a murderer made in america

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pic source
The Hubs and I recently started watching O.J.: Made in America on Hulu, a five-part documentary on O.J. Simpson's life. What I didn't expect from the film is its scope--it covers so much more than The Juice's trials. The mini-series juxtaposes O.J.'s ascent to celebrity, his early desire to transcend race, the LAPD's history of police violence and racism, and how O.J.'s rise and fall become the lens by which these other issues are viewed. Three out of five episodes in and we're so immersed in this documentary, which was directed by Ezra Edelman and produced for ESPN's 30 for 30 documentary series.

O.J.: Made in America is at once about O.J. and also about America, and that's what makes it brilliant.

I can compare it to Making a Murderer in that O.J. also exposes flaws in the American legal system, mostly because the people in the system themselves are flawed. And so it follows that the system as a whole creates problems for everyone involved. Truth becomes relative, conspiracies arise, there are prejudices on both sides. In O.J. Simpson's case, his defense attorneys leverage the color of his skin so that a predominantly black jury would be able to better identify with him. Early in his life, O.J. works hard at transcending racial categories but after the 1994 murders, he is, to borrow from the documentary, "made blacker."

Clearly, the documentary has many layers and complexities in it but it's all woven together in a seamless and engaging way. I agree with the critics who say that when you watch it, you almost don't want it to end. Race and civil rights have a long history in the States, and there's a lot I need to catch up on, but watching O.J.: Made in America is one step to understanding similar issues that confront us today.

There is a simple way of viewing racism--it's wrong, it's ignorant, it's damaging. But it's also complex since there are other factors to consider when dealing with the subject-- and in this subject, you don't just deal with concepts, but with real people. O.J.: Made in America makes the issue more human again by putting a face to the abstractions. Here, you are forced not just to imagine racism, domestic abuse, egoism, and celebrity, but you get to see, hear, and almost feel pain and desire. It makes you question whether you have empathy or not, and if you do, to wonder where it lies.

We are two episodes away from finishing the mini-series but I can already recommend it with gusto. The series is perfect material for discussions on sociology, anthropology, theology, and so many other fields because of its rich narrative. I'm rating it 4/4 stars based on what I've seen so far. Yes, it's that good.

Would you be interested in watching the film? If you've seen it, what did you think?

alien life by the numbers

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Alien registration
Social security
Driver's license
Every breath
Every movement


Bank account
bit by bit


by borders
by people
who are more than just

Book Review: None Like Him by Jen Wilkin

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What do you do when you're slowly losing your sense of wonder and awe of God because there are far too many things competing for your attention? This was my dilemma so I decided to pick up Jen Wilkin's book None Like Him: 10 Ways God is Different from Us (and Why That's a Good Thing). I knew I needed to recover that sense of wonder and I figured that the best way would be to re-acquaint myself with the attributes of God.

The subtitle does sum up the focus of the book--it highlights God's attributes and contrasts it with human characteristics. Some may say that this is like Tozer's The Attributes of God when it comes to the subject, but it is still different in its presentation and scope. None Like Him highlights 10 attributes whereas Tozer covers a total of 20 in two volumes. Both are amazing works and are sure ways to recover that sense of wonder I mentioned earlier.

None Like Him is well-written, conversational, and accessible in its tone. I appreciate the numerous illustrations the author uses to explain her points derived from Scripture--like a good sermon, stories and examples drive the point closer to home and "brings the fodder down" enough for the listeners (readers) to reach. It's not a dense and academic work but because of her approach, stories and images connect with readers immediately and in more personal ways. In terms of pace, I would recommend that readers go through one chapter per day. Really savor it, and take advantage of the ways the book allows you to engage, which are Scripture references and discussion/reflection questions at the end of each chapter.

The book elevates the holiness and greatness of God and expounds on how each attribute affects our everyday lives. It doesn't sugarcoat the depths of human sin and just how lost we are without God, and yet precisely because God is different from us, we can count on him to do things only he can do; we are free to find joy in depending on God and find fulfillment in worshiping him. It's not only a fear of judgment that inspires worship but rather an understanding, limited as it is, of God's attributes.

I would assume that this book is geared towards women since Jen Wilkin primarily teaches women, but both men and women will benefit from this book.. I highly recommend it for women's group studies and for personal study as well.

Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book from Crossway in exchange for an honest review. All opinions my own.

week-long wandering pt.3 (bay area edition)

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San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge
For our last installment of Week-long Wandering, I'm sharing highlights from our trip to SF, Berkeley, and Oakland.

Like LA, we stayed at an Airbnb in Oakland as a cheaper alternative to a hotel. We enjoyed our stay and loved our host, Joan. If we ever visit the Bay Area again, we'd definitely book her place. Her house is conveniently located near the freeway and is also close to where the wedding and reception were held. As I mentioned in the first post in the series, we originally intended to go to the Bay Area for a friend's wedding. Here's what happened during our weekend there.

One day before the wedding, we drove to San Francisco to do some touristy things at Fisherman's Wharf. Pro-tip: We booked parking at Hotel Zephyr via Parkwhiz. We paid about half the original all-day price and the hotel is within walking distance of the places we wanted to visit. For food, Yelp all the way!

