Wednesday, December 23, 2015

My song of the year called Me Gustas Tu

I've known G-friend 여자친구 since their debut but it was their second release that really caught my attention. The title song, Me Gustas Tu (Spanish phrase that translates to "I like you") is really an earworm that I got hooked the instant I heard it.

Me Gustas Tu reminds me so much of the innocent concept I'm so used to watching in my girl group taste. Does that remind of A Pink? Yes, certainly. I'm not alone: A satire piece from Asian Junkie remarked how similar Me Gustas Tu is to A Pink and J-pop.

The lyrics of Me Gustas Tu describes the budding love of a girl for a boy and the desire to get together as a a couple.

First off, I started with the MV. I just can't contain the innocent vibe that flows out of the girls.

Me Gustas Tu MV

I like the dance so much too! G-friend is very synchronised in their every move that I think of them as female version of Infinite. Dance moves are very powerful in Me Gustas Tu for this song of innocent concept, and look at how fast the members move across a distance. It's really an upbeat song.

Me Gustas Tu MV dance version

Then I checked out their live performance on various music shows. On the first few stages, I wasn't really satisfied with their stage outfit on the first few shows which I name it one of the worst stage outfit in history ever (source). Talk about firing their fashion coordinator....

You can check out by searching Me Gustas Tu plus either of Music Bank, Music Core, Simply K-pop, Inkigayo, M! Countdown but I'm showing one of the stage here.

Me Gustas Tu live performance at KBS Music Bank (comeback stage, 24th July 2015)

Since the song got popular it's good time to look for people covering the song. Me Gustas Tu is really easy to follow, trust me.

I like this Spanish cover! This is the best one ever!!!

Waveya will always add their sexiness into their dance moves.

I discovered East2West dancing to Me Gustas Tu through suggestions. Look at how the two guys learned the dance so well! Guys can dance to girls' moves!

K-Tiger's Taekwondo version is super impressive that you can't afford to miss it.

This is the bomb! In one of the live performances, slippery stage caused the main singer to fall down up to 6 times on stage. This incident went viral, got reported on international media and also propelled G-friend to another level of fame. Also, thumbs up for the level of professionalism!

Yuju (main singer) fell down repeatedly during performance

The incoming show host for MBC Show! Music Core has chosen to perform this too! G-friend must be so proud to know this. I've replayed this a few times because they rocked the song and also very adorable.

Me Gustas Tu has grown so much on me since its release around July, and I never get tired of it. It's my song of the year, really!

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Revisiting Red Alert 2, the classical RTS game I used to play

Some time last week, I spotted my brother playing Red Alert 2 on his gaming rig. So I joined in the fun and watched him play. After that, I played a few games myself with understandings of military tactics I've never tried before. With the new strategy, I managed to finish an easy enemy in around 20 minutes in skirmish mode. Now that's an achievement for me!

I saw the game for the first time watching my uncle playing it in his house. Immediately, I got hooked. The adrenaline rush was simply addicting. Then I bought gaming CD to playing by myself. I was a total beginner back then when I couldn't handle a brutal enemy.

You know, how I miss this game! With my old playing style, it took me hours to secure my base and finish off the computer controlled opponent. I was more fascinated with abilities of units instead of using strategy to win games. When studies took over, my interest in the game died down. A few years later, I revisited the game after gaining some new understandings from my studies and other interests.

I wasn't a big fan of playing missions but friends told me that is the core of the game. I started to appreciate missions in Red Alert 2 after I understood the beauty of storyline in movies/games. I didn't go back to actually playing the missions but there's Youtube, so I watched the playthrough videos from players instead.

If you haven't know about this game, here's a short intro. There are two playable factions in Red Alert 2, which are the Allies (all Western countries plus South Korea) and Soviet (Russia and other communist states). The expansion, Yuri's Revenge, has Allied, Soviet and Yuri as playable factions.

Screenshot of Red Alert 2. Image source

To really understand what the game is all about, it helps to have a good grasp of history and international politics. Real history says that we had World War 2, followed by the Cold War which was the division between capitalist and communist blocs. In the alternate timeline of Red Alert universe, after the real World War 2, Albert Einstein traveled back in time to erase Adolf Hitler from time. Without the rise of Nazi Germany, Russia (Soviets) grew so much in power. This led to the Great World War 2 (Red Alert 1) and Great World War 3 (Red Alert 2). After the end of Red Alert 2: Yuri's Revenge, some Soviet officers went back in time to erase Albert Einstein from history. So there was no invention of atomic bomb and no bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in Japan. And you guess what? By the time the Soviet officers returned to their time, Japan grew so much in power as the Empire of The Rising Sun thus setting the events for Red Alert 3.

Why do you want to play Red Alert 2? It was certainly one of the success of real time strategy (RTS) games. While the actual gameplay forms the core of the experience, the narrative of the game is another driving force behind this game. The narrative of the game is what sets the stage for missions and puts the gameplay in context.

There are indeed some extra stuff I've found, and they are of interest.

