Banksy’s $1.4m transformative act (self-destructing stunt?)

Sunday, 7 October, 2018

(with 2018, October 11th & 18 updates) Fascinating $1.4m transformative act (self-destructing stunt?) by anonymous UK-based street artist Banksy. The work is not really “destroyed” because it is in a funny Schrödinger’s cat half-alive & half dead state. A total and more messy destruction would be one that cut the canvas into tiny squares and cut the whole canvas completely and let the pieces fall onto the ground. A total and more beautiful “destruction” is what Tibetan monks do when they blow away their own sand arts (sand mandala is a ritual of creation and destruction, that “symbolize the Buddhist doctrinal belief in the transitory nature of material life“).

Finally, the money/worth question is probably the easiest one to answer. It will be rather stupid for the buyer to use legal means to get out of the deal. The work, after this stunt, will easily worth a lot more. Way more! But what is more interesting to me about art is always about the questions we ask ourselves or the thinking we do about them. We (National Gallery of Canada) paid a controversial $1.8m for Voice of Fire (a painting consists of “three equally sized vertical stripes, with the outer two painted blue and the centre painted red“) in 1989. It was estimated to worth $40m in 2014 and probably more today. And of course, art can’t just be about money. [HT Seastar]

P.S. This “making of” video was posted on Banksy’s official IG page a few hours ago.

Oct 11, 2018 update: Not to the surprise of anyone, this author included, the anonymous collector that had the winning bid is keeping the piece of art history.

“Sotheby’s said the painting has now been re-titled Love is in the Bin and authenticated by Banksy’s Pest Control agency.

Alex Branczik, head of contemporary art for Europe at Sotheby’s, says it is “the first artwork in history to have been created live during an auction.”

The buyer’s identity was not revealed but Sotheby’s quoted her as saying: “When the hammer came down last week and the work was shredded, I was at first shocked, but gradually I began to realize that I would end up with my own piece of art history.””

Oct 18, 2018 update: Here is a new video “Shredding the Girl and Balloon – The Director’s Cut” [HT Mashable]

Here is my comment, notes and questions.

“The Director’s *Unfinished* Cut” is probably a more fitting title! :) Nice performance art regardless. If indeed “In rehearsals it worked every time …”, dare I ask what the heck failed? This “art” is forever incomplete because its “mission critical” function of the cutting action failed! Are there engineers or handy women/men out there who have tried to figure out what failed? Was it simply the world’s most expensive show of a paper jam (or canvas jam)?! Here are some time codes and I would love to learn your take of WTF failed? I also wonder how Banksy feels about this canvas jam?!

0:07 The Cutter.
0:10 The drive belt
0:11 The Cutter with Black test canvas
0:13 A test copy of “Girl With Balloon”?
0:14 The battery and wiring.
0:16 The motor (middle of screen) and the cutter (top right)
0:17 Split second right before the back cover was put on. Another motor (bottom middle of screen). Strange placement of it? Why not place the motor symmetrically on the other side of the other motor?
0:20 Nailing shut the back cover.
0:22 The supposed actual copy of “Girl With Balloon” ready for auction.
0:38 “Girl With Balloon” on the wall of the auction house.
2:04 The remote control? (We are led to think they shot this at the auction. But who knows? Location unknown.) What interests me: There are TWO buttons? The button the person pressed. The GREEN button (not pressed). And then the red light. What does the GREEN button do? Is the button meant to stop the cutting?

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10 Things You Don’t Know About #CrazyRichAsians (with video)

Friday, 17 August, 2018

Here are 10 things you don’t know about Crazy Rich Asians the movie:

1) Author Kevin Kwan Optioned His Book for Only $1
The Hollywood Reporter (THR) has a great cover story on CRA, here is an excerpt about why Kwan ended up optioning the book for just $1.

“I met with, I think, six producers in one day,” says Kwan. “It was like a beauty contest.” Many had renminbi signs in their eyes. “They were interested in getting into the Chinese market, and I was like, ‘This is a 
movie with worldwide and domestic potential — that just happens to star Asians.'”

