Thursday, June 29, 2006

Chemical anagram?

This New York Times post on the dangers of second hand smoke.

Told me that nicotine is metabolized into cotinine.

Cute! It's an anagram!

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Didn't this happen before? (Deja vu)

Not sure whether these thoughts are inspired by Neil Gaiman, Ted Chiang, or just recent happenings.

But recently, I've been having waves of deja vu.

Things like: I'm about to email someone at work for something, and I have this feeling that I've already done it. In fact, I can remember the chain of events leading up to it.

But there's nothing in my archives. And when I check with the person, yes, it's my first time asking for it.

Or, someone asks me for something, and I have the feeling this has happened before, and I know exactly what's going to happen next. And what my response is/will be. And a feeling that I have to respond in that way.

The feeling, like I've dreamt it before somewhere. And it's coming more often, and stronger, than ever before.

I wonder if people with photographic memory can remember their dreams.
I wonder, if dreams can portend the future, or possible futures. How can it be, when the future has not happened? Or if time is truly an illusion, and our paths are already set out from before we were born, or even before our grandparents or their grandparents were born?

And, if deja vu is happening more frequently, what does that mean? Is it like when you're near the side of the swimming pool, and the waves bouncing off the wall are coming back more quickly and higher?

Songs in context, out of context

Sometime back I blogged about the last episode of Ghost in the Shell: 2nd Gig. A really poignant episode, which touched on the what it means to live.

Anyway, one of the sad parts was this "Tachikoma's song" which was sung by the cute little Tachikomas.. a song which all of them sang together. Because of their high-pitched voices and the translation of the lyrics, it sounded like some kind of children's folk song, and the context plus instrumentals made it sound really dramatic and tragic... And I kept wondering what the song was!

Today, I checked my mail and discovered that a visitor somehow knew the song. There were even youtube music videos by some singers who I was not aware of. But when I went to see the videos, I was shocked to find that the song was a bouncy-bouncy, dance to the rhythm dance to the beat bubble-gum pop song!

Eh. not exactly what I was hoping for.. waiting for the GITS CD...

Monday, June 19, 2006

Destiny in the Sandman

Kinokuniya's having a 20% sale!! Awesome stuff! lol..

Anyway, I went ahead and bought all the remaining Sandman books in the series. Started reading The Season Of Mists.

Introduction by Harlan Ellison: did I mention I like his style of writing?

anyway, as I started reading, I was struck by a certain resonance in the character of Destiny: a character, carrying his book, which records everything that has happened, and possibly everything that has ever happened.

Examining his book, he finds the encounter with the three women outlined there in every detail. Reading on, he knows what he must do.

Once, I read a short story by Ted Chiang, "Story of Your Life". In it, an interpreter learns the language of an alien species. Their language has a different structure from human language, and reflects a difference in how they view life/time -- they do not seem to see a cause/effect structure in time, but rather that cause and effect are bound up together in time. Kind of like, if the effect did not happen, then there would not be a cause.

The analogy drawn in Ted Chiang's story is of a person who finds a book that writes out exactly how the future will happen. Having found out the future, there are normally two storylines that play out from there in classical fiction: (1) that the person changes her future, or (2) that the person's efforts to change the future result in the predicted future happening. Ted's protagonist posits a different possibility: that the person will be unable to choose otherwise than how the book has written.

(The linked Wiki has a much better explanation of this)

Anyway, it seems to me that Destiny is like that. He sees the book's contents and has no choice but to do exactly as it says, no?

Anyway, Ted's story is a good read. If you want to read it, I have it in one of my Dozois' annual collections. :> The Sandman is also good, and now I have the set!

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Back from Geneva. Swiss Air ground service sucks!

Got back in abt 7am this morning, but feel asleep until close to lunch.. lol.

Swiss Air sucks!
The flight started badly. One thing I consistently found from Geneva is that the service isn't very good at all, unless you speak French. Surprising, cos people keep telling me they have these hotel and tourism schools there.. Anyway, what happened was that we handed 3 passports and 3 sets of tickets to the check-in counter, and they lost one of the tickets (my mom's), and insisted they hadn't taken it. The staff even went through my mom's ticket folder searching for it.. Then she directed my mom to go to the ticketing counter to see if we can get a replacement. And I'm thinking, look my mom booked her ticket, you have her passport there, so why can't you check her in, even without a paper ticket? Those E-tickets are pretty much nothing but a name as well!

At the same time, there was a queue forming up behind us, and the next lady in line pointedly said that we should hurry up and move on cos lots of people are waiting and she's got a nine am flight to catch.
Eh.. Our flight is at 10.20. I got into the queue at 8.40am. Your flight is at 9. You came in after me. Right.. blame it on me, yes!

So, my mom went to ticketing, where they said this is not their responsibility and the check-in staff should call their supervisor. We're just heading back to check-in when the staff reappears holding my mom's ticket.. Oh, they dropped it behind the counter (just like we guessed), they're sorry.. Took us back to the counter. The staff was going off duty I think, and her replacement checked my mom in, but refused to check in my mom for her transfer to the Zurich-Singapore flight... asked her to do it in Geneva.

!@#$%^ service standards.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

June 16, a national holiday in South Africa

Discovered that today's a national holiday in South Africa, to commemorate the Soweto uprising against apartheid, June 16, 1976.

High school students in Soweto protested for better education, and were answered with teargas and bullets. 23 died, and the protests were followed by more riots and more deaths.

Friday, June 16, 2006

Without you

Without you I am...
A field without flowers
An ocean without fishes

When will I hear
the music of your voice,
and see
the end of sadness?