Saturday, December 25, 2010

Kiss of Death BBC

This is a detective drama series, much like CSI. The forensic team went all out to find a kidnapped woman and her abductor through various scientific methods in the first and second episodes. The latter had taunted the team through video clips of his threats and torture methods on the woman, and her pleas. His motive was revenge on one of the scientists who had earlier convicted him of rape, since he had just been released from prison a month before.

I feel this series is more intense than CSI, in terms of the underlying tensions among the team members which explode into confrontations, and the underlying passions between the team members of the opposite sex which are then outwardly expressed. Jude for example, seems the subservient type but when she takes the initiative to collect some evidence on her own and tells her senior, he scolds her for doing so. That is when she really vents her feelings on him. George, too, verbally retaliates Kay, who is the head of the team, when she is confronted with her past alcoholism, as that will compromise her performance on the case. The passion between Clive and Kay is unexpected as there were no prior signs of it. All they did was to discuss the case and fight over it when their opinions differed. They had a volatile professional past with each other too.

CSI does have these elements too. Lindsay and Danny are CSI:NY's most famous couple, for example. I am not as gripped or drawn into the feelings of this series's characters as I am in the BBC series. The characters in the BBC series act really well and I don't feel as if I am a TV viewer. Instead, I laugh and cry alongside them.

An ethical dilemma presented itself in these first two episodes. As a forensic pathologist, would you go all out to solve the case, even if it meant using illegal means? Would you choose justice above morality? It is a fine line because justice is part of morality. It is similar to the saying 'the end justifies the means'.

Using illegal means compromises the integrity of the forensic scientists even if they get to solve the case. Sad to say, the team engages in such methods when Kay decides to use unlawfully obtained information in order to speed up the investigations. Can we blame her? She was probably at her wits' end.

The team commits a falsehood in order to get to the truth too. Sounds paradoxical? It is. George "admits" to messing up on the investigations and thus this seems to cast a dubious light on the proceedings of the case. However, Miles, the lawyer working with the team, turns it into an advantage. This act of false witness torments George though. She has betrayed her conscience and Miles smugly plays on her "admission" after she leaves. He proposed this idea and is smug about it as he unfolds it before the reporters. Kind of callous and villainous, don't you think? It is as if he is the only one not going through the dilemma and has immediately chosen the bad side. The dilemma experienced makes the others prone to a redemptive aspect in their character even when they choose to go ahead with the falsehood and illegal means.

Seriously, I wouldn't know what to do should this dilemma present itself to me. Would you and if so, what would you do?

Monday, December 13, 2010

Opinions offered on the Internet

Trolling is something so familiarly encountered nowadays on social networks and forums. However, even with accountability, some trolls are still 'brave' enough to type their candid comments out on social topics, without caring if the comments offend others or border on extremities. The trolls are not afraid to provide their full names.

I am heartened by some measures taken by websites to prevent such unfair comments from being aired on the Internet. Gizmodo has come up with an 'audition' for comments made on their website by sifting through all the opinions offered. Disqus has also come up with this method of sifting the wheat from the chaff through rating scores.

Indeed, editing of comments made on the Internet is necessary. I do that on my Facebook profile when I receive notifications of comments made on my posts by my friends. As long as the comments offend my sensibilities, they are deleted.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Picture books' value is sadly underestimated

It is such a pity that picture books in New York's bookshops are not appreciated enough to be bought by parents for their children. The books' colourful and detailed pictures are complements to the descriptive captions and explanations. They are most suitable for children. Mere words in books are not yet suitable for children, especi- ally young ones.

I understand that parents are concerned about the school syllabus which advocates textbooks filled with chapters of words. However, children need to start from the basics when it comes to languages. Graduation from pictures with accompanying words to mere words is encouraged. Only after being exposed to both elements of a book, can children move on to the latter with a greater sense of understanding. Parents are making the wrong move.

Parents should listen to the experts about picture books. Such books "can develop a child's critical thinking skills." "From picture to picture, as the reader interacts with the book, their imagination is filling in the missing themes...Some of the vocabulary in a picture book is(sic) much more challenging than in a chapter book. The words themselves, and the concepts, can be very sophisticated in a picture book." Thus, analytical, imaginative and linguistic skills are developed through picture books!

Some parents actually think that their children's skills will be advanced with the alternative. I beg to differ. Their children still can "work to read" with picture books. If their children try to go back to picture books, their parents should not be unduly worried. 80-page chapter books for 6-year-olds seem to be a too huge leap. It is no wonder one of them reverted to picture books.

I may be an adult but I still read picture books. Perhaps it really is for the "comfort element" but literary classics when read with illustrations, are easier to digest. Would you rather read House of Mirth as a children's classic or a Penguin/ Signet classic?

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Technology is really not all good

The New York Times examined an age-old topic on the negative consequences of technology. It really is about time this is discussed in detail and published.

