Wednesday, August 27, 2008

The Summer of Tim (not)

Today, I first went to the UBC bookstore to see if they'd buy some of my old textbooks. They didn't (because university bookstores and textbook publishers and their manufacturers are EVIL). Then I went to SFU to get textbooks for next semester (next week, sob). Then I came home. All of this took me 5 hours to do. Four out of those five hours was spent on public transit. Makes me want to cry.

After coming home, I checked my email and already waiting in my inbox was an email from my BUS 347 prof welcoming everyone and informing us all that we have a reading to do for the first class and attached was a 14 page syllabus. Makes me want to cry.

The Summer of George Tim just started 2 weeks ago!!! And it's already ending!?!?

I hate all the commercials on TV that talk about back-to-school sales... makes me want to cry.

I'm going to go sit in a corner and cry now.

Seacrest out!
(haha, gets me every time!)

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Pointless Post #6

I had a horrible dream last night.

I dreamt that I still had one final exam to write, that I didn't study for it, and that I was late. Ironically, my last final was just last week. Ugh. I was fine once I woke up, but just the thought of it... ugh...

In other news, the problem with neapolitan ice cream, is that chocolate always overpowers vanilla and strawberry. It's somewhat prejudicial.

What are Pointless Posts?

Friday, August 15, 2008

Links added to Gigantism Links page for August

In no particular order, a bunch of pages/sites I've encountered over the past few months on the information superhighway: i wish i'd found this blog sooner. hack life! very very informative/educational Nick Vujicic + John 9 + a lot of Jesus = wow make a slimmed down version of your windows OS disk - search about it in lifehacker step-by-step derivatives, used this a lot in math 157.... but i can't remember what a derivative is... "face of the future" face transformer! upload a pic of yourself and see what you'd look like... freaky but cool the news is now public - may be helpful for when you're looking for info in an alternative media useful site for when you want to download FLV files for youtube (search for Super by erightsoft) looking up old canadian court cases, useful but maybe ignorance is bliss in some cases bike repair video tutorials, neato have your own pdf "printer" on your computer! convert docs, images, media, etc! very useful technically, its not really a game. the test says i can take on 27, but that number should be higher... this is on the same level of fun as skistuntsimulator, which is pretty fun haha! fly a plane over googlemaps and then drive a car over googlemaps! this is really good practice for when i get a real car neverball! you are a ball, you control it. now go! an online store where you can buy the best of the best of the best, sir! (congrats if you got that MIB reference)
its'a picture of an old article of a prediction about the future lyrics from the songs on the simpsons! a blog about stuff white people like... teeheehee... actually i like some of those things... stuff korean moms like. can also apply to many chinese moms too. hehehe... Om nom nom nom... RAR! (you can urbandictionary this term if you don't understand, hehe) "25 Skills Every Man Should Know"- perhaps not practical for all mean on all continents have a clothing stain? here's how to remove it (may not work, can't trust the internet, or can we.... make your own multitouch table for your pc cool stuff made out of lego! yeah yeaaah Danish blocks! nintendo mods.... pretty pretty wii consoles... article on The Evolution of Tech Companies’ Logos " Billboard Charts for gadgets" and its educational too it's The ORIGINAL Illustrated Catalog Of ACME Products! as see with wile e. coyote and roadrunner a pc case made out of duct tape simpsonised fan art, fascinating this is almost sad, but then what does Ephesians 2:1-3 say? the simpsons house, in real life this is a cool thing, and would be especially helpful when paired with a gun fold paper into cubes, to make desk companions. cute! and crafty! papercraft is so cool. play any game you want on your computer, with a webcam, using your body (think wii-like, but not quite) "Darik's Boot and Nuke" a self contained boot disk to securely erase hard drives a fantastic video/audio converting application - converts almost anything clean crap of your computer (thats what the other c stands for) - under All Shows, search for "the vice guide to north korea" fascinating Matt's 2008 dancing video - he's dancing at the DMZ! BRILLIANT! 360 x 360 degree cameras, that you can pan so its like being there! crazy!

