What I'm Reading
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Sunday, May 29. 2005
I came across a funny quiz care of Jarrett from the VictoriaBloggers. You answer 15 questions, and the quiz tells you what kind of military aircraft you are. It takes a few minutes to finish the quiz.
Here's my result:
The making noise and not caring about pollution isn't accurate, but the revenge through mind games and technology sounds just right, muahaha .
Feel free to take the quiz and post your results. The wikipedia has some information about the EA-6 Prowler, for those of us who enjoy acquiring useless information.
Thursday, May 26. 2005
I was watching Frontline on PBS, and came across a documentary entitled, "The Kidnapped Bride." It was exploring the disturbing practice of abducting brides in Kyrgyzstan, an ex-soviet republic.
From the PBS documentary:
The groom confesses he has had some difficulty finding a bride, but he is hopeful that "this one will stay."
When the bride does arrive, she is dragged into the groom's house, struggling and crying. Her name is Norkuz, and it turns out she has been kidnapped from her home about a mile away.
Fatima had prepared Petr for this scene, telling him that the custom of bride kidnapping is shocking, but he is still stunned by what he is seeing.
As the women of the groom's family surround Norkuz and hold down both of her hands, they are at once forceful and comforting, informing her that they, too, were kidnapped. The kidnappers insist that they negotiated the abduction with Norkuz's brother, but her sister, a lawyer from Osh, arrives to protest that her sister is being forced to marry a stranger. Ideally in Kyrgyz circles, a bride's family gets a price for their daughter, but Norkuz is 25 -- considered late to marry -- and the women remind her she is lucky she was kidnapped at all.
Within the space of an hour, Norkuz struggles less, looking exhausted but laughing along with the women who have placed a scarf on her head. Tradition dicates that once the bride accepts the ceremonial scarf, the matter is settled and the wedding can commence. Norkuz relents.
A few days later Petr and Fatima return to see how Norkuz and her new husband are doing.
"Only one in 100 Kyrgyz girls marries her true love," Norkuz tells them as she cleans her new home. "After the kidnapping, you've no choice. You start loving, even if you don't want to. You have to build a life."
Watching the documentary, it was troubling to see that society accepted such a practice. The kidnapped bride's family seem to usually be willing to accept the marriage even if it was not consensual. It was also wierd that the other women of the extended family condoned such a practice, even though they themselves were kidnapped.
They interviewed one of the matriarchs of the family, and she was excited that a new bride was going to come into the family. She was excited because that meant she'd have someone to help her tend the sheep, make babies to work the land, and help cook. Talk about political correctness eh?
The documentary covered another troubling story that a father told. He said that her girl was abducted, and she resisted, and refused to marry her kidnapper. So, the kidnapper raped her, and she was de facto married. A few days later, the girl hung herself, and her family was asked to come retrieve the body from the kidnapper. The father asked exactly what happened, and the kidnapper did not disclose any information. The father then went to the authorities to press charges and to open a criminal investigation, but the authorities merely dismissed the case a suicide rather than a potential homicide case. That story was very troubling.
It was also wierd watching the groom get his bride. The journalist followed a poor groom into a city. The groom hired a taxi, and began wandering around the city looking for a girl that he liked. Once he scouted out his target, he waited for the next day to kidnap her. The next day they find her, and him and the taxi driver kidnap the girl and quickly drive back to the rural home town. The journalist later went to a taxi company and asked how common it was for them to be hired to help kidnap a girl, and one of the drivers remarked that he just finished kidnapping a girl a few hours ago.
A lot of times, I hear people in the West complain about how their rights are being trampled, or there's no equality, but when you look outside in the world, suddenly all our problems seem just a tad irrelevent. Sometimes we need to look outside in order to appreciate what we have. In many cases, we are extremely spoiled.
This whole thing seemed so very foreign. I couldn't even imagine not being able to marry someone that I truly loved. Being forced to marry someone that kidnapped you seems so alien.
In either case, I encourage you to explore the rest of the story, PBS includes video and other interesting facts.
