兩週一聚﹕生命中的巧合

前言﹕這是一個叫「兩周一聚」的活動。是網友米雪兒發起。每月十五日﹑三十日﹐一班住在世界不同角落的香港人都會一起寫同一個題目。今天是第十六次相聚,由umptidumpti出題﹐主題定為「生命中的巧合」。

可能我讀工程系出身﹐我不相信生命中有巧合。當然不信有巧合並不等同相信預定論﹐認為生命中一切也是冥冥中有天意。我還未修讀歷史哲學﹐對於歷史是必然性和偶然性的問題還未思考到結論。當然我可以很不負責任地借用黑格爾的說話﹐但老實說我還是搞不懂他到底說什麼。不過我碩士倒是研究隨機率﹐所有生命中的所謂巧合﹐大慨也可以用機會率去解釋。

舉個例子﹐若拿起一副洗均的啤牌﹐隨手翻開最上面五隻﹐若果出現同花順的話﹐我們會說那一定是巧合。若我們不斷重覆洗牌翻版的程序﹐總會有一次出現同花順。同樣道理﹐我們人生中一天二十四小時﹐一年三百六十五日﹐一生人數十個寒暑﹐無數事情不斷圍繞我們身邊發生。大部份事情平淡無味﹐發生過後我們沒有留下印象。可是根據機會率的定律﹐總會出現一些看似不可能發生﹐但實際上遲早一定會發生的事情﹐而我們總對這些巧合留下深刻印象﹐這些事情便稱之為生命中的巧合了。例如有人說收到過特別號碼的鈔票﹐我從來不會看手上鈔票的號碼﹐只會看銀碼﹐所以就算有特別號碼我也不會知道。不過試想一生人中會接觸多少張鈔票﹐若有恆心每張也細心觀察的話﹐相信總會遇上幾張特別的號碼吧。

只有在電視或電影中﹐觀眾才知道人生交叉點不同的結局中。現實中沒有人知道﹐十字路口的兩條路﹐會否最終還是到達相同的目的地。盡管我不相信生命中的巧合﹐可是回顧過去我的生命﹐現在這一刻存在於這個時空的我﹐倒像是由無數偶然的事件所組成。只是我不可能知道﹐這些事件是否真的是偶然發生﹐還是這其實是上天的安排。

  • 如果不是小六某天﹐因母親遲了返工﹐早上接到一個電話﹐匆匆忙忙帶我去面試﹐我便不會認識中學時代的一班好朋友。
  • 如果不是中五時移民申請及時批出﹐我便會去了英國升學﹐而不是來加拿大讀書﹐英國學校的留位費也付了。
  • 如果不是贏了數學比賽﹐我便不會升讀現在這間大學﹐不會認識大學時代的一班好朋友。
  • 如果不是考不到美國一流大學的研究院﹐我便不會來溫哥華工作﹐便不會認識到現在的老婆。
  • 如果不是很多年前某天一個三九唔識七的人﹐無厘在頭ICQ白撞向我傳教﹐我便不會流連基督教討論區﹐不會對宗教問題產生興趣﹐不會繼而對哲學產生興趣﹐不會現在修讀哲學了。
  • 如果不是加燦一篇留言﹐我便不會去看他的網誌﹐便不會認識兩周一聚了﹗

其他文章: humptidumpti、Petit_melon微豆 Haricot石先生Lomichee洛言 longqtThe Man Who Loves EvertonChilli mom、Zero、南杏、Amy、Kempton、周游、athrunz、audreyma、mad dog、肥肥媽媽、Vince、hevangel、yaya

若果想參加兩周一聚的朋友﹐可以參看這個網頁

Angels & Demons

angeles_and_demons

早幾年看《天使與魔鬼》的小說時﹐已經覺得它很適合用來拍電影﹐因為故事簡單情節緊湊。看罷電影後果然一如所料﹐帶來二個小時的驚險娛樂。這個故事的劇情與《達文西密碼》大同小異﹐都是湯漢斯演的符號學教授拖著美女走來走去解謎﹐不過地點從巴黎換了成羅馬。我去年渡蜜月時在羅馬住了一個星期﹐看見電影中熟悉的羅馬景色﹐重溫與老婆手拖手走過的羅馬街頭﹐看這套電影時更倍感親切。

上次《達文西密碼》故事甚具爭議性﹐很多宗教團體甚至說要杯葛電影。這齣《天使與魔鬼》雖仍然以宗教謎題為主軸﹐不過天主教教庭倒等地發表聲明﹐說這不過是齣無害的通俗娛樂﹐信徒可以安心觀看。故事的橋段非常老土﹐光明會相傳是啟蒙年代受教庭逼害的科學家所創立﹐目標要消滅天主教的神秘組識。在歷史中沉睡已久的光明會再次活動﹐先暗殺天主教的教宗﹐把四位教宗的續位人選綁架﹐威脅一個小時殺死一人﹐還在梵蒂岡安裝反物質炸彈﹐要在午夜時份把梵蒂岡移為平地。教授與美女則與時間競賽﹐從光明會有關的古代文獻和教堂建築中找出線索﹐趕在時限前救出人質和找出炸彈。

