawyer, non-profit leader, hip-hop & electronica MC, independent columnist, grassroots community organizer, singer and poet. Professionally, he leads the Bill of Rights Defense Committee, a national grassroots organization defending civil liberties eroded by the War on Terror. He also serves as co-Director of the Rule of Law Institute, a U.S.-based organization supporting international efforts to defend the Rule of Law against threats imposed by U.S. foreign policy.

quoted from source,

a friend of mine posted this article some time ago, and i had the opportunity of perusing it today. being that i am double quoting the source from his site, and a site that in turn quotes from the original source, i would like to briefly acknowledge that none of these are my words, and i have quoted them for the benefit of the reader.

i did leave a comment on my friend's page, as follows:

big brother is watching you. imo the extent of preventive detention far overshadows the infringement of privacy and undermining of security as portrayed by the author. the development of a more 'inorganic dictatorship' from the paranoia that stems from irrational need of control (irrational here being highly debatable) is something we've learned ... Read Morefrom history time and again (french revolution, WWII, even the meiji reformation). governments taking the proactive step in nipping problems in the bud is not something new, and neither is it undesirable, but when the regulation of such drastic measures becomes commonplace (as is the abuse of ISA laws seen in malaysia over the past few years), we should question where the line is drawn; what right does the governing body have to call itself a democracy if it breaches it's own preached values? hypocricy, thy name is ...

which i would have liked to extrapolate upon, but neither do i have the expertise nor the inclination to toss myself into a political-opinion fray. disregard the fact that the author writes as a muslim, or that the text is mouldable around the USA government (just as much as it is around any governing body you may chose, they all have their 'redeeming' factors). i know i did upon starting and finishing the text.

i'm not a big fan of political opinions, more of a bleachers guy who enjoys the show and would speak up from time to time if something interesting crops up (such as now) and i'm sure for those who have read orwell (specifically 1984, and animal farm to a lesser extent, although they address similar issues, to different extents and ends) you would be ashamed to pass by this article without comparing what's happening in real life to literature. it's not surprising to find such blatant similarities, since we've seen it all in history time and again (as per my caption in itallics above!); for those uninitiated, do find the time to at least read the summary of 1984 - the literature value i found personally enriching and stimulating, but the content, if only that would be what you would take away, is more than enough to rank the author amongst the best you've read (or not, in the case of you being one of those uninitiated). forgive me for my holier than thou air should it come across that way, i do not intend to sound pretentious having read a book some may have not - it is only because i would highly recommend such book, and would like to bring into light such compelling foresight into where we may end up in the near future; by all means, read the quoted text and skip my comments if this post is tldr - there is far more knowledge to gain from it than my ramblings.

whatever floats your boat

i have a friend who regularly blogs, and is very effeminate about the things she writes about. miss clique is an appropriate pseudonym, i think. ms clique, amongst other persons whom i know, have a fond affinity for the touchy-feely (upon re-reading this paragraph, i think i'm not being specific enough about the topic - when i say touchy-feely, i'm referring to the self-help section in the bookstore. the best friend's advice when you just got kicked in the balls, etc etc), and i'm all for that. i would be hypocritical if i, as a person who is a self-acknowledged former-depressive individual, thought that it's all in your head. to the masculine among us, we've all heard the cliches: 'it's bs that people feed you to make you feel better about yourself', 'it's a state of mind; you are who you think you are', 'only for the weak', etc etc.

now contrary to what you may think, i am not about to advocate the cause. and neither am i berating it. i'm all about things in moderation. balance. neutrality. and i just wanted to point out that as much as i endorse ms clique's musings of the soft-hearted encouragement, i think it's getting to our heads. the extreme of this feeling is best examplified by telling special kids that they're special. sure, they are. i don't want people calling them retards, that's just wrong. i don't want people telling them they're special in the way that misleads them to think that they're unimpaired. this doesn't mean they won't overcome the impairment, though.

okay, i'm just juggling my words trying to be politically correct, while trying to make my point, and it's not working. do you remember watching a movie where some crippled guy needs help getting something off the top shelf, but won't accept help and ends up 1. not getting it 2. getting it after a lot of trouble 3. getting it after smashing the other items on lower racks 4. pissing the person who offered help off 5. summoning sweet mutilated jesus from the grave to levitate him to appropriate height, but in the process recieves enlightenment and can walk again 5. shooting the guy who offered help and using his body as a stepping stone to get the item. my mind wanders. i'm just saying we all have our faults and we should acknowledge them and move on. having someone or something to make you feel better about it is fine and even encouraged, but deceiving yourself to the point that you may feel you were never flawed in the first place is a bit ridiculous. mutilated jesus shuns you.

