Watch “Revolution Trilogy” 睇「革命三部曲」

Friday, 18 March, 2016

(Watch my trilogy of documentaries.)

Watch my docs Revolution Trilogy 睇「革命三部曲」

Watch my docs Revolution Trilogy 睇「革命三部曲」

20190812 Director new preface re the word “Revolution”:

The title of my debut documentary “Long Hair Revolution 「長毛革命” was decided in 2004, so 15 years ago. The rationale is similar to “industrial revolution” or “internet revolution”, ideas for improvement. Nothing to do with violence.

“長毛革命”在2004, 即是15年前定名, 其實跟”工業革命”或者”互聯網革命”道理相同, 是嶄新改革的意思, 完全同”暴力”沒有任何關係. Read the rest of this entry »


Norm Macdonald (1959 – 2021)

Wednesday, 15 September, 2021

Canadian comedy giant Norm Macdonald passed away yesterday.

THR (with video) “Seth Rogen, Jon Stewart, Whitney Cummings Remember Norm Macdonald: “We Lost a Comedy Giant Today” – Steve Martin, Ken Jeong and more comics praised the comedian and ‘Saturday Night Live’ alum’s wit and charm after learning of his death at age 61.

(CTV video) (source: tweet) //Worth watching the entire interview. Norm is hilarious, but he’s also whip smart and politically insightful. It was producer @Gray_Mackenzie ’s idea to book Norm on @ctvqp knowing he would never say no to his beloved sister-in-law.//

(source tweet) Love this bit of Tom Power sharing the story behind Norm doing ‘the moth joke’ on Conan.

The Story Behind the Greatest Joke Ever Told

NYT, “Norm Macdonald, ‘Saturday Night Live’ Comedian, Dies at 61 – Acerbic and sometimes controversial, he became familiar to millions as the show’s “Weekend Update” anchor from 1994 to 1998.

Mr. Macdonald had a deadpan style honed on the stand-up circuit, first in his native Canada and then in the United States. By 1990 he was doing his routine on “Late Night With David Letterman” and other shows. Then, in 1993, came his big break: an interview with Lorne Michaels, a fellow Canadian, for a job on “Saturday Night Live.”

“I knew that even though we hailed from the same nation, we were worlds apart,” Mr. Macdonald wrote in “Based on a True Story: Not a Memoir” (2016), a fictional work with occasional hints of biography mixed in. “He was a cosmopolite from Toronto, worldly, the kinda guy who’d be comfortable around the Queen of England herself. Me, I was a hick, born to the barren, rocky soil of the Ottawa Valley, where the richest man in town was the barber.”

In any case, he got the job, and by the next year he was in the anchor chair for the “Weekend Update” segment. In sketches, he impersonated Burt Reynolds and Bob Dole and played other characters.

Mr. Michaels, in a telephone interview on Tuesday, said that Jim Downey, the show’s head writer at the time, had first brought Mr. Macdonald to his attention.

“Jim just liked the intelligence behind the jokes,” he recalled.

And Mr. Michaels saw it, too.

“There’s something in his comedy — there’s just a toughness to it,” he said. “Also, he’s incredibly patient. He can wait” — that is, wait for a punchline.

That, Mr. Michaels said, made Mr. Macdonald different stylistically from other “Weekend Update” anchors.

“I think it took some getting used to for the audience,” Mr. Michaels said. “It wasn’t instantly a hit. But he just grew on them.”

Rolling Stone (with video “Moth Joke”), “Norm Macdonald, Stand-Up and ‘Saturday Night Live’ Star, Dead at 61 Comedian had been privately battling cancer for nearly a decade

“He was most proud of his comedy,” Hoekstra said. “He never wanted the diagnosis to affect the way the audience or any of his loved ones saw him. Norm was a pure comic. He once wrote that ‘a joke should catch someone by surprise, it should never pander.’ He certainly never pandered. Norm will be missed terribly.”

Deadline (with video), “Norm Macdonald Dies: Influential Comedian & Former ‘SNL’ Weekend Update Anchor Was 61

THR (with video), “James Corden Pays Tribute to Norm Macdonald: “There Was Nobody Quite Like Him” – During the ‘Late Late Show’ segment, Corden said that he felt privileged any time he got to be in Macdonald’s orbit.

UK Guardian, “Norm Macdonald was pure funny – he made you laugh by doing almost nothing

Love this heartwarming segment: Seth Meyers Remembers Norm Macdonald

Fascinating to learn about what Norm had been trying to do with his craft and pushing the boundaries of the creativity of how to be funny. I’m going watch Norm’s shows on Netflix in this light to see how he was trying to achieve. Norm will be missed but his shows, jokes, etc will live on.


Joy of Business Case Study Authorship – iStockphoto US$50 million Calgary success story

Friday, 28 May, 2021

Let’s walk down memory lane. Almost 15 years ago in November 2006, I had the joy of writing and publishing my first business case study about iStockphoto, a Calgary based company acquired by Getty Images for US$50 million in cash in February 2006. If was amazing meeting, interviewing and learning from iStockphoto founder and first employee/ex-president to write the case study for the site Startup Review thanks to its editor Nisan Gabbay.

Before I repost my 2006 case study, let’s put “Stock Photo” in a bit of 2021 fun context by sharing screen captures of search results of “stock photo simu liu”. Yes the same star Simu Liu of Kim’s Convenience and Marvel Superhero Shang-Chi fame appeared on the covers of way too many accounting textbooks if you ask him! HuffPost article “Simu Liu Was A Stock Photo Staple Before He Was A Star” quoted Simu screamed well in an adorable tweet, “PLEASE STOP USING MY FACE FOR YOUR ACCOUNTING MATERIALS!!”

