Thursday, March 23, 2006

A thought on Lame-Duck Leadership

Without Yvonne's comment I almost forgot that I didn't update my blog for more than a week! Initially it was me who lured her to switch her blog from xanga/msn to blogspot yet she has been more diligent than me now! Good for you Yvonne, keep it up!

Well, I will do an update first. For those who absolutely find my life boring and pathetic can ignore the next two paragraphs.

I sort of kickstarted both of my projects, and I'm again fanatically trying to finish one of them while ignoring the other. The on-going one is the AI-ChineseCheckers... I need to extend it from 2-players to 6-players, and although I developed the prototype a year ago, upon reviewing my old code i realize that the design was not good so I am re-coding the entire prototype using Minueto. However, the old problem that I encountered, such as the piece location, memory allocation , arise again. I am so exhausted from it that I decided I will drop the development for a while and relax a little bit.

The other project, the abc compiler optimization, is in an even more appalling state and I can only hope that I have enough brain power and motivations to do it tonight or tomorrow.

I was talking with a good brother-in-Christ (a.k.a. a Christian friend... but of course those I consider brothers are more than just "friends") of mine last night about the fellowship that he's involved in now. Since I still know half of the people in the fellowship, our conversation eventually led back to the fellowship itself. I asked him about the functioning of its committee, out of curiosity. He told me that the leader hasn't been really participated and a lot of work had to be relegated to other committee members. I was surprised because initially I thought the leader was very enthusiatic and very assertive of his leadership (or so I thought). So I asked why. The answer was, the leader is near the end of his academic career, and he is now so busy in his projects and job-hunting that he doesn't care anymore (about anything else).

A word instantly came to my mind: a lame-duck leader.

A lame-duck leader is a leader whose fading influence is recognized by other, especially its followers. Since most decisions made by a lame-duck leader may not be recognized and he is most likely to be replaced by someone else soon, he must make an imminent choice: should he ignore his situation and do as much as he can within his power, or should he take a care-free attitude.

Well, I guess, in this case, this friend of my friend who's also my friend chose the later. And to be quite honest, it's probably the easier choice, which is not uncommon. Let me recount my experience with this...

During my Galilee years (the years when I was in the Galilee Fellowship of ECAC), I developed theory about the productivity cycle of the fellowship committee. The tenure of the committee usually goes from Jan to Dec of that particular year, so I devide a year into three periods:
  1. Workaholic period (Jan-Mar/May): that is a time when the committee members still care and put their maximum efforts into the planning and organization of the fellowship activities. Fellowship time at its best!!!
  2. Fatigue and quarreling period (April/June - August, depending on how motivated the committee is initially): usually people either start graduating and leave or people just have summer-jobs/gone-home/no-motivation. The attendance is probably at its lowest and unfortunately, usually some strifes or quarrels with the fellowship would arise. I have noticed that this happened almost every year and for some reason it's unavoidable.
  3. Lame-duck period (rest of the year): when commmitee is busy in trying to solve the problems that appear during period 2 andl...maybe due to fatigue or fun, spend most of its time finding successors who they hope can do a better job next year.
Contrary to the worldly leaders, almost no one spend time in thinking a worldly question: what kind of legacy will he or she leave behind when they leave?

By the time they leave, will they be sure that they have fulfill the responsibility entrusted by those elected them? Have they genuinely use their gifts to unite the people, to solve the feud between enemies, to care those who are ignored, to love those who feel unloved, and set an examples for the youth?

Will they care how they will be remembered their posts? A faithful stewart, a diligent servant? Or......a dictator, a tyrant? Or someone that others wish to have forgotten...

And, for those who believe that it's Him who have chosen you to that place, how will you react when He summons you to be accountable for what you have, or have not done. Full of regrets? Or excuses? Or complaints? (Or... we just don't believe in this anymore....)

Certainly for me, I'm full of regrets, for the things that I did wrong, and for the things that I didn't do, that I should've done. As for my own legacy.....well....hopefully not deplorable ... but that's not up to me to judge :)

Only one thing that I did not regret, that I have never chosen to be a lame-duck, that not for a moment I chose the easier path and just not care. Of course, maybe for some I've made the wrong choice., but personally, I have found my peace.

