Saturday, January 21, 2017

Now more than ever

Now more than ever

Yesterday, Donald Trump was sworn in as the American president. As he began his swearing in, rain fell as if in solidarity with so many that now live in fear. Trump swore on a bible that he doesn’t read and on a constitution that he doesn’t believe in (and probably haven’t read either). For years, the conservative movement have used anger, fear and lies to manipulate the American public. With the help of Russia to weaponize the fear and ignorance that they have spent the last 8 years breeding, they won the ultimate prize in putting a con man/puppet in the most prestigious and powerful position in the world, and in turn, giving rise to a new era of fear and uncertainty for the world.

For decades, the US and most of the world have been slowing evolving in the progressive values of equality and caring for not only ourselves, but our fellow human beings. We started to care more about the state of the planet, about those without a voice and those under such horrible situations that we can’t ignore. While most of world was working towards these goals, we ignored a dangerous minority growing all over the world. A minority who fears losing power, a minority that has no interest in equality and a minority that seeks to force their hateful views on everyone around them. This minority was cultivating a local and global fear culture, and succeeding.

Hate/fear groups are generally well known by organisations that keeps track of this type of thing (e.g., Southern Poverty law Center). We’ve had too many run ins with these hate groups in the US (and worldwide) to not keep track of these groups, but where we failed was to take action when the canaries were sounding the alarm.  For too long, the general public ignored that these hate groups were growing in numbers and influence (esp in the last 8 years of the Obama administration). Meanwhile there were others who naively tolerated their hate in the hopes that they would somehow change on their own. 

By ignoring or trying to somehow get along with these hate groups and not taking the steps to root them out (or at least a stronger plan to contain their numbers and influence) is how we’ve ended up with a Trump presidency. During the last 9 months (or so) of the presidential election, progressives were not prepared to battle with this level of hate culture. They were well funded, well organised and had the help from a major foreign power. It would’ve taken a major effort to combat them even if we were prepared which we were far from. Even towards the end, too many progressives still believed in the good of people and believe that people will do the right thing.

Never again.

We need to realize and examine the mistakes that we’ve made, but it’s time to move on. Spending too much time looking backwards is not productive. We’ve had a few months now to feel shocked, sad, and drink our misery away. Trump is now the president and he’s bringing in a host of hatred and ignorance to his cabinet to further spread the hate culture in the US and around the world. 

Now, it’s time to get off our asses. It’s time to work. Make no mistake, we are all under attack. Even if you're not being attacked today, you will be tomorrow. If we don't rise up for each other, they will divide and conqure.

This time, we need to be better prepared. We cannot underestimate the strength of hate and fear again. We must be prepared to fight (we can’t bring a drum circle to a gun fight). It’s not going to be easy, it’s not going to be pretty, it’ll take a lot of time and effort, but it’s something we must do. We must think about the long and short game (the hate groups are extraordinary at the long game). 

Hate groups all around the world have been embolden by a Trump presidency. We must show them that they will never be the norm, we will not accept the hate and fear that they represent and we will drive them back into the dark corners where they came from. They may have caught us unprepared and won this battle, but we will win the war.

Today, as in the times before, we fight not only for ourselves, but those who are powerless, those that will be a target by this hate administration, and for future generations.  Now, more than ever, organise, take action and join the resistance!

Wednesday, January 04, 2017

Pup’s movie corner

Pup’s movie corner

 If you haven’t seen Star Wars: Rogue One, stop reading. Go see the movie now.

I was pretty stoked to see this movie. After seeing the trailers and finding out what it’s about, I was even more excited. For years, fan have complained about why in the world would you design the ultimate weapon with such a ridiculous flaw. Now we know.

I was amazed by a lot of things in this movie, but probably the biggest thing is how someone went to the Disney movie execs and said ‘hey, we’re going to make a movie where everyone dies. Everyone.’ and then having the execs say ‘sure, go ahead’. How did they manage that? Jedi mind trick?

