Wednesday, 30 September 2009

life is like a box of chocolate rain

exams are like a box of assorted chocolates. you really never know what you're going to get. forrest gump made this analogy about life (well, his mom did. but i guess he eternalised it) and i guess you can pretty much generalise it to anything and everything else, which may be a subset of life. including exams, as per our case today.

during my undergrad fresher year, i remember being set a 'paper' on statistics and epidemiology, which comprised of 10 questions (5 on stats and 5 on epi), which was a finals exam, and was accounted for when considering if a student passed or failed the year as a whole.

now, doing a masters, i can't help but laugh when i see (still) a paper being set and only 2 questions from a huge topic being included. and when i say huge, i mean like really broad and deep. for example, my whole undergrad syllabus of pathology was compressed into 4 lectures titled 'immunology' and after reading all the notes and extra materials, they set us a question paper which had only 2 questions on the topic. now, i'm not one to bitch, but isn't that statistically a bad way to evaluate the students' understanding on the subject, as a whole? i hope some of you grasp the irony of how this applies even more so to the undergrad paper on stats and epi i was talking about earlier. it's just mindbogglingly full of fail - whomever set the stats paper, at least shouldn't even be allowed to practice stats. ever. sweet abacus-yielding chinese jesus shuns him.

anyway, that being said, the exams were pretty good, i'm happy with what i got. and forrest gump would be happy too, because if someone asks you if you've found jesus, you answer:

I didn't know I was supposed to be looking for him, sir.

here's looking at you, gump. may you find charlie, when nobody could in vietnam.

Monday, 28 September 2009

/facepalm all hope

taking a side track from my 'busy' work schedule, i've gone and read an abbreviated translation of dante's divine comedy. i must say, i wasn't as impressed as i initially was before i read it (sometimes the legend outweighs the man) but i guess that's what you get for getting abbreviations. probably some epicness was lost in translation, as well. for those who have heard, this work is probably the origin of the famous quote: abandon all hope, ye who enter. anyway, it was worth the read, and i'm just propping it here, in case anyone is looking for something along these lines (i know there's a few theologically-inclined amongst the audience). next up is 'paradise lost' by milton.

on less serious stuff, i've always been a fan of motivationalol posters.

sometimes you don't even need captions to convey the hillarity, and lulz can ensue. for the meme-enlightened, here's a /facepalm, and for those relatively new to the subject, i'm more than happy to provide a crash course in meme's. be warned, all ye who enter, there is no turning back - what has been seen, cannot be unseen. i'm sure, in time, everyone can learn to appreciate the viral nature of memes, but if it's not your cup of tea, :/ oh well

p/s: apparently my little 'social experiment' (or more aptly, 'social query') has failed pretty hard. epic fail guy would be proud. but worry not, i have taken measures to ensure it does not happen again, and will re-conduct when ready.

Sunday, 27 September 2009

step down

a lot of my friends are having a hard time adjusting to their new working lifestyles. i guess when you reach the age of 23 to 26 or so, there's just a lot of things on your plate - work, money, getting hitched, moving into your own place, just to name a few. independently, maybe it's not much to deal with, but when you get them all in a go. well. i guess it's a pretty stressful overall situation. not that i'd know, because i'm just a fresher at uni. ages to go before i get to that stage.

but for those of you who might be feeling the weight of the world upon your shoulders, think of what atlas would do. get hercules to do your job for you. umm, wait, no, that's a bad analogy. just think of the good times? something like that. and hope it'll all get better. eventually. when we all grow old and die. no. wait. what?

this post is a tribute to those people sucking it up and braving their new worlds; something which, i profess, i was not able to do myself. in specific, hendrix, and sushi-slave, to you both i offer this token of acknowledgement:

what must be the best videoclip ever created

by virtue of it having so many subliminal, and implied messages. that and it has sweet transforming laser-eyed hitler jesus. in ballet tights. enjoy. (remember when we watched this video clip in the common room, and you said prior to that, 'incubus sucks'?)

