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Tag: China

Tired of That “I Want To Go To Church And Not Be Called Dumb Or Bigoted” Feeling? You’re Not Alone.






In 2008 I moved to China to live with a group of Americans in China (including my sister) who had pledged to live amongst the Chinese, and teach English in their schools as a form of ministry. We of course couldn’t be overt,  that would have been illegal, but we would live our lives and set examples so that they might find themselves curious why we loved so freely, and shared what we had with such ease – well that was the goal at least. While I was living in China someone introduced me to the teachings of Tim Keller, and at first my pride prevented me from giving it a shot and listening to my friend’s advice (and I think this same know-it-all mentality is a one of the biggest plagues of the human condition).  Ever since I began listening to Mr. Keller I have found great comfort in people having differing opinions, and in the idea that God made me curious and surely wants me to ask as many questions as I genuinely am able!!!

I just ran across this clip recently, while I recommend watching longer talks of his, I know about this “know-it-all” human condition from which all people seem susceptible of falling victim, so I figured I’d post a short and sweet video as an introduction for anyone willing to listen for a hand full of minutes on this beautiful Sunday. If you are interested in hearing more from Tim I recommend watching his talks at Google, which were reported at the time to have been the most crowded lectures by an author at Google (which surprised me). I will post one of them below from when he went to Google to discuss his book “A Reason For God”. I hope you enjoy.


Tim Keller at Google

20 places that don’t look real (20 pictures)

I am about to head to the hospital for a double hernia surgery, but I thought I’d post something really fun first. I’m probably going to re-look at all of these when I get home on all of those whacky drugs. Hopefully I don’t get the urge to blog… And if I do may the force be with us all.

20 places that don’t look real (20 pictures) |.

This is a post from CavNews.WordPress.Com, and I couldn’t help but repost it. I am surprised how much of this is in China, I didn’t really get to see any of this while I was there. As pictures are worth a thousand words you’ve got a lot ahead of you, so I hope you enjoy it.

1. Bamboo Forest (China)


Image credits: Yuya Horikawa | Tomoaki Kabe

2. Black Forest (Germany)


Image credits: andy linden

3. Fields of Tea (China)


Image credits: unknown

4. Hang Son Doong (Vietnam)


Image credits: Carsten Peter

5. Hitachi Seaside Park (Japan)


Image credits: nipomen2 | sename777

6. Lake Hillier (Australia)


Image credits: Ockert Le Roux

7. Lake Retba (Sengal)


Image credits: buzzfeed

8. Antelope Canyon (USA)


Image credits: CSMphotography

9. Lavender Fields (France)


Image credits: Antony Spencer | Erasmus T

10. Mendenhall Ice Caves (Alaska)


Image credits: Kent Mearig

11. Mount Roraima (South America)


Image credits: | Uwe George

12. Naico Mine (Mexico)


Via: daytraveling | tumblr

13. Red Beach (China)


Image credits: MJiA

14. Solar du Uyuni (Bolivia)


Image credits: dadi360

15. Tianzi Mountains (China)


Image credits: Richard Janecki

16. Tulip Fields (Netherlands)


Image credits: nicole_denise

17. Tunnel of Love (Ukraine)


Image credits: Oleg Gordienko

18. Wisteria Flower Tunnel (Japan)


Image credits: |

19. Zhangye Danxia Landform (China)


Image credits:

20. Zhangye Danxia Landform (China)


To the “Edge” and Back: 5 Years After Living in China

5 years ago this week I boarded a flight in Oklahoma and would never return to my old life the same. I spent the next 5 months traveling but mostly teaching Oral English in Qinhuangdao, China for a wonderful company called ELT “Edge”. The group that I spent time with still feels like family to me, and I don’t know that I’ll ever have the chance to have that kind of a common bond with another group that unique it was also amazing that my sister Claire was in China with me. She was, is, and will continue to be one of my life’s closest confidantes.

Being on the other side of the planet in a very foreign environment with a small group of people who feel more like you can be very strong grounds for a relationship. It was an I credibly wonderful experience, but part of the wonderment came from this moments of enlightenment of the human condition. There was a lot of sadness, and there was a lot of joy. I was compelled by the honesty that people seemed to have with their core groups, and by the systematic respect for the elderly. But of course this is a nation with a far from ideal governance, and a lot of corruption – which seemed to be on display daily as I saw things like brand new European cars with government plates fly by old women pulling rickshaws.

One thing that China induced my personal growth was a constant focus on nuance in the world. Things are never as simple as we’d prefer, but postmodernism isn’t a blanket solution either. Living in a place like China affected a lot of my political and spiritual beliefs, but coming home and readjusting taught me just as much. Reentry was much harder than I thought it would’ve been.

I’m including a few pictures that I picked out to share after quickly scanning through the 1,000’s I took. If you are feeling stuck in your own life and wanting to find something more I would recommend teaching English abroad if you can take 6 months to a year (and more people actually can than think they can). Life was very simple and allowed for a lot of absorbing of the culture. As my rent and travel were paid for by the school all I had to buy on my own was food (which was amazing and dirt cheap…). Don’t be afraid of taking action to live a life of risks and uncertainty, be afraid not to.






























