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The Asian Century is Here!

HAPPY NEW YEAR readers of the Decode Blog!

It’s been four weeks already since some of us Decoders have joined a convoy to travel to Beijing, China. One of our main purposes is of course to know what is happening to China and why/how the Asian Century is unfolding.

For those who are not well acquainted with the term “Asian Century,” it has been coined by the meeting of Rajiv Gandhi and Deng Xiaoping, leaders of China and India in the 70s, predicting that in the 21st century, the world will be dominated not by the West (U.S., Canada, Australia, and Europe) but by China and India, two Asian countries with the largest populations on earth.

Of course, we Filipinos predictably have no idea of this phenomenon that is NOW sweeping the globe. Droves of Filipinos young and old are still dreaming of going out of the country to go to America to achieve that so-called “American Dream.” But here’s the thing: global power has now shifted from the West to the East, says Kishore Mahbubani, dean of the Lee Kwan Yew School of Public Policy, of the National University of Singapore. And true enough when we went to Beijing, we were shocked at what we saw.

2008 is really a turning point of Asia because of two pivotal events: (1) the Beijing 2008 Summer Olympics Opening which shook the world as China ushered in the most expensive of all the openings of Olympics in the entire Olympic history. It was awe-inspiring as each segment of the presentation showed the world that China is a civilization that the West has to face in this century. (2) It’s of course the current global economic crisis that began in Wall Street and is now rocking the boat for all countries who heavily depended on the West.

When three of us Decoders went to Beijing, what we saw was utterly shocking. We didn’t find a Communist country, much less a people deprived of basic human rights. We did not find people wanting to leave China. What we found were streets bustling with fashionable people buying Louis Vuitton and Versace, young people in bicycles smiling and carrying books, streets so wide and so long that you couldn’t even see the end of it, buildings so tall with large LCD screens on their outer facades, in short the pervasive feeling in the air was tremendous optimism for the future.

We were fortunate to have a knowledgeable and passionate tour guide with us, Ms. Lily, who toured us all over Beijing. The first three days (beginning December 8) were about China. We visited the Forbidden City, the Temple of Heaven, the Ming Dynasty Tombs, the Summer Palace, and the Great Wall. The second three days, we visited the humongous Dragon Airport—the largest airport terminal in the world, the Bird’s Nest Stadium, the Water Cube (National Aquatics Center), the Egg (National Opera House), and the sophisticated and large Capital Museum.

We thought China would be so affected by the economic crisis. We asked the tour guide if this was so. “No,” she said. “A small fraction of our businesses have closed down, but the main ones are still booming.” Then she went on to say, “Did you know, there are 6,000 new cars in our streets every day.” Wow.

I won’t tell you about their structures because I sure know that you guys must have read those facts somewhere. But here’s what I discovered, China is China because they did not forget who they were. One part of Tian’enmen Square was the Legation Quarter, where the tour guide said the “No Dogs and Chinese allowed” sign used to be displayed there for all the world to see. I saw how they did not forget their past, and how their optimism and pride are not founded on sheer pride alone, but on their 5000 years of history and that Asian-ness—their love for their country and their culture, that time and time again they have proven to the world that we Asians are not barbarians and primitives, we had a civilization and we can rebuild one. (Think of Zheng He predating Columbus!)

Now I discovered why they can build structures like the Bird’s Nest and Water Cube. It’s like a small effort compared to the structures of their past like the Great Wall—built on mountains covered by clouds.

While we were on the bus that Thursday, one of the people in the group we were with asked, “Do you think China will be the next superpower?”

How the tour guide replied to that question shocked us.

“No, no, no. We are not a superpower. We don’t want to be one. We want China to be strong, yes, but we don’t want to have the ultimate global power. You saw the sites we’ve visited? We always have walls in our history and culture. Walls on the Forbidden City. Walls on our cities. The Great Wall. We want China to be strong, but not as the West wants itself to be strong—like colonizing other nations. We have this philosophy—the water from the well never bothers the water from the river.”

Wow. That’s Confucius right there! That is why the West can never understand the East. The West thinks that China is here to take power from them. While the West is typically individualistic in that sense, they can never understand how we Easterners value  ‘community’.

They say that real traveling is not using your legs to see new places, but looking for the secrets of a certain place with the eyes of one’s heart. I can only imagine what Marco Polo had glimpsed when he saw China in all its grandeur.

What China has taught us is a lesson that we Filipinos should never ever forget—Love of Country. And I can say this confidently, the Chinese loved their country even when 20 years ago it was the basketcase of the world. And now that China is on the rise, we Decoders are confident that as we love the Philippines—by pursuing excellence in our endeavors, we shall see it rise one day, beginning with us.

And no doubt, China will lead this century, despite the West’s denial that its time is over, because “big” is never “big” in a Chinese’s eyes unless he does it himself.

2008 is indeed a pivotal moment. We were privileged to see China as it is now.

The Asian Century is indeed here!

PS: Watch “China Rising” segments on Discovery Channel, and while you’re at it, try visiting the Asian Century Museum at 3rd Floor of Crossroad 77 Convention Center, at Mo. Ignacia, Quezon City which reopens on January 4th, 2009.

~Resplend3nt


Geeks are funny

Just a quick note.

I recently had a conversation with geeks and shall i say that geeks are really funny. :) Picture your self editing a word document with three others all at the same time in separate computers. Thanks to Google Docs you can actually do that. If an entire line gets deleted, it’s just too funny  to trace who did it. I had the most hilarious time.  Forget the paper trail and the “track changes” function of Word and  edit while you laugh! There is this theory by one decoder that 10,000 BC was written using google docs with several people simultaneously editing!

Geeks also like talking about why they disagree! isn’t that funny? Conversation is always interesting. If i were a geek, i’d come up with a hotline and this would be my tagline. “If your day is dull, just dial G-E-E-K and you’ll laugh your blues away.”

-the fool


I Wish I Had Teeth Phobia

The pursuit of having a bilateral, pearly set of teeth crept into my consciousness even before I knew my multiplication table. I had been a big fan of cute American girls beaming  an expansive smile revealing a bracketed set of 20++ perfectly aligned teeth. I would’ve traded my Barbie dolls for braces laced with fluorescent pink elastics from end to end. Little did I know that it would be a very long wait before I could experience the sheer bliss of running my tongue over the sharp corners of cemented brackets.

braces2

one happy smile

So, I waited…

My panoramic jaw x-ray showed that the size of my jaws could not contain all the big chunks of second molars that were erupting into my mouth. I    suppose the impacted molars were trapped somewhere inside my gums. I did not understand any of this. The next thing I knew was I was being swung down a dental chair and tada!–my initiation to the wonderful world of conscious sedation had begun.

impacted

panoramic jaw x-ray

I can still vividly recall the bitter-sweet aftermath of each of the 13 impacted teeth (of all sorts) that was extracted from my premature jaws—the tingly sensation on my gums that once held a healthy tooth, the blood blotted pillows, the oversized protrusion in my cheek that is a cotton ball cushion, and, best of all, an unbeatable diet of pure decadence: ice cream (of all sorts) that can be prolonged (with a bit of acting skills) for three days.

13 teeth less after… still, I waited…

I was appointed to go back to the clinic. After days of blissful anticipation, I readied myself and proceeded in my favorite floral dress. To my dismay, not a bracket was cemented on my teeth. I knew that the procedure usually takes two hours; mine was less than a fraction of a minute. My kind dentist simply handed me a tiny silver key and a plastic case of some sort. The content was a grave nightmare, a merciless modern-day torture item—an Expansion.

I cried every time my dad would pop the key in my expansion, expanding the mouthpiece a tenth of a millimeter each time. My suffering brought much hope to my kind dentist as she saw incremental improvement on my teeth that only a dentist could see. Soon, I got used to my slime green colored mouthpiece-companion. This lasted for almost a year, until it was accidentally thrown into a garbage chute.

I waited, still…

Five years later, my much-awaited desire was fulfilled. My teeth were lined with braces. Though a bit substandard, I thought they were dazzling.

Two years after, I severely dislocated my lower jaw. Good-bye braces, hello splint.

Again, I waited…

A special kind of braces was cemented on my teeth, not porcelain but state-of-the-art—better than those on the cute American girls.

Now that waiting is over and my braces are gone, looking back makes me think that maybe having a teeth phobia of some sort would have added sheer thrill to this article.

~FEARLESS IN PINK


Malay mo totoo?

