Life like a book

As I sat by the dining table munching down  a piece of “siew pao”, my grandfather sat across me. He is nearly deaf, and this offers challenges when communicating. He caught me as I was about to finish and called me by my name. He trapped me with one of his old tales from World War II. Out of curtesy I had to stay put and listened to him, somehow at the back of my mind I see that any attempts of a decent communication to be futile.

As he recounts the time of when the Japanese occupation, he running from his hometown to escape bombing and taking refuge in the jungle, my thoughts wanders. He suffered more stress than either my generation or my parent’s generation have actually experience, but he is living to way beyond his age. I take comfort in that, in a sense that the future is unknown, so are the strings that orchestrates my thoughts, my actions, my future and my death.

Suddenly it struck me, if I were his age, what kind of stories can I recount to the next generation? Do I need a story? Will I earn enough to settle down and pass on quietly? or inadvertly planned my own premature passing in search for adventure? So far it struck me that at 22 years of age, I already had used up 8000 days of my life. With the average human being only having roughly 20000 days, I would say that time wasn’t on my side.

I struggle with possibilites and realities. A dialetic that Kierkegaard puts forth in the search of the self. Reality sets in harder as the days go by, but I want my book to be filled with stories; with adventure. Thinking keeps me going, but I haven’t decide where to go. At the time being I have to grind through my tertiary education. My book is already quarter-filled, I hope someone can remember when they read it.

 

If I were to wish for anything, I should not wish for wealth and power, but for the passionate sense of the potential, for the eye which, ever young and ardent, sees the possible. Pleasure disappoints, possibility never. And what wine is so sparkling, what so fragrant, what so intoxicating, as possibility! – Søren Kierkegaard

 

 

 

 

 

Body Hacking: Coffee Confusion

I stumbled upon David Asprey, a entrepreneur and radical proponent of bio-hacking. He’s the executive of the company Bulletproof, which sells product for advance living. One of the product is a coffee he claims to be mycotoxin free and a recipe to create a super coffee. A counter-reaction was given by Joe Rogan (who bought into the coffee in the first place until further research) gave a podcast interview Dr. Rhonda Patrick debunking the issue of mycotoxins in the product. So this left me wondering what is the truth behind the issue and whether I want to pursue it to experiment on body-hacking.

So far, the only thing that bothers me about Bulletproof is the inconsistency of the facebook page branding and the website design.

 

Capture

(snapshot of the facebook page)

Capture2

(snapshot of the website)

as of now, I’ll be focusing on sleep hacks and a Fitbit Charge HR seems suitable to get for my birthday.

 

 

 

THE INVISIBLE WAR: GRAPHIC INFLUENCES OF THE COLD WAR AND THE ENVIRONMENTAL WAR

‘The overriding motif Cold War graphic design was giving shape to those things which could not be seen, or had not yet happened: the invisible atom, the sine-wave-like drawings or warning signals blasted from air-raid sirens…’ (2001)

This statement was from an article “Cold War Graphics, or how we learn to accept nuclear devastation without becoming unduly alarmed” by Tom Vanderbilt. He was describing the visual culture of the day, where an invisible war, a war in the minds of individuals and of entire societies. Today, though the threat of nuclear annihilation is still present, attention has moved to a different form of global catastrophe, global warming. Controversy still surrounds the whole idea of global warming within the scientist community according to the Conserve Energy Future Community. The debate rages on between the difference of climate change and global warming. However, the graphics that influenced society and the ideologies of the environmental war can be traced to its predecessor the Cold War; both have an underpining invisible war.

THE COLD WAR

One of the final and lasting image of the Cold War was the collapse of the Berlin Wall. Stone by stone, brick by brick, it marks a resolution for new era. However, the Cold War left behind an afterimage on the peripherals of our everyday existence; an iconic symbol that was once ubiquitous, now slipped into the shadow of society gaze: the fallout shelter sign (Vanderbilt, 2001). The fallout shelter sign was what can be budded as “survival” graphics, yet it is just one step away from its cousin icon: the “rad” warning sign. The fallout shelter sign was the antithesis of its cousin, but with only a minute change of the graphics. However, the “rad” sign implies another imagery, one that was the primary driver of the entire Cold War: the image of the mushroom cloud.

As these imageries assimilate into society, they marked, a rather, speculative conflict that was ubiquitous; no longer the demarkations for were battles clear, nor at a far-off  designated zones (Vanderbilt, 2001). Even though presented with this scenario of war, much of society had never actually seen the devastation that the atom bomb can create.  “This was psychological warfare at its most sophisticated…” (p226) quote Philip M. Taylor (2003), author of the book “Munitions of the Mind”. “Official propaganda therefore had to ensure that the fear of the enemy was sustained at a higher than fear of the Bomb” (pp252-253). In the advent of this invisible war, it was then priority to convince the public that the fear of the enemy was genuine, sensible and justified. This in turn legitimise the need to sustain a nuclear arsenal that would have been at least matchable to the other side. There was never a use for them, for what Taylor (2003) would call it an “inescapably logical course”. (p253)

