Wednesday, March 31, 2010

AVP and Jumper

Recently, once in a blue moon happened to me that I was able to stay home undisturbed for a whole lazy afternoon. I chose to spend the time to watch two movies on my 20’’ monitor. They are “Alien vs. Predator” and “Jumper”. Both of them are kinda B movies. However, I think I enjoy them both since I didn’t have much expectation on them.
AVP is a movie of few years old. I’ve not watched AVP2, but after watch AVP, I think I will see AVP2 in future if I can find time to do that. I’ve been a fan of Aliens movies and Predator movies for many years. No big fan of them, but at least I saw all 4 alien movies and the 2 predator movies. The concept of AVP is supposed to be based on video games, one of the typical crossover of characters among franchises to fulfill the wild dream of young fans. Usually, such video game concept movies sucks, crossover movies also sucks too. Surprisingly, AVP is not bad. Before I watched this movie, I only remember 2 things about this movie, James Cameron said that AVP wasn’t as bad as he had thought, also, the Predators in this movie looks very dull as if the stuntmen were in heavy thick suit to jump along that they looks more like ninja turtle than the speedy killer that Predators are supposed to be. Well, I found both comments are quite true, they don’t anyhow diminish the entertaining value of the movie. I’m not gonna dig into the details of the movie as usual as they can be found in many sites. What I like about this movie is that it is convincingly established a relationship between Aliens and Predators, and brought the fight to earth which is new for Aliens. Also, the rivalry of these 2 species is quite balanced. Unlike the respective Alien and Predator movies that human is mere the helpless preys that got slaughtered, yes, human got slaughtered too in AVP, but at least both species got into some nice fights that both sides got upper hands back and forth. As the story goes, human is more on the Predator’s side to against the Aliens which simply deemed as beasts while Predators are more intelligent warriors. Anyway, the flow of the movie is actually very predictable as you can pretty much tell which character may survive till the end, cos most one dimensional gung-ho characters are simply pawns to be slaughtered. The movie ended with the birth of a hybrid of Alien and Predator which was named as Predalien, which is supposed to play a bigger role in AVP2. That would be nice to see how they handle this hybrid, hopefully it would be better than the human/alien hybrid in Alien Resurrection. As a side track story, a reboot of the Predator franchise is going to come out this year. It is called ‘Predators’. I don’t see that to be too much different from the original based on the trailer online. Also, Ridley Scott is said to be the director to film a prequel to Alien. Not sure what he will bring out since the birth of the franchise in early 80s. I will stay tune.
“Jumper” is like a subset to ‘Heroes” by focusing on one single super power of ‘teleporting’. It is about some young kids having such power and there were designated arch rival to capture and kill them. Logic about controlling worm holes is gimmick. The story is kinda predictable, cos a main character falls for a girl, and they will be fine at the end, very typical Hollywood story. I think if they can make the movie more edgy, it would be much better. Now, it is more like an expensive episode of Heroes with scenes in various geo-locations (surely, some of them may be CGs). Anyway, the fun factor of the movie still there, it wasn’t a bad movie, just not good enough.

I was glad to enjoy a lazy afternoon by watch these 2 movies.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Narcissism of a City

When you have this...
Why did you spend HK$9,000,000 on this...
And then spend another HK$6,000,000 on this....Actually, what make people come to your place are most likely because of these.... (not that I agree with some of the items or their rankings)....
It is so easy to spend OTHER people's money....

Monday, March 29, 2010

Farewell to a voice of conscience

I've been an avid reader of Mr. Paul Craig Roberts' articles in various websites. I've just sadly read that he is signing off from making honest comments on the current deteriorating atmosphere created by the sole superpower of the today. I don't know what is actually going on with his life. Just wish him the best for whatever he is going to do. The following is the latest and perhaps the last published article from him:

March 24, 2010

Truth Has Fallen and Taken Liberty With It

There was a time when the pen was mightier than the sword. That was a time when people believed in truth and regarded truth as an independent power and not as an auxiliary for government, class, race, ideological, personal, or financial interest.

Today Americans are ruled by propaganda. Americans have little regard for truth, little access to it, and little ability to recognize it.

Truth is an unwelcome entity. It is disturbing. It is off limits. Those who speak it run the risk of being branded “anti-American,” “anti-semite” or “conspiracy theorist.”

Truth is an inconvenience for government and for the interest groups whose campaign contributions control government.

Truth is an inconvenience for prosecutors who want convictions, not the discovery of innocence or guilt.

Truth is inconvenient for ideologues.

Today many whose goal once was the discovery of truth are now paid handsomely to hide it. “Free market economists” are paid to sell offshoring to the American people. High-productivity, high value-added American jobs are denigrated as dirty, old industrial jobs. Relicts from long ago, we are best shed of them. Their place has been taken by “the New Economy,” a mythical economy that allegedly consists of high-tech white collar jobs in which Americans innovate and finance activities that occur offshore. All Americans need in order to participate in this “new economy” are finance degrees from Ivy League universities, and then they will work on Wall Street at million dollar jobs.

Economists who were once respectable took money to contribute to this myth of “the New Economy.”

And not only economists sell their souls for filthy lucre. Recently we have had reports of medical doctors who, for money, have published in peer-reviewed journals concocted “studies” that hype this or that new medicine produced by pharmaceutical companies that paid for the “studies.”

The Council of Europe is investigating the drug companies’ role in hyping a false swine flu pandemic in order to gain billions of dollars in sales of the vaccine.

The media helped the US military hype its recent Marja offensive in Afghanistan, describing Marja as a city of 80,000 under Taliban control. It turns out that Marja is not urban but a collection of village farms.

And there is the global warming scandal, in which NGOs. the UN, and the nuclear industry colluded in concocting a doomsday scenario in order to create profit in pollution.

Wherever one looks, truth has fallen to money.

Wherever money is insufficient to bury the truth, ignorance, propaganda, and short memories finish the job.

I remember when, following CIA director William Colby’s testimony before the Church Committee in the mid-1970s, presidents Gerald Ford and Ronald Reagan issued executive orders preventing the CIA and U.S. black-op groups from assassinating foreign leaders. In 2010 the US Congress was told by Dennis Blair, head of national intelligence, that the US now assassinates its own citizens in addition to foreign leaders.

When Blair told the House Intelligence Committee that US citizens no longer needed to be arrested, charged, tried, and convicted of a capital crime, just murdered on suspicion alone of being a “threat,” he wasn’t impeached. No investigation pursued. Nothing happened. There was no Church Committee. In the mid-1970s the CIA got into trouble for plots to kill Castro. Today it is American citizens who are on the hit list. Whatever objections there might be don’t carry any weight. No one in government is in any trouble over the assassination of U.S. citizens by the U.S. government.

As an economist, I am astonished that the American economics profession has no awareness whatsoever that the U.S. economy has been destroyed by the offshoring of U.S. GDP to overseas countries. U.S. corporations, in pursuit of absolute advantage or lowest labor costs and maximum CEO “performance bonuses,” have moved the production of goods and services marketed to Americans to China, India, and elsewhere abroad. When I read economists describe offshoring as free trade based on comparative advantage, I realize that there is no intelligence or integrity in the American economics profession.

