Author: Paul Lau

Paul Lau is a student from Hong Kong with interests in current affairs, debating, sports and blogs at PaulLau.com (https://paullau.wordpress.com)

Online WSDC 2020

Youtube playlist: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLFk0qboRAjYkcVqGaR35hDZA0XxikLTnk

From: https://www.facebook.com/OnlineWSDC/posts/855009268362876

Prepared motions for both divisions (prelims):


Round 1: This House would designate specific non-residential areas in which drug users and dealers are legally allowed to buy, use, and sell drugs
Round 3: This House would replace human judgment with computer algorithms in criminal sentencing decisions
Round 5: This House prefers a world where all land was held in government trust and leased out on limited-term contracts


Impromptu motions (prelims):


Round 2 (Maya): THW pay additional benefits to families on welfare according to their child’s performance in school
Round 2 (Aztec): THBT opposition political parties should boycott elections, rather than contest them, when the electoral process is believed not to be free and fair
Round 4 (Maya): THW ban political parties and require all candidates for national public office to seek election as independents


Round 4 (Aztec): THBT multinational companies should be liable for human rights abuses that occur anywhere in their supply chain


Definition: A supply chain is a system of organizations, people, activities, information, and resources involved in supplying a product or service to a consumer. Supply chain activities involve the transformation of natural resources, raw materials, and components into a finished product that is delivered to the end customer.
Round 6 (Maya): THBT mainstream search engines should refuse to list results with sexist, racist or otherwise offensive content

Round 6 (one rescheduled match in Maya): THW ban job applicants from disclosing the name of the university that issued any degrees they may hold


Round 6 (Aztec): THW ban corporate* sponsorship of research within academic or educational institutions 

*for this debate, “corporate” means for-profit companies
Elimination rounds (all impromptu):


PDOs:

Motion 1: TH opposes the narrative of sacrifice as a description of the work performed by essential workers during a pandemic

Motion 2: THBT large international institutions (e.g. UN & World Bank) should only accept female country delegates
Motion 3: THW allocate the majority of government sports funding to encourage grassroots participation (e.g.: amateur community clubs, after school sports clubs, etc.) rather than invest in achieving success in prestigious competitions (e.g.: intensive coaching academies, player and personnel salaries, etc.)



Octofinals:


Motion 1: This House prefers a world where each believer established their own connection to God, rather than establishing one through organised religion


Motion 2: THBT social movements should actively use anger to mobalise support for their cause

Motion 3: THW impose criminal liability on individuals who fail to assist a person in danger, when doing so would not place them at serious risk.


Quarterfinals:


Motion 1: THW not distributed emergency and humanitarian aid through non-state groups linked to terrorism
Motion 2: THBT the West should withdraw their military cooperation from India until they restore special privileges to Kashmiris in the J&K region
Info-slide: There is an ongoing dispute between India, Pakistan, and China over territory in the former federal unit of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K).
J&K was the only state in India to have a majority Muslim population, and there has been a longstanding secessionist movement in this state. The Government of India has consistently responded to this with brutal military repression.
Formerly, J&K also enjoyed ‘special status’. They had a separate constitution, flag, and autonomy over internal administration of the state. Only designated permanent residents of J&K could own property, obtain government jobs in the state, receive govt. scholarships, etc.
In late 2019, the Government of India placed major political leaders under house arrest, revoked its special status, and partitioned the state into two territories that the Government of India has direct and complete control over. Non Kashmiris now can buy land and own property, access government positions, etc, effectively ending any special protections for Kashmiris.

Semifinals:
THBT states should reclaim a large proportion of all donations to charities and redistribute it across charities on the basis of their effectiveness
Grand final:
Context: You are a talented, middle-class person in your early twenties about to start your career. You have the choice between a job in which you will make a lot of money and work long hours (e.g., investment banker, corporate lawyer, etc.) and a job which pays less but that you are more passionate about (e.g.: social worker, chef, teacher, small business owner, etc).
Motion: THW choose the job they are passionate about

Charles and Pam Ogletree

Photo taken from the Boston Globe article referred below

I’ve always been a fan of long-form journalism (especially print) but finding the time to enjoy good pieces is often difficult to find. It’s too easy in the modern day and era to be distracted by the next buzz on our phones or the changing colours of the world around us.

Thankfully, I was able to find a pocket of time recently to finish the Boston Globe’s heart-warming profile of Charles and Pam Ogletree.

Well worth a read.

Pam lives for those extraordinary, unexpected moments. When he allows her to hug him, or smiles, it feels like a gift. One night this fall, he turned to her abruptly. “Are you all right?” he asked with concern. “I just want to make sure you’re all right.”

“You’re a tough woman,” he told her another day, in a tone that was clearly complimentary.

She copies his infrequent words down in her journal, sustenance to nourish her in the silences. Sometimes, the notes have an ominous quality, as when he noticed a cemetery one day. “Dead people are over there,” he said. Then he hugged his wife. “You’ll be all right,” he told her.

Belonging

Left, right, yellow, East, West – we are but a mishmash collection of features and Timbits, never producing the exact same blend, always melting into each other.

After some last minute scrambling, understanding colleagues, police removing flight passengers, overnight in an airport and travelling in a tiny candy tube, spent 2019 Christmas and New Years both further and closer to home.

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The small things

It’s the small things that matter, and its these things we’re least likely to remember or realise. Not sure how one can make sure they always remember these little things, that’s probably an ask too much, but at least we can be understanding and more conscious of these.

I was sat there in a cafe having my chicken fillet and rice when an elderly lady on the table behind me loudly complained to one of the staff.

