How doing nothing, really, is actually doing something

I was having lunch with some of my classmates the other day, and a teacher came over and said to one of them, “I’m putting you in detention.”

To which my classmate replied, indignantly, “But I didn’t do anything!”

Which got the reply, “You didn’t do your homework.”

Sometimes, it’s not what we do that counts. It’s what we don’t do. And, as such, the question is, is inaction a form of action? Can you do something by doing nothing?Continue reading “How doing nothing, really, is actually doing something”

Robot Cooking

Every day, everywhere you go, you’re going to encounter smells. Sometimes they’re pleasant, sometimes, unpleasant, and sometimes toxic. Best stay away from the last one.

Our sense of smell, as you know, is one of our five “main” senses (there are more, actually.) But, as you also know, unlike our sense of sight and sound, smell cannot be messaged or transported instantaneously across the planet.

Think about it. You can share pictures and music, but you can’t share smells. Sure, you can take a picture of the wonderful taco you’re eating for lunch, but no one can confirm that it smells—or tastes—good. (Maybe that’s why cooking shows work so well.)

But the point I’m making is this: have you noticed how little technology has been developed considering—and using—smells?Continue reading “Robot Cooking”

Thoughts on language: forgetting words

Some days, writing comes easy. Ideas just flow through my fingers. All of my sentences come out like poetry.

And then, I hit a word block.

You’ve probably experienced it before. It’s when you’re talking/writing, and you’re about to use a word, but you realise you’ve forgotten it. Yes, as most people like to say, it’s at the “tip of [their] tongue”—they know the definition, and they know every synonym of the word, but for some reason, they’ve just forgotten that one word. The perfect word.

It’s awfully annoying when that happens—especially when you’ve set up your sentence perfectly to weave that word in. It’s like having a missing carriage in your train of thought.Continue reading “Thoughts on language: forgetting words”

Coloured Lights

In this day and age, lights of a million colours are available to us—all shades of greens, oranges, blues, reds, and the list goes on.

But for some reason, when it comes to lighting, most people default to yellow.

Why is that? Why, given our panoply of colours, do we always default to the same old yellow?Continue reading “Coloured Lights”

How the Internet is making us all extremists

For its short lifespan, the Internet has been accused of many things. It’s been charged with making people stupid. It’s been charged with shortening attention spans. It’s even been charged with making us lonelier.

And today, I’m going to charge it for making us all extremists. Yes, all of us.

Let’s be clear: extremism doesn’t begin with a pulled trigger. It ends there. Like any other action, extremist action is a symptom, or reflection, of a person’s thoughts, ideas, and choices. And all of our choices are influenced by our worldviews.

And we all have worldviews, which are, as you know, shaped by many things: our environment, families, teachers, friends, and culture.

And thus, our worldviews will give us all different perspectives. It shapes how we see the world, ourselves, and others. But more importantly, it shapes what we see as problems in our world. And, of course, most importantly, it will shape our ideal world, what we think the world should look like.

Generally, we call this broad subject religion and politics. And now we bring in the Internet.Continue reading “How the Internet is making us all extremists”

Thoughts on Language: contradictory phrases

Everyday, everywhere, people say common phrases that, while at first hearing, sound reasonable, after second thought, sound completely wacky.

This kind of happens to me every single time I hear someone say, “[Something] is fun. But don’t take my word for it. Go try it yourself.”Continue reading “Thoughts on Language: contradictory phrases”

The secret to understanding poetry

There’s only one kind of poetry that you actually need to understand in order to pass life: love poems. And even then, you only need to understand ones from people you actually like.

But for the rest of us right now, passing school is a greater concern than passing life. Because the final test for school, hopefully, is a little more imminent than the final test for life. (Yes, that pun was intended.)

And for some of us, understanding poetry on a reading comprehension test is not our forté. But still, it’s a hurdle that needs to be crossed.

So, like any other problem, you really have to get down to the root of the problem before you can issue any advice. So, to begin the diagnosis, I’ll ask two questions: first, do poems have a set, defined meaning that is the same for everyone, everywhere, across time? And second, if so, who decides what that meaning is?Continue reading “The secret to understanding poetry”

Are handcrafted items really better than machine-made ones?