Are You Better Off? – Bloomberg News

Are You Better Off? Take a Look at the Stock Market – Bloomberg.

This Bloomberg study about whether or not we are better off than we were 4 years ago was pretty interesting, so we’ll start of with the picture book version, as I do love charts/numbers, and then you can read the article. I think it’s worthwhile. I would imagine that a lot of people would be glad to dissect the article on their terms and explain why we are or aren’t better off, but I would like to present the article. If anyone would like to add their analysis I’d love to read it, and I’ll definitely consider posting it if it’s really compelling. I think that the article speaks to a level of our speculation as voters/consumers.

Are You Better Off?

Do you remember the news four years ago? Banks collapsed, markets cratered, companies struggled to make payroll and millions of people lost their jobs. Your retirement savings were decimated, the value of your house plunged, credit was unobtainable. Politicians dithered and economists argued. Only confusion prospered.

Against this background, it’s surprising to hear Republicans returning to Ronald Reagan’s classic debate question: “Are you better off than you were four years ago?” To anyone whose memory extends a full electoral cycle, the answer is clearly yes.

When assessing our politicians, what matters isn’t just the here and now. It’s at least as important to consider how well we are set up for tomorrow, next year and the decades that follow.

This distinction is particularly important in assessing the aftermath of the last recession. The anxiety that gripped us in late 2008 wasn’t born out of a typical cyclical decline that hurts for a year or two before the economy returns to growth. Rather, it was a fear that something more fundamental had changed, altering our whole economic trajectory.

Only a forward-looking indicator can pick up both this fear and its ultimate resolution. Unfortunately, most economic statistics tell us only what happened last month, last quarter or last year.

Stock Market

The stock market, by contrast, is obsessively focused on the future. When investors decide whether to buy a company’s stock, they aren’t just thinking about its current earnings (if they were, a company like Twitter Inc. would be worthless). They are trying to figure out what its future earnings will be, and what that stream of income should be worth today. Their collective judgment, while far from perfect, tells a compelling story about how America’s prospects have changed over the past four years.

On the day of President Barack Obama’s inauguration, the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index (SPX)closed at 805, just over half its pre-recession level. In other words, investors thought the recession had done so much damage that the future earnings of corporate America were worth only about half what they were before. And because corporate earnings are a roughly constant share of the broader economy, the stock prices suggested a decline of historic magnitude in investors’ assessment of the long-run prospects for the entire U.S. economy.

As of Sept. 10, the S&P 500 index stood at 1429, about 78 percent higher than it was on inauguration day. Probable translation: Investors believe the long-run outlook for the American economy has improved enormously.

True, the stock market can rise for various reasons. Investors might expect corporate profits to grow faster than the economy, or corporate taxes to fall. They might have become more patient, causing them to place a higher value on earnings way out in the future. Given the current political climate, and the way the crisis shattered peoples’ complacency, none of these stories seems particularly plausible.

The stock market is also an imperfect proxy for the outcomes we truly care about. If there were futures markets more directly tied to economic output, unemployment or perhaps even well-being, they would provide an even better picture.

Surveys asking people to evaluate their well-being can also provide a useful insight given that people’s responses are influenced by their outlook. One index run by research company Gallup Inc., for example, shows people’s perceived well-being at a four-year high. (Disclosure: Justin Wolfers is a senior scientist at Gallup.)

Of course, the stock ticker can’t answer the most important political questions. It can’t say we are better off because of Obama’s policies, or for other reasons. It can’t say whether we are better off than we would have been under President Mitt Romney. It does, however, capture well the narrative of disaster, survival and recovery that has marked the past four years. It helps us to remember how bad we felt back then, and to appreciate where we are today.

(Betsey Stevenson is an associate professor of public policy at the University of Michigan. Justin Wolfers is an associate professor of business and public policy at the University of Pennsylvania, and a non-resident senior fellow of the Brookings Institution. Both are Bloomberg View columnists. The opinions expressed are their own.)

Read more opinion online from Bloomberg View. Subscribe to receive a daily e-mail highlighting new View editorials, columns and op-ed articles.

Today’s highlights: the editors on what to do about Libor’s overseer and on King Abdullah and Jordan’s subsidy addictionJeffrey Goldberg on power failures and Mormon food hoarding; William Pesek on China’s education policies in Hong KongRamesh Ponnuru on how muchRomney could actually accomplish as president; Barry Nalebuff on why New York should ban calories in beverages.

To contact the writers of this article: Justin Wolfers at Betsey Stevenson at

To contact the editor responsible for this article: Mark Whitehouse

New Rule – The New Neighbors

New Rule: The New Neighbors

Bill Maher each week on his show has a segment called “New Rules”, where he gives comedically scathing reviews of things or people that he doesn’t approve of. Sometimes he can make very poignant points during this segment, and sometimes it is basically about whatever he seems to find worth joking about in his last few minutes on air each week. Today I’d like to make a new rule of my own.