i hope nobody misinterprets my message and starts throwing stones at my metaphorical wall. if it helps, read this entry again with a squeaky mouse voice and add appropriate rainbows and kittens. preferably fried, not roasted.

the reason i write this is because a couple of posts ago i berated myself for living in my own shadow, and now i see ms clique's blog in a new light - one that may not have been intended by her but i feel the touchy-feely had to be toned down. or as i would say in the company of my friends, ctfd. in any case, i would like to remind you (and especially myself) that the reason we couldn't dance isn't because our shoes are lopsided, or the floor is uneven, or our dancing partner sucks balls, or genetically enhanced dragonflies from the future are executing a plan to make humankind unable to perform complex hand-eye coordination - sometimes it's just us. and there's nothing wrong with that. take dance classes. not modern dance, that stuff's just wrong. pretty sure if the dragonflies are doing anything with our coordination, that would be the likely method of execution. or just for the touchy-feely, still, dance like nobody's watching; even if you're the laughing stock of your peers, at least you can say you gave it all your heart (? wtf hell no. go take those dance classes)

again digressing. um. well the point of it all, it's nice when you have an excuse, and especially so if it's a true or justifiable one. it's not cool to go looking for one every time you slip up. kids, stay in school.

p/s: i just played my first tft match on this crappy computer, and i lost. am i going to blame this on the shitty computer? or the fact i hadn't played in 3 years? or my optical mouse freaking out on me because i play on a glass surface? or my opponent being 14 levels above me? yes i am. but i'm sure as hell going to practice so i don't suck as much next time.

or i could study, which i should be doing. also, apologies to ms clique

Saturday, 25 July 2009

happy belated birthdays

i was never a big fan of birthdays but i somehow manage to remember a few. not because they are the birthdates of people close to me or anything like that, but just because they're numbers that just stick.

happy belated birthday adam j - 4th july which is american independence day, which makes this especially easy to remember. and adam is as american as they come. he's whiter than wayne brady.

happy belated birthday gregor mendel - july 22nd. don't ask me why i remember, i just do. and for those interested in mathematics and biology, he's the guy that got me started down the path of statistics. i still remember the day he told me, 'son, one day the world will be attacked by space alien iguanas, and when that day comes only simple statistics will save us all.' true story.

happy belated belated birthday barbara mcclintock which was 16th JUNE one whole month ago but i was too preoccupied at the time to remember.

also today, happy birthday amelia earheart and alexander dumas, two people i admire (admittedly i looked this up since i could not recall off the top of my head anyone's birtday coinciding with today). i did remember that today was the anniversary of the return of apollo 11, so happy birthday to you, you slick old rocket ship.

p/s: i realise now that my post did not post correctly, so instead of 'today' being 24th july, it is posted on 25th july. as i cannot recall, either, anyone's birthday being today, for all purposes and intents you may assume this post was posted on friday, 24th july 2009.

Thursday, 23 July 2009

'basic' probability

so, following through with my previous post of movies i had wanted to watch, and hadn't got around to 'til recently, i watched a movie today which i'd taken from a friend (N-dizzle rizzle, we'll call him, as he's related to H-dawg if only in the want to be black, as well) many eons ago. in any case, the storyline was wayyyyyyyy familiar kinda like deja vu watching it, so i guess i might have watched it at some point and just not remembered the title. it's an interesting piece titled '21' starring kevin spacey.

now, before i can attempt to launch myself into a repetitive entry similar to my previous one, i'd like to divert the course of my thought instead to something about the movie in particular that i found interesting (that, and the fact that i've not watched any other movie, which makes it slightly difficult to write a review).

as those who have watched the movie would guess (especially after seeing the title of this entry) it is about the probability-related problem posed by spacey in his lecture to the MIT students, as follows:

Suppose you are in a game show where you are presented with 3 doors; behind 2 doors are goats and behind one is a car. now suppose you have chosen door A, and the game show host reveals to you, after you have chosen, that behind door C is a goat. would it be in your best interests to remain with you choice of door A, or would it be advantageous to instead change to door B, given the option to do either?

knowing that this would be a trick question, i paused the movie before i could hear the answer, and began to ponder what i would do. for those interested in doing this yourself, take a time out and think of your solution before continuing. it is, for the mathematically inclined, as you have guessed, the classical Monty Hall problem (which i admit i had discussed during my first year of university, with a mathmo friend). at the time i think he presented me with the scenario word for word, and i did not agree with him, but as we'll proceed you might agree that it's just because of the phrasing of the question. rather, it's all in the wikipedia page dedicated to the Monty Hall problem (as linked above) so go read that if you've done your maths, or even if you haven't and just want the spoilers.

