Enter for your chance to WIN free passes to the advance screening of SUICIDE SQUAD, in theaters August 5th, 2016!

The advance screening will take place August 3rd 2016, at Yonge and Dundas Cineplex theatre @7pm.

Trivia Question: Which actor plays Deadshot in #SuicideSquad?
Trailer:

Synopsis:

It feels good to be bad… Assemble a team of the world’s most dangerous, incarcerated Super Villains, provide them with the most powerful arsenal at the government’s disposal, and send them off on a mission to defeat an enigmatic, insuperable entity. U.S. intelligence officer Amanda Waller has determined only a secretly convened group of disparate, despicable individuals with next to nothing to lose will do. However, once they realize they weren’t picked to succeed but chosen for their patent culpability when they inevitably fail, will the Suicide Squad resolve to die trying, or decide it’s every man for himself?

Hurry up for your chance to win- BlogUT has ONE double pass to give away!!

Enter for your chance to WIN passes to the advance screening of LIGHTS OUT, in theatres July 22nd, 2016!

The advance screening will take place on Wednesday July 20th, at Scotiabank Theatre @ 7PM.

Which actor plays Rebecca in #LightsOut?

Trailer:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j-bM90uKaQg

Synopsis:

From producer James Wan (“The Conjuring”) comes a tale of an unknown terror that lurks in the dark.
When Rebecca left home, she thought she left her childhood fears behind. Growing up, she was never really sure of what was and wasn’t real when the lights went out…and now her little brother, Martin, is experiencing the same unexplained and terrifying events that had once tested her sanity and threatened her safety. A frightening entity with a mysterious attachment to their mother, Sophie, has reemerged.
But this time, as Rebecca gets closer to unlocking the truth, there is no denying that all their lives are in danger…once the lights go out.

Hurry up for your chance to win- BlogUT has up to five tickets to give away!!

***THIS CONTEST IS NOW CLOSED. CONGRATULATIONS TO OUR WINNER!***

A teaching class asks me to submit a letter of intent, and this is what I wrote

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As an educator-to-be, I have to confess that I use Google quite a lot. This becomes even more prominent during online discussion, where students pose their questions freely. Most of the time, I can provide accurate and succinct answers right on the spot; but more often, students’ questions left me in the dark. It is in these instances that I resort to Google for a clue. Initially, I felt ashamed and unqualified, because I could not justify how through years of training and teaching in Biochemistry, I am not yet ready to answer a sophomore’s seemingly frivolous question. With this dichotomy in mind, I start to understand my predicament.

I realize today’s students are different even from when I was an undergraduate (which is only four years ago). Not only is their mind more open, but also more connected to the surroundings. They are not satisfied by being told 1+1=2, they also want to know why, how, and when this rule does not apply. I can comfortably teach 1+1=2, but often become stumbled in front of the why, how, and when questions. This urges me to update myself more frequently and learn continuously. At the same time, I also need to know the art of interweaving these questions naturally into my teaching to provide a better learning outcome.

I also contemplate on the question: “if I can Google to find a clue, why can’t my students do the same”? I picked up a hint from the emails they sent me. Despite the fact that many of my students were born and raised in English speaking environments, their written messages in emails are uninformative and often misleading. My students often start their questions without providing me backgrounds to orientate, they do not check their spelling mistakes, nor do they re-read their messages before being sent (I know this, because they often sent me another email immediately after, saying “I mean ‘does not apply’, rather than ‘does apply’”). These observations do not mean to belittle my students, in fact they signify the essence of modern education: the specificity of the textbook information should serve to support the knowledge of criticality, creativity, and innovation. For educators, instead of aiming to pass students in a course, why not turn the aim into a means of developing student’s critical analysis, creative thinking, and innovative attempts? In a sense, to know how to write an informative email is more important than knowing the differences between glucose and galactose.

Of course, I wish my students remember everything I taught them, but that’s not realistic. One day, my students might not remember what amino acid leucine looks like, they might not know what the hydrophobic effect is, they might not tell DNA apart from RNA, but at lease they would retain the soft skills they began to develop in my class.

And this is my intent of teaching and self-improving!

S.X.

May 25, 16

Enter for your chance to WIN passes to the advance screening of THE NICE GUYS, in theatres May 20th, 2016!

The advance screening will take place on Wednesday May 18th, at Scotiabank Theatre  at 7pm.

To win tickets, answer this question in the comments below:

Which actor plays Jackson Healy in #TheNiceGuys?
Set in 1970s Los Angeles, down-on-his-luck private eye Holland March and hired enforcer Jackson Healy must work together to solve the case of a missing girl and the seemingly unrelated death of a porn star. During their investigation, they uncover a shocking conspiracy that reaches up to the highest circles of power.

***THIS CONTEST IS NOW CLOSED. CONGRATULATIONS TO OUR WINNER!***

Zootopia: A Surprisingly Great Film

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I went into Cineplex thinking, well this is just going to be another fluffy animal film. I had just finished my exams and wanted to relax a little bit. Not expecting much going into the movie, I left the theatre pleasantly surprised. Zootopia is a great combination of humour, adorableness, adventure, and good fun. It just goes to show that one is never too old for a Disney movie, especially one starring Shakira as a singer (spoiler alert ahead for those who are continuing to read).

The plot development was very quick, which I appreciate. In the beginning the police bunny Judy is constantly being underestimated by her predator co-workers. She does not want to submit to existing societal species roles and wants to prove her worth by becoming the first-ever bunny police officer. The movie is set in a modern world of animals that co-exist in a multi-species city living in equality without conflicts. However, there is still prejudice and discrimination among prey and predators alike. The moral of the story is (of course) to reduce these prejudices that stem from biological differences by creating a more loving and peaceful society. Notably, the humour in the film was awesome- Judy’s parents (who are carrot farmers) had great chemistry and the ability to bounce jokes back and forth with the other characters effortlessly.