編劇可能吸收了上次《達文西密碼》電影﹐湯漢斯長篇大論講解謎題悶壞觀眾的教訓﹐今次電影大幅簡化書中的謎題。教授不必再動腦筋推理謎題的答案﹐與其說是在解謎不若說是在鬥快找出路標。抬頭看看天使雕像手指那個方向﹐便很輕易找到下一個目標的地點。除了謎題作出改動外﹐編劇也改寫了故事的結局。小說原本的結局雖然跨張得過份﹐不過總比電影的結局合情合理。原著中教授經歷九死一生﹐在主教投票選教宗千鈎一發之際﹐趕及回來揭發壞人的陰謀﹐阻止他當選教宗操控天主教會。現在電影的結局完全是反高潮﹐把原著小說中最緊張那段情節刪去﹐改為大伙兒翻看保安錄像﹐看見壞人腦殘地對著鏡頭不打自招﹐把自己的陰謀向受害者一五一十說出來。至於那神秘邪惡的光明會﹐原來從頭到尾只有兩個壞人﹐人丁單薄得有點可憐。不過這倒只是依照小說原著的設定﹐不過羅馬警方和教庭衛隊未免太過無能﹐拘拘兩個壞人便反轉了梵蒂岡。

在原著小說中﹐作者藉著教授的口﹐探討科學與宗教的關係。電影中淡化宗教與科學的對立﹐亦沒有提出和解的可能性﹐只是以教授的對白輕輕帶過。書中交待大量歷史背景﹐講述庭與科學家恩怨。亦很天馬行空地,杜撰教宗在遵守童貞的戒命下﹐以人工授孕的科技誕下兒子。可惜導演為追求觀感效果﹐把這些冗長但有趣資料全部刪掉。大慨荷里活的電影﹐始終還是以娛樂性優先吧。

Michael Jackson

apes

Today, everyone is talking about Michael Jackson passed away. I hear it at work, I got it from the front page of the newspaper, I got it from the headline of the evening news, and I got it in almost every blog I visit. I can’t even escape from Michael Jackson visiting friends tonight, the host of the house party is playing Michael Jackson.

Michael Jackson maybe the an pop icon, he maybe very talented, but I never like him and never will. To begin with, I am don’t like dance music and I found his songs are too noisy to listen. When he was really popular in the 80’s, I don’t understand why people love those silly dance moves. Then in the 90’s Michael simply became a laughing stock in the music industry. After many failed plastic surgery, his look resembled the apes in the movie Planet of the Apes. Later on his pedophile scandal make totally bankrupted his character.

He may left behind many legendary work in the mind of his fans. To me, all I remember about Michael Jackson are the funny moonwalk, a really stupid computer games featuring him using moonwalk to kill aliens and the dirty dance in which he keep touching his lower part. I guess I just have to bare the endless media coverage about Michael Jackson in the next few days until everyone finally get tried of him and move on.

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time – Mark Haddon

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time

我一向對文學作品敬而遠之﹐特別是得獎的文學作品。《深夜小狗神秘習題》獲得多項文學大獎﹐包括零三年英國Whitbread大獎﹐零四年英聯邦作家大獎﹐以及與《追風箏的孩子》共同獲取零四年Boeke大獎。這本小說的題材很特別﹐介乎兒童故事書與嚴肅文學之間﹐主人公是患有輕度自閉症的十五歲男孩。他在深夜發現鄰居的小狗被謀殺﹐引起他追查兇手的好奇心。故事發展出人意表﹐男孩從小狗謀殺案開始﹐發現他父母間讓讀者心碎的秘密。

作者除了寫出一個感人的故事外﹐還嘗試透過這本書﹐讓讀者了解自閉症患者的內心世界。故事由主角作第一身描述﹐用意識流的寫作方法﹐把主角腦海的自言自語呈現讀者眼前。自閉症患者與常人的思想不同﹐他們不善與別人溝通﹐害怕陌生人和陌生的地方﹐他們生活必需要充滿規律井井有條﹐否則會對他們的精神感到極大困擾。自閉症患者並不是蠢﹐他們通常智力比常人發達。書中的男孩能夠記憶大量資訊﹐不論看見什麼事物﹐他也會像百科全書一樣﹐把相關的資料全部羅列出來﹐盡管大部份只是無關痛養的無用資訊。他還是數學天材﹐當外界環境對他的官感有太多刺激時﹐讓自己冷靜下來的方法便是計算複雜的數學難題。

