Archive for January, 2008

Republican Debate Reag-O-Meter!

 | January 31, 2008 4:53 PM

I am not sure when it happened but suddenly Ronald Reagan is being considered a great President, at least by the Republicans. I thought the Republicans had been trying to distance themselves from Reagan’s record but I guess not anymore.

Regardless this YouTube video is hilarious as they count how many times each participant in the Republican Presidential Primary Debate from California said “Reagan”. I won’t give away who won but I am happy to note that my man, Ron Paul, finished last. Of course that might have been because Ron Paul was virtually ignored and Mike Huckabee was given not much more time.

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On the front page of today’s online edition of the New York Times, it is being reported that a top dissident has been arrested by the Chinese authorities. I am somewhat angry about this because the Chinese government seems to have decided that instead of trying to deal with the issues that will come under international scrutiny during the Olympics, such as the North Korean refugee crisis, that it is better to sweep things under the rugs.

International / Asia Pacific
Dissident’s Arrest Hints at Olympic Crackdown
By JIM YARDLEY
Published: January 30, 2008

The arrest of an activist who spread information about politically touchy topics is cited as an example of a “cleansing campaign.”

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An asylum seeker is wrestled to the ground at a Japanese Consulate in China, in "Seoul Train."With the Olympics fast approaching China is trying to deal with what could be a major international embarrassment, how it handles the North Korean refugee crisis.

By some estimates hundreds of thousands of North Korean refugees live in China. They live a substandard human existence which shows just how bad life is in North Korea that they would prefer life in China. Most refugees are in hiding, some become sex slaves or forced wives, some abandon their children to orphanages so the children can get an education, many are working for a fraction of what their Chinese counterparts would be making.

China’s policy in the past has been to repatriate all North Korean refugees because they refuse to recognize North Korean refugees as political refugees but rather as “economic refugees.” China refuses to let the UN set up refugee camps and arrests people who help these refugees. China knows vividly what happens to refugees that are repatriated to North Korea, they are tortured and sometimes executed. They’ve seen the North Korean soldiers evilly thread steel wire through the hands and nose of the refugees and drag them away. It is a violation of all international law and completely inhumane.

Fortunately for China most of the world does not care. There is rarely any news about this and in the last year there seems to have been even less news. Every once in awhile something happens that will draw international attention such as the heart wrenching photos of a young daughter being captured along with her mother and aunt at the threshold of the Japanese embassy by Chinese soldiers. Those refugees were released to South Korea.

fence along the North Korean border near Dandong, China

Now it seems like China has adopted a new policy. Basically if you’re a refugee in Beijing and you make it to an embassy then China will expedite your exit to another country. However if you’re caught outside of an embassy China will send you back to North Korea. China’s goal is obvious, get rid of all North Korean refugees in China one way or the other to avoid embarrassment. China is also doing everything it can to stop North Korean refugees from entering China by erecting a wall at the border and substantially increasing the military border patrol.

Greater China
China’s ‘Olympic approach’ to Refugees
By Sunny Lee
Published: January 26, 2008

BEIJING – During Christmas last year, foreign news outlets in Beijing were busy checking on a possibly important scoop: whether China had reversed its long-standing policy of repatriating North Korean refugees. If true, it would have been a dramatic milestone in one of the hottest spots in the global human-rights advocacy movement.

The excited fuss was sparked when China allowed 43 North Korean refugees, sheltered in the South Korean Consulate and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees compound in Beijing, to leave the country for South Korea and the United States – all of them.

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SightSpeed, Skype, iChat, ooVoo

 | January 28, 2008 8:08 PM

A friend of mine has been using SightSpeed and my initial reaction when I heard this is “What is that? Can’t be as good as Skype.”

Well after doing some research it seems like SightSpeed is actually better for video chat. What really attracts me is that it has apparently excellent quality even at low bandwidth. I have already had first hand experience of how bad the quality is at low bandwidth when using iChat.

Here is a comparison of SightSpeed, Skype, and ooVoo (another one I’ve never heard of before). SightSpeed, ooVoo and Skype – the Comparison

This blog article, SightSpeed – an alternative to iChat, comes out in favor of SightSpeed. Admittedly this article is an old one, seems most of the articles are from 2006 when SightSpeed made a big splash.

I guess the best way to find out is to install the different clients and see which one works best for video chat. For audio chat I am still hooked on Skype, its $30 per year service for unlimited calls to anywhere in the U.S. or Canada is just awesome.

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It seems like the more we learn the more unsafe the products our children touch everyday. Now the latest issue is Bisphenol-A and possibly other chemicals that plastic containers may leech into their drink and food items.