– Has the spaghetti been cooked?
– Yes, it’s meant to be ‘bounce teeth’ (think this means al dente in English)
– NO! You haven’t cooked it at all, it’s still raw!

It was a pretty innocuous, maybe 20 second, exchange. But I think it stuck in part because I had a similar situation on a recent trip to an Italian restaurant while on holiday with the grands.

Although I gave the same resolution to make sure the pasta is boiled more soft next time… I’m honestly not sure I would even remember before hand. So I guess understanding and in the moment cognisance is all we can ask for.

WSDC 2018 – Motions

Note: Wording is second-hand and may be erroneous. Apologies in advance if that is the case.

R1P: This House would require professional sports teams to be owned by their local communities instead of individuals or corporations.
R2P: This House opposes the development of lethal autonomous weapons. (infoslide: Lethal autonomous weapons are a type of autonomous military robot designed to select and attack military targets (people or installations) without intervention by a human operator)
R3I: This House regrets the widespread belief that motherhood is a rewarding experience
R4I: This House believes that states should allow all non-citizen migrant workers to vote in local and national elections
R5P: This House supports a school voucher system.
R6I: This House would not allow sellers and service providers to advertise their products beyond showing information and images that reveal technical product details.
R7P: This House regrets the Belt and Road Initiative.
R8I: This House regrets the rise of call-out culture.

PDOFI: This House believes that democratic states should not own or run media organisations
OFI: This House prefers a world with no belief in the afterlife
QFI: This House believes that foreigners should not be allowed to own land in developing countries
SFI: THBT rehabilitation should be the only consideration in criminal sentencing
GFP: This House believes that the West should end all arms sales and military cooperation with Saudi Arabia

Linkin Sleep

I was greeted this morning as I woke up by the fabulous click-bait from LinkedIn ‘How to fix your sleep cycle’…
Now how did LinkedIn figure that out?!

Baited I was, and apparently a ‘sleep expert’ Michael Breus wrote a book about four chronotypes (or sleep patterns) people fall under: lions, which you may better know as early birds; wolves, aka night owls; bears, who are in the happy middle and about half the population; and dolphins, who are the troubled sleepers.

I know this probably means we should figure out which of these we are, and then try to adjust our lives to the appropriate cycle, but to be honest my first thought is along the lines of this meme. Another instance of real life catching up with the desirable approach.

The Long Way

Since starting work, being a consummate consumer of news has been increasingly difficult. At the same time as my interests (or perceived supposed interests) expanded to include things I ought to know for work, the amount of time I have to read and consume news has shrunk as work has taken up the time or at least the mental space. I have learned to be more selective in what I read and choose, fewer spontaneous pieces, more focus on things I feel are most important. My sources have become shorter and shorter, being easier to finish in the sport bursts of time that I feel I have.

But more often than not, I am simply succumbing to the pithy, bite-sized, sound-bite based culture that our news and media has increasingly been reduced to. So it was fantastically refreshing (in this holiday of the last few days) to be able to engage in some serious long-form journalism – Hiking around the hills of Hong Kong listening to an almost 3-hour long podcast about the Oprah Winfrey show (Making Oprah by WBEZ); watching a 2-hour long film about spending a year in space (A Year in Space by TIME); a ton of long-form articles that I wouldn’t have had time to read in my normal routine.

So despite my succumbing to the ever-shortening attention span that we grant to the news, I guess this is a timely and helpful reminder that we should always find the time for some proper long-form news.

IMAGE: Taken from Mount Butler as I was reminded of a friend who said that their favorite thing about Hong Kong was how close nature was to the city and vice-versa. Fact proven when it is possible to do a 3-hour casual hike from door-to-door on the fly.

Too Privileged

This post number two following the earlier one titled ‘Privilege‘, hence the pun in the title, on something that has been bothering me for a long while. This isn’t aimed at anyone or any group, mostly just a personal reflection/struggle.

Still struggle to put this all into words, but thankfully The Broad Experience has nicely encapsulated it in this podcast.

The Broad Experience – Episode 94: https://www.acast.com/thebroadexperience/episode94-classandcareer.

A not 100% accurate transcript: www.thebroadexperience.com/transcripts/2016/10/27/episode-94-class-and-career, though I think the differences sometimes add an element to the message.
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Privilege

CONTEXT: From 9-13 August, I went on a Project Mingde Voluntary Teaching Summer Camp in Dabao Village, Guangxi, China. The following was the reflections I wrote for the trip specifically, but also happened to be something I had thought about more generally in the last few months, so I felt it had heightened meaning, even if it doesn’t necessarily capture the breadth of my thoughts on this.

Hiding safely in our air-conditioned multi-storied concrete edifices, it is easy not to realise how truly privileged we are to live and grow-up in Hong Kong. It certainly was not at the forefront of our minds as the 20 of us made the trip to Dabao Village some 600 km away.

Gathering at the border crossing at a mean 8am, we made our day-long journey to Danzhou Ancient Town. The quaint and beautiful old island surrounded by a yellow silt-filled river began as a bit of a shock – what with the unfamiliar food, unstable internet connection, and undesired company of various small critters. But it soon came to represent a comforting respite from the even more foreign environment a half-days travel away. Along the way into Dabao our bus (perhaps inevitably) broke down, live animals and vegetables were sold in street stalls literally within reach from the car’s windows, and our walk into the village was pre-emptively cooled by heavy rainfall as the bus climbed upwards (though the sky had thankfully dried up by the time our walk started).
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