Interview with Adler Yang, director of Taiwan documentary “If There is a Reason to Study” (學習的理由)

Monday, 15 September, 2014
If there is a reason to study

If there is a reason to study

Taiwan documentary “If There is a Reason to Study” (學習的理由) by Adler Yang (楊逸帆) will be screened at Chinese Documentary Festival 2014 in Hong Kong. This reporter has the great pleasure to have an in-depth video interview with the young 19 years old director to talk about the film. Here is a brief film description from the festival,

Humanity [RenWen] Junior High School is a non-traditional school in Taiwan. To encourage free development, there is no ranking based on grades. On the other hand, however, students must face the same standardised tests as students from traditional schools in order to progress to senior high.

The director, aged only 14 at the time of filming, used his camera to record what his classmates said as they faced the challenge, and to explore the motivations behind studying.

When Yang was only 14 years old in 2009, he started filming footage for an earlier 6 minutes version of this film called 《不想考基測 The Soul》(2010)). Majority of the filming for Reason to Study was completed in 2010 with brief update footage of the documentary subjects at the end of the film. Readers may be amazed to hear that Yang already had 70+ hours of footage to work with to create his 6 minutes short 2010 film《不想考基測 The Soul》 (viewable on YouTube). And then 300+ hours of footage to work with in his latest 93 minutes feature  “If There is a Reason to Study” (學習的理由).

The film is a frank and interesting look at education in RenWen and it even features the film director taking a public exam specifically for this film in order to experience what his schoolmates experienced through the eyes of the young director (14/15 years old at the time). The film is screening on 17/9 (Wed) at 7:30 pm & 21/9 (Sun) at 2:30 pm at agnès b. CINEMA, Hong Kong Arts Centre (香港藝術中心 agnès b. 電影院).

Here is my in-depth video interview with Yang to talk about the film,

Here is a trailer,


Women’s Horizon (好風景) documentary film review

Tuesday, 9 September, 2014
Women’s Horizon (好風景) HK documentary

Women’s Horizon (好風景) HK documentary

Documentary title: Women’s Horizon (好風景)

Directors: Jo Ho Ka Wui (何嘉滙) and Bryan Chang Wai Hung (張偉雄).

Casts: Kitman, Esther, Kai Kai (佳佳), Charlene, Chan Hei (陳熹).

Film rating: **** out of 5

Film review:

Women’s Horizon (好風景)  is documentary that recorded the different small slices of lives of five Hong Kong women from 2010 fall to 2012 spring. In 58 minutes, the filmmakers were successful in getting the viewers to see how the five women living their lives and for this reviewer, to care about them all. The filmmakers were careful in telling/reminding the viewers by putting up slides on screen part way through the film stating “We are not comparing or judging. We don’t want the audience to generalize all Hong Kong women either. This might only a be a tiny part of their life. Going in front of the camera may cause hesitation or glossing over issues, We want to capture that brief moment of their sincere reality.

Without heavy hands nor trying to sensationalize things, the film gives viewers windows to the women’s work lives, family lives, their aspirations, their disappointments, their dating/love lives, and more. And at one point, we felt like an intimate participant along Kai Kai’s political protest and can emphasize the changes she must have gone through since the beginning of the film.

Watching the film, there are many scenes with Kitman, Esther, Kai Kai, Charlene, and Chan Hei that put a smile on my face, made me laugh out loud, got me thinking, felt sad, and got me scared for what I saw on screen. These are signs of a good documentary.

As far as this reporter knows (plus checking with Jo), Women’s Horizon is possibly the first Hong Kong documentary that wishes/plans to come back to revisit the same documentary subjects in a few years time (if the documentary subjects are willing to participate). Jo mentioned to this reviewer in an video interview that she and Byran were inspired and influenced by the British Up Series when they were planning the documentary in 2010. As a big admirer and lover of the Up Series, this reviewer hopes Jo & Byran’s wishes will come true and viewers will have the pleasure to learn more about Kitman, Esther, Kai Kai, Charlene, and Chan Hei in a few years.

