I think I was in fifth grade when I read a novel for school set during the Tiananmen Protests, and, eventually, the Tiananmen Massacre.

My mother, though almost never a dogmatic Communist, took issue with the novel, and the fact that I was being assigned to read it. A ten-year-old Chinese-Canadian has little grasp of the philosophical complexities of being Chinese in a western, democratic country — this conflict was my first hint that there was anything complicated about it at all.

I was told that the People’s Liberation Army had no choice but to disperse the protesters in the early days of June, 1989. The protests had gone on for weeks, defying negotiation and reasoning. The students didn’t even know what they wanted anymore, she claimed. Deng Xiaoping had heard and agreed to listen to them. Still they persisted, sullying and vandalizing the former home of emperors, making a laughingstock of China in front of the world. …

Here are some things I think about baseball in no particular order:

1. There is far too much baseball, and for that reason there is exactly the correct amount of baseball.

An MLB game clocks in in the neighbourhood of three hours, the longest individual game time of any of the four major North American professional sports organizations. On top of this, each MLB team plays 162 games in a season. There are probably people who watch every game played by their favourite team in its entirety, in the way that one would follow, say, football (American, that is; I’m not certain how one follows association football because I am not a Communist). Retirees might be able to do so; idle billionaires might be able to do so, but you and I are not able to do so.* …

“Can I help you find anything?”

You look up. “Just say ‘No,’” runs through your head. “She doesn’t need to know what you’re looking for. Nobody has to know.”

“Yeah, I’m looking for Crazy Rich Asians, by Kevin Kwan.”

Her lips purse as the corners of her mouth roll up. “Yeah, that’s right,” You think. “I’m an ASIAN dude looking for that book that ASIAN people like about ASIAN people written by that ASIAN dude. Oriental.”

She shows you to the appropriate shelf. “So here’s that one,” she says, handing the tastefully peach-coloured volume to you, “and here are the sequels, which are also” pregnant pause “very popular.” She waves her hands toward China Rich Girlfriend and Rich People Problems. Her speech sounds uncomfortably deliberate. Is she refraining from saying the titles because she’s worried about offending you? …

That’s how we write dates in the Forces.

As you level up a character in World of Warcraft, you make your way through many storylines. From levels 40 through 50, closer to the beginning of the ordeal than the end, there are two stories that mean a lot to me. …

Feeling not quite conscious in broad daylight in a half empty car just makes the public transportation experience feel somehow more fantastic or romantic or something. …

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Ichiro Suzuki tugs on his sleeve. It’s the same every time. It’s been the same every time for 15 years now. He brandishes the bat at the pitcher, pointed straight up toward the sky. Every time for over 10,000 plate appearances. He brings it in, holding it behind his head, parallel to the ground. It flutters lazily. Every time for 3,000 hits.

They call him simply ‘Ichiro.’ As it is with kings and conquerors and messiahs, we need only his given name to identify him. As it is with legends, lore about him abounds. It’s small wonder that, faced with a fist-sized projectile hurtling toward them at upwards of 90 miles per hour, most players struggle even to make contact. Yet whispers on either side of the globe insist that Ichiro can aim his hits, can tell you where he wants the ball to be and slap it so it lands there. A little more realistically, his peers have long told tales of the absurd power hidden in his wiry frame, which he reveals only in batting practice for silent stadia and invisible fans. …

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I hate doing political science.

I spent four years learning how at what they insisted on repeatedly informing me was one of the most prestigious institutions of learning in the world, and I can’t stand doing it. Even thinking about politics frustrates me. Talking about it is almost physically painful. And I wish you the sincerest of luck if you want to get me to write about it.

I hate doing it, because, like every other navel-gazing presumptuous genius saviour-of-mankind before me, I am always wrong.

If you’ve taken maybe three university-level political science courses in your life, you’ve almost certainly been told of the cliché that a monkey throwing darts at a wall affixed with cards indicating possible world events is statistically better at making predictions than any political scientist. Some variants of the account maintain that this was an actual study conducted by some researcher(s) who actually proceeded to publish a paper about it. I’ve actively refused to verify this paper’s existence because I choose to continue to believe in the possibility of good in humanity. …


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To unlock Ness in the the first Super Smash Bros., you need to beat the 1-player game on Normal difficulty with three lives. This is objectively not even a little bit hard to do, but I was a 6-year-old when I got the game, so it was basically impossible.

I spent months trying. I played exclusively as Donkey Kong, because Donkey Kong was both huge and a gorilla so he was obviously the strongest character and best suited to the task. I marveled at Jason, the 5th-grader from my bus stop who informed me that it was in fact not at all hard to unlock Ness. Time and time again I reached Master Hand, the final boss, sometimes with all three of my lives intact, and time and time again I would be vanquished. Eventually, Master Hand had beaten me so many times that I had been able to compose a theme song for myself called “The Great Blue Donkey Kong” that I bleated at the top of my tiny, stupid lungs in the hopes that it would make me play better (it did not). …

The boys at Canton Chilli are professionals. If you walk into that store more than three times in your life, they’ll know you, your favourite order, your major, your wildest dreams, your most crippling fears, how many women you’ve dated, and exactly why you didn’t deserve each of them (but not your name, somehow). …

Lightning talks Dota II — February 16, 2015

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If you were to ask me after work, I would tell you flat-out that AUI is the single best farming support in the world and nobody else in the scene can even dream of comparing, but we’re not allowed to make blanket statements like that in journalism because journalism is paralyzingly terrified of ever saying anything meaningful. That in mind: AUI_2000 is arguably the best farming support in the world.

Back when we were younger and less thoroughly versed in this inscrutable game, a friend of mine and I had a conversation about Invoker builds to the effect…


Theodore Yan

I like history and baseball

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