Here is a version of the iStockphoto business case study that I rediscovered thanks to the trusty internet archive. I hope you learn as much as I wrote it in 2006 and as I re-read it now in 2021! 15 years have gone by since I conducted the interviews and wrote the case study, it is an insightful read even for me now in 2021, if I may shamelessly say so. Enjoy!

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iStockphoto Case Study: How to evolve from a free community site to successful business

written by Kempton Lam and Nisan Gabbay, posted on November 26th, 2006

Note from Nisan Gabbay: I am pleased to announce that this week’s case study is the first to be authored by a Startup Review reader, Kempton Lam. Kempton is a management consultant who specializes in assisting start-ups. Please see Kempton’s background and blog for more information. Kempton followed the same process that I take in creating these case studies, and I served as editor to ensure that the format is consistent with the Startup Review format. If you’d like to become a guest author for Startup Review, please contact me.

Why profiled on Startup Review

iStockphoto is both an online community for photographers and a source of high quality, low-cost stock photos. As of October 2006, iStockphoto’s stock photo library contained ~1.1 million images contributed by 23,000+ photographers. In 2006, iStockphoto expects to sell 10 to 12 million photo licenses from this library, at prices ranging from $1 up to $40 per image. iStockphoto’s success opened up a new market segment for stock photography, catering to customers who could not afford traditional, high cost stock photos from the likes of Getty Images and Corbis. This success caught the eye of Getty Images, who acquired iStockphoto for $50 million in cash in February 2006.

Interviews conducted: Bruce Livingstone, founder & current CEO of iStockphoto. Patrick Lor, first employee and ex-President of iStockphoto. Paul Connolly, independent consultant specializing in digital media and the stock photography market. Special thanks to Kara Udziela and Yvonne Beyer of iStockphoto for helping to support the creation of this case study.


Key success factors

Offered a free alternative for a previously high cost service

iStockphoto established the market for “microstock” photography by providing high quality stock photos at extremely low price points. iStockphoto’s innovation was offering all its photo licenses royalty-free, available via easy download over the Internet. The notion of high quality photos licensed for free was a game changing development in the stock photography market in 2000. iStockphoto enabled the distribution of photos from budding and semi-professional photographers to reach a large market for the first time. iStockphoto also drastically reduced the cost of stock photography for a slew of customers (graphic designers, small businesses, non-profits, etc.) that could not afford traditional sources of stock photography.

As iStockphoto increased in popularity, hosting and bandwidth fees for the site grew proportionally, forcing a decision upon Bruce as to how to pay for bills approaching $10,000 per month. Bruce opened the discussion to the iStockphoto community, ultimately allowing the community to determine an acceptable solution. In February 2002, the community decided to charge $0.25 per photo mainly to cover site maintenance fees, with 20% of charges going back to the photographer.

iStockphoto has since gone through several iterations of its business model, but continues to offer photos at a relatively low price point. The first iteration occurred in 2004, when iStockphoto officially became a for-profit entity. At that point iStockphoto charged 1, 2, or 3 “credits” (priced at $0.50 per credit) for photos of different sizes, offering a 20% commission to the contributing photographer. Today, iStockphoto offers photos at a myriad of price points and has a more robust photographer commission structure. For example, photos are offered at price points of 1, 3, 5, 10, 20, or 40 credits (priced at $1 per credit). Commissions vary from 20% – 40% based on sales milestones reached and whether the photographer grants iStockphoto exclusive use of images.

Fostered a loyal and active community

iStockphoto was started as a hobbyist site by founder Bruce Livingstone and it remained so for several years. The fact that iStockphoto wasn’t created as a business venture from the start was a big factor in iStockphoto’s success. In many ways it parallels the start of another popular online community, Craigslist. Just as Craig Newmark’s personality has had an influence on Craigslist, so too has Bruce’s personality and passion for photography had an influence on the iStockphoto community. Bruce was always a core user of the site, and as such attempted to nurture the needs of its users.

iStockphoto consciously fostered its community from day one through forums, emails and face-to-face meetings. iStockphoto has many active online forums where new users can post questions and get help from experienced users. These active forums have made the iStockphoto community welcoming to new users and engaging for experienced users. Secondly, iStockphoto makes a point to provide very prompt responses to user questions submitted via e-mail. Even as CEO, Bruce routinely takes the time to send emails to users to offer encouragement or help. Thirdly, iStockphoto hosts a series of trips (called iStockalypses) where users can shoot photographs of interesting places and share knowledge about the stock photography trade.

The iStockphoto site itself has many features that help to get users engaged with the service. For one, it provides transparency around how active certain members are with the site, specifically around number of photos uploaded and number of paid downloads. This enables new users to learn from the success of power users, providing examples of the types of photos that get the most traction. iStockphoto also creates a sense of positive psychological exclusivity amongst users by only approving photos that meet certain quality standards. This process helps users improve their photo taking skills and makes them feel that they have “earned” their place within the community.

Emergence of low-cost “prosumer” digital SLR cameras

In the winter of 2003, the Canon Digital Rebel (a 6.3 mega pixel prosumer digital SLR camera) became available at a price under $1,000. Both Bruce and Patrick viewed the availability of these cameras as a turning point for iStockphoto because they created a great influx of high-quality photos. iStockphoto was in a great position to capitalize on this emerging trend through the infrastructure they had developed over the previous years.

Took measures to ensure that submitted photographs met quality standards

As the popularity of the iStockphoto service grew, the number of photos submitted exploded. At the same time, customers came to expect a certain level of photo quality from iStockphoto. As such, iStockphoto developed detailed guidelines for what constituted acceptable photo submissions. iStockphoto views this both as a quality control mechanism and a means to provide feedback to photographers. iStockphoto takes time to explain to contributors why their photos are rejected. According to Patrick, sometimes a new user may only start with a 25% acceptance rate but with constant feedback and guidance are able to improve their acceptance rate to 75% – 90% within 6 months.