Intelligence and integrity have been purchased by money. The transnational or global U.S. corporations pay multi-million dollar compensation packages to top managers, who achieve these “performance awards” by replacing U.S. labor with foreign labor. While Washington worries about “the Muslim threat,” Wall Street, U.S. corporations and “free market” shills destroy the U.S. economy and the prospects of tens of millions of Americans.

Americans, or most of them, have proved to be putty in the hands of the police state.

Americans have bought into the government’s claim that security requires the suspension of civil liberties and accountable government. Astonishingly, Americans, or most of them, believe that civil liberties, such as habeas corpus and due process, protect “terrorists,” and not themselves. Many also believe that the Constitution is a tired old document that prevents government from exercising the kind of police state powers necessary to keep Americans safe and free.

Most Americans are unlikely to hear from anyone who would tell them any different.

I was associate editor and columnist for the Wall Street Journal. I was Business Week’s first outside columnist, a position I held for 15 years. I was columnist for a decade for Scripps Howard News Service, carried in 300 newspapers. I was a columnist for the Washington Times and for newspapers in France and Italy and for a magazine in Germany. I was a contributor to the New York Times and a regular feature in the Los Angeles Times. Today I cannot publish in, or appear on, the American “mainstream media.”

For the last six years I have been banned from the “mainstream media.” My last column in the New York Times appeared in January, 2004, coauthored with Democratic U.S. Senator Charles Schumer representing New York. We addressed the offshoring of U.S. jobs. Our op-ed article produced a conference at the Brookings Institution in Washington, D.C. and live coverage by C-Span. A debate was launched. No such thing could happen today.

For years I was a mainstay at the Washington Times, producing credibility for the Moony newspaper as a Business Week columnist, former Wall Street Journal editor, and former Assistant Secretary of the U.S. Treasury. But when I began criticizing Bush’s wars of aggression, the order came down to Mary Lou Forbes to cancel my column.

The American corporate media does not serve the truth. It serves the government and the interest groups that empower the government.

America’s fate was sealed when the public and the anti-war movement bought the government’s 9/11 conspiracy theory. The government’s account of 9/11 is contradicted by much evidence. Nevertheless, this defining event of our time, which has launched the US on interminable wars of aggression and a domestic police state, is a taboo topic for investigation in the media. It is pointless to complain of war and a police state when one accepts the premise upon which they are based.

These trillion dollar wars have created financing problems for Washington’s deficits and threaten the U.S. dollar’s role as world reserve currency. The wars and the pressure that the budget deficits put on the dollar’s value have put Social Security and Medicare on the chopping block. Former Goldman Sachs chairman and U.S. Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson is after these protections for the elderly. Fed chairman Bernanke is also after them. The Republicans are after them as well. These protections are called “entitlements” as if they are some sort of welfare that people have not paid for in payroll taxes all their working lives.

With over 21 per cent unemployment as measured by the methodology of 1980, with American jobs, GDP, and technology having been given to China and India, with war being Washington’s greatest commitment, with the dollar over-burdened with debt, with civil liberty sacrificed to the “war on terror,” the liberty and prosperity of the American people have been thrown into the trash bin of history.

The militarism of the U.S. and Israeli states, and Wall Street and corporate greed, will now run their course. As the pen is censored and its might extinguished, I am signing off.

Paul Craig Roberts was an editor of the Wall Street Journal and an Assistant Secretary of the U.S. Treasury. His latest book, HOW THE ECONOMY WAS LOST, has just been published by CounterPunch/AK Press. He can be reached at:

Friday, March 26, 2010

Shutter Island

Just came back from this movie. I was thinking about choosing between this and 'Alice in Wonderland'. However, as I'm going to movie by myself this time. I just wanna choose a movie that would use some brain power. I heard that this movie is a bit deep and complicated. Oh man, have I got my brain fed. This is a not an easy movie to watch. I think Martin Scorsese did a very wonderful job of directing this movie. Leonardo Dicaprio is the star in it. I can't recognize any other familiar face in it except Ben Kingsly who play the head of the psychiatric institution on Shutter Island, and Michelle Williams who played Leo's wife. Ben did a decent job as that role doesn't really demand him to act much. Michelle is good. I think she has been picking her roles nicely in her post Dawson Creek days. She is becoming a serious actress, I can see that she will win some awards in future. Anyway, going back to the movie. I think the main attractions of this movie are these four things:

1. Leonardo Dicaprio - his Titanic days are long gone. He has been able to become a really serious actor rather than simply a star. This movie made his look a bit old, but that fits the character nicely. This role is a complicated one that demands range of emotions and his performance is definitely captivating. Cos, without doing such a good job in acting, I don't think anyone can stand the 2 1/2 hours of a story like that. It is too early for next year for Academy Awards consideration, but his performance surely deserve a nomination.

2. The island - I don't know if this Shutter Island is really a real place off Massachusetts. Certainly, the whole scenery, the buildings, the light tower, the cliffs, the forests, etc. All these places really fit the story well by providing such a brisk, isolated, crude environment for the sane to fight to stay sane and for the insane to stay insane.

3. The story - the script is really well, as I said before, it's kinda complicated. The twist at the last 20 minutes of the movie is fine. I know some people really enjoy guessing what is the next while they are watching a movie. I'm not that type, I would rather respect the script to take me along for a drive to let what it is planned to throw at me to do just that. Cos, the story itself is not easily digested, I don't wanna keep my brain in overdrive while watching it. Well, this story is based on a novel. I've never read the book, I tell you that it is not a happy story, and it is kinda getting heavier and heavier as it goes along. Therefore, if you want an easy escape to enjoy or have a laugh. Well, this movie is definitely not gonna do it for you. I would say that this movie is one of those that deserves a second viewing.

4. Music - I think the music of this movie has really set the tone from the beginning. I don't know why, it somehow reminds me of some Hitchcock's old movies like Vertigo or Psycho. Anyway, I do find the music in this movie as good as an supporting cast in it.

Well, that's my two cents on this movie. For details, please go wiki it or check it out on imdb.

Is this the future of Music?

I came across this clip today on Youtube. I don't know about it man.....She is cute and talent, but I don't know if I wanna pay to see a concert in future if musicians in future are all doing what she has done. I love iPhone....playing music with it is a nice gimmick....but....well, it is better you see it yourself.....

Korean Beyonce....

Korean Lady Gaga....

Friday, March 19, 2010


I’ve always been fascinated by nature. There is so much that we don’t know but we have been destroying it every minute as we speak. It is just sad….

My interest in nature was grown when I was a kid. Just like most others, I loved watching TV back then, my dad didn’t like us doing that, except watching documentaries which was something he liked, especially those related to nature. Therefore, before I learned the term ‘biology’, I was already exposed to the existence of many kinds of animals. Being a kid, I found animals more attractive than plants, cos animals move! Among them, I was more interested in large predators than their preys. I would think if the predators fight with other, which one will win? Also, I love to learn how animal survive? Like how a polar bear or a tiger can use their fur color to camouflage themselves in hunting, that sort of things. Basically, it was learning of Darwinism without knowing the term. Also, I was curious of the special features of animals, like how a snake can move without legs? How a hummingbird stays in mid air to eat honey from flowers? Etc.

