Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Reality Is … So Unreal

The butterfly effect is a concept that really gets my mind reeling. It is the basic theory that even the smallest event or stimulus can create, over a long period of time or a short abrupt period of time, reactions somewhere else in the world. It all began with that famous quote about a butterfly:

"The phrase refers to the idea that a butterfly's wings might create tiny changes in the atmosphere that may ultimately alter the path of a tornado or delay, accelerate or even prevent the occurrence of a tornado in a certain location. The flapping wing represents a small change in the initial condition of the system, which causes a chain of events leading to large-scale alterations of events. Had the butterfly not flapped its wings, the trajectory of the system might have been vastly different. Of course the butterfly cannot literally cause a tornado. The kinetic energy in a tornado is enormously larger than the energy in the turbulence of a butterfly. The kinetic energy of a tornado is ultimately provided by the sun and the butterfly can only influence certain details of weather events in a chaotic manner."

Now something so infinitesimally small, so insignificant and minute, changing a tornadoes path could be seen as inspiring – shockingly so. Yet, I hold to this contemplative fear, "what if that tornado was supposed to miss me, and now it's headed right for my new 3.5 million baht home, 'to which I have no tornado insurance.'"You see when fate or cosmic karma is out to balance or unbalance the scale, it just might be me or you who is about to weigh in and that sucks. I mean every situation begins with something, in movies they say it's the plot point – you know our divergence from the normal into the drama of our story. Consequently, any time I start to feel bored and do a lot of thinking about what bolder in my life is teetering ever so ominously on some cliff I'm destined to walk beneath, I have to remind myself "maybe there is a super butterfly that could fly between me and that bolder and smash it to pieces with its little wings?" But then again, maybe not?

Friday, July 11, 2008

My Genius is in the Coffee

An article on MSNBC has confirmed a long standing suspicion of mine. My Genius may be a result of my massive use of coffee. Study sessions at university in which we crammed an entire semester and 3 or 4 text books into a 24 hour enlightenment period, always made me wonder, "is it the incredible effort I'm putting in which is giving me the good grades, or is it just the coffee?" Researchers created a list of 4 foods which help memory recall and slipping in at number 4 is every teacher's friend, every cop's life blood, black gold, coffee. Now this is wonderful news for me, because I've always indulged myself with coffee as a pick me up which can aid me through my less than stimulating day as a high school teacher. 

Now if they can just come out with a study that says watching movies and eating cake all day will help me to understand quantum physics, then I will be really happy. 

Article from MSNBC:

Coffee (adjust to your personal tolerance)
Good news for coffee lovers. About two years ago, researchers from the University Innsbruck in Austria found caffeinated coffee can temporarily sharpen your focus and memory. After giving volunteers the caffeine equivalent of about two cups of coffee, they observed that their brain activity was increased in two locations—one being the part responsible for memory. Results were observed using MRI technology. Without caffeine, there was no increase in brain activity. 

Then, earlier this year, another study published in a leading Neurology journal, found the effects of coffee may be longer lasting — specifically in women. This four-year long study involving about 7000 participants... all participants went through thorough baseline evaluations – cognitive function was tested, along with high blood pressure, high cholesterol and other vascular issues. Participants were re-evaluated at the two-year mark, and again at the four year mark. 

At the end of the four year period, researchers found that women age 65 and older who drank more than three cups of coffee per day (or the caffeine equivalent in tea) had 33 percent less decline in memory over time than women who drank one cup or less of coffee or tea per day. The results held up even after researchers adjusted for other factors that could affect memory abilities, such as age, education, baseline cognitive function, depression, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, medications, and other chronic illnesses. This caffeine-memory association was not observed in men — the authors hypothesize that perhaps that’s because men and women metabolize caffeine differently.

So if memory problems are a major concern for you, and if you don’t have a medical condition that precludes caffeine, feel free to indulge in a cup or two in the morning to jump-start your brain.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Luc Besson RULES with BEAUTY

The Fifth Elemnt she is "Perfect"

Recently I installed a projection system in my new home. It is so cool to see movies on a 92 inch projection screen and to hear the powerful surround sound, that I basically only leave my house for work and food. One of the great pleasures in having a new system to view movies is pulling out old favorites and watching them again. It has been during this glut of film indulgence that I have come to realize just how much I love Luc Besson. 

Luc Besson is one of my favorite film directors. I know every film school nerd loves to babble on and on about Kubrick -- yes, yes, the patience the calm, he is a brilliant director -- but for my box office bucks I love Besson. He certainly does not have the track record of a Spielberg or Lucas, but what is amazing about Besson is his ability to tell a story. To tell it to an audience that may or may not understand much about science or even fiction, and to use compelling characters to tell his stories. 3 of my favorite films of all time, and I've seen far too many films to make this statement, are Besson's famed jewels: La Femme Nikita, The Fifth Element, and Leon The Professional. Action films with a sense of humor, romance, color, and most importantly a human factor that far too many directors fail to access.  Leon is one of the most singular character in any film, and his relationship with his adopted young lady is magical.

If you have not seen all of his films, check his bio by clicking on the title of this article. You will be taken to an article about his retirement in 2006 which goes into great detail about his career. Chose one of his 10 films and rent or buy it and check him out. You won't be disappointed. 

Monday, July 7, 2008

Motorcycle Taxis go to WORK

It is the year 2551 here in the Kingdom of Thailand. Sometimes I feel like the nation is trapped in the 50's of the west. I mean there is an innocence here very similar to that of the 1950's in America. We have a steadily and rapidly emerging middle class, we have young people who are the first family member to graduate from a university, we have ice cream shops packed with students on giggly dates, movie theaters, ice skating rinks, and so much focus on teen life. But, in other ways I feel this county is way ahead of the west when it comes to technology. Phones here are, as a group more advanced for the money, banking is so much easier as everything can be done with the ATM machine.

So as I look to the future of the planet I think perhaps the planet will be looking at Thailand for its answer. You see for decades here we have had the motorcycle taxi. Now if you want to get anywhere at any time of day, there is really only one vehicle which can deliver -- the motorcycle taxi. These crazy people are willing to slip through seems in the gridlock that many needles would shy away from. When the street becomes completely impassable, the sidewalk or even fields beside the road can become a viable means to an end. As gas prices seem to be soaring beyond all expectations, and more hikes expected on a weekly basis, I will suggest for the rest of the world that you should introduce the motorcycle taxi. It's cheap, it's doable, and they can go to places your car could never dream of going anyway.

Most importantly the PRICE IS RIGHT! Motorcycles will be making a huge comeback in the coming decade, because cars and cheap fuel are about to become a thing of memory. Truthfully, who can spend 30% of their monthly earnings to cover transportation? This number was thrown out as an estimate of spending by middle class citizens on the planet Earth. I for one, moved closer to my work and plan to do as much WALKING as I can.