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Archive for August, 2011

“What The Dog Saw” is full of interesting topics, mostly in social sciences, written with brevity, joy and wit that guarantees you not to raise a yawn and, even, to hold your urinary bladder. Recently, I have been craving for essays and, as I was walking in our school library’s aisle,  I came across with Malcolm Gladwell, an intellectual man whose works have consistently appeared in “The New Yorker”.  I thought essays have to be dull, boring and colorless for it to be an essay, at least that is what school teaches us, but as Gladwell shows us, that is not at all necessary. He gives us a compelling, down-to-earth stories. Stories that would have been rotten if it weren’t for Gladwell’s attempt to write about it.

What The Dog Saw (2009)

This book, Gladwell’s fourth one,  is an anthology of his selected essays.  He talks about the dominant presence of Heinz ketchup,  the inventor of the contraceptive pill, the legendary dog-whisperer Cesar Millan, the famous serial killers like Ted Bundy, just to name a few. After reading the book, I felt rich receiving a swimming pool of information. As an accounting student, I consider the “Open Secrets” a treat. It talks about accounting ethics and the “peril of too much information”, well it talks about the giant company Enron. Gladwell reveals to us how Enron manages to survive their debt for long and as his later essay “Talent Myth”, he shows us that despite  the Enron’s employee star system, of being innovative and pushing the limits, it still manages to fail. “It never occurred to them,” Gladwell later writes, “that, if everyone had to think outside the box, maybe it was the box that needed fixing”.

His essays yank us from passive mode to an active one and you find yourself searching for facts if these things might actually be true. I didn’t search for authenticity because I’m convince when the book notes “every one of these stories was rigorously perfected by the copy and fact-checking departments of The New Yorker magazine”.

Gladwell lets us to think for ourselves and encourages us to challenge the current view, to be skeptic, he might as well challenge us for his views, which makes the book altogether fun. At some point, I was having a mental debate with Gladwell when I refuse to acknowledge his differentiation of “choking” and “panicking”. As for me both are different levels of panicking.

Did I mention that this book is as compelling as your favorite fiction book? Though it doesn’t read like one, “What The Dog Saw” delights you from its diction and well-structured sentence. A good way to spend your afternoon.

 

 

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Clayton Riddell is on the way home after he sold his comic work when a man bites off the ear of a dog. A woman charges to a vendor. Numerous distant screams. Before Clayton knows it, the world is already in chaos. He realizes that the cell (phones) makes a person crazy when he listen to it.  Clay, together with his pick-up friends, Alice and Tom, races from Boston across Kent Pond when he remembers that his son owns a cell. Stephen King’s “The Cell” pulls off a not-so horrifying thriller in a gory zombie tale.

Cell (2006) by Stephen King

When I was reading “The Cell”, Stephen King’s “The Gunslinger” keeps reminding me that this is not worth the time but I am actually impressed to see a dramatic improvement from his writing, which is reasonable since King admits he haven’t been in writing workshops until, I guess, when he started writing the second book of the Dark Tower series. In this work, he chooses the words carefully and manages to tickle you in serious moments but one thing is still disappointing, he’s not a compelling storyteller or should I blame it to the plot? In the middle, when the dynamic trio escapes to an English boarding school, or even before that, the story slouches, no not being a slow pace but it gets boring. He narrates the zombies and what they are doing but it gets worn-out to see the little progress of these creatures. At first, zombies eats another zombies, then they learn how to team up and start to flock to right then to left, then they start to sing and on and on. It would have been fine if these things plays a great role or even a satisfying epiphany in the end, but no they just get blown up. This just shows that these zombies’ deteriorated brains can’t think well. (more…)

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Our film club plans to diversify our movie taste and at one time we had a concept about German films. It was “Das Experiment” (The Experiment in English). The movie is about a simulation program conducted by psychology scientists to witness the effect of socialization in a total institution, which in this case a prison. Enticed by the hefty money offered, many young men volunteer in the program. Randomly, some are assigned as guards and others as prisoners. As the film progresses, one thing comes in my mind, my sociology class. We have discussed this experiment alongside with the Hawthorne Effect on Sociological Investigation.

“Das Experiment”, as it turned out, is based on a novel called “Blackbox” by Mario Giordano , and the novel in return is based on Philip Zimbardo’s study “Stanford County Prison”. The study was to test the hypothesis if the prison itself is the cause of the violence. Before the actual experiment of course, the participants were closely examined if they were physically and psychologically fit to enter the program. The real study and the film were alike, they both ended bloody.

