Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Struck by Lightning.

Well.. not me.

There was a heavy thunderstorm 2 Saturdays ago in my neighbourhood and one particular strike of lightning was followed by an almost deafening roar of thunder. I was taking a nap and the first thing that crossed my mind is thanks God I turned off the computer and its power disconnected. So I continued my sleep.

I only found out later in the evening that a house in the neighbourhood was struck and its roofs damaged. I would have take a photo but it was already dark. The next morning was greeted by another discovery as I tried unsuccessfully to go online. There was no light on my modem. A quick check revealed that the DSL filter was exposed and when I found the cover, it was immediately obvious why.

Apparently, the phone line was struck too and the overload of power is so great that the line burst and blew open the cover. The line connected to the modem is also burnt off so my modem is damaged now. I must have replaced the modem less than a year ago, the last which was also damaged by lightning. I never learnt my lesson.

Better get the modem replaced ASAP, with a lightning protector of course, or my only way to go online would be the cybercafe.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Deep Blue Sea

I was in Port Dickson today. Unfortunately, it was for work and not play.

I am not sure what was the reason but the tide seems higher than usual and the sea blue-er. Even on non-resort beach, where the water tend to be a little brownish to the eyes, the water is blue today. I am talking about the blue we normally only see on postcard, the shade of the deep blue sea.

Too bad, I didn't have my camera with me..

Friday, October 3, 2008

Accuracy of Death

I stepped into the cinema hall knowing nothing more than Takeshi Kaneshiro played the role of Death in this movie.
The movie opened with Kaneshiro attending a church funeral. He sat himself next to a cute little girl who immediately recognised that he is a shinigami, often refered to as the God of Death or in this case, the Grimm Reaper. When asked about a shinigami's role, Kaneshiro gently explained that a shinigami appears to people about to face an unexpected death. After determining if that person has fulfilled his purpose on earth, the shinigami will choose to either proceed with his death or suspend it. However, a shinigami will only attend a child's funeral as a courtesy since most children are usually not aware of what is really happening. Thus revealed, not really unexpectedly, that the little girl speaking to Kaneshiro is the deceased everyone in the church is mourning.

And with that introduction, the movie begins the first of three stories that make up the film. Kaneshiro's character uses the name "Chiba" when he is on the field. He would usually makes contact and interview "prospects" on their opinion on death and determine himself if the person has yet a purpose to be served by continuing living. Even though his dog companion revealed that Chiba usually choose to proceed, he tends to hold his decision till the last day, which was fortunate for one prospect, whose new purpose in lives was revealed only on the day she was meant to die.

Unsurprisingly, all three stories are connected to each other but it was done in quite an unspectacular way. With a title like "Accuracy of Death", I was actually expecting a slow but highly thought provoking notion on why death is necessary and important to the point that it can affect the course of history. The movie was slow but it was hardly thought provoking. In fact, the charm of the movie lies in its humour. The bulk of the humour however, lies in Chiba's taking in the literal meaning of the words people said, being totally clueless about the slang we used. This incited plenty of laughter but it didn't make sense since he is in constant communication with humans. Beside, one other shinigami who spoke with him didn't seems to have that problem. There is also an inconsistency in the second story when he is more suave and street smart and he even smoked. Maybe he picked it up over the years but in the last story, he is back to his old 'dumb' self.

The movie lack the sophistication I was expecting and the humour was nothing brilliant. Its comic timing however was good enough to draw plenty of laughs. The contents may failed to meet my expectation but I can't say I didn't enjoy the movie. After all, why so serious?

Thursday, October 2, 2008


I am no genius but I kinda liked Mathematics. So when a movie comes out that centres on using Mathematics skills to win in Black Jack, I don't even bother who will be in it. I am just going to watch it.
Ben Campbell (Jim Sturgess) is a Maths genius hoping to secure a scholarship to Harward Medical School as his USD8 perhour part time job simply isn't enough to pay for that education. That amount however, is still higher than what an average Malaysian is making on a full-time basis but enough about our country's economy.

As with all the geniuses depicted in any movie, Campbell doesn't has many friends, often only hanging out with two other people who though are pretty smart, are only half his genius and 1/3 his good look. These two friends and Campbell's mother are the only people present to celebrate his very tame 21st birthday. The birthday scene was a crucial one as they used the Fibonacci code to depicted the number 21 on the cake so audiences can see what geeky maths geniuses they are. That was when I realised this is going to be a mediocre movie.

Campbell's lives started to changed when he impressed his non-linear equation professor by explaining how eliminating a wrong option from a choice of three actually increased the probability of one of the remaining two to 66.66% being the correct option instead of just 50%. That is called variable changes.

I didn't get that either.

As it turned out, Professor Micky Rosa (Kevin Spacey) is looking exactly for someone of his genius as he is leading a team of clever students to win big money in Las Vegas via card counting. He was looking for a replacement for a key member who left the team for a job in Google, which is really funny if you received an email showing the office in Google. Everyone wants to work for them now.

Back to the story, honest Campbell does not wish to get involved but when his mother gave her hard-earned life saving to help pay for his Harvard education, he decided that Vegas is the only way to go. Campbell joined the team, which coincidently included Jill Taylor (Kate Bosworth), the prettiest girl in campus whom he happened to has the hots for.

Campbell was determined to do this only until he raised enough money for Harvard but the question is, after he get a taste of the high life of easy wealth, can he really go back? Can a brilliant student making money from simple Maths skill still thinks about using his genius for the betterment of mankind? Would a CEO enjoying privileges paid for by the company opts to gives up that luxury to reduces expenditures? Will a politician with power to reform policy to suits his own personal interest chose to repents and steps down?

The answer is a dissolute no, unless someone makes them.

That someone comes in the form of security honcho, Cole Williams (Laurence Fishburne) who quickly caught on to what Campbell can do. But he isn't as interested in Campbell as he is in Rosa, with whom he has an old grundge.

The movie has a decent story and characters, which is played well enough by its casts but everything about it is pretty run of the mill. It is a pretty standard fare of a hero using his gift for personal gains only to learn the wrongness of his action and turned over a new leaf. And audiences are taught a little lesson not to belittle those smarts geeks around us as we never know just what they may be capable of.

It is also interesting that the movie actually revealed how card counting works although I don't quite understand it. Maybe the instruction isn't complete but more probably is that I am just not smart enough to get it. There is also the phrase "Winner winner, Chicken dinner", uttered everytime a player got a Black Jack which meaning and significance escaped me but which I find catchy.

Here's a Mathematics question. Is it worth paying to watch this movie? I paid RM6 to watch this on Wednesday and I pretty much get my worth but RM10 for any other day just may noy be worth its fare. Now how is that for non linear equation?