The Logic of Online ‘Cursed’ Messages

I have long been irritated by messages that I’m sure you’d find in your e-mail inboxes, YM offline messages or friendster/myspace bulletins. Some controversial header would catch your attention: “Yahoo Messenger is Shutting Down”, “Urgent, please read” or as absurd as “Don’t Open”, “My family was massacred”, “Walang Pasok!” or “Crush Kita”, “Goodbye”. You’ll get curious so you’ll open the message and lo and behold, a message strikes fear on you, “Since you opened this message, someone will call you by phone and you’ll die in seven days, unless you repost this” or try “Repost this message quickly and blessings will come to you in 3 days.”

And you wonder why such absurd messages run amok in the internet. So let us analyze this social phenomenon, shall we? The message is obviously designed to attract your attention. Because curiosity is a human thing, and no one can resist opening a message with a header “Do not read”, you open it. To your shock, the message has that FEAR factor. Familiar thoughts would come to mind: “What if this is true?” or “I won’t lose anything naman if I repost this.” Applying a twisted version of Pascal’s Wager, you just say “If this is true and I repost this, nothing will happen to me because I just did what the post told me to do. But if in case this isn’t true, nothing will happen to me as well.”

Well truth be told, Gossip has those same elements with these so-called “Online Doomsayers”.

It’s like saying, “Don’t tell this to anyone ha?” to make the person interested in what you’d say. Then you change your voice modulation, with an eerie ghostly feel to it: “Because you’ve listened to me, you’ll die in seven days.”

Apparently these rumors are rampant among us Filipinos, because we still believe in what we call, ‘chamba’ or ‘swerte/malas”. Everything depends on chances. “Malay mo totoo. Wala naman mawawala di ba kung gagawin mo?” That train of thought has the assumption that there’s no telling if this is true. Chances are, these might happen. Wala naman mawawala di ba? I beg to disagree. Something was indeed lost. That is, our will to choose, that capacity to summon our energies to redirect our so-called ‘fate’. Lose that and you’d just end up being a victim of circumstances (in this case, a victim of a measly piece of message) and not a mover in history.

I mean, c’mon… would you even believe a baseless statement?

Would you believe “The Earth is Flat” simply because I said it? Of course not. All the more so, considering the one reposting the message you just received just got tricked by that message. One can logically conclude that the sender of the message is a ‘victim’ of the message that was sent.

So here is my suggestion. If you ever encounter such message again, even if it threatens you by telling you, “If you don’t repost this, something terrible will happen to your family”, don’t believe it. You’re not a victim of ‘what ifs’ and other irrational statements. You have every right not to believe simply because it doesn’t have any basis at all. Don’t be easily convinced and resort to resignation.

Trust me, you’ll save people in your email address book from reading another message that may yet waste their precious time. Just treat it as spam. :D

~resplend3nt


Greetings from a reader of the classics (Part 1)

Hello guys. i recently started reading the classics again. and it was a pleasant experience, revisiting the reasons why i adored the classics while growing up. reading iliad for example brought me back to the kind of poignant heroism of achilles. truth be told, i find it hard to watch Troy again. it’s one of those unrepeatables, all because of the PAIN that the viewer must face too in processing the choices that the heroes faced. hector was the ideal but was doomed to stand up for an ill-decision not of his own making. achilles craved for glory but could only gain it through a tragic death and in it, find his humanity. if you go further down the line of the great writings of the greeks, you’ll discover the tragedies and commentaries that answer what makes civilization? now jump a bit to another hemisphere and you find the russians tolstoy and dostoevsky who were decidedly un-western. read further and you discover what tolstoy has in common with augustine and rousseau! they all wrote confessions! augustine wrote his The Confessions while rousseau wrote his Confession and tolstoy wrote A Confession. as to the content… most insteresting is rousseau’s because he is TOTALLY RIDICULOUS. how’s that for an enlightenment thinker! enlightenment in his context is an absolute misnomer. now you will not be surprised why the french revolution was the way it was.
–The Fool


Mefenamic Acid and the Mystery that is the Human Body

Pain relievers were not usually an option for me as I have always been scared of becoming addicted to them. I believe that the best meds in the world are laughter and sleep, which is why I do those two things a lot. But there comes a time when, at your wits end, you take on the Popeye the Sailor character, you mutter to yourself, “That’s all I can stands, I can’t stands no more!” and you resort to gulping down not a can of spinach but a 500 mg tablet of mefenamic acid. This is exactly what I did in response to the torment of inflamed gums, and may I just say that the result so astounded me, I just had to find out how exactly this powerful pill airbrushes away your pain, albeit temporarily. I decided to take a personal refresher course on sophomore high school Biology, minus the pressures of oral exams. Here are my study notes, do correct me if I have misunderstood some things:

Pain is a physiological effect of the synthesis of prostaglandins, which is produced when white blood cells flood towards a damaged tissue to try and minimize the destruction. In other words, pain is an indication that your body is trying to repair itself. Also involved in the production of prostaglandins is a substance in the body called cyclooxygenase or COX. Mefenamic acid works by blocking the action of cyclooxygenase, and, in effect, inhibits the synthesis of prostaglandins. Results? Voila, pain and even fever is relieved! At least for the next four to six hours. I have never been a the best in Bio but learning about the human body again, Hamlet’s words are ringing in my ears, “What a piece of work is a man…” Is that cool or what?

~ r0b!n go0dfell0w


Short stories from Nobody

After my long stay in Malaysia, a Malaysian friend of mine said “My girlfriend told me I’m fat already. It’s because I met this Filipino guy who I always bring to where the good food is.” Hospitality can really cost us new sets of clothes. I felt a bit guilty, so I tried to come up with fast solutions. If David Copperfield can make the statue of liberty disappear and David Blane can levitate on the air, there must be a way to make a fat person thin right?

 

Luckily I remembered the Ebbinghaus illusion. It is a type of optical illusion where the perceived size of an object is biased to grow or to shrink by the relative size of other objects surrounding it. The diagram below can better give you an idea of what I mean.

 

change the circles to people

 

 

 

Just replace the circles with actual people and the magic is revealed. Using that logic, I told him, not to worry. I said “next time you see your girlfriend just be sure, you bring your fatter friends with you”. But the plan backfired as he ended up saying “maybe I’ll bring you next time”.

 

~ Nobody


Chinese History (When it was an Empire)

The Qin dynasty is the first dynasty to have ever had an emperor. His name is Ying Zheng, but later on he changes his name to Shihuangdi, “First August Emperor”. He predicated that his empire would stand for ten thousand years, but it crumbled just three years after his death. During the Qin dynasty weapons were confiscated, the walls of each states were torn down, each state was uniformly administered, the Chinese scripts were unified, and the weights and measures were standardized.

 

There was a peasant uprising that took place three years after the death of Ying Zheng, his tyranny and megalomaniac projects like the Great Wall of China and the Terra cotta  warriors caused this. Now the mandate of heaven belonged to the Han dynasty. Under the Han dynasty Confucianism flourished all over china; the promulgation of the teachings of Confucius (focused on human morality and right action). The Hans also removed the annual mobilization and training of peasants, now the warfare requires a permanent army, an army that is paid for by tax. In addition the Silk Road was opened during this period, allowing trade not just from within the empire, but also neighboring countries.

 

But the Han dynasty also collapsed from within. It was divided into three rival kingdoms; it is known as the Three kingdoms period. One literary master piece “The Romance of the Three Kingdoms” depicts the battles and struggles of these three kingdoms. The famous John Woo movie “Red Cliff”, tells the story of the battle of Red Cliff lead by Liu Bei, it is just one story in the romance of the three kingdoms.

 

In 589 AD the Sui dynasty became that unifier, but like the Qin dynasty, it was built in ruthlessness and megalomaniac spending of resources. During the Sui reign, the great wall was extended and the longest man made grand canal in the world was constructed. History once again repeated itself; a dynasty that is not benevolent to its people will always lose the mandate of heaven.  

 

The inevitable happened another dynasty overthrew the Sui, this dynasty is marked by prosperity and innovations in the arts and technology; they are known as the Tang Dynasty. The Tang dynasty is considered as the “Golden Age” of China. One significant policy that was implemented during this time was the “Equal Field System” where land grants were given by the emperor to the families based on their needs not their wealth. It was also during this period that Prince Shotoku Taishi, commissioned Ono no Imoko, to be an envoy from Sunrise Empire (Japan) to negotiate with the Sunset Empire (China) so that Japanese scholars can study in China. The Japanese scholars brought with them the idea of making swords, bonsai, tea drinking and many more. The idea came from china but because it was perfected in Japan, it is commonly associated to the Japanese.

 

But a series of rebellion broke out during this dynasty which led to another united China. They entered into a new period known as the Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms period. It was half a century of power struggle between another growing people known as the Song.