As I grow older, taking biology course in high school was fun; however, memorizing those crazy terms kinda put me off. Afterwards, as there were more interesting things popping up here and there, my interest in nature kinda died down. Every now and then, I would still check out news about nature, such as discovery of a new type of dinosaur, or scientists find lives in some extreme conditions. Those are still interesting to me once in a while.

When I check out Yahoo news today, the following piece of news really, I mean REALLY catch my attention to an extent that I even wanna blog about it. This is the piece:

The world's only immortal animal
By Bryan Nelson, Mother Nature Network

The turritopsis nutricula species of jellyfish may be the only animal in the world to have truly discovered the fountain of youth.

Since it is capable of cycling from a mature adult stage to an immature polyp stage and back again, there may be no natural limit to its life span. Scientists say the hydrozoan jellyfish is the only known animal that can repeatedly turn back the hands of time and revert to its polyp state (its first stage of life).

The key lies in a process called transdifferentiation, where one type of cell is transformed into another type of cell. Some animals can undergo limited transdifferentiation and regenerate organs, such as salamanders, which can regrow limbs. Turritopsi nutricula, on the other hand, can regenerate its entire body over and over again. Researchers are studying the jellyfish to discover how it is able to reverse its aging process.

Because they are able to bypass death, the number of individuals is spiking. They're now found in oceans around the globe rather than just in their native Caribbean waters. "We are looking at a worldwide silent invasion," says Dr. Maria Miglietta of the Smithsonian Tropical Marine Institute.

Bryan Nelson is a regular contributor to Mother Nature Network, where a version of this post originally appeared.

Well, I don’t know what other title can top this one in terms of new discovery in nature: “The world's only immortal animal”!!!

Immortality has always been a dream of human beings since we first exist. Emperors in the past, dictators in modern time, the riches and famous have been recorded of their desire to live forever! There were novels, fiction or even real life stories all over human history across cultures about people’s quests or wishes for immortality. The main reason why those stories captured our mind is because many of us do share the same wishes of immortality, we kinda identify with the characters in those stories but certainly have to ‘come down to earth’ to accept the fact nobody can live forever.

There have been many schools of thoughts on how to become immortal, such as by reincarnation, some sort of ‘soul’ transplant, living through machine to extend our life, creating human/robot hybrid to become a cybot, through human cloning, etc. Related to that to some extents, the beauty industry, the health product industry, those anti-aging procedures, plastic surgery, black market organ transplant, etc, all of them are related to the sense that, given we human beings can’t leave forever, at least we would like to stay young as long as we can. Cos, being young are more attractive, energetic and healthier. The flip side of the coin is getting old which means approaching death. On top of the unknown nature of the afterworld and the horrible image of death itself, most people just wanna live longer!

There are two forms of life extension, one is to simply stay alive but still getting old, and the other one is the ultimate dream of being forever young!

With all that said, that’s why the article above is so fascinated to me that this new discovery in nature fundamentally overturns what we know about life, which has always have a beginning aka birth, and an unavoidable end aka death! I don’t know how an old jellyfish would be looked differently than a young jellyfish. But based on this article, this kind of jellyfish can stay forever young!

Some people might say: ‘so what!’¸ it is about jellyfish, what does it do to us? Well, for anyone who does know something about how our human technology develop, many (yes, MANY) of our modern technologies are not only inspired but also assisted by leveraging what our mother nature can offer. For examples, we develop our aviation technology because we saw birds can fly. We imitate birds by creating wings and tried to fly ourselves. Though we failed in that regard, we did succeed in eventually by other means. Our ancestors learned to use silk from the cocoon of silkworm to make clothes. Nowadays, our shark-skin swimming suit was inspired what else? shark skin! Also, with the progress in DNA technology, nanotechnology and human genome project, we are getting deep into biotech development like never before. Today, transgenic animals are generally created by injecting "foreign" genes into the nucleus of animal cells. The researchers stripped an HIV virus of its disease-causing elements and used it to virally infect single-cell embryos of mice with a gene from a jellyfish. When the mice were born, they carried the jellyfish gene in their own genes. Under fluorescent light, all their major tissues and organs—including skin, bones, muscles, lungs, liver, kidney, stomach, brain, and retina—emitted a green glow. Most striking is that the trait became a permanent feature of the mice's genome and was passed along to many of their offspring. Can you imagine what scientist might do next with the gene of this kind of jellyfish and somehow genetically apply that to human?

Certainly, it is not something will happen tomorrow, this year, or even this decade. Similar to human cloning, such contemplating with immortality will definitely ignite moral and legal debate from all sides. Considers the implications of immortality, the debate would certainly be much more complicated and intense than human cloning. As the article suggests, those immortal jellyfish never die, if that happen to many human beings, can our earth resource handle that? If that only be applied to few people, who have the right to do that? At what cost? Would that be reversible? Most religions would oppose it without doubt, cos many of them feed on human beings’ scare or hope in afterlife. By being immortal, will people be less religious? Also, for religious people, by tempting to be like God – being immortal, would we be punished?...just so many different thoughts….

Well, yes, just because we can do it, doesn’t mean that we should! However, scientists by nature are just doing their jobs by proving if something can or cannot be done. I’m sure they will get funding to do this kind of research and nobody can stop them from doing it. All I can stay is that: “Stay tuned for more in future!”

Thursday, March 18, 2010


One of my interests is reading materials about international relations. I know it is a boring topic to most people as they all have their busy lives to live, what matter to them are things that would affect them closely, like what’s happening in their social circles, their community or city that they are living in at most. Anything beyond that on national level has already been deemed as too far away to matter, let alone international affairs! Perhaps, it is because it is just too ‘far’ from a personal level, I find it to be interesting as a ‘spectator’ on how countries interact with each other and guess what motives are behind them. Yes, I did separately blogged that international incidents can impact individuals, like U.S. financial health would no doubt affect international economy which will impact most nations, such as affecting interest rate, currency exchange, import/export and trades, etc. However, it is not what I’m blogging about this time. I’m talking about WWIII, yes, it is World War III! It got me thinking about this as a result of reading some articles about U.S. military spending and its current involvement in Afghanistan, Iraq and potential Iran.

I’m no prophet to know the future. I just express my view based on what I’ve read and my limited intelligence. Certainly, nobody would like to see WWIII happens, not in their life times for obvious reason. For people who are parents, they don’t want that to happen to their children neither. I would say that, since the end of WWII, there have been talks about WWIII: when will it happens? how will it get started?. Those talks translated into books or novels etc. Certainly, with the surge of popularity of prophecy every now and then, when people talk about the end of the world, if it is not caused by natural disasters like asteroid, sudden shift of earth axis, or new deadly virus, war is certainly a very logical option that could cause the end of the world. Particularly, when we consider what we human did to ourselves not too long ago and what we are capable of with the stockpiles of WMD that our world currently has.