After Ji Seon did a considerable amount of research on this topic we have decided to use as little as possible any plastic but especially plastics that are not type 2, 4, or 5. We are trying to use glass or stainless steel as much as possible. Anybody want some Nalgene bottles? ;-)

Here is one article that we felt was balanced and informative.

The Bisphenol-A Debate: A Suspect Chemical in Plastic Bottles and Cans
By Catherine Zandonella, M.P.H
Published: May/June 2006

According to its critics, BPA mimics naturally occurring estrogen, a hormone that is part of the endocrine system, the body’s finely tuned messaging service. “These hormones control the development of the brain, the reproductive system and many other systems in the developing fetus,” says Frederick vom Saal, Ph.D., a developmental biologist at the University of Missouri. Endocrine-disrupting chemicals can duplicate, block or exaggerate hormonal responses. “The most harm is to the unborn or newborn child,” vom Saal says.

Ninety-five percent of Americans were found to have the chemical in their urine in a 2004 biomonitoring study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

However, when it comes to hormone disruption, different doses can activate or suppress different genes, vom Saal explains. “That’s why early toxicity studies found that the high doses were safe. The studies didn’t look at the low doses that are now proving to cause a myriad of harmful effects in animals, including chromosomal damage in female egg cells and an increase in embryonic death in mice. A follow-up to this is a study indicating a relationship of BPA blood levels to miscarriages in Japanese women,” he says.

Vom Saal counters that the studies showing BPA is safe are “profoundly flawed and in some cases exhibit outright fraud.” Last year, he published a paper showing that 100 percent of the industry-funded studies, 11 in all, found no harmful effects from BPA, while 90 percent of government-funded low-dose studies, 104 in number, found harmful effects. “Among people who have actually read this literature there is no debate, just an illusion of controversy,” he says.

A January 2006 study indicates that BPA may enhance the risk of developing Type II diabetes.

One study linked women with ovarian disfunction to elevated blood levels of BPA, and another found that blood levels of BPA were three times higher in women who’d suffered recurrent miscarriages than in women with successful pregnancies.

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Senator Obama won South Carolina by a wide margin. What is interesting is that the majority of black voters voted for Obama while only 25% of white voters supported him. What does this mean for him? Will his candidacy become more and more about race, something that I am sure he does not want.

On another note, it is interesting to see the Kennedy’s endorse Obama instead of Clinton. I can feel the momentum building up for him as people see Obama as the next John F. Kennedy. I am becoming more attracted myself though I still have questions about how good of a job he could do compared to Hillary Clinton who seems remarkably competent. However I find Hillary’s husband repugnant. As one person said, Bill Clinton with nothing to do in the White House is a bad thing.

U.S. / Politics
Obama Carries South Carolina by Wide Margin
By JEFF ZELENY and MARJORIE CONNELLY
Published: January 27, 2008
Senator Barack Obama’s commanding victory over Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton amid record-setting turnout sets the stage for a state-by-state fight.

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This YouTube video is of Wintley Phipps explaining the history of the awesome “white spiritual” Amazing Grace. Check it out, it’s worth the 8 minutes.

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Recently I wrote a tongue in cheek post, My First Conversation with Ji Seon in Heaven, about what it would be like in heaven.

MercyMe has a song wondering about what heaven will be like called “I Can Only Imagine”. There’s a great article about the origins of this song at Christianity Today entitled Story Behind The Song: MercyMe’s “I Can Only Imagine”.

I can only imagine what it will be like
When I walk by your side
I can only imagine what my eyes will see
When your face is before me
I can only imagine

Surrounded by your glory
What will my heart feel
Will I dance for you Jesus
Or in awe of you be still
Will I stand in your presence
Or to my knees will I fall
Will I sing hallelujah
Will I be able to speak at all
I can only imagine
I can only imagine

I can only imagine when that day comes
And I find myself standing in the Son
I can only imagine when all I will do
Is forever, forever worship you
I can only imagine
I can only imagine

Chorus

I can only imagine
When all I will do
Is forever, forever worship you

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Once a month the fathers in our cell group get together, leaving our wives to take care of the kids. On a different night once a month the mothers go out while the husbands take care of the kids.

This past Friday night as I was leaving for our monthly mens night out, Ji Seon said to me “I’ll miss you.”

I replied, “Why? Because you have to take care of the kids by yourself?”

She said, “No. Because you’ve been funny today.” :-)

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In case you didn’t know my wife was Miss Korea 2007. It’s all on YouTube. ;-)

Miss Korea 2007 Lee Ji-seon

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