Monday, 30 August 2010

how your best friend could be an alien chameleon spy. from outer space!

don't be surprised, fooled or appalled. this may be more likely than you think. having been sick with strep throat, strep ear, strep tongue and strep liver over the past weeks, i have undergone many physiological changes and adaptations, throughout which it has come to me: 'hey. why is it i notice some people do the same things, but to them all this sh*t is normal?' that's just wrong.

here's some examples of telltale signs that your friend may be not of the homo sapiens species. and genus, to be pedantic:

1. sleeping more than 18 hours a day. this is ridiculous. i know some people are getting old (points away from myself). but 18 hours. really. it's like bejamin button took a crap in my breakfast and decided to infect me with whatever... thing... he has. and no, i don't know if it's transmissible in that way, get off my case. and while we're on that, that's another thing, i totally... zzz...

2. metabolic activity drops to -10 when it's cold. i used to love the cold. it sure as hell beats the tropical sun blasting uv death into your face every day of the year. but then, i had to go and study in the uk. and sweet frostbitten toes jesus does winter suck. i take back everything i have ever said to belittle the sun. everything. in fact, let me say it up straight, right now: mr. sun. i love you so much. even more than a mother loves her newly born child. even more than how fat kids love chocolate. even more than how there is love lost on fermina. seriously, never leave me again. ahem. and snow is the work of the devil. how ironic is that. fez will tell you more about this (i don't remember if i've got this episode right, and the internet is super slow here at my workplace house, so i'm just playing this by ear. if i've got the wrong episode, someone point me in the wrong direction):

... which has absolutely nothing to do with that metabolism thing i was talking about... but never mind this. you get my drift.

3. eating everything in sight. apparently, it goes both ways (that's what she said, oh!). some people eat loads when they're sick and some people eat nothing. so, we can't really say that someone might be an alien based on how much (s)he eats. however, what that person eats is a very telltale sign - just like a chameleon, these potential aliens will eat anything and everything. i kid you not. i mean, just the other day i ate 5 day old rice. 5. day. old. it tasted horrible, but at the time it didn't feel that way. then there's the attempt to eat oyster. now, don't get me wrong, a lot of people enjoy eating slimy, bacteria-and-virus-laden, toxic muscle of stomach agony. and that's fine with them. but for someone who has tried it and actively despises such vile and rancid things, even attempting to try it was... ugh.

4. the power of persuasion. come on. any good spy should be able to change your mind by some means or another. i'm talking jedi mind tricks. men who stare at goats. socratic logic. don corleone threats. whatever it takes. but, all these are human-based and are flawed. real aliens do it hypnotoad style. all bow to hypnotoad.

5. forgetting things. yea, i know it's pretty common for infections to effect your mind. especially with cases of upper respiratory tract infections, which go on to have meningitis effects. but the, you have that really awkward thing where you are in mid sentence and forget what you were... wait, what was i saying?

6. secretly going missing every few hours. for me, this was disappearing to the wc and flushing from my system the contents of lunch. breakfast and last night's dinner, too, sometimes. i'll spare you the details. but, in the case of alien chameleons (who obviously don't use the toilet, like humans do), they'll disappear all the time to an undisclosed and unknown location. which, i hypothesise, is to their secret beam-me-up-scotty devices to transmit useless information back to the mother-brain.

check if your best friend has one of these in the backyard.

7. blanking out every once in a while. i'm embarrassed to say this, but when i'm thoroughly sick, i can't control myself. kind of like barney in a bar with hot chicks. college-girl-five. but yeah, i'm not talking about libido (although, we could move on to this, next, if that's your kind of thing. and you're of the opposite gender). ahem. sometimes i'm just walking along and feel a mild attack of postural hypotension coming along (you can tell i spend most of my sick days in bed). then. boom. nothing but black. and i find myself on the floor wondering how i got there, with memories vaguely coming back, accompanied by the throbbing pain that radiates from the spot on my cranium where i hit the floor first. which sometimes happens to be on my forehead. great reflexes there, i know. and how this relates to alien chameleons. well, from watching the discovery channel, apparently, they fall off trees randomly sometimes. and i can only imagine them going through the same thing, except for them this isn't because of sickness, but is a normal happenstance.

