Thursday, August 23, 2007

Vancouver - Most Livable City

The votes are in. Vancouver tops the pack. This is all the more interesting, as it is taken from a well-respected business weekly journal. In many ways, I agree, having lived in some other countries before. The scale needs to be seen on a relative scale, as it could mean other cities have gotten worse, rather than Vancouver itself getting better. I think one of the strongest advantages of Vancouver is the widespread acceptance of people from different cultures. Multiculturalism is not only trumpeted but practiced frequently. People do not stare at you with a shirking look if one is of a different skin colour. An American friend of mine commented to me: Everywhere else after Vancouver is downhill. With the Olympics round the corner, this piece of news will make many Vancouverites proud. How do we measure quality of life?
The Economist notes that Vancouver has low crime, little threat from instability or terrorism, and highly developed transportation and communications infrastructures.
As far as the Economist is concerned, low crime, great infrastructure and a general sense of security of not being targeted by terrorists are the main factors used. With the current development of a massive Canada line project, the transportation infrastructure will be given a huge boost.

For me, one of the most important sources of livability has to come from the residents themselves. The current job action is a case in point. In many other countries, people will generally frown at the union members for taking their self-interests above public interest, for fighting for their rights instead of keeping public services open. Instead we have many residents who are willing to tolerate the inconveniences for the sake of respecting the union members' right to strike! Human rights is something of a sacred cow. My concern is that it encourages young Vancouver residents to demand rights before they are able to learn some sense of responsibility. Livable city, maybe. It is the people who makes the city what it is. It can get worse or it can get better. One thing I still marvel at. Even though Vancouver is one of the most expensive cities in the world, one soon realise that it is possible to live on very little in this most livable city. Many things in Vancouver are available for free, the mountain view, the beaches, the parks, the weather and many aesthetic sights that makes Vancouver city an art to behold. Comparing with Singapore, based on many published articles, and especially the blogsphere, one thing clearly makes Vancouver a starking difference: People in Vancouver do not complain about life as much as Singaporeans.

I cannot help but agree.

- Globe and Mail

Monday, August 13, 2007


I do not know who is the originator of the zen-truths below, so I will credit the Ben witherington's blog which has informed me first.

1. Do not walk behind me, for I may not lead. Do not walk ahead of me, for I may not follow. Do not walk beside me either. Just pretty much leave me the hell alone.

2. The journey of a thousand miles begins with a broken fan belt and leaky tire.

3. It’s always darkest before dawn. So if you’re going to steal your neighbor’s newspaper, that’s the time to do it.

4. Don’t be irreplaceable. If you can’t be replaced, you can’t be promoted.

5. Always remember that you’re unique. Just like everyone else.

6. Never test the depth of the water with both feet.

7. If you think nobody cares if you’re alive, try missing a couple of car payments.

8. Before you criticize someone, you should walk a mile in their shoes. That way, when you criticize them, you’re a mile away and you have their shoes.

9. If at first you don’t succeed, skydiving is not for you.

10. Give a man a fish and he will eat for a day. Teach him how to fish, and he will sit in a boat and drink beer all day.

11. If you lend someone $20 and never see that person again, it was probably worth it.

12. If you tell the truth, you don’t have to remember anything.

13. Some days you’re the bug; some days you’re the windshield.

14. Everyone seems normal until you get to know them.

15. The quickest way to double your money is to fold it in half and put it back in your pocket.

16. A closed mouth gathers no foot.

17. Duct tape is like ‘The Force’. It has a light side and a dark side, and it holds the universe together.

18. There are two theories to arguing with women. Neither one works.

19. Generally speaking, you aren’t learning much when your lips are moving.

20. Experience is something you don’t get until just after you need it.

21. Never miss a good chance to shut up.

22. Never, under any circumstances, take a sleeping pill and a laxative on the same night.

I have a good laugh.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Jolt Quote XIII

"If we educate a man's mind but not his heart, we have an educated barbarian." (Theodore Roosevelt)

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

(H) But Deliver Us From Evil

[But Deliver Us From Evil]
This is a prayer that is related to the previous one. Once forgiveness has been sought and given, a person is cleansed, renewed and ready for spiritual work. However, where can one go? To the left, there is temptation. To the right, there is evil. How then do we approach our holy God? Remember that we are still in prayer. I will suggest the following three reflections.
#1 - It is a Prayer of Awareness of one's weakness alone (Looking In)
Apart from Christ, we can do nothing; nothing of spiritual worth, or in fact any value. Measured against the powers of the world, we are indeed weak to fight on our own. We become mindful of self-conceit which deceives oneself that one is sufficient in self. We become wary of depending on our own strengths, thinking that we are able to overcome the mighty waves on a tiny boat. We become conscious that there are things that we cannot do on our own. Our eyes are opened to the gates and boundaries which serve to protect us from vicious wolves, rather than becoming caged-in creatures. We thus learn to appreciate any spiritual enclosures that is meant to help us, not harm or frustrate us.

#2 - It is a desire to follow God, and not worldly signs (Looking Up)
Not to be led towards evil is an acknowledgement that God is in control. Often it is the desire to depend on one's wisdom that tricks us into thinking that we are in control. The danger for Christians is the readiness in saying we need God, while by our actions we declare we do NOT need God. For example, we sometimes say "God bless our plans" before and after a planning meeting, when the process of planning we are more conscious of self-ability than God's guidance!

#3 - It is a commitment that we will not be the one to tempt or to lead others towards evil. (Looking Out)
We have been warned that our battles are not against flesh and blood, but against powers, against principalities, against the forces of darkness in this world. We need to take care that our souls and our lives are not carriers of the deadly spiritual virus. Sin is tricky. It uses any living agents around, both believers as well as non-believers. It is invisible. It can take any form and it can appear like an angel of light. One cannot fight it with modern weapons or technological know-how. It can only be fought with a discerning heart. First, it takes discernment to know evil lurks in every corner, waiting to trip any believer. Second, it takes discernment to keep our attention in check, to notice happenings around and to pledge not to perform acts of disobedience to God. It only takes a tiny foothold for the devil to dampen, or eventually destroy our spiritual devotion to God. Finally, it takes discernment to know that any trials or tribulations are but for a short while. Perseverance to continue and wisdom towards faithful living.

The cry for deliverance from evil is a critical prayer lament. We are told to live as wise as serpents, and as innocent as doves. It recognizes that heaven is a far more desirable place, and that our time on earth is limited. The saints continue to cry out "How long O Lord?" and each day we look forward to the coming kingdom, as we participate and call out with all creation, the groaning desire to see and to want to see God's glory magnified throughout all the earth. That time will come. It will come when all creation bow their knees, and every tongue confess that Christ is LORD. Come Lord Jesus. Maranatha!

ἀλλὰ ῥῦσαι ἡμᾶς ἀπὸ τοῦ πονηροῦ.

Monday, August 06, 2007

Reading the Bible (tip from Dr Bruce Milne)

Dr Bruce Milne's advice of Bible reading have stayed with me since his lecture at Regent on 3 Nov 2006. He calls it the Daily Bread method. Here are the notes:

"Daily Bread Method; Read 4 chapters a day. Take Psalms devotionally. Keep reading through it. Then read in 4 sections, read until something comes alive. In each section, read a chapter per day. One from:
o Genesis –> Job
o Proverbs –> Mal
o Gospels
o Acts –> Rev

May this help you as much as it has guided me.


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