The Road

August 1, 2011

The Road by Cormac McCarthy

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This book has it all: sad and happy, ugly and pretty, dark and bright. It is a somber journey of a dying man and a boy; they see nothing, but show everything. A post-apocalyptic novel can be difficult to comprehend because it is beyond what we can imagine. However, McCarthy intertwines struggles with warm conversations that readers can naturally immerse into the world of near end. The man and the boy have no name, but that is the beauty. They have no name, and therefore no specific identity. They simply represent humanity standing on the threshold of death.

And death is nothing scary here. Actually, death is another living entity. It is personified as a lover, who will also face death. The man does not try to save his son, rather, he teaches son how to deal with what they face, for their struggles can threaten to death. Even in this harsh situation, the man does not kill for his avarice. It is only the exceptional cases when he uses violence: for his son. That’s how we see paternal love. For the man, “the boy was all that stood between him and death,” and for that reason, their relationship warms up the readers in the midst of cold, flat barren.

McCarthy’s prose is real. His words are simple, but they carry something more. The conversations are succinct, and actions are small. However, because he narrates like a doodle, on the whole, the picture is pretty. Then is death pretty? Is the man’s death pretty? The hopeful ending suggests that death is not pretty, but beautiful. It is natural.

The good versus evil fight ends with the man’s death – clear ending, and not sad. In fact, it was impressive.

Original Article Link: http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/07/02/how-games-steer-us-through-life/

By Virginia Heffernan

Published Date: July 2, 2011 2:44 P.M.

Heffernan articulately weaves a narrative with a serious topic—the relationship between human and technology—and delineates the pros and cons of the issue. Though I congratulate her for the wise structure, I beg to differ in her points. The “never give up” lesson is not taught by the game; rather, it is the child himself who brought out the innate quality: obsession. The advantage of a game that she mentions is misleading, because it fails to mention the critical idea that time is wasted while playing games. Time is valuable, and therefore it should receive the adequate respect (not wasted through unproductive games). She also recognizes the core concern, that “it does nothing to teach the all-important patience and tolerance for boredom …. ” But the real concern here is that games are not worth receiving all these analyses. It is a simplistic way of taking a break from reality, and that is it. Games do not and should not portray reality nor teach anything, because its creation was meant for entertainment. The initial reason for inventing games should not be embellished to look didactic; keep it simple, clean, and real.

LIFE-teins

December 11, 2010

Advanced Placement Biology F block.

I have the fifth AP Bio exam of the year on Monday. It was scheduled on Thursday, which is the same day as my Gecon (G block economy) debate, but because of my unexpected injury, I had to schedule a different date. Our exam covers DNA replication and protein synthesis, mainly, and so I would like to introduce major proteins that are involved in the processes.

Q: Why am I listing them?

A: I need these proteins in my life.

I know you have no idea where I’m heading to, but just be patient and read the list. You’ll understand what I mean.

  • Helicase: a protein that unwinds parental double helix at replication forks

The keyword is “unwinds.” It can open up a site where the replication can take place. If I were to have helicase with me, I would unwind problems instantaneously and be able to solve conflicts in a matter of split second. However, let us face the reality. It will always take effort to work out a problem; that is just the way life works.

  • Single-stranded binding protein: proteins that bind to and stabilize single-stranded DNA until it can be used as a template.

You never know what is ahead of you, and that is one of my greatest fears. Every time I have a big event coming up, I have a bad habit of thinking “what if” questions. If only this single-stranded binding protein kept me strong all the time, I would have been strong all the time throughout my life; never repenting, never doubting.

** Also, if only this protein stabilized my knee on Wednesday night, I would be running around shooting balls… and walking with two legs.

  • DNA ligase: a protein that joins Okazaki fragments

Sometimes, my brain falls apart. In other words, I lack a coherent map of my psychology. Ideas and thoughts and oral delivery skills never coordinate properly. If DNA ligase were to connect my ideas and thoughts, I might be the best thinker of this century. Ha!

  • DNA polymerase III: it covalently adds complementary nucleotides

I don’t need this, because I am the DNA polymerase of my life. I do the work, and I create, and I design my future. If there were to be another Carol, then that would be detrimental to my life, because I’m guessing we will never reconcile. EVER.

  • Spliceosome: it cuts out introns and joins exons

I wonder how my brain is able to carry all the unnecessary thoughts on top of important messages and memories. Spliceosome should cut out all the unnecessary, perhaps harmful, thoughts out of my brain and leave it clean with only vital things. I need you, spliceosome…

As I was writing this list, I came to think of more AP Bio terminologies that I need in my life, but if I start rambling about them, I might degrade my self-esteem to a point where it’s impossible to recover. I’m a great person, and so I should be more appreciative of what I am already given!