The logical chain of events that occurs would then involved the ‘demonising’ of the other party. Steven Heller in the article “Cold War Design: Battling the Red Menace” (1992)  for PRINT magazine commented “Communism was represented not as an ideology with a range of political agendas and tonalities, but as a pervasive evil — a disease that had to be rooted out of capitalist culture through the identification and quarantine of infected members.” “The Cold War was Stalin’s war,” writes William G. Hyland, the editor of Foreign Affairs and author of the “The Cold War: 50 Years of Conflict”. (Heller, 1992) There was two battlefields present at the same time: one that involves attacks against the ideological evil, the other involves curbing the spread of the evil within society itself. Groups like the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) were created to sniff out infected individual or groups and ‘cure’ them. The HUAC spent significant probing into Hollywood construed to investigation on how Communist propaganda propagate in the film industry (Heller, 1992). Even with their failure to root out the Communist subversion in the film industry, they made life pretty miserable for those woking in the industry.

From the iconic fallout shelter sign to the radical groups, the underlining driver for all these events is that of an unseen fallout of an invisible war. A psychological war and a war of attrition, with survival in mind, because there can no true victor in a nuclear apocalypse. After the Berlin wall, the Cold War was effectively pronounced over by 1990. The end of one period merely opens another in which the past continues to loom, even in the peripherals. As what the writer and former U.S. Marine, Anthony Swofford, would say, “Every War is different, every war is the same.”

THE ENVIRONMENTAL WARS

Majority consensus seems to agree on this particular global phenomenon. In a web summary for the book “The Discovery of Global Warming”, author Spencer Weart gives a brief history of events behind global warming. Prior to the 21st century, scientist recognised the intrinsically complex issue of global warming and the lack of competent measuring equipments brought much debate within the scientific community (Weart, 2007). He further notes “the mass media (to the limited extent they covered the issue) were confused, sometimes predicting a balmy globe with coastal areas flooded as the ice caps melted, sometimes the warning of the prospect of a catastrophic new Ice Age (pp 2-3).” However, since the 21st century, more advance computers along with prolific quantities of data enabled scientist to conclude that, indeed, human emissions are likely to cause climate change. The subject then went mainstream; rallying large numbers of individuals, government units, and corporate entities for the cause, thus solidifying the image of a possible environmental catastrophe (Weart, 2007, p4).

Tiny minority of the public and scientists who held on to the earlier views were accused of ideological convictions or sheer stubbornness (Weart, 2007, p4). One of its proponent, Dr. Ivar Giaever, a Noble Prize Winner for physics in 1973, disagreed on this concept during his speech titled “Global Warming Revisited” at the Nobel Laureates meeting on 1st July 2005. He points out that, in fact, global warming was not the cause of climate change, but rather, the climate changes anyway. He declared

“I would say that basically global warming is a non-problem. Just leave it alone

and it will take care of itself”. (2005)

The media seemed to have hopped on the band wagon, pressing for the noble cause; and possibly inadvertently created a global crisis that has it ramifications unseen or unclear.

References

Taylor, P. M. 2003. Munitions of the mind. Manchester University Press, third edition.

Vanderbilt, T. 2001. Cold War Graphics, or how we learn to accept nuclear devastation without becoming unduly alarmed.

http://www.conserve-energy-future.com/is-global-warming-real.php

http://www.nature.org/ourinitiatives/urgentissues/global-warming-climate-change/

https://www.aip.org/history/climate/pdf/Summary.pdf

Photography Journal 5: Faces behind Poverty

Continuing from the previous post, I followed Mala back to her block. She told me a brief about her story, aged 45 and being a grandmother staying with a useless husband, oddly enough, we bumped into her husband on the way up. They didn’t talk much.

Once we reached her flats, it has a shade of gloom. I met Joshua and Bravin Raj, Mala’s two grandson under her care. They are rascals like any other young boys, but cooperative.

The place was empty but having every other utility cramped around the corners. The railings on the balcony had a huge gap between that is a danger to the kids. Bravin started to packed his bag as I walked in, tidying the area with only the setting sunlight. The kitchen and the laundry was in the same place, next to the toilet.

When there is darkness there is light. Young Joshua learning to place a candle firmly as grandma watched and guided him. A light that illuminates many other things.

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After that, Mala had the generosity to bring me around to other residence’s homes. The first family we visited was a Malay family. Upon reaching the entrance, the windows were boarded up in place of the glass curtain that was suppose to be there. The matriarch of the house was Lini, and her 6 children, plus one more on the way. During the interview, a few of the kid’s friend came in and just sat around. Though not having much, Lini is thankful for a hardworking husband. Her husband works as a security guard with a month wage of RM900. Lini would stay in the house very often because going down stairs without being able to buy her kids snacks hurts her. But she tries whenever she can, most of the time it is just RM6 to spent on leisure snacks. Right outside the house there was quite a number of Astro satellite installation, Mala refers to them as the rich people. Does make you wonder if there is a social gap even within  poverty flats (?).