Launch strategy and marketing

iStockphoto was originally started as a hobbyist site in May 2000 by Bruce Livingstone. Bruce created the site as a means to share and publicize his portfolio of photographs. Initially seeded with 1,600 of Bruce’s photos available for free download, the popularity of the site prompted Bruce to open the site to other photographers who also wanted to contribute their photo collections. This transformation took place 6 months after initial launch, creating a thriving community of contributing photographers.

Bruce initially marketed the site by word of mouth, telling friends via e-mail. One of Bruce’s friends, web design guru Jeffrey Zeldman helped publicize the site from its early days by blogging about it and using iStockphoto images in magazines like Macworld. Mr. Zeldman’s influence in the designer and photographer communities was highly instrumental in popularizing the use of iStockphoto for royalty-free stock photos.

As the iStockphoto community evolved, its photographer base served as the main marketing vehicle. By promoting their own iStock photos, these photographers create publicity and word of mouth marketing for the service. iStockphoto provides them with some interesting marketing tools (like free, customizable business cards) to help them self-promote their portfolios. Today iStockphoto has 23,000 photographers that are the cornerstone of the company’s marketing efforts.

Later on its lifecycle, iStockphoto began advertising its service on the Internet, in print, and at trade shows. An extension of this advertising strategy was to maintain good long-term relationships with influential book authors within the design community who could provide increased awareness for the iStockphoto service.


Exit analysis

iStockphoto was able to support its operations for many years from the revenue generated by photo sales. However, during business planning in late 2005, the company realized that they needed about $10 million to meet their future growth expectations, including $3 million for hardware expansion costs. With this new capital requirement, the iStockphoto management team sought venture funding for the first time. After securing a term sheet from a VC, management became hesitant that this was the best option for the company. The team feared that they would not be able to maintain product control or nurture the community in the same fashion that iStockphoto had been built upon. Thus Bruce decided to seek other options, and contacted Jonathan Klein, CEO of Getty Images. After some positive conversations regarding company strategy and cultural fit, iStockphoto was sold to Getty Images in February 2006 for $50 million in cash. This represented a valuation substantially higher than the valuation placed on the company by the proposed VC investment. Hence the sale to Getty Images made both financial and cultural sense for Bruce and the rest of the iStockphoto team.


Food for thought

I was surprisingly struck by the parallelism between iStockphoto’s company history and evolution, and that of another successful online community, Craigslist. Both began as a hobby fueled by the passion of their founders: for Bruce it was photography and for Craig Newmark it was local events. The popularity of both services grew beyond anything the founders had envisioned, largely driven by creating a free service where only high cost options existed before (high end stock photography and print classifieds respectively). Both grew to a point where the services had to be sustained by incorporating small fees into the service, all with the support of the community itself.

Some great lessons can be learned by the examples set by these two successful companies. For one, the needs of the user base will tell you when is the right point in time to add fees, rather than implementing a revenue model prematurely. For iStockphoto, as the level of sophistication of its users grew, so did the necessity for more advanced pricing and commission models. For Craigslist, they began charging for some categories of online classifieds to improve the user experience. In both instances, it was actual user needs that drove the revenue model and timing of the revenue model.

Secondly, you have a sustainable company on your hands when you have created or contributed to the financial livelihood of a segment of your users. One reason that iStockphoto has such an active community is that their power users have personal, financial ties to the overall success of the company. For example, the top iStockphoto photographers have had hundreds of thousands of their photos downloaded – that’s real money that iStockphoto is putting into the pocket of its users. eBay and Google are probably the best two examples of Internet companies that have also created significant personal wealth for individual users. iStockphoto has created it as well, albeit on a much smaller scale. Can you create a service that contributes significant personal income to your users? If you can, chances are you’ll have a successful service.

On a separate note, both Bruce and Patrick credited much of their success to having great mentors and advisors involved with iStockphoto. Both Bruce and Patrick have been reading, learning, and applying business concepts and ideas from the business guru Guy Kawasaki for years. After meeting Guy in 2003, he became a close personal mentor for the iStockphoto management team. Having great advisors and mentors can be critical to the success of any company, but particularly a start-up. No entrepreneur can possess all the skills and experiences necessary to succeed themselves; it helps immensely to have the right mentors to act as a sounding board.


Reference articles / additional reading

Additional thoughts on iStockphoto at Kempton Lam’s blog.

“The Rise of Crowdsourcing”, Wired, June 2006 (the paradigm shifts initiated by iStockphoto and others)

“2006 Fast 50 nomination of Bruce Livingstone”, FastCompany.com (a glowing nomination, and a long list of supporters’ endorsements that make for a fascinating read)

“Interview: Bruce Livingstone, CEO istockphoto.com”, Decker Marketing blog, January 2005
Nice interview with Bruce who has some insightful responses on what makes the istockphoto different from the competition and why it was initially successful.

“The stock photo community”, DesignMentor Training website
Has a few detailed paragraphs on Bruce’s background and how iStockphoto got started.


“It is about putting the right people together.” – New Quote I Love #ChloéZhao #Nomadland

Friday, 30 April, 2021

Oscar Best Picture Nomadland‘s Chloé Zhao (who also won Best Directing) made the following insightful observation about directing and I’m adding it to my collection of Quotes I Love.

“It is about putting the right people together. […] Cast your crew like you cast your actors. […] I’m talking about everyone from the studio level to the PA [Production Assistant] have to be excited about the risk you want to take. [special note re: grandmother with ring … hurricane]“ – Chloé Zhao (1982 – ) in a Conversation with actor/director Olivia Wilde


When will Costco stop slapping customers in the face? – #FairCostcoRenew

Monday, 29 March, 2021

In 2010, after fighting members in courts for years, Costco settled a Class Action lawsuit (*Ref-3) for backdating membership renewal. Costco was forced to pay millions of harmed US members benefits valued at $38.8 million & lawyers’ fee of $5.38 million.