The making of Red Alert 2. You can meet the actors who portrayed the characters in the cutscenes.

Watch how Udo Kier, a German actor, is transformed into Yuri in the game. Yuri is a psychic who can mind control enemy units.

Another screenshot of the game. Image source

Red Alert 2 is named one of the best real time strategy and military tactic game in history. It's time to move on and I'm excited to see better games in store!

Saturday, December 12, 2015

10 Facts About Diabetes I Learnt From My PhD Research

It has been one year since I started my PhD project in diabetes! I was a total novice back then when my graduate advisor introduced me into the area of diabetes, barely getting my hands on the basic knowledge. I was reading about the molecular mechanism of diabetes treatment, and my knowledge of diabetes was only skin deep. PhD is not a rosy journey - there were a lot of disappointments and stress to meet requirements!

After a year, I couldn't describe in words, how much I have gained in my knowledge and understanding of diabetes! When we discuss about diabetes, the first thing that come to mind is high blood sugar and sweet urine, right? In actual fact, diabetes is a complex disease. I have done a lot of readings for my research, so let me tell you what I've learnt from it.

Of course, what I'm writing below is not substitute for medical advice from qualified practitioners.


Diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease found together is actually a syndrome
I have always heard of people with heart attacks who is also affected by diabetes, high blood pressure, high blood lipids and a host of other conditions. Well, are these people affected by separate diseases? From the surface the answer seems to be yes. But in fact they are affected by one syndrome. Putting it more exactly, they are affected by the metabolic syndrome. A syndrome means a set of signs and symptoms that are 'friends'(correlated) of each other. There is one cause (something wrong with the person's bodily metabolism) and the diseases are manifestations of the syndrome.

Diabetes is a silent killer
Type 2 Diabetes often have no sign and symptom. It's already too late when patients have had a heart attack, and find out about diabetes! I haven't mention having diabetes also increases your chances of having heart attacks. Don't get caught by a nasty surprise, that's why body check up is important!

Diabetes affects how body handles fat and cholesterol
Medical science tells us that metabolism of sugar and fats are commonly controlled (regulated), and I know for a fact that insulin also controls fat metabolism. Cutting the long story short, I can tell you that patients with diabetes have abnormal cholesterol level that make them prone to heart attacks (a term I called it atherogenic dyslipidemia). Many treatment options for diabetes focus on controlling blood sugar, but I can tell you: watch out for your cholesterol level too!

Besides Type 1 and Type 2, there are many more types of diabetes
I am sure many are familiar about Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes taught in textbooks, right or not? There are in fact, many more types and causes of diabetes. There's gestational diabetes or Type 3 diabetes that affects pregnant women. There is diabetes with a genetic causes. There is diabetes caused by medication and viral infection. Taking detailed medical history and correctly diagnosing the cause of diabetes is so important now!


Diabetes affects blood vessels, and hence blood pressure
The state of high blood sugar and reduced insulin sensitivity can affect the function of endothelium, cells that line the inside of your blood vessels. Endothelium controls relaxation and contraction of blood vessels by sensing blood flow and secreting factors to vascular smooth muscles. When endothelium is less able to relax blood vessels due to diabetes, you'll have high blood pressure.

Fat tissue secretes hormones that controls energy metabolism
The fat tissues or known as adipose tissues are popularly thought to be fat stores. It turned out that adipose tissues secrete leptin and adiponectin, important hormones that control your appetite and insulin sensitivity. Some anti-diabetic drugs make use of fat tissue for their effect, in fact.

There are three major insulin sensitive organs, failure in one of them affects your whole body
Muscles, fat tissues and liver are organs that respond to insulin. What happens when only one of them fails? Using special methods to make one organ non responsive to insulin, scientists have been able to show that diabetes and heart attacks ensues. The actual diabetic case of course involves all organs.

Obesity carries a high risk of Type 2 Diabetes, but being skinny is not good news either
It's not hard to think that being overweight/obese increases risk of Type 2 diabetes. What about skinny people? Using mice that are not able to form adipose tissues (lipodystrophic mice), scientist also showed that they are not insulin sensitive and diabetic. So, fat tissues aren't just fat stores!

Anti-inflammatory drugs can alleviate diabetes
Consuming anti-inflammatory drugs to treat diabetes sounds very crazy, but experiments showed that it works! One thing doctors are not telling you: obese people are in a state of low grade inflammation because the fat store in their abdomen is infiltrated by immune cells and the fat cells secrete hormones that lead to inflammation. What's more, being in a state of inflammation affects insulin sensitivity, because these inflammatory hormones interferes with insulin response at the molecular level. So, the tale of anti-inflammatory drugs can improve diabetes actually makes a lot of sense.

Fatty liver is a complication of diabetes
You've probably not learnt this in textbooks. People with diabetes have a high chance of being affected by non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (the medical term is hepatic steatosis). Over time, this may lead to fatty inflammation of the liver (steatohepatitis) and scarring (cirrhosis).

Last but not least, my take home message:

Don't drink too much Coke!


