Saturday, August 29, 2009

Vonnegut vs Darwin

One of the communities that I frequent had a post about Harrison Bergeron, a short story by Vonnegut, which brought back many memories of reading it in high school. For those of you that have never read it and are of the tl;dr variety, the basis is that society is now equal. Anyone that is more superior (in intellect or physical abilities) is forced to wear handicaps to bring them down to normal level; masks to cover the beautiful, sudden noise ear piece to distract the mentally focused.

Since high school, I've had two criticisms of the story, 1- the equalizers actually make the wearer less than average (as can be seen by weights straining George's neck while Hazel's has a neck that doesn't bother her, and "She must have been extraordinarily beautiful, because the mask she wore was hideous." which suggests that she is made uglier than someone who is slightly less beautiful), and 2- the government is most likely above the handicaps (someone who's distracted every 20 seconds could not possibly track an escaped prisoner and kill him).

Putting aside that the equality isn't quite equal (see pt 1 above), this is the kind of situation in which I am proud of myself for being anti-equality. This is why I'm okay with being a little bit racist. This is why I'm a believer in competition and doing the best you can.

Darwin's view of survival of the fittest allows the betterment of mankind (and other species). However, with the advent of medicine and technologies, some traits that are selected against become irrelevant. Have a compromised immune system? Take some antibiotics and go on your merry way. Have a sprained ankle? Take some tensor bandages and stay off it and rest for a few days (a flying bird without the power of flight would die in days if not for human intervention). Have a face too fugly to get a man? Take some trips down to the local sperm bank and start passing genes that aren't meant to be passed on. (This isn't meant to be taken as a serious biological treatment of the argument - there are good aspects to this such as wider gene pool and nurture aspects of development).

Vonnegut's dystopia reminds me of two things, Atlas Shrugged, and George Bush. Atlas Shrugged is because the Washington men are basically using the tycoons' brilliance as a way to hurt the tycoons. George Bush is because of the "no children left behind" policy, in which bred some of the worse education systems the world has seen.

George Orwell's (one of the more used writers in high school besides Shakespeare) Animal Farm has coined a well-known phrase "all animals are equal but some animals are more equal than others". The phrase suggests that perhaps with equality, there will always people who will try to become a little bit more equal (see pt 2 above).

For those of you that will grow up to do great things involving policy-making, please remember that trying to implement utopia by force might end up in tragedy.

A List.

So in lieu of an actual blog post, as I am busy cleaning out my life, a list. Bonus points if you can form an unique and fitting phrase to preface this list.


Knowledge without experience

Wealth without work

Science without compassion

Pleasure without conscience

Commerce without respect

Policy without principle

Worship without sacrifice

Vision without effort

Honesty without empathy

Facts without context

Sunday, August 23, 2009

For Liz

We want 63 for next year.

Okay. so it's not really for you Liz, but you get so many more words than Boris did!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Monday, August 10, 2009

Trapped in my Fantasy

Let me preface this entry with the fact that I love the Chem building in our school; there is something stoically rustic in the stone architecture, juxtaposed with newly installed tinted glasses at parts. To me, there is nothing I'd love more than to spend time in that building.

With that said, it turns out on Fridays I would be able to spend nine consecutive school hours there. I would be going from room 250 => 324 => 300 => 150 => 470. I mean, I wouldn't have to be in the building proper for nine straight hours, that would be absurd. No, the Chem building is designed so that for half the rooms you would have to exit the building and enter through another entrance. The rest of the week would be a myriad mix of the above rooms plus room 226.

I almost want to visit the Chem building a few times this summer - take in the wondrous oaken doors and the charming granite staircases - before being imprisoned there and start growing sick of the building, jaded as I could be.

I might develop the blasé attitude as a defence mechanism, or maybe the castle-like building will just lose its novelty with me.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

10 Weeks of Songs

This is just a record keeping post of my 10 weeks of songs (besides the obvious FoB's). I'll probably update these on Saturdays, with the 10th one being on event day.