8. inane infatuation with mundane things. wow. this pencil. it's amazing!

9. forgetting things. yea, i know it's pretty common for infections to effect your mind. especially with cases of upper respiratory tract infections, which go on to have meningitis effects. but the, you have that really awkward thing where you are in mid sentence and forget what you were... wait, what was i saying?

10. changing colours. you may wonder why i have left this 'til the last part. chameleons and changing colours. duh. but this would be wayyyyy too obvious a giveaway. come on, humans going purple, green, yellow, or any other colour of the rainbow. well, purple isn't a colour of the rainbow, i get it, calm the eff down. violet. there. here, have a picture of a rainbow lightning, just because it's awesome.

but yeah, i'm not talking about literal colours. more like mood, affect and all that psychological jazz. if you've seen a pms-ing chick, you know that moods can swing like a 40's jitterbug. and sick people have reason to do the same. well, really sick people.

now, alien chameleons were never brought up to deal with emotions like humans were. heck, even some humans weren't. but anyway, chameleons aren't on best terms with emotions. so if you see someone just randomly changing from emotional blue to emotional green to emotional red. something's probably up.

and that's it. god, that was long. i'm not an alien.

Saturday, 28 August 2010

professor ted

i've been catching up on a lot of 'how i met your mother' lately. like 2 seasons-worth in a week. awesome and legend-wait-for-it-ary. but that also means that my work has been... quality challenged. borderline impaired. but let's have none of that. because, that's just depressing, and if we can all learn from barney one thing, and one thing only, it's this: denial is the first step to escapism into a world that is just plain. awesome.

anyway. the reason i bring up himym is the following; i've always related to ted as a character. not to say that i am in any way like him, but just that i relate to a lot of things that he stands for. monogamy (although this may be better represented in marshall and lily). romanticism. keeping a straight nose for things. idealisms. pacifism. all that jazz.

but i also empathise (and sympathise) with some of his caveats and pitfalls. and do them from time to time. yeah. like his emotional involvement. although i didn't ever perform a 'mosby'. his tendency to overlook things and only see the signs and telltales which serve or support his agenda (the stella and the leaving him at the altar arc. cold bloodeeddddddd). persnickety about details and constantly correcting little things (even though he may not be in the right, in the first place) [is't pronounced encyclo-pay-de-ya. right.]. all that jazz.

and so, at the end of season 4 (yeah i know season 5 is coming to an end, calm down, i'll watch it when i download the whole season at some point. no spoilers kkthx), when ted becomes professor ted. pow. blew. my. mind.

also, i've come to notice a few easter eggs that are off the hook. season 3 episode 14, at the very end. barney writes in his blog, which is, oddly and dull enough, white, boring text on a blue background. wow, what stupid blog could be lamer? this is barney. his blogs should have explosions and lasers and naked cheerleaders. right? blogging-five. but, for those too young to remember, (and here's a hint, the theme song plays in the background as he types, and the starting text is oh-so-reminiscent of another series), here's the give-away... it's a reference to the very series that got nph famous in the first place, doogie howser, m.d.!

then, in season 4 episode 15, he goes on a rant about how 'tyler' is such a horri-wait-for-it-ble actor, and says, 'call me crazy, but child actors were way better back in the 80's'. BAM. he can barely keep a straight face while saying this, ha! self-reference-five, what up!?

anyway. yeah, i just ran out of material to talk about. 'til next time, folks. now i gotta go watch me some doctor who. i heard it's awesome.

Friday, 20 August 2010


remember boys and girls,
before you cross the road, so scary;
look left, look right, look far ahead,
of the rook you must be wary.
he comes, so obvious,
his strides don't vary.
he picks off kids,
who stop and tarry.

because, unlike alice, poor girl,
you shan't stop to count beads of rosary,
or smell the roses, chrysanthemums unfurl,
while merchants stamp them in their fury.
in any case, the rook is harsh,
a castle of coal and wizardry;
cannot be beat, since its creation,
to challenge it would be great folly.

so, guard your queen,
and look out for,
the rook, 'fore he forces through.
you'll pay your green,
your debts of lore,
of gold, of thought, and of sinew.