I came across some scenarios on how WWIII gets started, the usual involving parties are NATO (including U.S.), Russia, China, and M.E. countries. Of course, those parties changed over the past few decades, like U.S.S.R. and Warsaw Pact got dismantled, and the rise of China which is deemed by some hawks as a potential villain to the West, etc. In my opinion, unlike WWII, in which the aggressors were clearly with evil goals and motive: Nazi wanted to exterminate the Jewish people, Italy and Japan were fascists to tag along. WWIII may not be that clear cut. In spite of the fact that George Bush named Iraq, Iran, and North Korea as the ‘Axis of Evil’, I’m not sure if they will can neither start WWIII nor even be on the evil side.

For a war between 2 countries next to each other, that’s a regional war. When we talk about a World War, it is got to be global, at least cross continents. As the Cold war was over, the power balance in the world was shifted drastically from bipolar to unipolar which is led by the U.S. with NATO tagging along. If WWIII happens, I can’t see it without American involves. Under the current global power balance situation, I think the possibility of WWIII should be quite lower. Imagine that there is only one ‘really BIG guy’ in the playground, unless the big guy wanna start a fight, would any little guy be dumb enough to pick a fight with the big guy knowing that the big guy will beat the crap out of him? I don’t think any rational small guy will do that. In fact, the big guy is already dominant, he doesn’t need to fight to be or stay number one. For now, I don’t see any other guy is planning or even potentially strong enough to dethrone him.

Let’s take a look at the usual suspects of large scale of war today.

Consider that Russia didn’t go to war with the U.S. (though it ‘almost’ did during the Cuba Crisis in the 1960s) when it was more capable and had ideological reason to do that when it was in the form of the U.S.S.R., I can’t see any reason Russia will start a fight with the U.S. now, though it still has piles of WMDs. Russia’s economy is still too fragile as it is heavily depend on oils. It can’t afford to have a prolonged arm race with the U.S.

China is too busy with its economy. Its military spending has been up for many years. Though the Pentagon hawks have been trying to portrait China as a potential threat to U.S.’s military supremacy, I just don’t believe China’s expansion is anything but defensive. Tibet and Xinjian regions are not volatile enough to create international arm conflicts, they pose real threat to China’s civil integrity but not national security. Taiwan is a separate issue, but I doubt Taiwan dare to do things to trigger military actions from PRC. Also, even if such unfortunate thing happen, I don’t see U.S. will participate direct military conflict with China. Taiwan is important in American’s global chess setup, but it is not important enough to risk the potential number of America lives in direct conflicts with China.

Some suggest that SCO – Shanghai Cooperative Organization which composes of Russia, China and 4 other Central Asia states is a potential rival to NATO. I think that China and Russia can cooperate to some extents, but both of them know that the whole organization is like a cart pulling by two horses without a horseman. How far it can go and where it will go really depend on a lot of diplomacy, aka gives and takes, rather than by one single dominant power. So, this alliance will only work on mutually beneficial interests, like economic development and security in the region which will most likely be defined by defense rather than expansion of interests. SCO has not and I doubt it will ever become another Warsaw Pact. Cos, the organization members and potential members just have too diverse national interests and respective historical burden to become an unity on military front. SCO is neither united by ideology nor any cooperated expanding interest. So, I can’t see it as an aggressor or any kind. Cos, countries of SCO neither need land nor resources via military means.

So, the ultimate volatile region is the Middle East. Both Iran and Iraq are now dominated by Shiite, so there won’t be Iran-Iraq war unless there is another a radical Sunni dictator arise in Iraq again. Other ME countries are stockpiled with conventional weapons, as long as Sunni and Shiite are not in serious conflict that can't resolve without war, they should be able to get along with each other. So, the master of all conflicts would be the one between Israel vs the rest of Arabs in ME. The ME has never been truly peaceful in the last 60 years or so, and all conflicts there went as far as regional wars at most. However, the situation has been changed in recent years. The most critical of all are the answers of :

- Whether Iran is really going nuke or not?

- Whether Israel can tolerate the threat of Iran having nuke? which will also depend on whether

Iran is insane enough to nuke Israel if it has ever got access on nuke.

The whole ‘game of Chicken’ between Israel and Iran is really the only major potential cause of a nuclear war that I can think of. Cos, if Israel is involved in nuclear war with Iran, U.S. will no doubt involve and so does NATO. I don’t see Iran can get any country backing them military. I guess other nuclear powers are just not gonna risk themselves to go against the U.S. Yes, Russian and Chinese have investments and economic interests in Iran, but will they willing to risk their lives to defend Iran in conflicts with the U.S.? I guess not.

So, even if U.S. is involved in a nuclear war with Iran. I doubt it will last long in terms of the heavy military actions, cos once nukes are fired, the destruction is quick and massive. There won’t be much left in the cities that got hit. If Jerusalem or Tel Av iv got hit, consider the size of the country, it can almost pronounce the death of Israel. Since the war will be painful but quick, I just can’t see it will be prolonged and spilled to other countries across continents that can be defined as a world war. Certainly, after blood has been shed, hatred between ethic groups will last for generations. There will be surge of terrorist activities against the West for years to come.

Nevertheless, I don’t think WWIII will happen under even such horrible scenario of nuclear war in ME. Therefore, unless there is a birth of Anti-Christ as some prophecies have predicted, I just can't see how WWIII can happen in foreseeable future.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Lady Gaga

As a ‘veteran’ of music fan, I’ve glad to be able to live through the modern pop music era with the monumental event of the birth of MTV. I enjoy music video as a natural metamorphosis of music in the form of visual elaboration and interpretation of lyrics, usually with the aid of artist performance. In terms of pop female artists, it is no doubt that Madonna is the Queen or Mother of all. With her as the pioneer, dozens of follow up (Paula Abdul, Janet Jackson, Britney Spears, Kylie Minogue, Christina Agurlera, Kerry Clarkson, Beyonce, etc) have been blossoming along the way in the last 20+years of so. They all have their ups and downs, nonetheless, the continuous pop-up of these Madonna protégés definitely show that how successful Madonna’s formula of success is.

Few years ago, when Madonna performed on an award show with Britney and Christina as guests, it was deemed that Madonna had kinda ‘officially’ passed the baton to them. Of course, Madonna didn’t retire since then and had still stolen all the thunder in her every high-profile appearance. With the relative ‘tanking’ of both Britney and Christina, it is kinda given Beyonce the crown of pop female artist in Madonna’s absence. Then, in 2008, here came Miss. Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta aka Lady Gaga.

I didn’t pay much attention to Lady Gaga till last year. For me, I thought she is just another Pink back then. I listened to her albums – Fame and Fame Monster. She sings alright, the music is of the genre of electro pop with some sonic engineering. Beats and rhythm are catchy. However, my experience as a pop music fan told me that her music will come and go, just like the others. So far, she sold more than 10 million albums and won awards as well, so far so good. I’m no social critic, but her surge in popularity does raise some eyebrows of the generations older than her and her fans.

I can’t dissect how she gains her popularity. Music wise, she is ok. I think she gained her fame above the others from her outrageous appearances and images. Those smoky eyes makeup while she met Queen Elizabeth II, the lobster face mask? I don’t know what to call it, etc. She reminded me of a female version of the young David Bowie and Elton John. I’ve never really caught a glimpse of her music video until last night on Youtube. The debut of her new song with Beyonce Telephone with a MV of 9+ minutes long was the first time I really see what kind of image she is presenting in her performance. Well, I’m an open-minded person. I think for my age, her image and performance are absolutely fine with me in view of the freedom of artistic expression and all that. Certainly, parental guidance should be granted to children for watching her. Actually, after seeing Britney’s womanizer video, Lady Gaga’s outfit in Telephone doesn’t really shock me. To be honest, she is not pretty. To me, she looks like to me a female version of Marilyn Manson. Provocative? Yes. Attractive? Definitely Not.

