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January 14, 2004

Shaking at the doctor's office

It was quite a traumatic experience at the doctor's office yesterday. My 3 year old niece, the little one, had to have a stye removed from her eye. She had it done once before but it was in a hospital where the staff medicated her and she was out during the operation. This time, the operation was in the opthamologist's office. Her dad held her, I held her head, her mom tried to console her, and the doctor went in with needles and screws. She was screaming and her head was shaking and for a long moment her fear and pain shot right through me. There was blood but not too much, just a drop here and there. The doctor clamped down the inside of her eye while she performed the operation. At one point during the procedure, I thought to myself that the implicit trust of the doctor must now be full. There is no turning back.

My niece was very brave. She stopped crying soon after the procedure was over. The trauma was tremendous for her because I saw that she quickly became silent and inward drawn. It was her way of dealing with it I suppose. It was a full 15 minutes later that she was able to smile again and speak of McDonalds' happy meal (her treat for being so good).

October 10, 2003

Bugs in the brain


The way human beings think is buggy. We have a tendency to associate unconnected and irrelevant things together. That is why everything that Microsoft and IBM makes is GOOD. That is why we voted The Terminator (a hum.... Arnold Schwartzeneger) to be the governor of California. Advertisers know this little tidbit about our brain and therefore always choose to use a clean image to advertise a questionable product. Did you catch the one with a race car driver pitching viagra? Our brain is just wired to fall for the bait-and-hook scheme every time. That is why Michael Jordan can never do any wrong and no amount of money is too much to get him to advertise Hanes underwear.

What's being an action movie star got to do with running a state? What's basketball got to do with men's undergarments? What's NASCAR racing got to do with performing in bed?

October 09, 2003

Choices

All of life is a choice.  While we still breathe and our hearts are still pumping, it means that we are still able to choose.  I must very often remind myself of that perception.  The same goes with each individual's view of life.  It can be half-empty or half-full, depending on how he/he want its to be.  This is a wonderful article which stresses that point:  Ned Batchelder's: A good thing about autism.  Ned's approach to his son's condition is quite heroic and admirable. It is impossible to determine what life will give you. It is how you react to that which determines your character. A topic in the 2002 movie Thirteen Conversations About One Thing also runs through the same point.
Keeping the view that the future is a gift is difficult when life is pressing down on you.  But sometimes you just have to remember that all things will end.  It means that your difficulties, although it may be the worst thing in the world right now, will also come to an end.

You can't always get what you want, no!
You can't always get what you want
You can't always get what you want
But if you try sometimes you just might find
You get what you need


The Rolling Stones


April 19, 2003

Over-confidence can lead to the opposite in reality

Unskilled and Unaware of It: How Difficulties in Recognizing One's Own Incompetence Lead to Inflated Self-Assessments . This provides more thought into the theory that maybe we are the worst of all people to assess ourselves. Our views are sometimes skewed in the direction of self-interest and self-aggrandizement. It is not an intentional thing, it is just our nature.

December 12, 2002

a poke at fast food

Our quality of life has gone downhill since the beginning of the 19th century. No, I don't begrudge the large amounts of innovations that have claimed to make our lives better. Nor do I resent the fact that we have more leisure time than people in the 19th century. Today, I just want to talk specifically of "fast food" and how it affects our lives in general. The claim is that it will reduce our time spent with food, is produced cheaply, and is available virtually anywhere and anytime. Little do we know what we are putting into ourselves when we consume the McDonalds, Cokes, or Pepsis. Little do we realize that the repeated consumption of excess fat and sugar will end up sitting for years in our bodies, even to the point that we are decomposing deep in the ground. I must admit that after decades of developing the tastes for these foods, they actually tastes semi-decently when consumed. I'm not quite sure whether that is due to habit or craving but I believe that is why we come back again and again despite our better judgements.

Unfortunately we have lost the idea that there are near infinitely many other foods in the world. There are more food besides burger, fries, pizza, and fried chicken. We have calloused our tastebuds and sense of quality down to the point where we can barely discern what is good anymore. Our society wants us to consume "fast food". The more we consume the more we make the franchise owners rich and the more they will in-turn want us to consume. It is a logarithmically downward spiral. Do you get the sense that we are in hell yet?

I am pleasantly surprised to come across a new movement at "slowfood.com". It is a basic perceptual change of thought towards food. It is in contrast to everything "fast food".

December 06, 2002

Science by seeing

Secrets, security, discovery ...
When taken in general context, these are the things that occur with information. Information is either explicitly known or it is not known. That it is not known does not necessarily mean it is not there. Let's take "gravity" as an example for our topic of discussion. Gravity is a very important basic physics concept that shapes much of our knowledge of the world today. However, before Newton coined the term, did it exist? Sure it does. It has been around probably since before the existence of our galaxy. Evidence of it is everywhere and in everything that we perceive. But is it secret? yes, no one knows about it. But how can something that is everywhere, so pervasive, be such a secret?

The answer is that no one is looking at it.

Today's science, engineering, and various knowledge disciplines are very directed. And sometimes it is in looking only in a single direction that we are blind to everything else around. The next major breakthrough in advancement for mankind is around the corner. It is everywhere and likely no one is looking at it. It's not that Newton had the only pair of eyes to see the apple fall. Eyes are very common. All mammals have it. It is that he saw with his mind's eye. Seeing with your eyes is one thing but digesting that information in your brain requires a process that is very different.

The same can pretty much be said about the topic of smoking. Smoking doesn't necessarily kill you. There is a great percentage of the population who smoke but are not necessarily dead. But "trying smoking" has a great probability of leading you to "like smoking". "Liking smoking" will lead you to "a habit of smoking". Years of the "habit of smoking" will likely lead to "getting lung cancer". "Lung cancer" has the high probability of leading the person that has it to "death".

Chain-of-events. This is another thing that your inner eyes will see readily if you allow it. I believe that in our pursuit of technological advancements, we have grossly neglected the simple advancement obtained by just "seeing". I am grossly simplifying in order to make a point but the truth is, many of today's chronic and problematic problems can be easily solved just by "seeing".

We are all just "not seeing" yet.....

September 22, 2002

Getting back to Quality

There is a good article on HBO's approach to getting quality back to television: A hit is a hit. This same way of thinking applies to many things in life. The quality in the thing (in this case, television content) doesn't necessarily translate to having the most followers or attracting the most eyeballs. Jerry Springer and the Anna Nicole show sure gets lots of viewers.... but are they quality shows? Most times, quality doesn't necessarily translate to providing immediate gratification. But in the long run, it helps you in some way. TV can be a good mirror of life and can help you in letting you see how others handle certain situations. It can help you connect to the human element of an otherwise cold alienating world. On the flip side, some shows only use it to reflect all the ugliness of life and nothing but the ugly.

June 26, 2002

Habits

As a continuation of my previous note on the psychological imperative, I have come across an article expressing a similar line of thought. Five Habits of Highly Deceptive People. In this day an age, we all need to arm ourselves with as much "right" knowledge as possible.

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