Antithesis of Entropy

January 30, 2011 , 0 Comments

Perhaps, he had found the answer that he was seeking.

(He couldn't define the question. How then, could he recognise its solution?)

It is a simple word. Like all other words, it holds great power. There is a rich etymology to this word; an uncommon word, but nevertheless, a word symbolising exciting ideas.

It has a more well-known twin - "entropy".

He always felt that the world - due to certain benevolent powers - tends towards order. Or at least, obey natural, immutable rules. Yet, all his studies contest this intuitive feel. Academia posits the natural retrogression into chaos, disorder, entropy, disasters and deaths. Certainly, nothing cheerful.

It was serendipitous to find this word - extropy. Surprising and awesome.

Extropy - [noun] represents the orderly, progressive manner of a unified generative force beyond current limits.

It was comforting to know that there is a balance to entropy, a relief.
Extropy paints the existence of a divine intellect, a higher and benevolent architect of life. It is the moon among the dark eddies of ignorance and pride, a symbol of hope.
It struck him that many parallels between science and life can be drawn.

The movement of negative particles towards their oppositely charged counterparts may be construed as micromolecular instincts to seek balance. Yin-yang harmony.

Newton's 2nd law is a mirror of human frailties and the trail of chaos they leave in their wake.

Sinusoidal waves represents not only the movement of light and sound, but also the cycle of birth and death.

It came as a surprise (and somewhat of an insult) when the prof suggested that the theories of science couldn't be so readily extrapolated. He wasn't extrapolating the theories. He was simply seeing the parallels between theory and philosophy.


But since he was studying another module under him, he must keep quiet and be as meek as a mouse. After all, all must toe the line in an autocratic society.


Uncertainties in Bioethics

January 25, 2011 , 0 Comments

In A Moral Vision for Transhumanism, Hopkins puts forth compelling reasons which power the transhumanist movement. He suggests that the ideology stems from the desire to breach physical limits so that we may magnify our capacity for improvement and address the human condition. Besides, science and technology allow our imagination to manifest in reality; what we could be or want to be may become tangible actualities.

Beyond the physical engineering, Hopkins posits that our psyches – our moral instincts – can be improved as well. Superhuman abilities do not alter our moral inclinations; they simply acts as a magnifier to human nature. To be genuine transhuman, our character and wills themselves must be transformed in tandem with our bodies into something better.

This, in turn, allows us to seek truth and goodness. Hopkins suggests that there is a higher existence that we yearn for and yet, cannot define. Technological advances can part the veils of mystery so that we may see this truth and find out whether it is worth pursuing.
Bioethics is a interesting branch from the field of philosophy.

Engineering of human beings inflame feelings in both supporters and antagonists. Each article concerning bioethics is so strongly worded and emotionally powerful that I can't make up my mind as to where I stand.

I wish I know though, so that I won't be uncertain.

Life could do with less uncertainties.


Chatting under the Vietnamese skies

January 22, 2011 0 Comments

Serene asked, 'are you the type who wants a few close friends? Or wants to be close friends with everyone?'

I was taken back by her straight-forwardness. 'It really isn't something I've thought about. Really. But if I've to decide, I think I'm the type who wants to be tight friends with everyone.'

'I want to know people, to see them for who they are and respect their individuality. I want to understand more than the veneer they present to the world. I don't want to sense the distant aloofness - it frightens me.'

She waited and looked at me with expectant eyes, as though willing me to go on. When I didn't, Serene started talking. 'Well, that probably means you're always being disappointed. People hide and they have every right to. It's okay for them to hide. Perhaps they had been hurt. Perhaps they aren't ready. Perhaps they are just shallow.'

'And if you expect them to reveal themselves, then you're bound for disappointment.'

'But I just want to respect them for who they are. Is that too much to ask for?'