The Internet is one of the main sources of technology which is nowadays prevalent in society. Video games are extremely enticing to kids and teenagers. I was exposed to this particular game played to Kate Perry's Fireworks song. One is supposed to use one's fingers to clear the balls randomly sliding down 3 candy canes. Thus, speed and agility are needed. Though it seems fun, it does personify this excerpt from the article: "Their brains are rewarded not for staying on task but for jumping to the next thing". Thank goodness there are disciplines like the arts to aid in the focus skill of one's mind.

The computer may be an ubiquitous tool in our lives but should a youth want to be a computer specialist when he grows up, he will still need academic subjects like English to communicate with other like-minded colleagues and Algebra to directly aid in the job. Also, the ability to speed-text on one's hand phone may make one seem dexterous but it ultimately causes blisters and calluses to form on the fingers, as well as the skin on the fingers to harden and dry. The finger joints may become stiff and inflamed too.

Reading some of the views on computers given by teenagers saddens me. Computers become a means of escapism from the harsh reality one lives in. In order to shut out the fear that comes from being exposed to external conflict, one numbs it through the drowning in virtual reality. Facebook provides one user with false gratification in terms of the mistaken thinking that one is doing something productive.

It is also alarming to note that video games can lead to "lower sleep quality" and "a significant decline in students' ability to remember vocabulary words". I think I have bore witness to this truth without knowing. :S

"Computers(should)be combined with education to better engage students and give them technical skills without compromising deep analytical thought." I am trying to do this in my teaching. It allows them to learn more in terms of general knowledge and my subject, and to be independent in finding information out on their own while advocating creative thinking in terms of the method needed.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Jeff Chang's new music video

I was perturbed while reading some of the things he said in a newspaper article. They pertain to his latest music video which hints at the presence of casual sex. He claims it is meant for adults but what prevents youths from gaining access to it, with the advanced technology they have at their fingertips? They would think that casual sex is not bad. He claims the video is for lonely adult singles but doesn't this imply that casual sex alleviates loneliness, a potentially harmful message? What about the hurt and unwanted pregnancies that result from the act?

What I don't understand is this. Since he found it awkward to film physically intimate scenes with his female co-stars, why did he change the direction of his music videos? Is it to keep up with the rest of the singers who film such scenes in theirs? If true, isn't this reason rather conformist? Perhaps I am the problem here. I am not used to his new image.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Twitter IS of no use

Jill Alphonso has decided to delete her Twitter account and I condone it. How can the evocative thoughts of our daily events be reduced to a maximum of 140 alphabet letters? That is clearly not doing justice to the very essence of the human mind.

She also spoke on keeping in contact via letter writing. I love pretty stationery like note papers, books and pads, envelopes, cards and stickers. I was happy to read from Jamie Yeo's blog that there is a shop selling all these in Ion. I hope to go there. I still send good old-fashioned Christmas cards to my friends.

I feel that the art of handwriting somewhat reflects the sender's personality. I also feel that it shows more sincerity than a typewritten email. My choice of stationery used is also based on my impression of the recipients. I even keep the handwritten letters and cards people give me :)

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

A book that evoked this blog entry

Diary of A Taxi Driver is written by a cab driver who chronicles the different customers he meets everyday. I browsed this book and found it interesting.

I am a regular cab customer due to my physical condition and met three cab drivers who made my rides more outstanding than the rest. The first one gave his take on the customers of the different races; Chinese, Malay and Indian. The second one saw me as a food expert on the stalls in Chomp Chomp, since I have lived in the estate for more than thirty years. He wanted to know which stalls were the original ones and I gladly shared my knowledge with him. The third one discussed with me the hawker food in the estate as well.

I am blessed to have encountered all cab drivers who have been nothing but nice to me. I cannot fathom why people warn me against them. I know that this is a gift from my dear Mother Mary. She also answers my urgent prayers for a cab when I am running late. Thank you, my Mother!

Monday, April 5, 2010

Pride and Prejudice variations

I saw 2 sequels to P&P in Times at Plaza Sing. Pride and Prejudice by Ann Herendeen and Mr Fitzwilliam Darcy by Abigail Reynolds have made a powerful impact on me.

The former is one of repulsion. There are forbidden lovers included in the story. Darcy and Bingley are gay lovers and there are descriptions of gestures that indicate their relationship with each other. The mutual consent given to allow the contact is implied.

The latter is not so bad but it still causes a negative reaction in my mind. The story explores the possibility of Darcy and Lizzy marrying after his first proposal but it is different in terms of how the proposal was done. He included sexual advances in his proposal and before she could even reject them, Colonel Fitzwilliam saw them. Darcy immediately claimed that she had accepted him and in order to protect her family's reputation, she did not dispute that. However, her married life with Darcy is far from blissful. She feels stifled as Darcy is always with her, and when she is finally by herself, she feels lonely.

These sequels are definitely deviant from the original plot. I can never bring myself to read the former. As for the latter, it makes me appreciate the real story even more. The visit to Pemberley was probably the climax for her change in perception towards him. Thus, when they married after his second proposal, and after being a guest there, as well as confiding in him Lydia's misdeed, the marriage was meant to be and their life ahead was more than perfect. :D Thank goodness though, the second book still ends happily for the married couple and they learn to truly love each other :)

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Laptops banned during classes in US unis

Facebook has been one of the tremendous sources of distraction for students during their lessons. They are tempted to go on it instead of diligently taking notes on their laptops, as the lecturer speaks. Is there thus a problem with the banning of laptops?

