Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Heinlein was a Fascist

SF author John C. Wright dissects Robert Heinlein's Starship Troopers against the charges of 'fascism' frequently levelled against it.

African Science Fiction

Nnedi Okorafor, science fiction and fantasy author of Nigerian descent, talks about African science fiction.  Compared to our own scene, the scope of the problem is much larger because there is the question of "African-ness" (in which case, we should ask about Asian science fiction instead of Philippine science fiction.)  Okorafor lists down a handful of African SF novels, including three of her own, and comments:

It's really short. I decided to only focus mainly on novels because there are a LOT more short stories and I don't have time to put it together. How do I define African SF? I don't. I know it when I see it.  Debate amongst yourselves. The main fact is that this list DOES exist. Africans ARE writing their own science fiction, contrary to what some may think. But the fact is that Africans need to also write more of it. As I said, this list is short…way too short. I probably missed some folks, so add to the list if you like; we should all be viewing literature with open eyes. It shouldn't take people making lists to expose other kinds of SF. Be curious. Search inside and outside the box.

She also includes a link to Pumzi, a short SF film by Wanuri Kahiu.

Smileys

Me and the two-year old tornado.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Life without social networking

We'll Always Have Paris: Stories
With the exception of this blog and Ubuntu Living, I've largely forsworn social networking in its many forms, Plurk included.  So far, the effects have been quite amazing: over the past weekend, I've managed to finish two novels, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies and The No.1 Ladies' Detective Agency.  And now I am midway through Ray Bradbury's We'll Always Have Paris.  So in one fell swoop, I've recovered large chunks of my time and my life.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

The Donkey

A poem by GK Chesterton, which I found appropriate for today, being Palm Sunday.

When fishes flew and forests walked
And figs grew upon thorn,
Some moment when the moon was blood
Then surely I was born;

With monstrous head and sickening cry
And ears like errant wings,
The devil's walking parody
On all four-footed things.

The tattered outlaw of the earth,
Of ancient crooked will;
Starve, scourge, deride me: I am dumb,
I keep my secret still.

Fools! For I also had my hour;
One far fierce hour and sweet:
There was a shout about my ears,
And palms before my feet.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

My first look at Ubuntu 10.04

My first look at Ubuntu 10.04, a.k.a., Lucid Lynx.

Demons of the New Year

Demons of the New Year, edited by Joey Nacino and Karl de Mesa, is online. Go read it for the thrills and chills.

Oh, and I have a story there, People's Champ. I hope you like it.

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: The Classic Regency Romance - Now with Ultraviolent Zombie Mayhem!
At long last, I'm finally reading Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, thanks to Clair who graciously lent it to me during my last trip to Manila. Midway through the book now, and I have some mixed feelings about it.

Is it faithful to the novel? Surprisingly, yes. The plot is essentially the same, flirtations and all, with the exception of -- as the blurb promises -- 'zombie mayhem.'

If I have any beef with the work, it's that the said zombie mayhem often intrudes into the text instead of merging into it. For the most part, it still reads like Jane Austen, so the effect can be jarring.

That said, it does provide for several laugh-out loud moments as well as for a few thought-provoking ones.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

"How to Train Your Dragon"...in glorious 3D!


Absolutely unplanned: Emily and I caught "How to Train Your Dragon" at SM City last night. HTTYD had always been on our list of movies to watch but with no set date. The sign announcing that the mall now offered 3D showings starting March 19 clinched the deal for us.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Signing off Facebook

Today I deactivated my Facebook account. I've been mulling this move for some time, and only now have I decided to take the plunge. I tell you: the experience is liberating.

Why sign off Facebook just when everybody else is on it? Well, that's kind of the point. To me, Facebook has lost its novelty, its "cool" factor. It's fun when it's a small secret between you and your friends; it's just blecch when everyone and his great-grandaunt on the father side is posting their summer pics and sending you Farmville invites. And when Facebook becomes the medium for local political campaigns? Well, I don't know about you, but for me, that's the sign to take my leave.

Facebook: baduy.

The Link

The Link, in Makati Avenue, probably one of the most creepy-cool buildings I've ever come across. It's actually an appliance and electronics store. Taken with my Nokia N79.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Friday, March 19, 2010

Goodbye, Fr. Sun

I heard the news, of all times and places, during Mass at the chapel in Megamall. In the remembrance of the dead, the priest said: "...pray for the souls of --- and Bartholomew Sun..."

