Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Stop copying me!

Excuse me, we do so teach our JC kids how to avoid plagiarism. It's called "UYOWAFAS", a persistent feature in the GP compre paper. What does it stand for? "Use you own words as far as possible." Now you know what it's for.

As far as citing sources go, the kids practice that in Project Work. I wonder if this skill should be practiced in GP too? Would anyone kill me for suggesting that idea?

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Tails & Trails

Q-tip meets her fellow participants, not at a gathering of World Cup fans but at Royal Canin's Tails & Trails '10 Doggie-thon at ECP.

According to the dogs, Germany will lead the pack in South Africa this year. 

Apart from the 2km walk along the beach (Q-tip had to be carried the final quarter) we entered her in the "Endurance" contest. The idea is for the contestants to be offered delicious Royal Canin doggie treats and the dogs that could resist the temptation the longest would win a prize.

We knew Q-tip would win easily. She gets nervous in crowds and won't accept strange food from strangers. We walk away with a dog-toy, doggie-treats and the red thing sticking out is a lean-to tent! How odd.

Cool! Latte, Q-tip's new friend has come to join in the festivities too!

"It's not Karate..."

One of my movie faves for 2010 has to be the "The Karate Kid". It's a remake of an old movie, similar in premise and formula, but done with less tongue-in-cheek and more thoughtfulness. The whole movie considers cross-cultural relations, how embracing difference and change is a real advantage, and how territorialism has no place in these times when borders and ideas are shared so easily around the world.

The conflict, and often the humour of this production are in the interactions of the diverse characters struggling for their place in a place that no longer has a historical precedent to fall back on. Beijing has become home to Dre Parker, a black American boy who; backed into a corner has to learn Chinese kung fu; his new friend, Mei Ying is Chinese but is training to play Eruopean classical music; while Cheng holds fast to his national pride and chooses to exclude the new foreigner in the neighbourhood.

With Jackie Chan at the helm, the fight sequences are intense, the choreography a joy to watch. There is a flow and a consistency to each punch, each kick, though the pace never lets up. But through Dre's training we see that though martial prowess may be the medium of instruction, what he is really learning is respect, humility and harmony that helps him fit into his new environment. Ultimately, the fights are not about winning or losing but learning to respect one another in the spirit of competition.

Yes, we've all seen this formula before, but somehow this movie treats the formula with an almost absolute belief in it. It's in the contrast between scrapping on the mean city streets and in the philosophical teachings set against the serenity of a Chinese temple on  mountaintop, or along the monumental historical Great Wall -- reminding us that our history is still tremendously important to us and modern life is still tightly intertwined with it.

A lot of credit goes to Jaden Smith for the respect he gives to his role, and for rising to the challenge in creating a character which we can feel for and readily lend our support to. When the whole stadium choruses "jiayou" in support of the injured foreigner against his brutal adversary, that's interesting because the audience is rooting for human values over blind nationalism.

Nice. But I wonder, why do the Americans think they can pick up a skill (even a philosophy) in a matter of weeks, when others have to train a lifetime to reach the same level? I suppose that's just the magic of the movies.