11 years later in 2021, it seems Costco kept acting dishonestly & deceitfully by backdating benefits of 105 million members in 12 countries & 803 locations this way:

(Locations) Months of Benefits Backdated (*Ref-1)
(004)Best Green: 0 month (Fair)
(743)Bad Yellow: 2 months (up to)
(056)Worst Red : 12 months (up to)

When will Costco stop slapping customers in the face? #FairCostcoRenew

2021 Bottom Line: ~100+ million customers in 799 locations still have their benefits backdated & faces slapped. It seems Costco kept behaving deceitfully with little integrity and treats only customers in 4 locations fairly. The question remains “When will Costco stop slapping customers in the face?” posed 2009 by the nonprofit consumer organization Consumer Reports. (*Ref-2)

== References ==

(*Ref-1) Fact Check: https://www.change.org/FairCostcoRenew

(*Ref-2) Go read Consumer Reports (CR) 2009 article by Jeff Blyskal “What Happens When You Renew Your Costco Membership After Expiring?” Internet Archive reveals CR titled Jeff’s article “Costco’s renewal rip-off” originally.

(*Ref-2 Quote) To quote Jeff’s Consumer Report article “What Happens When You Renew Your Costco Membership After Expiring?”,

“I think Costco should stop slapping customers in the face this way if they don’t know that they need to ask. Instead, Costco should automatically date all renewals as of the actual renewal date.”

Note: This is exactly the case for China & Spain now in 2021 but for 4 locations ONLY!

(*Ref-3) Costco 2010 Class Action Lawsuit: “Dupler v. Costco Wholesale Corp., No. 06-cv-3141


Change.org Campaign – #FairCostcoRenew Demand Fair Equal Membership

Friday, 5 March, 2021

Here is my first Change.org campaign #FairCostcoRenew Demand Fair Equal Membership which is inspired and expanded from a six countries investigative report that I conducted in Jan 2021, “Why Costco rips millions off members in US, Canada, UK, … EXCEPT China?

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2021 Change.org campaign – #FairCostcoRenew Demand Fair Equal Membership

During renewal, Costco members in 7 countries are shortchanged up to 2 months. In 3 countries, rip off are up to 12 months. Members in only 2 countries are safe. US$3.54 billion profit in membership fee accounting for 88% of net income in 2020 shows these months of fees paid worldwide by millions of members for ZERO benefit takes unfair advantage of members to enrich Costco shareholders’ pockets.

Costco backdates your membership and give you up to 2 months LESS benefits after you pay 12 FULL months fee in SEVEN ( 7 ) countries. The SIX insidious Costco contractual words of “renewed within 2 months after expiration” count 12 months from your PAST expiration date (the rip off) instead of basing on the day you pay to renew which is how members are treated fairly with respect by Costco China & Costco Spain. Read Costco’s own contract wordings for yourself in countries listed below!

You get up to 2 months LESS benefits in these 7 countries:

Costco US (screen capture of Costco’s own contract wordings for membership renewal) (full contract – direct link to Costco contract Membership Terms and Conditions),
Costco Canada (screen capture) (full contract),
Costco UK (screen capture) (full contract),
Costco Japan (screen capture) (full contract),
Costco Taiwan (screen capture) (Costco Q&A),
Costco Australia (screen capture) (full contract),
Costco Iceland (screen capture) (full contract)

For the following THREE ( 3 ) countries, Costco demands an outrageous backdating of up to 12 months LESS benefits after you pay 12 FULL months fee. Costco counts 12 months from your OLD “date of membership” (contract language of Costco France) or “expiration date of the membership” (contract language of Costco Korea). No mentioning of “within 2 months” here, making things actually far far worse. For example, your membership expires on December 31st and you haven’t gone to Costco for almost a year. You go shopping for Christmas gifts and pay to renew on December 24th. Your membership would have expired merely days later on December 31st because the 12 months are counted from your OLD “expiration date” months and months ago.

You get up to 12 months LESS benefits in these 3 countries:

Costco Korea (screen capture) (full contract),
Costco France (screen capture) (full contract),
Costco Mexico (screen capture) (full contract)

Only Costco members in following TWO ( 2 ) countries experience ZERO membership rip off during renewal. Fairly, when members pay 12 months membership fee to renew after expiration, their “membership will be extended for 12 months from the date of successful payment of the renewal fee” (contract language in Costco China). The way members of Costco China are treated during renewal should really be the gold standard for how Costco members be treated worldwide.

ZERO membership rip off in these 2 countries:

Costco China (screen capture) (full contract)
Costco Spain (screen capture) (full contract)

*** Did you know?

Costco Canada members were shortchanged for 12 months (like Korea) as late as November 2020 (see Internet Archive info). And Costco Canada only reduced its rip off to the current 2 months a few months ago in December 2020! In contrast, Costco US members had been ripped off for “ONLY” up to 2 months since at least 8 years earlier than Canada. We are left to wonder why did Costco make the contract changes when it did? And why did Costco China members get fair treatment from day one when its first China store opened in August 2019?

*** Help #FairCostcoRenew change.org campaign

• Please sign & share this #FairCostcoRenew petition on your social media platforms to demand fair & equal global membership renewal. Enough is enough.

• Please use hashtag #FairCostcoRenew when you share.


Why Costco rips millions off members in US, Canada, UK, … EXCEPT China?

Thursday, 28 January, 2021

Oxford Dictionary defines “Rip Off” as “cheat someone, especially financially“. Decide for yourself if Costco‘s behaviours discussed in this report meet this definition of “rip off” or there are simply a lot of “misunderstanding”?