Crystal gazing

January 21, 2011 0 Comments

"Investors frequently forget that stock-market predictions aren't like, say, weather predictions, because in the case of the stock market the predictions actually change the weather. If everyone on Wall Street already likes a stock, they probably already own it. And if that's the case, they've probably already driven up the price higher than it should be. Meanwhile, if everyone hates a stock—and especially if its reputation has fallen so low that professional fund managers are actually afraid to own it—there's a good chance it has already fallen too far."

An interesting tidbit uncovered while he was avoiding his homework.

Stock market predictions ain't no weather predictions. What a cool metaphor.


On Studying

January 15, 2011 0 Comments

Justin was rather surprised by the cheerful outlook towards studying by two kids whom he was tutoring.

They were looking forward to learning new concepts, acquiring fresh perspectives, deepening their domains of knowledge when school begins within a week. How did they manage to adopt such a view, when the education system they're in is Singapore's? And they're going to be sec four students!

Here, he was, feeling all morose that the pleasant monotone of holidays was about to give way to the mad cacophony of school life. There, they were, looking forward to school life.

He was the tutor. They were the students. Surely, there was a misalignment somewhere.

Out of the blue - in the typical random fashion that human mind functions - Justin recalled one's friend idea:
'Everything can be interesting. In fact, everything should be interesting. As long as one has no prior exposure to the discipline of knowledge, then one should find it engaging.'

Wow, he felt overwhelmed, I had never thought like this before.

He had studied because he was expected to; nothing more than required and perhaps, just perhaps, a little less than the norm. A fleeting interest maybe, but nope, no sustained passion. He was perpetually embarrassed when people asked him why he was majoring in Science. Er, because I want to teach? I don't care, I can major in Psych or Math or English or Econs or - , it doesn't matter to me, I just want to teach.

But recently, his encounters with his tuition kids and his friend, Sarah, forced him to examine his position. The once-peripheral issues took center-stage.

He really ought to find interest - even, comfort - in the knowledge so freely fluxing about him. Yes, he should. Yes, everyone should.


Day at the Singapore Art Museum

January 12, 2011 , 0 Comments

Singapore Art Museum (SAM) is hosting a number of fascinating exhibitions. Quite a departure from their usual curatorial re-presentation. Most of the time, they simply move paintings from one gallery to yet another. And this 'new' exhibit will have some fancy name (although it just contains the same tired group of works). However...

Vibrant. Insightful. Brilliant. Awesome. Really worth visiting, these current exhibits.

Art, truly, is for the masses. Anyone - everyone - can appreciate art. Let's not be conned by pretenders/pseudo-connoisseurs into avoiding art. Art is about beauty and humanity; it is about love, patience, perspectives, disasters and responses. It is about a spectrum of human conditions that words can only poorly describe.

Try, visit the museum.

Natee Utarit - he is a Thai, is he not? - paints fascinating tableaux depicting masterpieces. He ponders about the biography of painting. In this age of new media, where can painting progress towards? A contemplative question which promises pleasant surprises.

Awesome works:

Amazing brushwork, outstanding symphony of colours, unorthodox ideas:

Drop by 8Q, the new wing of the museum. An awesome - I'm using this word excessively, but the exhibits are really awesome - experience awaits. Currently hosting a wondrous exhibition centered on Japanese artists.

The crystal deer is sheer prettiness. I know, art isn't supposed to be pretty. Guys aren't supposed to use the word 'pretty'. And the word itself is overused. But there really isn't another suitable synonym to describe the floating images compounded in the dainty crystal balls.

It is just breathtakingly beautiful.

Yup, visit the museum; it is a crying shame not to.


A day at the hairdresser

January 08, 2011 1 Comments

As usual, he closed his eyes.

The random tugging, snipping and twirling of his hair began. It was time for him to get his haircut. Why must hair grow? It's a waste of good nutrients. I mean, pretty nothing much happens with them too.

'Is this okay?'

'Huh?' Startled, he opened his eyes. 'Sorry?'

'Your fringe. Do you want it shorter? Less thick?'