My brother hates reading. He just hates it. I’ve never even attempted to ask him the reason. He read books that were only required to graduate high school, but recently he started to love reading. He is junior in collage, and he finally figured out the joy of reading. During his hard times in high school, he recommended two books out of around 30. Most of the books were left unfinished, because it was too boring for my cool brother. The Poisonwood Bible, and Like Water for Chocolate were the two books he suggested me to read. Although he’s like a bookworm now, he was anti-reader in his high school years. So the fact that he suggested those books meant really special to me. They must be overwhelming mesmerizing.

Indeed, Like Water for Chocolate by Laura Esquivel has been my pleasure to read it. I finished it off in two days, because I just couldn’t stop reading.

It’s set in Mexico, and the time period is around early 1950s (I’m guessing from the context). A young girl named Tita longs to marry her lover, Pedro, but can never be his wife because of her mother’s upholding of the strict family tradition. According to the tradition, the youngest daughter cannot marry, and has to take care of her mother until the day her mother dies. In the end, a magical spirit allows her to reach her ultimate dream.

The novel revolves around the idea of magical realism. The setting and time create a realistic atmosphere, but magical elements are intertwined to access a deeper understanding of the situation and the reality.

The title of the novel is rather intriguing. Like water for chocolate means a state of boiling point. So, we could take it as a metaphor for a state of passion. Tita’s love and Pedro’s love towards each other is passionate, and amorous; hence, the title gives a sense of romance, already!

I really enjoyed this book, because not only was the organization interesting, but also it was my first time reading a novel that had magical realism incorporated. I hope to seek a second volume.

R. U. L. E. S.

May 31, 2010

It has been long since I heard the speech from Mr. Otis, our associate principle. He is the BIG manager of the students; he’s in charge of disciplinary actions. Our school has a book of rules, and the list of consequences according to the severity of the action. As a result, students are neither free nor independent. I’m not trying to criticize the rules in place; I’m concerned more with the true learning. Because of the strict system, and students are unable to make decisions by themselves.

In the speech that Mr. Otis delivered (not to mention its amazing quality) in March, I was sitting in rapt silence by the end. I did not notice how much he cared for the students, and I fervently wanted to contribute to the discussion, but unfortunately, we ran out of time. He was wondering whether there were issues going around that teachers had no idea about. Without hesitation, I wanted to shout, “of course” but another student said, “no.” I think the main problem is the rules.

Rules. What is the purpose of rules? They are the devilish guidelines that allow students to mature in certain fashion ONLY. I disagree with the very invention of rules. For example, students turn in their papers because he/she made a promise with the teacher to summit in a certain date. If one fail his/her teacher, it is right for the student to feel bad for not keeping the promise. However, if the student does not realize that he/she has broken the promise, and only notices that he/she broke the rule, then there is no lesson learnt from this mistake. Rules thwart one from realizing the true mistake. Once again, I want to ask what the purpose of the rules is. Is it merely to create a disciplined adult?

If I was Gregor Samsa…

March 17, 2010

Over the past few days, my English classes have been exceptionally exciting. We embarked on the Kafka journey – The Metamorphosis. I once read this book prior to this unit in middle school. Yet, when I read it recently as a high school student, it was so new to me. The deep messages or morals, allegory, symbolism, and other literary devices are sheer pièce de résistance. (I learned this word from my fellow French student last week or so. It means masterpiece). It is just awe striking to see a short novel packed with heavy literary devices – especially, symbolism.

I was so immersed into this piece of art (I should refer to it as a masterpiece!) that often times before I go to bed, I imagine myself as Gregor Samsa. Gregor is the protagonist of The Metamorphosis, who apparently transformed into “a monstrous verminous bug” on the first chapter – not to mention that it was the first line. My consciousness never allowed me to go to sleep without thinking about Gregor.

Because Gregor discovered his “new form of body” in his bed, I’m afraid to discover my “new form of body” in my bed. Although I’m a huge fan of biology, and I’m fond of nature, I cannot stand bugs. I’m innately born to despise them. So this “genetic” trait (I firmly believe that it is in my genes (hate-bug-gene) because my brother hates them more than I do) would make my life very difficult to a degree where I might kill myself at the first sight of my “new limbs.” All the complex organs – which I will constantly refuse to see– will change my appetite, and hence I will lose my only comfort. Food gives human comfort and joy, except for anorexic patients as far as I know. Also, if I am unable to go to school, talk to my parents, and even talk a short walk around my house vicinity, I will most definitely go insane.

Insanity? Would that be it my metamorphosis? If I think of the situation more seriously, I will find myself completely lost. I will lose everything – the reasons why I live. In short, I will be disabled. Disabled to work, disabled to eat, disabled to sleep – and hence I will be disabled to live. Working prevents an individual from excruciating boredom, and eating keeps one physically alive. Sleeping is necessary to recharge energy. If I lose all my privileges as a human being or just an organism, I will not be able to survive for long. Now that I take his situation to heart, I feel sorry for Gregor Samsa, the one who had to experience the unwarned metamorphosis.

* This is a film version of The Metamorphosis. Although Gregor is not physically transformed, I think this clip depicts major themes, and the general tone very articulately.