October 29, 2007

fewer children?

Posted in Uncategorized at 5:09 pm by changisme

someone sent me an article about the declining fertility level in some parts of the world from an anthropological standpoint. The author argues that we are going through a transition where patriarchy would shift back because more people with such beliefs are having more children. I’m oversimplifying it, but it’s something of the sort.

it’s an interesting article, but there are a few things about this argument that worth examining really. One is that the global distribution of demographics is rather complicated at this point. I think at this point, I still can’t think about something so complicated. Let me think about it in terms of a single country first. it’s quite a lot already. The two kinds of countries I’m familiar with would be Canada/US and China.

The article says that the reason Bush received so much votes is in part the population who has his kind of mentality is increasing. I think… that could well be true, but if you think Bush is not very wise, then you could also call this the truth is on the side of few, it’s not exactly new right? I mean throughout history, many things are like that. It really depends on what you think democracy means. I don’t really know much about politics and what most people think. At this point, democracy to me is about serving the will of the mass. it’s not always the truest I don’t think. The author of course didn’t make a judgement of whether this is a good or bad situation. I just think that this is something we need to consider in the ideal of democracy not so much how our fertility is shifting.

Related to this point I just said, it’s also worth considering whether or not what we call as more advanced mode of human existence is necessarily where history should take its course. North Americans believe in female professionalism and family structures where children don’t need to support their parents. We are people of the age, it is very difficult to see how these could ever be wrong, but there could well be somethings that we ought not to insist upon too stubbornly. Another point is that whether or not history or nature will listen to us, it might mind you.

Another thing about North America and other parts of the world too is that beliefs between generations might not be as hereditory as the author believes. It’s not just that the educational system is public, but also the massive amount of information that is available to the young. Familial influence might not be as strong. It could be argued though that families with more children might have more influence within the family because interactions with family members is more prominent, although this also go the other way, children might rebel more to seek outside attention.

What worth special consideration is the case of a strong communal structure of large families. If all families in a large community have many children, the children might not be as exposed to smaller family cultures as those large families who live among small families. This actually leads to something I still don’t really understand, religious fundamentalism. It is something I don’t really know what will come out of. When you look at the situations around the world, the ones that really take over the values in a populational level are those who are expanded by the state. Whereas groups like the Mormans… as far as I know didn’t quite. In the contrary, liberal movements within the morman religion probably should be looked into.

In countries like China, the story is very different. In China, people still do want to have children, and I think it is largely driven by social norm. If people’s neighbours are having 2 kids, they will too. However, people know that having 4 or 5 kids is too much for financial reasons. it is a hard time for the government as it is hard to sustain economic growth without a fast growing population as well…

Aye.. in a way, when people say the economy will go down if our population drops, just like how Canada is not as rich as the US, maybe it’s just natural for these rich countries to slow down a bit.

October 22, 2007

me in the autumn rain

Posted in Uncategorized at 9:08 pm by changisme

Once again, fall has come, or is it already winter? It is hard to tell
here in Vancouver, a land of uncertainty. Clouds are grayer and grayer,
and the leaves hang on branches like sleeping bats. Who knows when,
they turned red, dark red, a very heavy colour as if it’s the redness
that weigh them down to the ground. These autumn colours stress a
breath of sentiment, a lonesome feeling that I get once in awhile.

I am not sure what kind of life I am leading. With my determined
nature, I feel that I put myself in a position of loneliness. Actually,
I don’t want that to be my nature, and maybe I could be otherwise? If
my purpose is not to be lonely, shouldn’t I maneuver my path? I was in
a discussion today, and in retrospect I feel like I could have been
intimidating. Although my expressiveness of opinions is selective, when
it comes to something I really do care about, it takes conscious effort
on my end to not to be too "out there" as it were.

It is hard to think that I am actually a really big pathetic people
pleasing addict. I hope in so many ways to please others, selfishly
mostly for in turn it pleases myself. However, it is not all that easy.
When I see other people and their different personalities, I often
fantasize myself interacting with them. It’s a rather frightening thing
to do. With all my wishful thinking, I create all these anecdotes…
like the world turns paler and paler, or just it goes further and
further away that I cannot see it clearly in a lonely foggy night.

October 20, 2007

research vs. course work

Posted in Uncategorized at 8:50 pm by changisme

Since high school or first few years of university, I kept on hearing how people say they find learning is so much more enjoyable when they work on a project in the real world. I actually didn’t really understand. I liked word problems, but not more than the pure theories. I didn’t like labs in which I was always given a recipe. I don’t know if it’s because I didn’t feel they were real or I just didn’t feel they were interesting.

Now that I’m actually working on some real projects. One of them is more theoretical than others, but more or less they are pretty real in the biological/ecological world. I’m enjoying myself so much that I keep wanting to work on them instead of my homework. I finally understand what the others meant. i guess it’s a shame that I just found out what other people have known for years, but I guess better late than never!