in any case, i won't bore you with the maths readily available from the linked page, but instead give you the conclusion of what i found (and in fact, justifies my answer from those many years ago). given no extra information, you would readily assume that the host has no obligation to show you a door behind which is a goat, and offer you the choice of changing your door A. if this were the case, then by all means, it's just a fresh random choice: it's 50-50.

if the question was (more accurately) re-worded:

Suppose you’re on a game show and you’re given the choice of three doors. Behind one door is a car; behind the others, goats. The car and the goats were placed randomly behind the doors before the show. The rules of the game show are as follows: After you have chosen a door, the door remains closed for the time being. The game show host, Monty Hall, who knows what is behind the doors, now has to open one of the two remaining doors, and the door he opens must have a goat behind it. If both remaining doors have goats behind them, he chooses one randomly. After Monty Hall opens a door with a goat, he will ask you to decide whether you want to stay with your first choice or to switch to the last remaining door. Imagine that you chose Door 1 and the host opens Door 3, which has a goat. He then asks you “Do you want to switch to Door Number 2?” Is it to your advantage to change your choice?

and from this wordy question, it is then easy to draw up a probability tree (or even doing the standard 'given' calculations A|B) and come up with the answer given in the movie that 'it is better to change your choice'. aside from the (rightly deserved, i think!) bragging-rights you have earned if you got the answer wrong (especially if you came up with the alternative answers associated with the myriad of possible interpretations of the question) you can now watch the movie with family/friends and at that precise point in the show, point out that the professor was giving insufficient information, with which there was no way the brilliant student could have come up with the perfect answer (like he did) without prior knowledge of the answer, or at least some understanding of the scenario! how awesome is that. unless you're in a crowd of 'jock-type' people, in which being perceived as the nerd would not be desirable.

ANYWAY. fun stuff, i spent the better part of an evening reading the Monty Hall problem and was thoroughly immersed in it such that i am now behind on what i should be doing. i hope the same fate befalls you all.

Wednesday, 22 July 2009

that thing you (wanted to) do

there are many things we've wanted to do, only to put them on hold and never actually get around to them. when i was younger, this defined my unaccomplishable dreams list, which includes such things as:

1. travelling the world
2. writing my own novel (although in recent years i would settle for 'textbook', instead)
3. uninhibited, repercussion-free threeway
4. creating my own ice cream flavour
5. winning the Nobel Prize
6. uninhibited, repercussion-free threeway

so on and so forth. dramatics aside, some of the intents are more noble than others, and even since young i find those to be the less practical among the bunch. to re-visit this general theme, recently i started baby steps towards the final goal, if only to keep me away from the dark depression that has come to crowd most if not all of my waking hours not spent preoccupying myself with menial (which by others' definition would be fruitful) tasks. i digress.

i tried to watch some of the movies i had thought to be interesting but could not find the time to watch (or resource, as in london my interenet connection was the very definition of horribaddible). but in any case, i watched about 30 movies in the span of 3 months (which if you think about is only one every 3 days, and not that impressive). in any case, here are a select few movies that come to mind, and i would like to bring into focus so that those who enjoy similar taste to mine should not miss out on some great stuff.

speed racer. ok the monkey and little kid were just as annoying as they were in the anime i watched as a child. this is in itself a pro for nostalgic value, and a con as an unnecessary adaptation to the movie. that out of the way, it's an awesome movie. i cannot see why all the critics hated the hell out of it. it's. a. kid's. movie (/ anime adaptationn which was intended for kids anyway). sweet bose-einstein condensate jesus, why do you guys hate so much? i dunno. i guess it's one of those things which will appeal to a minority of the watchers, and if you happen to be one of these select (deficient) people, more power to you. if not, it's not a thoroughly horrible movie to sit through. i really recommend this for those who can leave their brains outside the cinema (or living room) for the movie's duration, and/or reminisc about the anime from younger days.

the namesake of an indian food, i find this a very odd title for a japanese anime pretaining to psychological disorders - paprika. this is not the most amazing anime i've seen, and it's not the most creative either. but it is a very very interesting subject (one which i used to take sincere interest in) and it's one of those thing i've just wanted to watch for a long long time and finally had the chance to. has this skewed my expectancy of the quality of the film? probably. has this made me forget the fact that it's not even groundbreaking animation (which is what i usually come to expect from annime genre movies, irrespective of the storyline)? pretty much. but i still kinda like it. i wouldn't actually recommend watching it, but if you have the time to spare, by all means.

