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Archive for January, 2011

Holy Shit

I’m no friend of PETA, but the theme of today is “Animals under distress”

Polar Bear makes marathon swim 426 miles across Arctic seas

Tourism Whistler suspends reservations over post-Olympic sled dog cull

 

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Otherwise known as youth + unemployment = government toppling.

http://www.economist.com/node/18010573.

After the ousting of Tunisia’s long-time dictator, it seems like there’s a widespread revolution taking place throughout northern Africa; self-immolations have been reported from Morocco to Egypt.  Unlike what happened (or failed to happen) following elections in Iran of 2009, youth in Egypt are going to successfully force political reform to fruition.  Collier talked about how instability in one nation causes instability in its neighbours, but I never thought he would mean it like this.

Egypt Protests: Hosni Mubarak under pressure

When Iran successfully quashed the would-be revolution of 2009 with brutal force, I was starting to wonder whether or not appeasing youth played any part in a nation’s ability to maintain stability.  In the case of China, it’s very clear that internal political stability comes from appeasing the rural regions and really trying to appease the younger, urban population by keeping them employed, wealthy, etc.  With Iran, it didn’t seem to matter that youth were vocal in their unhappiness; the protesters were silenced quiet efficiently.  Tunisia and Egypt are starting to prove that Iran may have been a type of exception; once youth become disgruntled with corruption and long lasting unemployment sets in,  there’s the potential for serious changes to take place.  It may yet be too soon to determine which direction they will settle, but if suspense is your cup of tea, this sure is an interesting time to be alive.

I named this post the Virality of Jasmine because the topic of the day seems to be “viral” media and the internet.  First off, the instability in the region was kind of viral, with dissatisfaction manifesting concretely in one area and spreading like wildfire.  Secondly, the older I get, the faster and more efficient and accurate the dissemination of info becomes.  It’s kind of exciting being in a time where the communication mediums that I use as a “youth” are being used across the world to incite significant political change.  I love the irony of the word “viral” in that sense; as I get older, I am not growing towards the generation of influence, as I was led to believe.  I am growing “away” from it; the internet, and therefore, younger and younger individuals, are the ones that now command the best tools for change.

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“A new kind of politics”: UBC students respond to Macleans’ ‘Too Asian’ article.

I got roped into doing a Ray Charles impression in an empty Chan centre in December.  This is the result of that.

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I have no idea who this lingosteve guy is, and I really don’t want to further his cause, but he makes a good case study.

In reference to the article, he says, “It says Asians study hard and do well at school. Where is the offense?”  There are also a string of other similar comments.  I read them before I go to boxing sessions for that extra kick.

WONDERFUL!  😀  I’m so glad that someone else has made a stereotype acceptable on my behalf!  Candy coating a remark that groups an entire ethnicity of people together (aka a racist remark) and then saying that you deem it unoffensive because “it’s a good stereotype” is a tired, worn-out justification.  It’s kind of like being a male boss who consistently hits on your female employee and then denying it’s sexual harassment because she “should be flattered.”  As a potential subject of your crude overgeneralization, I will be the judge of who is flattered here, and I am unimpressed with your smug interpretation.

Besides, it avoids the fact that you are still grouping people like cattle, and maybe some of us have been fighting assumptions made about us for a very long time.  A positive stereotype can quickly turn into a negative one, since you already have people conveniently in a group and all.  Check out this article: sure we are all smarty pants, but now we are boring too!

“The Asian-Jewish connection: Is it really kosher to call Asians the “new Jews”?

Read more: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/g/a/2010/02/25/apop022510.DTL#ixzz1C7kXaTlv

 

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Awwwwwww

So cute.  ❤

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It’s been a while since I read Dr. Moyo’s book, but I think the main reason she rejects foreign Aid is because it erodes the credibility of the government.  She offers them the option of issuing bonds instead.

This leaves out the tricky business of what to do about negative feedback loops.  What Dr. Moyo’s graduate thesis supervisor, Paul Collier, points out is that relationships between several development factors isn’t always uni-directional.  A bad credit rating leads to reduced economic output, worsening living conditions, more political instability and then a lower credit rating.

And it means that at some point, aid might actually be needed to get a country out of a bad situation. When, you know, lack of funding is the problem in the first place.

