Thursday, July 31, 2008

Hot Summer

I hate hot summer days. Yes, short pants, 'hot' pants, T-shirts are nice and comfortable. I just don't like the sweating and stickiness of it. It makes us smell. Yes, we can take shower and use deodorant, but many people don't. So, it stinks everywhere, even in air-con places. My god, that smell is just appalling. The summer here is long, and getting longer each year. The hot weather here is not just hot but also humid because of the air that trapped among buildings. They are like curtains, and people are trapped inside steaming! The hotter folks get, people in those buildings have to turn on air-con, that make the surrounding of the building even hotter. There's no way out! Also, another thing that I hate summer the most is 'mosquitoes'. Those low-life bloodsuckers. I don't know what purpose they serve in our ecological chain? Ok, they want blood, yes take it, but don't make us feel itchy! Damned! The swollen red and itchy feeling just sucks big time. Mosquitoes is my most hated insect, with flies and cockroaches round up the top 3. I don't mind to have short summer or long summer with such torturing weather and nuisance insects. I can quote the good part about summer, but they can't offset the bad part. Just can't wait till October and November.......

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Human Cloning

Why I think about this topic? Well, I like to think randomly for a topic and then ‘linked’ to others and others through some connections. Somewhat like you go to Wiki and pick a topic, then your read the content and see a link and click it. You move from topic to topic. That’s how my mind works often. Anyway, what triggered my thought on Human Cloning? There were 2 things. First, the movie ‘I. Robot’ was played on TV last weekend. It is one of my favorite Sci-Fi movies. There were many cloning of robots in that movie. That get me thinking…...Also, lately, I’ve been asked by my wife and others repeatedly: “Do you think your son looks like you?”….hmm…..

Certainly, I can write articles about those 2 issues above. However, I’m not gonna to do that. I want to talk about human cloning. I’m not a scientist; I certainly can’t comment that from that perspective. Based on what I read in the media before, the current successful rate of cloning a mammal is still not very high. So, maybe out of 100 specimens, only few can be successfully grown to become a healthy being. When it applies to animals, we human being, at least most of us, will have a better acceptance on such results. Cos, we eat meat anyway, for those failed specimen, they could be killed, buried or simply make them into food. When it applies to human, there will so much resistance and condemn playing with human lives. Cos, we usually don’t treat our own kind as specimen except the Japanese military Unit 731 in WWII. Therefore, unless human cloning successful rate be closed to 99%, it better be done underground.

I won’t go into the religious territory on this issue neither. Cos, when you drag God into human cloning. It is a losing case. Even for other animal cloning, as long as it a human attempt to put our hand into fudging lives besides saving one, most religions will definitely reject such practice.

What I want to talk about is the social impact of human cloning. I read some comments from so ‘stupid and naïve’ local celebrities on this topic awhile ago. They said something like: “oh, that’s great! Then, my clone can help me to go to multi-functions at the same time, and then I can relax and travel.” Some people are still so naïve to think that clones are produced with the sole aim of helping us. I think that it could be the original goal of such practice, but there are so many other impacts that should alarm us. For human cloning, I've many questions.

What is the biolgical status of a clone? From a social standpoint, do we treat them as human? I think they are and no reason for not being one. So, should there be a new social class or category for them? Cos, they are not born in a mother’s womb as a result of a natural feminization. Yes, there are test-tube babies, but those babies have parents. What about clones? If I’ve a clone, would my father be his father? Or I'm his father? Does the concept of parent apply to clones? Is my clone my brother? Or else? The fuzzy part about cloning is the ‘aging’ of clone. Even if you clone yourself right after you born, you already have a 9 months head start of your clone. Assuming clone’s growth rate is the same as normal human, then your clone will definitely younger than you. So, what should his relationship with you. If you don’t live or grow up together, then the issue would be less serious, but if you parent decide to clone you, then what is the right of the clone? Would he has the same right of inheritance from your parents? What are his legal rights? Do clones have to have same name as the originals? Like Michael Jordon's clone will be Michael Jordan II? etc. What if your clones doesn't like to have same name or last name as you? Would there be confusion of identity?
If you got ill and need an organ transplant, would he be obliged to donate his to you? What if you need a heart transplant? Would he die for you? What about the other way around? Should clone and original have same social and legal status? If not, a new sub-class of citizen will be created in the society and certainly there will be revolted and social friction in future. That remind me of a Chinese sci-fiction that was written more than 30 years ago. The name of it is 'Backup'. It is about a secret Swiss Hospital which has the technology of human cloning. That hospital is also a profiteer. They send representatives as undercovers all around the world to approach and trigger minor accidents to the riches and powerfuls, like get them a finger cut by broken coctail glasses. Then, they collect their blood sample and go back to clone them secretly. One day, when the riches and powerfuls is going to die in the hospital without organ transplant, they will show up with video of their clones and extort tremendous amount of money from them by offering transplant surgery to them. They can't refuse such offer when you are dying, so they sign for whatever they ask and keep a secret of it. That's the whole premise of the story and I still remember vividly about part of it because the concept was so fascinating to me back then. Those clones were treated as spare parts for surgerical purpose. They would grow faster than normal people, so they may have a 30 years old body with a mind of a 5 years old. They were never given a chance to being brought up as a normal human being, except that their physical well being is well-protected for future 'harvest'. That's also remind me of another great movie: 'The Island' with a similar premise. The clones were trying to escape from similar fate...