I would say that Lady Gaga’s image is definitely a further development building upon the success of Madonna. Unlike Britney or the others who are more like copycats that can’t really exceed what Madonna has done, Lady Gaga certainly further push the envelope. Does it a ‘good’ further development or not? Well, since I don’t see anyone has push to another direction, I can’t say she is good or not. However, I’m not sure why I just can’t see Madonna would do the same things that Lady Gaga does. Maybe, I think what Lady Gaga does are a bit ‘dirty’. I’m not sure if that’s the right word, but it is like…you can act dirty but still retain a certain level of ‘grace’, but Lady Gaga to me is downright dirty without that ‘grace’. Perhaps, it has something to do with herself that she is just not pretty.

Also, with the envelope that Lady Gaga has been pushed so far, it is certainly outrageous. I’m not sure how far she can further push. If she is going back, she will most likely cover some grounds that Madonna has already been there done that. Certainly, younger generation of fans might have not seen that before, so she will still be fine. However, she would not be considered as a trail brazer in terms of pop persona. Nevertheless, after view her video, though that hasn’t converted me as a fan of her, I will definitely check out her next chapter down the road for the sake of entertainment.

Monday, March 15, 2010


Departure is commonplace in everybody’s life. The older we get, the more custom to it we should be. Nevertheless, unless we are able to completely detach ourselves emotionally when departure happens, we can’t help to have certain feeling towards it.

The ultimate departure in our life is gotta be ‘death’. Regarding this topic, I think I did blog that before. I’m not gonna repeat myself here unless I’ve new view on this topic. Beside death, departure has no exception but either people leave us or we leave them behind. Usually, the former occurs more often around us unless we only know one people in my life. That’s purely based on probability. The latter doesn’t occur very often; sometime it may not happen at all. In fact, there are people that I know who stay in the same place since their births. So, they only have experience of people leaving them.

With that many years of life experience, I’ve experienced pretty much most (not all) kinds of departure. Certainly, the departures that had happened to me and surrounding me are not as dramatic as those like being legally deported or illegally smuggled out, or escaping from war/crisis, that sort of things. Speaking of my ‘mild’departure experience, I do have few words to share with others.

For being left behind – we have so many encounters in our life that departure actually happens all the time around us. Surely, what matter to us are those people that we care about. Even for that, further breakdowns can be done that could deduce very different feelings. Firstly, things make a big difference on whether we know the departure beforehand or as an after fact from the time perspective of the last meeting with that person. For example, that may lead to whether we have or don’t have farewell party or more dramatic emotional outpour in the encounter. For further breakdown, it also depends on whether the departure is known to the departed one before our last meeting or not. He/ she may know that he/she is going to leave, but doesn’t want to tell anyone. Or, he/she may have a casual meeting with you before he/she learned that he/she gotta leave. Certainly, the type of departure here I’m talking about are those like emigration, studying/working aboard, that sorts of lengthy separation, not going for a tourist resort for two weeks. Furthermore, if death involves, e.g. if the departed person has fatal illness, emotion could be jacked up exponentially among folks involved.

However, there are other types of departures for being left behind that also happens a lot, but we don’t really think about that too much. Obviously, that’s not something make us cry easily, at least that had never made me. What I’m talking about are those ‘subtle’ departures that always happen as after thoughts and we don’t realize it until we are reminded. For example, we may have next door neighbors that moved out, even within the same city, but for some reasons, we just didn’t keep in touch and have never seen each other again for decades if not more. We don’t know if the neighbors’ whereabouts or whatsoever. When we think about it, he/she just left naturally, logically, and seamlessly. We just accept that as a matter of modern life. However, we may still retain some flashes of memory about encounters with the neighbors whether they are good or bad. Similar cases also happen to graduation from schools of different grades¸ or resignations of coworkers at your workplace, etc. Those people may still be around in the same big city that we are living in. Nonetheless, as we all have our busy or routine lives, our paths just have not crossed with those departed anymore. If not for any wedding, reunion, funeral, or being reported on the news, we may not see each other again. It could be a sad thought if you really think about it. Meanwhile, it is also a natural part of being matured.

To leave others behind – Certainly, to relocate your life to have a new start somewhere else geographically doesn’t happen to everyone. I had that experience and I’ve never regret for a moment. Yes, looking back, I had occasionally been asked the ‘what if’ questions. What if I had stayed? What would happen to my life if I didn’t make the move? Well, that is an ‘opportunity cost’ question. Since we cannot go back to choose differently, we will never know the answer. So, for me, since I do find my departure experience irreplaceable and valuable, I just don’t care too much about the ‘what if’ questions. I remember a movie that I found quite interesting back then (still now), the movie is ‘Sliding Door’ which portraits the two paths of life by playing out with a simple daily incident of ‘able to catch or miss’ a train ride, the different results ended up changed the married life of the character. Certainly, it is a movie, but I don’t see life would be very different. So, how can I answer what my life would be if I didn’t leave, let alone leaving my birth place for an extended period of time!

I can’t speak for others but myself. I find that the feeling of leaving others is better than being left behind. Don’t get me wrong here that I’m not applying that to love relationship. Readers can certainly interpret what they want. I’m just talking about a geographical relocation to have a new start of life. Cos, for being left behind, the person who has a new start is the departed person, not us. We will most likely still live the same place, go the same school, work at the same place, etc. It is neither good nor bad. The only difference is a person that you know/care will no longer be in your livelihood.

On the contrary, for being the departed person, once you override your sadness of leaving all behind to a new place, what’s ahead of us is a new beginning. The more miserable and unpromising the behind is, the more exciting and fresh the beginning will be. The unknown could be viewed as a worriness as well as excitement. Regardless, able to get to know the unknown is a challenge. I don’t wanna exaggerate the new beginning as a ‘rebirth’, but to some extents, I did find that as a new chapter of life that was be full of promises. Especially when I was young, I did feel that my life was finally coming to be in my grip. There was new hope as I flipped a new chapter of my life in the uncharterred territory. So, my feeling of departure wasn’t bad by most means. However, different departures at different point of time in life would post different concern and generate different feelings. It all depends. One thing that I think would not change is that each departure regardless its kind is a lesson of life itself. We will always learn something by living through it. It is always better to have a positive attitude to face it, even though it may not be very good or even worse than before. Rather than spending time missing the past, holding on the forgone feeling that you can’t grab, if we have no alternative but have to face the future, we better look at the bright side than just staying passive and get ‘smack’ by it like hitting tide of waves.

Just some thoughts that I wanna share.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Hollywood Supremacy

The Academy Award winners for this year have just been announced three days ago. I’m not gonna blog about them here like other bloggers did. Instead, it kinda inspires me to think about how powerful the Hollywood machine is, as a driver of the American culture supremacy in the world.