Tuesday, May 24. 2005
Well, this was quite an eventful and restful long weekend. I did absolutely nothing productive, which is a fairly good measure of a good weekend.
So, the weekend began with The Oasis (youth and young adults group) at church on Friday. When I pulled up to the church, there were three fire engines blocking the parking lot entrances. Apparently the alarm had went off four times earlier in the afternoon, and a bunch of cops showed up, with police dogs. They thought someone had broken in, so they were getting ready to send the dogs into the building. When the cops entered, they thought they smelled gas in the kitchen, so they called in the fire department and someone from the gas company. Long story short, false alarm. It was quite a fun scene to watch though if you were driving by the Mackenzie highway though. In either case, the service was pretty good. I even got a few games of badminton in afterwards at church (second favourite sport).
Saturday was my casual high school reunion at Beacon Hill Park. It was loosely organized, but about 14 people showed up, which is quite a few (we have a relatively small grad class). It was pretty fun seeing old friends. My goodness, it feels like everyone's got/getting a degree. Unfortunately it was kind of cold, and the forecasts were wrong. It wasn't supposed to rain, but it did. The following grad members showed up (in no particular order, I'm also using maiden names for those who have married for clarity, sorry for any omissions or spelling mistakes): Kara-lee W, Lenna W, Fiona C, Tim J, Tyler J, Bill G, Chris C, Steve W, Christa R, Andrea W, Rachel W, Kim P, Natalie L, and Bethany C. Thanks for organizing this event Bethany.
Sunday I had a fun time setting up sound and computer equipment for church. I'll leave it at that.
On Monday, Brian, Adam, Tyler, Bill, and I went to go see Star Wars III in the afternoon. The lines weren't bad at all. We waited about an hour and twenty minutes in line, but we got dang fine seats. We ran into Brittany from PCS as well (not evil Brittany). Don't worry, there's no spoilers about Star Wars III here. Overall, the movie was probably the best of the latest Star Wars films. However, there are still cheesy scenes that make you shake your head and make you wonder what they were thinking.
I think the most annoying thing about the movie was Lucas' attempt to take pot shots against President Bush in this film. It was very awkward how he incorporated it into the film. I'm mainly talking about the dialogue between Skywalker and Obi-wan near the end of the film. The things they debated about was awkwardly placed because they make it seem like that is the primary lesson Star Wars has been all about all this time, which it hasn't. What's even more annoying is all the people drawing parallels with Star Wars III and current events. I've heard Bush is like Darth Vader, I've heard the new pope is like the Emporer, I've heard Hillary Clinton is like Darth Vader, etc. At the risk of being accused of flamebaiting, I think drawing parallels from Star Wars as if it is some great literary art that George Lucas has created isn't all that great. Quoting and citing from Star Wars isn't exactly the most academic thing you could do, and I don't think it helps your arguments all that well. There are far better works to derive arguments from.
In either case, I was happy that they played Star Wars II on TV on Sunday. I got to watch that and refresh my memory before I saw Episode III. In addition, Teletoon had been re-running the Star Wars animated short films of Clone Wars. This was a collection of short films that take place in between Episode II and Episode III. It gave a lot of great background (kinda like what the Animatrix did for the Matrix, but better). The movie made a lot more sense after watching Clone Wars.
You can watch all the episodes of the animated Clone Wars here, absolutely free!
Anyways, it was a great weekend. God save the queen!
Sunday, May 22. 2005
Today my pastor gave a very good message on, "The Fear of The Lord." I'm just going to go over the most interesting point. He did an interesting overview of different religions and the types of fear they have for their gods. Some fear their gods, as in I'm scared. We should have reverant fear for God. Reverence is defined as, "a feeling of profound awe and respect and often love." This kind of fear is synonymous to children fearing your parents, as in respecting them.
