Sunday, May 28, 2006


I am really upset with myself.

Yesterday was your picture perfect Southern California day, which screamed for outdoor activities even to this computer geek.

So my new roommate and I took a bike ride to the beach, which turned out to be quite arduous because of the strong winds from the ocean. But the hardwork paid off, and we eventually found ourselves at the beach.

After parking my bike, I wondered off to the men's room which was adjacent to the parking lot. Out of the blue, I heard someone yell out, "Hey, come here."

I looked, and it came from a teenager behind the wheel of an SUV. "Yeah, you" as he motioned to get closer with a hand gesture. Though a bit puzzled, I approached them.

"We are lost. Where's the PCH?" Uttered the teenage boy as his friends in the backseats as well as the passenger's giggled.

"It's right up there. You just came from there." The PCH, which stands for Pacific Coast Highway flanks the beaches of Southern California as the name suggests. Since they were in the beach parking lot, they had to have come from there. What an odd question.

"Thanks." said the boy and he reached out to shake hands with me which I responded to.

"Good luck. Where are you from?" I asked as if to make small talk to diffuse the awkwardness from the whole encounter.

"Texas. And... China." he said to the roaring laughter from his friends in the car as they drove away (Yes, they were white kids).


There you have it, folks. One can go off making grand statements about racism, rudeness, what passes for humor these days, or whatever makes you tick, but I am really upset about my own gullibility. Here is a long list of the "clues" missed by yours truly.

- The rude hand gesture coming from a teenage boy ordering around a 40 year old man: "Hey come here."

- "Yeah, you"

- His buddies in the car gasping for air while laughing their heads off

- "We are lost." One typically does not pay $3 to get into a beach parking lot to ask for directions.

- "Where's the PCH?" See explanation above.

- Then I asked where they were from for no good reason other than to make "small talk" which ended up serving as a prelude to our future Jay Leno's "punch line."

You could look at it as assuming the best in people, but that is not in my nature. My guard was down, and gullibility kicked in, leaving me vulnerable to a bunch of idiot teenagers looking for cheap thrills completely devoid of creativity and flair.


Monday, May 22, 2006

Not my video blog

I don't know whether to laugh or cry. This dude's life reminds me WAY TOO MUCH of my own. Hits way too close to home.

But still can't get enough of him.

Here is one for your enjoyment (warning: language).

Thursday, May 18, 2006


If I were "well-known," would I really have to announce to the whole world that I was well-known? Donno, but that's just me.

Well-known Bible teacher Reverend* David Cho's sermon series this month will be on humility and the futility of fame.

Look at the sign.
MAY 15-17 6:30 OR 9 AM & 7 PM

Does it make any sense?

May 15-17 are Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday. Churches typically meet on Sunday. And what is with 6:30 or 9 AM? 9 AM is understandable, but 6:30 AM?

Revered David Cho is usually still in a coma at 6:30 AM.

* I don't abbreviate such an important title and neither should you especially when you use it in conjunction with my name. Rest assured that my secretary will be talked to.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

The Da Vinci Code - movie

The movie will be released this Friday.

No, I am not boycotting it, but at the same time, I do not want to give a dime to Dan Brown. So what should I do?

Here is what I did when Mike Moore's Fahrenheit 9/11 came out. Even though I strongly opposed the war in Iraq, my dislike for Mike Moore's shrillness of preaching to the choir was too much to overcome. The film did nothing but a disservice to the anti-war side, but a lot to inflate his own already oversized ego. He was not going to get a dime from me.

So I stepped up to the box office, and purchased a ticket for Shrek 2, not for Fahrenheit 9/11. Then after handing the ticket to the attendant and purchasing popcorn and a drink, I sneaked into the room which was showing F-911, not Shrek 2.

Then I wrote an email to Mike Moore explaining what I had done so as to leave him with an option to come after me.

Who did I "rip off"? Not the theatres and employees, but for the most part Mike Moore and the production company responsible for the making of the film. And I was still out $10 after patronizing the movie house.

I do not endorse any form of piracy such as bootlegging, because it hurts a lot of innocent people besides the filmmaker and the production company while enriching questionable characters in the underground economy.

But still, was that a naughty thing to do?

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

The Passive Voice Should not be Used

Never fully understood why the use of the passive voice set off so much wrath and agitation. My English instructors frowned upon it, to put it mildly, but nobody ever explained to me in concrete terms why.

Some of my instructors were more passionate about it than others. One instructor banned the use of it all together, and my papers always came back bleeding with corrections.