Tunisia’s credit rating gets downgraded by Moody’s

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I tried to resist the urge to comment on the Amy Chua article on “Why Chinese Mothers are Superior.”  This is probably because my own mother was very “Chinese” in her approach and I give her a bad grade for it.  I could talk about the psychological impact of this kind of parenting, how suicide begins to look like an appealing way out, the social stuntedness, but that ground has already been extremely well-tread so I won’t regurgitate it.  Instead, I will refer you to this.

An Asian Father’s Gift: Permission to Fail

My own upbringing definitely killed my intrinsic lazy tendencies, but it was also pretty darn fail-phobic.  There was a lot of alluding to the idea that failure was a big scary monster and therefore, it was not an option; while on the surface this may seem reasonable, the kind of strict Chinese brainwashing makes this message quite damaging in the long run.  Most blogs  attack Amy but they fail to mention that the kind of success-at-any-means-possible parenting approach that Chua advocates leads to a heightened, detrimental level of risk-aversion.  When failing is practically equivalent to dying, you try really hard not to fail.   But you also try to play it very, very safe in life.

I am so fucking terrified of taking chances, still, and it has been five years since I moved far away from home.  There is no place this is more evident than in the world of job-hunting.  In my house, the only available career options were anything that was

  • stable
  • lucrative

That was the only criteria.  No mention of creativity, global impact, happiness, none of that.  My dad tried to push me to be my “own manager” but his risk aversion means that for him, being a doctor and having a clinic is about heaven.   (Note: don’t take advice on being innovative from someone who thinks a predictable job in a health care clinic edgy.  Clearly that word is relative.)

The risk-aversion is probably in contrast to what I could have been genetically; since moving out of my house, I have lost my neater tendencies, gotten sloppy, and am slowly shedding many anal-retentive personality traits I used to possess.  But I still have a bit of an aversion to unemployment.  As more and more of my friends are graduating, and we are all finding ourselves in this awful, depressing unemployment pool, it is starting to dawn on me that this feeling is a remnant of our risk aversion, and is in fact not a failure at all.  Risk aversion prevents us from seeing the opportunities that come out of a universe that is telling you that there may be unwritten opportunities, and that by deciding to to go law school right away or whatever, I am really just hiding the fact that I am scared of whatever my nose is leading me towards.  Slowly shedding that fear of failure is making me see situations with a lot more optimism.  I guess that Facebook movie got me a bit inspired about innovation, and the idea that careers don’t need to come from a degree or a posting on an internet search engine; it has taken me five years of emancipation from that kind of parenting to come to this conclusion.

I want to end with three things that remind me that I should stop worrying so much about failure and take chances more often. One of the is a scene from Up in the Air; George Clooney plays a guy hired to fire people, and in one of his business trips, he convinces a man that being laid off will allow this guy to pursue his lifelong, abandoned dream of working as a chef at a restaurant.  You can actually see the sparkle in this guy’s eye as he slowly realizes that losing his job may be the best thing that will ever happen to him.  Clooney’s character frees him from thinking about failure in a traditional sense.

The second one is my friend’s fiance, who started a very successful snow shovelling business in lieu of moping over losing a job.  There are even employees now!  And the third is the real life story of how the Butch Bakery came into existence.  David Arrick, the brainchild, lost his Wall Street job, and ended up with a much cooler job: creating the manliest cupcakes in existence.  The risk aversion would probably lead me, in a similar situation to find the closest job as a clerk at 7-11.   I’m trying to let go of that fear.

Next year, things are up in the air (no pun intended).  With no job prospects, no decisions from grad schools, zero scholarship money and parents who are internally hemorrhaging, I’ve been confronted with the very real option that for once in my life, I am going to run out of a place to hide.  I’ve gotten offers to help start up someone’s internet career, a few television shows, and to write a book, but these things are all big questions marks financially.  There’s a part of me that’s learning to relish the fear and agitation this brings, because maybe this time, things will turn out better than I can imagine, and so I try to stay positive, and I try to stay optimistic.   And while Chua can teach her kids to play piano, I’m not so convinced that she has taught them to pluck their wildest, most daring dreams out of the air and bring them into reality.  I’m not sure that she can teach them to find the sweet, frosted opportunities that come with occasionally failing. I sure hope I figure it out.  Wish me luck!

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