These days, people inside and outside of China are talking about the rise of the country on the world stage. China itself also senses that in order to become a real ‘world’ power, it should also have a strong ‘soft power’. I’m not gonna talk much about the current status of China’s ‘soft power’, cos I really don’t know much. All I can see is that, it still has a long way to go. So, I’m just wanna talk about American’s soft power, and Hollywood is regarded as a symbol of that.

In terms of the soft power of a country, actually it includes sports, intellectual properties, and others. For here, when I mention ‘Hollywood’, it is not just about movies, I really mean the entertainment industry aka. the ‘showbiz’ in general.

Though we know that American’s financial well being is in trouble, and some people are talking about the decline of an empire. In spite of those troubles, American’s showbiz is still mighty strong on both domestic and international fronts. Its influence is still prevalent. We all acknowledge that national security, wealth and health are all important, but when those relatively ‘boring’ aspect are kinda settled, showbiz does have its strong presence in the psychic of most people. Looking at it on a microscopic level in a society, regular people do look for entertainments after works either in good times or bad times. For me, I have no statistics or data to support my views, certainly if people are interested, there are tons of materials that can be googled.

American Showbiz is making tens of billions each year. It is not just because of its huge size, it is also the exponential power it generated by tying different components in the entertainment industry together to create the “1 + 1 > 2” effect that showbiz in other countries can only dream about.

Let’s start with movies. Unlike many countries which are subsidized or highly regulated by governments, American movie industry has been very well-developed with its own system that has functioned properly for years. Hollywood is run by studios which are owned privately by many media giants (like Fox, Paramount, Universal, etc) with arms in many other industries. Studios have systems and well-established relationship with unions of professionals playing various roles in movie making. Certainly the different components of the showbiz are smoothened by ‘oil’ aka money and stuck by ‘glue’ aka rules that are fed by lawyers and accountants. As such, professionals can feel comfortable to do their jobs and make their money in the showbiz.

Hollywood studios need money and talents to make movies. With profitable movies, they make their money and attract talents to join the industry. It has been so far an upward spiral cycle. Yes, they have their share of trouble like their stubborn fight of piracy and all that. However, the system has been working pretty well on both money and talent fronts. Hollywood studios with their sheer size reap most of their profit from their ‘blockbusters’, which are ‘tent poles’ of weekends in the summer season that has been started earlier in recent years (currently it start as early as late April and end by August end). Each week in summer, you will see blockbusters got released, sometimes studios competes in certain weekends head on, sometimes they simply leave one alone to own the weekend’s box office. Blockbusters are expensive investments which are used to budgets over $100M, some of recent one could reach to $300M or more (Avatar was rumor to cost $500M). Some blockbusters will also be released in other times of the year if they can’t be stuff in the packed summer months, so as to keep people going to movie all through the year.

This blockbuster trend started with Jaws back in the 70s, and has been working for the decades since. Many blockbusters then got developed into franchises, namely making sequels or prequels to become trilogy, tetralogy, etc. As the cost of making potential blockbusters is high, once a formula works, studios just find it nonsense to let go until it can milk the last cent of it. Also, technically it is cheaper to produce sequels in spite of the potential higher price the stars may charge; the marketing cost and technical cost are relatively lower. As the risks on those sides are hedged, so sequels are usually easier to get green light to go. On top of that, if studios smell potential of developing a movie franchise, it will sign stars for the whole franchise rather than re-negotiating their salary once the first movie becomes a hit. Also, studios intends to use those so-called ‘up and coming’ actors to start in franchise. On the surface of it is to grow new talent, it is true but the lower price they charge is the usually the real deal.

Those franchises are typically, but not limited to the action/sci-fi genre, it also includes horror, comedy, and others as well, basically any movie that make good money. Usually, movies will become franchise are those with recurring character(s) (e.g. Die Hard, Matrix¸ Lethal Weapons, etc) or themes (e.g. Screams, Final Destination, etc). As those franchises age, they can’t be milked as much money as before, they will decline eventually. However, as time goes by, Hollywood studios in the recent years start to ‘reboot’ old franchises, like the Batman, Star Trek, and Nightmare on Elm Street. Studios give new life to those franchises with younger faces and the advancement of technology, especially CG. Once the movie is successful, then here we go sequels again.

Studios don’t just make money from the movies, they have a very well developed downstream and peripherals that tied to those movies as a network. You can say that each blockbuster or franchise is really a business by itself. After the movie is shown in cinema, the movie will be shown in pay-per-view, cable, networks, and regional TV stations continuously in years to come. It will be distributed online, on Blu-ray, DVD as well. Also, there are tons of movie-related products, a movie can be spin to novel, comic, soundtrack, online/console games, toys, merchandises, and theme park rides. Consider the above components be applied both U.S. domestically and internationally, the $$$ generated from a franchise is just huge! I’ve not even mentioned what role ‘creative’ accounting can be played in the bottom lines calculation.

So, where are those franchises coming from? Hollywood studios have never exhausted of idea. As all media is well tied in the same ecosystem. Certainly, there is some originality in their ideas here and there, like Avatar had been on Jim Cameron’s mind for 15 years. However, there are also many sources for creating potential blockbusters. Movie makers will go to novels (like books by John Grisham and Michael Crichton), comic books (characters from Marvel and DC Comics), old TV shows (Fugitive, 24?), real life characters in news (Nixon, Mandela, etc) to get ideas. Also, they have money to buy right of scripts all over the world and do remake as well (e.g. The Ring, The Departed). Once a blockbuster is born, the whole business based upon will grow as I mentioned above. The cross cultivation of media as a result of those blockbusters actually set up a very successful foundation for business for years to come. For example, when the movie Silence of the Lamb became a success, not only the novel was selling well, it even pushes Thomas Harris, the author of the novel, to start writing new novel with the idea in mind for movie-making, as current available script for the main character has been running out after the prequel and sequel of the novel were made into movies.

Thousands year before, people are sitting at the temple steps, looking at the Statue of Greek gods, and listen to elders to talk about those legendary myths. These days, Hollywood not only churn out its own mythical heroes (like Spiderman, Matrix’s Neo, etc), it also embraces mythical stories of all cultures (Harry Potters, Mulan, 300, etc) and transform them into its own products, then spread across the globe.

As it is mentioned above, Hollywood studios live on blockbusters, but their system is smart enough to cultivate talents as well. They can only make so many blockbusters in a year, so they use some profits from the blockbusters to support smaller films. Certainly, there is a well-established Indies film culture in the U.S., like the famous Sundance festival. Studios not only pick films from those festivals, but more importantly, recruit behind the scene talents from there to make movies for the studios. Those talents are relatively cheap and fresh with creativity. If established actors saw and like those Indies films, they won’t mind to work with those Indies green directors on studios’ films. Studios will assign smaller budgets for those green directors to make small films to fill the off seasons. If they are good enough, they may make films that aimed to compete for Oscars or other awards. If those movies win any award, they will usually turn to profit in box-office at the end. If not, it may still to reap some money back on DVD, cable, etc. Green behind the scene talents are not just from Indies film festivals. They can be established directors who are already successful aboard (e.g. John Woo, Hideo Nakata), or they can be from making music videos before (e.g. Michael Bay), or even from making Youtube video for God sake! Like that guy, who makes the alien invasion clip from Uruguay, just became a protégé of Sam Raimi, the director of Spiderman, after his clip became a hit on the net and also passed around in Hollywood.

