Archive for the ‘Personal’ Category

1. Does a true scientist (or any truly educated person) have the social responsibility to behave a bit more responsibly with more open, logical attitude outside of his/her area of work?
2. If the answer to my previous question is “Yes”, then, can we afford to continue compartmentalizing inquisitiveness and rational thinking?
3. Lastly, is it at all possible to become rational in some issues but not in many others?

Intrigued by this article at Nature Forum, and triggered by the author’s questions, I have now brought this topic out of my belly after holding it in for so long …
Truthfully, the trigger happened three years ago, when I had a conversation with a Vietnamese elderly – a healthy, lovely woman in her late 70s. I always commented how good and young she looked. It was quite pleasant seeing how she loved to dress up and take care of her self, while she was also such an active lady, gardening and doing houswork from inside out. She loved to talk about how she took care of her kids even now they are in grown-up ages, and share her family stories. She loved talking to me ( I think I am good with seniors). How many kids does she have? I think she said 8, older half of whom are girls and the younger half are boys. It was just one sentence she uttered during one of our conversations – “just being a (did she say “good”?) human is enough …” Wow, not all Asian parents can say that, I thought. A Vietnamese traditional mother can expect alot from her kids but to her, she realized that her kids are always hers and do not expect them to be perfect, I guess at some point after all the mundanes of life … She struggled with approving her son’s marriage with a Filippinos girl. She was proud of her son who is a doctor, who and another turned out to be gay men. She admitted having forced her daughter into being married at a young age (in college years) to an older doctor, then her tone changed as she did not feel happy for her daughter’s marriage life. How many more such Vietnamese mothers who could come out of that hard-shell and become so true to themselves. Not that many…
So back to the 3 questions above, here are my answers/comments:
1. Yes and No. First we have to define, what is “open” or “logical”; what or when to be considered outside of work. Traditionally, scientists always strive to be good examples, at least for their children and for their own values, serious and humble at the same time. We can hardly see a scientist who is dressed-down, bikes to school/lab, and has such characters nowadays… There is only one Isăc Newton or one Albert Einstein. Scientists do not make as much earning as their (working) peers do in the same profession. And there are amateur scientists and scientists. The competition and the desire to accomplish more have put more pressure on them and unfortunately, a minority of them has become greedy and dishonest. They are human beings, after all. They don’t call themselves “geniuses”. We the community of admirers praised them “genius”.
Is there such a condition as in “to be a (good) scientist, you have to be a good human being”? Another saying, “does preacher practice what he preaches?”. I notice that scientists do have good analytical thinkings, but sometimes some (but not all) have no common sense out of a life situation. As an adult, we are responsible for our own acts and words. Don’t we teach our kids not to lie, to steal, to kill? Then these are the basic principles. To a higher level, we all should have our own established principles. Practice makes perfect. Knowing that habit is the result of recurring activities, we should learn to train our thoughts, our daily acts and reactions into healthy habits. It would be ideal if we all keep our ethics consistent in all and every aspect of life. Someone, an anlyst or a reporter on a news channel recently broke out that “Humans are the only animal that has or is clearly aware of our own morality…” which then led to my another question, “what moraliti(es) do humans have?” What’s moral for one maybe not for other? We need exception rules here.
A scientist has no choice except to kill one mouse or one rabbit to learn how their brain reacts to certain concentration of saline intake, to help cure the high blood pressure and obesity in humans.
Does that define him/her as immoral or a bad human being?

2. “compartmentalizing” or “acting accordingly” or “multi-faceted”? I agree with another commenter. If a person is rational in true sense, s/he will be that way all the time.

3. Talking about rational again – What are those “some” issues? Define! Well, we’re human beings and sometimes act silly, or goof up a little bit, but have to define a fine line between what’s acceptable and what’s not accpetable. And simply, just being yourself, true self is good enough.
It is ok to be divergent, but keep your own values consistent.

Lastly, how about putting all irrational people in a rooom and hear them talk – it would be hilarious. A comedy show, I think. It was just a funny thought while sitting in a meeting and somebody mentioned having some staff go to a “Rational Thinking ” class.

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800px-Chopin_at_Singapore_Botanical_GardensGrowing up as a kid I loved listening to all kinds of music. I was not exposed to any musical environment. Mom was too busy earning bread for us to think about having any of us taking musical class. Plus, she believes in education, education, and education. The next door neighbor in Nhatrang had radio. I listened to whatever they listened. The morning BBC at the time broadcast from overseas allowed me to learn some Vietnamese songs, old and new at the time. I remember me writing down the songs I overheard from their radio. There were afternoon sing-a-song teaching program for children, foreign music request program every Sunday morning. So I collected all songs in my mind and/or jotted them down into a notebook, and learned different songs by Madonna, Michael Jackson, Bonney M, Modern Talking, Wham, ABBA, Julio Iglesias, even some french songs. I learned to sing along and then sing to my younger siblings, especially my younger sister who asked me to sing for her noonnap. Later on, living in Bien Hoa, Mom bought us radio-double cassette system and TV. I had more interest in tuning into different stations. I was into the classics station and would have it on to put me to sleep at night. The cassette musical tapes I had were given by the seller, and I listened to them over and over again until I transferred them to a longer ribboned tape (90 min) and overwrote the tape with my favorite songs from the radio stations. I loved the beats of the music and started picking up some ballroom-dance steps from a girl-friend (Phuong Thao). Speaking of Thao, she is an artist herself; she could draw very well. So, I went to sleep with classics and woke up in the morning dancing to the “beats”. I exercised, practiced the be-pop and cha-cha in the mornings. My mom and sister still talk jokingly about me “sweeping the floor in the morning”. I realized that was the beginning of what put me into the beats and into body shaping, and it did indeed help building some gestures into me. Then I got into music-exchange with school friends. Of course, these were the Vietnamese musical notes or songs made before 1975, which at the time was banned because they were considered by Vietnamese Communist as “nhac nguy doi truy” (addictive, non-patriotic, brain-washing music).
I could sing well. The age of karaoke in the 90’s proved that. Sometimes my mom and sisters encouraged me to participate into the contests. I did think about that; but I never felt a need to do such a thing, or to become a singer. I did sing at New Year’s celebration or cultural events. I am not timid. I enjoyed doing karaoke with friends, and yes, they called me singer or “ca si Yen-Nhi”. One thing I learned about myself is I like strong-willed or strong-spirited music, while most of Vietnamese music is so sad; they were all about one person departing, broken-hearted girls singing out for love. That is not what I would do on stage. So I’d rather choose the music of youth or young romance, of nationalism, of nature to sing. In other words, the songs I perform have to be meaningful to me. I admit music is in my blood. My maternal grandfather with his years of  playing french horn for french military had an influence on my musical talent. He taught me the musical keys. My father was active in community, was a soccer coach, played tennis when he was young, and had good voice. He loved singing to songs and to poems. I see I am a copy of him in that aspect sometimes. I am a truth seeker, as somebody says that to me. To really know the what and the how of music, I inquired more on how to appreciate music and arts, how to play piped organ (the one that is as high as the church building and requires you play with feet and hands), and tried to learn playing flute but my lungs are too weak. I ordered a brand-name $200-clarinet for that class, and unfortunately returned it after three months.
Years went by with my my own evolution, I turned to music when I need to relax. I guess my passion varies. The same with music. I changed taste from time to time. I guess, it does that to everybody, throughout different stages of their lives. But I can always go back to the roots. I can see myself confident when presenting myself or conducting my manner. I think that is part of what built me up as a person today. I see myself as a contributor, rather than an attention-grabber.

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