Once upon a time, I wanted to be an astronomer

First grade, I think. We were learning about planets, solar systems, galaxies, stars, asteroids… So many worlds to learn about and I wanted to explore them all. So, I dreamed that, one day, I would be an astronomer.

I was six. Everyone had slum books, we wrote in each other’s slum books and, in that part where you’re asked what you want to be, I consistently wrote: “To be an astronomer.”

In the second and third grades, we moved to other areas of science. But the stars and the solar systems were calling out to me. I borrowed library books. Everything there was on astronomy. And I read them on my own time. We had a set of encyclopedia at home and those volumes became a supplement when I ran out of library books to borrow.

Then, I can’t remember when, I found out that to be an astronomer meant one had to learn physics too. And that meant learning math — not the kind of math that made sense but the kind where you added, subtracted, multiplied and divided with letters instead of numerals.

The next time I signed someone’s slum book, in that part where you’re asked what you want to be, I wrote: “To be a lawyer.” Continue Reading

Sometimes, I wonder… I know where I’ve been but why am I here?

In The Matrix, arguably my most favorite movie of all time, Agent Smith told Neo:

“There’s no escaping reason, no denying purpose, for as we both know, without purpose we would not exist. It is purpose that created us, purpose that connects us, purpose that pulls us, that guides us, that drives us, that binds us, it is purpose that defines us.”

Easy for him to say, right, because Agent Smith is a computer program with a very definite purpose.

But The Matrix is more philosophy than sci-fi. Depending on one’s perspective, I suppose. But that’s the main attraction of The Matrix for me. It dares to ask questions we always thought we knew the answers for. It dares us to entertain answers radically different from what we always thought were the only correct answers. Continue Reading

On wallflowers and DIs

DI stands for dance instructor. In today’s world, DIs are not only found in establishments that offer dance lessons; they are also found in clubs and parties. In clubs, they approach you and ask if you would like to dance. Sometimes, for free; other times, there is a price tag.

DIs as dancing partners have become so popular that women bring them to parties as dates. Or DIs are hired as a group and they are available to dance with anyone in a private party. Search the web — a lot of events planners’ services include DIs in the package as part of the entertainment.

To start with, they are called dance instructors for a reason — instructors give lessons for a fee. It’s a professional relationship. But when DIs are paid as dancing partners, they are no longer performing the role of instructor. If they are paid by the hour or by the number of dances, then, they are like taxi dancers. De metro.

I don’t mean to sound derogatory. Dancing is an art and there is no reason why good dancers cannot make a living doing what they do best and what they enjoy. They should. And if they can wow us by performing on stage or before a camera, why not on the dance floor? Still, I take issue when DIs are brought to private parties as a group, paid for the night and available to anyone who cares to dance with them. I don’t feel comfortable with women bringing DIs to parties as their dates either. There’s just something about the arrangement that makes me cringe. The practice is degrading to the DIs themselves because it makes them nothing more than paid escorts or another version of women who are paid to sit with male customers and entertain them on an exclusive basis. Continue Reading

If you’re a cortexiphan child, what power do you want enhanced?

I think it was Alex who asked me that question. But it could have been Sam. Maybe, they both asked me but on different occasions. I suppose it’s a logical thing to wonder about considering how we’ve spent the past several weekends watching Fringe, marathon style.

What is cortexiphan? A nootropic drug developed by Fringe characters Walter Bishop and William Bell, both mad scientists after a fashion. Cortexiphan is fictional but nootropic drugs, a.k.a. smart drugs or memory / cognitive / neuro enhancers, are real enough although (allegedly) still on trial stage. In Fringe, cortexiphan was administered to children. With the theory that every human is borne with a mind that is limitless in its capacity, the cortexiphan experiments were meant to remove limitations imposed on the mind by social mores and norms. Put another way, we are all borne with paranormal capabilities but because society considers them to be not normal, as we grow up, we are conditioned to bury and forget such capabilities. Cortexiphan was supposed to coax those capabilities out of hiding.

And just what are those paranormal capabilities that we are supposedly born with? Things like telekinesis, mind control, telepathy… As a side note, it was from Fringe that I learned that it was Stephen King who first coined the word “pyrokinesis” in Firestarter.

So, the question: If you’re a cortexiphan child, what power do you want enhanced? I think I said telekinesis. You know, I so hate the tricycle and jeepney culture (i.e., how the drivers think traffic laws don’t apply to them) that I have this recurring vision of sending tricycles and jeepneys flying off into the void and never to be heard of nor seen again. But now that I’ve had more time to think the question through, I think I’d rather be capable of mind control — what Stephen King called “the push” in Firestarter. Continue Reading

Stop hoarding bacon

About two weeks ago, news broke out that there would be a serious shortage in pork supply. I told Speedy about it, he gave me a blank look for a second then declared that he would die. Of course, I conveniently left out the fact that the threatened shortage was in the UK, not the Philippines. He went ahead and read the news for himself then told me, a bit accusingly, that the threatened shortage did not cover the Philippines. I just gave him a smile.

A few days later, the report was clarified on a TV news program. On Facebook, one of the program’s anchors beseeched Filipinos, jokingly or not, to please stop hoarding bacon because there is, and will be, ample supply of pork in the country. Continue Reading