system of a down

February 7, 2019

they showed The Godfather series on free-to-air TV (i rewatched the first two instalments but not the third which i don’t really like.  IMHO, the second film is one of those rare gems when the sequel is as good or better than the original).  I felt bad for the character Michael.  Like Abigail in the film The Favourite (side note: the Academy recognised the Aussie screenwriter), (in my experience) it usually doesn’t really matter if you start out as well-meaning but being part of a “corrupt” system changes you accordingly.

As Trevor Noah talks about apartheid, Hannah Gadsby about marginalisation, and Dave Chappelle about #MeToo, they all point out that these issues are systemic and deeply-ingrained.  Good individuals acting independently are insufficient to effect cultural change – it takes targeted actions (sometimes done in concert) for meaningful results.

i know New Amsterdam is just a tv show (mostly involving trite Hollywood pablum) but occasionally Dr. Goodwin showcases important lessons for us all: he may be over-idealistic at times but, essentially, the key is to understand the underlying structure that causes systemic issues.  It is difficult to improve systems but a good understanding is a vital start.

 

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there appears to be a tendency of social media to focus solely on the good – there’a a plethora of “humble” brags and “unrealistic” posts.  i’m obviously not a big fan but i can understand why it’s worth it “following” certain people.  Don’t get me wrong – i’m all for democratisation and giving a voice to the traditionally voiceless but a lot of it is to me vacuous and inane palava (or palaver if you prefer) – not to mention the trolling and glaring divide.  i worked in ICT for a number of years prior to my ABI (Acquired Brain Injury):  technology can be a magnifier for “bad” and  not just a multiplier for “good” – in my experience, it’s a double-edged sword.  i believe posts shouldn’t be policed or censored (free speech and all) but people should be better equipped to discern the “wheat from the chaff” – a form of “natural selection” of sorts (if you will).  It would benefit from balance (like most things in life).

part of this is “processing”.  Some of it is “snobbery” (i’m only human after all).  That said, take from it what you will – i’m not narcissistic enough to discount any “unintended interpretations” of my writing.  My only caveat that it is partly out of need (and partly due to therapy) so it might not be most people’s “cup of tea”.

there’s undeniably some “good” occurrences recently.  Firstly, i’m nearly halfway in completing my online certificate in data science.  This will, “hopefully”, help me get into “gainful” employment again after being “sidelined in the wilderness” for over a decade now.  At times, I used to work a part-time job along with a full-time one – so being homebound was a “drastic” change.

over the last two weeks, i’ve been finishing online crosswords daily. It started with 2.5 hours but now i’m down to a little over 50 minutes usually and my best time is approximately 38 minutes.  i’m merely an amateur cruciverbalist who wants to improve and build up to something challenging like the New York Times Sunday crossword.

i’ve had no falls over the last several months despite my last two  SARA (short for the Scale for the Assessment  and Rating of Ataxia) tests showing slight deterioration.    i think this is mainly due to my neuro PTs’ advised interventions added to (or slightly modifying ) my daily exercise routine.  Sure the NDIS (Australian National Disability Insurance Scheme in case you’re not aware) is a source of much consternation and a bugbear to negotiate (even for mundane tasks) but thanks to it i can now afford to go weekly instead of monthly (which used to be the case).  I had several near-misses lately:  the point is I didn’t fall down where a couple of months ago i surely would have.  As in everything there is both good and bad – i’ve heard it referred as a major reform since MediCare:  there are obvious, signficant “teething problems” with its initial rollout but you can’t really fault the intention (it is the implementation where it falls down – pun intended ).

sadly, i’ve been binge watching a lot lately. Whether to “empty out” the numerous recordings on my DVR (Digital Video Recorder) or streaming over the Internet – i’m such a cheapskate that I only use free services (thankfully, Australia is quite “progressive”).  My  current darling is  “You’re the Worst” on SBS (Special Broadcasting Service) On Demand – the “Resume” function makes the bugs bearable.  I watched all episodes of the four seasons available on the web. I find the writing witty and funny (admittedly, i’ve got a “dark” sense of humour i liked the tv show Legit , i found the movie Pulp Fiction hilarious, and mostly laughed throughout the stage show, The Book of Mormon ). I enjoyed Seasons  1-3 ; S4 was ok (my “disappointment” with the new intro notwithstanding) and still will watch the last season (i’m curious how they will wind it down and then end it). i think Ricky Gervais was right to cap the UK  version of The Office after two series.  i use TV to distract from the thinking i do during the day – so “smart” and “subconscious” programming is much appreciated.  The last show made me think of the novel, The Unbearable Lightness of Being although watching is supposed to relax me.  i sometimes read (with the aid of a magnifier) during ad breaks (i know this is counter to my intent but i can’t really help doing it).  i find it helps me think more broadly about things and i’m not limited to seeing things only in a certain way.