I am glad that some unis and lecturers have actually implemented this. What is wrong with taking notes using pen and paper? Personal handwriting is very telling of a person's personality and is an expression of elegant beauty in its strokes and curls. Granted, paper is wasted and trees are cut down to be made into paper. The reason why this method has to be resumed is really because the students themselves are at fault. They choose to do the wrong things instead of focusing on what the lessons require. I do not blame a professor who destroyed a student's laptop as a warning to the rest. I think he had probably been driven to the edge.

A 20-year-old student gave the excuse of the lecturers being unable to comprehend the importance of technology to the students. That is a poor one. I am glad she has been proven wrong by a professor who carried out a study on the grades of students who flit between these distractions and the taking of notes during their lessons. Their grades were really low. Also, I am glad that there are students who understand the reason behind the ban. They acknowledge the right of the lecturers to implement it and the importance of education to the students.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Crime fiction - input leads to a desire for output

I was having a whale of a time today at Borders, Parkway Parade. I went to the crime/thriller section to look at the books. That was the second time I checked them out in detail ever since I started on them in Kinokuniya, Bangkok.

A flow of thoughts assailed my mind as I did that. I wondered how I got started on crime fiction and realised that it had been implanted in me when I discovered Famous Five and Secret Seven books as a child. Then I went on to Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys mysteries, which I still do read :) Those earlier fiction preferences have influenced my present ones.

I have discovered so many gems in the section of those two bookshops. There are crime cases chronicled in the setting of food outlets or craft shops, amongst others. Other cases are based on the protaganist's job, for example, an antique collector or a food writer. Even literary writers have been 'misused' to be admired anew as detectives. There are books portraying Oscar Wilde and Jane Austen as mystery solvers. It would be an experience reading their logical musings, despite the fact that the thoughts are fictional in nature, instead of solely their literary thoughts.

I could not resist buying a book with Pride and Prejudice's signature couple, the Darcys, as its main characters. The plot does not exclude their strong love for each other and even includes characters from Austen's other novels. It goes on to make the mystery paranormal by having an element of the supernatural within it.

I then toyed with the idea of writing my own crime series. I started thinking of possible settings to place my cases in. What about a singles' or a book club? The daunting aspects came into my mind too. The length of a novella is too long for me and so I thought of short stories within a novel, similar to Arthur Conan Doyle's books on Sherlock Holmes.

My mind then recalled the personal ambition I have: to publish a book of poetry by the age of 40. I had decided to give it up a few years back due to the fact that I felt that some of the poems were too personal and I could not include them. With this, the remaining poems would be too few. With this catalyst from the crime fiction I read, I now feel that it would be a waste to give up on this dream. If I feel a certain topic is too personal, I can expand my horizons to include others in my range of poetry. After all, anything around us can spark off creative musings. Therefore, I think I will focus more on my poetry than on this new idea.

I ended off my stream-of-consciousness with the desire to leave a legacy of such formalized literary output for people when I have gone back to my true home. It is not to show off my creativity but to share it with them. I am aware that this is probably uttered by the existing authors in the market and so there is an element of being cliched within it. However, I will leave it to my readers to judge the degree of sincerity it entails. Through it all, the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak. There are so many things to do in life. I do hope I can fulfill this desire...

Monday, February 8, 2010

Local viewers' unfair grouses

Some television viewers are simply ludicrous in their perspectives towards two variety shows focusing on loving help and generosity towards the needy. Suffice it to say that I love watching Life Transformers, but some of them are simply devoid of understanding towards the underlying objective of the show.

An episode evoked some viewers' disgruntlement towards the production team's choice of family on the list of needy recipients. The living conditions were noticeably in need of an improvement for the sake of the children, and yet these viewers chose to dwell on how the husband's parents treated his wife. They have no sensible reasons to protest against the help anyway, since the neighbours of the family shared the same view as the team. It is ironic how the show maintains very high ratings despite such nonsensical rantings. Perhaps these very viewers watch it to continue noting trivial areas for them to complain about?

Other viewers question the lower value of given furniture as compared to that of another show. They obviously based it on the superficial appearance since the cost of the furniture is not stated. Thank goodness both shows have the same executive producer and she clarified things.

I am impressed by the reply given to the two senders who had expressed their concerns over the episode about the hearing-impaired couple. It addressed their concerns and clarified them so completely, without any tinge of unhappiness or arrogance. This goes to show the importance of diction and how it can assure its readers. The senders should let their case rest after reading the reply.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Subjective font colour in headline for emphasis

An article on the flaws of online shopping has had its headline presented in a subjective manner, I feel. Instead of highlighting words to do with this topic, it highlighted the physical disability of the customer who was dissatisfied with the website. This shows how subjective editing can cause misconception.

The condition of the customer has nothing to do with the topic and this highlighting seems to shower unwanted attention on her condition, on the contrary. It does make things worse for her already miserable state of mind, if any, over her condition.