The passive voice is said to compromise clarity. Okay, I just used it, so hit me.

I used it because at issue here is the passive voice, not necessarily the identity of its detractors. People in general state that as an argument against using the passive voice, and who says it is of secondary importance. So in this case, converting the sentence to the active voice above will lead to confusion, not specificity.

More than two decades have passed since my high school years, and now I have garnered enough courage to ask why. It was not my place to ask questions at the time as a new arrival to the country with less than two years of English under his belt.

One instructor had me revisit every sentence with the passive voice and replace am, is, are, was, or were with get or got. So the title of the blog would be "The Passive voice should not get used."

Any attorneys out there accepting clients interested in suing for educational malpractice?

On a similar note, speaking with clarity posed a even greater challenge. Besides the usual l's and r's that Asians are prone to butchering, one of the most difficult words to pronounce was the word beach, and enunciating that word was a _____. Well, you will see.

"I am going to the b*tch"
"Watch your language, David."

"No, the beeeaaaaaach. Spelled B.E.A.C.H"
"Oh. Sorry. Which one? Redondo?"

"Santa Monica?"

"Yes. That b*tch"

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Coming to Terms with Fundamentalism II

Coming to Terms with Fundamentalism
* Part I: Introduction

Biblical Inerrancy

Meet Dr. John MacArthur of Grace Community Church in Sun Valley, California.

Throughout this series will be numerous references to Dr. MacArthur and his brand of Christian fundamentalism which will be the focus of my critical analysis. The reasons are threefold.

First, Dr. MacArthur's brand of fundamentalism is what I am most familiar with. During my years in college, most of the people that I rubbed shoulders with in campus Christian circles had close ties to his church in Sun Valley, California and inevitably albeit indirectly, Dr. MacArthur heavily influenced my world view during my formative years. For three years after graduating from college, I attended his church before relocating to Orange County.

Second, he is widely respected and is considered a "hero of the faith" in mainstream fundamentalist circles. His radio ministry called Grace to You is among the most listened to Christian radio programs and his books regularly top the best selling lists of Christian publications. Churches with strong fundamentalist leanings from across the nation and around the world look upon his church as a model to mimic. All these factors make him fairly representative of the practices and beliefs of Christian fundamentalism.

Finally, this may sound a bit blunt, but I don't know how else to put it. Dr. MacArthur and his church expend a lot of time and energy in unleashing harsh criticisms of non-fundamentalist churches and sects which they believe have watered down the "truth." Billy Graham is just one of several names you may recognize on the long list of his targets. It is only fair and reasonable that anyone who makes a career out of dishing out be subject to scrutiny and criticism himself.

My observations will be based mostly on documents available on the Internet and his published books, and some on my own anecdotal accounts. I do not claim to be privy to anything about Dr. MacArthur's life and his church other than what is available in the public domain, and my own experiences.

Also, I will attempt to avoid run of the mill charges of hypocrisy. Run of the mill charges of hypocrisy will always degenerate into a war of rhetorical retorts, which are not only counterproductive, but unbecoming of how Christians should live out their lives. I am an ex-fundamentalist, but certainly not an ex-Christian.

What is fundamentalism?

As I alluded to in my first posting in this series, it is nearly impossible to discuss matters of faith without stepping onto a field of semantic land mines in which any given word means different things to different people and the term "fundamentalism" is no exception.

Christian fundamentalism, like much of Christendom, is fragmented with no one defining leader or institution, and thus one dimensional depictions fall far short of doing justice. To some, it conjures up the virulent images of racism in the South back in the 60's and of the Religious Right which has become a powerful political force in American national politics today.

To Dr. John MacArthur's credit, his brand of fundamentalism is neither of those two. In fact, he has argued against promoting moralism through political activism, although it must be duly noted that you are much more likely to win the lottery before meeting a liberal Democrat in his church, and that he matriculated at Bob Jones University which made headlines recently for its long standing campus rules against interracial dating. But unlike Pat Robertson or Jerry Falwell, you will never see Dr. MacArthur mobilize his congregation to promote his political agenda using his capacity as a Christian pastor, and I cannot say I experienced overt racism during my three years in his church.

The single most important doctrine and identity which unite fundamentalists of all stripes including Dr. MacArthur's is "Biblical Inerrancy." or "Sola Scriptura." The fundamentalists believe that the Bible is the Word of God and the ultimate source of truth. Every single word, they believe, from Genesis which speaks of the creation of the world to Revelation which details how this present world will end is directly from God Himself, not man.