 

In 960 AD the Song gained the upper hand, it controlled majority of the cities. The Song dynasty initially had its capital at Bianjing  (now Kaifeng), but it was conquered by the Jin dynasty. After losing control of northern china, the Song transferred its capital to the south in Lin’an (now Hangzhou). The Song dynasty was marked with significant improvements pre-modern technology, science, philosophy, mathematics, and engineering because of the invention of the movable type printing press.

 

The Song could have stayed in power, had it not for the genius of Kublai Khan, the grand son of Genghis Khan. For many years, the Song dynasty has repelled the Mongol hordes, which can be mostly attributed to their secret weapon, gun powder. But eventually Kublai Khan learned the secrets of Gun powder and was able to use it against the Song. He won and created a new dynasty called the Yuan dynasty. The capital was now moved to Beijing. Kublai Khan, opened trade routes to the west, which the well known Venetian trader Marco Polo used. In this period, Christianity and other religion was tolerated in China. Among the many innovations in this period was the use of paper money, the use of granaries as solutions to famines, and the introduction of drama and novels. Another interesting fact during this time was the invasion of Japan by the Mongols which ended by a tragedy because divine winds (Kamikaze) wiped out the Mongol fleet twice. There are some rumors that says that the ships used by Kublai Khan to send to Japan where former fishing boats designed to cross only rivers, haste really makes wastes.

 

But China should be ruled by the Chinese; at least this was the belief of the Chinese people who rebelled against the Mongols. The Ming people succeeded in overthrowing the Mongols and they ushered in the Ming dynasty. The Ming dynasty was different from all the other dynasties because it focused on agriculture. Emperor Hongwu aimed to create a self sufficient rural communities where there is no need to trade for basic commodities, these produced a surplus in food production and a population boom. The Ming dynasty was also megalomaniac; in this dynasty the largest fleet (300 ships) until the world war was launched.  It was more than twice the size of the Spanish armada (130 fleets) strong. Its mission was to trade and sail the whole world. It was commissioned by a favored eunuch of emperor Wu di named admiral Zheng He. In addition, the Ming established the forbidden city and the restored the great wall and the grand canal

 

The Mings were later on defeated by the Manchu people and established the Qing dynasty. It is the last of all the Chinese dynasty. The Qing dynasty created the most complete Chinese dictionary.  They also implemented the Eight Banner system because they do not want to be assimilated to the Chinese. It is a military institution that set up standards on which a Manchu “bannermen” would be identified it is based more on skills in archery, horsemanship, and frugality.

~ Nobody


Chinese History (Before the empires)

The earliest written record of civilization in China began during the Shang dynasty (1600 – 1100 BC) where animal bones known as “oracle bones” and turtle shells became material where it was in scripted. The Shang dynasty is the longest running dynasty ever in Chinese history. It was ruled by 31 different kings and the capital was moved six times. The primary mark of this dynasty is the introduction of writing, the building of walled settlements, the appearance of an elite who extracted obedience and goods from the common people, and the use of large-scale military forces. The succession of power during the Shang dynasty is solely from father to the eldest son. Power revolves solely to the immediate family and relatives of the current Shang king.

 

By the end of the second millennium BC, the Shang was overthrown by the Zhou people; they were the people living in the west part of the Shang dynasty. The irony is that the Zhou people were considered as the ”Western Protector” by the Shang, this over throwing gave rise to the Zhou dynasty. The primary innovation during the Zhou dynasty was the practice of granting fiefdom where lands can be ruled not just by the immediate family and relatives of the king, but also by allies and other noblemen. The famous mandate of heaven idea was introduced also in this period, the concept of rulers being appointed by the one who is in heaven. If you watched the movie “Hero” it shows a story of an angry assassin abandoning his mission of  killing the emperor by a simple phrase “All under heaven”, since heaven is the supreme authority and the current ruler is just the appointee. The idea of a power greater than that of the royal family and the nobility choosing the rightful ruler,  would give the serfs a chance to rule the throne as what would be the case in most of the succeeding dynasties.

 

The practice of fiefdom later on determined the next stage of Chinese history known as the warring states period. Fiefdom allowed mini nobles and kings to divide and rule the large kingdom and the idea of the mandate of heaven opened the idea that anyone can become the supreme ruler; hence the throne was open for power struggle. In this period, there were seven states that became strong enough to consider themselves independent. But amongst the seven, one dynasty stood greater, the Qin state. The Qin state elevated the Chinese from dynasty to imperial as it conquered and united all the seven other states.

 

~ nobody

 


Sipping Tea, Sipping Life (Part 2)

How to get the most from your tea drinking experience?

Take this time to brood (don’t brood too long though because this will not be healthy anymore)! How’s that for the melancholic-poetic bone in you? Sit by the window. Drink in some poetry. Read the classics. Reflect. We all need this to get in touch with the finer things that make us human.

Now let’s get started.

First, get a tea press. Tea bags are okay in the fast lane… but let’s do things differently for once. I suggest that you get yourself a small Bodum or Pyrex black tea press. :) Get the larger one if you plan on brewing a lot of tea in one go. Starbucks used to have quaint tea presses with design, but now it only has the medium sized one.

Second, get some Darjeeling tea leaves. Try Stash. You can check Tea Spa for stock. Follow the directions on the packet for the brewing and make sure that you don’t underbrew or overbrew. Stick to the ideal duration for best taste. Now for the sugar, try cubes. If none is on stock, get crystals. If none is available, only then should you consider honey. Since this is dark tea—which to me is the champagne of teas—don’t forget the milk! Fresh milk is best.

Third. Find proper tea cups and saucers. That is very much part of the experience. Drop the sugar cubes into the cup first then pour the tea. Last is the milk. Leave it to settle first. After a short while, dip the tea unstirred. Naturally, the tea gets progressively sweeter as you drink. It’s like your reward is at the end of the rainbow! Or you get to reflect that your destiny gets brighter and brighter like the noonday sun! Of course in your succeeding cups, you can stir your tea.

4th. Sipping tea is perfect among friends. If coffee is taken quickly, sipping tea among friends takes 3 hours! The hours pass happily.

Here are some alternatives to Darjeeling. Try Starbucks’ Extra Hot Green Tea Latte or Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf’s Chai Latte. Who would have thought that green tea can be taken with milk? Perhaps I was oblivious because of my affinity to how Asian teas are taken. In Japan, tea is serious business!

–The Fool


Sipping Tea, Sipping Life (Part 1)

Sipping tea is one of the best experiences in the world. I took a liking to sipping dark tea, most specifically Darjeeling. Try taking it with fresh milk and some sugar cubes and your day is made. But so much more happens when you sip tea. Every time I sip tea, I am instantly transported to the time of the Pubs which people frequent to get the latest stock prices from the docks, the latest news on international politics, latest pieces by the great writers and even latest inventions by the scientific community. They called it Penny University. For a penny, one gets a cup of tea, a roll of newspaper and here’s the best treat of all—one gets to converse with the wits of the day! In the East, tea is a time of respite between two warriors who pause to reflect on life. In that brief moment, they are not enemies to be conquered. War would be farthest from their beings. They get to sip life again. Sipping tea, for Asians, is also about establishing relationships by first getting to know each other. You might have noticed that beautiful scene in Fearless where the martial artists from Japan and China were sipping tea to get to know each other. For the Japanese, sipping tea is one entire ceremony—a cultural institution if you must. They call it Chado, the way of tea. If you are a guest, sipping tea begins way way before you enter the tea room. It begins when you start washing your hands. Very much like life. The journey begins not in the result, but in the inner aspects—a resolution within, a decision. Chado makes a statement on civilization. For instance, it covers interpersonal behavior (i.e. etiquette), democracy (i.e. you are all human beings when you are sipping together), and service (e.g. the best design on the tea cup of the host must face the guest). Wow… all that in just a tea cup!

–The Fool


How NOT to conquer the world

~ Nobody


New discovery in mathematics

There is a new equation that I learned yesterday, like how post it, x-ray, and all the other accidental inventions was discovered, I have never planned nor wished to discover it. It’s a lot simpler to explain that quantum physics and compared to genetic algorithm this one is so much easier to understand. Well its not part of the branch of evolutionary computations, but it happens in a case to case basis. The rules are actually simple, just a disclaimer this equation is not a theorem for the simple reason that there are additional assumptions to consider and a lot of arbitrary values just pops up on the other side of the equation. The equation is:

15mins = 24hours + 264MYR++

Allow me to explain the equation above. There is a famous saying that to know the value of 1 second ask a silver medalist in a race. To know the value of 15 minutes, ask nobody, since nobody has just been left by the plane. Well I may have several reasons why I was left out, but the bottom line is that I really have no valid excuse. So for nobody’s dignity’s sake, the real reason for this will not be revealed in this blog entry.