#1: Franz Ferdinand - Michael
#2: The The - Uncertain Smile
#3: The Sessions - My Love
#4: The Fray - Never Say Never
#5: Daft Punk - Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger
#6: Billy Talent - Rust from the Rain
#7: Red Hot Chili Peppers - Other side
#8: Maroon 5 - Secret
#9: Kings of Leon - Use Somebody

Thursday, August 6, 2009

A Story in Two Songs I

I've been roaming around always looking down at all I see.
Painted faces fill the places I can't reach.
You know that I could use somebody
You know that I could use somebody
Someone like you

Kings of Leon - Use Somebody

Lets face it, all of us could use somebody, right about now. For me, I could use someone who would:

  • bring me lunch every week as I spent 9 hours in the chem building
  • hold me when my body gets the best of me
  • understand my need to fight, and support me so I can
  • stand by me as ORB/OGB are attempted
  • be my proxy for harvest in the event that I am required to collect toxins
  • hear me rant, and rant to me
And all I really want from you is to feel me
As the feeling inside keeps building
And I will find a way to you if it kills me, if it kills me

Jason Mraz - If It Kills Me

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

"You racist?" "Nawh, I just like white people better"

Recently I did a 10 minute transcription. What that means is that the integrated viral DNA is transcribed by the host cell's RNA polymerase.

No it doesn't.

I guess the name is kind of misleading. 10 minute transcription actually means watching and rewatching 10 minutes of the same youtube video in order to turn spoken words into written words. It took me about 8~9 go throughs to finish, therefore taking up a good chunk of about 1.5 hours. The topic was on responding to hate speeches on the internet.

The orator, Matt, was a very eloquent guy; post-BA in journalism, pre-MA in the same thing. He brings up points that, like the whole of sociology, seem really obvious once you hear/read it, but before that you would almost never come up with that. Some of my highlights were the argument against minority arguments (aka don't ever say "Don't make fun of her being muslim, when you are a black woman" which leads to the argument that would it be more acceptable if a white male was to make fun of "her"), the difference between regular bible citation and hate speech ("the bible says homosexuality is a sin" vs "the bible says homosexuals are filthy perverts", which both seems like hate speech to me, but I can start seeing the difference), and how he pronounced rhetoric (think limerick).

Obviously by using everyone's own looking glass self, it is easy to want to skew what Matt has said in ways that jive with our own believes. What did I get out of it? It's okay if I'm racist, as long as I treat all minorities as equals (or as Matt puts it, "gives them a fair shake"). Of course I took deeper meanings out of that speech, hence me spending 1.5 hours to transcribe it.

That and it might be because it's a White guy saying it.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Where were you then?

There are many "big" events where almost everyone seemed to know where they were, what they were doing, and who they were with. It might be because my memory is not as great as it could be, but I don't remember many of these moments. I could maybe remember 3. One of which doesn't count as it's a situation that's only big to me.

The first would be 911. I knew what I was doing; sleeping. I was too young to really understand all the implications of the event, but I knew it was a big thing. I went into my school, where the teacher decided that we needed to have a discussion about this major current event. We moved all the tables to the side, moved our chairs into a circle, then the teacher started briefing about the event for those of us who were not caught up. Obviously the briefing was very PG, since even as the vice principal the teacher could be fired if the conversation was too explicit. The class then all shared their views, before ending with a minute of silence.

Then comes HSF. As probably is the case with the other 9 finalists, I was at school when the phone calls were made. I dropped by home during lunch to see the answering machine blinking (well, it was blinking, but I was directed to it by my mom). I was freaked out (and evidently misunderstood the phone call) after listening to it a few times. I went back to school, explained the situation to my teacher, and excused myself for the afternoon. Apparently I looked pale; I definitely felt it. I had to psyche myself up (like I do with many many circumstances). I even had to phone one of my references to ease my nerves. After I felt that I've done as much nerve prepping as I could, I called Mr. Sommers. What came after is all over facebook.

Lastly, Obamamania. The mood that night was very weird. I was in Woodward, and was feeling really disappointed by the information night that was being held there. My future career looks more shrouded and bleak than ever before when I left the library. But as I walked out of the campus that night, getting ready to head home, the atmosphere didn't feel right. There was electricity in the air. I could not go a block without someone overhead yelling or some drunk pedestrian looking ecstatic. I had a hunch about what happened and sent a text to my friend from Chicago: "Did he win?" The affirmative answer explained my feelings as I crossed the campus that night. It seemed funny how the night that is marked with hope by millions of people around the world was so bleak to me.