As you probably know, Christians of all stripes embrace the Bible in some fashion, but Christian fundamentalism takes the concept "pretty far", which will be the focus of this series.

One manifestation of how far they take it can be found in what they say they believe. Take a look at the statement of faith published by Independent Fundamental Churches of America, which John MacArthur's church is a member of.

Notice that the first statement before the mentioning of God or Jesus concerns The Holy Scriptures.

How about God and Jesus, you may wonder. The line of thinking is that once you read, study, and correctly interpret the Bible, sound beliefs about God and Jesus naturally and automatically follow. But if you don't have the right view of the Bible, then the rest crumbles like a house of cards.

Fundamentalists vehemently deny that the Bible is the end all and be all and God takes the backseat in their system. My upcoming entries will attempt to show how their patterns of behavior and practices betray their denial. Needless to say, that is why I have left fundamentalism after nearly two decades.

That they take the Bible very seriously and passionately manifests itself in some unexpected ways, to put it mildly. Recently, one fundamentalist pastor called certain people "vipers," and the "enemies of the cross" for promoting "false doctrine."

When I chimed in to take the pastor to task for debasing the tone of discourse with name calling, his justification came from the Bible. Since Jesus called his detractors "vipers" and the Apostle Paul called certain people the "enemies of the cross," he insisted that he was "biblically" justified in lashing out with such colorful metaphors.

Expletives aren't acceptable because they are not in the Bible. But I can tell you that there is one word that you do not want to associate yourself with even though it is nowhere to be found in the Bible.

The word is .... (drum roll please) ...

l i b e r a l

I am not a liberal.*

Vipers, the enemies of the cross, fornicators and etc. may cover different groups of people. For example, it's not easy to be a fornicator and a viper at the same time. Most fornicators want to snuggle with you, not bite you.

But if you are a liberal, you are all of the aforementioned and more. A lot more.

May God have mercy on you, because the fundamentalists won't. And if you happen to agree with me, please curb your enthusiasm in your comments. I have a reputation to maintain around here.

* notice how quickly I deny being one.

Addendum (added May 10)
Nathan has written a post called The Death of Fundamentalism in which he argues that the label is outdated and no longer applies. It's a good read, even though I disagree with most of it. My response is in comments.

Monday, May 01, 2006


That was my waist size when I purchased a pair of jeans almost 5 years ago.

Went to Mervin's and bought a new pair for the first time since then, and my waist size has not changed. It is still 33.

Sorry if that is TMI for you, but in light of this, I cannot be more excited.


As you noted, the latest foray into the men's section at a clothing store was the first in five years, which may strike you as weird. As most men can relate to, shopping is not a favorite pastime for me, unless it involves a shiny piece of hardware with lots of giga bytes and giga hertz involved, that is.

In addition to common mental and emotional deficiencies that typical males suffer from, absent-mindedness has plagued me all my life. Performing simple tasks in life isn't as easy for me as it is for most normal people, and buying clothes compounded by my profound dislike for shopping in general poses a particularly monumental and stressful challenge.

(I really have no idea why I am telling you all this)

Before stepping into Mervin's, I had to rehearse in my mind all the steps necessary to perform the task at hand and corral them into an algorithm. The object is to get it done and get the heck out of there as soon as possible.

Step 1: Pick out a pair of jeans.
Step 2: Go into the changing room.
Step 3: Remove the existing pair
Step 4: Put on a new pair
Step 5: (Decision time) Does it fit? Then after step 7, go to step 8, if not, go to step 1 and repeat the whole process.
Step 6: Remove the new pair
Step 7: Put on the old pair back
Step 8: Go to the cash register, and make the purchase
Step 9: LEAVE

Some of you may remember this particular Far Side cartoon. This one depicts an orchestra, in which a cymbalist is anxiously counting down to his moment as he is thinking to himself: 'I will not screw up....I will not screw up.' The caption reads, "Ernie screws up." He is holding just one cymbal in the one hand, but nothing in his other hand.

Most of the steps above are dependent on the preceding steps. Such dependencies force one to follow the steps in a natural sequence without much thinking. For example, you could not put on a new pair without having removed the existing one.

But unfortunately that is not the case with steps 2 and 7, and disastrous consequences can ensue.

I am happy to let you know that the last shopping trip was an astounding success. I remembered those two steps and performed them with flying colors.

And it's still 33. YEAH!