Here are 7+ hours of TED & related Talks (20+ videos in total). Enjoy.
U of Toronto University Professor Emeritus Stephen A. Cook won NSERC $1 million Herzberg Medal – with interview by KemptonWednesday, 27 February, 2013
After all these years, I still remember the thrill in taking my first year UT Comp. Sci class in 1987 with prof. Cook! And it remains an honour (and bragging right) to have taken the famous third year CSC364 Computability and Complexity class with prof. Cook and seeing him proved to us 3-satisfiability and taught us P v. NP, etc. I am truly excited for prof. Cook!
Check out my 15 minutes interview with Prof. Cook this morning: Interview with Dr. Stephen A. Cook, 2012 Winner of NSERC’s $1m Herzberg Medal
By the way, as prof. cook mentioned in the interview, he came to the idea of the NP complete problem about 6 months after he came to Toronto in 1970. If you read the detailed & insightful oral history interview with Stephen Cook (courtesy of University of Minnesota), you will realize professor Cook could have easily stayed at UC Berkeley (if they had not denied him tenure) instead of joining us at University of Toronto! Lucky us!
Last week, I asked prof. Kelly Gotlieb “Father of Computing in Canada” for his thoughts about some giants in computer science, here is what Kelly has to say about Steve (video clip).
Here is an excerpt from a great Q&A from U of Toronto.
“What drew you to this field – and to this particular focus?
I enrolled as a mathematics graduate student at Harvard in 1961, thinking I’d concentrate in algebra. Computer Science did not yet exist as a discipline. After taking a course in `logic and computation’ from Hao Wang, my future advisor, I switched fields. My PhD thesis was inspired by a question posed by a pioneer in the field named Alan Cobham: Is multiplication (of large numbers) intrinsically harder than addition? Part of the challenge was to formulate this as a precise mathematical question.
Why U of T?
I joined the faculty of the computer science department at U of T in 1970. This was one of the world’s first CS departments, and Tom Hull, the department chair, had a powerful vision for its future. He already had recruited some aspiring young faculty, including my close colleague Allan Borodin, who continues to be a pillar of the department. It helped that Toronto is a good sailing venue on Lake Ontario, and sailing was (and is) a major hobby for my wife and me.
What advice would you give to a student just starting out in this field?
You’ve made a good choice. The possibilities are boundless.“
Via this UT page, see more media coverage about the 2012 Herzberg Prize at these links below:
“- Globe & Mail
- CBC News“
“90 percent of the contributions to the ideas and the consummation of the plan was Canadian. And the movie gives almost full credit to the American CIA. And with that exception, the movie is very good.” — Former President Jimmy Carter on Ben Affleck’s movie ‘Argo’ to CNN’s Piers Morgan.
“There’s nothing much right from Day 1 I could do about the movie [Argo]. I changed a line at the end because the caption at the end was disgraceful. It’s like Tiananmen Square, you are sitting in front of a big tank.” – Ken Taylor
Many people (including me) are predicting Argo will likely win Best Picture in The Oscars tonight. So no time is better than now to set the record straight and urge Mr. Ben Affleck, director/actor of Argo to thank Canada and Canadians in his Oscars acceptance speech. If I may be frank and honest, Mr. Ben “WTF” Affleck, enough is enough. Your drama license to twist history to enhance your story telling makes this and other Canadians angry. What will Americans feel if filmmakers from UK or France rewrite history in a “based on real events” movie and minimize the US effort in World War II? Ben, Man up and thank Canada and Canadians in your Oscars speech tonight. If not, I’ve decided to change your name to Ben “WTF” Affleck!
“The original postscript of the movie said that Taylor received 112 citations and awards for his work in freeing the hostages and suggested Taylor didn’t deserve them because the movie ends with the CIA deciding to let Canada have the credit for helping the Americans escape.
Taylor called the postscript lines “disgraceful and insulting” and said it would have caused outrage in Canada if the lines were not changed. Affleck flew Taylor to Los Angeles after the Toronto debut and allowed him to insert a postscript that gave Canada some credit.