The next family that we visited was another Indian family. There was a Chinese resident, however, it is just one aunty staying alone. Entering the Indian family house, the same conditions resonants. Leaking pipes rendered toilets unusable and sundry’s pots and pans placed next to the toilet.

Pieces like these you can’t really find in normal houses. The door has been doodle, from what I understand, with study notes. That is one way to revise. Dadaist would probably fall head over heels for this piece of “artwork”.

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The tour ended with a privilege of visiting Mala’s humble corner shop-lot. It was still raining so we had to suffer through the rain. She sells sari that were brought over from Indonesia and flavoured drinks with a bit of snacks. She is currently waiting for a stock of hotdogs for her new sales venture.

The end of it, I was grateful for Mala’s time she was willing to give me. So I offered to buy some treats for the kids from a nearby stall. They left the place with a hand-full of balloons.

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This is life. As I left the area, the contradictions of life ring so clear here. In Mala’s house there was a shrine dedicated to one of her sons. Loganathan worked at a car wash and was the responsible one around, but there was an accident and he passed 9 years ago. Mala never knew what happened to her son. This rings true for the reality of “the good dying young”, what a tragedy.

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However, hope still blooms in the little ones, a future, and possibly… a change.

Physiotherapy Week 4: Balance

I find the lack of overall physical balance… disturbing. Never knew my lower body was so week to start with. So then, maybe a change of workout routine is needed. Instead my my version of M100 (which includes clapping superman pushup burpees, mountain climbers and squats), I should focus more on balance and strength on the lower half. Some of the exercises I would implement would be lateral squats, cross leg lateral squats and crab walk squats. Hopefully this will strength my lower body and resolve the muscle complain on my groin area. (apparently they are called circuit lunges)

I’ll start will 10 of each to 100.

Photography Journal 4: PPR Kota Damansara Excursion

It is 22 Jan 2016, I woke up on a late Friday Morning with a phone call from one of my contacts to help me out in the project. He told me that there was a group of Australia student are going over to the PPR flats for a study on CSR and that I could tag along. I was having another class at the time of the meeting and I was challenged whether I should continue on with my schedule or to break the familiar to go into the unknown. Well, in one of my previous blog, I made a committed to chose the door to the unknown, so I went all the way. I guess it was a class I can afford to sacrifice, and I’m glad I did.

Reaching the place was an adventure itself. My gps wasn’t working, so I drove on anyways. All I have to work with is a vague image of the flats. I entered a placed where I though it looked like the image in google, but I was lost. However, the place wasn’t very well maintained as well, and there were leaking pipes and water dripping from the forth floor. It located behind Pelangi Square, the place looked like a location of interest, but not where my meeting point on that day was. Thank God I finally managed to get my GPS working, but I had to make a huge detour.

I met up with my contact, Yeng Lim, who was agent for a paper mill company now he works full time in the community. He explained to me about the economic, political, and social issues in the flats itself. The community centre is then for the use of educating and bringing up kids to have a healthy future. They run all sorts of activity and tuition for the children around there. After the Australia group came with a PSM representative, we went around for a tour – standard procedure (to  be honest, not what I was looking for).

They talked bout the incident of the 5 years old kid who fell from the sixth floor due to horrible safety facilities. The stairs, not until recently, had no railing until the 4th floor and there were huge gaps in between the railings for each floor. As we had just began, the clouds overcast and it begin to pour. What a gloomy addition to the trip.

While gazing at the endless floors of railings, I manage to connect with some of the local children there. Arwin raj (kid in blue) was the first to be friendly with me, Haris (the cool kid), and Nanthini (the girl who came later), the boy on the phone was a bit shy.

The boys were at the time, before I interrupted them, we playing around with a metal bottle, throwing it to the ground while amused as powdered substance gush out of the bottle. I was terrified that it was some new way to smoke drugs. But I found out later that their had gathered all the fireworks powder from last year in the bottle, such simple yet odd way to be entertained.

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As the tour continues, the maximum utilisation for the surrounding facilities is evident. Railings as bike holders, clothe hangers and many more. The elevator wasn’t working on the third floor, or rather, there isn’t a button there at all. Faulty wirings and flawed mechanics in the elevator system seem to be a threat to the residence in everyday life. Sadly, most of the money used for improve the facilities are used to refurbish the interior of the elevator. It seems like an incident that is just waiting to happen.

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As the tour has ended, the group gather and discuss more about the bird’s eye view issues of the place. While as for me, I’ve asked Mala, one of the helpful and charismatic community leaders there, that whether she can take me around to visit some of the residence. She gladly obliged.

Photography Journal 3:Coding Experience

So then I begin learning coding action script 3.0 on Adobe Flash from a friend. It wasn’t as hard as I thought. Basically learning click function, click and drag function, and click and drag and drop function (yes, they are all different, or rather multiple DISTINCT steps). The meticulousness of the subject, it is like learning an alien language and seeing the shapes respond. And so here are some screen shots of the processes:

Screen Shot 2016-01-21 at 8.33.02 PMScreen Shot 2016-01-21 at 8.46.49 PMScreen Shot 2016-01-21 at 8.59.20 PM

Cheers