power up

April 19, 2017

had a recurring “nightmare” last night about people seeking any shelter they could find.  What’s weird is that I have a different dream each time I get up from bed but for some reason it just continued where it left off.  I thought I was not really bothered by the threat of nuclear winter but it looks like subconsciously I am.   This just illustrates how, often, control is not in one’s own hands.  Like my mum used to say:  you’re ok but other people might be “crazy”.

strange bedfellows

March 20, 2017

they recently showed the Theory of Everything on free-to-air tv.  While Stephen Hawking is an inspirational figure, he’s not necessarily aspirational for me.  I’m nowhere near as smart.  We need people we can relate to.  I accomplish things because I’m not dumb and work really hard.

I know Dr. Stephen Strange is fictional but I could weirdly relate more to the film Doctor Strange.  I’m not a surgeon but I guess it had to do with embracing the unexplainable despite bring logical.

Strangely enough in the movie Logan, I could relate to both Professor X and Wolverine –   this was the first time I saw myself in two characters.  Maybe it was their “fall from grace” so atypical of a superhero flick or maybe it’s because I’m such a comic book nerd.

Regardless, we’re all different, relate to certain things, and process things at our own pace.  Despite people’s insistence, a single, magic, silver bullet  “solution” doesn’t always exist.  Some issues are divergent or require multiple things acting in harmony.  Narrowing it to one thing would be great but that isn’t always possible.

food glorious food

February 20, 2017

my family and I spent a month in America. We all gained weight and had our waistlines expand (more so me). It’s quite understandable that some people I know who now live in the US are “healthier”.  Even if most of the food is too salty or too sweet for my palate, the food which I consumed was quite “rich” and caused me to put on a few kilos (although I find pounds a much more meaningful measure).

I do enjoy (and seek out) food.  I find the word foodie overused and abused.  I prefer the previously coined term of gastronaut because I find the implication of exploration appropriate.  Perhaps it’s me just being pedantic or wanting to differentiate myself.

Our niece recently (and temporarily) moved to Melbourne which made me think of the places I used to eat in a few years back as a student.  Hopefully, the food they serve is still delicious.  Mekong at Swanston in the city used to have “decent” Vietnamese Pho – so much so that a former US president tried it.  Enri’s at Richmond is one of only a handful of Argentinian restaurants in OZ – although it was the chicken in brie sauce I liked.  Later on there’s dancing on tables (admittedly I was inebriated to even attempt this).  Brunetti at Lygon Street (although I think their other branches now but from my experience the original is still the best) is a “good” place for desserts and coffee.  Casa Del Gelato at the edge of Lygon where I used to go for a treat.  It’s been open for nearly 40 years and was full even during winter.   I proposed to my wife just outside the shop with a makeshift ring – a solo diamond earring set in a cable “twistee”.

I’m looking forward to our nephew and his girlfriend taking us to sample various food trucks – I’ve always believed good food is good food regardless of “pedigree”.

celebration

January 13, 2017

my wife’s grandmother is turning 100.  We will attend the celebration. She has a big family (180 guests, 120 of which are relatives) so we’re staying offsite.

What’s special about her is that she still has her mental faculties and some of her physical acuity (in fact, she still does the household laundry).  I think her “secret” is constantly being and remaining active.  If I ever manage to get close to her age, hopefully I’ll be the same.

As I will have intermittent Internet access, you might notice a “slight” hiatus but I’ll resume this when I get back.

rogue’s gallery

December 23, 2016

I finally saw Rogue One earlier today.   This is a spoiler for some so I suggest those that haven’t seen it yet stop reading now.

I understand why they had to call it “A Star Wars Story” and they did not have the usual scrolling introduction as it happened between Episodes III and IV.  It was a much needed explanation and closed the loop as how the Rebel Alliance acquired the schematics (and more importantly the in-built and purposely engineered flaw) of the Death Star.

Chirrut is more than a token character with a disability (which is an indicator of how far society has come – there’s still a way to go but the “representation” may have not been that welcome a few years ago).  It isn’t surprising that he was blind (echoing the parallel when Luke was training to use a light saber onboard the Millennium Falcon).  It reminds me of Erannon of the Blade, a character I concocted back in college for an Advanced Dungeons & Dragons campaign after reading the Rogue’s Handbook. I even wrote a monologue for him – sheesh!

Rogue One as a title seemed arbitrary to me – it’s just anything penciled in by the writer in the script could have been used.  I was just hoping it was more meaningful (and not as serendipitous as it seemed).