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Women’s Horizon (好風景) film outline,

“[Women's Horizon (好風景)] Paints a portrait of five unique Hong Kong women. Kitman, a big fan of online sweepstake;; Charlene, a dance instructor and urban fashion shop owner;; Esther, growing up in in a christian community aspiring to live the life within the church;; Chan Hei, was an advocate for the fair treatment of sex workers and is employed at a bookstore;; Kai Kai, Representative of the League of Fanling North Villages and Residents. The documentary recorded their lives from 2010 to 2012. It represents a history of their growth, a reflection of their temporal moods and aspirations for the the future. The images filmed are like five mobile mirrors into individual lives revealings their feeling intentionally or unintentionally. The documentary is not aiming to judge but solely at catching a glimpse of the women’s innermost feelings in this era.”

Here is a trailer,


Cantonese interview with Jo Ho, co-director of HK documentary Women’s Horizon (好風景)

Tuesday, 9 September, 2014

Jo Ho Ka Wui (何嘉滙) is the co-director of HK documentary Women’s Horizon (好風景) with Bryan Chang Wai Hung (張偉雄). A documentary that recorded the lives of five Hong Kong women from 2010 to 2012. Here is a description of the five women from the film outline,

“Kitman, a big fan of online sweepstake; Charlene, a dance instructor and urban fashion shop owner; Esther, growing up in in a christian community aspiring to live the life within the church; Chan Hei, was an advocate for the fair treatment of sex workers and is employed at a bookstore; Kai Kai, Representative of the League of Fanling North Villages and Residents.”

Here is a trailer,

When Jo and Bryan were first planning to shoot Women’s Horizon in 2010, they talked about being inspired by the British Up Series documentary that has “followed the lives of fourteen British children since 1964, when they were seven years old.” The directors of Women’s Horizon hopes to revisit the lives of the five Hong Kong women in a few years to make another documentary. Over the two and a half years, the filmmakers made the documentary with their own money and shot ~60 hours of footage and editing the footage down to a 58 minutes documentary.

Here is an extensive and exclusive interview with co-director Jo Ho Ka Wui (何嘉滙) conducted on the eve of the film’s world premiere on September 9th at the Chinese Documentary Festival 2014.


Hello Kitty is not a cat! Video interview with LA Times reporter who started worldwide debate

Saturday, 30 August, 2014

Hello Kitty is NOT a cat? Really?! In recent days, people from around the world have expressed shock as they found out Hello Kitty is not a cat from articles quoting “Hello Kitty is not a cat, plus more reveals before her L.A. tour” by Los Angeles Times reporter Carolina A. Miranda. My in-depth and exclusive Skype video interview with Miranda talks about what lead her to write the article and different aspects of the Hello Kitty brand. Have a watch of the interview as it was a ton of fun to conduct and should be a lot of fun to watch.

To be honest, this reporter is one of the people who was shocked to find out Hello Kitty is not a cat from reading Miranda’s article. And then changed my mind again Read the rest of this entry »


Deploy or Die. Learning over Education. – New Quotes I Love

Saturday, 26 July, 2014

Adding these to my long list of Quotes I Love,

Deploy or Die.” (instead of “Demo or Die” – Nicholas Negroponte; or “Publish or Perish” in the old days) – Joi Ito at 2014 TED Talk “Want to innovate? Become a “now-ist”” (transcript via TED)

Learning over Education. To me, Education is what people do to you.
And Learning is what you do to yourself.” – Joi Ito at 2014 TED Talk “Want to innovate? Become a “now-ist”” (transcript via TED)

Inspirational/Interesting things mentioned in speech:

- Samsung SMT – Samsung Techwin Pick and Place Machine

- Gen9 gene assembler

- Limor Fried started her company Adafruit industries (I googled and found this really cool and informative Entrepreneur article where she was named Entrepreneur of 2012!)


TD ATM Automated Thanking Machines #TDThanksYou Campaign

Friday, 25 July, 2014
#TDThanksYou - Mother visits Trinidad

#TDThanksYou – Mother visits Trinidad

Thousands of unsuspecting customers were simultaneously and pleasantly surprised while banking with TD today as part of its Automated Thanking Machine campaign today. At exactly 2 p.m. EST Friday July 25th, TD customers at over 1,110 branches received green envelopes containing a $20 bill from over 20,000 TD employees! Customers using TD phone and online banking service were also included as $20 was deposited directly into their accounts. Since TD thanked over 30,000 customers across Canada, a quick calculation has lead to the conclusion that over $600,000 in $20 bills or direct deposit were gifted to customers! In addition to the cash gifts, a TD spokesperson stated “over a dozen customers across Canada received a special customer thanking experience at their local branch through the Automated Thanking MachineTM, such as trips, experiences, RESP contributions etc.