Friday, 25 September 2009


meet indra. indra lives in our world. he is brash and uncouth, somewhat irresponsible in his own right. and indra has sinned. a worldly, cardinal sin, which he now wears upon his own body, set such that he can observe the sins of others, and himself; emasculated by right, but does anyone have a right to such punishment? apparently so. indra lives, thus in turmoil and uncertainty. and for this, indra will re-live his sins and forever atone for them, in our world.

meet ahsonnutli, ixchel and chiconahui. they are sisters of sorts, although that is not pertinent to their import. they live in one world, oceans apart, but they are also one and the same. they are caring and philantropic. their smiles (or singular, when they are one) are welcome, their doors are open. but they allow everyone passage, when the world is full of demons and magogs. they realise too late, whom they should distrust, by whence their throats are slit, their houses burned, their crops are razed, their people spurned. and for this, they fade slowly, into the night. by death.

meet anansi. anansi lives in a world of dunces and idiots. because of this, anansi is relatively wise. but anansi, in truth, is a mere trickster - a deceiver of peoples, a twister of tongues. with words, anansi is slick, with mind, anansi is sharp, and by virtue of this, anansi is rewarded with a world's intelligence, which is forsaken for naught but a position of power, a set of stories. and for this, anansi transcends this (pejorative) world; and now lives in a perfect world.

meet yourself.


meet hod. hod lives in a perfect world, where blindness is not a disadvantage, not a handicap. if anything, blindness is a presenting attribute, something that defines hod apart from the crowd, like blond hair or blue eyes or tanned skin. if anything, blindness is a source of conversation over a family meal, or an introductory joke when acquaintances are made. hod is blind, but he is not blinded. and for this, hod remains in a perfect world.

meet prometheus. prometheus also lives in a perfect world. in fact, the same perfect world in which hod exists, although the world is large, and neither have they met, nor have they even heard of each other. prometheus is smart. he is wily. he is intelligent. prometheus is brilliance embodied. but, again, prometheus lives in a perfect world, where nothing is dis/advantageous. everything is just. perfect. and for this, prometheus remains in a perfect world.

meet kheper. kheper lives in a lesser domain from hod and prometheus. but this does not effect kheper - kheper is diligent and hardworking. he does not care for his surroundings and it does not care for him. the wind takes its toll on kheper's skin, the sun beats upon his barren face, the rain is cool only a moment, before it cracks his heels and chaps his lips. but kheper does not mind his worldly torment; only what he sees in his mind is real. and for this, kheper toils his strength away, alone (but in diligence!). for this, kheper dies in solitude, in a lesser domain.

meet tsukiyomi. tsukiyomi lives in a world of perceptions and impressions. it is an odd world. in this world, everything depends on presentations - ones first impression, ones scent upon leaving the house, ones attire when comiserating the lost, ones tone when speaking to another, and especially; especially how one presents food to a guest. tsukiyomi is not at fault for his sins, he is only a product of a judgemental world. and for this, tsukiyomi is shunned by the sun (him)itself.

Tuesday, 22 September 2009

عيد الفطر ראש השנה

i am brazen, and callous, and in-between;
i am safe to roam and go unseen;
but i am not an island, not stand-alone,
with roots that burrow far, far to home.

you are enamour, and repent, embodiment thereof;
even (especially) as twilight, velvet and soft;
you are a wall that hinders, yet harbours a stair,
that leads only up, and arrives, still, everywhere.

we are one and the same, these thoughts of which,
you and i dig deep-er and longer a continuous ditch;
-ing this world, eventually, alone;
in the dark, we (you and i) are forlorn.

so with this verse has come to pass, and before my dawn is slight, and old;
i beg with fingers poised aright, forgiveness from you (and us) as a whole.

