Sunday, 19 January 2014

To boldly motivate where no motivators have gone before...

Dear reader,

This blogsite started off as a commentary for things quirky, so far, largely on science and science fiction. Along the way, I realise how science and science fiction is very much part of life, and hope. Hope offers motivation, the engine that keeps us going in life. I used to have another website dealing with motivation. I've decided to use this blogsite as the 'go to' blogsite for motivation issues and close down the other site. Let me share the opening letter in my other website:

Are you bored with work, studies or your social life?

Do you feel like waking up in the morning as a chore and you dread going to work or college?

Do you dread doing what you’re doing now, or feel that life is taking a direction you’re not happy with?

Do you feel like your life’s direction ought to change, but you’re not certain how?

If you have these pressing issues, you’ve come to the right place.

Clear Blue Skies

It started off as a profound philosophical question – what do we want out of life? The general answer is surely to maximize a state of well being and happiness, and to reduce the state of discomfort or unhappiness.

Some aspects of happiness are best answered through lessons in fitness and health – eating right, sleeping right, exercising etc.

Others are more subtle – habits and patterns formed through our family and social interactions, the relationship choices we make, our values and personality, or our spiritual choices etc.

Yet perhaps the mother of all questions would appear to be finding oneself and one’s purpose in life. Keeping busy doing what we fundamentally want to do is probably the most satisfying experience one can have.

Discovering personal goal could take years for some. For others, it’s the first thing they find, and become their source of bliss and contentment. It’s the same for love sometimes.

Then, there’s a different question of what you do with your purpose once you find it.

There are many books written on how we go about finding our purpose, and what we do once we find it, but what most people find useful, is a made-to-fit coaching.

This coach listens, analyses, resolves and encourages, and if circumstances call for it, prods, reminds, challenges and cajoles you out of your occasional stupor. It’s not counseling. More like live action.

We’ll have many stimulating conversations, to cultivate into habit the baby steps you’ll take as you develop the skill to find yourself and the courage to develop your personal goal. And what’s unique about this coaching, is that along the way, we’ll have a blast of a time while finding yourself, finding your purpose, and acting on that purpose. We’re not going to be sitting in the office, but we’ll be out there – walking in the park, bush walking, enjoying a cuppa al fresco style, having a sumptuous meal, attending a theater etc.

My personal experience in the past 15 years as a recruiter, trainer and motivator to the law firm in which I am a partner, and our lawyers; and my experience with myriad people whom I’ve had the privilege of coming across in my life and my profession, provides me with a unique perspective of personal goal finding and goal implementation.

My self discovery took a while, and may well be a continuing, refining process. I’ve set out to accomplish some of my goals, and then there are some left unfulfilled. What I will aspire to do for everyone I coach, is that I not only share with you what I already know, but what the continuing process might be like. As much as it is coaching, it is also sharing, and I look forward to learning from you, with the hope that we all stay true to our real purpose in life and make the most happiness out of acting on them.

I can’t be everything to everyone. That’s true not only of leaders, managers, friends, lovers etc., but it’s also true for coaches. Since chemistry matters, my coaching will only work if we have chemistry. If you wish to find out more, we can have a brief conversation. Drop me a line at klclearblueskies@gmail.com

In the meantime, be well, and be safe.

Yours truly,
Hiro

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

Super 8

Was it a great movie?

1) It's typical Spielberg fare in recent years, reminiscent of War of the Worlds + ET.

2) The only outstanding character is Elle Fanning, only 13.

3) Typical misguided US military.

4) Starting, leading up to the derailment, was great movie making. It went downhill after that. Ending was plain cheesy. The characters were not instrumental in anything except to tell the alien that he's been through bad times but he can still leave (big deal). And it was so easy for it to leave - makes you wonder why it needed to go through an elaborate process of stealing components to build some subterranean base, and what's his use of those people he captured. And knowing that the cubes build the ship, what were the trucks still doing in town? The plot and the circumstances just don't add up.

5) The only consolation was to watch the zombie movie in the end.