On the screen wise, Hollywood has not lacked of talents, besides the established stars, there are thousands of young people are lining up for opportunity to be in movies. Just go to any restaurants in L.A., you can find very pretty young men and women who are part-time waiters and waitress, aspiring to be actors and actresses. Indeed, many famous stars and starlets were in their shoes before. There is just no shortage of acting talents, besides from movies, don’t forget that Hollywood also get actors and actresses from TV (e.g. Tim Allen¸ Jennifer Aniston) or Broadway (e.g. Kevin Spacey, Nathan Lane) as well. On top of those homegrown pools, studios also recruit famous actors and actresses from aboard to be in Hollywood films to conquest the oversea markets that the stars are coming from (e.g. Chow Yun Fat, Salma Hayek, and Jet Li).

Hollywood studios also wisely cultivate new generation of up-and-coming actors and actresses by pairing them with older established stars in movies as well to bring them up to the audiences (e.g. pairing Brad Pitt with Harrison Ford in The Devin’s Own, Edward Norton and Richard Gere in Primal Fear). Doing that way, it can make sure there will be news herds of stars to hold the baton from older generations of stars. So, you can see there are stars among all age groups in Hollywood to make sure they are all covered to meet the needs of different movies. In recent years, that not only expands along age line, but also on races as well. Yes, though power of Hollywood remains in the hands of White men, they are liberally enough to understand that as long as the movies are making the ‘green’, it doesn’t matter those in movies are black or white or yellow.

Hollywood studios have established or support all kinds of awards to brush up the ‘fame’ side of their people and products. Whether the awards are determined by the ‘so-called’ people (like People’s Choice Award) or by insiders (Academy Awards), it doesn’t really matter. Cos, it is all about making their people famous which have ultimately effect on bringing in audiences to see their movies after all. With years go by, those awards had become more established and gained prestige along the way, so they become widely recognizable in the world, everybody in movie industry all over the world regards getting those awards, or even being nominated¸ are such an honor that, they are getting more and more willing to be recruited by Hollywood to be part of this giant money-making machine.

As Hollywood’s movies have global markets, studios are able to afford large paychecks to its actors/actresses. The money that the tier-1 stars make is just astronomical. Though the actual amount that really goes to a star’s pocket is only about half what they are reported as what he/she is paid for starring a movie. For example, when Mr. so and so is paid $20M for a picture, he only pocketed about $10M for real. All the rest goes to paying tax, accountant, lawyer, agent, assistants etc. Kinda like the star is the lead of a pack of wolfs, when a star is hired for a movie, actually a team of people is on payroll indirectly as well. Also, with the mighty work of studio finance, some stars would pay less up front but share basis points of profit from the movie with their faces on. That had been working well for the stars for many years. Jack Nicholson had reportedly made $50M from starring in Batman back in late 80s with such arrangement. Since then many stars have followed. However, studios are not stupid enough to let the agencies of stars to hijack the profit of their products. They do start to hedge their blockbusters in many ways, like using younger actors (Shia LeBeouf and Megan Fox in Transformers, signing them for a whole franchise, going into animation (e.g. Shrek) or creating franchise based on characters that are less dependent on stars (e.g. Spiderman, Hulk), etc. As a result, Hollywood studios are still able to make great money steadily. I don’t see there is any other movie industry outside Hollywood will be as organized, financially creative and successful in my lifetime.

With the global reach and commercial power of Hollywood, anything related to it are magnified and gain acceptance in different parts of the world and does become part of modern culture. Hollywood movies and its peripherals in different media just embedded with American values and products that affect the people all over the world. Hollywood’s value became the de facto standard of fame to be measured against. It affects what many people like, what they buy, what they aspire to become. Some people in those so-called rouge states may hate the U.S. government, but their kids will undoubtedly find Mickey Mouse cute, and wanna play with a Bumblebee toy. Wonder why some Asian women dyed their hair blond, and you rarely see blond girls dyed their hair black except those into gothic? Wonder why those Italian fashion designers can charge hefty premium on their products? Wonder not why but what women are modeled after in plastic surgery for beauty? Wonder when did Rap, an American ghetto culture, become a hit among young people of all creeds globally even for those whose relationship to ghetto is like human to giant squid? All these can be explained by the far reach of American’s ‘super soft power’ spreading by its arm in the name of Hollywood.

With the money-making machine keep making ‘ka-ching’ sound and the continuous upgrade in technology (e.g. the latest craze of 3D), Hollywood will continue to attract talents to make more movies and make more profits. Regardless of what some people say, I just don’t see how Hollywood supremacy will demise any time soon. Cos, Hollywood itself is really a product of its society and culture. Unless, there is similar soil elsewhere, I just don’t see any serious competitor that can potentially replace it. Furthermore, I guess that if Hollywood ‘smells’ similar soil somewhere, rather than letting a competitor to grow, Hollywood will probably transplant itself there and devour the budding competitor by all means. From the potential competitor’s point of view, if it can’t fight Hollywood, why doesn’t it just join Hollywood and become part of it? I think that would be more likely to happen and those competitor may even be willingly devoured by Hollywood with a false sense of honor! Kinda like a fish swim inside the mouth of a whale!

I guess this is the longest blog I’ve ever written. Hopefully, it won’t bore anyone. Just wonder how many people are patiently enough to read it through till here. If you are, I just wanna say ‘thanks’!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Our characters

There are many schools of analysis in dissecting human characters. I’m no expert and doesn’t necessary buy 100% of any school of thought. However, there is one quite simple theory that I learnt in high school from a catholic priest that I found very interesting and insightful that I want to bring up here. Just wanna share with whoever interested. In fact, this theory should have a name and must be come up by someone, but I don’t remember what it is, so I can’t provide that here. However, if anyone happens to know, please leave a comment.

The theory is that human character can be grouped under one of the following 4 mutually exclusive categories:

1. I know, and they know.
2. I know, but they don’t know.
3. I don’t know, but they know.
4. I don’t know, neither do they.

The ‘they’ here means anyone except mine.

I know and they know – This share of characters is the usually the largest among all. In fact, the ‘character’ here does also apply to information as well. For example, I like music and I tell people what music I like. Or, visitors can see the music collection I had if they know me, or simply visit my blog or else. Then, my hobby/interest is disclosed to the public. In terms of character, if I am an optimistic person, I would encourage people when they are down, and look at the bright side myself when I’ve problem. As this behavior will be shown and made to be known, so it becomes part of public profile about myself that everybody knows.

I know, but they don’t know – This is easy to understand. It is about those things so-called personal secret. Of course, I’m not gonna talk about mine here. Cos, once I disclose it, it will automatically become ‘I know and they know’. Things that belong to this category are mostly about thoughts in your brain¸ or activity that are secretly done. One thing I wanna point out is that. Secrets here are those only known by oneself. If there is a secret between you and your spouse, there is still not ‘secret’ enough to fit in this category, unless he/she passes away without leaving any trace of record about ‘our’ secret. Cos, even if he/she promises not to talk about it, only God knows someday he/she may tell someone about that. Also, this category doesn’t only include those ‘top secret’ serious stuffs, something very simple would fit this category as well. For example, if I’ve a fantasy of having certain superpowers and I’ve never told anyone about that, this fantasy fits to this category as well.