'lil boys and girls, have you checked your closets, and under your beds so dingy?
'cause monsters aren't as scary as, oh ye, what spawns fury.

Thursday, 19 August 2010

so. very. tired.

i'm not sure why, but i always end up nodding off in lectures nowadays. i can understand how this used to happen during my undergrad years, what with having 9 - 5 classes, with the occasional lab/dissection sessions. speaking of which, having parasitology labs just before lunch is a great way for all you girls trying for a diet, and all you guys trying to buff up by skipping the lean. here's an example of what would normally greet you in said sessions:

anyway. yeah. that was way back when. nowadays i have like 2 lectures back to back and i'm already dead. it doesn't help that there's only about 7 students in any given lecture, and the lecturer can hardly miss anyone not paying attention, much less someone who blatantly faceplants into the swiveling desk thingy.

my friend says it's low iron. ehhh. i dunno. i've never been the type to buy into all these supplements and the hype related to them. but it fits, and any good doctor would probably hack up a prescription for me, or something like that. which would have nothing to do with their revenues, of course. because people are philantropists that way. criticisms on healthcare system saved for another day.

but yeah. so tired. all the time. it's like a malignancy just waiting to implode, and one day, i swear, i'll think back on this and say, 'god, i knew that tumor started back then'. at which point it'll be too late.

i wish there were pills to help keep you awake for a couple hours or so. oh, wait, those things do exist. they probably mess up your brain chemistry enough to cause cancers, if i don't have one already.

mmmm. mri scans. my favourite flavour, too.

Saturday, 14 August 2010

check(out my)mate

and here, poor fool
with all my lore
i stand no wiser
than before

thanks to smbc for quoting one of my favourite quotes of all time!

it reflects many things, but mainly, i think, it is a testimonial to how, after so many years of trying to understand the enigmatic subtleties of mathematics and science... we really aren't anywhere farther from the starting point than we claim to be. as doc emmet brown would have traded his tradeskills, one day we may end up saying, ourselves:

time-traveling is just too dangerous. better that I devote myself to study the other great mystery of the universe: women!

not that the latter is any easier to understand, mind you.

so why is it that we keep trying and trying... but we get nowhere? again, the smbc strip offers a cryptic answer: we keep running to remain the same.

what now? the red queen hypothesis states that we advance (in various ways) to keep the status quo the same, because our co-evolving environment does so as well. without the constant change we subject ourselves to, we would effectively be left behind and bite the dust. quoting more lewis carroll:

it takes all the running you can do, to keep in the same place.

or at least that's what the queen says. and for the biologist, running is the analogy for sex. or at least the imperative for sexual reproduction. yeap, figure that one out for yourselves! and for the time being, let me bask in the blaze of glorious victory, as i ponder the possibility of a red queen dethroning fermina.

Thursday, 12 August 2010

how to write about timing (blogrolling and trolling)

a competent writer knows how to write. he is grammatically correct, his spelling is impeccable, his vocabulary is sufficient.

a good writer knows how to write interestingly. he plays with his words, he sculpts his phrases, he uses various modes of delivery and literary vehicles. he is unpredictable, yet coherent, his writing is culturally set and has contextual value. he makes it easy to read, and worth reading.

a great writer knows how to write superfluously, and in doing so, blows. your. mind. he writes in prose but it reads in song, he pens down words which project in pictures, he says one sentence and your mind reads in infinitum of thoughts. readers think of what is read, critics begrudgingly acknowledge his prowess and masses flock to his concepts and notions, irrespective of how they are worded.

there are many landmarks of these things. personally, i like rhetoric and rhyme; i like controversy and courtesy; i like emotion and intonation in the words on a page. what do you like?

of these many things, i cannot say i am any. and i say this, because readers are what make the writer, a lesson i am hard pressed to learn. but, i can say that i have read from a myriad of people who are all of these things, and more. i don't have a blogroll, and i don't think i will make one, but this entry is dedicated to such a thing should i have had it. and obviously the people who write. in alphabetical order:

