I decided to start a new category “Ramble” to store more personal reflections about myself and the world around me. When I first started writing on Blabber, I did not plan to write about myself at all. I wanted to limit the writing to about public events, issues, and films because I didn’t feel comfortable exposing my personal self to the public. Until roughly the end of senior year in high school, I was actively writing in a private blog space about personal feelings, though, more often than not, I just complained about the things that made me angry. At that time I found venting my anger this way very relieving, especially because I made it a rule to not go back and read those posts. Once something’s written, the entire business is over and I put those angry feelings behind me forever. Fortunately, college kept me busy and dorm life away from home eliminated the domestic frictions that were often the sources of my unhappiness. I no longer spend hours writing about fights and dramas while crying and feeling enormous self-pity and self-righteousness. I then started this blog to write about the “more serious” stuff, but it became obvious to me that mature reflections of myself is just as serious as anything else I’ve written here. I am, therefore, starting a new journey of introspection. Let’s hope there be no more angry rambling.

Yesterday, the New York Times released a story about Mayor Bloomberg’s plan to ban selling large-sized “sugary drinks” to fight obesity. This plan sounds so ridiculous to me that I’m sure if someone thought hard enough, he/she can come up with a conspiracy theory of government-business complex (though the plan appears to be against big businesses, it will just make the conspiracy theory sound even more fascinating). The reason why I think it’s ridiculous is that this type of plan only remediates the symptoms but not the root of the problem of obesity. The mere presence of junk foods, of which “sugary drinks” are only a small part, does have a role in obesity, but the primary culprit is ignorance and the lack of awareness in both children and adults, including the parents.

Bloomberg’s plan reminds me of a ban that was imposed in my high school during my junior year. In the past, Read the rest of this entry »

In what I consider one of the most visionary talks in a long while, Columbia professor Brian Greene gave a pithy 20-minute presentation about the possibility of multiverse, or multiple universes, and its implications. I’ve never even taken physics, so I’m not going to embarrass myself here trying to explain string theory–you can get a for-dummies version from Brian Greene in the TED talk video or here.

The talk is great not because Greene presented what the mysteries of physical science mean for the possibility of multiverse; Read the rest of this entry »

Earlier this year, in response to the Barnard-Columbia antagonism, I published an op-ed in Columbia Spectator urging Barnard women to show that they deserve respect rather than beg for respect. The article can be easily interpreted as “blaming the victim,” and that is not what I meant to imply at all. I would like to expound on my theory of Dis/respect which just came to my mind recently to complement my argument in the op-ed.

I think there are two forms of “Respect:” Read the rest of this entry »

I don’t think CDTR had foreseen the KONY 2012 spectacle when they planned their screening of “The Redemption of General Butt Naked.” But they certainly did not refrain from using Kony’s name on their promotional materials when the film did not even mention a word about warlords from countries other than Liberia–probably because they know very well that “Redemption” is the perfect contrast to the one-sided, unrealistically simplistic propaganda documentaries made by Jason Russell, who regrettably broke down recently on the streets of San Diego.

Joshua Blahyi, or the infamous “General Butt Naked”, was a man of great wickedness during the war. He was brutal but energetic, fanatic but charismatic. He had committed war crimes of practically all kinds, and he was a living legend–of evil. Read the rest of this entry »

Yesterday a horrific news broke out that an U.S. Army sergeant “had walked more than a mile from his base, tried door after door, eventually breaking in to kill within three separate houses.” He killed at least 16 civilians, 9 of them children and 4 of these children were girls younger than 6. First Qu’ran burning, then killing children, what’s next for the U.S. Army?

U.S. soldiers in foreign lands are like U.S. ambassadors. They are the people who are on the front line confronting the most local issues. They are the first impressions of the U.S. for the people living in the war zone. People study for years to become diplomatic ambassadors, and yet any 18-year-old kid can become a soldier-ambassador. Read the rest of this entry »

Internet is a place where things, strangely unrelated, would go instantly viral. Yesterday was Rebecca Black, and today is KONY 2012.

I admit I have no prior knowledge about who Joeseph Kony was before watching the video, but I do know Africa has a long and complicated  history of conflict and turmoil. The human part of the video were very touching, but as an aspiring documentary-maker and journalist, I simply cannot bring myself to accept the way this video is trying to influence the world of social activism. Social activism should be based on informed understanding that arouse sympathy, not propaganda-style rabble-rousing. And the latter is exactly what Jason Russell’s video is all about. Read the rest of this entry »

Race to Nowhere (2009)

Directed by Vicki Abeles

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The United States is known to have one of the best higher education institutions in the world, and yet its primary and secondary public education systems are in dire conditions. Directed by Vicki Abeles, “Race to Nowhere” is a harsh critique of the American public school system, focusing on the problem of stress. The film argues that students today are subjected to unreasonable amount of homework, unreasonable expectation of students’ academic ability, and unreasonable emphasis on teaching to the tests that, in some cases, has led to suicides of young teenagers. I am very sympathetic to these issues, and therefore it is especially troubling that I do not enjoy the film at all. Read the rest of this entry »

Two weeks ago I attended Barnard College’s second annual Athena Film Festival, which definitely exceeded my expectations, especially in their ability to invite the actual makers and main characters of the films to come and speak to the audience. The films were of genuine high quality, and  I definitely had a few sobbing moments during all of the films I watched. Read the rest of this entry »

ONCE UPON A TIME PROLETARIAN:

Twelve incomplete sneak peaks at the commoners’ modern China

“This country is shit.”

During last Sunday’s screening of Xiaolu Guo’s 2009 documentary “Once Upon a Time Proletarian”, the first of twelve discrete snapshots of the lives of average Chinese people begins with an old farmer boldly criticizing the country for its moral decay and rampant corruption. Plowing through the wheat field, the old farmer speaks with a heavy northern and a tint of humor. The harvest isn’t so good, he says as he takes out a cigarette.

According to the director, Once Upon a Time Proletarian was, more or less, a previously unintended side project conceived during Luo’s production of her feature film. It is meant to be subjective and spontaneous; it is intended to capture the moment, and the moment only, when the subjects’ eyes meet the camera.  Though fragmented, universal themes of dreams, life, ambition, and reality still reverberated throughout the film. Read the rest of this entry »