Sunday, 20 September 2009

busy busy like a bzzzzzz

so much to do lately. here's a list of some of the books i've recently bought on my book-devouring binge. no, i've not read them all, yet, but i've read a fair bit, enough to satisfactorily say 'yes, this book has the etc seal of approval (thumbs up + cliche grin)'; and when i get around to reading (and hopefully finishing) them, they'll hopefully be better than currently expected:

1. the brothers karamazov, by fyodor dostoyevsky.
2. shakespeare's sonnets.
3. going solo, by roald dahl.
4. love in the time of cholera, by gabriel garcia marquez.

amongst others.

note that i have restrained myself from linking and giving brief summaries of each :D abstinence win. and now, i can conclude with an honestly expletive 'short effin post, hell yeah'.

p/s: the title is a tribute to n-dizzle and h-dawg. bzzzzzz

Friday, 18 September 2009

gossip guys

i rarely read celebrity gossip. or any gossip, really. it's not a holier-than-thou attitude or mounting high horses or anything like that. i just can't really be bothered with news in general. even stuff like world news, politics, local affairs etc. i'm just horrible at paying attention to these things. which is bad, as a whole, but i guess once in a while some really important story trickles into my notice by one means or another.

umm. digressing again. back to the first sentence - i rarely read celebrity gossip. but as most of you might have guessed, i did read about the kanye west - taylor swift incident at some awards ceremony, last week. the reason i found out about this is mr. president, barrack obama, actually had an "off-record" (i use inverted commas because apparently nothing is off-record. you say it. you live with it) quote about the incident, which i found hillarious. i mean, seriously. president. commenting on celebrities. what what in the lolwhat?

you can read about the incident and its overshoot yourself. speaking of which. eff you fags on youtube for posting your personal comments under the heading 'kanye west taylor swift'. made looking for the video clip horrendously intolerable. god. imagine 15 clips of 16-year-old metrosexuals with female voices going 'amagawd kanye you bastard'... sweet celebrity deathmatch jesus weeps for humankind. this coming from an anonymous blogger. oh, the irony.

umm digressing again. yeah just wanted to highlight a few things which i found pretty interesting, if only from a social experiment point of view (it's still gossip at the end of the day).

1. what the eff was kanye thinking? lol freaking hillarious.
2. taylor swift's reaction
3. beyonce's reaction. pretty cool, having the grace to let swift speak during her slot. WARNING: this link leads to a forum post. which are usually full of aids and fail.
4. president obama's comments (lol he's pretty cool, too) and the ethics of journalism in reporting 'off-record' details.
5. why is this such a compelling issue? i mean it's just one person dissing another, and in the celebrity circle that's not too uncommon. what makes this stand out. is it the president's involvement? is it the implied racism behind the comments? what do you think?
6. kissing and making up. kanye apologised. swift said it's all good. really?
7. will sweet paraplegic teen-idol jesus rise to the occasion and comment?
8. people say they don't care, but you can't deny the number of hits on the issue.
9. apparently (i say this because i cannot quote a source. apparently the poll has been deleted? lurk moar when i get back from classes), the american population agrees with pres. obama calling kanye a jack@$$. more ethical issues at 11.
10. mom, where do babies come from?

yeah anyway, this post was intended to be short, (yeah keep saying that, one day it'll come true). but the social implications of such a simple event (surely you've had a squabble with your friend/ brother/ sister/ local brontosaurus before) as well as the media spinoff and populous recoil to it are very interesting. i wouldn't be surprised if someone actually did a study on this. although with what results, who knows.

digressing again! to sum it up. go for the gossip, but at the back of your mind, think about it. it's not as straightforward as you think. also, obama rocks. coolest president since nixon.

Thursday, 17 September 2009

screw mathematical models, hospitality is where it's at

leaving for lab today, i left early and brought along my camera, so that i could capture a few shots of the sceneries that i encounter on my random walks. omitting the mathematics of it all, it was a pretty uneventful, early-morning stroll interspaced with me taking random pictures here and there. but then, as i was taking the photo of some pretty purple flowers, i suddenly hear this knock. i look around and see nothing, but hear it again.

as i look towards the source of the sound, i notice that the owner of the house (of whose flowers i was snapping), had been tapping his window and signalling to me to wait where i stood so he could come out and have a word. two words run through my mind:

oh shi...