I think the real problems are real in a sense that the people who wrote the papers and the people I work with all of a sudden seem to have personalities. What they write sometimes has its silliness even if not academically. The methods some I know and some I don’t. There is the process of finding it out. I can think about it and try to figure it out. I guess it’s also that it doesn’t feel as impossible as some really mind boggling homework questions that are on a pdf file. I’m starting to get some pdf-syndroms now… especially those with certain integer sequences on their headers. x-phobia where x is some 3-digit integer??? I don’t know…

Another thing that was interesting was that, I read this paper which is rather brief in its math. My supervisor suggested contacting the author(s), but they wrote this many years ago. I was actually trying to locate them… and I was trying to imagine these people moving on from one project to another, and all their footprints in academia are tagged by the article indexes, when and with who did they work on what. One of the authors has moved to california and teaching in some small community college. I wonder if he still does research or does he just teach. His website looked quite rich in teaching now. The other is retired and his profile is just hanging under a new biomath star’s resource bag rather than independently. I hope he’s living happily ever after. i wonder if he actually think about these research he’s been doing throughout his life. Would he still remember the papers he wrote? I’m actually curious to talk to him about some fishery paper and see if he actually really care about fisheries.

On and on and on… although now I have to go back to my course work… how I wish I can just do these research assistace projects full-time… would I feel the other way when and if I finally achieve my goal one day?

October 16, 2007

swimming behind the butterfly

Posted in Uncategorized at 12:16 pm by changisme

This is not supposed to be that romantic, it’s just that I swam behind someone who was swimming butterfly. It was really nice though. The water gurggled in a different way and waves were rolling against my forehead like in the ocean. (hmm it’s actually pretty romantic eh?) Then I thought I’m actually very susceptible to human contact and influence. This British writer called Lessing said that from a very early age, she determined to not let her parents telltales influence her version of memories. I think that is such an exceptional form of resisting against influence. I know people say it’s virtually impossible to live in a bubble, but there are degrees.

Being someone who have been so willing to receive influence from others, what then makes me struggle so much with the so called "differences" and "diversity" in a population in which I take part? Isn’t that odd? If I can blend in so easily, how could it be difficult? I can hardly find the answer, one could be that I just notice the not so different differences way too much. There are definitely moments of clarity that tells me I’m not really different.

Another possibility or factor is that I was raised and am brewing in such a diverse society. I am pulled in many directions. There are so many things I value, and it’s hard to choose what to be and what to not be. The so called "good" is very dynamic. Choosing to be a good person is not enough. It is not to say that all these wonderful "versions" of life are completely good or beyond the simple principle of goodness. They each have shadows under any sort of relative or absolute brilliance. Nevertheless, they are lives I could be drawn to for one reason or another.

The problem is, there are so many!

I wonder, being someone who claims to be a fast decision maker, do I fail in this very central theme of life-choosing to be or not to be.

We were discussing this book about pluralism. The author (so far) gives me a feeling of wanting to rebuke pluralism but in all he says I see how he actually see it as something positive. It’s a really hard line to draw right? Pluralism vs. diversity? In my book, not accepting pluralism is basically willing to engage and challenge what is untrue rather than just leave at arm’s length. I think it takes incredible amount of skill and just the right situation to do though. I mean my idea of "respect" is probably different from other people’s. When in a discussion, if I believe very strongly that what I think true is true, and if I do have more convincing evidence on my fingertip, then I do come across as wanting to convince the other person. How can you avoid that? Me trying to speak for the other person just to balance the scale? That’s a monologue, even worse… So then that’s not a good discussion and not very respectful.  Basically, it can hardly work in a larger setting than… a well-arranged discussion group. That’s very sad indeed.

Does it then mean that pluralism is just not accept in the heart? I think that’s exactly what pluralism is not. Holding everything in the heart and not share it, thinking the other people would just hold theirs.

If you can’t hold it out, nor hold it in, neither exocardiac nor endocardiac.. ewww that sounds gross! What do you do? Maybe you could be worse, giving up consistency! Some people think that is called being flexible. I seem to do that for practicality though I have to say, it doesn’t work all that well, because it makes me incredibly dizzy trying to decipher all the time. Also you get accused of being a situationalist if not a pluralist also. Am I a pluralist? Or maybe just someone who’s insecure?

Oh and by the way, swimming does make my mind wander and that butterfly girl swam really fast, so I couldn’t keep up with the pleasure.

October 12, 2007

the valley of language

Posted in Uncategorized at 4:00 pm by changisme

I wonder if there is a worst place to be in terms of knowing a language. Sometimes I feel like I am now with English, aside from not understanding anything I guess.
 