1. candid, casual and simple. one of the few people i know who can write like they speak. adam j.
2. creative and unique. what reaches me is more the imagery than the wording. johan ishak.
3. the inspiration that started it all, thanks to pirate king for introducing me to azrael.
3. upbeat, cheerful and eerily, something i can relate to. i don't even know why. and that's one of those things that make a writer that much better than the rest of us - nj.
4. totally random, and very insightful into the life of those we always take for granted. girl in stilettos.
5. an induction into the ways of chillism - paan.
6. yet another person who writes as if the pen were her mouth (although for fear for my life and the anonymity of us both, that's all i'll say). what'sherface.
7. random. bizarre. actually quite stressful. but in a good way. this blog makes me think of the things that we have and the things that we could learn to do without. lurve.
8. one of the best writers i have come across, if only by virtue of that reader-writer relationship. some people try so hard to relate to their readers, or have their readers relate to them. and then there's those to whom this just comes naturally. ijai-not-as-cool-as-you-think-you-are...
9 and 10. simple, carefree and really, i'm not sure where this is going. the blog grows in content and in maturity as the writers do, themselves, and as far as outlooks go, here's looking to you, kids. zizi/mun.

there's quite a few more blog which i read, but i'm sure they'll excuse my not listing them here, for them not knowing about this blog, for them not knowing i read theirs, for fear that i have already written more than i should have been (again), and for them wanting their anonymity.

thanks to all the readers out there, existent or non-. to all of you, happy blogsday. have some blogsday cake.

an end to an(tibiotic) era

i read quite a few blogs. and i always like it when people post stuff pertaining to their areas of expertise. kind of like someone with (debatable) authority posting an idiot's guide to something - simplified, general, practical. i wish the blogs i read would do more of this, but i dunno if this is just me and people dislike these types of posts. anyway. leading on to what i was going to post today, a few things about antibiotics (which most of you probably already know).

depending on where you're residing, different antibiotics may be over-the-counter or by prescription, and this has a fully justifiable reason. some of you may live in, say, malaysia, where antibiotics are like the cure-all and are ridiculously overprescribed. some of you may live in the uk where the proverbial sh*t has pretty much hit the fan and they're implementing stop-gap measures to control prescriptions. but, no matter where you live, it's a definite case that you probably don't need those pills you're so reliant on.

bacteria are smart. they wage the canonical 'biological arms race' against whatever crap we throw at them, which may be stuff we find naturally, or some nasty chemicals we conjure up in the lab. conjure here being an interesting choice of words, since, when you go down to the details, how scientists come up with their discoveries... is pretty much witchcraft and hoodoo anyway. so, for every bacterium that wages these battles, they're better equipping themselves for the greater war. here's some tips to help us out. it won't win the war for us but it'll probably give time for us to develop new and exciting weapons with which to prolong it. my metaphors are bad.

1. antibiotics kill living things, namely bacteria (but sometimes other stuff, but let's not go there). taking antibiotics when you have a flu will do nothing in the majority of cases, since it's probably caused by a virus. on which antibiotics have no effect. what's this you say, you already know this? and it's not a big deal? because it does no harm, you say? wrong. wrong. and wrong. taking 'unnecessary' antibiotics exposes your normal bacteria population (that resides on and in your bodies) to selective pressure. darwinian selection then weeds out the weak, leaving the (more) resistant ones, which, although may not effect you now, have a bigger implication when it comes to the population as a whole, especially, say, when you come into contact with the immunosuppressed, or become so yourself. e.g. if you have an operation, or get a bigger infection or just grow old and bitter.

basically, if you don't need it, don't take it. or for you doctors out there, stop prescribing unnecessarily. what? your patient's b*tching and you need to shut him up? tell the sucker to suck less and suck it up. heck, if you think you need it, but only as a means to reduce some minimally-impacting symptom, screw it - you're just quickening the bacterial-resistance clock. and time's ticking out.