this elderly guy who looks like a war veteran lumbers out, slowly. he has a grimace on his face, which is a pretty bad omen. he's just caught me taking pictures of his precious flowers, which are probably sensitive to light, and i've damaged them in some way or another. and he's going to make me pay some compensation. or beat me up. or chain me up in his basement and rape me on a daily basis. then murder me and use me as fertiliser for the flowers. oshitoshitoshit i'm f'ked @(*)#@*.

but, being the sap i am, i stand my ground and own up to whatever damage he's got to deal. bring it on, old man.

but, like any good shyamalan story (which excludes lady in the water and the village), there's a twist in my story. he comes up and casually chats up a conversation. he's apparently (obviously, now that i think about it >_<) a gardening enthusiast, and proceeds to tell me about his flowers.

the flowers i was taking photos of are a purple daisy species which, like sunflowers, bloom readily when the sun's out, but not when it's dark or shady. they also somewhat follow the direction of the sun throughout the day. sweet. and the tree that is found beside the daisy plot is the only tree of its kind in western australia, apparently very rare and it's named after some british army guy (actually his botanist wife) who traveled to perth from albany (which back in the day took 2 - 3 months. pretty cool story, bro.)

you learn something new every day.

(like australian people are way friendlier than brits. by far.) also, i'll try to remember to upload the picture i took.

edit: added picture of pretty daisies ^_^. also added pictures to previous post, which can be viewed here.

Wednesday, 16 September 2009

if home is where the heart is,

when i moved into my new place, i replaced a female tenant. not that it makes any difference to me, personally, because i never met her and if i had not known this fact, it wouldn't have made the slightest difference. i bring this up, however, because upon leaving, she left behind two hundred and ninety three, and three sevenths types of body lotions, bath salts, conditioners, shampoos, skin toners etc etc etc in the bathroom. i kid you not. i could open a drug store's hygiene section and still have some left over for guile's hair. shit's crazy.

anyway, this got me trying the stuff. i mean, couldn't hurt, right? wrong. it hurts. not just my pride, but it hurts sweet afro samurai jesus and his alter ego. between the apricot-and-banana body shop skin cream, lavender shampoo, strawberry tango bathing salts and who knows what else, i smelled for a day like a rabid flower shop on steroids. and when i say steroids, i mean perfume. but, in all honesty, besides that one incident where everyone started to question my choice of (de)odorant, i actually like all these products. not that i'll ever buy any of them myself because they're expensive as eff. but while there's some left-overs (which i do have permission to use. nitpickers) i'll let my feminine side indulge.

i wonder just how many women will start getting their significant others to try said products now.

another olfactory endeavour pertains to my kitchen stove and the location of my room directly above it. when either my housemate or i cook something (his cooking is de-lish) the wafting aromas tend to congregate just above where i sleep and this either makes me hungry as hell all day / night long (tee hee. i said all night long), or makes me dream of food. either way, my stomach makes the random-est noises and it's slightly disturbing when i start to hear sentences in between the growls and resonating throbs. 'feeeeeddd meeeeeeee.... the hunger. it burrnnnssssss' be creative. that being said, opening the window takes care of this problem; if only it wouldn't rain so frequently, and especially have horizontal rain directed against my windowed wall.

Monday, 14 September 2009

i know it's spring when...

the flowers are all abloom, and the air is filled with a myriad of smells that inebriate, intoxicate, emaciate and reverate. i cannot stress just how much these smells take me back to my childhood and even a brief stroll down the road is literally one down memory lane. that and the pollen-induced anaphylaxis.

the cold winter winds break upon trees, only to have me chilled to the bone by spring showers. also affectionately known to my friends and i as 'spring'klers.

i start getting melancholic and write my (dull and decrepit) poetry.

i tend to let lectures slip by, in front of my eyes, as i gaze out the window. reverie heavy in my mind, ennui soft upon my fingers. i am lost in a world of promise, as i lose the materiality of a world of the promised. such is the loss of one. the loss of one.

i wake up to birds chirping right outside my windowsill. sometimes a song of humour, sometimes a song of romance, sometimes a song of empathy, sometimes a song of mischief. i can only see what i want to see, in what i hear, and that is what i wake up with, and can only assume to be the fabric of my (forgotten) dreams.

in another part of a world, which i have left behind ere troubles ago, troubles acome; father winter has taken hold, much like it has most of my (previous) life. how odd that autumn is skipped in favour of such malice and woe.

i get a haircut, and all my friends are love-bound. ah, such is the innocence of youth. or gullibility, whichever one prefers. i love haircuts.

