sign of the times

December 4, 2017

 

there’s a recent Vox video and reconsideration of shared spaces by urban planners:

https://www.vox.com/2017/11/24/16693628/shared-space-design

As a person who identifies as having a disability and someone who’s migrated from a developing country like the Philippines, I think it needs further work.  Don’t get me wrong:  thinking about it differently is a good start.  The traffic was so bad that my experience was (I can’t really speak for other people) it used tp take me an hour and a half to travel (and that was driving a car, what more if it was public transport) 12 kilometres during rush hour – and it’s supposedly worse now. Granted, it may have been a function of where I previously lived but my quality of life was rather compromised.

I mostly used the Bicutan exit of the South Super Highway – it’s like two intersections are overlain (but not quite) and depending on where you’re coming from you’ve got four to six options.  I used to joke that traffic enforcers were there to enforce traffic.  When we’re there, my son asks (if presented with the choice) where we’re going before he consents to leave – implicitly weighing the pros and cons of the endeavour.  He mentioned once that as a school project he might consider the quandary – I wish him the best of luck.

I think this needs to be thought about (and thought about again numerous times until a workable alternative is found).  This may not be easy and the state of play may not currently be suitable but I laud the efforts nonetheless. Sure there might be a lot of failed attempts but an iterative approach may be required in developing a suitable design.  This is where computer simulation can be useful in testing rather than immediately risking human health and well-being.

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born to run

November 24, 2017

PBS Newshour showed again Part 1 of Jeffrey Brown‘s interview with Bruce Springsteen (originally aired December 19, 2016; the video url: https://www.pbs.org/newshour/show/bruce-springsteen-tackles-truth-song-memoir ). It was meant to be a promo of his memoir but it was much more to me.

He might not be my favourite artist or a technical singer but like he says: he’s learned to ‘inhabit his songs’ which makes his songs more believable.  Moreover, his working-class roots makes him seem authentic and relatable. I don’t pretend to be an expert on him (or his numerous works) but it wasn’t until I heard the original acoustic (and much more slower) version of ‘Born in the USA’ that I thought I understood the lyrics and what that song was truly about.

As he says in his interview and his in his new memoir “I wasn’t modest in the assessment of my abilities. Of course, I thought I was a phony (sic). That is the way of the artist. But I also thought I was the realest thing you had ever seen.” It’s about dichotomy, I guess – existing on two different planes at the same time.  For me, a real artist lives (and exists) with contradictions – they are only human after all.

You can watch Part 2 at https://www.pbs.org/newshour/show/music-medicine-bruce-springsteen

revengers

November 19, 2017

sorry, I couldn’t help myself.

Saw Thor: Ragnarok yesterday with my family and my son’s friend.  I liked it.   This wasn’t surprising given I’m such a fanboy of comic books (growing up I read a lot of Marvel and DC) and I enjoy the films of the New Zealand director, Taika Waititi.  Had to ask my wife given my bias if it was really good. Thankfully she agreed.

Like any superhero flick there was action and single-line quips but I found the humour quite refreshing.  Seeing as I found the movie franchise disappointing before this latest instalment, I didn’t have high hopes for this one.  It was inspired, if unexpected, to have the Kiwi direct it.

While the first feature was an amalgam with a love story and the second one tried desperately to be serious, I think the fusion with comedy really worked.  I knew that Chris Hemsworth was funny (maybe it’s the Aussie larikinism) but didn’t realise he had great comedic timing.  But for me, what I really enjoyed was the character of Korg voiced by the director – it was cue to not take the movie so seriously.  Sure it wasn’t the best film I ever saw (but it wasn’t trying to be) and it may not ‘pass’ certain tests or criteria.  It was simply and purely a popcorn film – a damn good one in my opinion.  When you watch  a film, it goes down to intent – sometimes you just want to entertained or distracted. It is what it is – one shouldn’t have to serious all the time.

almost famous

November 13, 2017

the other night I saw the 2015 dramatic film: “The End of the Tour” on SBS.  I wasn’t sure I was going to like it – it was essentially a conversation and given it’s difficult as medium skews heavily toward being visual- but I really enjoyed it.  It was an interview over several days by David Lipsky representing Rolling Stone magazine about the critically-acclaimed author David Foster Wallace (I must confess whose name I hadn’t heard before).

I found that actors cast, Jason Segel (for Wallace) and Jesse Eisenberg (for Lipsky) were well-thought choices.  They were both “smart” enough that neither performance seemed “wooden” (suffice it to say it wasn’t an enormous stretch to suspend disbelief).   This can be “tricky” given it was a mainly dialogue-driven plot.