Friday, 7 October 2011

Star Trek, going where no wrong has gone before

It's been a year since Star Trek movie no 11, on the alternative timeline, has been shown, and won the franchise' first academy awards for best make-up. When I first saw it, suspending any expectations, I liked it just that much that I was not motivated to watch it again. A lot of people said they found it enjoyable. Why wouldn't it be? Topless handsome male lead roles, hot Uhura reboot, an Enterprise on steroids that jumps to warp speed like Star Wars ship jumps into hyperspace, phasers that shoot more like pulse guns... I guess you could say the packaging was good, and the fact that you don't disturb the "canon" timeline seems to justify doing whatever it is necessary to reboot the franchise. Yet I felt a disconnect.

Star Trek TNG cast featured movies weren't a particular hit save for First Contact, but after rewatching them, I couldn't help feel a connection. There is consistency in characterisation, in the characters, and most of all, there is continuity. The story telling wasn't great, and the stories could have been grander but for the budgetary constraints, but at least it was a case of right people in the right time being caught in an event doing the right things. Because it is coherent, it ended up potentially boring.

Take Generations. Enterprise D need not have found Dr Soren, it could have been another ship. Could they have stopped him? Who knows? But even if they didn't, it would just have been Dr Soren ending up in the Nexus, with hundreds of millions dead when the Veridian sun explodes. The galaxy would have continued, and Enterprise D would have continued exploring the galaxy.

First Contact was different. Enterprise E was uniquely qualified to be part of the event, because Picard had special knowledge of the Borg. To up the stakes, the Borg planned to assimilate Earth in the past so that Earth will never make contact with the Vulcans, without which there would be no United Federation of Planets posing a threat to their advance. This makes good story telling.

Insurrection was a nice story. But the stakes were not high enough, therefore it didn't make grand space opera. But it was nevertheless consistent with Picard being the philosopher, the Captain that preserves the best traditions of Star Fleet - preventing forced relocation. Perhaps the folks in US and Europe didn't quite like the movie because it reminded them of what Israel stands for.

One pertinent aspect to note, both First Contact and Insurrection was directed by Jonathan Frakes, otherwise better known as Commander Riker, the Number One to Captain Picard. He's a good director.

I'm not certain why Nemesis did badly. Was it because they killed Data? Or because it's another story of Picard in emotional conflict? Was it the absurd idea of a single Romulan Warbird annihilating Earth with Polaron radiation weapon? Or the irritation of using a dune buggy? If Data was not detected when he first went on board the ship, why didn't he scout around to find a weakness, or plant a bomb, or a computer virus, as a tactical advantage as he so eloquently put it? Shinzon didn't look like he's a poker face - why didn't Troi detect his scheming? It would seem like Nemesis is a trap onto itself, full of pitfalls... making it a sad ending for TNG cast featured movies.

But my question is this - does bad story telling make it justifiable for one to abandon the canon timeline to explore an alternative timeline? Couldn't they have fixed TNG movie at 12 or 13? Bring in DS9 or Voyager crew perhaps? What was wrong with finishing Star Trek Enterprise into Season 7, and perhaps bring Enterprise E back to when Jonathan Archer became President of the Federation? Time travel is always fascinating. You just need to find a compelling reason or excuse to do so.

In contrast, yes, Star Trek 11 is enjoyable, but Kirk was not the right person to be at the event. NCC1701 was a new ship. It's Captain and Science Officer would perhaps be outstanding. But of all people, why did Captain Pike make Kirk first officer to Spock when he was called to the Romulan ship? On hindsight, that could have been an impressive command decision, but there is no way in hell StarFleet would have made a StarFleet cadet who is not even an ensign the first officer of any starship, least of all the Enterprise. Yes, I have a bone to pick about this, and it is a very large bone. And also consider all the new faces. Is it possible that in alternate reality, people look different? That must be the first this happens in our science fiction universe.

Question - what if Star Trek 12 flops? Sure, it can be entertaining, but usually, you need to break a few rules of consistency just to do so. Just think Transformers 2. If the Alternative Timeline flops, it's too late to go back to reconnect the dots between Star Trek Enterprise all the way to Voyager. The circle is already broken by this bastard child called the alternate universe.

I didn't like how Star Wars Episodes 1 - 3 were told. I had a wish list. Despite the eventual turn to the dark side for Anakin Skywalker, it could still have preserved some levity of the original trilogy. But at least I appreciated the attempt at consistency, even as I was appalled by the story's gaps. Could you imagine George Lucas realising how the Phantom Menace irked a lot of people, and decided to pull the plug on Episodes 2 and 3, and decide to reboot with an alternative timeline? It would have been unimaginable, and unbearable. Why then are we asked to accept Star Trek's audacity to do so?