Sunday, 13 September 2009

dearest alice

i've always liked 'alice in wonderland' (or for the purist, alice's adventures in wonderland), the classic by lewis carroll. there's something about the lsd-induced madness and literary nonsense that just captivated me years ago. since my first year at uni, i've been hunting for the sequel, 'through the looking glass', as well a couple of his famous poems, 'jabberwocky' and the 'hunting of the snark'. i actually found 'through the looking glass' while in london but regretfully didn't buy it because it was hella expensive :/ for those of my friends studying abroad, should you perchance yourself in a bookstore and find one of these works, please buy a copy for me!

anyway. many a year ago. when the world was young. and certain sages were without age (hence only asses). i played a little-known game, simply titled 'alice'. it was awesome. as a game it was pretty easy and straightforward. but the storyline, art and concepts were amazing. think alice meets exorcist meets silent hill.

there's supposed to be a movie based on the game, but it never came out. which makes me a sad panda. rumors are it'll be out in 2010, but i'm not keeping my fingers crossed (anymore). however, there is the promise of tim burton's rendition, which will just be a re-enactment of the original story (the cast looks promising and the movie is on schedule, so i'll be watching it nonetheless); as well as the sequel to the game which should also be out sometime next year.

here's to hoping.

p/s: for those with a somewhat similar taste as mine for the macabre, i've also linked a couple of (old) videoclips that may pique your interest to lurk moar into the depths of madness. enjoy ~

the used - all that i've got
. love this one because it reminds me of the game.

incubus - dig. slightly less relevant but still an awesome concept.

Saturday, 12 September 2009


none of us are stupider than all of us combined.

this is one of my favourite sayings, and ironically i haven't a clue who said it or if that's the actual quote. hey, i believe in the spirit of things rather than the word, so yeah.

anyway, sometimes i think people need to take a time out and just step back. think about the bigger picture from an individual's prespective, then start building their way up to the greater scheme of things. entering at the hive-mind stage, as a sheep (a-la 1984), with a mindset of sweet concrete-brain zombie jesus is just as much a ticket on the failboat as it is the trainwreck express.

brain liquefying due to lack of sleep -_- just think about the quote for a bit. lates.

Thursday, 10 September 2009

not all doctors are horrible

a brief dialogue stemming from a comment i left on a friend's friend's blog led me to re-discover why neil patrick harris is one of my favourite actors of all time. of all time. time. time. time. echo.

growing up on a staple doogie howser, md diet, and then meeting him again as barney in 'how i met your mother', i had forgotten a little gem i enjoyed during my undergrad years:

dr. horrible's sing-a-long blog.

here's a link to the series, which i hope you'll enjoy as much as i do. it's legend-wait for it-ary. remember, it's a 3-part series, so if you think it's left hanging, you probably forgot to click the other links 'til the end. enjoy!

p/s: for the guys unfamiliar with the crazy - hot graph, i'll have you know from first hand experience that it preaches truth. someone deserves a field's medal or at least the nobel prize in economics for it.

screw mathematical models. bread is where it's at.

i've decided against using those google maps images - not only do they take forever to load, but they're so out of date that there's really non point trying to show what i want to show with things that don't even show up on the pictures. plus, they're not that pretty :/ i'll just reserve some spots for picture which i'll take sometime.

anyway. back to the route. flowers, cats, and conifers. first, a few amendments are in order, thanks to our local scrutiniser.

"the sickly sweet smell of honey and bark" - now that i actually try to define the smell, rather than just taking it in, it's more like honey, sandalwood and watered down vinegar. this is somewhat disturbing that i actually like the smell.

