A trip down memory lane

I came across some cartoon theme songs that I remember listening to and watching growing up. 

Link here

It’s in Chinese, Cantonese to be exact. These aren’t just some random cartoon songs, each one of them has meanings that guided our generation basically. It related to us and still does. Back in elementary school I remember getting out of school, going home and watching these cartoons. I dare say most of us watched and know all of these. Everyday, cartoons first, then homework (maybe), for us boys we go down to the park after to play soccer what not. That’s where you learn your swear words and such. Back then in Hong Kong there were many neighborhoods, most of them were, and still are, “estates” or “courts”. Each of them have a park, a market and a mall. These neighborhoods are equivalent to barrios (en español). We were defined by the town or the area in which the neighborhood is in (much like east coast vs west coast, or even area codes). Anyways, listening to these songs brings back many sentimientos and images en mi mente. 

My time frame of my childhood is basically stuck in the 90s because in 99 I left for the US. It’s interesting because I remember many times at home with mi amigos and the tv would be on a Chinese channel. I understood everything, but mi amigos, nada. This Chinese culture side that I have I rarely use or share, it only pops up occasionally in conversations and most of the time I end up having to explain a lot. 

It’s weird cause I only have a few really good Chinese friends in Hawaii and a few in Hong Kong. That’s pretty much it. At one point in my life (high school I think), I avoided anything and everything relating to Chinese culture. I was resisting it and didn’t want to have anything to do with it. It didn’t make sense to me at the time, but now of course it does. Like every kid with a new toy, I despised the old ones because they’re old and they ain’t cool. Not until college did I appreciate how old and deep this culture is. 

On another note, it’s Halloween tomorrow. One day where we can dress up as anything and no one would care; one day where we can pretend to be someone else; one day where we don’t have to be ourselves (Unless you’re an actor or actress). Time goes by fast around this time, Halloween then thanksgiving, and before you know it it’s Christmas and New Years. Actually this year will be the first time I’m spending Christmas and New Years away from home. Gotta plan something. 

So, go trick or treating, watch some horror movies, eat some pumpkin pie and carve some pumpkins on this All Hallows Eve.

There’s no gene for fate…

Or is there? That was one of the memorable quotes in the movie Gattaca that I loved (still do). It was one of many that keeps me on my toes. 

Anywho, the reason I bring up that quote is because of this article. Basically, a Bio-Computer has been created and tested inside a living cell which allows the manipulation of molecules. Engineered RNA (Ribonucleic acid, different from DNA, RNA is single stranded) Bio-Computer can ultimately be “commanded” to change genes. Read the article for details.

The thought of altering genes took me right back to the movie. Genetically engineered human beings (eventually). This brings up controversial issues like stem-cells research and human ethics (mostly). The thought of having the power to play God is scary because admit it, ambitions drive us to the edge sometimes, and people make bad choices. The ones who have power want more power. This desire is our most basic human instinct. It gave us development of new technologies, it gave us new knowledge of our world, it took us to the Moon (There’s no conspiracy here people, we did go to the moon), it gave us so many of the conveniences we enjoy everyday without even thinking about it. 

Nature vs Nurture is also another issue which consists of so many variables that it’s simply impossible to determine a trait. When we think about it, altering genes is really against nature, it doesn’t occur naturally. We manipulate and ultimately controls it. I’m sure we’ve all seen it in TV shows and movies: aliens, robots, robots that are biologically based, A.I, etc. I mean, sure, it’s fictional, but it can happen given this exponential growth of scientific knowledge and advances.

In the end, how do we determine the limits of these advances? What’s good? What’s evil? Yes, these are all philosophical questions and there’s no definite answer, these are all clichés, important, nonetheless. So, if you can alter a gene for fate, would you do it?

Cheers for headache!

When it is darkest, men see the stars

Ralph Waldo Emerson might have been right 200 years ago…

This past weekend we went to Cahuita and Puerto Viejo on the Caribbean side of Costa Rica. The beaches were definitely the best part. Saturday night we went out on to the beach, brought our guitars and played some great music. I looked up at the sky and recognized a few easy to spot constellations: Orion the hunter to the East (which everyone knows – Orion’s belt), Rigel and Betelgeuse, Andromeda and Pegasus almost directly above, Cassiopeia to the North, and Cygnus to the Northwest. This is looking up from Costa Rica (and neighboring countries of course). It was interesting because even though the sky was clear as glass, it was still hard to spot some of these stars. It’s sad really. The main reason for this is mostly light pollution. When we think about pollution things like air and water pollution pops into the head. Light pollution? Most people don’t even know what it is.

The point is, human activities and development have had a profound effect on the environment. Modern society depends too much on these natural resources. We keep taking but not giving back, and soon, resources are going to run out. The environment can survive without us, but we can’t survive without it. Astronomy has had a long history going back to the Greek and Roman Empire, Egypt and China. Imagine the night sky back then…no lights, not much pollution, and a view of the stars clear as night. How awesome is (well, was) that?

Many religion associate stars with gods and heaven. Most people would admit that stargazing on the beach with a love one is perhaps one of the most romantic things to do. Well, soon there won’t be any stars to see because our atmosphere would be so polluted. 

See for yourself

Hace mucho tiempo, cuando no había nada, eso es el tiempo que pueda ver claramente el mundo y el universo. Querría volver a eso tiempo.   

So, look up to the sky, ponder about meanings, enjoy the view while we still can.