Taylor called it a good movie and said he’s not rooting against it, but said it is far from accurate.
“He’s a good director. It’s got momentum. There’s nothing much right from Day 1 I could do about the movie. I changed a line at the end because the caption at the end was disgraceful. It’s like Tiananmen Square, you are sitting in front of a big tank,” he said.“
An excerpt from the transcript of President Carter on CNN Piers Morgan with my extensive notes,
“MORGAN: A scene from the Oscar-nominated film, Argo, about a daring rescue during the Iranian hostage crisis. I’m back now with former President Jimmy Carter, who was, of course, in the White House at the time. You’ve seen Argo, I take it? How accurate is it from your memory?
CARTER: Well, let me say first of all, it’s a great drama. And I hope it gets the Academy Award for best film because I think it deserves it. The other thing that I would say was that 90 percent of the contributions to the ideas and the consummation of the plan was Canadian. And the movie gives almost full credit to the American CIA.
And with that exception, the movie is very good.
But Ben Affleck’s character in the film was only — he was only in — stayed in Iran a day and a half. And the main hero, in my opinion, was Ken Taylor, who was the Canadian ambassador who orchestrated the entire process.
I was informed about it the first day. And I was very much involved with the Canadian government because the Canadian government would not legally permit six false passports to be issued. So the Canadian parliament had to go into secret session the first time in history, and they voted to let us use six Canadian passports that were false. [Kempton's note: Lets be clear, I doubt the Americans will issue false US passports to Canadians if our roles were switched. Agree? To me, I am so proud of my government, and the cabinet (?, not the parliament?) in approving the false passports to help our friends in urgent need.]
MORGAN: But when you first heard about this outlandish plan to create a fictitious science fiction movie to get these hostages out, you’re the president of the United States. I mean, if this had gone badly wrong, you would have been an absolute laughing stock. So it’s a bold moment for you, for the presidency, for the country.
CARTER: Well, I don’t deny that, but it was much bolder for the Canadian government to do it because the Canadian government was not involved in the hostage crisis, as you know. They could have been hostages themselves had it been revealed. [Kempton's note: This is absolutely the case! Remember, other countries (I will not shame them here) were asked to help the trapped Americans and they refused. Canada helped. And by helping, "Argo" is how Mr. Ben "WTF" Affleck decided to thank us?! WTF Ben!]
But as I said, you know, they did the primary work. And as a matter of fact, the American hostages left Iran and landed in Switzerland and landed before the Iranians ever discovered that they had been there.
When I left office, I ordained that we would not reveal any American’s involvement in the process, but to give the Canadians full credit for the entire heroic episode. And that prevailed for a number of years afterwards. [Kempton's note: This is a right tactical move by President Carter. Totally different from what the movie implied.]
But I think it’s a great film, and it tells a dramatic story. And I think it’s accurate enough. [Kempton's note: President Carter is nice. I am frank with Ben and is hoping I won't have to call him Ben "WTF" Affleck after tonight. Will see.]“
This article is cross posted in examiner.com by me.
This is an extensive interview with Professor Emeritus C.C. Kelly Gotlieb, (Wikipedia) “Father of Computing in Canada”, Department of Computer Science, University of Toronto, Feb 2013 interviewed by Independent reporter Kempton Lam
KL: Kempton Lam
KG: Professor Emeritus C.C. Kelly Gotlieb
Table of content (with time codes):
0:00 KL: Introducing Professor Emeritus C.C. (Kelly) Gotlieb, “Father of Computing in Canada”, University of Toronto
0:29 KL: My question about Google Driverless Cars. Three US states already has law permitting testing of Google Driverless Cars. Talking about California governor signed the bill, “SB-1298 Vehicles: autonomous vehicles: safety and performance requirements” into law.
2:07 KL: Bill SB-1298 allows Google to test the Google Driverless Car provided Google pays a $5 million insurance, and provided there is a driver in the car.