Star Trek should have gone where no one has boldly gone before. If the studios were courageous enough to put a new face to old characters, they should have been just as bold to create a totally new set of cast, and throw them another ship, and set them off to an amazing adventure. Star Trek is a universe. It is not the playground of Kirk alone. Look at how Star Wars has expanded the Clone Wars, which is a force onto itself. Or the Old Republic, an actually completely new universe. And look at what they are trying to achieve by bringing to fore the minor characters, so that they become major roles in the live action series, now put off for another few more years due to budgetary constraints.

Star Trek 12 may well be entertaining, but I will always feel a disconnect, because it isn't my reality. As far as I'm concerned, it's gone where no wrong has gone before.

Monday, 7 February 2011

3D - Benefit or Bane?

There seems to be an ongoing argument about the benefits of 3D movies - does it add an immersing visual experience? Or is it one additional gadget moviegoers can do without + some people are just not suited to watch movies with goggles - gives them headache, visuals seem darker etc..?

Frankly, in my view, if a movie is good enough, no 3D experience is going to enhance it greatly. If it is a bad movie, no visual enhancement is going to safe it. I haven't come across a viewing experience where I exclaimed "wow, wait til I see this in 3D". It'll be a different story if it's 3D as in Star Wars hologram (with high resolution and colour)! That way, the value-added viewing experience is you get to see the same scene from any angle that you choose.

Anyway, I have no quarrel with cineplexes showing movies in 3D. My pet peeve is if they stop doing films in 2D and put it all in 3D. That will be the day when the masses will rise against movie-makers and distributors, for crossing the line for greed. Imagine the number of goggles people need to buy/rent. The day will probably never come, because just like Blueray, what's not acceptable to the torrent community will unlikely make it big in main stream.

Saturday, 28 June 2008

Stepping stone to human advancement, or famous last words?

Yahoo! reports today:

MEYRIN, Switzerland - The most powerful atom-smasher ever built could make some bizarre discoveries, such as invisible matter or extra dimensions in space, after it is switched on in August.

But some critics fear the Large Hadron Collider could exceed physicists' wildest conjectures: Will it spawn a black hole that could swallow Earth? Or spit out particles that could turn the planet into a hot dead clump?

Ridiculous, say scientists at the European Organization for Nuclear Research, known by its French initials CERN — some of whom have been working for a generation on the $5.8 billion collider, or LHC.

"Obviously, the world will not end when the LHC switches on," said project leader Lyn Evans.

David Francis, a physicist on the collider's huge ATLAS particle detector, smiled when asked whether he worried about black holes and hypothetical killer particles known as strangelets.

"If I thought that this was going to happen, I would be well away from here," he said.

The collider basically consists of a ring of supercooled magnets 17 miles in circumference attached to huge barrel-shaped detectors. The ring, which straddles the French and Swiss border, is buried 330 feet underground.

The machine, which has been called the largest scientific experiment in history, isn't expected to begin test runs until August, and ramping up to full power could take months. But once it is working, it is expected to produce some startling findings.

Scientists plan to hunt for signs of the invisible "dark matter" and "dark energy" that make up more than 96 percent of the universe, and hope to glimpse the elusive Higgs boson, a so-far undiscovered particle thought to give matter its mass.

The collider could find evidence of extra dimensions, a boon for superstring theory, which holds that quarks, the particles that make up atoms, are infinitesimal vibrating strings.

The theory could resolve many of physics' unanswered questions, but requires about 10 dimensions — far more than the three spatial dimensions our senses experience.

The safety of the collider, which will generate energies seven times higher than its most powerful rival, at Fermilab near Chicago, has been debated for years. The physicist Martin Rees has estimated the chance of an accelerator producing a global catastrophe at one in 50 million — long odds, to be sure, but about the same as winning some lotteries.

By contrast, a CERN team this month issued a report concluding that there is "no conceivable danger" of a cataclysmic event. The report essentially confirmed the findings of a 2003 CERN safety report, and a panel of five prominent scientists not affiliated with CERN, including one Nobel laureate, endorsed its conclusions.

Critics of the LHC filed a lawsuit in a Hawaiian court in March seeking to block its startup, alleging that there was "a significant risk that ... operation of the Collider may have unintended consequences which could ultimately result in the destruction of our planet."