New & long time Costco members caught in the scheme

Since the world plunged into Covid19 global pandemic in March 2020, millions of grocery shoppers in US, Canada, UK, and around the world have become brand new Costco members and started bulk buying. Who can forget news and social media photos of empty shelves of “essential goods” from toilet paper, household cleaning items, flour to even dry pasta. When medical experts advise us to physical distance and stay at home, bulk-buying at places like Costco seems like a good way to reduce our risk of contracting Covid19.

It may surprise some long time Costco members who have no idea that they have been caught in Costco‘s scheme for years. So the millions of new members who recently joined Costco since March of 2020 need to pay special attention and arm yourselves with knowledge in order to avoid being ripped off. For the record, this reporter’s family has a Costco membership. We shop at Costco periodically. One recent Costco experience was bad enough that it became the proverbial last straw and impetus to conduct this in-depth research and share with you these findings so you can judge Costco for yourself.

Guess what item

So what item does Costco rip members off the most? Hint: Some members get ripped off depending on your shopping habits and can add up to millions of dollars a year. Cosmetic, Costco chickens, or diamond rings? No, it’s what gets you in the door … your membership! For fiscal year ending August 30th 2020, Costco made a whopping $3.54 billion from membership fees.

By this reporter’s estimation (see below), Costco is potentially ripping off members worldwide from US$15 million to US$59 million a year, give or take a few million dollars. Not small change. So how does this scheme work?

The most troubling time of your Costco membership year

Costco membership agreements have pages of fine print. How many of the millions of new (since the start of the pandemic in March 2020) or existing 105.5 million worldwide members/cardholders have actually carefully read every word of the membership legal contract before they signed on the dotted line? One member in 50,000 or less?

You are not alone if you didn’t have time to read before signing it. Few years ago this reporter spent almost 10 minutes standing at the membership counter to read the legal fine print before giving up and signed on the dotted line without finishing like everyone else. Yes, this reporter is happy to say that bit of embarrassment has finally been corrected while researching for this report. Let’s take a quick look of the legal mumble-jumble and see if you notice the problem before it is explained with examples. Ready?

After reviewing five “Member Privileges & Conditions” contractual languages for renewals for Costco U.S. (pix), Canada (pix), U.K. (pix), Australia (pix), and Taiwan (pix), this reporter concluded that they are similar enough. So let’s look at the contractual languages used by the original and mother of all Costcos, Costco U.S. (pix),

“Memberships renewed within 2 months after expiration of the current membership year will be extended for 12 months from the expiration date. Memberships renewed more than 2 months after such expiration will be extended for 12 months from the renewal date. All renewals will be assessed at the membership fee in effect on the date the membership fee is paid.”

To make things easier to explain, we will use a concrete example with dates. Let’s say your membership expired on November 30th, 2020 (actually our family’s case), if you renew your membership within 2 months after expiration, even on January 30th, 2021, that is the last day of that “within 2 months” period, then you are one of the members that have been “ripped off“.

How so? Costco‘s contractual language forces you to pay 12 months of membership fee but only give you 10 months of membership benefits. Your renewed membership expiration date is unfairly backdated for two full months to November 30th, 2021, a rip off of 1/6 of the fee paid by loyal & renewing members! Making membership renewal time the most troubling time of your Costco membership. The kicker is that brand new customers signing up on the same date of January 30th, 2021 as you would get an honest expiration date of January 31, 2022.

How Costco China members are NOT ripped off?

Costco opened its first China store in 2019 August even though Costco co-founder and former CEO James (Jim) Sinegal first visited China over 25 years ago and had thought long & hard of how to be successful in China for years. This news clip posted by Guardian on Aug 28, 2019 is worth a thousand words of the business potential in China, “Opening-day frenzy at first Costco store in China

Read the rest of this entry »

Full Text of #AmandaGorman’s Inauguration Poem #TheHillWeClimb (reading & video interview + bonus lesson plan, 2019 reading)

Wednesday, 20 January, 2021

WATCH: Amanda Gorman reads inauguration poem, ‘The Hill We Climb’

[Following text is based on a version from WXIA-TV. With mistakes and typos corrected. Reformatted with emphasis added by Kempton. CNN reformatted it into very short sentences which somehow I dislike a lot.]

“Mr. President, Dr. Biden, Madam Vice President, Mr. Emhoff, Americans and the world: 

When day comes we ask ourselves, ‘where can we find light in this never-ending shade, the loss we carry, a sea we must wade?’

We’ve braved the belly of the beast, we’ve learned that quiet isn’t always peace.
And the norms and notions of what “just is” isn’t always just-ice.
And yet the dawn is ours before we knew it, somehow we do it. Somehow we’ve weathered and witnessed a nation that isn’t broken, but simply unfinished.

We, the successors of a country and a time where a skinny Black girl descended from slaves and raised by a single mother can dream of becoming president only to find herself reciting for one.

And yes, we are far from polished, far from pristine, but that doesn’t mean we are striving to form a union that is perfect. We are striving to forge our union with purpose. To compose a country committed to all cultures, colors, characters and conditions of man.

And so we lift our gazes not to what stands between us, but what stands before us. We close the divide, because we know to put our future first, we must first put our differences aside. We lay down our arms so we can reach out our arms to one another. We seek harm to none and harmony for all.

“Let the globe, if nothing else, say this is true: that even as we grieved, we grew; that even as we hurt, we hoped; that even as we tired, we tried; that we’ll forever be tied together victorious, not because we will never again know defeat but because we will never again sow division. 

Scripture tells us to envision that ‘everyone shall sit under their own vine and fig tree and no one shall make them afraid.’ If we’re to live up to our own time, then victory won’t lie in the blade but in all the bridges we’ve made.

That is the promise to glade, the hill we climb if only we dare it, because being American is more than a pride we inherit – it’s the past we step into and how we repair it. 