2:21 KG: “That’s what I expected.”
2:35 KL: My concerns were concerns raised by Kelly in an earlier speech of his.
2:47 KG: listing some of the concerns he has with concepts like Google Driverless Cars. “United States is a very litigious society.”
3:12 KG: Google Driverless Car gets into an accident, whose to blame? And who can you sue? The person who wrote the program? Google who authorize the car? Car manufacture? The person who is in the car? Or all of the above? […] Lots of questions to be asked when failure happen. Read the rest of this entry »
Photo credit: by Zhaofeng Xue (薛兆丰) 2009
Yesterday, in our bilingual Google+ Hangout LIVE YouTube show Wallace and I talked about “Little Emperors: Behavioral Impacts of China’s One-Child Policy” (with LIVE recorded video).
Last night, I reached out to professor Ning Wang (co-author of “How China Became Capitalist” with professor Coase) to ask him about his take on China’s One-Child Policy. Ning mentioned that a 2013 Jan video had been filmed in part to promote the launch of the Chinese edition of their book where professor Coase shared his critique of China’s One-Child Policy. I was so excited and immediately watched it twice. Here is the China’s One-Child Policy segment. (full transcript of interview here and full unedited interview video here)
note: The largest prison in the world is China. The country.
Sometimes I ask myself what can I or we do? Then I remember bearing witness, publicizing, and remembering these brutalities is one of the ways to remind brutal governments around the world we are watching. And a way to remind our own democratically elected governments that we care. So just do blindly focus on trade and money talk alone.
The insightful, fun, and sometimes deadly serious documentary Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry (艾未未：道歉你妹; title in Taiwan 艾未未：草泥馬) has been Oscar shortlisted from 126 films down to 15, coming out ahead of films like “The Central Park Five” by the legendary Ken Burns et al, and “Head Games” by Steve James (director of the amazing Hoop Dreams).
Alison Klayman, director of Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry, was very nice and cool to do her first post-Oscar-shortlist video interview with me on the day after she came back from a Bangkok film festival trip. Here is my video interview with Alison.
I just noticed on the back wall in the following film still, the pictures are the concept drawings that lead to the Remembering (2009), an installation for the Façade of the House of German Art.
Alison and I talked about the middle finger salute in the interview. To me, it is a show of defiance to the powerful, be it the one-party ruled Chinese government or any other governments or powerful institutions.
(廣東話) 經濟分析師陳心田與獨立記者林錦堂講一講加國行長Mark Carney空降英倫銀行
(in Cantonese) Economic Analyst +Wallace Chan & Independent Reporter Kempton Lam chat re Bank of Canada Governor Mark Carney to lead Bank of England.
Inspired by all the TEDxHongKong chatters I had last night with some attendees, I’ve finally done my version of top nth TED videos that inspired me. So here is my baker’s dozen (12+1) of TED and TEDx talk videos that I love and enjoy over the years. Some are popular and some are not.
May be we share a few common ones and we can chat about them in the comments. And if you see a few new ones that you haven’t watched, thats cool too and we can chat in the comments. And may be most important of all, please do share some of your fav! I love to check them out and hear why you love them!
In no particular order, the following are my baker’s dozen (12+1) tweets of my favourite TED & TEDx videos (with links added):
Forty-two months! Thats how long I’ve been eagerly awaiting for Carol Loomis‘ new book ”Tap Dancing to Work: Warren Buffett on Practically Everything, 1966-2012: A Fortune Magazine Book” (368 pages, on sale Nov 26th and online amazon.com & indigo.ca). Carol is Fortune magazine senior editor-at-large and a long time (40+ years) close friend of Warren Buffett! I am thrilled to see Carol’s book published and in my hands as it feels like having an insightful person who knows Warren really well to guide me through some important and insightful articles. It will take me some time to read & review the book, please stay tune for my detailed review. Until then, my first impression of the book is it looks awesome!