It was incredible to see the look of surprise on our customers’ faces,” said Ester Condello, a branch manager with TD Canada Trust. “We say thank you to our customers every day, and we’ll say thank you tomorrow and the next day. Today’s thank you is about all of us at TD working together to shout it from the rooftops.

A thank you can change someone’s day, so that’s why we have been surprising our customers across Canada, to say ‘TD Thanks You’,” said Tim Hockey, President and CEO, TD Canada Trust.

At press time, 22 hours after the heart warming YouTube video “Sometimes you just want to say thank you #TDThanksYou” featuring TD’s Automated Thanking MachineTM was posted, it has over 119,000 views. According to TD spokesperson, “Local branch employees helped design these very meaningful and individualized thank-you experiences that were ultimately unveiled to their customers through the Automated Thanking MachineTM, an ATM that talks and delivers surprises.

One of  the TD customers, a baseball fan, featured in the video shared his experience. “I can’t believe TD did this – it’s something that I’ll never forget,” said Mike Jobin, a TD customer who received a special thank you experience from his local TD branch in Pickering, ON.  “We’re a real baseball family and making the first pitch at a Blue Jays game was at the top of my bucket list. Let’s just say that I had goosebumps the whole time!”

Some readers may want to compare #TDThanksYou to the globally successful “WestJet Christmas Miracle: real-time giving” campaign (over 36 millions views) and think this new campaign is a bit derivative but that would have been a bit unfair. In reply to a question about the potential similarity between the two campaigns, a TD spokesperson stated, “The goal behind the campaign was to thank our incredible customers. We created the concept to provide meaningful thank you surprises to customers and drew inspiration from our unique customer service approach- to strive for legendary experiences. We were focused on developing surprising ways to thank our customer, and less so on what others have done.

The #TDThanksYou campaign was created by Diamond Integrated Marketing and Leo Burnett.

Disclosure: This reporter is a long timeTD Canada Trust customer but is not affiliated with this ad campaign in any way. This reporter has written many articles about various advertising campaigns since 2006.

Note: This article is cross-posted on examiner.com.


Guide to Michael Lewis’ top 6 “Flash Boys” videos – Is U.S. stock market rigged?

Monday, 14 April, 2014
Flash Boys cover and TOC

Flash Boys cover and TOC

Flash Boys” is a brand new (published March 31, 2014) book by famed writer Michael Lewis (author of The Big Short and Moneyball) about how the U.S. stock market is “rigged”! Yes a U.S. stock market that is “rigged” so much that big investors (managers of multi-billion dollars pension or mutual funds) to small investors (individuals that invest their own RRSP and 401(k) retirement money) are being electronically “scalped” and scammed. Without further delay, here is a guide to Lewis’ top 6 “Flash Boys” videos. Lewis has done a bunch of media appearances to promote this book. Seeing and hearing Lewis explain things in his words is a ton of fun. You will get to learn how Brad Katsuyama, a Toronto-born former Royal Bank of Canada trader, becomes the reluctant hero in this tale.

1) CBS 60 Minutes March 30, 2014 video segment: The first and most important “Flash Boys” video is the  must watch! All 14+ minutes are highly watchable, insightful, and may make you really angry once you understand some of the ways people rigged the market against investors! The last three out of four of the 60 Minutes Overtime clips add only a little bit of information and can be skipped. CBS has also provided a full transcript of the segment on the same page.

2) April 1st, 2014 live CNBC debate: The ‘epic’ debate on high-frequency trading between Michael Lewis, Brad Katsuyama and William O’Brien (BATS Global Markets exchange president) is another must watch. The debate was so heated and engaging that some traders on the NYSE exchange floor stopped to watch. (note: Some errors were made by both side and one critical factual error was important enough that BATS was forced to issue a correction on April 4th, 2014 “under pressure from the New York Attorney General’s office“.)