As the experiment starts, the guards are reluctant to command their counter part. The prisoners refuse to accept orders and mocks the guards and also reasons that “this is just a game, we’ll get our money soon”. Peer pressure, however, settles on the guards as they are humiliated in their roles. Tarek is among the rebellious and besides they were supposed to be rebellious since the money they will received depends on their performance. Berus, the most offended guard, begins to impose violence and the prisoners, especially Tarek, suffers a series of abuse like being stripped naked and urinated. (more…)

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The parade kickstarted our universities’ 63rd  Fiesta. The students, including me, gathered at the People’s Park and wore modified costumes. Some chose a “Plant vs Zombies” theme, which was evident from the protruding pea shooters, stars and wall nuts. It got even exciting when a class with an “Avatar” theme arrived. Their whole bodies tainted with dark blue and their faces looked like rambo and not to mention those Navi ears and long single braided hairs. Not for long, a group of students entered the scene wearing a yellow hard hat, jumper and a yellow shirt, a perfect costume for the minions of the film “Despicable Me”. There was even the classic “Alice in Wonderland”, oh how I love the Red Queen. But sadly, our class  didn’t anticipate this kind of costumes. Ours was less exciting. We wore a big calculator, with all those arithmetic buttons. Yes, I know. Please don’t mention it.

After the parade,  we crowded the covered court according to our respective divisions: blue for Business Management, yellow for Accountancy (that’s me!), orange for Engineering and Architecture, violet for the Computer Studies,  green for Natural Science and Mathematics, red for Humanities, white for Nursing, light blue for Philosophy and pink for Social Sciences and Education. We all faced the center platform. We were waiting for the Group Dance Showdown, participated by each division. However, I left the place in bitterness. The CS didn’t win despite their exceptional performance.

But that didn’t disappoint my whole day. On lunch, the school’s student body organization held a boodle fight. Basically, it’s where a large table with food atop and you and the other people compete for food. It was instantaneous. When they signalled for a start run, the table was already surrounded before I even got a glimpse of the food. I almost didn’t get my share but thankfully my foraging skills paid its way. I got a spot and I stayed there defending my rightful place.

I also got a trip on a book fair inside our school library. Several bookstores joined the event. There were good and mostly new books. I was even tempted to buy “Screenwriting for Dummies”. The only bummer was the price. The books were expensive that I have to spend my 3 month savings if I want to buy one. But, of course I did not, my eyes, and my money, are already set for something.

At late afternoon until early evening, there was a fire dance exhibition. There was at least five minutes native drum roll to set up the mood and then four women holding an inflamed baton marched across the field.  It was followed by the same number of men each holding another baton. Both of them whirled their instrument as we gasped for excitement. Each exhibition was more exciting than the other. The performance was so hot that we can feel the heat some 10 meters away. I never wowed as many as this one. Even the circus I attended last summer won’t be a match.

The Fiesta will run for three days. There are many events that happens simultaneously like Debate and Extemporaneous Speaking, Championship Sports Competition, Live Guitar Performance, Ateneos Got Talent, Henna Tattoo, Jazz Up Your Jeans, Film Festival,  Sayawtenista (which is the climax of the fiesta) and many more. Not to mention the existing 20+ booths to entertain the idle students. This is really a break from our studies. The only downside is you can’t attend them all.

Happy Fiesta Everyone!

The official opening of the fiesta

UPDATE: Red Queen! :]

Me and my classmates with the Red Queen

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Last week, my sister wanted to borrow my flash drive. She craved to get a copy of a Korean TV Series. I refused, knowing that she had her own flash drive and besides one of my living legacy is don’t lend personal things, doing so would break my self-made promise. If you have guessed that my decision was final, you would have been wrong. How could I resist on persistent pleading. Of course not. But little did I know, that was the most right decision I have ever made, at least at the time of this writing.

Shin Min Ah and Lee Seung Gi

The Korean TV Series was “My Girlfriend is a Gumiho.” I saw it aired on a local channel, they always do, they can’t put up a good show and so they borrow from other countries and this has been the tradition of local channels, competing for who has to get the latest hit TV Series.

After I got the flash drive, some days later, I was about to delete the files in one button, all of them were already highlighted, waiting to meet the recycle bin. If you have guessed that my decision was final, then again you would have been wrong. Something about me wants to check out this series. I opened the first episode and moved the time bar to at least 10 minutes ahead. I was laughing, seeing the crumpled face of the protagonist, Cha Dae Wong, about to be sent to a military camp. I knew that although the series made me laugh, it would not get me hook to the story and so I watched some more and waited how would I react on the succeeding scenes. After I finished the episode, which was surprising since I only desired to see the main characters, I watched some more.

Miho is happy with her new name

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