Long time readers of Warren‘s news and insights will be familiar with some of key articles in this collection and also see many (for me) new articles that are important but less well known. Carol has added many insightful commentaries before the articles to give us context and share with us her views. For example, the article “The Inside Story of Warren Buffet” (April 11, 1988) is Fortune’s first profile of Warren and Carol’s preamble explains what lead her to finally wrote the first profile about Warren after knowing him for 20+ years at that point! And then the afterword for articles like “Buffett Hits $200 million Downdraft” (Nov 17, 1994) reminds readers that Warren actually made money on the USAir investment (which many people may have an impression of it being a money losing investment).
P.S. Now, let me explain my wait of almost forty-two months in this postscript. You see, in April 2009, shareholders of Warren Buffett‘s Berkshire Hathaway NOT physically presented at the annual shareholders’ meeting in Omaha were given opportunities to ask Warren & Charlie remotely in advance via email for the first time. And I jumped at the chance by emailing my question to Carol! Along with my question, I told Carol that,
“I am a big fan of your Fortune articles about Warren and BRK. (I have taken the time to look up some of your older articles and really enjoy reading them.)”
In Carol’s email reply was where I first read of the mention of a possible book (the book that I am finally holding in my hands)! So, yes, I’ve been eagerly awaiting the book since Apr 2009, and that is about forty-two months! :)
P.P.S. Sharp-eyed readers may have noticed there is a stack of five books in the above picture. Can you guess the titles of the Warren related books in the stack? Find out how many you guess correctly by clicking here to see this picture.
P.P.P.S. If you have read this far, you might as well check out my review of Warren’s biography “Snowball” by Alice.
note: this article is cross-posted by me at examiner.com
“War is the the kind of thing where we know how it starts, but not how it will end” – Meir Dagan (see “Israel’s Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon Google+ Hangout at Fox LA“)
On a day like today with headlines like “Gaza crisis: Israel air strikes hit Hamas HQ“ when peace seems impossible, it got me to revisit the United Nations award-winning project Blood Relations – The Israeli Palestinian blood donation project.
A longer, very moving 8 minutes version.
LIVE From Swing State Nevada: DeAno & Kempton talk 2012 Election (Recorded earlier this morning!)
Update: Just found this video of Ben Affleck introducing “Argo” at private Washington D.C. screening with some of the former hostages and even the current CIA Director General Petraeus present plus an acknowledgement to Ambassador Taylor and his wife Pat.
As part of my research for this report, I found & watched this amazing & insightful 1980 PBS documentary (~54 mins long), “Canadian Caper: 6 Americans escape from Iran with the help from the CIA and the Canadian“. You can hear directly from the mouths of the six escaped American hostages, Ambassador Taylor, and other Canadian embassy staffs. Click here to jump directly to where the doc starts to talk about the Canadians’ involvement. Canadians should be really proud of what we did to help our American friends in need.
Making a Hollywood film is a massive and expensive undertaking so it comes as a surprise that star & director Ben Affleck has agreed to change his latest Oscar buzz-worthy film Argo (opened Friday), a film “based on Tony Mendez‘s account of the rescue of six U.S. diplomats—with help from Canada—from Tehran, Iran during the 1979 Iran hostage crisis“. After meeting Calgary-born Kenneth D. Taylor, former Canadian ambassador to Iran from 1977 to 1979, Affleck has decided to have Taylor rewrite the postscript of the film “reportedly at considerable cost to the studio“.
Calgary Herald reports, (emphasis and commentaries added)
“Unfortunately, as is often the case with Hollywood, Argo trumpets America’s involvement in the caper at the expense of other players, specifically the Canadian Embassy. But, as is perhaps less often the case with Hollywood, when Affleck learned the film may have given Canada, and Taylor in particular, short shrift, he invited the former ambassador and his wife to L.A. to watch the film and eventually make changes to the postscript.