I don’t know, but they know – when I first heard of this category, I was very surprised of its existence. How can there be something about me that other people know but I don’t? However, it does exist. Similar to the category above, once I know it either because I was told by the others or I realize it myself somehow as I get to know myself better, it will become a ‘I know, and they know’ item. For example, when I was young (I mean really young), I thought I was a very patient person comparing to most people. However, in fact, I wasn’t patient at all, I could not stand still while waiting in line and always try to look over the shoulders of the person in front of me to see if he/she was about to finish of what he/she was doing? Also, I always held the exact amount in my hand already while I was waiting to pay for my purchase, cos I didn’t wanna waste time to open wallet to sort out dollar notes and coins at the counter. Similarly, I liked to cut short of what other people’s words while they were talking to me, cos I thought I already knew what they were gonna say just based on what they had already said. All these behavior showed that I was not a patient person, but I didn’t realize it until others told me that I was very impatient in many things and told me of the incidents above. As a side track thing, just get me knowing myself better does not necessary make me to change…

I don’t know, neither do they – this category had been a mystery to me until I was told of an example. Certainly, hopefully that is not gonna happen to me. That example was that a person who was well known (including herself) to be a very pro-life person, suddenly kill someone out of an impulse. Then, everyone including herself was surprised by her action. That’s a result of her shadow/hidden character of a person that she didn’t know that exists within her. Usually, this category of characters is either something very good or very bad, dramatic for sure, also the size of this share of category is also unknown as well.

Not sure if the above breakdown of characters would provoke any thought on readers, I just wanna blog it as trivial lesson that I learnt when I was young to share with anyone interested.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Up in the Air

I went with my wife to see ‘Up in the Air’ last weekend. Originally, I was thinking about seeing ‘Alice in the Wonderland’, but I could get the ticket for that. So, I chose this one instead. Did I regret it? Not a bit!

I read some blogs about this movie and decided to check that out. The overall of this movie is good. I think the script is tight and the acting in the movies is quite decent. It is a movie laterally about a professional traveler’s life, aka. ‘a bird without legs’. What if that bird suddenly has a pair of legs and need to learn how to use it? Many people regard traveling as a mean, but for the main character of the movie, it is an ultimate end rather. I always like to see movies or read books about people who have very different experience than mine. Hey, that’s what movie should be all about – to escape of reality. This movie certainly does that.

I’m not gonna go via the story plot in details, please refer to wiki if you are interested. I would say that the story itself is really a timepiece that reflects a certain days and age of modern life. When we look back this movie in a decade or so, we will look back and get a laugh on how people are using blackberry in our communication today, like in the movie that they use it in flirting between a couple, in breakup of relationship, and basically for running our daily itinerary. Also, it shows the pros and cons of video conference and face-to-face meeting in business setting, how they will play out and all that. I think it is interesting to show that video conference can only do so much in some situation when many companies are so overwhelmingly promoting it these days. Also, the job of being a hired gun to fire people from job just show how bad the current U.S. economy is, and how chicken out some corporations in handling their HR issues. In spite of the movie try to spin the depressing mood of how people can react to being fire at the end of the movie, it just can’t hide the pain that most people do suffer when such news broke out. To be honest, those scenes did generate few flashes of uncomfortable thoughts cross my mind when I was seeing it….

Well, the acting is decent, I’ve never been a fan of George Clooney. He is a good actor I was told, but this role doesn’t require him to do much dramatically emotional. He just plays a cool smartass single bachelor, kinda just playing himself in real life I guess. He doesn’t need to lose or gain weight to play his role, no crying or screaming, I don’t know why he is nominated for an Oscar though he lost anyway. Nonetheless, he did fit this role perfectly, better than other A-list actors if they were playing it. On the contrary, I found the acting of the actresses in this movie actually a bit better than George Clooney’s. Though they are not very well-known, they do give me surprise in terms of their acting. Vera Farmiga did play a very good role as a female equivalent of George Clooney. Her acting and the premise of her role is so convincing that I do believe she women did exist in real life. Anna Kendrick as the protégé of George Clooney in learning the real life of a hired gun is just funny and I do believe that’s how many young grads who are borned in 1980s really behave that way. They are not well-known actresses, which make them more believable than as if they were played by Nicole Kidman or someone famous.

Overall, I enjoy this movie, did have a good time watching it.

Monday, March 1, 2010

A wish to be somebody....

I read someone’s blog a while ago about an idea of “If you can be someone for one day, who do you want to be?”

The blogger’s response was that he would like to be a beautiful celebrity (I forgot her name), just to experience being a woman and being famous for a day.

I did use my limited imagination to think about my answer to this question. I have few persons on my mind, however, my final chosen one is to be Japanese Emperor Akihito.

Actually, I want to be him to do one thing which may actually take more than 1 day, but anyway what I would do if I were him is to follow what Willy Brandt did in Dec 1970.

After being elected as the Chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany in 1969, when Brandt visited the famous Warschauer Kniefall, he apparently spontaneously, knelt down at the monument to victims of Warsaw Ghetto Uprising. The uprising took place during the Nazi German military occupation of Poland, and the monument is for the victims killed by the German troops who suppressed the uprising and deported remaining ghetto residents to the concentration camps for extermination. That famous sentimental gesture was later widely appraised by many people as the symbolic moment of showing German’s complete acknowledgement of their sin, in return general forgiveness was offered by most people in the victim countries.

Certainly, German has no longer a country ruled by facism or Nazism. Yes, there are still some extreme right wing groups in Germany who openly admire Nazi. However, at least most of German’s foreign policies with military-related actions that ‘could’ be accused as the re-uprising of Nazism were not being actually accused. Whatever actions that those neo-Nazi groups took within German were not exaggerated as to be something that the Germany country or the general German population themselves adore. As such, Germany and its people are able to have equal and respectful relationship with most people in the former Nazi victim countries.

I wish that can take place between Japan and its neighbors as well.

Therefore, if I were Emperor Akihito, I would demand a visit to Nanjing. Then, I will make an unannounced stop to the “Memorial for compatriots killed in the Nanjing Massacre by Japanese Forces of Aggression” and get down there on both knees for a minute in silence, then I will give three deep bows and leave without saying a word. Cos, my action would speak itself.

My action would create an aftermath of shock in Japan, China and Korea as well. I’m not sure if most Chinese and Koreans would accept my gesture the way that Poland, and other Nazi victims did for Brandt. However, I think that would probably the easiest and most effective way to put an official closure to all the pain and suffering caused by the Imperial Army’s crime in WWII, and hopefully, the post-war born people and the leaders in the region can put that constant resurging issue of ‘Japan has never apologized for its war crime’ to rest once for all.

Well, it is just my fantasy, I don’t mean to be trying to be a national hero or something. But, if we can ever have a rare chance to be somebody, I think we should try to doing something good with such gift.