Funny Motivational Posters about Fuzzy Things – like Rabbits and Monsters

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Around the World: Me at the Great Wall of China with a Random Asian Dude

The Great Wall of China is awesome. Here I am with some random dude who was climbing up when I was.

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South Park Question: What Do You Think?

So, we’ve had two episodes of South Park so far for the latter half of season 12. Have you been pleased so far?

My big question, though, is what you think they’ll do next? The first episode was about the issue of China as a rising superpower and the second episode was about children fighting. That is, one was about global, public issues and the other ‘random.’ Which kind of episode do you think is coming next? Do you think we’re going to get an episode about the presidential races like we got in 2004 (Giant Douche and Turd Sandwhich)?

Please share your thoughts!

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South Park Episode 1208, “The Chinese Problem,” Grapples with the Rape of Indiana Jones and Chinese Power

Oh, how Wednesdays are better when new episodes of South Park are on at 10 p.m. After a 6 month hiatus, South Park finally returned to us tonight with a brand new episode.

Berare da Chineez

Cartman, it seems, is terrified that with the Opening Ceremonies of the Olympics (read my post about the Opening Ceremonies HERE), the Chinese were declaring their intent to conquer the world and take over America. Thus, he forms the American Liberation Front, which is “dedicated to freeing America from Chinese tyranny.”

After infiltrating a P.F. Changs to find out what the Chinese plan for taking over America is, a standoff with the police ensues and when it’s over Cartman realizes that as much as he wants America to retain its power in the world, that can’t be at the cost of American dignity – a lesson he learned by watching Butters unethically shoot people in their dicks.

The Rape of Indiana Jones

The perhaps even more nonsensical but equally as terrifying half of the plot concerned the rape of Indiana Jones by Steven Spielberg and George Lucas, who, the episode contends, destroyed Indiana Jones and effectively raped him senseless by making a fourth and totally worthless movie.

Stan, Kyle, the county attorney (who weirdly had four fingers on one hand and five on the other) and police officers all continue to relive the horror of that movie, seeing Lucas and Spielberg gang up on and rape Indiana Jones. One amusing reference was to the classic movie, Deliverance and a particularly disturbing scene therein.

The boys decide to take the two director-producers to trial and prosecute them for the rape they committed; when the cops bust into Spielberg’s house, they find him and Lucas raping a storm-trooper, a reference to the two butchering the classic Star Wars films with digital enhancements and three crappy additional movies. This issue was already tackled in episode 609, “Free Hat,” (click HERE to read about that episode).

In the end, everyone is incredibly relieved that the two evil men are brought to justice for their crimes.

My Thoughts

First of all, you can’t find a South Park episode I don’t like. Even if it’s not the most hilarious or most interesting plotline, I still think that they’re all good and worth seeing. This episode had some good laughs and some good points.

I always appreciate how far the show will take anything, whether to make you uncomfortable or think about what’s important to you, and they definitely took things crazily far with the raping of Indiana Jones – both the use of the word rape and the visual depictions of what happened to him. I don’t think it was necessary, appropriate or tasteful but when could South Park ever be described by any of those adjectives.

Particularly on the Deliverance side of things it was funny and made you cringe, and perhaps by using such a strong analogy, Parker and Stone were really trying to convey how terrible they considered the actions of Lucas and Spielberg to be when it came to their greed and personal interests rather than what was best for the character of Indiana Jones and the previous films’ artistic integrity.

Also, though the conclusion with the Cartman and China issue was a good one, I thought that it was arrived at a bit abruptly and after a shoddy attempt at interweaving that plot with the other plot. I wish that they’d spent more time making a real ending out of that part of the episode which actually is serious and important rather than being silly with Indiana Jones – though, of course, perhaps the Indiana issue was more important to Parker and Stone than the rise of the Chinese?

Summary

What did you think about this new episode? Which issue did you like more: Indiana Jones or China? Are you excited for the rest of the season?

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U.S. Gov’t Report on Religious Freedom Strongly Criticizes China

The U.S. recently issued its annual report on religious freedom, knocking a variety of different nations – most to be expected – including North Korea, Iran, and Vietnam. Go figure. One of the report’s primary criticisms was of China, however, mostly due to its treatment of the Uighur people, a Muslim group living in Xinjiang.

Condoleezza Rice, who issued the report, summarized the U.S. stance on religious freedom by saying:

“The United States rejects actions that are offensive to particular religious traditions, but we do not condone the prohibition of free speech. That only weakens societies.”

Religious freedom is always a topic particularly close to my heart, and it’s interesting that she made this comment and that this report was issued today, as I am currently engaged in a fascinating conversation with one of my regular commenters and guide for reading the Quran, JDsg. We have been talking about the value placed on religious freedom in the United States and the permissibility or impermissibility of actions offensive to religious traditions. Obviously, South Park has been a part of our conversation.

To check out this conversation, click HERE.