We’ve seen a force that would shatter our nation rather than share it, would destroy our country if it meant delaying democracy. And this effort very nearly succeeded. But while democracy can be periodically delayed, it can never be permanently defeated.

In this truth, in this faith we trust for while we have our eyes on the future, history has its eyes on us. This is the era of just redemption we feared at its inception.

We did not feel prepared to be the heirs of such a terrifying hour, but within it we found the power to author a new chapter, to offer hope and laughter to ourselves. So while once we asked ‘how could we possibly prevail over catastrophe,’ now we assert: ‘how could catastrophe possibly prevail over us?’

We will not march back to what was, but move to what shall be: a country that is bruised but whole, benevolent but bold, fierce and free. We will not be turned around or interrupted by intimidation because we know our inaction and inertia will be the inheritance of the next generation.

Our blunders become their burdens but one thing is certain: If we merge mercy with might, and might with right, then love becomes our legacy in change, our children’s birthright.

So let us leave behind a country better than the one we were left. With every breath from my bronze-pounded chest, we will raise this wounded world into a wondrous one. We will rise from the gold-limbed hills of the west, we will rise from the winds swept north, east where our forefathers first realized revolution. We will rise from the lake-rinsed cities of the midwestern states. We will rise from the sun-baked South. We will rebuild, reconcile, and recover in every known nook of our nation and every corner called our country, our people diverse and beautiful will emerge battered and beautiful.

When day comes, we step out of the shade, aflame and unafraid. The new dawn blooms as we free it. For there is always light if only we’re brave enough to see it, if only we’re brave enough to be it.

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20210120 CNN Anderson Cooper did a great interview with Amanda, check out the following video (AC360 tweet, YouTube). Amanda explained to Anderson the origin of the line “We’ve seen a force that would shatter our nation rather than share it” is tweets she read. She is inspired by words she read instead of images she sees. And they talked about the last few lines.

On Jan 15, 2021, I tweeted I was “Looking forward to poet #AmandaGorman’ #InauguralPoem #TheHillWeClimb on Jan 20th. Until then, watching Amanda, first Youth Poet Laureate of the United States in 2017, performing her poems in 2019 at The Museum of Contemporary Art.”

//For every teacher who wants a lesson on this…// [HT Molly] via @NewsHour //Lesson Plan: Discuss 22-year-old #AmandaGorman’s inaugural poem “#TheHillWeClimb”// (direct link to PBS lesson plan for grade 6-12)


“What is Modernity? It is what didn’t exist.” – New Quote I Love

Tuesday, 29 December, 2020

On the day of the news (Guardian, BBC, Vogue) of the passing of Pierre Cardin (1922–2020), I’m adding two new additions to my collection of Quotes I Love.

“Pierre Cardin, What is Modernity? [A:] It is what didn’t exist.” – Pierre Cardin (1922–2020) (interview)

“If I have to describe myself, I am a handyman. I can draw and design dresses, furniture, houses … I am very flexible and I don’t take myself too seriously.” – Pierre Cardin (interview)

By the way, ‘House of Cardin’: Film Review from Variety and here is a bonus clip “« House of Cardin » The special evening in honour of Pierre Cardin Théâtre du Châtelet September 21”.

Just majorly #LOVE this film, “I am Thinking of Pierre Cardin – by SCAD

Also #Lovely to watch! Pierre Cardin: Le Futur – SCAD – The Savannah College of Art and Design (2020 Apr)

House of Dior paid tribute to #PierreCardin!

Fascinating to see Pierre Cardin paint the Great Wall of China in fashion on Sept 20, 2018.

xxx


My favourite shows on Netflix (2020)

Monday, 28 December, 2020

Here are some of my favourite TV shows on Netflix in 2020. I especially LOVE the foreign language shows (Norwegian, German, etc) as they kinda open new world to me.

Older series that I rediscovered in 2020

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xxxxx


“It takes courage to be a scientist.” – New Quote I Love

Monday, 23 November, 2020

Here is a new addition to my collection of Quotes I Love.

It is a strange thing to have to say in this world today that it takes courage to be a scientist. I used to think that it only took brains. And now you need to be brave and courageous as well to do science in the face of the anti-science movement that we see. And the ideologic politics that has come to this process.” – Dr. Mike Ryan, WHO (video source: 2020 Nov 23, WHO Media briefing on COVID-19 (time code 39m 24s))


(Last updated 20201009) #Covid19 Catchall

Friday, 9 October, 2020

Last updated 20201009 #Covid19 Catchall post

Pix Credit: NIAID (NIH) Flickr post

20201009, Stat News, “7 looming questions about the rollout of a Covid-19 vaccine” (many VERY insightful questions #mustRead)

  • How do you define high-risk health workers? Essential workers?
  • High-risk medical conditions push you to the front of the vaccine line. How do you prove you have them when you get there?
  • How do you vaccinate special populations when there are little or no data on how the vaccines work for them? [K: children, pregnant people]
  • How widely can Pfizer and BioNTech’s vaccine be used, given its taxing storage requirements? [K: “Pfizer and BioNTech’s candidate, which uses messenger RNA technology, must be shipped and stored at -70 Celsius.”]
  • How will Pfizer and BioNTech’s ordering system affect the potential rollout of its vaccine?
  • With air travel slowed, can vaccines get where they need to go quickly?
  • How can officials keep a highly coveted resource safe from theft — and prevent counterfeits?

20201009, The Atlantic, “Atlas Coughed – Donald Trump has steadily turned masks into symbols—not of government overreach, but of governmental impunity.

