Monday, April 30, 2012

The Avengers

Finally, I got the chance to check out the The Avengers over the weekend. I think Joss Whedon did a good job a director to balance the assemble of so many characters in these superhero movie. It is better than expected in that regards. In terms of acting, I think most of them did what they could already. First of all, the main characters already got their respective movie to build up their traits: the wise ass Iron Man, the woody Captain America, the impulsive Thor, and the two-extremes misdemeanor of the Hulk, they are all recognizable characters. Black widow and Hawkeye would need more to let audience know what they are all about, but based on the dialog, it did give them some depths rather than just being 2 two-dimensional characters. It would be nice to have a movie about their past. Nick Fury is also an interesting character that Marvel can consider to explore further. He is more or less a Professor X to me.  

I found the story is a bit too straight forward and simple. Basically, it is about the bad guys open the worm hole and let aliens to invade earth, and the superheroes cooperating together to defend the earth. It would be nice to have a bit more meat to the script. However, since this movie is just difficult to write by its nature, a too complex script would be too much to digest by some people. Not everyone can write a Matrix or The Dark Knight, if you know what I’m saying! Unlike those 2 movies, it would be a bit too much to ask for a complex story that is good enough for so many well-known established characters to balance out. Thus, I would give a pass on the story. It is a comic hero movie after all.

Now, the meat of the movie is certainly about the actions and CG. I would say that they are very good! The 3G part is not the best, it works in some occasions, but I think the movie would still work without that. I think the flying aircraft carrier is nice, Iron Man to put on the new Mark VIII suit was coolest screen in the movie. The fight between Iron Man and Thor is good, and I love every single fight scene with the Hulk in it. He just outshines the rest of the cast.

Anyway, I would think that this movie is entertaining enough to capture my attention throughout for two and a half hour. What more can I ask? The bottom line is that I enjoy this movie, though it is not the best superhero movie, it is good enough and I don’t mind to see this again. It deserves a B+.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

IP in China

It reminds me of Agenda Smith in Matrix Revolution! Intellectual Property right in China is still in wild wild west!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012


A local celebrity has just come out of the closet and announced to the world publicly that he is gay. I’m just surprised that it is even considered as news these days. Come on, we are in 21st century now! I think anyone, particularly a celebrity, if he/she doesn’t outright clearly declared that he/she is heterosexual after being reported or described by the media as a homosexual, he/she is very likely to be a gay person. For that local celebrity, he has been known to be with the same man for many years in and out in public places. His sexual orientation has been written on the wall already, why the restless people in the press still asked him if he is gay or not when they know the answer already? That’s just beyond me. He is an artist whose owe his audience his works – performance in music and stage, that’s what people should care about. What his sexual orientation is none of the public’s business, that’s at least what I think about the whole situation.

Certainly, I can’t prove what I say here, that’s simply based on what I read and learned all these years in print and in media. From my person’s point of view, these are my thoughts on the subject of homosexuality:

As a behavior, it is not in the majority among human beings. I don’t know if the claim by the gays & lesbian (“GL”) that 10% of human population are homosexuals are accurate or not. To me, whether it is 9% or 11% is not the point. It is very easy to accept that GL is not in majority, otherwise, our human population would not boom as it is now.

It is natural and is something that a person borne with. You either born gay or you don’t. Of course, exhibiting GL behavior or engaging in GL activities are not limited to GL. E.g. some heterosexual actors/actresses could act as GL in movies. That’s part of their job and they got paid doing that. Such exception cases are not what I’m talking about. I think the majority of GL naturally incline to love their own sex. They are not taught that way, they just do that ‘voluntarily’ and feel ‘natural’ to themselves. That’s why I don’t believe in the theory that heterosexual teens can be taught to be gay or GL can be taught to go straight. Cuz, that just goes against their nature. I think it is quite easy to understand that as a heterosexual man myself, it would be enjoyable to kiss a woman, but it would be a displeasure or at least I would not incline to kiss a man given I’ve a choice!

