Saturday, February 14, 2015

One-word Poem: Ame ni ai

I look at a poem as a painting, in which words instead of colors and textures are used as the instruments to convey meaning, emotion or memory. For some time now, I have been thinking if it would be possible to come up with a one-word poem. I've come to the conclusion that there is one such word, that, just hearing it could evoke a multitude of meanings, visions, sounds, memories and emotions.

I would have presented the word to you immediately were it not for my recent fascination for haikus, a short Japanese poem that I have described in an earlier post. And so I thought of writing a one-word haiku, which I share with you below:


Haikus do not usually have a title, but if I'd choose one for the above poem, I'd choose 雨に愛 (Ame ni ai). This may be a bad thing to do since it's like explaining one's own joke. But I'd put it there just the same.

I won't blame you if you think this is all nonsense. Many poems and paintings have suffered similar fates, and that hasn't bothered their authors. It wouldn't bother me as well, because what's important for me is that I have dabbed the colors and textures of some words in the canvas of  your imagination.

For additional explanation on the Japanese, please see this post.

Friday, February 6, 2015

The Exponential Backlog Theorem

Perhaps you've come across the saying "The more you know, the more you don't know."  I find it applicable to science: how new discoveries lead to more inquiries, how answers lead to more questions. I think a similar rule could apply to work, specifically, arrears of work. I call this the Exponential Backlog Theorem.

This theorem can be stated as "The more you work you do, the more work there is left to be done." This statement does not defy the elementary laws of algebra. It simply happens that sometimes, as we plough through backlog work, we discover more work that needs to be done.  And this could happen several times in the process, that instead of feeling that we are finishing work, we instead feel that we are now more buried with work than when we've started.

The proof of this theorem is, as you've guessed, trivial. And, following the age-old tradition of scientific publications, the proof is left for the readers as an exercise. 

To find out how an approaching deadline could affect your workload, please see The Deadline Limit Theorem.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Harry's Haiku

A haiku is a short Japanese poem that contains only 3 lines of verse. Traditionally, they are composed of 17 syllables distributed as 5-7-5 among the 3 lines.  The essence of a haiku is the kiru, a "cutting" represented by the juxtaposition of 2 images or ideas. Modern Japanese haiku do not necessarily follow the 5-7-5 syllabication rule. [1]

On one of my birthdays, I posted a Facebook status update, which I later realized, could qualify as a haiku (at least informally). I present it again here:

The author of Harry Potter went scuba diving;
She could have had it all,
She was Rowling in the deep.

I tried working on the 5-7-5 syllabication rule and got the following:

Potter's author dove;
She could have had it all, she's
Rowling in the deep.

Well, this fulfilled the 5-7-5 rule, but in my opinion, it had less impact than the informal haiku, in terms of delivering the kiru. In fact, I would almost say it's disastrous, so instead of calling it a haiku, I'd rather call it HAInaKU! [2]

[1] This paragraph was paraphrased from the Wikipedia article on haiku.
[2] From "Hay naku!", a Filipino phrase which expresses disappointment or exasperation. 

Friday, January 16, 2015

5 Chants for Greeting Pope Francis in the Philippines

Pope Francis has finally arrived in the Philippines! Large crowds are gathering just to see a passing glimpse of the Pope of the people. Much larger crowds will be expected over this weekend at Tacloban, University of Santo Tomas, and Quirino Grandstand. For those participating in these events, there will be lots of walking, and lots of waiting. Hopefully there will also be lots of cheering. (Hey, the Pope is finally here! So let us all have a toast: Totus toast!)

Chanting has been one of the most electrifying experiences I've experienced in large gatherings with the Pope. It takes away boredom and gives a lot of energy and enthusiasm. Below are some of the popular chants that have been used in the past World Youth Day (WYD) events with the Pope.

¡Esta es, la juventud del Papa! 

¡Benedicto! (ka-clap-ka-clap-clap)! 

So what chants could we use for the gatherings with Pope Francis in the PhilippinesBelow are 5 suggestions.

1. Eto ang, kabataan ng Papa!
We could translate to Tagalog the Spanish chant "Esta es, la juventud del Papa!" to "Eto ang, kaba-taan ng Papa!"  The Spanish chant, which means "This is the youth of the Pope!", expresses the desire of the youth to support the Pope and the church. Pope Francis is familiar with it since it was used by the pilgrims of the World Youth Day in Brazil in 2013

2. Papa Francisco!
We could adapt the "Benedicto!" chant to "Papa Francisco!" (ka-clap-ka-clap-clap) to make it Tagalog or Spanish-sounding, or "Papa Francesco!" (pronounced "Franchesco") to make it Italian-sounding.

3. Francisco, we love you!
For those who participated in World Youth Day Manila (I will not mention the year, lest you guess my age), who could forget the chant "John Paul Two, We love you!"? This could be adapted into "Francisco, we love you!" Although the rhyme doesn't completely work out , I guess it's passable. :)

4. ¡Esta es, la juventud del Papa!
We could also just use the original Spanish: Esta es, la juventud del Papa!  Afterall, Filipinos know a lot of Spanish words already like "manzanas," "cuchara," "plato," and "tenedor."

5. ¡Mi Papa Francisco, te quiere todo el mundo!
The original chant was used for John Paul II: "Juan Pablo Segundo, te quiere todo el mundo!", for which I couldn't find a sample in YouTube (How is that even possible?).  It means "John Paul II, the whole world loves you!" The words could be changed to "Mi Papa Francisco, te quiere todo el mundo!", which means, "My Pope Francis, the whole world loves you!"  If you know the original chant, I'm sure you can easily guess how it should go. 

These chants, more that just a way to take away our boredom from waiting, express externally what we have internally: our love for the Pope (whom we see as Christ's representative on earth), our unity as a Church, and our obligations as Christians.

So start practicing! If you use these chants during the Papal gatherings, there may just be a chance that we'd see each other in a sea of five million people.  

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Tolkien, Turing, and Nonlinear Reasoning

I just finished giving a midterm exam in one of my classes. Of course, I spent much time thinking about the bonus questions, which I call Nonlinear Reasoning, being a mixture of course topics and humor.

One of bonus questions was the following:

(The Turing Test, proposed by Alan Turing, determines whether a machine can be considered intelligent or not.)
Those who are versed in the War of the Ring could easily deduce that the correct answer to this question is "One Ring":
Sauron and Gollum are not interested in passing the Turing Test because they are only interested in the One Ring.
However, most of my students just answered "ring".

Since I am not a terror teacher, I guess I will have to give these students partial points. However, I also have to be reasonable and just in giving it to them. Since there are twenty Rings of Power in all – Three for the Elven-kings under the sky; Seven for the Dwarf-lords in their halls of stone; Nine for Mortal Men doomed to die; One for the Dark Lord on his dark throne – I have decided to give them 1/20 points or 0.05 points.

As a teacher, it really is difficult at times to balance being considerate and just to students. In medio virtus: virtue is to be found at the middle, a Latin saying goes. But I think I may just have hit the middle in this recent predicament.