普通人常常不理解自閉症患者的思維﹐反過來自閉症患者也不明白普通人的思維。很多時候正常人卻覺自閉症患者不合理﹐但﹐經過作者詳細描述自閉症患者的思考步驟﹐倒過來反像普通人才是不合理。自閉症患者心中有一套整完的思考邏輯﹐有時比普通人的想法更容理解﹐至少他們的想法很有一至性﹐不會像普通人般常常朝令夕改。自閉症患者只能理解說話字面的意思﹐往往不能推斷說話背後的含意或解讀身體語言的符號﹐令到他們在日常生活中面對很多困難。簡單不過是問地址﹐賣地圖﹐坐地鐵﹐對書中的男孩來說已是很大的挑戰。

老婆從事自閉症兒童的教育工作﹐她從圖書借來這本書工餘進修閱讀。她邊看邊說書中主角有點似我﹐我也是思想古板不知變通﹐她還說我可能輕度自閉症。我見她看完這本書閣在桌上﹐便隨手翻開看看﹐想不到吸引我讀下去的﹐竟然是書本的章節數字。這本書的章節數字很有趣﹐並不如絕大多數書般順序數下去﹐而是由小至大的質數。老婆說我是自閉有點跨張﹐不過經過多年工程師的理性訓練﹐我倒認為書中男孩沒有感情的想法不太難理解﹐有時我也會用這種方式去思考問題呢。

Direction of the sun

Buying a house is probably the biggest purchase normal people ever made in a life. There are many factors the buyer has to consider before signing the offer. Location, price, size, building material, environment, school net, etc are factors most people come up in their mind when they make a purchase. The amount of sunlight the place get is often a factor many people easily overlook. You want to have more sunlight shine on the place in the winter and avoid afternoon heat in the summer.

Even you are aware about the sunlight, most often you can only rely on the not so accurate the general rule of thumbs, like avoid having west facing window and prefer to have south facing windows. If you want to find out the exact amount of sunlight the place gets all year round, technology comes to help.

First, go to Google map and search on the address. Switch to satellite view to pin point the exact location of the house. Compare the satellite photo with the floor map of the house and jot down the orientation of the windows. Then download a sky map software, instead of finding out the stars at night, use it to find out the position of sun during the day. You enter the altitude and longitude of your city and enter the time of the day, then the software will show you where the sun is in the sky. Pick at least a day in each of the four seasons and track the path of sun the in the sky. You will have a pretty good idea how much sunlight the place will gets.

For example, this is the sunlight data of Vancouver on July 1st

Altitude (° )Azimuth (° )Time (24h)
0505:05
10656:23
20787:31
30888:32
401009:32
5011810:43
6014011:55
6518013:14
6021314:23
5024215:46
4026016:55
3027017:50
2028018:52
1029520:02
031021:19

Altitude – how high is the sun. 0° = on the horizon, 90° = right above the head
Azimuth – the bearing of the sun. 0° = North, 90° = East, 180° = South, 270° = West

Download Vancouver Sunlight Data

No more Economist

In the economy downturn, first the company laid off the librarian, then it cut all the magazine subscriptions and close down the library. I am a long time loyal reader of the Economist since university. I used to read the article on the website using my dad’s subscription account. I forgot when I first discovered the company orders the Economist, but since then I have been borrowing the magazine from the library every week. I hang out in the library quite often and make good friend to the librarian. She is so kind that when the Economist arrive every Monday and she will put it in reserve under my account and email me to pick it up.

I like reading the paper copy better than the online version, as I can read it anywhere I like, including in the toilet. Now I can no longer borrow the latest issue Economist from the library, I have to decide whether or not order my own copy. On one hand, reading it online is free, on the other hand, reading it online is not very convenient. I will try reading it online for a while since how well can I keep up with the reading. I found reading the Economist in toilet actually takes up all my toilet reading time and I have no time left for other books in the toilet. Maybe I can be more productive if I read real books in the toilet and squeeze time here and there to read an article from the Economist during the day.

Warfare, culture and human evolution

The bible said suffering can brings out the beauty of human nature and now we have scientific proof! Altruistic originates from survival of the selfish gene between tribal wars in pre-historical times. If the world is at peace for 150 generations, the altruistic gene will lose out to the selfish gene!

Continue reading Warfare, culture and human evolution

Richmond Night Market

Every summer from May to Oct on weekend nights, the abandoned industrial area next to the Knight bridge will turn into Richmond Night Market. It is very crowded as usual. Probably because it is the only hang out places stay opens for families and friends after the malls are closed.

The main attraction of the night market is the open air food court. There are lots of Asian street delicacy from Chinese, Korean and Japanese. There are some new varieties every year. A few years ago, it was the takoyaki. There are still a couple takoyaki booth this year, but it is clearly out of fashion. The new items this year is large squid tentacles, many booths offers it in different favors, including bbq, pan fried, fried and curry.

Another hot item this year is the Korean potato skewer. Let me try to describe how it looks like. Imagine a potato is sliced by rotating blade into a single curly thin slice while maintaining the shape of the potato. Then the potato is stretched on a skewer for died fried and decorated with cheese or favored powder when it’s done. The potato skewer is very popular among the white guys, almost every white group order one to share. I think this food has a huge potential in the mainstream market. After all, potato is the staple food for Canadians and everyone loves fries.