Star Wars is ostensibly a space opera (as previously described).  It may not be everyone’s cup of tea (oh, the sacrilege!).  It personally means something to me (as I suspect it’s held deeply by others) but I know enough that it holds no significance for others (no matter how hard you try to convince them).  IMHO, it’s a binary fight between good and evil – just like The Lord of the Rings series – so I understand why it doesn’t appeal to some.  Ever notice Sci-Fi does have penchant for dystopian futures (a lesson that we have the power to choose to avoid this bleakness)? Star Trek seems more hopeful to me – I don’t mind it but I prefer Star Wars (does it surprise anyone that Episode V:  The Empire Strikes Back is my favourite one?). And I always felt there was an “artificial” dichotomy but I digress…

The “main” characters had to perish because they aren’t part of the storyline.  It was finally good to see some diversity on screen but I’m not a real PC stickler – with the changing demographic in America it’s no real surprise although women seem to be visibly underrepresented.  In any case, does it advance or is necessary in the grand scheme of things?  In my mind, it may have not been the greatest Star Wars film (it was certainly better than all of the prequels) but it’s a story which definitely needed to be told.  This isn’t really a review but just a few of my thoughts.

brave, new world

November 13, 2016

it’s quite “easy” to be an armchair quarterback and we can offer analyses until we’re blue in the face. Most people are obsessed with the wedding and not the marriage – sure I can be “calmer” as I don’t live in America but it also has repercussions for the rest of the world.  The reality is that the US election went as it did – I’m now more focused on the First 100 Days of the presidency as a harbinger.  The real question is what now?

America looking more inwards is an opportunity for the rest of the world.  Sure it will be difficult but, in my opinion, it’s not really fair of us to expect them to be the world’s “policeman” (despite in the past assuming and cherishing that role).  Maybe it’s time for us to say thank you and wean ourselves from our dependence.  We should accept whatever help they offer but not expect it – it’s neither their duty nor responsibility.  Instead of looking externally to save us, we should also look to ourselves to alleviate misery:  sure a helping hand would be great and much appreciated but what would it do for our “pride” if we can participate in the “solution”.

Many of us confuse the “idea” of America for the country – in my dealings US citizens aren’t the government and it’s not right to think they’re interchangeable.  They should be viewed as an “exemplar” and not a “savior” despite recent history.  Why do we continue to pin our hopes on a single country and not more appropriately on a consortium of nations?  Sure, we can’t discount leadership but should it only always come from one source? In my mind, we depend too much on someone else to solve all of our “problems.”

You’d think that after the Global Financial Crisis of 2008, the markets would factor in all eventualities but they crashed nonetheless.  It’s this type of fingers-in-the-ears and hopeful thinking that contributes to the growing disdain for globalisation and interconnectedness.

As David Brooks rightly points out: there’s a rise of “ethnic nationalism” worldwide partly due to “elitist condescension”. We need to stop making others feel stupid to show off our intellect or schooling.  It shouldn’t be about telling people what to think but enabling others to think for themselves.  It’s not always about being “right” and sanctimonious about it.  Case in point, it’s not that political correctness per se is wrong but it’s the shoving down other people’s throat while acting smugly that leaves such a bitter taste in the mouth for some.  We can learn a lot about human psychology.

My supervisor once taught me the phrase: “Local maxima, global minima”.  It’s unrealistic to rely on altruism when self-interest is hard-wired in our DNA.  Sure there will be some where character and principles will override baser instincts but they are few and far in-between.  Why are we even surprised when most people don’t act as we expect?  Admittedly, I’m occasionally guilty of this optimism – I’m just more conscious of it now.  Not to be one of those but I think we need to review how we educate our young: just basic literacy and numeracy are no longer sufficient.

Like Dr. King said: “The arc of history is long”; but one has to wonder: is this merely a hiccup in “experiment” of America or the beginning of the end of the project?

back to the future

October 21, 2015

Marty McFly is supposed to come back today. While this is just a movie, there are few things we can take from this.

Sure, most futurists would think it foolish to specify a date but a target is often necessary to achieve most things. Not everything will come to fruition as evidenced by the movie but it is important that we strive for our goals. Making things explicit comes back to accountability. It announces our intent and helps track our progress – it tells everyone and, more importantly, ourselves if we are meeting the schedule. A timetable is one of the conventional requisite yardsticks for measuring “success.”

Most people do not provide a reasonable timeframe. Deadlines need to be realistic and achievable. Estimates need to be based on experience – our own or from a trusted source.

Sure, certain things matter and are important but we should learn not to take our endeavours too seriously.