The reactions to the debate at the end of this Marketwatch article is worth a read too.

3) Charlie Rose (April 2nd, 2014 video): Charlie Rose did an wonderful job in this 25+ minutes chat giving viewers some great insights. Rose is seen by many as someone who sets the gold standard of conducting engaging and insightful one-on-one interview. Highly recommended. (April 22nd update: Watch full 50+ mins March 31st show on CharlieRose.com)

4) Bloomberg Television’s “Market Makers” with Stephanie Ruhle and Erik Schatzker (April 2nd, 2014 video): The fun starts early when Lewis tried to explain how the U.S. stock market is rigged using a casino example and the poker players are cheated. The hosts didn’t seem to enjoy the example when they, themselves, were set to be the cheated players!

5) Bloomberg Television’s “Bloomberg Surveillance” (April 3rd, 2014 clips): You can watch different clips from the show here, here, here, here, and here. Just wish the hosts asked Lewis and Katsuyama better questions in the show.

6) Live Talks LA – Michael Lewis in conversation with Malcolm Gladwell – Flash Boys: A Wall Street Revolt (April 10th, 2014): This will likely be a very insightful conversation as one can reasonably expect from a chat between two best selling authors and wonderful story tellers. I just checked with Ted from Live Talks LA and was informed that this video will be posted hopefully tomorrow (April 15th) on Live Talks LA’s official YouTube channel first and later on video pages here and/or here. (April 18th, 2014 update: The video is now posted and it is great! Have a watch!)

7) Bloomberg – Book TV: Michael Lewis Takes Viewers’ Questions on His New Book “Flash Boys: A Wall Street Revolt.” Added on April 22nd.

8) Michael Lewis: the stock market is rigged – video interview (UK Guardian) Added on April 30th, 2014.

Note: As Lewis and Katsuyama said many times, “High-Frequency Trading (HFT)” is too wide a term and hard to define so it is better to use terms like “high speed computerized scalping” where unfairness is built into the structure of the market (which is bad, very bad) vs “high speed computerized trading” which has reduced trading costs and enhanced investors’ trading experience over the years!

Additional video and audio clips:

* CBC News in-depth interview with Katsuyama (April 4th, 2014). Worth a watch.

* April 9th, 2014 CBC radio audio clip of Lewis (2:10 – 28:09) and a ~50 seconds short clip explaining “how High-Frequency Trading makes stock markets more like rigged casinos“.

* Here is a brief video clip of Berkshire Hathaway’s Charlie Munger saying (in May 2013), “I think it is very stupid to allow a system to evolve where half of the trading is a bunch of short term people trying to get information one millionth of a nanosecond ahead of somebody else“.

Additional references that worth a read:

* “Digging Into The Cliffhanger That Ends the New Michael Lewis Book“, April 7th, 2014. Recommended interesting tidbit of information for readers of the book.

* “Lewis Calls Flash Boys Blowback ‘Thoughtless’” April 2, 2014 Bloomberg Businessweek

* March 10th, 2014 SEC S-1 filing of Virtu Financial where it talks/brags about “As a result of our successful real-time risk management strategy, we have had only one losing trading day since January 1, 2008.” [HT CNBC Bob Pisani's "Michael Lewis' 'Flash Boys and high-speed trading"]

* “High-Frequency Traders Set for Curbs as EU Reins In Flash Boys“, April 13th, 2014 Bloomberg News

* “The need for speed is costing billions New York’s attorney general explains his investigation into high-frequency trading“, April 3rd, 2014, by ERIC T. SCHNEIDERMAN (New York’s attorney general)

C-Span – Q&A: Michael Lewis “The Big Short” – Added on April 22 (video uploaded on April 5, 2010)

NOTE: This article is cross-posted on examiner.com by me.

July 22nd, 2014 Update: An hour long video chat between Michael Lewis and Conan O’Brien

“Conan talks with Michael Lewis, the author of Flash Boys & Moneyball on Wall Street’s desperate need for oversight, why the financial market should look for a responsible, overpaid “son of bitch,” & how he gets pumped up by listening to the “Frozen” soundtrack.”


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