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.