THE SLOTH SCENE MUST BE DISCUSSED. It occurred later on in the movie and was literally amazing and I was laughing so hard I could hardly breathe.

Overall, a great movie that I would highly recommend to people of all all ages. Take the time to relax and watch this movie with family and friends!

Downtown Toronto Tourism Spotlight: Royal Ontario Museum (ROM)!

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The Royal Ontario Museum is definitely a sight to see, and one that you likely pass by frequently walking across campus to different classes. It is located between St. George and Museum subway stations and is one of the most convenient tourist spots location-wise for University Of Toronto students in particular. Even Museum station itself is beautifully designed as a nod to the institution’s collections. Not to mention the fact that General admission to the Museum is free to full-time students attending a Canadian post-secondary institution on Tuesdays when valid school ID is presented. Talk about a sweet deal!

The ROM originally had one major gallery for archaeology, geology, mineralogy, palaeontology, and zoology. Nowadays, there are frequent new limited-edition exhibits that are not covered by our student general admission, such as the tattoo exhibit recently launched.

You can view that entire museum at an comfortable pace in one afternoon. I really enjoy a visual representation of history rather than how school introduces students to history via mandatory boring history classes in high school. The first thing to notice about ROM is the beautiful architectural design from the outside that has a modern asymmetrical vibe. Inside is very easy to navigate with a map pamphlet, although I would encourage you to view the museum at your own pace and not necessarily stick to a single planned route. The fun part of the museum is discovering the exhibits on different floors and taking as much time as needed to enjoy the full experience.

I hope this blog article gave you an honest student perspective on this tourism spotlight of the ROM. Happy exploring!

A Lesson from Water: Polarization to Radicalization

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Water is ubiquitous and everywhere we look, even in the least expected places. In the desert or on Mars, we still find water.

Water is polarized. Its polarity stems from the fact that a water molecule carries both a partially positive and partially negative charge. Positivity and negativity, like yin and yang, result in its polarized nature. Its properties allows water to “shake hands” with the essential building blocks of life, like our genetic materials (DNA/RNA), proteins, and fats (lipids), thus sustaining life on earth. At important moments, it also willingly sacrifices itself for our metabolism.

However, at other times water molecules can become excited (charged), brandishing its long arms to grab one more negative charge, which turns itself into a radical. The water-derived radicals damage all building blocks of life, and are thus destructive to all life forms, producing effects ranging from the fishtail wrinkles to liver cirrhosis to cancer.

The radicalized transformation of the polarized water molecule exemplifies the violence in our society.

Polarization is the representation of two sides on the premise of a whole. Canada is a polarized country. We get rid of the Conservatives to elect the Liberals; we discuss the pros and cons of the legalization of marijuana and assisted suicide openly. On the passing of our former mayor, Rob Ford, we put aside of his distasteful past, and remember what he did well for the city of Toronto and her people. A polarized society is a sustainable society that balances the weights from both sides.

Radicalization differs from polarization by its gluttony. A person becomes a terrorist by gaining a bomb; a rancher become an armed militia when he put his own ends above the federal law; a presidential candidate arises from a narcissist offering to build a wall. Our body deals with free radicals in a two-pronged approach: on one hand, it eliminates them; on the other hand, if the cells became overwhelmed by radicals, the cells commit suicide. Either way, our body tries to get rid of the radicals and minimize the damage.

In regards to national and international security, we are trying to do the same to the violent terrorists; however, we are strained both ways. Currently, we are at a crossroad: on one side, we try to eliminate terrorism; on the other side, we try to prevent the heartless and amoral attacks. We cannot stop, because if we did, we would then lose both battles. Our inactivity shows our weakness and reluctance to collaborate, and that only means encouragement to the terrorists.

To root out the radicals, one needs to understand the root cause. Jealousy of our wealth, envy our democracy, or hate of the fact that we are happy and free are often touted as the reasons for terrorists attacks. However, such thinking only represents our ignorance of the past and arrogance to learn.

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Terrorists are created by no one but us, the West. Let’s use Taliban as an example. When the British realized that they could no longer sustain the Indian subcontinent, they drew lines on the map to separate the subcontinent based on religion: one country for the Muslims and one for the Hindus. For Muslims, there was the East and for West Pakistan, and later the East of Pakistan became Bangladesh. India was left for the Hindus. Since the separation, Pakistan and India have been fuming and fighting. The smaller state of Pakistan had no space to fall back on once India attacked, so they decided to butter up their backyard neighbours- Afghanistan. In the 1979 Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, India supported Russia and thus Pakistan decided to work with US. Eventually, the Soviets pulled out from Afghanistan and Pakistan took over Afghanistan. This was the key moment in which Pakistan started to train local militias against their neighbour, groups which later became Taliban. A similar pattern is observed in almost all tumultuous places: Syria, Iraq, Egypt, Jordan, and Somalia. In every case, the West decided to destabilize a region for its own gains and created a void that could only be filled by something worse: radical terrorists.

When can we learn to keep our hands in our own pockets? I understand the urge to tell people how to be good, but this does not solve any problems. We need to let trapped people to find their own ways out. We should only assist from the outside. Our foreign policy is like a stud walking into a case of domestic violence. We beat up the husband and leave. Surely, he won’t torture his wife in for a while, but the violence will resume. It’s only when the wife wants to change that such violence can be quenched.