A stock response - one he often used without forethought - rolled off his tongue. 'Oh, it's perfect. You got it just right.' For good measure, he beamed at the hairdresser.

The hairdresser paused, as though befundled. Then, there was an awkward silence.

'Erm, I didn't cut any yet...'




Self-imposed barriers

Albert was rather perturbed by one recent piece of news. He ran far, he ran fast, yet he failed to leave the damaging knowledge behind. The facts haunted him, without relent. He had judged when he thought that he didn't.

One recent teacher-to-be was sentenced to jail for having consensual sex with an underage pubescent girl.

Dear, he had thought, what is this world coming to? How can any student ever trust their teachers? Just a few months ago, another teacher-wannabe was sentenced to jail for hardcore child pornography. Albert sighed.

This guy, this teacher-to-be who had sex with an underage girl, he deserved punishment. Instinctively, Albert passed judgement.

He dismissed this troubling piece of news rather readily, filing it away as potential gossip material until he overheard a conversation at the coffee shop. Juicy. He perched on the edge of his chair lightly, feigning an interest in The Straits Times while straining to eavesdrop.
'This guy, what's his problem? He's giving a bad reputation to us teachers.' One guy stabbed a finger at the newspapers' front page, on an unflattering photo of the culprit.

His friend let out a heavy breath. 'Don't judge, not when you don't know the full story.'

'Huh, what do you -'

His friend frowned. 'He was a fellow friend who trained alongside me in the army. I called him when the shit hit the ceiling. You know, he actually had consensual sex with the girl when he was 17 or 18. He was young, ignorant then and -'

'But that's still wrong. Justification. It's not right, just wrong-'

'Look, do you want me to continue?' On the adjacent table, Albert willed the talkative guy to silence. Please shut up. I want to know the full story.

'Okay,' his friend glanced at the former, took a deep breath and whispered, 'he had sex once with the girl and that's all. Then, a few years later, while he was serving the army, the girl came back and they were steady for a while. Just a few weeks and they broke up. The next time Aaron heard her name was in the news and that's because she's pregnant. And the baby wasn't his.'

'Oh no.'

'You have to understand. The guy - my friend - came from a broken family. His dad married a second woman and they divorced. Can you imagine what a turmoil this might turn out to be? He pulled himself together, studied hard, became a sergeant in the army and eventually got sponsorship for his university degree. It wasn't easy for him, not at all.'

'What about the girl?'

'The girl, she isn't Mother Theresa. For goodness sake, read carefully. She had sex with fifteen other guys. Not one, not two, but fifteen! Now, fifteen people are in deep shit because of her. She's promiscuous and ...'

Silence had never been this uncomfortable.

'And your friend?'

'He has to pay MOE a significant sum of money. Enough money to buy one library worth of rare books. And be jailed for a year.'

Albert suddenly felt dirty. He had read the article, looked at the guy's photo and passed judgement within a space of 5 minutes. With an unquestioning, all-accepting mind. He should know better than to judge so casually. He should, shouldn't he?

He had studied about mass media for his General Paper. Sensationalism and censorship. Twin factors ensuring the survival and proliferation of the media itself. He had even wrote a pretty decent essay on this topic. Yet, why in the world did he not assimilate the knowledge?

Judging before knowing. An instinctive fallacy.

That cloudless night, he ran with a vague sense of frustration.

Somehow, he ended within a Japanese cemetery. His pace slowed. His heartbeats slowed. Amidst the tombstones and his powerlessness, he prayed.

For the ability to see with his heart's eyes without judging.
To be forgiven for impulsively judging.
For the world to feel for truth and let love reign.
For the fella who would be jailed in four days' time.
For the numerous faceless fellow beings suffering likewise from neglect.

All the best to you, the stranger's friend, may this year of solace brings you peace and growth.
Perhaps, when we know the personal tragedies of others, we won't judge them so readily. Perhaps, even when we don't know, we can refuse to judge.