I missed my check in time by 15 minutes, the consequence was more than what I was willing to pay, but I paid it anyway since it was my fault. I need to wait for another 24 hours because Malaysia Airlines only flies once everyday to Manila. So when I missed my flight, I went to the Malaysia Airlines ticketing office to have it rebooked to the following day. They charged me certain fees, I’m guessing its rebooking fee and no show me, it cost me around MYR 264 or USD75. It’s still cheap compared to other airlines like Singapore Airlines who charged a friend of mine SGD 300+ for a missed flight. As I said, it’s not a theorem since my 15 minutes cost less than my friend’s 15 minutes.

After all the rebooking errands have been done, the next problem is just where to sleep. I’ve seen some people, pretending to be Tom Hanks in the movie “The Terminal”, sleeping on the benches of the airport, not a very pleasant sight to see, so I never considered it as an option. Finding a hotel in KLIA (Kuala Lumpur International Airport) is not a problem since you can do spontaneous booking from the hotel booths available there. In fact, there is a hotel inside the airport already, but I never went into a hotel. I opted, to sleep over a friend’s house, since the offer was made a few days before I ever went to KL.

Well, regardless of how much the 15 minutes actually cost me, past is past and lesson learned. I’m writing this blog entry somewhere in the South China sea in between Malaysia and the Philippines. The price of the 15 minutes has already been paid for and the lessons have already been learned. Right now I’m just so excited to go back to the place I call home. 

~ Nobody


Pull Ze Switch!

I was totally surprised by this movie.

I thought this was another lame digital film like Happily Never After, but hey, this one was … soo geeky!

Let me share you my quick synopsis of Igor.

If you want a taste of Frankenstein and Mad Scientists, of monsters and musicals, of a gloomy but funny story, of Jaqueline and Heidi (yes that’s Jekkyl and Hyde for you), of a sudden feeling of Schadenfreude, of Annie the musicale and hypnotic machines, well you shouldn’t miss Igor.

Igor is the recently acclaimed comedy digital animated film about a life of an Igor (If you haven’t watched Frankenstein, Igor is the popular sidekick guy portrayed as an assistant of Dracula or Frankenstein). PULL ZE SWITCH!

(Spoilers below!)

Enter the town of Malaria, a town that has an everlasting dark cloud hovering above it. This dark cloud has hampered its industry. Because of this, the evil mayor of Malaria has organized the annual EVIL Science Fair gathering mad scientists who would invent evil inventions. Out of fear for their lives, the whole world would pay Malaria large sums of money so that the inventions would not lay havoc on them. This same money would be the prize of the Evil Science Fair. Now in this town, there are lots of Mad Scientists and each has their own Igor, assistants trained in the Igor School… and the first thing they learn in that school is that phrase they should always use in response to any mad scientist: “yezzz mastah!”

Now there’s this particular Igor who wanted to invent an evil invention. In fact he already invented several gizmos: two of those became his friends—Scamper the Existentialist Rabbit, and Brian (who actually came from a jar with a dead brain inside… Brian is a misspelling of ‘brain’). Igor wanted to say this to his master but the Mad Scientist would not believe him because Igors, they believe, can’t think. But while this Mad Scientist is testing his new invention… er the “Evil Lasagna” it exploded, leaving just an arm of the said scientist. Fearing for his life, Igor invented a long-awaited dream, a monster with life! Unfortunately so, his monster turned out to be … not evil, but EVA—an aspiring actress who couldn’t even hurt a fly. Now, an evil scientist named Dr. Schadenfreude (yeah, the infamous German word was turned into a name of a character in this film) was so jealous of Igor’s former master that he investigated and found out that there’s no Mad Scientist to be found. And worse, he found out Igor’s invention and wants to steal it… for the upcoming Science Fair.

(End Spoilers!)

I was really laughing so hard in the cinema while watching the whole film. I bet GEEKS made this movie… Now I will never see Annie the same way again. Haha.

The film ended with this saying: It is better to be a good nobody than an evil somebody! Now that’s what a GREAT movie is all about!

If you’re a geek, don’t miss this movie. It’s really really worth watching! :D

~resplend3nt


KL Drift, Tokyo Drift, and Lord of the Rings (?)

 

I wanna drift! I wanna drift! I wanna drift!

 

I always wanted to learn how to drift (watch the trailer and you’ll know why). In fact, I just learned how to drift in the Daytona USA 1 arcade game. A friend of mine taught me after losing several races to him. It’s quite easy; the secret is to know the map, you must know when to drift and when to just turn. In Daytona USA 1, the best map to practice drifting is the advanced map, then select manual transmission. When you’re about to turn shift to gear number 1 and turn the steering wheel towards the direction you want to turn. When you turn to that direction shift to 3rd gear then to 4th gear. Easy right?

 

But this post isn’t about drifting. It’s about KL drift. Ironically, KL drift reminds me more of Lord of the rings rather than Tokyo drift. No, the lead character isn’t a small hobbit and neither does he look anything close to Elijah Wood. The supporting character isn’t a fat hobbit either. He is actually a thin tall guy. The similarity lies in the story. The drifting part is actually just sugar coats to the story. I don’t want to be a spoiler but I’ll guess ill tell the story anyway (hey, you can chose not to read this blog entry yet, if your planning to watch the movie). The lead character in the story is guy named Zack, he wanted the drug syndicates to stop selling drugs in his town so he challenged the drug leader to a race around the city. If Zack loses, he gives up his car, but if he wins, the drug leader and his gang leaves town. But there is another parallel story happening. There is a conflict between Zack and his best friend Sham. Sham really likes Zack’s ex-girlfriend and she likes him too, but since Zack isn’t cool about it, Sham tried to push her away. Zack hated Sham because he thought that they were dating, but in reality Sham was really loyal friend. Even though Zack already beaten up and pushed Sham away many times, Sham would always be there for Zack when he needed him. There was even this one time when Sham risked his life to rescued Zack from being killed by the syndicates. During the last part of the scene, Zack won the race but the drug leader didn’t keep his promise. Instead he made Zack’s life so miserable; he killed one of Zack’s friends. At the very last part, the drug leader wanted to run over Zack with a speeding sports car, but Sham traded his life for Zack by pushing him out of the way. Until now I still don’t know if Sham is alive as the last scene ended with Sham in comma after being hit by a car.

 

Told you it was like Frodo and S(h)am, Frodo was a ring bearer tasked to destroy the ring in mount Mordor. Frodo had a faithful friend which is Sam, who even though he was pushed away many times and falsely accused, still remained loyal to him, even to the point of risking his own life to save Frodo.  

 

~ nobody


MH705 (NOBODY WENT TO MALAYSIA)

 “Tuan tuan dan puan puan, selamat datang ke Kuala Lumpur International Airport”. If you happen to hear these words being announced by the stewardess or the captain while in an airplane ride there are just two logical explanations for it. Either you arrived in your destination (it should be KLIA, Malaysia), or the unlikely event that you rode the wrong plane. Well luckily they installed parachutes for rare scenarios like that. Don’t forget to grab also the life vest located under your seat just incase you landed on water.  

 Ever wonder why MH705 is in the title? Its special because it’s the flight number that took Nobody to KL Malaysia. MH705 looks so ordinary, but it goes more than that. Let me elaborate, MH stands for Malaysian Hospitality.  I can say that Malaysians are indeed hospitable people, we don’t need to look far to know the hospitality quotient of a country. As what the AXE commercial always reminds us “first impressions last” and for any traveler, the first impression is the airport. The airport basically tells you how welcome you are in a country your entering into. In order to gauge if KLIA is really a good airport, lets use the surveys. In  http://www.worldairportawards.com/ survey for 2008,  KLIA was ranked number 4; Hong Kong Aiport being the first, followed by Changi Airport in Singapore, then by Incheon Airport in Seoul. In another survey conducted by Forbes, it ranked number 7.


Just to give you an idea on how beautiful the airport is. Here is a video that will tour you around the place.  (They play this video whenever your about to arrive in KLIA on Malaysia Airlines)

  
 
~ NOBODY 
 
 
 
 
 

 

 


How to conquer the world?

Do you really, really want to know how to conquer the world? Well, if in your heart you sincerely cry out, with all the drama, tears, and emotions, “Yes! I really, really want to conquer the world” then your welcome to read on, provided that you are still within the bounds of being sane. Just a warning this article is very lengthy which is evident by a simple glance at the scroll bar on the side. So please do your water and toilet breaks already before you resume reading to the paragraphs below.

