Erenlai - Adam Materna
Adam Materna

Adam Materna

An enthusiastic traveller with deep interest in languages who has also participated in nonprofit voluntary programs aimed at cultural development in small communities. Currently pursuing a Master Degree in International Communication at National Chengchi University, Adam Materna has been travelling the world since 15 years of age in order to satisfy his curiosity concerning various cultures. His first interests towards Asia root out from martial arts, a passion he remains true to this today.

週五, 09 十一月 2012 13:53

Brain Food?

Imagine a service designed to help you acquire knowledge in the most efficient way possible. It goes straight to the source and organizes information in a clear, concise fashion that serves you key ideas from the titans of knowledge, bedrock concepts from various disciplines, as well as highly specialized interests, on a silver platter.

In short, that is Knowledge Buffet (KB). But the promise and potential of what you could find on in the future is even more exciting. Not only a platform for creating a customized program for your personal learning, but a more effective approach to constructing university courses or setting up multidisciplinary research.

We live in an age of informational overload. There is a reason why they say “knowledge is power” rather than “information is power.” It is because you have to sort through this information to arrive at the final station of actual knowledge. And as almost any student will tell you, this is not fun.

Almost everything you can think of is available online today. Information is largely free and readily accessible pretty much anywhere. And we can’t handle it. It is not about information; it is about the exact piece of the puzzle that you need. Anyone who has ever spent hours googling away like someone with OCGD (Obsessive Compulsive Google Disorder) knows exactly what I’m talking about. And this beast of a haystack is only getting that much bigger every day.

Did you think time was the only thing you spent during all those frenetic online searches? Think again, because whether you know it or it, you’re squandering ATTENTION as well. Any information requires some amount of attention and when you add up all those 30 second YouTube videos…death by a thousand cuts or a thousand bite-sized meals or a thousand tweets or…

Sometimes procrastination can be your worst enemy, so there appears to be a genuine need for a more effective way to find information and not only find it, but if possible, arrange it, sort it out and generally pre-digest it for goal-driven easy use.

I know what I’m talking about because long ago, during the dark ages of my university studies, this seemed to be an unattainable dream. Instead of peeling off layers of human understanding and the secrets of the universe to eventually add my shred off insight into the blend, I spent my time looking for a particular chapter from a particular book.

This experience is really the motivation that stands behind the creation of Knowledge Buffet and the desire to get rid of all the unnecessary clutter so that you can focus on what matters. It is imperative in any field to have solid basics, but wasting time and attention on figuring out what the basics are and where to find them is counterproductive.

Customization is the word of the future. Software and hardware today is inevitably speeding towards highly personal use. Finding the optimal way to acquire knowledge for any individual is what KB represents, whether it is designing a homeschooling curriculum, preparing for any type of exam, mastering foreign languages or simply helping you find your dream university major.

週三, 28 十月 2009 02:19

Noble Nobel

Please enough already! I don’t know how many times I have heard this lately. The Norwegian Nobel Committee has decided that none other than the President of the USA, Barack Hussein Obama II, shall be awarded with the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize. And it’s all wonderful and everyone is so happy about this. Finally some truth and justice is done in today’s corrupted world. On several occasions now I have heard, not only from Taiwanese, how great it is. And just like that, the future seems brighter already.

Naturally I’m all for following the herd and my applause is usually one of the loudest, but in this case I have to take one step back. Of course we all like the guy. He is the first African American to have ever been elected into the Oval Office in the White house and just the name of the building says how hard it must have been for him. He’s also young, charismatic and looks like he actually loves his wife. On the other hand he’s also conducting two wars and the U.S. still practices rendition, thus I really have to salute the Committee for their devotion and courage. I’m sure they will all be major candidates for ‘the greatest fan’ award. Unfortunately, I fear that I already undermined my own nomination, when I asked: “Is this really the right guy to be winning a peace prize?”

It’s not that bad though, I think the committee members heard just one of Barack’s brilliant speeches and their hearts were so moved that their whole bodies twitched and as they did, their brains jumped out and ran towards Obama to ask for an autograph. Maybe it’s my own character imperfection, that I can’t fully appreciate this memorable moment or the great significance of this prize. Never mind of course that they forgot to award a few people like Mahatma Gandhi or in the fields of science Nicola Tesla and Thomas Edison, they still managed to honour great names like Yasser Arafat, Yitzhak Rabin, Shimon Peres, Henry Kissinger and many others. It’s a great award.