Color Force’s Jacobson and Simpson, known for the Hunger Games franchise, saw it the same way. “It feels so mainstream and accessible — anybody can relate to being rejected by in-laws,” says Jacobson. She and Simpson vowed to secure financing from a company with Asian ties, and UTA steered them to Ivanhoe Pictures, Penotti’s then-brand-new company with offices in Singapore and Hong Kong. While Kwan had lucrative offers, he optioned his book to Color Force and Ivanhoe for just $1 (with triggers in place for him to earn more as the project got made) in exchange for the right to remain involved with development decisions — a rare opportunity for a first-timer. “To say, ‘I’m going to do this for a dollar,'” says Simpson, “the only other person I know who does that is Stephen King.””

2) (see pix) Real life inspiration for Rachel Chu
See author Kevin Kwan’s Instagram post, “[my dear friend Vivian’s] stories inspired me when I created the character of Rachel Chu and her family. Jon M. Chu, the director of “Crazy Rich Asians,” was one of the cousins Vivian had been talking about for so many years. I never dreamed that he would one day direct the film based on my book, a film with a heroine who is inspired by the women in his own family. Last night, it all came full circle in this photo – the first time Vivian, Jon, and I were all together in one place.

View this post on Instagram

More than ten years ago, my dear friend Vivian in New York started telling me stories about how she grew up in Northern California amongst all her cousins and how close knit they all were. As I moved to the US when I was eleven and had to leave behind my closest cousins, I was fascinated by the stories of her cool American-Born Chinese family, so different from my own, and her stories inspired me when I created the character of Rachel Chu and her family. Jon M. Chu, the director of "Crazy Rich Asians," was one of the cousins Vivian had been talking about for so many years. I never dreamed that he would one day direct the film based on my book, a film with a heroine who is inspired by the women in his own family. Last night, it all came full circle in this photo – the first time Vivian, Jon, and I were all together in one place.

A post shared by Kevin Kwan (@kevinkwanbooks) on

3) (with video) Getting permission to use Gardens by the Bay went right up to the PMO
The producers were having a hard time getting permission to film at the epic beautiful Gardens by the Bay location until CRA author Kevin Kwan visited the set in KL one day and heard of the challenge and mentioned that actress Janice Koh’s (she played auntie Felicity Young in the movie) husband was the CEO of Singapore Tourism Board. Ultimately, it went right up to the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) of Singapore to get the OK. Watch the producers talk about it in this segment of Oscars video (timecode 9:30).

4) (with video) Location for Young’s family home was a shithole (literally :)  
Finding a location for the Young’s family home was very hard as a home like that doesn’t exist in Singapore. A location was found in KL (where 65% of the film was shot). After watching the beautiful house in the film, you wouldn’t know it was run down, “collapsing on itself” and had monkey pooh on the floor! Watch the producers discussed it in this segment of Oscars video (10:10).

5) (with video) Dumpling & mahjong scenes are new and not in the book
(*** NOTE:
Unfortunately, this video is no longer on YouTube.)
The dumpling scene and the mahjong scene aren’t in the book and I quite like them both. Here co-screenwriter Adele Lim talks about these two scenes in this Q&A.
WARNING: Some spoilers!!!! Peter Chiarelli and Adele Lim on writing CRAZY RICH ASIANS (6:53)

6) (with video) Coldplay‘s “Yellow” in Chinese
Director Jon M. Chu (朱浩偉) had to work his magic on Warner Bros and Coldplay to get the song into the movie. QZ has an excellent report in “HOW COLDPLAY’S “YELLOW,” IN CHINESE, ENDED UP ON THE “CRAZY RICH ASIANS” SOUNDTRACK” that is worth reading in full. Here is an excerpt, Read the rest of this entry »


Uber self-driving SUV fatal accident – a Computer Scientist’s views

Thursday, 22 March, 2018

20180324 update: For now, I’ve found these two posts by Brad Templeton to be very insightful and cover some of the issues that I want to write about but Brad wrote in much more detail! Have a read, 03/20 “New facts and questions on Uber robocar fatality” & 03/21 “It certainly looks bad for Uber“. I may still add more if I see more facts of the case especially when Uber starts to voluntarily (or be compelled to) provide more of its internal technical data. I hope Uber won’t try to brush this fatality under the carpet. Will see.