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Above Pix Full Credit: NIAID (NIH) Flickr post //Novel Coronavirus SARS-CoV-2
This transmission electron microscope image shows SARS-CoV-2—also known as 2019-nCoV, the virus that causes COVID-19—isolated from a patient in the U.S. Virus particles are shown emerging from the surface of cells cultured in the lab. The spikes on the outer edge of the virus particles give coronaviruses their name, crown-like. Image captured and colorized at NIAID’s Rocky Mountain Laboratories (RML) in Hamilton, Montana. Credit: NIAID //


20201001 News Clippings – How America Lost 200,000 Lives to #Covid19

Thursday, 1 October, 2020

20200929 NYT, (great 20m short doc) How America Lost 200,000 Lives to Covid-19 – The U.S. spent 15 years preparing for the coronavirus. Why did we handle it so badly?

How America Bungled the Plague | NYT Opinion

2013, Film at Lincoln Centre, Summer Talks | Before Midnight (full) [Note: I LOVE Richard Linklater‘s Before Trilogy and hoping they are making a new one ~2020, will see] [HT Anne T]

20201001, Eric’s Tweet thread & replies “There’s been a lot of joking about getting a nasopharyngeal swab can be like a brain biopsy. Well, that actually happened”

xxx


Remembering Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg (1933 – 2020)

Saturday, 19 September, 2020

I find Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg (1933 – 2020) extremely insightful and even funny at times, here are a few items in memory of Justice Ginsburg. (CNN, Guardian, BBC)

Updated: 20200923 Created: 20200918

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20200923, CNN, “More than 100 of Ginsburg’s former clerks will meet her casket at the Supreme Court steps today”

20200922, PBS NewsHour, LIVE Q&A: Marcia Coyle on the legacy of Ruth Bader Ginsburg and what’s next for the Supreme Court

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20200918, PBS, “Remembering Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, dead at 87”

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20200920, WaPo, “Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s life, in her own words”

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2019, “Ruth Bader Ginsburg: From Brooklyn to the Bench

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in this 2010 C-Span video (may be less known but insightful in a deep way), she read a speech that was originally to have been delivered by her late husband Marty who died of cancer. After the speech, she sat down and chat with Supreme Court of Canada Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin (who happens to now sits on the HKCFA as an overseas non-permanent judge).

Incidentally, C-Span excerpted this segment from the fireside chat after the speech here in this YouTube video “Ginsburg on Cameras in the Court

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In 2017, I added this Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg quote to my long list of Quotes I Love,

A great man once said that the true symbol of the United States is not the bald eagle. It is the pendulum. And when the pendulum swings too far in one direction, it will go back.” – Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg (1933 – 2020) stated in a 2017 BBC interview (video) that US is “not experiencing the best of times”. Justice Ginsburg also used the idea in this quote in a 1999 forum (video) with UK Supreme Court Justice Baroness Hale of Richmond.

Read the rest of this entry »

20200827 #Covid19 News Clippings – Shame on #China

Thursday, 27 August, 2020

20200827 News Clippings

20200827 CTV News, “Opportunity ‘over’ to test potential COVID-19 vaccine in Canada after China halts shipment” (Shame on China)

” CanSino’s vaccine was developed using a cell line from the NRC that was previously used to produce an Ebola vaccine. The two organizations have worked together since 2013.

Clinical pharmacologist Sabina Vohra-Miller says handing over that kind of asset without securing intellectual property rights on the vaccine was a major missed opportunity for Canada.

“This is a miss because you wouldn’t have that by-product if you didn’t have that foundational system of the cell line,” she told CTV News.ca.

“We’re trying to be the noblest citizens in terms of advancing science and making sure that there is no gatekeeping with that, and you would expect that there would be a reciprocity on that.”

20200827 WHO Media briefing on COVID-19

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“Some days, we write good stories. Some days, we just write paragraphs around great quotes” – New Quote I Love

Wednesday, 26 August, 2020

Here is a new addition to my collection of Quotes I Love.

Some days, we write good stories.
Some days, we just write paragraphs around great quotes from insightful young men
Today was one of the latter days” – Doug Smith‘s tweet on 20200825

20200825 TorStar story by Doug, “After the Jacob Blake shooting, some Raptors wonder if the NBA needs to send an even stronger message” (excerpt) Read the rest of this entry »


#Covid19 Clinical Report & Does Convalescent Plasma Work? (Remember the time recovered Tom Hanks & Wife Rita donating plasma?)

Monday, 17 August, 2020

You might have heard of people recovered from #Covid19, like Tom Hanks and his wife Rita, donating their plasma in May for treatment research. OK, we are now in August with three more months of Convalescent Plasma experiences, do we have better scientific understanding whether these Convalescent Plasma actually works???

On TWiV (This Week in Virology) episode 654, experts (Virologist Vincent, and Medical Doctors Daniel Griffin and Chuck Knirsch) talk about the new medRxiv preprint paper (i.e. paper has NOT gone through proper peer review yet), “Effect of Convalescent Plasma on Mortality among Hospitalized Patients with COVID-19: Initial Three-Month Experience”

I’m NOT a virologist NOR any expert, so watch/listen to the podcast yourself and learn from the pros DIRECTLY so you can evaluate the finer details yourself. Bottomline from Daniel (roughly) whose hospital system is part of this trial: “I actually find this publication offensive in their discussion. They [the paper’s authors] are a little too happy in patting themselves in the back. I think some shoulders got dislocated. […] A lot of doctors would rather give what they think works [K’s note: “think works” is NOT the same as actually/properly/scientifically “double-blind randomized controlled trial” proven to work”]  than enrol their patients in a trial and we [K’s note: sadly] gave them that option.”

TWiV 654: TWiVering with excitement (timecode 26m10s) re Convalescent Plasma Trial


(Last updated 20201009) News Clippings – #Covid19 #Canada Ventilator supply

Saturday, 15 August, 2020

Last updated 20201009

20201009, Stat News, “7 looming questions about the rollout of a Covid-19 vaccine” (many VERY insightful questions #mustRead)

20201009, The Atlantic, “Atlas Coughed – Donald Trump has steadily turned masks into symbols—not of government overreach, but of governmental impunity.