The movie filled in a lot of holes in the New Hope and added a lot more depth to the Star Wars universe. What I thought was most interesting is getting a better view about the alliance. Like many alliances, this one was hanging on by a thread. Everyone wasn’t in and everyone was certainly not ready to commit to fighting. It took the bravery of a few people to wake up the masses and take on the threat.

While I’m used to these types of endings where the heros die from Asian cinema (pretty much the cornerstone of a good hero – that they die), this was really unexpected from a western movie, especially one made by Disney. It brings a harsh reality that often times gets missed. We have probably never heard of most heros and what they’ve done for the world (or for certain countries/people). Those that win and those that survive gets to tell the tale. The dead does not speak, no matter their heroics. 

This could just be my 2017 mentality, but what also strike me about the movie was about taking action. You don’t just sit by as you watch the world get taken over by bullies and tyrants. If there’s an opportunity, we must do just that. We must stand up for the weak, for those that can’t stand for themselves and for the future of the dream that we are all in this together.

There are so many things against the people right now. So many people without hope and so many being oppressed by those tyrants mad for power. For those of us who can do something, however small, it’s time for us to stand up. It’s time for us to come together, come out of the woodworks, even if we’re just a rag tag band of misfits. We all have a part to play in this and we must fight back the tyranny.

Rating: 4 Paws (out of 5)

2016 Wrap up / What will the New Year bring?

2016 Wrap up / What will the New Year bring?

One post. That’s all I managed in 2016. I know, I’m terrible. For the last few years I’ve posted during my year end wrap up that I’d write more the following year, but I’m failing pretty miserable. It’s not that I haven’t wanted to. If it’s the thought that counts, there’d be hundreds of posts in 2016 but alas, one must actually type them out.

I think most people (who reads this blog anyway) would agree that 2016 really sucked. The American people have decided to listen to a con artist and fake news from Russians to begin four long years of corruption, geo-political uncertainty and the (re)rise of the white supremacists movement in America.

I’m sadden that Americans were so easily fooled (although it’s been years in the making with pseudo ‘news’ outlets like Fox breeding the ignorant). There is a large majority in the country that has been bred to hate anything that has been labelled as ‘progressive’ or ‘liberal’. At times even when it’s good for the person or the country. They’ve been able to take that out of the thinking. They have been taught to just hate, not think about why or what exactly it is they’re hating.

What's more infuriating is that Russian has meddled so much in this election with their trolls and fake news sites and the GOP refuses to do anything about it. How can you say you're American when you don't care about our political process? What would they be screaming if the Russians were helping the democrats? The hypocrisy is mind boggling.

The difference today versus before is that the hate is not about a difference in ideas (conservatives don’t actually have any ideas other than to repeal anything they see as progressive), but they’ve been able to harness pure mindless hatred in the American public. This is where things get dangerous. This is Un-American. This is how we got Trump.

Yes, I understand where this hate came from. It comes from fear. The fear that middle white Americans will have to adapt to the changing word (economically, politically). Unlike all other ethnic groups who have had to adapt to survive, this is new for white Americans and this need to change has brought on fear. This fear has brought on hate.

I’m going to save some of my rage for later posts as I don’t want to get too worked up on this first post. Hopefully, there will be more posts this year J

On to other things. 2016 has also sucked due to a few notable deaths of cultural icons. Prince and George Michael, two of my favorites, passed away this year. The one that hurt was Carrier Fisher. The princess we all grew up watching. For me, she was one of the first female characters that wasn’t just a damsel in distress. Leia was strong and held more than her own. She wasn’t just someone that needed saving, but she was the one who saved the day.

2016 also saw the UK exit the EU in what is probably one of the most ridiculous political moves. Conservatives stoked fear and make promises that they were never going to keep (money going to the health system? Yea, we were just kidding). Very similar to the US elections, it was fueled by fear and ignorance. At the same time, apathy from those who would now regret their decision.

