Don't Shake the Flask

Because you don't know if it'll explode

Month: December, 2008

A Meme

Booking Through Thursday: Time is of the Essence

1. Do you get to read as much as you WANT to read?


2. If you had (magically) more time to read–what would you read? Something educational? Classic? Comfort Reading? Escapism? Magazines?

I have a stockpile of fiction and non-fiction that I have yet to read. I have promised myself at the beginning of the semester to not buy any more books until I’ve made a significant dent in that pile. (This promise does not include authors who will be read as soon as I get my hands on their newest books.) But even if I’m not buying books, that doesn’t mean that the pile won’t grow. There are always free books, library books, and even e-books (although they only take up electrons).

The TA (Heh Heh Heh) Is Disappointed

Grad student #3 was grading exams and recently, I’ve been hearing much grumbling. Apparently, the undergrads have not been learning anything about anatomy–especially anatomy pertaining to their gonads. They think that the scrotum is the muscle in the penis that makes it erect and that the uterus is a muscle in the vagina. I’m thinking that these kiddies have been snickering in the back of the classroom like Beavis and Butt-head rather than paying attention. If these are the kind of people who will be our future doctors we’re, um, screwed.

What I’ve Seen

These days, I have very little inclination to watch movies. If I had the free time and opportunity, chances are, I’d pick something else to do. However, this doesn’t mean that I don’t watch anything at all. It just means that I’m picker about what I do watch. For me, it’s been skewing towards BBC documentaries.

Wild China narrated by Bernard Hill. I love the opening sequences. Although I’m bit of an Attenborough fangirl, I found Hill’s narration to be a perfect balance of pacing without being too overwhelming. I could probably watch every single episode on infinite repeat and not get bored. It’s primarily a wildlife documentary so it’s understandable that it’s mostly focused on the animals and people’s interactions with them–but I would have definitely liked a little more focus on the modern problems, too.

Japanorama with Jonathan Ross. This program contains three series with six episodes each, but so far, I’ve only seen the first series and five episodes of the third. With violence, sex, and plenty of disturbing weirdness, this is definitely not for the kiddies. In fact, I skipped the horror episode of the third series after seeing the corresponding one in the first series because there was too much gore and freakiness for my taste. (My preference leans towards Lovecraft and psychological horror rather than splatterpunk.) Despite that, it’s a fascinating look into a culture that has managed to spawn cross-dressing lolitas and best-sellers on train groping.

Galapagos narrated by Tilda Swinton. Gorgeous, gorgeous cinematography. I could stare at this all day. Swinton’s narration isn’t bad but sometimes it gets a little soporific. But who cares about that when there are lizard cat-fights, tortoise-on-tortoise action, and baby seagulls committing fratricide?

Currently, I’m in the middle of watching the series How Art Made the World which is hosted by Nigel Spivey. So far, I’m liking this primer on art history–especially since it actually ties in some real science!–but frankly, I find some of the explanations a bit too tidy (and probably simplistic for the sake of television). And I find Spivey hilarious because he sort of reminds me of my advisor, except with a British accent and a different area of expertise.

Over the Christmas break, I’m going to try to finish Simon Schama’s series A History of Britain (I’ve seen the first three episodes already) and another documentary called Congo. I’ll also be on the look-out for a copy of Ganges and David Attenborough’s The Tribal Eye.

So, anyone else seen any good documentaries lately?

What? What?

I’ve only started following the Google News tab the past couple of weeks. And I came upon this doozy. One would expect a bit more attention to detail from some place that purports to be “providing science and technology news since 1996.” If a worm is a virus, I’m Mickey Mouse.

Addendum: Here’s part of the screenshot I took at about 8:30 AM (PST).

Polite Musings?

I think it’s the cynic in me getting out when I find myself not responding well to compliments. When people tell me that an essay* I wrote was clear, well-written, and polite–mentally, I automatically translated that to dry and wishy-washy. I doubt it has anything to do with perfectionism, rather, my inner dismay at not eliciting any passionate responses. However, I still have a little over a week to revise it–that is, some time to think about how to make that essay more aggressive.

*For the curious, the essay focuses on one small aspect of liberal democracy and is primarily philosophical in nature. I might end up posting a version of it here at the end of the month. I’d be interested in what other people think of it since I am in no way a philosopher.