 

How to conquer the world is the simplest and easiest question to answer, but before you fulfill your destiny of world domination, I believe that the relevant question is “Why do you want to conquer it?” Assuming you went pass the why question, then continue reading this article. But if you cant find the answer to the why question, you might want to save time and effort by doing more productive things like watching TV or eating donuts instead of reading this article. Don’t worry ill try to write another article about how not to conquer the world, you can read that instead. I’m pretty sure it wouldn’t be lengthy also. It might even be just a blank page.

 

As the saying goes, there are many ways to skin a cat, but why skin a cat when you can conquer the world? There are many ways to conquer the world, amongst the many options are: conquering it by brute force, conquering it by severe intimidation and lastly conquering it by earning the respect and free submission of the people. There probably are more options but as far as the article is concern it covers only those three.

 

I have chosen three great conquerors of the world as a case study for all the three options that I have just presented. These three conquerors went down in history as people who built the largest empires in the world each distinct to what they believed in. For the conquer by brute force slot, I choose Ying Zheng (more commonly known as Shih Huang Di). For the conqueror that uses severe intimidation, Genghis Khan would be suitable for this. Lastly, for the benevolent and respectable Conqueror, I couldn’t find a more appropriate person than Cyrus the great.

 

Just to give you an idea about the size of the empires these men built, please see the map below:

 

YING ZHENG (QIN SHIH HUANG DI)

 

Let’s begin our case study on the first category, like what the cliché always say, first things first. The brute force conqueror is no other than Ying Zheng, the first emperor of China, builder of the ancient wonders: the terra cotta warriors, his own mausoleum, and of course the Great Wall of China. During the warring states period of China (China during that time was not united, instead its composed of seven kingdoms constantly hostile to each other), a boy by the name of Ying Zheng, who was thirteen years of age, inherited the thrown of the Qin kingdom. However, he was only a king on paper but in the real life he was just merely a puppet of his mother. Eventually his mother had another lover and they had two sons. By this time, his mother wanted him dead to open the thrown to her new sons. But Ying Zheng found out about this plot and by the age of 21 he staged a palace coup. He banished his mother from his kingdom after brutally killing her lover and two sons. I wouldn’t want to describe the actual process of how the lover and the kids were killed because it might be disturbing. Imagine being tied up on all limbs with horses pulling in each side? At first you might be glad for the extra inches that would be added to your height but then eventually reality will hit you, as the pain increases more and more and you’ll notice that you are not Mr. Fantastic. You’ll never believe it but your limbs actually separate from the body once pulled with great force. Next is that blood would come out and all, until you succumb to death and that’s it. See, I told you it was disturbing. Now stop imagining it already..

 

In order for Ying Zheng to create an army strong enough to conquer all the other kingdoms he first need to take care of feeding a very big army. His solution was very simple, he improved irrigation in his farmlands by carving a canal through a mountain that was blocking his access to the river. He added dikes and flood control systems so that on all seasons his irrigation system can supply water to the farmland. Simple right? Next on his list of how to build a strong army was the improvement of the weapons. For this he needed to discover a new kind of metal, Iron. Iron is tough as well as light. Ying’s army now have longer and stronger weapons. In addition, he also introduced new weapons like the triggered crossbow. To cut the long story short, eventually a superior army like that brute forced itself into conquering the rest of the warring states. At the age of 38, Ying Zheng has unified the whole of China. He proclaimed himself Qin Shi Huang Di (The First Emperor). Now the mantle of heaven is in favor of him.

 

 

 

Since Ying’s reputation as a tyrant and merciless conqueror grew, he was faced with many assassination attempts. This actually made Ying Zheng very paranoid. For fear of being assassinated, he hired servants to guard him all night and move him from one building to the next so his assassins wouldn’t be able to find him. He also hired doubles so as to decrease the chances of being assassinated. With all the safety measures, he still couldn’t stop thinking about the time when he can no longer be protected by his servants. He cannot die, if he did, the people he tortured and killed would be able to get their hands on him, because the Chinese believed in the after life. So he commissioned his “magicians” (scientist during that time) to find the legendary fountain of youth. His “magicians” were successful, they were able to find mercury, the logic behind it is that it preserves metal, so the human body could also be preserved. True enough, since that day Ying Zheng never grew old. He died younger than what he should be. But Ying Zheng had an insurance policy, since the age of 13, he already forced his people to create his mausoleum filled with mercury and traps. It was guarded by a detailed copy of his actual army in clay form known to us as the terra cotta army. This army is suppose to guard him in the after life. It was so exact that modern archeologist can determine the age of his soldiers, the armor and weapons they used, and the battle formation they form. It reminded me of the Joson paintings during the Joson period of Korea. In the museum of Seoul, it was said there that the paintings where so detailed that the modern doctors would know what kind of skin disease the person in the painting has.

 

Much of the technology during Ying Zheng’s time was lost, due to Ying Zheng’s sin to the world, the burning of Chinese books and the massacre of its scholars. He wanted to erase the records of his tyranny from history, he wanted the history of China to start from him, he wanted people not to be educated so they can remain as his puppets without any arguments. But no matter how much he tried to hide it, stories would always come down in history. That’s why in everything one does, one must be very careful because it will always have a reverberating effect to the future.

 

I’m glad we’re finally done with Ying Zheng. Now we can move on to our next category; conquering by severe intimidation. It is said that the world greatest conqueror is an Asian, a Mongol by the name of Temujin, which means “Iron worker” in his native language. From the moment he was born, his parents made him to believe that he was destined to be a great conqueror mainly because he his fist was clutching a blood clot when he was born. You can say its just superstition but really, it really is just superstition. Although the predictions eventually became reality, the real secret is the very high price that Temujin paid. The road to glory for Temujin was far from what we can say a walk in the park. Glory would always be paved by sacrifice, self-discipline, and hard work; otherwise everybody can easily traverse that road stripping it of any glorious characteristic. I believe that the road to being the greatest conquer of the world is open for all human beings, but only the person who wants it the most can take the spot.

 

TEMUJIN (GENGHIS KHAN)

 

Temujin is the son of Yesugei, a chieftain of a small tribe in Mongolia. At a very young age Temujin was trained to be a man, a tribal leader after his father. His mother, Ho’elun, trained him in the arts and culture area while his father trained him in the arts of warfare. Culture and arts is equally as important as military skills even to warriors and especially to a chieftain. Ever wondered why a Japanese Samurai is trained in calligraphy, poetry, and tea ceremonies? Well, let me elaborate that since even I also have some questions in mind about what I just wrote. What is the difference between a knight in shining armor and a barbarian with an extremely large weapon? The knight lives by the code of chivalry, he is refined in the way he carries himself during meal time, war time, and party time. You can not say that the code of chivalry lessens the knights potential to win a battle, it actually increases it because the balance gives him self discipline and makes him more of a human being, enabling him to fight for what is right and to defend the weak. This gives him a vision an answer to what he is fighting for. Never underestimate a man who is fighting for something, those kinds of men were the ones who dictates the direction of the world.

 

One day when Temujin and Yesugei went to another tribe for Temujin to choose a wife (Temujin was still young during this time, the girl he will choose will only be his bride only upon reaching a certain age). Temujin (13 yrs old) chose Borte (14 yrs old) a girl from the Konkirat tribe, which according to Temujin, is a woman of beauty. On their way home, they passed thru Tatar’s territory (Enemy territory) to show respect to the enemy tribe, his father accepted a “friendly” meal with the enemies, little did he known that the free meal was not really free, and that the pleasure was indeed all to his enemy. When they were on their way home, his father suddenly dropped ill, he was poisoned. His father soon died.

Now Temujin’s life would be very complicated. Instead of being the next chieftain, as what Mongol tradition as well movies like Lord of the rings and Stardust dictates, the next king would be the son of the king; His own tribe abandoned Temujin and his clan in the Mongolian plains. One time, it was said that there was a thief in the clan, Temujin went on a quest to discover who the thief was. He soon discovered that the thief was his own brother, so Temujin, killed him for breaking the law. There was another scenario wherein, the Tatars have attacked Temujin’s clan, capturing Temujin and making him a prisoner. But Temujin eventually escaped after killing his guards. He was captured many times and escaped many times as well. His survival skills was really good that even if enemies would try to chase him and track him down he manages to escape. News spread of Temujin’s honor and bravery that people begin to respect him as well as fear him. This talent of his will prove very useful later on in his life.