i've probably mentioned this title before, and if i have not, then suffice to say, it is probably the best movie of all time from my personal point of view. requiem for a dream. i've watched it countless times, and i just wanted to watch it again to see if it was still as good as it was back then. it is. personally, i find it better than the shawshank redemption which many of my friends consider to be the best movie ever. better than star wars (as you may expect i am referring to the episodes IV, V and VI, and not episodes I, II and III). better than jurassic park, and (albeit only slightly) better than the LOTR trilogy (consider that i go nuts of dinosaurs and medieval fantasy. the only way to top this would be velociraptors in plate mail armor yelling 'YOU SHALL NOT PASS'). ok so if you looked up the best movies of all time, there would probably be the likes of casablanca and citizen kane, but those were before my time, and i'll add them to my 'to be viewed' list, but in the mean time, let's just go with this - requiem for a dream is one of my favourite (if not my definite favourite) movie ever.

on a side note, a couple of movies i also re-watched and thoroughly liked are: schindler's list, memoirs of a geisha, and transformers (not the cgi one, but the animated one from my childhood. super awesome). notice how optimus prime dies, again, in 'revenge of the fallen', which i refuse to even link because, considering it was targetted for a more mature audience, the storyline was crappy and thoroughly full of plotholes, and the only redeeming fact for me paying 10 bucks to watch it was that it was 3 hours long (even the fact that megan fox was in it did little to add to this). in any case, we should recycle more used ideas in cgi laden movies to make sure that old ideas which have been tried and tested will generate sufficient turnover that we don't need original thinking. why work more if you generate the same amount of money anyway? rabble rabble.

where was i. yes, more movies that i got around to watching. there was a romantic-comedy which i actually found pretty good. i cannot remember the title right now, but now that i think about it, there were quite a few that caught my attention over the summer. 27 dresses was alright (i watched this while waiting on a flight i think? can't remember), love actually was pretty funny, ummm. i can't remember the others. there was one with a blind guy but i can't remember what it was, and i don't think i finished the movie because my sister wanted to watch something else. there was one with cameron diaz and 2 other women and that was really funny. the sweetest thing. i actually had to do some research to find some of these links so you had better click on a few. yeah i can't remember anything else from this genre. don't get me wrong i like the occasional romantic movie but i just can't remember the titles. they're the kind of movies i watch and forget, as opposed to the ones i linked prior to this paragraph, which actually stuck :/ what can i say.

there's definitely a lot more movies i want to cite here but this is getting a bit long so i'll probably save them for a subsequent post.

Monday, 20 July 2009

the greatest fall

i wanted to write a bit about the seminar / motivation camp i attended about a month ago, but i think i'll reserve that for another day. instead, i'm going to write about moving to australia and the pros and cons i've had over the past week. contrary to my parents' and best friends' advices i had chosen to leave a secure and luxurious future in medicine to pursue what i had thought at the time to be an infinitely more interesting and exciting prospect in lecturing and research. little did i know it would turn out to be the biggest mistake i have ever made in my life. moreso than deciding to be decadent during an opportune year in london. moreso than foregoing potential romance due to 'personal ethics' and principles (also to be referred to as lack of backbone, in the future). moreso than taking my life for granted so far. and only slightly moreso than disappointing and burdening my parents (which i can say because it is intricately associated with and nearly entirely dependent on my horrible choice, anyway).

in effect, leaving london was one of the greatest things to happen to me. i was secretly (unbeknownst to even my closest friends) depressed and hating my life for all the wrong reasons. i say this now not because i have the luxury of writing in a blog which nobody really reads, or being able to veil myself behind a curtain of anonymity, but because it has come high time that i own up to the reality which i worked so hard to deny over the past one and a half years. the fact that i was unhappy with my lifestyle is in itself not particularly malignant, but this lead to me secluding myself (even more) in my room, immersing myself with artificial means of boosting morale (playing world of warcraft and reading fictional books about 70% of the time) and putting aside the worries of the day. i say 'of the day' because during my clinical experience in london i had come to a point where i could not cope with studies as i had nowhere to turn, and self-studying, especially by trying to memorise the text books can only get you so far (in fact, as far as the front door, after which all of the theory falls apart and the practice becomes, well, practice). the short version of this long winded, and rambling paragraph is : i should have addressed my issues earlier instead of letting them accumulate to the point where i made this huge mistake.

now, i'm the kind of person to dwell on past mistakes and sweat the small things. to most, my life will seem comfortable and even desirable. but to me, thinking of the possibilities and the potentian gains is enough to make me again, unnecessarily, depressed (and i mean this in all its clinical sense because i unashamedly exhibit signs which i would rather not).