Tuesday, December 8, 2015

The shocking truth I discovered about Christmas

It's the Christmas and holiday season. What are you doing?

Did the title surprise you? For most of you, it may offend you because of long rooted tradition. But if you take the time to listen, you can gain something! If you're here, I congratulate you! You'll hear of the actual thing about the origin of Christmas celebration. Let's continue with an open mind, and then make up your mind shall we?

I did research on Judaism to know about the true roots of Christianity with an unassuming mind, and one question was of course the celebration of Jesus' birth. I've discovered about this for quite some time, and I decided to share it with you now.

Since I was a kid, I was taught that Christmas is a religious festival celebrated by the Christians and Jesus was born on this day. The entire world is tricked into believing this. I'd give you a pass for saying Christmas is celebrated by Christians (mainstream knowledge), but when it comes to advanced level, the actual facts say otherwise.

The word "Christmas" doesn't appear in the Bible. There isn't a command to celebrate Jesus' birthday in the New Testament portion of the Bible. By Biblical evidence, Jesus wasn't actually born on December 25. There's a guess for the approximate time about Jesus' birthdate (link), but the exact date isn't known until today. Furthermore, early Christians had no problem about not having Jesus' actual birthdate and didn't celebrate Christmas.

Furthermore, Jesus also stated that his followers should place more emphasis on following his teachings rather than praising the mother who raised him. In other words, he asked us to focus more on pleasing God rather than honouring human beings.

How it all began? It all began with Babylon. Christian pastors have always preached about being under the Babylonian system. Babylon as an ancient civilization is long gone, what they mean to say "under the Babylonian system" is the system of false worship that still plagues us today. To explain about Babylon is a topic of another blog post, but let's focus on Christmas this time.

So, what's the true origin of Christmas?

The plain fact is, Christmas has a pagan origin. Pagan worship predates Christ for a long time, and one of the cult is the worship of the Sun God. There are many cult worship of the Sun, and Rome has the reputation to absorb pagan practices throughout the empire. During the reign of Emperor Aurelian, he built a massive temple of Unconquerable Sun and set the god's birthday at December 25. Another thing is, the Romans also celebrated the holiday of Saturnalia from December 17-25 with the custom of lawlessness during the week. One of the custom was "singing from house to house naked" - sounds eerily similar to Christmas carol! Which one is the true origin, I am not exactly clear.

So, when Emperor Constantine declared Christianity as state religion of Rome, paganism was still at its height. Instead of wiping out the practice of paganism or asking pagan Roman to change their practice, he had the pagan practices adopted by Christianity (populist approach). The Church appropriated the practice and thus born Christmas! Much better than traditional pagan practices :)

So, you can see how powerful Rome was, to the extend that it affects our practices today.

The true origin of Christmas tree

This is a bit hard to answer. The answer for no goes like this: Tree worship is a pagan practice. A Babylonian fable told that from a dead tree stump, came forth an evergreen tree - symbolises the dead Nimrod come to life! This custom spread to other pagan civilizations but all can be traced back to Nimrod. The Romans had a custom of decorating their fir trees with berries during Saturnalia.

But another source says, Germans and Scandinavian residents put up evergreen trees to signify their hope for the upcoming spring during the Middle Ages. The first Christmas tree was decorated by Protestants in the 16th century. There is no spiritual significance in having or not having Christmas trees.

The true origin of Santa Claus

Santa Claus is a corrupted form of the name St. Nicholas. Nicholas was the most senior member of Council of Nicaea, from which came forth the New Testament

Through time Nicholas was idolized and became a cult. In 1931, the Coca-Cola Corporation contracted Swedish commercial artist Haddon Sundblom to create a coke-drinking Santa. Sundblom modeled his Santa on his friend Lou Prentice for his cheerful and chubby face. The corporation insisted that Santa’s fur-trimmed suit be bright, Coca Cola red. Thus born Santa Claus: a blend of Christian crusader, pagan god, and commercial idol, very popular among the children today.

Does the Bible mention about customs of celebrating Christmas?

Absolutely not! The Bible mention not about remembering when was Jesus' birthday. Celebrating Christmas is more of a man made institution.


The custom of Christmas celebration actually comes from pagan practices. The celebrations we have today is a mix of true Christianity and paganism. Over time, Christmas becomes a festival for commercial purposes.

After you've read my post, you have this knowledge. What can you do? Go with the flow. Use this opportunity to be charitable on Christmas day. But remember to tell your children the truth when they grow up.

Either to celebrate Christmas or not, it's a personal choice. Let not condemn anyone for celebrating or not celebrating and make it a joyous occasion! If you choose to go strictly Biblical and not observe it, it's your choice too.

Further readings:
The True Origin of Christmas - this is easy to read, and provides a good overview
Pagan Roots? 5 Surprising Facts About Christmas - also quite easy to read
Simple to Remember - The History of Christmas
Jesus is Savior - The Plain Truth about Christmas
Hope of Israel - The Shocking Pagan Origin of CHRISTMAS!
Why Do We Have Christmas Trees?