And, regardless of what this friend-of-my-friend-who's-also-my-friend chooses, I constantly pray that his fellowship will proper and avoid the Isaac's Galilee Recurring Lame-duck Theory in year 2006 :)

Sorry, again, if I've offended anyone. Please consider that I'm just a crazy old fool who knows absolutely nothing.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

An Excerpt from The Age of Discontinuity by Peter Drucker

The following excerpt comes from a section of China Time. The Age of Discontinuity by Peter Drucker is the recommened book of March 15th edition. Peter Drucker, who passed away last year, was a renowned economist, columnist, and generally credited as the father of Management Science. Because the article is printed in Chinese, for those of you who read my blog and know English only, it is time to buy the book! The following excerpt talks about the prolonged period of puberty and adolescene in the 20th century and how it leads the the gradually decline of reponsible behavior of the X and Y generation. It also offers some speculation to solve this disparity...

文 化年齡是由個人預期壽命決定,或至少是以個人有生產力的年限決定。文化年齡主要取決於個人被期望的行為及情緒成熟度。因此,我們預期壽命愈長,人們的文化 年齡就愈低。一般認為,目前二十五歲的年輕人到六十五歲時還很健康,且文化年齡比一百年前十五歲的年輕人還低,因為一百年前人們大多只能活到三十五歲。但 事實上,二十五歲的現代人比一百年前十五歲的人更年輕,情緒上也更不成熟。不過就生理上來看(或許甚至心理上),目前十五歲的男孩可能比一百年前十五歲的 男孩還成熟。於是,人們在十五歲時生理與心理的成熟度與文化成熟度(現在人們到二十五歲才開始展現文化成熟度)之間的差異,就是青春期。

延 長教育年限當然也延長了青春期。就設計上來說,學校已成為保存青春期狀態的機構。學校讓年輕人留在最不自然的社會,一個只由同輩組成的社會。即使學校盡可 能把表現和經驗加入課程中,整體狀況還是有限、確定,且可預期的。決定要主修東方語言、而非數學的學生知道,這個決定對課程、研究、考試和必修課程有何影 響。在學校,學生根本不可能成為成年人。

接受高度訓練的年輕醫師就是延後青春期的最佳實例。這群人有很多知識,從病患和同事身上看到生老 病死,看到人類的愚蠢、貪婪和怯懦,當然也看到人們的決心與勇氣。然而,他們在三十歲以前可能一直保持年輕無經驗的青少年狀態,也就是說在開始執業五年左 右都是如此。只要他們還在受訓,擴音器或電話會叫醒他們;他們只要按照時間表做事,主治醫師會做最後決定。他們就是不被允許成為大人。一直待在學校求學的 研究生,也一樣出現這種延後青春期的徵狀,所處環境只強調他們的「前途」,幾乎沒有強調目前的表現。

不論以延長教育年限來延長青春期 的做法是否明智,都沒有關係,反正我們已經做了。如果沒有必要,我們當然不想這樣做。大多數人都能康復(雖然有跡象顯示,延長青春期可能成為一種慢性疾 病),不過對社會來說,這並不是一個健全狀態,對個人更不健康。社會上大多數身體健康、受過高等教育且前途無量的年輕人,卻活在被忽視的青春期狀態,他們 既未長大成人、也沒有生產力,卻已不再是小孩子了。在這樣的社會中,青少年不法行為、草率的婚姻關係和離婚率攀升四處可見。青少年擔心負責、因得不到權力 與機會而受挫苦惱。況且,社會被年長者統治──儘管表面上是由青少年做主。如果像時下青少年的口號一樣,覺得三十歲以上的人不可信賴,那麼他們就主動放棄 了權利。他們已經承認,自己既不可能成為權力伙伴,也不可能推翻權勢。

延長教育年限最嚴重的影響是,有文憑者跟無文憑者間的「文憑屏 障」,威脅把社會分割為二,這是美國史上前所未見的事。我們正處於險境,只把機會提供給高中畢業、尤其是已完成大學學業的人(然而這些人只占美國年輕人總 數一半以下)。即使普通工作逐漸保留給高中畢業生,我們在知識社會中還是完全否決一個人數眾多的團體的公民權,也就是在取得高中文憑前輟學的百分之十五至 二十的年輕人。而且,我們明顯縮減這半數人口的機會,只因為他們沒有大學文憑。

