Tuesday 01 May 2007

Addicted To Technology: BlackBerry Or CrackBerry

Last month, Research In Motion suffered an unforeseen system failure that caused an interruption of its email service to all Canadian users of its BlackBerry devices. BlackBerrys are mobile devices widely used among business executives, professionals (including doctors and lawyers), and even politicians. Despite that the service interruption lasted only less than a day, the outage made much news in the mainstream media which reported many users to be suffering from the so-called CrackBerry withdrawal during the service outage. As a longtime avid technology user, I have been mindful not to let myself to grow addicted to using such a device, regardless of the potential great convenience that the device seemingly offers to its users. I believe that we must only use technology to enrich the lives we live but not to let technology dictate instead how our lives are to be lived daily. In this extreme, it is distributing to see that we can grow so attached on such technology, as if it replaces all real forms of human interactions in our desire to communicate. Rather, we must learn to detach ourselves from becoming the slaves of such technology, for otherwise we may find ourselves one day unable and unwilling to live our lives any other way without it.

By Philip Jong • At 12:01 AM • Under Column • Under Life • Under Tech
Public Post • CommentsTrackbacksPermalink

Monday 01 January 2007

Is It Time To Make New Year’s Resolutions?

I will be the first to admit that I am terrible in both making and following my New Year’s resolutions. Like every year before this year, I have made it one of my New Year’s resolutions to follow through all of my unfulfilled resolutions from last year (if you must ask, my list of resolutions for 2007 is indeed very long). Surprisingly, the tradition of making a New Year’s resolution is not rooted to modern times but to Roman mythology and the ancient god Janus. The two faces of Janus—one facing forward to the future and one looking back to the past—symbolize the transition with changing of the years. The month of January, which the Romans named after Janus, is then designated as the first month of a new year. Despite this, early Christians had once chosen to instead celebrate New Year Day on the day of Nativity (December 25) or the day of Annunciation (March 25); it was not until later that the Julian calendar was revised so that New Year celebration would return to January 1. As a Chinese myself, I also celebrate the new year according to the lunar Chinese calendar, which for 2007 falls in the month of February. In other words, I may have yet another month to procrastinate on my unfinished resolutions, before I have to add them to my list for this year!

By Philip Jong • At 12:01 AM • Under Column • Under Life • Under World
Public Post • CommentsTrackbacksPermalink

Friday 15 December 2006

The Meaning Of Christmas: A Cultural Perspective

With the holiday season approaching, I wonder what the true meaning of Christmas is in a multicultural society such as Canada today. As a secular tradition, Christmas Day is originally a Christian celebration that marks the birth of Jesus of Nazareth. It is now celebrated worldwide, partly because of the widespread of Christianity and the influence of western culture in many countries. The tradition of winter festivals, such as the Natalis Solis Invicti celebrated by the Romans or the Yule celebrated by the Pagans, to which Christmas in part owes its origin as a festival holiday, has largely been forgotten by history. Instead, in modern times, Christmas is often celebrated in conjunction with or in place of other religious holidays. Hanukkah, a Jewish celebration that starts on the 25th day of Kislev in the Hebrew calendar, is observed by those who are seeking a Jewish alternative to Christmas, even though the Hannukkah festival can fall in as early as November and as late as January instead of December that is for Christmas.

Today, Christmas is recognized as both a secular and non-secular holiday. As a Chinese myself, I do not celebrate Christmas as a religious festival but an opportune holiday to spend time with my family. In a multicultural society, the new meaning of Christmas goes beyond that of the celebration of a single religion; it is an opportunity to celebrate family values and to be together with those who love us and those who we love back, regardless of religious beliefs.