While the world seem to be crumbling all around us, it was actually a pretty good year for me personally. I know it’s terrible to think so selfishly with so much going on around the world, and believe me, I’m thinking about what’s happening everywhere, but I guess it’s important to remember to think about yourself too.

We finally started and finished a renovation at our house which is great. After having to deal with council and 2 terrible architects for over 2 years, we lucked out with our builder. Everything went as planned and on budget (close enough anyway). Now we have this great en-suite with a great view. Other than that, I got a promotion which is always nice.

We were supposed to have a big trip to Machu Pichu this year, but it fell through due to my poor planning. The time we had wanted to go got booked up so no South America for us. We’ll try again in a couple of years. Next year, there’s an exciting Japan trip planned. So excited about going back. I used to go every year for a while because I had clients there, but haven’t been back in about 4 years now. Can’t wait to go back to experience it on holiday rather than work.

Here's to a decent 2017. I know it's not going to be good around the world, so let's make a pledge to watch out for each other. Help those weaker than ourselves. If you see something, do something about it. Don't wait for someone else because there is no one else. They're coming after all of us and it's time we fight back not with words, but action.

Save the dream in 2017.

Sunday, January 03, 2016

Why the Limit?

Why limit yourself?

I think I've discussed this before in this blog, but probably not for a long time. It's something that I've been thinking about lately so I thought it might be interesting to write it down again. I never understood why people think of good and evil as a dichotomy. More importantly, why do people think you can only either be good or evil?

The concept of good and evil are amazingly childish and naive. It's too simplistic to think a person can only be either one or the other is just ridiculous. Yes, I know most people believe it's a spectrum, but even then, there is only 2 points in the spectrum. To either be good or evil. Most people strives to be either one or the other, but the question is why? Why not be both?

I don't believe good and evil are mutually exclusive. If a person's goal is to Understand, then they must know both sides of the coin. Simply working towards one side of the spectrum leaves you utterly ignorant of the understanding you need to reach your goal. After all, how do you know what good is if you don't know evil and vice versa. Beyond that, what's wrong with wanting to be both? Are people's goals so simple and narrow that they only care to define themselves so incompletely?

This concept has held back our species for far too long. We fight wars, we waste resources, we waste time over this childish concept of good and evil. The potential for humans to advance and evolve lies in the embrace of both sides of the coin. The potential for humans to self destruct lies in the continued battle of good and evil.


Friday, January 01, 2016

2015 Wrap Up

2015 Wrap Up

Just having a quick look at the blog, I noticed that I tried to make a bit of a comeback last year while I was back in the US. With a whole 4 posts during 2014 and zero in 2015, I would say that the comeback to blogging was a pretty big miserable failure. Well, maybe 2016 will be the year… I wouldn’t hold your breath if past years are sets any examples.

There were a few big changes in 2015. One was changing jobs. I’m back working for a consulting company, albeit in an internal capacity. No external client work for me. It always fascinates me how some of these massive global corporations seem to be able to function so well on the outside, but looking under hood, there is a lot just being tied together with duct tape. Well, I guess that’s the kind of role I do now. Fixing things internally. I think this will be an interesting opportunity to work on a regional level and see how to better coordinate things with so many cultural and business differences. It's already been really eye opening working with people from different countries. So many things I take for granted or just assume is the 'right' way of doing something just isn't so.

We took a couple of amazing trips this year. The first big one was to France for a good friend’s wedding. I’ve been to Paris a couple of times and I never really saw what the big deal was. I didn’t experience the food that I had heard so much about and I just didn’t think of Paris all the highly. What I realized during this trip is that it’s not France that I didn’t like. It was just Paris.

In this trip, we went to the other areas of France, mostly Lyon and the French Alps. It was simply amazing! The food, the culture, the entire area. This is what you hear about in books and see in movies. Paris is basically a giant tourist trap, but go outside of it, things start getting amazing. I can’t begin to describe the amazingness of the food we had in Lyon. This was the height of French cooking (as the French says, it's the foodie part of the country and they were not lying). We didn’t go to any Michelin starred restaurants or anything. Just your ordinary brassieres and we experienced some of the most amazing food. There were flavors and combinations of food that I had never thought of putting together and it all finally matched what my brain had always imagined French food should be.