Canada's first Olympic medal + Praying in secret by David Gutnick

Hurray, Canada's Carol Huynh will be in a gold medal match for wrestling in approximately 5 hours from now!

EDIT/UPDATE: 1:35 AM PST, Dave Calder and Scott Frandsen just won Canada's first medal, a silver in rowing, right before Carol's match. Hurray Canada!
1:57 AM PST, Carol just won gold! blogging... I'm a geek. No one is even reading this now... Anyways off to bed!

And now, a super cool post by CBC reporter David Gutnick, originally from here, but who knows if it will be removed after the Olympics which is why I'm re-posting it here. He writes good, insightful stuff.
"Praying in secret" - Posted by David Gutnick Aug 15, 08 03:34 PM

It is 7:30 in the evening and I am participating in an illegal activity here in China. I am sitting in a living room with nine people praying.

In this apartment, the Bibles and hymn books are kept under lock and key. These Christians have been under police surveillance since the Olympics began. They risk being thrown in jail every time they gather.

I found this House Church by asking someone who knew someone who knew someone else. The Chinese fellow who was helping out used my cellphone so that he could not be traced. At first the pastor did not want to meet me.

House churches are an extremely sensitive subject in China these days. Last week, President Bush took the Chinese government to task over the lack of religious freedom here. The government told him to mind his own business and accused him of trying to politicize the Olympics.

Hymn books are illegal

That answer upset the Pastor; he changed his mind and decided to let me attend the House Church service that he runs on Wednesday evenings.

We meet on the sidewalk in front of a 40-storey apartment block. Four men and four women - all in their 30s and 40s - are waiting. Because of the risks they face if identified, I agreed not to mention any names. The Bibles and hymn books are taken out of the locked cabinet. Even the hymn books are illegal because they are not government authorized.

A smiling intense woman told me that she had become a Christian eight years ago after her American English teacher gave her a Bible. “I read it for six months and I found Christ,” she says. “And then I began inviting my neighbours over to talk. More and more people began coming over and within a year 40 people were meeting in my two-room home.”

She says that the police began hassling her landlord, telling him that he could be fined because allowing Christians to meet outside of official government-sponsored churches is illegal. She was kicked out. She and her husband have had to move six times.How they live as Christians
In between singing hymns, and praying and a sermon from the pastor, the eight other house church members tell how they live their lives as Christians. There is laughter when a woman says that she feels guilty because she has been watching gymnastics on TV rather than studying the Bible.

Here in Beijing, the Olympics have been an overwhelming presence for years. And the heightened security for the Games that the government proudly talks about doesn't just mean the dozens of thousands soldiers and police you see in the streets.

It is much more insidious.

The Christians who invited me to share in their service have seen it at work. It's been tough. A couple of members of this group have spent time in jail. They are regularly followed. They all have stories that make me cringe. But somehow they all tell me they remain optimistic: They say that it is easier to be an underground Christian now than it was a few years ago.
The pastor has prepared a Bible reading that he thought would be relevant given that the police have been clamping down on house churches recently. A couple of members stayed away from this service because authorities warned them not to come.

The Bible is alive for us

Clearly the government did not want to show this part of Chinese society to the world. The reading was from the Book of Acts, and it was about persecution. The discussion that follows is both energetic, political and sad.

“The Bible is alive for us,” says one of the members, a writer who once met President Bush in the Oval Office. He pleaded with the president to pressure China to allow Christians the right to pray together. The president would not make any promises.

It’s 10. We are tired and, full of tea. We leave the building a few at a time, pretending that we didn't know each other. We didn't wave goodbye. A woman and her writer husband show me the way. I ask if they are worried about the police picking them up on the way home.

No, they say. We don’t worry. We know they are waiting. They even offered to drive us here this evening. We call it our free Olympic taxi.

They go left.