“I don’t focus my views on my own involvement,” says Taylor, in an phone interview from his home in New York City. “The entire Canadian Embassy was at play. I don’t think it gives credit to Canada. And I made that pretty clear, I think.”
Of course, by the time Taylor and his wife Pat watched Argo in L.A. last month, the actual film couldn’t be changed.So Affleck suggested Taylor rewrite the postscript, reportedly at considerable cost to the studio.
[Kempton's note: Once Affleck realized the mistake, it was an honourable thing for him to do to try to right a wrong. It is important to note that the postscript is rewritten by Taylor. See next paragraph for how diplomatically he put things. Here is a link to an authoritative account in President Ronald Reagan's 1981 Remarks when he presented the Congressional Gold Medal to Taylor.]
Taylor rewrote the postscript to emphasize collaboration. According to the Toronto Star it now reads: “The involvement of the CIA complemented efforts of the Canadian Embassy to free the six held in Tehran. To this day the story stands as an enduring model of international co-operation between governments.”
[Kempton's note: What a classy way to put things. Ambassador Taylor really make us Canadians proud in his measured words. Wow, "enduring model of international co-operation between governments." Nothing fancy about the risks he and his wife took, it is the Canadian Embassy.]
[...] Earlier this week, Taylor went to Washington for the movie’s premiere, which was also to include a private screening and reception at the Canadian Embassy. According to media reports, Affleck praised him on the red carpet before the screening, suggesting he was “a very clear hero.”“
Toronto Star reports and indirectly laying the blame of the film’s inaccuracy on the screenwriter and director,
“If anyone had bothered to ask Antonio “Tony” Mendez, the real-life CIA agent portrayed by Ben Affleck in the new thriller Argo, about Canada’s contribution to the rescue of six American diplomats from Iran in 1980, there would never have been any trouble.
“Canada was still the real hero in the whole thing,” said Mendez over lunch back in September, before Argo had ever screened to the public. He gives particular credit to former Canadian ambassador Ken Taylor. “Ken took a huge risk and he handled it wonderfully. He got the blame and he got the glory.”
[...] “When the six were seeking asylum, they were turned away from so many places, but when they came to the Canadians, (immigration officer) John Sheardon just said, ‘What took you so long?’ and welcome them in. He didn’t even have to ask Ken. He knew he’d be on side.”“
In an earlier post-TIFF (Toronto International Film Festival) September report in Toronto Star,
“The old postscript sent the message that, for political reasons, Canada took the credit. A sarcastic kicker noted that Taylor received 112 citations. The clear implication was that he did not deserve them.
When Affleck phoned Taylor, he said, “Frankly, if this bothers you, then I’ll change it.”
[...] “I expressed my concern with certain details in the movie,” Taylor told me just before leaving his hotel to catch a flight back to New York. “In reality, Canada was responsible for the six and the CIA was a junior partner. But I realize this is a movie and you have to keep the audience on the edge of their seats. Ben was very gracious and we got along really well. There are a few points I want to address. Now Ben and I both feel free to talk about them.”
So well, in fact, that Taylor and his wife taped a commentary for the extra features on the DVD version of Argo, which will not be released until 2013. [Kempton's note: This will be really cool!]
According to Taylor, several details of the plot are pure fiction. There was never any crisis about getting the plane tickets for the six, as in the climatic scenes of Argo, because he bought three sets of plane tickets, paid for by Pat Taylor. Nor did Taylor ever threaten to close down the Canadian embassy, leaving his secret U.S. house guests with nowhere to hide. Nor did the six ever go to a bazaar.“I would never have allowed that,” says Taylor.
And oh, by the way, while in Tehran, Mendez was taken care of by the Canadian embassy.“What matters to me is the essence and importance of diplomacy,” Taylor sums up. “It matters more now than ever before. It’s a risky business but vitally important.
“You can’t just close the office,” he adds, in an apparent swipe at Ottawa’s recent decision to close the Canadian embassy in Iran.