我們不提供機會給沒有高等教育文憑者,就等於拒絕許多能力 強、智慧高和潛力大的人參與貢獻並展現成績。除非在學術界工作,否則學業能力跟生活與工作能力並沒有太大關聯;我們沒有理由認為,文憑能證明個人能力。若 把文憑當成年輕人「潛力」及未來表現與能力的最終測試,人類的成熟發展就太不均衡。即使文憑只錯估一小部分人(比方說四分之一的人被錯估),我們仍負擔不 起損失這些被不當篩選掉的人的後果。事實上,這個比例可能更高。因為即使就白人人口來看,上大學主要跟偶然、家庭傳統、財富、地方習俗或遇到好老師有關。 目前美國每年的大學畢業生中,有四分之三以上的學生家長沒上過大學。反過來說,家長沒上過大學的學生有半數以上因為特別受到鼓勵,所以接受大學教育。

學 校必須接受這項事實:文憑已成為取得外在機會的手段,因此學校有義務肯定成就的類似途徑。不靠文憑自己闖出一條路的能人之士獲取文憑的途徑,至少跟循規蹈 矩取得正式文憑者的途徑一樣好、一樣值得敬佩,也一樣有價值。學校為這些人設計的「獲得文憑」課程,當然一樣是高標準,跟上學取得文憑的標準沒有差別。


Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Interview with Rick Warren

This is a forwarding that I received from Ling Pui this morning. Although not a lot of people visit my website, for those who aren't in Ephesus mailing list, I would like to share it with you here. I'd rather do this than bombard your mailbox with my forwarding... some people really hate it and may filter me as spam if I do that! Hahaha....

You may wonder, who the heck is Rick Warren?! For those who aren't concerned with the christian community, don't read New York Times (his book Purpose-Driven Life was on The Bestsellor List for advice book for consecutively 149 weeks) or Time (he was featured as one of the 25 most influential evangelicals in the State in Feb. 07, 2005 issue of Time), here is the most unbiased link I've found that describes him.

Well.... I guess you can find it yourself...

And to be honest, although I have given the book to my friends, I have not spent the time to read it. C'est dommage!!!!

Here it goes:
Interviewed by Paul Bradshaw, University of Notre Dame, USA

"People ask me, what is the purpose of life? My response is : In a nutshell, life is preparation for eternity. We are made to last forever, and God wants us to be with Him in Heaven. One day my heart is going to stop, and that will be the end of my body-- but not the end of me. I may live 60 to 100 years on >earth, but I am going to spend trillions of years in eternity. This is the warm-up act - the dress rehearsal. God wants us to practice on earth what we will do forever in eternity. We were made by God and for God, and until you figure that out, life isn't going to make sense. Life is a series of problems: you are in one now, you're just coming out of one, or you're getting ready to go into another one. The reason for this is that God is more interested in your character than your comfort. God is more interested in making your life holy than He is in making your life happy. We can be reasonably happy here on earth, but that's not the goal of life. The goal is to grow in character, in Christ-likeness.

This past year has been the greatest year of my life but also the toughest...with my wife, Kay, getting cancer. I used to think that life was hills and valleys - you go through a dark time, then you go to the mountaintop, back and forth. I don't believe that anymore. Rather than life being
hills and valleys, I believe that it's kind of like two rails on a railroad track, and at all times you have something good and something bad in your life. No matter how good things are in your life, there is always something bad that needs to be worked on. And no matter how bad things are in your life, there is always something good you can thank God for. You can focus on your purposes, or you can focus on your problems.
So I began to ask God what He wanted me to do with this money, notoriety and influence. He gave me two different passages that helped me decide what to do... (II Corinthians 9; Psalm 72) First, in spite of all the money coming in, we would not change our lifestyle one bit. We made no major purchases. Second, about midway through last year, I stopped taking a salary from the church. Third, we set up foundations to fund an initiative we call 'The Peace Plan' to plant churches, equip leaders, assist the poor, care for the sick, and educate the next generation.
Fourth, I added up all that the church had paid me in the 24 years since I started the church, and I gave it all back. It was liberating to be able to serve God for free. We need to ask ourselves: Am I going to live for possessions? Popularity? Am I going to be driven by pressures? Guilt? Bitterness? Materialism? Or am I going to be driven by God's purposes (for my life)?