My jaw dropped before my brain could process the information. In my mind's eye, I briefly saw instead the image of his contemporary, the late Fr. Paul Chi ("...surely they mean him...they have to mean him...") before the image resolved itself to the proper face. Only then did I realize, with sad finality:

Fr. Sun is gone.

The best camera...

If I've been featuring more and more photos in this blog, it's because of this newfound philosophy in photography, thanks to the book of the same name: The Best Camera is the One That's With You.

Funny thing is: I haven't even read the book yet. But the thought is so simple it really doesn't require much more elaboration. But if you need one, I think this line from the web site captures the essence:
Inherently, we all know that an image isn’t measured by its resolution, dynamic range, or anything technical about cameras or photos. An image is measured by the simple — sometimes profound, other times absurd or humorous or whimsical — effect that it can have upon us. If you can see an image, it can move you.

Which is more than what I can say for all the fetishism around DSLRs. Really, people, what are you trying to compensate for?

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Darth Vader


Life-sized statue of Darth Vader at the Toy Kingdom in SM Megamall. Very menacing.

Oakwood


Oakwood Building in Ortigas. No, this is not the one where the mutiny took place.

Fat weiner dog


I earlier said this dog was pregnant. I was wrong. This dog is just THAT fat.

Pasig River from Guadalupe


A view of the Pasig and surrounding areas from the Guadalupe MRT station. I like how the sky and the clouds turned out in this picture.

By the Pasig river


Believe it or not, people actually fish in the Pasig river now. It's not as filthy as I used to remember it, though I occasionally catch the whiff of effluvium.

No, I didn't win...

...not even a book signing pass, but I wasn't going to let that spoil my fun. I had reunions with friends I hadn't met in months and even years.
Me with my favorite gang of specfic writers: Charles, Michael, Kyu, Mia, and Joey.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Who's that girl?


Princess of the parade from yesterday's Araw ng Dabaw. I have no idea who she is or why people were so wild about her. Shrug.

Wong Lo Kat iced tea


I found this in the fridge in the place where I'm staying. I don't know whose it was. But man, did it taste goooood!

Good Omens


This is me being a fanboy.

Okay, I'm not, really. Really! It's just that I'm about to *hang out* with Neil Gaiman later, and I realize I haven't read much of his work, at least, not compared to all the other real fans out there. I went through American Gods last year, but that's the net of it. I don't want to be a boor; I at least want to catch the references to what the fans will be talking about.

So this is me, cramming.

On a related note, I had a harried female executive for a seatmate on the plane coming here. Annoying, too: up until take-off time, she was on her laptop running through MS Project and uploading via her SmartBro dongle. Anyhow, she wore a t-shirt and on the front was emblazoned with the word:

Calliope


Now I have to hope that's a good omen.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Mutya ng Dabaw 2010



Yes, yes, I know this is what you've been waiting for.

Araw ng Dabaw 2010

As my flight isn't later, I still managed to catch a glimpse of the Araw ng Dabaw 2010 parade. It's as boring as ever, what with endless streams of marching government workers. Nothing quite like the Kadayawan.

I did manage to catch some interesting sights, though.


Monday, March 15, 2010

Off to Manila


I'm off to Manila tomorrow to rub elbows with Neil Gaiman.

No, really, I am. It has to do with this.

If you voted for me, I thank you kindly; if not, pfffbbttt! No pizza for you if I win.

Seriously: given the stuff I write and how I write it and the competition in the shortlist, it's a long shot that I'll win, but what the heck, I might as well have fun, right? Besides, there might be a free dinner, too, and I hope the food is good.

I'll be staying a few days longer, through Sunday, because school is out, finally, and I could use a break. I hope to squeeze in a couple of card games and maybe even an RPG with my old geek gang.

And I might even have a small role in a movie, too. No, I am not kidding. But I'll write more about it when it does happen.

If you want to meet up, drop me a note.

Crossing 2

Crossing

Smile, Jerry

Mini theater production in Ateneo

Lenaur Abbot, my co-teacher at Ateneo, ran a mini-theater production with her Humanities students last Saturday evening. They only featured excerpts, but all the same, I was impressed. We really should have more of this.

Campaign Season


Campaign season is in full swing in Ateneo. The teachers in the second floor faculty room are showing their colors.