[Kempton's note: This means a lot coming from Ambassador Taylor given his experiences in a previous dangerous time. It confirms my thinking it was wrong for the Harper government to shutdown the Canadian embassy in Iran, in fact co-incidentally on the same day Argo opened at TIFF!]For Ben Affleck, what counts is this: “It’s important to tell stories about how two countries worked together.”
Fade out on Hollywood’s real-life bromance.“
From a Toronto Star movie review,
“But then “69 Days Later” appears on the screen, and the Hollywood play time Taylor speaks of really kicks in. From this point on, as a bearded and bossy Affleck takes charge — under the indulgent command of his CIA superior, well played by Bryan Cranston — Argo becomes almost total fiction.
The third act is chock full of thriller clichés, including suspicious passport control officers, miracle computer file transfers (and this is 1980!) and airport tarmac chases. They all do what they’re supposed to do, just like a Big Mac sliding down your throat.“
Worth reading research materials:
Toronto Star, Oct 7, 2012, “‘Argo’: Former ambassador Ken Taylor sets the record straight“
Toronto Star, Sept 12, 2012, “TIFF 2012: How Canadian hero Ken Taylor was snubbed by Argo” (although not used/referenced in this report, this article is worth reading)
Toronto Star, Sept 12, 2012, “Ben Affleck changes Argo postscript for Ken Taylor“ (although not used/referenced in this report, this article is worth reading)
Concordia University, Sep 2011, “Former Canadian ambassador Kenneth D. Taylor delivers Henri Habib Distinguished Lecture.“
Check out these books
“Argo: How the CIA and Hollywood Pulled Off the Most Audacious Rescue in History” is a Sept 2012 book by Antonio Mendez and Matt Baglio
“Our Men In Tehran” is a 2010 book by Robert Wright. Check out the book description for more info and the reviews for more info. Toronto Star reports, “But Our Man in Tehran, a 2010 book by Trent University professor Robert Wright, revealed that Taylor played a bigger role than was known at the time. The book claimed (and Taylor confirmed) that he was spying for the U.S. throughout the hostage crisis, at the request of Jimmy Carter (then U.S. president) and with the approval of Joe Clark (then Canadian prime minister).“
NOTE: This article is cross posted by me at examiner.com
To many readers, Sir Salman Rushdie is most well-known, unfortunately, for his fourth novel, The Satanic Verses (1988), which lead to death threats made against him, including a fatwā issued by Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini in February 1989. To some film-loving Calgarians, Rushdie will also be known for his second novel, Midnight’s Children, the 1981 Booker Prize winning novel which was made into a movie that was premiered in Calgary International Film Festival last week.
So who is Joseph Anton? Rushdie answered, “Strangely enough, it is me. Because during those years, the police who were protecting me [from the fatwā] at these undisclosed locations needed to have a pseudo name to call me by so that they didn’t accidentally use my real name when they were at the local corner store. So they asked me to invent one. So I invented a name based on two of my favourite writers. Joseph Conrad. And Anton from Anton Chekhov. Put them together and that name lasted for ten years. Truthfully, I always disliked that name.” Rushdie used that name as his memoir’s title because he wants to give readers a sense of how strange it was during those ten years.
Rushdie initially wrote the book in the first person “in the ordinary” way. He didn’t like it. He felt it “too much self-regard, too narcissistic“. When he finally wrote it in the third person, he felt he could have “a little more distance” from himself. Rushdie said, “Also it was a long time ago, the story began in 1989, twenty-three years ago.” He felt there is enough of a difference between him now, and him then. So using the third person allows him to express the idea that the person he is now is different from the person he was then.
Rushdie’s new book is out, check it out from your bookstore or library, “Joseph Anton: A Memoir“.
P.S. It was an honour for me to hangout with Sir Salman. Many thanks to the wonderful Maria Quiban and the Fox LA crew for the great hangout.
Note: This article is cross-posted by me at examiner.com
Jan 22, 2013 Update: Here is the Hangout video with Sir Salman,