When I get up in the morning, I sit on the side of my bed and say, "God, if I don't get anything else done today, I want to know YOU more and love You better." God didn't put me on earth just to fulfill a to-do list. He's more interested in what I am than in what I do. That's why we’re called human beings, not human doings."

Well, that's it.... whoever has Purpose Driven Life and is willing to lend it to me will be truly appreciated :)

Monday, March 13, 2006

Thoughts about the next generation

I was trying to write a big blog entry for the past two days and they are still sitting as drafts in my storage. However, I ran around two articles recently and I have found out profoundly disturbing.

One is from washingtonpost, which talks about the people of this generation constantly try to evade from being responsible. It is sort of true, when nowaday most of the time people always refuse to apologize, try to complain as if we have done no faults. It surely explains why I am being so irresponsible lately because in general I tend to think myself as a decent human being, not realizing how cruel and uncaring I can just be.
The other article is about a social worker
who decides to quit after witnessing the true nature of the world under social welfare. The reason it strikes me is not only because of atrocity that have been done when the majority of us are just obvious. It's the fact that we are always investing our time and money in trying to help 'some' people, yet the society as a whole does not benefit. Of course, what motivates me to think of it has a lot to do with the on-going Ephesus coffee house planning. Indeed we are trying to introduce people to the church, the fellowship, while trying to break some of the myths that people generally have about Christian, and I am totally for it. Yet I cannot help but think of the people who are truly suffering: if Christ were here today, where would he be? Staying in a church and try to ask the church to organize a revival meeting, send out invitations to friends and family to come to listen to a guy named Jesus talks? (well.... it's generally how it works nowaday and has become main channel of evangelism) I think he would much prefer to walk on the St. Laurent, St Catherine, or St. Urbains, and help the needy, the blinded, the lame~ Yet today I have remained in my comfort zone instead of stepping out~

(And it makes me appreciate the Montreal Project that the Campus Crusade was doing. I may not have the courage to ever do that... but what they were doing was a genuine effort to lift up the society and worth our appreciation)

Well, hopefully I will not get into trouble by writing this... for those who are offended, I will apologize to you again.... it is just a personal blog after all and it's just a stupid man's ranting....

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Tranquility before the storm

Originally, I promised myself that I must write something after I finished writing the project proposal. However, upon finishing the proposal, I went to lunch with Kelvin, Rosinni, Byron, then waited at McGill CAPS for an hour while reading Steevy's Blog about Godel, Escher, Bach.

When I got back to the office it was after 3:30 pm already so I began reading 明報 and 中時, while at the same time trying to solve some combinatoric questions. While the math part was at least entertaining, I realized that reading those two newspapers have become my one single worst addiction in the past......maybe 4 years!!! It has become a ritual that everyday after 3:30, whenever I am connected, I will incontrolably type the 'word' into the Firefox and click 'Enter', and waste another hour browsing. 苦啊, 苦啊, 誰能救我脫離這取死的身體呢? Those who are Chrisitians and know the Bible well enough should understand what I mean.

Speaking of the Bible, I just stumbled upon an article from the washingpost today. It basically talks about a bible scholar who became an agnostic when he found many contradictions in the Bible. Well, there is not a question that I haven't asked myself before. I thought about posting on the Galilee board, unfortunately the board seems to be in perpetual maintenance under the current leadership and NOBODY, absolutely NOBODY, seems to post anymore. Although, yea, one could've said, "Why don't you post something then?", but I have already left and, when your posts are ignored, I would rather just post on my own blog. The ignorance of the mass always leads to stagnance and worse......just indifference.

Well, I've said it! But I still hope that Galilee can flourish, and mend the gap between the elderly and the newcomers. Too bad the Great Ephesus Fellowship doesn't have one and I can foresee that probably it will take a long time and given the lesson that I learn from Galilee, maybe none is better after all :)

Anyway, back to the article from the post. I guess the Dr. Ehrman, although describing himself as a 'happily agnostic', must be a lonely man. To be honest, some of the christians have (and they should too) ask this question: Is Christ real? Well, I guess many just decide to ignore it or answer it superficially (again the ignorance of the mass) because doing an honest retrospection and give an alternative answer would simply alienate you and the self that you know, that you're familiar with.