From Lyon we drove to the French Alps where the wedding was taking place. On our way there, we stopped by a castle built in the 1600s from an amazing concierge recommendation (this is the first time I’ve experienced the value of what a really good concierge can do for you). The concierge recommend a restaurant in the castle that had an amazing chicken dish (chicken with vinegar sauce and wild mushrooms) that was legendary in the area. He was not wrong.

The castle itself was pretty amazing. There has been very little done to modernize it so it kept most of its old characters. The upkeep has been well kept as I believe people actually lived inside the castle. It was a classic spiral wall design that made attackers go through a spiral walkway of death as they try to reach the central keep. Just standing there I could felt how difficult it would be to invade a castle of this design. I love looking at the archer holes in the windows and the areas where there would be bottlenecks where pots of oil would be dumped on invaders.

We then made our way to the French Alps. I have seen these types of villages in movies and TV, but so amazing to see it live. Have a look below. It’s exactly like how it would be in a movie. I don't think picture does it justice, but just take my word for how gorgeous it is. We got to meet up with some old friends at the wedding and met some new ones. We met some really nice French peeps who also didn’t like Paris (which I was so happy to hear). They thought Parisians are all rude and France (and the world) centers around them (which is exactly my compliant about them). I thoroughly enjoyed dancing till the sun came up with them. 

Shortly after we went to France, we went to Taiwan for a wedding. It’s been about 10 years since I’ve been back and overall, this is probably my favorite trip back ever. There’s a lot to write about so I’ll leave it for another post. See, I’m trying to comeback with more posts already.

One big accomplishment I checked off this year was going to Ibiza. Clubbing capital of the world. I really wanted to go before I became the creepy old guy. I had so many expectations of Ibiza, mostly from reading magazines all these years, so many were spot on and so many were just completely wrong. It was an amazing time and I’m so glad that I got to check that off the list. I’ll leave the details for another post as well so we can get into it more. I’m sure future me will enjoy reading it.

Everytime I travelled, and when I see tragedies unfold around the world, I keep having a recurring thought. As I visit more and more of the world, what I find is that people are all mostly the same. Everyone want the same things. What’s most important in life is not trying to please some imaginary ‘God’ or anyone else for that matter. Good food, good family and friends, laughter and love. That is all that's important for everyone. If we concentrate on this, and just this, our world would become a much better place. Maybe then we can focus on bigger issues that we will all have to face soon (i.e., climate change). If we can't even agree on these basic things, we have no hope of working together against such a huge global challenge.
Much like the last few years, I have been thoroughly lucky in my life with so much love and laughter. Like everyone else, there’re always a couple of little bumps, but they just make things interesting. It’s amazing when you know you have someone supporting you unconditionally, you never have to worry that much about anything that comes up.

We have some amazing trips planned for 2016. Hopefully I’ll get it together to write it all up and share the fun details.

Oh, the new Star Wars came out this year (last week actually). What a rush to see it in the theaters again and so excited that it was a great movie. I really believe this was the best movie that they could’ve made that satisfied both the geeks and the general public. Well done you.

Pup’s had a few surgeries this year, but am happy to report that he’s better than ever. He still sits around thinking about things that shouldn’t be published, but I think he’s mellowing out a bit more lately. I think it helps that the rabbit and the moose help talk him down and distracts him with their general silliness.

Much like the last few years, I have been thoroughly lucky in my life with so much love and laughter. Like everyone else, there’re always a couple of little bumps, but they just make things interesting. It’s amazing when you know you have someone supporting you unconditionally, you never have to worry that much about anything that comes up.

We have some amazing trips planned for 2016. Hopefully I’ll get it together to write it all up and share the fun details.

Here’s to a great 2016. To you and all yours, all the best in the coming year.