The other interesting point he covered was that we now fear man more than we fear God. We fear the laws of man more than we fear the laws of God. The pastor pointed to history of many instances where man had tried to erase God by passing laws to contain God, and they failed. Hitler had tried, Stalin had tried, the Chinese communists had tried, but they were unable to eradicate God's influence. Instead, the opposite has happened; for example, China now has one of the fastest growing Christian populations in the world. One of our missionaries in Estonia (ex-soviet Republic) provided a very interesting statistic. Fifteen years ago, Estonia was still a communist nation where all religion was barred. There were zero pentecostal churches in Estonia. Once the iron curtain fell, there has been explosive growth. Now the country has 80 pentecostal churches (that's only counting churches in this particular denomination, there are WAY more churches there overall). Building 80 churches in 15 years is quite amazing.
We fear man more than we fear God, that really resonated with me. Quite, ironic in the grand scheme of things. I'm reminded by two Lord of The Rings quotes that I like a lot, "And nine, nine rings were gifted to the race of Men, who above all else, desire power." There's also, "the hearts of men are easily corrupted."
In either case, I'm not saying that we shouldn't fear (as in respect) our fellow man. Good message though.
Friday, May 20. 2005
I was leaving work today, and ran into Natalie. Thanks to her, she reminded me about the G2K reunion thing happening this weekend. I almost forgot about it.... in fact, I didn't even remember that this was THE May long weekend.
So, just a reminder to all G2Kers, we're holding an informal 5 year reunion picnic thing at Beacon Hill Park on Saturday 1:00pm. Here's the e-mail that I got from Bethany who's organizing it.
I hope that you are all enjoying the beautiful sunshine this weekend! I'm writing to update you on the G2K 5 year reunion. Due to the craziness of my life this year and the lack of help , rather than throw a fancy bash for the reunion, I'm organizing a picnic.
The plan is to meet at Beacon Hill Park on Saturday, May 21 at 1:00. There's a grassy area just down from the petting zoo where we'll meet. Bring your own picnic lunch (and blanket to sit on) and you're welcome to bring a significant other. We'll be bringing a volleyball net, a frisbee, and our soccer ball set. Please bring any other equipment you want (footballs, baseballs etc.)
I don't have even half of our grad class' email addresses so PLEASE look at the addresses and if I've missed someone that you're still in contact with or whose email address you have, PLEASE forward this to them.
Also, please reply to this with a yea or nay so that I know if you're coming. If you have a more current email address that you would prefer that I send further updates to then send it my way too! I hope that everyone is well and having a great spring!
Talk to you soon,
Hopefully we'll have a good turnout. See you all there. I can't believe it has been five years already. I feel old.
Thursday, May 19. 2005
I came across this article about UVic conferring an honourary degree to Lt.Gen Romeo Dallaire.
For those who don't know, Romeo Dallaire was the commander of the UN peacekeepers in Rwanda. The wikipedia and the CBC has pretty good write ups about this. This is the man who saw the Rwandan genocide start, and he asked the UN for reinforcements. Instead of immediately sending resources and troops, the UN withdrew a large number of its forces.
From the Wikipedia:
This was the starting point of the Rwandan Genocide. Dallaire ordered ten Belgian soldiers (whom he considered his best men) to protect the new prime minister, Agathe Uwilingiyimana. The soldiers were intercepted by Hutu extremists and taken hostage, after which Madame Agathe and her husband were killed. Later that day, the Belgian soldiers were found brutally murdered. Belgium was outraged that Dallaire had put its soldiers in such danger, and promptly withdrew its forces.
Seeing the situation in Rwanda deteriorating rapidly, Dallaire pleaded for logistical support and reinforcements of 2,000 soldiers for UNAMIR. The UN Security Council refused, several journalists laying blame on a gunshy US President Bill Clinton's administration which refused to provide requested material aid after the failed US efforts in Mogadishu, Somalia. The Security Council further voted to reduce UNAMIR down to 260 men.
Following the Belgian withdrawal, Dallaire consolidated his contingent of Canadian, Ghanian, and Dutch soldiers in urban areas and focused on providing areas of 'safe control'. His actions are credited with directly saving the lives of 20,000 Tutsis. There is speculation that Dallaire's forces deliberately sabotaged equipment to slow their UN-mandated withdrawal from the combat zone.