 

Fast forward a little bit, the time finally came when Temujin finally married Borte. They were happily married but sadly without a decent honeymoon. The Tatar’s really love making Temujin’s life miserable, and they succeeded once again. They attacked Temujin’s tribe once more and captured Borte. One thing that Temujin’s mother taught him was to value alliances, and Temujin remembered that. He asked for help from Togrul, his father’s blood brother. Togrul agreed but they still waited many months before they attacked the Tatars. Together they took revenge against the Tatars and Temujin got Borte back. But wait, there is more… Temujin not only got one person back, not one, not three, but two… He also got an instant son as Borte was pregnant when he rescued her.

 

Eventually, word of his alliance with Togrul reached the other Mongol tribes. They had a campaign of uniting all the Mongol tribes using the single arrow analogy. “One arrow can easily be broken, but a group of arrows is invincible.”. Their campaign was so successful that Mongols from different tribes joined them. In effect he was able create a very large army. But still numbers do not win a battle, it may aid a lot, but it can never guarantee success, in fact in some of Genghis Khan’s greatest battles, he is often out numbered. This just proves that the secret of his army is not in numbers, it’s in the skill, discipline, tactics, and superior weaponry. Under his command, the Mongols became known as excellent horsemen, they can shoot arrows with great precision while riding a horse. Genghis Khan is also a master of the psychological war, he would ask each men to light at least three camp fires so when enemy spies would scout at night, they will be intimidated by the size of the army.

 

But intimidation alone is not sufficient; it needs to be backed up with outputs. Genghis khan trained his army to work like a single machine, stories after stories would say that the Mongols are like devil horse men. The Mongols were the first ones to launch the blitzkrieg ( German word for “Lightning attack” which was used by Hitler during the World wars) attacks and they were also the army that would run in a seemingly random manner but end up surrounding the enemy. Legend has it that when the Mongols would cross the Gobi desert, each man would bring three horses. When the horse that he is riding would finally die of exhaustion, he will drink its blood and eat its meat, then continue riding the next horse. Imagine that, the vehicle is also the lunch box and the water jug, how efficient can you get? Because of this they no longer need to stop for rest and they no longer need to bring a supply wagon. In order for Genghis to accomplish the tactic of surrounding the enemy with his smaller army he would often take his men for a game. The game is to spread them over a large area of land and go for hunting. The twist is that they must encircle the animals in the area and kill them in a certain order like tigers first, then wolves, etc. This game, when applied to the battle field is very effective as it trains its men to kill in an orderly manner.

 

Genghis Khan valued each of his generals. Contrary to Mongol tradition during that time, Genghis khan rewarded ability and loyalty alone. In fact one of his generals, Subodai, was just a son of humble herdsman. But Genghis Khan placed him in a high position in his army. Since this went against Mongol tradition, he incurred the wrath of Mongol nobles; amongst them was his own blood brother, Jamuka, which revolted against him but Genghis Khan defeated him.

 

His well trained army eventually gained its reputation as an army you wouldn’t want to mess with. Genghis khan’s army is known for brutality as they do not want survivors in a battle field. They would often offer a city the chance to surrender and no one will be harmed or fight but if defeated everyone will be decapitated. Of course, not everyone is really decapitated, Genghis khan believed in cross pollination, in acquiring knowledge from other people, so after conquering a city, the artisans and the skilled workers would be offered a chance to work in Karakorum, the Mongol capital city. That’s why during Genghis Khans time, the most advanced city was Karakorum, it was brimming with ideas and inventions.

 

The art of intimidation really worked for Genghis Khan as it saved him a lot of battles since the enemies would rather live and surrender, then fight and get an instant head cut. To cut the long story short, Genghis khan conquered biggest land area any conqueror has conquered in a single mans life time.

 

People can say that Genghis Khan is really brutal and barbaric, well it maybe true but what really caught my attention when I was studying his life is that he is not just a brutal leader whose main goal is based on personal gratification alone. We have more brutal and barbaric leaders, but they accomplished nothing. Amongst them was I think the most brutal of them all is the empress dowager, Tzu His. Genghis khan was operating on a different dimension, you can say its vision, or mission, but in reality it is really love for his people. I cannot help but remember Lee Kwan Yew that day, August 9, 1965, when he was crying in national television over the separation of Singapore from Malaysia. Back then Singapore was just a barren swampland with nothing, not even water. He needed to do whatever it takes for his people to survive but look at Singapore today. Great men are not really defined but what they can do, but by what pains them. And it’s the same thing with Genghis Khan, he truly loved the Mongol people and wished them to have a better future, well of course it was at the expense of the Chinese, other Asians, and Europeans that he conquered.

 

He first unified his people so that they can be a nation, not just a group of tribes. He created a code of laws to govern his empire, he called it Yassa. In the code of laws it is stated that there should be no Mongol slaves. He conquered all the neighboring countries so that his people would feel safe and protected and that his people would acquire their knowledge. The Mongols really prospered during the reign of Genghis as skilled workers from all over the world developed Karakorum. Karakorum became the center of technology, medicine, and the arts.

 

Well, I think that’s it for Genghis Khan. Still want to continue? Well, since you’ve read already up to this far, might as well continue reading right? The next one , I think, is the greatest of the three. His name is Cyrus the great, he is amongst the few people who deserve to be called “the great”. In history channel he was called as the excellent benevolent manager of men. Historians would call him the humanist. The Jews would call him the anointed one and the liberator. His own people calls him father. And the Ionian greeks whom he conquered calls him a just and worthy law giver and ruler. But who is Cyrus the great? And why was he called the great?

 

CYRUS THE GREAT

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  

 Cyrus the great is the founder of the Persian Empire under the Achaemenid dynasty. Little is known about his childhood, in fact, I don’t even know if this is true. It looks too Hollywood to me, but let me give it a try. Remember the story of Romulus and Remus? The two unwanted babies who were disowned and abandoned to die on the river but was taken cared of by a she wolf but despite that they eventually founded the Roman Empire? Well, it’s not like that but it’s somewhat similar. Like Genghis Khan, Cyrus was born with a prophesy. The prophesy is that he would overthrow, Astyages, his grand father someday. Well, you know what that means right? Somebody has to die… so Astyages asked his servant, Harpagus, to do all his dirty works. You know, like any mad scientist, they need their Egor. Without the Egor, there wouldn’t be any Frankenstein, coz no one will pull the lever (I also don’t know why the mad scientist cannot pull it himself?). But this time, the Egor couldn’t do it, the baby was just too cute for him to send to the afterlife. So he gave it to Mithridates, a herdsman of the king, to baby sit indefinitely.

 

To cut the long story short, the king soon found out that Cyrus was alive. Cyrus’ behavior was too noble to be a herdsman’s son and that he looked like Astyages. As punishment, Harpagus was tricked to eat his own son. But Astyages allowed Cyrus to live this time, he was even returned to his real parents Cambyses and Mandane. I told you it looked like a made up story from a barbershop (The one the barber tells all his customer to keep them entertained), blame to the “Father of History”, Herodotus. He was the one who wrote that, I just spiced it up a little.

Eventually, on 559 BC, Cyrus’s father dies making him an instant king of Ashan. During this time, Ashan is just a small sub kingdom under the Median Empire. The Median Empire is the empire that was ruled by Cyrus’s grandfather, Astyages. Well, like Temujin, Cyrus also fulfilled his prophecy. Harpagus and Cyrus, both joined forces and rallied their armies against the Medes until they captured Ecbatana which was then the capital of Medes.

 

Cyrus at this point, dominated all of Persia. Now it was time for him to conquer the world. The first empire to succumb to Cyrus was the Lydian Empire. It wasn’t Cyrus’s initiative to fight the Lydians. It was the Lydians who first attached his empire in Cappadocia. So Cyrus, invited the Ionian Greeks to revolt against the Lydian Empire. The Ionians agreed and as Cyrus and his army was marching towards the Lydian capital of Sardis his army grew bigger and bigger as men from all over the Ionian nation joined to his cause.

 

But as we know already from the previous articles, numbers do not win a battle. Cyrus is not just a benevolent leader or a political savvy, He was also a brilliant military strategist. In the battle for Sardis, he placed the dromedaries (smelly camels) in front of his warriors since it causes the Lydian cavalries to panic. It turns out that the Lydian horses don’t like the smell of these smelly dromedary. Well the strategy worked and it aided a lot in his victory. Up to this day, military schools would still teach the strategies made by Cyrus the great. In fact, one of the greatest conquerors named Alexander the great, visited the tomb of Cyrus the great on his way to Persia. Julius Caesar is said to have swept over the tomb of Alexander the great because he thought that Alexander accomplished so much at a very young age and he accomplished nothing (this was during that time before he crossed the Rubicon river and conquered Rome). And Alexander the great admired and paid homage to Cyrus the great. Imagine that, the two of the world’s greatest generals pays tribute to Cyrus the great.