"either a black cat or a striped one"
- this one's thanks to my regular schedule of waking up early before lectures. 5 minutes before they start is pretty good, compared to the 3 i frequented during undergrad years. anyway, met another cat, this one's white and she's pretty feisty. can't say the colour-coding stereotyping hasn't escaped my notice, but in the end, i even got to carry her half-way to the hospital (which i ended up being late for. good game).

something about the maths
- if you've actually tried modelling, then you need to get out more. don't worry, it doesn't burn. not that i expect to receive any enthusiastic submissions, but so far one (glancing) mention by mr.kay is a near miss (if you consider 20 miles near OH SICK BURN). it's much less complicated than you think, kay (spoilarz in comments section later).

anyway, moving on. other reasons to use the route i do:

someone has a huge house along this designated path. it comes with a swimming pool, a nasty-ass rottweiler (i actually have no idea what dog it is but for effect, let's say it's one of those emo, always angry-dogs), carpetgrass lawn, harem, and registered ninja. but more importantly, he has an old skool ride. it's a maroon cadillac, and me not being a car enthusiast enables me to stop at that. it's very rare that an ozzie has that car (don't think i've seen another caddie here, yet) and it has the plate fifty5 so i'm assuming it's a model from that year. pictures for the throng of fans when i get around to it. on a side note, i've seen quite a few nasty cars around here, but neither knowing what they are nor carrying my camera means you just get to dream up what they look like.

there's a tree (again i don't know what the eff it is. i'm pretty horrible at this descriptive stuff) which used to be plain, but now that it's spring, it's actually lost its leaves and in place grown some fiery-red flowers. imagine a deciduous tree (although this one is not, the leaves do look as if they were) but colour it red. it's especially a sight to see during sunset, when i conveniently return from class. if you've watched 'the ring', you'll recall a burning tree in the prophecy. or some shit like that. yeah it's a splitting image of that. was actually pretty until i realised the similarity to that horror flick. now it just creeps me the f out. sigh, now i'm blogging at 2 a.m. with no lights on, with this image of sadako (name?) coming out of the tv in my head. mommy :(

ahem. one last thing, even though there's quite a few sights and sounds i've omitted. probably the highlight of the forward journey to class, during the early hours when nothing has stirred (which in australia means 8am), i'll arrive in front of the local bakery as they're making bread. this reminds me of passing in front of subway on my way to hospital in south london. without the noise and pollution. and instead of the plastic smell of processed meat mingling with burnt bread. and early morning hookers. and bums trying to sell me weed.

'hey brah, need some good stuff?'

ah, those were the days. dude, i'm not your brah and i don't need your shit. go the eff away.

where was i. oh yeah, the good stuff. wholesome bakery bread. like really good stuff, that you know is hand made, not the synthetic crap they serve at subway. which i readily engulf anyway because i'm always hungry and a cheap bastard. nosiree, this is the smell of wafting ambrosia, in the morning, that sadly i've had to avoid for the past month, lest i be tempted to grab some of the cinnamon and honey wholemeal croissants. oh, god, so hungry, now. afk for food.

Tuesday, 8 September 2009

screw mathematical models. flowers is where it's at.

View Larger Map

this is a google map picture of where i live (quaintly annotated A on the map). it's pretty well-located with respect to uni (uwa) and my lab (at the hospital in the figure, which we affectionately refer to as q-e-2 for queen elizabeth II, or charlies).

anyway, you'll notice that to get to lab, which is close to the roundabout where hampden rd meets monash ave, there's quite a few routes i can use, passing through the residential area. including the main roads, there's only a certain number of paths i can take to get to qeII without backtracking (i'll even post the mathematical model once i figure out how to draw and put formulas on the blog. oh, you guys are in for such a treat!).

as mathsy and empirical as i would have wanted it to be (not that much, i'm not that huge of a nerd. calm it down), i find myself taking pretty much the same route every day, because of some (non-mathematical) factors that my model doesn't account for:

at this corner, there's a hedge of flowers (whose name i'm still trying to find out) that smell sickly sweet of honey and bark. it's somewhat inebriating and sometimes i find myself standing there for a few minutes just taking in the smell, and watching the bees. pending i'm not late for a lecture or lab. the picture from google maps is old, i guess, and the hedge looks somewhat lacking from what it is right now during the early spring. maybe i'll grab a photo if i can remember to carry my camera with me sometime.