The other day I made simple question of "do they feed you?". I only remember it was addressed to a friend but not why I was asking it. She was quite amused by the expression "feed someone" and had a nice laugh. I felt a little bitter, because I once was also amused by such expressions. So many people were glad that I found them humorous. "Feeding" makes it feel like you are giving food to animals. It is so commonly used that I no longer feel it funny.
 
Isn’t it sad though? I used to laugh all the time by people who use words and expressions I picture in my mind and laugh out loud, but I do that less and less now. At the same time, I haven’t gotten to a stage where I can really appreciate the subtlty of the language in many ways. There are intricate puns I don’t yet understand.
 
Maybe I’m going through the "Dark Ages"… come oh come the Renaissance!

October 10, 2007

hope is here

Posted in Uncategorized at 7:52 pm by changisme

I lost my umbrella today right after the sun came out. It could probably be a celebration of intermission. The sky looked higher and wider that it it can wrap around, if not wrap up, all the troubles Plotty and I sat and chatted about on the dry wooden bench. I miss the warm weather, when all things went slower.

In any case, in the mist of all these undealtable craze, I find life rather fulfilling. I certainly don’t have everything I need, in fact there are things I really want but don’t have, but I seem to entertain the pleasant hopes en rout. I sort of started to accept that I will never be at a state where I don’t feel empty in any compartment of my life. These compartments seem to cry out in turn, just like that arcade game with moles coming out of the holes (what are they called??). The difference would be that my life has much more directional dynamics that I wouldn’t feel bored playing in. Well… I wouldn’t try to be predictive like this, I probably will some day? I hope not.

I was talking to a friend yesterday and somehow we always try to convince ourselves that these little empty pouches are to be treated as not important or worthless. The logic leads to whatever is empty for awhile, just discard it. It’s such a natural tendency, but really, it’s probably not healthy. I don’t know if I’m capable of doing that yet, maybe I can for some of these pouches but not others. I do think though, an optimistic pursuer, which churches like to call seeker, is the position to take at best. Having said that, it is not to say this position is easy. Putting myself in the position of wrestling with choices is a commitment I make in life. It is an act of love and engagement of life.

In many cases, I’m quite afraid of it. I’m afraid that these are futile pursuits and afraid that what I miss out in committing myself to something life this. If I choose the path with the least risk and hence fewer failures, it would also be a choice. I don’t even believe there’s necessarily any worse consequences in the latter than the former. However, I know I won’t choose that, not in a big scale anyway. Is that fate?

I was listening to some people spilling out their ideas on politics. I felt really happy, even though I wasn’t agreeing with what people said. I felt they were in so much active hope. They can even be cynical, but there ARE roads that are to be paved and shone.

October 6, 2007

the Home Song Stories (no spoilers included)

Posted in Uncategorized at 11:44 pm by changisme

We saw the Home Song Stories (VIFF) today. it’s a very strongly emotional film. I don’t know if it’s just me, but together with the past few foreign films I saw, Babble and the Labrynth, I’m getting a little scared of watching foreign drama now. They seem to really snake into my psychology and squeeze my heart. They hurt.

It reminds me of how people say the horror movies from Hollywood are scary because of their special effects, whereas the Japanese version of the Grudge was just plain scary… In any sense, I wonder if I’m becoming more aware of the hard lives people lead like the boy in Home Song Stories, or more desensitized.

In a way, I don’t identify with it all that much, because I grew up in a reasonably stable household. There are emotional things growing up, but then again almost everyone does to at least a certain extend. It is strange though, that most people including me, as normal as I am, struggle with how we love our parents. I think the film maker has pretty much decided that he doesn’t love his mother, and what is left is an inevitable bond and forgiveness. Even then, he struggles with where is his place in her life and what her his. I think there are good things and bad things about what my own mother, and most of the things she does and says have strong impact on me. Aside from the bond we have, the one that is created by the fact that she is the person I’ve lived with the longest and during probably the most memorable period of my life, there is more. It is just so hard to know how I should love her. Can I simply like somethings of her and not others? Can I disregard the things I don’t like? She’s a piece of work in her entirety, any kind of disintegration not only is unhealthy, but also impossible.

Further, it’s not even the fact that she’s not perfect. God is perfect supposedly, but it’s just as hard to put him in the right position. You’d think that someone who is always right and always provides would be so easy to love, just like carpet fitting in a room fitting, supportive, harmonic. But all mothers, and God, they are real, so real that they are not cut according to the shape of my room. They do not cut corners, they are beautiful but don’t always look right under my furnitures. Sometimes they even take their own liberty to take me up to a carpet ride, against my own will or not.

I guess the good thing is that I want them in my room, floating or however. Well… okay probably not my mother so much :p, but you know what I mean. Perhaps saying I love the struggle is an overstatement, but at least I am hopeful in the inresolution.