So I completely agree that Barack’s speeches are apparently award-winning and it reminds me a little about all the beauty contests like Miss Universe, Miss World, Miss Galaxy, Miss McDonald’s, Miss Small Small Town etc. that I have seen. During the interview part there is always some kind of sly question for the finalists like: “What is the one thing our society needs?” The answer naturally being: “World peace.” That’s the moment where I cry like a baby pulling my hair out and shouting exuberantly that it’s the right answer almost as much as every judge on that show. It’s a wonderful moment full of pride and hope. But then those judges usually settle down and want to see the girl’s ass. And if the ass is good, she’ll win.

I dare say that it may be possible for the Nobel Committee to do the same thing. I’m not particularly interested in Obama’s ass, nor do I think this is what we should be evaluating on the current US president. On the other hand if you must, suit yourself. But if you look at the bottom of Obama’s administration are you really sure that this contestant should be the one to win the Nobel Peace Prize?

Photo by C. Phiv

週三, 07 十月 2009 21:26

Stinkiness has no borders

It was another beautiful day in Taipei. The sun was shining and even the sweat itself was sweating. I was just walking down the street, when I saw a familiar image. Apparently the new Tomb Raider video game has entered the market in Taipei. And with this monumental event there is now a commercial poster in front of every other 7-11 store. There is nothing wrong with that of course…but then I saw it was not quite the same Lara Croft as one would expect…Lara Croft? Honestly, we all know that the extraordinarily well-developed pair of sidearms wrapped in those tight curves-revealing cases is not the only reason why we like her. But it helps. Don’t mind that she forgot her pouty lips in the locker, but those blue-eyed contact lenses make her look like she just escaped from a sanatorium. Which brings me to the point, why do the locals need to translate even the images? Imagine if we made our own blond and blue-eyed version of Bruce Lee.

But I’m sure I’d find some people who would say: “Well, it’s just a different culture.” But “culture” comes from Latin ’colere’ that means “to cultivate” and you’re certainly not broadening your horizons if you need to make Lara Croft flattened and Asian, so people won’t start worshipping her enormous near godly qualities. Because if you do that, then don’t try to make me feel bad about not wanting to eat your stinky tofu. But no matter in how many odd ways the skin of your face can fold and form an expression of utter disgust, I’m pretty sure there will always be someone saying: “You haven’t tried our stinky tofu? How come, it’s a Taiwanese speciality!” For which my answer is; tofu doesn’t run, fly or swim, so stop trying to feed me with this shit!
The culture might not be as different as it seems though. Not in this case at least. I am talking about the crown jewel of Czech cuisine, that is the stinky cheese and I can say with a clear conscience that it may very well compete with the Stinky tofu. In both cases I can’t help but wonder about the logic that stood behind the creation of such culinary masterpieces. I bet it was some guy living in a time of war and starvation. The poor fellow lost his nose in an unforeseeable explosion and so he decided to come up with something eatable but with such a foul aroma, that a normal human being would never even dare to come close to it. The Czechs however are most proud of their beer and we all know that after a few pints of that earthy vintage, you can be talked into almost anything. Hence the common knowledge argument; that the stinky cheese goes best with a cold beer. Do you see the strategy?
This brings me to the notion that in the interest of further broadening Taiwanese cultural background, one of Lara Croft’s guns should be exchanged for a bowl of tofu. First of all, if she throw’s it, it’s equally as deadly a burst of bullets and secondly the cultural reference is so much stronger.

At the end of the day it doesn’t really matter if you decide to cripple all your rhinaesthesia cells via tofu or cheese. You are just a member of a different sect, as the true meaning of the word “culture” reveals. It is nothing more than cult - urges and you will always meet someone who will proudly announce how he ventured into the unknown, tasted the unimaginable and now he’s bringing the wisdom to his own people. Don’t let this guy bring you down. On such an occasion you should take comforts in saying: “I think I would like to keep my sense of smell a little longer.”
It’s the little things…





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