Next on the list was the whole of Asia Minor and then finally the Babylonian empire. It was said that when Cyrus’s army marched to the city of Sippar on October 10, there was little to no resistance. No battle took place. Similarly on October 12 when his army marched to Babylon there was again little to no resistance encountered. He basically conquered cities by negotiations alone. Why do you think city after city would surrender to Cyrus the great with little or no resistance? To be able to understand this scenario, let me just walk you through the story of what happened in Babylon the day Cyrus the great proclaimed himself king of Babylon.

 

 

It is customary for a conqueror to pillage the city he just captured. Usually he would brutally execute the king to serve as an example to all the inhabitants. Rape the women, enslaved the men, destroy all the gods and goddesses and impose their own religion to be practiced, and loot the whole city. They call it the victor’s justice. But the day Cyrus marched into Babylon, he introduced a revolutionary idea. He first showed his respect to the Babylonian gods and goddesses proclaiming freedom of religion. Then he let the nobles be nobles. He set the Jewish slaves free. He also proclaimed the very first known laws of human rights. This was the press release that spread thru out all of the kingdom. Since most of the city states where not treated as justly as how Cyrus would treat them (keep in mind that most of the city states that were captured came under Babylonian and Lydian rule), so Cyrus became known as a liberator rather than a conqueror. In addition to this, Cyrus never believed in slavery, if you take a look at his magnificent city like Pasargadae and his magnificent projects, all of these where paid for. No labor cost was spared. Because of these reasons cities would wish that he take over rather than be ruled by their present empire.

 

Using this strategy, Cyrus easily and quickly created one of the largest empires in the modern and ancient world. It’s even bigger than twice the Roman Empire. But the real legacy of Cyrus is not in the bigness of his empire. Eventually his empire became the modern day Iraq, Turkey, Iran, Pakistan, India, and so on and so forth. It became independent countries that require a passport and a visa to cross each other. The legacy of Cyrus is the Cyrus cylinder. The cylinder that contains the first record of the human rights law. Today a replica is kept in the United Nations office (In the second floor right between the security council and the economic council rooms), to remind them that they are dealing with issues of life and death, war and peace, and of human rights. It is even said that when the American constitution was being drafted, there were two books that were required for them to read. One is the Prince by Machiavelli which advocated government based on fear and the second book was Xenopontis (The education of Cyrus) which states that a government should be benevolent and just. Well, we can review the US Constitution and find out that rather than being feared, the government chose to be loved. They followed a Cyrus the great.

 

Unfortunately, Cyrus the great, like an Alexander the great or a Julius Caesar, died before he can ever complete his empire.There finished at last. So do you still want to conquer the world? You can follow the footsteps of Ying Zheng, Temujin, or Cyrus. But if you ask me? Why do you need to conquer the world? What good would it gain you if you built the biggest and largest empire in the world and at the very end just be confined in a tomb for the rest of history? You can end up like a Ying Zheng eager to erase history because of the evils that he did, or maybe like a Temujin who is hated by others but loved by his people, or like a Cyrus the great, who is remembered not just as an empire builder but for his contribution to humanity, the very first human rights law. 

 

~ nobody


The Ultimate Luddite Movie

If you have watched Eagle Eye like me in a cinema, you’ve been probably drained by the rush of excitement taking you at the edge of your seat. I fortunately watched this film in a new cinema in SM City Marikina, where quite a few watched it. I’m here to tell you why this is a movie really worth watching, especially if you want that geeky brain to feel a rush of cold water.

Imagine opening your ATM, and you find out that you have $700,000.00 in your account. Surprised, you take some of the money (which is A LOT) and then going back to your tiny little shabby apartment only to be surprised by the packages inside your abode. You open them, and you find you have some guns of different sizes, ammos and other military stuff, and then later your mobile phone rings. “You have 15 seconds Jerry Shaw to leave the premises…” and suddenly all those things that the voice is saying will be a total blur as you’d probably resort to panic. Seconds later, the FBI crashes on your window and arrest you.

That’s probably the short intro to “Eagle Eye” starring Shia LaBeouf (I still see him as Even Stevens). I can’t tell you the rest of the story because I don’t want to spoil you with the experience but rest assured this is highly recommended especially if you want to be paranoid with every form of technology. There’s an advice there advices tells everyone that cellphones can be tracked by the FBI just be merely turning it on. They can hear you through the phone’s microphone and so the best thing to protect your privacy is to turn it off and remove the battery.

All I can say is the story is action-packed, witty, and the director is most probably a geek. The tension in the story builds up as the thought provoking questions rush into you after the film: Is freedom worth sacrificing for security? The limits of logic of the machines and the flaw of being human when it comes to right and wrong is the meat of this cinematic experience. The scarier part of this is that we’re nearer to this futuristic possibility than ever before.

I’m not encouraging you to be a Luddite, but the whole film makes sense, coupled with breathtaking action packed scenes and paranoia.

I highly recommend this film with Die Hard 4, and Wall-E. :D

~resplend3nt


Libraries as marks of civilization

i’ve always been fascinated about libraries. a library is not just a boring repository of printed material. instead, i’ve always seen it as a mark of civilization. it describes what kind of civilization a culture has or what sort of potential a society has. :) whenever i watch asian films, i get instantly captivated by the “books” kept in the libraries. the circular library in Hero for example, is so wonderful. books in the form of bamboo scrolls. in beijing, i actually saw sun tzu’s art of war carved in one such bamboo scroll. very interesting. in dae jang geum, the medical library had shelves of books on oriental medicine, complete with the illustrations of ginseng and even an octopus.  the massive library in ancient egypt, which is lost to history, makes us imagine what sort of things were kept as a foundation for the next generations.  in the west…the trinity library built by queen elizabeth the first, is overwhelming to say the least. it’s as if you’re swimming in an ocean of books.  in the playful vein, what about the library in lemony snicket’s a series of unfortunate events? haha… very amusing. who can forget the futuristic library in star wars??!! whoa… that’s something.  even the world of super hi-tech can’t live without a library! whatever form a library has, it necessarily sheds light on the salient characteristics that are crucial in forwarding culture. there’s a simple rule of thumb that is useful. a small decrepit library of a large population denotes a lack of vision and a lack of importance given to learning. a large library on the other hand (think about the 14 floor national library of singapore), denotes the recognition that the cultivation of the person through learning is integral in the building of a culture, society or nation.

one time, i was in the restroom of a five star hotel. some ladies were chatting. one lady had the problem of not knowing how to spend her 1 million.  her friend advised her to spend it on a diamond. i almost blurted out…. BUILD A LIBRARY! but in the end, building a library THAT WILL MATTER FOR THE AGES TO COME, does not depend on who has the most resources. rather, it’ll depend on who carries great visions & dreams and who bears a big heart for the future generations.

–The Fool


Rambling on chores as humanizing

Chores are almost synonymous to drudgery. Perhaps the carefreeness of youth makes this so. The idea of having to do something at an appointed time was totally undesirable compared to the freedom of spontaneous action. Playing the piano for visitors was a “chore.” I had to be dragged from the neighbor’s mango tree or called for piano practice from my grime accumulating spontaneous afternoon play. Sleeping at 3pm was a chore compared to wearing a raincoat and walking outside in the rain. As I got older, chores got more interesting. A perfectly good novel became a chore to read all because it was required by the teacher. Eating anything healthy was a chore because it was good for me.

Fast forward into adulthood.

Now, I am of  a different mind. I never would have thought that washing dishes can be therapeutic. Cleaning the bathroom can be relaxing. Throwing the trash can be humanizing. Extrapolating from these…there are things that must be done because they are part of being human.  Freedom can be a chore if spontaneity means purposelessness, irresponsibility and zero drive to accomplish anything worthwhile.
I love Booker T. Washington because he taught his students to love work not as drudgery. But to find beauty and dignity in it. Must-Dos are part of being human.

–The Fool


Babylon AD

This was my last movie in the theater. I should’ve read up on it first but this is what I get for thinking that the surprise enhances satisfaction. Anyway, I was looking forward to another remake of the decadent-post-post-modern future. In the past we’ve had a creative mishmash of Mad Max, Waterworld, Judge Dredd, Matrix, Aeon Flux and so on. But with Babylon AD, I was expecting some twist in the story, with the mention of Babylon. Was hoping for a sort of storytelling of Nebuchadnezzar-like decadence as a consequence of human choices. But no. It was Vin Diesel wasting his carefully earned one-dimensional acting in absolutely no dimensional acting. And how about wasting Michelle Yeoh’s martial arts?!! Chronicles of Riddick would have been a joy to watch if only for that bit of the scorching sunlight and the idea of a pervading myth. Nevertheless, watching Babylon AD wasn’t a total waste. Here are some geeky details that are interesting though three out of four are un-cool.

