Saturday, February 23, 2008

Dim Sum Dollies: The History of Singapore

I watched Dim Sum Dollies on Saturday and my second experience of Dim Sum Dollies, the first more than two years ago.

I was pleasantly surprised at this production, and would recommend any resident of Singapore to watch it. If you don't know much about Singapore or the political scene, you won't get some of the jokes. It would also help if you understand (though not required) some Hokkien, Mandarin, Cantonese, and even Malay. (I understand Cantonese, so I understood the "tuna" joke).

History of Singapore as its name suggests is a humorous look at Singapore's history. It takes some digs at current affairs and is careful not to offend. Watching it does need some knowledge of Singapore and issues like China's foreign minister reference to Singapore as a piece of snot, the expulsion of Singapore, LKY's reaction on TV, and other snippets of Singapore's history and life.

I would have been hesitant previously, based on previous experience to recommend it to a younger audience because of the bawdy humor.

However, History of Singapore is very good and I wholeheartedly recommended to students secondary level and above. Sexual innuendos were kept to a minimum. It's a feel good Singaporean play, and at the end of it, you'll feel patriotic about it.

The acting performances by the quartet of Selena, Emma, Pam and Hossan was excellent. They managed to pull of the Malay, Irish, Indian, and English accents superbly. It is no wonder that History of Singapore made another sell-out run.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Themes of Memory, and Future Past

The theme of memory occurs often in the movies. Movies like Memento, 50 First Dates, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind all deal with the theme of a forgotten past. Without memory we wouldn't be able to learn, without memory, we would be like an amoeba. Without memory we would always be like a child, everyday having to relearn things.

In computational science, a whole class of problems become solvable through the use of memory.

It's memory that allows us to retains joy, to remember the good we did and experienced. However, the flipside to it, is that it also holds our mistakes and regrets.

That's where another class of movies come in, movies like Sliding Doors, Star Trek: The Voyage Home, Groundhog Day, The Time Machine, Back to the Future, Next, Minority Report, Paycheck, 12 Monkeys. These movies deal with the human problem of changing our past decisions or to see into the future to enhance our decision making ability.

A lot of mental problems come from dealing with the past, where we can't accept the past, of what happened, of hurts, of pains, a loved one slipping out of our grasp, a treasure lost, a mistake made. And then there's the future, where we wish we knew what we could do.

Movies like Paycheck, Minority Report demonstrate why the ability to look into the future is so dangerous, too dangerous in fact, because knowing the future means we control others' futures as well--a far too dangerous responsibility for man to hold.

So what is the moral of these stories? In some stories, the protagonist succeeds, in other cases, he realizes that the past cannot be changed no matter what he does.

In Back to the Future Marty changes the past a little and thereby the future as well, but learns to control his tempestuousness. In Next Nicolas Cage's character sees the future and learns to cooperate. In Groundhog Day Phil learns from his mistakes and grows from each repeated day. In Sliding Doors we are privy to two alternate futures but each shares a journey of growth. In 12 Monkeys Bruce Willis's character makes a final sacrifice to try and save the future. In Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind Jim Carrey realizes that his love will overcome the decision to erase his past.

There is one thing in all stories, that must happen, is that either the protagonist grows from his past mistakes, achieves enlightenment and accepts what has happened, or changes in his/her behaviour to prevent repeating the same mistake.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

We Are More Dependent Than We Thought

I've been seeing a certain theme in 3 different areas of what I'm reading.

It's that we are dependent on one another.

The first, a book on "Power, Influence and Persuasion" by Harvard Business Review says that we are all dependent on everyone. Even kings are dependent on their advisors for wisdom and insight, knights for protection, earls to provide resources and manage lands.

Another book I read "Project Planning, Scheduling and Control" by James Lewis. A Project Manager doesn't just tell people what to do. In fact, he merely facilitates, because the people he works with know better than him on what to do. He is dependent on them to do the actual work, to provide insight, because they are on the ground and know what is happening.

Thirdly, "12 Christian 'Beliefs' That Can Drive You Crazy" by Henry Cloud talks of relational dependence. We need people to talk to, to ask for help. The Pharisees were hypocrites because they thought they were self-sufficient in their righteousness. That they had "got it" and didn't need God to rescue them. When we realize that we are interdependent, it is a step in humility.