2. if you're gonna kill 'em, kill 'em all. i'm sure the doctors out there are bored of this. and some of you have heard this a million times. if you're on a course of antibiotics, don't stop midway. don't skip out on your regimes. don't be bad and think that just because you feel better, it's all chocolate rainbows and liquid sunshine. it just means you're asymptomatic, but heck knows if you've gotten rid of the culprits (even if you finish your regime, there's no guarantee of this). and, again, leaving survivors is bad, because of that selection picture i put up above. here, you can read more if you like.

3. antibiotics target specific pathways or structures in a bacterium. once bacteria develop resistance towards this, the antibiotic is pretty much useless. and the same applies for most, if not all, antibiotics which work in the same way. to prevent this, especially in hospital settings, you want to get a combination of antibiotics, which do not work in the same way, so that there's less chance the bacteria will develop resistance (this is simple statistics, say the chance of spontaneously developing resistance to respective antibiotic classes are p and q, p < p.q, especially given p and q should be small numbers). obviously, this doesn't apply to your monthly visit to the gp for your antibiotic to treat a sore throat, but this point is more for the graduating doctors or fresh registrars who still prescribe 2 beta lactams because '2 is better than one'. this isn't boys like girls ft. taylor swift - stop being bad and do the right thing. try some aminoglycoseds or something to go with the beta lactams. or something.

4. antibiotic resistance differs according to your geographical location, and hence, so does your prescription regulations. ask your doctor for more information. so, when you're going on that cross-world journey, don't think you can self prescribe for your gangrenous leg or endocarditis just because you have something left over from last year. get a doctor's opinion. and make sure the doctor isn't the doctor. who?

5. there's more points i wanna make... but let's end it with this one: prevention is better than cure. if you have something, try not to get others infected. this includes making out with your girl just after getting out of the hospital, and running off to the local brothel 2 hours into pay-day. we don't need to give prophylactic and preventative antibiotics to random whores (not that i have anything against them), especially not when they could be better used to treat homeless degenerates... or third world baby machines... or serial puppy-killers with sprinkles on top.

this isn't to say you shouldn't visit grandma at hospital because she's on her deathbed with consumption or flesh-eating bacteria. but this is to say that just because you aren't feeling as horrible as you did when you got that strep throat 2 days ago, you're free to go coughing up in every tom, dick and harry's grills. and that's my convoluted and unnecessarily-long sentence for the week.

Tuesday, 10 August 2010

what dreams may dream

some time ago, i posted a pretty elaborate series of posts about my top ten choices of movies. now, it's unsurprising that, given it's not something i did with too much effort, some really good movies were left out; having me not have viewed quite a lot of them, and even the ones i did, i mightn't have remembered. anyway. there's also the thing about new movies.

i never really give much credit to new movies. they're generally a bit meh, with some exceptions, and even if they're great, i guess i'm just one of those people who need it to simmer a bit before it ascends to greatness. maybe a couple of months, maybe a year or so. it's more of a general feel thing, than a clear-cut decision. no mathematical precision involved kinda. and, of course, there's some exceptions. like 'lovely bones', or shawshank, or 'matrix', or lotr, which, upon viewing, they kinda blew my mind.

anyway. ahem. as you may have expected. inception. really good stuff. yeap, you saw this coming from a kilometer away. eff you americans for your 'mile away' metaphors. SI or gtfo.

i sometimes post my random dream encounters, which are pretty retarded and full of epic fail. and i've definitely had that 'dream in a dream' crap happen one too many times. but yeah, never mind that, let me just say a few words about inception, and how it should make my list of top movies (but we'll let that simmer before any type of induction happens).

first and foremost, it's a great movie, don't get me wrong. the storyline is quite original, but it is somewhat flimsy and underdeveloped. that being said, it still lasted 3 hours-ish, and i guess that just happens when you have about 5 different movies in one (think of each level as a separate movie, i guess, with potential for a lot of development in each one).

there's a few inconsistencies, too. like, when they're in the hotel building (3rd i think?) level. oh wait, eff. i should put a disclaimer here, since maybe some people haven't seen it yet...