Dumping computers

A neighboring cybercafe was in the midst of replacing their computers. They piled their old gear out on the street. I thought it made an interesting contrast with the hawker food stalls.

Jerry

Now that Jerry's yaya has left, I bring him to school every now and then so he can play on the grounds. He loves running around and since I have to run interference, I get my workout as well.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Chinese goods chicanery


Various brands and signs found at a cheap Chinese imports store.

Davao's Toy Street


Emily introduced me to this little corner of Davao last Sunday. Situated in a little alleyway near Oyanguren, hawkers sell plastic toys and trinkets for really cheap. Toy guns and robots go for as low as P10; they almost always never go beyond P100.

Mario in Davao

My friend Mario Carreon swung by Davao to present his paper on distributed simulation at the recently held Philippine Computer Science Congress in Ateneo.

Ateneo Corridor

The Thibault corridor in the afternoon always seems gloomy, and that's because of the position of the buildings. The only source of light is usually at the corner, but even the glare of the sun can't seem to penetrate the darkness.

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Fruit season in Davao

The fruits are back in Davao. The smell of durian once again wafts through the streets. I don't quite recall having this kind of bumper crop in March. It might be because of the hot weather.

No free reading

'nuff said.

Baby shoes, big shoes

Yep, the sneakers are mine; the baby shoes belong to Emily's niece.

Hot Wheels Submarine

Who would've thought Hot Wheels would put out a submarine? But here it is, in all its weird glory.

Decepticon Starscream knockoff

The original goes for around P600, but I saw this knockoff Starscream (Transformers Animated) selling for the low, low price of...wait for it...P99! I suppose to avoid any litigation (snicker), the bootleggers didn't put any of the registered trademarks anymore.

You'd think that at that price, the quality would be shoddy, but no, it was actually quite good, barring some problems with burrs on the finish.

SpecFic writing vs Realist writing

A question from Paolo Chikiamco for his virtual roundtable:
How different is your experience writing a story (or poem) without speculative fiction elements, as opposed to writing Spec Fic?
And my answer:
Strangely enough, I don't actually distinguish between writing specfic and realist fiction. It may be because of my relative immaturity as a writer, but I really see the story in terms of the characters and the plot, and possibly the theme.

When I write, I try to get into the head of the main character, and I try to determine his or her reaction to the situation. I like to think that I'm Chestertonian in my outlook (see the chapter "The Ethics of Elfland" in "Orthodoxy") and so every situation has its own "strangeness." And I think that's only right, because otherwise, it ain't worth writing about.

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Project Euler and Python

Having done the workshop last week, I didn't have anything more to ask of my CS312 Advanced Topics class. All of them were graduating, and this week was supposed to be their finals. Why did I have to inflict another class on them? Or on myself?

Alas, such generosity was not to be. This week, we had an evaluation team rating our division, with accreditation hanging in the balance. They would be visiting us in our natural environment to see how well we taught. That meant I would have to add one more session to my Advanced Topics class.

Minor mishap

I had a minor car mishap yesterday. All told, I should be thankful, because damage to the car was minimal, almost unnoticeable; if anything, it's more of my pride that was hurt. What happened was: the front right wheel of my car fell into a ditch. Oh, the embarrassment!

Although I take responsibility, I indirectly blame an inconsiderate and moronic taxi driver for precipitating the accident. You know that time when you need to make a left turn and the opposite lane is at a standstill? Well, I was the fellow that wanted to make a left.

As it turns out, there was a decent-sized gap where I could turn into. Oh, joy! But guess what the inconsiderate moron of a taxi driver approaching the end of the unmoving lane does, even though my left turn signal is blinking? That's right: he blocks the gap, just as I'm turning in.

Monday, March 01, 2010

Posting groove

Oh, hey, is it March already? Whaddyaknow....

Looking over my record for last month, I realize put in 39 posts. Surprising since it's the short month of February. I must be getting my groove back. I hope I can keep it that way.

In retrospect, Facebook and Plurk really did a lot of damage to my blogging habits. I'm weaning myself away from Facebook, and as to Plurk, well, I have too many friends there for me to abandon it altogether. Nevertheless, the commitment to at least write something every day in this space has produced results.

So, yeah, social networking and other hoohah besides, you'll be seeing more of me here.

Oh, and don't forget to vote for me.