One of the plaintiffs, Walter L. Wagner, a physicist and lawyer, said Wednesday CERN's safety report, released June 20, "has several major flaws," and his views on the risks of using the particle accelerator had not changed.

On Tuesday, U.S. Justice Department lawyers representing the Department of Energy and the National Science Foundation filed a motion to dismiss the case.

The two agencies have contributed $531 million to building the collider, and the NSF has agreed to pay $87 million of its annual operating costs. Hundreds of American scientists will participate in the research.

The lawyers called the plaintiffs' allegations "extraordinarily speculative," and said "there is no basis for any conceivable threat" from black holes or other objects the LHC might produce. A hearing on the motion is expected in late July or August.

In rebutting doomsday scenarios, CERN scientists point out that cosmic rays have been bombarding the earth, and triggering collisions similar to those planned for the collider, since the solar system formed 4.5 billion years ago.

And so far, Earth has survived.

"The LHC is only going to reproduce what nature does every second, what it has been doing for billions of years," said John Ellis, a British theoretical physicist at CERN.

Critics like Wagner have said the collisions caused by accelerators could be more hazardous than those of cosmic rays.

Both may produce micro black holes, subatomic versions of cosmic black holes — collapsed stars whose gravity fields are so powerful that they can suck in planets and other stars.

But micro black holes produced by cosmic ray collisions would likely be traveling so fast they would pass harmlessly through the earth.

Micro black holes produced by a collider, the skeptics theorize, would move more slowly and might be trapped inside the earth's gravitational field — and eventually threaten the planet.

Ellis said doomsayers assume that the collider will create micro black holes in the first place, which he called unlikely. And even if they appeared, he said, they would instantly evaporate, as predicted by the British physicist Stephen Hawking.

As for strangelets, CERN scientists point out that they have never been proven to exist. They said that even if these particles formed inside the Collider they would quickly break down.

When the LHC is finally at full power, two beams of protons will race around the huge ring 11,000 times a second in opposite directions. They will travel in two tubes about the width of fire hoses, speeding through a vacuum that is colder and emptier than outer space.

Their trajectory will be curved by supercooled magnets — to guide the beams around the rings and prevent the packets of protons from cutting through the surrounding magnets like a blowtorch.

The paths of these beams will cross, and a few of the protons in them will collide, at a series of cylindrical detectors along the ring. The two largest detectors are essentially huge digital cameras, each weighing thousands of tons, capable of taking millions of snapshots a second.

Each year the detectors will generate 15 petabytes of data, the equivalent of a stack of CDs 12 miles tall. The data will require a high speed global network of computers for analysis.

Wagner and others filed a lawsuit to halt operation of the Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider, or RHIC, at the Brookhaven National Laboratory in New York state in 1999. The courts dismissed the suit.

The leafy campus of CERN, a short drive from the shores of Lake Geneva, hardly seems like ground zero for doomsday. And locals don't seem overly concerned. Thousands attended an open house here this spring.

"There is a huge army of scientists who know what they are talking about and are sleeping quite soundly as far as concerns the LHC," said project leader Evans.

==========================================

"Obviously, the world will not end when the LHC switches on," said project leader Lyn Evans.

"If I thought that this was going to happen, I would be well away from here," David Francis,
a physicist on the collider's huge ATLAS particle detector.

Famous last words, or a major leap in human advancement? We'll know in August. But should there be any disaster from this, it will be stuff of a blockbuster in years to come, if we're still around.

Sunday, 15 June 2008

Terminator confusion




Ever since I first watched Terminator, the central plot of future Kyle Reese coming back to the past to impregnate Sarah Connor thus giving birth to John Connor who goes on to become the resistance leader in a post-apocalyptic Earth against Skynet where future Kyle was sent back in the first place, is a paradox that I tried but failed to comprehend*. At each turn, there appears to be more questions than answers. For instance:

  1. How could John Connor be born in the first, first place when his father wasn't born yet?
  2. If humans were already by and large decimated on Earth, how would it be cost efficient for Skynet to go back to the future to kill off Sarah Connor before John was born, instead of just finishing the job? After all, they are not using humans like batteries like in Matrix.
  3. By killing Sarah and John, how does Skynet know that the time line won't be altered in such a way that would put them in greater jeopardy?
  4. How did future John know that Skynet is building, much less planning to use a time machine to kill his mother or himself?
  5. Why didn't Skynet send an entire army back to the past to get the job done?
  6. Why did they send T1000 to kill him as a teenager when they could have sent T1000 back to deal with Sarah Connor before John was born, and keep sending more to the same time line? Wouldn't it be easier to kill Sarah before she developed an awareness of how dangerous Skynet is and go on a crusade against the creation of Skynet?
  7. Why create a time machine when an easier way to wipe out humans would be to create a virus, or nuke the world some more so much that no one can survive the ensuing winter?
All these seems to indicate that Skynet is neither efficient nor logical.