Recently, I talked with a person whom I truly respect who absolutely inspired me when I was young, and I was saddened to know that he thinks religion just doesn't work for him anymore. Yet, it is admirable that at least he asked this question. Most just say, "What the heck, I will just be what I want and occasionally be a christian to satisfy myself".

True though, once you know more, you become more and more disillusioned. Other than being bored out of death by Laviticus and eventually decided to skim through it, it takes some time to reconcile the Lord who flooded the Egyptian and crushed the Canaanites like ants as the same Father in Heaven who so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son....

At the end of the day, I conclude that, it all comes down to personal experience. Have you experienced God's presence? Are you sure that He has helped you and taken you through your tumultuous time? If so, then now am I ready to declare that my past is only a construction of human irrationality and illusion? Am I truly a product of mere probability rather than a creation?

Maybe our past and experience are irrational and subjective, but I've found, at the end of the day, and it is the only thing that carries us through the turmoil. Maybe it is what faith is all about.

Btw, after trying out the "sandwich place in the corner" behind McGill bookstore, I can still confidently say that Thompson House restaurant remains the most economic place that serves decent food around McGill. Any objection???


今朝check email 時就收到我女朋友的forwarding. 雖然也不是第一次看這個post, 但我想把它記下來, 跟各位分享分享...

「會議記錄」是以英文為原文, 但十分有意思, 所以被譯成中文


身為跟耶穌的人或未跟隨耶穌的人, 你會有什麼反應及行動呢?

小心! 牠們正在取笑我們…….



其中一個邪靈叫道: 「我們可以怎樣做到呢?」



極度刺激他們的思想以致他們無法聽到神微少的聲音。誘使他們在任何地方都開著聽著收音機或其他音響器材。讓他們的TV電視機、VCR錄影機、CDs鐳射碟及PCs電腦不停在他們的家播放, 不單如此,更要在他們身邊所有接觸的環境包括餐廳、店舖都不停播放著不屬神的音樂。這樣就會阻塞他們的腦筋及打挎他們與耶穌的聯合。」





「就是他們的娛樂也不要放過,讓他們玩樂得過份而倦死。讓他們因太忙碌而無法到大自然欣賞神的創造。取而代之,給他們各種各類新奇的公園,運動項目, 電影,音樂會,最重要是叫他們過度沉迷。忙碌、忙碌、忙碌」

「在他們快樂的屬靈同伴相遇中,引導他們參與那些閒言閒語,好批評中, 以致他們忙碌於那些而離開我們最討厭他們的良知道德。」

「切記用那些似是而非,無關痛癢甚至他們會認為有意義的事擠擁他們的生命以致他們毫無時間去尋求耶穌的能力。不要多久,他們就會很快的用自己以為有的能量(己力)來生活甚至不釋犧牲他們的健康及家庭, 只是為了那些似是而非,無關痛癢甚至他們會認為有意義的事, 這是必定可行的,這是必定可行的。」

邪靈們已經熱烈地開始好叫那些全世界信耶穌的人愈來愈忙碌, 愈來愈匆忙, 走來走去,都不知道正在做什麼。然後我們就會發現愈來愈少時間給神及神為我們預備的家庭。更加無時間去告知其他人關於耶穌的能力可改變生命。


你可知道Busy 的意思嗎?
B -eing 正在
U -nder 處於
S -atan's 撒旦的
Y -oke? 軛?

Monday, March 06, 2006

Staring from a sunny day

Well. Here it goes... my first blog on March 6th, 2006 was born.

I started this blog, mainly due to the motivation to this site that I read... I was reading it until 3 in the morning and finally realize that rather than just sitting (or lying) on my bed reading blog, why don't I just start one?

So here is the site that totally inspires me. Best piece of reading since I read Paul Graham's, and You and Your Research by Rich Hamming last month.

Of course, this blog website will post five things that I am most interested in: church, fellowships, Chinese political history and politics, and life being a graduate student, and maybe programming... hahaha...


P.S. When I googled the web for sites with this chinese idiom most entries used 試目以待, which is incorrect. So I searched and found a site that gave me the corrected 'spelling'~

And...please feel welcome to correct any grammatical mistakes that I've made :)

原人 上 (Yuen-yan....)