Seals hangin' out

We didn't go to Madam Tussaud's in LA, which is bigger, but we went to the one in SF. We also checked out Ripley's museum because we like weird things :P Pro-tip: We bought our tickets via Groupon. Check it out if you want to save on admission fees and other things!

Walking around Fisherman's Wharf was good exercise. When we got tired, we decided to go on the boat ride that goes around the Golden Gate Bridge and Alcatraz. I'm interested in actually going inside Alcatraz if we get the chance to visit again.

Karl the Fog being up close and personal
We finally got to meet San Francisco's famous fog, Karl. I didn't edit my pictures so much because the fog gave the photos an interesting mood.

We spent Friday, July 29, in SF. The following day, our friends got married in Christ the Light Cathedral in Oakland. Per the couple's request, phones and other devices were not allowed during the ceremony. I thought that decision was wise as it enabled everyone to focus on the beauty of their coming together. Our attention spans are far shorter than they were before, methinks.
The nicest cathedral I've ever been in! This is one of the few photos I took before the ceremony started.
The reception was held inside the California Memorial Stadium, which gave us a spectacular view of Berkeley and SF on the horizon.

Berkeley. SF is visible on the other side of the bay.

Our time in NorCal was really short. We initially wanted to drive via the PCH but it would be cutting it too close to when we had to return the rental car. We could have extended but we didn't have much time planning for a longer trip either. This week-long trip was good practice for a longer road trip though! By that time, I will have learned how to drive so my poor husband won't have to struggle to stay awake, and he can enjoy the views.

Hopefully in the near future, we get to travel long again maybe even all the way to Seattle ;)

What's the longest trip you've gone on? Any recent travel plans for you?

coffee date #2

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If we were on a coffee date, I would give you a bear hug upon meeting you. I'm a hugger and I find hugs incredibly therapeutic. I would offer a listening ear and caring hands. I would ask you what your plans are for the new week, if there's anything I could help you with, and if there's anything in particular you'd like to do for our time together.

If we were on a coffee date, I would ask you about your first time behind the wheel. I passed my DMV learner's permit test last week and yesterday I tried out driving for the first time ever. Sitting on that old but reliable Volvo sedan, controlling the steering wheel, was a surreal experience. I'd ask you what age you started driving, what your feelings were when you first sat on the driver's seat, and what it was like for you to take the actual driving test. I suppose driving is one of those activities in life where I must strive for control for everyone's safety.

If we were on a coffee date, I would ask you about Stranger Things. The Hubs and I are not huge TV fans but Stranger Things got us hooked.

If we were on a coffee date, I would wonder if I could take a peek into your bullet journal (if you have one). Or at least ask you what your favorite formats are. I'm always open to suggestions.

If were on a coffee date, I would ask you if you've seen or are interested in watching Suicide Squad. It's better than Batman v. Superman IMO but I wouldn't give it 4/4 stars,  and maybe not even 3/4. But if you take it for what it is and come see it with low expectations, you might enjoy it.

If we were on a coffee date, I would ask you to pray for me as I have begun my job hunt. Work is a way to honor God. It's a means to exercise what gifts he's given us, and to be a part of his redemptive project by contributing to the greater good through the work of our hands. I believe that work is not a curse, as some would interpret Genesis, but a part of our design. Adam was meant to cultivate the land he was placed in and to enjoy its fruit; work was meant to be fulfilling until that monster called sin reared its ugly head. But we can redeem work and use it to serve, to love, and to be conformed to the image of Jesus. Please pray that I would find that "perfect" job and to submit to God's perfect timing. (I highly recommend Tom Nelson's "Work Matters: Connecting Sunday Worship to Monday Work" for an introduction to a theology of work.)

Linking up with Amber and Erin for this month's edition of Coffee Dates.

week-long wandering pt.2 (+a playlist)

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Here's part two of our NorCal trip. Pictured above is Fratelli Cafe along Melrose Avenue. As usual, we found this place through Yelp and so far we've made really good decisions based on Yelp reviews! Breakfast food is my favorite so I can eat it any time of day, everyday. I'm glad we hit the jackpot with this place. One of the owners told us that their menu was revamped so a lot of the things are new. I had The Jacksons omelet (eggs, chicken breast, avocado, spinach, tomatoes, monterey jack cheese) and Carlo had the breakfast burrito. I lost the photo I took of our breakfast, but check out their gallery to get an idea of the portions and quality. For drinks, we ordered iced caramel and almond lattes. We highly recommend Fratelli Cafe if you're in LA.

week-long wandering pt.1

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Hey, friends :) Carlo and I just returned from our mini road trip last Sunday. Because I can't drive yet, he had to power through nearly 10 hours of driving, stops included, from Oakland to San Diego in our rental car. Props to The Hubs for being a trooper! Trips like these often leave us more exhausted than when we started, i.e., we end up needing a vacation from vacation, but we're both grateful that we're able to make more memories together.

We drove north last week to witness one of Carlo's friends get married (congrats Lenny and Jelly!), and we saw this as an opportunity to explore part of LA and San Francisco. We got to visit two other cities since the wedding ceremony took place in Oakland and the reception was inside the California Stadium at UC Berkeley (aka Cal). It amuses me to think that I got to visit Cal ahead of UC San Diego, where The Hubs graduated from and which is about 30 minutes away from where we live. A La Jolla trip is in the works :)

For the first installment of our week-long road trip, I'll share some highlights from our time in LA.