When Martin Luther King Jr. was an ‘extremist’

Those who support the status quo will always dismiss the people fighting for change as extremists or criminals. The truth is that the majority of decent people will not go out of their way to fight for what’s right, but will settle for what’s convenient.

Whether it’s activists fighting for civil rights, women’s rights, LGBT rights, or the climate, it’s always been the minority starting an unpopular movement that threatens the majority. The people who don’t want change will always find a reason to criticize those who do.

Here’s an excerpt from the Time article.

“The civil rights movement was deeply unpopular at the time. Most Americans thought it was going too far and movement activists were being too extreme. Some thought its goals were wrong; others that activists were going about it the wrong way—and most white Americans were happy with the status quo as it was. And so they criticized, monitored, demonized and at times criminalized those who challenged the way things were, making dissent very costly. Most modern tributes and understandings of the movement paper over the decades when activists like Martin Luther King, Rosa Parks and scores of their comrades were criticized by fellow citizens and targeted as ‘un-American,’ not just by Southern politicians but by the federal government.”

‘Parasite’ makes history at SAG Awards

History made! Congratulations, “Parasite”!

Here’s an excerpt from the Deadline article.

Parasite might have pulled off the biggest surprise of the night Sunday, taking home the SAG Award for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture, beating out Bombshell, The Irishman, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, and Jojo Rabbit. This is the first time a foreign-language film has won in this category.

I was finally able to watch “Parasite” yesteday. Intense and insane. What a weird yet wonderful movie! I was so happy that it made history!

I know it’s a long shot, but I sure hope “Parasite” will win the Oscar for Best Picture.

Of religions and blind men

Every religion, whether it’s Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Hinduism, and so on, is like the blind men trying to describe the elephant by touching it. And of course one of the blind men happens to be the atheist shouting, “There is no elephant!”

Me? I don’t care what your religion is, or whether you have one. I think it’s crazy to fight and kill each other because you think you alone know the absolute truth and want to force others to believe as you do.

It’s human conceit to think that this tiny speck of a world is the center of the cosmos, that any book written here could be the one, true holy scripture, and that humanity is the chosen species in the entire universe.

Me? I just have faith that the elephant exists.

How cults attract followers

On the use of the word “cult”:

“It’s a value judgment more than it is a functional word. Every prophet of every major religion can be considered a charismatic leader. In fact, the biggest joke in religious studies is that ‘cult plus time equals religion.'” – Reza Aslan, author, “Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth”

Watched the short documentary “Cults Explained” on Netflix. It’s pretty chilling to hear the accounts of survivors of different cults—including someone from the Peoples Temple cult of the infamous Jonestown massacre that claimed the lives of 918 people.

 

‘Invisible Planets’ and the worlds of Chinese science fiction

“Across the great cities of the world, wandering old people had begun to appear. All of them had the same features: extreme old age, long white hair and beards, long white robes. At first, before the white robe, white beard, and white hair got dirty, they looked like a bunch of snowmen. The wanderers did not appear to belong to any particular race, as though all ethnicities were mixed in them. They had no documents to prove their citizenship or identity and could not explain their own history.

“All they could do was to gently repeat, in heavily accented versions of various local languages, the same words to all passersby:

“‘We are God. Please, considering that we created this world, would you give us a bit of food?'” – Liu Cixin, “Taking Care of God”

“Invisible Planets: Contemporary Chinese Science Fiction in Translation” edited and translated by Ken Liu is the fifth book I’ve finished this year. Just 55 more to go.

This is an excellent collection of thirteen stories and three essays that made me appreciate Chinese science fiction even more.

Read this book on Scribd.

Shenzhen is cyberpunk

Fantastic “Shenzhen 2045” YouTube music video by Extra Terra that shows Shenzhen and Chongqing are already living in the future.

Would love to go back to Shenzhen one day.

My wife Ellen and I went to Shenzhen way back in 1999 as part of a day tour from Hong Kong. The city was still mostly bare and it was just shortly after the Hong Kong handover.

Obviously, I had no idea back then that it would become China’s Silicon Valley.

Filipino cast member of Terrace House

So in this episode of Terrace House: Tokyo 2019-2020 that I’m watching, we were introduced to the first Filipino cast member, Johnkimverlu Tupas, as well as the first Russian (half-Russian and half-German, actually) housemate, Violetta Razdumina.

Johnkimverlu’s parents are both Filipinos. A cast member in Terrace House: Boys & Girls in the City was half-Filipina: Masako “Martha” Endo.

By the way, my favorite cast member so far in this season is the Japanese female pro wrestler Hana Kimura 😃

She’s half-Indonesian and when she learned that Johnkimverlu was Filipino, she said: “Really? My dad is Indonesian. We’re neighbors.”

I love Terrace House because unlike other reality TV shows, the participants still go about their daily lives, balancing school or their career with life at the house. In a way it’s a dating show as some cast members join in order to find someone they can fall in love with, but the show itself has no goal and no winner.

Terrace House is about how the cast members interact with each other and grow as individuals, and it’s up to them what kind of meaning they will find at Terrace House. They also leave when they feel they have no more reason to stay, so we the viewers get to meet new batches of participants.

There’s something very Zen about Terrace House—a show where nothing happens but where we experience their joys and sorrows, whether big or small. We learn from them and maybe even learn a little more about ourselves.

The show also owes its success to the excellent panel members, who react to what’s happening and provide context to social cues and norms that we non-Japanese might miss.

It also helps that I love Japan and Japanese culture, so Terrace House is truly a delightful treat for me.