***

I just read some news reports and watched the video of the Uber self-driving SUV fatal accident. (WARNING: Video contains disturbing images. Viewer discretion is advised.) I know I do not have full information yet so I hope to share my views (for now, semi-technical/semi-informed) on this Uber self-driving fatal accident as best as I can. And in the coming days when I have time, I hope to keep updating this post when more technical and police investigative information are available.

A bit of background first. In 2013 February (more than 5 years ago now), I was already interested in driverless technologies and already interviewed U of T Professor Emeritus C.C. Kelly Gotlieb, “Father of Computing in Canada”, to talk about many topics including Google driverless car and issues like whose to blame when an accident happened? Sadly, we now have a fatal accident on hand to talk about.

From the AP report “Experts: Uber self-driving system should have spotted woman”, this Uber self-driving SUV is using LIDAR laser sensors technology to “see”. (note: LIDAR stands for Light Detection and Ranging and it “measures distance to a target by illuminating the target with pulsed laser light” which can see perfectly well even in total darkness as it uses laser.) I made this observation re LIDAR in direct response to this sentence of the news report, “The lights on the SUV didn’t illuminate 49-year-old Elaine Herzberg on Sunday night until a second or two before impact, raising questions about whether the vehicle could have stopped in time.” And the fact the Uber safety driver was NOT paying attention to the road when he killed the 49-year-old Elaine Herzberg!

Let me quote from the AP report “Experts: Uber self-driving system should have spotted woman”,

““The victim did not come out of nowhere. She’s moving on a dark road, but it’s an open road, so Lidar (laser) and radar should have detected and classified her” as a human, said Bryant Walker Smith, a University of South Carolina law professor who studies autonomous vehicles.

Smith said the video may not show the complete picture, but “this is strongly suggestive of multiple failures of Uber and its system, its automated system, and its safety driver.”

Sam Abuelsmaid, an analyst for Navigant Research who also follows autonomous vehicles, said laser and radar systems can see in the dark much better than humans or cameras and that Herzberg was well within the range.

“It absolutely should have been able to pick her up,” he said. “From what I see in the video it sure looks like the car is at fault, not the pedestrian.”

Smith said that from what he observed on the video, the Uber driver appears to be relying too much on the self-driving system by not looking up at the road.

“The safety driver is clearly relying on the fact that the car is driving itself. It’s the old adage that if everyone is responsible no one is responsible,” Smith said. “This is everything gone wrong that these systems, if responsibly implemented, are supposed to prevent.”

The experts were unsure if the test vehicle was equipped with a video monitor that the backup driver may have been viewing.

Uber immediately suspended all road-testing of such autos in the Phoenix area, Pittsburgh, San Francisco and Toronto. The National Transportation Safety Board, which makes recommendations for preventing crashes, is investigating the crash.”

I will try to come back to this article and add more details and updates in the coming days when I have more time. Will see.

For now, here is the particular segment of my 5 years old 2013 interview with Prof. Gotlieb talking about “Google [and by extension, any other company’s] 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.”

xxx


The catch CBC & CTV missed: Loblaws $25 “gift” card/hush money for bread price-fixing

Tuesday, 9 January, 2018

The following three news reports cover various aspect of the Loblaws $25 “gift” card but missed an important catch that I want to discuss in this article.

  1. CBC News, “Loblaws $25 gift card registration now open, but there’s a catch – Signing up for gift card doesn’t preclude participating in class actions, but any payout would be deducted
  2. CTV News, “The catch: What Loblaw wants for its $25 gift card
  3. Huffington Post, “Take Loblaw’s Hush Money, But Don’t Keep Quiet – The bread price-fixing scheme is a moment when the curtain is pulled back and we get a peek into how things really work.

In short, the “catch” as others and CBC reported, “Signing up for gift card (and getting that $25) doesn’t preclude participating in class actions, but any payout would be deducted“.