New Rule:

Corrupt Members of society , whether they be involved in government or in business (or some kind of freaky hybrid), who have hurt people with corrupt practices should have to register as “offenders”. Every time they try to make a legal transaction of a certain level of significance or price with you, they have to warn you that they are an “offender”, and if they don’t they’ll face punishments… In some states (ie: Oklahoma, my beloved home state) somebody could pee in public and have to register with the state as a “sex offender”. They have to tell all of their neighbors each time that they move that they are a sex offender… I’m not saying that this would be wrong for actual sex offenders, but when you become so willing to lie to Your Self justice almost surely will not be served… Peeing in public is not sex offending. I won’t pretend that I have all of the answers on moral issues, I can’t simply make everything black and white, but I know that calling this

sexual offense takes cognitive dissonance… I would prefer that over this however…

Billy was pretending to have peed in his pants to help a friend, but even if it were not pretend I would prefer that he find a bush… Peeing in your pants is not cool to people. I would prefer that you just act as this man in China did while I was visiting the Shanghai equivalent to Central Park while I was traveling in China

This man looked at me as if I was completely out of line, and I returned the favor. But after reflecting on this event, I would prefer he not wet his pants (although, he was about 50 yards from a free public restroom…).

So I’m kind of joking in that I’m not actually advocating for indecent exposure, or public urination so much, but I am saying that peeing in public does not make you a sex offender. And on the flip side, just as I do actually want to know if I’m living by an actual sex offender (not a public urinator), I want to know if I’m doing business with a crook… The lack of any kind of a crack down on Wall Street after the 2008 collapse has spurred doubt about justice in our system, and when an “offender” wants to do business with me I want to be the one to decide whether or not I’m willing to a risk working with a cheater…

Ok, I’m done with my New Rule, but if you feel the same way about the lack of a crackdown on Wall Street you should watch, if you haven’t already, the Academy Award winning Documentary Inside Job (Best Documentary 2011). Here’s the trailer from the movie:

Why Democracy Films – “Please Vote For Me” video (about China)

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Ok, so I realize that I’ve already posted about Chinese freedom of speech, and Chinese Democracy, but I had to do it again.

Link to my previous post:
Chinese Party Elders Support Freedom of Speech!

Alright, now this new post is about a documentary showing kids in China having elections at school, and I’m watching it right now, I’m not even finished, and I decided that I had to embed this video…

While I was teaching English in China we had elections in my 8 classes, and because it was a new concept every single one was different. Some were very patriotic, and some consisted of people claiming to be libertarians and saying that you should be able to do whatever you want (I was a little scared I was going to get in trouble for that one).

If you want to see what China is like this might help you a little bit. But before you watch it please realize that this is a different culture, and some things might catch you off guard, but try to keep an open mind that you’re seeing culture over their humanity. I think that this movie can give people perspective about cultural differences, as well as how human flaws (that we all have) can make or break any system. It is called “Vote For Me”. So far I love it, and I think that you will too.

Thank you Erin for recommending this movie to me.
If you’d like to go to the actual webpage you can click here:
“Vote For Me”

I love Vimeo, but that version won’t work on some devices, so here is the YouTube version as well.

Please feel free to give me any feedback you like, or ask me any questions that you might have.


Chinese Party Elders Support Freedom of Speech!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

So I try not to become overly supportive of any political ideology as there must be checks and balances, and any system can can be corrupted because they are man-made. However, if there is one thing that I think is possibly the closest that I will come to saying is an absolutely great thing for any society it is freedom of speech, even more than democracy. These were the two battles being fought in China in 1989 at Tiananmen Square. If you’ve never heard about what happened at Tiananmen you should watch these:


Once you’ve watched one or both of those you should read this new article that I saw on Yahoo News:

Freedom of Speech in China

and: (Newer)

Nobel Winner gaining support

This article is about what some Chinese Elders in the Communist Party have said about actually following there laws and allowing freedom of speech. This is most likely in a reaction to Liu Xiaobo winning the Nobel Peace Prize. Xiaobo has been imprisoned for speaking against the government, and is set to serve an 11 year term…

This is a big battle that has been going on for a long time all over the world – and if you think that it never happens in The United States I’m sorry to say that I think you are wrong. I think that oppression by restriction of information happens all over, but I really just want to talk about China for a second.

Having lived in China I think that this fight could be revolutionary for the world. In 2008 when people around the world were protesting the riots in Tibet (an autonomous region of China) before the Olympics in China I had Chinese people asking me why these people hated Chinese people, and I realized that the suppression of information had caused there to be a real problem, people were being divided under false pretenses… I had to explain to my friends that they were not protesting the Chinese government because the hated the average Chinese person, but because they loved them… They were trying to support the average person by telling the government not to treat any of the people that they govern unfairly. I also think that there might have been some American citizens who hadn’t really considered this motivation for the protests either, and this is just another reason why I think that creating a more efficient flow of information would be a very beneficial thing for the world.

And I just wanted to throw this last thing in here which is a picture of me in Tiananmen Square in 2008:

Me at the Forbidden City, across the street from Tiananmen Square

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