along this road, i sometimes see a cat. it's either a black cat, or a striped one, kind of like a tiger but not so orange, and with more stripes. both heed my beck and call, which is super awesome. one day i was playing around with the tiger-cat and some girl was passing by (unnoticed to me) and saw me making cat noises while scratching the cat's tummy. as i realised she was watching, she chuckled and smiled to me. was pretty embarassing, but i guess it could have been worse. both the cats have owners (from their collars) but i have yet to place where they live. if anyone of you has cats, you'll be familiar with how they roam and come back only when they need food. lulz.

View Larger Map

see the empty sky in this picture? that was probably 20 years ago. now there's a huge ass tree there. it's some kind of conifer and i really like the leaves. i don't think you can find this tree outside australia, and just having them around reminds me of my childhood days in sydney, walking through a park on the way home from st. matreville high school. no, it wasn't a high school, it's just called st. matreville high.

post is getting long, will continue our journey, soon!

Monday, 7 September 2009

simple markov chain

grab a fair dice. start off with a number, 0, and we define the results of rolling the dice as:
1: +1 to your existing number
2: -3 to your existing number
3: +6 to your existing number
4: +6 to your existing number
5: multiply your existing number by 2
6: do nothing to your existing number.

roll the dice 30 times.

without doing calculations:
what number has the highest chance of turning up? why do you think so? is this likely to happen in a real experiment?
what if the dice was unfair, in that it favoured the number 2 to any other number by 2:1:1:1:1:1?

i got caught up in this for about half an hour, while doing some reading on genetic variation. it's not particularly hard, and if you do it superficially, you'll be done in 3 mins tops. but the concept just seemed to linger and i found myself thinking up more and more complicated scenarios based on the simple dice-toss + number-walk. i hope it screws up your day, too.

Saturday, 5 September 2009

great questions of the universe (the questions strike back)

we have addressed whether ninjas > pirates in some length, and briefly approached the never-ending battle between cake and pie. and today, we continue with more unnerving questions:

evolutionism (or darwinism) vs. creationism - god/science, damn you!

i'm not about to go into a debate between the two (or three, since darwinism and evolutionism are quite distinct, but let's just lump them together for brevity), as this would probably cause some uproar and i sure as hell don't want any social uprisings under my blog rule. all hail communist czar jesus! but i do want to touch a bit on how these ideas could be integrated (not saying that they should, but just pointing out that there really is no reason to be at ends with each other). i guess this is all in the spirit of coming together, which is kind of the current theme of my writings (if there actually is a theme).

let's methodically approach this from the evolutionist's perspective: you've got the somewhat scientific justifications (you can read all about these in your own time, there's just too much literature for me to go over), but at the end of the day i don't really buy it all. as a fellow scientist (or at least one who honours the scientific approach) i find it surprising how the lack of bridging species (for example there really hasn't been concrete proof of a man-ape or fish-frog whatever) hasn't been addressed all that well. a lot of evolutionists will publish their (parallel) theories which boil down to faith anyway - there's no way of proving the theories because you can't travel back in time. yet. and it's just one person's authority against the other's and really how different is that from, say, the church's? i particularly like how, doing bioinformatics, you assume the default that species (or at least homologous genes, since that is the definition of orthologues) have a common ancestry, but you can't really come to a concensus as to who or what this ancestor is.

on the other hand, you can't deny evolution happening in real time. working with organisms who have a relatively 'fast ticking evolutionary clock' like bacteria and viruses, you can pretty much see point mutations happening in front of your eyes. in a standard culture of e.coli, for example, you get one mutation every 1E6 cells, which is about 10 - 20 in a petri dish, pending your lawn concentration. those that don't die off, go on to further adapt and i'm sure most of you are familiar with how, in weeks, you can have trait enhancement, best exemplified by antibiotic resistance etc. even if you're the most hard core christian (or whatever religion) trying to argue otherwise, you can't tell me that's not really happening because it's empirical. yet i would agree with the fact that you don't see the bacteria evolving into gnats or velociraptors or even a different species of bacterium. it's just not that straight forward. and it's all about timeframes.