And I head off to my bed behind the wire fence in Northstar Olympic Media Village.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Eight thoughts after watching the Olympics thus far

We're 5 days in, Beijing local time:

1. The Olympics and final exams, or rather, studying for final exams don’t mix. I like watching the Olympics a lot. I hate studying. Thanks for ruining my life SFU 8^p.

2. The Opening Ceremony? Wow. My mouth hung open a lot. However, even though Zhang Yimou was an artistic director, I couldn’t help feeling a little critical of perhaps how the +20000 performers may have been treated… Probably a lot better than the performers in the Mass Games at the Arirang Festival though.

Speaking of the Opening Ceremony, not that it matters (or that anyone will believe me), but when I initially saw the little girl singing “Ode to the Motherland,” I thought there was just a delay in audio, not that she was actually lip-synching! As for the footprints, I always thought they were sort of CGI’ed. And now we know!

3. CBC’s live streaming of events on their website is fantastic. Not so fantastic when you study nearby a computer that is connected to the Internet (see number 1).

4. I’m honestly getting very sick of all the coverage of Michael Phelps when CBC covers the swim meets. Sure, Phelps is a good swimmer, but if I want to hear commentators praising him all the time, I can switch to NBC. I want to know more about the Canadian swimmers/athletes, especially when I live in Canada, watching the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. Am I the only one who sees this irony?

5. In some of the events I’ve seen North Korean athletes participate in, I can’t help but notice how solemn and serious they are, especially when they lose. I sincerely hope they’re not tossed in concentration camps when they return home (oops, I mean “home”).

6. Canada hasn’t won any medals… yet. Somehow, I’m not very surprised. I blame lack of funding, particularly from corporate sponsors. I’m sure, for example, the big oil and gasoline companies could stand to throw in a few more sponsorhip dollars. Either way, 加拿大队加油!加油! (Go Team Canada!)

7. China is really winning buttloads of gold medals. It’s scary in one sense, that they resolved to do win the most gold (on homesoil too) and they’re on track to doing it. In another sense, I’m sort of proud, being ethnically Chinese (华裔) and all ([blushing] see number 6). Serious question: But at what cost are these gold medals to their citizens? How much pain has there been and will be? How many people have died?

8. I am 40% looking forard to 2010 in Vancouver, 60% dreading it.

Stupid final exams. One left.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

"Beijing Olympics - China" - Journeyman Pictures via YouTube

Copied from the video notes:

July 2001 - Many former critics supported Beijing in its frantic attempt to win the bid, lured by potential contracts. We explore shocking statistics showing that China has executed 1200 people since April [2001] and assess the role of human rights in the face of politics and big business in Olympic bidding.

This video is 7 years old. There are some sections during interviews where only Mandarin is spoken, with no dubbing/subtitles. Also, as a WARNING, there is some disturbing, uncensored footage around the 9:28 of public executions.

Food for thought. Twenty-nine hours left.
Watch it here: "Beijing Olympics - China" - Journeyman Pictures via YouTube

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Beijing Olympics, China’s Injustices, and Something More

In approximately 3 days (2 if you’re already in the area) the world will look to China. The Olympics will begin, then only God knows what will happen next. I am happy and excited (woohoo Olympic competition), but I am extremely saddened and deeply angry at the same time. China was once dubbed the “sick man of Asia.” Now they will be the world’s next super-power.

The slogan of the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games is 同一个世界同一个梦想 or “One World, One Dream.” What dream is that? Who’s dream is that? Does this dream include the millions of people displaced from their home because of development and illegal land seizure? Does it include the millions of migrant workers who are forced to go to bigger cities to find work so they can meagerly support their family? Does the dream include the millions of farmers who have had their water source/farmland polluted until it has become useless?