Aside from the words, I think what drew me in was the shared “addiction” of watching too much television.  Moreover, I can relate to wanting a job where not too much thinking is required (as a respite of sorts) – it reminded me of a friend that once said that a “mindless” task was a welcome break for her from her usual job.  Furthermore, I liked that within it was featured an action movie that didn’t require a whole lot of mental horsepower to enjoy (to what I viewed as juxtaposition when the characters watched a black-and-white film on tv).

I found the scene meaningful when the proponents couldn’t find where they parked their rental car in the airport.  This just illustrates how there are different kinds of smarts and how book-smarts is not always preferable in accomplishing certain everyday tasks.  As the adage goes:  Common Sense is not that common.  This is a moment of levity that cuts the seriousness of an otherwise dry account.

I enjoyed the line:  “Nice but not real.” How some situations are artificial – one doesn’t have to look far for the often fabricated constructs of reality tv.  Don’t get me wrong; I’m not hating on the entire genre but, like all “entertainment”, some shows are more “watchable” given the individual’s purpose.

I’m now curios about Wallace’s opus of a novel:  Infinite Jest and Lipsky’s best-selling memoir: Although Of Course You End Up Becoming Yourself. Hopefully, I’ll eventually have time to read them.

sing

November 6, 2017

 

last week a choir performed this song.  I haven’t heard it in awhile being in OZ but it’s one of my favourite hymns. It made sense that they sung the English version so that most people could understand.

Strangely, the original is by St. Ignatius of Loyola and for some reason my personality clashes with the Jesuits.  The point is (regardless of spirituality), we should always aspire to be more selfless.  I don’t claim to be so inclined but the reminder to be generous is always welcome.

The English lyrics can be found below but I find the Tagalog version more beautiful and expressive.  There are many versions (most of which you can find on YouTube)  but I still prefer the one by the Bukas-Loob Ministry.

To paraphrase St. Augustine:  “Those who sing pray twice.”  A certain person inadvertently was mistaken  when he claimed to originate the saying (having received an Augustinian education I’m reasonably certain).  I’ve grown to be an admirer, who doesn’t like a good redemption story (I think that requires a seperate blog entry).

I may no longer have the ability to do it outwardly but in my mind, I still sing.

PRAYER FOR GENEROSITY (with English lyrics)

Dearest Lord, teach me to be generous
Teach me to serve You as I should
To give and not to count the cost
To fight and not to heed the wounds
To toil and not to seek for rest
To labor and ask not for reward
Save that of knowing that I do Your most holy will

 

PANALANGIN SA PAGIGING (PRAYER FOR GENEROSITY in Tagalog)

Panginoon, turuan Mo akong maging bukas palad
Turuan Mo akong maglingkod sa Iyo
Na magbigay ng ayon sa nararapat
Na walang hinihintay mula sa Iyo

Na makibakang ‘di inaalintana
Mga hirap na dinaranas
Sa tuwina’y magsumikap na hindi humahanap
Ng kapalit na kaginhawahan
Na ‘di naghihintay kundi ang aking mabatid
Na ang loob Mo’y siyang sinusundan

Panginoon, turuan Mo akong maging bukas palad
Turuan Mo akong maglingkod sa Iyo
Na magbigay ng ayon sa nararapat
Na walang hinihintay mula sa Iyo

heart and mind

October 24, 2017

saw an exhibit of an artist friend of mine who did a Ph.D.  My wife and I met her at the Adelaide Convention Centre – it’s been a couple of years since we last caught up but it feels like it was just yesterday that we met.

she said something of interest to me: the colour yellow sometimes indicates psychotic disturbance –   I had a feature wall at our home painted that hue.  I shared that when the lines on both palms (often referred to as the heart and head lines) align it is said that (I’m of course paraphrasing) that you’re either a genius or crazy – both of us share this rare trait while most of the populations’ lines do not meet.  It might be a case of self-aggrandisement but I subscribe to that belief.

That said, why can’t it be two sides of the same coin?  The traditional notion is either-or, binary thinking. Surely, the interstitial side (often with the grooves) is more interesting.

My upbringing and training often focused on the ‘how’ but psychology  and art has led me to believe the ‘why’ is just as important.

nudge, nudge, wink, wink

October 20, 2017

Richard Thaler recently won the Nobel for Economic Sciences for his contributions to the field of Behavioural Economics (an amalgam of Economics and Psychology).   While it was for numerous works, I enjoyed his book on libertarian paternalism more commonly known as nudge theory (Nudge:  Improving Health, Wealth, and Happiness).  Moreover, he had a cameo in the Oscar-nominated film I liked called The Big Short (based also on a book) –  while intellectually I agree with the hot-hand fallacy as a former basketball player I can’t deny the boost of confidence this gave me.

I think everyone running for public life (or already in it) will be well-served to read it.  Hopefully, I can apply some of the teachings to my own life.

Paul Krugman and Joseph Stiglitz were previously nominated by the committee for economics.  I wonder which author I read will be next?