moving on, for the creationist: so God said he created man. no scientist or martian from the future or space monkey can dissuade you from that, and that's perfectly fine. belief is what it is by definition - a belief. unconditional faith, and to an extent it's analogous in religion just as it is in science. but that doesn't mean, for example He couldn't have created frogs from fish. or monkeys from humans (aha, a little unconventional by either religious and gene ontology / phylogeny, but i'm just throwing it out there, that it could be possible). and who's to say you're wrong if your God threw down a few natural disasters or tweaked with probabilities to create miracles? in an extreme case, let's say jesus (of the non-variant type) did change water to wine (references here, here, here, here and here. but more realistically, here). some may chose the literal vs. figurative interpretation of 'wine'. but i was going for the more extreme (catered for the disbelieving scientist) statement that maybe water did really turn into wine. put in a bit of chemistry (get your Cs Hs and Os from wherever) and have them spontaneously organise themselves into wine. impossible? not really. just very, very, very, very, very improbable. enough so that any statistician would dismiss it, but still. again, not saying i believe this, but it provides a technicality to work with, for the nay-sayers.

coming full circle: i'm not arguing for or against either. what you chose to believe is entirely up to you, be it empirical, faith, authority, apathy, whatever. or even if you chose to actively disbelieve both. kind of hard to do that, but sure, whatever floats your boat.

what i am getting at is this: don't dismiss your fellow (wo)man for his beliefs. be it because you're religious or scientific, i'm sure whatever higher power you believe in promotes your well behaviour amongst your kin.

also, be careful of those velociraptors.

Thursday, 3 September 2009

idle hands are my own tools

there are many things with which i should be,
grateful and eternally happy,
and yet more things of the converse, at least i feel so;
there are many things i know i love,
not necessarily from them above,
but i feel a yearning for a release from tomorrow.

i cannot emphasise moreso,
the fate i feel hitherto,
that has been untimely and inopportune,
the demise of a non-existent fortune.

it is not, though, that my walk be reticent,
the din of spring with scented incense;
oddly enough, coming six months from winter,
leaving memories with it hither;
even the simplest pleasures do wither,
and leaves us with their worldly tether.

fatalistic, a dark sign may be an omen, something neglect with naught; forebode.
mockery and mayhem of my mind persists - welcome, to my humble abode.

Tuesday, 1 September 2009

scalar scaling

it's been a while since i last posted rhetoric or a mental exercise.

imagine, if you will, a colony of ants upon the sidewalk. and the weather is dreary, slightly cloudy, as it begins to drizzle. now, how you perceive the raindrops depends on the scale at which you are, relative to the raindrops. as a human, i could easily exclaim, 'oh, how bountiful the rain is. verily there is no other gift more equi-distributed. none other more delicate and apropos.'

if you were an ant, scurrying for shelter as the drizzle becomes downpour, the raindrop is not so seemingly well-distributed, and one might even argue that it is discretely quantised. whether this be for the benefit of man (ant) or otherwise, is an entirely independent notion, but one can already see how the different scales may influence argument for or against such.

now, contemplate that the rain has passed, and along comes the sun. a beacon of light where once bore dark, and the metaphorical rays of hope dry up what once was damp and desecrated (again dependent upon scale, but let us say one are ants for this analogy). one cannot negate the presence and aftereffects of the rain, but already it is a better day. a change, with hope of new opportunities and banishment of old mistakes. remembered but not dwelled upon.

but how quickly can fate deal a blow of inopportune ill luck, if say, i, as a human, were to come along wielding a magnifying glass, the epitome of canonical child inquisitiveness (or mischief). and as i begin setting ones anthill asunder, with too much of a good thing (remember those rays of hope?), maybe one wishes that the rain had never ended?