yeah in the hotel building, while the van is falling. apparently, the stuff in the building have zero gravity because of the free-falling van. okay, i can roll with that. but then, to create gravity, the 3rd rock guy (who i think is pretty awesome) moves everyone into an elevator, then blows up the cables, after which the elevator drops and they create artificial gravity. really, how would the elevator drop in the shaft if there was zero g effecting it? it would make more sense if the shaft were moved by the cables (at a very high speed) to artificially make gravity, but, eh... minor details. physicists, have a field day on this one. anyway. not gonna nitpick the other minor details, because it'll probably spoil the epicness for a lot of you. just wanted to point out that there's some loopholes in there. which, i guess could be explained by just waving your hands around and saying 'it's a dream, anything can happen'. i guess.


but, like my friend, the don, says: 'it has the uncanny ability to keep you at the edge of your seat, thinking to the last minute', and i totally agree with him (you can't disagree with the don, anyway, for fear of finding a horse's head in your bed the next morning). but, 3 hours, and it felt like only 20mins. why, that's like we're being in a dream, with all that time expansion crap, right? or, like i simplistically put it to the don, you rarely find such a captivating movie nowadays, it's nice and fresh to find one where you don't get bored half-way through.

at the risk of sounding like a fanboi, i'm gonna stretch it here and say, yeap, inception is totally worth the watch, and i'd watch it a couple more times just to pick on the finer details. not at the movies, again, though. i'm cheap like that.

as a closing statement, i'd just like to reflect on how at the end, leo's character spins his totem and the movie ends before we can make out if it perpetually spins, or if it drops. there's, again, something that bothers me with inconsistency relating to other parts of the movie, but i think it's well enough left there.

feel free to post comments / theories / criticisms etc. on the movie; i'd really like to hear what people have to say about it. kudos to christopher nolan.

Tuesday, 3 August 2010

the same language, but not really

i think it's really interesting how languages evolve over time. i mean, something works and isn't really broken, you'd imagine it only needs some tweaks here and there. so, why fix it? why throw a monkeywrench in the works? my theory is, it's all about elitism. of sorts.

for example, when i write an academic paper, i can't really use the same stuff i use in, say, creative writing. sentence structure, choice of words, general vocabulary, maybe even syntax. but why? why do the powers that be deem that it has to be written a certain way, when all you really want is the contents; what purpose does it serve to write it in a (i can understand if it were a more systematic, or easier to read way) more convoluted manner? in fact, the more experienced one gets in writing, the more adherent one is to this undocumented canon of academic writing. which is exactly the point, i think - you can tell how much experience one has by perusing the style... which then biases your reading (though not necessarily in a bad way, i guess). it's a ritual of rites, an initiation into the world of, in this case, academia.

and the same holds true for every other field, i would imagine.

not content with having an intellectual caste, some people might go on to create racial, cultural, generational etc. language nuances. like how each generation has its own style of cool and awesome. like how your texan lecturer has a thick accent. like how hip hop and rap (generalising to african-american-influence) music is weird that way. like how you laugh at the immigrants at the kwik-e-mart for having a chinese or indian tinge to their tongues and telemarketing teeth. if anything, it makes these niches unique.

but, this is nothing new. most universities way back when (in the western world, again generalising here) decided,

'hey, wouldn't it be cool if we used latin to teach students? i mean, i know we speak english and all, but let's just be elitist jerks and make life that bit much harder. because we can. and it's sh*t a$$ hillarious to see kids learning a dead language. man, they say the darndest things'.

again, i'd think this is just another entry fee into an upper-crust world. one that, by making it inaccessible to the masses, defines itself to be prestigious, and, again, elite. which is pretty much the whole theme of london socialites and their stiff upper lips many years ago. again, this hasn't gone unnoticed, and, if you ever decide to read 'the picture of dorian gray', or any austenian novels, etc. it would be pretty hard to miss all of this. contextually. but not linguistically.

which then brings us to all the new-age nuances: guy says one thing, girl hears another (or vice versa). parents say one thing, kids say another. bitch*s say one thing... pimps don't really listen, they just use their strong pimp hands to silence the jibber-jabber. or something like that.