Clone is genetically identical to the original, but clone has his/her own mindset and identity. It is because my clone won’t have the same grow-up experience as I am. He will think differently as his learning experience will certainly be different from mine. Therefore, the clone will act and do things differently and should be treated as a separate being from the original. It may have equal legal status as us as well. So, the problem is…..what if the clone commits murder in the presence or even worse the absence of witness. As our CSI is so advanced these days due to DNA identification technology, it has been getting easier to find out ‘who did it?’ than anytime before. However, when human clones come to play in our society, it will turn the whole CSI upside down. If my clone killed someone, how would the police identify that the killer is my clone, not me? The more complicated thing is that how would you stop a clone to clone himself? That make me think of an old movie called ‘Multiplicity’. It was a very funny movie, the thing that I remember the most (though it may not be real) is that the clone of a clone is mental retarded somehow…..

Anyway, if clone can clone himself, then I may end up having many clones. I can’t control or monitor what they do at any times. That posts a great risk to the society as a whole. Cos, we are not perfect, we are by no mean ‘holy’ in nature. We do bad things. How to pick the right guy to get punished? What if you kill your clone or the other way around? So, you successfully kill yourself, but it is not a suicide! You go to jail for killing yourself!

Come to think of those issues above, I just think that cloning is not a simple subject or as ideal as some people think. Yes, I do wish some beautiful people of our fellow human beings could live longer and ‘enriching’ our gene pool. However, it won’t be an interesting world if you see 5 Michael JordanS on the same NBA team on the same court at the same time. Or see 10 Michael JordanS playing against each other. That could be fun for once, but not any longer. Same thing applies to any human activities that the success of which involve our physical nature. There will be no competition. Uniqueness will no longer be valuable. I don’t know if I like to live in a world like that.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Elevator Dreams

In the past few months, there has been at least 3 times that I can recall that I dream about myself in an elevator. Certainly, there could be more as there is a theory that we have multiple dreams every night, we can only remember some of it. Nonetheless, it is certain that those dreams left an great impression in my mind that I remember them.

Those elevator dreams that had, they are not the same. I was in different type of buildings, I can't recall what the buildings look like, but the elevators are certainly different. Some of them are quite modern like those in commercial high rises. The others were a bit 'dated', like the resident/industrial like. The size of them were not small, 5 by 6 foot at least. In those dreams, some times, I rode the elevator by myself, but most of the time, they were people in and out of the elevator (naturally! so doors did open and people walked in and out). I don't remember if I know those other folks. However, the common thing about those elevators are that they were not very well-lighted. Not totally dark, but it was not very bright inside. In fact, there are many elevators were like that, especially those in commercial buildings. Well, that's about all the physical things that I can remember, let's talk about my feeling.

The reason why I remember those dreams vividly is because how I felt in those dreams. The elevator trips were by no mean 'scary'. There were no ghost or horror things in or out. No desire to jump anywhere. No lockout inside. No free fall. No murder, etc. However, the main feeling that I had in those elevator dreams were that I was very frustrated and confused. It seems like in those dreams I was trying to get to somewhere, but I just couldn't reach my destination. Like I pressed the button to a floor, but the elevator never stopped there. The door opened for others to come in and out, just that it didn't stop for me. It goes up and down, even if I went to the lobby and tried to take another one, same result. Or, I took the wrong elevator, like I was in a elevator that can only reach 25/F, but I actually wanted to go to 70/F. Something like that. Just going places that not that I wanted go.

I'm sure there are dream readings that could explain this and that. Maybe, it shows some hidden subconscious feeling things that I had. Could be, could be not. I'm not too motivate to seek out those meanings, cos that is just someone else trying to interpret something logically and make sense of something that hysteric. However, since most of my dreams were not making sense or realistic. Regardless what they say, I would simply say 'nice theories, thanks!'. That's all.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Topics of conversation

Last weekend, my wife and I went to a birthday dinner of a friend of her. There were four couples and one kid. His mom is pregnant and so does another friend of my wife. Kinda feel bad for the birthday man and his wife, cos they seems to have no sign of becoming parent any time soon. Not sure what is the reason(s). So, they just play with the other couple's kid.