Some people in the majority have an impression that GL are taught and can thus to turn back is mainly because they have seen or known some people who ‘had appeared’ as straight and then eventually ‘turned’ GL. I think that’s a ‘false’ impression. It is because they have discounted the effect of a social environment that created and maintain by the heterosexual majority on the GL minority. GL is different from racial identity which has obvious physical traits. For instance, parents and teachers who are politically correct in race matter will teach kids not to bad mouth people of colors. For whites, they may be careful and a bit sensitive in dealing with blacks in their presence. Also, the issue of skin color is relatively neutral these days that come with less stigma than sexual orientation. However, for a heterosexual family and most k or grade schools, they teach kids what a normal family should look like, what acceptable and normal love relationship should look like. Anything that is out of majority, they are either hidden, discarded or even denounced by the heterosexual leader with authority. For GL kids growing up with a majority of heterosexual kids, I believe that they would have a tougher time to let their natural sexual orientation to develop. They are taught to accept heterosexuality as the only natural and acceptable behavior in the society. Human beings are group animals and want to be accepted by the fellow human beings. Thus, they would choose to behave and act the acceptable way though they may not feel right to do so. That’s why some natural-born GL would marry opposite sex and even have children before they ‘realize’ or ‘discover’ they are actually GL. For them afterwards, it is a matter of choice to stay in or walk out of the closet. Regardless, they are GL by nature. I just can’t imagine that any non-GL would choose to be GL and declare that themselves publicity which would face certain level of social disapproval or at least peer pressure. I think that those GL that go public are at least partially choose to face public pressure but getting mutual support from their gay peers rather than suffocating alone in their closet privately without help.

Furthermore, I believe that sexual orientation itself is neutral and should not subject to moral judgment. Two persons in love should be respected and either straight or gay.

Bring it closer to my home, I’ve not talked to my wife about giving sex education to my sons. I think I would openly discuss all of these to them when they are ready. Some people might question me a scenario that what if my son is gay, would that change my mentioned view on homosexuality? Well, first of all, that would prove that sexual orientation is not taught as I would not teach them to be gay. Basically, I would tell them what heterosexuality and homosexuality are, what the society’s view on them. If they happen to be gay and they choose to tell me, I think I will be shocked first and would take time to digest and ponder. I think the more challenging part is to disclose that to my wife whom I would think a lot of counseling would be needed. At the end of the day, I can’t change the fact that they are my sons by blood. Either I love them as always or ‘disown’ them just because their sexual orientation. I think the answer is pretty obvious.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Captain America and Thor

I'm still scratching on the possibilities and capabilities of my latest toy - iPad. So far, I love it. Besides using it as an education tool for my son and for using FB, I found it to be very good to watch movies. That's exactly what I used it for over the weekend.

The title movies were what I saw on my iPad. Interestingly, I do have them in my movie collection elsewhere, just haven't got the time to saw them. Anyway, before I go into my thought on those movies, the only complaint that I have on watching them on iPad is that, the speaker of the device is not that good. Sometimes, it is kinda hard to hear what it said. Someone might suggest that I should use an earpiece, or get it hook to a speaker/TV to improve the experience. Well, yes earpiece is an option, but I can't be totally into the movie while blocking out what's going on at home, i.e. my wife and kids, so I can't use that. For hooking up to TV or speaker, that's not something I wanna do, cuz that would defeat the mobility of using iPad. Anyway, let me jump to the movies.

Natalie Portman is my favorite actress. Her acting, or I should say the acting that the script demands is minimal. So, she didn't really do much in the movie. A kiss to Thor is expected, some cheesy dialog is expected, so, her performance to me is more like an eye-candy plus a little bit depth. The script of the movie is fine, nothing complicated. However, the villains vs Heroes, king and princes relationship, and the seizure of throne to me are quite Shakespeare like dramas. No wonder Kenneth Branagh was chosen as the director. Well, I think the acting part is fine, nothing dramatic. The CG/FX part of the movie is fine, perhaps they would look better on screen than on my iPad. I think they serve the story, not the other way around. Though I saw the movie in thunk rather than all at once, it didn't make me wanna fast forward the movie at all. I would give the movie a B-.

Captain America
Surprisingly, I like this movie more than Thor, given both of them are about Marvel Heroes. Cuz, Thor is a God and has Godly power. It involves some kinda aliens and more about present day world. It should be more interesting. However, comparing with CA, actually CA is much better movie that Thor I think. First of all, people including me dig David vs Goliath type of story. Steve Roger aka Captain America was a human, a weak human with a big heart before he became a superhuman. The story took place in WWII add a bit nostalgic theme to it. Actually, since the bad guy got a hand on some supermaterial which allowed superweapon to be produced, the action scene in CA is actually much better than I expected. Also, the reference to Stark Enterprise was a nice side-story that reference other Marvel movies, particular to Iron Man. Anyway, Christ Evan is a good choice to play the key role, he is likable and very traditional clean cut American hero type. Also, different from his previous performance as Torch in Fantastic Four, he played a more traditional serious type of character rather than a wise-ass. That's a fresh change I think. The only scene that I found to be too cheesy is the kiss scene between CA and the 'wooden' babe of the movie. Come on, you don't kiss when you are about to chase a plane for God sake! Anyway, overall, I enjoy this movie more than Thor, I would give it a B.