The catch that is missed at least by CBC, CTV, and even Huffington Post is that as millions of Canadian adults apply for the gift cards is the “Retention and Cross-border Transfer” clause in the “Program Privacy Policy“. The “missed catch” is why should millions of Canadians subject our private and confidential information including

a) Full name
b) Date of Birth
c) Address
d) Home phone number,
e) Mobile phone number, and
f) email address

to courts of foreign countries including El Salvador or other random countries we don’t even know! When we are talking about millions of Canadians’ private and confidential data potentially being “stored, accessed, or used in a country outside of Canada “!! Why shouldn’t our data be treated with more care/respect and be stored in Canada and Canada alone?!

Don’t trust my words blindly. Visit the “Program Privacy Policy” link on the registration page, you will see (emphasis added):

“Program Privacy Policy
[…]
5. Retention and Cross-border Transfer
Personal Information may be stored, accessed, or used in a country outside of Canada by Loblaw, the Program Administrator, Blackhawk and/ or Peoples, or by service providers engaged by any of them, for any of the purposes identified in Section 4 above including the United States and El Salvador. Where Personal Information is located outside of Canada, it is subject to the laws of that jurisdiction which may differ from those in your jurisdiction and any Personal Information transferred to another jurisdiction will be subject to law enforcement and national security authorities in that jurisdiction.”

Canadians may want to question and challenge Loblaws’ Program Privacy Policy. by calling Loblaws and ask them directly or even ask our elected MPs and try to hold our government and the Competition Bureau accountable.

20180109 Loblaws price-fixing - program_privacy_policy - Screen Shot

Loblaws price-fixing – program_privacy_policy – Screen Shot

P.S. The Huffington Post, “Take Loblaw’s Hush Money, But Don’t Keep Quiet” raised some good points. (emphasis added) Read the rest of this entry »


Charlie Munger – Great Minds of Our Time

Sunday, 5 November, 2017

Charlie Munger undoubtedly qualifies as one of my list of Great Minds of Our Time. I may add more to this entry over time. (Review of The Snowball (biography about Warren Buffett) I posted in 2008, another one in my list of Great Minds.)

Charlie Munger Commencement Address – USC

x


Do you really own what you bought? New insights from Supreme Court decision Impression Products vs. Lexmark International

Thursday, 1 June, 2017

Supreme Court decision PDF file: Impression Products vs. Lexmark International

Wired, “The Supreme Court Just Bolstered Your Right to Repair Stuff

Impression Products vs. Lexmark International hinged on two points: Did Impression infringe upon Lexmark’s patents by (1) reselling cartridges in the United States when Lexmark explicitly prohibited reuse and resale, and (2) importing without authorization cartridges Lexmark sold abroad. Various courts split on these questions, and everyone from the AARP and Huawei to Costco and the Auto Care Association weighed in when the case finally reached the Supreme Court.

Why all the fuss? Because this wasn’t really about printer toner. It was about your ownership rights, and whether a patent holder can dictate how you repair, modify, or reuse something you’ve purchased. “This case raises important questions about the reach of American patent law and how much control a manufacturer can exert after its products have been lawfully sold,” the editorial board of The New York Times wrote in 2015. “Taken to their logical conclusion, Lexmark’s arguments would mean that producers could use patent law to dictate how things like computers, printers, and other patented goods are used, changed, or resold and place restrictions on international trade.”

Consider this: Countless people hack their Keurig machines to brew “unauthorized” coffee brands. Can Keurig sue them? Could Apple or Samsung stipulate that you can’t resell their products on Craigslist or eBay? Could John Deere claim that a repair tech is infringing upon its patent rights by repairing a broken combine without permission? Consumer rights advocates at the EFF and Public Knowledge worried that a ruling in Lexmark’s favor would “jeopardize independent product refurbishers and repair services”.”


Air Passenger Rights Advocate interview re Passenger Bill of Rights

Wednesday, 17 May, 2017

Transport Minister Marc Garneau - Passenger Bill of Rights news conference

The following is my video interview with Dr. Gabor Lukacs, Air Passenger Rights Advocate, to talk about the new Airline Passenger Bill of Rights (Bill C-49).

Air Passenger Rights Advocate interview re new Passenger Bill of Rights

Legal References:

Dr. Gabor Lukacs, Air Passenger Rights Advocate (FB page), notes references:

News References:

Government news release References:

(May 16, 2017 CBC News Live video, Transport Minister Marc Garneau takes questions about the government’s air passenger bill of rights bill)


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