Anyway, the 2 pregnant women, their husbands and us were chatting over dinner on topics that were no interest to the birthday man and his wife. Well, what can we say, majority rules!

We were chatting about being parents and became/becoming parents. The usual stuff like do u feel...? Have u bought...? Did u go to....? Oh really?...should I ask ....from my doctor? Those kinds of stuff, sure jokes were told on the table and some useful information was surely shared. Other than the baby stuff, the main related topic is housemaid. Cos, we have one and the other pregnant couples are getting one. Just these two topics already filled up the whole evening. Next time, when we met, there will be two newborns, regardless whether they will show up in gathering or not, it doesn't matter. I'm pretty sure these two topics: baby and housemaid will be quite permanent in our conversation in foreseeable future. Cos, we didn't bring our baby this time, that doesn't stop us from talking about it. Those days about going movies, dining at nice place, etc are gone.... as least for a while.

I wonder how the remaining couple deal with us in the future gatherings. Cos, they are already kinda quiet, now they became invisible and unheard at the table. Some of my ex-colleagues were staying childless for a reason or another. I think they intend to gather together with each other to do things or talk about things that suit their interests and lifestyle. Certainly, they have friends with kids, but life just changes completely when u have kid. People somehow do group with their own kind. Not that there is anything wrong with that. It is just that way.

As we grow other, I think folks are intended to group in few ways: the singles (+divorced), the married without children, and the married with children. Certainly, there are single parents as well. All groups have their lives to live, they can move around groups willingly or unwillingly. Just the way it is.....

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Classical Music

I've a very broad taste in music. I would say, other than Drum&Bass, Peking Opera, Japanese Opera and Country Music. I listen to pretty much all kinds. However, I think there are certain types of music that would need 'effort' to appreciate. Classical music is one of them. Music has been composed throughout history, those that can still remain to be popular or recognize certain are the best of its kind in many ways. As the composition, structure, and interpretation of Classical music is so different from the 'modern music'. It takes time to 'learn' to appreciate.

One of my little 'regret' is that I don't have time to really get into the learning part of Classical music. Yes, there are so many popular names, popular tunes in the modern media - movies, TV series, or commercials that Classical music has been living among us all the time. However, in order to know how to appreciate it, I think it should require some readings of the history of the Classical music. Namely, knowing who is who, who composed what, who affected whom, etc. Also, I think being a beginner of Classical music learner is like learning wine-tasting. It takes time and effort to learn 'slowly'. I'm interested in how those classical musics are composed. How to they broken down into pieces and how they links together. Which instruments play what roles. Also, the interesting part will be learning how to compare and appreciate the different 'interpretation' of the same piece of music, then we will know how one is more 'advanced' than the others. Besides all the technical things, certain Classical music is piece of art. It shows human feeling. How does the composer transfer its emotion into the music and how the musicians put his/her grain of salts in it is not easy to tell the difference unless you know more the background of the music itself. Those knowledge can help a person to learn how to 'feel' the music in a more profound way.

After expressing what I think of Classical music, someone may think that I know something....actually I think I'm saying how I think, but not what I know. I wish I know, just don't have the time to put my belief into practice. Don't know what I said really make sense to those who really 'know' Classical music. Hopefully, they won't think that I'm just bullshitting! Ha ha!....

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Eee PC

Have bought an Asus Eee-PC 900 for my wife as a gift for few weeks. Knowing that she has to go to business trip every now and then. It should be very useful to her. Cos, it meets her demand in terms of function and mobility. However, I'm the one who use it most of the time. Shame on me!...he he.. The keyboard is just a bit small, need to be quite careful to type, and I don't think I can type for long using that. For web browsing is ok, other basic functions are fine. Too bad that I don't have a Window XP SP2 disc, cos I'm still struggling with making it showing Chinese and other Eastern languages. I'm still stuck with this shortcoming...just have no resource to handle that....ah........

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Survival Kits in the Wilderness