The reason why I saw these 2 movies guess it right, cuz I wanna prepare myself to see Avengers in next few weeks. Now, I've seen all the movies for those related characters in that movie. Since the critics that I read for Avengers gave the movie a very high regard, I think my expectation for the movie is relatively high. Hopefully, I won't be disappointed. Will see......

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Top five regrets of the dying

I've recently come across a really good article that I think is a keeper for life. Just wanna share with anyone who would like to cherish his/her every day on earth.

Top five regrets of the dying

A nurse has recorded the most common regrets of the dying, and among the top ones is 'I wish I hadn't worked so hard'. What would your biggest regret be if this was your last day of life?

By Susie Steiner

There was no mention of more sex or bungee jumps. A palliative nurse who has counselled the dying in their last days has revealed the most common regrets we have at the end of our lives. And among the top, from men in particular, is 'I wish I hadn't worked so hard'.

Bronnie Ware is an Australian nurse who spent several years working in palliative care, caring for patients in the last 12 weeks of their lives. She recorded their dying epiphanies in a blog called Inspiration and Chai, which gathered so much attention that she put her observations into a book called The Top Five Regrets of the Dying.

Ware writes of the phenomenal clarity of vision that people gain at the end of their lives, and how we might learn from their wisdom. "When questioned about any regrets they had or anything they would do differently," she says, "common themes surfaced again and again."

Here are the top five regrets of the dying, as witnessed by Ware:

1. I wish I'd had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.

"This was the most common regret of all. When people realise that their life is almost over and look back clearly on it, it is easy to see how many dreams have gone unfulfilled. Most people had not honoured even a half of their dreams and had to die knowing that it was due to choices they had made, or not made. Health brings a freedom very few realise, until they no longer have it."

2. I wish I hadn't worked so hard.

"This came from every male patient that I nursed. They missed their children's youth and their partner's companionship. Women also spoke of this regret, but as most were from an older generation, many of the female patients had not been breadwinners. All of the men I nursed deeply regretted spending so much of their lives on the treadmill of a work existence."

3. I wish I'd had the courage to express my feelings.

"Many people suppressed their feelings in order to keep peace with others. As a result, they settled for a mediocre existence and never became who they were truly capable of becoming. Many developed illnesses relating to the bitterness and resentment they carried as a result."

4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.

"Often they would not truly realise the full benefits of old friends until their dying weeks and it was not always possible to track them down. Many had become so caught up in their own lives that they had let golden friendships slip by over the years. There were many deep regrets about not giving friendships the time and effort that they deserved. Everyone misses their friends when they are dying."

5. I wish that I had let myself be happier.

"This is a surprisingly common one. Many did not realise until the end that happiness is a choice. They had stayed stuck in old patterns and habits. The so-called 'comfort' of familiarity overflowed into their emotions, as well as their physical lives. Fear of change had them pretending to others, and to their selves, that they were content, when deep within, they longed to laugh properly and have silliness in their life again."

What's your greatest regret so far, and what will you set out to achieve or change before you die?

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

The Cost of Remaining Silence

『First they came for the Communists,and I didn't speak up,because I wasn't a Communist.Then they came for the Jews,and I didn't speak up,because I wasn't a Jew.Then they came for the Catholics,and I didn't speak up,because I was a Protestant.Then they came for me,and by that time there was no one left to speak up for me.』

by Rev. Martin Niemoller, 1945

New iPad

Finally, I got my dream toy – a white 64G wi-fi only new iPad over the weekend. Yes, the ‘New iPad’ aka iPad3! I didn’t have an ounce of surprise after I got the toy, given I’d read so much about it, the rumors before and the fact after its release. The retina screen is pretty, it is fast in running apps and surfing the web and I really like the bigger screen over my iPhone. The battery life is fine so far. Well, I’ve encounter the overheating at the bottom right as reported by news. Actually, many people just read the first part, without paying attention to the fine print that the new iPad is hotter than iPad2…after playing for half hours of highly graphic intensive games! As I don’t really use it to play those games, it is a non-issue to me. Nevertheless, I do indeed bother by its weight, it is just heavy! But to me, I just couldn’t stand waiting for another year for Apple to release the next model and hope that it would improve over the current form factor. Cuz, I really do want that to be half of its current weight, Apple is no longer run by Steve, if he were still alive, I don’t think he would have allowed the new iPad to be heavier than iPad2. God knows what Apple would do in next version? Well, life just changes, and I got to move on.