i moved to australia to start anew. six months or so of being home was supposed to be the time for me to buck up and get to terms with reality, but i spent it doing actually the opposite - wasting the days away and being hedonistic. don't get me wrong, i think i needed it in its entirety, but it doesn't help that past sins will come back and haunt you nonetheless. and if you let them accumulate and return with a raging vengeance, in a throng of continual assaults, then you're pretty much as screwed as i am. again, rambling but i make my point.

banality, thy name is me. there is nothing one can do to erase the past, only to move forward and do his best. most times, though, even the best may not be as good as 'the best it could have been', and that is the lesson learned. one which i can only hope some will take away from this entry, and not need the experience to have it make sense. in all honesty, i have 'known' of these things and had 'seen' it coming, i even had a 'plan' for averting crisis. but personally, it took the experience of having it all come crashing down to see it in its entirety. before i was effectively taking that step back to see the bigger picture and renumerate upon the flaws and caveats of my lifestyle. i guess the best i can say about this all is, at least it only took one and a half years off my lifeline (and potentially 3 or 4 more to come) and one million bucks. relatively cheap compared to 'what i could have lost' ?

Wednesday, 1 July 2009

the great escape

it's been a month and some change since i've posted, but i can happily say that this time it is with ample (and reasonable) excuse! ten days of scuba diving, a week of 'motivational camp' (which, i always hate, but as i was forced into going, i have some insightful [if also cynical and probably biased] things on which to elaborate) one week of packing and looking for a place to stay in australia. pretty awesome, but, even though it's not as time consuming as i make it out to be, forgo the slacking off as an entitled privilege for all those who would be unemployed.

without further ado, i'll begin in chronological order: the scuba diving trip. perhentian island, malaysia - although a lot of people have told me that the quality of marine fauna in perhentian has deteriorated tremendously, i have to say it's still worth going. it's not as great as sipadan, or the great barrier reef (sipadan was super awesome, by the way, and i doubt that any diving experience will compare to it. sadly it's not being maintained well and i can only foresee it becoming less and less attractive as the years go by) but it's damn well worth the money. soft corals are not as abundant as it used to be, so i'm told, but you can still find about 10 - 20 stereotypical species of them at regular intervals across the seabed. again, contrary to what i've been told, it's still colourful, and if you have an eye out for these things, it's very appreciable. in contrast to sipadan, there's less types of soft corals but there is not a lack thereof, and surprisingly, hard coral was harder to come by than i expected (not to say there's any lacking).

the fauna was 'mediocre', though i say this only because there is the absence of those 'holy shi*' moments during the dive. you can see lot's of stuff, don't get me wrong, it's just they're all the same mundane stuff you can get anywhere else. no turtles, one or two nurse sharks in the distance. a spattering of barracuda (again at a distance) etc etc. there was some 'exciting' microlife like rare cleaner shrimp and fluorescent nudibranch(es?) but being as near-sighted as i am, i guess i'm not fully equipped to appreciate them in all their splendour. oooo shiny colours. do want.

conditions were great though. slow-rolling sea. not too cold, i went in with only a skinsuit, and i can imagine it being thoroughly comfortable in a drysuit. no rough winds during this time of year (june) but i'm told to expect the monsoon conditions from september to april. the dive crew was awesome (bar a couple of old lady tourists who had trouble with everything from buoyancy to the ability to keep their mouths shut. i kid, i kid, they were awesome. i just mention them, though, because they left quite the lasting impression upon me, some old (i probably exaggerate since they might as well have been middle-aged) obasans suiting up. tee hee. the divemasters were a everything i'd come to expect, gear was clean and up-to-date. what can i really say, it was great. i did get rather ticked off by the prices of everything else on the island. food was incredibly overpriced and small in proportion, day-to-day items were similarly expensive etc etc. i can understand trying to make a quick buck out of tourists but this was ridiculous. i'd suggest bringing some of your own foodstuff like tinned sardines(also know as ikan bilis to our resident german friend).

all in all it was a great experience - i'd definitely go again. preferrably with a group of friends. although, sometimes it's pretty awesome to just kick back and take time to yourself. to each his own.

on a side note, i did get 2 chapters finished of a work-in-progress written thingy i'm working on. collaboration with my friend has been a bit slow, and we might not meet the deadline, but if we do, expect to see some pretty awesome stuff whenever we finish (disclaimer: definition of awesome may vary on an individual basis). 'til next time, kids. same awesome time, same awesome channel.