There are also other questions regarding the time travel itself:
a) why is it that only unclothed humanoid form could travel time?
b) if a human holds on to a gun, the gun will not make the trip. What if the gun is grafted on the human's arm?
c) it seems that a cyborg or even a robot in the case of T1000 could make the trip so long as they are in humanoid form, but what if a human has unusually long arms or legs? Will those "extended" limbs make it?

At a "scientific" level, the altering-the-past-time-travel-to-correct-the-future concept is premised upon a single stream of space-time continuum - i.e. if you reset the past the future will change. But there are other theories - multi-streams such as Back to the Future - where if you reset the past, the past will branch off another reality, with the "current" branch of reality continuing on and on. Which is more theoretically plausible?

* One possibility that I speculate is that in the original time line, there was no John Connor, but due to Skynet tampering with the infrastructure of physics itself, a temporal loop was created whereby a human was sent back in time, and by accident created a resistance leader. Skynet has been trying to correct this error ever since and we don't know the ending yet.

Wednesday, 29 August 2007

Star Wars: Palpatine vs Mace Windu - Lessons to be Learnt




Was Palpatine really beaten by Mace Windu in a lightsaber duel, only to be rescued by Anakin Skywalker?

We could take the obvious view and say, yes, that is so. Or we could look a bit deeper.

Yoda is just as, if not more powerful than Mace Windu. Yet, Palpatine equalled Yoda. And remember he despatched the other Jedi Council members (who are part of the team to arrest Palpatine at his office) with stunning ease.

There’s just that possibility that Palpatine may have foreseen his rescue by Anakin to purposely lose to Mace.

You say that kind of foresight is impossible? Not to the Sith Lord, who has foreseen great many things, except for the ultimate act of balance in the Force when Anakin/Vader throws him into the Death Star II chasm. And how can he not be that powerful, when his presence in Coruscant blacked out the Jedis' ability to foresee the future?

And why would he go through such a deliberate ruse if not to turn Anakin to the dark side? That was part of his grand plan too, to have an enforcer roaming the galaxy on his behalf while he rules from his seat of power in Coruscant.

He is in a sense, supremely confident that all his plans, no doubt occasionally scurried by unexpected developments, will ultimately turn out to be a done deal.

Observation: He could have easily despatched Anakin with all other Jedis. Did he really need him? No. Anakin is a poor judge of character, and impulsive. He could have been easily eliminated despite his sure connection with the Force. But Palpatine has uses for him when he becomes the Emperor.

So there you have it. Anakin Skywalker is but an anomaly in the Force, certainly expandable, but lasted far longer than any other Jedis from the hey days of the Republic.

He’s lucky to have been created from midichlorians itself, drawing Qui Gon and Obi Wan to his side, abusing Obi Wan’s affection for him (who closed a blind eye to his obvious and dangerous flaws), betraying the Jedi Order, and ultimately enforcing the Emperor’s diabolical will. He’s the kid who had easy things coming his way (even as a slave), and never grew up. And his final act of courage wasn’t based so much on on principled conviction, but was based on paternal instincts. This man cannot be said to possess strong character, or wisdom. He’s just very strong, and manipulated as such.

It’s strange that he’s also our numero uno tragic villain. Perhaps that says something about ourselves, that in each and everyone of us, lies that restlessness, the irresolute conflict.

Another interesting musing: Did Mace Windu die? If one considers his feat of being able to leap great heights and pilot droid starfighters during the Separatist siege of Coruscant, one might consider that indeed, there may just be that possibility that he survived the fall from the Supreme Chancellor's office. Though, how would he break his fall without any hands? But he does have his legs still. And provided he did not pass out as a result of Force Lightning overdose. Maybe they'll bring him back in the live action series which will be set at the times between the Revenge of the Sith, and A New Hope (only to disappear/die again somehow).