Having this tool for me is challenging. On the one hand, I’ve to find time to use it. To be honest, it is a very nice tool, but by no means perfect. I still would use my PC for other things, like downloading entertainments. Also, I still have to rely on the iTunes in my PC to do a lot of things, like syncing books, etc. Cuz, 64GB is not that big to me. With the deployment of iCloud, I would say that all hope that Apple would raise the storage size of its gadgets is dead! So, I still need to use PC for many other things. Secondly, I’ve to carefully manage the contents on my iPad. Cuz, this toy to me basically serves 3 purposes: for web-surfing, e-book reading, and educating my kids. Web part is easy, Safari/Opera Mini do the job. For e-book reading part, I’m still finding time to upload/organize my e-book collection. It is gonna be a very tedious job given I’ve over 30GB of books/comics, but I would treat the organizing part as a craft. Though it’s kinda sound silly, the ultimate goal should be reading those books, right? Anyway, the third part is more imminent, cuz my son has been asking to use my iPad every now and then recently. I only have to search and test the right apps that would help him to learn, I’ve also needed to manage his time on my toy carefully. As we all know that iPad is a drug this day, I’ve managed long enough to avoid getting it in my home for 2 years, but thinking about the potential benefits that if right dosage is being prescribed, it could ‘outgun’ the harm. I just have to manage it carefully.

I think this is the last major toy that I’m gonna get in my household for years to come. Hopefully, it would work out as I thought and enjoy it.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Aung San Suu Kyi's victory in election

Congratulation to her victory in the latest election in Burma! I think it is a good new beginning of Burma's democratic struggle. However, to be honest with you, I'm not very confident with this movement for the long haul. Certainly, I'm a pure remote spectator without an ounce of insider information. But, as a person who is a semi-believer of conspiracy, I think there are likely to be a lot of hidden stories that behind the seem-to-be great news for freedom lover everywhere.

The reason why I'm kinda speculative of the whole thing began with Aung San Suu Kyi's release from 10+ years of house arrest few months ago. Yes, the military government had changed hand right before that. But, that change is purely within military, it could be a case of more open-minded leader replaced an old guard. However, the bottom line is that the regime hasn't changed. Even if the 'replacement' is more open-minded, the power is still firmly gripped by the military regime. They have no reason to return power to the people. An unconditional release of Aung San is thus very suspicious to me. The perception is that the military government would like to extend an olive branch to the West by releasing her and exchange for the lift of embargo. That could be true, but why now? They could do that in 2004 right after the Tsunami or the earthquake in 2008 (if I remembered correctly) that did lots of damages to the country, and they would need money to rebuild. Also, if they do really need money now, I'm sure PRC Government wouldn't mind to support them in exchange for building pipe or road through their country to Indian Ocean. So, what is the reason of things happening now?

I think it is because they deem Aung San as a diminishing threat to their power now than before. I think the military government is not dumb. They know that Aung San is their country's trophy. She is the only person that the outside world knows of their country. So, she has a tremendous value as a bargaining chip with the West for lifting the embargo. The major concern that the military government has is to ensure their power will stay.

The fact is that Aung San is a very smart and popular woman in Burma but she is already 65 years old. All these years in her captive, she was unable to cultivate a younger leader in the opposition that is visible and powerful enough to be her successor through her influence. I think the government must believe that she wouldn’t be able to do that then, she mostly likely wouldn’t be able to do that now. Yes, they could continuous to detain her until she dies for sure that won’t happen. But, that’s a waste to ‘cash in’ when she still has value. Thus, they release her and even let her to be elected into their camp. Since, the majority is still firmly controlled in the military’s palm. Her presence is more for diplomatic reason. Going back to the conspiracy part, it is possible that Aung San has health issue that she wouldn’t be a threat to the regime for much longer. Namely, her value outrights her threat, it thus makes sense to ‘cash-in’ now then later. So, the government deems that she won’t be like Nelson Mandala that became the president in his 70s and still living in his 90s. That has no proof for such claim, but it is possible.

Of course, I wish that the conspiracy is not true and she would live healthily in years to come. However, who know? There is nothing for sure about world event except the unpredictability in its nature.