By Philip Jong • At 12:01 AM • Under Column • Under Family • Under Life • Under World
Public Post • CommentsTrackbacksPermalink

Wednesday 15 November 2006

Two Elections In Extreme: Bush Versus Miller

This month the public witnessed the unfolding of two very differently held elections in the United Status and Canada. In the United Status, the midterm elections heralded the downfall of the Republicans and the ascension to power by the Democrats in both the House and Senate. In Canada, the municipal elections in Toronto (where I live) oversaw the domination of incumbent mayor David Miller over the two frontrunners Jane Pitfield and Stephen LeDrew. Notwithstanding any obvious dissimilarity in the landscapes of these two elections and in the policies by which they had been driven, an understated difference was the presence in the former and the absence in the latter of a major political controversy over which the respective voters had to contend. For the United Status, the continuing war with Iraq had deeply divided the country during election and ultimately became an embarrassment for George Bush and his administration. By contrast, for Canada, the election was a low-key affair for which David Miller had coyly avoided any political scandal in the media that would have attracted unwanted criticism by the voters. In the end, the defeat of George Bush and the victory of David Miller stand as a great example in the study of elections in extreme. In politics, after all, no news is perhaps truly good news.

By Philip Jong • At 12:01 AM • Under Column • Under Life • Under World
Public Post • CommentsTrackbacksPermalink

Thursday 14 September 2006

9/11, Five Years Later

Early this month the world mourned the five-year anniversary of 9/11. To this date, my memory of this tragic event remains vivid. At the time, I was attending a conference in Washington DC and was only blocks away from the White House. Since that day, the world has learned of the ongoing threat of terrorism on the masses and the price we must pay to protect ourselves from fanatics whose moral and ideology differ from our own. More importantly, 9/11 reminds us that we do not live our lives in isolation from other people around the world and that plans to achieve peace must extend far beyond the arbitrary borders created by nations, ethnicities, and religions. Any attempt to achieve long-lasting peace and security by building rather than breaking the walls that divide the human race is doomed to fail. Even though one day the memory of 9/11 may finally fade in people’s minds, the lesson which the human race has learned from it must never be forgotten, since those who fail to learn from history are condemned to repeat it again.

By Philip Jong • At 11:01 PM • Under Column • Under Life • Under Travel • Under Work • Under World
Public Post • CommentsTrackbacksPermalink

Monday 28 November 2005

Is Xbox 360 A Heed To True Convergence?

The dominance of Microsoft in personal computing is undeniable. The launch of the Xbox 360 last week marks the next effort following the original Xbox by Microsoft to dominate the personal gaming market. Its competitors are the Sony Playstation 3 and Nintendo Revolution that are not due out until 2006. More than a gaming console, the new Xbox differentiates itself from other systems by also billing its own to be the ultimate convergence device for all digital media—music, video, and pictures. Little attention, however, has been given to the “social” convergence that this device may bring. While the powerful hardware of the Xbox 360 is no doubt a technological marvel, its Xbox Live service may turn out to be the “killer” architecture that will bring on true convergence. The development of a persistent online community with its Live Marketplace creates an unique social construct through which gamers around the world can interact seamlessly with each other without ever meeting face to face. Over time, this social convergence beyond any geographical border will make a greater impact on our young generation than any technological convergence such machine may bring. Regardless of which platform emerges as the winner of this console war, ultimately it will be the social and not technological impact it may make that will determine its legacy.

By Philip Jong • At 07:12 AM • Under Column • Under Life • Under Play • Under Tech • Under World
Public Post • CommentsTrackbacksPermalink

Sunday 04 September 2005

The Perception Of Truth

Is truth simply the way we may explain most easily what we observe of the world around us? My work as a scientist demands that I continually question the perception of truth. Long ago, the Catholic Church hailed Ptolemy’s geocentric view of the universe as the truth to explain God’s creation of our world. When Copernicus proposed a simpler heliocentric model to predict the motion of planets in our solar system, his view was quickly scorned as a challenge to the biblical truth. Today, we know that the heliocentric view of the universe explains not only the motion of our planets but also the motion of planetary bodies in other galaxies. Yet, it will be wrong of us to choose the heliocentric view over the geocentric view just because it provides a simpler explanation of our universe. This is because while Occam’s Razor may dictate the principle of parsimony when selecting a theory to explain our world, the same principle may not guarantee that the chosen theory indeed represents the truth. In other words, truth is not simply the way we may explain most easily of the world around us. Truth does not stand alone. It stands besides all other truths of the universe. The only way to pursue truth is to continue to challenge existing belief with other truths, rather than accepting it in isolation.