Last night when I was hopped into bed, I wasn't very sleepy. Usually, that's the time I use to think. Sometimes with something useful, like reflection of things that I did wrong and all that, sometimes, I just think about silly things....last night was one of such occasion. I was thinking....if I have to pack a survival kit for a lengthy stay in wilderness (not in snowy place or desert that extreme, perhaps in a forest or an island), what should I bring? I come up with the following list (not sure if some of those things really exist or not):
A hat - for my head
Sunglasses - to protect my eyes
A waterproof jacket with camouflaged color - to keep warm and stay dry
Long sleeves T shirt (2 cotton, one with material that is thin with good ventilation) - to keep warm and away from mosquito
Underwear - stay civilized!
Long pant (water proof) - Stay dry
Long jean - stay warm and stand some roughness
Short boots - to protect my feet, need to be durable
Socks - absorb shock and protect my feet from the rough boots
Gloves (construction use) - to handle rough things, like climbing or fire woods
Gloves (water proof) - don't know why I need it, but will be useful at times.
Surgery Gloves - protect from germs if I got cuts
A light backpack with light hard metal frame - need to carry things around
A waist bag - same as above
Military Knife (like the one used by Rambo: with compass, waterproof matches, threads and needles, fishing hooks and line, and it can be used as screwdrivers) - most important tool!
Swiss army knife - for backup
Sleeping bag - Gotta sleep somehow
Fordable Tent - Gotta sleep in dry and somewhat protected place
A small light metal pot with lid - Got to cook
A spoon and a fork - nice to have to dine
Magnifying Glass - in case all other fire starting tools are gone
Stones to set fire - Fire again
Small water seal containers containing cigarette lighters - fire again
A light torch that can be recharged by physical action, like shaking - need to see things at night
Surgery needles and threads - for emergency
A metal water bottle - for water reserve
Bandages - take care of cuts
Medicines that deal with bleeding, stomach ache, and diarrhea - no need to explain further
A mechanical watch - check time and date
A pen and some paper - maybe useful
A military survival guide printed on plastic rather than in paper - can't remember everything, need to be on durable medium
A small mirror - see my back if I got cut, or sending signals
A telescope - see things good or bad coming
A crossbow - for hunting
A small hammer and nails - may be useful somehow
A long rope made of plastic and metal with movable locks - for climbing or else
Vitamin pills - unless there are fruits
I think that should be enough........ha ha!

Monday, July 14, 2008

Half Glass Full

During my college days, I used to think pessimistically for most things. Though I understand that everything has its ying and yang. I was more comfortable of thinking like a victim, passive and powerless person. As I grow older, has able to possess certain things and achieve power over certain things. I feel I've more control over certain matters. I'm not saying I'm satisfied with everything I have. However, I wouldn't lose sleep over some of them though they are not perfect.

Yes, during natural disasters or in some 'macro' environment changes, human beings are fragile. However, considering the place that I'm living, it is relatively stable and the environment is more or less encouraging individuals to fight for their own. I think I do have power to choose how I want to feel about what I've and what I don't have. Should I feel sad or joyful? That's really up to oneself and we are all welcome to make an effort to change our feeling towards the same thing in future.
Everyone has weaknesses, nobody is exception. I can criticize myself point by point on what a loser I am, feel bad about it and vice versa. I used to think a lot, I love to think, but lately I've been thinking less than before. At this moment of my life, I think 'hard' when I need to. Cos, thinking without planning and actions is just like a hobby or entertainment to me. But, I think I need some subsequent actions in my post-thinking stage. Cos, I'm not very happy with my current stage of life now. I need to brainstorm, do some analysis and then get something going. Sometimes, the pendulum tilt too much to one end, and I realize that it is time to swing back. Staying in the comfort zone created by myself for too long can really make me lazy and give excuse to myself. Happy with one end of the 'half glass full' can really lower a person's expectation of him/herself and letting things deteriorate. When things get to a point of no return and you don't even notice it, it will be too late to make any change.

At the end of the day, what I'm going to do is not really the point, but my thinking process is more important. Cos, the driver of actions are coming from there. I'm going to motivate myself to do something, a life is a like a house, it is time to do some maintenance, renovation, cleaning, and improvement. I don't think I urgently need to do them, but I think I'm smart enough to know that a prolonged inactivity stage will really make things deteriorate, I don't want to wake up one day and find that I'm homeless.....

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Quote of Wisdom 1

"The only thing that I know is that I do not know." - Socrates

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Latest news and thoughts

News - My friend just had his first baby boy last week. Welcome to the club.
Thought - I think as we all grow up, the choices that we had made will definitely affect us socially. I don't think I can find much common with folks who don't have kid for whatever reason. That makes most adults into 3 groups: married with children, married without childern, and single/divorced.

News - People massed on the street on July 1 to voice out their causes to the local government.
Thought - It has been the 6th year that happen. I think it will become a local tradition that will never go away. There are always folks who are not happy with the Government one way or the other. So, they will take to the street. July 1 will become the official protest day.

News - My baby boy has demonstrate some new acts that he didn't show before. Like dropping things on the floor while he is his swingchair. Then, he will try to bend down forward to pick it up.
Thought - He just gives my wife and I a bundle of joy. It is so happy to see him doing new things. Yes, I think that he is a bit slow in learning stuff, but at this moment, I'm not too much concern of that. Whether he is able to do things slower than other kids a month or two is fine with me. As long as he is healthy and he is finally to do that. I'm ok with that.

News - Doing mid-year review with my team.
Thought - A challenge of my management ability.