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Around the World Pic of the Day: The Rock of Immortality in China

Jay at the Rock of Immortality

Jay at the Rock of Immortality

In March of 2006 I had the amazing honor of going to Beijing on an all expenses paid trip for my school’s Model United Nations team. Well, we didn’t actually compete in the tournament but actually spent ten days in a luxury hotel and traveling all over the city and the surrounding area. It was incedible and a really awesome time.

One of the things we did was go to a Summer Palace (though I forget the specifics) that was an enormous complex with a lake and lord knows how much other awesome land and how many cool buildings to explore. It was really beautiful and very neat. Towards the beginning of this place was this rock which ancient Chinese tradition says brings immortality. It’s often a site of pilgrimage, and dozens of Chinese people were all around it touching it and rubbing it with fervor and good cheer.

I touched it, too, as you can see, and though I have no desire to be immortal, I am curious whether or not I can still die. I’m not asking that anyone help me test that theory, but hey, I touched the rock.

Would you want to be immortal? I happen to think that there’s a lot more to the whole picture than this life and so sticking around in it forever, and continually watching those I love die would be a real shame – I think. Yes, it would be great to stick around and keep doing good in the world but it also means you’d have to do a lot more than financially plan for your retirement. I would also love to see more of history unfold and get to know how it was ‘back in the day’ more than anyone else and tell them about it. However, all of those things might get old. And what if there was a nuclear holocaust and I was the only person left on earth. That would suck!

So, immortality is not for me. I really hope the rock didn’t work. Have you been to Beijing? Actually, heres another picture of me at the Olympic countdown sign.

Jay at the Olympic Countdown Sign

Jay at the Olympic Countdown Sign

Funny time for this post, huh?

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Click HERE to read about my thoughts on the Olympics Opening Ceremony.

Religion in the News: The Olympics Opening Ceremonies and the World’s Arrival in China

As most of you probably know and as many of you likely watched, last night the Opening Ceremonies of the Olympic Games took place in the Beijing stadium known as the Bird’s Nest. I don’t know if you watched it, but I must say that from the bottom of my heart it was truly a spectacular event.

I cut it off shortly after the U.S. team marched (I was tired), and so I didn’t see the official opening words of the Chinese president, Hu Jintao or the words of the head of the IOC. Honestly, I would have liked to, but oh well. What I cared most about was the presentation by Zhang Yimou, an unbelievable display of Chinese history. It was one of the most sensational performances I have ever seen.

Symbolism and Performance

As many of my loyal readers will know, I love history and religion, and this performance was a masterpiece encapsulating both of those elements. Plus, the symbolism was fantastic. Many may not know the importance of the number 8 to the Chinese but the word 8 is ba, and an incredibly similar word means prosper and wealth. The Chinese pay more money to live on the 8th floor of buildings and in apartments with 8 in the number. Two 8s together (88) means double joy and happiness. The telephone number 888-8888 was sold for $270,723 in China, if that gives you any idea. What’s my point? That 8-8-08 being the opening ceremonies of the Olympics is no laughing matter or accident. Moreover, 2008 performers were in each different piece of the ceremony.

Chinese Religion and History

Westerners often fetishize eastern religions, particularly Buddhism but also Taoism. Though I’m guilty as well, I’m also slightly troubled by the fact, and thought that these ceremonies were an excellent way of the Chinese demonstrating that their religions, history and traditions have more depth than we tend to understand. Of course, it doesn’t help these ideas to try to sum up Chinese history in a few hours of performance pieces, but it was nonetheless truly a sight to behold.

Chinese characters of harmony were displayed in the most fabulous ways, calligraphy and painting were done by dancing men on an enormous moving canvas, and Tai Chi, the ancient art of body movement to enhance the flow of the chi was performed for the entire world in amazing ways. 2008 dancers in green outfits that lit up created an enormous flying dove with their bodies.

My description, as I look back, is a smack in the face of this amazing performance. Truly, you should go watch it online. The incorporation of Taoist and Buddhist thought and symbolism into multiple performance pieces designed to display China’s proud history was remarkable and makes me excited for what’s to come.

Idealistic Hopes for the Future

Those who know me may think I’m an idealist, and so might you after this next paragraph. I hope that these Olympic Games are a new beginning for China. Much of the symbolism of the performance was about opening China up to the world and welcoming it with harmony. The Great Wall was created and then replaced with flowers that symbolize this transformation.

It is my hope that this is the beginning of China relaxing its strict policies about protest, becoming more democratic, and doing the right things internationally (Taiwan, Tibet, etc.). I’m not suggesting that the day the Olympics is over all will change and be well, but I do hope that when we look back in 20 or 30 years, we look at this event – this opening of China to the world for the Olympics – just as we look at ping pong diplomacy and Nixon’s visit today. Well, even better than that.

Yes, it’s idealistic, but China is a growing powerhouse and one to be reckoned with, and I only hope that this event marks a visible turning point in its history when it realizes the value of being a part of the world order and some of the democratic values that go along with that.

What do you think? Did you see the ceremonies? What was your favorite part? What do you think about China and the future in light of these Olympic games?

Don’t forget to tune in tomorrow for Zen Talk. To check out last week’s Zen Talk, click HERE. To check out last week’s Religion in the News article, click HERE.