As the massacre progressed, the UN Security Council backtracked on its position and voted to establish UNAMIR II with a strength of 5,500 men. Several French and UNAMIR II contingents started arriving in Rwanda in June 1994.
The genocide, now known to have been brutally and efficiently organized months before, lasted for 100 days, leading to some 936,000 deaths, and over two million people being displaced internally or in neighbouring countries.
Rwanda is probably one of the West's greatest failures, as it could have prevented it. But countries were not willing to sacrifice their sons and daughters as there was no strategic importance in Rwanda. This is the day that the world lost faith in the peacekeepers of the West.
In either case, this is one of the reasons why I am very skeptical of the UN. Even now, a smaller scale genocide is happening in Darfur, and the UN is doing the same thing. They're saying genocide isn't happening. In the event that the UN declares that genocide is happening, its member states are obligated (by treaty) to intervene. Instead, the UN has said that massacres have occured in Darfur, where over 180,000 people have died, and 2 million people have been forced out of their homes. Why do we stand idle while politicians argue over semantics of whether this is technically genocide or not?
I think the best quote I heard about Darfur was this, "Why must we wait until the movie Hotel Darfur to come out before the West will start caring about Darfur?" This is a reference to a movie that recently came out called Hotel Rwanda which covers the genocide. I'll cover Darfur in detail another day.
In either case, I applaud Romeo Dallaire for fighting to save people in Rwanda even when it was against orders. Thank you for representing Canada overseas. You deserve that honourary degree Mr. Dallaire.
Tuesday, May 17. 2005
Well, today was the big election day. I voted first thing in the morning. Personally, I felt that the entire election campaign was fairly boring. There wasn't any spectacular government scandal that polarized the electorate this time around. All parties used a play-it-safe approach in their campaign, and it didn't really get heated.
I watched the entire leader's debate, and everyone's answers were scripted, so it was fairly boring. No knockout punch was scored in my opinion. Every party leader just used the same scripted rhetoric over and over again. The Green Party leader kept using the buzzword sustainability. The BC Liberal Party leader kept saying, hey, we didn't screw up the province as bad as the NDP in the 1990s. The NDP Party leader kept saying, will you make a promise to the BC voters tonight blah blah blah. Repeat all of the above a dozen times, and you pretty much have the general idea of the "debate."
I think the biggest surprise about this election was the voter turnout. Apparently there was very heavy voter turnout, so the official election results aren't even available yet. Preliminary results however show that the BC Liberals have won (no surprise there). Despite all polls indicating a Liberal majority, a lot of people came out to vote. Normally, people don't bother voting if the outcome is obvious because some people get the feeling that their votes won't matter.
The most disappointing aspect of this whole election period was the Single Transfer Vote (STV) referendum in my opinion. I think the government and media has done an extremely poor job of explaining to the public what STV is exactly. A good number of people I talk to have no idea that they're even voting on STV. An even bigger number of my peers have a very fuzzy idea of what STV is. Too bad. I found the Citizen's Assembly report on STV very interesting, and the material they provided about the pros and cons of STV was very informative.
In other news, it looks like the Green Party has failed to secure a seat again. Better luck next time . I noticed that the CBC article (above) talks about the NDP resurgence and being revitalization. I personally don't see it. People want to see some sort of opposition in the legislative assembly. Furthermore, I think a lot of people were just mad at the NDP last election, and a lot of the fury has naturally subsided; obviously they can't do much worse than the last election. To give Carole James all the credit for reviving the NDP would be pushing it. I think B.C. in general has a lot of hardcore NDP support, so it's not like the NDP was going to risk being completely wiped out in this election. I joke to a lot of my friends outside of B.C. that the West Coast should be known as the Left Coast.
Anyways, hopefully tomorrow morning the dust will have settled, and we'll know the exact election numbers. Kudos to all the first time voters.
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"Strategy without tactics is the slowest route to victory. Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat."
--Sun Tzu's The Art of War
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