The Government and Young People

I watched The Hunger Games a few days back and reading the first of the trilogy now. It appeared to me that this movie, even though they didn’t claim so, is a perfect satirical emulation of some governments today. In other words, this is what will happen if we keep bowing to insolence and atrocious yet powerful people.

After watching this movie, I went on watching some older movies with similar themes – the government versus young citizens. Movies which portray young people’s fight against the so-called acclaimed authorities. One of them is City of Ember.

The thing about movies is they made the fights look far easier than in reality. In the real world, the sweats, the tears, the bloods, all cost higher than they seem in movies. But these kinds of movies – let alone the fact that people involved made a lot of money – give good food for thoughts. They keep my mind running, thinking unstoppably.

Why does it have to resemble the real government?

It is all about common sense. Do the powerful people not have common sense?

Why does the powerful people treat them like that?

Does the fight that easy?

And when the movie ends, more questions kept flooding my mind.

The victory is just the beginning of the more important struggle, right?

Isn’t it more difficult to build back their systems from the ruins they’ve made?

What happened if the next generation will not appreciate the victory? Will they continue the works they had left for them?

The loss of family and friends in the fight? Even after the victory, even they say it is a necessary loss in any fight, how do they make up to it? How will they let go?

They have become a different people after the victory. How do they keep to their goal after being what they have become?

People said, some questions are very hard to answer. In words. The answers will come as you live life, as you survive through the fight, as you watch the debris you left behind. That’s why

Knowledge shrinks as wisdom grows.

Sometimes, they are some older people who say, “Have you not enough of what you have today? Be grateful. You live peacefully, unlike people in Tunisia, Afghanistan, Syria.” They thought we are young, and so we are senseless, we fight because we have the energy it takes and we need to flush them away. They are wrong. This is no zesty.

The fight is there because it is a must, because we saw. One friend of mine has a perfect answer that I shall never forget, “It is because we don’t wanna end up like them, we start the fight now. You don’t wait until after the flood to rescue. You do it when the drain starts overflowing with water.”

People see the short term fight in those countries and they thought what happened to them is the consequences of the fight. They don’t read their sufferings years before that. They don’t read their long, stretching, slow small movements long before the media-covered fights. This is what happened in today’s world – people watch, they don’t read. It’s because people want things fast and reading is not fast enough.

Some even say, “You are still young.” So, do we need to wait? I think, even if I started the day I was born, I still need to pass some works to the next generation when my time comes. And they told us to start L A T E R. How old was Sultan Muhammad Al-Fateh then?

Young people, we may not be the best. But who sets the benchmark of perfection? If we wait, the time will never come.

READ, UNDERSTAND, ACT

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Strange Day

How queer everything is today.

Let me think.

Was I the same when I woke up this morning?

– Alice in Wonderland –

A few days back, I woke up with a strange feeling at 4 am. Cici Wawa Maisara was nudging my left arm and Mulan was snuggling my foot with her claws – the reason I woke up. Cici had had fever for a week then. And I had almost recovered from fever after a couple of days, but the cough persist and it kept me awake at nights.

Later that day, I borrowed a friend’s car to send Cici to the veterinarian. I felt that she was so light because I hadn’t seen her eaten for a few days. She was behaving weirdly, not wanting to stay far from me, even though she was too weak to move around.

The weather was also weird that day. It was almost 10 am when I got out of the house, but the sky color was as if it was only 8 am. The Sun looked like it was shy to come out that day after feeling guilty of a mistake it made to the Moon the day before. So it came out late so that it could stay as far away as it can from the Moon. The sky was grey, but I saw no rain clouds. And it didn’t rain till the end of the day.

My nose felt bloated due to the drifting fever. I couldn’t hear properly because my ears were affected too. The sounds I heard that day were strange to my ears. Voices are muffled and I need to repeat what everybody was saying to make sure I heard them correctly. I was not confident when I drove because I could have mistaken the sounds of vehicles for gushing winds. The world seemed quiet to me because the sounds had reached my ear drums improperly the amplitude seemed low than it was.

I lost a couple of kilograms because I couldn’t smell my food and they kept coming out every time the cough got me aggressively. Even though I didn’t lose appetite, I might have unconsciously eat small portions. It was strange when my housemate asked “How does it taste?’ when I ate her cooking because I couldn’t describe things I couldn’t feel. I ate anyway. Her cooking had never fail me. Why should it be that time?