By Philip Jong • At 09:02 PM • Under Column • Under Life • Under Work
Public Post • CommentsTrackbacksPermalink

Friday 02 September 2005

Should Blogging Have A Purpose?

My blog is just one of the millions and millions of blogs now on the internet. If there is a topic, there is a blog on that topic. These blogs range from insightful commentaries to mundane one-liners. Because there is no policing of what is allowed in a blog, anyone who seeks to speak up can put up a blog for the world to see. The end result is a sea of mingled content, much of it worthless except to those who wrote the blogs. More tragically, these noises drown out the voices that should instead be heard aloud. When I blog, I choose to blog with a purpose—to inform, to educate, or to share. A blog should not be written solely for self-gratification. A writer must blog with a responsibility to the readers, so that its content will not add more noise to an already noisy world.

By Philip Jong • At 09:25 AM • Under Column • Under Life • Under Play
Public Post • CommentsTrackbacksPermalink

Thursday 01 September 2005

Why Must We Care About The World Around Us?

No man is an island. We live in an interconnected world—interconnecte by geography, culture, politics, and economics. In this interconnected world, events that occur far away can deeply impact on the lives we live daily. Each day I keep myself informed of the events of the world around me through newspapers, books, radio, television, and now the internet. This is because, in today’s world, we can no longer live in a sheltered life as our ancestors once did. To be observant of the world around us allows us to be more perceptive of our own lives. It reminds us that we must be grateful for what we have been given in life when compared to those who have not been given what we take for granted. When our way of lives is threatened, we must step up to protect them and help others who share our way of lives. To refuse is to ignore the interconnected nature of our existence. We must care about the world around us, for otherwise the world will not exist for us to care.

By Philip Jong • At 02:05 PM • Under Column • Under Life
Public Post • CommentsTrackbacksPermalink

Wednesday 31 August 2005

Does Video Game Violence Lead To Real Life Violence?

I am an avid gamer. I have played many video games that feature fantasized violence and stimulated killing of in game characters. In recent years, much media attention has been paid on linking video game violence to real life violence, especially in teenagers and young adults who are the primary consumers of video games. Reports of real life teenage and gang shootings have repeatedly cast blame on violent video games because of their potential to desensitize gamers to the murdering of human beings.

Scientific studies that attempt to establish a linkage between video game violence and real life violence have so far been inconclusive, and it is doubtful that a study can ever be done to conclusively confirm or refute this association. Even in cases where the accusers have claimed that the murders have been directly inspired by violent video games, isolated examples such as these cannot be used to establish an epidemiological association between video game violence and real life violence. A recent example is the highly publicized murder of three police officers in Alabama, US by a teenager who later confessed that he was inspired to kill after playing Grand Theft Auto from Rockstar Games. This is because it is not possible to exclude other factors that may be the true underlying causes of violent behaviors in these individuals or other factors that may confound the relationship between the two phenomena of interest.

We should be reminded that long before video games existed, classic works of literature also existed that were filled with stories of violence and murder. If we are to cast blame on video games, then we must also cast blame on these works of literature for promoting violence in our society. The fault thus lies not on whether violence should be portrayed but on whether violence is portrayed responsibly. If violence is accurately portrayed with due moral consequences, then individuals who are exposed may also absorb the moral value that keeps them from acting irresponsibly, regardless of the medium where the violence is portrayed. Blame should not be cast only on individuals who have committed the murderous act in real life; blame may also need to be cast on game publishers that choose to sell video games that portray violence in an irresponsible fashion.

By Philip Jong • At 11:23 AM • Under Column • Under Life • Under Play • Under Tech
Public Post • CommentsTrackbacksPermalink

Page « First < 1 2 3 4 >