Beyond the Rhetoric


What’s Up Wednesdays: Life Choices

July 30th, 2014 by Michael Kwan

6 day old Lexy

It is said that the Inuit people have dozens of words for snow and ice. Given this, when they see a vast expanse of frozen tundra, they may interpret the scene differently than someone from the tropics. With this kind of perspective in mind, we start this week’s speedlink with Scott Young who discusses the effect of language on thought. Is it true that you become more respectful when thinking in Korean or more passionate when thinking in Spanish?

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The True Value (and Price) of Paying in Cash

July 29th, 2014 by Michael Kwan

International Cash

You head out to your local coffee shop to get your daily dose of caffeine. You place your order for a vanilla latte and the cashier says your total comes to $4.19. How do you choose to pay? Do you have a credit card with “tap” technology? Do you have a mobile payment app on your smartphone that is compatible with this coffee shop? Do you pull out a handful of coins to slowly count out the total?

What if we were to replace that vanilla latte with a new HDTV for the living room? Does that affect how you feel about your method of payment? Would you buy a new TV with cash? For me, it depends.

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Grammar 101: Childcare, Child-Care, Elder Care and Elderly Care

July 28th, 2014 by Michael Kwan

Grammar 101 with Michael Kwan

If you were to follow the journalistic style standards set out by the Associated Press, they’d tell you that you should be writing “health care” as two words and not as the single word “healthcare.” However, just as I typed those terms into my web browser, neither of them came up as a spelling mistake. Given this, should both forms be accepted? Is there a difference between the two? What about related terms like childcare and eldercare? Well, it’s complicated.

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Sunday Snippet: Jim Carrey

July 27th, 2014 by Michael Kwan

Jim Carrey 2010

“I used to believe that who I was ended at the edge of my skin, that I had been given this little vehicle called the body from which to experience creation. Though I couldn’t have asked for a sportier model. It was, after all, a loaner and would have to be returned. Then, I learned that everything outside the vehicle was part of me too. And now I drive a convertible. Yeah man. Top down. Wind in my hair.”

For a man who has made such an incredible career for himself with his outlandish style of comedy, Jim Carrey has also faced his fair share of demons. For a significant period of his life, he was quite the tortured soul. If nothing else, this demonstrates at least two key insights about what life really means.

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Movie Reviews: Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, Transformers Age of Extinction, Pompeii

July 25th, 2014 by Michael Kwan

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (2014)

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (2014) star-full1.jpgstar-full1.jpgstar-full1.jpgstar-full1.jpgstar-no1.jpg

Apes. Together. Strong.

Some people have said that Dawn is to the Planet of the Apes franchise as The Dark Knight was to the Batman franchise. I’m almost inclined to agree. Set 10 years after Rise of the Planet of the Apes, Dawn of the Planet of Apes sees Caesar running a very well organized ape colony in the middle of the forest. They’ve established a strong civilization there, complete with housing, an ape highway of sorts and even a school for the young ones. As you can imagine, all good things must come to an end.

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Mr. Red Cafe, Vietnamese Restaurant in Vancouver

July 24th, 2014 by Michael Kwan

Mr. Red Cafe, Vietnamese Restaurant in Vancouver

There is certainly no shortage of Vietnamese restaurants in Vancouver, so you’ll never have any trouble finding a piping hot bowl of pho. Interestingly, though, you’ll find that the vast majority of these restaurants typically serve the pho nam typical of southern Vietnam. The so-called “Saigon style” pho is one that is more complex and richer, getting dressed up with onions, bean sprouts and hoisin sauce. The pho bac of northern Vietnam, sometimes called “Hanoi style” pho, is far clearer in appearance and you’re more likely to dress it up with fish sauce or vinegar.

While I wouldn’t necessarily say that Mr. Red Cafe on East Hastings (coincidentally on the same block as Red Wagon Cafe) is any more or less authentic than the many other pho restaurants in town, it does lean more toward the northern style and it features several menu items not normally found elsewhere. The usual mainstays like beef noodle soup and banh mi sandwiches are there, but I didn’t see the usual lemon grass chicken on rice, for example.

Seating at Mr. Red Cafe is quite limited. There are only about five or six tables for a maximum capacity of not much more than twenty people. There was only one waitress when we were there; she was friendly and mostly attentive, but it was sometimes difficult getting her attention.

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What’s Up Wednesdays: The Road Ahead

July 23rd, 2014 by Michael Kwan

North American Road Trip

Without resorting to the Willie Nelson song that inevitably comes to mind, we’re on the road again with this week’s speedlink. We kick off the journey with Duane Storey, who is planning a road trip across North America with his girlfriend. He is driving all the way from Chilliwack, British Columbia to Hamilton, Ontario and the journey will take him through both Canada and the United States. Total driving time is expected to about 40 hours, broken up into five days, for the grand 4,000+ kilometre journey.

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The Quandary of Standing Out and Fitting In

July 22nd, 2014 by Michael Kwan

Two legged FREAK

Common wisdom, as it turns out, is neither common nor wise. If one idiom tells us that “birds of a feather flock together,” then why does another tell us that opposites attract? And as we make our way through this crazy world of ours, we are faced with another contradictory quandary.

On the one hand, many of us aim to be someone special or exceptional. On the other hand, there is a burning desire to be normal and not to be labeled as the oddball. This cognitive dissonance can lend itself to much undue stress and angst.

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