My Ph.D. has stalled and as of late i rarely write anything – and when i do i only mange a few words.  Maybe i’ve just “hit the wall” and i’m just tired given the number of years (when a lot of things usually pique my interest) and the effort to type compounded by my waning interest.  Maybe it’s not up to scratch given my exacting standards and past performances.  Maybe it’s my growing frustration with the admin required and my over reliance on altruism upon learning the hard way that it’s self-interest that often yields results.  Maybe it’s my substantially increased anxiety due to my health concerns or fast approaching conclusion of my candidature.  i suspect all of these factors play a role.  Thankfully i’ve got a supervisor who believes in me and my abilities – she’s doing what she can to make that path is still available to me.

i was told that walking outside would do some good – not only would it further develop my legs given a functional task but it would also expose me to fresh air and vitamin D.  I’m trying to incorporate this into my routine but admittedly i’m hesitant given my bouts with hay fever and uneven terrain and inclines.  On days when the pollen count is not too high, I go outside the front of our house to gradually acclimatise me to the irritants and eventually build enough strength to confidently tackle going around the block.

My speech difficulties have taught me to listen more to others.  My walking challenges have resulted in me losing weight (as the heavier i am, the harder it is to remain ambulant), made me appreciate more the challenge of getting robots to balance on two legs.  My greatly reduced typing speed has caused me to concentrate more on quality rather than quantity. As has happened in the past with other persons with disabilities, it has ‘forced’ me to adapt and strategise to perform common tasks.

It is easy for me to continue being negative: seeing silver linings does not come natural.  These are the cards i have been dealt and need to make the most out of them.  Admittedly, it still pisses me off when people whinge about what i consider to be “terminally trivial” things but i have to learn to focus instead on the things i need to do and how i can perform them better.  While the Chinese symbol for ‘crisis’ has been disproven to mean both ‘danger’ and ‘opportunity’ simultaneously, it is still useful to see both the  yin and  yang of things.

aspiration vs. inspiration

October 23, 2018

it might just me being pedantic but I prefer the latter term. Sure, there’s a need to be careful that it’s not presented as ‘inspiration porn’ (as it’s known in disability circles).  In my view, if it makes you want to become a better person and it’s not a short term thing then that’s fine with me. It’s the temporary fixes that I’ve got issues with (I know the rules of grammar state you’re not supposed to end a sentence with a preposition but sometimes it just reads and sounds better).  It’s when people look at others in a worse situation to (effectively) feel better about themselves or their lives.  If you had empathy (in my mind at least), you’d feel sadder and not necessarily more thankful – I’m not a very positive person but that feels like the focus is more skewed towards the negative – like the schadenfreude people get from reality tv or the internet.

I consider (big surprise) Prof. Stephen Hawking to be inspirational but not aspirational.  I’m nowhere as smart as him (nor do I pretend to be anywhere close). It’s unrealistic reference points that seem to me the source of so much unhappiness and ‘malcontentment’.  Be your  best self, not what ‘others’ expect you to be (much easier said than done).  Measuring up to certain aspects of him (he’s only human after all and thus imperfect) is foolhardy.  To paraphrase from the book:  “The Spirituality of Imperfection”, it’s not about the outcomes wise men achieved but seeking what they sought – it’s more of the process of ‘enlightenment’.

There’s always a danger with role-models:  emulation is desirable but putting someone on a pedestal can easily morph into ‘blind’ (pardon the pun) idolatry or ‘paragonism’.

(bridge the ) Gap Year

October 22, 2018

i first heard the term ‘gap year’ when I migrated to Australia. It’s supposed to be a respite after Year 12 before college (or as they call it here: university).  A year of ‘rest’ from school is a luxury and culturally antithetical from an Asian, developing economy such as the Philippines.  I do believe that this is beneficial to one’s mindset but maybe this is a result of how formal education is currently structured – maybe having social justice integrated with the curricula is more effective.

Bridge The Gap is essentially a movement to help address the inequalities that exist in Australian society:  it seeks to make Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander’s outcomes similar to that of the Caucasian population as the disparities are obvious.  Regardless of how you feel about the issue, a more general philosophy of empathy for societal challenges may shift our definitions for success and progress.  There is one I found with some aspects sort of the same but what I’m proposing is non-prescriptive and ‘decontesualised’ making it more applicable to most countries and subject to what’s realistic for the individual.

The idea still needs to be threshed out (and the subject of some blog posts) but I think it’s an idea worth exploring further.

2 princes

June 6, 2018

sorry. i was MIA but I had a few personal issues to contend with. I’m sort of back.  That said, my posts will be “irregular” over the next few months.  I need to reserve most of my time and effort for my other blog for my studies.  You may wonder why I maintain two.  It’s because most of the ideas there are not yet ready-for-prime-time and aren’t up-to-snuff  yet to be shared.

It’s partly a quality kick but mainly because you can’t serve two masters well.

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?

closing time

October 18, 2017

technically the Repatriation Hospital didn’t close down today but it was my last day at the free student physical therapy clinic.  I wasn’t really that sentimental before but I’m feeling a bit sad.  Maybe since I spent several years there and was so used to the caring people there or maybe because I’ve been more in tune with my emotions since nearly a decade of  living with an ABI.  Regardless, it was probably a combination of these factors.

More than my very slow improvements, I’m more of a homebody but it was a weekly “excuse” to get out of the house.  I’m not very big on socialisation but it felt good to be around other people who truly understood the challenges of daily life and the “simple” acts most people don’t give much thought to but are difficult for us.  It was never about commiseration but having a shared experience.

Many thanks to Dino for the rides; to Sandy and the other girls at Reception; the Physios in charge and the students assigned to me (hopefully you learned a lot from me as I did from you).

Rehabilitation is so much more than “mending” the body.