20200915, Guardian, “Sweden records its fewest daily Covid-19 cases since March – Chief epidemiologist puts low number of cases down to light-touch ‘sustainable’ approach”

FMI: 20200320, “The Tip of the Iceberg: Virologist David Ho (BS ’74) Speaks About COVID-19” (Note: I wonder if the insight in this March 20th article remains useful or relevant on 20200915?)

20200815 News Clippings

CBC News, “Ventilator supply starts to increase as chief public health officer warns of possible surge of COVID-19 – Canada ordered more than 40,000 ventilators — but only 606 have arrived”

Only a small fraction of the 40,000 new ventilators Canada ordered for hospitals last spring have already been delivered but several companies involved say their production lines will start delivering the products faster in the next few weeks.

The promise of new arrivals comes as Canada’s chief public health officer, Dr. Theresa Tam, warned Friday that a fall surge of COVID-19 cases could overwhelm the health-care system, including its supply of critical-care beds and ventilators.

“What we know based on what we learned from other countries and cities that had a devastating impact in that initial wave, if you exceeded that capacity the mortality goes up really, really high,” she said.

Flu season and other respiratory infections common in the fall could put added pressure on the system if COVID-19 flares up in a big way.

Tam said there were many lessons learned from the spring, when the government was ill-prepared and without enough protective equipment for health-care workers, and feared a massive surge of COVID-19 would overwhelm the health-care system.

“We are much better prepared than we were before,” she said.

CNN, “CDC’s chief of staff, deputy chief of staff depart from agency

The pair [Kyle McGowan, the chief of staff, and Amanda Campbell, the deputy chief of staff,] had been criticized by Trump administration officials for not being loyal enough. McGowan started working in Health and Human Services under then-Secretary Tom Price. He first served as director of external affairs for HHS before moving to the CDC. CNN has reached out to HHS for comment about the departures.

When our politician ask CDN stars for Covid help, they obliged as only good CDNs would!

CBC News, “Seth Rogen tells B.C.’s young people to ‘smoke weed and watch movies’ instead of partying – Joins fellow Vancouver native Ryan Reynolds in issuing COVID-19 warning”

xxx


20200812 News Clippings – The Russian Vaccine, Dr. Gupta not sending kids back to school, Kamala Harris

Wednesday, 12 August, 2020

20200812 News Clippings

20200811, Science Mag, “The Russian Vaccine”

“Many will have heard Russia’s announcement that they have approved a coronavirus vaccine. I’ve already had several people ask me what I think of it, so let me be clear: I think it’s a ridiculous publicity stunt. If it’s supposed to make Russia look like some sort of biotechnology powerhouse, then as far as I’m concerned it does the opposite. It makes them look desperate, like the nation-state equivalent of a bunch of penny-stock promoters. The new airliner design prototype just got off the ground – time to sell tickets and load it full of passengers, right?

Why so negative? Look at what’s being claimed – the first coronavirus vaccine to receive regulatory approval. But “regulatory approval” is not some international gold standard, and these sorts of decisions show you why. Let’s be honest: there is no way that you can responsibly “approve” a vaccine after it’s only been into human trials for what numerous reports say is less than two months. That’s about enough time to do the first steps, a Phase I trial that gives you some idea of immune response across more than one dose. It is simply not enough time to do a reasonable efficacy workup as well, and absolutely not enough time to get any sort of reading on safety. Here’s a good article going into those timelines in more depth.”

20200812, CNN, “Dr. Sanjay Gupta: Why I am not sending my kids back to school”

20200812, NYT, “Why Kamala Harris Matters to Me”

PBS News Hour tweet (very heart warming story): “In a photo of Joe Biden asking Sen. Kamala Harris to be his running mate, you can see a Hagar the Horrible comic strip on his desk. – In 2018, Biden shared with @JudyWoodruff why that strip is meaningful to him”

xxx


Russell Crowe & Simon Pegg Break Down their careers

Wednesday, 12 August, 2020

Two GREAT videos of Russell Crowe & Simon Pegg breaking down their careers!

2020 July, “Russell Crowe Breaks Down His Most Iconic Characters | GQ

2020 June, “Simon Pegg Breaks Down His Career, from ‘Shaun of the Dead’ to ‘Star Trek’ | Vanity Fair”

xxx


20200810 News Clippings – The virus doesn’t have a brain, Winter is coming, HK police arrest pro-democracy media tycoon Jimmy Lai & activist Agnes Chow

Monday, 10 August, 2020

20200810 News Clippings

HKFP (AFP), “I’m prepared for prison,” the 71-year-old Jimmy Lai said. “If it comes, I will have the opportunity to read books I haven’t read. The only thing I can do is to be positive.”

20200810 WHO Media briefing on COVID-19

Three sets of Q&As that I find very insightful. [K’s note: Love this quote: “The virus doesn’t have a brain. We are the one that have brains. […] how we can outsmart something doesn’t have a brain that we are not doing such a great job now.”] 11:41 What are the keys to vaccines development? [HT Philip] 12:38 Dr. Ryan’s answers. 15:35 Dr. Bruce adds more. [… When it comes to a key to finding the vaccine …]

41:52 Q: When you talk about know your enemy, what is the virus trying to do?

42:13 Dr. Ryan: The virus doesn’t have a brain. We are the one that have brains. [… great answers ] Maria may have something to say about how we can outsmart something doesn’t have a brain that we are not doing such a great job now. #frank

42:59 Dr. Maria: [… “The goal of a virus is to make more virus. The goal of the virus is to, I would use the word “survive” if it was alive, it is NOT alive. It wants to reproduce. It wants to find individuals to …] […more great answers!] Read the rest of this entry »


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