Mind over matter

Takotsubo cardiomyopathy – commonly known as ‘broken heart syndrome’ is a weakening of the heart muscle due to severe emotional stress. Our mind controls everything and our brain gives off magnitudes of electromagnetic waves triggered by the constant firing of neurons. All these signals are received and interpreted by the brain and the appropriate response occurs, from blinking our eyes to breathing to playing sports. I’m sure everyone knows this. What intrigues me is not the physical aspect of our body but the mental aspect. The physical can be seen, has been proven and there are certain natural laws and rules to it. The mental or emotional, however, does not follow any kind of rules. 

True, there are studies and statistics but these only apply to that set of subjects and should not be used to generalize and make the same assumptions on others. Two patients, same sickness, one has a reason to live, the other does not. Both are given the same treatment, but more than likely, the one who doesn’t want to live will die. We’ve seen and heard about these instances from news to tv shows to our friends. Ultimately, it comes down to a person’s will to live, to survive, to persevere. Hence, ‘Mind over matter’. 

Science is based on theories proven by evidence over and over. Whether we choose to believe it or not, everything is made out of atoms, Moon rotates around the Earth, Earth rotates around the Sun, and everything that we feel or think are chemical reactions within our cells and tissues and veins. Many people would beg to differ. Many people want to believe that there is something more, something more than just plain old scientific facts. Einstein said it best: “Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind.”

I read this book a few years ago titled The God Gene: How Faith is Hardwired into our Genes by Dean H. Hamer. It was very interesting because Hamer hypothesize that religion and faith have a genetic component to it which we human beings inherit from our predecessors. Faith is a tricky concept that has different meanings to different people. Some put their faith in the government (insert sarcasm here), some in science, some in themselves, but others put their faith in ‘God’. I put that in quotation mark because personally I don’t believe there’s some sort of supreme being out there guiding us (no offense), but what I do believe is that this ‘God’ is more of an abstract concept that’s universal even though it’s interpreted differently in every religion (Jesus, Buddha, Krishna etc). It represents an idea; it gives people hope; it lends us an invisible shoulder to lean on if you may, and believe me, many of us need that comfort. 

So, after all that, what’s the point? I mean, there’s probably an answer out there but it will most likely be something that’s beyond our capacity of understanding. In the end, the only thing we do know is to believe in whatever we choose to believe and stick with it. Despite the myriad amount of clichés there are of what I’m about to say, I’m still gonna say it: Just be yourself and everything will fall into place.

Good day.

I like Jello damnit!

McCain and his wittiness are funny I have to admit, I wonder how he comes up with them on the spot. I laughed out loud when he said: “nailing down Senator Obama’s various tax proposals is like nailing Jello to the wall.” Then Obama attacked back at McCain on tax policy saying: “the ‘Straight Talk Express’ lost a wheel on that one” (Referring to the Social Security problem). And, after all the back and forth, my favorite moment is when McCain shot back, pointing at Obama, and said “You know who voted for it? You might never know. That one” (Referring to the Energy Bill vote). Btw, I ain’t “your friend” McCain!

Full Transcript here

(FYI, I supported Obama from the start of the campaign) I agree with him that health care is a “right” for everyone. I agree with him that alternative energy is essential in reducing our energy consumption. I agree with him that we need to seek diplomatic solutions first working with our allies in dealing with foreign threats like Iran and North Korea. Most importantly, I agree with him in providing 95% of the middle class tax cuts because they suffer the most and they are crucial to our economy. 

The only thing I agree with McCain is on his policy of providing “moral support” for Georgia and other post-Soviet Union countries. 

Update: That One 08

Any-who, enough politics, I don’t really care that much. I was in downtown San Jose today again (and will be for days to come due to necessary commute to Santa Ana), and when I was walking, I heard many conversations in Cantonese, which was very interesting because I only heard it once at a store down my street. This is why I LOVE languages, I can understand so many people without them knowing. There’s an inner urge to connect with people who speak the language we speak in a foreign country. I see this a lot, and it happens everywhere, even right here at the Casa, both of my French housemates hang out with French friends (haha…sounded like French Fries) studying or working here (If you’re reading this Cecile or Anne-Laure, just want you to know I love it). This occurs mostly by meeting friends through friends but it is true. For me, on the other hand, I only really “connected” with a few of my Cantonese friends. Most of the time when I meet someone and learned that they speak Cantonese or Mandarin I still use English, unless they ask me specifically. Just like when I’m asked where I’m from, I just say California and leave it as that. And when they ask me specifically my origin, then I would say Hong Kong. I do that to avoid all the stereotypical questions that (some) people asks, not that I care or am offended by it, it just annoys me. Well, that’s that.

On another note, commuting to Santa Ana SUCKS, it takes 2 hours to get there without traffic and 3 hours with. The seats on the buses are damn tiny and it gets hot as hell when it’s raining and all the windows are closed. The only good thing about commuting is the walk down Avenida Central (sometimes Avenida 1 depends on my mood at the time), and occasionally a pretty Tica sits next to me on the bus to and from Santa Ana (Yes I’m shallow, deal with it). After next week though I won’t need to go to Santa Ana since the new location of my school will be opened in Barrio California. 

Oh, and uh, listen to Brett Dennen, he’s great.

Cheers!

Necesito ir a la playa

  


Summer time!

Originally uploaded by muha…

Just testing the flickr photo blogging feature…pero, en serio, tengo que descansar a la playa en una hamaca. Creo que voy a escribir algunos artículos en español. Mi mente necesita pensar en español. La verdad es que es difícil aprender el español mientras enseñando el ingles. Además, hay dos chicas francesas que viven conmigo y muchas veces les hablo en francés. Es bueno que puedo practicar mi francés también pero es muy confuso. Siempre mezclo los dos lenguajes. Bueno, en resumidas cuentas…Pura Vida!