First, the hi-tech MAP (yep–a map, the amazing invention that drivers DO NOT use for the sheer excitement of getting lost) was extremely cool! :) Can’t wait to have that handy someday.

Second, the difference between a mercenary and a terrorist! Catch the dialogue in the beginning. This was HILARIOUS (my eyebrows are reaching the roof). I mean…. HELLOOOOO. Argh.

Third, artificial intelligence as a surrogate parent. This was really pushing it, though the social theorist progeny of the Enlightenment philosophers might have nodded in approval. Bwahaha.

Fourth, the injectible passport. It’s not impossible–but it’s a product of a twisted mind. And it being used for double crossing was totally predictable.

Again, watching it was not a total waste. I became more excited in looking forward to watching the next Star Trek movie. Nothing related. It’s just the natural effect of watching a bad movie. It just heightens the desire to watch something interesting (and yes, Star Trek is interesting…I can already hear the theme song playing).
Just one more bit. I saw Vin Diesel in The Boiler Room while channel surfing the other day. I was pleasantly surprised. It was one and a half dimensional acting. :) Cool to find out that half a degree makes a world of a difference. Harhar.

–The Fool


Teary-eyed Over the Olympics

Last Friday, August 8, 2008, 8PM, many Filipinos have gone to Sharon Cuneta’s grand concert hailing it as “Sharon Mega 30″ but for Decode Society and the rest of their friends, allies, geeks and geekozoids (a small group of people), it was a time of anticipation and gathering of what is to be a pivotal event in modern history. No, we are not conquering the world, as much as we want to as geeks. We just gathered in one small library in Quezon City, and set up a 7 feet high and 17 feet wide projector screen, and we tuned in to Solar Sports (that is, with no commercial breaks) and watched in awe what the rest of the world (except the Philippines) is watching.

We watched the Opening of Beijing Olympics 2008, with millions tuning in from all over Asia and the world.

But prior to that were several dances presented in the Bird’s Nest Stadium itself, a humongous-gigantic lump of metal beautifully curved into what is fondly called by the Chinese as the “nest.” Located in Beijing, the stadium and the rest of the city was like one big stage full of fireworks! The dances themselves, we were told by a kinetic geek with us that evening, represented each ethnic group in China, and each dynasty in their course of being an empire. These dances, we were told, influenced most of the dances of Japan, Korea, and Southeast Asia. It was China’s showcase of the best of the best of their culture.

Then, the countdown… as thousands of drummers light up the ground stadium that form numbers 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1… and then ZOOM! So many fireworks! And I haven’t seen so many fireworks in my entire life! It was China, and with that, the whole of Asia! I was so teary eyed the moment a little girl sang the anthem of China, as children with costumes from different ethnic groups of the country carry a gigantic Chinese flag. If I were Chinese, I would have wept for love and pride of my country. Newsweek commented that China has a “National Day of Humiliation” remembering the Opium Wars, the atrocities committed to them by other nations. That humiliation is now over. Oh how different it was in the Olympics now!

A gigantic scroll that lit up by who knows what, unfolded on the stadium… and I was thinking, what material did they use? It must have stretched for several meters… The scroll! OF COURSE! They invented paper! A scribe appears, drawing in the gigantic scroll a calligraphic drawing of the Chinese landscape. Then the 3000 men with feathers on their heads appeared. OF COURSE! 3000 disciples of Confucius, were responsible for China’s philosophy of the “Mandate of Heaven.” Then the moving print! They invented that even before Gutenberg! And who would have thought that they were moved by actual people on stage. They must have been thousands! And how synchronized their movements are!!! It’s like they’re shouting to the whole world, “we can manage ourselves no matter how many we are!”

“Friends have come from afar. How happy we are!” translated the commentator over the Mandarin chants the drummers and dancers were shouting during the 1-hour presentation. Then after the Parade of Nations, the torch was lit… lit by an Olympic runner running in mid-air, as a scroll behind him unfolds, with the history of the Olympics. GRABE!

I can’t help but be envious. How they loved their country so much. And how I wish we Filipinos could love our country the way they do for theirs. The whole event was a joy and a pain. The joy is that, finally, what was downtrodden is now a triumph. Pain, that tinge of pain in me says, the Philippines can’t even show one athlete worthy of the Olympic gold. As China, the US, and Russia would grab all the medals they can get, we still miss that its not about the medal or the money. It’s something more deeper and something beyond the self. Thats what I saw as I watched Yao Ming cry as he held the Chinese flag, with a little girl.

Here is China for all the world to see! The tides have changed. The rise of Asia shall inevitably shake the world. It took them 5000 years of history to get to where they are now. But we can learn from other histories and perhaps avoid their mistakes. Their love and pride for their country were just overwhelming! Beyond the visual effects and the beauty of the presentation, they showed their roots, their history, and they were proud of it. How I wish we can do the same for the Philippines.

~resplend3nt

Olympics Theme sang by Liu Huan and Sarah Brightman


Random Thoughts on China

Hi Decoders! :)

It’s been a while!!! :)

How has everyone been? Anyway, I was just watching updates on the Olympics preps. Each comment is a gold nugget. One of the sayings they have right now is, “Olympic wins are transient, but cultural impressions last forever.” I find it amazing that they are doing everything they can to showcase their culture. They even have officials with the designated job of “manners minder.” This century is really so different. To think, it has only been about 500 years since the Renaissance and the Reformation. John Gribbin says in his book, “Scientists,” that life in the West, anno domini, did not really change drastically for 1500 years. But zoom into the 21st century…only 500 years after, everything is just going so fast. Come to think of it, people in the 18th century would be so shocked to encounter the internet, which just began in the 20th century! Just take a look at our century now and you will notice that the time of the West has ended. It’s already the rise of Asia and most specifically the rise of China and India. Even “The Mummy” franchise is set in China right now. Wow. The History Channel has this beautiful feature (get the DVD) on China not having a Dark Ages during the time that the West was in the gloom! Yet China did struggle–much recent history will show that. Nevertheless, here’s the thing…. I find it interesting that the strength of the culture is reflected the most in how it makes a nation rise out of ashes. The strength of the culture is in how it brings out the best in the nation during times of tumult. The culture may sleep for a while and forget. But it later wakes up and realizes what it is made of.

-The Fool


They’re Eating Up the World!

China. Ten years ago, it was one of those Bermuda Triangles in the world economy. Even if they are known as one of the populous nations on earth, it was known then as one of the depressed and poorest countries in the world.

Today, it is different.

You could sense it in Hollywood itself. Kung Fu Panda, The Warriors, Forbidden Kingdom, and now, The Mummy III.

2008 will be different. Not because of a lot of things happening in the world, but because for the first time, people around the globe will be forced to see a shocking reality—China is eating up the globe. Beijing Olympics is coming. And around the world, people are in panic in learning how to speak Mandarin.

Even my sister is speaking Mandarin in her sleep! (She’s taking up Mandarin in school).

Is this really happening? Well, if you’re in the Philippines you get what I mean. After all, we are so well-contented with emulating, criticizing our own little problems, while outside our little country, a shift is happening in the world. What is so surprising is that we don’t even care what happens to the world outside. Talk to your colleagues about this and they will just say “so? Anong pake ko dyan?” While the rest of the world is trying to ride the Asian rise, we on the other hand would want to go to America and live the American Dream, which is—truth be told—declining as we speak. This shift is not just a cultural shift. It’s a shift of the balance of power, from West to East.

CNN and Fox News echo it everyday. “Hundreds of US Banks are closing.” “Inflation is escalating.” “Thousands are unemployed.” “The US Economy is at its lowest in 20 years.” And we are so oblivious to this.

The time of the West, like what New York Times heralded, is over. The “Asian Century” is here.

The question is, will the Philippines rise up with the rest of the continent?

If you’re a geek, a Filipino geek, you don’t have the right to boast about anything. Because the knowledge you’ve accumulated now would probably be taken up by 10 year olds in Singapore and China today.

Jin Yang, a 12 year old gymnast featured in Discovery Channel’s “China Revealed”, has been training since she was 5 years old, with that sole goal of winning gold in the Olympics. No TVs and playtime for her. Bringing honor to her nation is her highest priority. Now, multiply her by the millions.

So what are you doing today? Do you still fidget your time in studying? Don’t want to finish school? Want to join a rock band like the rest of the kids in the country? Don’t want to risk for your dream? Have you given up on your ideals? Wait a few more years and the Philippines would be erased on the world map.

That is if we geeks don’t do something.

If you’re not horrified, irritated, and panicky, I am.

~resplend3nt


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