Here’s a hypothetical situation: You live in a major city China, on the outskirts of it’s downtown core. One day, you’re told that your home (along with your neighbour’s surrounding homes) are all being demolished so that some developer can make some high rise condos that you’ll never be able to afford living in. Then without having any place to go, without having time to pack up, without even consenting to all of this happening, it happens. Your house is demolished in front of you. You only have time to grab the possessions you are able to carry. You now have no more home and what you did have was destroyed. You aren’t even given decent compensation (or in some cases, none at all). It is despicable and heartbreaking. For example, this wasn’t done by a tornado, that is beyond anyone’s control. Your home was forcibly taken away by other people who chose to do it.

[EDIT-April 8,2009: Check out this video called "Demolition Dissidents" by Journeyman Pictures. This is almost the exact news story by CBC correspondent Patrick Brown which I saw around this time when I first wrote this post (therefore, the date on the YouTube link says March 2009, but that is very incorrect (its pre-Olympics) as the CCTV building is unfinished)]

What now? If not for your close family and perhaps some friends, you would starve. But they can’t feed and house you forever. Maybe if you appealed to a government official or if you went to court to fight for at the very least, fair compensation so that you can try to find a new home. But the officials don’t want to talk to you. The police ignore you or and silence you by beating you if you try to protest in public about the injustice done against you. The judge won’t bother to hear your case, because it turns out, he’s the owner of the demolition company that wiped out your neighbourhood.

What is left? You have been taught your whole life to trust the government. Trust the Communist Party, but now they won’t even help you. No one else will help you either because your cries of help are drowned out by the ringing cash registers and the construction boom.

What’s sad about this situation is that it is real (you probably already knew, the "hypothetical" was me trying to be polite - [EDIT August 17,2008: In the mini-doc "Car Craze" by Journeyman Pictures, fast forward to the 11:08 mark onwards to get a glimpse of a similar situation]). In some cases, even worse things have happened. What’s even sadder about this situation is that people who have been given power who may have influence to help these victims, will refuse to help and deny that there are any problems. They will deny and say no one has complaints about the government and no one has been wronged. Regular citizens will do the same because they don’t know anything.

Ai Weiwei (艾未未) helps describe it well:
China, on one hand you have a dictatorship, you have a totalitarian
society. We still don't have the rights to elect our own government and they make stupid decisions you see everyday [...] On the other hand you have a big crowd of nationalism, young kids who know nothing because [of] limited information and because [of] the misleading of the [state-controlled] media. So these two combinations make the situation even worse.
(This is from the mini-doc “China's Foul Play” by Journeyman Pictures, 19:53 into the video)

What breaks my heart about situations like this is that it is the result of ignorant, selfish choices. One may ask, “Isn’t is the fault of the Communist Party?” Isn’t it the fault of those red, evil commie [insert noun]? As much as I want to say yes, they are not the true problem. However, I personally believe they will be held responsible and accountable for their suppression of the truth from their own citizens because in doing so, they have caused their own people to sin (Mark 9:42).

The problem is best stated: “For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.” (1 Timothy 6:10 NKJV)

It’s because of greed that’s causing people to seek after power and wealth for their own benefit. It’s because of the god of this age who has blinded millions (billions worldwide) from what is true and what is perfect (2 Cor. 4:4; Phil. 4:8). It’s because of their sin that is separating them from knowing God and it burdens my heart so much that people in China don’t have the same free access as I currently have, to know the Truth. If not a few different choices by my ancestors, it might be me, still in China and blinded.

Because the Olympics are so close and so prominent, news reports every single day, from every single type of media, barrage my mind and I come to know all these things. So much grief, suffering, and loss. I want to do something, anything, but I am limited in my circumstances. Until God give me greater responsibility, I can only give what little of myself, and what little from myself. And despite the pictures of cruelty and cries of hurt (or what little there is after it’s been censored) I can take joy in God’s eternal Word that, “while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal” (2 Cor. 4:18).

Dear China, open your eyes quickly. Open your hearts. Don’t be distracted. Look up to the heavens and see the glory of God.

Sigh. I’ll stop here for now. But there’s still so much to say. It’s not just a matter of human rights, but of human hearts.

North Korea, you’ll get your turn too.