If price tags didn’t already tell you, handcrafted items are almost always valued more than machine-made goods.

Why is that so?

Obviously factory products aren’t that bad—billions of consumer dollars are spent on them annually. But handmade items also have value. But what are the advantages of handmade goods? And, on the other hand, what are the advantages of machine-made goods?

Well, let’s start with handmade goods.

The first and foremost advantage of handmade goods is their uniqueness—for the most part, no two handmade items are the same. They’re not just run-of-the-mill products—being unique, such items take on a unique character that make them stand out from common, everyday items. This is probably why they make such great gifts: finding a unique gift that matches someone’s character is often a helpful way to tell someone that you’ve been thinking about them.

Anyone can make them. Of course, it will take time, and for some, it will take longer than others, but in the long run, this usually proves to be another advantage. Again, if you’re making a gift, it suggests care and concern. And if you’re making it for yourself, you’re probably the best judge of your own taste.

Human judgment trumps robot judgment. Referring specifically to the field of cooking, I think humans will always cook better than robots, primarily because we actually have receptors and a brain to decide whether food tastes good. And people enjoy different foods, so unless the robot can chemically figure each one of our brains out, asking a person to taste the food is probably a lot faster far less time consuming.

There’s probably a lot more that could be said about why handmade goods are better, but here are the top four things that I would much rather have handmade than machine made:

  1. Food (above all else)
  2. Novelty goods (well, duh)
  3. Paintings
  4. Flower bouquets (I can’t imagine robots trimming or wrapping flowers either)

But now, what are the advantages of factory productions?Continue reading “Are handcrafted items really better than machine-made ones?”

2016 in review: top posts and reflections

2016 is over. And, boy, did it go by fast. I mean, considering that the year was 75% longer than most years, it’s surprising how fast it went by. It’s been a rather dramatic 366 days.

For some reason, people like to reflect on what’s past. Maybe it’s because it’s difficult to reflect on what’s coming. Or because they want to see what they succeeded and failed in within the past year, and figure out how to (or how not to) repeat their actions. Or maybe it’s just because they want to make a New Year’s resolution. Who knows.

But since everyone is reflecting upon the past year, either personally or on a global scale, I’m going to reflect on my best posts of 2016. And then share them. But I’m skipping the first part.

10 words you probably didn’t know used to be two words
Opened Books

Did you know that vitamin used to be two words? Or that pixel used to be two words? Well, if you’re interested in that kind of etymology, or if you’re just interested in impressing your friends, you might as well read on and see what you can learn.

10 interesting facts about the Oscars

Courtesy of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences

Everybody loves the Oscars—I mean, who wouldn’t want a chance to hold a tiny statue that is reputed to weigh as much as a milk jug? Well, if film is your cup of tea (or jug of milk), and you want to learn about other interesting facts on one of film’s most coveted prizes, well, click through.Continue reading “2016 in review: top posts and reflections”

Rogue One review: introducing Disney’s most daring film in a decade

Be prepared for the most daring and experimental Disney film in a decade, because that, in short, sums up Rogue One.

While it has all the trappings of a typical Star Wars film, including a snappy droid, the line, “I have a bad feeling about this”, and of course, stormtroopers who can’t aim to save their lives (literally), it certainly strays from the well trodden path of typical Star Wars/Disney fare. From its gloomy politics to its explosive action, the film will keep you guessing right up to its conclusion.

If you’re not reading past this SPOILER ALERT, well, I’m giving the film 7.9/10.

So now that we’ve really begun, let’s get it straight: Rogue One is about revolutions, both in politics and in war. And it can be summed up in a sentence.

Rebellions are built on hope.

The film takes a pretty accurate stance on rebellions. For millennia, revolutions have been happening, and in Rogue One, Gareth Edwards asks this question: when revolutions happen, are the revolutionaries better than the evil they replace?

Well, his answer is Rogue One‘s Rebel Alliance. Bureaucratic, petty, ineffective, and, at some points, downright evil (i.e. when they order the assassination of Galen Erso), the Rebel Alliance really makes you question why people rebel if all they’re doing is putting another tyrant, another despot, and another bureaucrat on the throne.Continue reading “Rogue One review: introducing Disney’s most daring film in a decade”