I watched Phoebe in Wonderland the night before.

“It’s called the Guilles de la Tourrets syndrome. I think the name is beautiful.”                                                                                    – Phoebe –

And I watched Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland later that night. It complete those feeling of strangeness for those movies were telling ‘strangeness’ in their own fashion.

The day ended well. I got through calmly. The strangeness struck me. Yet it disappears as the day fades among the mist at midnight. And I welcomed the day after that cheerfully.

P/s: I find my style of writing quite different this time. Perhaps it is due to me reading the original classic Dracula now.

Algorithms In Daily Life

Some people may have not even heard of the word ‘algorithm’ before. But it is there in our everyday life, supporting us, simplifying our chores, in a way more than most of us can imagine. Computers, internet, social network, televisions, microwave ovens, washing machines, elevator, transports, and even, electric fan – just to name a few.

Let’s put aside how does ‘algorithm’ functions in an electric fan, shall we, and focus on how we have rely too much on them, unconsciously, it shapes our life? Not in simple way, I mind you.

Social Network

Now, click on your Facebook tab (I’m pretty sure you have it now somewhere at the top there, don’t lie to me) and look at friends listed on your main chat list. Linger. Next, go to your profile or timeline. Look at friends listed on your main panel and your friend list which have very limited view. Look. Then, click ‘Home’ and see who’s posts are listed in your News Feed. Ponder.

These information are stored in Facebook database. How does Facebok selects who are our top friends, who’s posts should appear most in our News Feed and who are our top friends who should feature in our friend list when people view our profile / timeline? The answer is ALGORITHM.

Algorithms are designed to make our online experience effective. By applying some search optimization algorithm, the web would be able to detect what you want to see, search for it and serve it to you. This happens in a very short time we don’t realize what’s happening and mostly, because most humans won’t be able to grasp the reality of what’s really happening – including me.
(WARNING: This explanation is overly simplified. Don’t use this to answer your take-home quiz.)

Algorithm 1 : Human 0

As human knowledge and computers evolve, algorithms are designed more intricately to cater to more sophisticated massive amount of online information and networks. They are designed to mimick real world. Thus, Particle Swarm Optimization, Ant Colony Optimzation, Neural Networks, Genetic Algorithms, and so forth, were produced and still under improvements. These methods are even combined with each other to compliment each other’s features. Interestingly, these types of algorithms are able to SELF-LEARN, provided there are ample conditions like enough data storage, sufficient memory alocation etc. This means that the algorithm is able to modify itself as it weaves the information together into its memory, just like living organisms learn to better their lives from experience.

Since this kind of knowledge is reserved to computer geeks and nerdy mathematicians (and, perhaps, serious physicists) the majority of humankind won’t be able to understand this ‘unseen’ world, let alone cope with it. So, there is a possibility that the algorithms ‘learn too much’ until we can no longer understand them. The truth is, it HAS ALREADY happened – as brilliantly described by Kevin Slavin in TEDTalks.

Algorithm 2 : Human 0

Now, let’s get back to Facebook. Those people featured on your top friends, news feed and chat list are recognized as Top Friends by Facebook’s algorithm, based on your past clicks, views, comments, shares, ‘likes’ etc. You cannot blame the algorithm because you were the one holding the mouse and typing on the keyboard. But the algorithm is BUILDING OUR PERCEPTIONS on whom should be our friends, what should we like, who should we connect with and build suggestions to post on the righthand pane. It INFLUENCES our decisions. It is SHAPING our online network and, considering the amount of time most people spend in front of web browser nowadays, our world. That includes our buying decision, our knowledge, our university choice, our career path, and most probably, our life partner! *Sherlock Holmes film opening music playing in the background*

Algorithm 3 : Human 0

“But it’s making our life convenient.”

“But it’s taking control of our world.”

“But it has improved our communication effectively.”

“But it has become uncontrollable.”

“Oh don’t worry! There are some best people in the business who control these things.”

“Worst case scenario?”

Eh… I-Robot, perhaps..?

Cici Wawa Maisara

Mulan Jamilah

Doraemon

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